Rita Reimers is the founder of Just for Cats, a company that has been providing cat behavior services and cats-only pet-sitting for the last 18 years. She's the world's most in demand cat behaviorist and has written a new book called The Lucky Cat Approach to Cat Behavior Correction, which will give people the knowledge and tools to better understand and develop a deep bond with their cats. She is joined by her Executive Director Linda Hall who worked with health and fitness guru Richard Simmons for 17 years, where she met Rita. When Richard retired Linda joined Just for Cats.

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Full Transcript:

Passionistas: Hi and welcome to the Passionistas Project Podcast. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington and today we're talking with Rita Reimers and Linda Hall of Just for Cats, a company that has been providing cat behavior services and cat-only pet sitting for the last 18 years. Rita, the world's most in demand cat behaviorist, has written a new book called "The Lucky Cat Approach to Cat Behavior Correction," which will give people the knowledge and tools to better understand and develop a deep bond with their cats. Rita also writes a hugely popular cat behavior help and advice column called "A New Cattitude" which answers questions through her membership only group Club Cattitude and is launching a new line of USA-made cat toys and bedding called Gracie and Esther. Linda worked with health and fitness guru Richard Simmons for 17 years, which is where she met Rita. Linda was Richard's customer service manager on his website — working with site visitors, posting content and participating in chats. When Richard retired, Linda joined just for cats as executive director. So please welcome to the show, Rita Reimers at Linda Hall.

Rita: Great. Thank you so much for having us.

Passionistas: Oh, I'm so glad I am exhausted just reading that intro.

Rita: But we love it. I've dedicated my life to cats. I left a six figure salary job to start over from scratch. It's actually 18 years now. Um, I left corporate America about 15 years ago, but the first three I did was doing both cat sitting and cat behavior counseling. Actually three things. I was still in corporate America and working for Richard Simmons all at the same time. And I thought, how can I make my life harder? I know I'll quit the job that makes all the money and I've not looked back. I've not looked back since I'm, I'm very blessed.

Passionistas: We like to ask our very first question on both of you is, and I think we know the answer, but what are you most passionate about?

Rita: Cats. Keeping cats more than that. Keeping cats in people's homes. Helping somebody with a behavior issue that may have meant the cat. What's going to end up being surrendered if we didn't fix it?

Linda: Yes. Cats are so often misunderstood. You know, dogs are so, they're just dogs. They're in their way. Tail is wagging and you hopefully know, I mean there are constant speech bubbles over dogs hands, right? Take you for a walk. Feed me. Cats are so much more complicated than that and the signs are so much less obvious. And Rita has really taught people how to read their cats behaviors, how to read their moods. Um, I can tell now by the way, the tail is curled that he's curious. Blinky eyes means I love you. I mean this whole language that exists and understanding the cats and in solving some problems, there are relatively small problems, which seem really big when you're dealing with it. Like your cat urinating on your bed every night. This gets really big.

Rita: That's a big problem.

Linda: People rehomed their cats over it and it may just be that her litter box, they had just changed litter. The cat liked the letter. So I started. So they changed back and it was all better and things like this. And of course some problems are a lot more complicated than that, but I've seen people on the verge of rehoming their cats that then Rita has spoken to them and given them answers. And these cats can stay home and safe. And that's huge. I mean that's just, I can't think of anything bigger than that than saving lives and keeping families.

Rita: I agree. I agree. That's what it's all about. Saving lives. Yes.

Passionistas: So where does this love of cats come from?

Rita: I think I was born with it. Um, I was given a cat when I was eight years old. We couldn't keep it cause my dad was allergic. Um, but I always felt this affinity towards cats since I was, you know, like two years old. I'd go near a cat. My mom would say, don't put your face near him. And I'd say, I have a cat. He understands. I made my cat, my mom dressed me as a cat, every holiday, um, every, uh, trick or treat Halloween. Thank you. Um, and then my dad had an aunt, my great aunt Chesser who lived in the country and I think she was the original cat person in our family. She did TNR, trap, neuter, release before it was a thing. She fed all the outdoor cats. A few of them became tame and became her pets, but we would, various members of the family go down to Smithville Falx, New York and help her get the kitties and to the vet to be spayed and neutered. Um, I just fell in love with cats then I think.

