The other day, Washingtonian received a PR call seeking coverage of a local “celebrity cat,” Prince Snowflake, who has multicolored eyes and a knack for prestidigitation. Obviously, I returned that call.
The person who answered was Mary Ann Fisher of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, who told me a wild tale: As a kitten, Prince Snowflake was snatched from the jaws of death and went on to become a deft magician and performer who also models, does parades, and feeds off of making the good folks of the DMV giddy with cat-induced glee. Faced with such claims, some skepticism is healthy, so I Googled a little to make sure this cat was real. He appears to be.
I cannot verify all of the claims that appear in our conversation below: For instance, did Prince Snowflake really ask to become a quick-change fashion artist? But after we spoke, Fisher did send me 43 photos and seven video clips across 21 emails that confirmed the broad contours of Prince Snowflake’s career.
In addition, these facts are known to be true: Prince Snowflake wears a dizzying array of outfits, he has copious social accounts, and his beard sort of resembles the American Chopper meme. If you’d like to catch your new favorite feline celebrity in person, he is scheduled to appear at the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade this Saturday, November 19.
I’m told that there is a cat named Prince Snowflake that I should ask you about.
That is correct! Prince Snowflake is known as a celebrity cat. He’s not like a regular cat. He actually—you can pull him up. He has an IMDB under “Prince Snowflake.” I’ll tell you a little bit about him: He’s a model, he’s an actor, he was in Oprah magazine in 2019, and he did a show for two hours last year on the steps of the Smithsonian, a magical Christmas show. And he was amazing.
He does magic?
He does magic. He’s a magician.
How does a cat do magic?
He makes up some of his own tricks. It’s just amazing how he knows how to do magic.
Can you describe some of them?
Um, well, let me introduce you to my daughter—Here’s my daughter, Rosie.
Hi, it’s nice to meet you. Could you please describe some of the magic tricks that Prince Snowflake does?
Rosie: Well, he makes things, let’s say, appear and disappear. And he’s the one that does it, with a little sleight of paw.
How does he do it?
Rosie: Just—sleight of paw.
Oh, so you’re not going to say?
Mary Ann: Sometimes he’ll levitate a table. But he does it in a different way—it’s not just a typical table levitation, it’s different. Sometimes Snowflake will talk into a microphone.
How did you discover his aptitude for performance?
Mary Ann: It started out he would leap up into my arms whenever we’d go out. And that’s how I knew he wanted to go out. So we started taking him out to pet stores initially, and he loved that. But that wasn’t enough. He wanted to do cat shows. So he did cat shows. And he would win Best Cat. And that was fun, but after a while, it just got boring—you know, after winning Best Cat, what do you do? It just didn’t have enough excitement for us.
At the same time, Rosie entered him into a contest. And that contest is what took his career off. Over 1,000 people entered it. It was a contest to be in a high fashion calendar in New York City. So we got a call back, and when they met him in New York, we knew they were thrilled with him. He was Mr. November in 2014.
Rosie: He’s actually called the very first quick-change fashion artist magician cat!
What do you mean?
Mary Ann: When we started doing magic with him, we didn’t want to throw away fashion—he loves dressing up. And most cats just hate clothes, but he loves it. So all of a sudden, the three of us put our heads together and Snowflake came up with the idea—he told us this is what he wanted to do, changing clothes quickly.
How did he tell you that’s what he wanted to do?
Rosie: Well, he has a special way of communicating with us. It’s almost like he speaks English and we speak cat.
Mary Ann: It’s really—we’re not loons, I know it sounds like that. But Snowflake is not like any other cat. I have other cats, and you can’t do that with them. Until you meet him, you wouldn’t really understand it.
Got it. How did the Oprah thing come about?
Rosie: Well, I found something online saying they were looking for, actually, dogs. And then we messaged them and said, Well, he’s not a dog, but we do have Prince Snowflake. And they’re like, We love him! They were just absolutely thrilled. They actually said he was overqualified, it was so funny.
He went and did the shoot for a cat scratcher. It’s really cool—it has the illusion of floating. And he just sat there for that shoot, and he just owned it. They actually booked more time, but he was so good that they didn’t even have to use the whole time.
Do you make his outfits?
Mary Ann: Yeah, we make all his outfits.
Where do you get the inspiration?
Mary Ann: From Snowflake.
Like, he tells you what he wants to wear?
Rosie: You look at him like, Hey, you like the red fabric or the green fabric? He’ll pull the red fabric, so we’re using the red fabric. For every show he does, he has a new outfit, so we always customize it to the show or the parade or the tree lighting. Snowflake is very inspiring. He really pushes a creative bug in you, so to speak.
Why do you think people are drawn to him?
Rosie: It’s not just that people love him, it’s that he loves them back. And he gives them that special connection that they want. I mean, we always say he generates the funniest reactions from people. Someone came up one time and they wanted us to take their credit card. We were like, no, we can’t take your credit card.
Mary Ann: They put it in my hand.
Rosie: They said, I want to pay for Prince Snowflake. He deserves to have me buy some of his food or a piece of clothing or something. We’re like, that’s really, really nice of you but we’re not going to take your credit card.
Mary Ann: I gave it back to her, of course. And they said, Well, how can I pay for Prince Snowflake’s food? I want to give him food. They insisted on giving us something for his cat food, so they put $20 in my hand.
