My fiendish floofs!
I am delighted to have the wonderful Manny Halloween Cat with me for my Spooktacular Halloween special along with his proud owner and manager Nikki! I am sure many of you will already be familiar with Manny. He's kind of a big deal! If not, you will most certainly want to follow him after you read our Q&A!
Hi Nikki and Manny! Thank you so much for joining us our Halloween spooktacular Q&A. Please tell us a little about yourself Nikki.
First of all, thank you so much for this awesome opportunity—I’m honored to be interviewed for your website!
I’m Nikki Hess, and I live in the Philadelphia suburbs in Pennsylvania, USA. I work in marketing for my day job, and then outside of that, I’m Manny’s social media meownager, which is the best job ever!
Yes, it must be a great honour to be working with the legendary Manny! Would you tell us about Cat Lady Academy?
The Cat Lady Academy business was inspired by Manny, as many things in my life are! After I’d found success running his Instagram account (by “success,” I mean getting a large amount of followers, working with brands we love, and making amazing friends), I decided to teach others how to do it, too.
I offer personal coaching and digital resources to help people start or improve their cat’s Instagram account, start working with brands, understand the ways they can make money from their cat’s social media, and reduce the stress and overwhelm that often comes with running a popular social media account.
You can find Cat Lady Academy on Instagram (@catladyacademy), where I give tons of free tips and advice. And you can access some free as well as some paid offerings (and some Manny merch too, like stickers and magnets!) at catladyacademy.com.
Wow! That sounds like a great project. We know just from following Manny's page that you are very skilled with running an online social media page. Speaking of our dear Manny, what age is he?
Manny is 10 years old. He was about 5 and a half years old when we adopted him.
How did Manny come into your life?
Manny is a rescue cat! He was found outdoors, was in a county animal shelter for a while, and was then moved to a wonderful no-kill shelter called Kitty Cottage. It’s a really cool shelter because the cats are in rooms, not cages. There are a couple cats in each room, and when you go to meet the kitties there, this makes it easier to interact with them.
When I met Manny there, he was chilling out on a cat condo. He let me rub his belly within a couple minutes of meeting him, and I fell in love with his beautiful green eyes! I knew even before meeting him that I wanted to adopt him, but meeting him in person totally sealed the deal.
This is his first known home. He is such a people cat—he always wants to be around me, and he’s a real lap cat too! I feel bad that he went the first few years of his life without a home and people to call his own. Every day I make up for lost time by giving him tons of love and cuddles!
That's so sweet! We are delighted to hear that he found such a wonderful home. What breed of cat is Manny?
He’s definitely a mutt! We actually did a Basepaws test to learn more about what breeds he’s made up of. He is made up of a lot of different breeds, but the biggest percentage is Maine Coon, at 10%. This likely explains his chattiness, friendly personality, and his size! He has a really large frame, and when he stands up on his hind legs or stretches all the way out on the floor, you can see he is one tall/long kitty!
How did Manny become known as the Halloween cat?
I have always loved Halloween, and I love being “spooky year-round.” Manny enjoys getting into the Halloween fun with me, whether during October or all year long! So naturally, he’s a Halloween cat.
That being said, we are also huge advocates/supporters of black cats, and know that they are much more than just Halloween cats! While we often take photos and videos with a spooky theme, especially during October, I also show off Manny’s other personality traits: his chattiness, how mischievous he can be, and how cuddly and loving he can be.
Black cats are never “just” Halloween cats, and they deserve love all year long. They also deserve to be adopted—but the sad thing is, just because of the color of their fur and some silly superstitions (in the USA, black cats are considered to be “bad luck” by some people), they are the least likely ones to be adopted. We work hard to show the world all the reasons why black cats are awesome! I say that Manny has brought me nothing but good luck, happiness, and tons of love. I am so lucky to have him! We hope that by showing people how amazing he is, that others will be inspired to adopt black cats too.
We agree. Black cats are far from bad luck and anyone who has these ideas of "bad luck" would need to catch themselves on. If you talked such nonsense about cats back in the Egyptian times you would have lost your head!
Do you have any other pets?
Nope! The shelter told us Manny wasn’t really fond of other cats. We decided he would be an “only cat.” The bond he and I have is really strong, and I wouldn’t want to split time between him and another pet—I love giving him so much love and attention.
I too am an only cat. I love my Internet furrriends of course but when it comes to my castle, there can only be one king!
What is Manny's favourite snack?
Manny goes wild for chicken Churus! He loves them!
