Category Archives: piano cat

Two Piano Playing Dogs Paw Out a Tune!

By Linda Cole

When it comes to tickling those ivory keys, Nora the Piano Cat is still in a class all her own. Unfortunately for Nora, there’s always another prodigy waiting in the wings for their own crack at stardom. In this case, it’s two talented dogs that have woofed their way into the hearts of animal-loving YouTube viewers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Nora and her piano playing antics. Her obvious enjoyment at tickling the ivory keys is unsurpassed by any other feline. And there are plenty of Nora wannabes on You Tube these days. However, now there’s a dog duet pawing out a tune on their own specially made piano, with a cuteness factor that’s through the roof!

The You Tube video of two piano playing Golden Retrievers has been delighting dog lovers ever since it was first posted. The dogs are playing “Waltz of the Fleas” on an oversized keyboard as their owner sits in front of them playing a small flute-like instrument called an ocarina. The piano playing pups watch their “conductor” and then step on the piano keys matching the note she’s playing. And they do a pretty good job getting the right note!

At first glance, one would say the dogs are just doing what they were trained to do. As you watch the video, though, the lighter colored dog seems to be anticipating the coming note. However, they may also be responding to the musical note they are hearing, according to Charles Snowdon, an animal psychologist and zoologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Snowdon theorizes that the dogs are following cues by their owner, which is not the same as them memorizing what’s next. He believes it is possible the dogs are able to understand the notes their owner is playing and know which key on the piano will duplicate the sound from the ocarina.

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Social Media Has Gone to the Dogs… and the Cats too!

By Julia Williams

Not so long ago, it used to be frowned upon for people to give human characteristics to animals, which is known as anthropomorphism (how’s that for an unwieldy word!). Those who were against it said things like “animals shouldn’t talk” and “animals can’t think or reason” etc.

My, how times have changed. This public disapproval of anthropomorphism seems to have faded into oblivion. I suppose it’s to be expected, given that the age we live in is so vastly different now, technologically speaking. The internet is firmly entrenched in the daily lives of everyone from teens to seniors. Most of us check email at least daily and visit many different websites and blogs every week. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the new gathering spot. Moreover, humans aren’t the only ones using social media to communicate – now there are countless dogs with blogs, and cats that tweet! Not only that, they are doing it with great success.

Consider these impressive numbers:

Surf Dog Ricochet, the inspirational canine who has raised over $20,000 surfing for charity, has nearly 5,700 Facebook fans. Surf Dog Ricochet also has her own website.

Nora the Piano Cat apparently tickles more than the ivories – she has more than 1500 Facebook fans and 1600+ Twitter followers. The Piano Cat also has her own website and blog, both of which “she” updates regularly.

● Charlene Butterbean is a surrogate mama cat to kittens fostered by Laurie Cinotto, aka, The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. Ms. Butterbean (or “the Bean” as she is often called) has nearly 1,100 Facebook friends and the same number of Twitter followers.

Giant George, a blue Great Dane who is the world’s tallest dog according to Guinness World Records, has more than 40,000 Facebook fans.

Compare some of those numbers to the Facebook fans of world renowned writers such as Anne Rice (60,000) or J.K Rowling (58,000) and you can’t help but be impressed. Truly, the following these canines and felines have amassed in just a few short years is a testament to the power that pets have to touch our hearts.

In addition to all of the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts purportedly manned by canines and felines, there are many other technological pet inventions that indicate we are in a new era. Take for example, the Twitter-enabled dog collar from Mattel called Puppy Tweets. When the collar’s tiny device detects barking or movement, it randomly posts one of 500 phrases to the dog’s Twitter page. According to the Huffington Post, there’s also an intriguing new app from Japan called BowLingual, which supposedly analyzes your dog’s bark and translates it into one of six emotions. It syncs the phrase, which can then be tweeted through your dog’s Twitter account.

Last year, the aforementioned Charlene Butterbean wore a “Cat Cam,” a collar with a tiny camera attached that automatically snapped photos every 15 minutes. The pictures were then uploaded to the IBKC blog so readers could log on to see what the Bean was doing throughout the day – mostly sleeping, eating and kitten wrangling (but please don’t ask me how I know that).

The “Shiba Inu Puppy Cam” became an internet phenomenon in 2009. This website featured a live-streamed webcam focused on six adorable newborn Shiba Inu pups doing all of the things that puppies normally do. I confess to getting my daily virtual puppy fix, although I usually only watched for a few minutes because it seemed like every time I tuned in the puppies were asleep. Those puppies eventually went to their forever homes, and now there is a new Shiba Inu Puppy Cam with five more fluffballs the public can fawn over via their computer monitor.

