Ep. 1.4: Stella (ft. Amy Plitt) 

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

Mary Phillips-Sandy: I’m dressed like a Mormon and I had my backpack, and a can of Fancy Feast in my hand and I was like, hey, [Laughter], I’m here for Taylor. They were like, uhh…

Amy Plitt: This is the cat podcast.

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

Mary: Alright, anyway, let’s talk about cats. I’m noted cat lady Mary Phillips-Sandy. My cat’s name is Grendel, she’s not here right now, but she is listening. Hi, Grendel! I love cats, I love talking about cats, I love talking to cat people about cats. So that is what we’re going to do here. Amy Plitt, you are, of course, the editor of Curbed New York.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: You are the author of one of my favorite guidebooks to New York City.

Amy: Oh, thank you!

Mary: Yes! It’s called The Subway Adventure Guide: New York City to the End of the Line.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: But we are here, of course, to talk about cats. Specifically your cat Stella, who, may I say, is very attractive. I don’t mean to sound creepy.

Amy: She’s a beautiful cat.

Mary: I believe you have come with a five word memoir for Stella to introduce us.

Amy: I have. My five word memoir for Stella is “Cuddly calico with an attitude.”

Mary: I like that.

Amy: I think Stella’s temperamental nature comes out more in that she is quite afraid of most people. She loves me and will sit on me all day long. I got back from a trip yesterday, and as soon as I got home, within five minutes she was on my lap and wouldn’t let me move. But with other people, even sometimes with my husband, so yeah, she’s a bit cranky. But loves me, cuddles me. I’m her ride or die.

[UPTEMPO, GUITAR DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC]

Mary: Alright, so you know a lot about New York and you know a lot about cats. So here, today, we are going to do a cat quiz. Are you ready?

Amy: I think so. I hope so.

Mary: Okay.

Amy: Because I feel like my reputation is riding on my ability to answer these questions.

Mary: Yeah, I mean, you’ll probably lose your job if you don’t get this right.

Amy: I think so.

Mary: And of course there is a prize at stake here. The cat quiz today is: Cat Food or New York City Delicacy? I am going to read out to you the name of a dish.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: You are going to tell me if that dish is a cat food or a people food that is served here in New York City.

Amy: Oh, I love this. I hope I do well.

Mary: You can’t take forever to think about it.

Amy: Okay.

Mary: This isn’t like Wheel of Fortune or whatever, right?

Amy: Okay.

Mary: Alright, here we go.

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

Mary: The first food is venison with New Zealand green mussels and cranberries.

Amy: People food.

Mary: Incorrect, that’s cat food.

Amy: What?

Mary: Yup.

Amy: Mussels?

Mary: Mussels.

Amy: In cat food. Wow. Okay.

Mary: One wrong, Amy Plitt.

Amy: Uh-oh.

Mary: You’ve got to redeem yourself.

Amy: Uh-oh.

Mary: Number two. Pheasant, pork and chicken pate with blueberries in aspic.

Amy: People food.

Mary: Correct! I mean, a cat would probably eat that though.

Amy: I think so. It sounds like it could be cat food.

Mary: I guess technically that could go either way, but it is sold as a people food, so one right. Next one. Halibut with rainbow quinoa, beets, spinach and saffron.

Amy: People food.

Mary: Correct. But it costs $37.

Amy: For fish and quinoa.

Mary: This city. It gets more expensive every day.

Amy: It really does.

Mary: Next one. Quail with coconut turmeric quinoa.

Amy: Cat food?

Mary: It is cat food. Not only is it cat food, it is dry cat food, somehow, and it costs $7.52 per pound.

Amy: That is so much for cat food.

Mary: You might as well eat that yourself. You could share that with your—I mean, again, it could go either way.

Amy: It really could. I mean, who gives turmeric to a cat?

Mary: Well, it’s an anti-inflammatory. Don’t you read Goop?

Amy: I—okay.

Mary: The next one. Salmon with caviar, lobster, quinoa, organic asparagus and saffron.

Amy: People food.

Mary: Oh, Amy Plitt, I’m so sorry. It’s cat food. That’s cat food!

