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Deadlines, Stories and a Love of Cats

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When a house is on fire or elections are underway, local news reporters are ready to find out the facts. But how do feline companions help them get through the stress of daily deadlines? Meet some broadcast journalists who think cats are their savior for their sanity.

Miguel Octavio, Reporter WTSP-TV, Tampa, Florida

Turn on the evening news in the Tampa Bay area, and you’ll see Miguel Octavio covering the big stories. New to the job, Miguel is thrilled to be moving up the journalism career ladder. But as a TV reporter, it can be a nomadic life moving from city to city. That’s why he’s grateful the one constant in his life are his two cats, Cutie Pie, a 13-year-old long-haired, black-and-gray kitty, and Casper, an all-black cat who is around 10 years old.

Miguel’s love of cats began in the Philippines, where he was born to a strong, single mother, who always instilled kindness to animals in her son. There, he and his mother would feed and rescue stray cats and dogs. When he was 9, he moved with his mom to the United States in hopes of finding a better life. Despite the fact that they were new immigrants in a foreign country, their love of animals continued. Miguel and his mom fostered many cats and kittens for a local rescue group as they pursued the American Dream.

The 26-year-old recently started reporting at WTSP-TV, the CBS affiliate, and is new to the Tampa area. “I moved here by myself and really didn’t know anyone or the city. It’s such a nice feeling to come home and have Cutie Pie and Casper waiting at the door for cuddles and pets. I’m never lonely thanks to them. To me they’re not just pets but a source of emotional support in a very stressful, high-profile business.”

Follow Miguel Octavio on Instagram @miguelwtsp

Heidi Wigdahl, Reporter KARE-TV, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Heidi Wigdahl is a multimedia journalist at the NBC affiliate in Minneapolis. During the protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd, the award-
winning reporter was front and center and right in the thick of things. That’s why when she comes home, she relishes time to relax with her young daughter Olive and favorite felines, Bunny Pancake and Backpack the Brave.

Credit: Heidi Wigdahl

“I just love how my cats make me feel,” Heidi says. “They’re so soothing, and they greet me at the door. I’m always working to earn their trust and love, because sometimes they can be shy and fearful.”

Bunny was found behind a Target store in Rochester, Minnesota, and adopted from a local shelter. Backpack came from a Tennessee cat rescue.  As a lifelong cat advocate, Heidi has always taken to special-needs cats. Her late cat, Jazz Mango, had many veterinary issues.

“I adopted him in college, and his vet bills were expensive. In hindsight, I wasn’t financially prepared to take on those costs. But in the end, he was so worth it.”

When not working, Heidi always finds time to give back to her local cat rescues. She’s emceed and volunteered at fundraising events for the Bitty Kitty Brigade, a neonatal kitten rescue, and Feline Rescue, the largest cat rescue in Minnesota.

So what’s her favorite story ever? Embezzlement, extortion or illegal drugs? No way! It’s reporting on the kittens at the Kitten Bowl when the Super Bowl was in Minnesota.

Follow Heidi Wigdahl on Instagram @heidi.wigdahl

Megan Shinn, Anchor Noon and 7 p.m. Newscasts, WRTV-TV, Indianapolis, Indiana

As a television news anchor at WRTV, Megan Shinn is used to working odd hours. But to her cats, the hours make no difference. The Indianapolis news anchor is mom to kitties Basil, a Russian Blue, and Odin, a special-needs cat who only has one eye.

While living and working in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Megan covered a story about hurricane animals at the Virginia Beach SPCA, where she noticed the adorable one-eyed cat. A few weeks later, she started dating her now-
husband Mike who, much to her surprise, had adopted the special-needs kitty she remembered from the story.

After Megan and Mike got married, Odin joined Basil, who Megan adopted during her time as a broadcaster in Eugene, Oregon. Like many broadcast journalists who move from city to city, having a pet just makes life less lonely. “It feels like every move to a new market means I get another cat. They are the best companions for journalists. From sweet purrs to greeting you at the door and making funny news bloopers during the pandemic, they make a house a home.”

Follow Megan Shinn on Instagram @meganshinntv

Miranda O’Bryan, Anchor Good Morning KOTA Territory and Good Morning Black Hills, KOTA-TV, Rapid City, South Dakota

Miranda O’Bryan has always loved cats. Growing up in Martin, South Dakota, her family had multiple cats they found as strays, in shelters or on farms. That’s why, after graduating from South Dakota State University, she got her own kitty named Jericho, who was part of a litter from her grandma’s farm. “Jericho has been my rock. He helped me through the end of a serious relationship and adjust to living on my own.”

Miranda started as a reporter at her station but has quickly moved up the ranks. She’s using her love of cats and her passion for journalism as inspiration for writing a children’s book. She hopes to get Jericho the Journalism Kitty published soon, to inspire children to pursue a career in journalism and writing, all through the eyes of her cat. The book is also part of a social impact community project Miranda is pursuing for the Miss South Dakota Scholarship Competition, which is part of the Miss America Organization. She’s been a finalist to be Miss South Dakota previously and hopes that with Jericho as her practice buddy and supporter, next year will be her year to clinch that title.

Follow Miranda O’Bryan on Instagram @mobryantv 

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