An excellent choice.
Does Manny like cuddles?
Definitely! He’s such a snuggle bug. Sometimes if I’m reading or binging a TV show, he’ll cuddle with me for 5 hours nonstop!
In addition, he loves belly rubs. 90% of the time, it’s NOT a trap. He also loves belly kisses. He’ll purr up to 20 or 30 minutes if he’s getting belly rubs and/or kisses!
Talk us through a typical day with Manny
He greets me right away when I get up—he’s super affectionate then, but also wants breakfast right away! He gives me a ton of kitty kisses as he leads me to the kitchen, and then yells at me to fix his breakfast faster.
After breakfast, I usually do some work, and he will often join me in my home office for most of the day. At 1:30 pm, he gets lunch from his automated feeder, and he RUNS to the feeder like he hasn’t been fed in a year. He’ll usually use his litter box and do some zoomies, which is my cue to take a little break and play with him, as that’s when he is most playful. He likes chasing balls, playing in his tunnel, or attacking his drawstring toy.
After work, he usually starts asking me for dinner early. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. When he does get dinner, afterward he’ll have a snooze, and then after I’ve had dinner, he’ll settle in with me for snuggles.
He usually asks for treats at night before I go to bed. He only gets treats once or twice a week because he’s been in remission from diabetes since March 2021. Having a strict feeding routine and portion sizes helps him stay in remission. So he will get a treat a couple times a week, but we can’t overdo it—no matter how much he complains to me about it!
Manny has a very big following. He even has his own merchandise! Tell us about his merchandise and what is available!
Manny has lots of cool stuff for purr-chase!
People can buy Manny stickers, magnets, and his ebook “Paws and Reflect” at catladyacademy.com. We mail every sticker and magnet out ourselves, and Manny sometimes even kisses then envelopes before I put them in the mailbox! These products are all available worldwide—we are happy to mail stickers and magnets to anyone in any country!
We also have a Bonfire store where we sell shirts, mugs, tote bags, and notebooks. Some are Halloween-themed, like our “Trick or Treat Yourself” products. Unfortunately, these products only ship within the USA, although we hope that changes in the future.
In addition, we also offer personalized videos through Cameo! Here’s how it works. You request a video for yourself or a loved one, give us a few details (like the person’s name, what occasion they’re celebrating, etc.), and we create a custom video just for you!
Videos may feature Manny meowing, purring, or eating a treat. Every single video is made custom for the recipient. We often make a little sign celebrating the person—we’ve done a lot of birthday videos (for people AND cats!) and wedding videos, so we’ll do a sign that’ll feature in the video, and I usually send along an extra photo of Manny posing with that sign.
Right now we’re offering Halloween greeting videos! Imagine getting a personalized video from a real Halloween black cat. Our videos are never scary—all treats and no tricks, as we say—and are fun for the whole family, appropriate for all ages. We can wish your kiddo a happy Halloween, and if you give us details like what costume they’ll be wearing or what their favorite candy is, we can make it even more special and personalized!
Our Halloween greeting videos may feature Manny with Halloween props or cozy Halloween blankets, with his favorite Halloween toys, or getting a treat. It’s such a fun and unique gift idea and a really cool way to celebrate Halloween. If you go to www.cameo.com/mannyhalloweencat, you can order a video for yourself or a loved one!
Manny even has a subscription service and does cameo. What extras can subscribers get access to, which regular accounts can not?
We are SO excited about doing subscriptions! I believe in giving TONS of value and really making it a special experience for our subscribers.
Every subscriber gets a welcome gift mailed to their home. They get nearly double the Manny content—exclusive content that only subscribers can see. They can participate in a monthly Instagram Live with us that is just for subscribers, and they can access the replay if they couldn’t join us live. They get sneak peeks and first looks at new Manny merch, his best Halloween costumes, and more.
Subscribers also get an unlimited discount of at least 20% on everything at catladyacademy.com—from coaching to Manny products—and some months it will be more than 20%. They can use the discount code as often as they want, on EVERY product there.
They also get to vote on future Manny content—for example, I asked my subscribers whether they wanted to see Halloween posts early or not until October 1. 80% said they wanted to see Halloween posts early, so for my exclusive subscriber content, I started Halloween posts a few days in advance.
I also aim to provide a surprise most months. For example, this month Manny is launching a new product, and my subscribers are all going to get it for FREE! And they are all getting Halloween cards from Manny mailed to their homes.