Amy: Who is feeding their cats this quinoa?

Mary: It is in fact a British product. I had to do some math to convert the finance. It is $325 for a four and a half pound bag.

Amy: Wow. Who is feeding their cat that food?

Mary: Apparently a lot of British people.

Amy: I would love to meet one of those people.

[CAT QUIZ MUSIC STOPS.]

Mary: Well, you got two wrong, but you got three right. So you win today’s prize, which is a can of Fancy Feast Savory Salmon Feast classic pate. Not a sponsor, but it is my cat Grendel’s favorite food. So from Grendel to Stella. Congratulations.

Amy: Thank you.

[FAST ROCKING AWESOME GUITAR MUSIC]

 

Mary: Hey everybody, we’ll get right back to the cats, I promise, but I want to take a moment to tell you about another podcast that I really like. It’s called The Bosscast with comedian John Murray. John is a great guy, a fan of this show, and a longtime performer with UCB, he’s done stuff with IFC and Funny or Die. And he loves Bruce Springsteen as much as I love cats. So he started a show where he invites smart and funny people who also love Bruce to come talk about it. He’s had really great guests like Will Hines, Connor Ratliff, Mary Phillips-Sandy… oh wait… I know her! It’s true. I do love Bruce Springsteen, not quite as much as I love cats. But a lot. And we had a really great conversation.

 

If you like Bruce Springsteen and freeform conversation… you’ve found the Promised Land. Check it out. It’s The Bosscast with John Murray, find it on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. Go tell him I sent you!

 

[MORE FAST ROCKING GUITAR MUSIC]

 

Mary: Alright, it’s time for our hot topic. We’re going to tackle a controversial cat issue, get to the bottom of it. Cat cafés. Are they good, or are they bad? Amy, I know you’ve been to a cat café.

Amy: I have.

Mary: I guess on the upside you get to hang out with cats while you’re eating snacks, and that inherently is a good thing.

Amy: Yeah, I’m pretty unabashedly pro cat café. I’ve been to the one in Brooklyn, and actually, I don’t even know if you can call it a cat café anymore. They have a little refrigerator where they sell bottled juice and bottled ice tea and water. They don’t actually serve food anymore, though.

Mary: Wait, what?

Amy: Yeah! There used to be a thing where you would go to the bagel shop that was down the block and buy a bagel from them, and that would get you admission to the cat café.

Mary: It was BYO—Bagel?

Amy: Yeah, for a little while. But now you just make a reservation on their website. It was $5.

Mary: I’m sorry, this sounds like an elaborate scam set up by the bagel shop, right?

Amy: They were profiting off of people’s love of cuddling cats. But yeah, like, all you do is hang out with cats and play with cats, and they’re tiny little kittens, and as somebody who has a senior cat who absolutely hates other cats, for me this is heaven.

Mary: Mm-hmm.

Amy: And they’re up for adoption. So I think it’s a net good, really.

Mary: The other thing that could be good about the cat café is, you know, in New York a lot of people have roommates. I mean, I know I’ve had roommates almost my entire time in New York, and if you have a roommate who is allergic to cats, such that you can’t have a cat in your home, but you want cat time, you could go to the cat café and do that. You would just have to bring a change of clothes.

Amy: Or a lint roller. I did not—

Mary: Lint rollers don’t work. You know that.

Amy: They don’t.

Mary: They don’t work.

Amy: That’s true.

Mary: I mean, lint rollers are a lie.

Amy: And also, it wouldn’t really get the dander off, and isn’t that the thing that triggers the allergies?

Mary: Yeah, you need to change your clothes.

Amy: Yeah.

Mary: I mean that would be a business model.

Amy: Mmm.

Mary: Would be to sell hazmat suits for people who live with allergic people and want to go to the cat café.

Amy: Or just like a Uniqlo/cat café hybrid. Just buy a whole new outfit.

Mary: Yeah! Sell the clothes. Money making opportunity. I think cat cafés are not good.

Amy: Really?

