Kaley Cuoco Wants You to Live a Guilt-Free Pet Parent Life · The Wildest

Skip to main content

Cover Star

Kaley Cuoco Wants You to Live a Guilt-Free Pet Parent Life

The Emmy-nominated actor and Oh Norman! founder on balancing parenthood—in all its forms—with a burgeoning new pet care business.

by Hilary Weaver
February 12, 2024
Kaley Cuoco with dog
Courtesy of Oh Norman

For as long as most television devotees can remember, Kaley Cuoco has been everywhere. Before her 17th birthday, she’d already nabbed a regular role alongside sitcom royalty John Ritter in ABC’s 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. Then, for 12 seasons, she was Penny on The Big Bang Theory, which surpassed Cheers as the longest-running multi-camera sitcom in American TV history.

In 2021, she officially became an Emmy nominee (both as lead actress and executive producer) with the deliciously binge-worthy comedy-drama series, The Flight Attendant. She earned an Emmy nod for the show the following year as well. 

A year of new beginnings. 

These days, you can find her and her partner, actor Tom Pelphrey, on their Ventura County, California ranch, with five dogs, a gaggle of farm animals, and one 10-month-old baby. In fact, the past year of Cuoco’s life has been a lot about all the little creatures who call her “mom.” In late March of last year, Cuoco and Pelphrey welcomed their daughter, Matilda, just after they became parents to a new puppy, Opal. 

Kaley Cuoco’s dog Opal with an Oh Norman toy
Photo: Nat Girsberger

Cuoco tells The Wildest that she’s been on a mission to adopt senior dogs who need homes, and upon first glance, she thought Opal fit into that category. Turns out, she was very wrong (she was just a few months old), which came as a bit of a shock for the first-time expectant parents. But it’s all worked out for the best: Opal is Matilda’s best pal, always following her around, posing in cozy Instagram photos with the baby and keeping an eye on her every move. 

“I just said, ‘Oh, my God, how are we going to raise this puppy with a newborn?” she recalls. “But it’s actually the best thing. It’s so special. They get to grow up together now.” And Matilda’s already got a pretty good snapshot into life with a pet, intently watching her mom serve food for the pups at every mealtime. 

Matilda also happens to share a birth year with Cuoco’s other new baby, her pet care brand, Oh Norman!, named for her “heart dog,” a rescue PitBull mix named Norman, who died at age 14 in 2021. His namesake company, which officially launched in October 2023, focuses on holistic, organic pet supplies (and other accessories).

Opal with an Oh Norman toy
Photo: Nat Girsberger

The line features only dog products right now — toys, food bowls and mats, clothes. Per Cuoco, its most popular item by far is the “ Calm the Eff Down” serum made of chamomile flower, L-theanine, valerian root extract, passion flower extract, and melatonin (a godsend for this writer’s often overstimulated deaf puppy). 

“I tried it myself — twice!’” Cuoco says of the serum, before adding that Jessica Alba’s Honest Company was her inspiration for a line that prioritizes all-natural products and gives back to families and (human) babies all over the world. A portion of all Oh Norman! sales go toward animal rescue.

The true inspiration for it all, was, of course Norman. 

“[Norman] was my first true, like, true rescue,” Cuoco says, getting noticeably more animated as she remembers the late pup. “I’d had dogs before him, but he was what opened my eyes to animal rescue, to a true rescue, like getting one from the shelter. I mean, this dog had a terrible start to life, and he immediately trusted me, and he was my pal. [My partner] Tom has a heart dog, too — Sasha. And the two of us, we talk about these dogs, and we still cry. They just pull at our heartstrings to this day.”

Kaley Cuoco kisses her late dog Norman
Photo: Nat Girsberger

She adds that she’s able to further “memorialize” Norman through her companies (her production company is called “Hello Norman”), where you can his presence is everywhere. Cuoco says she wishes she could add more to Oh Norman’s offerings “tomorrow,” including cat products. Cat people: If you have suggestions for her, she’s taking them (as evidenced by this January interview with notable Cat Mom Jennifer Hudson, who’s already game for some Oh Norman! kitty merch). She’s also aiming to add some items for the big guys — particularly horses — she has on her farm. 

Pet-mom life is a balancing act. 

OK, so a brand-new, growing company; a baby under a year old; a farm full of animals; and five pups seems like a lot to take on, especially when, as any pet parent can attest, one or two animals can put you over the edge. What does Cuoco do when all of that feels like too much? 

“I don’t feel guilty!” she says, emphatically and without hesitation. When we talk, the new mom, who is the first to admit she has “a lot of help” at home, is on the heels of a USA Today interview, in which she admitted to allowing her daughter to have screen time, and of course, the pearl-clutching comments from naysayers were numerous and loud. 

Kaley kisses her dog Opal
Photo: Nat Girsberger

But she remains firm on her stance that a little bit of TV time is actually not going to do her daughter any harm. In fact, she says, her logic is that if she’s not restricting something, her daughter is less likely to want it all the time. Plus, Cuoco says, with her daughter occupied and in the care of others occasionally, she gets crucial time to recharge.

“Self-care is so important. If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t take care of anyone else,” she adds, before saying the same attitude can be applied to pet care (though she seems to be readily available to her pack of dogs, who “get whatever they want.”) And on the days when she’s balancing it all and can’t be in several places at once, she knows her pups will give her some grace.

“Humans aren’t like that,” she continues. “A dog will maybe kind of look at you for a second [if they’re unhappy with you], then forget seconds later and forgive you.” It’s a lesson that she says she’s learning every day from her canine brood. Another lesson this multi-hyphenate entrepreneur is taking in every day comes from her dog Ruby, whom she adopted as a puppy in 2014 and who is the queen of setting firm boundaries.

“I’ll be like, ‘Where’s Ruby?’ and then I’ll be like, ‘She’s put herself to bed.’ She wants nothing to do with what’s happening. Good for her. They get into such a routine.”

Kaley Cuoco’s dog King
Photo: Nat Girsberger

Norman might not be here to take part in the daily regime of the Cuoco-Pelphrey farm life (or be a canine treat tester for future Oh Norman! products like his siblings), but he’s still very much part of his mom’s life. 

“People come up to me, and say ‘Oh, Norman — I’ve seen pictures,’” Cuoco says. “He’s famous now ... He’ll be cherished forever, truly forever. I have apparel with his face on it, I mean, this guy, he’s out in the world.”

Hilary Weaver

Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair from 2016 to 2019, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She lives with her herding pups, Georgie and Charlie.

Related articles