Catdance Film Festival is one of the coolest feline-focused events of the year. Sponsored by Fresh Step Litter, Catdance puts a spotlight on cat-centric cinema (you can watch the top five films and vote for your favorite here), and it’s for a great cause. All proceeds from their t-shirt sales benefit the ASPCA. And on top of all that, there’s one other reason we think Catdance is, well, the cat’s pajamas: it’s hosted by Gilles Marini. One of our favorite cat lovers, Gilles is known for his work on 2 Broke Girls and Switched at Birth, and he was recently featured in People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. We caught up with Gilles to talk family, felines, and face-licks in an exclusive ASPCA interview:
ASPCA: Where and when did you get your cats?
Gilles Marini: We got our cat, Penelope, on Mother's Day last year as a present for my daughter Juliana. She’s wanted a kitty for as long as I can remember, and we thought it was the perfect day to make her a pet parent. So far, it has worked out well because she is very good at taking care of Penelope.
ASPCA: What role have pets played in your life?
GM: For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by pets, including cats, dogs, chickens, birds, and lizards. I grew up with a mom that loved animals and always taught us to care for them. They are so amazing and give us so much all the time. My family loves having pets and we will never change that. If you can care for an animal properly, that tells me that you are a good person.
ASPCA: Do your children enjoy interacting with your cats?
GM: My gosh, for sure! Just a few minutes ago my son asked me where Penelope is, and I believe it’s because he wants to take her into the bedroom to cuddle, not to make sure she’s inside. There is not one day that goes by without me seeing my kids playing, caring for, or interacting with Penelope. She is very, very luck for sure.
ASPCA: What have you taught your children so far about being a pet parent and cat lover?
GM: If a child knows how to care for, love, and play with their cat or pet, it shows the kind of adult he or she will be. I’ve seen it happen over and over. I teach my kids to love all living things. We are only in this world for a fraction of a second, so let’s make it count with pure love, compassion, and kindness. It’s what I believe in.
ASPCA: What is your favorite part about being a cat owner?
GM: My favorite part is playing with Penelope! She is great at hide-and-seek, and she is full of love (yes, she also sleeps quite a bit during the day). She licks my face at night when I sleep, but what can you say to that little ball of fur? She does it with love!
Guest blog by Diana Wegner, mother of teen actor and founder of Kids Against Animal Cruelty Lou Wegner
I knew from the start that my son Lou had a way with animals. As a toddler, he looked after our rescued Dalmatian, Belle. Lou would don his knight’s costume and dress Belle as his princess. He would say, “Belle will be safe always” as he wielded his plastic sword.
At age three, we enrolled Lou in Jack Hanna’s Summer Zoo Experience. Over eight summers, he learned that education, kindness and responsibility were key to saving animals on the brink of extinction. He learned about conservation, preservation and ways to get involved.
He also spent two summers at the Ohio Wildlife Center, gaining hands on experience with coyotes, hawks, deer, snakes and other wildlife in rehabilitation that had been injured by cars or intentionally harmed. It was there that Lou saw animal cruelty firsthand.
When we moved to Los Angeles so Lou could pursue an acting career, he saw his first chance to make a difference. Lou discovered that shelters in Los Angeles were extremely overcrowded, and animals were euthanized to make room for many others to come.
Lou was devastated. He took to the streets on weekends with friends and held signs promoting animal adoption and spay/neuter. Photographer Patsy Dunn and actor Sam Dobbins interviewed Lou as he held a sign that said, “Kids Against Animal Cruelty.”
A friend suggested that Lou take the name to Facebook, and Kids Against Animal Cruelty (KAAC) was born. The organization started with 42 members, and has grown to more than 20,000 members with an additional 50,000 in partner coalitions.
KAAC spread across the country, and through the power of social media and teamwork, has helped save thousands of lives. Lou has been a guest on CNN and featured in the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and more than 300 other news publications. Lou has recruited teens to run 15 state chapters, with a goal to have chapters in all 50 states. Bringing awareness to the plight of shelter animals and promoting adoption, spay/neuter and pet responsibility are the main goals of the organization.
Recently, ASPCA Corporate Sponsor Subaru hosted a fundraiser created by Abana Jacobs, Subaru Promotions & Sponsorship Specialist for KAAC, at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Los Angeles. Participants ran more than 5,000 laps around the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and Subaru donated $1 for each lap around the car.
The holiday season is in full swing, and many are busy making plans to entertain friends and family over Thanksgiving and beyond. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the preparation involved in getting your house in tip-top shape for guests, we feel your pain, pet parents.
Does it seem like your sofa is upholstered in pet fur instead of fabric? Or the area under your bed is a permanent host to dust bunnies and squeaky toys? Not to worry! The ASPCA and Rug Doctor are here to help.
Rug Doctor’s second annual Holiday Hotline is your official shoulder-to-lean-on for holiday preparation and cleanup. From now until February 1, 2014, pet parents can access Rug Doctor’s cleaning experts for advice on how to best fight spills and stains throughout the busy holiday season. This is especially important for those with cats and dogs on the defensive against holiday hazards.
The Hotline (1-800-Rug Doctor) is open seven days a week from 8:00 A.M.-8:00 P.M. CT. You can also contact Rug Doctor’s cleaning experts via online chat on Rug Doctor’s website. Submit your cleaning questions online seven days a week from 8:30 A.M.-7:30 P.M. CT at rug-doctor.custhelp.com.
A group of preschoolers from New York City’s Resurrection Episcopal Day School recently spent some quality time with dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes during a tour of the ASPCA Adoption Center in Manhattan.
The students toured the Adoption Center, led by ASPCA Volunteer Coordinator Beverly Pietrucha, where they met and observed plenty of adorable adoptable puppies, adult dogs, kittens and adult cats. ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Lander demonstrated a basic health exam on a super-friendly therapy dog named Britney Spears.
For the tour’s grand finale, Dr. Lander brought in three six-week-old kittens for the students to interact with. It’s safe to say these young animal lovers learned a great deal about caring for animals and had a blast in the process!
We’ve been in love with Melissa Joan Hart since her days on “Clarissa Explains It All” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” These days, the “Melissa and Joey” actress and author of the forthcoming "Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life" is all grown up, a mom of three and a serious pet lover. We asked her what life is like around her house.
Tell us about your pets! What do they mean to you and your family?
My boys are adventure lovers and find “pets” everywhere they go, although we release them by the end of the day. But the ones that stuck around were our two doggies, Copper and Mater. Our “pet” snapping turtle, Dusty, we found in our yard two years ago. He was rehabilitated and released in the pond by our house.
Are your kids animal lovers? And is it important to you to raise your kids as animal lovers?
They adore all animals and are obsessed with learning about all types of wildlife and habitats. I think it’s important to teach them kindness to all of God’s creatures.
Do your kids pitch in with any of the pet care?
They get a quarter every time they feed the dogs, but with that incentive, the dogs have been gaining a lot of weight recently.
Have you faced any challenges caring for young children and pets at the same time?
Often the pets get neglected by the adults or roughed up by the little ones. Once the kids go to bed, we try to show the dogs some good attention and remind them that they are important to us too. Both worlds come together best on a family walk or when the kids and their friends throw the ball for the pups endlessly in the yard.
Why are you an advocate for animal rescue?
It’s important to remember that there are lots of lonely pets in shelters nearby that need good homes and love. The boys get so upset whenever we watch “Lady and the Tramp” and the doggies are in the pound. Someday, when we are ready for a new pet, we will take a trip to our local shelter for a new family member.
"Melissa Explains It All: Tales from My Abnormally Normal Life" is out from St. Martin’s Press on Oct. 29, 2013.