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March 26, 2020

Make your own Flat Cat!


In 1988 my brother Seth suggested we start a business together. I thought he was delusional for a bit. We were both living in Boston's South End. Seth was working in tech, and I was making lunches for fancy lawyers at a firm downtown. But we were ready to do our own entrepreneurial  thing. After some soul searching and a research junket to Italy, Blue Q actually started off designing home lighting. But of course we got distracted, in only about about six months, by some weird hand of fate that seems to have dogged us ever since — The Flat Cat.

The Flat Cat was our first and only product, introduced at the New York Stationery Show in May of '88. We rented a 10x10-foot booth, and decorated it as a surreal living room to grab people's attention. Since we had no money, we just painted old chairs, a coat rack, broom, broken TV, and other junk bright yellow. The guerilla presentation was hard for store buyers to ignore, and sales at the trade show were quite decent. But during the approaching Christmas season we lucked out: Bloomingdale’s dramatically featured a hundred Flat Cats in their New York display windows. (And this was back when Bloomingdale's was Bloomingdale's.) Things took off from there, and soon Flat Cats were boogying out the door to distributors in Europe, Australia, and Japan. 

And of course the whole thing was an accident; the first cat a lark, just a hasty decoration to keep us company. It came about when we saw a life-sized, double-page advertisement in Business Week, featuring a cat selling Canon copiers. We sliced it out, glued it to cardboard, and stapled an easel to it. It was a total piece of crap but had an irresistible faux pet vibe on the studio floor. 

One day, in our strapped financial straits, the light bulb went off, and we thought it looked marketable if packaged strangely. So we sleuthed and purchased the cat image from professional photographer Manny Denner, a real mensch. Then, with a look in the yellow pages, we sourced a commercial printer, a die cutter, and a contract packaging company. Our whole supply chain was a bike ride away. Our initial run was 10,000 pieces. It seemed like a lot so we told shops we'd take them back if they tanked, but the phone started ringing with reorders almost immediately. We quit our jobs and bought a Canon fax machine! 

And the name: Our dad, Ken, HATED cats, and groused with mock disgust when we told him what we were doing, “The only good cat is a flat cat!”

We named our company in a half-hour brainstorming session, on Seth's roof deck, on a sunny day under a blue sky. People ask us all the time, "What does the company name Blue Q mean?"  The answer is nothing, we just liked the ring of it. 

We ended up selling over a million Flat Cats for $5.99 in the shops, and Flat Fido and Instant Infant soon ensued. It was a wonderfully popular product line for about five years, and put Blue Q on the map, though it was almost two years until we hired our first employee. The last Flats shipped 25 years ago, but we hope you'll make your very own copy with this handy download. Just print, glue or tape to cardboard, cut out, and you're in business. Fashion a crude little stand-up easel for the back. If you print this in black and white, try tinting the eyes emerald green with a colored pencil. 

Enjoy your new, authentic Flat Cat! 



