Ep. 11: Nala & Riley (ft. Heidi Vanderlee)

Transcription by Colette Arrand. Hire her if you need things transcribed!

Mary Phillips-Sandy: I’m not really into the whole New Year resolution.

Heidi Vanderlee: I like- I wrote a list of goals for myself, and then, because I just want to. It’s more just like so I remember to do this stuff. Like—

Mary: It’s a to do list.

Heidi: Yeah, pretty much. Because I’ve been meaning to go to the dentist for a year.

Mary: That’s good to do.

Heidi: So there you go.

Mary: This is the worst time of year, period, for me personally. It’s just so depressing and shitty. So why add the pressure of like, now you have to have goals. Like, no. I don’t want to have goals. I just want to lie at home under the covers and watch Netflix with my cat. That’s a goal. My goal is also to—let’s talk about cats?

Heidi: Alright, yeah!

[UPBEAT, SLIGHTLY FRANTIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]

Mary: Alright, it’s another episode of Let’s Talk About Cats. I’m noted cat lady Mary Phillips-Sandy, and today I am here with the one and only Heidi Vanderlee. You know her, she’s in a band called Early Riser and she was the music booker on the late, great Chris Gethard Show. She’s also the senior publicist at Shark Party Media, and before that she was part of the Permanent Wave Feminist DIY Collective. But most importantly, Heidi, you have two cats.

Heidi: I do.

Mary: And their names are?

Heidi: Nala and Riley.

Mary: We always like to start off the show by asking our guest to ease us in by introducing us to their cats in five words.

Heidi: So Nala is grouchy, old, bossy, lazy, and wonderful.

Mary: Oh.

Heidi: So that’s her. And then Riley is stupid.

Mary: [Laughter.] Okay.

Heidi: Cute, perpetually confused—that’s two words—and that’s it. [Laughter.]

Mary: No, no, that’s fine. That’s fine. That’s great. They seem like a very dynamic duo.

[UPTEMPO, GUITAR DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC WITH FEMALE VOCALS]

Mary: Alright, it’s time for our Cat Quiz, and today in honor of your role as senior publicist at Shark Party Media, Heidi, how much do you know about inquisitive creatures with sharp teeth that enjoy eating tuna and occasionally assaulting humans? It is the cat/shark quiz. Are you ready?

Heidi: I’m ready.

Mary: Okay. Now the rules are that there’s no time limit, but you can’t screw around. You’ve got to just answer the question once I say it, and there is a prize at stake.

Heidi: Okay.

Mary: And I don’t want to cast any aspersions on previous episodes, but I think this is actually my favorite prize that we’ve ever had on the show.

Heidi: Okay.

Mary: No pressure, Heidi. Are you ready?

Heidi: Yup.

[CAT QUIZ MUSIC: FAST DRUMS AND RUMBLING PURR SOUNDS.]

Mary: In 2012, a cat named Max went viral with  a video in which he wore a shark costume and chased a duck while doing what?

Heidi: Riding a Roomba.

Mary: I knew you’d know that one. Starting off easy. That’s right—Max, the Roomba riding cat. Rest in peace, he passed away a few years ago.

Heidi: Oh, buddy.

Mary: Okay, number two. Yu-Gi-Oh, the Japanese trading card game, has a card called Catshark. The card type is monster. Its attribute is water. From zero to 12, Heidi, what is this card’s rank?

Heidi: I really have no idea, so this is just—eight.

Mary: Mm, I wish. Two! Okay, number three. Cats and sharks share a unique anatomical feature that’s found in many vertebrates but not in humans. It is a thin layer of iridescent tissue located where?

Heidi: Over their eyes?

Mary: I’ll give it to you. It is behind the retina, but you got the eye. That’s right. That’s right. You know, we’ll give you half a point. Number four: In 2015, a man walking on a beach stumbled upon an unusual and dramatic situation. He captured it on film. He photographed a bobcat dragging a four foot long sharp-nosed shark out of the water. In which U.S. state did this happen?

Heidi: New York?

Mary: I’m so sorry, it was Florida.

Heidi: Oh God, of course it was Florida.

Mary: Right. Okay. Alright, last question. It all comes down to this, Heidi. Are you ready?

