Grieving the Star of the Pot Roast Cinematic Universe: Pot Roast’s Mom reflects on life one year after the famous TikTok cat’s death
Grief is strange.
Everyone experiences it differently. Some shut the rest of the world out, some let a select few inside, and some take to the Internet to document their experience for hundreds of thousands of followers. A year after the death of Kansas City’s feline TikTok celebrity, Pot Roast’s Mom is taking stock of her life and setting new boundaries with her online community.
Pot Roast’s Mom (whose name will remain anonymous for privacy reasons) has been creating TikTok videos since January 2021, most of which starred the legendary Pot Roast until her death in Feb. 2022. She has 1.2 million followers on TikTok and 144,000 on Instagram.
“I tweeted the first week she blew up,” PRM says. “It was like, ‘I have seven likes on Tik Tok. I’ve been shot into fame!’ That’s kind of how I feel still, as it keeps growing and growing. I’m always a little bit surprised. People really relate to this, and they really, really love their cats.”
It’s not fair to say that PRM loves her cat more than anyone else does. But she does have a robo-cat named Bot Roast, a model of a feline skeleton called Bone Roast, and she’s getting Pot Roast’s skeleton articulated. She also has 1,500 photos of Pot Roast uploaded to her Google account.
Like many people, PRM began working from home during the pandemic. But unlike most, she was able to quit her engineering job to produce social media content full-time. This allowed her to spend all day with Pot Roast during the last year of the cat’s life. Her Patreon tiers range from “Dough” at $3 per month to “Incinerated” at $115 per month. Beginning at “Scorched” ($40 per month), patrons get to participate in monthly video chats with PRM and her other cats, Coupon and Faucet.
“Pot Roast gave me this,” PRM says. “She gave me a community of people to support me. I don’t think I’ve talked about it a lot, but Pot Roast’s medical treatment was paid for by followers. I get so weird about my name and stuff, so I didn’t give out my Venmo or my PayPal or anything like that. I just gave out my Cash App. In total, her death was between $11,000 and $12,000. I tried really hard to keep her around. It was a very expensive venture, but it was paid for by people donating. I feel very lucky. She left me a lot.”
PRM connected with animal intuitive Em Scimeca shortly before Pot Roast’s death in the hopes of continuing to communicate with her cat. Animal intuitives form bonds with animals that are meant to help transmit feelings, emotions, and messages. Scimeca also offers services similar to a life coach.
“To me, if I heard another woman talking about a life coach, I’d be like, ‘Both of you get a grip,’” PRM laughs. “But she’s helped me a lot in terms of me trying to make money to survive without my engineering job. When Pot Roast was sick, last January and February, before I knew what was happening… She was eating her litter and the vet said all her tests were fine. I reached out to the animal intuitive, and I asked if we could have a session. That’s how we initially got connected. As Pot Roast got sicker and sicker, we were talking every single day. We still talk and she still gives me little messages from Pot Roast. She has a Patreon where you can ask your pet, living or dead, one question a month. Having her through every phase of that was just so wonderful. I feel like I live in such an echo chamber of weirdos—I know a lot of people don’t believe in animal intuitives, but I really do, and we’ve had a really special relationship.”
On Feb. 16, 2023, PRM posted a video of herself reading a spoken word poetry piece about her feelings one year after Pot Roast’s death. A follower named Sara commented, “You have the ability to put grief into such heart-wrenchingly beautiful words. We appreciate you always.” Another follower named Karlene commented, “I genuinely cannot think of a more beloved and more missed creature that ever left messy little tracks on the earth.”
However, PRM has also had a few unpleasant encounters with over-enthusiastic followers.
“It’s hard for me to say this parasocial relationship is bad because I benefit from it so much,” PRM says. “I wasn’t ever grieving Pot Roast alone. So much good has come from it. The darker side of this has been people—not thinking that we would be friends, but with people assuming that we are friends, and then getting upset when I don’t respond in a certain way. But that has been rare.”
Since Pot Roast’s death, PRM has adapted her approach to being online.
“It took her dying to realize that I can’t share every piece, but also when she died, I was so open about it. I saw how people benefit from that because when she died and my life imploded, no one said to me, ‘It’s just a cat,’” PRM says. “I was obviously grieving in a huge, public way. But I think people who had things like that said to them saw me and were like, ‘Oh, my grief is valid.’ I definitely don’t regret being vulnerable, because I do think it helps people. But I also think I need to be a little bit better about holding on to more pieces for myself.”
Learning what to post and what to hold back has been a challenging but necessary lesson.
“I always joke that I use the Internet like my personal diary,” PRM says. “That has been good for my grief. At times, it’s been bad. There were some really dark, dark moments. At the beginning, I had not guarded myself against criticism surrounding her death, so when it came, I was shocked… The criticism of keeping her bones, Jesus Christ.”
Now, after a year of practice, PRM says cruel comments are rolling off her back.
“On the anniversary of her death, I thought to myself, nothing’s changed. I still feel the way I did that day. But then I’m like, ‘No, go back and watch the videos. Your life has done a 180. You’ve changed and you’ve grown and you have processed stuff, even if it doesn’t feel like it,’” PRM says.
She’s currently working on writing a book about pet grief to help others process their emotions. Writing the book, as well as sharing her poetry pieces and Instagram captions, has directed her pain into more hopeful productivity.
“I put my grief out there and people say, ‘This is what mine looks like,’ and that’s validating,” she says. “When she was alive, it was like, ‘Look at her. This is my life. I love her so much’. When she died, it felt like me and the Internet just looked at this hole. What do we do now? Having people there who are staring at the same version of the hole in their life…” PRM pauses. “When she died, I did not think that I would keep posting. I thought that would be the end of it. Then the response when I transitioned into posting about sad things and dead things was positive. It’s what she gave me. She gave me a community of people who pivoted with me when my life changed.”
After attending therapy, PRM has come to the conclusion that Pot Roast was her first secure attachment, which is why her grieving process has been so difficult and life-altering. She hopes that by normalizing the intensity of pet grief for others, she can help people process similar experiences to hers.
“I saw nothing after her death,” PRM says. “I didn’t see myself posting. I didn’t see a life without her. To be able to have a community that was treating me with such kindness and such support… I was like, ‘Okay. I can keep going. I can live a life.’”