Filmmaker Takes to Crowdfunding to Save His Cancer-Stricken Cat

Fluffy the Cat has celebrity friends as renowned as Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss.
Fluffy the Cat has celebrity friends as renowned as Jason Schwartzman and Elisabeth Moss.
Courtesy of Alex Ross Perry

Brooklyn filmmaker Alex Ross Perry has made four feature films which have been shown at nearly 50 film festivals. He's worked with actors you've heard of. He's even won an award for his work, and been nominated for several others.

But it's important to him that you know he's far from a Hollywood millionaire, especially since he wants your money to help save his pet's life. After learning that his beloved cat, Fluffy, had been diagnosed with cancer, Perry decided to turn to crowdfunding to help pay for the feline's fight to live.

"I don't think anyone with any inside-baseball knowledge of independent film would think just because I've had films at Sundance, that means I have any money," says Perry, whose indie movies Listen Up Philip and Queen of Earth have been well-received by critics. "The amount of money we are raising for Fluffy, $11,000, is more than I made, total, for Listen Up Philip. Which I made for two years. And it was a full-time job."

Somewhat ironically, Fluffy actually played a starring role in Listen Up Philip. The movie follows a self-involved writer named Philip, played by Jason Schwartzman, who retreats to the country to avoid the ennui of daily life and to get away from his girlfriend, Ashley (Elisabeth Moss). A secondary plot involves Ashley turning to her cat, Gadzookey (played by Fluffy), in Philip's absence.

But Fluffy — who entered Perry's life in 2008 when his fiancée, Anna Bak-Kvapil, moved in — plays an even bigger role as Perry's collaborator and muse. "I never had a pet in my life except for a frog. I was so excited to have this new best friend," the filmmaker remembers. "He would sit on my lap while I was writing. I work from home, and he's just a big part of my creative process."

Fluffy the Cat stretches out on a screenplay.
Fluffy the Cat stretches out on a screenplay.
Courtesy Alex Ross Perry

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So when Fluffy started getting sick in July, shortly after Listen Up Philip won the Special Jury Prize at Switzerland's Locarno Film Festival, all of Perry's award money went straight toward veterinary bills as he tried to determine what was wrong with the cat, for whom breathing had become increasingly difficult. "It was pretty much 'anything for Fluffy,' " Perry says. Eventually, after several months and thousands of dollars in tests, Perry learned in September that Fluffy had lymphoma in his nasal cavity. "At this point, what are we going to do?" Perry adds. "We're not going to put him to sleep. We just paid thousands of dollars to find out what's wrong with him."

So, last October, he and his partner decided to take out a loan and start Fluffy on an $11,000 treatment regime that included radiation and chemotherapy. That treatment is working. Fluffy is now in remission, which is good news for his younger co-conspirator, Smokey, Perry's second cat.

"They're 100 percent best friends and brothers in so many ways," says Perry. "[Smokey has] learned so much of his personality from Fluffy. They really have a protégé-mentor relationship. He looks up to him as a hero."

On February 17, Perry released an appeal on GoFundMe to help pay for the massive veterinary bills, an appeal that includes cameos from Schwartzman and Moss talking about their own interactions with the adorable animal:

FLUFFY THE CAT from prewarcinema on Vimeo.

Within 24 hours, he'd already hit almost half his target, receiving more than 200 donations. And by 10:30 a.m. on February 19, $6,388 had been donated for Fluffy's care. "This is both the most selfish and the most selfless request I could make," he says. "The response has been very humbling. It's been incredibly touching to see the number of people sharing this around. I didn't think I had a strong enough presence in people's minds to warrant this kind of generosity."

You, too, can donate to Fluffy's care by heading to Alex Ross Perry's GoFundMe page.

Send news tips to ktoth@villagevoice.com Follow @kat_toth on Twitter


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