Producer Inga Lind Karlsdóttir says that many mocked the idea of a TV program starring kittens, but “all the people who were laughing then aren’t laughing now.”
If you spoke to Inga Lind Karlsdóttir on the phone without knowing what she did for a living, you’d probably still be able to guess that she’s the feminist producer of the world’s first online reality TV show about cats. She’s just got one of those voices. It’s warm and soft, a contrast to the famously stark volcanic landscape of Iceland, where hit show Keeping Up With The Kattarshians is based.
The show’s premise is simple: four kittens, all from a local animal rescue shelter, are made to live together in an oversized dollhouse rigged with hidden cameras. The kittens: Guðni, Ronja, Briet, and Stubbur have captivated an Icelandic—and global—audience. Though viewing figures aren’t available yet, Inga says that the show (which is available to stream online) has already attracted the highest-ever traffic to Icelandic broadcaster Nutiminn’s website.
Alongside endlessly cute viewing content, the show has been credited with raising the profile of animal adoption in Iceland. Created in partnership with the Icelandic Cat Protection Society, all four animals have been adopted just over a week in, and new feline stars are preparing to enter the house. We caught up with Inga to find out about the pressures of bringing new, meaningful cat content to the internet in these turbulent times.
BROADLY: Hi Inga! Thanks for speaking to us. Where did the idea for Keeping Up With The Kattarshians Come From?
Inga Lind Karlsdóttir: It was a cute idea from a colleague of mine, Þórhallur Gunnarsson. One day he said to me he really wanted to do a show involving cats living in a little house. Everyone else started laughing, but I said, “Let’s do this.” I have my own TV production company, so we decided to work on it together.
How difficult was it to create the world’s first reality TV cat show in an ethical way?
It took about a year to put together, because we wanted all the animal welfare authorities to approve it. And here we are, a year later, with the first reality TV show starring kittens. All the people who were laughing then aren’t laughing now.
What’s the public response been like?
It’s been amazing. I thought it was a cute idea but I never thought it would go so big. It’s more than I could hope for.
Which is your favorite cat?
That would be Briet. In Iceland, the name Briet is associated with strong women, after the first woman to run for parliament, Bríet Bjarnhéðinsdóttir. And the cat, Briet, is a strong one too, and a fighter.
Would you say Briet is a feminist cat?
For sure! She’s a feminist, just like I am.
What makes for good cat reality TV?
We like everything they do. It’s fun when they go crazy and ruin the house, but it’s also calming to watch them sleep. It’s good for the soul. There’s so much bad news we read about in the media, and terrible things are happening in the world, so it’s nice to sit there and relax and watch the kittens. At the beginning we got so many complaints about how much the kittens were sleeping—they’re always sleeping! I thought there was something wrong with the camera, but actually kittens just sleep a lot.
What will happen to the cats after the show ends?
All four cats now have been adopted, so we’re going to be putting a new litter in here in the coming days—probably next week. We’ll fix up the house, put another camera or so in there, and then have more orphan kittens ready to move in.
Are you a cat fan yourself?
I love all animals and I used to have a cat, but then my daughter got allergic. But Keeping Up With The Kattarshians is great for people with allergies! You can just sit there and watch the cats on your computer screen.
by Sirin Kale