The CATalyst: Cats Purr Over TV Exposure

Steve Dale, CAT FANCY writer and syndicated newspaper pet columnist, provides a weekly cat news roundup.

When several of us got to together to form what is now called the CATalyst Council, our self- proclaimed mission was to elevate the status of cats. It seems some Hollywood stars are united — if unknowingly — in helping us to achieve that mission.

On the NBC show “The Voice,” watch when the camera zooms into judge Cee Lo Green to offer commentary. You’ll see Green stroking a gorgeous Persian cat named Purrfect like the man just stepped out of the James Bond film “Goldfinger” with Sean Connery.

My editors here and some of you have asked for my thoughts about what amounts to a living lap prop. As long as the cat is well cared for on the set, isn’t stressed by being there (and from the looks of it, Purrfect seems perfectly content) and is well cared for at home, I have no problem with it. Green by all accounts cares for this cat.

On “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” on March 26, Carson Daly, host of “The Voice” said, “I don’t know where Purrfect the cat came from.” I’m not sure what the message is – if even there is one. But I have noticed that as he’s petting Purrfect, Green seems calm, his voice softens and he smiles a lot. It’s what happens when we pet cats.  

While I have no problem with Green’s stroking his kitty as looks into the camera and reviews the contestants, I have more of a concern about printed reports of fellow “The Voice” judge Blake Shelton’s public disdain for cats. According to one printed report he said, “I love Green, but I avoid him when he’s holding that smelly cat.”

He’s entitled to his opinion about cats, of course, but I bet they are based on erroneous beliefs some people unfortunately have about cats. My guess is that Green’s cat is not smelly.

Meanwhile, the judge of another reality show is supporting shelter cat adoption. Carrie Ann Inaba of “Dancing with the Stars” narrates a fun but also meaningful online video series called “Crib Cat.” While these videos are entertaining, they are equally on target pointing to the sad reality that so many cats need homes. It’s wonderful that Inaba is actually trying to do something about it. Inaba’s features can be found at newly launched Petsami.

For years, I wondered why we saw TV dog-training shows but not a single one focusing on cats and cat behavior. Today, there are two.

Animal Planet’s “Must Love Cats” is hosted by musician John Fulton. He sings little ditties to kitties. It’s a fun show and I’ll be talking about it more, too; I am featured on an upcoming episode teaching a kitten socialization class.

Then there’s cat behavior expert Jackson Galaxy, who hosts “My Cat From Hell,” also on Animal Planet. I don’t like the name of the show. In fact, Galaxy would be the first to point out that cats behave as they do not to “act out,” but as a result of illness, anxiety or not having appropriate outlets or resources.

Galaxy offers excellent advice. Years ago, Jackson and I worked together on a TV set, overseeing cats appearing on a TV show. I instantly understood that this dude (also a musician) knows his stuff. Galaxy also has a new book; it’s about Jackson, his music, a cat who changed his life and about cat behavior, called “Cat Daddy: How One Very Special Cat Fixed One Very Broken Man.”

There are several themes here:
•    Cats are getting positive attention on national TV, including through Galaxy addressing serious behavior problems – which is lifesaving.
•    Cats attract and interest viewers every bit as much as dogs do.
•    Cats apparently like music … each of these shows has something to do with music.

So, I figure that if I combine the best of all of this I might truly create and star in a mega hit TV show: “Dancing with Tabbies … But Only if You Sing About Them, and Play the Guitar at the Same Time.” It’s a can’t-miss! I will wait for the networks to contact me.

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Cats · Lifestyle