SPE­CIAL FEA­TURE: He’s a celebrity cat, and his pho­tog­ra­pher-owner shares ex­clu­sive tips for mak­ing your pet an In­ter­net star

Animal Scene - - CONTENTS -

There is a joke that the In­ter­net is now solely com­prised of so­cial media, self­ies, and cat pho­tos and videos. Then again, when your celebrity is furry and adorable, who can re­sist?

Meet “Pan­ther,” a “me­owdel” with a fast-grow­ing In­sta­gram (“IG” for short) fol­low­ing (https://www.in­sta­gram.com/ pan­ther.cat/, or @pan­ther.cat). Fur par­ent Car­men Goetz Blay­lock, a fash­ion and beauty pho­tog­ra­pher (who her­self looks like a model), has al­ways loved cats, and on an im­pulse, she de­cided to check out the kit­tens for sale one day in 2014. “We (Car­men and her hus­band Jon of the band Fire­fall­down) fell im­me­di­ately in love with him and called the breeder up. Later in the day, we picked him up.”

The male blue doll-face Per­sian was named af­ter one of her fa­vorite child­hood stuffed toys. “He doesn’t ex­actly look like a real pan­ther but we thought ‘Pan­ther’ would make a great name for him.” As he was the most play­ful and ‘wild’ kit­ten among his

lit­ter­mates, Car­men she snapped photo af­ter photo of her lit­tle baby, but it was only a year later, in 2015, that Car­men thought of cre­at­ing an IG ac­count for him. “It was more like un­real wish­ful think­ing to make him ‘fa­mous’,” she laughs. “Since I knew al­ready of other celebrity cats on In­sta­gram and what were the chances of lit­tle Pan­ther to get a big au­di­ence like theirs? So it was more a hobby in the be­gin­ning.”

She filled his ac­count ev­ery­day with cute pic­tures and videos of him eat­ing, play­ing, and mod­el­ing on

mini set de­signs; Jon con­trib­uted lit­tle sound­tracks he com­posed. It was a whim­si­cal project for the cou­ple—but af­ter one of In­sta­gram’s most pop­u­lar ac­counts, “Cats of In­sta­gram,” fea­tured one of Pan­ther’s pho­tos, his barely months-old ac­count sud­denly had over two thou­sand fol­low­ers. (As of this writ­ing, it’s al­most at twenty thou­sand!)

That’s when Car­men de­cided, “I’m [go­ing] to grow his In­sta­gram as big as pos­si­ble,” and added Face­book, Snapchat, and Youtube to Pan­ther’s so­cial media ac­counts.

SE­CRET OF HIS SUC­CESS

“Ob­vi­ously, hav­ing a suc­cess­ful ac­count doesn’t just en­tail the up­load­ing of good con­tent. It’s a daily com­mit­ment to be so­cial with other ac­counts on In­sta­gram,” Car­men ex­plains when asked about how much com­mit­ment it takes for Pan­ther’s var­i­ous ac­counts. She de­scribes the cat com­mu­nity on IG as “amaz­ing.” “The pet own­ers are in­cred­i­bly nice and the time in­vested into Pan­ther’s ac­count opened up a new cre­ative out­let for me.”

These days, she spends about 5-6 hours on Pan­ther’s IG. Does he have a tem­plate or a for­mula for his en­tries and posts? No, Car­men says. “I don’t re­ally have a tem­plate. How­ever, I usu­ally do some shoots that have a theme like Christ­mas, New Year, Valen­tine’s Day. I like to in­cor­po­rate flow­ers for spring and sum­mer. If you look at my stream, I tend to post three pic­tures of the same theme or back­ground. To me, it’s like a lit­tle editorial [fea­tur­ing] Pan­ther.” Car­men shares that through IG, Pan­ther has been able to model for brands like Pet­stages (a Us-based toy com­pany). Other pop­u­lar cat IG ac­counts like “Cats of In­sta­gram” and the of­fi­cial equiv­a­lent IG ac­counts of the Ger­manand Span­ish-speak­ing parts of the world. “This year, he will have one of his pho­tos fea­tured in the first book of ‘Cats of In­sta­gram’. He’s al­ready come out with a sock line that was avail­able for a lim­ited pe­riod of time and more mer­chan­dise is cur­rently in the pipe­line. He has also been get­ting a lot of free­bies like cat toys and ac­ces­sories from the likes of Cas­tify, Fit Cat Toys-ph, and Trackr. There are many more ex­cit­ing projects com­ing up that I can’t re­veal just yet, so stay tuned!” his ex­cited fur mom says.