Heidi: Mm-hmm.

Mary: Okay. There is an actual family of sharks called catsharks. It includes over 150 different species, they’re all adorable. Which of the following is not a species of catshark? Mouse catshark, Vivaldi’s catshark, salty catshark, or ghost catshark? Which of those is not a real shark?

Heidi: Vivaldi’s?

Mary: I’m so sorry, you’re wrong!

Heidi: [Laughter.]

Mary: That is a real shark! There is a Vivaldi’s catshark.

Heidi: I’m happy that it exists.

Mary: It is real. There’s also a Bach catshark.

Heidi: Wow.

Mary: But the salty catshark is not real. That is one that I made up. If they ever discover it, I want credit, and I want to be considered the—I don’t know—the founder of the salty catshark?

Heidi: As you should.

[CAT QUIZ MUSIC ENDS.]

Mary: Heidi, I’m so sorry. You did not win.

Heidi: That’s okay.

Mary: But you do win the prize.

Heidi: Oh my God!

Mary: Please tell the people what I’m handing you.

Heidi: Are you serious? [Laughter.] This is a cat that’s inside a shark, except they’re both very cute, so it doesn’t seem threatening. Also, it’s stuffed and cuddly.

Mary: And it’s very soft.

Heidi: It’s very, very soft.

Mary: there’s nothing sharp or harmful in this.

Heidi: Undercover squishables. Oh, my sister had a squishable that I used to steal when I was a kid, and I was the older one, so that was not—I had no excuse.

Mary: Now you have one of your own.

Heidi: Oh my goodness. Thank you.

Mary: So it’s a gift for your sister as well.

Heidi: Thank you so much. No, she can’t have it.

[FAST ROCKING AWESOME GUITAR MUSIC]

Mary: It’s time for a new segment that we call, Oh, Fur Sharing, because we really like puns. It’s like “oversharing.” Get it? Okay. So people love to share things about their cats on social media. I do. Do you?

Heidi: Yeah.

Mary: Yeah. But sometimes people will share too much and also not enough, alright? And that is the case with a tweet that we are going to be discussing today.

Heidi: Okay.

Mary: It somes from someone named Alyssa. I’m going to read it out to you. Here’s what she said. “Baked as hell and can’t stop laughing about the time that my cat brought a live squirrel in the house, and we couldn’t find it until 2:00am when we heard my mom scream bloody murder because it jumped on her in her sleep.”

Heidi: Oh!

Mary: I feel like there’s a lot to unpack in this tweet.

Heidi: Yeah! Yeah.

Mary: I have questions. Do you have questions?

Heidi: I have a lot of questions.

Mary: What are your questions.

Heidi: I just—first of all, poor squirrel.

Mary: Right. Poor mom?

Heidi: Yeah, definitely poor mom. Also I wonder where this person was located, because I have a lot of opinions on indoor/outdoor cats.

Mary: Uh-huh. Or the cat could have gotten out. Cats can be sneaky, though.

Heidi: You know what, I don’t blame anyone for getting high. That’s cool. We live in a tough time, but you probably should have dealt with that situation sooner.

Mary: Well, that’s my question, is when did this ordeal begin? Like did the cat bring it in at like, noon? And then what was the cat doing between that time and 2:00am when the squirrel resurfaced in the bed.

Heidi: Like, not successfully hunting, that’s for one thing.

Mary: Clearly! It’s a gatherer, but not a hunter.

Heidi: I also feel like squirrels are generally not known to be quiet, reserved creatures, so what was it doing?

Mary: Yeah. I don’t know, was it playing dead? This is the other thing, actually—what kind of squirrel was it?

Heidi: Mm.

Mary: Right? Like the ones we have here in New York in the city parks? You see them.

Heidi: Yeah, they’re big.

Mary: They’re big.

Heidi: It could be almost as big as your cat.

Mary: It could be. I mean, does your cat have super feline jaw strength?

Heidi: I have another theory that this woman doesn’t know what a squirrel looks like.

Mary: Was it even a squirrel?

