How an Elgin cat is giving thousands of fans reason to smile during pandemic

  • Carrot the Cat settles in to watch a movie with sisters, from left, Claire, 1, Abby, 5, and Hannah, 3, Merryn, at their Elgin home. Carrot, who has 189,000 Instagram followers and fans including Ellen DeGeneres, is providing some laughter and joy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Carrot the Cat settles in to watch a movie with sisters, from left, Claire, 1, Abby, 5, and Hannah, 3, Merryn, at their Elgin home. Carrot, who has 189,000 Instagram followers and fans including Ellen DeGeneres, is providing some laughter and joy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of Erin Merryn

  • Carrot the Cat joins Abby, 5, left, and Hannah, 3, for some TLC at their Elgin home. Carrot was featured in an "Access Hollywood" segment Friday.

    Carrot the Cat joins Abby, 5, left, and Hannah, 3, for some TLC at their Elgin home. Carrot was featured in an "Access Hollywood" segment Friday. Courtesy of Erin Merryn

 
Updated 3/30/2020 6:28 PM

An Elgin cat with tens of thousands of social media followers and celebrity fans like Ellen DeGeneres is bringing many moments of laughter and joy amid the concern and anxiety prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

You can find The Cat Named Carrot on Facebook and Instagram, where she can be seen cavorting with owner Erin Merryn and her family, including daughters Abby, 5, Hannah, 3, and Claire, 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In one video, Claire is perched in her highchair, with the ginger cat nestled in her lap. At one point, she inserts the cat's paw in her mouth.

Other videos show the family pushing Carrot around in a stroller, giving her a manicure, and even washing her paws.

Carrot is a good sport through it all.

"With everything that's going on in our world right now ... it's just so nice to be able to bring people so much laughter on a daily basis," Erin Merryn said.

Carrot has become a favorite of DeGeneres, whose attachment was featured Friday in a segment on the television show "Access Hollywood." She's also appeared on "Good Morning America."

The "Access Hollywood" segment paid special attention to how Carrot's family is coping with staying at home during the pandemic.

Merryn, who did the television interview by FaceTime, said one of the factors that fueled DeGeneres' interest is an app that makes it appear Carrot is talking.

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In one video, Carrot, referring to her upcoming April 1 birthday, says "You know what I want for my birthday? I want a whole lot of catnip and a phone call from Ellen."

It wasn't long before DeGeneres called to wish Carrot a happy birthday. During the call, DeGeneres marveled, "My cats are mean. I cannot believe the things that cat tolerates."

Carrot is not the first Merryn family cat to live in the limelight. Bailey No Ordinary Cat, who died in 2018 of kidney failure at age 14, also rose to stardom through a book and videos on social media, including one that, coincidentally, was shared by DeGeneres.

Carrot has proved a more than worthy heir. Today, she has 189,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 132,000 Facebook followers.

And Carrot, whom the family adopted from Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin, soon will have her own book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Merryn said both Carrot and Bailey have helped with her life's calling, promoting Erin's Law. Named after Merryn, the law requires that public schools in Illinois implement a child sexual abuse prevention program with students in prekindergarten through high school.

Through the cats' help, Merryn has raised more than $25,000 for the Children's Advocacy Centers of Illinois. In just two days last week, Carrot alone raised $5,000 for the advocacy center in Hoffman Estates, Merryn said.

"The cat has allowed me to reach an entire different audience that I never would have reached," she added.

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