You have another adorable cat here in Mr. Marbles. How did you find him?
I have a close working relationship with the Bloomington animal shelter, and when Mr. Marbles was brought in, they messaged me. They thought he would be a perfect fit for my family. Actually, two or three people from the shelter messaged me separately, saying, “You guys have to meet this cat, he’s perfect for you.” We weren’t looking for another, but we met him a few days before Christmas, and the whole family instantly fell in love with him. My understanding is that he was living with a lady who passed away, and then a friend of his previous owner fostered him for a few months before bringing him to the shelter.
Where did his name come from?
His name was Bubba in the shelter. Right after we agreed to adopt him, my wife, Stacy, and our kids were riding in the car with me, trying to come up with a new name. Just for fun, I kept tossing out annoying ones, because I couldn’t seem to think of anything good. The kids were laughing, and Stacy was rolling her eyes and telling me to shut up. Then I kind of went quiet and thought about it, and I just said, “What about Mr. Marbles?” Everyone agreed it was a good name. The funny part is, when someone else asked that recently, Stacy said that she came up with it. So I better let her have that. Let’s just say she came up with it.
What other animals do you have in your menagerie right now?
We still have Vivian and Special Agent Dale Cooper living at my recording studio. At the house, we have Spooky and another cat we adopted about a year ago named Lil Pillow. Also a dog—a Pomeranian mix named Gucci.
What’s Mr. Marbles’s personality like? Lil Bub always had such an angelic expression, but Marbles looks kind of ticked off.
It just goes to show you, you can’t judge a cat by its cover. He’s remarkably sweet and affectionate. People light up when they’re around him and can’t resist being with him. He’s so incredibly friendly, he’s almost like a dog. He follows us everywhere.
Why does he look like he looks?
Frankly, it’s just irresponsible, unethical breeding that caused his extreme features. He’s technically a breed called an Exotic Shorthair, and they have flat faces, silly-looking mouths, and big eyes. Breeders will find a male and a female with the most pronounced features, so they can make even freakier-looking offspring. Keep doing that and it starts resulting in extreme deformities, like with Mr. Marbles’s face. If you see him in person, you can tell that his face isn’t even flat. It’s actually concave. He also has a mild case of hydrocephalus, which is water on the brain. But it’s not a concern because he has a soft spot on his head that allows the pressure to be released. Other than that, he’s perfectly healthy, very active, and has a great appetite. Unlike Bub, he doesn’t have any mobility issues.
Mr. Marbles has his own online presence (@itsmistermarbles), just like Lil Bub did. Why did you decide to put him on social media?
He’s a unique cat and I knew that people would be interested in seeing him. Also, in 2014, we started Lil Bub’s Big Fund to help special-needs pets. After Bub passed away, we thought that Mr. Marbles would be a good figurehead for the fund.
Does he cooperate for photos? Because cats typically don’t cooperate for photos.
He’s very photogenic, which surprised us. He’s also very easy to photograph, which is a rare trait for a cat. So I started an Instagram page for kind of the same reason I originally started Bub’s page. But the Mr. Marbles page isn’t as fast paced. I posted Bub photos every day. It was like a job. With Mr. Marbles, if I happen to get a good photo, I’ll post it. I’m not trying to make him famous, but if Bub fans think he’s cute and funny, they can follow him. He has around 70,000 Instagram followers and about 70,000 Facebook followers. We haven’t done YouTube yet.
Any plans for Mr. Marbles swag?
We’re going to make a Mr. Marbles T-shirt, because why not? Our fans are asking for one, and clothes are one of our biggest sources of fundraising. But none of this is premeditated. We adopted Mr. Marbles because we loved him, and then we thought, Why not start a page? We’ve done it before and people like it.
What do you say to the people who suggest you’re just getting another special-needs cat so you can keep the fame train going?
There are always going to be haters. And I don’t blame people for thinking that. The world is filled with conspiracy theorists and negative people who always think the worst. So I think it’s perfectly natural. Ten years after introducing Lil Bub, I was still getting people accusing me of profiting off of a sick cat that should be put down. It’s people who don’t have the time or the information to really understand what we’re doing, or who just feel better by making other people feel worse.
Is it true that you plan to launch Lil Bub’s ashes into space?
Yes, if the opportunity arises. I started digging into it and it’s a huge undertaking. I wanted her ashes to be encapsulated in a satellite that orbits the Earth forever. We could have raised funds. The problem wasn’t so much the money as the logistical difficulties of doing it. So right now, the container holding her ashes is part of a little shrine in our house.