Singer/Designer MEG × RIU — Her Feline Bodyguard

Feb 7, 2012 / Interviews

Photography: Shin Suzuki Editing & Text: Madoka Hattori Translation: Seth High

MEG is a singer as well as the designer behind the CAROLINA GLASER brand. After having grown up alongside black cats, Meg currently lives with a black feline named 'Riu', who she first encountered at an animal shelter. Now seven years old, Riu shows off his beautiful black coat with an almost arrogantly regal demeanor.

When you say 'cats', I think of black cats!

- How did you first encounter Riu?

"Growing up, my family always had black cats. Because we lived in the countryside, my father would simply pick up strays from the street. From the time I came to live on my own, I really wanted to keep a cat. So I started investigating a variety options. This is how I learned about the pet adoption system. I eventually went to an animal shelter in Chiba Prefecture called 'Dog and Cat Life Support', which saves pets that are about to be destroyed by the public health department. It was there that I encountered Riu and decided to take him home."

- So you're naturally attracted to black cats?

"Yeah. Because they're the kind of cats I've always lived with, my eyes naturally turn to them. Because Riu was so handsome, I fell in love with him at first sight (laughs). At the time, he was just 3-months old. I had to wait another month before I could take him home because he hadn't yet been castrated. During his time at the shelter, he met lots of people and lost his shyness. Moreover, he became potty-trained. So when I finally picked Riu up and took him back home, I didn't really have any problems."

- What kind of personality does Riu have?

"In addition to having a lot of pride, Riu is both lively and masculine. His name comes from a character in a comic book. When he was small, he ran around a lot. Because Riu now spends more time at home than anyone else, I think he views our house as his own castle. Like today, when someone new visits our home or if I bring in something new and sit it down, he will look at it as if to say, "This is foreign matter!" He'll then investigate it from every angle. Maybe it's just nervousness of the unexpected."

- Does he get into much mischief?

"Not so much. The only thing I can really think of is that occasionally he will knock something over to get my attention when I won't wake up. He doesn't scratch the walls or other important furniture. I think this is because they trained him well at the animal shelter. However, he does jump up and grab onto doorknobs. By putting his weight into it, he can actually open doors. One time when I came home, the door was locked from the inside. I freaked out thinking a burglar was inside. However, it was actually the work of Riu. Because he can also open drawers, if I am gone for too long, I'll return to a house that looks as if it was rummaged by a thief (laughs). When I was working in Paris, an acquaintance came and looked after him for me. However, it seems that he became a little lonely."

Cat Goods & Home Interior

- Does he have any preferences regarding food?

"Recently, I've given him 'Koi-Gokoro Healthy-Type' dry food for cats seven years and older. I've tried feeding him a variety of other types as well. However, for some reason this is what he likes. If I don't over-fill his dish with dry food, he won't eat it. This is because he hates it when his whiskers touch the bowl. Therefore, he only eats the food that's above the brim (laughs). Because I haven't been able to find a well-desgined cat food dish, I put his food in a kind of trinket box. I also use a dog bowl. I got it because I think the manly design suits his character."

- You tried out the 'Nyan tomo Seiketsu Toire' ('Nyan tomo Clean Litter Box') that we recently recommended on the site. Was it easy to use?

"To begin with, the design is really nice. Most litter boxes for cats only come in colors such as blue and pink, but this one is a rarity in that you can get it in chic colors as well. I felt it was really easy to match it with my home's interior. Previously, I used flushable cat litter. However, the smell was so bad I always kept the litter box next to the people toilet. Because the kitty litter and mat on this new box don't give off a bad odor, I can even keep it in my regular living space."

- Has Riu ever been sick? Because the 'Nyan tomo Seiketsu Toire' ('Nyan tomo Clean Litter Box') keeps the litter and mat as two separate layers, it's easy to take out the mat and check a cat's pee for abnormalities. This allows you to catch urinary tract disorders while they are still in an early stage.

"Soon after I took him him in, he had a little bit of a skin ailment. However, other than that he has been quite healthy. Though I used to take Riu in for regular health check-ups, his character unfortunately drove him to bite the veterinarian. So I don't take him in much anymore... The results of his most recent check-up were good. That said, it sure would be convenient to be able to check his health at home."

- What kinds of toys does he like to play with?

"He likes toys in the shape of mice. Even though they weren't specifically made for cats, he loves to play with toy mice that I bought at zoos in Amsterdam and Sweden. He also enjoys stuffed animals that make sounds - one's that were designed for babies. Instead of sleeping on a special bed for cats, Riu will sleep with me on either my bed or the sofa. It's ideal for him to share my human things instead of using special items for cats."

Are there any cat-related items or books that are dear to you?

"Though it's actually not a cat, I bought this 'Kono Gin' object because it resembles Riu. I also received a black cat sticker that I hung on my door. Thinking that there's actually a cat there, it surprises my friends when they come over (laughs). In addition, there is this picture book that I picked up in Paris. Using pictures instead of words, it tells the story of a relationship between a cat and its owner. The book is so great."

Existing to Protect Me

- Even since taking in Riu, do you still visit the animal shelter regularly?

"When a friend recently expressed interest in taking in a cat, I brought them to the shelter. Though my friend originally said that they wanted a black cat, they ended up taking home a long-hair. By actually going to the shelter, it seems that people develop new feelings. I think it would be great if more people went to animal shelters instead of pet shops after they have decided that they want to live with a cat."

- When creating music or new designs, do you ever feel that cats give you inspiration?

"When I was wondering what to do regarding background dancers for a concert, I thought, "Why not feature the cat closest to my heart". This was the origin of 'Uchu Neko no Riu' ('Riu the Space Cat'). I felt it would be fun to make Riu into a silver dancing cat. He became so popular that the fans at my show yelled out 'Riu!' (laughs). Moreover, when I collaborated with Sanrio on a giveaway campaign, we ended up making a black cat character."

- To you, what is the attraction of cats?

"Dogs are part of a straight-forward 'master-servant' relationship with people. I kind of feel that this makes them dishonest with their masters. Cats, on the other hand, are more selfish and don't automatically obey their masters. When I return home all sleepy, the cat won't come up to me. Maybe this mutual appreciation of freedom suits my personality. I think it's cute the way cats purr when they're happy. When I'm working late into the night, Riu stand back and watch me from a distance. Cats really are good at keeping a distance. I think that Riu protects me like a bodyguard.

  • name: Riu
  • age: 7 years
  • sex: Male
  • lind: Mixed
  • MEG
    As a musician, MEG made her professional debut in 2002. She has gone on to collaborate with a number of leading club music producers. She is also known as the leading designer and model behind the Carolina Glaser brand. MEG has achieved a particularly strong following by women of her own generation. In February of 2012, she launched a cosmetic brand called 'baw', which is also developing skin care products. She works from bases in both Japan and France.