When Erin Merryn said goodbye to her cat, Bailey, in December 2018, she couldn’t imagine finding another cat even close to her feline best friend. Bailey had built up a loyal social media following and been the star of viral videos with Erin’s daughter Abby singing and reading to him. He even inspired a book, Bailey, No Ordinary Cat. Bailey’s fans mourned his loss, but the family who loved him, which includes Erin, her husband and daughters Abigail and Hannah, was heartbroken.
Then came a ray of sunshine. One of Bailey’s followers was fostering a cat who had recently delivered a litter. Did Erin and the girls want to visit with the kittens? As it turns out, one of those kittens stood out. Like Bailey, this kitten was orange; but unlike Bailey, she was a female. (Orange cats are usually, but not always, male.)
“She was one of five kittens: three boys, two girls,” Erin says. “We met her at the foster home for the first time when she was 7 weeks old. At 8 weeks old we adopted her.” Erin surprised her daughters Abigail and Hannah with the kitten for their birthday in the summer of 2019. They were turning 5 and 3, respectively. “Our baby, 8-month-old Claire, was crazy about Carrot from the start. I asked the girls what we should name her, and Abigail shouted out, ‘Carrot!’ So it stuck.”
Soon, it became clear that Carrot was like Bailey in other ways. “After we lost our cat Bailey at age 14, I never thought we could find another incredible cat like him again,” Erin says. “I knew within 48 hours of having Carrot home that we had another ‘no ordinary cat.’”
Carrot was letting the girls push her in strollers, sit her in high chairs and letting the baby hold her and play with her whiskers and paws — things most other cats wouldn’t put up with, Erin says. “She just went with the flow of anything they did with her.”
The girls even rode around with Carrot in their motorized car and walked her on a leash. “I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Erin says. “We were experiencing another cat just like Bailey.”
When Erin’s daughters were born, Bailey had already entered his senior years. But Carrot was just beginning her life. “I loved the fact that my girls got to experience life with a kitten.”
Carrot’s adventures are documented on YouTube and Instagram, where she has 275,000 followers. She has also appeared on Good Morning America and Access Hollywood, among other media outlets, Erin says. Her celebrity status has been used for good by raising money for charity.
“I serve on a board of a nonprofit child abuse prevention agency called The Children Advocacy Center of Northwest Cook County, Illinois,” Erin says. “Through a post I will share our fundraising goal. With COVID happening, the agency for two years has had to cancel their biggest fundraiser that brought in $200,000. Since getting Carrot a year and a half ago, she has helped raise close to $50,000 dollars for the nonprofit.”
Like Bailey, Carrot has branched out into writing and published a book on March 30. Diary of the Cat Named Carrot chronicles her first year like a diary and contains plenty of fun pictures for fans.
“Within a few weeks of having Carrot I knew she would have a book,” Erin says. She once dressed Carrot up in a tutu and shared the photo on social media saying it could be the cover of a book. “Little did I know it would end up being the cover of her book!” The book features the year in the life of Carrot sharing her daily adventures and reads as if Carrot herself wrote it and she is describing her daily adventures with the girls. It starts off with her birth and eventually her adoption from a shelter.
“You then read about her spa days, holidays, mischief she and Claire, my youngest, get into and the love and attention she gets from Abby and Hannah. Halfway through the book she is even reunited with her birth mama who was also a shelter cat that got adopted. It is a sweet book that has a photo to go with every diary entry of that day. I really promote the point to adopt not shop throughout the book until the very end.”
Because she can walk well on a leash and has a laid-back personality, Carrot is going to accompany Erin to some book signings at shelters. The first shelter lined up is the same one Carrot was adopted from.
The book came out just in time to celebrate Carrot’s second birthday on April 1. It may be the happiest of birthday presents for a cat who has brought the gift of love to a family.
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