Heidi: Yeah, it could have been a chipmunk. When I was growing up, my dad always used to complain we don’t have any chipmunks because of cats. And I was like dad, since when do you really value the lives of chipmunks, but whatever. What I’m saying is, it’s much easier for a cat to catch a chipmunk.

Mary: Yes. They’re smaller, and I think they’re less smart. I don’t have anything to base that on, but I feel like chipmunks are a little dumber. I would love to hear about this story from Alyssa’s mom’s perspective.

Heidi: “My daughter is the worst, why does she live with me?”

Mary: Yeah. And then how did the squirrel ultimately get out of the house? That’s what to me is really missing from this. There’s no follow up.

Heidi: That’s true. I think the biggest crime here is not letting us know what happened.

Mary: Exactly. Well, Alyssa, thanks, I guess, for sharing, but you’ve got to share more. And if anybody out there sees a post on social media about something a cat has done that you think needs to be unpacked or investigated further without actually doing any work, please let us know. You can tag us, we’re @ltacpod on all social platforms. Bring it to our attention, and we’ll see what we can do. We will not make any effort, but we will sit here and talk about it for sure.

Heidi: Yup.

Mary: Thank you, Heidi.

Heidi: No problem.

[TRIUMPHANT GUITAR FLOURISH]                    

Mary: Alright, now the real reason we are here—Heidi Vanderlee, lets talk about your cats.

Heidi: Awesome.

Mary: How did you meet Nala and Riley?

Heidi: So Nala belonged to my friend’s half-brother.

Mary: Okay. [Laughter.]

Heidi: So Nala is 19 years old. She’s been around for a minute.

Mary: There are probably people listening to this podcast who are younger than your cat.

Heidi: Which is wild. So she was given to my friend’s half-brother as a present when she was a kitten, and he was a frat boy in Florida, which is just confusing.

Mary: Oh no. Oh no.

Heidi: This is the story I’ve been told, like her whole story is sort of fuzzy. And then he had become engaged to a woman who was allergic to cats. Although she was still living with them, so she can’t have been—whatever—that’s my own judgment.

Mary: We’ve talked about that on the show before, about people giving up pets for significant others, and how shitty that is.

Heidi: Yeah, but if they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have her. You know?

Mary: That’s true. That’s true.

Heidi: So basically I remember at the time I wasn’t in a particularly responsible period in my life, and I was just like, I want a cat. Heard Maine Coons are kind of like dogs. I’ve never had a cat before, I just knew I couldn’t have a dog.

Mary: But you’d grown up with them?

Heidi: We had cats, but my family didn’t really know what to do with them.

Mary: What do you mean?

Heidi: They weren’t a beloved member of the family the way the dog was. But I basically wanted to get an animal and knew that I couldn’t get a dog, so I heard the Maine Coons are very dog-like. And my friend was like, you know, my half-brother is actually trying to adopt out his cat Nala. And I was like, how old is she? And he was like, oh, she’s like five, six or something, you know? And then I went over and met her, and I was like, this is the best cat, okay yes, I’ll take her. And they put me in a taxi with her carrier, like food, litter box. They were just like, here are all the things you need to have a cat. Goodbye, thank you, you know, and I brought her home. And then I got her vet records from her old vet on Long Island, and she was nine. She was nine years old, or maybe 10.

Mary: So you got catfished by your cat.

Heidi: Yeah. She was much older than I thought she was. And that’s how I met her, and I’ve had her since I had no business owning any animals. So Riley I got about three years ago, because I have good friends who had a baby, and the woman had had her two cats, Riley and Murphy, since they were kittens. And Riley is a Maine Coon mix, so he’s like, got all the coloring and stuff, but his hair’s a little shorter, and I guess when they had a baby, they thought that the cats would adjust to it okay, but when the baby was born he just short-circuited. He like pooped in the baby’s room, he swatted at the baby. He was just doing all this stuff. And knowing him now, he just didn’t know what was going on. You know, my friends were going out of their minds, like we have two cats and one of them keeps pooping, and there’s a new baby and we’re in an apartment, like oh my God, I need to find a home for this cat. And so I said, alright. It was really like a snap decision. I didn’t think about it that much, I just liked him. He looks like Nala, so I was like sure, they look the same, they’ll get along fine. They did not get along fine at all. And he was used to being hunted because he was the submissive cat in the other house.

