The duct-tape banana is so yesterday. Next up, the Insta-famous OwlKitty of Portland, who has amassed nearly 600,000 followers on Instagram—a cool million if you add her Twitter and YouTube followers—thanks to quick-hit videos in which she’s edited into iconic moments in film and television history, from the bathtub scene in The Shining (tagline: “When your cat won’t let you go to the bathroom alone”) to The Mandalorian (OwlKitty as Baby Yoda? Like it, we do).
“It seems just a little surreal, because it is still just our little cat,” says Olivia Boone, one of the humans behind the big-eyed star (owl-kitty.com) who bears more than a passing resemblance to her namesake birds of prey. “She’s never left the house. And now all of a sudden, we have a huge audience that’s always craving more.”
OwlKitty’s real name is Lizzy, and she’s a 2-year-old mixed-breed shelter cat adopted by Boone and partner Tibo Charroppin, who works from home as a senior animation director for the ACLU and began filming Lizzy in front of his green screen in November 2018.
Lizzy’s since played a raptor in Jurassic Park, a seventh amigo on Friends, and the Balrog in The Fellowship of the Ring. The couple say each video—most are under a minute—takes between a few days and two weeks to produce, depending on the scene’s complexity.
Some pet influencers land #sponcon deals with major brands, like Friskies and Subaru. Though you can buy OwlKitty-branded merch—T-shirts, posters, postcards—Charroppin and Boone are instead using Lizzy’s growing fame to shine a light on the PDX-based Cat Adoption Team, the shelter where they found her.
“We have been talking about the importance of animal adoption and preventing people from declawing their animals,” says Boone.