Why is our name otisandjr? This is a question I’m asked a lot and that I hope to answer today.
You don’t know Otis, but (believe it or not) you know Jr. My cat’s name is JT Catsby. JT stands for “Just Terrific.” I see a lot of confusion in our comments section on Instagram as people refer to JT as Otis. This is a really common misconception, and I completely understand why some of our followers may be confused about JT’s name. After all, why would our name be otisandjr if we’re not posting pictures of somebody named Otis? To explain where we got our name, I have to take things back to the beginning of our account.
I did not originally make the Instagram account which you know and love today. My mom did. This was originally supposed to be her Instagram account, so she came up with the name. Otis is my mom’s red eared slider. He’s an aquatic turtle who enjoys swimming in his tank and basking on his favorite rock. He likes to do arabesques while he soaks up the sunshine, sometimes stretching out three of his four legs to reach for the warmth and light. (Side note: JT is obsessed with Otis and loves to watch him. He’ll do this for hours on end. I’m not sure if he loves Otis or if he’s afraid of Otis. Regardless, Otis is a big part of JT’s life in more ways than one.) Essentially, a turtle who has only made rare appearances on the account is our namesake.
As for the “jr” part of otisandjr – that’s me. My maternal grandpa called my mom “Jr” as one of her nicknames when she was growing up. She passed that nickname down to me. I’m not technically a Jr (my name is my own) but I will answer to Jr if I hear my mom calling out that name. So – Surprise! You secretly knew Jr all along.
This explanation raises some questions of its own. Was my mom planning to have an Instagram account solely devoted to posting photos and videos of her turtle and myself? To that, I have no idea. That would have been an interesting account though! However, the big question remains: How did my mom’s turtle and daughter account turn into the “Otisandjr” that is out in the world today?
If you scroll all the way back to the beginning of our account and our very first posts on the ‘gram, you’ll see a hodgepodge of photos. (We have over 2.5k posts and counting, so if you go back that far in our account – that’s dedication.) There’s a flower, a cloudy sky with a rainbow, and (of course) pictures of JT. My mom asked me to teach her how to use Instagram, so we started posting pictures of JT regularly so she could get comfortable posting on the app. We started using hashtags and getting features from outside accounts devoted specifically to reposting cat pictures. Otisandjr – with JT at the helm – began to grow organically as other accounts found us on Instagram.
One morning, my mom decided to burst into my room to wake me up. Our conversation went something like this:
Mom - “Hannah. JT went viral.”
Me (half asleep) - “What?”
Mom - “JT went viral.”
Me – “What are you talking about?”
Mom – “We got 400 followers overnight!”
I explained to my mom that having 400 followers doesn’t exactly equal “going viral,” but it was an exciting day. It became clear that there were people out in the world who loved JT as much as we did, and, by that time, the account had become JT’s account. Our feed was filled with his pictures – no turtle pictures or daughter pictures necessary. My mom handed the account over to me and – of course – JT.
And otisandjr continued to grow! We’ve been so fortunate to make “Furrends” from all over the world since the account began in 2014. I always joke that JT’s Instagram account is one of the happiest accidents of my life. I didn’t make an Instagram account intending to share daily pictures of my cat with people around the globe. Instead, my mom made her Instagram account, I tried to help her learn how to use the platform, and then something magical happened. People like you – the person reading this – are the spark that made this account grow. As long as people keep wanting to see pictures of JT, I’ll keep taking them and sharing them with all of you. There’s something sweet and magical about how Instagram has allowed so many people to connect and bond over one little cat. I want to keep living in and sharing this magic.
I hope this clears up how we got here. To summarize everything I’ve said above: Otis is a turtle, I’m Jr, JT is JT, and my mom created the name “otisandjr” before handing the account over to me. I don’t know if people will ever stop believing JT’s name is Otis, and that’s okay. I’m just glad to have them along for the ride with us, because – as you can see – you never know where life will take you. Someday you might go to bed and wake up the next morning to your mom telling you that your cat went “viral” on Instagram. And another morning, on a day like today, you might wake up in disbelief that your cat’s Instagram account has more than 155k followers and over five years of your life chronicled in one little space. And you feel thankful.
It was all started by my mom, because of a turtle, and me, and JT.
PS - Rescue Spotlight!
For our first ever Rescue Spotlight, I want to feature Little Wanderers NYC. Little Wanderers works to “[rescue] the neediest cats in the toughest neighborhoods of NYC.” We’ve followed their account on Instagram ( @littlewanderersnyc ) for several years, so I can tell you firsthand that these rescuers are living up to their promise. So many of the cats whose stories they share on their Instagram are cases which would be either ignored or rejected by other organizations for being too difficult or gruesome. Even so, Little Wanderers NYC steps up to face these challenges, giving cats of NYC dignity, love, and a new chance at life.
Little Wanderers NYC is currently running a campaign called “2021 Resolution Campaign: Every Cat Deserves a Home!” Their goal is to raise $10,000.00 to support their rescue work in 2021. In 2020 alone, Little Wanderers rescued 1,265 cats and altered an additional 300 cats through the TNR program. Little Wanderers NYC has shown again and again that they’re putting in the work, making a positive change in their community, and truly living up to their “no-cat-left-behind” mission.
Please support their campaign which can be found at this link - https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/2021-resolution-campaign-every-cat-deserves-a-home
And please follow Little Wanderers NYC on Instagram at @littlewanderersnyc
No-Cat-Left-Behind is something we can all get behind!
I want to be more like my cat. I think you should, too.
A cat might be an unusual choice for a role model, but 2020 was an unusual year. So much still feels up in the air with the new year upon us. Even with this uncertainty, I know one thing for sure: my cat is living his best life. I think our furry friends can teach us ways to better navigate our lives. My boy – JT Catsby – is a confident, loving guy. He goes through life with his tail held high and knows exactly when a well-timed purr can turn someone’s day around. During the pandemic, I’ve spent more time at home with JT than ever before. Based on my observations (and maybe this is some pandemic-era cabin fever talking) here are a few lessons I’ve learned from JT that I plan to carry with me in 2021.
Take Time to Play
Even though it pains me to admit that my baby kitty is a grown-up cat, JT still likes to race around the house just like he did as a kitten. He sprints down the hallway, shimmies up to the top of the cat tree, and then somersaults his way down onto his favorite shelf on the tree. He chases bugs. He chases ribbons. He chases treats. JT loves to run! Contrary to cats, it seems like humans get the “play” knocked out of them as they age. We learn to sit still and focus in school alongside our lessons. Misbehavior is punished. Work is prized above all. And frankly, it’s tiring. While these lessons are necessary to create model citizens, something is lost in the process. We lose our sense of play.
Maybe if I had been a better disciplinarian, JT would be more settled now. But I’m glad that wasn’t the case. When JT plays, his joy is infectious. The more I laugh, the faster he goes. My laughs are his cheers! One of the best things I did for myself in 2020 was dancing along with Ryan Heffington’s Sweat Fest. In this raucous class, the focus is on play. The dance moves are optional and come with names like “pretty pony” and “happy hippie.” Lavish costumes and lip-synching are encouraged. It’s loud and silly and wonderful. I felt ridiculous prancing around the house and singing at the top of my lungs, but at the end of the class I felt good. Breaking out of the constructs of “adulting” (even in a small way like pretending to be a flailing inflatable thing at a used car lot while a Madonna song plays) is freeing. When it was time for the class, JT and I both got excited. He knew he would get to “sing” or, in his case, swing at whatever household appliance I was using as my microphone that day. He was excited to play. I want to carry that spirit with me in 2021 and remember to play.
