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Cat Buckaroo (sometimes known as “cat stacking”) is a photo fad and a game that involves stacking an array of objects on the surface of a cat’s body and taking a photograph of the balanced arrangement. Similar to the game of Jenga, the goal of the game is to stack as many items on a cat without making it shift in a different position.
The earliest known mention of “Cat Buckaroo” can be found on the communal idea database HalfBakery in a post submitted by user sufc on March 23rd, 2003.
The magical art of placing various objects on a sleeping cat and seeing who can get the most on before the cat wakes up in a disgruntled mood and slouches off.
Later that same week on March 27th, 2003, Flickr user equestrian_statue uploaded a photo titled “Cat Buckaroo,” which shows a cat resting on a couch with a pile of household items and toys stacked on top. Cats can be seen as the ideal type of animal for balancing objects due to their perceived laziness and high threshold for give-a-fuck-ability.
A typical lazy cat being an unwilling participant in a “Buckaroo” photo
The name of the game is derived from the Milton Bradley board game called Buckaroo (shown left, below), in which players must carefully stack game objects onto a mechanical toy mule’s back. If the toy mule is affected by a vibration, the spring mechanism would cause all the pieces to fly, and the player who triggered it would be out of the game. Prior to the conception of “Cat Buckaroo,” a similar balancing game involving domestic animals has been demonstrated through Oolong the Pancake Bunny (shown right, below) as early as in 2001.
One of the earliest adopters of the game was B3ta forum user MrA, who published a blog post about playing the game with his cat Wesley on April 8th, 2005. A Google search for “Cat Buckaroo” reveals numerous forum threads and blog posts referencing MrA’s blog post. Later that month on April 27th, single topic blog Stuff On My Cat was launched to curate such photographs submitted by the readers.
On August 7th, 2006, a member of the guitarist community Jemsite hosted a Cat Buckaroo competition in the forum, which led to more than 70 response posts containing contributions from other members. In December 2006, “Cat Buckaroo” videos began surfacing on YouTube, but the view counts have been less than notable. In June 2007, the humorous concept of stacking things on cats took a leap forward with the launch of YouTube channel for Shironeko, a Turkish van cat from Japan best known for his extremely relaxed demeanor and ability to balance things on his head.
In the following years, the practice became closely associated with LOLcat image macros and the photos were published through websites like I Can Has Cheezburger. On July 29th, 2010, the single topic blog Cat Stackers was launched. As of September 2013, “cat stacking” images remain in active circulation through Flickr, Reddit and Tumblr under various tags including “not a single fuck was given that day” and “cat jenga” among others.