For Instagram’s most-followed cat, Nala is strikingly un-catlike.
“She’s a silly girl who loves baths, airplanes, hotels and people,” says co-furmom Shannon Ellis. “Nala is also really clumsy… she can’t jump on a counter without a stool.”
More than 4.3 million people worldwide agree. The Guinness World Record-holding feline has amassed a legion of passionate fans in just a short amount of time.
“Everything about her feels warm and safe,” says Shannon of the cuddly-cute Siamese/tabby mix with slightly crossed eyed and gray-and-white coat. “Everyone can find something comforting in Nala… she’s so easy to love.”
Varisiri “Pookie” Methachittiphan rescued Nala from a Los Angeles shelter in 2010. The furry feline was only five months old at the time, and Pookie was finishing up grad school. A year or so later, Pookie created an Instagram account to share their adoption story.
“My sister in Thailand had seen another pet on Instagram… it was rare to see dogs and cats with their own feeds back then… and suggested I make one for Nala,” Pookie recalls. “I had no plan, and certainly had no idea she’d become a celebrity cat.”
Nala gained 500 followers practically overnight. “I imagined 500 people who love her in a room together, which was amazing,” Pookie says. “I realized we had something special.”
From Fangirl to Furry Family
As Nala’s audience grew, so did her family. In 2014, when Nala’s following topped 1 million, Pookie connected with Shannon, who was living in Hawaii and making bowties to sell on Etsy. Shannon sent Pookie a Facebook message and mailed Nala one of her custom creations. Pookie posted a photo of Nala sporting her new tie, and the pair hatched a plan to sell the bowties through Nala’s website. Shannon and her two nieces – whom she had recently adopted – delivered the goods to Pookie and Nala in Southern California, and it was love at first sight.
A year later, Pookie and Shannon got married. “Our stories intersect at Nala,” Shannon says. “I was a fangirl first, and now we’re a family.”
Nala shares a home with her six rescue pet siblings: White Coffee, Luna Rose, Apollo, Stella, Goose and the crew’s lone canine: Spencer. Combined, they have more than 9 million social media followers.
But make no mistake: Nala rules the roost and lets the others know who’s boss. “A true diva,” Pookie says. “She likes her special corner and prefers to be on her own.”
‘Silly, Goofy, Playful, Brave and More All Under One Roof’
While Shannon and Pookie sometimes post photos of their pets together, each has a distinct audience and “voice” on social media. “All of our babies have such unique personalities,” Shannon says, “so we feel lucky that we get silly, goofy, playful, brave and more all under one roof.”
For example, White Coffee – a shorthaired cancer survivor – radiates strength and courage with a focus on his handsome, bright-white coat. Luna Rose (a.k.a. “Baby Loon”) is a “hot mess with a huge appetite,” according to Shannon, and Apollo is a “foster fail” flame point Siamese who overcame painful shyness as a kitten and is now known for his playfulness and high-jump skills. Spencer, a terrier mix rescue, thinks he’s a cat. “His favorite toy is the laser-pointer, and he’s a really picky eater,” Shannon adds.
Herding the gang is no small feat. “If we can capture more than one together, we do,” Shannon explains. “The boys stick together, but the girls are very independent. And it’s especially hard to get Spencer to trust Nala because he’s been swatted more than once.”
Shannon and Pookie use their pets’ accounts to raise awareness about adoption, early feline cancer detection, and overall animal wellness. “Every opportunity we have to educate people about how we can all be better pet parents means fewer cats euthanized,” Pookie says.
Nala markets her own branded merchandise – from t-shirts to bowties to toys – and Facebook Watch show. Last fall, Shannon and Pookie launched the Love, Nala line of premium, affordably priced cat food. Every time someone purchases a bag, one is donated to an animal rescue organization.
“We’re creating Nala’s legacy,” Pookie concludes. “Nala is our baby, and we want her name and the happiness she inspires to live forever. Love, Nala is more than a cat food brand; we’re a pet health and wellness company with rescue at its core.”
Purr-fect Flooring: STAINMASTER® PetProtect™
How do Shannon and Pookie keep their house clean and tidy with such a menagerie of animals scurrying about? STAINMASTER® PetProtect™ luxury vinyl flooring and STAINMASTER® PetProtect® carpet.
“We’re not sure how we ever lived without it,” says Pookie, who was introduced to the STAINMASTER® team by the owner of another Insta-famous feline, Venus the Two Face Cat.
When they moved into their home, they immediately wanted to replace the dated, dark and dingy carpet in the loft office. And with six cats, one dog and two teens, they needed a solution that would last. “We did our research and learned STAINMASTER® PetProtect™ flooring is the best,” Shannon said.
They picked STAINMASTER® PetProtect™ luxury vinyl for the first floor living area and upstairs loft, and STAINMASTER® PetProtect® carpet for their stairs. They also have a custom STAINMASTER® rug in the highly trafficked cat playroom, “where all the shedding happens and where Spencer eats his treats,” Shannon says.
The flooring has brightened up the mood of their home and boosted productivity in the loft office, while keeping the space clean and safe.
“The cats’ claws can’t scratch this flooring, and the Pet ActionTraction™ provides some really nice grip,” Pookie says. “So when they get the zoomies at 2 a.m., they’re not sliding into things. They can actually run, slam on the brakes and jump easily up onto the counters. It’s also completely waterproof, incredibly durable and easy to clean. When we bathe Spencer and he shakes everywhere, we don’t worry. Whereas our wood floor before would absorb the water. And the cats track clay litter from the box, which wipe up quickly and effortlessly.”