Ep. 1.5: Squee & Prem (ft. Naomi Ekperigin & Andy Beckerman) 

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

Mary Phillips-Sandy: Someone needs to invent glasses that go with headphones, or headphones that go with glasses.

Naomi Ekperigin: Headphones that go with glasses.

Mary: Like with little divots or something that go on the sides.

Naomi: Mm-hmm. I like that. Just like—

Mary: This is a million dollar idea.

Naomi: It truly is.

Mary: I mean, it is so great to have you guys here. You are very busy, so I don’t want to waste any time.


Mary: Naomi, Andy, let’s talk about cats.

Andy Beckerman: Yes!

Naomi: Yes! [Imitates a cat screeching.]

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

Mary: I’m noted cat lady Mary Phillips-Sandy. My cat’s name is Grendel. This is Let’s Talk About Cats, and today I’m here with Naomi Ekperigin and Andy Beckerman. Not only are you the hosts of Couples Therapy, which is a live show and a fantastic podcast—

Andy: Aww.

Mary: You are the parents of two cats.

Andy: Mm-hmm.

Naomi: Yes.

Mary: Squee and Prem—is it Premberly?

Andy: Prembly.

Mary: Prembly, excuse me.

Andy: We call him Prem.

Naomi: Yeah.

Mary: So could you please sum up their lives in five words?

Andy: This is a little longer, but not much. This is Prem’s.

Mary: Okay.

Andy: Full stomachs, full hearts, can’t lose—weight.

Naomi: Full stomachs, full hearts, can’t lose weight.

Mary: Okay.

Andy: [Laughter.]

Naomi: Yes. Yes, yes, yes. He is thick.

Mary: He’s the cat you have described as being swole, I believe is the word you used?

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: Naomi doesn’t like that.

Mary: You don’t like that.

Andy: Because if you’ve seen pictures—if you look up the phrase “swole cat” online—

Mary: Right.

Andy: It’s this like weird, musclebound like steroid cat.

Mary: Right, and that’s different.

Andy: And that’s different.

Naomi: And that’s very upsetting. Like a full pectoral on an animal, you know?

Andy: To see macho culture infect our pets?

Mary: Not what you want, no.

Andy: To see the patriarchy infect our pets is not—the petriarchy.

Naomi: The petriarchy. [Laughter.]

Andy: I don’t like it. So we think of Prem as thic—T-H-I-C-C.

Mary: C-C. Right. Okay.

Naomi: Yeah. Yeah.

Mary: Well, cats are inherently opposed to the patriarchy, I think we all know that.

Naomi: Yeah. Yeah!

Mary: Okay, Squee. Lay it on me.

Naomi: Squee. Fur, feathers, fleece: The luxurious life of Squee.

Mary: [Gasps.] That sounds like a romance novel.

Andy: A little bit.

Naomi: And honestly, that is his vibe. Okay, Squee, what his body rests on matters to him. And if it means pulling down one of your sweaters to get a comfortable space, that’s what he’s going to do.

Mary: Sure. He knows what he wants, yes.

Naomi: It’s about luxury! He’s a man of luxury.

Andy: He doesn’t come to you. He gets you to come to him. He will sit in the bedroom—

Mary: [Laughter.]

Andy: And meow until you finally leave whatever you’re doing and go there and pet him.

Mary: He has you trained.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: He has you well trained.

Naomi: Truly. Truly.


Mary: And now the most competitive part of our show, the Cat Quiz. And today, since the name of your show is Couples Therapy, I know you’re not actually doing therapy and neither of you are licensed therapists and that’s not what it’s about, but—

Andy: We’re in therapy.

Mary: You’re in—well of course you are.

Naomi: [Laughter] but we don’t have the skills.

Andy: I’ve read a little Freud. I know—

Mary: Okay, this may help you then.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: Because today’s Cat Quiz is: how much do you know about cats and therapy?

Andy: Oh.

Naomi: Ahh.

