Cat Daddies (2022) - full transcript

David Giovanni is living on the streets of New York, determined to stay together with his beloved cat Lucky. When he's finally granted a spot in a transitional housing facility that accepts cats, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating medical diagnosis puts his future together with Lucky in doubt. David's journey is interspersed with portraits of other "cat dads" from all over the country and some who struggle to navigate the unprecedented events of 2020 with their little furry friends. They include a group of firefighters, a stunt man, a truck driver, a Bay Area tech worker, a schoolteacher whose cat becomes a viral sensation, and an actor/Instagram influencer. These men couldn't be more different, but they share an unconditional love of their beloved pets. Cat Daddies is a refreshing and timely exploration of modern masculinity and the unlikely bond between man and cat.

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Princess, come on.

Can you roll this thing?

Okay.

Annie, come here.

Come here Pickles, here you go.

All right, are you ready?

Ready.

Three, two.

People see a cat dad
and they're like,

oh, you must be
weird and creepy.

And it's, like, dog owners are
just as weird as cat owners.



It's a high stress job. When
you punch in in the morning,

you don't know what
you're about to run into.

You probably have a hard
time getting the guys

to admit Flame helps,

but it's proven that even
just petting an animal

can bring your
blood pressure down.

One of my good
friends in college

asked this group
of male friends,

what do you guys think
if I got a couple cats?

Definitely the
reaction was, like,

no, man, you can't do that.

I had no idea of
her love for cats.

She came over that was it.

And I was like, keep doing
your thing Toodles, good boy.



They're not like a dog when
you call them right away.

I think most guys don't
like that about cats.

There's only so much you
can do with guiding a cat.

For the most part,

it's just her leading the way
doing what she wants to do.

Cats are at the top
of the food chain.

They're the only species
that's trained us

to cater to them hand and foot,

without even the expectation
of returning affection.

I think that's pretty boss.

I love everything about him.

I know he feel it
when I'm really down.

David doesn't have
any family here.

He doesn't have any place to go.

Lucky, first and foremost,
has become his family.

I'm Nathan Kehn.

On Instagram I make videos.

My name is Nathan the CatLady.

Pretty much just make funny
videos, hopefully, funny

with the four cats
that I live with.

I didn't always
have cats in L.A.

I honestly didn't want
to have pets in L.A.

'cause as an actor you're
never home, you're on set.

You never know when
you're gonna be there,

and I don't think that
you should own animals

unless you have time for them.

I had an old roommate
who had Pickles.

He wanted to get a
dog, but I told him,

we're never home,
you can get a cat.

Pickles, kind of
got hooked onto me,

but I was gone a lot,

and he started getting
really depressed.

And so I was like,

all right, how about you
get a second cat, Ginger.

I will split it with you.

It will be your cat, but
I'll put in the money for it.

So we got Ginger.

They immediately became
best friends, it was great.

And then when he went
to move out, I was like,

so you're gonna keep them
together, and he said,

"Well, I might get
rid of one of them."

And I was like, I can't.

So I ended up taking them both.

Annie, my ex's mom found
on the side of the road,

and she was five weeks old,
and a terrified little thing.

I took her home,

and Ginger immediately started
grooming her and bathing her

like it was her
own, so I was like,

all right, I'll
have three cats now.

And then moved in
with my roommate,

and he had Princess,
and he's like,

yeah, do you mind if I bring
my cat? You already have three.

I was like, why not?

You know, once you hit
three, it doesn't matter.

I could have 16.

No, hey, they're right here.

You guys are terrible hunters.

You hit three, you're
a crazy cat lady.

With social media,

now that people are posting
more videos of them with cats,

I feel like we're
getting to a point

where it's gonna be okay to
be like, yeah, I have cats.

Guys with cats, beards and cats.

There is hot guys with cats.

And I do that every
once in a while,

but I always feel
like such a tool.

So I started my acting page,
was doing skits, and they were,

you know, kind of taking off.

And then I had two
videos with Princess

that just went viral,
and I was like, oh.

So I did a couple
of skits by myself.

And then some more with
the cats, took off again.

Right around I think 25K
followers, I was like,

you know, maybe it's
time that I really, like,

just go with the cat thing.

Before I had a following,
I lost four commercials

'cause I went to the
casting callback,

and got put on avail, which
means I'm on hold for it.

And they said,

"Okay, production wants
to see your Instagram."

So I sent it to them and they
released me from the project.

You'll look at
casting breakdowns,

and it will literally say,

need actors with 10,000
followers, or more.

Last night I was
at an Emmy party.

It's not 'cause of my acting.

It's 'cause Instagram helped
me kind of skip those steps.

It's like playing
"Chutes and Ladders."

I found a ladder in
this acting world.

I do spend a lot of date nights,

and Saturday nights home
with these little guys.

I don't do a lot of dating.

I try and keep myself
pretty well focused.

I want to make sure

that while I've got a
chance to make this grow,

I put my energy into it.

I always wait a little bit
to let girls know, like,

by the way, I have four cats.

I either get the, oh, that's
so cute, let me meet them,

or the, oh, 'cause at
the end of the day,

I can't be with somebody
who's not an animal lover.

My ex did not like cats.

And at one point asked if
I would get rid of my cats

if things got serious.

I want animals in my
life for a long time.

That's not gonna happen
if I'm with somebody

who can't deal with just
the four I have here.

My name is Jeff Judkins.

I work here in the Bay Area.

About twice a year,

me and my friends go
on backpacking trips.

A friend would always
bring his dog, Gotham.

And I really wanted to have
a pet to bring along with.

I was really hoping that it
would be possible to have a cat

that could come with.

And I even brought it up to
them, and they kind of laughed.

And it didn't seem
like a possibility.

A couple months later,
I was reading this book

called "AWOL on the
Appalachian Trail."

And about halfway through,

there was a picture of this
man that he met on the trail

that had a cat on his shoulder,

and he was hiking the
trail with his cat.

I immediately sent a
picture to my friends

that I backpack
with, and I'm like,

see, it is possible that
you can bring your cat out.

So I went to the
shelter by my house.

And as soon as I
walked in there,

I heard this cat just
incessantly meowing,

and aggressively trying
to break out of his cage.

Well, that was Zulu.

And I started
texting my friends,

and I was standing
next to Zulu's cage

when I was texting them,

and Zulu reached
out of the cage,

and swatted me in the face.

