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March 26, 2020

Make your own Flat Cat!

ByQ

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! 

x

Mitch




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Comments

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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: Dorothy2 days 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: Jackie2 days ago 
I’d love to have a flat chicken! I’m totally printing flat cat! Fun!!!
Comment By: Tess3 days 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: Michael3 days 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 2 days ago 
Doesn't shed at all! Hardly eats anything. It does hide when I vacuum, though.
Comment By: Stan3 days ago 
The state of Idaho is currently on lockdown! Flat Cat to the rescue!
Comment By: Karen4 days 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: Linda4 days 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: Kiki4 days 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: Joanne4 days 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: Gail4 days ago 
I’d love to have a flat chicken! I’m totally printing flat cat! Fun!!!
Comment By: Tess4 days ago 
I was wondering where I got mine years ago. This is awesome that the cat is back!!
Comment By: Gail4 days ago 
Lovely short haired tabby. I need the company during this corona Isolation. thanks
Comment By: harriet4 days 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: Megan4 days 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: Leslie4 days 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: Carroll4 days ago 
FELINES, Nothing more than Felines, Whoa Whoaaaa FELINES
Comment By: Stephanie4 days 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: Sandy4 days 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: Judy4 days 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 4 days 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 4 days 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: Susan4 days 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: Sheila4 days ago 
I’d love to have a flat chicken! I’m totally printing flat cat! Fun!!!
Comment By: Tess4 days 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: Snow4 days 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 4 days 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: Wendy4 days ago 
Thanks Mitch - great to hear your story! And thanks for Flat Cat. Keep on cattin’.
Comment By: Virginia4 days ago 
OMG.......Instant Infant is kinda appealing, too.
Comment By: Holly4 days ago 
Everything about your company makes me smile. Thank you!
Comment By: Elsbeth5 days 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: Jean5 days ago 
Loved reading this and cannot wait to print our Flat Cat. Thank you.
Comment By: Stephanie5 days ago 
This MAY be a stretch...could it be paired with Flat Stanley? I know, epic!
Comment By: Linda5 days 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 zaisho@hotmail.com
Comment By: Lisa5 days ago 
Thank you! I totally want to do this! Will it print out at full size? Super excited! Jenn
Comment By: Jenn5 days 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 4 days 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: June5 days ago 
Thanks!
Comment By: Barbara 5 days ago 
Now I need a flat litter box.
Comment By: Andrew5 days ago 

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