Lt. Dan is the cat who can. And that’s exactly what he did. Dan came out strong and won the Fort Worth Report’s cute cat photo contest, which concluded this month. 

Dan’s parent, Frida Castañeda, said the submitted photo showed Dan at his second birthday party on June 24, 2021. For every birthday, Frida takes Dan out to the park for a photoshoot. Dan turned 3 this June. 

Frida submitted Dan’s birthday photo from last year because the photo represented Dan’s personality. 

“The way he’s got his mouth open, and he’s got all the colors behind him,” Frida said. “He’s an exciting cat. He’s a happy cat. He’s a playful cat.”

Lt. Dan is a paraplegic cat, which means his back legs are paralyzed. Dan was born with the disability. Frida first fostered him, and after taking care of him for a little more than a year, Frida decided to adopt him on June 24, 2020.

Lt. Dan got his name from actor Gary Sinise’s character in “Forrest Gump,” Lt. Dan Taylor. In the movie, Sinise’s character lost his legs while serving in Vietnam and managed to get through the struggles. Frida thought the character symbolizes her cat.

“We just thought that was a good name for Dan to show that, yeah, his legs might be a little funny, but he’s still capable,” she said.

July’s photo contest

Hey dog lovers. Our cat-loving friends really turned out in full force with their cute cat photos. Are you going to let the cats win? We want your best and most creative photos featuring your dandy dogs.

To submit your photos, go here. Don’t forget to come back and vote for your favorite photo by clicking the like button. This month’s dandy dog winner receives a $50 gift certificate to Mesero. The entry deadline is Aug. 5.

More than just capable, the cat has garnered a huge fan base online. Dan has more than 2,000 followers on Instagram. His followers come from all over. Nepal, Mexico and Australia just to name a few. 

Dan even has a book published about him, and a Spanish version is coming out in a few weeks, Frida said. He also is featured in The Fort Worth Coloring Book

“Oftentimes when people see Dan, they automatically feel bad for him because of his paralyzed legs,” Frida said. “We call him Lt. Dan the cat who can because he can do everything that a normal cat does. He can climb on the couch. He can climb on the bed.” 

And it seems like sometimes he can do more than that. 

Chongyang Zhang is a summer fellow reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at or via Twitter

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Chongyang Zhang

Chongyang Zhang graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2021. Previously, he worked for his school newspaper, The Shorthorn, for a year and a half.