Mary: Some cats are anti-social. So I think about those cats that are essentially giving free labor in the cat café. My cat would hate that. She is not someone who would want to be around strangers, especially strangers who wanted to touch her all day without getting paid. I just think, have the cats consented to this? We don’t know. Are they having fun? We don’t know. Some of them, maybe. There’s no way to know for sure. And I think the other question is do people really adopt these cats? You’re married.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: You’re not on the dating apps.

Amy: Oh gosh, no.

Mary: Right. And you know what it does to people’s brains.

Amy: It’s the dating FOMO.

Mary: People become disposable.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: You swipe and you swipe and you swipe. So is that what cat cafés are doing to us? I mean, call me old-fashioned. I believe you should find the right cat or cats and settle down with them.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: Does the cat café encourage, let’s say promiscuity, right? Where you don’t have to do that. You can just go every day and fondle a different cat.

Amy: I see where you’re going with the last one, and I think perhaps you have a point there. But maybe also what they need is a cat union to represent their interests.

Mary: Yes. Yes, right. I think this is an important point, right? The cats need to organize.

Amy: The cats need to organize.

Mary: The cats need to organize.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: And you know, I don’t want to get political on this show, but we’ve seen what happens. And it never ends well. I think the other thing that needs to be mentioned about cat cafés is—I don’t have data to back this up, but I’m going to guess that they tend to attract children.

Amy: Oh, they do. I went with a group of friends who were all part of this Twitter DM thread where we just send each other pictures of our cats.

Mary: Mm-hmm.

Amy: All day long.

Mary: Can you add me to it?

Amy: I will try. Twitter DM threads, I learned, are capped at 50. So once there are—

Mary: There’s more than 50 people?

Amy: There are 50 people in this. Once a slot opens up though, you are next. But so we went, and it was a group of about five adult humans who love cats. And the majority of the visitors to the cat café that day were small children.

Mary: Okay, that’s it! We’ve decided. Cat cafés are bad, thank you.

Amy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Moving on!

[TRIUMPHANT GUITAR FLOURISH]                  

Mary: Let’s talk about your cat.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: Let’s talk about Stella, the reason we are here. How did you and Stella meet?

Amy: I had moved into an apartment that was finally big enough where I could actually have a pet, and I grew up with cats, so I knew I wanted to have one as soon as I was able to in New York. So my boyfriend at the time and I went to the PetCo in Union Square—PetCo or Petsmart, I can never remember which one it is.

Mary: Also not a sponsor. Go on.

Amy: They have you know, a little corner where they have cats up for adoption, and we were not necessarily planning on getting a cat that day, but I went to one of the cages and there was Stella. And I like, poked my finger through the cage, just to see if she would sniff my hand or whatever, and she immediately rubbed her head against my hand and started purring. And I was like, oh, so this is my cat.

Mary: Yup.

Amy: This is my cat. She chose me. Um, and it’s weird because of how much she absolutely hates people now that she was so kind of friendly and open to me.

Mary: Well, she was waiting. She’d been sitting there, loathing everyone, and then you showed up and she’s like, finally.

Amy: Yeah. Um, and her name was Patty Duke at the time.

Mary: Patty Duke.

Amy: Patty Duke! So I brought her home and I renamed her Stella, and that was it and we’ve been together ever since.

Mary: 2006, our producer Lizzie and I were debating this. Is it from the Interpol song, or is it from the comedy group?

Amy: I think I just always really liked the name. People always asked like, is it Streetcar Named Desire, which—

Mary: Right, well, that was our other thing. You’re classy.

Amy: Yeah, no, it’s not that, even though you know, you do obviously yell “Stella!” when she does something wrong.

Mary: Sure.

Amy: I had never thought of the Interpol song though, and now that you say it, it must have been in the back of my mind, and the comedy—

Mary: Yeah, that record came out like, two or three years before you got her.

Amy: And the comedy group was pretty popular at the time.

Mary: Yeah, it was right around then.

Amy: So I’m sure it was top of mind, but I just liked the name. And I know a lot of people who have cats named Stella.

Mary: She’s the only Stella cat that I know. In fact, she’s the only Stella cat that matters to me. Uh, Stella the comedy group. Michael Ian Black, big cat guy.

