Cat Trainer Behind Viral Super Bowl Ad Shares One Piece of Advice for Taylor Swift

The cat is out of the bag! The new Hellmann’s Super Bowl commercial features the always hilarious Kate McKinnon plus a cameo by Pete Davidson.

But the real star is an adorable 8-month-old cat named Chipmunk who's making his first TV appearance. In the Big Game ad spot, McKinnon is rifling through her refrigerator trying to figure out what to eat.

Suddenly the cat says “may-ow!” Making her realize that Hellmann’s “may-ow” can help transform boring leftovers into special dishes. Mayo Cat’s “talking” abilities brings the kitty instant fame and sets off a Hellmann’s frenzy.

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Chipmunk's owner and trainer Molly O’Neill, says he's perfect for the gig.

“He is confident, kind and full of personality. He doesn’t mind wearing a chef’s hat or a Ted Talk microphone headset, and blue is definitely his color,” says the veteran animal trainer who has worked on Game of Thrones, Avatar, Obi-Wan KenobiAshoka, and most recently, the Mother with Jennifer Lopez. “That little blue mayo bow is quite adorable on him. Lastly, he loves food. Chipmunk really lives the campaign make taste not waste.”

O’Neill took Parade behind the scenes with Kate McKinnon (there was serious bonding between: "Kate may have been cat whispering."), offered her thoughts on Taylor Swift’s beloved Scottish Fold kitty Olivia Benson and named the celeb who left her seriously starstruck.



How did you become a cat trainer?

I have been a professional animal trainer for about 15 years, but I started training cats in 2017 when I was asked to help train a famous Instagram cat named Pompous Albert for a big car commercial. I fell in love with Albert. I was so proud of him. It made me realize I had to get a cat of my own!

When Hellmann's called, did you know it was for a Super Bowl commercial?

When we arrived in New York for the shoot we did find out the commercial was for the Super Bowl, but we had no idea how much Mayo Cat would take off and that Chipmunk would be on The Sphere in Vegas! [They even drove to Vegas to see it.]

Was working on a Super Bowl spot any different than other celebrity ads or TV shows?

Working on an ad for the Big Game was very exciting and fun. We still do our job calmly and professionally as we always do, but it is exciting when you get to work with celebrities whose talent you really admire.

You've worked with some big names. Do you still get starstruck? Who is one celebrity that really rattled you?

Some of the stars we get to work with are incredible human beings and it’s hard not to be in awe of them. Kate is one of my favorite actors out there, and it’s surreal to watch her work with my cat in the scene. We stay professional as we are there to do our job. But admittedly yes, when Brad Pitt starts talking to you, it can be hard to speak for a few seconds before collecting yourself.

Speaking of stars, if Taylor Swift asked you to teach her cat, Olivia (named after Mariska Hargitay's Law & Order: SVU character), a trick what would you teach her?

First of all, I love that Taylor named her cat Olivia and now Olivia Benson’s cat is named Karma (Yes, I follow all things cats). Second, if I were to be asked to teach Taylor’s precious cat anything, I would have to get to know her some first. Different cats have different personalities that lend themselves to different behaviors. If she was excited by treats or food, I might start by teaching her a simple “foot” or “paw” shake. A high five if you will… so she could high five her awesome mom.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Taylor Swift's Cats

What tricks can Chipmunk do and can he perform them on cue?

Chipmunk can sit, stay, wear clothing and hats, meow, jump, run, (what we call an A to B), and rub on cue. And he is still learning. In order to do these behaviors on cue we have to practice. Animals cannot read the script of course, so the only way to get them ready for a scene is to rehearse.

Taylor famously travels with her cats. Is there one piece of advice you'd give her to help keep her cats on good behavior while traveling?

I’m sure Taylor has her cats’ routine perfected, but one of the most important things I tell people to do with their cats before travel is to grab a cat toy and play with them. Get that extra energy out and make sure to have their favorite foods and snacks handy should you need to give them a positive moment. Lastly, make sure to have a sturdy carrier during travel that is fully zipped when you move through new places!

Related: Taylor Swift Dictionary: Learn All the Big Words From Her Songs

What might surprise someone about being a cat wrangler?

The biggest surprise about being a cat trainer might be that it is a 24-hour role. There is no leaving work at 5 p.m. The animals are a full-time job, and I love every minute of it. I think it would surprise people how much time is spent caring for, training, cleaning and tending to the animals. It’s my whole life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

How different is real-life Chipmunk from the Mayo Cat? 

I’d say they are actually pretty similar. Both Chipmunk and Mayo Cat are confident, cute, and worried about food waste. Chipmunk even flirts with going viral on his brother Squirrel’s instagram page @catnamedsquirrel. One of his videos has over 10 million views! However, Mayo Cat dated Pete Davidson so that would be one difference… but Chipmunk really enjoyed pretending with Pete. It was very real while it lasted.

Do you have a sense that Chipmunk knows he is famous and on TV?

I think he is completely clueless, but he is really enjoying the extra attention from strangers and of course all the treats.

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