Mary: Right. Inter-cat dynamics are fascinating.

Heidi: So he acted like prey, and Nala, who had up until this moment been nothing but the sweetest cat in the entire world, turned into this furious hunter and just started hunting him all over the house. Hunting, screaming, like fur flying around, just everyone. I cried all the time. I was just like, I’ve ruined my cat’s latest years, I have to give him back, I don’t know what to do. It was awful for months, I was just freaking out. And now they just ignore each other most of the time.

Mary: I feel like that’s often what happens when you introduce a new cat.

Heidi: I know you probably know about Jackson Galaxy.

Mary: Yes.

Heidi: So, and I watched all those how to introduce your cat videos afterwards, and I was like, oh, I have messed up, you know? I saw all the things I did wrong.

Mary: We’re all trying our best, Heidi.

[AGGRESSIVE, HARD-DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]

Mary: Now you’ve been involved in music in lots of different ways for most of your career, right? You were a booker, publicist, you’ve been in bands. Do your cats listen to music with you? Does their taste influence yours? Like if you are listening to a record from a new band, are you checking to see how they like it?

Heidi: They generally, I think Nala might be going a little bit deaf, so I don’t think that she really—

Mary: Aren’t we all?

Heidi: Yeah. Well no, really. But both of them tend to not really react. Like I’ll listen to Van Halen and they’ll just be like, hmm. Like they don’t care. But what they do not like—I play the chello, they do not like my cello.

Mary: Well, that was my next question. I was actually going to ask, do they like the—because the vibrations of a cello you’d think would be very appealing to them.

Heidi: They do not like it, I think because it is an object that is larger than them that they are not used to seeing. They do not like it. I actually have a video of Nala, like, I’m playing and my bow is going back and forth, and Nala is chasing my bow.

Mary: I guess a bow does kind of look like a cat toy when it moves.

Heidi: Mm-hmm, it does.

Mary: But I looked this up, actually. The cello in standard tuning, the C string, vibrates at like 65hz?

Heidi: I didn’t even know that.

Mary: And a cat purrs at around 25-50hz. So it’s close. So then if you drop that down, right, if you tune it down to B, B-flat, you’d probably be a little bit closer. So I was thinking that they would be snuggling up and be like, maybe it’s my mom. But I can also see that, you know, it’s something that you’re paying attention to that is not them.

Heidi: Not them. Yes. They don’t like that.

Mary: Now Maine Coons, they’re very vocal cats. Do they sing with you?

Heidi: No. Well, Riley does one thing. He doesn’t sing with me, but if I’m talking on the phone, he thinks that’s about him.

Mary: Wait, he thinks you’re talking about him?

Heidi: He just thinks that he’s involved somehow.

Mary: Oh, I see. Okay.

Heidi: So like, I actually have a picture of him laying dramatically on the floor yesterday, because sometimes I’ll talk to my therapist on the phone, or I’ll talk to my friends on the phone, and he’ll come in the room and just start talking.

Mary: Oh.

Heidi: I guess I don’t talk out loud that much when I’m alone.

Mary: That’s probably good.

Heidi: And now that I’m doing it, you think this is about you? So he comes in and talks.

Mary: He just wants to join the conversation.

Heidi: It’s pretty funny.

Mary: Maybe he wants to make a solo record.

Heidi: Yeah.

Mary: Maybe that’s what he’s trying to tell you. Just not a cello record. Your band is called Early Riser, this is the band in which you play cello. Are you an early riser in real life, and is that because your cats want breakfast? Because that is my life.

Heidi: [Laughter.] I, no, I’m not. And I like, I go through periods where I will wake up at a time that I consider to be early. Like if I wake up before 8:00am, I am very proud of myself.

Mary: Oh, so not a morning person at all.

Heidi: No.

Mary: So your band’s name is a lie.

Heidi: Yeah.

Mary: Okay.

Heidi: But my cats, because they’re older, they definitely let me know that they want breakfast, but they’re easily ignored.

Mary: Yeah, see, Grendel is young and full of vim and vigor, and she is not ignorable. I mean, she will—her techniques include ear licking—

Heidi: Ugh! The worst!