Passionistas: How about you Linda?

Linda: Uh, yeah, I didn't have cats, like Rita, Rita, Stan was allergic. It was my mom. So we had dogs and I love animals and I love having a pet, but you know that in your face stuff is a little much for me sometimes. Plus taking them outside again, I live where there's snow. It's just not my thing. And so when I got a cat it was like this, this is my, this is my match, this is my soul animal, this is my match. And then, you know, as we got more and found all the differences in cats and, and brought more into the house, it just, it's amazing the things you learn and the feeling. Yeah. And it's just, it's indescribable. I just, I don't know. It's in my soul.

Rita: Well, to make you earn their love, I always say a dog will love you until you give them a reason not to, but account won't love you until you give them a reason to love you.

Linda: That's true.

Passionistas: I love that. So tell us a little bit about your journey separately towards working together.

Rita: Um, well Linda first started working for Richard Simmons way before I did. Um, so Linda, do you want to talk about what you did for and why I snagged you for my company?

Linda: Yeah, I worked for him for 17 and a half years before he officially retired and I started out working as a typing angel, helping him to get his responses to people out, did some infomercials with and worked on some infomercials. We got to do a lot of fun stuff with him. And then I went into managing his clubhouse. So when he retired and Rita was thinking about starting up a cat club house so that people can have more access to her and her behavior, how she called me and she said, I heard Richard's retiring and you're losing your job. And I said, yes, I'm so stressed. And she said, lack of work for me. Yes, please.

Rita: No, I needed your skill set. And I knew Linda through Richard Simmons and the clubhouse plus I, uh, produced radios, uh, Richard's radio show on Sirius for three years. It was a live call in radio show three hours every Sunday. Um, so I got my cred of working for Richard. So the other people that worked for Richard Simmons knew I was a genuine, you know, person and not just someone trying to get close to Richard. Um, so Linda and I started developing a friendship. Um, I moved back to the Carolinas from LA and right away I was so fortunate to be offered the opportunity to do some videos for Catster magazine. And the producer of the videos happened to be right here in Charlotte because I said, darn, I can't do it. I just left LA and they're like, well, you know what, the producers are in Charlotte five miles away from me.

So I started doing those videos, uh, there actually for a website at the time called Pecha that's now owned by chewy. Everything's been changed around a little bit. And through that, um, Catster offered me the New Cattitude column right around the time I was wanting to launch the clubhouse. And Linda became free and she had been coming to me for cat advice anyway as her cat family was growing. And I knew she had the skill set to help me make a success of this clubhouse. And the reason I'm doing the clubhouses, you know, not everybody can afford a personal cat behavior session. Plus I'm in, just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. I can't be everywhere. I can't go everywhere, reach everyone. Um, and not everyone can afford that anyway. So I wanted to have a clubhouse where people can have a community of other likeminded people or other people who've had similar problems and access to me and my staff.

Um, so they can come to us for cat behavior help, funny stories. Some camaraderie with each other. We've got some awesome sponsors with some great prizes from, um, Litter Genie, uh, Pretty Litter, Catster magazine of course. Um, and then, uh, the Cat Lady Box came aboard and oddly enough Spanglers candy, which that's good too. Doesn't love candy. Um, they were originally going to be sponsoring our Catstitute Cruise, but we can't do that right now with the COVID 19. So the clubhouse is even more important for people to join. We actually just cut the price in half. It was $19 a month. It's now $9.95 a month because I want everyone to be able to afford to have a cat behaviorist in their toolbox when they have a problem. Come to me, come to the clubhouse, come to the people there. Come to Linda who has eight cata and a dog. Um, Nikki and Sebastian, a married couple who have five cats. Um, we all know cats. Right. And what fun. It's fun to giving away.

