In Living

Lars Kvam says, after three years, Otis is still getting used to him. (PHOTO: Royal Brevvaxling)

6 Milwaukee men who love cats

Editor's note: The following article was originally posted Sept. 25, 2015, but we are reposting it today in honor of National Pet Day. Enjoy!

In the world of stereotypes, men's best friends are dogs and ladies are crazy for cats. However, many male celebrities – from James Franco to David Bowie to Michael C. Hall – remind us that there's nothing unmanly about expressing feline affection.

Locally, we tracked down multiple men who really love cats and they shared their stories – and their photos – with us.

1. Bill Miller & Roger

Bill Miller, who lives on the East Side with his wife and stepson, has four cats: two males, Henry and Roger, and two females, Tulip and Lucy. Three of them are black-and-white "tuxedo" cats and Henry is an orange tabby. All of them were born between 2008 and 2009.

If forced to pick, Miller admits Roger is his favorite. "But don't tell the other cats," he says.

Roger was a neighborhood stray who wound up at MADACC and Miller brought him home just hours before he was scheduled to be euthanized.

"We felt a special connection to him. We think he might be the reincarnation of one of our friends who passed away," says Miller, who grew up with cats and kittens in Nebraska.

Once, Roger swallowed a sewing needle which required surgery to remove it from his intestinal track. "We spent a lot of money, but it was worth it to spare him from a painful, horrible death," says Miller. "Roger's been through a lot. He's used many of his nine lives."

2. Steven Kaishian with Picasso & Kismet

""I have always loved pets, but didn't become a 'cat guy' until my early adult life," says Steven Kaishian, who has two cats – a black-and-white "tuxedo" cat named Picasso and a gray tabby named Kismet.

"Picasso is quite the hunter," he says. "His mice are specifically silver and pink glitter balls and if we buy any other color he won't play with them. He brings us his 'mice' one-to-three times in an evening. We have to get out of bed and pet and praise him."

Kismet, according to Kaishian, is quite a talker.

"Kismet is extremely verbal. We swear he has a 30-word vocabulary. Whenever he enters a room, he announces himself," says Kaishian. "I don't need an alarm clock because Kismet wakes me up with headbutts and butterfly kisses every morning."

Kaishian shares his cats with his wife, Pamela Anderson. The couple also has four grown children.

"Our cats are our furry children. They are a natural stress reliever and keep our blood pressure low," says Kaishian. "And they never ask for money."

3. Lars Kvam & Otis

Lars Kvam has cared for cats all of his adult life. One of his favorite felines was Nasty, a female cat who passed away. After giving himself some time to heal, Kvam adopted Otis in 2012.

"We're still in the stage of getting to know each other. I think it takes cats five years to warm up," says Kvam.

Originally, Kvam intended to adopt an older cat, but when he saw Otis, who was a kitten at the Humane Society, he knew they were meant to be pals.

"He was very, very cute and playful," says Kvam. "Unfortunately, he wasn't potty trained and so the first thing he did when I brought him home was run into my bedroom and sh-t on my bed."

Otis eventually got the hang of the litter box, and Kvam has grown extremely fond of him.

"Although sometimes I feel like I'm too old for him," says Kvam, who is 54. "I'm thinking about getting him a little brother to play with. He really needs one."

Kvam says he wanted a dog when he was a little boy, but as a grown up, he prefers cats.

"It turns out, dogs kind of hate me and I have a way with cats. I like their sincerity. You can't make cats do anything unless they want to do it. They're their own people," says Kvam.

4. Ryan Kisiolek & Mr. Kitty

Ryan Kisiolek admits he's obsessed with cats. "I love how cats come to you on their own terms. I love their tummies. Wait, that sounds weird," he says.

Currently, Kisiolek lives with a roommate and her cat, Mr. Kitty. He has two cats, Leelu and Sam, who are still living with his ex partner.

"Both were rescues," he says. "They are currently living with my ex, but I hope to get them back someday."

Kisiolek, who grew up on a farm near Sheboygan, saved and rescued more cats and kittens than he can remember.

"It was a part of farm life. Mama kitty would have a litter of 12 or we'd go to the humane society and pick up a cat or two," says Kisiolek. "Cats have been with me my whole life. But I don't have any favorites, I really love 'em all."

Kisiolek's Facebook page often serves as a tribute to cats and kittens. "I like to post anything that has to do with cats," he says. "Mostly because they make me smile and fill me with joy."

5. Wayne Manske with Roufus & Trapper

Wayne Manske has two cats, and the eldest is Roufus, a black shorthair who's in his late teens.

"I adopted him as an adult, so I don't know exactly how old he is," says Manske. "He's a very vocal cat who is in constant motion and a bit of a daredevil. He begs for food off my plate and will eat almost anything I share with him."

Manske's second cat, Trapper, is a 12-year-old Calico.

"She was the pick of the litter. I chose her from my sister's cat's two-day-old kittens because of her unique look. She has two butterscotch spots on her back right above her tail," says Manske.

Trapper is less active than Roufus. "She grew up to be a very big girl and loves sitting on laps, papers, boxes or piles of junk mail," says Manske.

Manske has been a cat caregiver since he was 7 years old and got his first kitten from his uncle's dairy farm.

"I love cats for the companionship and ease of care. They are relaxing pets and it's rewarding because when you love them, they love you back," he says.

Like most cat owners, Manske has nicknames for his cats. He sometimes refers to Roufus as "Old Man" or he rolls the R in his name so it sounds like "Rrrroufus."

"My girlfriend calls them 'Ruffimo and Trappimo' or 'Twappimo' in her baby talk form of cat-speak," he says. "Sometimes Trapper gets growly and hits and she calls her 'Slappimo,' too."

6. Rusty Smart & Meko

Rusty Smart says his affection for cats is a recent development, but he has completely fallen in love with his girlfriend's Siamese cats, Meko and Chloe.

"They always need and want my attention," says Smart.

Although he doesn't want to play favorites, Smart says he appreciates how much Meko loves to ride in the car. "She has a very cool personality. Chloe is much more reserved," he says.

This summer, Meko ran away for five days and the couple thought he was gone for good. They searched the neighborhood for days, but couldn't find him.

"We were heartbroken," says Smart. "But then, while we were on a trip, Lisa's daughter's boyfriend found him. We were so happy to have Meko back!"

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