Haym is a black cat with a snarky personality that his owner, Sari Carp, of Edinburg, said makes him a great social media influencer.
Named for Revolutionary War financier Haym Saloman, Haym the cat is honoring his namesake by helping finance local efforts to save the planet.
“Official spokescat” for local nonprofit Sustainability Matters, Haym encourages donations to the effort and sparks interest in visitors to the organization’s website, Twitter feed and video posts.
“It started really as a joke,” said Carp, who adopted the former stray about five years ago.
She said that after Facebook algorithms made it more difficult for businesses to advertise through the site, a Sustainability Matters volunteer suggested the organization use the cat in its posts.
“This cat is a very personable cat,” Carp said.
She recalled posting photos of Haym “helping” prepare for events, drawing in more viewers who enjoyed seeing what the cat was up to.
“His posts get a lot of comments,” she said.
People get excited to see him, and at events that Carp hosts, 7-year-old Haym comes and greets people.
“Oh, that’s the spokescat. Can I come and take a selfie with him?” she recalled people saying.
Though cats have a reputation for being aloof, Haym enjoys the attention, she said.
His ego seems larger after someone “comes and recognizes him,” said Carp.
Having a spokescat brings a “fun, lighthearted vibe” to the organization’s events, which Carp said aim to bring fun conversation to conservation efforts.
“The spokescat is part of that,” she said. “And he’s just cute. This animal was born to be a spokescat.”
Besides demonstrating ways people can enjoy the environment, Haym also helps disprove a sad myth that black cats are unfit as pets.
Historically, black cats have been feared as bringers of bad luck or representations of the dark arts.
The website psychologytoday.com says that black cats take an average of six days longer to adopt out than other cats, making them more likely to contract an infection in shelters and also be euthanized.
One reason, it says, is that black cats are more difficult to photograph.
Carp said this can be a big deal in a society so invested in social media.
“People feel that black cats are not as Instagrammable,” she said, though Haym disproves that.
“He has the most expressive eyes,” she said. “He’s actually extremely opinionated. It’s not hard to get opinionated pictures about him either. He has a very expressive tail as well.”
Black dogs are also less adoptable, according to the website projecthopehumanesociety.org.
“This is known as the Black Dog Syndrome (BDS) in many shelters,” the site says.
Another syndrome it references from the website thebark.com is the Big Black Dog syndrome, referring to “the less adoptability of big, black dogs compared to smaller and other colored dogs.”
Carp said that she and Haym spend time each year educating the public about black cats, particularly on National Black Cat Day (Oct. 27), which the website nationaltoday.com says was formed because “[b]lack cats need a little positive PR as their reputation as an omen of bad luck is well-known (and unearned, frankly).”
Salomon, too, was demonized in history books, Carp said.
A Polish-born businessman from Philadelphia, he was imprisoned by the British for being a spy and later released and pardoned after serving the British as an interpreter to Hessian soldiers.
“The British thought he was spying for the French, which he was,” Carp said.
Though Salomon doesn’t often appear in American history books, Carp said he received a letter from George Washington thanking him for his help in funding the revolution.
He was “discriminated against” and “underappreciated,” Carp said.
She said she was inspired to choose a patriotic name for her cat after finding him five years ago on July 1, so close to Independence Day.
He had an “amazing personality,” she said.
Furthermore, he knows where the camera is.
“He poses and holds still.”
Follow Haym the cat on Twitter @spokescat.