He has endorsed the hot wheels of Chevrolet Phils. and the swanky Hilton hotels.
At only 5, this little boy has already lived a life better than most of us. He’s an ambassador of many brands, a model, and has guested in top TV shows. Now he is working on an album—with a music video to boot.
But before we get all green-eyed, this little boy also happens to be a feline, an adorable Instagram superstar named Panther.
Panther, a blue Persian cat, is without a doubt the country’s most famous cat.
Panther’s journey to stardom started quite simply. His mom, Carmen Goetz, a Swiss freelance fashion photographer married to Filipino businessman Jon Blaylock, merely wanted to share Panther’s photos on social media in 2015 (Instagram @panther.cat).
The cat’s following grew to 600 in a short time, much to Goetz’s surprise. Turned out the world couldn’t get enough of Panther’s lovely amber eyes, which Goetz photographs when they’re dilated.
It was also at that same time that Goetz became an accidental pet photographer. From shooting fashion, she has now expanded her portfolio to pets. (Just recently, a couple from San Francisco flew in with their dogs to be photographed by Goetz in her studio, CG Pet Impressions.) A big chunk of Panther’s fans—more than 33,000 on Instagram—are based in the US and Europe.
Two years ago, we featured Panther with Goetz in Lifestyle, back when he was a rising star. Today, Goetz receives regular emails inquiring about Panther’s rates. “I’m happy they see potential, that they think he fits their brand.”
Now that her boy is a major ’Gram star—Panther also endorses brands abroad, where he gets featured in magazines—will Goetz succumb to the pressure of posting for likes?
“The pressure is surely there, since Instagram has changed a lot over the years,” she said. “The algorithm has made it more difficult to have your pictures seen by your own fans and in general. So, of course, I would like to show content that Panther’s fans enjoy the most, but at the same time, I like variety in his posts as well.”
That means, fans shouldn’t worry about getting a flood of product posts. The focus of Panther’s account will continue to be his expressive face and intriguing eyes.
“Panther definitely has to be in the picture and facing the camera. I like to show off his amazing, expressive eyes and his fluffy coat. I like it when his eyes tell a story,” Goetz said.
Panther’s Instagram account took a backseat after Goetz gave birth to her daughter. This year, Panther will once again become very visible. With his lineup of endorsements and projects, he has to be. Goetz said 2019 has been a good year for Panther, who is now, well, earning his keep.
Panther now has brothers, too—Lelouche, a Highland Fold, now 3; and Maru, the new kitty in the fold at five months. Goetz said that Panther has been behaving like a kuya to his siblings. He no longer plays hide-and-seek on his own, pretending he has playmates. His brothers keep him busy.
“It took a while for him to get used to them, but now he’s become very protective. He’s more, like, but-I’m-older-I-call-the-shots-here. Panther tolerates their presence,” Goetz said with a laugh. “I wanted the cats to cuddle at some point, but that never happened.”
Goetz said Panther has remained curious, caring, independent, sophisticated, playful, smart.
He’s still the cat who obeys commands. Unlike most cats, he responds well to bribery (treats), so that made him very trainable. He knows “come here,” “sit,” “give me five,” “stand up,” and “high five.”
Panther’s upcoming projects include fashion shoots (he does look the part of a world-weary fashionista), merchandise (stickers, pins, socks, plushies), a new endorsement (boutique hotel), a Christmas album and video.
His blog, www.pantherthecat.com, will also be revived.
Things are looking up for Panther now but in October 2016, he nearly died when he accidentally swallowed a ribbon, Goetz said.
“There’s a misconception that cats are not friendly or affectionate,” she said. “They are, but just not like dogs where it’s more obvious. When we come home from work or a trip, he misses us. He spends more time with us than usual.”