TikTok Influencer Won’t Let Go Of Argument Over Cat, Even As Her Followers Threaten To Blow Up Animal Rescue

The voicemail is chilling not only for the explicit threat the person on the other end makes, but for her chipper tone as she casually threatens the lives of the people working at a west Michigan animal shelter.

“So anyway,” the caller says at the end of the unhinged message, “I’ll blow this number up and I’ll blow your location up as well. Hope you have a wonderful day!”

It’s one of three bomb threats the shelter has received since TikTok influencer Chloe Mitchell began the saga of what she calls “the $900 cat.”

Mitchell adopted a kitten from Michigan’s Noah Project, a small no-kill shelter, in early March. Staff say she didn’t balk at the adoption fee and they thought she was happy with the sweet kitty she took home, but the next day Noah Project’s phones began ringing incessantly with callers heaping abuse on the shelter’s volunteers and staff.

Apparently in the throes of adopter’s remorse, Mitchell uploaded a video to TikTok, the popular Chinese social media app, and raged about the adoption to her three million followers, screaming into the camera as she accused the shelter of identifying her as an easy mark and making a tidy profit off the kitten’s adoption fee.

Sickly kittens and sizable veterinary bills

Mitchell originally came to the shelter, camera in tow, asking specifically for a cat named Heart. The influencer filmed her visit and gushed to her viewers that she’d fallen in love with Heart, a mixed-breed kitten with Savannah heritage.

Heart, or as Mitchell calls her, “the $900 cat.” Credit: Noah Project

Shelter staff explained the kitten was from one of two litters that were brought in with serious ailments after a woman purchased a pair of queens from a breeder.

The former breeder cats went into heat and had babies, predictably, and the situation quickly grew out of control. When the woman realized she couldn’t care for the cats and their many ailing babies, she brought them to the Noah Project, which took on the Herculean task of caring for kittens that had problems ranging from anemia to developmental deformities like swimmer’s leg, also known as deformed leg syndrome.

Noah Project staff had to rush three of the kittens to an emergency veterinary hospital. Another required a leg amputation. Two kittens died, and the remaining babies had to be nursed back to health over three months, with special diets, medication and care on top of the normal costs associated with spaying/neutering, micro-chipping and vaccines.

Taking on that many sick kittens would stretch the resources of any animal shelter, let alone a small rescue, and the Noah Project set the adoption fees at $900 per kitten to help recoup the considerable costs.

Whipping an army of followers into a frenzy

Mitchell wasn’t phased by the fee, shelter staff said, but things quickly turned sour when she went home and posted the dramatic video, sparking the ire of her followers.

After that first video racked up almost six million views and almost 28,000 comments, Mitchell turned the experience into her own miniature “season” of online television, making half a dozen monetized videos in which she accuses the non-profit of lying to her about Heart’s breed and scamming her with the adoption fee.

Collectively, the videos have more than 30 million views, and Mitchell’s increasingly pitched rhetoric has whipped her three million followers into a frenzy.

In the video above, Mitchell acts out an alleged conversation with the shelter and confuses coat pattern for breed, saying “Feline experts have approached me online to say that she is in fact not an African Savannah and is more of a tabby-looking animal.”

“And they’ve stayed that I did get wrongfully charged that $900 in your shelter, which isn’t looking to re-home animals [but] make a profit off of them, and that’s not okay… I was taken advantage of, and that really sucks, I gave you my money for a reason that you were being truthful about her breed.”

Prompted by Mitchell’s insistence that the shelter was “scamming” adopters, her followers turned vigilante, review-bombing the Noah Project on Google and harassing its staff by phone. The shelter, which has been named the best rescue in west Michigan by its local newspaper several years in a row among other plaudits, saw its five-star Google review rating evaporate as negative reviews piled up, and the angry calls keep coming in. (“Unethical scammer! …shady, greedy business!” one of Mitchell’s followers wrote, while others dubbed Noah Project a “retail rescue” that “prioritizes profits over placing animals in a loving home.”)

The experience has been bewildering for shelter volunteers who aren’t accustomed to being the target of international ire.

