"Do cats know about their celebrity today?" asked host and comedian Michael Buckley. "And more importantly, do they care?"
That's debatable. But what's unquestionable is the human enthusiasm for cat videos, which have become the third-most-searched items on YouTube.
More than 1,400 videos were submitted to the Friskies awards this year. A panel of judges and online voters narrowed the selection to 12 finalists in four categories.
And to honor the finalists, Friskies brought out a roster of cat-world celebrities to entertain a live audience both in person and over the Web. The festivities included a professional ballet dancer and violinist performing an ode to the Nyan Cat, an a cappella choir performing all "meow" renditions of classic songs, the creator of the Henri Le Chat Noir videos and Animal Planet's "Must Love Cats" host John Fulton singing acoustic cat songs that included lines such as, "The Internet was made for kittens, the Internet was made for cats and I don't have a problem with that."
But there were plenty of touching moments as well.
Most important, Friskies announced it had donated 250,000 cans of cat food to 25 animal shelters across the country to help celebrate the awards show.
And the winner of the first-ever Friskies award was Mick Szydlowski for his video, "Oskar's First Toys." Oskar is a cat born without eyes, and Mick and his girlfriend, Bethany, captured video of the newborn cat playing with a toy ball.
Szydlowski received a year's supply of cat food and a check for $15,000, which he says will be used to buy toys for Oskar and to help pay for their upcoming move from Omaha, Neb., to Seattle.
"It's an incredible feeling," Szydlowski told Yahoo News. "Cats deserve a show like this. And Oskar deserves some of the winnings, maybe all of the winnings.
"Oskar is completely blind, but he doesn't let that slow him down one bit," Szydlowski said. "He's healthy, he's happy, he does everything a regular cat would do."
Szydlowski says he hopes all the attention his Oskar videos have received will help convince people that cats with disabilities can still make great pets. "A lot of people assume it's a death sentence, which is not the case," he said.
You can watch the winning video below:
Other "catuette" winners each received a year's supply of Friskies and $2,500:
· Catness: "Black Cat Stick 'em Up" starring Cole; Tampa, Fla.
· Catcom: "Cat Alarm Clock" starring Boo; Elkhart, Ind.
· Catventure: "Cardboard Dreams" starring Milo, Otis, Barrett and Bates; Plano, Texas
· Catchall: "Kitty Plays Fetch" starring Nylah; Cherry Hill, N.J.
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