Cat Correspondent Finalists Strut Their Stuff


A nationwide search for the next great cat “purrsonality” has been narrowed to seven finalists.

Last Friday, four women and three men began a two-day interview process at Nestl Purina PetCare’s St. Louis headquarters being primped and answering dozens of questions as a group of Purina staff members wrapped up their search for the first ever Cat Chow Correspondent.

The job will include interviewing cat owners and writing about them for Purina’s websites and Facebook pages, and posting photos on Flickr.

Stephanie Harwin, author of the blog, says she thinks this is a dream job. She’s looking forward to the chance to meet cat owners all over the country and dish about their cats.

“One thing I’ve learned from my blog is every cat has a story, and everyone likes to talk about their cats,” Harwin said.

Another finalist, Karen Nichols, former author of Catster’s The Cat’s Meow blog, brought a foot-tall cardboard cutout of her cat Skeezix.

She says she lends the cat cutout, which she nicknamed “Flat Cat,” to people who request it. Last week, Flat Cat was in the United Kingdom to attend a party celebrating the royal marriage.

Some of the finalists said they want to use the job to dispel stereotypes about cat owners.

“You don’t have to be covered in cat hair or a shut-in. We’re social people,” said Tamar Arslanian, who came to the interview dressed in high style: a sleek black dress and matching high heels. Arslanian is the author of the blog I Have Cat, and she keeps her felines in kibble by working as a New York advertising agency account manager. She has three cats, Kip, Petie and Haddie.

Law firm manager Shalee Dunaski of St. Paul, Minn., heard about the contest through her boss. Her cat is named Cash. “After the singer, not cash as in money,” Dunaski said.

Just in case anyone should think that cats are strictly for women, there are three men among the finalists.

Kenneth McGhee, a former model who played football at Arizona State University and now shares his Phoenix home with three cats, is one of them. “When people envision a cat person, someone like me doesn’t come to mind,” he said, “but I’ve been around cats all my life.”

Andy Senor Jr. of New York said he hopes his Siamese cat, Buster, can be included in some of the video segments if he gets the gig. “He’s funny,” the actor says about his cat. “He has a lot of personality.”

Country singer Lucas Hoge hopes that getting the job would mean that Nashville Cat Rescue, a nonprofit organization very close to his heart, would receive increased exposure. Hoge and his wife live in Nashville with their two cats, Tunesis and Shaq, and are caring for six fosters.

“Cats are dude-friendly,” Hoge said Friday. “I like dogs, but I really love my cats.”

Almost 3,000 people applied for the job, which was more than Purina expected. “We were flabbergasted by the response,” said Blair Morgan, Nestl Purina’s Director of Cat Marketing.

The Cat Chow Correspondent will be paid $50,000 for a one-year contract, which will include all-expenses-paid trips to attend cat events all over the United States.

The winner will be announced on May 18.


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