Updated May 2022
Photos courtesy of Angelina Kayyalaynen
Rover was born to be a meowdel. Owner Angelina Kayyalaynen and her partner, Sergey Shlyakhtich, dress him up in Haute CATure. Then he sashays down the runway with major cattitude.
While Rover goes au naturel most of the time, he pulls off mice necklaces, faux snakeskin capes, and angel wings. All of his outfits are handmade, and they take hours to put together. Kayyalaynen is inspired by fun songs, pop culture, and items she finds laying around the house.
When Rover isn’t striking a pose for his 1.1 million TikTok followers, he joins his owners on hikes, camping trips, and neighborhood walks. The five-year-old is “living [his] best nine lives” with his Meowdel sister Minnie. Kayyalaynen found the tabby on a street in Hillsboro, Oregon. She was malnourished, weak, and terrified. Minnie was barely over five pounds. For the first few months, she wouldn't let her owners hold or carry her. She also continuously hissed at Rover. But he’s shown her that she’ll be happy, safe, and loved at all times in her forever home.
We caught up with Rover’s hooman to find out more about where he’s been in his caturday kitty uber and what makes him feel like the true “hair” to the throne.
Q: What attracted you to Rover at West Columbia Gorge Humane Society?
A: We first saw Rover's photo on an adoption site, a tiny little panther sitting on a red blanket with a disgruntled look on his face. He had so much cattitude for such a smol kitten. We instantly fell in love. When we saw him at the adoption event, he was in a crate with many other black kittens. But of all the kittens, he was the one to stretch out his little paw through the crate and try to reach for us. That moment was what sealed the deal—we didn't pick him, he picked us.
Q: Where did Rover get his name?
A: Land Rover Range Rover is the actual inspiration for his name. When we were adopting a kitty, we wanted one that would be our companion on hikes, road trips, and camping adventures. We wanted a kitty that would go with us all over, and the name of "Rover"—despite it being primarily a dog name—couldn't be a better fit.
Q: What places have you and Rover hiked?
A: Rover has primarily explored the Pacific Northwest: Columbia River Gorge, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Mt. Rainier National Park, Leavenworth, the Oregon coast, etc. We do hope for more out of state trips in the future and possibly even a trip to Canada.
Q: What's Rover's and Minnie’s favorite toys?
A: Forget all the fancy toys! An Adidas shoebox (for shredding) or a white rope from a local hardware store absolutely does the trick. Minnie loves chasing the white string as well, but she also finds hair ties, bottle caps, and just about anything else that didn't make it to the trash can in time.
Q: Other than tuna, what's Rover's favorite treat?
A: Bring on the freeze-dried chicken! Sells his soul for that one.
Q: What are Rover's and Minnie's favorite games?
A: Minnie will chase a catnip-infused ball, but Rover is a pretty simple guy, chasing a little white rope around the living room does it for him.
Q: Where did you get Rover's signature shades? How do you keep them from falling off?
A: We found them on eBay last year, and it was the funniest purchase we've made. He looks so sophisticated wearing his own little sunglasses! It's a pretty snug fit on his face, so they don't come off until Rover wants them off.
Q: How does Rover feel about being a male meowdel?
A: Rover enjoys the meow-deling process, or should we say, the "pay" that's involved. He would sell his soul for some treats, and he's not ashamed to admit it.
Q: Black cats often aren’t adopted because they don't "show well" in selfies. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, they take 10 days longer to adopt than ginger cats. What's the best part of owning a "miniature panther"?
A: When we were looking to adopt a kitty, we knew we wanted to adopt a black kitty specifically because of at least one of the reasons listed above. What we didn't realize is how sweet, how intelligent and how full of personality this house panther would be! It truly feels like there's a "human experiencing cathood" in Rover somewhere. He's got the most intelligent of gazes, the most expressive of faces, and the most demanding of personalities. The boy knows what he wants. When he's given what he's asking for, he showers us with head bops, purrs, and endless snuggles in return.
Q: Whether it’s COVID-19, Western infernos, refrigerator-sized comets, or “murder hornets,” one thing we’ve learned in 2020 is to expect the unexpected. What do you want your followers to know?
A: Hang in there, hug your furbabies, we'll get through it together.