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My dad always said, 'the only good cat is a dead cat.' Heh...guess a lot of dads are a lot alike. Since I live in a tiny space with a 'no pets' policy, I'll be printing out my very own flat friend directly! Thanks, y'all! :)
Comment By: Deb1 month ago 
We bought our Flat Cat in 1992 at Urban Outfitters in Berkeley, CA. My wife and I were starting grad school, and the Flat Cat was just the right per for us. My daughter just had to leave her 3-D cat at home as she headed off to college, and now I know what to send her to ease her transition! Great original idea you two!
Comment By: DANIEL1 month ago 
so funny- just today I was trying to repair my flat cat. My real cat had just died and from the bus window I saw the flat cat there in a coffee shop window and had to have it! While it has had a long life- there is a bit of delamination. Now I have two real cats and the gramps kitty- flat cat- or flapjack as we call him!
Comment By: tonya6 months ago 
I love the Flat Cat. My cat, Domino, does not. Therefore, the Flat Cat sits quietly in my flat file.
Comment By: e7 months ago 
I only have one cent to add, for now. Could you add a downloadable Instant Infant to go along with my new cat and dog? I need him to keep the flat peace around here.
Comment By: Jennifer 10 months ago 
I still have my Flat Cat I got in the early 90’s at the old Garage mall in Harvard Square! Since then I’ve seen Flat cats in the movies Jurassic Park (inside Dr. Grants trailer when Hammond visits) and Back to the Future 2 (inside the store where Marty buys the Sports almanac)
Comment By: Scott1 year ago 
A Flat Cat kept me company in a New York University dorm for a couple of years and then in house shares as a poor student for years. I'm thrilled that a reanimated Flat Cat is now a reality!
Comment By: Vincent1 year ago 
Great take-along for a college student who's heading to the dorms and can't take their pets with them!
Comment By: L1 year ago 
OMG! I didn't realize how badly I need a Flat Cat! I'm heading out right this minute to get her supplies (some rose moscato, egg rolls, and German Chocolate Cake ice cream). It may take a day or two to figure out her name. Thank you for bringing us together! I feel like she has a whole family of loving aunts and uncles already. I'm weepy with joy.
Comment By: Penny1 year ago 
My flat cat is has put real cat in a tizzy. So much fun. Thanks Blue Q
Comment By: MaryEllen1 year ago 
I secretly placed Flat Cat in my husband’s den. Glad he didn’t drop his mug & French press. After the shock, the laughing. It made his day!
Comment By: Jean T1 year ago 
Oh my goodness, in quarantine in VA away from home & this flat cat is just exactly what I didnt know I needed! Thank you for your generosity & your humor! I have many treasured Blue Q items & am grateful I had packed my unicorn "Running the world & stuff" pencil case for this recent trip. Because though quarantined away from home, I have your not of whimsy to keep me upbeat. Hugs from my heart to yours, Kristin
Comment By: Kristin 1 year ago 
Thanks! I still have mine from the 80s, still proudly displayed on my living room floor. It freaks out real, 3-D cats when they visit.
Comment By: JS1 year ago 
so Funny. Was telling my 23 year old animal lover about the flat cat my strange sister gave me when i was in college. My daughter was a bit upset but it was One of my favorite things! Do I remember correctly that it came in a box that looked like there might be flowers inside? Or maybe she just added that touch! Thinking you're getting flowers then it's a dead cat! Can't believe that was y'all! I've been a loyal customer for many years & at least 2xs a month I tell someone where i got my awesome grocery bags. And then warn them that your site is HIGHLY ADDICTIVE Cheers, y'all
Comment By: Dorothy1 year ago 
My sister had Flat Fish on the back of her toilet for years! I will be printing out 2 sets of Flat Cat for my now-homeschooling-from-NYC niece and nephew, so they can each have the cat they have been wanting. Love the idea of adding cat food ads and a flat litter box to complete the package. They will get such a kick out of this. Love all the comments; you folks are a ray of sunshine ALWAYS.
Comment By: Jackie1 year ago 
I’d love to have a flat chicken! I’m totally printing flat cat! Fun!!!
Comment By: Tess1 year ago 
When you said to make the Flat Cat out of cardboard, you didn't mean *corrugated* cardboard, did you? I'm asking this question a little too late, but it may help someone else.
Comment By: Michael1 year ago 
I meaaaannnnnn, you probably could use corrugated? The edges might be a little rough, but maybe that just means your Flat Cat is a long-haired Flat Cat!
Reply By: BlueQ 1 year ago 
Doesn't shed at all! Hardly eats anything. It does hide when I vacuum, though.
Comment By: Stan1 year ago 
The state of Idaho is currently on lockdown! Flat Cat to the rescue!
Comment By: Karen1 year ago 
I still have an original flat cat! My real cat used to pop the hell out of it every time she passed it!
Comment By: Linda1 year ago 
My G-D: Spent the entire afternoon making a Flat Cat and posted it on my FB page...while: *I walked around the block 5 times *Waited for the soup to be ready in the c. 1980s crock pot *Watched the bread rise in the dusty bread maker pulled off the top shelf VERY productive afternoon, but my cat is scared as shit from the new competition. Kiki D.
Comment By: Kiki1 year ago 
Your IG feed and letters in my inbox are the only rays of sunshine in my dreary coronavirus banishment. Thanks for keeping me sane!