Linda: Yes. Yes, yes. Well, when we took the clubhouse, she was saying, you know, with Covdshould we offer a month free or something? Everybody's struggling. People are off work. So we decided to do a $1 for the first month and the dollar is going until June. We're donating it to a local rescue here in Ohio, Friends of Felines. And then after that we'll switch to another rescue so that you can get a month for a dollar and you're donating the dollar to a rescue. So rescues are in trouble right now. So yeah.

Passionistas: Rita, you were saying that you had a six figure career. It's one thing to love cats and want to have a lot of cats. It's another thing to decide to make it your career. So what inspired you to do this full time?

Rita: Well, I had a very successful career in information technology. I was somewhat of a hybrid between the tech people and the business people. And I was good at my job, but honestly I was bored. Mmm. My last position was with a nonprofit organization that's awesome, called the California Endowment, but by and large, my career has been spent working for companies, making the people up at the top, rich, not contributing anything much to society. And then doing pet sitting on the side, at the time I did both cats and dogs, seeing what some of these animals go through.

Linda: Um, and then volunteering for rescues. Really getting a look firsthand at how many animals needlessly wind up in the shelters, let alone the ones that are born because people don't span neuter. Mmm. I knew I had to change the focus of my life and with the cat sitting, that was the first start, you know, towards getting into people's homes, getting people's ear, you know, having them trust me as a cat expert and listen to what I had to say if they came to me for advice. You know, I had to be very careful because someone came coming to me for pet-sitting cats and didn't necessarily want advice, but if they asked, they got it, you know, or if I, thought that something was really a miss and had to be addressed. No, I find a way to bring it up subtly. Uh, I know it was so much more rewarding even though at first it didn't pay well.

It still doesn't really pay anywhere near what I was making. I don't care. I'm happier. And I want to leave a legacy behind of, um, having more people understand cat behavior. A goal of mine and Linda's is to go into the schools and teach children at a young age about appropriate behavior with all kinds of pets, not just cats, but cats tend to be the ones that get picked on a lot by children who really don't understand animals have the same heart, soul and feelings that we do. Um, I don't have children, so I'm looking to lend us children to carry on the legacy. When she and I and her husband, Brian, are no longer here. I want to leave something behind that. It makes a positive dent in cats lives and the lives of their owners, owners. I hate to use that word. We don't really own the cat.

Right? Yeah. Yeah. And that's another reason we're looking at launching this. USA-made pet Caroline too. Um, something that I've been talking about doing for years. I've seen the tide change. People want more USA-made products. Um, so Linda and I right now we're working on um, catnip and cat toys, a spray catnip that's made from homegrown organic cotton grown in defiance, Ohio. And some cat toys that have this organic catnip in them don't have any loose. You know, sometimes you'll see little whiskers, a little eyes on the toys and you know, cats can eat those, swallow them, choke on them. So, um, Linda and Nicki, her, her daughter who works for us hand so's everyone by hand. Of course when we make it big, we'll have to go into a manufacturing situation, but we make them in such a way that even if the cat was to chew on the thread, somehow it won't come apart. Linda, talk about that a little bit.

Linda: Yeah, I, so about an inch and then I back up and go forward. And so an inch, so if at any point it comes, and this, this was quite an eye opening thing that Rita taught me, you know, we buy toys that are cute and attractive to us, right? Googly eyes, your cat couldn't care less about that space or go go. They just want the toy. And we had, I remember we had a booking for when we had the cat sitting business and the lady called and said her cat was an emergency stomach surgery. He had ripped open his toy and eaten insides, weaker jingle bell or whatever and it was lodged in his intestine, emergency surgery, darn near die. You know, you don't think about this stuff. You just assume anything you buy is safe. And then you know, some of the materials have a lot of dyes on them. You see it water bowl and then your water bowl turns blue. Your cat slobbering on this is all very, very scary. So you know, you don't need tails and Danglies and, and you know your cat just monster.

Rita: The thing is if it's shaped like a mouse or a square or something round, they don't care. I'm like little mice just for the owner. Exactly.

Linda: But yeah, no eyes, no jingle bells sticking on them, nothing like that. And yeah, sewing and stopping and sewing and stopping because that was another thing. String causing obstruction or they can um, get it tangled around their neck. So this way, the most they're going to unravel is about an inch at a time. So they'll be separate pieces. So yeah.

