EDGEWATER — It's either cat torture or cat entertainment — no one's really sure.
But what is certain: The "Video Catnip" empire has found a new home with lifelong Edgewater resident Bob Solomon.
"Video Catnip", a 25-minute video starring such tasty critters as squirrels and birds scuttling about, was created by Steve Malarkey in the late '80s as a cure for bored indoor cats.
According to thousands of happy customers, many of whom have uploaded video evidence on YouTube, cats love it. (Although during an unscientific DNAinfo.com Chicago experiment, the video didn't work right away on three disinterested Chicago house cats.)
"It's goofy. It's the craziest thing," Solomon said. "But it works."
At the beginning of November, Malarkey made Solomon the sole distributor of "Video Catnip."
The video has sold an estimated 250,000 copies for $19.95 since its inception, according to Malarkey. That's nearly $5 million in revenue.
Sometimes a million-dollar idea isn't all that complicated.
Solomon got in on the business shortly after the video became a media sensation and skyrocketed in popularity.
He met Malarkey — well-known in the pre-YouTube industry of VHS how-to instructional videos — at a Chicago trade show.
Solomon had a couple of cat videos of his own he wanted to pitch to Malarkey, such as his video with a "holistic cat expert" about how to properly groom and bathe a cat.
"A lot of people don't bathe their cat, but my cat expert was very adamant about how to bathe your cat," he said. "It was about clipping nails, eye-cleaning, ear-cleaning, how to get mats out of the fur. It was interesting filming that."
Malarkey ended up watching Solomon's cat videos, but he wasn't sold enough to give up his list of cat-loving customers. But he did let Solomon distribute "VIdeo Catnip" in Chicago and on the Web.
Solomon doesn't own cats — his son is allergic — but he said "Video Catnip" is not only for kitties. People have told him they've been soothed by the video's peaceful scenes and music.
"It's beautifully filmed," said the Edgewater resident.