I knew right then, like,
I wanted to adopt him.

His behavior at the
shelter demonstrated to me

that he's a very bold
cat, very courageous,

showed zero fear.

As soon as I brought
him his tail was up,

he just wanted to
go climb trees.

He seemed really comfortable.

We started the hike
and he would, like,

run next to me while on
the leash it was so cute.

It wasn't gonna be that
I need to train him.

He kind of came out of the
box as an adventure cat.

None of my friends in the
military, from college,

really knew how
much I loved cats.

I own it now, I love cats.

When I was growing up,

like, yeah, it wasn't
something that you really say,

like, I wouldn't feel
comfortable saying that.

I don't know why.

It's the first time I've
seen a ranger out here.

I know, there's
usually no rangers.

Because Zulu is
always off leash,

so we'll probably get
a ticket for that.

My name is Erin,
and I'm Jeff's roommate.

Jeff got Zulu, then I
saw their relationship,

and I was always texting him,

asking him, like, when
I can come see the cat,

and when I can come hang out.

So then I decided to get a cat.

At the same time,

we were both looking
to kind of save money.

So we decided to move
out of San Francisco

into this apartment in Oakland.

And now here we
are with our cats.

First and foremost,

it's really hard to find an
apartment that's pet-friendly.

I also think it's really
hard to find an apartment

with roommates who
all accept cats,

and want to be around cats.

We were looking for a place

that had a big
enough living room,

where we could actually
split the living room up,

and make a separate
bedroom out of it.

It's just a pressurized
wall completely temporary.

There's nothing securing
it to the ceiling,

floors, or walls.

This bedroom is my bedroom,

and I actually convert this
into a bed every night,

and then change it back into
a daybed during the day.

I kind of also work in
here when I work from home.

I don't think the
Bay Area is somewhere

where I'm gonna
stay for very long.

Rents are so high,

and people like me
who make decent money,

still have that feeling that
they're not making enough.

It's not that great to have
Zulu play in a parking lot.

Like, that's what
he does right now.

He plays in a parking lot.

My goal by moving elsewhere
is not only to save money,

but, yeah, to provide a better
quality of life for Zulu.

I have a little boy, my
baby boy kitten, Lucky.

One evening I came out
from train station.

I look at people across
the street standing,

and talking something.

I say what they looking?

And I just went
across the street,

look at what they looking
at, it wasn't moving.

I thought first it was a
rat, and he was so dirty,

so bloody, had no fur, only
in couple spots he had fur.

So I pick up stick and
I just move his head.

When I move his head,
I saw it was a kitten.

When I saw he's alive,

I just took and I
put on the armpit

because it was really cold.

I don't know how
he still was alive.

I had no idea what
to do with him,

but I really don't want he die,

so I just went 110
Street it's SPCA.

I said, I'm homeless,
I just lost apartment.

I have no money to take
care of this kitten,

but if you can't something
about it he's die.

And he said, come
back in couple days.

I tell him, no, I'm not leaving.

I have nowhere to go,
so I just stay outside.

And I named him Lucky
because he survived.

He made it, he don't die.

Since that day we
was inseparable 24/7.

I love everything about him.

I know he feel it
when I'm really down.

Sometimes he gives kisses.

He makes me really
happy, you know.

I never seen such a
smart kitten like him.

I've been born in Georgia.

I grew up in an orphanage.

19 years I've been
in the United States,

being homeless almost two years.

It's hard, it's very hard

'cause I've never been homeless.

I never been in
situation like this.

So I really had bad
thoughts, you know?

I don't think how I
will survive like this.

And that little creature
just saved my life.

Here you go.

Thank you, thank you so much.

Have a nice day, lady.

You see a lot of homeless
folks with an animal.

And if you kind of
take a step back,

and envision being
in their shoes,

that animal means
everything to them.

It's not easy to rationalize

just how they're willing to
completely neglect themselves

for the sake of their animal,

but that animal is their friend.

They're at home
with their animal.

And if that's on the
street, that's where it is.

Well, I met David with my work.

It was actually part of a
homeless outreach initiative.

I had heard that he had
a little cat with him.

I happen to be a cat person
myself for the last few years.

I certainly wasn't
when I was growing up,

and I immediately said,
I want to go see the cat.

I want to meet the cat.

Lucky just kind of drew me in,

but after talking with David
just for a few minutes,

I knew immediately there was
something special about him.

David's been waiting for
housing for a long time.

There's been a decline
just in his health.

He has a disability,
cerebral palsy,

and it's affecting
him on the street.

The cold weather, the frostbite,

he's losing the kind of mechanics
and mobility in his hands.

Someone's first thought may be

why doesn't he just go
into an emergency shelter?

And David's first thought,

which I learned is always
his first thought is...

Lucky is staying with me.

I don't want to lose Lucky.

I don't want them
to take away Lucky.

I always keep a
Bible behind my shield.

It goes into every fire with me.

And no matter how hot the
fires are, it won't catch fire.

It won't burn.

It's just I take the word
with me wherever I go.

My name is Jordan Lide.

There's a lot of
unknowns in this job.

When you punch in
in the morning,

you don't know what
you're about to run into.

You could be running into the
worst part of somebody's life

multiple times in a shift.

Well, it's 24-48, one
day on, two days off.

You can work overtime shifts
you're working 48 hours,

but every guy here has
at least one other job.

Most every guy gets
off shift here,

and goes straight
to their next job.

I've worked on the ambulance,

and I started my own
woodworking business.

I do a lot of rustic woodwork,

and furniture, and flags,
and stuff like that.

Stuff to support
first responders.

I don't know if
you want me to say,

I actually work at a deer
processor, too, clean deer.

In the evening times
here at the station,

a lot of the guys we tend
to hang out in the bays,

hang out, just talk, and
kind of just decompress.

One evening when
we were out there,

I sort of heard a meowing sound

coming from behind the station.

As I got outside, I noticed
a small malnourished cat

hunkered down in the grass,

♪ Jordan's wearing
his slippers ♪

♪ Do da, do da

Hey, boy.

You could tell he was kind
of scared and timid of me,

but at the same
time he didn't run.

All of a sudden he started
climbing all over me.

It was just like an
instant friendship.

I came inside, and was looking
for something to feed him.

And one thing we had was
some leftover fried chicken.

