'The Office' star Angela Kinsey says she's a real life 'cat lady' and meets famous felines at CatCon
CatCon hosts the most famous felines of social media.
The cat's outta the bag! California is for cat lovers.
At least, it was during CatCon 2019, when fans flocked to Pasadena to meet famous felines and experience all things cats with like-minded animal lovers.
ABC News' "Nightline" got an inside look at the world's largest cat-centric event, where the part-trade show, part-symposium played host to cat lovers like actress and self-described "real" cat lady Angela Kinsey.
From cat video compilations with hundreds of millions of views to memes and movies, nothing compares to kittens when it comes to content ca-paw-ble of breaking the internet.
The event's founder, Susan Michals, told ABC News that she thinks cats rule as internet royalty in part because "people want something to relate to."
"We live in a hypersensitive sensationalist world, right. Right now, from morning to night it's like 'go, go, go, go go,'" she said. "I think, like these kitties and what they stand for — and even cat videos — people need a break. They need a respite. They need something to believe in."
Nala Cat is the world's most famous feline on Instagram with over four million followers.
She was a rescue cat-turned-internet icon who's living the dream.
"It's been a really fun journey for us because she's adopted," said her owner, Varisiri Methachittiphan, who goes by "Pookie." "I found her from a shelter and right now she's the most popular cat on Instagram and a lot of people asked me why would I think it just because you know we being authentic and being ourself, and we trying to bring good to the world."
Pookie said that Nala has been her "full-time job for seven years" and suggested that it has paid off.
When asked how much money her furry friend brings in through advertising, partnership deals and more, Pookie said, "enough that we bought two houses and we have two adopted kids and we have six cats and a dogs."
Another cool cat that graced the convention with her presence was a Bengal named Suki, who has over 1.5 million followers on social media.
Suki's owners brought the marble-marked feline to Pasadena fresh off a flight from Alberta, Canada, to meet her beloved Bengal fans.
One of those fans told ABC News that she noticed the idea of a "crazy cat lady" trending toward a new demographic.
"It is becoming younger. I think a big part of that is social media. All of us are on social media," Brooke Ashlynn said. "We love it and we're just finding so many new cats that are so cute that we fall in love with and then fly all the way to CatCon to meet them."
But the event is about more than just the cats. It's about the owners behind the accounts that accrue all the likes and followers.
Actress Angela Kinsey played an uptight cat lady by the same first name on "The Office," and said the role's love of felines wasn't that far-fetched.
"Why am I here? Do you have to ask?" she said. "Because I'm a cat lady. I played a cat lady. I am a real cat lady. I love my cat people. It’s a fun crowd."
Kinsey continued, "I love cats. I mean my character may be a little bit more than myself. I don't know, she had like 13. I've never licked one of my own cats faces. So there's that."
"I've never put one of my cats in a drawer at work. I don't have a cat cam. But I do have two cats in real life," she explained. "I'm an animal lover. We have lots of animals."
Kinsey said that as much as her on-screen persona would have wanted to attend an event like this, Martin would much more likely "watch CatCon from her computer."
"There'd be too many strangers; she wouldn't be talking to you," the actress said. "But she wouldn't come here amongst all these people."
The idea of what it means to be a "cat lady" has evolved over the years, Kinsey said.
"I saw a lady today that had like, evening wear," Kinsey recalled. "Like something you might wear, let's say, to the Met Gala. And it was, like, covered in cats — her skirt was solid cat."
"So I say the modern cat lady is sassy. She's out there. She's ready to mingle," Kinsey explained.
The updated cat lady image has changed with the industry, surrounding animal influencer culture and a shift in the pet owner market as a whole.
Millennials make up 35% of the cat owner group, according to the American Pet Products Association.
Michals said that when it comes to pet products, "Influencer millennial market has been virtually untapped until about two years ago."
"The baby boomer was the number one consumer of pet products until about two years ago. And they didn't expect the millennials to usurp it till 2020 and they already have, because it touches everything the way they live," the CatCon founder explained. "If you look around here at our exhibitors, there are cat products. There are cat people products. There are cat scratches. There's furniture. There's holistic, there's CBD. There's everything that sort of encompasses the lifestyle of what it means to be more than an animal lover."
In 2018, pet owners in the U.S. spent $72 billion on their animals, according to the same report from the American Pet Products Association.
Michals said this year's event had over 200 vendors — "the most we've ever had to date" — compared to just 68 when CatCon began in 2015.
"One dollar of every ticket goes to help animals in need," she said of the mission to promote more cat adoptions.
"We've gotten, to date, 504 cats adopted at CatCon," Michals said. "And this year we expect to get over 250 adopted."
CatCon hosted a record 16,000 people who traveled to the annual cat culture event.
"I've always been obsessed with cats. I call myself a crazy cat lady even though I only have one," Ashlynn said. "But in the future I guarantee I'm gonna be a crazy cat lady. But, I mean, I have to be a little crazy to fly all the way to California from Utah to just meet a bunch of cats."
Michals said her hope is to continue to "create this haven for people that they really enjoy, that they want to come back to year after year, and it really comes down to community and experience."
"I want them to walk away with a virtual and a real life take away that that's memorable," she added. "Whether it's a cat nip toy that they buy or a selfie that they take ... Or a cat that they adopted."
Beyond the glitz and glam of the famous felines in attendance, an adoption center offers cat lovers a chance to take a furry friend home forever.
Best Friends, a cat adoption center at CatCon, successfully found a home for 200 cats at this year's event.
"I feel that there is a place for this kind of convention or event. For the dog person just as much as the cat person," Michals said.
Kinsey, who loves a good cat video, said that she thinks people "love cats because cats do not care about us at all."
"They're like, 'I don't care. Do what you want to do. You won't take my picture, fine, don't care,'" she said. "There's something about that that I really love, and I think other people do, too."