This gorgeous “undercat” named Nala is an internet star and poster child for shelter adoption.
There’s something arresting about Nala’s eyes. Perhaps it’s because they’re such a clear beautiful blue, or contrast so nicely with her silvery facial markings. Maybe it’s because she has such a direct, appealing gaze. Whatever the reason, those eyes have helped the five-year-old Siamese/tabby cross become an internet celebrity, and an ambassador for shelter adoption.
Nala was five or six months old when she was adopted by Varisiri Methachittiphan – better known to her friends as Pookie. “She was a left at a shelter along with her siblings,” says the Los Angeles resident. “When I found her, she was the last one left. She had an upper respiratory infection, which is pretty common in shelter animals.” The sight of the little kitten all by herself in a big cage, sneezing her head off, touched Pookie’s heart. “Although I had no intentions of adopting that day, the moment I saw her, I knew she was coming home with me.” Pookie adds that when she first picked Nala up, the kitten licked her face – that clinched it!
Separated from her siblings and thrust into a strange new environment, Nala was naturally frightened at first, but with veterinary care and lots of love and patience, she soon started to blossom. “You could tell she was at home,” says Pookie, who quickly became enchanted with the kitten’s beautiful looks and affectionate personality.
Thanks in part to the natural grain-free diet she gets, Nala soon grew up into a healthy, happy cat. Pookie wanted to share Nala with her friends and family back home, so she created an Instagram account and starting posting pictures. She had no idea at the time that Nala would capture the hearts of hundreds of thousands of followers, and go on to become an Internet star.
“Aside from her cuteness, one of the reasons Nala is famous is because of her story,” says Pookie. “She’s kind of an ‘undercat’. Like a lot of others, she was left at the shelter by owners who weren’t able to take care of her. Now, she’s one of the most popular cats in social media.”
Now five years old, Nala not only has an Instagram account, but also her own website (nalacat.com) and Facebook page – the latter has almost a million “likes”. The website not only highlights the latest Nala photos, but is also a vehicle for promoting animal adoption. “I never imagined she would have this many followers, but now that we are where we are, Nala and I try to help spread the word about adopting and getting donations to shelters,” says Pookie. They make regular donations to a growing list of shelters, and the website also features a full page of adoptable cats from various shelters. “I felt sad that I couldn’t adopt more cats and give them loving homes, so I try to contribute to animal shelters and adoption awareness as much as possible.”
The kitty’s website also offers some adorable merchandise for sale, ranging from Nala t-shirts, hoodies and tote bags to scarves, ties and throw pillows. “After several meet and greets, her fans wanted souvenirs,” says Pookie. “In the beginning, they were meant for fans only, and they were free. However, the demand for products started growing, and it costs money to make them, so I had to start charging. For every product sold, a portion of the proceeds goes to animal shelters.”
Nala’s popularity aside, Pookie is as much in love with her cat as she was on the day they first met. “All cat people know that cats are the best,” she quips. “And while Nala can be focused on playing with the printer or busy doing the other random, quirky things that cats do, she is still very affectionate. When I come home after a stressful day, I open the door and she’s right there, greeting me with a meow. The stress seems to melt away and I feel a lot better.
“The best thing about Nala is that she is just Nala,” Pookie muses. “I know she’s a cat and probably doesn’t know how famous she is. In the end, she’s still just my little Nala. It’s hard to explain because she isn’t really special – but she’s special to me, and any cat parent would know what I mean.”