Rita: And why are we called Gracie and Esther?

Linda: Gracie and Esther are our alternate personalities. You were any pet sitting conference and Rita gets these colds or whatever sinus thing and she can't hear. And what exactly, it's really fun sharing a hotel room with her because you say something and, and you'll hear, I think you said something, but I have no idea what it was or so one point I was just tired and loopy and said, Esther put your hearing aid and you can't hear a thing. It's so this just became this thing.

Rita: Then her daughter became little girl.

Linda: It just kind of took off on its own. So we decided that was a cute name to brand our business.

Rita: It'll be just for cats by Gracie and Esther.

Linda: Gracie and Esther.

Rita: You gotta laugh. That's the other thing. You know, we laugh a lot. I didn't laugh in the corporate world, you know, we laugh a lot, even though we see some tragic things, you know, wait, we try to end the day on some kind of humorous note. My cats make me laugh all the time. I know Linda's yours do too.

 

Linda: We've learned to laugh at everything. Best thing on earth is to be talking to Rita and have her come out and tear you out. Who did that? You know, as she steps in that pilot bar for whatever. So I finally told her one day, this is the epitaph that's going on your gravestone. Who did that?

Rita: Cause I'm a behaviorist. My cats are not perfect. I have 19 I just don't have the fighting or any of that. They get along well sometimes. But you know, I have little jealousy issues. I sometimes have pee pee on the floor accidents or you know, whenever they have a hairball, they're not going to do it on my wood floor. They're going to do it on my big area rug. Right, or the sofa or the bed. Yeah, there was like three nights in a row. This week I slept on the sofa because my two shy cats that are a little bit, yeah. Skiddish where on my bed? On my pillow, on my side and I'm like, I can't disturb them for three nights.

 

Linda:… gave up the bed one night and tried to go to the couch and they were mauling her and I got this text in the middle of the night. I'm just going to sleep on the floor in my office.

Rita: So I went upstairs into their bedroom. I slept on it one of the nights, but you know, 10 of them found me. Unbelievable.

Linda: Everyone the key to me, you know, it sounds crazy having 19 cats read and did not go to a shelter and decide no. Her cat house with 19 cats. I can find me. The key to Rita is send her a picture of a cat with the soulful eyes, you know, looking right into the camera and then tell her the story about how it's got a dangling leg or it's unadoptable or it's going to be euthanized. And she will be in the car and go get that kid.

Rita: I've got one just three minutes before we went on the air. I can't do it. I can't take it anymore. I can't. So I CC'd my mom, who runs the humane society of Lancaster, South Carolina, and I said, can you get photos? Can you, can you shop this around on your web, on your internet, on your website, on your Facebook? I can't take anymore. 20 is max? That doesn't mean I have an opening at night. An empty spot. We're perfect right now. The last two that I adopted were kittens. I didn't mean to adopt them, but of course, you know, a friend of mine found an orange kitchen and she had 12 cats and she's like, I know this kitten's yours. I know you love orange kitties. I took the kitten and he was great. He was getting along with my adult cats but were going nuts cause he was hyperactive so I purposefully went out and got this last kitten Sweetie Pie and the two of them are best buddies since she's kind of my heart cat now. I'm glad I went and got her, but she's the only cat I ever went and got on purpose and I'm done. No more.

Passionistas: You're listening to the Passionistas Project Podcast and our interview with Rita Reimers and Linda Hall. During the month of June, Rita is offering cat lovers the first month's membership to Club Cattistude for only $1. She's also donating that dollar directly to Friends of Felines Rescue Center in Defiance, Ohio. To join visit RitaReimers.com/joinclubcattitude and use the discount code HELPFFRC to donate to Friends of Felines Rescue Center. Now here's more of our interview with Rita and Linda.

Why do you think people who like cats are so open to having so many cats?

