Felines’ Antics Rule the Internet as 3 Southern Cats and Mom

By RAY VAN DUSEN, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

AMORY, Miss. (AP) — On Valentine’s Day last year, Kristi Wright-Cates uploaded a commented video to TikTok of two of her cats acting like they were mad at each other. Hundreds of talking cat videos and millions of online subscribers later, she and her three beloved pets are internet stars.

His social media page — 3 Southern Cats & Momma — has 3.7 million TikTok followers, nearly 255,000 Facebook followers and more than 87,000 YouTube subscribers. She got into merchandising through custom shirts, hoodies, coffee mugs and tote bags of her cats – Tigger, Willow and Weezer.

Almost every day, Wright-Cates uploads a new video, each with comedic narration, of her cats’ reactions to situations such as receiving fan mail, getting Easter gifts, and reacting to a real online answer from Reba McEntire.

Most of the videos, she said, feature the cats going about their routines. She adds funny voices to illustrate their thoughts and inner dialogues, which has skyrocketed their online presence. Wright-Cates does not write skits or scripts; instead, she improvises what the cats may think.

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“We swear, sometimes a little too much, but you have all these other cats who are cute and sweet; I wanted to add a twist to it and be different,” Wright-Cates said. “In the comments to that first video, a lot of people said it was different. It wasn’t trending like everyone was doing on TikTok, it wasn’t dancing and it was the Southern accent. That’s how I speak.

In the first viral video, the cats were put in their car seats to go golfing, and Willow said she wanted to go to “Mickey Donalds.” A video of cats reacting to a positive case of COVID-19 in their household has garnered the most views to date: 13.2 million.

Mississippi’s normal everyday phrases on the videos have sparked interest from people as far away as Europe.

“It gives people a whole different view of cats and the South,” Wright-Cates said. “A lot of our sayings other people have never heard of, like ‘fix’ for coming undone.’ There are people up north who don’t even know what I’m talking about, and they’re intrigued.

“Bless your heart,” is another phrase people outside of the southern United States don’t seem to know. Same as “Come to Jesus.”

“I’m friends with a guy from the UK…He’s just blown away by the South and the way we talk,” Wright-Cates said.

Wright-Cates adopted 7-year-old Willow from a shelter about four years ago. She found Tigger, 4, and Weezer, 1, through Facebook posts for free kittens. Tigger is a Norwegian Forest Cat, and Willow and Weezer are both domestic shorthair cats.

Wright-Cates said the dialogue she gives to cats reflects their personalities.

“Their personalities that you see on TikTok are really them,” she said. “Willow is the head queen; she’s been here the longest. She’s sassy in her own way. I just sped it up a bit.

She described Tigger as a laid-back old man, sitting like a human and sleeping on his back. Weezer is extremely hyperactive.

“She was running around the house like a little crackhead, so that’s her nickname,” Wright-Cates said. “It’s stuck, and everyone calls it crackhead. She loves Tigger. You find Weezer, you find Tigger.

Besides the comedy of the videos, she has helped raise awareness of feline health.

“I actually got a video of Willow having her asthma attack while I was waiting at the vet, and it raised a lot of awareness on TikTok,” she said. “A lot of people had no idea that cats could have asthma.”

Willow has an asthma box for respiratory treatments, which has led to several videos about her condition.

His online videos have also helped influence some people’s opinion of cats.

“I’ve had people say, ‘I don’t like cats, but you made me like them,'” Wright-Cates said. “I give people a whole new view of cats.”

The Cat Room in the Wright-Cates House has climbing towers, cat-sized cardboard houses and trucks, and paintings depicting Willow and Weezer as queens and Tigger as king.

With rising online fame, Wright-Cates made 3 Southern Cats & Momma her career, which includes a collaboration with Litter-Robot.

In one video, Willow was fancifully dressed and asked, “Why hasn’t Reber contacted me,” in a nod to country star Reba McEntire.

“It took off from there, and people were tagging Reba like crazy, so Reba commented and said, ‘You get a rhinestone dress, and we can sing to the Big Ole Oprah,'” Wright-said Kates.

Around the time 3 Southern Cats & Momma gained its millionth follower, Willow received a Louis Vuitton handbag in the mail. She also received a real queen’s cape and crown from a fan.

Wright-Cates’ husband now has a TikTok spin-off, 3 Southern Cats and Daddy, and she has two goals for the future: stuffed animals featuring Willow, Weezer and Tigger and an animated adult TV show.

She said she was amazed at the joy her three cats brought to so many people.

“People said, ‘You got me through anxiety and depression,'” Wright-Cates said, seemingly surprised at the response. “I’m just a stay-at-home mom who just has an imagination, I guess.”

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