Mary: I’m going to warn you, you don’t have a lot of time for each question. It’s not timed. It’s the honor system, just don’t be jerks.

Naomi: Okay. [Laughter.]

Mary: And there is a prize at stake. If you disagree about what the right answer is, just deal with it, right?

Naomi: Yup! [Laughter.]


Mary: First question. True or false: in a 2010 study from the University of Texas, researchers found that self-identified cat people are less neurotic than dog people, true or false?

Both, simultaneously: True!

Mary: [Gasps.] False!

Naomi: Wow, we should have known that—

Andy: I thought that.

Naomi: I know, because we’re both neurotic.

Andy: Because both of us are super neurotic.

Mary: Neurotic, yup! Hello! We are 12% more neurotic than dog people, but we are more independent and more open to new experiences.

Naomi: Interesting.

Andy: I buy that.

Mary: I buy it. Alright. Patting a cat releases oxytocin, the hormone that’s also associated with what?

Andy: Sex!

Naomi: Sex.

Mary: I’ll give it to you. Falling in love, also sex.

Naomi: Yes.

Mary: It’s what, you know, makes you feel attached to your partner.

Naomi: Yes.

Mary: Great. Okay. Number three. What famous psychiatrist described a woman he knew by writing, in a letter to a friend, “She has a feline nature, and I, as is well-known, do not like cats.”

Andy: Psychologist, did you say?

Mary: Technically a neurologist. I don’t know if I just gave that away.

Andy: Oh, who’s the guy who passed away?

Naomi: Oh, Oliver Sachs? I don’t know!

Andy: [Laughter.] I don’t know, is he a neurologist?

Naomi: You have to tell us.

Mary: It was Sigmund fucking Freud.

Naomi: Ah! That guy!

Andy: He’s a neurologist?

Mary: He was technically a neurologist, yes. Freud was wrong about a lot of things. He was also wrong about cats. Okay.

Naomi: That’s true.

Mary: Number four. If you seek therapy to treat doraphobia, what is your problem?

Andy: You’re afraid of exploring.

All: [Laughter.]

Mary: I’m so sorry, that’s incorrect. It is the fear of fur. That is a real thing.

Naomi: Fur!

Mary: Fur! Last question: Cats are good at soothing people. They’re also good at soothing each other. If one cat is injured, another cat might lie beside it and do what?

Naomi: Purr.


Mary: Naomi for the win!

Naomi: Wooo!

Mary: Animal researchers call it purr therapy. It is a way of soothing other cats, yes.

Naomi: I’m also not afraid to tell you that if I’m having cramps, if I can get one of my cats to sit on my lap—

Mary: The vibration!

Naomi: Yes!

Mary: I know it.

Naomi: It is the best feeling.

Mary: Absolutely.

Naomi: And you know, if I can secure that sweet, sweet cat love?

Mary: Yes.

Naomi: Oh my god, better than three Advil.

Mary: Naomi and Andy, you got two out of five right. You win our prize, which is a pillowcase set, his, hers, and the cat.

Naomi: Ahhh!

Andy: [Laughter.]

Naomi: Oh my God! This is amazing.

Andy: Oh, this is exciting.

Mary: So they’ll have to share the pillowcase that says “the cat,” but you know.

Naomi: Oh, and they will.

Andy: They will.

Naomi: And that’s how that will work. Thank you so much.

Andy: Thank you very much.

Mary: Of course. That’s right.

Andy: I’m excited.

Mary: The weird secret on this show is that everybody wins a prize after the quiz.

Naomi: Oh, okay. [Laughter.]

Andy: Good, good, good, good.

Mary: But it’s a matter of pride! How good do you feel about what you won, right?

Andy: Oh, well I never feel good, so.

Naomi: Wow. Alright, so this is not what this podcast is.

Andy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Okay. This took a turn. Okay.

Andy: She said therapy, so I’m like alright, we’re going to jump in.