Amy: Big cat guy. I interviewed him once about being a cat guy, and he was delightful.

Mary: He is delightful. I saw him host the Internet Cat Awards in 2013 or something like that.

Amy: Oh, that’s amazing.

Mary: Delightful.

Amy: That sounds like fun.

Mary: So you have lived in New York for quite some time, and that means that you have moved around a lot because that’s what you do in New York when you’re not very wealthy, which you are not, no offense.

Amy: No, very true.

Mary: Has Stella had a favorite apartment in all of these moves that you’ve made?

Amy: Time will bear out. I just moved about a month ago, but there was an apartment in Boerum Hill, two apartments ago. And it had very big windowsills. And she could sit in them and yell at birds.

Mary: Ahh.

Amy: And that was one of her favorite things to do, because for some reason, a lot of brown sparrows and pigeons—

Mary: Sure.

Amy: Would come and sit by the back window in the kitchen. It was a railroad, so the bedroom was at the front and the kitchen was at the back. And they would just kind of sit there and hang out on the window ledge, and she would sit on the other side and do that like, clicking noise that cats make when they’re—

Mary: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Amy: Trying to attack a bird. So that one I think was her favorite. It got a lot of sun, she was able to watch what was going on outside.

Mary: Grendel does that too. It’s the urban cat’s version of hunting.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: It’s like target shooting or something, you know? It’s like you’re not really hunting, but you can kind of pretend.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: And then the bird flies away and you feel very successful, like you’ve defended your home.

Amy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Are you in an apartment now that has good windows for Stella?

Amy: It does have good windows. You know, because she’s a little older now, she doesn’t run and hunt as much anymore, but now she likes to sit in the windowsills and sun herself. And this apartment also has a pretty long hallway for a New York City apartment. So she just gets to like, stretch out in that, run up and down it. She still chases a laser pointer sometimes, so we’ll do that with her in the hallway. So she’s adjusting really well. I will say that she doesn’t like when things change.

Mary: Like if you get a new shirt, is she going to notice this? I mean, how—

Amy: Basically she just doesn’t like her space to be disrupted. So if we move a piece of furniture from one part of the apartment to the other, she gets really upset. So once we have her space kind of in place, we try to keep it that way, because otherwise she gets very like, nervous and anxious, and she’ll hide under the bed, which is her favorite hiding spot. And since she’s getting a little bit older now, I try to minimize her stress, because you know, I just want to make her happy. Ultimately I feel like a lot of my life is centered around making my cat happy.

Mary: Well, yeah. I mean, yeah. I mean, do you consult her before you start doing this interior décor stuff? I mean, do you actually ask? Does she have a Pinterest, where she’s like—

Amy: [Laughter.] If she did I’m sure it would just be pictures of chicken and tuna over and over and over again. No, we don’t consult the cat, but—

Mary: Well, maybe that’s the problem. I’m just saying. How is she with mice and roaches?

Amy: Oh, boy. This was about seven years ago, so she was definitely a little more spry back then, let’s say. And she was very good at mousing. There was one night that she came into the bedroom when my ex at the time and I were asleep. And we woke up because we heard this like, loud squeaking noise, and it was a mouse. She was just playing with it under our bed and wouldn’t let it go.

Mary: [Gasps.] Wow.

Amy: Yeah. She was vicious.

Mary: But that’s what you want in this city.

Amy: It’s true.

Mary: You want like a home defense system.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: You don’t want what I have, which is a cat who when a mouse walks in front of her, she goes in the other room and takes a nap.

Amy: [Laughter.] You’re not earning your keep, Grendel.

Mary: Grendel—Grendel, the only thing that she has successfully defended us from are flies.

Amy: Mm.

Mary: She will take a fly down. But roaches? Mice? Forget it. She’s useless.

Amy: Flies are a nuisance though.

Mary: They’re a nuisance but I would be happy to deal with them myself. Where in the city would you like to take Stella to sightsee? I mean, you literally wrote a book about sightseeing in New York.

Amy: I did.

Mary: Where would you like to take Stella?

