Wild Ones: Moshow, Queen Sushi, DJ Ravioli, MegaMam, Lil Parmesan & Black $avage
Moshow “the Cat Rapper” on cat love, TikTok, and fans (a.k.a. his feline family).
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Early last year, at the height of my TikTok infatuation, I came across a clip that I couldn’t stop watching. The creator was a man wearing purple-tinted shades and a bright beanie, clutching an orange cat adorned in an equally colorful woolen hat and a chunky gold chain. To the tune of Cookiee Kawaii’s “Vibe (If I Back It Up),” he freestyle raps: “This is straight facts, everybody should adopt a cat.” He bounces his squinting cat closer and closer to the camera until the furry face takes up the whole frame. Peppered throughout are ’90s-style GIFs, ending with a neon-animated phrase I love cats.
This was my introduction to Moshow the Cat Rapper, as well as DJ Ravioli — one of the five cats that Moshow will refer to as his children. Cat love runs deep for Moshow, whose life forever changed years ago when his now-wife first introduced him to a cat, and as he tells it, “cat fever” took over. Since then, Moshow has carved out multiple titles for himself, including rapper, author, gamer, and kitty adoption advocate — a career fashioned out of big dreams, gritty determination, an infectious spirit of positivity, and a fierce affection for the feline species.
From his home of Portland, Oregon, Moshow produces a steady stream of creative content and inspirational messages that draw a committed following that spans the globe. “Just wanted to bless your timeline,” is a recurring theme in his photo captions — and it’s true, seeing Moshow and his cats puts a smile on my face every time. That’s why I jumped at the chance to speak with the multi-hyphenate TikTok star one on one to gain insights into this joyful pass time turned full-on career.
Moshow, you have an inspiring story. In 2016, you put out a video of yourself taking a bath with one of your cats that blew up (watch below). Today, you have nearly 37,000 subscribers on YouTube, 387,000 Instagram followers, and one million followers on TikTok. How did you get to where you are?
This has been a nine, 10-year journey. I really like to express that to some people. They think that I made a video, it went viral, and now I’m just capitalizing from my viral moment. The truth is that I had two albums out by the time of the Cat Bath video. I already had a following. My career had been building over the years. I went through six or seven years of people laughing at me — or just dead silence during my performances. People thought I was weird. They would say that a Black man with cats is funny, that it’s odd. I had no idea that I’d find people who would love what I do, that things would turn out the way it did. It’s been a gradual slow burn that brought me to where I am today.
I come from the projects of Baltimore city, with people telling me I’d never make it past the age of 15. I’ve lost friends to gun violence and family members to drugs. I’ve seen a lot of things that no kid should have to see. Through hard work and dedication, I was able to do what I needed to do to finish high school and get a degree in computer programming. Now I stand before you as the cat rapper.
Why do you think you and your work resonate with so many people? I see the heartfelt messages and photos that fans of all ages send to you, and it’s clear that you’re really touching people’s lives.
You want me to be honest with you? I’m just real. I’m not doing this to be liked, to be loved, or to get calls from people to interview me. I’m just living my truth. I can’t live my life and pretend to be something that I’m not. I’m not afraid to express my feelings. People see my genuine love for cats. They see me trying to get cats adopted. When people see me on the streets, and they’re nice to me, I come back to them with real love. If my fans are going through things, I reach out. One of my fans has cancer right now, and I called to make sure she’s ok. I go above and beyond for the people who support me. They’re not really even “fans,” we’re just all one big cat family.
You’re the focus of the first episode of Cat People, the documentary series released on Netflix earlier this year. What was it like shooting the show? And what impact has it had for you?
Everybody working on the show was really nice, and most importantly, everybody respected the cats. A lot of people were cat owners. They understood cats. There was no forcing. They respected me as a cat person, and they were truly big fans of my work. It’s great working with people who actually respect you. And, I would say, the show has given me more opportunity, more visibility. Netflix is in everybody’s home. The show is putting me in view of people who don’t even have social media. It’s great to be able to touch more people and gain new supporters.
Anyone can see how much you care about your cats. So, how did you become a cat dad?