Mary: Nose batting, pillow climbing. She’ll chew—like nibble right along my hairline, which is really creepy.

Heidi: Ugh, gross.

Mary: You’ve been involved in so many interesting, creative things from so many different angles, right? Like you’ve been on stages, you’ve been behind stages, you’ve been responsible for making things happen. And I love people like that. Your name isn’t always the one in lights, but you’re the one who is getting shit done, right?

Heidi: Yeah.

Mary: And wrangling creative people for a living, however, can be very challenging. Have you learned anything in your experience wrangling challenging cats that you have been able to apply in your career wrangling creative people?

Heidi: Oh yeah, absolutely.

Mary: Tell us about that.

Heidi: People have personalities, and they are only capable of what their personalities dictate. Like, I can’t expect Riley not to lick plastic every time there’s plastic around.

Mary: Okay.

Heidi: Like that’s just a thing he does.

Mary: Okay, sure.

Heidi: And I can’t expect someone to not be nervous about their creative endeavors, you know? And like, I can’t expect someone to have zero ego about their project. Being an artist myself, I understand, like I didn’t do the PR for my own album. I would have died.

Mary: Yeah, yeah!

Heidi: Like, I would have crawled in a hole and not been able to talk to anyone. So I understand that there are certain personality traits and truths that are always going to be there. And there’s really no point in trying to change them, change artists from what they are, because that’s who they are. It’s made me better at picking who to work with. I’m way less emotional in my job than I ever was before because I just want to help people, and I know that usually whatever emotions are happening have nothing to do with me. And with my cats, Riley is always going to lick plastic. I’ll take the plastic away from him sometimes, but if I leave plastic out, he’s going to lick it.

Mary: Any kind of plastic?

Heidi: Plastic bags.

Mary: Yeah, my late cat Buckley was a tape licker.

Heidi: God.

Mary: Adhesive tape. You know, if you get a box in the mail and it has tape around it—

Heidi: He would lick that?

Mary: He would like, nom-nom-nom-nom. And in the night you’d hear this crinkly, crinkly nom and you’d have to get up and go take the tape off the box. But again, you’re right, it was not something that we could change about Buckley. For his own good we had to manage it in a way that would keep him safe, but it wasn’t something that we could drill out of him, no matter how many times we tried.

Heidi: There’s also literally nothing that any of my clients does that’s as annoying as my cat licking plastic.

Mary: Well there you go. That’s good to know. So that’s a good benchmark, right? Where it’s like, if someone is having a meltdown you can be like, you know what, you suck right now, but at least you’re not licking plastic.

Heidi: He also has recently started ripping on my weighted blanket.

Mary: Oh no!

Heidi: I am—

Mary: I’ve wanted a weighted blanket, and do you know, the thing that has been stopping me is Grendel’s sharp little claws. I just don’t know what she would do with it, and those things can be expensive.

Heidi: I told him, because he’s a cat and he understands English, I told him this blanket cost like $150. You were free. You need to think about your value around here. You know? I said to my cat who definitely understands what I’m saying. He knows he did something wrong. Like he’ll jump three feet in the air.

Mary: No, they always know.

Heidi: He knows. And then I walk away, and half an hour, he’s doing it. Just doing it again.

Mary: Back at it. Back at it again with the weighted blanket.

[AGGRESSIVE, HARD-DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]

Mary: You said earlier something really interesting about just wanting to help people. Have you always been someone who feels like a helper or a caretaker?

Heidi: No, absolutely not. Like, really no. Like, and honestly, if I’m going to be totally honest, I am still essentially a pretty selfish person, but as I’ve gotten older and done more self-improvement, you know, I’ve really found the value in looking after other people and things. Because you know, honestly, I get pretty bored with myself pretty quick. And with Nala, when the vet said to me like, okay, so she has end-stage kidney failure, if you want her to stick around, she’s going to have to get these sub-cu fluids every day, which involves literally sticking a needle in her skin every day and giving her IV fluids. And I was just like, oh no, obviously. Why wouldn’t I do that? I think just because she has been in my life through a lot. You know, it does limit stuff. Like I can’t leave town without planning ahead, really, because like someone has to stay with her who can take care of her special needs, and it’s oftentimes not super cheap. And in reality it really has limited me in terms of just—I can’t just pick up and leave ever. And I resent them occasionally. But I don’t know, it just didn’t really seem like a choice to me. It was just like, no, obviously I will take care of this animal that I promised to take care of.

