We all get a thrill when a beloved TV show character is revealed to be a proud feline fanatic. Classics in the sitcom world include the gleefully cat-crazed Angela Martin from The Office, the wizened Marjorie Armstrong-Perugian and her bulging kindle of kitties on Mom, and the relationship between Winston Bishop and his portly tabby Furguson in the Zooey Deschanel vessel New Girl.
Carrying the concept over to the animated realm, the off-kilter Bob’s Burgers hosts Gayle Genarro, a lovably eccentric, artistic-leaning character, who’s voiced by the actress Megan Mullally.
The ultimate animated cat lady
Alternatively known as Aunt Gayle, the character is introduced in season one as an animal lover with a quirky disposition. Granted the opportunity to display her artwork at the show’s titular hamburger emporium in the episode Art Crawl, Gayle proceeds to present a series of paintings depicting various animal butts.
As the show progresses, Gayle’s cat credentials and collection of in-house felines ramps up. First up, we meet the puntastic Jean Paw’d Van Damme, a sleek tuxedo kitty who winds up living with Gayle in her studio apartment after she mistakenly pepper sprays him while under the assumption the four-legged friend is a devious intruder. (After a trip to the vet, Jean Paw’d returns home sporting a pair of natty swimming goggles.)
By the time the show reaches its fourth season, a second feline enters Gayle’s life. This time, it’s a short-haired, orange cat named Pinkeye, who makes his screen debut in the Thanksgiving-themed episode Turkey in a Can. Key scenes include an entire turkey mysteriously ending up wedged in a toilet and restaurant owner Bob Belcher attempting to potty train Pinkeye.
Completing Gayle’s clowder is Mr. Business (or Mr. Jim Business to bestow the feline with his full honorific). According to Bob’s Burgers lore, Gayle scooped up Mr. Business from someone else’s porch while on the way to the Belcher’s aforementioned Thanksgiving shindig. As Gayle herself relays, she discovered the portly gray-and-white Persian mix “just sitting there on someone’s porch in the sun.”
In the standout season seven episode There’s No Business Like Mr. Business Business, Gayle’s favorite kitty winds up signing with the Pets Pawsitive Pet Agency talent group for the opportunity to star as spokes-kitty for the Chef Cat cat food brand of products — although ultimately Mr. Business loses his agency manager to a rival feline named Jessica, who’s depicted as being a younger and more sprightly brand ambassador.
The top feline-themed episodes
Complimenting the antics of Gayle’s kitty crew, the character herself manages to channel the show’s lopsided sense of humor with a series of feline-themed escapades and cat-centric quotes. At one point, Gayle embarks on a quest to find a soulmate by meeting someone from a dating website called Cat Chat. Spotlighting Gayle’s artistic ambitions, in the episode titled The Kids Run Away, she decides to bless the world with some of her cat-based poetry: “Little cat, you’re just like me/ You go outside and squat to pee/ Squat! Squat! Squat! Squat! Squat!”
In a fantastical moment, the episode The Gayle Tales features a Game of Thrones-inspired segment that involves Gayle as the Queen of Catsteros on a quest to find her stolen cat dragons, riding on a half-dragon, half-cat mystical beast and jubilantly celebrating her triumph by declaring, “Eat, drink and be meowy!”
Most memorable of all, Gayle’s ultimate cat person moment arrives in the episode Purple Rain-Union, which originally aired a decade ago. While having something of a tiff with her sister, Linda Belcher, our hero successfully signs off by coining a true and relatable witticism for the ages: “My cat was right about you.”