Bento the Keyboard Cat passed away on March 8th. He was 9 years old. Keyboard Cat was an internet sensation that kicked off in 2009 when the video of a cat playing piano went viral. In the years since, Bento, from Spokane, Washington starred in pistachio commercials and in his own merchandising that generated a ton of cash for owner Charlie Schmidt. Schmidt released a tribute video to Bento the Keyboard Cat yesterday, which was also the official confirmation of the beloved feline's death.

When Keyboard Cat became a viral sensation on YouTube, the original Keyboard Cat had already passed away. The video had been made in 1984 with Charlies Schmidt's cat Fatso, who had died before the 2009 internet explosion. So, Schmidt went to a local animal shelter to find a suitable replacement, which resulted in the adoption of Bento, who made all of the Keyboard Cat videos from 2009 and onwards. Bento is the one in the commercials and seen on all of the merchandise that has been released over the past 9 years.

Bento the Keyboard Cat was a slightly larger orange Tabby and in addition to the pistachio commercials, he also showed up in Starburst commercials thanks to the original viral success. Bento made frequent appearances in his hometown of Spokane, Washington and even appeared in a national ad campaign for the Shelter Pet Project to encourage others to adopt their pets from a shelter instead of buying from a pet store. Keyboard Cat and Charlie Schmidt were able to spread a lot of awareness about animal shelters for nearly a decade while entertaining millions all over the world with their musical antics.

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As previously noted, the first Keyboard Cat video was filmed in 1984 on VHS by Charlie Schmidt. When asked what made him dust the old video off, Schmidt said that he wanted to show his then 15-year old daughter. At the time, he realized that the tape was starting to rapidly deteriorating, so he went and had it digitized after buying some equipment to do so. A friend later suggested that he upload it to YouTube, which Schmidt did, but it took a few years before the Keyboard Cat exploded and took the world by storm.

Speaking to Bento's talents, Charlie Schmidt called him a "poser," and marveled at the length of time the cat would stay in a pose or deal with being forced to pretend to play the keyboard while being filmed. Keyboard Cat had a good run and was adored by millions of people all over the world, but it's not clear if the Schmidt family will go on to the local shelter to find another large, orange Tabby cat to carry on the tradition. For now, the family grieves the loss of their beloved pet, Bento. You can watch the emotional tribute video to Bento, the Keyboard Cat below, thanks to the Keyboard Cat YouTube channel.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick