Otisandjr - Who We Are
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!
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Hannah is a lifelong storyteller and cat lady. She is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and holds a MA in History. Most importantly, Hannah is "Meowmy" to JT Catsby.