If you think the Internet is out of room when it comes to cat videos you’re wrong. Well, maybe you’re right. Perhaps there are an adequate number enough cat videos after all. But there are most definitely NOT enough cat webisodes. This is a certainty! But thanks to fellow cat blogger, total smarty pants, lovely human being and hottie Alana Grelyak of “Cat In The Fridge,” this deficit has been satisfied.
CATastrophes, the web series she and her husband Michael Gabriele created, has been picked up by Discovery Digital Network’s Animalist. The couple features their four cats in the episodes, but also features adoptable cats from the “Tree House Humane Society” and “Chicago Cat Rescue.” You’ll most often see Alana in front of the camera with actor and comedian, Kris Flanagan* while her husband stays out of the limelight.
*Confession. Until today I was of the impression that Kris was Alana’s husband. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photograph of the elusive “Michael.” Not even on Facebook. Come on! Who knows, maybe she made that part up and isn’t even married! Hey, that’s MY schtick!
A new CATastrophes episodes will appear weekly on YouTube and Animalist.com. The debut on July 14, 2014 starred well-known kitty celeb “Lil Bub” playing the part of Wellington, a magical cat in a piece titled “ChronoCATastrophe” (between us chickens, Lil Bub should keep her day job. She’s cute and all but was basically playing herself. Just sayin’).
“CATalogue,” made in 2013, was the webisode that started it all and is a personal favorite of mine. It’s based on a couple who orders a bedroom set that ends up coming complete with the cat that’s in the catalog photograph – as if it were a pillow or some sort of decorative item.
When I asked Alana how the idea for “CATalogue” came about she replied, “my cat, was sitting on the foot of the bed and he matched the sheets perfectly, so I wrote a script that answered the question, ‘what if cats were delivered with furniture?’ It ended up being so popular that we decided to keep using our voice to continue making videos that were not only funny but that also served a purpose: to promote the adoption of homeless cats.
By featuring adoptable cats in entertaining situations, it demonstrates how wonderful these animals are, and hopefully gets those who have never considered adoption to give it a second thought.
Funny enough, Kris himself adopted two kitty brothers, Declan and Goon, who’d been rescued from under a porch just weeks before they were included in the episode “MagiCATastrophes,” bout a magician who can’t stop making cats. Sigh, yet another TAKEN cute cat man.
Alana did a great job summing it up in an interview with the “Huffington Post” in April of this year:
“There’s a whole set of people who aren’t getting reached by the animal welfare agencies,” she said, referring to ads like the well-known tear-jerker singer Sarah McLachlan created in 2007 for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“I’m a huge animal welfare proponent and I can’t even watch those!…I was talking to people and a lot of them were feeling the same way. They were tired of having their heartstrings tugged on and feeling guilted into giving money [to shelters]. We wanted to do it in a fun way. We didn’t want to show animals sad or miserable. We wanted to show people, ‘Here’s how much fun you can have adopting a cat.'”
I mean, I’ve truthfully almost slipped and broken an appendage trying to get to my remote fast enough to turn off the TV the moment I hear the first note of that song. It’s like a “Save The Children” commercial. A friend once told me, without an ounce of irony in her voice, that one day she just couldn’t get to her remote quickly enough and now her paycheck is docked for a donation to the organization every two weeks.
In between full-up webisodes, the couple serves up “practical” tips like: how to keep your cat from scratching your furniture or how to get a full night’s sleep when your cat’s clawing and crying outside your door. You get the picture of the type of advice they dispense from the photo below – entertaining (but potentially not very practical).
I had the opportunity to interview Alana about a few questions I had, and this is what she had to say.
How do you audition the shelter cats you use? How do you know they will work well with the other professional cat actors?
We don’t! Sometimes we have to change the script based on the cat’s behavior. When we go to the rescue itself, it’s easier to choose. When the cats get brought to us, we usually ask for either younger kittens or cats that are super laid back. The rescues generally have an idea of what to look for. We also never mix the cats; we just make it look like we do with movie magic. Rocky has never actually been in a scene with another cat.
How did Rocky, who seems so diminutive, get his name?
Rocky is 15 now and has lost weight with his age and health. When he was young, he was a beast. In fact, at one point in his youth, he was up to 24 pounds and it took four people to hold him down at the vet’s office. His name, however, was actually for Rachmaninoff, my favorite composer. It was originally going to be “Rachie,” but that caused people too much confusion, so it got re-spelled. I always tell people he was named for the composer but ended up more like the boxer.
Which has been your personal favorite so far?
I don’t know. I really love “MagiCATastrophe” because of all the goofy jokes, but Rocky’s face in “CHATastrophe” gets me every time.
[Tamar here: I adore this one as well. Kris goes on CatChat.com thinking he is going to get a French tutor kitty but has a big surprising coming to him!]
How did you figure out that Rocky was fluent in French?
Rocky is a very smart cat. He can, in fact, speak any language we need him to speak. It’s an amazing talent, really.
Was your “husband” a cat man when you met him or did you convert him?
Michael was never allowed to have cats or other pets, save for reptiles, growing up. When we started dating, I told him I came as a package deal (me plus four), which wasn’t a problem for him because he loves animals. He’s actually really happy to be living with them and says now he wouldn’t know how to live without them. Crepes is the first cat he adopted in 2011 while we were fostering her and her siblings from Tree House just before we got engaged.
How long have you been wanting to work an English accent into an episode (watch the Lil Bub webisode “ChronoCATastrophe” to take a listen). What’s next? Ukrainian? Given your heritage?
I can’t do a Ukrainian accent to save my life, although I’m sure we’ll bring up my heritage at some point. I’d used the accent when I played a rock star in another film we did for a 48 hour competition in 2012, so Michael though it would be funny to incorporate into this latest one.
Who is the next famous cat you’d like to work with?
Crepes has her eyes on meeting Henri. She’s always had a thing for him and his ennui.
What’s the funniest, least expected, unscripted thing that’s ever happened while filming?
There was a cat at Tree House that screamed when I hit my nose into the glass in “ChronoCAT.” That made us all laugh. In “MagiCAT”, Declan (Kris’ cat) screamed right into his face in one scene and we kept it in the final cut. And, at one point, Rocky fell asleep in a box filming “The Inheritance,” so we left him in there for the rest of our lines and he was perfectly happy.
Cats are amazing.
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