Cat Chat: More With Paige Hemmis

The designer, carpenter and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" co-star talks about her work and her cat.

By Christopher Ameruoso | Posted: May 5, 2010, 3 a.m. EST

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Paige Hemmis talk to Cat Fancy Magazine
Here is more of an interview with "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" co-star Paige Hemmis about her work and her cat, Mercury, from the July 2010 issue of CAT FANCY magazine.

What have you custom designed for your cat?
Any time I attempt to give Mercury a toy or make something for her, she ignores it. Leave an empty box or bag around, however, and the playing commences.

Paige Hemmis and Mercury
Paige Hemmis and Mercury
What are some of your cat’s favorite things?
She loves her cat condo. It’s 7 feet tall, covered in carpet and puts her at the top of the world. I reach up and grab her, and she loves to play. When the playing is done, she’ll curl up in the top and sleep for hours. She also loves a stuffed animal that I have had since I was 2 years old, Goody Lion. She loves to curl up on him and take a nap. Her favorite toy is the cap of a water bottle, the little clear plastic tops that cover the pop-top. She can play with one of those for hours. If you throw it, she’ll fetch it and bring it back for more.

Tell me something that your cat does that really amuses you.
Although I know about the toilet skills, it still amuses me every time that she uses the toilet. She always waits for me to get home, also, so that she receives the praise. I’ll forget about it, be in the bathroom getting ready to go out and all of a sudden I’ll hear a little tinkle. I’ll look over and there she is, perched with a determined look in her eye, taking care of business.

If your cat was on a TV show, what show would it be and what character would she play?
I think she would be Ginger from "Gilligan’s Island." She is so sweet and pretty. But she does do tricks, contemplates her actions and uses the toilet, so maybe she’s more level-headed like Mary Ann. But then again, she is quite intelligent, so she could be like the Professor. She likes the finer things in life so she could be like the Millionaire. Although, she does like to lie around and have other people do things for her, so she’s like the Millionaire’s wife. Actually, when people come over, she definitely steals the show, so she’s kind of like Gilligan – always in the middle of the action, the star of the show, and acting silly. Who am I in all of this? Just the jolly sidekick, which I guess makes me the Skipper.

Tell me about the success of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
What started out as a design show has turned into a show about helping others, one family at a time. The response to the show has been overwhelming and a true blessing. One of the greatest compliments we receive about the show is that it inspired someone to help someone in their own community. I think people are ready to see a show that reaches out to the community, that focuses on people doing good things and congratulates those who do good things in their lives. I think the success of the show is a surprise to all of us, yet we welcome this surprise and hope that it inspires other people, and other shows, to do the same.

How has the show affected your life?
Before this show, I remodeled homes and had a rent-to-own program that helped people who could previously not afford to buy their first home. I also donated my time to Habitat for Humanity. This show is a combination of both aspects. I love my job.

I have met so many wonderful families that have been through so much pain and hardship, yet have found a way to turn that hardship into good. They are a true inspiration to all of us. Each of these families thanks us for the work that we did for them, but I really feel that we should be thanking them. They have taught me to enjoy every minute of life and let no opportunity pass you by. If you have someone in your life that you love, tell them. If you have something you really want to accomplish, go do it. These families are testaments to living life to the fullest – something that we can all learn from.

Although the hours are tough and I miss my family so much, the rewards from helping people and meeting these amazing people along the way are so great. I’m more involved in Habitat for Humanity now, and continue to help build houses for low-income families. I absolutely love my job and love the opportunity to travel the states and meet amazing people.

What else are you working on now that you are excited about?
When I started in the construction business, I noticed that I could not find gloves, tool belts or work boots that fit properly. I would have to buy a man’s small and hope for the best. I started thinking that I must be part of such a small minority, and there really isn’t a need for such items in the workplace. Then I did a little research and found that I’m not alone and that there are millions of women in construction in America alone, and that doesn’t even include the weekend warriors or those who fix things up around her house.

