Indiana Cat Has Become 'Essential Fixture' of Owner's Weather Broadcasts: 'She's Gone Viral'
"She's become this internet meme thing, so I'm afraid it's going to her head," joked weatherman Jeff Lyons
"Betty the Weathercat" is here to stay!
About three weeks after beginning to do his daily weather forecasts at home amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, local Indiana weatherman Jeff Lyons inadvertently got a new coworker: his 11-year-old cat Betty.
In the middle of a commercial break during an April broadcast, Lyons’ news director got an idea after spotting the veteran Channel 14 News meteorologist petting Betty.
"You should put her on the air," Lyons, 55, told the Washington Post, as he recalled the suggestion he received on that fateful night.
While going over the extended forecast, Lyons held his adorable grey-and-white cat in his arms, who posed for the camera with a detached look on her face.
"There are some benefits to working from home," said Lyons during the broadcast. "As much as I’d like to be back there with everybody, Betty, this is the Lyons household cat, seems to be enamored of all the lights out here."
Alongside a screenshot from Betty's first on-camera appearance, which Lyons later shared on Facebook, the owner quipped, "I can't tell if Betty is enjoying the whole Work-From-Home setup or not. As you can see, she's a high-strung, nervous wreck !”
Almost immediately, a star was born.
"I don’t know how to start this weathercast other than to say the outpouring for this silly cat has been crazy," he said during a broadcast just days later. "She’s gone viral, my nieces and nephews tell me."
“Because she’s been such an essential fixture here at work, we’re going to bestow upon her the highest honor we can give in the weather department: Betty, your own lower third graphic," he said, joking that while the new graphic would likely be a distraction, "this is sort of a bow to my fans who have said 'We want more Betty,' which consequently means less of me."
These days, Betty’s fame has catapulted her to new heights, with the cat getting her own Instagram account, a variety of computer-animated weather graphics, and most importantly, a "special pedestal" for her to sit on during the broadcasts.
"Now she’s become this internet meme thing, so I’m afraid it’s going to her head and she’s going to be more difficult to manage," Lyons said during a recent Instagram Live Q&A.
Poking fun at fans who think the hard-working cat should be compensated for her efforts, last week Lyons shared a video of the cat being given a big reward: a can of tuna to munch on.
"I think she’s entitled," he said.
Although Betty’s broadcasting days might not go on forever, for now, the feline will remain a fixture of her owner's nightly broadcasts.
"When the weather is threatening, you have to be serious, but for the rest of the time, it’s important to be happy," he told the Washington Post. "My sense is that people want a diversion right now during this horrible pandemic. They’re looking for something that’s kind of fun. So at least for now, doing the forecast with Betty fits right in."