Cottage Grove "celebricats" to hit national spotlight

COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. -- You might have heard about the four Persian cats from Cottage GroveMiss Wings, Mr. E., Nimbus and Whisperfor loose leash walking, kitty carriage strolls and even swimming in the pool.

On Saturday they will be featured on the national Television netowork Animal Planet for teaching cats around the world how to stay safe around water.

"They're in In Touch, First for Women, and this British magazine," said pet columnist and cat owner Mary Ellen at her home in Cottage Grove on Friday.

Mary Ellen's "celebricats" can't seem to stay out of the spotlight for going beyond the normal expectations of what cats should be able to do.

"Nimbus loves to go on walks," said Mary Ellen as he waited patiently at the front door, wearing his specialized cat harness. "He just can't wait to get outside."

She joked, "The trick to walking a cat is to let them take you wherever they want to go."

Mary Ellen said Nimbus and her other three cats, all from the same litter, love to take rides in a kitty carriage. She said they sit calmly in the basket as she strolls down the street.

After a quick jaunt around Mary Ellen's cul-de-sac, back in the house Nimbus hopped on the toilet for a quick tinkle. Mary Ellen installed a specialized cat box with a large hole in the middle that fits right on top of a standard sized toilet seat.

"I'm teaching all my cats to use the toilet," she said.

Mary Ellen writes the Pet Tips N' Tails column for the Cottage Grove Sentinel. She said she loves to help other pet owners take "better care of their pets."

But the latest news about the "celebracats" from Cottage Grove is a little more serious than cat toilet training.

"One in a thousand cats drowns every year," she said.

So, Mary Ellen taught her cats how to swim and get out of the backyard pool.

"Cats don't like to swim like dogschasing beach balls in the water and jumping in," she added. "Teaching cats to swim isn't about torturing them. It's about teaching them how to swim."

The four cats have been swimming for years, and Animal Planet has finally took notice. The cats will be featured on a segment about teaching cats how to swim.

"There's billions of cats in the worldbillions and billions," said Mary Ellen as she held Nimbus on her lap, "but billions of people know who my cats are, and I got to tell you, it's like a little blue ribbon on your chest."

"They're family and they're beautiful," she said. "And I tell them that their job is to teach and make people smile, and when people see them and smile I say good job, good job."

Mary Ellen's four Persian cats will appear on Animal Planet on Saturday at eight p.m.