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Meow TV offers feline appeal
NEW YORK -- Balls of yarn, little plastic toys with bells inside and the occasional whiff of catnip simply aren't enough to satisfy the entertainment needs of today's sophisticated, high-tech felines.
Cats need television. And now they have it.
"Meow TV," which bills itself as being for cats "and the people they tolerate," debuts at 6:30 p.m. tonight on the Oxygen network.
The tongue-in-furry-cheek comedy mixes video of squirrels and fish with segments titled "Cat Yoga" and "Cat Haiku."
An interminably perky host on "The House Cat Shopping Network" urges kitties to "use those paws -- you've seen your owners do it, you know how to dial a phone."
And an ad for a collection of favorite feline songs includes "Spay You, Spay Me," and "Mice, Mice Baby."
Lazy, lasagna-loving Garfield had his own animated series for a while. So did the cranky comic-strip cat Heathcliff and the animated troublemaker Felix. Then there was Salem, the spooky animatronic talking cat on "Sabrina the Teenage Witch." And of course, there was the "Toonces the Driving Cat" sketch on "Saturday Night Live."
"Meow TV" executive producer Elyse Roth likened her show to "Cat-urday Night Live," and said at least two more episodes are in the works. Actress Annabelle Gurwitch, formerly of TBS' "Dinner and a Movie," plays host while sitting on the couch with her 9-year-old black cat, Stinky.
"The artistic mission was to create programming you could watch with your cat," Roth said. "I don't know that you're going to park your cat and do whatever."
A recent advance showing of "Meow TV" at a Brooklyn loft, however, failed to hold the attention of a certain pair of overfed 11-year-old cats. Cali, the calico, licked herself the whole time, while Silver, who's gray and white, stared blankly out the window, then slinked away for food about halfway through.
But some cats really do watch television, insisted Pat Marengo as she cuddled her brown-and-orange Persian, Maggie.
"She watches anything that's fast. She likes sports, she likes cartoons. She likes to see other cats on TV," said Marengo, who lives on Long Island with her husband and a family of cats who act and model. "We have a cat perch near the television, and she goes up, looks at it and tries to touch it."
Marengo and Maggie were at the "Meow TV" launch party on Tuesday night. Also in attendance was Vincent Pastore, who starred in "The Sopranos" as Big Pussy.