Chupie the Lykoi cat isn't as feral as he may look—unless, of course, it comes to getting his paws on some precious baguettes.
The unusual kitty has recently gone viral on social media, garnering over 30 million views on TikTok and cheering up cat fans globally during the difficulties of the pandemic.
But according to owner and Austin resident Michelle, who asked not to disclose her full name for privacy reasons, this wasn't what she expected at all when she first made Chupie's Instagram and TikTok in January.
Chupie's claim to fame—aside from his overwhelming cuteness and love for all foods (except salsa and carrots)—is his unique genetics. Lykoi cats, named after the Greek word for "wolves" and often aptly dubbed "wolf cats," are the result of a mutation originally found in feral cat populations that have since become a pedigree cat breed.
He's gotten plenty of love—and plenty of bullying—for his wolf-like appearance. Michelle has been told he looks like anything from the weasel of "Suicide Squad" to Clint Eastwood as a cat.
"I think that a lot of people think that he looks like an ugly cat because he looks mangy," Michelle said. "But that's kind of what makes him special."
But Chupie doesn't have the disposition of a werewolf. In fact, the friendly cat can be seen kayaking, hiking and lounging around locales around Austin, from historic bar Nickel City to his favorite spot at South Austin's Little Darlin'.
He's almost always well-behaved, too—that is, until food enters the picture.
Just a few days after making his Internet debut, Chupie first went viral for viciously gripping onto a bag of H-E-B buns. The post gained 1.3 million views.
Since then, similar videos of Chupie gripping baguettes, treats and other goodies have gained up to 11 million views apiece.
Michelle and her husband have beencreating content nearly every weekend and are now busier than ever. Still, it's been a rewarding, if unexpected, life change, especially as she hears from fans worldwide who view Chupie as a bright spot in their life.
Michelle said that she's received countless positive messages from fans, many of whom struggled during the pandemic.
"I joke that he's a 'meowtivational speaker' because I really think that we sometimes live in really dark places, especially during COVID," Michelle said. "So if we can give them even a little part of their day, even if it's 10 seconds where they feel joy, then it's worth it."
That popularity has translated into real life. Chupie is celebrated by fans and newcomers alike nearly everywhere he goes. In an interview with Austonia, Chupie was almost immediately greeted by a fascinated stranger who was quick to scratch his head and take pictures, something Michelle said is a normal occurrence.
"Everybody knows him when I go places now," Michelle said. "People are like, 'Oh my God, is that Chupie? Can I feed him the crust of my pizza?'"
Chupie before getting a treat. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
Chupie after he gets a treat. (Claire Partain/Austonia)
"He's living better than me probably," Michelle joked. "We live our lives well together. But I've never done so many things in one weekend until I started making these videos."
So what's next for Chupie? Michelle hopes one day she can take her kitty on global adventures where he can meet fans. For now, she's busy making Chupie merch, sending out care packages and is looking forward to taking her pet to animal events like the POP Cats festival on Saturday.
"This has gone way further than I ever imagined, and it's about Chupie, but it's also about the 'I don't give a meow' attitude," Michelle said. "I think people need to take life less seriously, so it's nice to be an outlet for that."
After a sluggish start and first-half red card, Austin FC beat the odds with ten men to beat CF Montréal 1-0 Saturday night.
Even with Dani Pereira's fateful red card and a resulting one-man deficit on the pitch, the Verde and Black won in its first MLS match in three weeks thanks to a former Montreal striker—Austin FC's Maxi Urruti—who scored against his old teammates in the 67th minute to win the match.
The club remains at third in the MLS West as it nears the halfway point on its second season.
Here are three takeaways from the match:
One too many tackles
i just wanted to apologize to everyone, got to be more responsible than that and not let the team down the way i did again, i apologize to the fans, teammates, coaching staff and everyone that’s part of this organization🖤💚— Daniel Pereira (@danipereira121) June 19, 2022
Fans breathed a sigh of relief—and surprise—when Pereira was first spotted on the CF Montreal pitch for his first match on international soil. The 21-year-old starter arrived from Venezuela as an asylum seeker when he was 15 and has been unable to play in games outside of the U.S. since.
But for the second time in two months, Pereira was forced to the bench as his wayward tackle earned a red card before the end of the first half. With ten men left on the pitch, Austin FC was left with no Pereira, 11 opponents and an entire half left of play.
In a tweet, Pereira apologized to fans after the match as the team celebrated its victory. The game marks the first win in a red card match in Austin FC's history.
An Urruti goal
Austin FC took its furthest road trip to date as it ended its hiatus with the Montreal match, and the visitors seemed to still be shaking off the three-week-old dust in the first half of the match. And while Montreal racked up higher possession, shots on goal and more across the stat board, Urruti's second-half goal sealed the deal for the unlikely Austin victors.
Urruti, who spent time with Montreal for the 2019 and 2020 seasons, tapped a big Jon Gallagher pass over his former team's goalie in the 67th minute to secure the win. Urruti has scored five goals this season and is behind just Sebastian Driussi as the team's top goalscorer.
Stuver's key saves
Austin FC's unlikely win could've ended much differently without the usual heroics from keeper Brad Stuver.
While Stuver hasn't had to make the same rapid-fire saves as last season, he's still proved crucial in Austin's closest games. Such was the case when the keeper made a cheeky last-minute grab for the ball while sitting on the ground to keep Montreal's Kei Kamara from scoring in the first half.
Stuver made two other saves in the match to complete his fourth clean sheet of the season.
BONUS: Fagundez's near-miss
Building momentum. 😤 pic.twitter.com/wXMHSF8xgz— Austin FC (@AustinFC) June 19, 2022
Midfielder Diego Fagundez's enemy isn't always his opponents.
Fagundez attempt at Austin's first goal was stymied by the post as his shot ricocheted back to Montreal in the 58th minute of play.
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The pilot of a small plane is now in the hospital after crashing into Lady Bird Lake Thursday afternoon.
The plane, which was being operated by a Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden, only had the pilot in it when it crashed just west of I-35 in the lake around 2 p.m. Nearby paddleboarders are seen taking the unidentified pilot to Austin-Travis County EMS in a video.
The pilot was then transported to Dell Seton Medical Center with potentially serious injuries.
UPDATE: #ATCEMSSPARTAN drone video showing the aircraft submerged just below the surface. pic.twitter.com/wexI9MqpQS
— ATCEMS (@ATCEMS) June 16, 2022
Texas Parks and Wildlife said the plane, a 2009 Cessna T206, was on a test flight after routine maintenance when the pilot reported mechanical issues and then crashed.
As of Thursday afternoon, it is not known when the plane will be removed from Lady Bird Lake.
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