KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville cat named 'Butter' can be seen on Walmart shelves across the nation. The famous feline and his owner's story are woven with pain and miracles.
While he's now the poster child for pets across the U.S., it wasn't always that way.
At Angela King's house in Corryton, cats are common.
"I don't actually tell the number I have," King said. "I always say four or five. We won't ever disclose that."
Her tables have turned into a stage for her orange tabby named Butter. He's the face of PetSafe's self-cleaning litter box, and he can't get enough of it. He sits right next to the box as if posing for a photoshoot all over again.
"Butter was really good with this product, and then once we finally got that shot where he's looking directly in the camera, we had what we needed for Walmart," King said. "They looked at it and said, 'Yes, we're gonna do this,' and now it's in the store."
They are a pair made through pain.
"He's a survivor," King said. "So we like that about him."
He was orphaned at a young age.
"He was found in the Smokies next to a cabin rental," King said. "Apparently, his mother and littermates were attacked by a bear. Butter was the only survivor."
The nonprofit Feral Feline Friends took him in.
"What Feral Felines does for this community is amazing," King said. "You know, they help get them neutered and spayed and vetted."
They also have a barn cat program that King also participates in. Her son, Weston, begged for Butter on his birthday back in 2019.
You would never believe it now, but King had a deep disdain for felines for most of her life.
"I was a diehard cat hater, and I hate to admit that," King said.
She grew up allergic to cats. The dander and fur made her miserable.
"All my life I stayed away from them, until the end of 2016," King said. "I collapsed from a ruptured brain aneurysm at the age of 40."
The odds were against her, but after surgeries and therapies, she recovered.
"It's just a miracle, a complete miracle," King said.
An unexpected side effect showed itself when her husband came home with an abandoned kitten.
"I was like, 'What am I gonna do? I'm allergic to cats,'" King said. "Weeks went by and I never sneezed one time."
The aneurysm changed her allergy chemistry and her heart.
"With me going through the brain aneurysm rupture and three brain surgeries, I've had a lot of healing to do over the past few years," King said. "[The cats] really helped me with all the stress that comes with that, and I wouldn't change a thing."
A cat and owner, both well versed in resilience.
Every PetSafe litter box with Butter's face front and center is a reminder of what can happen when life's miracles intervene. PetSafe displays diversity with all sorts of cats and dogs on their packaging. They also said they love using local talent!
If you think you have the next PetSafe celebrity pet, you can submit their pictures to the casting email, firstname.lastname@example.org.