How an Elgin cat is giving thousands of fans reason to smile during pandemic
An Elgin cat with tens of thousands of social media followers and celebrity fans like Ellen DeGeneres is bringing many moments of laughter and joy amid the concern and anxiety prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.
In one video, Claire is perched in her highchair, with the ginger cat nestled in her lap. At one point, she inserts the cat's paw in her mouth.
Other videos show the family pushing Carrot around in a stroller, giving her a manicure, and even washing her paws.
Carrot is a good sport through it all.
"With everything that's going on in our world right now ... it's just so nice to be able to bring people so much laughter on a daily basis," Erin Merryn said.
The "Access Hollywood" segment paid special attention to how Carrot's family is coping with staying at home during the pandemic.
Merryn, who did the television interview by FaceTime, said one of the factors that fueled DeGeneres' interest is an app that makes it appear Carrot is talking.
In one video, Carrot, referring to her upcoming April 1 birthday, says "You know what I want for my birthday? I want a whole lot of catnip and a phone call from Ellen."
It wasn't long before DeGeneres called to wish Carrot a happy birthday. During the call, DeGeneres marveled, "My cats are mean. I cannot believe the things that cat tolerates."
Carrot is not the first Merryn family cat to live in the limelight. Bailey No Ordinary Cat, who died in 2018 of kidney failure at age 14, also rose to stardom through a book and videos on social media, including one that, coincidentally, was shared by DeGeneres.
Carrot has proved a more than worthy heir. Today, she has 189,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 132,000 Facebook followers.
And Carrot, whom the family adopted from Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin, soon will have her own book.
Merryn said both Carrot and Bailey have helped with her life's calling, promoting Erin's Law. Named after Merryn, the law requires that public schools in Illinois implement a child sexual abuse prevention program with students in prekindergarten through high school.
Through the cats' help, Merryn has raised more than $25,000 for the Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois. In just two days last week, Carrot alone raised $5,000 for the advocacy center in Hoffman Estates, Merryn said.
"The cat has allowed me to reach an entire different audience that I never would have reached," she added.