Amy: This is a hard one to answer because she hates going outside of the apartment, whichever apartment she’s living in at the time, so much. It is a production every time, and she loses her mind. But I think I would like to take her up to the Cloisters.

Mary: Ohh!

Amy: It’s a very pretty setting.

Mary: It’s beautiful.

Amy: She loves to watch things, and there’s a lot of activity there. There’s a lot of like, animals, squirrels, birds, whatever, running around. And it’s a very nice place. It never gets too hot, right? Which I think is important as well.

Mary: Yup. Mm-hmm. A lot of tapestries you can claw.

Amy: A lot of tapestries that she could claw if she could get into the Cloisters. So.

Mary: Okay. I would take Grendel to the New York Public Library, the main branch.

Amy: Mmm.

Mary: She loves a good bookshelf.

Amy: Oh, that’s good.

Mary: She loves to stretch on them. She likes to, uh, rub her face on books.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: And she also is one of those cats that she weighs about eight pounds but she thinks she weighs about 800 pounds.

Amy: [Laughter.]

Mary: So I think she would see Patience and Fortitude out front and be like, hi friends, I’m one of you. You know? She would feel like she had found her peers.

Amy: She would identify.

Mary: She’d identify, and I think that would be really good for her because I think she constantly feels like she’s surrounded by lesser creatures, you know? And it would be like, finally, I’m with my—

Amy: I’ve come home.

Mary: I’ve come home, yeah.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: You are something of an expert on New York City.

Amy: I like to think so.

Mary: Do you know what animal is on the seal of the city of New York?

Amy: I didn’t even know there was an animal on the seal of the city of New York.

Mary: [Gasps.] Amy, Amy—

Amy: Ahh!

Mary: Listen, so there is an eagle, setting that aside, it’s a bird. The only animal on the seal of the city of New York is a beaver.

Amy: Oh, that makes sense.

Mary: Trapping. Whatever. I think that a beaver is not really representative of New York City today in 2018.

Amy: Oh, definitely not.

Mary: Call me crazy—I don’t know about you, I haven’t been trapping in a long time.  I don’t know anyone who goes trapping.

Amy: No.

Mary: But I believe a cat is the quintessential New York City animal. If you think about it, they don’t really give a fuck, but they also care very deeply. They’re there for you in a crisis. They have strong opinions about things. They like what they like. They don’t like what they don’t like. They’re mindful of their own space. Their personal space, when you invade their space.

Amy: I think that you’ve presented a really compelling argument for this. And I would support it 100%.

Mary: Okay, so that’s one down. Great. We probably just need a few thousand more signatures there.

Amy: Just a few more.

Mary: You know, as with all the issues facing our city right now, I think this is definitely top of the list.

[AGGRESSIVE, GUITAR-DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC AND FEMALE VOCALISTS SINGING]

Mary: Have you ever had a meltdown on public transportation?

Amy: Yes. Not to make this too heavy, but my father passed away at the beginning of the year, and it has led to many public meltdowns, both on public transportation and just kind of generally out in the world. New York is great because nobody gives a shit. They will not look at you weird if you have a meltdown in public, which I think is great, and I’m not one of those people who would want to be bothered in the middle of a meltdown. I know some people might feel differently. But I don’t.

Mary: Like a cat, you know? Don’t touch me.

Amy: This is why Stella and I get along so well, I think. We both have that sort of attitude of let me deal with my own stuff, don’t bother me while I’m in the middle of it.

Mary: I love that feeling after a brutal day like that, you know, sobbing on the C train, which is my favorite train to cry on—always cry on a local train.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: The express trains are too crowded.

Amy: They are way too crowded.

Mary: They move too fast. If you’re going to cry on a train, cry local. You get home, you’ve been crying on the C train, shall we say.

Amy: Yeah. Sure. Sure!

Mary: Let’s just for example say the C train. And you take off your shoes, because you don’t know what you’ve been walking in, and you close the door, and Stella is there.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: How does she help you in that moment?