In addition to all that, Instagram gives them a little purple crown next to their name when they’re interacting with Manny’s posts, so that everyone can see they’re a subscriber. They also have access to special subscriber-only group chats.
Our subscription is only $4.99 a month, and we deliver far more than that in value. We treat our subscribers like the VIPs they are and LOVE delighting them every chance we get. We hope that more people will join #mannyssubscribersquad—it’s so much fun, and a great way to get up close and purrsonal with us!
Have you any tips for fellow cat accounts that are starting out or struggling to get a following like yours?
Absolutely. Here are a few of my best tips for beginners:
* It’s not going to be easy at first. Your tendency might be to compare yourself to every other cat on Instagram. Try to avoid doing that—not only will it make you unhappy, but then you’re not focusing on your cat and your Instagram journey.
* Consistency is key. When you start out, post every day, once a day. When you begin getting traction and gaining popularity, you may not be able to keep up that pace, and that’s okay. But start out aiming for once a day—even if you’re barely getting any likes. Just build the habit. By posting daily, you’ll get better at it, and over time you’ll learn what’s working for you and what isn’t.
* Aim for friends, not followers. Be friendly and be a friend. Comment on other people’s posts. Respond to comments on your posts. Make genuine connections. Friendship often turns not just into followers, but also into raving fans—and sometimes best friends. I’ve met my closest friends through Manny’s Instagram. And that all started with me commenting on their posts, and vice versa.
* Video is king. Instagram used to be a photo-sharing app, but they now have more of a focus on video. Posting Reels will often get more eyeballs on your content than simply posting photos. If you are going to post photos, aim to post a carousel—as in, multiple photos that people can swipe through in one post—because those often have better engagement rates than single-photo posts.
And if you want more help starting an Instagram account for your cat or improving the one you already have, check out @catladyacademy on Instagram!
A lot of cat accounts say the algorithm has changed and it is not in favour of cat profiles. We have noticed this ourselves. Can you offer any advice to help anyone facing these issues?
Unfortunately, this does seem true. It is harder to get the engagement we used to get on posts, whether videos or photos, even though our content gets better every day.
Here’s how I look at it. The algorithm is unpredictable. It can go in any direction. Lately it’s been going in some annoying directions for cat accounts. But that can always change! So don’t give up. Keep posting. Keep learning. Try new things and experiment.
And avoid falling into the trap of “I only got X amount of likes on this post.” Because here’s the thing: Those likes might be from people whose day you just made, from people whose day got better because they saw your cat doing something cute or funny. Your cat account has a bigger impact on the world than you know. I recently got a comment from a person deployed overseas, telling me that seeing Manny really brightens their spirits after a tough day. That means more to me than any number of likes—knowing that Manny truly made someone’s day better.
We noticed you have a book called Paws and Reflect. Tell us about it. What is it about and how can people get a copy?
This book is about the things we’ve learned after 5 years and 50,000 followers on Instagram. Manny wrote it himself (with a little help from me) and it includes our best tips on Instagram and so much more. It’s available right meow on catladyacademy.com!
Nikki, thank you so much for your time. Is there anything you would like to say to your followers?
I want to say a big, huge THANK YOU to all of our followers! YOU are the reason we do what we do, and the reason we love doing it! Thank you for your love and support over the years. We appreciate you and value your friendship.
Manny, what about you buddy. What would you like to say to your adoring fans?!
Manny here! I also want to thank all our friends and followers. You all are THE BEST!
I want to encourage all the cats to get wicked with me—I’m a part of Team Wicked @wickedcatwednesday, and every day (not just Wednesdays!) we feature cats being naughty. I want to see more cats being total fluffin’ mischief-makers, so please join the #wickedcatwednesday fun with me!
I also want to thank all the humans out there who have adopted black cats. Please keep telling the world how awesome we are. Let’s get more black cats adopted! Meowmy followed some black cat Instagram accounts for years before she adopted me, and seeing those awesome house panthers made her start looking to adopt a black cat too—so we are living proof that Instagram cat accounts can have a wonderful impact on black cat adoption!
Also, I really hope you’ll join #mannyssubscribersquad and subscribe to me on Instagram! You get tons of perks and exclusive content. Meowmy and I work really hard to give our subscribers the very best experience and tons of cool surprises, and we hope to see you there!
So there you have it my floofs! An insight into the wonderful world of Manny the Halloween Cat. Thank you so much to Manny and Nikki for taking the time to join us and be sure to follow them on all of their social media ventures!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off for a snooze!