Tucker, a cat whose joyless daily romps down Fayetteville street brought joy to countless cat lovers downtown, passed away peacefully this morning in the loving arms of his family. He was 22.
Tucker did not love much in life–other than food–but was beloved as Raleigh’s resident Celebrikitty, making routine appearances at city events and garnering a substantial following on social media for his irreverent Instagram presence.
His human servant, Ron Kirk, announced Tucker’s passing in a heartfelt Instagram post Monday morning.
Kirk found Tucker at a local animal shelter in 2005, looking for feline companionship after a bad breakup. He wasn’t the cutest or friendliest cat at the shelter and likely would have been euthanized if not for his utility–he was completely fearless and the staff used him to test out dogs for their compatibility with other animals.
Kirk soon discovered the way to Tucker’s heart was through his stomach, and as his affection for the Maine Coon mutt grew, so did Tucker’s beltline. By 2015 he had ballooned to a staggering 32 pound, putting him in the mega, super, ultra obese category.
That’s when the walks began. First with a lounge on the sidewalk outside of Kirk’s condo upstairs from Sono Sushi, and eventually progressing to the state’s Capital Grounds. Kirk began to broadcast Tucker’s weightloss journey on Instagram–though he insists Tucker authored all the posts, he was just the transcriber–and he quickly went from just another fat cat on the internet to a living, breathing meme.
Tucker announced his retirement earlier this year from public life, but continued to make appearances up until this weekend, when he was spotted sporting a miniature powdered judge’s wig at Wendell’s Town Hall at the request of his followers.
Usually, Tucker wrote, he would ignore such a paltry request. But it was a slow day, so Tucker agreed, but not without conditions.
“I require a plaque. I require a gavel. I require a parliamentary wig. I require the Mayor’s spot on the dais. I require tuna.”
Wendell complied. Tucker, begrudgingly, arrived.
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“Dear Oak City Kitty – will you please please PLEASE visit Town Hall?” This message (and hundreds of others just like it) normally get filtered straight to the trash, never to be acknowledged. However, technology is imperfect (unlike cats) and somehow this annoyance made it to the top of my list of things I have to manually delete and never acknowledge. But, being a slow day, I decided to have a bit of fun and respond. “Yes, with conditions. I require a plaque. I require a gavel. I require a parliamentary wig. I require the Mayor’s spot on the dais. I require tuna.” Certain that a Small Town (Big Charm, they add) would rescind their offer on hosting such a problematic feline, I tucked (aha) the phone away and went back to napping in front of the fire. Almost instantly, I was bothered by an alert that my unreasonable stipulations had received a reply. “Done. We’re waiting.” Having nothing else to do, I had dad haul me downtown so I could point out where they failed in meeting my demands so I could leave without fulfilling my obligations (no refunds!!). We parked directly out front (try THAT in downtown Raleigh) of town hall and were greeted by Megan, Wendell’s town clerk and top-notch social media coordinator (she took all these photos, so credit goes to her and @townofwendell). After a thankfully short meet and greet with admiring town employees and a visit to the old holding cell, I was ushered into the official meeting room where I was greeted by a parliamentary wig, a plaque, a gavel, full access to the Mayor’s spot on the dais, MY NAME ON ALL THE MONITORS, and tuna. Ridiculous. All this for a cat… Not one to ever shirk my duties, I endured this humiliating photo shoot with a scowl – and I didn’t even attack anyone. What do you think? Does the wig make me look fat? Does Wendell need a feline Mayor? #politics #smalltown #northcarolina #tabbycat #tuna #celebritycat #wendell #mainecoon #petoftheday #cat
“Ridiculous. All this for a cat… Not one to ever shirk my duties, I endured this humiliating photo shoot with a scowl – and I didn’t even attack anyone. What do you think? Does the wig make me look fat? Does Wendell need a feline Mayor?”
Tucker leaves behind Kirk, Kirk’s wife and feline siblings Moonbat and Flounder.