Amy: In a purely physical sense, her thing that she loves to do, especially if you’re wearing jeans—denim is one of her favorite things in the entire universe, and she will always sit on you if you’re wearing jeans or a denim skirt, whatever. I leave a pair of shorts on our bed now, because she likes to sleep on them, because that’s the kind of cat person that I am. But she will come and sit on my lap, usually, and just kind of let me pet her and purr. She sort of senses when I’m feeling upset or sad, and will come and just sit on me. And that purring, you know, it’s been I believe medically proven that cats’ purrs actually have a calming effect.

Mary: I believe it.

Amy: It really works.

Mary: Yeah. Well and it’s like, you know, they sell these weighted blankets for people with anxiety, which I’ve been looking into.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: But there is something about having a warm weight on your body.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: You don’t want to be crushed. That’s not relaxing. But something that’s a little bit of weight on your body.

Amy: It brings the anxiety down.

Mary: It brings the anxiety down.

Amy: I mean, that’s why they make Thundershirts for cats and dogs.

Mary: So, yes, a cat is like a Thundershirt for people.

Amy: I think so. And just something about the purring and the petting, it’s all very soothing.

Mary: I lived alone for a while in New York actually, after a break-up of a very long relationship, and it was very strange, because I hadn’t lived alone in New York ever. And I hadn’t lived alone at all for a very long time, because everyone needs a roommate to save money on rent.

Amy: Yes.

Mary: But I had my cat, Milo—may he rest in peace—I don’t think I could have done it. I don’t think I could have done that whole living situation if I hadn’t had that cat to come home to.

Amy: Yes!

Mary: If I hadn’t had that cat when I woke up. If I hadn’t had that cat when I got out of the shower. Because you weren’t alone. And New York is a city in which—and I think this is probably true in London and a lot of big cities—where you can be surrounded by people and yet be so devastatingly lonely. Crushingly, hopelessly lonely. And then to get home to an empty room would just be a degree of loneliness that even I, a person who likes to be alone, probably could not handle. And I genuinely think that if I hadn’t had Milo at that time in my life, I don’t know what I would have done.

Amy: I had a very similar experience, where I had a break-up with the person that I had adopted Stella with, and we had agreed long before we decided to split up that if we ever did, Stella would be my cat and she would come with me. And he moved out of the apartment we had been sharing, and I was there alone. But not alone, because Stella was there, and it was the exact same thing. It just felt like I wasn’t alone because I had my cat. And even though she can’t talk back to me or anything, it does feel like in certain moments we understand each other.

Mary: What is your favorite thing about Stella that maybe can’t be captured in a photo, maybe it can be?

Amy: I think my favorite thing, and it has been captured in photos, even though it’s a bit more ephemeral I guess is maybe the word I’m looking for. She’s a very loyal cat. And I say this because once we, you know, became cat and person, she has never swayed in her love of me.

Mary: Wait, wait a second. How would she? What would she be doing? Would she be like going out and trying to like—

Amy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Meet other people? How did she?

Amy: No, I mean, I guess because I adopted her with an ex—

Mary: Oh, I see.

Amy: And then after he and I split up, I started dating another person who is now my husband. And you know, when I was with my ex-husband, she was always my cat. She was never really as close to him. And when my new partner came into the picture, it was the same thing. She likes him, she will cuddle with him, she’ll let him pet her, but she is still my ride or die. So she is very loyal to me, and I think that, you know, in a world where so many things change constantly, having that one constant in my life has been so wonderful and helpful to me, just in feeling sane. So I think her loyalty is really my favorite thing about her.

Mary: Was your husband a cat person when you met him? Or did you convert him?

Amy: Oh, he was a cat person. On our first date, he told me about how he used to have a cat that he would put sweaters on because it just made him laugh and the cat was one of those big, orange boy cats who are so just like, they’ll let you do anything because they’re so friendly and affable. So that was one of his first date stories, and I was like, hmm, okay, this is going to go somewhere I think.

Mary: So is there anything you’d like to say to Stella if she’s listening right now?

Amy: Stella, when we take you to the vet, we are not trying to kill you. Please be calm. And also, I love you very much, and thank you for being such a wonderful presence my life.

Mary: And on my Instagram.

Amy: And on my Instagram.

[AGGRESSIVE, GUITAR DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC WITH FEMALE VOCALISTS SINGING]

Mary: We need to talk about one of the most important things to talk about when we’re talking about cats in New York, which is to say bodega cats. I know you just moved, you’re getting to know your new neighborhood, but have you met any bodega cats? Are there bodega cats that you miss in your old neighborhood?

Amy: I have unfortunately never really lived in a place that has a good, solid bodega cat. There was a bodega in Carroll Gardens which was close-ish to where I used to live in Boerum Hill, but just far enough away that I wouldn’t have gone there regularly. And they had a pretty famous bodega cat, whose name I can’t remember right now. But I’ve unfortunately never had the pleasure of having a regular, local bodega with a cat. But I love them. There’s something so wonderfully New York about them.  You don’t see them anywhere else.

Mary: Yeah, you don’t see them anywhere else. No.

Amy: And it’s great.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah, I just want to give a quick shout out to the very handsome tuxedo cat at the health food store, at Sano Health on Broadway. Not a sponsor.

Amy: [Laughter.]  

Mary: But not a bodega even, but a small health food store. Great cat, very hard-working. Actually brings in customers, one of those cats, you know? Like, in the doorway, in the window, kind of showing off a little bit. And then you’re like, oh, I’ll just go in and say hi to the cat. And then when you’re there, you end up buying stuff. I go in there way more than I normally would because I want to see the cat. And I think it’s actually a very smart business plan to have a cat. Because if you go in to see the cat, you’re not leaving empty-handed.

Amy: No, of course not.

Mary: There’s no way. You’re going to buy at least a cookie or a drink or something.

Amy: On Smith Street, there’s a real estate agency that has a real estate agency cat.

Mary: Yes! I know the one you mean.

Amy: Valentino.

Mary: Yes, Valentino. I know him well.

Amy: He’s very large and wonderful.

Mary: Has been there for quite some time.

Amy: Yeah, he’s been there forever, and every time—I actually never use the real estate agency, but I know somebody who said that they went in there on the basis of Valentino being in there and actually found an apartment through them.

Mary: I would believe it. Absolutely believe it. Not to give out business advice, which I’m not qualified to do, but, the data is here. If you are looking to increase foot traffic, get a cat. Get a cat. It will lower your employees’ stress. It will lower your stress.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: It will increase your revenues by, let’s say, I don’t know, 15%. Let’s say 15%.

Amy: Yeah, almost certainly.

Mary: And then if you get the cat an Instagram account, you could go viral.

Amy: You very well could.

Mary: There you go.

Amy: I go to a lot of bookstores around the city, but even though I don’t go there as much because I don’t live close to it, my favorite is still the Community Bookstore in Park Slope because of Tiny.

Mary: Oh yeah. Listen, of course. Of course I know Tiny, come on.

Amy: Everybody knows Tiny.

Mary: C’mon, what do I look like, a person who doesn’t love cats?

Amy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Speaking of bodega, I want to talk to you about this. You remember last fall. There was a start-up called Bodega.

Amy: Oh gosh. Oof.

Mary: Two bros from Google.

Amy: Of course they were bros from Google.

Mary: Got $2.5 million in venture capital to start a company called Bodega. It was a vending machine, folks. It was a vending machine. It had snacks and drinks in it.

Amy: A fancy vending machine.

Mary: And you used an app to pay for it. And they called it Bodega. And I don’t know if you knew this, the icon for the app in the App Store, was a silhouette of a cat.

Amy: I do remember this. I was incensed about this, for so many reasons.

Mary: These people were terrible.

Amy: Yes!

Mary: People called them out, they doubled down. I don’t know what they were thinking. They were clearly just bad people with a lot of money.

Amy: Yeah, it’s another one of those things where Silicon Valley comes in and says hey, remember this service that has been working perfectly fine for ages? Let’s gentrify it.

 

Mary: This company Bodega changed its name to Stockwell, which to me is reminiscent of those diet cookies my mom used to get when I was a kid. Snackwell, right?

Amy: Yeah, Snackwells. Yeah.

