Cats are known to do one very specific thing: whatever they want. Which is why it’s usually not a good idea to try to get a house cat to perform a trick, especially one they don’t have a choice in. Yesterday, after Taylor Swift was announced as TIME’s 2023 Person of the Year, social media users gravitated toward one of the three covers in particular. In the cover portrait, Swift is joined by one of her cats, Benjamin Button, who is draped around her shoulders, not unlike a scarf. After the image circulated on the internet, TikTok users began attempting to recreate the photo with their own cats. But as anyone with feline experience could imagine, it’s proved to be a lot harder than Swift and Benjamin make it look.
It’s difficult to say where the trend began, but it started shortly after the covers were unveiled on Wednesday morning. The videos usually start with a screenshot of the TIME cover, after which creators pick up their cats to try to get them to lay across their shoulders. The majority of the cats being picked up by their owners seem to retaliate immediately. Many immediately dig their claws into or decide to stand on their owners because they are simply not having it. One creator attempted the feat with six different cats, and only two of them chose to cooperate. The creator assumed that one cat, named Toast, would be down for the pose since he is a ragdoll like Swift’s cat (he scored a 7 out of 10), and gave the oldest cat, 16-year-old Otto, a pass for being, understandably, too old to care.
A different creator struggled with her ragdoll cat named Crumpet, whom she was able to get around her neck, before the cat began to fight back and bite her bun. Still more creators tried the same trick, often to disappointing (but still amusing) results.
Swift shared the covers on her own social media, explaining that when TIME informed her that she would be named Person of the Year, she simply asked to bring her cat. Her fans know her cats well, as she’s shared them across her social media throughout the years.
Cat owners across social media wondered how renowned photographers Inez and Vinoodh were able to get the shot, as they know their own cats would never comply. “I need to know what kind of catnip taylor swift gave to benji?" one person tweeted. "Is he just a docile cat? how did he sit on her shoulders for that long? My cat would scratch me up."
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