Actress Anna Easteden has a passion for kitties that spans two continents and an entire lifetime.
As a six-year-old in Finland, award-nominated actress Anna Easteden fell in love with cats. Life on a farm meant their resident felines spent more time outdoors than in, so when Anna’s orange tabby, Anistina, disappeared, she was heartbroken. But Anistina returned two weeks later with a surprise – three kittens she entrusted to Anna’s care.
“That experience influenced my love for cats,” says Anna Easteden, who has played numerous roles in movies and TV shows, including Two and a Half Men, Bones and Days of Our Lives. “There were many years I didn’t have a cat, but now that I live in Los Angeles, I’ve adopted two. I can’t imagine life without them.”
When Anna and her husband, American baseball coach Rob McKinley, first talked about getting an animal, he wanted a great Dane. Because their yard would need renovations to accommodate such a large dog, Anna campaigned for a cat instead. Rob couldn’t imagine living with a cat, but Anna began to describe Oscar, an imaginary kitty, and would say things like: “Look, Oscar is sitting right by your feet” or “Oscar licked your face.” She knew her plan had worked when one morning, Rob asked: “What is Oscar doing now?”
The original idea was to adopt one cat but Anna came back from the Pasadena Humane Society with two. Because filming schedules can be erratic, this was the perfect fit for Anna’s lifestyle; two cats can keep each other company when she’s working on television shows.
“At only eight weeks old, Jagger and Star were found together on a street corner,” she explains. “They spent two months in the same cage at the shelter. I felt they had to stay together – they’re a great team.” Star is black and white with a laid back attitude, while Jagger is a tabby who seems to channel his namesake’s bad boy behavior.
Remembering Anistina’s love for the outdoors, Anna and Rob like to take their cats for walks. The collars and tags didn’t bother Star and Jagger, but when the leashes were first attached, neither would move. Now they enjoy the exercise.
“Jagger’s like a little dog,” says Anna. “He walks very fast and likes to go around the block with Rob. Star doesn’t like to be away from Jagger but she’s afraid to go more than 20 feet from the house. When Rob and Jagger get out of sight, she meows. Rob says Jagger does the same meowing when they are on the far side of the block. I think Jagger and Star have a special connection.”
The felines also enjoy an enriched indoor environment. Two cat condos, ten scratching posts, eight platforms and attached toys make up a custom-made castle Anna commissioned for Star and Jagger. “It’s a sight to behold,” Anna Easteden says. “The funny part is that Star and Jagger don’t sleep in the castle. They sleep with me.” Even Rob has come under their spell. When Anna asked if he’d still rather have that great Dane, he was upset that she even had to ask.
Although Anna’s busy schedule limits her time for doing other animal work, she does what she can to support cat welfare. “I certainly think actors should promote things they care about,” she says. “Teenagers especially look up to people in the public eye. It’s a huge bonus if these people want to make the world a better place and talk about what needs improvement or attention. I hope that by being a person who adopted from a shelter, I’ll make a difference and encourage others to adopt too. I care about my cats. People around me see that. A few have started to think about getting a cat just because they see how happy and excited I am. Even with something as simple as just telling people about Star and Jagger, I’m advocating cat adoption.”
Neither Anna nor Rob can imagine life without their two feline friends. “They are the cuddliest, sweetest little beings,” says Anna. “I’ve completely fallen in love with these cats.”