Introduction to CryptoCats

How an early NFT project was created, then years later rediscovered with 238 Ether worth of cats traded.

CrytoCats are cute little 8-bit cats on the Ethereum Blockchain. Inspired by Matt and John of Larva Labs and their CryptoPunks. (Larva Labs actually created the Punk Kitten.)

Starting with the smallest MVP possible, the initial release was 12 cats, deployed to mainnet on 12 November 2017. Available CryptoCats could be claimed from the contract.

Whilst CryptoCats beat CryptoKitties to mainnet (the CryptoCats team knew that CryptoKitties was launching), Moon Cat Rescue was actually the first cat NFTs of Ethereum.

After people saw the initial 12 cats, there was lots of demand, so the team scaled up and automated cat production using a Python script. The Blockathon edition show Australian pride with blocks of green and gold in the bottom right corner. In all, 177 cats were released as part of the Bitfwd Blockathon hackathon in Sydney in November 2017, which the team won.

With all these cats, the team then had the task of supporting people figuring out MetaMask and fielding feature requests.

There was even more demand for cats but there still wasn’t a business model! The team went back to the drawing board and did one more release, deciding to charge for the sale of each cat. The final release was in December 2017, 436 cats, making 625 cats in all.

CryptoCats were now destined to be part of the early history of NFTs. Perhaps waiting for a future Netflix documentary on art and the blockchain.

I met the team in 2018 and whilst I thought some of the cats were very cute, 0.8 Ether was above my art budget (same goes for a CryptoPunk worth $50 at the time).

Fast forward to 2021 and with the increase in the Ether price they were still outside my budget, though I was interested to see if someone wanted to sell.

In March 2021, Cat1 created 625 Tokens. A way to remember the project that was CryptoCats. Initially conceived as a physical art piece, it evolved into an NFT.

Rediscovery

Around the same time, someone noticed that there were approximately 200 unclaimed cats. Being an early NFT project with links to CryptoPunks, there was suddenly a rush to claim.

USD$100,000 went through the contract in a matter of hours. The remaining cats were quickly sold out. Apart from poor Cat #414 who will remain forever stuck unclaimed in the contract.

An active community developed on Discord, and fan art was created, including a song.

Meanwhile, CryptoCats could only be bought and sold using the marketplace contract either direct to the contract or via the dapp.

To unlock the true value of the cats, they needed to be available to a much larger audience. Also at stake was to share in the success of secondary sales, something that wasn’t part of the original contract. The rush was on to make an official wrapper before someone got in first.

The CryptoCats team worked through the night and WrappedCryptoCats became available on OpenSea.

The first WrappedCryptoCat was Cat #14, which Cat1 sold for 8 Ether. Whilst some in the community were concerned about the floor price, this was the first reasonable offer on an unproven (though heavily tested) wrapper contract and Cat1 needed to prove that it all actually worked. The rest of the astronaut squad were then wrapped.

On 17th March the CryptoCats team had a signing ceremony for some of the Australian crypto community for physical copies of CryptoCats and 625Tokens. (The team allow personal use of the artwork for cats you own, including displaying digital and physical formats).

Conclusion

The story of CryptoCats is far from over.

I am so proud of the team and their success and can’t wait to see what happens next for the cats.

There is also a lot more history to share about this project.

About me

I first met the CryptoCats team through FlexDapps Weekly Hack in Melbourne in 2018 and feel privileged to call them friends.

My advice is only buy art that you love, for a price that you can afford, and if you have rights, hang it on your wall and enjoy. The price of any collectible can go to zero if no one else wants to collect it any more, but your love for it doesn’t ever need to change.

Whilst I still don’t own a cat, I do have a 625Tokens and a signed print in my lounge room.

I am @abcoathup pretty much everywhere.

Software Engineer (blockchain)