Getting to Know You

Actor Eric Roberts enjoys learning about ? and from ? his cats.

By Christopher Ameruoso

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One of Hollywood’s more edgy and intriguing actors, Eric Roberts is known for playing tough characters in films such as Star 80 and Batman: The Dark Knight. Here, he shows us his softer side talking about his rescued cat, Stu, and the other lucky feline rescues who share his home.

Tell us about Stu.
I had rescued a white female cat in New Orleans years ago. She lived a long life, and a long time after that I was ready to find another cat to rescue. My wife camped out waiting for a local animal shelter to open and found that a litter had been left on the shelter’s doorstep without a mom. One of the kitties there was Stu. The shelter made us wait until he was microchipped and neutered before we could take him home to meet the other kitty we’d just rescued. When we finally got him home, she chased after him everywhere, driving him nuts! But, they bonded very quickly.

Stu has names and nicknames. When he was a kitten, he was like a streak of lightning, so we sometimes called him Streak – also the name of Alec Baldwin’s character in Heaven’s Prisoners, which Alec and I did together. Morgan, one of our human kids, calls him Stu, from Chick ‘n’ Stu (she’s a Lakers fan). Keaton, one of our other human kids, names most of our rescued animals after musicians. We have Billie, Dexter, Duke, Ella, Hendrix, Janis, JaRule, Muddy ...

What is his personality like?
He is sweet and showed a teacher/leader side once we rescued the other cats, which first threw him for a loop.

What are some of his favorite things?
He loves one kind of dry food and two types of wet. He loves tuna water. They all loved our dog, Muddy, who passed. Other dogs ... not so much.

Tell us about your other cats.
Right now we have five cats. In addition to Stu, we have Brooklyn, a Russian Blue. She is only a couple of years old. She was found with another litter trying to nurse off of the mother as a tiny kitten. She had painful sores all over, but now her coat is like silk. She is the most independent and brave of all the cats. She loves the raccoons on our property. She loves to snuggle and pets you back if you pet her, but she never brings out her claws. She doesn't love to be picked up. She was raised with a rescued baby squirrel. They eat together. Brooklyn eats a cube of cheese while the squirrel eats a grape.

We also have Heart. My mother in law, Lila Garrett, calls him our alley cat. He loves to be cradled. If you sit back on the couch, he’s on your chest in a flash. He and the girl cats are in love. We have to rescue mice and bugs from him. At those times, we refer to him as our serial killer.

Sunshine was an orange tabby in music videos and commercials. When the daughter in his family became allergic, the family tried to keep him as an outside cat, but that wasn’t working for him. He’s 14.

We noticed cats hanging out on our property, and we put the word out to Cat Connection [a nonprofit cat and dog rescue organization  that provides animal rescue services in Southern California] that if they had ferals who needed a safe place to be, to send them our way. And, here came Sunshine, who’s about as feral as royalty.

Kittridge had been hit by a car. She was and is semi-feral. She snuggles with the other cats but is still a bit hand-shy. She has no problem sleeping on our bed, though. And we love that!

Each kitty has a favorite dry, wet and people food. It’s incredible how you get to know your animal family. Heart drinks from the kitchen faucet. Sunshine drinks from the bathtub faucet and from a plastic margarita glass. Stu drinks from their water bowl, plus the rock fountain we have.

You’ve done a lot of rescue. Where did your big hearts come from?
Well, I’m a rescue. My wife rescued me, and here I am. My whole life I’ve loved animals. Every weekend as a child I would go down to the shelters and try to decide who needed to be rescued the most, almost always cats, and I would take them and go find them a home, because my parents would never let me take all of them. We have an ability to put ourselves in others’ positions — human or animal. And we cannot take pain for anyone.

How rewarding is it to guard these rescued pets?
Being able to provide safety is the best overall feeling on earth.

How has having these cats in your life helped you?
Entertainment, affection, wonder, someone to love, trust...

Have you ever done any acting with any animals?
I haven’t. The closest I ever came was years ago, when I had a girlfriend who made a movie called White Lion, so I was around a bunch of lions for about a week. My son, though, who is a musician, has been performing at different animal events and showing his support, and that’s very important.

What is so magical about cats?
Cats are fascinating. If we say, “kisses,” they will kiss each other.

Which of your cats demands the most attention?
Ours are not very attention-grabbing. If one of them is lying on one of us, we will barely get up! God forbid we disturb them.

What do your pets mean to you?
They are a reminder of all the animals out there who need all of us. Here are the two organizations that are our guide: preciouspaws@preciouspaws.org, www.naturalchild.org

What have you learned from your cats?
We have learned that peace in the house is very important. They feel everything you feel. It’s an overused expression, but “all you need is love,” and if you give love you get love. It’s a beautiful circle. It will always work. And animals respond better to it than humans.

Many people who don’t have animals seem to be missing something in their lives that people with animals have.

I think we learn loyalty and love and affection from animals. And many people are missing some of those things in their lives. I think having rescues in your life brings you love and affection.
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Getting to Know You

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Reader Comments

Barbara    Guerneville, CA

9/24/2011 12:17:11 PM

What a nice, nice man Eric Roberts seems to be! He just gets IT!!! I would love to thank him for caring so much.

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