Rita: Well I know what happened to Linda. It would probably help us to a lot of people. You go out and you adopt cat and you think, I want this wonderful lap cat. I want this cat to love me and sit with me. And you know, maybe you don't end up with that kind of cat and then you already have, then you start thinking, well how would I want to be the only cat in a house full of people? I should get one more. Everybody says it's easier with two, I should get one more. So you go get one more. Maybe those two get along. Maybe they don't. And you still don't get your laptop. You sit on the sofa at night and you're like, okay, I got to get another one. But then what happens is the rescue or shelter, they got your pegged and they're like, Oh, that's a sucker. So then, then she had went public and I know this happened to Linda and Brian. Linda, we just took in this cat. Oh yes, we have to find out a home. This was latte, right? Do you want to tell the story?

Linda: Latte had been born in the rescue. I went and started with my daughter who needed a cat fix. So she wanted to volunteer at this, at the local rescue friends of felines, and, but she was under 16 so she needed an adult to go with her. Fine. I'm just going to sit and watch the cats. Right. So of course I fall in love when we come home and my husband has decided he hates cats, which I guarantee you, he's sitting in a chair of the cat in his lap right now. Guaranteed. So it didn't stick. So now he hates cats. No cats, no cats. So then finally it's all right. One can't go get super that you keep. So I went and got super, and then it's like, you know, everybody says you need to. So okay. So we went and we got back and then we went to this fall festival and the owner was selling things to raise money for her rescue. I was just thinking of you. She says this mama cat had had these babies, her name was Java. They got all got coffee names. They were all adopted out for some reason. Latte's Parents had to move lattes, lived in a home for a few years and Oh shoot, I just don't want to put her back at the rest. We went and got the cat. But you know, I find being a former dog person, when you sit down on the couch, your dog is jumping up with you.

I had three cats was looking around. Where's the cats? You know, they're laying in the, I mean I have eight cats. All I can see one laying in the window right now, but nobody's in this bedroom with me right now. So you gotta have more to have interaction all the time

Rita: They don't need as much focused energy and attention as a dog. So you can have I think three cops to one dog. Yeah. Still not be expanding the amount of energy it takes to take care of a dog. I love dogs. But they just, they were require more constant energy.

Passionistas: So tell us a little bit about the book, Rita.

Rita: "The Lucky Cat Approach," I'm working on that one right now. And that is based on, um, what I've learned from doing some cat behavior sessions with people. Um, I remember one session I did with this couple and they, they adopted this cat and the wife really wanted to keep the cat but he kept attacking the husband. I want to go out there to do the session. This is kind of sad. He was kind of treating the cat like people used to treat dogs with the rolled of newspaper, smacking it over the head.

Well the cat would get, you know, bite him or nip at him cause he was trying to play cause he was never raised right. He was raised in a shelter. He didn't know what it was like to be in a home and the guy would yell at the dog or the cat and knock it on the nose and then wonder why when he went near the cat, the cat lunged at him. Okay. So I had to teach him. Let me, let me call it up on my other computer so that I tell you exactly the acronym correctly. Mmm. It's really all this will spell lucky cat. It's about loving your cat unconditionally, just the way he is. And understanding your cat's point of view on life and his unique capabilities, which means, you know, you may want a lap cat, you might not be a lap cat cause you don't know when he went through before he got to you.

Right. I have one Picasso. She was very neglected. She wasn't really abused, she was just neglected. And she'll come to me when she's scared of something I thought were strong or what have you. She'll come to me and let me Pat her. I could scratch her under the chin, behind the ear with whatever. Other than that, I can't really touch her because she is not used to that. So I have to accept that that is her capability. That's the level of interaction she can accept. And that's it. I can't turn her into a lap cat like my Simba. Um, and you've got to communicate with your cat every day. Some people don't bring a cat home though. I care. I have a cat. They put it down and that's it. They never interact with it again. They expect the cat to come to them when it needs something.

That's not how it works. You've got to communicate, you've got to seek out your cat every day. Mmm. And you've gotta be kind to your cat because that's what strengthens the bond between, right. If you're treating it like that man who was, you know, smacking the cat for not acting right. Or even the water bottle. I don't really believe in the water bottle. You know, your cat is going to start being afraid of you. That's going to cause all kinds of anxiety and behavior issues. Maybe you can't even solve them because the cat becomes some petrified of people ends up in the shelter and get euthanized. Right. So, you know, you've gotta be an active participant in molding your cat's personality. You can't just have them sit under the bed and be an aloof cat. You know, you've got to actively participate in drawing them out with toys and treats sitting by him, reading to, you know, showing him you're not going to hurt him.

Mmm. Consistency is really the key to making it all work and the amount of tension and time you spend with your cats is critical to keeping that bond between you. So you have a cat, you know you've been paying attention to forever or you're, your daughter has been instrumental in this cat's daily life and then she goes off to college. Well somebody who's going to have to fill in, you can't just let that cat sit there cause he'll start to revert to his natural tendencies to be aloof. It's scared of people because um, the most important thing that people need to know about cats I think is that they're both predator and prey. Unlike dogs, their constant life is spent in a hypervigilant state waiting for something to have them for dinner. Okay. They are wither hunted or being hunted. So yeah, that's why cats get so startled when there's noises, when there's new smells in the household. That's why when somebody comes to your door, most cats will take off running to hide because their first instinct is self preservation. And you have to know that and that that's really what drives us 95% of what your cats do. Oh,

Not a lot of people do realize that. You know. And another thing too is like we, we went out and we domesticated dogs. We turned them into working dogs and we bred them and made different types of dogs. Cat's decided to come to us. They domesticated themselves. They started coming to our, you know, many thousands of years ago to our, our camps, you know, to take the little scraps of food to eat the mice that were attracted by our food and slowly, you know, worm their way into our hearts. Cause if you look at kitten or even a full grown cat, look at their face, a lot of it resembles a human face. Their cry sounds like a baby cry. Okay. It gets right into our hearts. But they decided to become part of our lives. We didn't go out and domesticate them. So our relationship with cuts is a lot more fragile than it is with dogs.

Passionistas: That's so interesting. Um, you, um, you also have a, um, cat behavior and help advice column called "A New Cattitude,” which I love, love that name. Um, is there, are, you know, is there one or two stories, are there one or two stories that stand out to you from your years of doing that, that kind of resonate with you? Some of your favorites are some of the more challenging questions you've been asked?

Rita: I think, um, biggest challenge that I, I hate to pick on people that I know, but it just happens to be Linda's daughter and son-in-law when they were engaged to be married. And Sebastian and NICU moved in together to say, go for the wedding. She had two cats and I'll did he on tartar harder to not, he's a momma's cat. He did not like Sebastian at all. He would swipe at and his Adam and they didn't know what they were going to do. So I suggested make Sebastian the one that does the feeding, make him be the one that gives the treats, you know, make him be the one that puts the food down at night and talks to him. Slowly but surely they forged a relationship and I think he can even pet tiger now. Am I right Linda?

Linda: Yeah, tight tigers. A cranky old man. That's, we just call him the grumpy old man and he even scares that tax not to need a lot of vet techs. Hand ones. You just see him with Nikki. He's like such a loving, wonderful kid. And then anybody else, it's like watch your face. He's not an ego. So he's, I don't think he's in love with Sebastian, but he tolerates Sebastian and Sebastian is allowed to sleep with his wife and that is a very good outcome. It's luck. It's, they're allowed to share a bed cause he wouldn't have and he'd wedge in between them and he'd growl and his like, the wedding's off. Tiger doesn't like me.

Rita: That's an important factor though. I mean if your pets don't like your spouse, that's bad. Really bad. I think another one is I went to this behavior session here in Charlotte and they have three cats each living in a separate room and I said to them, How long have you been been in this situation? You know, two or three years. You can't live like that, but they were hesitant to do the introduction too because of course it looks like what children, they're not going to love each other at first. A few merge a husband and wife like a Brady Bunch, and you merge human children. There's going to be a resistance. Just like with cats. What are you going to do separate them? Your kids live on this side of the house and live on the side of the house.

