Alexis OhanianAlexis Ohanian was one of the founding partners of Reddit in 2005. For those of you not familiar with Reddit, Wikipedia describes it as, “a social news and entertainment website where registered users submit content in the form of links or text posts.”

He also published a book, “Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed,” where Alexis shares his ideas (and doodles – a reoccurring theme) about harnessing the power of the web. His personal mantra is “Making the World Suck Less.”

But let’s be honest. This is I HAVE CAT. And my objective was not to analyze or even discuss Alexis’ entrepreneurial successes. More prestigious journalists have covered that ground ad nauseam. There were only two topics I wanted to discuss with him: His cat Karma and the fact that he, like me, is Armenian.

Alexis Ohanian at Purina Better With Pets

Alexis speaking at Purina’s Better With Pets summit with Karma in a tie as the back-drop

I knew from attending Purina’s Better With Pets summit that Alexis had a black cat named Karma, but when I tried to read up on her* the only mention I found was at the very end of every online article, ““He (Alexis) proudly doodled the logos for all three of his startups and loves his cat, Karma.” (Next time I’ll have to ask him why she didn’t get an Armenian name.)

*Full disclosure,  I called Karma a him when speaking to Alexis – whoops!  In my defense, the necktie threw me off! 

Alexis Ohanian founder of Reddit

Alexis and Karma at home in Brooklyn

That definitely wasn’t satisfying enough for the cat lover in me. From the way he spoke about her at the Purina event, she seemed like an important part of his life, and one that required further exploration and recognition.

Thankfully our mutual love of cats and a shared ethnicity worked to get me an interview with him just this past week. All I can say is that he is one of the most affable, gracious and polite guys I’ve spoken with. Sorry ladies, he’s taken!

Onward to the interview! Only the cat material made it in. Perhaps I’ll do another post about our Armenian-ness should there be a great demand for it!

Alexis’ Dad’s cat Barron Mustache

How did cats first enter your life? I grew up with animals. My parents always had an adopted cat even before I was born. In middle school I campaigned for a dog and got one, so we became a two species household.

You’ve made your Dad’s cat rather famous through your Twitter Feed. Can you tell us a little bit about him? You never mention his name. I call him Barron Mustache. It just suits him. He’s kind of a jerk. He was an outdoor cat for most of his life and would always get into fights. His real name is Moonlight. Doesn’t really fit him.

How did you get your cat Karma? I got her when she was just a kitten. All the cats we’d adopted growing up were adults, and I really wanted a kitten this time. I called up shelters In NYC looking for a black kitten and Animal Haven in SoHo called me back saying they had a black girl kitten. Her brothers had already been adopted.

Alexis Ohanian's Cat Karma

Karma relaxing in bd

Why did you decide on a black cat? I knew about superstitions, and that black cats and dogs are the last to get adopted. But let me say that black cats are good luck.  I’ve had nothing but good luck since I got Karma.

What was your thought process when getting a cat? Did you give any thought to how people might perceive you? I’ve raised a few eyebrows on occasion, but not really. But I am a large man with a cat. Don’t know if that has anything to do with it.

Karma is not impressed with her shoot for the Financial Times and just wants to play with the paper

What is it you most appreciate about Karma? She comes to the door when I get home. She loves belly rubs and cuddles. All the other cats I had growing up were more typical – some more affectionate than others. But Karma’s a dog-cat. I’m debating getting her a cat leash.

We went to the Jersey Shore and I wanted to see what would happen if I let her out (under my supervision). Once she hit the grass she ran back inside to the wood flooring like, “what was that?!”

Karma wants to know what’s going on

Does she do anything funny or unusual? Well, when we’re at home and sitting at the dinner table she likes to sit on one of the 4 chairs with us. We had a friend over the other night and she just sat there, wanting to be part of the conversation.

I always leave my laptop on the dining table, it’s where I usually do most of my work. Karma will sit in the chair in front of the laptop. It looks like she is checking your email!  

She also does this thing we call ‘sea-ottering’ (photo above) where she rolls on her back and pulls her paws up like a sea otter. This is her way of letting us know it’s time for a belly rub.

Karma “sea-ottering,’ a sign to play with her belly please!

Is there anything she does that drives you crazy? A bad habit? No she’s perfect. Ok, sometimes she scratches the sofa but that’s what the water spray is for.

What’s her favorite place to hang out in the apartment? She actually loves her cat carrier, which is on the top of a shelf she loves climbing. We call it her mobile home.

Does she sleep with you at night? Usually by my feet. She likes my girlfriend more, though.

Relaxing on Daddy’s belly

Does she have a favorite treat/snack you reward her with on occasion?Greenies!

Does she have a boyfriend? Not that I know of…

Assuming you travel quite a bit, have you considered getting another cat friend for Karma? I’m pretty sure it’s going to have to happen. My girlfriend will probably pick out a cat and I’ll vet her for Karma.