Mary: Now our Hot Topic debate. We have a very important issue right now that we’re going to resolve. The question at hand, what do you do if you fall in love with someone who is allergic to cats?

Andy: Right, well, I thought about this.

Mary: And I just want to throw out a statistic here. I looked this up. There are over 50,000,000 Americans who are allergic to cats. So if you think about the dating pool, right?

Naomi: Wow, yeah.

Mary: And as of right now, 2018, there are only two proven treatments for cat allergies. One is to avoid cats completely.

Naomi: Right.

Mary: The other is immunotherapy, which involves hundreds of shots given over a period of several years. It’s very expensive, and it doesn’t always work.

Naomi: Right.

Andy: I’ve got a lot of thoughts.

Naomi: Well I’m going to start!

Andy: Okay.

Naomi: Because yours— I am allergic to cats.

Mary: [Gasps.] What?

Naomi: And was when Andy and I got together. So Andy had Squee and Prembly. And I came into his life.

Mary: Okay.

Andy: And what happened to me?

Naomi: After a couple of years, you developed allergies.

Andy: I’m allergic to cats now.

Mary: What?

Naomi: So you’re talking to two people who perhaps, are we the healthiest? No. Uh, are we the happiest in regards to our pet lives and romantic lives? Yes! There were a couple of times, maybe not much, but like I tend to bring my own—BYO-pillowcase. [Laughter.]

Mary: [Laughter] yeah, sure.

Naomi: You know, when I was visiting, it would just be Allegra, Claritin.

Andy: We had Costco amounts of Claritin in the house.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: [Laughter.]

Naomi: That’s what we definitely did. And then I went to an allergist. I don’t have the same reactions I had in the past. And the allergist says, there’s a 50/50 chance, you can either live with an animal and your body gets used to it—

Mary: Oh wow!

Naomi: Or it can, you know, you’ll stay allergic. Um, you make our house a home that is safe by sweeping all the time and vacuuming all the time. [Laughter.]

Andy: Fill up a big trash bag full of dander.

Naomi: [Laughter.] And so I think there’s no way you should get rid of your cats.

Andy: Oh no. I—look, this is—okay.

Naomi: Okay?

Mary: I mean, I know someone, I’ve known people who have done that.

Naomi: My mother did that.

Mary: [Gasps.]

Naomi: With our family cat.

Mary: Naomi, we have to hear about this.

Naomi: I come home from college. I go, “where’s James?”

Mary: [Laughter.]

Naomi: And she’s like, I gave him back to the ASPCA.

Mary: She didn’t even give him to a neighbor or someone else?

Naomi: No! But also not just that. Once you give back a cat, you can’t go get another cat from there. Like, you’re on their list. You cannot get another animal.

Mary: No, yeah, yeah, yeah. They have—your mom’s picture is hanging in the ASPCA.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: [Laughter.]

Naomi: And it was because her gentleman friend said he was allergic to cats.

Andy: Is he?

Naomi: I don’t know. And that’s why, as I just said, I believe there are some people who don’t like cats, and then they’ll say allergic because then they think you can’t really argue with that. And she legit gave the cat back for the sake of this love.

Mary: Are they still together now?

Naomi: Yes.

Mary: [Laughter.]

Naomi: But is that in anyone’s best interest?

Mary: Well certainly not in James’ interest.

Naomi: No! She gave him away. I don’t think you should do it.

Mary: No.

Andy: No.

Mary: No.

Andy: So I volunteer for this no-kill, all volunteer shelter called Kitty Kind. And a lot of times, people are calling to like, give up cats.

Mary: Yes.

Andy: And one of them was like, about someone else in the house that couldn’t deal with the cat. I was just like, get rid of them.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: [Laughter.] Yeah.

Andy: I just—I think a lot of people don’t think through what it means to have a pet. And I don’t think they think through that the cat has its own personality and it’s its own kind of sovereign being.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: And when you bring it into your house, it’s its own person. I don’t mean that person like you, but it’s its own—

Mary: No, no. We refer to cats as people on this show all the time.