“One woman [who answers phones at the shelter] doesn’t want to come back this week because it was so bad for her,” said Mashele Garrett-Arndt, Noah Project’s director. “It’s hard to explain to someone in their 60s or 70s. They don’t understand how [followers] can be so loyal to a person in a video. They don’t understand how people can be so cruel.”

Volunteers and staffers have taken the brunt of the abuse from Mitchell’s followers. Several don’t feel comfortable returning to the shelter because of the threats, Garrett-Arndt said.

The callers have said “they hope we die. They hope that we suffer and lose our jobs, they hope our families suffer. Horrible, horrible things,” she said.

As a result of the abuse and the threats, the Noah Project went to the local police, who are now keeping watch over the shelter. They’ve also hired private security, installed cameras covering the property, and have taken to scheduling staff to man the building overnight to watch the premises.

In an effort to end the squabble, Garrett-Arndt reached out and offered to refund Mitchell’s adoption fee, but said the influencer will no longer return the shelter’s calls.

Despite that offer, there’s no end in sight to the drama: Mitchell repeated her accusations that the shelter was trying to “profit” from her in an interview last week with MLive, a website that serves readers of a dozen newspapers across the state, and did an interview with the local Fox affiliate, WXMI, for a news segment that aired Monday.

Mitchell claims the shelter never mentioned the medical issues as the reason why the adoption fee was higher than usual, and says shelter staff told her Heart was “a super rare African Savannah” as rationale for the fee. She suggested she’ll continue her campaign to shame Noah Project until the shelter “proves” Heart is a Savannah, a mix of a wild serval and domestic cat.

“All of this will go away if they send me the certified paperwork ensuring she [is] in fact an African Savannah and I was rightfully charged $900,” the TikToker told WXMI.

But in her initial video Mitchell admitted she didn’t know what a Savannah cat was, and in another video she says she doesn’t care if Heart is a particular breed.

“I trusted you and I gave you my money for a reason, believing that you were being truthful with me about her breed, which didn’t matter to me at all, because I just love this animal,” she says in the video.

The constant stream of new videos about the situation and the behavior of Mitchell’s enraged followers has had a dramatic impact on the rescue.

“It has just been consuming our lives for the past four weeks,” one staffer told WXMI.

No one gets into animal rescue to make money, despite Mitchell’s claims that Project Noah’s staff are using animals in some sort of get rich quick scheme, and Garrett-Arndt told MLive she’d gladly open the shelter’s books to Mitchell or anyone else with concerns to show exactly how much was spent on vet bills and the other expenses involved in saving the sickly kittens and their mothers.


Pleading poverty and punching down

In her first video taking issue with Heart’s adoption fee, Mitchell pleads poverty and suggests the shelter saw her as an easy mark.

“I could just not eat,” she says with a theatrical expression, complaining that the fee is “two thirds of a Yorkie” and a quarter the price of a Louis Vuitton bag.

“I spent $900 on a fuzzy scratch ball that’s going to puke all over my furniture,” she says.

But Mitchell is not the typical college student working a part-time job and eating Ramen noodles to stretch her budget. As a volleyball player at Michigan’s Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, she’s well known as the first collegiate athlete to profit from the NCAA’s new NIL (name and image likeness) deal, which pays college athletes when their names and likenesses are used in broadcasts, promotional materials, video games and other revenue-generating activities tied to their sports.

Mitchell went on to found a company that guides other athletes on NIL deals, and she makes a considerable amount of money on TikTok. Creators on the platform who have three million followers can expect to earn about $15,000 a month from viewership alone, and articles going back to 2021 state Mitchell receives lucrative sponsorships on her videos.

Five-figure deals are her baseline” for sponsored posts, a story on MLive notes, saying Mitchell was earning up to $20,000 per sponsored post at the time, when she had fewer followers than she does now.

If Mitchell scores a conservative two sponsored posts per month, that could put her earnings at $55,000 a month from TikTok alone, not including money earned from her NIL deal. Very few college students earn that kind of cash, yet Mitchell claimed the $900 adoption fee was “life-changing money.” In addition, she refers to her new pet almost exclusively as “the $900 cat.”


She dismissed the idea that she was creating problems for the Noah Project, telling WXMI that she doesn’t think she’s responsible for what her followers do.

