In memoriam: Farewell to the feline who inspired Sixers fans to #RaiseTheCat

Izzy earned a place in the annals of Philadelphia sports.

Dennis Grove and Izzy, of 'raise the cat' fame

Dennis Grove and Izzy, of 'raise the cat' fame

Twitter / @GipperGrove
louisplatt

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Update, June 17: Nope. In what may go down as one the worst collapses in Philly sports history — which is saying a lot — the Sixers blew a 24-point lead to the Hawks and lost Wednesday night, denying Izzy her final satisfaction. 

Philadelphia residents Dennis and Valerie Grove hope to “raise the cat” one more time.

Izzy, who took Sixers Twitter by storm in early 2017, is succumbing to aggressive cancer. At 14½ years old, she will be euthanized Thursday.

She was the Groves’ first pet, so it’s hitting them hard, Dennis said. But not all house cats get a chance to star in nationally-recognized memes.

As the Sixers turned a chapter in their rebuild process four years ago, during a 28-win season, Izzy provided a bright spot off the court that brought the players and fans closer together.

Dennis, a La Salle graduate, first posted a photo of himself hoisting Izzy in the air after a win in November 2016. He was inspired by just-drafted Sixer Ben Simmons, who had previously posted pictures of himself with his Savannah cats atop his head.

The meme took off — and the team started notching Ws.

“It was remarkable because I would ‘raise the cat’ and then they would win another and another,” Grove said.

The phrase became a mainstay. Joel Embiid, also in his first year, adopted the saying and used it during interviews, while Sixers broadcaster Marc Zumoff yelled it at the top of his lungs after wins.

Sixers fans began posting their own “raise the cat” photos, sometimes swapping cats with babies and dogs held up in their arms. Dennis loved that his post created a small community of Philly cat owners who love the Sixers, too.

“The support was unmatched,” he said.

For the last three months, Izzy has weathered osteosarcoma in her jaw, a cancer common among cats. Dennis shared the news with a tweet announcing Izzy had come to the end of her days, adding that he was hoping she’d see one more Sixers win.

After Grove’s announcement, the “raise the cat” community responded on social media with condolences, and promises to raise their own cats in honor of Izzy this evening.

Dennis added that he’ll miss the small moments with her. Izzy, who didn’t seem very sociable when The Inquirer visited the Groves’ Ludlow home in 2017, would run to greet the couple at the front door, Dennis said. Suring games, she liked to sit on his lap in a red blanket.

“She’s lived a great life,” he said.

Along with being the center of the “raise the cat” meme, she loved snacking on tortilla chips and hanging out on the Groves’ rooftop watching birds.

Dennis and Valerie have already chosen Izzy’s resting spot. It’s on the roof, so she’ll remain where she belongs, raised high above their heads.

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