So we broke that up, and
he ate the mess out of it.

And he started showing
up behind the bays

more and more each day,

and the guys would, well,
we would raid cabinets,

tuna fish, whatever we
could find to feed him.

So he started just becoming
more and more of a presence.

At first, the guys were kind
of hesitant, or standoffish,

you know, it's a cat
in a fire station.

And I think he's
slowly won the hearts

of every single guy here.

Well, I've never really been
around cats, never owned one.

When the cat came, it was
kind of like, yeah, you know,

I don't know about it, but
you couldn't tell he was a cat

except for his obvious features.

He don't act like a
cat whatsoever, so.

I had one cat growing up,

but we've always
been a dog family.

I've always had dogs.

And most of the guys
here have only had dogs.

Flame really helped change
the perception on cats for us

'cause people always
thought of cats

as, like, more of a
moody aloof animal.

And Flame is the
opposite of that.

We've had Flame
about four years now.

Flame is just,
he's so personable.

He just wants to
be around the guys.

He's unanimously
loved by all the guys.

The first thought I had was
the chief is gonna kill us.

At first, the chief
wanted us to get rid of him.

He just saw a stray cat.

And then we didn't.

One day he comes out, and
Flame he's so comfortable

that he just starts
walking across the bay.

And the chief like kind of
looked to the side, and said,

"I thought I told you guys
to get rid of that cat."

We were like, yeah, but
he kind of lives here now.

The chief started petting
him, and he's like,

well, if he's going to stay,
we need to get Flame his shots,

and its history since then.

Everybody has a hand in
taking care of him day to day.

Flame stays in the base
where the trucks are.

And we've tried to bring him
inside, and he doesn't like it.

He likes being out in the bays,

being able to venture
around when he wants.

He's very in tuned with us,
with the trucks, with the tones.

In the summertime, he'll
lay up on the diamond plate

on the bumpers of the
trucks where it's cooler,

but just the flip of the
battery switch he jumps,

and he'll either run
to the back of the bay

'cause we pull our
trucks out of the front,

or he'll go over near where
our gear is to the side.

He's never gotten in the way.

He's never accidentally
got on a call, or anything.

He just knows, oh, it's
time to get out of the way.

I'm not a big fan
of the cold weather.

Definitely don't like
snow, but Tora does,

so I have to go along
with it for her.

Anytime we get her in the snow,

we have a hard time getting
her to leave after that.

My name is David Durst,

and I'm from Fruitland
Park, Florida.

There's definitely
a lot of stereotypes

about the average trucker.

A lot of people think we're
generally an overweight,

50-year-old Southern guy, and
that's all there is to us.

We hear that all the time,

but I think trucking is a
lot more diverse of a group

than most people expect.

There's many different countries

that people come from to
come here, and do this.

A lot of different
personalities.

You meet so many
different characters.

More and more companies

are actually moving
towards allowing pets.

With other truckers
it's mainly dogs.

That's definitely the
most popular animal.

Then next would be cats.

And then after that you
get a bunch of crazy stuff,

like, squirrels and birds.

And we've heard a story
about a guy with a donkey.

We don't know if that's true,

but that's been
passed around a lot.

So, hopefully, he's out there.

I went into trucking
almost two years ago.

At that point in my life
I really wanted to travel,

but I never felt like
I had enough time.

And if I had the time, then
I didn't have the money,

but I really enjoy
driving as well.

I figured I could drive and
get paid for it, and travel.

I went into it and haven't
regretted it ever since.

We're out on the road so
often it gets very tiring.

It feels more like a job
than having fun sometimes

'cause I got in it having fun.

We're out on the road so often.

This most recent time

we've been out here
close to four months,

but with her it makes
it feel like home.

Before trucking we were
very big into hiking.

Obviously, that's not
possible in trucking anymore

unless we're at home.

We would shut down at
the end of the day,

wake up and have
truck stop food,

and then drive and
then go to sleep again.

And we didn't
really get out much,

but since having her,

we want to provide her
with as good of a life

as we possibly can.

And for her that's
getting outside,

and walking, and exploring.

I don't think she
really recognizes places

that we've already
been as favorite spots

unless it's somewhere like home.

She definitely recognizes home,

but other than that,

I think she just
takes everything in,

and it's a completely new
experience for her every time.

There's been really remarkable
places that we've been,

and she's blown away by it.

So the second time
we went, we thought,

okay, she'll know this place,
and she'll remember it,

but it was brand new to her,
and just blew her mind again.

She's much more
comfortable in places

that are a little bit
off of the beaten path.

She likes to walk on
trails a little bit,

but then if she can get off and
explore her own little area,

that's where she really
gets into her groove.

If there's something to
climb, she loves that.

She loves climbing trees.

If there's a rock formation,

she can get on top of she's
going to get on top of it.

And up you go.

Get down.

Did you get it?

Before this, I hadn't
had really any interest

in photography.

I wasn't even the one
taking the pictures.

And then once we got a camera,

I started experimenting
a little bit

with taking the
pictures of Tora,

and being the one more
involved with that.

Getting into photography,

brought out a more
creative side of me.

I never really had, like,
an interest in fashion,

or anything like that.

I like dressing her up
in cool stuff, and, like,

somewhat playing into trucker's
stereotypes, that's fun.

In terms of how many
outfits she has,

that's not a number I know
off the top of my head,

but it's probably closer to 150.

And then under here
we have her scarves,

and she has a lot of those.

She's got a little cowboy hat.

Then these are
all just bandanas.

More colorful ones up
here that are reversible.

Fringe with some more,
like, earth tones.

And then the more
colorful ones are in here.

Do you know off
the top of your head

how many scarves she has?

I can give you an actual number,

if you guys want,
like, actual numbers.

She has everything, like,
recorded on her phone.

That way she doesn't purchase
the same thing again.

We do a lot of meetups,

and that was never something
that we planned on doing

when we first got her.

We never planned on
having a following,

and having people
want to meet our cat,

but the bigger we got online,

the more people started
reaching out to us,

and wanting to meet us.

We just decided it would
be something fun to do

because it made
other people happy.

I found out about Tora on
Reddit, she made the front page.

I found out this morning

they were doing a
little meet and greet,

so I was like, okay, done deal.

I'm driving up, a little
stalkerish I know.

She's adorable, I
love cats, love them.

We've had a couple people
travel over 100 miles

just to meet her.

