A relic from times past has re-emerged in our new Prime Minister’s office: the iconic “Hang In There, Baby!” kitten poster once owned by Pierre Trudeau has now reappeared in Ottawa. Brought out of storage from among his father’s belongings, Justin Trudeau now has the poster on display once again.
The original poster design has some sketchy provenance, with little copyright or authorship information available. First appearing in the late 1960s and hugely popular throughout the ‘70s, the dangling kitten spoke volumes in a society rife with civil and political unrest. Often imitated, the original poster featured an orange tabby kitten with vibrant green eyes; later reproductions used a Himalayan kitten, as well as a brown tabby.
The kitten’s name remains unknown.
Urban legend and political lore surround this image; it’s most famous association being with President Richard Nixon’s troublesome time in power. The story goes that the poster was presented to Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, as a gesture from his supporters during a period in 1973 when they were both under intense pressure to resign from office.
Cats are naturally the perfect animal the spread this message of perseverance. They are resilient survivors, capable of momentous tasks. The kitten in this poster is living proof that predicaments can be gotten out of, if only one is determined, enduring, and hopeful.
In our time of internet memes and Facebook posts aimed to boost positivity, the message behind what is possibly the most popular cat motivational poster ever made still rings true today. We live in times of ever increasing stress. Whether you believe the poster’s message to be trite and kitschy, its message of determination in the face of hardship couldn’t be more apt. It is a vintage reminder with a timeless motto.
Written by: Erin Knibb