Actor & Animal Activist Ian Somerhalder Says Growing Up With a Pet Is a Must for Kids
The Vampire Diaries star talked about the importance of Royal Canin's National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day and raising little ones alongside beloved pets.
Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed welcomed their first child, a baby girl named Bodhi Soleil last year, but before that, the couple proudly cared for many pets. Somerhalder, known for his role on The Vampire Diaries, has been an animal lover his whole life, so it makes perfect sense that he would partner with pet nutrition company Royal Canin for their third annual Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on August 22.
“Cats are incredible animals. They teach us so many lessons about life, including how to care for something other than ourselves,” Somerhalder said in a Royal Canin press release. “They rely on us. And we need to make their health a priority. That’s why I’m really passionate about Royal Canin’s Take Your Cat to the Vet Day initiative and hope more cat owners will schedule regular vet appointments for their cats."
Chatting with Parents.com, the actor opened up about the importance of feline health care and fatherhood.
Parents.com: What inspired you to partner with Royal Canin on this cause?
Ian Somerhalder: This partnership for Take Your Cat to the Vet Day was important to me, because Royal Canin is such a global leader in pet nutrition and had some truly important information that they wanted to share. Using media to get important information out there to create action and build community is something that we at the Ian Somerhalder Foundation [the actor's nonprofit which "works to empower, educate and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures"] take very seriously and strive every day to do. .... 92% of all cat owners, or kitty parents as I like to call them, admit that their cat’s health is important to them. Unfortunately, less than half of them take their cats to the vet each year. It basically works out to be, that for every 5 dogs that go to the vet, only 1 cat goes. Yet, there are 10 million more cats in the U.S. than dogs. I firmly believe this needs to change!
Parents.com: What do you think keeps half of Americans from bringing their cats to the vet on a regular basis? What can be done to lower that number?
Ian Somerhalder: Here’s the thing: We all know life is extremely hectic in the modern world. We have responsibilities, like our families and our jobs that consume the lion’s share of our lives. Our feline kids are masters of disguise and can hide issues related to their health without their owner knowing. That is why consistent checkups are so important. A helpful tip that I use in my household: Make your cat that appointment around the same time as your own yearly checkups so that you remember it. That seems to work quite well!
Parents.com: What has been the best part of watching your daughter Bodhi bond with your pets?
Ian Somerhalder: Watching tiny little hands learn to be kind, gentle and aware of another creature’s ears, eyes, tail and fur is profound.
Parents.com: How have the animals reacted to her?
Ian Somerhalder: Our fur kids all love the new addition to the family. Even our horse!
Parents.com: What lessons do you hope to impart to Bodhi through pet ownership?
Ian Somerhalder: From what I’ve seen throughout my life, having an animal or animals to grow up with greatly informs the person that you become. Animals help show a child compassion, gratitude, and a sense of responsibility you can’t really get otherwise. I saw it in my own household growing up, and I see it in my household now. I strongly encourage any parent to make it possible for their little ones to grow up with an animal or animals that they can love, appreciate, and take care of.
Parents.com: What advice would you give pet owners who are about to have a baby?
Ian Somerhalder: Sure, there are precautions to take especially with the cats’ litter box while a woman is pregnant. Obviously, there are elements, like bacteria, that cats and dogs can carry and which one must be aware of. But I just can't ever imagine living in a household without an animal— unless you’re an extremely busy person and know that your lifestyle simply would not be fair to subject a creature to. I can’t imagine that all of the endless hours of our cats lounging on or around my wife’s belly purring didn’t have an energetic effect on our tiny one. The dogs, as well. The amount of love and understanding that they showed knowing that something was in the belly. It’s magical.