How I Got My Cat Moki on Animal Planet


People often wonder how pet owners get their animals featured on television. So today I share the story of how Moki came to be featured on Season 2 of Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats.

It started when JaneA Kelley wrote a piece on Catster about a cat receiving hydrotherapy treatments. I didn’t know JaneA at the time but was thrilled to see someone writing about hydrotherapy, a treatment that’s foreign to many pet owners. I left a comment on that story, saying that my cat Moki had received hydrotherapy since 2008 along with veterinary acupuncture — and I asked JaneA whether she had considered writing about veterinary acupuncture. JaneA replied, and soon I’d shared details about Moki’s story with her.

JaneA wrote and amazing article on Moki. Neither of us knew, but some pretty big eyes watching. About 10 days after the article was published I received a call from Scout’s House, the place where Moki gets therapy. Moki and I were on our way to an appointment, but the folks at Scout’s House just couldn’t wait to share the news with us. An associate producer from Must Love Cats had called there that morning trying to reach me.

That person had read JaneA’s story and wanted to reach me, but Scout’s House was the closest she could get. I returned the call later that day with Krista, the head of physical rehabilitation. In the following months, I learned the details involved with getting a story featured on the show. First, it wasn’t a sure thing. The associate producer thought that Moki’s story would be a good fit for Must Love Cats, but other people would help make the decision. We had to pitch Moki’s story to the executive producer, and then to the network, both of whom had to approve the story before the filming could begin.

Once that happened, we had to coordinate schedules. A shooting date would have to work for Scout’s House, Moki’s acupuncturist, and myself in addition to the film crew, show host John Fulton, and everyone else involved in the shoot. It took two months, but we finally set a date. It happened on Dec. 3, 2011.

Our portion of the episode was only a few minutes long, but it took eight and a half hours of filming. On the day of the shoot, we began filming at Scout’s House. Moki and I were late because my car got a flat tire. So by the time we arrived, the crew was set up and had begun filming a few other clients.

Once we got acquainted with Fulton and the crew, Moki was eager to show off the new skills he had developed from his physical rehabilitation. It’s like he knew his treatment that day was extra special. For a few weeks before the filming, Moki’s rehab specialist had gotten him to climb to the top of what we deemed “Moki’s mountain,” but he hadn’t climed down — until the film crew was there to capture his breakthrough.

On lunch break, I sat down with Donald Baret, field producer for the show. Donald shared several stories about his travels with Must Love Cats and about the fascinating people and cats he has met because of the show.

In the afternoon we moved to my house for the second part of the shoot. As I said, it was early December, so my house was decorated for the holidays. Having never been featured on television before, I didn’t consider when the episode would air — which would be well after Christmas. This presented a small dilemma: We didn’t want to show any Christmas decorations in the shoot. So we shot in the kitchen, where the holiday decor was minimal.

We’d scheduled a session with Moki’s acupuncturist, Dr. Halperin. But before that day, Moki had never done a physical rehabilitation session as well as acupuncture the same day, so we didn’t know how he would respond. Would he be overwhelmed or would he tolerate it? As it turned out Moki did fairly well. He began to relax even more once all of the acupuncture needles were in. An electrical stimulation machine helped, as did Fulton singing to him. Despite putting in an eight-hour day in front of a camera, Moki was still eager to play as Fulton and I sat on the living room floor discussing Moki’s medical condition.

It turned out to be a great day. John Fulton is just as nice in person as he appears on television. The members of the film crewwere equally nice as well and a pleasure to work with, not to mention super knowledgeable and good at what they do. Moki was a champ. He took direction well and presented little challenge. The cast and crew all agreed that Moki was a pleasure to work with.

At that point, it would be another three months — March 17 — before the episode aired. But it was worth the wait, and I must say that I couldn’t be happier with the way Moki’s story turned out. Must Love Cats captured Moki’s medical treatments perfectly, and it was an absolute thrill to be able to share them with everyone.

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