All You Need Is Love

tabby road

Guest Post by Cheryl Harris

In 1967 the Beatles were asked to write and perform a new song for an international television broadcast called “One World”.  The song would be broadcast in 17 countries around the world.   Because love is a word that is understood in every language, John Lennon wrote “All You Need Is Love”. 

While the song is a fun and lighthearted walk down memory lane, it also communicates many great aspects of conscious creation.  Some of my favorite lyrics are:

There is nothing you can do that can’t be done.
There is nothing you can know that can’t be known.
There is nothing you can see that isn’t shown.
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.
It’s easy.
All you need is love.

Love is one of the highest resonating energies in the universe.  By focusing your energy on being a loving person and seeing the love in everyone and every situation, the Law of Attraction will cause you to receive more love in return.   When you are aligned with the energy of love, you are aligned with the Universal energy of God.  That means:

  • You can do anything.
  • You have access to all knowledge.
  • You are shown the way.
  • You will be in the right place at the right time.
  • It’s easy.
  • All you need is love.

The best way to maximize your success and reach your highest potential is to bring the energy of love into every aspect of your life.  Surround yourself with people and environments that support you and radiate the uplifting energy of love.

When you approach any aspect of your life with an energy that is not based in love, pretend to be someone you aren’t, worry, struggle, regret, blame, etc., it changes your vibration, which changes what you see and therefore what you receive.   While you shift your energy to being more loving in every aspect of your life, remember to also be gentle and loving with yourself.  Courage, forgiveness, and acceptance are emotions that do not resonate as high as love but are still worthy of your acknowledgement, celebration, and gratitude when the emotions are associated with changing old patterns that move you closer to the energy of love.

Cheryl Harris is CEO of Conscious Creations Inc.  She is best known for her Conscious Creation Coaching Programs that use proven strategies to leverage the Law of Attraction in your favor.  Her international client base includes entrepreneurs, celebrities, and a top Fortune 100 company.  Nick named “Little Buddha” and “The Idea Generator”, clients call her a master at providing support and describe shifting from fear to celebration as they move into the fullness of life.  You can learn more about Cheryl and her programs at http://consciouscreationsinc.com/.

Stress and Your Pets

catanddog

We live in challenging times and external stressors abound.  The economy, the news, and often just getting through the day all present a source of stress for people.  It’s been long proven that owning a pet has beneficial effects on our health.  Studies have shown that even a few minutes of petting your cat or dog can lower your blood pressure and release endorphins that put you in a better mood.  Pets are the greatest source of stress relief and masters at showing us not only how to relax, but how to live in the moment without worrying about the future. 

So we know that our pets help us be less stressed.  But did you know that your stress can make your pets sick? 

People and pets often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states.  Animals are natural healers and sometimes take on their person’s problems, often in an attempt to heal them.  This happens because of the deep bond shared between a pet and his or her person.  Because of the shared energy in such a close relationship, energetic imbalances are shared as well. 

Unfortunately stress has the same detrimental effect on our pets’ bodies at it does on ours.  Since pets are so sensitive to our emotions, they can become sick as a result of our stress. 

Dr. Fern Crist, of The Cat Hospital of Fairfax, says: “As a veterinarian, I frequently see cats who are urinating outside the litterbox.  While this undesirable behavior may be caused by a variety of medical problems, it can also be caused or exacerbated by stress.  It may be the cat’s stress, such as having a new cat to adjust to in the house; but it can just as easily be the owner’s stress.  The emotional turmoil brought on by such difficulties as household financial problems, frequent job travel, marital differences, new babies, and home remodeling can affect our cats in very tangible ways.  Our stress can induce undesirable behaviors in our cats, such as inappropriate urination. More importantly, our stress can also influence the development of actual physical illness in our cats as well as in ourselves.  As responsible owners, we sometimes need to take a good look at ourselves when we ask why our pets are having problems.  Stress relief for pet owners won’t solve every pet health problem, but can go a long way toward alleviating many of them.” 

All of this shows us that stress relief is not only important for our own health and well-being, it’s also good for our pets.

An Interview with Barbara Techel, Author of Frankie the Walk ‘N’ Roll Dog

Frankie cover

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Barbara Techel, the author of Frankie the Walk ‘N Roll Dog.  This is a true, inspirational story about a dachshund whose life changed forever when she ruptured a disk in her lower back and became paralyzed in her hind legs. After three months of physical therapy and acupuncture, it was determined that she would not walk again, and she was custom fitted for a dog cart, which is the canine version of a wheelchair. It doesn’t take long for Frankie to adjust to her new wheels and she continues to joyfully roll through life.

This heartwarming and moving story is told from Frankie’s point of view. While written for children, it’s a story that will appeal to animal lovers of all ages. Along with beautiful illustrations, the book show us, through the example of this high-spirited little dog, that it is possible to overcome any challenge and reclaim a joy for life despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Please join me in welcoming Barbara Techel to The Conscious Cat!

Barbara TechelBarbara, Frankie is your first book. How did you become a writer?

Yes, this is my first book. After my chocolate lab, Cassie Jo, was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 I began a spiritual journey yearning to do something that would matter deeply to me and would make a difference. That led me to writing about animals, especially dogs. For two years I had a monthly column, “For the Love of Animals” through our local paper before I ventured into writing a book.

