Is it a coincidence that actress Tricia Helfer (triciahelfer) plays Cylon Number Six on the sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica and has six beloved rescue cats at home? We think not. Helfer’s love of cats is written in the stars! The Canadian actress is mother to Lily, Bug, Bella, Delilah, Mr. Nix, Frankie, all who range in age from two to 15 and reside at the Los Angeles abode she shares with her husband – now, that’s one furry household! Helfer told PEOPLE Pets why rescuing cats is so rewarding and how she deals with all of that kitty fur (hint: she may invest in a lint brush company).
Q: Wow, you have a lot of cats! Do you sleep in a bed of fluffy kitties every night? Do they have full reign of your house?
A: Yes, the bed is usually quite full of cats at night. They tend to have their spots on the bed but sometimes it becomes a war zone when Frankie is hogging the humans too much and she starts to get terrorized by Delilah who wants to claim some cuddle time. Then it turns into Frankie taking cover on my husband’s pillow and me trying to stop Delilah from attacking and get her to lay down and chill. Frankie, Bella, Delilah and Mr. Nix all take turns or convene on the bed, but Lily and Bug tend to sleep under the bed. Lily and Bug are best friends so Lily tends to do whatever her older buddy does. They definitely have full reign of the house. They haven’t found a spot yet that they don’t think is theirs for the taking. They are a bit spoiled but are really good cats.
Q: Six cats means A LOT of shedding, how do you make sure you’re not wearing kitty fur to work everyday?
A: Yes, especially with four of them having long hair [four cats are Maine Coon mixes, two are domestic shorthair]. It helps that Frankie, Lily and Mr. Nix loved to be brushed. They would like to be brushed all day long if we had the time. Bella, Delilah and Bug can’t stand it though so I have to sneak it in when they are super relaxed. I keep brushes handy – one upstairs and one downstairs so it’s easy to grab. I also should invest in a lint brush company since I use them all the time. There’s one in my closet, one downstairs and I try to keep one in the car. I don’t mind a little cat hair on my clothes though – it makes the outfit more complete.
Q: Do you ever bring any of your cats with you to work? Do they travel well?
A: I brought Bella, Delilah and Bug to Vancouver with me for two seasons of Battlestar Galactica when I was filming. We drove up from Los Angeles both times. They don’t like traveling at all, but Bug really has a hard time so I don’t take them anymore. Plus, now that I have six, it would be a crazy car trip. Just going to the vet with all six is a mission. I’ve done a few plane trips with Bella and Delilah which is pretty scary for them and I even had them in the cabin with me. I’m sure I’ll have to put them in cargo sometime, but I’m really scared to do that and think it would be super stressful on them. I’d have to be going away for a long time to put them through the stress of traveling on a plane with me. When we go away, we have a cat-sitter stay at our house. She’s great and they know her well, and although I can tell they miss us, they are great with her. She says that Bug takes it the hardest when we leave and is depressed for a few days and doesn’t really want to eat much.
Q: Did you grow up with cats? Tell us about your first pets.
A: I grew up with cats on the farm. My parents didn’t allow them in the house but I found a way to sneak them in every so often. Farm cats are pretty resilient and they have to deal with some pretty harsh realities when it’s winter. My parents have now converted a building that was a chicken house (egg laying hens) into a cat house since they don’t raise hens anymore. It’s not heated but at least it’s out of the wind. My first pet was a dog, Lady, that we got when I was a baby. There is a funny picture of me, barely walking, trying to feed this puppy a piece of angel food cake. Of course, I was too young to remember if she actually ate it or not. She was a Border collie and was really lovely. I was around 9 when she passed away but I remember her being very sweet and calm.
Q: What’s your proudest moment as a pet owner?
A: Oh man, there are so many great moments. Animals are so sweet and funny. They are pure love. One thing that makes me smile whenever I think of it was when we adopted Lily. She was really young and she came into a house with a couple of cats (Bella and Delilah – my first) that were not so accepting of additions. Bug is quite a big boy and we were a little worried that he could hurt her. They instantly became best friends, though, and she was his little shadow. Kittens are very playful and he would constantly play with her. He’d lay on his side and let her jump all over him. Then he would very gently place a paw on her head and let her flail around and squirm out and then jump on him again. It was so sweet. As she grew, he would get tougher with her and the play fighting would get more intense. Now that she’s full grown he pins her sometimes to remind her that he’s still bigger than her. It pisses her off to no end.
Q: What are your favorite animal charities?
A: There are a lot of great animal charities out there. I’m particularly fond of Kitten Rescue in Los Angeles and Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS) in Canada. Both are no kill shelters that have huge hearts. I’m really awed by the work and dedication that it takes to run shelters. I think the Humane Society, ASPCA and PETA are great too. They really are trying to help all animals and get the message out there that all animals deserve respect and humane treatment.
Q: What would you tell someone who is considering bringing a rescue animal into their family?
A: When you rescue an animal they are part of your family. They bring so much love and joy but they also deserve love and happiness. It’s important to be patient with the integration period and to know that the animal may be nervous about it’s new home. Some rescues have been treated very poorly before and they may take time to trust you and your family. I’d also recommend adopting adult animals. Everyone wants the baby, and I certainly do too, but adults can make such great additions. We adopted Frankie at 13-years-old and Mr. Nix at 12-years-old. Mr. Nix had been in a house fire and had third degree burns on all his paws. He spent a month in the vet hospital and we got him a couple months after he came out. Both of them are the sweetest souls I think I’ve ever met. They are so thankful to be in our family and I just love them to pieces.