Nyan Cat, the ancient meme of a cat with a Pop-Tart for a body that flies across the internet leaving a rainbow trail in his wake, has come out of retirement to deliver a clear message: Free Palestine.
According to Know Your Meme, while Nyan Cat was originally created by illustrator Chris Torres and is based on his own Russian Blue cat, many people probably know the meme best in its YouTube version, which was uploaded by user saraj00n, or Sara June, in April of 2011. This is when Nyan Cat’s cute animation was married to a looping version of the Japanese Vocaloid song, Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya, created by Japanese artist Daniwell-P.
While this video has been up for more than a decade and has gained more than 209 million views, it’s been the only video on that channel for 12 years. Or, at least, that was the case until yesterday, when the channel uploaded a one minute and 36 second video titled “meow.” The video starts much like the original, but then a rainbow road appears under a slice of watermelon, a symbol that’s been popularized in pro-Palestinian protests in the past month, hits and shatters the screen. A deep voice announces the fiery slogans as the fly at the camera: “End the occupation, cease-fire now, no to genocide, free Palestine.”
The description of the video links users to a number of organizations and actions they can support to help Palestinians in Gaza, including a list of representatives to contact if they want to “defund Israel,” Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, and Jewish Voice for Peace. So far, the video only has 24,000 views.
This is not the first time June has leveraged the popularity of Nyan Cat’s YouTube video. The description to that video currently promotes a Nyan Cat NFT, and according to Frieze, June has previously used it to promote Means TV, an anti-capitalist media company where June was a contributor.
June did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It has now been one month since Israel declared war on Hamas after it attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping 240, most of whom were civilians, including children. So far, Israel’s relentless bombing campaign of the densely populated Gaza has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, many of which were also children. Israel Defense Forces are also a couple of weeks into a full-scale ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, and have encircled Gaza City.