Monday, March 7, 2011

Greg Krueger and The Fur Kids: The Exclusive Catsparella Interview, Part 1!

If you're a fan of the Animal Planet series, Must Love Cats, than surely you're familiar with Greg Kreuger, his amazing customized cat house, and his pack of six darling "Fur Kids": Wendy, Vicky, Trashee, Trouble, Shooting Star, and Indy.

Greg and his fur family appeared on the February 26th episode of the show, which sent host John Fulton in search of some of the coolest kitty stories in the Midwest.

In the episode, John traveled to the town of St. James, Minnesota to meet Greg, an incredible man who has transformed his home into a veritable kitty palace! The gentle, cat loving soul customized his entire living quarters for his Fur Kids in the belief that the cats are what make his house a home.

Over the past 20 years, Greg has spent $10,000 to turn the house into a "kitty playland," complete with 300 feet of cat walkways, 38 hand carved cat openings, and dozens of platforms. The bedroom even features a "private, rustic hideaway" in case the cats want some alone time, and a custom, mini kitty sized staircase.

Amazingly, the cats can travel through the entire house without touching the floor, and if for some reason they ever want to leave, there's even an outdoor cat enclosure for them to enjoy!

Through my weekly Must Love Cats recaps, I started exchanging emails with Greg, who is one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. He graciously agreed to answer some questions, exclusively for Catsparella readers!

Part 1 of our interview focuses on his experience being on the show, and Part 2, which I will post later this week, will delve more into questions about his cats and his custom kitty home.

Read on for more!

How did you end up being featured on Must Love Cats?

Last March, I got an email from Jess Ward, Associate Producer at Powderhouse Productions. She later told me they do tons of internet searches, and they had noticed "The Fur Kids" photostream on flickr, the only place I am active with the fur kids online. In that first email she said she was interested in finding out more about my indoor and outdoor cat runs, and asked me to give her a buzz or shoot her back an email. Through phone calls and emails she kept getting more info about the fur kids and me. She kept telling me how much she just loved everything, but she had to make a presentation to her executives about our story. She really works hard, is very smart and has so much confidence. They liked her presentation.

What was your experience like being on the show?

When things are good, I like them to stay the way they are. I like to go and visit with my Mom at her home most days after work, then go home and play with the fur kids. They love chasing around strings attached to a wooden dowel.

I feel really honored and fortunate the fur kids were on the show, at the same time a little guilty because countless other people could have been chosen before me. I know the cat related accommodations in our home are unique, but what I was really hoping for people to see is the most important thing we really need in our homes, and that's LOVE!

I got an email from Alison Ryan, Editor at Powderhouse Productions in August, and she said, "I'm just amazed at how much time and energy you've put into transforming your home into a wonderland for the fur kids, and I know that it's all because of how much they mean to you." It's like she had read my mind, and while watching the fur kids segment I could really see how much focus she and her co-workers had put into showing how much I LOVE my fur kids. They knew what was most important to me, and I can't thank them enough.

How long did they film at your house, and was John Fulton as nice as he seems on television?

The five guys in the field crew, including John, arrived in St. James on June 16th and stayed overnight at the Super 8. The next morning they were at The Fur Kids home around 9:30 a.m., staying until 5:30 p.m.

They all could not have been any nicer! The night before, I called Lisa Ferguson, the lady I got Shooting Star from, because I was feeling a little nervous (Her name is visible on the award they zoomed in on during the segment). She told me, "Just have fun and talk about your cats, you love talking about your cats" ..and I wasn't nervous anymore.

I agree with everything John said in the interview about his favorite memory, we just had fun, the entire crew and me - I think the fur kids even had fun too! There was no script, nothing was really planned, we just went with what the fur kids were doing most of the time, and I think neither of us really cared if Brandon was filming us or not. I was constantly amazed by how John could think of clever things to say at any given moment. They were all really down to earth, very humble, just by appearance you would never have guessed they were producing the best television series ever. Believe it or not, a sandwich shop up town wasn't willing to stay open 15 minutes late to accomodate them.

How did the cats react to all of the attention?

In the past four months, I'm counting four people besides me that have been in this house, and they were all here for less than an hour. Shooting Star was a show cat and a therapy cat before living here, so he was quite comfortable with all the activity. The others were cautious and curious as I expected.

We filmed "The Fur Kids" song in the entry three times. The first time I was holding Trashee and his Grandfather Indy was sleeping in a cat bed next to John - Then as soon as his fingers hit the guitar strings they both got spooked and went wild. I thought it was really funny, but noticed I was the only one laughing. So we decided I needed to go get Wendy. The second time we tried the song, John thought he was tapping his foot too loud on the floor.

When I watch that song, what I see is how much Wendy trusts me. She'd never been around a guy playing a guitar before and she was very relaxed. She's a really good dancer too.

(Note: You can hear "The Fur Kids" song, and see Wendy's wonderful dance skills in the clip at the top of the page!)


Very special thanks to Greg for taking the time to answer my questions, and for providing the images in this post! Be sure to stop by later this week for Part 2 of our exclusive interview, where Greg reveals his inspiration behind the house, and answers the question everyone wants to know: Whether he's ever thought about starting his own"kitty castle" business!

Update: Part 2 of the interview is now up! Click here to read it!



Julia Williams said...

awesome interview! Must Love Cats is my favorite show, and I thought this guy's house was so cool. It's a little "over the top" for me, but it was obvious that he adores his kitties. And THAT is such an attractive quality in a man!

Brian said...

That was an incredible post! I love that show...and that house!

Admiral Hestorb said...

Goodness sakes, I got so caught up in Flickr (I also post there..or my mom does :-) )I forgot to tell you how much I enjoyed this! Thank you so much.

Ginger Jasper said...

Hi came by to say hello and thanks for visiting. Loved reading this today. GJ x

KokoroPurrs said...

Iz can has house like dat? I think Greg is an amazing person. His place does look filled with love. I was very excited to hear about Shooting Star being a therapy kitty at one time. Shanks!

Cat Chat With Caren And Cody said...

this was a catabulous interview and kudos to you for scoring it! I also love "Must Love Cats" and loved the follow-up interview with this amazing gentleman!
Glad to see that everyone is as nice in person as they seem to be on TV!
Fabulous job!

LP said...

We chose a good day to leave a comment (finally!).We loved Greg's home and thought it was especially nice of him to share it with the world and to give you an interview.We think any cat would be happy sharing a home with someone as kind as Greg even without those absolutely fabulous cat walks and hidey holes!
the critters in The Cottage

The Island Cats said...

Great interview! We wanna be one of Greg's kitties! What a great place to live if you are a cat!!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading this blog for a couple of months and this is my first comment! I loved Greg's house and his fur kids. Definitely one of the cooler segments Must Love Cats has done. Great interview!

- Megan

Anonymous said...

Greg! I saw you on "Must Love Cats" just now. Your house is INCREDIBLE! Your woodwork is beautiful! The most impressive, though, is the love for your fur kids. I often tell people that all my KIDS have four legs (2 cats & 2 dogs). Also impressive is the fact that you live in Minnesota, as I was born & raised in Northern MN and I now live in the Twin Cities. If I lived closer to you, I'd bring ALL my car repairs to your shop! :-)


jalaway said...

i LOVE cats and everyone calls me stupid because they think that dogs are better and they really aren't so it made me feel really good when i saw must love cats

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