I think the farthest
one was 300,

and he was willing
to make it that day

'cause I usually
tell people, like,

we'll get to your area eventually.
Even if we have to, like,

schedule time off
to meet you there.

Don't drive 300 miles
to meet my cat, please.

David actually ended
up getting a place

with Breaking Ground.

He actually didn't believe
it when they told him

that he had a place 'cause
he was waiting so long,

and his jaw dropped.

Now we move the goal post.

The goal was get him a
place, him and Lucky.

And then he's gonna get healthy.

He's gonna find a way to get
treatment, get looked at,

and really address
the health problems.

He was only in the
place with Lucky

for I'd say maybe a
week, week and a half.

And that was at the point

when the medical
ball started rolling.

And that started rolling
really, really fast.

So he did go up to
Metropolitan Hospital,

and, unfortunately, he
didn't get the best of news.

He has a tumor in his arm.

It looks like it's a
rare form of cancer.

There's a possibility that
in order to save his life,

they actually have
to amputate his arm.

It looked like he was gonna
be admitted to the hospital.

Again, David's first thought is

what am I gonna do with Lucky?

Eight months ago, I met Pamela,

a young lady who was passing
by after work every day.

We become close friends,
and she offer me, she said,

I can take him just
take care of yourself.

Go in the hospital, do
whatever you have to do.

And she took him.

He's on my mind constantly,

but most important
thing I know he's happy.

She's really taking good
care of my baby boy.

She offered me to bring me
couple days to reunite him,

but I don't wanna put him
through that, you know.

It's so hard to say bye again.

So I just have to have
patience, couple more weeks,

and I see him soon.

Dave, Dave, what's up bud?

It's Chris, I'm
actually out front.

Looking sharp, looking
sharp, how are you?

I'm okay.

Everything good?

Everything will be fine.

So I'm sleeping.

It's nighttime, two,
three, in the morning,

sleeping I'm out.

Feel a little paw
right on my face.

I kid you not, last night.

A little paw on my
face scratching.

You know, I want to be mad.

I want to be mad at her.

You want to sleep.

Why are you doing it?

She wants to burrow.

She wants to go
under the covers.

You know what I mean?

Yeah.

And find, like, the
tightest little spot.

Warm spot.

The tightest warm spot, and
just curl up, and go to sleep.

With you, oh, my God.

So if she can't get
right under the covers,

she was gonna let me
know, and she let me know.

Before I forget, my mom called
me yesterday, and she said,

"You're gonna see
David tomorrow?"

I said, "Yeah, I'm
gonna see David."

She said, "I have
something for him."

It's a little bit late,

but it's a housewarming
gift number one.

And the main one is
kind of a get well soon.

Thank you.

She wants you to
take care of yourself.

She sends her love.

She sends her regards.

A little something for you,
and she had to put Hello Kitty.

Yes.

She's got Hello Kitty here.

It's pretty though.

Sure, speaking of Pez, I
got to show you pictures.

- Thank you so much.
- Yeah, you're welcome.

I appreciate.

I got to show you pictures.

Do you see why Lucky
reminded me of her?

When I first saw Lucky,

I said, it's like a
boy Pez, you know?

Does Lucky do that?

I love, no, maybe couple times,

but he don't laying down just.

She's like really orange here.

You know, like Pez
is a little more red.

Lucky's got a little more brown.

Yes, I'd say gray.

Yeah, a little
gray too, he's cute.

I want to rest up because
I have really God willing,

I don't lose my arm
up to I recuperate.

I will try more harder
than before to get a job.

So I gave my baby
boy life he deserves.

I'm sorry, when I
think about him.

Just find a job and get
back on my feet fix my life.

It's been too long.

I've been on the
street too long.

With another day
of fast-moving developments.

They're declaring
a state of emergency.

Providing the actions of them

are to reduce the
number of people.

This colony is feral.

They were living in this
area when we found them.

We got them spayed or
neutered several years ago.

They're part of my
daily routine now,

and part of our family.

My name is Will Zweigart.

I live in Flatbush, Brooklyn.

And by day I work
in advertising,

and on nights and weekends,
I help to rescue cats.

For decades, New York City
has been under-funded,

and under-resourced when
it comes to animal welfare.

Right now, we don't even have
an animal welfare department.

The programs are all under
the Department of Health,

which is to protect people.

If you map out where is there

a street cat population
problem in Brooklyn,

unsurprisingly, it's in
traditionally lower income,

underserved areas.

These are areas that
have seen systemic,

and structural
inequality for decades.

So the fact that we have

tens of thousands
of cats outside

is from decades of
under-funding these programs,

like, spay/neuter.

Trap-Neuter-Return, or TNR,

is a humane method for
sterilizing feral cats

that are living outside.

I think they're
three months old.

I spend most of my free time
working on this as a project.

Because I have a full-time job,

this is left to
whenever I get a moment.

Trap-Neuter-Return is effective

if you're working
in a specific area,

and really working to sterilize

the majority of
cats in that area.

So that's why we're
called Flatbush Cats.

That's the area that we
serve in central Brooklyn.

When we moved here
a few years ago,

there were cats everywhere.

That was actually
when we began to learn

about Trap-Neuter-Return.

So even as lifelong cat lovers,

we didn't know anything about
what Trap-Neuter-Return is.

We asked around for help.

We assumed that someone else
would come and take care of it.

It took us several
months before we realized

that we were actually
someone else.

It's been a long effort to trap,

and sterilize all
of the feral cats

that were born outside
on this block alone.

We've probably rescued, or
TNR'd several dozen cats.

Two or three years ago,

I was feeding a dozen
cats here at night.

Now we're down to
just one or two cats

that a volunteer
leaves food for.

This is actually proof that
Trap-Neuter-Return works.

All of the cats that were feral,

that are sterilized are
no longer reproducing

having kittens that
suffer and die outside.

We found Teddy on the street.

He looked like a
discarded teddy bear

that someone had just
thrown on the street.

Ironically, I was
visiting that block

because I was about to begin
Trap-Neuter-Return project.

When you see a cat that
is dirty with matted fur,

really dehydrated,
just looking sick,

there's a really good chance

that that is actually
a friendly cat

because when a cat
is living indoors

for most of their lives,

they don't know how to fend
for themselves outside.

Teddy was in really bad shape.