Naomi: Yeah. [Laughter.] Okay.

Andy: It’s its own being. And when you treat them like they have their own wants and needs and they’re not just like an attaché to your life, then you have true friends in your house, for life.

Naomi: You know, we have some friends who—she’s a cat lover, but her husband is allergic. So they got a dog. There was never a cat to get rid of. That is a different story, right? You’re making a life together, you do something.

Mary: That’s a very different story, yes.

Naomi: But if your animal is already there, it’s going to—I’ve never been in that position. I’m sure it’s a true Sophie’s choice.

Mary: Yes.

Naomi: A true Sophie’s choice.

Mary: My sister-in-law, deathly allergic to cats. Deathly allergic to cats. She can’t come over to our house.

Andy: You have cut her out of your life.

Mary: Here is the problem.

Naomi: Yeah.

Mary: Before my child was born, my father offered to make our wills. He’s a lawyer, this is what he does. He said Nick, Mary, if both of you die at the same time—you know, car crash, plane crash, these things happen—who is going to raise the child that you have that isn’t born yet? I was pregnant at the time. And we said well, you know, Dan and Angie. They’re very responsible, they live here in New York, they’re great people, we were very close to them. I realize now what that would mean is that my child would be separated from the cat, because they couldn’t take both of them.

Naomi: Right.

Mary: So we need to, actually, I think—I think our catsitter is going to have to raise our child.

Naomi: You’re going to have to make a—[Laughter.]

Mary: If we die. I just don’t know what to do. I mean, because there’s no way.

Naomi: Right?

Mary: My child is a cat person.

Naomi: Right, and he had a cat there.

Mary: I mean, he was born into it, literally. His best friend is the cat, as it should be, and I just don’t—I can’t imagine if he were to lose both of us—

Naomi: And lose the cat, right.

Mary: And then to be separated from the cat? Forget it! Talk about needing therapy.

Andy: Can you imagine that conversation though?

Mary: I know!

Andy: Can you imagine your catsitter where you’re like—

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: I know!

Andy: So, here’s your money for the week. By the way, in case something happens, we put you down in our will as the guardian of our child, just in case.

Mary: What do you do?

Naomi: We can trust you. But we know after having you catsit for all of these years that we can trust you.

Mary: She’s a really good catsitter.

Andy (imitating catsitter): I’m sorry, what’d you—uh, thank you for the check. Uh, what’s that you said about me being the guardian?

Naomi (imitating Mary)Oh, well, you know, our son is like, he’s great. He’s great. In some ways, he’s almost going to feel like having a second cat.


Mary: It is time to get into the real reason we’re here, which is: Let’s talk about your cats. Squee and Prem. We’ve done a little bit of that. So you had the cats first.

Andy: Mm-hmm.

Mary: How did you and the cats meet?

Andy: So my previous cat, Professor Whiskers, passed away in—

Naomi: Isn’t that the sweetest name you’ve ever heard?

Mary: I love Professor Whiskers.

Andy: He was a wonderful cat. He was the friendliest. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I was at a friend’s house and he followed me home, and we brought him in and I put signs up. No one ever claimed him, so I kept him. But he had a heart disease and he also had kidney disease. He eventually passed away in like, 2007. And when I got my master’s a year later, my parents were like, can we get you son, a gift, for finishing this? For—

Mary: [Laughter.]

Naomi: A graduation present.

Andy: Graduation present. I’m like, I think I’m ready for another cat again.

Mary: Okay.

Andy: And they went to their vet. There were two brothers that they were trying to find a home for. And so they got both of them, and that was my present for leaving grad school.

Mary: And where did the names come from?

Andy: Oh, my friend Josh and I were screwing around on Gchat and just like, saying crazy syllables to each other.

Mary: Sure!

Andy: That’s why Squee and Prembly are nonsense names.

Mary: Yeah. So they’re brothers.

Andy: Yeah.

