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INTERVIEW: Kate Walsh makes being a 'cat lady' look sexier than ever

Julie Sprankles is a freelance writer living in the storied city of Charleston, SC. When she isn't slinging sass for SheKnows, she enjoys watching campy SyFy creature features (Pirahnaconda, anyone?), trolling the internet for dance work...

Kate Walsh wants everyone to know that, yes, it's cool to be a 'cat lady'

A cursory glance at Kate Walsh's Instagram feed makes it abundantly clear that the actress is, undoubtedly, a cat person. For this, she makes no apologies.

In fact, she makes no pretenses of any kind about her infatuation with her two rescue cats, siblings Billy and Pablo, declaring simply, "They're my babies."

So it makes sense that Walsh — a passionate activist and advocate for many causes — considered it a "no-brainer" to pair with Purina Cat Chow to help recognize cat shelter volunteers all across the country.

Called the "Shelter Volunteer of the Year" program, the effort involved asking 50 cat-focused shelters (one in each state) to nominate a volunteer who deserved special recognition for the time and attention they log to make shelter cats more comfortable.

"Just go online to CatChow.com, which is fun to type anyway so you should just for the hell of it," said Walsh with a laugh, "and listen and vote for your favorite volunteer story."

Voting is open through March 15, after which time a judging panel and the tallied votes will determine the shelter who will receive the top prize of $25,000 to go towards a shelter makeover.

The importance of recognizing these individuals certainly isn't lost on Walsh.

"We all know how important it is to adopt some fun, furry creatures like cats and kittens, but I think the thing we don't think about as much is all the wonderful people who volunteer at these shelters and how their job is," she said.

Afternoon snooze #meowmonday

A photo posted by Kate Walsh (@katewalsh) on

It's not exactly a cat, er, cakewalk every day. "You know, these are people who work tirelessly on behalf of these little guys," said Walsh, "and it's not all roses."

Beyond the top prize winner, Purina Cat Chow will be donating nearly $100,000 among the 50 participating shelters to go towards cat food, care supplies and generally anything else that may make the cats lives a little less stressful until they find their forever homes.

Happily for Billy and Pablo, they found theirs a decade ago when Walsh rescued them. And, while she saved them from a life in the shelter, she insists they saved her right back.

"It's a source of unconditional love," she shared. "I always say that everyone in Hollywood or anywhere should do business with a cat or a dog, really, 'cause it just mellows people out and grounds people and gets them to connect and open up. I don't think you can be so closed off when there is a dog or cat around."

Besides, being a cat owner doesn't carry the stigma it once did (not that we'll ever understand why it ever would in the first place). Stars like Taylor Swift and, yes, Kate Walsh are making "cat lady" one sexy moniker.

"More and more, people are becoming cat people and it's not like some crazy cat lady anymore," she said with a laugh. "It's actually a cool thing to be. And I think, especially in cities, it's easier for some people to have a cat rather than a dog."

#gratituesday #billythecat

A photo posted by Kate Walsh (@katewalsh) on

So it's Walsh's hope that through the Purina Cat Chow "Shelter Volunteer of the Year" program, even more people will slink on over to the feline side by adopting a rescue cat of their own.

Sure, the videos probably include a few tearjerkers, so be warned before watching. But, in the spirit of full disclosure, it's the other side effect Walsh is really hoping for when people watch the compelling submissions: Action.

"I know for me it's one thing if somebody says, 'Oh, here's this cat for adoption...'" she said. "But once you see them? It's like, 'OK, well, now I've gotta get one.'"

Only time will tell if (or when, most likely) Walsh will rescue another feline companion, but for now she's content to keep cuddling on her two favorite boys, Billy and Pablo.

And, naturally, keep finding ways to help those in need — of the four-legged and two-legged variety.

"I think that once you get to a place where you think, 'My God, I'm living my dream,' then the next sort of likely thing is, like, 'All right, let's give it back to others,'" she shared. "So it's awesome to be able to contribute where I can."

More on Hollywood's humanitarians

How AnnaLynne McCord saved a young girl's life
Pamela Silva Conde's passion for these three charities will inspire you
Kellie Pickler shares shocking experience with lung cancer

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