The Virginia Senate race is turning into quite the catfight now that Hank the cat has thrown his paw into the race.


Hank, a moderate, is a 9-year-old Maine Coon who is running as an independent against former Govs. George Allen (R) and Tim Kaine (D) for the state’s open Senate seat. A Virginia native, Hank has no previous political experience, but he has a wealth of life experience: Born to a single mother and raised on the streets, Hank clawed his way to the top and now lives a comfortable life with his owner, Anthony Roberts.


In fact, it’s Hank’s unique background that makes him such a qualified candidate, according to his campaign manager, Matthew O’Leary. “It definitely gives him a great insight into how difficult it is to live on the streets and to almost being put down. He realizes that the judicial system needs reworking and that there needs to be opportunities for everyone,” he says.


Hank, who has an affinity for cheese and plaid ties, supports spaying-and-neutering programs and job creation for Virginians, the latter of which is a hot issue for Allen and Kaine. The other Senate candidates have been embroiled in economic debates, which has given Hank a shot at sinking his claws into undecided voters.


Hank’s political career began when O’Leary ran the cat as a write-in candidate in a recent state election as a joke. The furry feline received nine votes, so Roberts and O’Leary launched Hank’s campaign. Since then, the cat’s sudden spate of publicity has crashed his website,


In addition to his website, Hank’s campaign has been publicized on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and the politically minded feline has even done a television interview.


“There seems to be a whole lot of support right now,” O’Leary said. “He’s very hopeful that this grassroots support will explode and get a lot of people interested in him.”


But while Hank has refrained from mudslinging, he's recently become the target of a negative ad sponsored by Canines for a Feline-Free Tomorrow. The ad points out that Hank has never released his birth certificate or responded to allegations that he's used catnip, and that while Hank says he's been to the vet, there's no record of his serving in any military branch.


Despite these negative attacks, Hank has garnered a great deal of support, but he still faces one large political hurdle: Current regulations prohibit animals from serving in Congress. But if a dog can serve as mayor of a Kentucky town, surely it’s only a matter of time until we have a senator with whiskers. As Hank states on his website, "with hard work and dedication anyone can seize the opportunities."


Check out Hank's campaign commercial below to see how he'll work to make sure America stays "the greatest land of all."

Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Hank the cat runs for Senate, faces negative ad from dogs
The 9-year-old Maine Coon is running as an independent candidate and supports spaying-and-neutering programs.