The Simpsons have been a part of American TV culture for more than 30 years. They were with us back in the days when we had to follow in the hilarious footsteps of their opening sequence and race home to plop on the sofa in front of the television to catch up with Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. While the people of Springfield caught our attention years ago and tickle our funny bones to this day, none of us can overlook the family pets Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball.
If you are a cat lover, Snowball can easily be considered a famous TV cat. Sure, this kitty is animated, but that doesn’t matter. One of the biggest controversies surrounding Snowball (other than the fact that the Simpson family has lost so many incarnations of Snowball) is determining what breed of cat the character is.
The original Snowball appeared as a white cat that greatly resembled a Persian. However, Snowball II, who is arguably the most popular Snowball of the series, was a darker color which leaves many to think this Snowball is a Bombay or a mix of Bombay and Persian. While none of us know Snowball’s definite breed, we can take a fun look at the many lives of Snowball and what cat breed each one resembles the most.
The Original Snowball
In 1989, the Simpsons episode titled, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” was used to bring Bart’s best friend, Santa’s Little Helper, into the family. In this episode, the family decided to rescue the little, shaky Greyhound. However, that wasn’t the only animal we met in the episode. During the family’s escapades, they meet a white, stray cat that closely resembles a Persian. The cute pink nose and blue collar have become a symbol of the original Snowball. Thankfully, the family decides to take the little stray home as well, making their family complete.
Technically, however, we never truly meet the original Snowball. In the first episode, Snowball is already dead. Yes, it’s confusing, but that’s the world of The Simpsons. While a beloved character, the original Snowball was run over by Mayor Quimby’s brother, Clovis. We, as the audience, get to know the original Snowball through flashbacks in episodes and when she appears from the afterlife.
In the same episode where Snowball I is referenced, Snowball II is introduced. In “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” the family adopts another cat to replace Lisa’s lost Snowball. This cat is a yellow-eyed black cat. This fan-favorite kitty has a dislike for Homer, yet still saves him from a treehouse that’s on fire in the first episode, cementing her as a staple of the family.
With the markings of this Snowball, there is a lot of debate. Many believe she is a Bombay. Others feel she is a mix between a Persian and a Bombay, while there are still other cat lovers who claim her appearance is more similar to a Domestic Shorthair than either of those breeds. While the producers of the show have left this up to debate, what isn’t up to debate is that Snowball II stayed with the series until the 15th season.
While Snowball II had the opportunity to share many misadventures with her family, once again, a vehicle takes Lisa’s best pal away from her. This time it was Dr. Hibbert who ran over Snowball II right after doing the same to Bart’s bicycle. Thankfully, for fans, we get a chance to say goodbye to Snowball II. A funeral is held where Bart is his normal self, giving Lisa a hard time about outliving her pets and Santa’s Little Helper helps the family by covering the kitty’s grave.
No child deserves to go through all the heartache Lisa Simpson experiences with her cats. In the same season she lost her beloved Snowball II, the writers decide it’s time to make the death of the Simpson family’s cats a running joke. To help her daughter cope with the pain of losing her kitty, Marge reads a book that tells her a new pet can help take the pain away. Lisa doesn’t agree but reluctantly allows another cat into her life. This cat, known as Snowball III, is a brown Siamese cat. Unfortunately, Lisa didn’t have much time to get to know the newest Snowball as she leaves the room to get cat food. The cat tries to catch one of the fish in an aquarium and dies from drowning.
Snowball IV aka Coltrane
Once again, poor Lisa Simpson decides to open her heart to a new cat. Snowball IV is named Coltrane by the people at the shelter. Of course, with her love of music, Lisa likes the name. She decides to bring the cat home as the family’s newest member. However, like Snowball III, Coltrane didn’t make it long either. Lisa decides to share her love of jazz music by letting Coltrane hear a bit of music by his namesake. Immediately upon hearing the music, the cat jumps out the window to its death. This kitty’s untimely death resulted in another short Simpson pet funeral with Lisa and Marge being the only ones in attendance.
Cats on Television
Sitting down to watch your favorite television show often allows us a glimpse into other families. When we get these glimpses, it’s not unusual to see a dog as part of the family. However, Snowball and other famous TV kitties are giving cats their own spot in TV land. Another very famous cat, which is also animated, was Garfield. When this chunky kitty first appeared in 1978, the popularity wasn’t expected. Soon, this kitty had its own cartoon show, movies, and lots of people wanted merchandise of this orange-striped lazy cat. The same can be said for Snowball and all her versions. While Snowball II was the most popular iteration, merchandise and memorabilia were popular for several Snowball versions.
While the jury is still out on the exact breed Snowball the cat is, all versions of her, you simply cannot deny the fan following this kitty has. While Snowball II is the one most of us Simpsons fans are accustomed to, each one brought something special to the family. Whether a Persian, Bombay, or Domestic Shorthair, the love and playfulness Snowball exhibited helped make more people want cats in their homes.
Featured Image Credit: RebaSpike, Pixabay