The Real Story Behind the Mysterious Cat in Gran Turismo 5

jenkins the cat
GT5 Photomode image by jus1029.

When Gran Turismo 5 was released, something unusual in the game’s Kyoto Photo Travel Location caught the attention of our community: a curiously detailed little cat. He blinked, turned his head, looked around, and generally drove people crazy.

When GTPlanet member MadmuppGT created a thread in our forums about the cat, affectionately naming him “Jenkins”, his popularity skyrocketed. The topic gathered hundreds of posts and spawned an explosion of Jenkins memes, avatars, and photo galleries across the site.

GT5 Photomode montage by RaY29rus.

Although “Jenkins” was not found in GT6, his legend lives on, driven by the mystery of why this seemingly random cat was so carefully modeled and animated in a driving game. His presence even led to some oddly compelling conspiracy theories about the true meaning behind the GT logo (warning – you won’t be able to un-see this)…

jenkins logo

What’s the real story, though? With so many Polyphony Digital employees on hand at the recent GT Sport reveal in London, I knew the time was right to get to the bottom of all this. Sure enough, with the help of Kazunori Yamauchi and Translator-san, I was introduced to the cat’s owner, who was eager to share the story of his famous feline.

Photos of the “real” cat at home in Japan. Thank you to her owner for providing these images.

The cat was actually a female Abyssinian, and her real name was “Primary”. Her owner is a Polyphony Digital employee who was married during the development of Gran Turismo 5. As a wedding gift, his co-workers surprised him with a highly-detailed 3D model of his beloved pet, immortalizing her in a game which would go on to sell nearly 12 million copies.

Sadly, Primary is no longer with us – she has since passed away – but thanks to this special wedding gift, she has brought a smile to people the world over, and will no doubt live on in the lore of Gran Turismo.

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Comments (30)

  1. wvmgmidget

    Wow that’s pretty cool, but now I’m wondering if any Polyphony Digital employees had a pet monkey or Loch Ness monster.

  2. Tenacious D

    Leave it to Jordan to uncover the insidious secret of the mysterious “Jenkins,” the “primary” cat of Gran Turismo. It’s sad that she’s no longer with us, but she will live on in our Photo Mode mementos.

    After accomplishing so many milestones in the annals of GT Planet, I think Jordan needs a cool nick. Would it be something diplomatical like “Kissinger”? Or sleuthy like “Sherlock”?

  3. Lain

    Primary? What an odd name… you sure that isn’t just “Premium” in Engrish?

    In any case, she was adorable. Cat Turismo 5: The Real Feline Simulator.

    1. Huks

      It’s not mentioned in the article, but the owner has now got another cat named Secondary.

      Yeah, it’s an odd naming scheme.

    2. Jordan Greer

      That’s actually not true, Huks. When I first spoke with Primary’s owner, I joked that if he got another cat, he could name it “Secondary”, but he has not actually done so. I think people who overheard our conversation mis-interpreted that.

      To address the top comment, the cat’s name is definitely “Primary” – it is not a mistranslation.

  4. Foxiol

    I remember to make a “fake” picture of the “Premium version” of Jenkins…good times and laughs on that thread.

    Sad to know that she is no more with us but cool to know the truth about the cat in the game after all this time.

    Thanks for the article. ;)

  5. Scuderia Paul

    That is actually a lovely story. It is great to find out the reason behind it after so many years.

  6. Dan

    I always thought “Jenkins” was the name given by PD employees. Now, I finally know the truth. Sad to hear the real cat passed away, though. :(

  7. Rubencho

    lol, didn’t knew about this cat till now, that’s a cool Easter egg. Next pet to be available? maybe a Sloth from Kaz

  8. Nielsen

    Good, now we only need to find the respective owners of the monkey and lake monster at Trial Mountain.

  9. Ameer67

    Wow, we finally learn the true meaning of that cat found sitting, staring, at Kyoto. Primary (Jenkins) will always be with us. What a nice story.

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