Beloved 'Oak City Kitty' prepares to leave downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tucker, the beloved cat patrolling downtown Raleigh, is set to "retire" as he prepares to move with his family to the suburbs.

Better known as the Oak City Kitty, the 22-year-old, 24-pound cat has become a viral sensation over the past 18 months, amassing more than 10,000 Instagram followers.

"Mostly adoration. Lot of love. A little bit of uncertainty. A lot of questions. What is this? Is it a cat? Is it an ugly baby? Is it a fur-covered child? Is it a raccoon? What's going on here? But people love to take pictures, people love to come and say hello, offer him treats, and basically just worship a cat," joked Ron Kirk, Tucker's "administrator."

Kirk adopted Tucker fourteen years ago from the Orange County Animal Shelter. They currently live in downtown Raleigh, where Ron and Tucker are frequently seen taking strolls along Fayetteville Street.

He first set up an Instagram account for Tucker after being encouraged to do so by people on the street, though he expected it to be just a small following.

"If you live downtown, or work downtown you either know Tucker, or you know someone who knows Tucker," said Kirk.

It's since ballooned into something far greater than that, with Kirk estimating 100 people a day take pictures with Tucker.

"If you can make your day by seeing an overweight cat waddle down the sidewalk, we're happy to do it," Kirk said.

His "retirement" announcement on Instagram drew thousands of reactions.

"Lot of people that are heartbroken. And it's hard for us too... I didn't expect it to be so difficult to pack up a cat and move, but it's emotional," explained Kirk.

Kirk explained Tucker is now suffering from an array of health problems, but he will still bring him out until they formally move. He also plans on bringing him downtown for big events and festivals.

To follow Tucker on Instagram, click here.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.