When they move out, we can get back together. There's ways to work through the painful process. Most often the posturing and the noise you hear when you're introducing cats to each other or even to a dog, it's noise, you know? Very seldom do you really see physical fighting and blood. That's very rare, but people, you know, it hurts them to see that. So they'd rather live with their cats all separated forever or they'd go through that pain.

Linda: 90% of the time it's just bark. Like kids fighting with each other.

Rita: Yeah, right, exactly. Even my cat that love each other, pinky and booboo, brother, sister love each other. Booboo gets a wild hair and he'll just decide to antagonize his sister and she'll yell at him and know she's like, what's going on in the background? Just pink and verbose. I don't even get up anymore. I think me teaching people that, that's just, you know, it's a temporary painful hatch they have to go through and it's much worse for them than it is for the cats. The cats, they either love each other or they learn to be respectful, be distinct from each other.

Passionistas: Have you found a new behavioral issues arising during this time of COVID 19 and if you had tips for people about how to deal with the togetherness?

Rita: Yeah. You know, at first, if you don't work at home and you're at home, you're interrupting your cats sleeping period. Usually they're sleeping during the day. They're like, why are you here? Get out of my, get off my sofa. I want to slip there. You know? Then after a while they're used to being there. Mmm. Then you're going to go back to work and they're going to go through separation anxiety. They're like, why aren't you there? I used to be on there at my Beck and call. I could lie on you whenever I want. Um, so I always suggest that people do what I'm doing right now. I shut myself in my office. There's no cats in here. Let them have some time. Apart from you, let them have their routine. You know, they're looking at, they're making a new routine. Cats don't like change. You disrupted their routine by being at home. Now you have to make a new routine, which I think includes having them be on their own and having you be in a separate room or go outside for a walk or do something to be apart from them.

Um, so I noticed that I have a cat that's very attached to me. Smoochy I've had her since she was four weeks. She's three legged. She's always been extremely attached to me, but it's getting worse. Mmm. She's practically under my rear end when I sleep on it. When I sit on the sofa, I sleep all the stuff I want. I sit on the sofa and she started like lunging and parking at the other cats when they come near me. So I have to consciously make sure I get up here for a few hours every day. And that seems to be, make her relax a little bit, not be quite so anxious that she's got to be right up against me every moment of the day. Um, and the other thing I think that's important is cultivating this routine around, um, what I call the four PEGS of cat behavior. There's four basic behaviors that cats do every day to ensure their survival.

One of them is they hunt for Prey. That's the P. We may make that by playing with them. So really take a wild type toy or something. You can make them chase around, mimic that they're hunting, let them catch it and then feed them. That's the E in the pigs is they eat, they'll eat their dinner or breakfast and then right away count's instinct is to groom and they do this cause out of nature. They want to get all the particles of remnants of their kill off of them so that their predators cap find them. Yeah, fine. Aren't attracted by the smell of the prey. And so they won't become someone's dinner. And then lastly they're going to go to sleep. That's pegs. So I always suggest people, even when they're home, practice those morning and night, because in the morning you're going to do play, eat, groom, sleep. You're going to go off to work, so sleeping or you're going to be up in your office or what have you. And then at night I'm going to do it again. So I always do it really, you know, maybe an hour or so before I want to go to bed. I do play, eat grim sleep, so they're ready to sleep when I'm ready to sleep. And that way they won't tend to wake you up at three o'clock in the morning when they have you captive and they want to expend that energy. You've already done that by doing PEGS and whatever other antics you might do with them during the middle of the day.

Passionistas: Is this a good time for people to adopt a cat as far as you're concerned?

Rita: I would say so. Um, because you're home, you're able to bond with the cat, especially if you've got introductions to do with other cats or dogs. Um, or children in the household. Um, I know some facilities they are doing video pre adoption screening. Um, so when you go to the shelter or rescue, you know, you get to see the cat that you've been talking about seeing on the video or what have you. Cause too, they're trying to cut down on their, you know, exposure to people as well. So it's not like you can go and walk through the shelters or rescues like you could before I know the shelter, her leg, Castro hasn't even been open. The rescues are, um, I know FFRC they're doing some of that, Linda, it's not what Jack had.