Mary: The new logo is just a bunch of orange blobs. It is no longer a cat, so I guess that’s good. But they’re still terrible, and I just don’t understand why when there are so many problems that need to be fixed—and I’m not talking about, I mean, war is bad, right? Hunger, terrible.

Amy: Right. Putting all that aside. [Laughter.]  

Mary: But there are, you get me a litter box that genuinely doesn’t stink in the summer. You disrupt that, Silicon Valley. Make it affordable, make it not ugly, and make it something that will fit in a tiny corner that I have for my litterbox.

Amy: Yes! I see a lot of people have the robot litter box, and that does not fit in a New York apartment.

Mary: No! No, also, my cat is going to freak out if her litter box starts moving.

Amy: Oh yeah. Yes.

Mary: So take your $2.5 million and start solving some real problems that are really going to improve real people and real cats’ lives. That’s all I’m saying.

Amy: I agree, 100%. Or maybe just cat Xanax that would be easier to administer. Cats, that’s really the—

Mary: Ohh yes, you know those little pill pockets?

Amy: The pill pockets? They never work.

Mary: They never work.

Amy: No.

Mary: Well, they work for a while, but then the cat’s like, wait a second.

Amy: They get wise to it.

Mary: They get wise to it. Milo, toward the end of his life, was on so many medications, and he figured out the pill pockets and then he would just nibble around it and be like, thanks for the treat. And then these, you know, incredibly expensive pills would be just littered on the floor.

Amy: It’s annoying when they do that, but you also have to respect the fact that cats are smart enough to figure that out.

Mary: Oh yeah. A dog would not do that.

Amy: No, they wouldn’t.

Mary: And listen. I love dogs. I love dogs. But they would not—

Amy: They’re wonderful dummies.

Mary: Yup.  

[BOLD GUITAR RIFF]

 

Mary: Okay, some listener shout-outs before we go. We want to say hello to John Snugglestein and Mow Davies of New Haven, Connecticut. Hey guys, thank you for listening. I’m very excited about this next one. Shout-out to David Bowie in Waterville, Maine, that’s my hometown. Hello David Bowie, that is a great name for a cat. I’m really glad to know there are cats back home in Maine who listen to the show.

 

Okay, last, I want to do a personal shout-out to Sal, who is an older lady kitty that I met last night on the A train. Sal was in the process of moving to a new apartment. She was not happy about being on the A train. Sal, in case you’re listening to this right now, I hope you’re all settled in your new home, and I hope you’re enjoying those big new windowsills that your owner was telling me about.

 

If you’d like your cat to get a shout-out on an upcoming episode of Let’s Talk About Cats, it’s very easy, just email us at shouts@letstalkaboutcats.com. Tell us your cat’s name, where they live and any special message you’d like us to include.

 

[DANCEY, BLIPPY MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]

Mary: Amy, thank you so much for talking about cats today.

Amy: Thank you.

Mary: How can people find you on the internet if they would like to do that?

Amy: They can find me on Twitter. My handle there is @plitter. I’m also on Instagram under the same handle if people want to see pictures of Stella.

Mary: Oh, and you do want to see picture of Stella. Trust me.

Amy: You do. She’s an extremely pretty, and that is the only way you would ever see her, because she hates people. I edit Curbed New York so you can also find me at that website, where I write about New York.

Mary: Fantastic. This has been Let’s Talk About Cats. Make sure you never miss an episode—subscribe on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get podcasts. We are out there. I promise. And listen, I know everyone says this, but I really mean it: Ratings. Reviews. If you’re sitting there thinking, Gee, I like this show, please just take that one extra step of typing “Gee, I like this show” into the app. It really is one of the best things you can do for us. And thank you for listening.

 My name is Mary, my cat’s name is Grendel. Our producer is the sleek and powerful Lizzie Jacobs. Our show’s theme song is by Poingly, with additional music by the English Muffins. Our show logo was created by Julia Emiliani. You can find out more about this episode and sign up for our newsletter at letstalkaboutcats.com. Thank you so much. We’ll be back next week to talk more… about cats. Bye bye.