Rachael Ray Launches Shelter Cats are Beautiful

Rachael Ray Launches Shelter Cats are Beautiful

Rachael Ray and groomer Jorge Bendersky pose with some kittens from North Shore Animal League

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray is already making a difference for kids through Yum-O and animals with her organization Rachael’s Rescue. Now she’s working to help cats get adopted through Shelter Cats are Beautiful, a partnership with Greater Good and One Picture Saves a Life that aims to find forever homes for pets through grooming and photography.

Last week, I attended the launch event for the Shelter Cats tour across the country and a new line of natural cat food as part of Ray’s Nutrish pet food brand. Ray was busy cuddling kittens and speaking about the program during the event, so she answered a few follow-up questions for me via email, which you can read below.

Two representatives from North Shore Animal League hold shelter kittens

Representatives from local no-kill shelter North Shore Animal League brought a bunch of friendly cats and kittens to the event, who were looking to be adopted. Celebrity dog groomer Jorge Bendersky was also on hand to demonstrate grooming tips on some of the cats.

Bendersky, who has been a professional groomer in New York City for 20 years, chatted with me at the event about the importance of keeping your pets clean and healthy. “You need to give your pet a bath every time they’re smelly,” he said. “New York City is a pretty dirty city and [New Yorkers] tend to have medium to small dogs, [who are] very close to the street [and] get dirty very easily. Cleaning their paws and their faces is an everyday task. Then [dogs should have] a full grooming once a week [or] every couple of weeks.”

Jorge Bendersky clips a cat

For self-cleaning cats, Bendersky still suggests grooming a way of bonding with your pet. Plus, it’s “the best way of early detection of most health issues,” which can mean “less pain, less money and less vet bills” later on.

Q&A with Rachael Ray

Q: At the event, I heard you mention that your mom has cats—was she excited about Nutrish’s new cat food line? Did her cats get to taste test the food?

A: My mom has a variety of cats, all with personalities of their own! After launching Nutrish for Dogs, she was constantly asking me if I would be launching a natural food line for cats. I can't tell you how happy she was to hear that we were coming out with a cat food line. She was so excited and her cats definitely played a part in trying out our newest product. I knew we had a hit when all my mother's cats couldn't get enough of the Nutrish for Cats samples that we were getting ready to release.

A cat from North Shore Animal League

Q: Did you grow up having pets? What inspired you to become an animal advocate?

A: I didn't have pets as a child. I read an open letter in a local Penny Saver magazine of a woman pleading for someone to give her red nose pitbull a home. She was having an unexpected baby later in life and their home was full so she worried that a young dog wouldn't get enough attention. Her husband wanted to give the dog to a shelter. Pitbulls get put down daily and home insurance is so hard to get if you take them in, I was scared for this pup. Boo came home in my pickup truck the day I met her. I fell in love with dogs and with pitbulls the moment I met her. Boo changed my life for the better in every way.  She had such love in her. Every rescue pitbull I met has as well. Today, more than 20 years later, Isaboo is my daughter, our valued family member. Boo passed years back now. Isaboo is a combination of my favorite name, Isabella, and my first doggy love, Boo.

A kitten from North Shore Animal League

Q: How can animal lovers get more involved in saving and improving animals’ lives?

A: For me, I donate all of my proceeds from the sale Rachael Ray Nutrish to provide a variety of services and products to shelters across the country in need of financial support. We've donated over $6.5 million to date to organizations across the country. We believe in sharing the wealth, so our donations are given to several shelters and used for endless resources that are helping to save so many animals' lives. For example, we kicked off a national tour called "Shelter Cats are Beautiful" and we will travel to 16 markets and offer professional grooming and photography services to capture the true beauty of shelter cats and increase adoptions. This program will also provide shelters with the necessary tips, tools and equipment to properly groom and photograph shelter pets in the future. We want these animals in loving homes and we're hoping this national tour will make quite the difference.

I think it is important for the public and animal lovers to seek out these programs, offer up their time and commitment and make something bigger than it may seem. If you are able to donate money to animal shelters in need, that's a major plus but the most important thing is finding loving homes for these animals. If you have the time to give an animal a loving and deserving home, then adopt these animals, it'll be the best thing you've ever done.

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