Linda: I just talked to Jackie yesterday and she said it's, it's exhausting. This woman, she's don't, she's just given her life to, that's in her own way and has built this rescue onto her home and it keeps building and she's all about the cats. She's up early, she's up late. Well they have a webcam. So for one thing people can watch a cat and be like, Oh, I love that cat. But you know, often you, you decide, Oh this cat and then you get there and the cats really aloof and not your cat. So she's taking appointments and she's got thumpers room that she can let the cats and people interact one at a time and then they leave and they scrub everything down and disinfect it and then they take the next one. And so it's exhasuting , but it's kitten season and you know, they're getting full, they need help.

Rita: So, and I know she's lost a lot of volunteers due to COVID. And the fear of growing, this is the backbone of what runs our rescues. So it's quite a detail deal, but they're making it work.

Well you talked to a lot of places need fosters now because it's getting season. So they need people to hold onto the cats and socialize them. Maybe not adopt them, but, um, they need places to put all these kids. That's always a need. But I think it's more so now.

Passionistas: So what's the most rewarding part of what you do?

Rita: I am so blessed that I get to make money doing what I love. Um, and at night when I sit down to unwind, watch TV, I have all this unconditional love around me and I have so many people that support me. I didn't know were in my corner. Um, like I won't say her name, but she knows who she is, who hooked me up with my PR firm and my, my manager who believes in what I do so much. He's working pro bono right now and he's a big name. Um, you have support sometimes where you don't even know you have it. And once I started really being open about how many cats, what I do, it's, I'm just amazed. People that I knew from high school. I'm getting support from, I'm working with, um, somebody now who makes jewelry and I knew her in high school and her brother was actually in a Richard Simmons video. I grew up with him too. So everything converging it together. She's selling the jewelry to support animal rescue. She's a big animal rescue person. So we're going to write an article about her. So it's like people from all the aspects of my life are coming back into my life. It's amazing to me how many people care about animals.

Linda: Well, I absolutely can't imagine read it. If there was a number out there somewhere of cats that have not gone to a shelter because of you. I mean, I'm not talking about the 19 you've rescued that, that alone. Well, plus, I mean the cats have come and gone in your life, but how many times somebody has just been, this is it. I can't do it anymore. And I'm going to, and then you help them find a solution and that cat gets to stay in the home. That's money.

Rita: And one of our Richard Simmons friends, Wendy a cat, came up to her door. She'd never had a cat before, largely because I was able to answer questions from her. She kept this cat smokey Simone who passed away recently. She was heartbroken, but I helped her, you know, just, just answering a few questions and encouraging her that, you know, cats need love just like dogs do. It's just in a different way.

Passionistas: What's your secret to a rewarding life?

Rita: I think loving what you do for a living. I'm one of those people that whatever I do for a living, it kind of becomes my life. When I was in information technology, it was a big, huge part of my life. Um, uh, it's kind of my identity. Uh, to me it works. You know, I have to be happy in my work and have it be fulfilling and fit in with my lifestyle. Yeah.

Linda: If you can feel good about what you're doing, which isn't not, I mean like all jobs are necessary. I'm going to get really upset if everybody leaves burger King because I crave a Whopper every once in a while. This is rewarding stuff. But when you have put yourself, you know, working for Richard, I was helping people and support them and getting a healthy lifestyle and answering their questions and that was just, that was a high. And when he was here I was like, I don't know that I can go just work behind a desk and answer phones. I know I'm helping someone, but this was such an onboard and now here I am in this, you know, cat versus weight loss, but still a passion and helping people. That's huge. And if you know that your life has mattered and you help people, that's yeah, that's worth a lot more than money or anything.

Passionistas: Thanks for listening to our interview with Rita Ramers and Linda Hall. During the month of June, Rita is offering cat lovers the first month membership to Club Cattitude for only $1. She's also donating that dollar directly to Friends of Felines Rescue Center in Defiance, Ohio. To join, visit RitaReimers.com/joinclubcatittude and use the discount code HELPFFRC to donate to the Friends of Felines Rescue Center.

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