I'm Not Totally Sold on the Australian Cookie Monster Cat Caper

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

It is the perfect viral story: a relatable and embarrassing email screwup and a picture of a cat in a cute outfit, the kind of story perfectly suited for “and now, the lighter side of the news” segments on local TV. The U.S. Embassy in Canberra, Australia, apologized after the State Department accidentally sent an email invite to a “cat pajama jam,” which was supposedly a “training error” made by “new staff testing out our email newsletter platform,” according to the Australian Associated Press.


And wookat the wittle kitty cat:

Dawwww. He thinks he’s people, or more accurately, a horrific monster whose only desire in life is to consume cookies.

The cat in question, Joey, belongs to a woman in Australia who enjoys humiliating her cats by dressing them up in an endless variety of adorable little outfits. (What sort of monster would do that?) She even posted a nod to the story this morning:

The now-infamous pajama image appears to have been first posted in 2015:


But poor Joey has been forced into these pajamas many, many times over the years:


As has his sister Rosie:


The Instagram account’s owner, Jennifer Stewart, is no stranger to viral fame. In 2015, the Daily Mail wrote about her cats’ Christmas outfits.

I am not 100 percent sold on this story, folks. I’m not saying that I’m convinced that this was all a planned screwup to somehow promote the U.S. Embassy in Australia; why, exactly, would they need to be promoted? But in today’s publicity obsessed world, it’s hard to imagine any institution, be it a government agency or a foreign embassy, that doesn’t yearn for a little taste from the cup of sweet virality. I think it is more than a little possible that the email was a set-up; it has all the ingredients of a viral hit. The internet loves cats, obviously, but it also loves email screw-ups.


And if I’m wrong, I’m happy with my decision to remain bitterly, painfully cynical about even the simplest joys, like a cat in a onesie.

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com