Welcome back for the latest recap of the fourth installment of Must Love Cats! This week, host John Fulton hit the Northeast to meet a whole new slew of amazing kitties!
This time around, we got acquainted with the hard-working cats of New York City, met a special tabby who helped a U.S. Marine during a difficult time in her life, and caught up with an impossibly fluffy show cat in New Jersey who showed us what it takes to be named "Best Kitten in Show."
Cat Fashion Show - NYC
Matilda, The Algonquin Cat
First stop this week was to the famed Algonquin Hotel in New York City for the birthday party of one of its most famous feline guests. Cats have been living at the Algonquin since the 1930s, and Matilda has been a staple in the lobby for the past 13 years. She recently retired her post over the summer, but her 15th birthday celebration in August was her last hurrah. John hosted the fabulous feline fashion show that was part of the bash, and despite appearances, fun was had by all. The charity event also raised funds for the North Shore Animal League, and eight cats were adopted out as a result of the festivities.
"He looks angry, but that's just the way they look."
The Algonquin Cat may lead the life of luxury as a permanent hotel guest (her main duties appear to be greeting guests and sleeping), but some city cats actually work hard for their catnip. John discovered some of the best mousers in NYC, who work daily to ensure that their assigned areas are rodent-free! We learn about some spunky feral cats that have become welcome guests in a city community garden, a cat named Monster who is gainfully employed by a Brooklyn Brewery, and "bodega cats" who evade the law to keep shop owners happy with their patented brand of in-house pest control.
(If you want more info, there's actually a Flickr photostream dedicated to capturing Bodega Cats on film, and you can read all about my recent trip to visit with the "new" Matilda here!)
Abby Cat Shirt - RC Tees, $20.00
Next up, John visited the kitty loving city of Catskill, NY. Not only does the town have "cat" in its name, it also celebrates felines with custom cat statues displayed all over the city. The unique attraction has has helped revitalize the local economy, by notably boosting tourism to downtown Catskill.
The 240 cat statues are painstakingly designed, and take hundreds of hours to create. Every Spring, new statues are put on display and auctioned off to support charities, including the local animal shelter.
At the end of the segment, artist Kenny Rich presents John will an amazing custom designed Must Love Cats statue that took him four weeks to create! The cool creation included a suitcase, guitar, and even a set of wheels so John could take it on the go!
Plymouth Rock, MA
John traveled to Plymouth Rock, where 400 years ago, the Mayflower brought the first cats to America. Kitties were part of the Mayflower crew and had the job of keeping down the rodent population, along with providing comfort to its passengers.
Fulton also stops by Plymouth Plantation, a detailed recreation of the first permanent English settlement, where we learn that cats helped prevent deadly plagues in the new world by killing rodents. We also discover that the American Shorthair cats we know today, are probably descendants of the domestic cats brought over by early English settlers.
United States Marine Kitty
Across the Potomac, John catches up with a dynamic orange tabby named Bert. The segment profiles Erin, a U.S. Marine whose unit suffered casualties after a combat mission in Iraq. Fortunately, she made it out alive, but experienced psychological distress as a result.
One day, while trying to pick herself up, Erin heard a meow and saw a yellow cat staring back at her. Miraculously, the little kitty with the glowing eyes brought her out of her funk, and helped her through her homesickness. While still stationed on the base, Bert kept returning to distract Erin from her sadness by demanding her attention. Unfortunately, Erin knew she would not be able to keep Bert after her tour of duty ended, and she called her Mother in a panic.
As if by fate, Erin's Mom told her about a program called Operation Baghdad Pups that worked to "reunite fighting men and women with the stray animals they fell in love with in Iraq." Erin immediately contacted the organization by email, not expecting a response, and was stunned to hear back from program manager, Terri Crisp almost immediately. Terri explained to John, "If they're willing to take the risk to fall and love and bring them to the U.S., there's a need to do this."
Terri says she gets around 10 requests a week for dog and cats, and to date, the group has rescued over 265 animals. The dangerous missions average around $4,000 each, as the animals must be transported to the airport by traveling down the world's most dangerous road in Baghdad. From there, they are flown to Kuwait, followed by Europe, before arriving in Washington, D.C.
Erin says that Bert has adapted well to his new home in America, and is happily sharing her home with her husband and their two other cats. It's clear that Bert's love and companionship helped Erin through a very traumatic time in her life, and it's heartwarming to see their bond still going strong!
What's a catio? Simply put, it's an enclosed outdoor patio for your cat, and as John explains, they're "all the rage" across NYC. The benefit of a catio, particularly to city kitties, is that it helps provide them with freedom and fresh air, without the danger of falling off a ledge (something vets refer to as high rise syndrome.)
With a visit to the city out of the way, John heads to Long Island to meet a woman who has a "deluxe sized catio for her deluxe sized cat," and then to Toms River, NJ to meet with a catio builder who helps people create their own outdoor kitty havens. Are you interested in building a safe, outdoor oasis for your own cat? Catios can be custom made to meet your kitties needs, and cost anywhere from $100 to $2,000.
NJ Cat Fanciers Show
The final stop on our East Coast adventure took us to the Garden State Cat Fanciers' Association annual cat show in lovely Somerset, New Jersey.
It's an early morning for John, who wakes up in a hotel room to the soothing sounds of a meowing cat alarm clock before going to meet up with some special guests staying down the hall. He arrives at their room just in time to bathe their show cat, Star Rose, a six-month-old Persian kitten getting ready for her big day in the spotlight.
After lathering the tiny ball of fluff up in the bathtub with seven layers of conditioner, John and the cats owner's painstakingly blow dry her fur for the final show-stopping look.
Then, it's off to the CFA Garden State Cat Show, to check out an impressive assortment of 400 felines vying for titles of all kinds. While at the show, John has his face painted, participates in a feline agility exhibition, and watches on proudly as Star Rose is awarded "Best Kitten in Show" for being "the essence of the breed."
Don't forget to tune in to an all new episode of Must Love Cats this Saturday night at 8/7 P on Animal Planet, when John hits the Southwest and meets fun, fearless felines in Texas, New Mexico, and California!