Mary: One of the things that I love about Couples Therapy, the show, is that you define couple in different ways. Friends, colleagues, whatever. Are they just brothers? Are they also friends? Are they just roommates? How would you define their coupledom?

Naomi: That is—

Andy: They’re definitely brothers. I think that that’s kind of like, the sibling relationship, it reminds me of me and my sister.

Mary: Okay.

Andy: Where there are definite moments of tenderness where they’re like, cleaning each other’s heads and necks. There’s that—

Mary: You do that with your sister.

Naomi: [Laughter.] Exactly.

Andy: Yes, well, metaphorically.

Mary: Oh, sure.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: I don’t know.

Andy: There are metaphorical, between me and my sister, there are metaphorical moments of tenderness.

Naomi: Right. With cats, there’s literal tenderness. But for the most part, honestly, in our house they have their own domains.

Mary: Okay.

Naomi: And they very rarely join each other. Even if we, you know, as Andy was saying before, Squee will just meow and meow until you come to him. But literally it will be me, Andy, and Prembly all on the couch, and it’s like, Squee, join us. The whole family is on the couch now. He won’t do it.

Mary: Do they have a favorite? Do they play favorites between you two?

Naomi: I mean, Andy’s the favorite in the house.

Andy: Yeah, but I do think personality wise, Prem tends to hang out with me, and Squee tends to hang out with Naomi.

Naomi: But I think that’s because Squee and I both just enjoy laying in bed. I’m much more of a mid-day nap person.

Mary: Ah, okay. Yes. Oh yes.

Naomi: So we like—

Mary: Shared interests.

Naomi: Exactly.

Mary: If they were to come on your show, what would their set be about? What would they talk about?

Naomi: I think their set would be about food. It would be about how Squee can’t eat in peace because Prembly doesn’t even come up for air. He just literally houses his food and then—and he’ll come and just jump to where you know, we put Squee up higher–

Mary: Yes.

Naomi: And he’ll jump up there, and then Squee just kind of like backs away.

Mary: [Gasps.]

Naomi: He’s not going to fight him over it. He’s just like, okay. And I believe their whole set would be about like, (imitating Squee) Can’t I eat? That’s the voice for Squee in my head.

Andy: [Laughter.]

Mary: [Laughter.]

Naomi: He’s a little bit like Chris Tucker. [Laughter.]

Mary: Oh, interesting. Interesting.

Andy (imitating Squee/Chris Tucker): Do you understand the meows coming out of my mouth?

Naomi: Can I live? I’m trying to eat, bitch! Like that would be his vibe.

Andy: Usually, when it’s not ant season—yes, there is an ant season in Los Angeles, and it sucks—we feed Squee behind a door so he can just eat in peace. But now with any season, we have to feed them in the same room, we have to supervise it, because the minute you turn your back—

Mary: The ants.

Naomi: They come.

Andy: An ant comes. And when one comes, then three come. And then when three come and they’re all squiggling back, then that’s when all of them like flood in.

Naomi: So it’s a whole thing.

Mary: I did not know this. That sounds awful. Do the cats eat the ants?

Naomi: Oh no.

Andy: No, no, no. They don’t care about the ants.

Naomi: They’re truly like—you’ll literally be like, didn’t y’all—you would think they would start pawing at the ground or doing something.

Andy: Too small. Too small, they don’t care.

Naomi: But when there are that many of them?

Mary: You would think.

Naomi: I know.

Andy: It’s got to be like, I think about a half inch or so for them to care. I think ants move too regularly. If it’s a bug that like does a little herky-jerky dance?

Naomi: Yeah.

Mary: Yeah, cats like the irregular motion. But yeah, we had a mouse in my apartment a few years ago, and my cat Grendel sat there like, oh, this is so interesting.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: And the mouse ran into a closet, and she just walked up and sat in front of the closet like, huh.

Andy: Appreciating it.

Mary: Who knew! And I was like—you’re—it—like—anyway, I had to trap and kill the mouse myself.

