It’s a sad fact that most pets don’t live as long as humans do, and many of us have had to say goodbye to a beloved pet at some point in our lives.
But what if our childhood pets could be with us throughout our entire lives? That’s the case for one woman, who has had the same pet tortoise since she was 7 years old — and it’s possible he’ll be around for another century!
Now, their lifelong friendship is going viral online.
Caitlin Doran, of Los Angeles, California, got her pet African tortoise Tiptoe for Christmas in 2001, when she was 7 years old.
“I don’t know if I just loved the attention [from] having a unique animal,” Caitlin told Fox News Digital. “But I knew I wanted something I could just spend a lot of time with, so [a] tortoise was up there.”
It was the beginning of a lifelong friendship: Tiptoe, who now weighs 175 pounds and recently celebrated his 22nd birthday, is still in Caitlin’s care.
“Tiptoe has been with me my entire life. He was at my elementary school graduation middle school, high school, college. Any big milestone in my life, Tiptoe has been there,” Caitlin told ABC 7.
“At this point in my life, I am so comfortable with the fact that I’m going to have Tiptoe for the rest of my life.”
Tiptoe has his own pool in the backyard, and Caitlin creates meals made out of fruits and veggies just for him. “Tiptoe lives a very spoiled and pampered life,” she told the New York Post.
In 2020, the lives of these two lifelong friends changed forever when they suddenly became viral stars. Videos of Caitlin creating tasty meals and feeding her tortoise, created during the pandemic lockdowns, became huge hits on TikTok, racking up millions of views.
“It was very shocking to me because it’s my ‘normal,’” Caitlin told Fox. “I just wasn’t thinking that it would be as fun as it is.”
Years later the duo are true online stars with over 4.5 million followers on TikTok. People around the world are delighted seeing videos of the adorable tortoise. Tiptoe has been unaffected by his newfound fame, and just continues to live his best life.
“He’s a very sassy, untrained 175-pound lump,” Caitlin told the Post. “He just has a mind of his own, and has his own ideas of how he wants his videos to go.”
While Caitlin enjoys a close bond with her tortoise and is committed to caring for him for life, she cautions that owning an African tortoise is a big responsibility and commitment, one that her family wasn’t aware of or prepared for when she first received Tiptoe as a child. At one point Tiptoe grew so quickly that the family tried relocating him to a tortoise sanctuary.
“I definitely wish I was more aware of that. And that’s something that I make sure to put forward to other people when they’re asking me questions like ‘Oh, should I get a tortoise? Are they hard to take care of?” Caitlin told ABC 7. “Because they’re not hard animals to care for, however, you have to be ready to care for them their entire life.”
In fact, it’s very possible that Tiptoe will actually outlive his owner: African tortoises can live 80-120 years. In a TikTok video, Caitlin said that she plans to care for Tiptoe for life and will leave him to her children if she dies first.
Caitlin says she’ll keep making videos with Tiptoe indefinitely, and that while the internet can often be negative and toxic, they’ve received a lot of love and people have told her that the videos have helped them through tough times.
As Caitlin gears up for even more decades with her beloved tortoise, she says Tiptoe has taught her the value of slowing things down. “Nothing needs to be as ‘go, go, go’ as you make it,” she told Fox. “Slow and steady actually works.”
What a beautiful thing to have a special, beloved pet who will be part of your entire life. We love Caitlin and Tiptoe’s videos and wish them many great decades ahead!
Please share this story if you love animals! ❤️🐢