This handsome tuxedo cat is full of personality and poise! Oreo’s multi-faceted career has ranged from appearing as a comic strip and children’s book character, to taking over social media and becoming an ambassador for pet education.
You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Oreo came close to death’s door when he was a tiny kitten. Now, he’s a social media star who has entertained countless kids, appeared in a film, and is even credited with saving the life of a young girl victimized by cyberbullies.
Oreo was less than two weeks old when he and his sister were found hiding under a car in the backyard of Tina Modugno’s brother-in-law. “Once I saw how small they were, I could not bear to part with them,” says Tina, who lives in Quebec, Canada. “I had recently lost my job and was home all day, so my husband and I decided to foster them until we found them homes.”
Early one morning, Tina discovered Oreo unconscious and unbreathing. “All I could think of was to give him mouth-to-nose,” she says. “It wasn’t easy because he was so small, but I got him breathing again.” After rushing Oreo to the vet, Tina learned that he had a serious case of parasites. Even with treatment, it was a few weeks before Oreo recovered. By then, the couple had decided to keep him.
Tina soon realized there was something special about her new kitty. “As he got older, it was easy to see he was super smart. He would understand things so quickly and even ended up teaching the older cats how to play with certain toys. He was very easy to train if given a reward.”
Since losing her job, Tina had begun illustrating children’s books and educational content for websites. “I wanted to create a character based on Oreo. I started doodling him and posting little jokes in the form of a comic strip on my then Tumblr art blog. People really seemed to like it. Eventually, the art blog became an Oreo Cat blog and then I moved onto Facebook and Instagram.” The next step on Oreo’s rise to stardom was a children’s book called The Oreo Cat: Bacons and Other Stuff.
Oreo has proved himself to be very photogenic. “I always keep my camera handy because he is always doing something weird,” says Tina. “With all the funny short video clips I began to accumulate, I decided to try Vine. Oreo sometimes jumps like he’s a cross between a cat and a kangaroo. I would get short clips of him on video doing his hops and post them to Vine. One day his account just blew up and we wound up with over 200,000 followers in a few months. At the end of 2016, Oreo was dubbed ‘Hey Ya Cat’ by Buzzfeed and one of the most important cats of the year thanks to his viral Vine to the tune of Hey Ya by Outkast.
Oreo’s popularity continued ballooning. “Our biggest social platform today is Musical.ly,” Tina says. “Oreo has accumulated over 670,000 followers and it grows daily. We strive to keep all our content kid-friendly and always add a touch of comedy. Thanks to Oreo’s presence on Musical.ly, we were able to save the life of a12-year-old girl who was self-mutilating as a result of cyberbullying.”
Along with his online presence, Oreo also had a cameo in the film Nine Lives, and appeared on Daybreak Montreal in February 2016 to promote Tina’s newly-published children’s book Atchoum and Oreo: First Day of School,* which deals with the issue of bullying.
“We also have a weekly live streaming show every Monday on the Live.ly app, created by Musical.ly,” Tina continues. “It’s called The PET.ly Show and is centered on DIY projects for pets. We also encourage kids to spend more quality time with their pets.
This isn’t a complete list of everything Oreo does, by a long shot. He’s also an ambassador for The Pet Education Project, a non-profit that teaches people about responsible pet ownership. “I am very passionate about this project. Oreo’s following is mainly young kids and I feel it’s so important to help educate them about pet care.”
With his busy lifestyle, Tina knows it’s important to make sure Oreo stays healthy, and it shows in his bright eyes and gorgeous glossy coat. “I sometimes make homemade food for him and our other cats. Oreo loves cooked broccoli, carrots and peas, as well as watermelon and cantaloupe! Every so often I will get a nice piece of trout and steam it for him and the others.”
When asked what she loves best about her fluffy tuxedo cat, Tina’s answer is simple but telling: “There is no other cat quite like Oreo in this world.” His millions of fans would no doubt agree!
*Read our cover story about Atchoum in Volume 18, Issue 5.