I became a cat dad because of my cat lady. I met her in theatre class and we became really close. She introduced me to a cat named Queenie, who would watch me study. She got closer and closer, and one day sat in my lap. That’s when cat fever took over, and I wanted cats. I always wanted sphinx cats, because they’re bald, like I’m bald. In those times, bald cats were overlooked. I always felt like that’s how people viewed me, that I was overlooked. I felt like we had a lot in common. I knew someone who had sphinx cats, and that’s how I was able to get my first cats, MegaMam, and Queen Sushi.
And now you have five cats! There’s also DJ Ravioli, Black $avage, and Little Parmesan. I understand that Black $avage was adopted from a shelter. Tell us about the work you do to get cats adopted.
I just came from Florence, Oregon, where I was spending time with all the kitties at the Oregon Humane Society. I shot a music video there about getting cats adopted. Since that day, every cat in the video got adopted. There were seven adoptions alone that day, and cats are still getting adopted. I also wrote an Adopt A Cat book that was inspired by my adopting Black $avage.
Let’s talk about cat love. Some people are skeptical about whether cats actually care for their humans. Do your cats show you love? How so?
People that have cats understand real cat love. Cats are so innocent; you feel like they don’t understand how much you love them. You just want to tell them that you love them a million times. It takes time to build a connection with a cat. Cats don’t trust just anyone.
All my cats show their love differently. DJ Ravioli never wants to leave my side — he has serious disconnection issues. If I leave, he stands by the door and meows. Sometimes he throws up when I leave. MegaMam shows that she loves me because she is always so cuddly. When I’m gaming late at night, she’s in my lap, looking at me and purring, and I know my daughter really cares about me. That makes me emotional. I get so choked up. Black $avage is always looking at me and meowing — screaming in my face 24/7. And Queen Sushi is a super, super, super diva. No one can touch her but me and Mom. Every night, when I lay down, ten minutes later I feel her walking above my head. Ten seconds later, I get paws on my chest. Lil Parmesan likes to be in her own little world. Parm likes love, but she likes love on her own terms. But when we fall asleep, I’ll wake up and she’ll be cuddling in the middle of us. At night, we all come together. We’re all super tight.
In what’s been an incredibly tough time, you and your cats have brought joy to so many people. How do you stay positive?
This year has been rough. I had been touring different cities, seeing people, being on stage, and feeling the love. I went from that to being home 24/7 — the whole thing has been crazy. I have lost friends and family members to Covid. A lot of friendships went out the window, as we all went into survival mode. So much uncertainty. Covid has been a bad situation, a wild card. But I’m never going to stop, I’m spending this time in a positive way to help people. I have unlimited energy when it comes to what I do.
People always ask me the question of how I stay positive and the answer is that I’m surrounded by love. I have a wife who loves me just for me, unconditionally. I have a few good people around me who care about my mental health. There’s also the people I game with, my squad. And my cats have been with me through so much. That’s why I wrote my sixth book during the pandemic. It’s called A New Cattitude: An Illustrated Guide to Getting Through Tough Times. “Cattitude” is about never giving up, always surviving, and continuing to fight. For me, this is what I do, what I was born to do. Knock me down and I’ll get right back up and go even harder.
What keeps you going? Why do you do what you do?
I do this because I know who I’m inspiring. Kids come up to me and say “I’ve never seen somebody like you, doing what you do, thank you for representing us.” I’m just happy that my message is being heard — be yourself, you can’t be nobody else but yourself. Be the best you that you can be. Be original. Don’t expect things to happen overnight. Don’t expect things to fall into your lap. If you want it, you have to go out there and get it. If you focus and stick to what you believe in, I promise you, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Listening to you is so motivating — as a fellow Portlander and cat mom, I really appreciate seeing you out there being so unabashedly who you are and flying the flag for cat lovers everywhere. What’s next for you? What can your fans — what you call the cat family — look forward to?
I’m the author of six books, and working on book number seven. You can also expect a new album coming out very shortly and listen to all my music on streaming platforms. Follow me on Twitch, and across all my social media accounts under @IamMoshow.
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Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen
Mai Lynn Miller Nguyen is a freelance culture writer who launched a neighborhood publication called The Pet Times while in elementary school. She is a devoted (read: obsessed) pet parent to Pippi, a spirited little orange cat who was found in the wilds of Michigan in 2020, has since crossed the country three times, and loves to climb trees.