Mary: It’s a commitment.

Heidi: Yeah!

Mary: It’s a commitment, and love is a commitment.

Heidi: Yeah. I do love her.

Mary: Do you have older people in your life?

Heidi: You know, I do. I have both of my grandparents on my mom’s side are still alive, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve always really appreciated the older people in my life, because I just think they know way more than everyone else. No, I really do. But like my grandparents on my dad’s side are both dead, but they were super, super important to me.

Mary: So do you feel that the way you are caring for Nala is shaping the way you think about the experience of your grandparents, even your parents aging?

Heidi: Yeah, I think so. I’ve been trying to like—like my parents and I get along better than we ever did. You know? They’re bonkers. Everyone’s parents are bonkers. But yeah, it does make me appreciate folks that are older. I mean, like, you saw so much shit, and you’ve gone through so many things that I will never really know about. Like I just—I just really appreciate people who can tell me what it was like.

Mary: That’s a really great perspective. There’s so much fear I think around aging, and so much of it has to do with health, right? I mean, both of my parents had really scary health situations in the past couple of years, and I think I never really have been worried about that sort of thing until that happened, you know? And I lost my cat Milo and it was just sort of all of those things together, it just sort of crash lands on you. And then it’s like, oh, the future is actually scary and terrible. But I like that, this idea that there is all that love in the caretaking and the process of spending time with people as they get older that that’s what the value really is. And that’s what the whole point of it is. And I need to be better about trying to focus on that instead of just doing what I normally do, whis is just panicking about all the bad stuff that could possibly happen some day. I mean, I look at Grendel and I think oh no, what if something happens to her? She’s four. She’s four, you know?

Heidi: She’s four.

Mary: And she has pet insurance. Thank God. But you know, it is so easy to get caught up in that fear and the worry, when what really matters is spending the time with the people when you can.

Heidi: Yeah.

Mary: And I know we were talking about not making resolutions and I’m not going to start right now.

Heidi: [Laughter.]

Mary: But I’m going to put that, let’s say, on my to do list.

Heidi: Yeah, I’d just call it—for me it’s a practical thing, like don’t forget to do this this year, you dummy. That’s pretty much—

Mary: Don’t forget to do it this year, dummy.

Heidi: I never, ever thought that I would really be a person who would be the caretaker in my family, or really in any situation, but like, you mentioned health scares, like my dad did have a pretty big one this year. He’s either 74 or 75, sorry dad. He’d been losing his hearing and he would just answer people as if he’d heard what they said and then make no sense. And we were just like, dad, like you cannot—okay, you know? And eventually—he’s stubborn, so eventually he got hearing aids, but he still couldn’t hear out of his one ear very well. And he finally just went to the doctor and they were like, let’s do a CT scan to see what’s going on. Turns out he had an aneurism right behind his ear, like an unburst aneurism. And my mom, who, God bless her, my mom’s way of dealing is basically just freaking out. Like she just doesn’t—like, I love you mom, if you happen to listen to this—and my dad is just trying to downplay it. He’s like, it’s not a big deal, we’ll just get it done. Like it’s pretty—it is a routine procedure. Apparently there are certain surgeons who do this all the time, it’s not a big deal. It still is like—

Mary: It’s your brain! It’s your brain.

Heidi: It’s still your brain. It’s around your brain.

Mary: That’s a big deal.

Heidi: I know. My dad’s like, it’s not a big deal, it’s whatever, whatever, whatever. And I was like, alright. I know what’s going to happen. They’re going to go up there and my mom is going to be alone, and she’s going to lose her damn mind. So I’m going to go with them, even though me, even five years ago would be like no, absolutely not, this is going to be the worst. But I was like, you know what, I have a job where I can work from anywhere, I’m just going to go. So I did.

Mary: You got a cat sitter.

Heidi: I did.

Mary: You had to take care of the cat.