TAK­ING FAME IN STRIDE

So how has fame changed Pan­ther’s life? Jon chimes in, say­ing, “He is just a nor­mal cat like any other. He loves to hop into boxes, play with all kinds of toys, play hide and seek, sleep, eat…and re­peat. He’s a very af­fec­tion­ate cat and more of­ten than not he sleeps on our bed with us.”

His sched­ule isn’t gru­el­ing, Car­men ex­plains. “The shoots for his In­sta­gram don’t take that much of his time. Usu­ally, I have shoot ses­sions of 10 min­utes at the most for a set of 3 images that will be up­loaded on his In­sta­gram. That’s roughly 20 min­utes of shoot­ing time a week. I play with or feed him while I am tak­ing his images be­cause it’s im­por­tant to me that he finds ful­fill­ment in his oc­cu­pa­tion and that he is fairly com­pen­sated for his pas­sion for and ded­i­ca­tion to the ‘me­owdel­ing’ in­dus­try.”

And yes, he gets fan mail! “Of­ten­times, they write me pri­vate mes­sages on In­sta­gram ask­ing what breed he is and they also ask about groom­ing or his fa­vorite food. I try to re­spond to all of them,” smiles Car­men. His fol­low­ers tend to be mostly fe­male (about a third, Car­men es­ti­mates), be­tween the ages of 2540, and are usu­ally also fol­low­ers of: @cat­s_of_in­sta­gram, @best­meow, @cat­sofin­sta­gram, and @in­sta_ an­i­mal.

DO YOU WANT YOUR PUSS TO BE A CELEB TOO?

For those who want to make In­sta­gram celebri­ties of their own pets, Car­men rec­om­mends the fol­low­ing:

• Do reg­u­lar up­loads, about 1 or 2 a day.

• Have sharp images if pos­si­ble and fo­cus on your pet, be­cause your pet is the star!

• Do use hash­tags of pet-fea­tur­ing In­sta­gram ac­counts (to raise your pet’s chances of be­ing ‘dis­cov­ered’, do your re­search). • Be cre­ative and find some­thing that will make you stand out.

And it’s not just your pet who’s go­ing to be in the spot­light here, Car­men points out. You will be, too. “So you have be so­cial and nice. ‘Like’ and com­ment on other ac­counts, and re­spond to com­ments,” she says.

Which In­sta­gram ac­counts, aside from Pan­ther’s, does Car­men rec­om­mend that cat and an­i­mal lovers fol­low? “@cat­s_of_in­sta­gram, @al­bert­baby­cat, @hosi­co_­cat, @ best­meow, and @in­sta_an­i­mal,” she says.

Given that An­i­mal Scene’s My Pet’s Life just launched, Car­men’s ad­vice is in­valu­able. Grab that cam­era, start snap­ping, and send in your en­tries now!

DAILY EVENTS

1: Species Re­quiem Day: Be­cause the last known pas­sen­ger pi­geon, Martha, died on this date in 1914 at the Cincin­nati Zoo, “en­vi­ron­men­tal writer Harold W. Wood, Jr. pro­posed that this an­niver­sary be rec­og­nized as Species Re­quiem Day,” says wilder­ness­com­mit­tee.org. Some peo­ple call it Re­quiem for a Species Day, and spend it re­mem­ber­ing all the an­i­mal species that have gone ex­tinct due to hu­man ac­tiv­ity.

3: Na­tional Hum­ming­bird Day (First Satur­day in Septem­ber): Did you know that a hum­ming­bird’s wings beat 60-80 times per sec­ond? Ac­cord­ing to mind­ful­liv­ingnet­work.com, the hum­ming­bird is so named be­cause you can hear its wings hum.

4: Na­tional Wildlife Day: This cel­e­bra­tion be­gan in 2005 and is meant to “…bring [about aware­ness of] the num­ber of en­dan­gered an­i­mals na­tion­ally, as well as glob­ally, that need to be pre­served and res­cued from their demise each year.” It’s also cel­e­brated in mem­ory of an­i­mal lover and con­ser­va­tion­ist Steve Ir­win. (http://www.na­tion­al­wildlife­day.com/)

Pan­ther’s In­sta­gram page: 20,000 fol­low­ers...and count­ing!

Adorable videos of Pan­ther are also avail­able on his page.

Pan­ther be­ing cud­dled by his owner, Car­men Goetz Blay­lock

The lit­tle de­tails can make for fas­ci­nat­ing pho­tos.

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