Hello Reddit! Mary Phillips-Sandy and Lizzie Jacobs here. Our podcast is Let's Talk About Cats, the show that believes in one small, furry truth: Tell me about your cat, and I'll find out who you are. Our second season premiered today with guest Alexandra Silber (author & Broadway actor, most recently seen in the "Fiddler on the Roof" 50th anniversary revival).

Upcoming guests include hip-hop DJ/commentator Jay Smooth, porn star/author Stoya, journalist/Longform cofounder Evan Ratliff, writer/actor Mara Wilson, musician Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors, poet/crafter Eboni Hogan, and many more.

Let's Talk About Cats is known for the Cat Quiz, which surfaces a mind-boggling array of cat-related trivia, and for uniquely honest conversations about life and how we live it (with cats).

Mary hosts the show, has always loved cats, and used to work at Comedy Central. Lizzie produces the show, has zero interest in cats, and used to work at StoryCorps. You can find out more about us here and follow Let's Talk About Cats on Instagram and Twitter.

Please ask us about the show, cats, cat facts, podcasts, creative collaboration, the cat person vs. non-cat person dynamic, or anything else!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/v664n603kzm31.jpg

EDIT: Thanks so much for hanging out and talking about cats with us! We have to go now, but we'll do our best to check back later if you have more questions. And please check out the show wherever you get podcasts, and follow us on Instagram, which is where all the cat pics live. -Mary & Lizzie

Comments: 177 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

NoBSforGma72 karma

Do you believe that cats from different countries have different cultures? So many of the things I have seen written about cats don't apply to mine that I have to wonder.

LTACpod64 karma

This is a great question. Yes, absolutely, I think cats from different countries have different cultures, because cats exist within the context of human culture. And even though people all over the world love cats—and have for millennia—we have different ways of interacting with them, creating environments for them, even talking to them.

At the end of this episode with Andy Beckerman & Naomi Ekperigin, we talk a bit about this. I believe that in addition to being influenced by human culture, and influencing human culture, cats have a culture of their own... a catgeist, if you will. Andy disagreed, and before he became a comedian he was a philosophy professor, so I guess technically he's the expert. But it's fun to think about. Where are you/your cat from? -Mary

NoBSforGma39 karma

I live in Central America and just the weather makes their behavior "different." Instead of seeking the sun or snuggling down in the bedcovers, they mostly sleep on the ceramic tile floor (cool). They also sleep a lot on their back which, I assume, cools their bellies. They don't care for boxes. They don't have beds, preferring to have a variety of sleeping places: tile floor, bench on the porch, my bed, top of the washing machine, etc.

LTACpod33 karma

Ahh! See, my apartment doesn't have ceramic tile floors—I don't know that I've ever seen a NYC apartment that does. And it does get chilly in the winter. So my cat Grendel tends to nest herself into whatever clothing we've left on furniture, or she curls up on an upholstered chair (or her cat bed).

I spoke with journalist Adam Serwer last season. He spent some time in South Korea for work, and ended up adopting a kitty there (even though he'd brought his cats from home, too). He was telling me that many homes in South Korea have heated floors, because it's more common to sit directly on the floor or use low furniture. As a result, his American cats were suddenly interested in hanging out on the floor!

I think the point here is that cats will adapt to their environment in order to maximize their own comfort, which is really quite wise of them. -Mary

LBJ4USA37 karma

Can you tell me any facts relating to both cats and US Presidents?

LTACpod73 karma

Happy to, Mr. President. We actually discussed this in our episode with Ana Marie Cox. Bill Clinton's second inauguration included a special gala for Socks the Cat. It was held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and featured catnip martinis and Newt Gingrich-shaped cat toys. -Mary

LBJ4USA11 karma

Purr Newt! Thank you very much! Did any other presidents have cats?

LTACpod41 karma

There have been MANY presidential cats, yes. Abe Lincoln, total cat lady. Rutherford B. Hayes. Teddy Roosevelt had a couple cats. Calvin Coolidge is interesting, he had a mind-boggling array of pets, including birds, dogs, cats and a bobcat (!) named Smoky. JFK was allergic to cats, which is the second-most tragic fact about his life, but his daughter Caroline had a cat named Tom Kitten for a while. They eventually gave Tom to a White House staffer. Gerald Ford's family had a Siamese.

