Some sports show a greater affinity for pet ownership than others as well as a tendency to prefer one kind of pet over the other. For a sports professional, owning an animal can be a challenge because of all the time spent training and on the road. However, many basketball players enjoy coming home after a rough game or challenging practice to cuddle up with a nice warm kitty. Although it is apparent that professional players show a marked preference for dogs, the NBA celebrated all things feline in its fundraising efforts for animal shelters.
The NBA had an animal rescue campaign called Catwatch for which the league made special shirts that featured a version of the NBA red white and blue symbol with the silhouette of a white cat in the middle. The effort raised thousands of dollars for animal shelters and had a fun twitter feed that speculated about the number of pet owners in the NBA. Catwatch asked avid fans who knew everything about their favorite players including what they ate for breakfast to name NBA players they believed own cats. There was much discussion about whether certain players actually owned cats or were just photographed with them. Users were challenged to find images on social media and discuss them and then players were asked about the pets they owned.
There was controversy over whether Shayne Whittington of the Indiana Pacers owned a cat named Tom with whom he was photographed on several occasions. It would be appropriate for someone with the last name Whittington to own a cat, at least in the minds of people who are familiar with the British pantomime tale of Dick Whittington and his cat. Shayne was photographed with a sly looking tabby that was peeking out from under a blanket and flashing its striking green eyes at the camera. The same cat was later dressed up in a Santa suit and held up proudly for a social media photo. Whittington revealed however that he is just pals with the cat, although he is on tummy touching terms with Tom. The Twitter feed was obsessed with the status of Shayne’s ownership of the cat with some speculation that he was a co-owner until he finally settled the issue.
For a while, there was also confusion over whether Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves owned a small white and black kitten he was photographed with. The player whose nickname is KAT confirmed he didn’t own the cat but was quite fond of Hunter who is owned by a Timberwolves staff member. KAT spoke fondly of a pet cat he had growing up and seemed quite wistful at the prospect of owning his own feline again.
The NBA brother act Brooke and Robin Lopez are quite enthusiastic about their cat ownership and discussed it on a YouTube video. Brooke plays for the Brooklyn Nets, was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft and is in NBA All-Star. Robin Lopez plays for the Chicago Bulls and discussed with his brother how they adopted their two adorable cats from PetSmart. One was given the name Poupin, which is chubby in French and was changed because Robin disliked the name Pompadour given by the original owners. The brothers also have a cat named Edward.
San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili released a few videos of his cat named Apia who has a white body with black and orange patches. Apia is seen running around the house playing with its owners. Ginobili, who discussed his cat in Spanish on the Twitter feed is one of the finest international basketball players and is also a member of the Argentine men’s national basketball team.
Mike Miller, a Denver Nuggets guard, has a cat named Maximilian. This three-point specialist was named Rookie of the Year in 2001 and sixth man of the year in 2006. This winner of back-to-back NBA championships apparently likes to chill out after an intense game with a loving cat that has a grand name.
After raising thousands of dollars for animal welfare charities, NBA CatWatch concluded that with the help of information from fans confirmed by players that there were nine NBA players who owned 11 cats. It is interesting that the NBA celebrates cat ownership while baseball player Cam Bedrosian felt he had to defend his love of felines. In a USA Today article, the Angels reliever opened up about his unapologetic love for cats. He told the reporter that people were “giving him crap” about the fact he owned a cat and not a dog. He added that he’s had to its tell people many times that he loves cats and is not ashamed of it. He says, “For me, it’s not weird, but for other people, I guess it is. Most people associate guys with liking dogs and girls with liking cats, but I love them. Cats are my favorite.”
One could speculate about issues of cats versus dogs, men versus women, and baseball players versus basketball players, but such speculation could fill a book. One theory could run that basketball players, on the whole, tend to be taller than baseball players and therefore, feel insecure about the possibility of being considered less masculine because they own cats. Some may cry sexism over such assumptions, but there are certain realities in the world of sports. Of course, this is all hypothetical, and the avoidance of cats in baseball may be attributed to certain superstitions surrounding the sport rather than attitudes about cats and masculinity.
One thing that is notable about the NBA Catwatch Twitter feed is the number players who admitted they love cats but had close cat friends and were not owners. The reason for this may not be attributed to shyness about owning cats as much as the demands of the sport among professionals. Basketball players spend much time on the road and may not be able to give proper care and attention to a cat. This may be one reason for the relatively small number of cat owners in sports.