Tat Tuesday: Matching ‘mushroom cat’ tattoos mark reminder of childhood friendship

Sage Dunlap, Life&Arts Editor

Scrolling through TikTok, Janee Welcome came across a matching tattoo design of a pair of cheery cats wearing mushroom hats. Welcome approached her two best friends with the design, assuring them the tattoo designed for duos would work for their trio.

The three friends made their way to a Slanging Ink in Houston where artist Anthony Hoang inked the three matching cats. Welcome said she and her friends have since become routine customers of Anthony, who even coined a nickname for their trio — the “mushroom cats.”

Welcome, who sports her mushroom cat on her right forearm, said the trio grew closer after getting inked together, even going on multiple group vacations since. 

“We’ve known each other since elementary school,” said Welcome, a radio-television-film senior. “Throughout high school we always had our own little friend groups, but we got really, really close junior and senior year.”

The childhood best friends first met as students at McNeil Elementary School in Richmond, Texas, a suburb of Houston. However, Welcome said their shared love of music brought them closer together in high school as they started going to concerts together, bonding over artists like Surfaces and The Driver Era.

“During quarantine, we were like, ‘Let’s try all these new things together before we leave to go to college,’” Welcome said.

One of the new experiences the trio shared before going to separate colleges — UT, University of Houston and Texas A&M University — was getting tattoos. To test what tattoo pain feels like, the group went together to get their first ink: matching hearts. Two of the friends, including Welcome, placed the heart on their finger, and one placed it on their ribcage. 

“Right now, if someone I met at UT asked me (to) get my matching tats I’d be (hesitant), but I was down with them because I’ve known them since elementary school,” Welcome said.

Though a reminder of childhood friendship, Welcome said the mushroom cats inspired her to adopt a cat of her own — a now 1-year-old orange kitten she named Jupiter.

Welcome said Jupiter, who she adopted from Austin Pets Alive, sports orange fur and stripes similar to the planet. Welcome said her “little rascal” inspired her to seek out the design for her next tattoo — the planet Jupiter with a cat paw in the middle.

“(He’s) my little baby, and he’s going to be with me for the next 20 years,” Welcome said. “I really want a little tat for him.”