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Bluff The Listener


This is our all-animal edition of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

BILL KURTIS: Translated into cat, that would be (imitating cat meowing).


SAGAL: And we do hope that cats are listening because a short while ago with special guest panelist Rosie Perez, we featured a Bluff The Listener game about cats.


ANDY DRACE: Hey, this is Andy Drace from Hickory, N.C.

SAGAL: Hey. How are things in Hickory, N.C.?

DRACE: They are great. They're wonderful, and I can't complain.

SAGAL: Now what do you do there in Hickory?

DRACE: I am a truck driver. I am a disc golf player. And I'm a father of four cats with my wife.


SAGAL: Did you just say father of four cats?

DRACE: I'm the only person I know whose pets have pets.

SAGAL: You know what? They were right. We have gay marriage, now everything's gone to hell.


SAGAL: People are having cats.


SAGAL: This is terrible. Andy, it is nice to have you with us. You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction.


SAGAL: Bill, what is Andy's topic?

KURTIS: Here, Kitty, Kitty.


SAGAL: We talk a lot in the news about man bites dog, but when do the cats make the headlines? This week, our panelists are going to read you three stories of felines in the news. Guess the real story and you'll win Scorekeeper Emeritus Carl Kasell's voice on your very own voicemail. Are you ready to play?

DRACE: Oh, yeah. Let's do it.

SAGAL: All right. Let's do it. Let's hear from Amy Dickinson first.

DICKINSON: Cat lovers know there are times - special times - when the Friskies just go down wrong, and your kitty produces explosive, nuclear poo. And that's why we rely on clumping kitty litter. It turns out the industry controlling actual nuclear waste - not the stuff produced by my tabby Chester - has been using kitty litter for years to stabilize and store toxic sludge because they just can't pretend to ignore the smell or blame the dog the way we do.


DICKINSON: Contractors at Los Alamos made the big switch recently from clay-based litter to the organic green kind. And like so many well-intentioned ideas, this one blew up, literally, in a mini mushroom cloud of blame.

Turns out, while the organic litter might make the technicians feel greener and more virtuous, it does a terrible job of stabilizing nuclear waste. The drums almost immediately started leaking radioactive goo. Their frightening solution falls into the it's-so-stupid-it-might-just-work category. They're storing the drums now inside bigger drums. What could possibly go wrong?

SAGAL: A nuclear meltdown.


SAGAL: Leaky nuclear waste caused by the wrong kitty litter. Your next story of extreme cattiness comes from Rosie Perez.

ROSIE PEREZ: New Yorker Jonas Elfin (ph), a top venture capitalist on the Upper West side and proud male cat lady, hated coming home to cat litter strewed throughout his Fifth Avenue high-rise. He especially hated how his two Siamese cats, Bai Ling (ph) and Jackie Chan Ling (ph)...


PEREZ: ...Kept getting kitty litter stuck in between their toes. Knowing that his beloved felines hated water and would freak out every time he dug into their little paws, he was perplexed.

Then, one stormy night, while sipping a glass of Malbec, as Ling and Chan were enjoying their catnip, Ling jumped up on Jonas and rolled over on her back, paws up. Taking advantage of the situation, Jonas grabbed a Q-tip and some Wet Ones and figured out a way to give Ling a waterless pedicure. He was elated, but felt that something was missing. What his cats needed was a nice color of nail polish to complete the look.

The following day, Jonas called up his good friend Essie Weingarten, president and founder of Essie Nail Polish. She loved the idea of a catnip pedicure. This summer, they will open six cat salons across the city, offering pedicures in 10 toxin-free colors, including Purrfect (ph) Pink, Commonly Calico and Litter Box Lemon.


SAGAL: Cats in Manhattan getting a mani-pedi or, I guess, since they're cats, a pedi-pedi. Your last story of cats in the news comes from Mr. Adam Felber.

FELBER: Remember Smudge, the hero cat who was caught on video saving his toddler friend from a vicious dog a couple of weeks ago? Of course you do. More than 130 million people watched it on YouTube. Well, the happy story has kind of a sour coda because in addition to being a hero, it now turns out that Smudge is a huge racist.


FELBER: It seemed just random when Smudge and his family made an appearance on the "Today" show, Smudge was happy to be stroked by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, but started hissing and clawing whenever Al Roker tried to get close.


FELBER: But it wasn't random. Smudge wasn't just Rokist (ph). He was full-on racist.


FELBER: In appearance after appearance since, Smudge has consistently bristled and spat at blacks, Latinos and even his local Bakersfield news anchor who is Asian.

Quote, "we're mortified," said Smudge's owner Allegra Brandano (ph). We're an inclusive, loving, tolerant family. We don't know where Smudge learned this stuff, but it wasn't here. Embarrassed, the Brandanos were forced to put Smudge up for adoption. But the good news is that he was immediately adopted by Donald Sterling.


SAGAL: Here then are your choices of the cats in the news. Was it, from Amy Dickinson, how the wrong cat litter led to a nuclear meltdown at a nuclear waste facility; from Rosie Perez, how somebody annoyed with cat litter on his floor came up with a business for cat manicures, pedicures and other salon services in New York; or from Adam Felber, how the hero cat of YouTube turns out to be an unreconstructed racist?

DRACE: Let's go with the nuclear meltdown.

SAGAL: You're going to go for the nuclear meltdown. That would be Amy's story. Well, we spoke to somebody familiar with this story.

JIM CONCA: The absorbent, which you usually add in inorganic kitty litter, and they added organic kitty litter for whatever reason, but the wrong reason chemically.

SAGAL: That was Jim Conca. He's a geochemist who has spent decades in the nuclear waste business explaining why organic kitty litter just wouldn't work the way the normal stuff does. Congratulations, Andy. You got it right.


SAGAL: You earned a point for Amy Dickinson. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering device, whatever it may be. Congratulations, Andy.

DRACE: Thank you, Chicago. I love you.

SAGAL: Thank you playing with us today. We love you, too. Bye-bye.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.