DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And let's hear now about a certain breed of entrepreneur. If you have the right breed of cat, or at least one with a certain look, you might be feeding kitty treats to a potential goldmine. A new book out claims it can help. It's called "How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity: A Guide to Financial Freedom." As NPR's Renita Jablonski found out, trying to claw your way to the top can leave a lot of scratches.
RENITA JABLONSKI, BYLINE: Nineteen scratches, give or take.
(SOUNDBITE OF CAT MEOWING)
JABLONSKI: That's my cat Bruiser, on the way to the groomers. For years, my husband and I have been taking photos of him wearing hats. Chapter one of "How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity" is titled "Grooming Your Star." We are pulling up to Bonnie's Dog and Cat Grooming, pretty well-known here on Capitol Hill. I wonder if some, like, fancy congressional dogs and cats go here.
(SOUNDBITE OF DRYER BLOWING)
BONNIE PEREGOY: You know, we did Ben Bernanke's dog for years, and now he's retired - Tinker Bernanke.
JABLONSKI: Bonnie Peregoy is the owner of Bonnie's Dog and Cat Grooming.
PEREGOY: It's hard to break into the Internet cat business, because there's a lot of cats trying to do it now.
BEN HUH: So, I think what we see here is the rise of the Internet cat industrial complex.
JABLONSKI: Ben Huh is the founder and CEO of Cheezburger, a multimillion-dollar media company that specializes in cats.
HUH: I go to a meeting or a conference, and all of a sudden, people are, you know, I've got iPhones in my face filled with cat photos and, you know, it's not like I can make it happen.
JABLONSKI: Truly, one can do only so much to make it happen.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)
JABLONSKI: Back at the groomers, things quickly went south.
PEREGOY: He is not happy.
JABLONSKI: He's not happy.
JABLONSKI: I'm feeling so guilty already.
PEREGOY: Don't you want to be famous?
(SOUNDBITE OF CAT SCREECHING)
(SOUNDBITE OF CAR DOOR CLOSING)
JABLONSKI: OK. So, that didn't go well. So we're just going to go home and give Bruiser some treats and a little catnip. I've got some organic catnip. Once Bruiser was high on catnip, he got a reusable grocery bag stuck on his head. Perfect. I struggled, though, to take photos of the action with my iPhone. Dustin Fenstermacher is the photographer for "How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity."
DUSTIN FENSTERMACHER: The cameras on them just sometimes are not fast enough. They'll just appear to be a blur.
JABLONSKI: So you're saying I would have to invest in, like, a nice camera.
FENSTERMACHER: If you're really serious about making your cat a celebrity, I would suggest that.
JABLONSKI: All right. So this is going to be another expense.
FENSTERMACHER: It's also another tax write-off, too.
JABLONSKI: Cheezburger's Ben Huh says my money would be better spent on the right accessories.
HUH: The problem here isn't the cat. I think it's your choice of hats that you need to work on.
JABLONSKI: He says cat photos need to be extreme to get attention. That's why he saw an opportunity to partner with online clothing community Betabrand. They're launching a new clothing line today.
HUH: Humans wear cat prints on their clothing. We thought we would reverse that. And so you could have a hooded sweater for your cat that makes it look like the cat is a very hairy-chested man with nipples.
JABLONSKI: That hoodie sells for $25. Facebook is telling me my money should go to advertising Bruiser's page. It sounds complicated, but the how-to book promises, quote, "You don't have to be a financial genius like Jimmy Buffett." Renita Jablonski, NPR News.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.