By day, Caroline Campion is a cancer biologist working to find new drug compounds for lung, breast, and ovarian cancer. By night, she and her husband, Nick, entertain a cult following of beer and cat lovers through their social media pages CatsOnTap. In other words, the same person who you might thank for saving your life one day is currently feeding you the best beer and cat content on the internet.
CatsOnTap is a Twitter account, Instagram account, and Etsy shop run by the Campions. They have a combined social following of 26,000 people, and have sold out of products on their Etsy page. And why not? Their CatsOnTap passion project is at the intersection of two of the internet’s favorite subjects: beer and cats.
So how exactly do a cancer biologist and her husband grow an entire beer cat community that has been written about by publications like Draft, People, Eater, and, of course, VinePair? By accident, it turns out.
“My husband Nick and I started CatsOnTap in December 2013 and it happened because our first cat, Rosie, photobombed our Untappd check in,” Caroline tells me over the phone, referencing the community beer check-in app Untappd. “I wanted a way to engage the craft beer community and I was a newbie at the time, very interested in craft beer, and didn’t know how to go about learning about it.”
In addition to beer, Caroline was interested in learning how to use Tiwtter. So she used the photo from Untappd and started tweeting more cat and beer pictures like it. One photobombed picture turned into two, which turned into three, and so on. The pages grew organically until the whole thing “just kind of snowballed and everyone started sending us their pictures,” Caroline says. Then came the “pawsitive press” (her words) and the snowball got bigger.
Today, CatsOnTap features both of the Campion’s cats, which are named after female scientists. There’s Rosie, named after Rosalind Franklin, who was critical in understanding the structure of DNA, and there’s Millie, named after Mildred Dresselhaus, who’s known as the “queen of carbon science.” The social pages also feature other people’s cats that tag #CatsOnTap.
But not everyone makes it onto their social pages. “We’re very selective,” Caroline says. “We like to curate our feed to feature cats that appear like they are genuinely interacting with the beer and passing judgment in their feline way.”
Today, the side project takes up more of the Campions’ time than it did at the start. Nick picks out the beer, and Caroline handles the social. Together, they run the Etsy page, which opened in November 2016. The Etsy business is already profitable, and a dollar of every pint glass sold goes to Good Neighbors Animal Rescue in Dallas.
At the end of the day, though, it’s all about relaxing after a long day of helping cure cancer and providing the internet with beer cat fodder. That’s a passion project I think we can all appreciate.