Naomi: Oh my god.


Mary: You guys have talked about your story. You met at UCB what, like 10 years ago, right?

Naomi: Yeah, almost.

Mary: I mean, how did you feel when you realized, okay, here’s this girl, she’s awesome, she’s cool, she’s smart, she’s pretty, she seems to be into me.

Naomi: Thank you so much.

Mary: But she’s allergic to cats. Did you have a moment of panic? Is it going to work? I mean, was there internal conflict? Or did you just believe in love?

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: I don’t know, our first year was so tumultuous anyway.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: That helps. That helps.

Andy: There was a lot of other stuff going on that I think—that’s the thing. Because I treat cats as their own sovereign beings again, let’s go with that phrase.

Naomi: Yes, continue. The sovereignty of the feline.

Mary: Sure.

Andy: I have a masters in philosophy. Let’s go with that as a—

Naomi: Cool. Cool, cool, cool. Smart and cool and good. Yeah, plug yourself.

Andy: I got—when I didn’t get that Freud question?

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: I got very, very insecure. Call me Issa Rae, because I am insecure.


Naomi: Also, how did we not know that question about cat owners being 12% more neurotic?




Mary: You know what it was, you were overthinking it. You’re too neurotic. That’s the problem.


Naomi: Thank you.


Mary: Do you talk about your cats in therapy?

Naomi: [Laughter.] The only time we’ve talked about our cats in therapy was when we were moving from New York to L.A., because that—we had never flown with them before, we had never really taken them anywhere besides the vet, and that was even a production. You know, New York, get in a cab, Prembly pees in the carrier.

Mary: Oh no.

Andy: Why would you say that on air about Prem? That’s private!

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: When he is scared he does tend to urinate.

Naomi: It happens.

Mary: It happens to a lot of people.

Andy: Let’s just say the entire flight from New York to L.A. I was covered in cat urine.

Mary: [Laughter.]

Naomi: It was bad. It was bad, and I was like, these pants are in the garbage. There’s no washing this out. This is done.

Mary: Yeah, there’s no salvaging that.

Andy: So when we talked about this in therapy was, I was scared that Prem would, like, have a heart attack on the plane, I was really—you know, that was the big, besides not wanting to move to L.A. for either of us, I think that the—

Naomi: Oh, that was the huge fear. It was. And it was like, how to handle that. Andy tends to hold that anxiety. I mean, even now, they’re in L.A. and we’re here in New York, and I miss them terribly, but I truly have to kind of disassociate. Like I tell our friend who’s catsitting, I go, send me pictures just so I know, but they have made it this far, they have always survived. I am not going to entertain any negative notions, you know?

Mary: Yes.

Naomi: Because once you let the anxiety in, it’s a wrap.

Mary: Yes.

Naomi: So I cannot—

Mary: It spirals. Yeah.

Naomi: And it was definitely a part of our conversations about like, I care as much as you do about this, but I cannot let the anxiety in. [Laughter.]

Mary: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Andy: I don’t know what people with kids do. I don’t understand—if I have this amount of fear for something that I didn’t create, like I don’t know how you like, send a kid off to day school.

Mary: Oh, you’re just—you’re still spiraling. Still just—it’s just variations on spiraling, really. I mean, it’s—if you’ve ever spiraled down in a dark hole of panic, anxiety and despair, it’s really just that, I mean.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: I mean, I don’t have to spiral. I live in that space.

Mary: And then, you know, you go pick them up from school and they’re like sticky, you know, and that’s—and wonderful, I should say.

Naomi: Sticky and wonderful.

Mary: Sticky and wonderful, sure.

Andy: By the way, that sounds like a bad indie movie. Sticky and Wonderful, by Nicole Holofcener.

Mary: Sticky and Wonderful! Okay. So—Nicole, sorry, we love you! When you fight, which I’m sure is not very often—

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: Because you’re both in therapy and it’s all good, um, do they take sides in the fight?

Naomi: If I retreat to any corner, Squee will follow me. So I feel less alone.

Andy: They’re good at reading emotions. Like, I don’t know about angry, but when I’m sad they definitely like come and lick my arm.

Mary: So if she hurts your feelings, they’re like, what did that bad lady do to you?

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: Yeah, then they’ll walk over.  They’ll like stand on their hind legs and claw Naomi.

Naomi: [Laughter.] Well Prembly is very, for lack of a better term, dog-like.

Mary: Mm-hmm, yeah, some cats are.

Naomi: In that he, literally, when he hears the door, he runs to the door for Andy. And he like, comes and he waits, and if Andy’s in the bathroom, he sits outside the bathroom door and waits for him in that very just like, dutiful way. So when he’s having a feeling, Prembly’s all over it. He’s there.

Andy: Squee’s actually the better one, honestly. If I’m like really feeling it, Squee will come and like, sit with me.

Naomi: It’s very tender, the love you have. I will say, that is definitely part of what made you a winner in my eyes.

Andy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Oh, a man with a cat. Forget it.

Naomi: But then it was so funny how many people, which I’d never known, women, my friends would be like, he has cats?

Mary: What?

Naomi: They were very like, eww, what?

Mary: No!

Naomi: Yeah, so I got so much shade in the beginning, which I didn’t even know was a thing. Even though we don’t plan on having kids, the way Andy treats the cats is like, oh, he would be a good dad. You know?

Mary: Yes, well he is a good dad. He’s a good dad to Squee and Prem. That’s absolutely it.

Naomi: Exactly.

Mary: Speaking of parenting, are you on the same page as cat parents? Is one of you the good cop?

Andy: Honestly, we trade off on those things.

Naomi: Right.

Andy: Because there are times when like I’m like, don’t feed them more treats, they don’t need it.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: And Naomi’s just like throwing out the Greenies.

Mary: [Laughter.] Making it rain Greenies.

Andy: Like they’re going out of business.

Naomi: I know, I’m trying to make it rain in the house. Give it to them! What else are they doing?

Andy: We’re not Greenie-aires, what are you doing?

Mary: They’re good for their teeth.

Naomi: Exactly!


Mary: I want to give you, Andy, a quick chance to redeem yourself here. I knew that you studied philosophy, so on the train here I also studied philosophy, which is to say I read some Wikipedia entries.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: [Laughter.]

Mary: I’m really fascinated by this idea, this concept of a collective consciousness. This idea that we, as a society, all of our consciousness rises up into something that is a whole, that is a unit, right?

Andy: Geist.

Mary: Geist!

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: Are cats part of the geist? Or is their collective consciousness something separate, perhaps a catgeist?

Naomi: Ohhh.

Andy: I think cats are part of it by dint of being part of human culture. Like, do you ever notice this? Hey, here’s a bit.

Naomi: Oh, Lord.

Andy: No, no, no, but like—there are things that our cats, by being around us, have learned. So they have like, there’s a little bit of human culture in cats. Like, definitely like they use their paws like hands. At least my cats.

Naomi: Yeah, to tap you, right?

Mary: Yes.

Naomi: The meowing is like, right? In the wild, cats are silent.

Mary: Right.

Naomi: And they meow because they know that that will get attention.

Mary: Right. They’ve learned this from us.

Naomi: Right.

Andy: Yeah, there are things they’ve learned from us. So I, and also, in the internet years we’ve elevated cats to like, pop culture icons.

Mary: Sure.

Naomi: Memeable.

Andy: Mm-hmm. So I think through that they have become part of the geist. And then of course geist feeds back into us as individuals, and then we create geist. It’s a feedback loop.

Naomi: Wow.

Mary: Yes. Right. So the cat consciousness affects our consciousness in an ongoing circle.

Andy: I don’t think they have their own separate consciousness. I think—

Mary: See, I think they do. I think they do.

Naomi: Really?

