Jersey City’s Newest Reality Star, Kayt Hester’s Cat, to Appear on Animal PlanetBy Melissa Surach • Jul 27th, 2012 • Category: Arts, Featured
His name is Harold, and he’s a cat. The 20-month-old ginger-tuxedoed rescue with orange spots and eyes was recently selected to appear on Animal Planet’s Bad Dog, a show that profiles pets that are jerks and crowns the “Baddest of the Bad” at the end. Harold, nicknamed, “The Kraken,” was selected because of his kleptomania, but he also habitually attacks his housemate, Pixie.
“He was a terror from day one,” says owner/mother Kayt Hester, a tape artist who lives Downtown. She and boyfriend Alex Heitzenrater of the band Aminal rescued Harold from the Bideawee Shelter in New York City in November 2010. “He kept on attacking Pixie. They just started getting along a little better,” she says, showing me a spray bottle full of water labeled “The Peace Maker.”
As I interview Hester, Harold keeps biting her hand. “Sometimes he bites hard but right now he’s just playing,” she says.
As to why Harold acts up, Hester says, “He can be a real jerk sometimes and I don’t know why, because I wouldn’t raise my son that way.”
Hester says that one day a few months ago, she got a very nice email from one of the show’s producers. The producer had seen Harold’s YouTube channel, “All About Harry,” which had a video of him opening a Brita pitcher and stealing the filter, then hiding it.
“I was so excited. I was like holy crap, I can’t believe it!” she recalls. “I called Alex, and he started laughing and was like, ‘”Are you serious?’”
Harold also steals purple umbrellas, garlic cloves, wrapping paper and wallets, among other things, but Brita filters are his favorite things to walk off with. His favorite hoarding spot is the staircase.
“At first I thought it was Alex,” Hester says, explaining that she thought her boyfriend was just dropping things on the floor and not picking up after himself.
The production process left Harold mildly scarred.
“It’s funny, ever since that film crew was here he’s been afraid of strangers,” Hester says. “They scared the shit out of him.” She said Harold was on the couch when a field producer with a loud voice dropped a giant case of equipment next to him, and that Harold, the quintessential pussy, has been wary of people every since. There were also the bright lights – the crew kept telling Hester, “Get the cat!,” but Harold doesn’t like being told what to do.
While I interview Harold, he just lays behind me and sniffs my butt, to Hester’s surprise. “Harold! Why are you doing that?” she exclaims.
“I told the producers that at his birthday party he was out and about with everyone,” Hester says, shaking her head. She’s telling the truth. I was there. He was sociable. I just hope that fame hasn’t ruined him.
Hester says that the producers made her and Heitzenrater act out reenactments, and that she hopes they don’t look like idiots when the show airs on Saturday. “They’d say, ‘Stand in the middle of a room and look perplexed,’” she says. They also took her to Grove Street to reenact the time Harold stole her wallet and she didn’t realize it until she got to the train station.
The entire ordeal consisted of eight hours of intensive interviews about Harold, and Hester and Heitzenrater got $200 each for their time. (Harold was not paid, but is now eligible for SAG.)
“There’s a negative connotation to ‘Cat Lady,’” Hester explains. “People always call me a Cat Lady, and they’re like, ‘You have 12 cats.’ I only have 2! People assume you don’t have a boyfriend if you have two cats. Alex wants to get a third, and I’m not into that.”
Hester and Heitzenrater just love Harold, and helping stray cats. She has an active social life as an artist, and volunteers at Hudson Animal League’s Spay-Neuter-Release Program. She has not made any tape portraits of Harold, because she doesn’t like the way orange tape looks. But her newest show, “The Elegant Science of a Memory,” opens August 7th at LITM and will benefit the spay-neuter-release program.
Harold will debut on Animal Planet this Saturday, July 28th, at 9 pm as the “klepto-kitty.”
Photos by Jennifer Weiss
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