On Wednesday night, an Instagram-famous cat’s apparent endorsement of Bernie Sanders caused a bit of a sensation. “I’m feline this guy,” read the caption for a photo of the cat watching Sanders’s recent debate performance. In and of itself, that might have served as a perfect aggregate of our times, but the story didn’t stop there. A certain portion of the Internet believes that the cat in question, Ms. Fluffle Stilt Skin, secretly belongs to the actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
The rumor has certainly caught traction. One tweet asserting it as true has over 84,000 likes; another has 57,000 likes. The cat’s Instagram popularity has benefited as well. Last night when we checked in, Fluff, as the cat is known to fans, had about 48,000 followers. This morning she was already up to about 50,800.
The rumor actually started last year, with The Mary Sue being the first outlet to float the theory, followed a week later by Garage. The evidence: Gyllenhaal is a frequent commenter on Fluff’s Instagram and certainly seems to know the cat. The idea of Gyllenhaal starting a secret Instagram for his cat and communicating almost exclusively in cat puns is appealing for reasons we probably don’t have to explain. It would be like if his Okja character wasn’t ultimately evil and pathetic. It’s easy to see why people wanted to believe.
On his end, Gyllenhaal has playfully refused to confirm whether or not Fluff is his, but does admit to knowing her and finding her very cute.
The Sanders endorsement (or at least approval) only added another level. (Gyllenhaal has endorsed Democrats in general elections in the past, but remained neutral in the 2016 Democratic primary, offering praise for both Sanders and his former rival Hillary Clinton, and then appearing at a Clinton fundraiser during the general election.)
So, is Fluff Jake’s cat or not? Let’s consider the evidence.
For one thing, Gyllenhaal’s current home is in a Tribeca high rise—according to the real estate blogs, at least—and Fluff definitely lives somewhere with a green backyard. (The cat has even struck up a friendship with a squirrel named Mable.)
Adding to our doubts: Though it wouldn’t be particularly surprising for Gyllenhaal to keep an L.A. base as well, Fluff doesn’t seem to travel between homes.
Fluff also doesn’t appear with humans (at least with their faces in frame) in her official grid, with the one exception being Perfume Genius musician Mike Hadreas. While the Internet doesn’t capture every single celebrity friendship, there is no evidence online that Gyllenhaal and Hadreas are even casual buddies.
So, like someone with a dumb crush and way too much time on their hands, we explored further. Our first destination: the liked photo page.
Fluff appears live and in the flesh in a photo with the actress Sunny Mabrey, wife of Ethan Embry. The cat has also been tagged on the page of noted music journalist Jenny Eliscu. In both cases, the photos also tag Bryan Ling.
Ling is a music manager (who, notably, manages Perfume Genius), as well as a longtime friend of Gyllenhaal’s. While his personal account is protected, his bio does read, “You probably follow my cat.”
Ling also has a public account that he mostly uses for professional reasons, and yet, he couldn’t help but post a photo of himself with Fluff as a kitten. (For the record, Ling also likes Elizabeth Warren, but no word on how Fluff feels).
So, sadly, it seems Gyllenhaal himself does not have a secret account for his cat, nor has he, in a roundabout way, endorsed Sanders. So we’ll just have to settle for Gyllenhaal’s actual Instagram account, where he posts content like this: