November 18, 2015 06:00 PM

Like the ancient Egyptians, Macklemore adores Cairo.

We’re referring, of course, to the 1-year-old tabby cat the rapper brought home in May of last year — the one he credits with saving his life.

“I wanted a cat that day,” says Macklemore, who found Cairo on Craigslist. The 6-week-old kitten was the last of a barn litter and en route to the pound the following day. “Cairo was a life-saver. I was in trouble with [my wife] Tricia and I figured that a cat would help.”

Cairo did help: A few months later, Tricia became pregnant and Macklemore found himself on the road quite often. Cairo kept the mom-to-be company. “When Tricia was pregnant, Cairo would curl up on Tricia’s tummy at 6 a.m. every morning like clockwork and just chill on the baby. For hours,” he shares. 

Named after the city the couple longs to visit, Cairo has been handsomely rewarded for her efforts. This queenly cat eats only raw lamb, chicken and turkey from local boutiques; no vegetables, no grains. Until recently, Mackemore and Tricia even walked the cat, outfitting her in a harness and leash and taking her to a local woodsy park. She loved the outings so much that she ended up spending days meowing at the front door, so the couple decided to stop the walks until they move out of the city. Cairo’s other quirks include playing fetch for hours.

“She thinks she’s a dog,” Tricia tells PEOPLE.

One thing Cairo does not like: wearing cute clothes. Macklemore, a rabid Seahawks fan, bought 6-month-old daughter Sloane an NFL costume that turned out to be a pet costume. “I dressed Cairo up as a Seahawks cheerleader. She hated it,” he shares.

From the beginning, Cairo has had a celebrity presence of her own, though, with a popular Instagram page featuring adorable sleeping pics and videos of her leaping between the kitchen counters. At nearly 94,000 followers, she’s lagging well behind Macklemore’s 3.2 million —but will he be upset if the cat one day surpasses him? “Yes!” he says.

No matter her pull in the social media universe, the feline will fur-ever hold a special place in Macklemore’s heart.

“Cairo saved my life,” he tells PEOPLE. “She came along at a difficult time in my relationship with my wife. My life was falling apart and Cairo gave me and Tricia something to bond over. She gives us unconditional love. That, and entertainment. Watching her is more enjoyable than a television show. Unless, unless it’s Fargo season 2.”

– with reporting by Michelle Bowers

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