Karma can’t wait to read Alexis’ book!

Have you heard the theory that the reason there are so many cats online is because so many Geeks have cats. Do you think this theory has any merit? I have certainly heard this, I think there is something to it. But also, dog owners have a lot more opportunities to share their dog. They go on a walks to show off their dog, they go to the dog park to show off their dog. Cat owners never get the opportunity to show off our cats. I think the internet gives them that opportunity.

Thank you so much for your time Alexis, just one final question. Why does Karma wear a necktie? She’s a business cat, she does what she’s gotta do.

Karma the business cat


Note: All photographs provided directly by Alexis, taken from his Twitter feed or taken by me with the exception of the first image which is from Alexis’ site. 
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  • Karma sounds like a very cool kitty! I think maybe she is channelling her inner Annie Hall with that necktie.

    • Tamar

      That’s a very good observation!

  • Awesome interview! I love that he went out looking for a black cat – he gets bonus points for that!

    • Tamar

      I TOTALLY agree. LOVED that part!

  • She she THE business cat? We agree, everything’s better with pets! And black cats are awesome. Nice to meet you, Alexis! – Crepes.

    • Tamar

      Crepes, I hear a crush coming on…… 🙂

  • Rebecca

    LOVE this post! Great interview!!!! Great point about why cats are so popular on line….. we can’t bring our kitties out with us and want to brag and share their wonderfulness!!

    • Tamar

      Thanks Rebecca! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your loyal readership! =^^=

  • sweet! sweet! sweet!!! and love the bit that explains why she wears a tie!! she is a business cat is superb!! : keep up the great work Tamar! Cat Man Monday is sure to become a super hit!!!

    • Tamar

      So happy you enjoyed it! Thank you so much for the positive reinforcement and your loyal readership. It really means so much! =^^=

  • She sounds like a terrific cat. Little did she know that she would become a famous cat, too. Kudos for adopting from a shelter.

    • Tamar

      I know! She really hit the big time! Lucky black kitty! =^^=

  • Colehaus Cats

    Yippee for letting us hear more about Karma and Alexis from Reddit (one of our favorite places)! Thanks for adopting her from a shelter and choosing a black cat! We totally get the ‘sea-ottering’ pose.

    • Tamar

      Glad you guys enjoyed the interview! I agree, I was thrilled to learn he adopted from a shelter and a black cat at that!

  • Good for him for choosing a black kitty! Nice interview.

    • Tamar

      Agree! And thank you! 🙂

  • jmuhj

    Great interview/article, Tamar — and I’m in love with Karma The Business Cat! She ought to meet Sammi, who runs the IT Dept. here and who is unabashedly Maine Coon; he’s a big boy with a golden mane, and let’s just say none of the ladies would turn him down 😉

    • Tamar

      Awwww that would be cute, it doesn’t sound like she has a boyfriend…

  • Yayyyy! Gwate awtycall Anty Tamaw!!! I wuv woo sooo mush! Mwah mwah mwahhhh!

    *whispers* he’s taked!? Hoo tooked him and warew!?

    Otay! I wuv woo Hibyes

    • Tamar

      Awwwww it is SOOOOO nice to hear from you! He’s taked 🙁 wahhhhhh

  • Yayyyy! Gwate awtycall Anty Tamaw!!! I wuv woo sooo mush! Mwah mwah mwahhhh!

    *whispers* he’s taked!? Hoo tooked him and warew!?

    Otay! I wuv woo Hibyes mwah

  • <3 Cat man monday! Totally look forward to it!

    • Tamar

      Glad you enjoyed it! I’ll try to keep ’em coming as quickly as I can! =^^=

  • kristen gallagher

    I want to nominate Housing Specialist Adam Levandoski at ActionAIDS and boss cat Oliver Levandoski

    • Tamar

      I don’t know these people but I will have to look into them!

  • When I used to dress for work, I had a handful of ties I used to wear..

    • Tamar

      You were a business cat! =^^=

  • I loved reading about Karma – such a good interview and a great cat! My cat Wart always sat at the table when we ate dinner. He never made eye contact the whole time we were eating. It was pretty funny, but also appreciated. I definitely agree the internet is a huge help for those of us who like to show off our cats!

    • Tamar

      Awww I’m so glad you enjoyed the interview! That’s so cute about Wart. He had good table manners and didn’t want to intrude 🙂

  • Very fun post and good interview, and as Mom loves black kitties, she really enjoyed the photos. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

    • Tamar

      Thank you thank you all! That gave me a BIG, much needed virtual HUG! 😉

  • Loved this interview on every level! Thanks for sharing!

  • Nice interview, if Karma needs another cat tie 😉

  • Loved the article and the pictures too! You always have such a captivating way of writing. Almost felt like I went with you, that would be fun!