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."
Days after Memorial Day, it officially feels like summer in Austin with a Heat Advisory Monday and a slew of 100+ degree weather on track for the week.
Triple-digit temperatures are expected in Central Texas for at least seven days straight, with near-record temperatures expected Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.
Increasing clouds tonight for most of the eastern part of south central Texas with lows in the 70s. For the rest of the week, the story is dry and heat weather conditions with highs in the upper 90s up to 107 degrees. #txwxpic.twitter.com/i19NMZDAaT
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) June 6, 2022
That near-record heat, coupled with almost nonexistent cloud coverage, could exacerbate a drought that has reached extreme levels. Lake Travis is at its lowest level since 2018.
Austin also just came out of its hottest May in 125 years. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport saw 1.8 inches of rain in May, down from an average of 5.1 inches.
At San Antonio International Airport, only 4.58" of rain has fallen between Jan 1 and June 5. This is their 9th driest start to a year. Some folks are drawing comparisons w/ 2011 in TX. Drought is not as bad/widespread as it was at this time that year, but it'll be a hot summer! pic.twitter.com/Nw9oxsEj3b
— NWS Austin/San Antonio (@NWSSanAntonio) June 6, 2022
Austin still hasn't reached 2011 records, when an extreme drought scorched Austin with 27 straight days of 100+ triple-digit days. Still, the city typically doesn't reach 100 degrees until July 4, and the Climate Prediction Center said that Central Texas will continue to see above average (93.1-93.7 degrees) temperatures through June 19.
When triple-degree heat sets in and heat indexes rise high enough for a Heat Advisory, the National Weather Service recommends that residents limit strenuous activity outside, stay hydrated, stay out of the sun whenever possible and keep children and pets out of unattended vehicles.
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In his three years as an Uber driver in Austin, Salai Ya has seen a range of items left behind in his car: cell phones, wallets, sunglasses and bags.
It’s become such a pattern that Ya started reminding riders before they leave to check that they collected all of their belongings. Ya’s experience is quite common in Austin, as the city topped the list of the most forgetful cities for the second year in a row on Uber’s Lost & Found Index.
But it's not just an Austin trend. Other Texas cities that made the top 10 most forgetful include Houston and Dallas at No. 3 and No. 5, respectfully.
Ya said the people who forget stuff are commonly those who request rides downtown on weekend nights.
“It’s the time most people drink, hang out,” Ya said.
While Ya said the dark could add to the likelihood of riders leaving items behind, Uber reports 5 p.m. as being the most forgetful time of day.
On weekends, cash, fanny packs, IDs and clothing are the items likely to be left behind.
But there are also some unique items Uber reports people leaving behind including a brown tortoise, a spray tan machine, part of a soft-serve ice cream machine and even an urn with pet ashes and an urn with family member ashes.
If you plan on taking an Uber this Independence Day, make sure you’re mindful of your stuff. St. Patrick’s Day and July 4 were the most popular two days of the year to leave possessions in the back seat.
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