News / Vancouver

Cat's outta the bag for feline Instagram account

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know cats are a kind of a big deal on the Internet.

And with nearly 400,000 followers, including big names like Ellen DeGeneres and musician Jason Mraz, Cats of Instagram is no exception.

Although the Instagram account has been around since 2011, few people are aware that a Vancouverite is behind the paw-pular page.

 After three years, Erin Filtness of Vancouver has revealed her identity as founder of the popular Cats of Instagram page.

After three years, Erin Filtness of Vancouver has revealed her identity as founder of the popular Cats of Instagram page.

Erin Filtness of East Van kept her role as founder of the feline photo-sharing platform a secret for three years.

“I thought, I was just posting pictures of cats,” she told Metro. “Why do I need to broadcast who I am?”

That all changed at the start of this year when Filtness had a change of heart and decided to reveal her identity as its creator.

An early adopter of the social media platform, Filtness first joined Instagram in 2010 under her personal page. It wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that she came across the already-popular Dogs of Instagram page that she decided to see if there was a cat counterpart.

“I searched the name, and there was nothing made and I thought, ‘Well, that’s funny. Why don’t I make a Cats of Instagram?’” she said.

Although she didn’t post any pictures on the account for almost a year, to Filtness’ surprise the page quickly gained 2,000 followers.

In spring 2012, she decided to post a picture of a cat that a follower had submitted. From there, it’s been the cat’s meow, she said, as hundreds of thousands of followers quickly pounced on the page.

Comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres started following in the past year, as did musicians Jason Mraz and Ed Sheeran — not that the celebrity craze has fazed Filtness.

“I didn’t even know Ed Sheeran,” she said with a laugh.

Following the premise of the Dogs of Instagram page, Filtness posts a combination of photos that are submitted to her by cat owners as well as snapshots of her own adopted male cats, Bing Clawsby and Paw McCartney.

Photo Gallery

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    A photo of Stash the Moustache Cat, whose owner, Metro Winnipeg managing editor Elisha Dacey, adopted from a Winnipeg animal shelter.

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    Watch some cat videos and turn that frown upside down. Pictured here, the famous Grumpy Cat.

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    A cat photo from Cats of Instagram.

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    A cat photo from Cats of Instagram with founder Erin Filtness in the background.

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    A cat photo from Cats of Instagram.

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    A cat photo from Cats of Instagram.

  • Instagram: @CatsofInstagram

    A cat photo from Cats of Instagram.

When companies started sending her cat products for her furry family members to try, she also started adding reviews to the Cats of Instagram website.

Filtness said it’s the friendships, both online and in real life, she has made with fellow feline fans through the page that keep her grinning like a Cheshire.

She became good friends with the founder of Vancouver-based Meow Box, a monthly subscription box for cats, when she teamed up with the company for a contest, she said. The platform has also allowed her to save dozens of cats that were on “death row” in the United States and Canada, and to help find them forever homes.

“I’ve had people contact me who can’t afford their cat’s medical bills,” she said. “It’s pretty crazy what’s actually gone on when you step back and look at it.”

A longtime cat owner, Filtness also volunteers for her local no-kill cat rescue shelter and has fostered nine cats.

While she might now be known as the feline queen, Filtness said she doesn’t consider herself strictly a cat person. As a dog owner, she also runs the Pit Bulls in Tutus Instagram page that aims to break down the negative perceptions people have about pit bulls "one tutu at a time."

“I couldn’t imagine life without my dog or without my cat,” she said.

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