ReflectiveWave21 karma

What about people who have multiple cats? Does that reveal more about their personality?

LTACpod50 karma

The current record-holder for most cats owned by a guest is Holly Frey, with five. It might have been Holly or someone else who said, basically, multiple cats are a slippery slope—you might start out with two, but then, oh, there's this rescue who needs a home, and then you find a couple kittens...

I think everyone should have exactly as many cats as they want and can support/care for in a healthy way. -Mary

cracksilog18 karma

Have you ever met a cat you didn’t like?

LTACpod32 karma

Mostly, I've met very nice cats. Or at least cats that were their own beings and let me be my own being. But there have been two cats who I wouldn't like to meet again. One belonged to my friends, twins, whose bedrooms were in the attic of an old house, and they shared the attic with their old gray tabby. During sleepovers, I'd awake to her sitting on my face as if she were trying to suffocate me. Quite disconcerting. Then there was an ex who got a cat, Lucy, short for Lucifer, who clearly wanted me out of the picture. It worked. But for all the cats I've met, that's pretty good percentages. Better than people, anyway, and I'm a people person. /Lizzie

LTACpod28 karma

Yes. But I've never met a cat I didn't respect. -Mary

Possibly_a_Firetruck18 karma

Is Stoya going to talk about cats or pussy?

LTACpod36 karma

Yes. -Mary

battraman13 karma

What do you think of people who don't like cats?

LTACpod26 karma

To each their own! I just think they're missing out on a specific type of love and experience, or way of engaging with the world, that to me is unique and delightful and fascinating and totally, totally rewarding. I'm sure they find this kind of fulfillment in some other way, though. Or at least I hope they do.

Lizzie doesn't hate cats, but she doesn't really like them either, although she has come to agree with me that Grendel is the most beautiful cat in the entire world. You know, some people like tea, some people like coffee. It's a preference. (But coffee is better.) -Mary

Jcronin32513 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this AMA! I have a question regarding your opinions on Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that comes from our feline companions and is suggested to impact up to 1/3 of the planets population. There are studies and hypothesis that point towards it having a direct impact in causing mental illness, especially schizophrenia. Is this something that you guys have 1, considered or learned about and 2, are concerned about the impact of it influencing the billions of people that own or adopt cats? More keeps on coming out about it, but it seems like a scary chance to take for taking care of a cat.

I’d love to hear any comments you guys might have on this. Thanks!

LTACpod19 karma

I never really paid attention to this until 2014, when I was pregnant, and my doctor was like "Good news, you now have an excuse to get out of litter box duty for the next nine months." (Spoiler alert: I scooped the litter box a whole bunch of times, nothing bad happened.)

The last thing I read about T. gondii was this Science Magazine overview of the research to date. It seems to me that a) a direct link between T. gondii and schizophrenia in humans has not been established; b) schizophrenia is pretty rare anyway and it doesn't seem like rates are skyrocketing; and c) there are plenty of other environmental risk factors or triggers for both T. gondii infection and schizophrenia, like eating undercooked meat or various viral infections/toxin exposures. In other words, I don't think fear of T. gondii alone should deter you from having a cat, if you want to have a cat.

That said, it'd be great if the science people could come up with an effective T. gondii vaccine. -Mary

vitisrotundifolia11 karma

What are your cats like?

LTACpod34 karma

I have one cat. Her name is Grendel and she is probably the most expressive cat I've ever had. She's very empathetic; that's maybe my favorite thing about her, how sensitive she is, in a good way. But she's not one of those cats who's overly affectionate or eager for attention. She'll keep to herself, it's just that when you need her, she'll be there. She hates loud noises in the hallway and the vacuum. She loves watching pigeons on the fire escape and eating (canned food only, please). -Mary

xelle245 karma

She has a wonderful face!

LTACpod11 karma

Thank you! I will tell her you said so.

alejo6999 karma

Ok, water: I had heard cats prefer running water so I bought a fountain, but then just the other day I read that the reason cats want to drink out of our water glasses is because they prefer "stale" water.

