It’s no secret I love cats. I love my own cats far more than any other but show me a fluffy tail and a sassy face and I’ll get giddy. Don’t even get me started on kittens. When I joined instagram a few years back, a huge appeal to me was the ability to follow the lives of famous insta cats. @pudgethecat is my homegirl. Tom, amazed that these cats had hundreds of thousands of followers (now they’re in the millions) told me to start an account for Carlow the firehouse cat. If these cats are so famous just living in a simple apartment, don’t you think Carlow, living amongst fire trucks in Manhattan would be an interesting follow. And so, Tom and I sat heads together and created a page for the cat. We started by following people we knew hoping to get a follow back. By the end of the first day we had 100 followers. The guys in the house were now curious who the heck was running this nonsense.Tom and I denied it for months while the mystery page grew. One firefighter was jet set on us being the culprits but we squashed his accusations as best as we could until one day he caught us taking pictures while passing the firehouse when the trucks were out. Dammnit! Gigs up!
When Carlow hit 1000 followers we thought we were the shit. Obviously those hashtags were working. In the beginning his followers grew from other people giving shoutouts. @cheifmiller has a strong following of big time fire buffs around the country. For the first year, the majority of Carlow’s followers were young volunteer firefighters and so I catered to the audience, making sure my captions had something to do with firefighting. I used all the lingo that only a firefighter would know with the help of Tom of course. I thought it was hilarious when the cat would get private messages starting with “Hey Brother”. I loved that the followers thought I was one of the guys. Every once in a while I’d swap shoutouts with other firefighting themed accounts helping each other grow in numbers.
About a year after Carlow’s insta debut, the best compliment happened. I was messaged by a copy cat firecat account. Enter @midtownboogie. He too thought the fingers behind the phone were a firemans and I played along, giving him the shoutout he asked for. Boogie’s account grew over night and people were thrilled by Carlow’s new “meowtual partner” as Boogie said, making cat puns his signature move for each caption.
We were going strong as instgrams bravest cats. Then one day Carlow’s follower count jumped to 2000….3000…10,000 in a matter of three hours. WHAT WAS HAPPENING!? It turns out DNA.com wrote an article about cats living in firehouses in NYC and Carlow and Boogie were the stars. It was so exciting watching the numbers grow so fast. Shortly after, Huffington Post and people.com ran articles highlighting the firecats of the FDNY and within a month Carlow had close to 25k followers. A cat! I was stoked with my personal account reaching 300.
With fame comes great responsibility. Carlow began receiving gifts almost daily and visitors were stopping by to meet the salty lil fur ball from as far as Alaska, Germany and Australia. The whole thing became comical and very fun. Not only was I proud to be responsible for his fame, I found it thrilling that none of his followers had caught on to the fact that I was not a big strong fireman, but rather just the girlfriend of one. The most fulfilling part of it though was that this platform had accidentally been created for me to do something good. Carlow’s page became a place to post about cats and dogs in desperate need of rescue and search of furever homes. He had a strong following of animal lovers, and every time I posted about an animal in need a rescue was made. #carlowcares
Today, Carlow is loved by 36.9k followers. His first post was five years ago. His first picture had 12 likes. Now he averages 3,500 per photo. There are several other awesome firecat accounts around the country but Carlow will always be the OG. Ironically Carlow is a total asshole. He’s only loveable on his terms but for the most part he gives zero farts about those around him. He is always dirty and the master of the resting bitch face. His followers love him though and I totally get it. It’s his sass and his confidence that make him so likeable. Though he’s a grump, he’s most definitely one of the guys, often seen sitting at the apparatus door watching the pretty ladies of the Upper East Side pass by in the change of tours(fireman lingo for shift change).
The thrill of his fame has faded a bit over the years and sometimes I forget to post (his followers always sure to ask where he’s been) or have a hard time thinking of novel captions but the purpose of his page continues. About a year ago, a woman messaged Carlow to let us know that she is a nurse in a children’s hospital and one night one of her young patients was having a hard time missing his mommy. Because he loves firemen, she showed him Carlow’s page and it made him happy. That to me is purpose of Carlow’s page. I don’t post about religion or politics, I post about sarcasm and silliness. It is nice that the only drama on his page is the ongoing battle of whether or not he needs a bath.
If you don’t follow already, go take a peek at my man Carlow’s page. As long as people keep following, I will keep posting. A big thanks to his followers for their ongoing likes and kind words. Thank you to the guys at the house for supporting the cause by sending pictures and videos. But the biggest thanks goes to Carlow. Thank you for being a total badass with the occasional soft side and for being so photogenic. Your essence is captured in every snap. #theend