We meet two characterful Maine Coons who, with the help of their ‘hoomum’, Reka Komoli, share their exciting exploits with their impressive Instagram following.
Artemis and Apollo, based in London with their owners, Reka and Peter, have a huge Instagram presence with over 117,000 followers. Last year, the dynamic duo released their first book — a ‘miowgraphy’ of their lives and adventures, along with a calendar — and embarked on a photographic tour of Scotland in preparation for their next book. And, with ‘miowdelling’ jobs and public appearances in the pipeline, they show no sign of slowing down in 2019!
“I think they have plans to take over the world,” says Reka. “My own plan for them is to complete the Scottish book. This is a massive undertaking. It is a photo comic book with hundreds of beautiful pictures relating to the story of Artemis and Apollo’s search for the medieval ‘Holy Catnip’. It’s a mystic treasure-hunting thriller, with some comedic episodes.
“We are hoping for a second Scottish trip in the summer to take a lot more pictures because we have learned from some mistakes after the first try. If it goes well, I would very much like to make it into a series. The next books being based in Wales, Ireland, and England.” Despite now being a fully-fledged cat mum or ‘hoomum’ to Artemis and Apollo, Reka hadn’t owned cats before, growing up with dogs and previously owning a ferret, named Clark Snow.
“Clark had been my faithful companion for more than eight years,” says Reka. “He sadly died in 2014; I was devastated.” Around this time, Jonesy ‘the O2 cat’ was appearing in TV campaigns, and Reka was immediately taken with the stunning look of the Maine Coon.
Reka says: “I love that Maine Coons are so much bigger than other cats, and I adore their distinctive faces and tufts on their ears. I wanted a cat companion who would be interactive rather than aloof, and Artemis and Apollo are just like that — when they are in the mood to be! We travel a lot because of work, so we decided to adopt not one but two cats, so they could keep each other company while we are away.”
Did Artemis and Apollo get along straight away?
Artemis and Apollo, named after the Greek gods of the moon and sun (a nod to their coat colours), are adoptive siblings. Artemis arrived with Reka and Peter a month before her “little ginger brother”, who is a few weeks younger.
“It took about three days for them to warm to each other. Apollo would have been happy to cuddle up with his new sister in no time, but Artemis hissed at him at first,” says Reka. “Artemis took up the big sister role and kept training Apollo for the proper use of the litter box, and showed him how to groom himself. Apollo sometimes plays rough, and Artemis doesn’t like that, but they are very bonded and attached to each other. When we have a ‘miowdelling’ job, or have to take one of them to the vet’s, people always laugh about the other kitty coming along, but I think they calm and relax each other.”
How did the Instagram fame begin?
Reka started the pair’s Instagram account as a joke and was taken by surprise at how fast the account grew.
“The cats reached their first 80,000 in the very first year,” explains Reka. “The following has grown a bit more slowly, but steadily, since then. More important than the numbers, though, is the warmth and good wishes of our long-term followers. Some of them have been around for over four years, regularly liking every photograph and commenting on them. I love the fun and joy Artemis and Apollo bring to people; reading comments when people say our photographs make their day, or that we helped them through a very hard time, makes it all so worthwhile.”
Reka continues: “Artemis and Apollo aren’t ‘trained’ but have been modelling for me since they were tiny kittens. With some patience, there wasn’t any set-up that we couldn’t conquer. They stay still, and, for some tuna treats, they are happy to collaborate. The only tricky part is getting both of them to look roughly in the same direction at the same time, but that’s where feather toys help us.
“As far as the cats are concerned, posing for pictures is just another game. My favourite set-ups are the outdoor photographs. I prefer natural light to anything else because the sun brings out the amazing colours of the kitties’ coats. Artemis’ fur looks quite plain in indoor photographs, but everybody is amazed by the mixture of colours in her coat when we take photographs outdoors. Also, both Artemis and Apollo are very well-behaved, so I don’t have to worry about them running away from us, even if they aren’t wearing leads. They know we are the ‘safe spots’ so, if they feel wary or unsafe about anything, they always run to ‘hoomum and hoodad’, not run away.
“Maine Coons bear a lot of resemblance to wild cats, so I just love photographing them in a more adventurous set-up. When I posted an outdoor photograph of Artemis claiming that I had spotted a lynx in the wild, some people believed it. It’s been one of our most popular photographs, and Artemis is really proud of herself for being mistaken for a lynx!”
Despite the cats’ exciting lifestyles and jam-packed schedules, they are still just loveable companions. “They really like human interaction. They will often move to whichever room we are in and just hang out with us, or head bump us for attention,” says Reka. “They also like ‘me’ time, when they wander off to a quiet corner of the flat to meditate and just ‘be’. After a while, they’ll wander back to see what we are up to, and maybe tease us by sitting on the computer keyboard.”