Should dogs blog? And what of tweeting cats? Should people put their puppies on a virtual display for the world to view whenever they want? I don’t see why not. If one chooses to pretend that a dog can type and is sending them a message on Facebook, that’s their business. If one considers it cool to get an email from a cat (ahem…that would be me), why should anyone else care? There’s no harm done to the animals, who are probably asleep in a corner of the room while their designated “PR agent” types away to their adoring fans. Intelligent people do realize that dogs and cats can’t type. Right?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What’s Nora the Piano Playing Cat up to Now?

By Julia Williams

Nearly everyone with internet access and a pulse has heard of Nora, the piano playing cat who took YouTube by storm in 2007. Considering that the video has been viewed almost 17 million times to date, I’m guessing most of you have seen it at least once. But did you also know that the piano cat has gone on to become quite the celebrity kitty? It’s true – and Nora’s popularity and busy schedule could rival that of most A-list human stars!

The talented piano cat has come a long way since being rescued from the street and adopted from a shelter by a piano teacher named Betsy Alexander, and her fame is well deserved. If you’ve watched any of the videos of Nora playing the piano (currently, there are four) you have to agree that this cat’s ability to tickle the ivories is impressive. Oh sure, any kitty can walk on a piano and plink out a few notes. Nora, however, sits primly on the piano bench and uses both paws to play. There’s a subtlety to her movements and she appears to be pressing the different keys with total deliberation. The piano cat also does this head roll thing which is remarkably similar to what humans do with their hands to create rolling chords.

In the three years since her YouTube debut, the self-proclaimed “musical diva” has become an internationally known pianist and bona fide media darling. She’s been featured on numerous television shows, including CNN, The Today Show, Animal Planet, Martha Stewart, ABC Early Show, Inside Edition, Jon Stewart, VH1, ABC and NBC News, Conan and Ellen. She’s also been featured on radio shows, online pet magazines and in print (People, Tails Pet Magazine, England’s Pianist magazine). Nora also received a signed photo from Billy Joel inscribed “To the piano cat from the piano man” and a bust of Bach from Martha Stewart.

Not content to rest on her laurels (or I should say, her paws), Nora the piano cat has been busy writing books and creating numerous merchandising opportunities too. Her literary works include a children’s book called My Story: A Picture Book, and Nora The Piano Cat’s Guide To Becoming A Good Musician. There is a DVD titled Nora The Piano Cat: Now with CATcerto for 2010, and a calendar, Nora The Piano Cat With Sound 2010 Wall Calendar. All of these are available on Amazon, and Nora fans can even download an mp3 album with 11 songs, from Litterbox Boogie to All About Me-ow. She also recently finished writing another book that is awaiting publication, titled Nora’s Guide to a Happy Life…or How to Make Every Day a Catnip Day.

The piano cat has her own blog, “Nora’s Mews,” her own website, and she has over 1500 followers on Twitter. There is a neat new IPhone App that provides a direct link to Nora’s blog, her YouTube videos and her Tweets, all from your iPhone or iPod Touch devices. Now you can keep up with all the latest Nora happenings no matter where you are (and I just know you want to, right?). For extreme piano cat fans, there are t-shirts, hoodies, tote bag, mugs, posters, journals, cards, mousepads and more, all featuring adorable images of Nora.

As if the piano cat’s resume wasn’t already longer than most professional musicians twice her age, last year Nora received two prestigious awards. In October, the piano playing tabby received the ASPCA Cat of the Year Award, and in November she received the Westchester Cat Shows Cat of the Year award. She also appeared via a live video feed at “Shelter Aid,” a fundraising event for shelters and rescue groups.

The piano cat has really improved over the years from that first original video, “Nora: Practice Makes Purr-fect” to her most recent performance, “CATcerto – Composed & Conducted by Mindaugas Piecaitis.” Watching this latest video gave me goose bumps, because it certainly sounded like all of Nora’s notes harmonized with the orchestra. It must be all that practicing the piano cat does. In a recent email to me, her caretaker Betsy wrote “Nora continues to play the piano quite a bit. When I was teaching on Saturday, she was with me playing on and off from 10:30 AM until 4:00 PM without any naps.”

It seems, however, that Nora the piano cat may have developed a wee bit of celebrity “catitude” along with her fame. Betsy said “Nora has gotten more possessive of ‘her’ piano and bit me rather hard when I picked her up and moved her from the bench so I could teach an adult student on that piano. Then she sat at the other piano glaring at my student for her entire lesson.”

Nora darling, I think you are a most sublime feline. Perhaps you could come by sometime and teach my three cats how to do something (anything!) besides sleep all day?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.