THE CAT WITH 1.3 MIL­LION FOL­LOW­ERS

Modern Cat - - Cover Cat -

With her pierc­ing emer­ald eyes and glo­ri­ous mane of hair, Smoothie, a golden-shaded Bri­tish Long­hair cat, was pretty much made for In­ter­net star­dom. Her whop­ping 1.3 mil­lion In­sta­gram fol­low­ers clearly agree.

The man be­hind the cat is 30-year-old Arvid van Boekel. Arvid started Smoothie’s In­sta­gram ac­count back in 2015 when Smoothie—or Smoothep­etoote, as he af­fec­tion­ately calls her—was one year old. It was mainly be­cause “my friends told me that I posted too many cat pic­tures on my per­sonal Face­book ac­count,” he laughs. “I was look­ing for a medium where I could just post all the lovely pic­tures of Smoothie. It was never my in­ten­tion to be­come so big. It just hap­pened.” Once Arvid cre­ated the ac­count and started to post pic­tures reg­u­larly, there was an im­me­di­ate re­sponse, he rec­ol­lects. “Peo­ple were won­der­ing what kind of cat she was; they couldn’t re­ally fig­ure it out.”

The real tip­ping point in Smoothie’s pop­u­lar­ity how­ever, was when in early 2016, Bored Panda de­clared her

It was never my in­ten­tion to be­come so big. It just hap­pened.

“The Most Pho­to­genic Cat In The World.” Her num­ber of fol­low­ers sky­rock­eted.

“I was al­ready com­pletely shocked when we reached 100,000,” Arvid says, “and it never re­ally stopped. Now she’s at 1.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers and among the big­gest cat ac­counts.”

Note that such a fol­low­ing is no hap­pen­stance oc­cur­rence. Arvid con­cedes, “It takes a lot of time—at least a cou­ple of hours ev­ery day, seven days in the week. It’s so much more than just post­ing pic­tures. It’s about cre­at­ing the per­fect shots, com­ing up with clever cap­tions, re­spond­ing to mes­sages and emails, do­ing in­ter­views and col­lab­o­ra­tions with brands and char­i­ties… And that’s next to play­ing with the cats, giv­ing them all the love they de­serve, groom­ing them ev­ery other day, and hav­ing a full-time job. It started as some­thing re­ally easy, but grew into some­thing much big­ger.”

Since last year, Arvid also runs a YouTube page so he de­votes ad­di­tional time to film­ing and edit­ing. His goal is to cre­ate and share more ad­vice videos, sucth as his post demo­ing how to in­tro­duce two cats, which has re­ceived over one mil­lion views to date.

Though man­ag­ing Smoothie’s so­cial me­dia un­de­ni­ably rep­re­sents a se­ri­ous time com­mit­ment, it’s de­cid­edly a labour of love. “I would def­i­nitely never stop; I like it so much,” Arvid says. “The peo­ple in the cat com­mu­nity are so lov­ing and car­ing and they cer­tainly be­came an im­por­tant part of my life. There are peo­ple that can’t have cats them­selves so they see Smoothie as their dig­i­tal cat. Her amount of fol­low­ers is just a num­ber, but these kinds of sto­ries are what make it so spe­cial.”

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