Keyboard Cat, a Beloved Internet Sensation, Has Died at Age 8

Updated | In sad news for cat lovers and meme lovers alike, Bento, aka Keyboard Cat, has died. Bento died on March 8, 2018. He was 8 years old.

Owner Charlie Schmidt, a painter and performance artist, announced the news of his cat's death on Friday via a tribute video on YouTube, as well as on Keyboard Cat's Facebook and Twitter pages. In a statement to Newsweek, Schmidt confirmed his pet's death and said, "He was such a loyal and talented companion. I am sad."

Keyboard Cat became an internet sensation after the original "Keyboard Cat" video (then titled "Cool Cat") was uploaded in 2007. The simple but amusing clip of a feline in a T-shirt smashing its paws on an electric piano took the internet by storm two years later in 2009.

If you're thinking the timeline doesn't quite line up—that Keyboard Cat would've been pretty old if he just died—you'd be right. Bento is not the same cat featured in the original video. That was a cat named Fatso, from a video Schmidt recorded in the '80s. According to The Guardian, Fatso died in 1987.

Bento, Schmidt's new cat, became the second Keyboard Cat. (Allegedly Bento was a "distant relative" of Fatso.) For the next eight years, Schmidt made many more Keyboard Cat videos featuring Bento in a variety of shirts, his paws tickling the ivories. In 2011, Schmidt even parodied the Oscar-nominated documentary about the anonymous street artist Banksy, Exit Through the Gift Shop, by filming a 24-hour live stream of Bento in an art studio, called Exit Through the Pet Shop. Together, Schmidt and Bento turned Keyboard Cat into a superstar via pistachio commercials, merchandise and regular appearances at conferences and events in their hometown of Spokane, Washington, according to The Spokesman-Review.

The original Keyboard Cat meme rose to internet fame in 2009, when YouTuber vlogger Brad O'Farrell stitched the clip of Fatso playing along to his jazzy tune onto the end of a video of a person in a wheelchair falling down an escalator. A meme called "Play him off, keyboard cat" was born, and hundreds of people made their own mashups of Fatso "playing off" an "epic fail." The trend was helped along by actor Ashton Kutcher, who in 2009 tweeted out a Keyboad Cat mashup that has since been deleted.

Watch Schmidt's tribute video to Bento below.

Update: Story has been updated to included a statement from Charlie Schmidt.