Kat Dennings On Her Pet Doppelgänger, Millie, Cat TV & the Cat Lady on “Dollface”
“We’re supposed to be quote-unquote scared of becoming a cat lady, but really what does that even mean? Being a strong independent person who loves cats? That sounds awesome.”
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Over the course of her 35 years, actress and avowed cat person Kat Dennings (who can be seen on Dollface and WandaVision) has had three cats. Her first family cat, Daisy, simply appeared on her childhood home’s porch one day. “She was very smart and could even open doors with her paws,” says Dennings. Then there was Pumpkin, another stray who showed up on her garage roof as a teenager and soon became, in her words, the fluffiest show cat you’ve ever seen. “I swore once Pumpkin crossed the rainbow bridge that I would never love again and that I was never ever ever getting another cat — it really broke my spirit.” But years later, once she laid eyes on Millie, she couldn’t resist being lured back into cat-dom.
How did Millie first come into your life?
Oh my god, well, I was at a store — not really a store, more like an organic, kind of crunchy health pet place. I don’t know how to describe it and it’s no longer there, but they had a section where if people found animals they could bring them in and they would have them available for adoption. One day I went in there for something, probably for my dad’s dog, and they had three little kittens. I asked what the backstory was, and apparently an old lady opened her garage one morning and just saw three kittens in there — the cutest possible little creatures.
I didn’t even see Millie at first because her sisters were both orange and very fluffy and very outgoing, and they were also both already adopted. And then there was a third kitten. She was in a ball, the only brown one, in the back of a cage being very antisocial. And I was like, “Alright, somebody give me this, whatever this is, because I need to hold it immediately.” Then I held her and she fell asleep in my arms. I immediately whisked her away and took her home and bought everything I needed to have a kitten (a bed, litter box, etc.) and my life was changed forever. Some think she’s a Norwegian Forest Cat mix, a tiny little version. She’s almost eight now and when I got her she was the size of a teacup. And she’s just the love of my life… well, the other love of my life.
When you first met her, was she already a Millie or did you bestow that name upon her?
I bestowed it, though actually my mom named her. I was originally going to name her Owl, and my mom thought it was a little disrespectful to her as a species. So she said, “You know, she kind of looks like a Millie.” And I agreed. When she’s being a very good girl her full name is Mildred and when she’s being a little bit naughty her full name is Millicent.
I love that she came from a little old lady’s garage and that you ended up naming her Mildred. It just makes sense.
Exactly. We are a couple of old ladies at heart.
Personality-wise, is there any other crossover between you and Millie?
It’s clear that we share a similar couch potato vibe. She was a shy, keeping-to-herself kind of kitten. A vet once told me she was definitely an only child. She loves me, she loves my fiancé, she loves my mom, and that’s it. She’s not really one of those cats that comes right up to you and wants to sit in your lap. She likes who she likes and that’s it. I get it.
You said couch potato. Is that where we would usually find her on any given day?
Well, a day in the life of Millie. When she was really little she was awake pretty much all night, but as she grew she didn’t do the nocturnal thing that most cats do; she just went to sleep with me and then she would just get up when I got up. It’s incredible, and she still does that. She wakes up with me every morning and I’ll give her breakfast, and then all she wants to do is just go back to sleep. And I’ll give her a brush and then she’ll probably want to play a little bit and then…she just wants to go back to sleep again. We share that too. It’s the ideal lifestyle in my opinion.
So, I googled Millie and the internet tells me that she likes to brush her teeth. True?
That is her special talent. And I don’t want to brag but I did take her to the vet recently and he told me that her teeth look incredible. Not to show off. I don’t know if anybody uses the tiny little toothbrush, even though obviously we should — but it’s not exactly easy to brush a cat’s teeth. However, I hold out the toothbrush and sometimes it’s just water or a little bit of cat toothpaste flavored gel thing and she’ll just bite it and I’ll kind of drag it through the teeth and she really loves it. She absolutely goes for it. It’s amazing.
Does Millie appreciate your craft? Does she watch TV with you?
She does not appreciate me in a professional sense at all. And she hates the camera in general. Every time I have my camera, she hates it and she runs from it. If I come into a room that she’s in and I don’t have my phone, she’s doing as many cute things as possible. And then when I have my camera ready she just runs out. However, there’s something on YouTube called Cat TV. And if you have to leave the house for a while, it has up to 12-hour episodes where it’s just like birds and squirrels. Someone set up a camera and put a bunch of birdseed out and it’s just hours of birds flying in and pecking around. An absolute brilliant mind conceived of this. And Millie can’t get enough of it. She is mesmerized. That is her TV of choice.
Are you also deep into cat memes, too?
Listen, I dabble. I do follow a few notable cats, but I don’t go out of my way to follow cat meme accounts. It doesn’t matter at all, though, because Instagram knows and they all come to me. I am knee deep in #catstagram.
Obviously, the past two years have been pretty homebound and stressful. Was Millie a comfort throughout all of it?
If I didn’t have Millie it would have been a lot worse for me, personally. When the pandemic first started I was out of town filming, so that was really stressful. When I came home I didn’t have Millie for a while because she was being watched by my mom. I didn’t want to go near my mom until I felt it was safe. We didn’t know enough about Covid at that time, so I stayed away for like a month. But then when I got her home the cuddles were off the chart — and this cat is not a lap cat. She’s more like an “I’ll sit next to you and poke you with my paw” kind of cat. I think, unlike us, all of our pets have mostly enjoyed this time because we are always home spending time with them. She’s thriving and having the time of her life. And pets are the best when we’re stressed out…they can tell when we’re having a hard time.
Your fiancé Andrew came into the picture during the pandemic. What was his first meeting like with Millie?
Now that was a true test. Millie responds to me mostly. She will pick up if I’m stressed out or happy and she will follow that. She went right over to him when they first met. And he’s respectful and hands off, and she did the ankle sniffing and she rubbed her head on him right away. And now she just can’t get enough of him. If he’s in another room she will bolt for that room. She knows that I am happy, so she is happy too.
Cat lady used to be an insult lobbed at women; do you feel like it’s evolved?
I absolutely think it has evolved. On Dollface there’s a character called “Cat Lady” who is a human woman with a cat head. It was supposed to be the magical realism version of a cat lady, but she’s kind of like the fairy godmother of the show. We’re supposed to be quote-unquote scared of becoming a cat lady, but really what does that even mean? Being a strong independent person who loves cats? That sounds awesome.
So, would you ever add to your cat brood?
Well that vet told me that this cat should not have other cats and I think about that. But I will say that Millie has met dogs in her life and she’s very interested in them. Ideally, of course, I would just be covered in cats, but I’m going to wait on getting another one. The thought has crossed my mind to add a canine. We’ll see…
From a super-realistic salmon steak toy to an elephant-grass woven cat pod, Kat clearly knows cats.
“It’s always a really funny, happy parade that’s going through the house and workplace at all times.”
Fiorella Valdesolo is a writer, editor, brand and creative consultant. She’s worked with New York, Elle, The Wall Street Journal, T, Glamour, Vogue, Women's Health, Nylon, Style.com, Net-a-Porter, and Domino, among others. She is the cofounder and editor-in-chief of the independent food magazine Gather Journal and the author of Pretty: The Nylon Book of Beauty. She lives in Brooklyn with her partner Nate and daughter Aluna. Her dream interview remains Stevie Nicks.