Andy: But they have to have some inroads to creating their own culture. I don’t think animals, [Laughter], animals—

Naomi: I don’t know, I think animals have their own culture.

Andy: No, I don’t believe that. Because they have to have symbolic competence. So I think there are some animals.

Naomi: That’s complicated.

Andy: I think dolphins. I think dolphins, maybe pigs have.

Mary: We’re not talking about dolphins. The show is not Let’s Talk About Dolphins.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: No, no, no, what I’m saying—I’m saying the animal has to have symbolic competence to be able to create culture.

Mary: Well, I didn’t read the Wikipedia for symbolic competence, so I’m not going to comment on that.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Mary: But I truly believe that cats—I agree with you, they are part of our consciousness and our collective consciousness, I also believe that they have a catgeist, mostly because I just like saying catgeist.

Naomi: Well I was going to say, I think catgeist is, yeah.

Andy: Read the wonderful book, “The Symbolic Species.” It goes into—

Naomi: Oh God. You do own that.

Mary: I’ll put that on my to do list, Andy.

Naomi: [Laughter.]

Andy: It’s great. It’s a great book.

Mary: That’s a great idea. I’ve got one last question. It’s the most important one. Who scoops the litter box?

Andy: Oh, that’s me.

Naomi: Andy.

Mary: Andy! The philosopher scooping the litter box. I love it.


Mary: Okay, so we have some shout-outs to do. Some listener shout-outs. We want to say hello to Ms. Pepper and Jinx in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

Andy: [Laughter.]

Naomi: Hmm.

Mary: My note says, Jinx has been a bad boy lately, and he knows what he did. He probably doesn’t even deserve this shout-out.

Naomi: Oh, Jinx.

Andy: Uh oh.

Mary: Jinx. Uh, and a very special shout-out to Harvey Milkstache of New York City, who has been helping his mom while she recovers from an injury. He is a very good boy.

Naomi: Aww.

Mary: Thank you, Harvey. Jinx, I think maybe you could learn a few things from Harvey. If you’d like me to give your cat a shout-out on an upcoming episode, send us an e-mail—shouts@letstalkaboutcats.com. Tell me the name of your cat, their gender pronouns, where they live, and any special message that you would like included. Alright, we have been here with Naomi Ekperigin, Andy Beckerman, the hosts of Couples Therapy, and the parents of Squee and Prem. Oh, wait. Lizzie’s going to murder me. Um, would you like to say anything to Squee and Prem at home?

Naomi: Squee and Prem. I want you to know that at the moment of recording this, that we miss you very much.

Andy: Desperately. I have trouble sleeping.

Mary: Ohh.

Naomi: And we, you are very sweet boys, and we cannot wait to see you.

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

Mary: Folks, if the listeners want to find you, they want to keep up with everything you’re doing, what is the best place on the internet for people to go?

Naomi: You can holler at us @naomiandandy on Twitter.

Andy: That’s for Couples Therapy, that’s for the show.

Mary: Oh, okay.

Naomi: Yeah, and so we put our stuff there.

Andy: Naomi’s on Twitter @blacktress, and I’m on Twitter @andybeckerman.

Naomi: Yes, and of course the cats feature heavily in our podcast episodes.

Mary: Yes!

Naomi: In fact, sometimes we have to be—I have to be told, especially, to stop.

Mary: No, don’t stop.

Naomi: Thank you.

Andy: [Laughter.]

Mary: Don’t stop. More cats! More cats! Uh, and yeah, we’ll link everything on the show notes at letstalkaboutcats.com, which is where you can find us. This has been another episode of Let’s Talk About Cats. To make sure you don’t miss another episode, subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Letstalkaboutcats.com is our website. Our producer is the calm and centered Lizzie Jacobs. She doesn’t need any therapy at all. Our theme song is by Poingly, with additional music by The English Muffins. Our logo is by Julia Emiliani. Thank you all so much for listening, and I’ll talk to you next time, about cats. Bye.