“I never asked for the internet to go call them or to leave Google reviews in my defense whatsoever,” she said. “I’m not asking to be defended, I’m just asking to be heard.”

With 30 million views on her videos about “the $900 cat” saga, she’s been heard. The shelter? Not so much.

“To call people scammers, that’s a huge thing,” Garrett-Arndt told PITB. “You don’t just say someone scammed you. For her to say that about Noah Project, that hit hard for everyone.”

Garrett-Arndt said Noah Project’s social media staffer is hard at work trying to rectify the one-star reviews Mitchell’s followers left on the shelter’s Google listing, and said it’s taken considerable time to combat the damage to the shelter’s reputation.

Time spent dealing with negative reviews, filing police reports and reassuring spooked volunteers means less time dealing with the rescue’s primary mission — saving animals.

Garrett-Arndt said she consulted an attorney about taking to TikTok to tell the shelter’s story, and the attorney warned her that doing so could provoke an even stronger reaction from Mitchell, who has an enormous megaphone.

She said she doesn’t want to anger Mitchell for fear of what the influencer could do in the future, but believes the whole saga was manufactured for the benefit of the influencer’s TikTok account and followers. When the story blew up, she ran with it and wouldn’t return calls from the shelter in an attempt to fix the situation.

“She needed content, so it’s like ‘Let’s go get a cat,’ and then it got out of hand,” Garrett-Arndt said. “She has three million followers, but we have to stand our ground. The truth will come out.”

In the meantime, Mitchell — perhaps with an eye toward creating more viral content — says she’s getting a DNA test for Heart and has threatened to contact the other adopters who took home cats from the same two litters.

“Five other people paid the $900 adoption fee and not one of those people had an issue with it,” Garrett-Arndt said of adopters who took home the other kittens from the sickly litters.

The offer of a refund still stands, and staff at the Noah Project hope there’s an end to the madness.

“Why wouldn’t she come back to us? We’ll refund her,” Garrett-Arndt told PITB. “If you’re that unhappy about the $900, bring the cat back. Adopt another cat so we don’t have to [deal with] this and we don’t get dragged through the mud.”

22 thoughts on “TikTok Influencer Won’t Let Go Of Argument Over Cat, Even As Her Followers Threaten To Blow Up Animal Rescue”

  1. These people are making terroristic threat’s and need to be delt with accordingly….. this saddens me so much! What is wrong with people nowadays???

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The people commenting on her videos (the “feline experts” she cites) can be charitably called misinformed, and have gone the r/confidentlyincorrect route by insisting there’s no way Heart is a Savannah because she’s a tabby.

      The shelter director told me there are no breeding papers because the litters were on the previous owner’s watch, meaning the woman who bought the mom cats from the breeders.

      So the veterinarians who examined the kittens say they believe they have Savannah lineage, and one of the litters may have some Maine Coon as well.

      So it seems like Mitchell and her followers:

      1) Don’t understand the difference between an F1 Savannah hybrid (a cross between a serval and a domestic cat) and a cat with some Savannah in its breeding
      2) Don’t understand that no one except breeders can own F1 and F2 generation Savannahs, because they still behave like wild cats and don’t make good pets
      3) Don’t understand that all cats, including breed cats, “revert” to tabby coat patterns after a few generations.
      4) Finally, they don’t seem to understand that a cat can absolutely be a tabby and part Savannah as well.

      So the “feline experts” on TikTok are looking at Heart and saying “That doesn’t look like a Savannah cat, that’s a tabby cat, they scammed you” and they don’t realize they’re spreading misinformation, nor do they seem to appreciate the damage they’re doing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She and her followers won’t let facts stand in the way of their shared outrage. If this insanity didn’t threaten the shelter, the animals and the people working there one could ignore it. But it does and so it can’t be ignored.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Given her lack of any acceptance of responsibility for her “followers,” there must surely be a legal case that could be crowdfunded against her personally for incitement to violence and murder.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m no lawyer, though as I understand it she’s probably not legally liable for what her followers do unless she explicitly tells them to do it.

      But liability aside, you’d hope she realizes the damage she’s doing to the shelter and all the hard work of the people who work and volunteer there out of love for animals. There had to be a better way to handle this situation, but alas doing it quietly wouldn’t have fed her need for attention and would not have provided content for an entire “season” of monetized online videos.