Take Time to Rest
On the other side of the coin, JT sleeps A LOT. If he isn’t playing around the house or watching birds out the window, he’s usually curled up for a catnap in a cozy spot. Unlike JT, resting isn’t my strong suit. I’ve always felt like I should be doing something, working on something. When I’m at rest, I get restless. It felt like the world slowed down in 2020 and, with the slower pace, I slowed down, too. While I still wouldn’t call myself a skilled rest aficionado like JT, I’ve been learning to listen to my mind and body and take breaks when I need them. And you know what’s crazy? I’ve found out that I genuinely like resting. I watched (and loved) The Mandalorian. I’ve been watching a lot of cheesy, made-for-tv romantic movies. (Will our heroine leave her mean, businessman boyfriend for the hometown hunk who rescues puppies? Um. Duh!) They’re super predictable, but they make me laugh. Sometimes I knit while I watch. Knitting is another restful activity for me. I twist the yarn around my loom and before I know it – POOF! I made a hat. I know that making a conscious choice to rest will always be difficult for me. Even so, I’m planning to look to JT and take time to rest in 2021.
Drink More Water
JT likes to hop from the bathroom floor, to the hamper, to the counter before meowing for attention. Once a human comes to his rescue to turn on the faucet, he sticks his head under the stream for a fresh drink of water. While I’m not advocating for you to stick your head under a faucet (unless that’s what you need to do to get this done), I think most people can benefit from drinking more water. I have a big refillable water bottle that I lug around with me. I try to drink the whole thing and then refill it and keep going. Some days I do better on that than others. But I know that if my cat can stick his head under a running faucet, then I can handle upping my water intake in 2021.
Eat the Treats
JT enjoys a balanced diet of dry food, wet food, and lots of treats! He loves chasing his hard treats down the hall, but Churu treats are his holy grail. They’re basically like a meat gogurt and come in different flavors. JT begs for one every night. If there’s one big life lesson to be pulled from 2020, I think it’s that life is short and unpredictable. Go ahead and eat the treats! There is so much pressure in our society look a certain way. I know I feel that pressure. It gets even harder at this time of year. So many New Year’s Resolutions focus on losing weight and changing the way our bodies look. When I tried to think of a list of resolutions JT would make, I realized that he would never make a resolution like that! He would eat the treats. And he would still be loved by his family and Furrends all over the internet no matter what. So, that’s my plan for 2021. No foods are off limits. I’m going to eat the treats. I had Funyuns before I sat down to write this. I have a stash of flavored Tootsie Rolls near my desk. Maybe I’ll have one later…
Use Your Voice
For a little guy, JT is LOUD. You can hear his meow from the opposite side of the house if he wants you to hear it. He has no qualms about asking for what he wants, whether that’s attention, treats, or to go outside. He’s far from shy in that respect. It can be scary to ask for what you want or, when necessary, demand it. What if someone says no? What if they laugh at me? Whenever I feel scared, I try to ask myself, “Would it be worse to be rejected or to never have tried at all?” For me, the glimmer of hope always surpasses the fear of rejection. Rejection may hurt, but the feeling is temporary. So many moments, big and small, when I’ve used my voice have been so worth it. When I told my now-fiancé how I felt about him, my heart was going a mile a minute. It was scary then, but (fast-forward to now) I get to spend the rest of my life with the guy of my dreams. While using my voice and going after what I wanted in this instance may not have a huge impact on the way of the world, it sure had an impact on my life. I want to keep using my voice in 2021. I understand that I operate from a place of privilege and have a platform on social media. As a part of these blog posts, I want to spotlight rescues around the United States who are making a difference in their communities and in the lives of animals. If you’d like to nominate a rescue to be featured, let me know! If JT can make himself heard, then I can make myself heard and amplify other voices, too.
Those are my resolutions for 2021. From what I can tell, I think JT Catsby is resolving to keep living his best life and maybe (if I’m lucky) sleep in past the crack of dawn. I hope this list give you some inspiration if you’re crafting your own list of New Year’s Resolutions. If not, I hope it at least made you smile. 2020 was a wild and often sad ride of a year. I hope 2021 is full of health, happiness, progress, kindness, and (of course) treats!
Lots of love,