Best known as one of the longest-running cast members on the hit sketch comedy show “MADtv,” actress and comedian Debra Wilson shares her home with cats Nala and Tabatha. Although her felines have polar-opposite personalities, both stand by (and lounge on) Wilson with equal affection.
How did Nala and Tabatha come into your life?
Both were adopted. When she was a kitten, Nala was found in the pouring rain in Queens, N.Y., my hometown. Tabatha was adopted from Pet Orphans Fund of Van Nuys, Calif., when she was less than 6 months old. I talked about Tabatha and the Pet Orphans Fund on a radio station to advertise a pet drive and adoption at the Staples Center in downtown L.A.
Which cat has your personality?
Nala. She’s an extrovert, very talkative, hyper at times, knows what she wants and when she wants it, loving, affectionate and sincere about all of the above. What you see is what you get.
What do they do that make you laugh?
Tabatha loves to roll on her back and look at you upside down when she’s happy. She’ll even sleep that way – spread eagle. Nala, on the other hand, is an old soul. She used to use her paws to pull my hands away from my face in times of sorrow or stress and lick away my tears. When I wake up in the morning, both are cuddled by my legs or on them. Nala once cleaned my ears for so long, that she literally licked the skin away on the tips of my ears.
What are some of their favorite things?
Nala loves chemicals. Along with liking catnip, she used to like the smell of bleach in a cleaning product. Nala also loves to be walked like a dog on a harness.
Tabatha, on the other hand, is a shy homebody who loves anything that you hang in front of her that she can jump and bat at. She also loves to lie anywhere on me when it’s our quiet time together. I guess one of her favorite things is her “human couch.” She also likes the taste of fruit-flavored yogurt. Nala loves vanilla ice cream.
How has having cats changed your life?
Everything around you changes except their love and affection. People come and go, you grieve over different losses and celebrate different triumphs and milestones. Through it all, they are the ones who always bear witness and are there to see you through and participate in your joys.
Have you always been a cat person?
I was a dog person growing up and all through my 20s. I am, and was, a reptile person in my mid-20s. I became a cat person in my early 30s. I guess I always was, and was waiting for sentient beings in feline form to help me remember.
What have you learned from Nala and Tabatha?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Let go of trying to control everything. Just lie out down and take regular naps — you’ll feel better. Always tell the truth because people will see it in your eyes anyway. Cats never lie. Just look in their eyes. If you go nuts over something, they’ll give you attention in your heightened emotional state, then stop caring far shorter than you’re willing to. What do your cats mean to you? Even this word has such limitation, but everything.
What is the smartest thing they have done?
Nala once knocked my favorite mug off the counter. It was among other dishes, yet she managed to push that one to the front of the counter. She was upset because I locked her out of the bedroom. I’ve never done it since. She also brought me birds in her mouth. How an indoor cat caught them off a third story balcony is beyond me. I freaked out and she kept meowing with it in her mouth to vocalize her presentation.
Tabatha is such a coy beauty. Her good looks have gotten her far with me. Who says you can’t make it in this town on looks alone?