He was in later stages
of kidney disease.

His body was about to shut down.

I'm really glad that we
found him when we did.

It's frankly a miracle that
he was able to recover,

and now enjoy such a
wonderful life indoors.

Prior to this experience,

I had done some consulting
with nonprofits,

but I'd never actually
run a nonprofit,

or had a leadership role.

I was always told,

you'll never raise money
unless you ask for it.

You have to ask, ask, ask.

I feel the more modern
version of that is

you have to document your work.

If you document your
work every single day,

you don't have to ask.

People see what you're doing.

They see where their
donations are going.

So we began to commit
early on to social media

as a means to literally
fund the work.

We were drowning in vet bills.

I figured if people could
see what we're seeing,

they couldn't walk by,
they would want to help.

In the process we met
so many supporters

that have really
encouraged us to grow,

and become a real nonprofit.

The most basic information
about cats and welfare

is not really being
shared with the public.

So most people don't
know what a feral cat is,

and they don't know
what socialization is.

Socialization is a window
of time to introduce the cat

to the loving indoor
life that they deserve.

When a kitten is around
six to eight weeks old,

that's the ideal time that
you have to bring them inside,

and get them accustomed
to being around people.

We kind of call
them spicy kittens.

It's a term used by other
foster, and rescue groups,

to describe cats
who are very hissy.

Really what you're
seeing is fear

because they haven't
been exposed to people,

they're trying to
defend themselves.

And so the spiciness, the
hissing, that's all fear.

That's all a desire
to protect themselves

because they don't know that
we're really here to help.

Socialization involves
spending several hours a day

with younger kittens,

and acclimating
them to indoor life.

You have to show
over and over again

that humans are not a threat.

In fact, humans are the source

of all of these amazing
things, like, tasty treats,

and food, and comfortable
places to nap.

This is Laszlo,

Mr. Big Belly.

This is Guillermo.

Cats teach me patience over
and over and over again.

I may be attached to
a certain outcome,

like, a cat warming
up to me quickly,

but we continually
have to respect,

and understand how they operate,

but I think it's so
interesting how much work,

and investment you have to
put in to earn a cat's trust.

To earn a cat's trust
means that you've really

proven yourself as a
trustworthy individual.

My name is Ryan Robertson.

What I love about doing stunt
work is that it's not work.

It's work because
you have to be on it

if you want to be safe,

and you want to have a
long career, but it's fun.

At first, I got into the
business to be an actor.

When I started doing
stunts, it was just, like,

oh, yeah, more of this.

We are a part of the
storytelling process.

We're just doing
the action of it,

like, the real guts,

and the meat and potatoes is
the majority of stunt work.

Physical fitness has always
been a big part of my life

because I started
training in martial arts

at five years old.

I run, I box, anything
to add to my skillset.

Toodles, where'd you go?

Toodles.

When I first got Toodles,
he was eight weeks old.

I didn't know
anything about cats.

My brother had a cat,
normal size cats.

Toodles weighs 25, 26
pounds, he's a big boy.

Besides, of course, like tigers,

and other cats that are
bigger I didn't know that,

like, house cats can
do that, so, you know,

it was just like, man, he's
growing, he's getting bigger.

And then somebody told me like,
yeah, Maine Coons get big.

Toodles is only three,

so I don't know how
big he's gonna get,

but, you know, who knows?

The bigger, the better,
I guess, it would be fun.

Then I'll be out here walking
them around the block,

and people will
think I have a lion.

He's a big boy,
happy, he gets fed,

and gets his playtime,
gets his exercise,

but, you know, he's big boned.

I've never seen a
cat like Toodles.

I don't know how other cats are.

Cats that I see in movies
that's all I have to go by.

I come down, like, four a.m.

And then I as soon as
I get this and hears,

I hear doo, doo, doo, doo, doo,

footsteps coming down right
into the food, or he'll be like.

Exactly, look, he's like,

hey, man, why you got
that food out there for?

I know, man, I know,
I'm about to feed you.

He likes the little
meaty pieces.

Uh-huh, keep talking, buddy.

Yeah, all you're saying
is the same thing.

I got you, okay.

Toodles changed everything
that I thought about cats.

When I grew up, my mother
was always afraid of animals,

so I never grew up with
pets, so I shared her fear.

Oh, you're finished,
huh, Toodles?

When we moved here we
were like, you know what?

We didn't really
need a living room.

We wanted a place to work out,

and we made the
living room a gym.

My name is Megan,
Ryan is my boyfriend.

And Toodles is now
my adoptive son.

A couple times.

Yeah, a couple times, you
do it, like, three times.

One, two, three,
two, hit, uh, uh, uh.

Two, three, two, ready, hit.

Ryan and I met
a couple years ago

at a stunt type gathering.

We became friends,
like, we hit it off.

Well, obviously we
have stuff in common.

About a year, or so went by,

and I needed actual
boxing training.

And so many people have
been trained by him,

and been recommending him,
I was like, all right.

When we first started, like,
talking more than just,

you know, training, he sent
me a picture of his cat,

and he's, like, holding Toodles.

Like, I already
thought Ryan was cute,

and, like, something
was special with him.

When he showed me that picture
of Toodles, I was like,

I got to see this cat,

and, you know, if
this guy has a cat,

like, I think I found the one,

like, already thinking, like,
crazy thoughts in my head.

He would joke all the time
that Toodles was his wing man.

I was like, yeah, man,

Toodles got me over
to your house, like.

The way Toodles happened,

it was, like, fate.

On Sundays at PetSmart they
have, like, pet adoptions.

And I was looking around,
and Toodles came up to me,

and I was like, oh, his
name was, like, Toodles.

I was like, oh, Toodles.

Oh, you look like a
Toodles, and that was it.

It was no question.

I've been in there before
just browsing, just looking,

not like, oh, I want to pick
out a cat, pick out a dog.

I didn't go in there for that,

but Toodles was like,
you taking me home today.

And I was like, you right.

What they had told me was that

somebody had, like,
tossed him out a car,

or something like that.

Workout, playtime
is fun with Toodles.

I never knew this about cats.

As soon as they see that red
dot that they cannot resist it.

Toodles in his old age has
gotten, like, after a while

it was like, ah, I
know I can't catch it.

So he just watches
it, but, you know,

when he has his energy, like,
in the morning, especially,

he'll jump up the wall.

