A Tacoma, Washington man has become best buddies with kitties all over his neighborhood, and his sweet videos of his “catwalks” have made him—and his feline friends—local celebrities.
Chris Watson, who works from home, said it all started in the summer of 2020 when his partner was trying to motivate him to get out and walk.
So many NEW floofs today! #catwalk #friendlycat #catluminati
Out on a Catwalk
“We discovered that there were quite a few cats in our neighborhood, and we would just kind of walk the same path or the same route and pet those cats,” he said. “But then TikTok started to become popular, and I posted a video and that kind of went viral.”
Watson’s Catluminati on TikTok now has 1.8 million followers, and his videos regularly get millions of likes.
His fans love seeing his interaction with the cats, and some of their comments are nearly as entertaining as the videos. They include “how do u get them all the come to you? ur like disney princess ….but prince….and with cats” and “nothing makes me happier than a cat that sounds like it has smoked 2 packs a day for 20 years.”
TWO NEW CATs in NEW NEIGHBORHOOD! #catwalk #catluminati #friendlycat
Cats come running, seemingly from all directions, when they spot Watson.
“When the tail comes up you already know,” Watson says in one video as a happy cat races up the sidewalk to greet him.
Why the Name Catluminati?
“People were commenting that the cats are having secret meetings about me, and that’s why they all come to me,” said Watson. “So I called [my TikTok account] Catluminati because that’s the name of their meeting, that’s the name of their secret group.”
Watson said the cats he sees are indoor/outdoor cats, so they’re normally in their yards, and they don’t wander too far away from their homes.
We met 5 new cats today! #catwalk #friendlycat #catluminati
He has learned the names of many of the cats or has come up with nicknames for them.
“I learn the cat’s names from their collars and sometimes humans will come out and tell us. Their nicknames come from me, though,” he said.
There are two cats named Mary, so the nicknames “Area Rug Mary” and “Cow Mary” were created to differentiate the two.
“We called her Area Rug Mary because somebody commented that her coat looks like an area rug, and I thought it was funny so I started calling her that, and I think Cow Mary is obvious, she has a coat that was kind of like a cow,” said Watson.
Another nickname is “Toast Malone.”
“His real name is Charlie,” said Watson. “Somebody said he looks like a toasted marshmallow so I started calling him Toast Malone.”
A Friend to Felines
Watson said he loves all the cats he meets and doesn’t have a particular favorite.
“Because what happens is when I go out on a catwalk and I meet a new cat, that’s kind of my favorite for the day. Like, oh, we met a new cat today, this is so awesome,” he said. “But I love them all for how different they are from each other and their personalities.”
Watson said Cow Mary is one of the cats who is the most affectionate with him.
“Cow Mary is a very, very loving cat,” he said. “There’s some cats that that I’ll film them and I’ll pet them, and then they’ll just walk off, and it’s like, whatever. But then other cats, I’ll just sit down with them for a few minutes and just hang out with them because they just want to cuddle up with you.”
i was used by these cats #catluminati #friendlycat
Watson says the most cats he’s seen in one day is 24.
“Back then, it was it was every day I was like, ‘I have to beat my record for how many cats I’ve seen in one day,’” he said.
A “normal” day depends on the weather.
“During the winter it might be five or six, which is still a lot for how cold it is,” said Watson. “The cats don’t care. The cats will bug their humans and, you know, get outside. And normally, when it’s colder, they just stay on their porch. Or if I’m cool with their humans I’ll walk up to them. But on average, I’ll see about 10 during the good weather.”
Watson grew to love cats because growing up, his dad had a shop next to the house so there were always “shop cats.”
“Cats are my favorite (pet) because they are so independent, but also friendly,” he said.
Milo’s human, Dave, joined me for a catwalk! #catwalk #catluminati #friendlycat #catsoftiktok
Watson has become well-known around his neighborhood.
“Quite a few times, people see me and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, my God, you have to meet my cat. Her name is Stella, and then they’ll run in the house and come back out with the cat and the cat’s like what the heck is going on?” he said.
Watson has had local media coverage, which he’s happy about.
“I love to know that people around me are knowing about this, so when I’m out here doing the catwalk, people know who I am, and it’s not like, you know, I end up on NextDoor or something like that, which has happened before. And then everybody’s like ‘that’s the cat guy. He’s there to pet your cat, he’s fine.’”
Watson is grateful to the kitty-loving community and is enjoying every day.
“I love how much people love the catwalk cats and even say they would adopt,” he said.
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