Sixers Fans Are Raising Cats to Celebrate the Team’s Success

On trusting the process and the silly meme that should unite all Sixers fans. Meow!

Raise the Cat — sixers photos

At left: Dennis Grove, the founder of the #RaiseTheCat movement (“movement”). At right: The Penn Vet school’s contribution to the #RaiseTheCat movement.

My cat was on the news yesterday.

OK, it wasn’t quite prime time. But at 6:25 a.m., little Detective John Munch made an appearance on a CBS 3 news report. Channel 3 did a little report on #RaiseTheCat, the month-old tradition in which Sixers fans on Twitter raise their cats over their heads after a Sixers victory.

It all started with Philadelphian Dennis Grove. Early in the season, Grove tweeted that if the Sixers were to win the game he was watching, he’d raise his cat over his head to celebrate. It was inspired by Ben Simmons’s cute cat, which often appears in his Snapchats. (The NBA and cats go together. There’s even a site called NBA Cat Watch that lets you know which basketball players have cats.) Unfortunately for Grove — and perhaps fortunately for his cat, Izzy — the Sixers opened the season 0-10. There would be no cats in the air until November 11th, when the Sixers beat the Pacers in OT.

Since that awful start, though, the team has improved. Joel Embiid is going to win Rookie of the Year. Though he’s on a minutes restriction in an attempt to stay healthy — he sat out his first two years with a foot injury — at times Embiid has looked like one of the best players in the league. And he’s just a rookie! It’s been exciting. I’ve been walking around the city whistling that “Here Come the Sixers” song.

And, with the Sixers winning 7 of 9, cats are starting to go in the air. It’s easy to see how this spreads: People on the Internet love cats, and people are totally into the idea of joining a crew of lovable fans when the Sixers are good. Think of #RaiseTheCat as the 2017 version of that time in 2001 when everyone in the city had Sixers flags on their car.

Plus, cute cats make for good TV, but there isn’t often a way to get them on. Cats mostly sleep. They don’t go out and do things like the hero dog that rescued its family in the Carroll Park section of West Philly. TV news also likes silly sports fan stories, and if one can be teed up for them with funny Twitter photos from “those crazy kids on the Internet,” then all the better.

Now here’s the part of the story where we remind you that there are plenty of poor cats who are looking for a good home. Morris Animal Refuge has gotten into the #RaiseTheCat fun, and Detective John Munch is herself a cat rescued from PAWS (I got her when my girlfriend moved in with me). Penn Vet even got into the act. And now there’s even an official #RaiseTheCat T-shirt, whose proceeds going to a yet-to-be-determined animal charities. Fun!

I didn’t realize it was going to become an actual thing with my cat on the news and commenters calling me a stoner and a homeless man, but I’m pretty happy about it. I did suggest the (very obvious) #RaiseTheCat hashtag and have so far posted four different cat-raising photos. I do this because I like the Sixers, I like my cat and I am pretty goofy and (most important) pretty vain.

And also because it’s a fun, stupid thing. I’ve been doing fun, stupid things on the Internet since I first got AOL in the early 1990s. I find it a good use of my time. And Sixers fans need some unity right now. Despite the team’s recent run of success, fans aren’t all happy: With every Sixers win comes a rehashing of the team’s tanking strategy and the departure of Sam Hinkie. Much of the fandom of The Process is fun and silly, like when Hinkie fans who do things like like print GODNER on T-shirts, in support of Philadelphia magazine contributor Derek Bodner.

But there’s an undercurrent of anger here. And I get it. The Sixers are clawing back to respectability after several years of being the laughingstock of pro sports, and those who “trusted the process” feel vindicated now that they’ve won (if you can consider a 14-26 record winning). They retweet stupid old beat writer takes. They make fun of people who said Embiid would never play. Some even say if you weren’t with them during the three years of hell, you can’t become a Sixers fan now. Have people been overly dismissive of the Sixers’ strategy? Sure. Do people need to be like Donald Trump and settle every score? No. The Sixers are fun this year to a lot of fans for the first time since their flukey playoff run in 2012. It’s a cause for joy and mirth!

And so: Raise. The. Cat. It’s the only way to bring all the Sixers fans together to celebrate. It’s enough to make you want to purr.