Cats and accounts dedicated to them have become the darlings of social media. That’s especially true on Instagram where accounts like catsdoingthings, with its 1.4 million followers, and nala_cat with her 4.3 million followers. Then there’s adorable Ernie, who’s gaining followers on Instagram. He lives in Vallejo, California with his mom Irene Wong and her dad, Joey Wetsloot.
Ernie Becomes A Social Media Star.
Like many felines, Ernie’s start in life was a bit rocky. But on one fateful day, Irene and Joe discovered the little guy purring underneath their parked car.
“He was just sweet, to begin with. “He was a little baby, maybe something about him…,” Irene told ABC7News.
The cute tabby-and-white striped cat became fast friends with this father and daughter. Initially, they kept him as an outdoor kitty. But he hurt his paw somehow and doctors told Irene his little leg would need to be amputated.
Adversity Didn’t Crimp Ernie’s Style, However.
“He will come to me,” Joe says. “If he can see me, he can run a football field all the way over to me. He runs a little sideways. Drops his leg down and runs sideways.”
We can’t help but think this must be extremely cute.
But as the pandemic began, Irene opened an Instagram account for sweet Ernie. A year or so later, she thought it would be fun to list Ernie’s birthday on the account.
“I thought it would be cute to put his birthday in his setting so that when people look at his account they would see when his birthday is,” she says.
Instagram Stepped In.
Ernie, it turns out, is 9. But the minimum age for opening an account is 13. Therefore the platform shut down the account.
“So I had to say, ‘This is my cat’s account and I handle, I’m the manager, of the account and I’m 50. So you know, come on,” Irene says laughing.
That didn’t sway folks at Instagram, however.
So the next thing Irene did was launch a #FreeErnie campaign. She did whatever she could to get the social media giant to budge, but it was no go.
But one thing is clear, Irene says: Ernie loved the attention.
“He’s like a baby too,” Joe adds. “He’s very needy. He needs people.”
Ernie Is A Social Media Hit Again, Thanks To A TV News Station.
A local ABC News station got involved after being contacted by Irene. Then the station contacted Instagram and Facebook, the platform’s parent company. A few days later, Ernie found himself sprung from the platform’s jail. We can’t tell if anyone at the social networking service felt a bit, well, embarrassed over this obvious gaffe, but the company admitted its goof.
“It was a false positive which led to their account being disabled,” the company says in a statement. “The account owner is back to posting normally.”
And Ernie and his mom are grateful for their fans.
“Thank you to your whole group for helping us,” Irene told followers.
So Ernie is back to doing what he does best — hamming it up for the camera, to the delight of his more than 9000 followers.