As a blogger, humorist, and New York Times best-selling author, Jenny Lawson has the distinct ability to make discerning readers laugh with abandon. Whether it’s about being a general misfit or committing any number of parenting foibles, Lawson frequently takes an unapologetic stance on topics big and small — her favorite dead raccoon, for example, as well as modern-day marriage and clinical depression — usually with the primary goal of making you giggle. Living in the Texas Hill Country, this hilarious writer is a mom to human (a daughter named Hailey) and animal children, all subjects of her special brand of humor.
To celebrate her new book, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things, hitting shelves today, we caught up with Jenny to talk about her furry cat kids, named Hunter S. Thomcat and Ferris Mewler. We also learned about her oft-forgotten (we’re guilty!) elder feline, Rolly — the one who’s far less social and quicker to pull out the claws. While Rolly seems to shy away from blog and social media exposure, Jenny makes sure she gets her due in the interview.
Catster: Hunter S. Thomcat and Ferris Mewler — what’s their story?
Jenny Lawson: They were rescues, so I don’t really know much about them. Ferris is polydactyl, which means he has thumbs. This means we had to change all the doorknobs in the house because otherwise Ferris would constantly walk in. Even now he insists on trying to open every bathroom door whenever you most want privacy.
Quite the curious cat. How are Ferris and Hunter similar to or different from one another? They know they’re cats, right?
Ferris is part spider-monkey. Hunter is more of a small sloth. Or at least that’s what they act like.
What’s your history with cats? Any cat experience to speak of?
I’ve always been a cat person. Even when I was little, we had cats. They were outdoor cats, and we lived in the country so they ate mice and had litter after litter. I was forever finding batches of kittens and trying to sneak them inside. My mother never fell for it.
What’s your biggest challenge with kitties like Hunter and Ferris?
Ferris is a fighter, and Hunter is a scaredy cat, and Rolly is so quiet that people forget she exists. She’s the oldest of our cats and almost never gets talked about because she’s a real cat-like cat in that she doesn’t really want you to hold her and she’ll bite you if the weather changes.
Yikes! What do you enjoy most about having the three of them around?
There is nothing more comforting than having a cat choose to sit on your lap. Cats are like less-addictive Xanax.
What do they enjoy doing most?
Hunter sleeps. Ferris prowls. Rolly judges both of them.
What does your daughter think of the cats?
Hailey loves the cats, but Hunter is her favorite because he’ll let her use him as a pillow without pulling out the claws.
What’s the funniest thing they’ve ever done?
One time, I did a TV interview that was filmed at my house, and Hunter was a just a kitten. He insisted on sitting on my shoulder and meowing through every take. In the end, we just left him in the shot.
What’s the weirdest thing they’ve ever done?
Nine years ago, Rolly ate a bag of cotton candy my daughter left out, and she crawled behind a cabinet and fell into a sugar coma. I looked for her for days, and she finally showed up again as healthy as can be. It was insane.
We don’t leave cotton candy out any more. Also, watermelon. Cats should not eat watermelon. So much diarrhea.
What’s the sweetest thing they’ve ever done?
Whenever I have a panic attack, Hunter seems to know and will cuddle up with me.
Describe Hunter S. Thomcat and Ferris Mewler in three words.
Hunter: Fat. Sweet. Snuggly. Ferris: Bright. Wild. Explorer.
What do your precious pets (who also include Papillon Dorothy Barker) think of your taxidermy obsession? Does it keep them on their best behavior?
I have to keep the taxidermy high because otherwise the cats think there are other animals in the house and they get pissy. Literally.
Before we let you go, please tell us about your new book, Furiously Happy. Did any of your pets help you write it?
Furiously Happy is a book I wrote about dealing with mental illness. It doesn’t seem like it would be a good topic for a humor book, but I was very drunk when I wrote most of it so it all worked out. The animals all enter into the book and helped me write it. Except for that one time when Hunter deleted a chapter by sitting on the keyboard. Now I have an unplugged keyboard I keep next to my working one, so he can sit on it.
Check out The Bloggess website and Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things. You can also follow Jenny on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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About the author: Whitney C. Harris is a New York-based freelance writer for websites including StrollerTraffic, Birchbox and WhattoExpect.com. A former book and magazine editor, she enjoys running (with Finley), watching movies (also with Finley), and cooking meatless meals (usually with Finley watching close by).