I mean, as long as they're drinking I guess it's all good, but do we actually know whether they prefer still or moving water?

LTACpod14 karma

I feel like I've been saying this a lot, but: I think it really depends on the cat! My late cats Milo and Buckley would always go in the tub after someone had been showering- I'd find them lurking in there licking the faucet because they liked the dripping water so much. And I've definitely known cats who get excited about fountains. My current cat Grendel, on the other hand, will only drink still water in a bowl. She doesn't even try to drink from our glasses if we leave them around. I suppose it's also possible that cats could like different types of water at different times, right? Like some days you feel like iced coffee, other days you crave a seltzer. As you say, the important thing is that they (and we!) stay hydrated. -Mary

Francis_Friesen9 karma

How do you teach a cat to sit?

LTACpod37 karma

Honestly I would not bother trying to do this. If the cat wants to sit, the cat will sit. You should do something more fun and/or productive with your free time. -Mary

caticus_maximus7 karma

I'd love to hear, what are y'alls favorite things about cats? And what do you wish people, who are adamant dog people, knew or could experience about kitties that might change a mind or two into feline adoption?

LTACpod18 karma

Great question, great username. My favorite things about cats are: How varied and specific their personalities are, how empathetic they can be, how they will never bullshit you, how clear they are about what they want, how my connection with them connects me to other cat people past and present, how they shape themselves into loaves or croissants or liquids depending on their mood, and how soft their ears are.

I think a lot of times people who are anti-cat have had a previous bad experience with a cat, for whatever reason. So I wish those folks would understand that cats are as unique as humans, and they might be able to have a better cat experience if they were open to it. Also, cats are really good at figuring you out. If you go in to the situation feeling hostile or anxious or defensive, the cat will pick up on that right away, and your interaction might not be great. I think also people sometimes have very specific expectations about how animals should be or how they should respond to humans, and cats don't play that game. If you go in with a positive intention and a willingness to accept the cat for who and what it is, you might have a better cat moment and start to see things differently. -Mary

Henshin-hero7 karma

My wife and I recently fostered a kitten who we adopted. She is like 4 months and likes to hide a lot. How can I help her come out of her shell?

LTACpod21 karma

I feel like you need to pay the cat tax in order to have this question answered. SHOW US YOUR KITTEN!

I'm not an animal training expert, but I do know that some cats are, by nature, more skittish and solitary than others. And no matter what you do, they may never really be outgoing. But 4 months is still young, and it may just be that she hasn't fully embraced the idea that this is her forever home. Grendel was like this for several weeks when she first came home; I just had to give her time and let her warm up on her own terms. So I'd say, provide good food and treats and a few toys and several cat-friendly nap spots and let the cat know she's in charge of how she interacts with you. -Mary

Henshin-hero16 karma

Thanks for the tips. Asked my wife and the kitten is 3 months old. I will get some treats for her. Here is my cat-tax payment.Pic of Luna. For some reason when she sleeps her tongue comes out and stays out for a bit when she wakes up lol.

LTACpod7 karma


Dreamtrain5 karma


LTACpod6 karma


ajwantsyou5 karma

With no prior knowledge of your guys podcast. Is there days you don't want to talk about cats? And what is that like?

LTACpod8 karma

So the show comes out once a week, and we tape in advance, which means there are plenty of days where I'm not interviewing anyone about cats, or having recorded conversations about cats. It HAS happened that we've booked a taping and then the day comes and I'm tired, or anxious, or depressed, or all of the above, and it takes a little effort to psych myself up on the way to the studio. But I always do, because in the end I'm super grateful to be making the show, and to be working with Lizzie, who is the best. And I'm always excited to meet our guests.

In terms of day-to-day life, there's not a day that goes by that I don't talk about Grendel. -Mary

Francis_Friesen5 karma

How to you teach a cat to stop scratching furnature?

LTACpod13 karma

No idea. Someone tell me if you figure this out. -Mary

Blastoisealways4 karma

Do you have a singular favourite pet cat, past or present?

LTACpod20 karma

Ughhhhh this is so hard to answer. I love all the cats I've ever lived with (shoutout to Midnight, Anatevka, CB, Buckley, Milo, and now Grendel) and they have all been special in different ways.

But I was maybe closest to Milo- he saw me through a couple moves, some big personal and professional transitions, the birth of my kid. He was an odd cat who did not like many people, but he and I bonded immediately. Losing him a few years ago hit really, really hard. I still miss him. Once in a while I get to hang out with him in a dream, which may sound weird to someone who's never lost a pet, but it always makes me happy when it happens. I am so grateful that he and Grendel got to spend time together before he died, and I like to think he taught her some important lessons about being a cat that she is now putting into practice. -Mary

LandslideBaby4 karma

Have you heard about the Instagram account Girls and Their Cats? She also has a website and a book. Do you think your podcast is also trying to end the "crazy cat lady" trope?

LTACpod13 karma

Mary says she sure does know that account! We are totally here to end the trope of cat ladies (noted or otherwise) being anything but the wonderful animal lovers that they are. And also—what's the focus on cat ladies? Because being a cat person is not the exclusive purview of the women-aligned folks out there. (And what about our gender nonbinary and fluid folks!) According to a pet industry study from a couple years back, millenial men are out cat-having women by about 10 points! So yes. We're on the side of valuing our mental health and also the independence of gender identity from love of cats. /Lizzie

RotaryJihad3 karma

Is your show kid friendly?

LTACpod8 karma

Hmmm. There are some teens who listen, I've heard. I think it depends on how you feel about swears, mostly. I try not to, but it does happen sometimes. We have occasional conversations about relationships/sexy stuff that might not be appropriate for kids, but also kids might just find some of it boring?

However, our theme song IS kid friendly, my 4-year-old requests it daily. You can listen to it on Spotify right here. -Mary

KhristyKreme3 karma

One of our cats caterwauls every night. It's a truly heartbreaking sound. What did we do to cause her so much pain? Why can't she just tell us?

LTACpod9 karma

When I was growing up, we had a cat who did this! Eventually we realized that she wasn't upset or in distress at all, she had just figured out that if she sat on one specific stair and howled, it would echo slightly because of the way the ceiling slanted down. And she liked the way it sounded.

Assuming nothing is actually wrong with your cat, she might just enjoy the sound of her own voice. Gotham Girls Roller Derby captain Carnage Electra was on the show last season and told us that her cat Steve had channeled his singing urges into a noise band, maybe your kitty can do the same? -Mary

Lennymud3 karma

I have three kitties and none of them are cuddlers. Is it me or is it them? Do I just have bad luck picking snuggly cats or am I putting off some kind of vibe that stops them from sleeping on my lap or wanting some pets? All 3 are different breeds- all rescued from a terrible kill shelter when they were about 1.5 months old. I should add that they also don't like each other.

LTACpod6 karma

Without knowing anything about you or your lap, it's probably them. My Grendel does not snuggle- she never has, and probably never will. She doesn't even sleep on the bed, let alone on my lap. But with my previous cat, Milo, if I sat down or lay down, he'd be on me instantly. I'd have to pry him off to get up.

My theory (and I'm not an animal behavior expert, I cannot stress this enough, I've just had cats all my life) is that it's kinda like how some people are huggers and some people aren't. (I am very much not a hugger.) Everyone has varying levels of tolerance for touch, or preferences for how they are touched, and I think cats are no different. Do your cats like being brushed? Having their ears scratched? Grendel has this one spot at the base of her spine that she LOVES having scratched, so I guess that's her thing. We call it her butt spot. -Mary

Delta_Foxtrot_19693 karma

Where do you get your ideas and why not dogs or combat frisbee as a topic from time-to-time?

LTACpod14 karma

I do think it's interesting that people always think of dogs and cats as paired. Like if not cats, then dogs. And vice versa. I have never heard of cats and combat frisbee, but I'm not too deep into the world of ultimate. I'll look into it.

But more seriously, I think it's just that Mary has a lot to say and think about cats. And not really about dogs. Although we do like dogs. There are dogs at the Acast offices and we love to see them. They don't seem to hold against us that we do a show about cats. /Lizzie

LTACpod10 karma

The ideas come from two places: Stuff (and people) that have just been floating around my mind, like, "hmm, I want to talk about this, how can I make someone talk about it with me?" Or "hmm, I want to talk to this person, let's see if they'll come on the show and talk about their cat." And then there's stuff (and people) we research. I know it seems funny to say about a cat podcast, but this show involves a LOT of research. Often, in the course of researching a guest or a Cat Quiz topic or whatever, we'll come across a detail that inspires a whole new idea or angle that we want to pursue. -Mary

jacobsdaddy233 karma

Do you prefer cats over dogs and if so why ? What do you think of dog people who dislike cats ?

LTACpod3 karma

Well, I mean, the show is not called Let's Talk About Dogs for a reason. But to put this to rest, I love dogs! I love almost all animals. (The one animal that really freaks me out is the fisher cat- google what that sounds like, if you want to never sleep again.) I've just always had a particularly strong affinity for cats, I've always lived with cats (but not always with dogs), and cats interest me at an intellectual level in a way that dogs don't. I also believe with absolute certainty that cats have mystical powers, some connections to other worlds that we humans will never fully understand.

And there's something super personal about the way we relate to cats. Unlike dogs, most cats stay inside our homes and don't go out and about in the world. There's something intimate about the idea of being at home with your cat. If someone is a dog person and doesn't like cats, that is 100% their prerogative, and I hope they post lots of cute dog photos on Instagram so I can see them. -Mary

TinyRandomLady2 karma

Do you guys listen to the Purrrcast?

LTACpod1 karma

Love the Purrrcast. -Mary

mrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr2 karma

Are there any cats on the show? There is a kitty named Elvis on the My Favorite Murder podcast and he is a very good cat.

LTACpod7 karma

I would love to have Grendel on the show, but the place we record is not near where I live, and she HATES the subway. Hates it. I don't want to put her through that.

I have seen Elvis (and Mimi and Dot) on Instagram, they are beautiful kitties! -Mary

driverofracecars2 karma

Stoya, the adult actress Stoya?

LTACpod5 karma

She is an adult, yes. And a delightful one at that. -Mary

driverofracecars1 karma

Neat. Never knew she was a cat person.

LTACpod5 karma

You gotta follow her on Instagram!

comptroller232 karma

Have you tried to get Mike Mitchell from the Doughboys podcast? He is obsessed with his cats to an unhealthy degree

LTACpod2 karma

we haven't yet, but maybe we will! -Mary

HeyMySock2 karma

How did I not know about this amazing podcast before?!

LTACpod2 karma

I have no idea, but I'm glad you know about us now! -Mary

Doomaa2 karma

Are you guys pro or anti exotic cats? Like the cervals and lynx looking cats. Good bad ugly? What about rich Saudi guys with a pet cheetah?

LTACpod5 karma

Yeah I don't think cheetahs should be kept as pets. It's not in their best interest, and it's definitely not in the best interest of your furniture. -Mary

geniewilliams1 karma

What's a the best way to foster a healthy cat/dog relationship?

LTACpod2 karma

So I grew up with cats and dogs in the house, and it was a generally peaceful (if hair-covered) situation. The key seemed to be not forcing friendship/closeness, despite the temptation to stage cute photos, but impressing upon the dog the need to respect the cat's boundaries, whatever they may be. That can be tough for some dogs—the ones who go up to you like, "hey! hey! play with me! hey! hey!"—they'll need to learn to wait until the cat decides it wants to play. Again, just my experience, but it's a lot easier to train a dog to give a cat space than it is to train a cat not to take swipes at a dog. I distinctly remember my childhood dog having a little scar on her nose from when she was still learning the cat's boundaries; we let them work it out, she caught on quickly enough, and I think once the cat was confident that the dog was going to be respectful, she chilled out a bit too. -Mary

N0rmalN0b0dy1 karma

What’s your favorite breed?

LTACpod3 karma

Domestic shorthair, baby. Also korats! I have a fantasy of someday traveling to Thailand to see where korats came from. -Mary

JoshSidekick1 karma

How disappointed are you that Chris Barron did not have two cats, both named Prince?

LTACpod1 karma

Did you know that video has like 74 million views on YouTube? DAMN. Such an earworm too.

I am not at all disappointed in Chris or his cats' names. We're taping with him later this week and I'm very excited to meet him. We'd been talking about inviting him on for a while, and I dragged my feet on pitching because I sort of assumed he'd never do it. But he said yes right away! -Mary

ladysekhmetka1 karma

Woot! New podcast! How do you pick who goes on your show?

LTACpod1 karma

Initial criteria (not negotiable): I have to be genuinely interested in them or their work. They must currently have at least one cat. And they have to be someone who would be a compelling story even if we weren't talking about cats—you'll notice we never have pet experts or vets on the show, people who give out practical pet advice. Don't get me wrong, I love vets and there are a lot of great pet experts out there. That's just not what we do.

After that, we're always thinking about how we can keep the guest list diverse, and I don't just mean identity-wise. We wouldn't want a lineup that's all comedians or all authors or whatever. We want as many different stories and perspectives as we can get. I love it when we mention guests and it feels almost absurd—like, what do these people have in common? how are they all on the same podcast? It's because they have cats!

And then of course it's all a matter of whose publicist writes back. There are plenty of people we want and haven't been able to get... yet. -Mary

fiyah_and_ice1 karma

Do you realize it investigate the immense ecological ramifications of outdoor cat ownership or feral cats?

If so, what should be done to slow the extinctions caused by housecats?


LTACpod1 karma

Yeah, we've talked about this a bit on the show. In the episode that came out today, I mention some statistics about birds/mammals killed by cats—there was a big study about it. On the one hand, cats are natural predators, and would be even if humans didn't intervene. And in some places, cats are going to get outside. On the other hand, we humans can take steps to mitigate the harm they can do if they go outdoors. One very simple thing you can do is put a bell on your cat's collar if they go outside unsupervised, that makes it harder for them to sneak up on birds or other creatures. And I wholeheartedly support efforts to TNR feral/community cats so those populations stay in check, which is good for the cats, good for the birds, and good for people too. -Mary

ValleDeimos1 karma

So, firstly: How it is to work with Stoya? Did you guys work with other pornstars before? Is it awkward, is it taken more seriously or do you tend to kind of see the funny side of it?

And, secondly: Do you guys know, talk about or plan on talking about the relationship between cats and pagan religions? I am currently studying African pagan religions and trying to find my path, I personally feel a really strong spiritual connection with my cats.

LTACpod2 karma

Loved talking with Stoya. That episode will be out in a few weeks. If you haven't read her book "Philosophy, Pussycats, and Porn," I highly recommend it! She's a brilliant writer. She's also our first guest who's worked in the porn industry (at least to my knowledge). I am a big fan of multitalented people.

We haven't had anyone who has insight into pagan religions or spiritual practices (and I know very little about it myself) but that is a super interesting topic! -Mary

bestminipc0 karma

is this on youtube? if not why?

LTACpod3 karma

It is not on YouTube because we don't videotape it, we only record audio. I guess we could do the thing where you post the audio track to YouTube with a still image behind it, but that seems... boring? And not the point of YouTube. So yeah, just listen with whatever podcast app you like.

If you are asking this question because you WORK for YouTube, please tell Emma Chamberlain to come on the show. -Mary

AManBehindYou-1 karma

How did you guys get a podcast? I hear those are REALLY hard to get.

TheRealAdnanSyed-1 karma

What are your thoughts on cat racism in the cat community? No obviously not all cats are racist but what should we do to address the growing problem?

Will you do an episode on the musical Cats? I could be a guest expert!

LTACpod3 karma

Upcoming LTAC guest Jay Smooth has already explained how to engage people about racist behavior better than I ever could. I'm confident his approach would work with cats too.

I've never seen the musical Cats! In general I do not love people in animal costumes. The Cat Quiz in our latest episode is "How much do you know about cats and musicals (but not Cats the musical)?" -Mary

saintjimmy43-2 karma

Isnt stoya a porn starlet?

LTACpod4 karma

mmm, I think she's more of a porn auteur. She's also an author, actor, advice columnist, director, and keeper of two adorable cats named Widget and Pixel. -Mary

EliSka93-6 karma

"Lizzie produces the show, has zero interest in cats."

That's not possible. How can you be a good person and not love cats?? It's scientifically proven to be impossible!

LTACpod2 karma

Lizzie defies science! -Mary