April 11, 1977 12:00 PM

Dear Morris: As few of our kind have made it big in showbiz like you, I must say you are an inspiration to cats everywhere! I wanted to ask if you would mind us naming one of the kids after you…Mrs. Kim, Hollywood, Fla. Hi, Mrs. Kim: I’m certainly honored—but I’m afraid there are soon going to be thousands of people calling their Morrises to din-din!…

Nine years ago he was facing death in a Chicago animal pound. Today Morris, the finicky feline salesman for 9-Lives cat food, is one of the best-known personalities on TV. When he visited Hawaii last month, the governor sent a representative to the airport to greet him. Morris even has a personal secretary to answer the 100 or so fan letters he receives daily.

Mary Holtman, 24, followed up a “secretary wanted” ad 16 months ago with no inkling that her boss would be a cat (well, actually it’s a 9-Lives executive). Though Morris is rarely in the office for consultation, Mary writes in a way that reflects his bristly personality. “I thought he should be like W. C. Fields,” she explains. “He says things like, ‘Never give a dog an even break’ ” (Morris’ voice for the TV commercials is actor John Irwin).

Most of the fan letters, such as the marriage proposals, are signed by cats. “It’s kind of funny,” says Mary. “All these people who write are pretending to be a cat, and I’m pretending to be a cat. People have just gone bananas over Morris.”

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