Mediaplanet chatted with the opposable thumbs behind Nala’s fame. Nala’s owners are spreading happiness, driving social good, and educating pet owners everywhere.
What was your experience with rescuing Nala?
It’s pretty much our only experience — adoption is how we got all of our babies. Two of them were rehomed, but it was unplanned for Nala.
I went to a shelter in November of 2010. It was really cold. Nala was in a cage and she was really small. The cage was so small that she was actually sitting on the little box in the cage. She was sick. Pookie gravitated toward her and Nala gave her a kiss. She licked my fist when I held her. We decided to take her home. It was unplanned but I think it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I believe in fate and trusting the process, and I believe our babies choose us. We don’t really pick them. And I can’t imagine Nala with anyone else. We often wonder if the person who dropped her off at the shelter knows who she is now.
What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to add a furry addition to their family?
Adopting a pet is a long-term commitment. And you want to make sure you give them a good life, too. A lot of people just want to adopt animals that look cute. They get kitten fever and they think they can do it, and they don’t realize that cats live a long time. That cute kitten could be a 20-year commitment, if you’re lucky. And I think people don’t realize that. And they don’t take into consideration some of the other things that come with it, like the financial responsibility. And pets are beyond cute but sometimes they’re messy, too. You need to be prepared for that. So I think number one is just making sure you evaluate the whole situation: financially, your home, are you ready, are you that committed, and are you willing to make them part of the family?
They’re not just a cat — they’re your furry baby. And I think that’s the most important thing. And then number two, picking the right kitty for you. So when you go to a shelter, ask some of the people who’ve been caring for these cats what the personality types might be. Some people prefer a super playful, crazy cat that will climb on walls and have the zoomies at 2:00 a.m. and some people want a lap cat. The people who work at the shelter know these cats the best. And sometimes it’s a great idea to pick based on personality, not based on, oh, I just want a ginger cat, or I want a tabby. Their personality has to fit your lifestyle and your home. Some have anxiety and don’t want to be left alone. It’s important to find out which of these cats is the best fit for you.
Can you tell us about why you created Love, Nala, your company, as a legacy for Nala?
When we started posting on social media, we kind of became this thing back in the day. I didn’t even know it was called an influencer. It was about 10 years ago. And then we got lucky enough to partner with a lot of food brands out there. We always had to look on the market to try and find what would be good to feed our animals. We wanted to create something that would allow us to always give back forever. Being an influencer, we had to work with the brand if we wanted donations and all of that. We thought, well, if this ends, we just want to have something so that we can always give back to rescue shelters, because that’s where Nala came from.
Love, Nala is our vehicle for social good. It’s also our vehicle for educating and how we can do better. I think the cat world is a better place with education and proper nutrition. Share life, share love is our tagline. And it’s because that’s what it’s about. It’s more than sharing our life and our love, though — it’s how we can create a brand that will support families forever.
Proper nutrition and hydration for cats is one of the main issues. Cats have a lot of kidney issues — it’s one of the top issues for cats. We wanted to use Nala’s platform to help support education through Love, Nala on hydration and eating more wet food, so maybe people get more time with their kitties.
What was the process like for you guys when looking for the best nutritional path for your pets?
We work with a group of nutritionists who helped us with research and formulation on new products. We thought that what exists is great, but how can we do better than that? So that’s what we’re striving for. We’ll soon be launching air-dried to replace the kibble. When we first launched, we launched with kibble, and then a year later we realized that didn’t fit the brand. So then we hired nutritionists and we developed air-dried, which launches very soon. We finally have our formulation and we did testing. Everything depends on our cats — which recipe they approve of and which size food they like the most. We’re just going to roll the dice on them. It’s a little crazy, but whatever they pick is really what’s going to be in the bag.
Nowadays, more people are focused on proper nutrition for their pets. Over the past five years or so, more people read the ingredient list and look into how to find a good food for their pets.
We get emails asking if our fish is sustainable and whether our cans are recyclable, so we also ask ourselves how we can make a difference for the environment. Air-dried uses way less energy than freeze-dried, so we thought, how do we do better for the planet while we’re doing this? How can we make a difference?
How has Nala’s public figure status changed your life and Nala’s life?
It has definitely changed our lives. I still feel like I’m living in a dream. We get to work from home and to be with our pets. We can make our own schedule. I feel like we got really lucky. Nala has been the greatest gift, too. I just have so much appreciation and gratitude that I defer to her. Whatever she wants, she’s got it.
She changed our lives by giving us this opportunity that we never thought we would have. We did a red carpet event, we took her on a flight to do a meet-and-greet, we partnered with Google, and we partnered with Instagram and Facebook. I don’t think I would’ve had these opportunities without Nala.
I think that a really big thing too is that she pushes us beyond what we’re comfortable doing every day. Going on The Steve Harvey Show was the most terrifying experience ever, because I’m camera-shy and have stage fright, and I don’t like to get dressed up or get ready. Nala kind of pushes us to be better people and I think without that motivation, who knows where we would be in life. She forces us to figure things out. It’s like we get an offer, and then we have to learn how to do it. We have to figure it out for Nala, you know?
I also think she changes a lot of animals’ lives, through the donations. We just try our best to help and to spread love and happiness.
Follow Nala on Instagram @nala_cat to see her adventures.