A fluffy orange cat named Jorts became an internet sensation after a series of Reddit posts. Now he’s a pro-union icon.
His Twitter account, which has more than 162,000 followers, is filled with advice about workers’ rights.
“I still don’t understand how any of this happened,” Jorts tweeted about gaining social media fame.
This is the story of how Jorts — a dumb, fluffy, orange, occasionally buttered cat — became an accidental pro-labor icon with a Twitter following of more than 162,000.
If that sentence makes no sense to you — and it probably doesn’t — then don’t worry, we’ll explain.
It all began last December when an anonymous writer using the handle throwawayorangecat shared a story online about two office cats, Jorts and Jean, on Reddit’s “Am I The Asshole” subreddit. Essentially, the writer explained, orange tabby cat Jorts is a “simple guy” who cannot open a door even when it’s ajar, while tortoiseshell cat Jean has much more advanced skills.
The writer explained that he thought Jorts was not as smart as Jean, which upset his coworker Pam and left her in tears. Pam accused the writer of “perpetuating ethnic stereotypes by saying orange cats are dumb.”
The story went viral on Reddit, and the writer’s dispute with Pam was resolved, although there was at least one hiccup. Apparently, Pam kept “putting margarine on Jorts in an attempt to teach him to groom himself better,” throwawayorangecat wrote. Pam knows now, however, that she “is NOT to apply margarine to any of her coworkers.”
“I think we were in a collective moment of needing something tender to gather around,” the person behind the Jorts and Jean Twitter account told CNN Business in February. “It was also one of those rare stories where there was no villain. Life is full of these stories, but they don’t often explode online.”
The minor virality of Jorts’ saga led to the launch of a Twitter account, which has grown to more than 162,000 followers.
The person who runs Jorts’ account did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
From Reddit star to feline pro-union fighter
With all those followers, Jorts could easily spend his days debating the merits of wet food vs. dry food, or testing out catnip-filled plush mice.
But instead, Jorts has used his online platform to push a pro-worker agenda.
“It’s against the law for your boss to prohibit you from discussing your wages with your coworkers, and also remember there are more workers than there are bosses,” one tweet read alongside a picture of Jorts.
Specifically, Jorts has called out Starbucks multiple times as dozens of the coffee chain’s stores began voting to unionize across the country.
Followers also thanked Jorts for “helping people learn” about labor rights after the account shared a question from a fan about why workers were organizing store by store instead of by sector.
And Jorts has also pushed progressive politics:
Internet culture expert Ryan Broderick, who writes the Substack newsletter Garbage Day, believes Jorts’ account works due to “accessibility.”
“Taking complex or dense ideas about socialism and workers’ rights and combining them with cute cat photos is an easier delivery mechanism for this stuff,” he told Insider.
However, running an account like this “is a bit of a tightrope act,” he noted. “A lot of fun politics accounts crash and burn when the politics stop lining up right, or if users feel like they’re being pandered to or having the issues they care about trivialized.”
Despite becoming a mouthpiece for worker’s rights, Jorts won’t soon be running for political office, the person behind the Twitter account told CNN Business.
“Jorts is too young to run for office,” the person told the outlet. “Also, Jorts and Jean both agree that running for office that would impact human law is best left to someone who has direct experience with being a human.”
In any case, Jorts seems to still be coming to terms with his internet fame.
When asked for a list of ways to get “a lot of Twitter followers who will all be super nice to you,” Jorts responded: “I still don’t understand how any of this happened. That was the end of the list.”
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