A self-described ‘Old Trucker’ from Alabama, Mike Mattingly, has traveled the country with some adorably furry companions. The soft-spoken gentleman’s stories have endeared him to thousands online, a ‘TikTok family.’ He’s been graciously dubbed the ‘Mr. Rogers of TikTok’ by followers.
It began when two adorable Chihuahuas who love cats, Maxine and Rufus, were his buddies on long treks. But as they became older, they started staying home more in Bear Creek.
Back at home, Mike’s wife cares for a “Pumpkin Patch” of beloved feral cats. And Mike loves them all, including many kittens that appeared over the years. The family gives them vet care and spay and neuter, but even so, litters of kittens pop up occasionally as other cats arrive.
While traveling, Mike has even been known to feed cats he sees during pit stops.
“Two things I can’t see to go hungry is a little kid and an animal,” he said.
Old Trucker and Bobby the Kitten
One day, the trucker’s TikTok featured a cute kitten, Bobby. When he was at home, Bobby’s mother, Fiona, dropped the kitten at Mike’s feet and left him, so he nursed him back to health. The kitten was the only survivor in his litter.
On road trips, the kitten rode on his shoulder and was a great traveling partner and co-pilot. He had a toy box of toys and a litter box. While Mike drove the orange truck, the orange kitten stayed constantly entertained in the cab. At first, he thought the kitten was a she, named Bobbie. Later, he became Bobby.
“From a guy that was never too fond of cats, I’ve got to love ’em, especially this one here,” he said of Bobby. “[He’s] a lot of sweetness.”
A Fluffy Blessing
People loved getting updates about Bobby’s antics in the big rig. Videos about the kitten reached millions of views.
“That little cat right there is a blessing to me,” he said of Bobby. “[He] brought a lot of joy and pleasure to the inside of this truck.”
The Kitten Helped Heal Mike’s Heart
Shortly before caring for Bobby, Mike shared that he had experienced some serious heart-related health issues, but the kitten worked wonders for him.
“What Bobby has done for my heart and my frame of mind is far more than any prescription that any doctor could have given me,” he said. “He’s brought a lot of joy to my heart, and I hope I’ve brought a lot of joy and companionship to him.”
The kitten arrived at a low point just when he needed him. But unfortunately, his stay in this world was a brief one.
Sadly, Bobby suddenly passed away from a respiratory illness at four months old. It was devastating, and the trucker missed him so much. Mike donated in Bobby’s name at the Colbert County animal shelter, where everyone was a fan of the TikTok celebrity cat.
A Children’s Book About Old Trucker and Bobby
“Old Tucker is a lonely over the road professional driver. He hauls things from here to there and there to here, from California to Conecticut and everywhere in between. He drives for long days and even longer nights. One day when Old Trucker is sick from a hurting heart, he finds a sick little sad kitten who brings light to his many bluish-grey days. It turns out the little orange bob tailed kitten may just be the best medicine for Old Trucker’s hurting heart,” reads the book’s synopsis.
Three Amigos Arrive
Around the same time that Bobby passed, three ginger kittens were born at home: the Three Amigos, Popeye, Lulu, and Butterball. They, too, were a blessing, arriving when he needed them most. Millions of people watched the kittens in their “18-wheel kitten city.”
Everyone was delighted to see the trio helping Mike’s heart heal after losing Bobby. And after finding homes for Butterball and Lulu, Popeye became his purrmanent sidekick on the road.
Recently, Mike has retired from trucking and is enjoying life with his family, Popeye, the Chihuahuas, and the Pumpkin Patch at home. We send purrs and healing vibes and wish you good health and many wonderful days ahead.
For more, you can follow along on TikTok.