If you see a man
care for something

that's not himself
it's attractive.

I don't even know if
I've ever dated a guy,

and admitted, like, how
much I love cats to them.

To me, I thought
I'd have a situation

where I'd teach the
guy cats are cool.

I didn't really think
I'd run into someone

who already loved cats, and
had, like, the coolest cat ever.

It was a win-win.

I always forget it's supposed
to be always like this,

standing upright.

Third surgery was right
now I went through.

It's they cut my
tumor, clean up,

and cut bone, a
piece of bone out.

Next surgery will
be on my left arm.

Fourth, they want to put,

straight out my hand's
cut the tendons,

and I have better
dexterity, I can grab stuff.

I can be getting
work, you know, job.

It's easier for me
to move around stuff.

I wish I can have my baby boy
here, but it's impossible.

I talk to Pam on her Facebook,

and she tries to
always bring him.

And, you know, I call him,

he just look up around hears
my voice looking for me.

I miss him very much.

Okay, come here.

Luck, such a good boy.

When he first got here, he loved
to run as fast as he could.

I guess, being down in the city

in that confined little
area he couldn't run,

but my God, this guy is fast.

I work as an executive
assistant in Midtown Manhattan.

I go back and forth
between two offices,

and that's really
how I met David.

I was walking from one office
to another, and he was there.

And it's developed into
a very good friendship,

so we're lucky.

He had talked about
going to the hospital,

and I figured that
he was worried about

what would he do with Lucky?

So I would tell him from
time to time, don't worry.

I could take Lucky.

I know he was thinking about it,

and it was hard for him
to give me Lucky to watch.

I took Lucky January
31st of this year.

I thought it was only going
to be, like, four weeks maybe,

but then as things were postponed,
and operations, and that,

and so, but I know David knows

that I'll take care of him
for as long as he needs me to.

That's not a problem at all.

I don't think he was
the typical outdoor cat

because he was so confined
to that small little area

where he was with David,

but when he walked in there was
no adjustment period at all.

I mean, he walked in,
and it's like, I'm here.

Loki and Lucky, the two males

got along very well
from the beginning.

And maybe that's
because Loki is older.

Lucky is relatively young.

So there wasn't any kind
of fighting, or anything.

I mean, they followed
each other around.

It was almost like
Lucky was looking at him

to see what he should do.

And they were very close
from the beginning.

They sleep together,
they sleep all entwined,

and actually he holds onto him,

but he's very gentle, Loki.

I've never seen him fight.

Well, they play and
they're very rough playing,

but they're only playing.

I cannot believe how
good hands he is right now.

They sleeping together.

They never sleep separate.

Every night they sleep together.

Every time you call Lucky,

Loki comes with
him, they both come.

They really fall in love.

He have really,
really good friend.

The doctor ordered
blood transfusions.

So they gave me, like,

three packs of blood
transfusions all night.

It's Chris calling.

Hey buddy.

Hey, how are you buddy?

How are you feeling?

I'm okay.

I'm sorry I missed your
call because Robert is here.

You remember camera guy, Robin?

Hang on.

That was it, hey, that's right.

What's going on with, so
when is the next surgery?

I'm starting chemo.

They gave me green
light this week,

I guess, after surgery,
maybe surgery be Tuesday.

This medical process
has been drawn out.

I feel like it's probably
been drawn out a lot longer

than David expected,

but he's managing to
keep his eye on the prize

of getting healthy

with the knowledge that
he's gonna get Lucky back.

My name is Peter Mares.

I've always liked to
think of creative names.

For some reason,

I really couldn't think
of a good name for Keys

other than her toes
look like a keyboard.

So I actually named her
Keyboard in the beginning.

And then I was dating
somebody at the time,

and she came over, and she
was checking Keyboard out.

And she said, "What
would you name it?"

I said, you know, Keyboard?

She said, "Well, why don't
you just shorten it to Keys?"

And I thought that
sounds really good.

It suggests a lot
of things, you know,

like, keys to your heart, or
keys to the secrets of life.

One summer morning,
all of a sudden

she just rose up with
her paws up in the air.

The light shining
through the blinds

just made it look
so, like, heavenly.

And I thought, man, I got
to tell people about this,

but then the next
morning she did it again.

Then I figured, well, she might
do it three times in a row.

So the next morning I
had my camera ready,

and I got some sort of
fuzzy picture of it,

but, you know, I could just
prove to my friends, like,

look, she actually did it.

I used to have dogs.

So I would train my dog,

give them a treat after
they'd do something

that I wanted them to do.

So I figured, okay, it should
work the same with cats.

It was a bit trickier,

but when she did it again,

the closest thing I had
to me was coconut oil

because I used to put it on
my cancer wound that I got.

I just grabbed some coconut
oil, and she went nuts for it.

Here you go, pussy, here
you go, pussy, here you go.

She did it again.

I just kept pointing
my camera phone at her,

and she would do it,

and then I'd give her the
coconut oil right away.

She just somehow realized

that if I do this
little stand for him,

I'm gonna get the coconut oil.

I took this really great
photo of Keys outside.

I mean, it's picture-perfect.

It's the one we use as our logo.

A friend of mine, she sent
me a message on Facebook,

and said, "Do you mind if
I use this photo somewhere,

like, in a contest?"

So she posted it on Imgur,
some site in England.

And supposedly it shot up
to the number one photo.

They're the ones who
called it the Goal Kitty.

We started an Instagram on it

because there was
some media interest.

They want to know
who owns this cat?

You know, where does
this cat come from?

"People" magazine did
a little spread on her,

here, where it says
27.9 followers,

and she wants a hug.

This artist is really into cats.

She instantly fell in
love with Goal Kitty,

and started following it.

Then asked my permission if
she could paint Goal Kitty

for some art exhibition
she was gonna do.

The art exhibition
had come and gone.

No one had bought it,
and I thought, really?

I made her a decent offer,

and she countered,
and we had a deal.

She's getting all
this attention.

So I started thinking about,

okay, how could I
market this cat?

We even got an official
trademark on her.

I've invested some of my
tax money on merchandise.

These are kind of
nice and popular.

I own one of these
black ones here.

Anyhow, that's the
Goal Kitty trucker hat.

The coolie, or koozies,

whatever they call these
things here for your drinks.

And these are kind
of popular, also.

She's a comical cat,

and so if you have a sense
of humor, you kind of get it.

