June 12, 2006

Cats to compete in reality TV show in New York

By Sarah Coffey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ten cats in search of owners will
spend the next 10 days in a New York store window, their every
move caught on camera for a reality TV show on which they will
compete for best sleeper and mouse-catcher.

The show is the creation of a petfood company and will be
shown on cable channel Animal Planet, as well as on the Web
site www.MeowMixHouse.com where viewers will be asked to vote
off one feline contestant each day.

The cats, chosen from shelters around the country, will
compete for loudest purr, most prolific sleeper and who can
catch the most toy mice. Kitties who get the boot will be
adopted into permanent homes.

Meow Mix, owned by Del Monte Foods Company, hopes the show
will promote cat adoption -- as well as their products, which
will be the only thing on the menu.

Passerby taking a gander though a specially rented
storefront on Madison Avenue in midtown Manhattan can watch the
cats lazing about a luxuriously outfitted cat-sized house that
includes scaled-down sofas, beds, a fish tank (with fake fish),
kitchen and a porch, all put together by an interior designer.

"It's a Disney World for cats," said Meow Mix's Ryan Reed,
in charge of ensuring the cats are well-cared for and
well-behaved. Volunteers from The American Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are also on hand to attend to
the needs of the kitty stars.

Enjoying their final day of obscurity on Monday, the cats
seemed unfazed by attention from visiting media -- most of the
cats were asleep on the set, which will be unveiled to the
public on Tuesday.

A cat named Sam, from Dallas, Texas, stood guard on the
home's welcome mat while Romeo, a Los Angeles native, lazily
stretched out his six-toed paws before swatting a toy.

In the tradition of reality shows, the company will hire
the top cat as "Feline Vice President of Research and
Development," responsible for taste testing and product

Biographies of the cats play up their personalities, but in
reality, they're all pretty mellow, if not a bit dazed from all
the attention.

"In real life they're all very sweet," said Meow Mix's
Keith Fernbach. "But we try to give them a personality for TV."