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Cole and Marmalade back online after cat lawsuit is settled

Tampa’s most famous internet cats reappear when the world needed it most, owners say.

They’re back, they’re still cute and their owners can again legally post as many photos of their frisky antics as they want.

Since early this year, Tampa’s famed cats Cole and Marmalade had been absent from social media where they’d amassed a million-plus followers, leading to appearances on Ellen and the cover of Modern Cat magazine.

A lawsuit between Cole and Marmalade’s owners and their now-former partners in Digital Pet Media, which managed the Cole and Marmalade business, prevented Chris Poole and his wife, Jessica Josephs, from posting photos of their own cats. It ended with a confidential settlement in August.

“It’s great to be back,” said Josephs, who sits on the board of two Tampa Bay cat rescues. “I was upset with us not being able to make videos at a time when people needed to watch silly cat videos the most. The world needed that.”

Digital Pet Media’s fillings in the lawsuit said the company was losing $2,500 a day by shutting down Cole and Marmalade’s social accounts to prevent Poole from accessing them during their dispute.

Chris and Jessica now own and manage all of their cats’ social media accounts and websites themselves under a new company called The Furtastic. “Everyone just wanted to go their separate ways and move on,” Josephs said.

“We’re back!!,” announced a new video posted to Cole and Marmalade’s YouTube on Aug. 26, the first since last year.

During the lawsuit, Poole and Josephs raised $184,016 via Gofundme for the Chris Poole Legal Defense Fund. Josephs said those funds went directly into a retainer for their lawyer, and that nearly all of it had been depleted fighting the original lawsuit and another copyright suit filed in federal court.

“This was won by the fans,” Josephs said. “We would get teary-eyed looking at it, but we had kids giving us their allowance making a $5 donation and all these thousands of people showing us their support and making Facebook groups online. I think it showed the other side that this isn’t just a business, it’s like a family.”

Jessica Josephs holds Cole and her husband Chris Poole holds a cat toy up for Marmalade at their home in Tampa. [ CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times ]

Also back is Poole’s “Cat Man Chris” online presence, where he documents his cat rescue efforts away from Cole and Marm. Those videos are how he became known for crawling into bushes, sewers or abandoned properties to retrieve sickly, dirty cats and kittens, which he cleans up, gets medical care and finds new homes for.

Even though he wasn’t posting videos, Poole never stopped the work.

“The people who said we just do what we do for fame or money, it’s not true — we just got lucky that people fell in love with our cats,” Josephs said. “Chris would be doing this anyway, it’s truly who he is.”

The couple said the only issue since their cats’ return to the internet has been that fans are unsure if it’s really them posting new cat content or Digital Pet Media using re-hashed Cole and Marm pics.

“We assure you, it’s us,” Josephs said. They have been using live streaming video to prove it.

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