I think it just
fascinates people.

Also, I think that
it's positive.

She brings joy to
a lot of people.

Zulu.

Zulu.

Zulu.

I can't find him right now
so I can ring him here.

Zulu, are you over here?

Oh, there you are.

Hey, fluffy.

Want to go back inside?

It's time to go inside.

Come on, straight for them.

As horrible as the pandemic
situation has been,

the up side for me has been

that I am no longer tied
down to San Francisco,

and I don't have
to live as close.

I don't feel comfortable moving
far away from San Francisco,

but I do feel comfortable
moving a couple of hours out.

And that's how I ended up
here in Santa Cruz County

in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

For us, it's been great, and
the cats have just loved it.

They're just sprinting
around the house.

Zulu.

Ready, Zulu?

Come on, Zulu.

Come on.

Zulu.

We don't have to bring them
outside as much we found

because they have
this enclosed patio

that they can just sit here,

and watch different
wildlife outside.

They hang out here the
majority of the day.

They're either sleeping here,

or they're just sitting
and staring out,

staring at the
different wildlife.

At nighttime, the same thing,

they're out here just listening,

and you can see their
ears constantly twitching.

I've always shied away from
responsibility and attachment,

and things that
would tie me down.

I've always enjoyed the
wandering lifestyle.

To be honest, like, even
when I was wandering,

and going from place to place,

I've definitely yearned
for a home base.

And now I feel like I have it.

At the live news desk

monitoring a huge wildfire,

threatening a lot of homes
right now in the South Bay.

The communities that are
under evacuation orders,

Boulder Creek, that
city is threatened.

The wildfire
in Santa Cruz Mountains

is exploding in size now 48,000
acres, and zero containment.

Some parts of Boulder Creek

have been hit
harder than others.

The fire generally stayed on
the west side of Highway Nine.

That's the side we're on.

At the time there's so much
things you're thinking about,

pare it down to
what's important.

Like, okay, us and our cats.

That's really the only thing
that we need to leave with.

Everything else will be fine.

Usually, I might just
like, let Zulu out,

and let him walk
himself to the car.

We're very conscious of, like,

now is not the time
to lose the cats,

like, we cannot lose them.

We need to, like, make
sure that they are safe.

Come on.

Yeah, all of this.

There's no reason this
house should be standing,

other than the fact
that it was defended.

I mean, I was
honestly speechless.

I was shocked that
it got so close,

but didn't take our house.

It's a lot to process.

If you go up
here up this mountain,

which is where I
would walk every day,

most of those houses are gone.

The evacuation would have
been a lot more stressful

if our cats weren't so
accustomed to just, like,

being loaded into the car.
I mean, they love the car.

They just, like, lounge it's
like a vacation for them.

We're still without power here,

and we're going on four weeks.

The water has benzene in it.

They're working around the clock
trying to fix these things.

Clearing out trees that have
already fallen, or at risk.

Once we got
settled in the hotel room,

it was super nice to have my
cat around just day-to-day.

Hi Fitzby.

They've adapted
to life in the hotel.

I mean, they're
such adaptable cats.

Zulu will meow at
the hotel room door.

He's getting used to it now,

like, now we hop out
of the hotel room.

We walk down to
the elevator lobby.

He patiently waits for the ding.

As soon as he hears the ding,
he gets closer to the door

'cause he knows
it's gonna open up.

He usually says hi to the
people at the reception desk.

With some hotels they
would allow dogs,

but they wouldn't allow cats.

Come here.

I think he associates head
bumps with treats now.

I don't know what our
future plans will be.

Potentially staying here,
potentially leaving.

Who knows what the
immediate future holds?

It's a high stress job.

You don't even notice it
when you start petting him,

playing with him, but he's just,

like, he takes your
mind out of it,

and something that's innocent
in the midst of chaos.

I think having an
animal in a fire station

is a great, great thing.

Just from having Flame here,

every department should
have some sort of animal.

I remember one of
the fire departments

was forcing their guys
to get rid of their cat.

This is Edna.

She has called Station 49 in
the Bayview District home,

since she was rescued as a
stray kitten five years ago.

The department says while
animals can be comforting,

Edna will still have to go.

We did a couple of posts

to bring awareness to it.

The fire chief got
15,000 emails that day.

We posted on his page.

We know how much we
appreciate having Flame,

and love having him here,

how much a part of
the family he is,

and how unanimously loved
Flame is by everybody,

it kills us to think
that other people

are trying to take it away
from other firefighters.

Burnout is a very real threat,

and it's constant and pervasive.

You have to give a lot of
yourself to do this work,

and, although, it's
very rewarding,

it can definitely feel endless.

It can be stressful
just taking a walk.

You may be faced with
a medical emergency,

just walking down the sidewalk.

I definitely feel a sense
of purpose in this work.

The immediate gratification of
taking a cat off the street,

getting it cleaned up,
finding it a comfortable home,

and then seeing it on
Instagram six months later

napping on a couch in the sun.

So we've been
here for about four months.

And as soon as we moved
into our new place,

we started noticing strays.

It's also during COVID,

so most places just
weren't accepting strays

for a couple of months 'til
things could get sorted.

Now we found some spots that
will allow us to take them in,

and they can get,
you know, fixed.

They can get their rabies shot.

We love having them,
we love feeding them.

We love building them
their little homes,

and their kitty condo
we call it outside.

And just making the best
life for them that we can.

It got to a point where, like,

it was a lot of cats out here.

You know what I mean?

Like, more than 12.

We have to do
something to help them,

and to find, like,
a home for them.

Ricky was just a
cat in the back,

like, he hopped the
fence and come over.

And we just found out
all these little kittens

that are out here
they're Ricky's.

So Ricky's got to get taken in.

As much as I love cats,

I had no idea how to trap a cat.

Ryan had no idea
how to trap a cat.

So we started watching
videos on how to trap,

and follow a couple of
people on Instagram,

like, okay, what's
the best practices?

We spend billions of
dollars on shelters,

euthanizing cats,

keeping cats in shelters
that we can't find homes for.

If we put a fraction
of those resources

towards free spay/neuter,

then we would actually
be spending less

on animal welfare nationwide.

And the same is true for
health care for people.

Oh boy, my baby boy.

Good boy, good boy,
such a good boy.

Huh?

Who did this, huh?

