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Baker, cookbook author, and newspaper columnist Kim-Joy is best known for her adorable, animal-inspired sweet treats, which wowed the judges week in, week out on the ninth season of The Great British Bake-Off. As a finalist, she created bee donuts, squirrel tartlets, bunny madeleines and, lest we forget, the galaxy-themed ball, which melted to reveal space turtles inside. The UK-based Kim-Joy lives with her partner and their two adopted cats, littermates Mochi and Inki. We caught up with her to hear about how she taught her cats to high-five, what their fascination with her dough kneading is all about, and the comic book she’s working on about a baking club (yes, there are cat characters).
Have you always been a cat person?
I’ve always had an affinity with cats, and think my personality is very cat-like. I like soft things, I like to sleep, I like food, and I like to be independent. I don’t like loud noises or sudden movements. [My partner] Nabil grew up with cats and is definitely a cat person, so getting cats was an easy decision.
How did Inki and Mochi come into your life?
We wanted two siblings and didn’t mind the ages — we just wanted friendly personalities. Leeds Cat Rescue emailed us about two kitten littermates called Watson and Mycroft (Inki and Mochi’s names at the time) and sent the cutest picture. We met them at their foster home and they immediately sat in my lap — so that sealed the deal.
Do they respond to Mochi and Inki?
I’d always wanted a cat called Mochi after watching Big Hero 6, and then Inki’s name came about when we were trying to think of different words that fitted with his shiny black fur. I love their names because they are easy to say in a high-pitched voice, and cats respond well to high-pitched voices. Though we do have a lot of nicknames for them: Mochi gets called Pochi, Pooch, Moch, and Mr. Pooch a lot; Inki we call Inkleton, Mr. Inkleton, Inkle, Twinkleton, and Twinkletoes.
They say people resemble their pets (physically or emotionally). Do you share any traits with your cats?
We always say that I’m more like Inki and Nabil is more like Mochi. I’m the expressive one who’s a bit more demanding and particular for nonsensical reasons. Nabil is like Mochi — just give him good food, a good cuddle, and a nice sleep, and he’s happy!
What are their personalities like?
They sleep on our bed at night — and the incredible thing is they let us sleep in and don’t meow to wake us up. Inki is quite human-like, has very expressive meows, and enjoys eating things we eat like cheese and cream. They’re both really cuddly and love having their tummies stroked. Mochi likes to just suddenly jump on you, while Inki sort of sits in front of you, thinking about it, then kneads your lap before settling down. Inki gets jealous when I talk to other people; he comes up and meows very loudly. They’re both very confident and adventurous cats, but I think Inki is slightly more nervous than Mochi. They’re totally perfect for us.
Inki sounds like he gets what he wants! Did you have to address any naughty habits with him or Mochi?
Inki is definitely the naughty one! If they do anything naughty, we don’t spray them with water or anything — we just try to distract them. We do spoil them a lot. Inky likes eating our spider plants, so I keep them high up so he can’t chew them to pieces. We’re very lucky as they’ve never had any litter box issues or accidents. We also trained them to do high-fives for treats when they were kittens, which is fun to show-off to people!
Do they like to watch you when you’re baking?
They do — it’s super-cute. I’ve got a video on their Instagram account of Mochi watching me kneading dough. When I’m doing some of my YouTube videos, Inki, in particular, likes to sit on the table and just watch. Cats sense the energy in the room and want to feel involved in what you’re doing.
Have you ever featured Inki and Mochi in any of your baking?
I recently made a birthday cake for Nabil, featuring fondant versions of Inki and Mochi on top!
Other than watching you bake, what’s a typical day like for them?
They love going outside but we make sure they come in when it gets dark, and they know that that’s the routine. In the evening they like to have a snooze and chill — either on the sofa, on a pile of clothes, or on a damp towel from the shower. When we go to bed, Mochi likes to sit on your chest for a bit — he’ll take time to sit on both of us, and then when we get fidgety, he goes to sleep at our feet. Sometimes he will come back to cuddle once we’ve properly fallen asleep, so I wake up and he’s right there next to me.
How do they enrich your lives?
They’re just amazing and I spend so much time staring at them and saying Look how cute he is! about one or both cats. Even though they’ve done the same cute things before, it always seems like a new thing that has got to be paid attention to. I love them so much and talk about them all the time. They’re so soothing. Mochi knows when Nabil is tired as well, because Nabil will get home and sit on the sofa, then Mochi will sit on his chest and it will send Nabil to sleep.
What advice would you give someone considering cat adoption?
Just ask for as much advice as you can. I like to research everything and spend hours Googling stuff. We prepared by making sure we got them a top-entry litter box that they learnt to use straight away (so much tidier!), taught them to give high-fives, got them a tall cat tower to chill out on and scratch, researched plants that could be dangerous, researched the best food for them, and so on.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m also writing a comic book story about a group of people who feel isolated for different reasons, and find comfort in each other through a baking club. It’s sad and dark, but will also be uplifting and hopefully resonate with people who struggle with feeling isolated. And again, a cat will definitely be featured!
The LA artist and baker’s designer confections are all about peace, love, and pugs. Don’t let them eat cake.
"I have put a gold chain bracelet around her neck as a collar for some photos, but she looks so perfect in just her spotty coat that I keep her au naturel."
Andie Cusick is a writer and editor who has lived and worked in New York, London, and Berlin. She has over a decade of experience across a diverse range of lifestyle publications and brands. Cusick is currently the Editorial Director at Freunde von Freunden, was head of PR for Urban Outfitters and former Associate Editor at NYLON Magazine.