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The Purr-tenders, like many other great 80's icons, were created by Hallmark. They first immerged in 1987 as a stuffed doll line with a fairly awkward back story. It turns out that no one, but no one that goes to Pick-A-Dilly Pet Shop wants to buy a cat. All the customers want to buy more exotic animals like birds, bunnies, mice, and dogs. To counterstrike, the cats come up with a plan to disguise themselves as other animals and trick customers into taking them home.

Perhaps intended as a feline counterpart to the Pound Puppies, Purr-tenders shared the same common denominator with the pooches. That is, they were house pets that wore cute outfits and yearned to find a good home. Unlike the Pound Puppies, they only made a handful of toy lines, and never reached the illustrious level needed to acquire a cartoon series.

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The original large plush Purr-tenders had a hidden pocket with a sound box inside that, when hugged, would cause the Purr to purr. This let the cat out of the bag, because when the Purr-tender purred, it was backed into confessing that it was merely a cat disguised as another animal. By the time the humans were privy to this chicanery, they'd already fallen in love, and were forced to give the cat a home. I guess that's the price you pay when you can't tell the difference between a duck and a cat covered in felt.

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These Purr-tenders weren't particularly good looking. They had shaggy hair and squashed faces that gave them a clown-like appearance. The body shape was outstretched and resembled the suction-cup Garfields prevalent years ago that only nostalgic fools like me still have on their cars. Scamp-purr (mouse), Chip-purr (bird), Hop-purr (Bunny), Romp-purr (dog), and Flop-purr (duck) were the original 5, later joined by Teddy-purr (bear). It's rumored that in 1989 Fisher-Price released advertisements promoting a new line of Make-Believe Purr-tenders that dressed up as a bride, ballerina, princess, and fairy godmother. However, owing to the fact that no one has found such Purrs, it's believed they never made it into production.

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Smaller versions of the Purr-tenders were released, and some made available for purchase at Burger King. These were the Sock-Ems which had a flip-over mask and a stomach that folded out to a coordinating stocking. I believe the stocking was meant to be a pouch that could hold secret items small enough to fold up into it, but really, it was more of a fancy Christmas stocking than anything. I did have a brief liaison using the mini Scamp-purr as a plush case for my Gameboy SP.

Aside from the plush category, Purr-tenders merchandise also came in the form of books and puzzles. Sadly, none of the books depict the Purr-tenders coming to terms with whom they are on the inside and taking pride in being cats. In a way, the Purr-tenders took the coward's way out. Instead of showing off their assets and proving how felines can topple any pet in the animal kingdom, they assimilated like a bunch of scaredycats. Not a very well-planned lesson for children, but then again, the "hidden secret" theme was very big in the late-eighties early-nineties era.

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The Purr-tenders had no known enemies aside from the shopkeeper's dog, Ed-grr. He'd mock the cats about how no one wanted them because they weren't special or exotic. Personally, if I had a choice between a bunny and a fluffy pink cat, I'd take the cat. All the bunny can do is hop and poop, at least a cat can be trained to crap in the toilet. Considering the Purr-tenders can talk, using the loo should be a cakewalk. Taking a bath, however, will still be a cat-astrophe.

 

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