Behind Celeb Cats' Fame, There Are Stories Of Perseverance And Love

Chris Poole and his wife Jessica Josephs live in Tampa, Florida, in a house with two celebrities. The famous members of the household are named Cole and Marmalade. Yes, the celebrities are cats. But Chris and Jessica, who are humans, don't see themselves as "owners" of their pets. Rather, they are "cat servants" to their two very special—and increasingly famous—housemates.

It all started with one breakout video.

Well, really, it all started on a dating website, where Jessica found someone with the username Cat Man Chris, and the rest was history. Before long, the couple had rescued a jet-black kitten, who had been discovered along the side of the road, and named him Cole. Chris, who is a videographer by training, shared a clip of Jessica and baby Cole called "Black Cat Stick 'Em Up." It got more than 100,000 views almost immediately.

Then came Marmalade, another rescue kitten. The two cats' combined star power and chemistry accelerated the growth of the online presence Chris and Jessica were cultivating around their two sweet rescues.

It helped further launch their stars that Cole and Marmalade both overcame hardship in their lives, and that Chris and Jessica were unafraid to talk about those challenges.

When Chris learned that black cats like Cole are the last ones to be adopted and first to be euthanized at shelters, he started creating videos celebrating these superstition-inspiring cuties. And later, when Marmalade got sick—first with a stomach tumor, then with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and finally with lymphoma—Chris and Jessica stuck with him throughout the treatments, and celebrated with their online audiences when Marmalade was pronounced cancer-free.

Today, about three million people follow Cole and Marmalade across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Chris and Jessica work full-time on the cats' accounts and brand extensions. But the cats haven't lost their sense of self.

As Jessica puts it: "I don't know. They're just ... cats."

Photos via Tampa Bay Times. To brighten your day with more stories about our furry friends, take a peek at the Heartwarming Animals YouTube Channel, part of the HooplaHa Network.

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