Caitlin UltimoPet Lovers / Pet Parenting

Ian Somerhalder Talks National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day and Family Life

There is never a dull moment at home for Ian Somerhalder and his wife, Nikki Reed. In addition to their 1-year-old daughter, Bodhi, the actors and new parents share their home with nine pets.

“It used to be 10, but we unfortunately just had to put our shepherd down,” the former “Vampire Diaries” star tells Pet Central.

And while he’s loving fatherhood, his three dogs, three cats and three horses occupy a big piece of his heart.

“Seeing them all interact together is so fun,” says Somerhalder, who, since his daughter was born, has made it a point to teach her how to interact with her animal siblings.

A cat enthusiast, Somerhalder is working with pet food company Royal Canin to encourage pet parents to take their cats to the vet as part of National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day.

Ian Somerhalder holding his cat Moke

Ian Somerhalder, seen here with his cat Moke, has teamed up with Royal Canin to encourage other cat parents to take their pet to the vet. Michael Simon/startraksphoto.com

Scheduled for Aug. 22, 2018, Take Your Cat to the Vet Day aims to raise awareness among cat owners about the importance of regular veterinary care and its role in keeping cats healthy and preventing disease.

“I’m beyond passionate about this campaign that we’ve created—anything I can do to help kitties stay healthy,” Somerhalder says.

Somerhalder took a break from filming his Netflix vampire series “V-Wars” to chat with Pet Central about the importance of bringing your cat in for regular check-ups, how to teach your kids and animals to coexist and what he loves so much about spending a lazy day off with his furry brood.

What inspired you to team up with Royal Canin for their third annual National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day?

I love this partnership. Royal Canin is a global leader in pet nutrition and I’m grateful that they could put time and energy and resources into building a national campaign like this. It’s very in line with what we do at the Ian Somerhalder Foundation, which is building awareness to create action.

We want to raise awareness about preventative care for cats and not only raise awareness but also create the action [of] people actually going online and getting on the phone and making that appointment to take your kitty in [to the vet].

Your cat Moke is a testament to the importance of having annual vet appointments. Is it true that you were able to detect some health conditions in him through regular vet appointments?

That’s true. It’s all about preventative health care. Moke, like a lot of aging cats, especially male cats, experienced some kidney issues, which is something that takes a lot of kitties. The preventative aspect of making sure that their kidneys stay healthy is so important. And now, he is actually on the Royal Canin pet food.

One thing that Nikki and I do, other than with our horses because that vet actually comes to us, is when we make a lot of our own personal checkups, we schedule the cats at the same time. If you are going to go in for your yearly checkup, you can make yours roughly the same time as the cats’ veterinary appointments. It’s a great tip for remembering to get your cat into the vet.

Cats are masters of disguise and they hide their issues related to their own health. You’ll never know it. That’s why consistent checkups are important. They are just such stoic and quiet creatures. You don’t necessarily understand when they are sick. It’s important to trust your vet. They are the experts, not us. There are a lot of things that your vet can catch through annual physicals that can help your cat’s health; for example, they can get things like periodontal disease. Keeping their mouths and their tummies and all their organs working is what prolongs their life. A healthy cat is a happy cat. And a happy cat and a healthy cat helps a family be happy and healthy.

People either seem to be dog or cat people but you and Nikki are both. Tell us about your dog and cats at home and do they all get along?

They do. And I always joke with people. People who say, “Oh, I’m a dog person” or “I’m a cat person” kind of scare me because they are all so amazing.

We have retired one of our horses. He just rides little kids around on a farm in Georgia in a field with a goat. He’s super stoked. But we, unfortunately, had to put our female shepherd down about 8 weeks ago, which was very hard. But we still have three cats and three dogs.

Millie is a horse. She’s 9. Joe is a horse. He’s 12. Eagle is 22. He’s a horse. Sohalia is a little kitty. She is 5. Moke is a big kitty; he’s 14. Thursday is a little girl and she’s 12, a little kitty. Enzo is our big shepherd guy and he’s 8. Nietzche is our little pittie girl and she’s 5. Gerty is 7. She’s a little Schnauzer. Ira is gone, so that’s what we have left. It’s a fun animal pack that we have.