You had fight with Loki?

Loki beat you, Loki
beat you, eh, buddy boy,

and scratches here,
too, oh, my God.

You've been in a
war, what's wrong?

I didn't know
about this scratch.

That's a doggy right
there, baby, doggy.

February, March,
April, May, June, July,

August, September,
October, nine months.

From two years I miss
nine months of his life.

First two weeks, you won't
believe it I cry in sleep.

I was going crazy.

There he is.

How are you, buddy?

David, you have no
idea how good it is to see you.

Oh, he looks good.

Yeah, but too scared,

eight months, he never go
outside, so he's shaking.

Oh yeah.

Tomorrow he coming with me.

All nurses want to meet him.

Really?

We're going tomorrow, yes.

That you can bring him?

Yeah.

Wow.

You know, he's...

Therapy.

Therapy animal, yeah.

Sure.

I have papers they
cannot mess with me, so.

He looks like he's
at home right on your lap.

It's like coming home.

You know what I mean, Dave?

How have you been doing?

How's the arms?

Bad.

Not good.

This one healed,

but I cannot move because
one bone is missing.

So it's harder to use
than I was using before.

So it's like stuck
this position.

They say it's not curable,
but they at least keep at bay.

Right, I remember
you had told me that.

But right now it's, you know,

when it takes so much energy
from me, and I can move now,

it's already getting worse, so.

David, the last time I saw you,

you were in Metropolitan
Hospital in a tiny room.

Is it good to be out of there?

I was going crazy in there.

Yeah, I know, well, yeah.

- You brought me food.
- I know.

It was so bad
food inside, oh, my God.

Yeah, yeah, it was bad.

You and Pam, yeah.

Yeah, the cheeseburgers, right?

The food was terrible.

Listen, I kept that
McDonald's on Second Avenue

in business when
I came, you know?

That's true, that's true.

I think I got four
to six cheeseburgers at a time.

Yeah, always.

To stock you up a little bit.

Oh God, bless, thank you, Chris.

It used to be the number two,

and now it's not the number two.

I never forget that.

Bad stuff makes, you
know, good memories

always makes really good.

Yeah, yeah.

Thank you so much.

It's the least I could do.

How is your place?

70% have lice.

No.

The landlord told
me don't ever touch anything.

Don't speak to no one,
just keep to yourself.

Stay in your room.

I don't know, I'm
just too tired.

And, you know, slowly, slowly,
that hope was, I had hope,

it slowly just.

I know, you still got to have.

You have some, right?

You got some, don't you?

I'm still fighting,

but I'm still fighting because
of him be honest with you.

That's fine.

I'm so tired,

but this guy is
keeping me alive still.

You know what
you're going through

much better than I do,

but you just got to
keep on trucking.

He's right there.

He's right there
in front of you.

Thank you.

You know, and that's
what we all want for you.

I know, Chris.

We'll do anything we can.

Thank you, guys.

Hopefully, everything go
positive way, but I'm tired just.

I know, stay strong,
strongest guy I've ever met.

I'm smiling under this mask.

It's so good to see him, and
see you, most importantly.

To see David kind of undergo
what he did, all the surgeries.

I really can't wrap my
brain around how he does it.

And he just perseveres

without being able to
see the end in sight.

He doesn't know where
the finish line is.

The finish line may not
be a good thing for him.

He just continues the course,

regardless of where
his spirits are,

regardless of what the
doctors are telling them.

And to me, it's so admirable

because I don't know if I
could do something like that.

Lucky was always, like, a
pillar of strength for him.

It was a reason for
him to keep going on.

To not have Lucky around,

there's no substitute
for being face-to-face.

I think during a pandemic,

appreciation for our pets
has to be at an all-time high

because we're not able
to see our friends,

and families often.

We hear from a lot of
adopters how their new cats

have become this emotional
support companion.

And a lot of them expected that,

but they couldn't
have anticipated

what a critical role that cat
would play as a family member,

as someone to be there for
them through tough times.

Unquestionably,
cats and all pets

play a really critical role in
our own emotional well-being.

I think they're part
of our self-care.

They're part of a
good daily ritual,

and we know that
caring for others

can be a source of fulfillment.

And I think that's
certainly true for cats.

Men have always loved cats.

I think it's becoming a little
bit more socially acceptable.

Some of those old stereotypes
that were harmful and useless

are fading away.

If you think about how
we're defining masculinity,

I mean, caring for others,
being able to protect others,

that's the foundation
of strength.

You don't even notice it

when you start petting,
and playing with him,

but he's just, like, he
takes your mind out of it.

Looking back on it you can
go, he come jump up on me,

and I forgot about that
call for a few minutes.

Coming home and
having something there,

excited to see you
every time is huge.

I mean, you put in
a long day at work,

and you come home to
an empty apartment,

it's kind of depressing.

Cats are just kind of sensitive.

I think you just have to be
patient and calm with them.

Guys need to learn
some of those traits.

We have people
comment anonymously

on our YouTube videos,

and say I'm a 6'2",
250 pound, ex-Marine,

and I'm crying like
a baby at this video.

And they talk about
it like it's something

that would be viewed
as a sign of weakness.

Being able to show compassion,

that's what leadership
is all about.

So to me, it's redefining
what strength looks like,

and how it's more
diverse and dynamic

than we maybe originally
thought about it as.

So this is Pez.

My wife wanted a cat
for God knows how long,

and I'd have to hear
it all the time.

Why can't we get a cat?
Why can't we get a cat?

And I just was against it.

And then as soon as I saw Pez,

I absolutely fell
in love with her,

but if it wasn't for her,
I wouldn't know any better.

Right, Pez?

Good girl.

Oh, yeah.

I guess I was a
cat guy all along,

and I never really knew it,

but you brought
that out of me, Pez.

You let me know that
I was a cat guy.

Well, we met in Las Vegas.

Peter was there for his
brother's bachelor party.

Well, I brought up Goal Kitty.

That was my way to
get to talk with her.

And she said, "Oh, I love cats."

Hi.

So this is my boy,
Hachi, my little baby.

We're gonna keep working
until we've increased

the capacity for
spay/neuter in Brooklyn.

I founded this organization
to solve a problem.

I'm happy to retire.

I've already set a
retirement date of 2030,

and that just keeps me focused.

And, you know, if
we're being proactive,

we should be able
to address this.