      I’m not sure if she’s being deliberately obtuse or she really doesn’t understand that operating an animal shelter is not a way to make money.

      At the very least, this drama raises all kinds of important questions about the responsibility a person has when they have an online following so massive that their videos draw numbers many TV networks would be envious of. That’s a lot of power and clout for any person, much less a 20-year-old with limited understanding or consideration for how her words and actions impact others.


      1. A point well made. I wonder therefore if the social media influence of a 20-year-old could be used as a court defence in a serious legal case of violence at some point in the very near future. Perhaps then we would see a change where “influencers” are literally made responsible for their influence. But then again I guess that’s a slippery slope to denying freedom of speech. The issue appears to be the sheer number of “followers” rather than pre-net days where maybe 6 or so people in her circle would hear of her “opinion”. Perhaps threats against her are coming at some point or a reaction from her sponsors…

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Society has dumbed down!! Time to turn the tables on this pos and her family!! Not threats but expose them. AND SUE!! Not sure if they can take that cat back. This is the reason i am not on social media sites. Only this one. Lies about me were told. People who hated cats and made up bs. My friends in rescue also were victims of lies.


  3. She’s a sociopath. Would it soothe her enormous ego if one of her nutty followers burnt down the rescue?
    Jfc, why can’t these (censored) just SHUT UP?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. She’s an ‘influencer.’ And just like all that other fake entertainment, i.e. The Real Housewives of (Wherever), etc., etc., over the top drama – the more unhinged the better – is the coin of the realm. I’m guessing she already knew what the shelter was charging, and saw an opportunity to get her followers riled up. I feel so sorry for that cat.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Also, cruel people who don’t give a damn about the potential harm they’re doing to the animals and the good people at the shelter.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. Just like Real Housewives and other bottom of the barrel reality TV thrives on inane drama, the algorithms that power social media are designed to amplify content that sparks the strongest emotional reaction, and outrage is the lowest hanging fruit among emotionally manipulative online content.

      At first I thought Mitchell really was taken with the cat, but after watching most of the videos I believe I’ve heard her refer to the kitten by her name once. At all other times, she is referred to as “$900 cat.” In addition, Mitchell’s explanation for “falling in love” with Heart was “She didn’t like hiss or scratch me or whatever.”

      If that kitten is doomed to live in a situation where she’s unloved and basically serves as a toy, a prop for content, that may be the saddest aspect of all this drama.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I remember when there was no Internet and sometimes I long for those days … I fear for that kitten’s well being. Her pedigree is way too important … Her ears do look like those of a Savannah cat to me. I hope she can be returned to the rescue and loved without regard to breed. I sure hope no animals or humans are harmed due to this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought the same thing, Leah. The ears look very much like a cat that has Savannah lineage. Those are Serval-like ears.

      The only thing is that sometimes cats kind of grow into their ears. When Bud was a baby I thought he may have had some Siamese in him because he’s so talkative and his ears were so big. But his ears stayed the same size as the rest of him grew, and it turned out he was “just” a “basic tabby cat,” so I invented the Buddinese tiger breed to make him feel like the special and badass cat he is!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. My inal take on this situation: Humane Society or Shelter should get Court Order; step in, refund $$ & take cat back. PERIOD>
    Charge her with whatever they can. And that is the end of that. PERIOD!
    This woman really has problems…..I agree with Quilpy 150%….
    That poor cat!
    😦 BellaSita Mum an 😦 BellaDharma

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Has anyone checked on the poor kitten she took home? Anyone who is this ravinously unhinged might well take out her “disappointment” on the cat if she can’t do anything to the shelter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve wondered that too, especially since Mitchell almost exclusively calls Heart “the $900 cat” and she manhandles the poor kitty in her videos. I hope that’s just inexperience and she’ll learn to take the cat’s feelings into consideration.

      As for the shelter, they’re still getting pelted with phone calls and negative reviews, and the director told me over the weekend that there was a network intrusion. I didn’t post an immediate update because I wanted to give readers a break from the drama, but I expect to publish another story this week.


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