So I started Tuff Chix Inc., a company that provides work gear and tools for women. It will celebrate tough girls and women everywhere and encourage them to take control and be tough. I am currently writing a book entitled "Tuff Chix Guide to Easy Home Improvement." I love teaching other women to fix things around their home. It’s such a great feeling to be able to take care of yourself or know what to ask for when someone else is taking care of it for you. This is a manual every girl needs!

Is there anything else special you would like to do in your career?
I have done so many things in my lifetime and have found the one thing that makes me extremely happy now. I would love to continue helping people, so I would like to continue along this same vein. I’m not sure what I will do exactly, but you better believe that it will involve television and helping people on a more grand and global scale.

What is next for you in your career?
Next in my career is taking Tuff Chix Inc. to a huge level and providing everything a girl needs to take care of business in her life from books to work gear to life lessons. I want to share the skills and the knowledge I have learned over the years. I love to teach, love to instruct and love the change I see in other people when they learn a little something new. I plan to stay a part of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" team for many years.

What does your cat really mean to you?
My cat is my child. She is family. She’s my travel companion, my cuddler, my sidekick. I hear stories of cats living 20 years or more. I just hope and pray that Mercury is one of those kitties. She really is a part of me, one that I cherish.

What have you learned from your cat?
I have learned that it is so important to have a piece of home with you when you are on the road. I have learned to keep in touch with my family and close friends, those people who really mean a lot to me. It wasn’t until I was without her for several weeks that I realized how much she comforts me on the road. It’s a comfort that reminds me of home and reminds me to share that love with the people who mean so much to me in my life.

What does your cat do to cheer you up on a blue day for you?
There was a time last fall that I did two back-to-back shows without her, due to the location and their lack of pet tolerance. I didn’t realize how much I would miss her!

When I get home from the job site, I am always greeted with such love and affection. As I am putting the key in the door, I can hear the meows starting, welcoming me home. I walk through the door, and she lays out on the floor, giving me her belly for some scratching. This continues for about 10 minutes, then we go about our own business until I get ready for bed.

There is a certain ritual every night. When I’m brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed, she has a quick bite to eat, a long drink of water and meets me in bed. If I’m already in bed, she’ll tap on my shoulder until I lift the covers for her. She crawls in and then turns around so that just her little head is above the covers, pushed up next to me as close as she can possibly get. If I’m ever stressed or having a bad day, I can always count on her to cuddle up to me, purr incessantly, and make me smile. She is my little piece of home and family that I can take on the lonely road.


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Cat Chat: More With Paige Hemmis

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Reader Comments

Jerrie    SF, CA

5/21/2010 5:47:58 PM

Love the stories!

sally    kingston, OH

5/14/2010 3:53:07 PM

we have a snow shoe cat here at our house that someone put out and he is pretty but you can tell someone has been very mean to him. we finally got him to come to us and then we noticed his eyes started to look like they had an infection and we didn't know what to do. My husband lost his job in March 2010 and hasn't been able to find a job and I am disabled and cannot work so we basically have only a little disability income at this time to try and live on. we noticed his eyes were getting worst and he couldn't open the one eye at all and he wouldn't eat. so we finally called a vet close to where we live and explained the situation but they were not concerned at all about our financially situation and didn't want to give us a break or anything to check his eyes. we finally took him to another vet and they told us in the particular breed their eye lashes turn in and eventually they rob their eyes and they go blind and that is why he wouldn't open the one eye because it hurt and that he needed surgery or he would go blind. we were beside ourselves especially given our financial situation and we have two cats of our own and one has alot of health problems with urinary tract infections. we couldn't stand for this poor cat to go blind and not be able to take care of himself, so we had one credit card left and we went ahead and had surgery on this cats eyes and got him his shots as well as rabies and had him neutered which was not cheap for all of this, but we felt we had to do something for this poor cat especially since he would go blind. now his eyes are back normal and as blue as blue can be and he is healthy and stays close by now but he is still very afraid of certain movements and items so whoever had him was very mean to him. at least we did what we could even though we are in the financial situation we are in, but it seems no vets or organizations where we live would help us with the expenses to see to this cats eye surgery to keep him from going blind, not even the local humane society, shelters or no one, so why are they all the time wanting people to donate money to them when they won't help people?

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