Photos courtesy of Rebecca Metz
You may not know her name. You might not even know where you’ve seen her before. But Rebecca Metz is character-acting royalty.
The Jersey native is best known for playing Tressa, Sam’s protective talent manager and best friend on FX’s Better Things, and Melinda, Fiona’s foul-mouthed coworker with a bad attitude on Showtime’s Shameless.
Metz has landed supporting roles in everything from Scrubs to Criminal Minds. But behind the scenes, she’s an outgoing and open-minded cat mom.
We spent an afternoon chatting with Metz about her cats: Gabi, Harper, and Tallulah. We also discussed how her feline family affected her acting and what her cats have taught her about life.
What do you love about cats?
Cats are independent, and if they’re around you, it’s because they choose to be with you. They’re self-sufficient, self-cleaning, and pretty low maintenance. Growing up with them, I learned to speak their language. They make sense to me in a way that other pets don’t.
How did you meet your all-black Bombay-mix Gabi?
I used to volunteer at a shelter in LA County. I was in like a Yahoo group at the time with other kitten rescue volunteers. Someone posted about a family of stray cats in a vacant lot behind their house. My husband was like, “Maybe, we should think about getting another cat?” I was very excited. We went out to this other volunteer’s house, and there was a mama cat with one eye.
Can you tell us about the first time you met Harper and Tallulah?
We got Harper and Tallulah in December 2019 from Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles. When I picked up Harper, I immediately started crying. My husband was like, “Oh boy, I think this is the one.” I can’t explain it. It’s just like an energy thing. It’s like when you meet a person that you instantly connect with. There’s a little magical moment that I don’t think you get if you’re buying a specific breed.
Does Harper have “tortitude”?
Oh my god! Yes! We had no idea what we were getting into. We’ve never had a tortie before. Harper is a little bit of a bully. Anytime the other two cats are comfortably sitting in a chair or having a yummy snack, she’s like, “I want it!”
She’s sort of like a little sister. She’s the youngest and wants to be doing whatever the other two are doing. But she doesn’t know how to be polite about it. She has a lot of energy and would play for 5 hours a day if she could.
People say that dogs are like babies, but cats are like teens. What do you think?
I’d say all cats are kind of 11 years old. Harper is a little bit of a tween. She’s still playful and childish. Sometimes, she wants to cuddle, and then other times, she’s like, “Get away from me, Mom!”
Can you tell me a little bit about your tuxedo cat Tallulah?
I was interested in adopting a special needs cat. We have stairs, so the cat couldn’t really have a mobility issue. It couldn’t need medicines on a strict schedule because we have unpredictable schedules.
Tallulah has an occlusion in one of her eyes. It might be what kept her from getting adopted because she’s so sweet and lovable. We can’t really tell how much the eye occlusion affects her vision. The animal rescue thinks it’s from an eye infection, probably when she was a kitten and didn’t get treated soon enough.
How has Tallulah changed since you adopted her?
Tallulah also didn’t make any noise for the year we had her. She was completely silent. Then she started making these little raspy squeaks that have evolved over the last 3 years. Her little squeaky meows are the cutest thing I’ve ever heard. She also found her personality because she was really shy.
Do your cats get along with each other?
When we brought Harper and Tallulah home, we also had a cat named Ali. Ali was 19 at the time. We kept Harper and Tallulah in a separate room. We tried to introduce them slowly and give everyone a chance to acclimate. Ali wasn’t having it. She was like, “Take them back. I don’t want them here!”
We adopted Harper and Tallulah because we knew Ali was getting towards the end of her life. We didn’t want Gabi to be alone. When Ali was gone, Gabi reluctantly warmed up to them. She was the baby for a really long time. It was a sudden transition for her to be the oldest. My cats range from peacefully coexisting and sometimes getting along to Gabi being like,” I don’t want to deal with this right now.”
Do your cats have any weird behaviors?
Harper has a nighttime ritual. I leave my pajama pants next to the bed, and she climbs in them and kneads them.
Tallulah has squeaky mouse toys in the house. Every night, my husband throws them downstairs. Tallulah waits until we are in bed with the lights off. Everyone is asleep. Then she hunts them. We’ll hear her sort of doing a hunting meow.
She’ll bring the mice up to the bedroom and leave them at the foot of the bed like little gifts. We have to congratulate her and thank her for the presents. Then she’ll come up and go to bed. It’s a little routine that we do every night. It’s ridiculous and so cute.
Do your cats like watching small critters like squirrels and birds?
Comedian Paul F. Tompkins posted a picture of a squirrel picnic table he had in his backyard. I was like, “Oh my God. I have to get one!” I bought one on Etsy. It has a little bucket where you can put nuts. It also has a little screw sticking up where you can put a dried corn cob.
We put it right outside our patio door. And it’s the best cat TV you can possibly imagine. We refill it every 3-4 days. Because the squirrels now know that our cats can’t get them, they come up to the door and stare them dead in the eyes. My cats line up at the door and chatter at them.
Have your cats ever affected your acting?
During the pandemic, we taped all our auditions at home. My cats have made many visual and auditory appearances in my auditions. For a while, I would try to keep them out or re-tape if they interrupted something.
Eventually, I was like, “Look, everyone knows I’m in my house. And there are cats here. If my cats want to be part of the audition, they’re going to be part of it.
How do your cats feel about your scripts?
My cats love to chew on my scripts. They lie on them like any piece of paper or computer screen that you’re looking at. They want to be on top of them immediately.
What kind of diet do you feed your cats?
My cats have a dry food feeder. We give them Hill’s Science Diet Hairball Control. They’ve been grandfathered into what our oldest cat, Murphy, ate before. She was a very picky eater.
Our cats also eat wet food from a company called Fussie Cat. They like tuna and chicken. Tallulah is weird about wet food, so we give her broth. There’s a company called Tiki Cat that makes broth with a few chunks of meat.
We’ve dealt with kidney disease in cats before, so I really want to make sure she’s getting enough moisture. Tallulah eats mostly dry food, but she gets broth when the other two cats get wet food.
Do your cats like catnip?
Murphy, my first sort of cat all by myself, loved catnip. Ali, who I got not long after getting Murphy, was like, “I don’t understand whatever she’s freaking out about.” Gabi likes catnip a little bit, but it doesn’t seem to affect her much. Tallulah really likes it, but Harper for sure loves it.
What’s something you wish you could do with your cats?
I have never attempted to put my cats on a plane. I just can’t because I’d be a mess. I don’t know how they would act. I’d love to be able to go visit my family on the other side of the country for an extended time. But I don’t know how to make it work. I’m like, “Would we rent an RV?” The biggest obstacle to extensively traveling is that I’d really miss my cats.
What have your cats taught you?
Cats are very zen animals. They’re natural Buddhists. They’re very good at being still and only care about things that directly affect them. Cats don’t know anything is wrong in the world. They’re not worried about anything. They’re just grateful to be in a safe place and have food and love. That’s something that I need to remind myself of once in a while. It doesn’t help to stew about problems you can’t do anything about.
Feature photo by celebrity photographer Russell Baer.