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Cat Whistle satisfies all gift-giving needs

There is a dude I’ve encountered at a couple markets in Mexico City who walks around holding a big, black plastic garbage bag. You can hear him coming from a couple aisles away, because it sounds like he is accompanied by a very angry cat. The first time you come upon him, you are a bit startled because he seems to have a cat inside this garbage bag that is flopping about vigorously.

You may then become horrified as he asks a fellow passer-by to kick the cat in the bag. Or, you may quickly realize the “cat” is in fact a long wooden stick, hidden inside the bag, that the guy smacks against the inside of the bag to simulate a cat.

What is the purpose of this witty theatrical display? He is selling a product that I like to call the “Cat Whistle”. This 10 peso gem (worth every centavo, I might add) is a small foam/plastic whistle that you place against the roof of your mouth. Depending on how it is positioned in your mouth & how you blow on it, the whistle makes a noise eerily similar to a cat who is getting the crap beaten out of it. HOWEVER, my friends, the value does not end there!!! The small piece of paper that accompanies the whistle in its packaging depicts the wide array of other animals that can be simulated with this same product. Not only can you recreate a baby crying, but seemingly every common barnyard animal + a few more exotic options!

In the event you are having trouble visualizing this hilarity, check out the below video courtesy of friend James:

Now in the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that there is no way you will reproduce 90% of the animal noises this whistle claims to enable. It CAN be done, because I’ve seen the sales guy go through about 6 of ‘em in quick succession. However, this is totally one of those things where you think “Well that looks easy enough!”, and then you get it home & it makes one sound, tops.

Luckily the cat noise is the easiest & funniest one to make. The first time I ran into this guy, John’s dad was with us on a visit to Mercado Jamaica. John looked on with disgust as his dad & I about pissed ourselves because we were laughing so hard while watching this guy. We both bought a Cat Whistle, and discussed various strategies for Bob to incorporate the Cat Whistle into his job at a university. Top of the list is: while giving a presentation to colleagues, start making cat noises, ask “Is there a goddamn cat in this room?”, and while everyone distractedly looks for the cat, grab the stuffed animal cat you were hiding on your chair & throw it at someone. Watch hilarity ensue.

As a side note, this product reminds me a lot of Rocky the Raccoon. I vividly remember my mom & I making this purchase on my first trip to Washington DC, from a magic store in Union Station. The salesman worked this springed puppet like a pro, making it appear that he had the liveliest raccoon I’d ever seen climbing up his body. Needless to say, once my mom & I got it back to the hotel room to show my dad, it simply looked like me pushing a slinky covered in brown fur across my chest.

My dad was somehow the only one in our family who could make Rocky the Raccoon function as advertised. I was forever jealous, and made a mental note to never again buy a product whose usage required special niche skills.  Obviously that lesson was instantly forgotten when I heard the seductive sounds of the Cat Whistle…

Note to all Mexico City residents: Valentine’s Day *is* coming up, and you know what they say…. A Cat Whistle is forever.

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16 Comments on “Cat Whistle satisfies all gift-giving needs”

  1. #1 Joanna
    on Jan 26th, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    i love how you tagged this “only in mexico”…because it is really could only happen here. LOL. fab!

  2. #2 Joanna
    on Jan 26th, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    oops. excuse my english! meant…it is really SOMETHING THAT could only happy here! :P

  3. #3 Julie's Mom
    on Jan 26th, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    I was excited to have the vision of Rocky the Racoon brought back to my memory. I was able to walk 10 feet away from my computer, open bottom drawer in the cupboard, and there he was! Rocky was in the “sleep mode” when I found him, but I’m going to have Dad revive him so Rocky can resume his life of bringing joy to the masses.

  4. #4 Joy
    on Jan 27th, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    It’s hard to express how emphatically I hate this sound, and I fear you may have now spread this virus to the U.S. Hopefully, Americans’ tolerance of the dying cat toy will be much lower than it is in Mexico.

  5. #5 Julie
    on Jan 27th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Joy– hopefully for your sake, Joanna & I are right about this being an “only in Mexico” concept. ;) Also, in the US this thing would cost $5 & no one would pay that much.

    Mom– I will expect to see Rocky on your next visit in July. Let Dad know that I will be gathering all my apartment neighbors for a short performance. ;)

  6. #6 nashely
    on Feb 4th, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Wow !!! Hahaha one question ? How long has this “cat in heat” sound toy been there ??
    Nuevo Progreso, near my hometown in texas, had this toy for a while. I gotta say maybe from my junior year in high school to just recently, so probably 6 years. The last time I went in December, I noticed the lack of “cats in heat.” Lack? What am I saying? Nooooo cat sound at all!
    And the last time I was in DF I didn’t hear it, neither was I at the Mercado.
    Thank you for telling me where all the cats went! And seriously the cat in the bag trick is so clever, the Tamaulipecos never thought of that one !! Haha :)
    -Nashely

  7. #7 Julie
    on Feb 4th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Nashley– that is a good question! Perhaps the cats recently migrated down from Texas for the winter…?? You will have to stock up next time you’re down for a visit… ;)
    And yeah, the cat in a bag trick never fails to make me chuckle. My sense of humor is obviously very advanced!! :)

  8. #8 andy
    on Aug 7th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Do you know a website where I could one of these

  9. #9 fred
    on Sep 25th, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I bought one of these whistles off a street vendor in san francisco once. It was one of the coolest toys ive ever owned. I used to fool people at work all the time with it until it broke. anyone know where i can buy one online?

  10. #10 billlll
    on Mar 22nd, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Where can I find one of these online? I really want one!

  11. #11 James
    on Sep 3rd, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I would like to know where can I find these whistles. I was in Progresso 10 years back and brought a few while visiting in Mexico Trying to look for these whistles w/o visiting Progresso online.

  12. #12 shawn
    on Dec 4th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I just bought 4 of these whistles in Progress, Mexico this week. It literally took me all week and weekend to get the sound down. Not only can you do a cat but I got one down that sounds like a dolphin in distress. All the vendors were walking around doing monkey and bird sounds. A definite jungle theme. The beauty is no matter what you do a persons first reaction is laughter because its a sound like you’ve never heard. I bought mine for $.50 each compared to the $4 each he wanted originally. Mexico bargaining!

  13. #13 shawn
    on Dec 4th, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Progreso, darn auto finish

  14. #14 Jason
    on Oct 6th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    I bought 2 of these in SF about 10 years ago form a street vendor. Has anyone located them online anywhere?? I have searched everywhere and cannot find them.

  15. #15 kai
    on Aug 9th, 2013 at 3:34 am

    what is this thing called and where can i get it online?? i used to have this a long time ago when i was a kid and i loved it until it broke

  16. #16 Shane
    on Jun 24th, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    STILL LOOKING FOR THESE! Someone please help!

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