As adorable as she is inspirational, Milla The Cat (@millathecat) has overcome enormous odds during her journey to social media stardom, but her number one fan has always been the proud cat dad who stood by her side through it all.
Milla, who is named after actress Milla Jovovich, is a “very loveable cat” according to her owner, Dustin Cabatuan. “She’s not much of a lap cat, she does her own thing. She’s an independent woman.”
Dustin first got Milla in 2011 when he was living in West Hollywood, California. Dustin had never had a cat before, but after seeing a unique gray cat in a Target commercial that caught his eye, he did some research and found a local family who was having a litter, and he paid them a visit eight weeks later. “She was the little shy one under the couch,” Dustin tells In The Know. “I was like, ‘I want her.’ So I brought her home. She was the first cat I ever had and I fell in love with her.”
One new apartment and two more cats (British Shorthairs Winona and Kubrick) later, Dustin, who has “worked in social media for quite a while,” has helped transform Milla from that shy little kitten into a social media star.
“I started her account in like, 2013. It was just kind of a fun little hobby,” says Dustin. But after a few major publications featured Milla, her following started to grow. “The outreach was pretty crazy,” he says. “I didn’t expect it.”
Success doesn’t come without hard work, but Dustin and Milla have a strong professional partnership. Every morning, Dustin checks Milla’s account and responds to any inquiries, before moving on to photo and video campaigns. “I kind of have to do [them] when she wants to,” Dustin tells In The Know. “She’s 10 years old so she really likes to sleep. So when I notice she’s being active, that’s when I try to take the photos and videos.”
Despite the daily responsibilities, Dustin claims that Milla is used to her celebrity lifestyle. “At this point she knows what my phone is,” he says. “She’s pretty used to being the little model that she is.”
Milla is living the high life, but life for the Insta-famous cat has been far from easy. When Milla was two years old, Dustin came home and found Milla “almost convulsing,” so he immediately took her to the vet where he found out that Milla had a severe heart disease called HCM.
“They told us that she would likely live 3-6 months if that,” Dustin tells In The Know. Expecting the worst, Dustin shares that Milla “slowly got better throughout the week,” and amazingly, after taking medication from ages two to seven, and having checkups every six months, Milla’s heart returned to normal.
“That doesn’t happen in humans or dogs, but it can happen in cats,” says Dustin. “It’s [around] a 5% chance that could ever happen and she just happened to be one of those cats.”
Now that Milla is healthy, Dustin can thankfully focus on giving her the love and attention she deserves, and he hopes that her inspiring story can help change the overall perception of cats.
“Cats have a bad rap. Every time someone comes to our house, they’re like
‘Oh I don’t like cats. They’re mean and they hiss,’” says Dustin. “And then they hang around our cats for a second and they’re like ‘Your cats are great.’”
Whether she’s being admired at home or by her hundreds of thousands of followers online, Milla is a star in every sense of the word, and it’s clear that Dustin never takes her presence for granted.
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