Comment By: Joanne1 year ago 
We are having a social distancing cruise night tomorrow night in our small community. We are printing a bunch and going to place around the cruise route!!!
Comment By: Gail1 year ago 
I’d love to have a flat chicken! I’m totally printing flat cat! Fun!!!
Comment By: Tess1 year ago 
I was wondering where I got mine years ago. This is awesome that the cat is back!!
Comment By: Gail1 year ago 
Lovely short haired tabby. I need the company during this corona Isolation. thanks
Comment By: harriet1 year ago 
In 1989 my mom sent me away to out-of-state college with a flat cat since I couldn't bring my beloved kitty boys with me. I still have that flat cat in storage, a bit worn from over hugging and stained with a few tears but I couldn't bear to get rid of it.
Comment By: Megan1 year ago 
I had a flat cat. My live cat hated it so much that she would beat it up every time she walked by it. Unfortunately flat cat didn’t survive!
Comment By: Leslie1 year ago 
Flatty catty and I are eagerly waiting for my girl and our dog to get home from their morning walk. This will be fun.
Comment By: Carroll1 year ago 
FELINES, Nothing more than Felines, Whoa Whoaaaa FELINES
Comment By: Stephanie1 year ago 
Happily I still have Flat Cow... having a thing for cows back in the day... I received 2 for Christmas that year ... moo!
Comment By: Sandy1 year ago 
I purchased a flat cat for my sister at Nordstrom many years ago. Flat cat still has a prominent place in her home.
Comment By: Judy1 year ago 
My fiance was thrilled that I "wasted" his printer ink, but in the end decided that it was better than adopting a third dog from the shelter. That being said, flat Fido would be an incredible addition to my household. Thanks for my entertainment of the day!
Comment By: Sharon 1 year ago 
THX Pals!!! (& btw i have an original 4up press sheet mounted on foamcore somewhere if y’all want it back—will trade for grocery bags that are FINALLY showing a bit of wear.)
Comment By: Joe 1 year ago 
I have a funny story about the flat baby. When we were young hippies in a brand new neighborhood, we bought our first fixer upper home. It had a great front porch, but needed huge repairs... so we began to tackle it ourselves. There were 3 ol biddy ladies that would drive by every day to check on our “progress”. They never stopped, they just glared out the car windows... So, after getting the railings done, we took out flat baby and put it on the railing... and went inside to watch and wait... Yup... those 3 ol biddies has to get a new car after driving it into the tree. Never saw them again. We still have flat baby... sometimes you never grow up... We are in our 60’s now...
Comment By: Susan1 year ago 
Thanks for the Flat Cat to make as a pet during these crappy times! I will feed it cat food pix from magazines which will save a lot of money. YAY I have a Cat now!
Comment By: Sheila1 year ago 
I’d love to have a flat chicken! I’m totally printing flat cat! Fun!!!
Comment By: Tess1 year ago 
We had a real dead flat cat in our hay loft for years. It laid on it's side and had a bell collar on it. Even my cousins from Ohio thought it was cool. One day a tornado blew away the barn. We all wondered what became of the flat cat. My dad said, "Shut up! I'm so sick of hearing about that God dammed dead cat." We still wonder where it landed.
Comment By: Snow1 year ago 
Love it! I’ve given up on printers, but I’d order Flat Fido in a hot minute if he were available!
Comment By: Tamara 1 year ago 
I can’t wait to make this FLAT CAT! My dick of a cat is orange so I’m going to pretend this grey one has come over to kick his ass. Thanks, Blue Q, for helping me pass the time while I slowly die of boredom and /or Coronavirus. Wendy PS- socks that say “I survived the pandemic!” (Too soon?)
Comment By: Wendy1 year ago 
Thanks Mitch - great to hear your story! And thanks for Flat Cat. Keep on cattin’.
Comment By: Virginia1 year ago 
OMG.......Instant Infant is kinda appealing, too.
Comment By: Holly1 year ago 
Everything about your company makes me smile. Thank you!
Comment By: Elsbeth1 year ago 
I remember seeing Instant Infant in a Spencer Gifts store when I was first married. My husband and I laughed it was just what we needed as an excuse to stay in our home at Christmas time vs. traveling to inlaws' homes e.g. "Love to come, but the baby ... you know."
Comment By: Jean1 year ago 
Loved reading this and cannot wait to print our Flat Cat. Thank you.
Comment By: Stephanie1 year ago 
This MAY be a stretch...could it be paired with Flat Stanley? I know, epic!
Comment By: Linda1 year ago 
Love your flat cat's and Thank you for the printout. I had to print one for my cats to have a new housemate. It's way too much fun entertaining them or more like myself. I have several of your unique blueq bags. They make great gifts. My little chicken bag is my favorite. Granny Chicken
Comment By: Lisa1 year ago 
Thank you! I totally want to do this! Will it print out at full size? Super excited! Jenn
Comment By: Jenn1 year ago 
Hi Jenn - Yes, it should! You can use the little square on the bottom of the first page to check, but another way to be sure is to set the printer settings to 100% scale. Have fun!
Reply By: BlueQ 1 year ago 
Will you’ve releasing Flat Fido? We had him in our NY apartment in the nineties and I think he’s still buried in a box of nostalgia in our house somewhere...
Comment By: June1 year ago 
Comment By: Barbara 1 year ago 
Now I need a flat litter box.
Comment By: Andrew1 year ago 

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