They are just incredible. To watch them all and to watch the baby interact with them all is just phenomenal. And to think that there are a lot of families like us that have amazing kitties that aren’t getting them taken care of makes me sad. I love watching them all. They run and play.

Is there one animal in particular that seems to have a bond with your baby?

No, they all love her. We have a tiny girl cat named Sohalia that Nikki actually found at the Rockdale County Animal Shelter in Conyers, Georgia. She is this tiny little feral cat. She looks like a tiny Maine coon. There are pictures of her on our Instagrams.

The newest addition to the family. Her name is Sohalia. Thank you @iamnikkireed for finding us this amazing kid in Conyers Georgia. Unfortunately this little kid was wildly mislabeled as “feral/not friendly”, and had Nikki not gone in and opened her cage regardless, we would have never found out that she is the most loving kitty on the planet and she may have been put down. The point is this; because shelters are so understaffed, this happens more often than not. Let’s encourage the people who work at shelters and people whom make policies for shelter workers to take more time to get to know the animals that are brought in, so they can properly inform potential adopters. Also, if you are thinking about adding a new member to your family, know that there might be more to the animal than what’s written on their cage!!! Go have fun and adopt! Send me pictures please! Thank you- Love, Ian

A post shared by iansomerhalder (@iansomerhalder) on

She’s phenomenally beautiful, fluffy, tiny… She is literally like a fairy cat. She just hovers and glides and the baby just loves her. Teaching a child the idea of gently loving and appreciating an animal is very special to see.

What are some tips for doing that? And have you had any bloopers like dogs getting poked in the eye or tails getting pulled?

Yeah, some ears and stuff get pulled, but whenever we say the word “gentle,” hands come back and she reassesses. She’s very intuitive and loving towards our animal babies.

The tip would be really starting young, incredibly early interaction with animals. Cats are a little bit safer than dogs at this age to be around because cats are so tiny. They can stay with her. The dogs just want to lick her and get excited. You want to keep dog’s big slobbery mouth and teeth away from your baby’s head.

Being an actor, you travel a lot for work. What’s the secret to balancing that?

We take a lot of them with us. We take a lot of them on the road. I do miss my dogs now. Nietzsche is a Staffordshire-Beagle mix, but she has a little pittie face, and there is very strict breed legislation here in Canada, where I am currently filming, and I couldn’t bring her, which is really sad.

From me an Neech! 2015 is here… … but do not fear! It’s not too late to join us for our upcoming Donor Google Hangout. All you need to be invited to this exciting donors-only event is a $10 donation to ISF. We now have a super convenient new way to stay connected and up to date with the ISF family and to continue offering your crucial support to our projects. If you are within the US you can text THURSDAY to 80077 to make a one time $10 donation (see terms: mgive.org/T), You can also text EMPOWER to 80077 to join our ISF mobile community and receive important news and updates! No text plan? International supporter? No need to fret, you can visit our website and donate through our Give page:isfoundation.com/give. Thank you for your continued support and stay tuned, we will announce the date of our hangout soon!

A post shared by iansomerhalder (@iansomerhalder) on

But we have the cats, and we try and travel as much with them as we can. Of course, I miss them like crazy. But I do get to see them. I go home all the time to visit them.

Walk us through a typical Sunday off with you and your family of pets and humans at home. What is that like?

There are animals everywhere! There is fur everywhere! We love having tea together and going on a hike with everyone, getting some time in with the horses and just lounging by the pool. Everybody loves to chill by the pool.

It is just so cool to hang with all the furry babies and hang with the baby. That time is so precious, and an animal, cat or a dog or a baby, reminds you that the past is gone and the future may never happen exactly the way that you want it to. So, the only thing that we actually have right now is the present. Being able to be present with them is such a special thing in life. I’m grateful for them every day.


Nicole Jajer
Nicole Pajer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the proud owner of a Doberman who never runs out of energy and a rat terrier who excels at breakdancing. In addition to Chewy, she writes for The New York Times, Parade, HuffPo, Woman’s Day, Billboard, and more. Keep up with her adventures on Twitter @NicolePajer

Featured Image: Courtesy of Michael Simon

Share: