The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Great Wall of China Hoax, 1899
Jean Gauntt, the Immortal Baby, 1939
Man flies by own lung power, 1934
The Society for Indecency to Naked Animals, 1959
Loch Ness Monster Hoaxes
The damp spot that hoaxed a city, 1912
The Diaphote, a television hoax, 1880
The Stone-Age Tasaday Hoax, 1971
The Cradle of the Deep, a literary hoax, 1929
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
Snowball the Monster Cat
An image of an enormous cat (approximately the size of a large dog) being held in the arms of a bearded man began circulating around the internet in early 2000. The picture attracted attention because it didn't seem possible for a cat to be that large, but the chance that the cat was real couldn't be ruled out either.


At first the picture stood alone without explanation, but at some point an unknown prankster added a caption to the image, claiming it showed "Snowball," a monster cat owned by one Rodger Degagne of Ottawa, Canada. Mr. Degagne had supposedly adopted Snowball's mother (a normal-sized cat) after finding her abandoned near a Canadian nuclear lab. She later gave birth to Snowball, who proceeded to grow into the oversized, 87-pound cat "Mr. Degagne" was shown holding.

The photo attracted so much attention that it was eventually featured on television shows such as NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and ABC's Good Morning America. However, both Snowball's story and her picture were fake. In May 2001 Cordell Hauglie, a resident of Edmonds, Washington, came forward to admit that 'Snowball' was actually his daughter's cat. The cat's real name was 'Jumper,' and it only weighed twenty-one pounds. To prove he was telling the truth, Hauglie produced pictures showing him holding the actual-sized Jumper, as well as a picture of Jumper sitting in a window.

Hauglie explained that he created the fake image by using widely available photo manipulation software and had then e-mailed the image to a few friends as a joke, never intending that it would pass beyond those friends. But a few months later the picture had spread worldwide. Hauglie only realized what had happened when the picture started appearing on TV shows, in newspapers, and in magazines. To his amazement, he had unintentionally become an internet celebrity simply by sharing a joke with a few friends.

Hauglie reports that the picture made him famous among cat lovers, and that he has frequently been invited to attend cat shows as a celebrity guest.


All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.