My mom and dad both loved animals so I’ve always had cats. When I lived in Hawaii as a young child, my first cats were Snowflake and Tiger. Snowflake was a long-haired white cat who was the toughest cat you’d ever meet. He was beautiful, but not the most friendly cat. He taught me to respect animals. Tiger was a gray tabby. He was a warm and affectionate cat. I remember that he was always nearby, and that made me feel safe. They have a protective way about them that is different than the way a dog protects you. It’s almost as if they sit in quiet understanding, which has always given me comfort.
Cats have always been my spirit animal. Beyond their obvious beauty, I find them to be wise and mysterious. They are so intuitive and so at peace with themselves. I love that kind of energy.
They have a quiet peace and an all-knowing presence that is very soothing to be around. There is nothing like snuggling up on the sofa with your cats — just surrounded by that peaceful energy. As a young teenager, I used to sit up on our rooftop a lot. When I was struggling with a problem, I’d sit up there under the stars and figure out a solution, always in the quiet company of my cat or cats.
Now, my fiancé, Robb Derringer, and I have three cats: Mimi, Reb and Sophie. They are all wonderful rescues and we love them so much!
Mimi, who is 11 or 12, is our oldest cat. She is the sweetest soul. I don’t know her exact age because she came to me from a wonderful animal sanctuary that I work with, Heaven on Earth Society for Animals. She had a broken face with open sores when they saved her from a difficult life on the streets. They asked me to take her into my home, because they thought that she would do better with me. I have had many special needs cats in my lifetime and find that I do really well with the special ones. She has some very unique health issues. But that makes her unique! She’s all black and because of her health issues, she makes noises when she breathes so we call her Mimi Vader. What makes her so special is that nothing seems to bother her. She’s always upbeat and she loves to mingle with the dogs. She’s super friendly and greets every person when they come through the front door. But the best part is Mimi always comes running when you call her.
Reb is a 1-year-old gray and white Maine Coon cat. He’s a shy but lovable fluff ball. He’s used to be a feral cat so he’s not super social, but if you approach him carefully, he loves a good neck scratch, and if you are very lucky, he’ll let you rub his big belly. I get all the local shelter emails about animals who are going to be euthanized due to lack of space. My foundation, The Animal Project Foundation, gives emergency medical and rescue grants to save the lives of animals in need. We work with many organizations and right before we adopted Reb, Robb and I were considering getting another cat. He wanted a Maine Coon. We saw Reb’s photo in one of those emails and fell in love.
Reb is maternal as well, even though he’s a male cat. When we got our kitten Sophie, he immediately knew she didn’t have a mother and he started to take care of her as if he were her mother. It was the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. He came out of his shell to take care of her, and now they are inseparable.
Sophie is our 5-month-old baby kitten. She’s extremely playful and a little scrappy. She’s a stunning beauty with golden eyes and a gray slick coat of fur. She’s a bit of a tomboy; she also plays with our dogs and is eternally fascinated with the things we can’t see that fly around in the night.
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Sophie came to us through a friend. I’m that person you call when you have a problem with an animal. Every pack of friends has one — whether it’s a duck, or a bird, or a kitten, or a dog who needs rehoming. My friends found Sophie on a walk with their dog. They couldn’t keep her so they brought her to me. I’ve never had a bottle baby before, so that was an experience. I learned to bottle feed her. It was a lot of fun, but if I had bags under my eyes toward the end of the last season of Dancing with the Stars, it was because I was up bottle-feeding Sophie.
My cats have taught me so much about life. I’ve had many wise teachers come to me in the form of cats. Each cat comes with its own special gifts. But overall, I’d say the greatest gift that my cats have given me is they have taught me by example to enjoy life and keep an easy pace even when things get hectic. They are the calm within the storm. They are always in the present moment and they never seem to worry too much.
That’s why it’s important to me that my cats make regular visits to the vet. Vet visits keep my cats healthy, which keeps them happy. My veterinarians are some of my favorite people. They help me solve problems and make life better for my cats. It’s good to be regular in going to the vet because then your cats will feel more comfortable going. If they only go when there is a problem, they associate it with stress. It’s wise to have a good relationship with your veterinarian. Remember that cats need health care, too.
Unfortunately, only one cat is seen by a veterinarian for every five dogs, despite the fact that 10 million more cats are owned in the United States. That is a devastating number. As a cat owner and animal advocate, I am passionate about being a part of the solution to this important issue.
I’ve teamed up with Royal Canin for National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on Aug. 22. More than half of all cats in the United States don’t see the vet on a regular basis. Cats need regular check-ups to make sure they’re healthy. Through this campaign, we are raising awareness about the importance of preventive veterinary care for cats and encouraging cat owners to schedule an appointment with their veterinarian. People can also get involved by sharing a photo of their cat using #Cat2VetDay, and Royal Canin will make a donation to help cats in need.
I hope cat owners take the next step and schedule an appointment with their vet. The goal of routine medical care is to avoid preventable illnesses and to detect diseases early while they are easiest to treat. Making the vet appointment is an important first step to ensuring cats have the best possible life.