One of the perks of fame and fortune, if you’re a philanthropic kind of person, is the ability to give generously to the charity or charities of your choice. And just like us regular folks, many celebrities are devoted cat lovers, and they direct their largesse to supporting needy cats and cat causes. Here are 10 of our favorite celebrities devoted to cat charity.
Actor Ian Somerhalder of “The Vampire Diaries” and “Lost” is a passionate animal activist, and has worked to promote animal welfare and wildlife conservation. But the Wyler Award winner’s true love is cats. He owns three: Jama-Lynx, Dennis and Moke. Somerhalder told People Pets, "One is a feral cat from Hawaii who grew up in the jungle, another one is a rescue from a dungeon in New York and the other one's from Canada." In 2010, Somerhalder teamed with the St. Tammany Humane Society in Louisiana in their efforts to control feral cat overpopulation. And Somerhalder’s good karma has afforded him an opportunity we all wish we had: the chance to meet and cuddle with Grumpy Cat.
Actor and animal activist Leonard DiCaprio teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund in 2010 to save the tigers. To that end, together they launched Save Tigers Now, and ongoing campaign to promote awareness of the poaching and deforestation that threaten with extinction the 3,200 tigers left in the world. DiCaprio followed up the launch of the campaign with an essay titled, “If We Save the Tigers, We’ll Save the Planet.” DiCaprio wrote, “Saving tigers is a compelling and cost-effective means of preserving so much more that is essential to life on Earth. The tiger is what conservationists call an ‘umbrella’ species. By rescuing them, we save everything beneath their ecological umbrella — everything connected to them — including the world's last great forests, whose carbon storage mitigates climate change.”
BETH AND HOWARD STERN
They say that when you marry someone, you marry their family, too. That’s why when Howard Stern married Beth Ostrosky, he was destined to live in a house full of cats. Not that we’d accuse the radio titan of not caring about animals in his own right, but his wife is a self-professed “crazy cat lady.” The couple owns four cats of their own, and have proven themselves willing to take on even more foster cats if need be. As of last month, the couple were caring for six foster kittens, for a total of 10 cats in their home. “We definitely have a full house of pets and I absolutely love it," Beth Stern said.
Actor/comedian Russell Brand said last month that despite the hard-partying ways of his past, he lives a much mellower life these days. “I'm not always with women, although I like a gorgeous woman. Most days I'm in my [underpants] with my cat looking out of the window eating a bowl of cereal,” Brand said, adding, “My cat's the dominating, supreme being of the home.” His love of felines extends to big cats too. When Brand married his now ex-wife, Katy Perry, he “gave” her a tiger for a wedding present. Of course, the couple didn’t keep a tiger in their home. Machli remained in her animal preserve while Brand helped pay for her care in Perry’s name.
Ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey has been a fiercely outspoken animal advocate for four decades, voicing animal-rights messages both in his public life and in his songs. Although Morrissey fights for the rights of the entire animal kingdom, he is known to hold a particular fondness for cats. His reputation as a cat fancier is so well-established that there are Tumblrs and Twitter accounts dedicated to documenting the singer’s life with his feline friends. Last year, Morrissey posed with a cat for a PETA spay-and-neuter campaign. About the campaign he said, “Letting cats or dogs have litters is tantamount to shooting shelter animals in the head since it kills their chances of adoption. Please do the right thing and spay or neuter your animals.”
“Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.” For decades, game-show host Bob Barker repeated those words at the end of every episode of “The Price Is Right.” He may have done more to promote the importance of spaying and neutering than any other single person. But that’s not where Barker’s long life of animal activism ends. Barker has spent millions of dollars on countless animal causes, like dropping a cool $200,000 in 2011 to airlift 25 lions out of Bolivian circuses and giving them new, happier lives in a Colorado animal sanctuary.
We understand if you’re angry at Sarah McLachlan. We’ve all had our hearts simultaneously melted and broken by her infamous ads for the ASPCA. But even though breaking down into a sobbing mess during a “Two and a Half Men” commercial break was always an unexpected emotional drain, Sarah and her commercials did important, widespread work to promote awareness of abused cats (and other pets) who need love and help. Sarah McLachlan is one of the greatest champions homeless and abused cats have ever had.
Some call her an ice queen, but how cold-hearted can someone who loves pets this much really be? Martha Stewart is a serious cat lover, and owns several exotically named felines, like Persians Empress Tang, Princess Peony, Emperor Ch'in and Kublai Khan, plus Himalayans Electra, Sirius, Vivaldi and Verdi. And Stewart backs up her cat love by supporting cat causes, like promoting rescue from animal shelters like ARF, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.
As a direct extension of her work on the film “Roar,” in which she co-starred with dozens of big cats, actress Tippi Hedren established Hedren's Shambala Preserve and the non-profit Roar Foundation in 1983. The Shambala Preserve is home to 70 cats, including various lions, tigers, leopards, cougars, bobcats and more. All of the cats at the preserve were rescued from and rehabilitated following gross mistreatment. Hedren remains an active advocate for big cats, and for spreading awareness of the plight of endangered cat species.
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CARRIE ANN INABA
“Dancing With the Stars” judge Carrie Ann Inaba has always loved cats, but it took a personal loss to push her into active cat advocacy. When her 19-year-old cat Shadow died a couple of years ago, she decided to celebrate his memory by giving back to the cat populations. "His passing was a catalyst," she told People magazine. "He was my best friend and had been through so much with me. After losing him, it made me realize that it's time to get involved." Besides adopting two new cats and two dogs, Inaba started a Web series to profile shelter cats in need of homes. She also launched the CAI Animal Project Foundation, an organization that helps support small animal shelters.