A group of friends in Philadelphia unintentionally became the creators of Instagram's latest, bizarre hashtag meme: the #catband. And they all think it's really, really weird that now hundreds of strangers have started playing their cats as if they were air guitars, air bongos, and even air bagpipes.
Julie Malone's cat, Lilly, has become a staple in her friendship circle "because she's fat and really nice and you can just do anything to her and she thinks it's great," the 25-year-old Anthropologie jewelry buyer told TIME. And so, when Malone's boyfriend started playing music during dinner, she thought it would be a funny idea to play her cat like a ukelele — er… "Uke-Lilly"—and tag the obese feline's adoring fans in an Instagram video.
Lilly's unperturbed thumb licking made the video really shine.
Jack Hartman soon responded with a video of himself playing his screaming cat Dusty —"He's so mean!" Malone said—like a bongo drum. "Let's start a band," he posted.
Then Kenny Kim started blowing his 20 lb cat Sketchie like a bagpipe, threw on the hashtag #catband so he and his friends could keep track of what was going on, and pretty soon a meme was born.
Dan Toffey, who manages Instagram's #weeklyfluff feature and keeps up with emerging animal trends in the community told TIME he noticed the hashtag gaining traction over the past couple of weeks—with as many as a hundred in the last week, gaining in volume every day.
There are cat flutes:
And even rabbit rebuttals:
Kim finds this all surreal. " All the original catbanders are definitely sitting back shaking their heads at what has become of it for sure," he said. "The fact that there is a post on Knowyourmeme.com really legitimized it for us."
Malone agrees. "I did it just for our dorky friends who like the cat," she said. "If I knew that people from France and Russia were going to see it, I would have shot a more flattering video."
Kim and his fiancée Hilary set up a #catband Tumblr, but he says maintaining the new entries has become a sort of part time job. "Cats, man."