Many pets have their own social media accounts but few have the enduring star power of Waffles the cat. Waffles, a Scottish Fold, didn’t always have such celebrity status. As a kitten, the orange-and-white little guy was unable to find a forever home because he was “ugly.”
Although it seems impossible now, what with his more than 700,000 Instagram followers and nearly two-and-a-half million Facebook followers, cat parent Laine Lee insists that’s the case. When Laine first met Waffles, he was 7 months old and had no prospective permanent homes on the horizon. “When we asked why, they said it’s because he’s ugly,” she says. “Looking back now, he was probably sick and had various infections.”
As it turns out, Laine wasn’t even looking for a cat that day, but the little “ugly” kitten stole her heart. “I was having crazy dog fever and had been looking for a dog,” she says. “We visited all kinds of shelters and homes with dogs available. Waffles happened to be at one of the homes.” It was a fortunate turn of events for all involved.
Thanks to veterinary care and a new, loving home, Waffles blossomed. He gained weight and soon exhibited the first signs of his superstar qualities. His large, anime-like eyes, pink nose, round head and — of course — folded ears make Waffles look almost like an adorable stuffed animal or cartoon character. After posting some pictures online, Laine noticed that he was getting attention — and not just from friends and family. Strangers were also starting to respond.
Soon Laine began having fun with her cat’s popularity. In addition to the fun photos she posted on social media, a line of Waffles-themed products launched for his growing fan base. It was an easy thing for Laine to experiment with. “I’ve always done art as a hobby, and it was a natural extension of that hobby.” Shirts, calendars, keychains, stationery and more are all available on his official website.
Waffles’ profile has only continued to expand. He has appeared in magazines, commercials, the movie Nine Lives and has even made personal appearances around the country.
The once-ugly kitten has completely reinvented himself and been named one of the top 10 Pet Influencers by Forbes Magazine. Waffles himself remains humble despite his position as a power player in the pet world. When not jet-setting around the globe for meet and greets with his fans, he spends time lounging, bathing himself and people-watching from windows.
Mostly, though, he spreads good cheer through his photos. His fun and gentle personality comes through in his pictures, which is the reason for his continued success. Laine says that Waffles is the sweetest, cuddliest family member. “I am so lucky to cuddle him every day.”
Thumbnail: Photography courtesy Waffles the Cat.
Elisa Jordan is a Southern California freelance writer specializing in pets. She has a terrier, Gidget, and a cat, Izzy.
Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in Catster magazine. Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.