Rosie: Someone else said she’d incur a student loan for him.
Mary Ann: Oh, yeah, that was the funniest thing. That was at Halloween. A woman came up, and she said she would incur a student loan debt for Snowflake.
Like she wanted to send him to college?
Mary Ann: I don’t know, I’m not exactly sure. You have to understand, Prince Snowflake generates the funniest reactions. We don’t always understand what they mean. Someone else said “I am his uncle.”
Rosie: Yeah, he said he wanted to be Snowflake’s uncle, so now he thinks of himself as his uncle. [Snowflake] just generates fun.
So, where did Snowflake come from?
Mary Ann: Rosie was younger at the time and she said, Mommy, I want to get a white cat. So I got her a shirt that said, “All I Want For Christmas Is”—and it had a little box to be checked off—”a White Cat.” And it was so cute on her. And she sat on Santa Claus’s lap, and he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, and she said a white cat. He said, Well, I don’t know. We’ll see what we can do. And I’m like, Okay, good luck, Santa Claus.
So after that, we walked through the mall to a little booth for the humane society. And I said to Rosie, let’s see if they have a white cat. The lady said, No, we don’t, I’m sorry, we never get white cats. Then she said, But it’s funny you should ask because this lady called wanting to give up a white cat that she found in a car engine. I’d let you have the cat in an instant, but the only thing is that the woman’s probably not going to call back.
So that was a couple of days before Christmas, and then Christmas Eve at 3:30, I get a phone call from the animal shelter. And the woman said, you’re not gonna believe this, but the woman I talked to about the white cat, she called. So we went over, and we saw the white cat in the cage, and Rosie went up to him. He formed a bond with us immediately. And he had odd eyes—two different color eyes. I said to Rosie, “Oh he’s got different color eyes, he’s perfect for you.” Because Rosie likes to wear different color socks and people teased her when she was a kid about it. So I said to Rosie, he’s clearly for you. That’s a sign from God.
Mary Ann: So, okay, we wanted to take him home. But the woman says, By the way, do you know when you’ll be taking him into the vet? I said, We’re going straight to the vet now. She said, Oh good. I’m glad to hear that, because I have to tell you something: He’s really sick. I say, How sick are we talking about? She said, I don’t even know if he’s gonna make it. So we took him to the doctor and the doctor said he was on his deathbed.
What did he have?
Mary Ann: As far as we can tell, it was a very bad pneumonia. They say his lungs were filled with fluid. And he had bronchitis, I guess, and pneumonia together. And then he also got herpes from living outside.
What did you do?
Mary Ann: The doctor said he didn’t know what to do. I said, here’s what you do: Just give me all the medicines as if you were treating a real human baby. I said, I’m a mother. I have three kids, and I know how to get kids better. And we just kept giving him his medicine until he finally started looking up. Now he’s 12 years old, and that was at seven weeks. So we’ve taken good care of him. We say that when we got him, we put him back on his throne. That’s why we call him royal.
Oh, so that’s where the name comes from?
Mary Ann: Well, also when we got him, they told us he was a girl. So we called him “Snowflake.” But then when we got to the vet, the vet says, No, he’s a boy. So Rosie and I looked at each other like, we gotta do something to make this more masculine. So we looked at him and we both said “Prince Snowflake.” And the name stuck.
The other name that stuck—I’m Rosie’s mommy, right? But the thing is, people started saying, Oh, he’s got two mommies! And that stuck, that people kept saying he’s got two mommies, even though Rosie’s not really a mommy like that. I mean, she’s a mommy to him. And then because I’m Armenian, people started saying, “your Armenian mommy.” So that name stuck—”the royal magical Prince Snowflake, the celebrity cat with his two Armenian mommies.”
He likes his name. He knows his name. He responds to his name. And people like his name. So that’s the story of Prince Snowflake.
It’s very strong cat branding.
Mary Ann: Yes, exactly. So we have a lot of fun.
I’m curious if there’s a funniest fact about Snowflake.
Mary Ann: Well, when we adopted Snowflake, the lady who found him—her boyfriend gave her an ultimatum that it was the cat or the boyfriend. So she had to get rid of the cat that day. And I don’t know what woman would give into a boyfriend—if it’s a boyfriend like that who doesn’t have a heart, you take the cat. That woman didn’t make the right choice.
Rosie: A fun fact about him is that he has a funny obsession over checking out the sound equipment. He likes to go up to the sound engineers. He will pose in front of the sound equipment.
Mary Ann: His obsession with sound equipment is really funny. And he likes to check out the stage before he will perform on it.
Rosie: His side hustle is catching grasshoppers, because his main hustle is doing all this other stuff. But he loves catching grasshoppers.
Mary Ann: The other thing Snowflake likes to do with his leisure time is he takes a boat ride. He likes to go on a boat. And he likes to eat in restaurants. He puts his bibs on over his outfits.
But he’s a busy cat—he has a full schedule when he’s booked. I mean, this week, he has a parade on Saturday. Next week, he has a tree lighting on Friday. The 27th, he is doing a Christmas show for an hour. And then the following weekend, he’s doing another parade. So this is what Rosie and I do, we take him and chauffeur him wherever he needs to go. We make him happy and have a lot of fun.