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Meet the most famous cow in America

Cat the Cow's star quality cannot be dimmed by human co-star Will Forte on Fox's sitcom The Last Man on Earth.
Cat the Cow's star quality cannot be dimmed by human co-star Will Forte on Fox's sitcom The Last Man on Earth.
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

This is Cat the Cow.

Currently, Cat plays what might very well be the last cow on Earth on Fox's sitcom The Last Man on Earth. The show's apocalypse seems to have killed all animal life — but not this cow.

Here's Cat in action.

There's a cow on this show.

Cat the Cow (right) hangs out with her Last Man on Earth costar, Will Forte.


If you feel like you know Cat from somewhere else, you might not be wrong. At a recent screening of the Last Man finale (airing Sunday, May 3), I asked series executive producer Chris Miller about the cow, and he volunteered that not only was Cat a highly trained actor, but that she was also the Chick-fil-A Cow.

Yes, this Chick-fil-A Cow.

Could this be true? Could there be just one Chick-fil-A cow?

Why there aren't many famous cows

To find out, I tracked down Cat's owners, who work at Phil's Animal Rentals, which has been providing animals to Hollywood productions for decades. I spoke to Kelly Capponcelli, a manager with the company, who told me that, yes, Cat is in almost all Chick-fil-A commercials.

In fact, if you ever see a Holstein cow (the ones with the black and white spots) on TV or in the movies, it's a safe bet you're looking at Cat. (Or, Capponcelli tells me, one of her three colleagues — all of whom are owned by Phil's Animals, which has cornered the market on Holstein thespians.)

What makes Cat such a good fit for the life of fame? "She ended up working out because she's one of the more gentle, easygoing cows that I've ever met," Capponcelli told me. It turns out that cows, not the smartest of animals, are very, very hard to train, and they often act out on set. They're also incredibly stubborn.

Cat's easygoing nature means she can handle the glare of the spotlight. But she also knows tricks! For instance, she can play instruments. ("Very terribly," Capponcelli allows.) She can push on a sign or hit a target if asked. But mostly, she just stands. That's about all she does on Last Man, but it's all she has to do.

"You don't want her blowing up on set," Capponcelli says.

The life and times of the most famous cow in America

Now, having learned all of this, I would submit to you that between her Chick-fil-A work, her role on Last Man on Earth, and all of the other times she turns up, Cat is the most famous cow in America.

I ask Capponcelli if Cat is the most famous cow in America, and she doesn't even have to think about it. "She probably is right now," she says. "It used to be Georgia, and now it's Cat."

Former Phil's Animals client Georgia died at 25. (She still has a page on the Phil's Animals site.) She was the go-to Holstein before her retirement, and now Cat has inherited the title.

Capponcelli is quick to assure me Cat won't end up a hamburger, nor will she be pressed into service as a dairy cow. Phil's Animal Rentals purchases cows at auction in their youth, and then they live out full careers as animal actors. Capponcelli says the longest a cow has lived at Phil's is 28 years.

So fear not, Cat fans. She's only 8. You'll be seeing her talents for many years to come.

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