La Carmina has many roles: She is the author of three books about Japanese pop culture and food (including Cute Yummy Time, for which she did all the photos and illustrations), updates a hugely popular blog that receives 2 million hits per month, has been featured in publications such as the Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker, and sets trends with her own line of spooky-cute apparel! She's also devoted to her faithful furry companion (and fellow blogger) Basil Farrow. But even with such a busy schedule, this mistress of Harajuku pop culture always makes time for her other passion: advocating animal rights!
PETA Asia sat down with this Ivy Leaguer-turned-gothic-fashionista to find out more about her commitment to animals and how she thinks people can be better guardians!
How did you first get involved with helping animals? Did you have any animal companions growing up?
As a child, I cared so dearly for animals that I didn't even distinguish between real and plush! I was horrified to see my friends throw around their stuffed animals; I always made sure mine were clean and standing upright. I even bought cans of real cat food for my Hello Kitties.
Tell us about your cat, Basil Farrow.
Basil Farrow is a Scottish fold cat; hence the tiny fold-ears. He was raised by activist/actress Mia Farrow, and she loved him dearly, but her recent travels didn't let her spend enough time with him. So he came to live with me. It was a tough decision, but she knew this was best for his well-being.
Basil isn't a typical cat—he's more like a sweet little kid or teddy bear! He loves to meet people; he'll come when you call his name and lick your hand. Not many cats will demand tummy rubs and to be carried around. You can see in his videos and blog just how affectionate he is.
Can you give your fans some Basil-tested tips for keeping cats happy and healthy?
Keeping my Scottish fold happy is my number one priority! Here is a video we made with tips on keeping cats cool in the summer; it applies to dogs and other animals as well. I did a blog post about the type of food and litter I provide: I refuse to feed Basil anything with fillers or byproducts. Every day, I set aside time for cuddles, playtime, and/or grooming. Don't forget to brush your cat's fur and clean his ears, introduce new toys, and keep your house cat-friendly.
Why is spaying and neutering such an important part of responsible companion-animal care?
Many people don't realize that millions of unwanted animals are killed every year simply because they are homeless. Pet births are a ticket to misery and death for the mother and litter—and they're so easily preventable by spaying and neutering. So let's do our part! Plus, a spayed or neutered pet is less aggressive and less prone to certain health problems. There is simply no excuse for not having this simple operation done as early as possible.
Tell us about your decision not to wear fur.
I never had any desire to wear fur. My parents' generation "oohed" and "ahhed" over pelts, but mine has a very different attitude. As a child, whenever a relative proudly showed me her furs, I'd refuse to touch it and scold, "That comes from a cute bunny or fox!" Growing up in the '80s and '90s, I learned about the cruelty of wearing animals from my peers and the media. And I'm optimistic that the next generations will be even more anti-fur.
As a fashion icon, do you find that people put pressure on you to wear fur? If so, how do you handle that?
It is the opposite—the bulk of my blog readers are animal lovers, and they make sure I'm doing all I can to help animal causes. I once posted a Ted Nugent song (not knowing about his hunting advocacy), and people were quick to educate me in the comments. I think if I did wear fur, there would be an outcry—as there should be.
You have a lot of fans out there, which gives you a powerful platform to reach people and make a difference. What is your message to them about having compassion and getting active to help animals?
Tiny, personal actions toward animal compassion will have a gigantic impact. My advice is to start in your own home and take proper care of your pets. Your attitude will spread to other parts of your life: I started Basil's Scottish fold blog because he is such a joy. Readers began sending me questions about cat care or pleas for adoption, and I've done my best to help out. I've also found that my friends help reinforce my attitude; we discuss animal issues and make trips to the Tokyo Vegetarian Festival and Vegan Healing Café in Shibuya.
Want to follow La Camina's lead? Take our Fur-Free Pledge.