Meet Ikiru, the cat who’s absolutely nailed his go-to pose for photos.
The three-year-old exotic shorthair has gained more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, who flock to see pictures of him doing a splendid sticking-out-his-tongue pose (also known as a blep).
He’s earned the title of The Blep King, thanks to all the photos of the fluffy cat with his little pink tongue poking out, and is bringing cheer to everyone in lockdown without a cat of their own.
Ikiru belongs to Rich, 45, and Emma, 41, who said they ‘pretty much fell in love with him’ the first time they saw him.
The pair decided to start an Instagram for the kitty after friends and family kept asking to see pictures of his silly face.
Rich said: ‘It is great that he has resonated with so many people and just struck a chord.
‘We are happy that he has been able to cheer people up in what has been a very difficult time.
‘We found a lot of people in Italy who were stuck in lockdown during the quarantine were sharing pictures of him.
‘He has become a bit of a cult figure and they were sharing pictures of him to cheer each other up.
‘Then he became quite popular in Spain and other places. His biggest audience at the moment is the US, particularly in the big cities like New York and Los Angeles.’
The pair from Bradford, West Yorkshire, got Ikiru from a breeder when he was just eight weeks old.
He is named after a 1952 film by Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa.
Rich said: ‘He just had a loveable personality which stood out for us.
‘We went to visit him at the breeders and that was it really.’
Rich spends two hours a day updating the account and replying to messages from followers.
‘People think he’s always got his tongue out but basically whenever there’s a camera or phone near then he seems to know, and sticks his tongue out,’ Rich explains.
‘He has this constant cheeky expression and that seems to really appeal to people. It’s the wide eyes as well.
‘He’s definitely an unusual looking cat but we love him.’
Ikiru is a housecat who loves being around people and Rich admitted he has ‘free rein’ of the whole house.
Basically, Ikiru is a bit of a diva – as is his right, given he’s an Instagram celeb.
Rich said: ‘We spoil him and he has always been the centre of attention.
‘I think he knows it now as well. He seems to enjoy having his picture taken.
‘I know some cats can be quite aloof but he will stay with you all day and follow you everywhere, particularly in lockdown.
‘Everywhere we go he’s just there. He’s very much a homebody and he just likes being with us.
‘He is a bit of a fussy eater. All the conditions have to be perfect for him to eat, it’s very odd.
‘If the bowl isn’t warm enough or something like that then he will refuse to eat.
‘He’s a bit of a diva, he’s always been like that.’
Ikiru also has a Tik Tok account, where fans can watch videos of him playing with his toys.
Emma and Rich, who both work in digital marketing, have received fan art of Ikuru from followers all over the world.
Rich said: ‘People have sent us some really amazing paintings, drawings, and sketches.
‘We’ve got a few artists that have painted him a couple of times. We like to encourage people to be creative.
‘We love it and luckily we haven’t had any weird stuff – no cat stalkers yet.’
You can follow Ikiru on Instagram @neoko.ikiru.san and on TikTok @ikiru_the_cat.
Do you have a cat with a story that needs sharing? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
Oh, and do share photos of your cats blepping in the comments section below.
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