Heidi: I got Stacy, my amazing cat sitter. But like, it’s not something that I would have thought to do before, because I just would have been like no, I am much too busy. Or they’ll be fine, they’re adults. And like, no, my mom needed support. She needed some support. She just needed someone to talk to her while we were waiting for hours and hours, because hospitals never do anything—

Mary: You sit and you wait.

Heidi: You know, and I did lose my patience a few times. Like I definitely was like, oh my God mom, if you ask me that question one more time I’m going to freak out.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah, mm-hmm.

Heidi: But you know, I think being there was helpful.

Mary: Do you credit your cats with helping bring about this evolution in your personality?

Heidi: There are a few factors. Just like, full disclosure, like, I’m in recovery and I’ve been in it for about seven years, so that’s a big deal.

Mary: That’s a big deal. Yeah, congratulations.

Heidi: Thanks. But like, you know, the reality of having older cats is that you have to do stuff all the time that you don’t want to do. Like, everyday, do I want to stick a needle in my cat everyday? No. Do I  want to buy her prescription food? No. It’s expensive. It’s like $50 a case. It’s nuts. Did I want to take Riley to the emergency vet when he couldn’t poop a month ago?

Mary: Oh no.

Heidi: He was just walking around the house kind of looking like his pants were falling down going [imitation of a cat  yowling] and I was like, something is wrong with you, and did I want to pick up my cat and look at his butthole? Nope. I did though.

Mary: Of course.

Heidi: And he looked upset. You know, I barely remember to take my own meds every day, so it’s like—but by doing that stuff for them, it also reminds me to take care of myself, because if I’m not around, then I’m not around to take care of them.

[AGGRESSIVE, HARD-DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]

Mary: Today we’re sending a shout-out to Nilla in Brooklyn. Nilla, thank you for listening. Your family wants you to know that you are a very good boy. Co-sign that. And you can send us a shout-out for your cat, or any cat you admire, really. You can just e-mail us at shouts@letstalkaboutcats.com. Tell us the cat’s name, where they live, and any message you’d like us to include. We are here to boost cats’ egos. Not that they need it. But we are here for that, so shouts@letstalkaboutcats.com. Heidi Vanderlee, thank you for talking about cats with us today. This has been delightful.

Heidi: Thank you for having me.

Mary: How can people keep up with you and your doings on the internet if they would like to do so?

Heidi: If  you’re interested in cat content, follow me on Instagram.

Mary: If you’re interested! If you’re listening to the cat podcast and you’re interested in cat content.

Heidi: I keep forgetting this is like a—well, I’m just not used to people caring as much as—[Laughter.]

Mary: Oh, I care. Oh, I care a lot.

Heidi: It’s just @heidivanderlee on Instagram and Twitter. And then, if you like cat merch, my band, we’re earlyrisermusic.com. We have a t-shirt that is a purple t-shirt with a cat pentagram.

Mary: I will say this, also. Heidi’s band is very good. I really enjoy it, and I think also, I meant to say this earlier, playing the cello in a band is one of the most punk rock things I think anyone could do.

[UPBEAT, SLIGHTLY FRANTIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]

Mary: Thank you, Heidi Vanderlee. And of course, you can find us on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, and wherever else you find podcasts. You know, on the street, behind the corner. Oh, also, if you like interesting cat news, extra cat discourse, exclusive photos of Grendel, you should go to letstalkaboutcats.com and sign up for our newsletter, which currently just comes out once a month. So we don’t clog up your inbox. It’s free, it’s fun, you should do it. This episode was recorded at the Brain Machine Network HQ by Leif Enochson. Brain Machine Network brings you great podcasts like the Bosscast, hosted by our friend John Murray. Heidi and I were both on that. You should definitely go and listen to our episodes and the rest of the show. It’s a really good show. I enjoy it a lot. So you should go to brainmachinenetwork.com. Check them all out. And thank you to Leif for making today’s conversation possible. I’m Mary Phillips-Sandy. My cat is Grendel. Our producer is the easy, breezy Lizzie Jacobs. Our theme song is by Poingly with additional music by the English Muffins. Our show logo is created by Julia Emiliani. That’s all for now, and we’ll be back next week to talk to you more about cats. Bye, bye.