Three of Waterville’s feline residents have put the area’s squirrel-chasing dogs on notice.
Eleanor, Gibbous, and Miley — who were filmed ready to take on the neighborhood squirrel — have won one of the top prizes in The Friskies annual award show, beating almost 2,500 other entrants.
Their owners, Robin and Dan Madigan, received a $5,000 cash prize, a gold-plated Catuette trophy, and bragging rights as one of the best Internet cat videos of 2013.
After months of competition and anticipation, Friskies awarded four category winners and the Fan Favorite during The Friskies live award show Tuesday night in New York City.
The 90-second video, which can be seen at https://www.thefriskies.com/Entries/Watch/We-Love-Squirrel, shows the three cats keeping a close eye on a frisky squirrel, who is just out of reach on the other side of the glass door.
The Madigans’ video, titled We Love Squirrel, was the top vote-getter in the “Pursuit of Food or Treat” category.
“The Friskies” judging panel helped present the awards. The judges were Henri le Chat Noir creator Will Braden; Adopt-a-Pet.com Executive Director Abbie Moore; and Mick Szydlowski, The Friskies 2012 Grand Prize Winner and owner of Oskar the Blind Cat.
In July, they narrowed down nearly 2,500 video submissions to 20 semifinalists. Each semifinalist received a one-year supply of Friskies cat food and Friskies Party Mix cat treats, said Shawn Brain, Friskies brand manager.
From there, it was up to the public to choose the Top 3 finalist videos in each category throughout the month of August. Those top finalists converged at the award show, and the finalist in each category with the most votes was named category winner. The public also chose the Fan Favorite through a one-day text vote on Tuesday, the day of the award show.
Eleanor, Gibbous, and Miley look like wild cats, but are as sweet as three cats can be, Robin Madigan told Friskies in her entry.
Eleanor is the curious cat, always chasing shadows, reflections, and laser pointers. Miley is the athletic cat, and Gibbous is the queen bee, who according to Ms. Madigan, thinks “she’s all that.” When there’s a squirrel outside the window, they’re all hypnotized, she said.
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It was Robin and daughter Maren’s idea to enter the contest, Dan Madigan said. Friskies donated cans of food to rescue groups for each entry received, which is what prompted them to participate, he said.
“Maren helped her with the editing and uploading of the video that she had shot before knowing about the contest,” Mr. Madigan said.
The family never dreamed they would be selected as finalists, much less be one of the top winners.
“The whole experience of becoming a semifinalist and then a finalist was unbelievable,” Mr. Madigan said. “Then, to top it off, they brought us to New York City for three days, and put us up in the heart of Times Square for the awards ceremony.”
The show was staged at an off-Broadway theater.
All three of the cats are about 2 years old. They are Ocicats, which the Madigans raise and show.
“This breed is known for being athletic, intelligent, and loving, which is what drew her to the breed when she began around 15 years ago and was looking for a pet for our young children,” he said.
Thankfully, stardom hasn’t gone to their heads.
“They still love their daily routine of eating, napping, playing, chasing shadows, and of course, squirrel watching,” he said.