What was the process of writing about Frankie like for you?

It was an amazing experience for me! Though I had never written a book before, the urge to tell Frankie’s story was very strong. Frankie inspired me because of all she went through and how she remained the same, happy dog. Writing her story in part, was therapy for me, while at the same time I wanted to share what I learned through Frankie’s experience so others could see that a disabled animal can live a quality life.

What made you decide to write Frankie’s story as a childrens’ book?

The reason I decided to write Frankie’s story as a children’s book was because of exactly that. Children. 🙂 When I started taking Frankie out in public in her dog cart (wheelchair) kids were so fascinated by her and wanted to know what happened. They thought it was so cool she could get around in her wheelchair. I realized I could have a positive impact on children, through Frankie, by helping them see their own challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow, just like Frankie taught me. I also thought if I could show kids that animals with disabilities deserve a chance, it would help them become better human beings, as well as help animals in need.

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

I really want people to see that just because an animal has a disability does not mean putting them to sleep is the only option. When Frankie suffered her spinal injury, I was so uneducated in disk disease in the breed, and at the time I thought putting Frankie to sleep was the only option. By having Frankie’s book as a children’s book, with parents reading the story to their kids, I felt I could reach two audiences with my message. The book is also great for dachshund lovers and Frankie is making a difference in helping other dachshunds in her same situation, and their owners. Frankie’s book helps people see that their dachshund can live a quality life also if diagnosed with disk disease and that there are viable options.

What was it like for you to deal with the many challenges a diagnosis such as Frankie’s brings? Do you have any tips for others who are faced with this situation for their pet?

It was tough at the beginning, especially since I didn’t know much about the disease. Financially and emotionally it was hard, and trying to make the best decisions for Frankie, while also having to be concerned with what I could afford. It was an adjustment adding in physical therapy twice a day to my routine, helping Frankie go to the bathroom by expressing her bladder several times a day (which I continue to this day), giving her meds throughout the day, etc. as she healed.

Looking back, my best advice would be to talk to others who have been through this. I didn’t know anyone at first, and I feel if I could have just talked with someone who had been through this it would give me more peace of mind. Luckily I did find an organization, DodgersList (http://dodgerslist.com/) which provides information and help for those going through this. They are wonderful! I also offer to help anyone by talking with them via phone or email who find themselves in this situation. Helping ease some of their worry is my way of giving back and hopefully giving others peace of mind to get them through the first crucial days.

Who or what inspires you?

Without a doubt, animals, especially dogs, inspire me!

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

You know, I was simply blown away at my book launch. I really had no idea what to expect or even if people would come. There were over 200 people in attendance and I felt this incredible energy of support and love. It was so amazing. I remember driving home with my husband later that afternoon feeling incredibly blessed and as if I was in a dream. It is a day I will remember the rest of my life.

As far as other experiences, this journey has been wonderful. Meeting children and seeing how they come to love Frankie makes my heart sing! Also meeting physically challenged children and watching them connect with Frankie without even saying a word at times, is simply heart warming and very rewarding.

Are you planning on writing another book?

I have a second book about Frankie that is due to be released in January 2010. It is called, Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House. In September 2009 Frankie became a registered therapy dog with Therapy Dogs, Inc (http://therapydogs.com/). Once a month we visit a senior assisted facility where many of the residents have dementia or Alzheimer’s. The book is about how Frankie became a therapy dog and the residents she now visits with. My hope is to help children understand the elderly and not have such a fear of them.

I also have an activity book, Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Activity Book , which is good for grade levels 3rd and up. It has crossword puzzles, word search, mazes, etc. to help reinforce Frankie’s message of dealing with your challenges in a positive way.

What are you reading at the moment?

Everything!  Ha!   Seriously, I am always trying to keep up on the writing world, marketing, etc. by reading articles and newsletters, as well as reading for pleasure. So right now I am reading, Excuses Begone by Dr. Wayne Dyer, My Buddy Butch by Jeff Marginean and eagerly awaiting the arrival of Soul of a Dog by Jon Katz (my favorite author who writes about dogs and animals).

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Barbara!

You can learn more about Barbara and her book on her website  and on her blog.

The Transformative Power of Taking Risks

BraveCat

I recently wrote about why making big decisions can be such a challenge for so many of us (Making Decisions and Thinking Big), and about the power of choice when it comes to making decisions that are for our highest good.  One element that the article didn’t address, but that can often play a big role in making decisions, is our individual tolerance for or aversion to risk.

I’ve had to make a few really big decisions recently that were taking me out of my comfort zone, so I’ve been spending quite a bit of time pondering this topic.  In the past, I avoided risk as much as I could, always playing it safe, always weighing all the pros and cons before making any decision.  Once I made the conscious choice to live a big life, I realized that I had to change the way I made decisions and especially change how I viewed risk.  As is so often the case when we embrace conscious change in our lives, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  In this case, it happened to be a sales call for an event hosted by Ali Brown, one of the most successful female entrepreneurs of her generation.  The information presented on the topic of knowing when to take risks really resonated with me, so I’m sharing it here. 

There are five steps that can help you decide when to take risks, and be comfortable with your decision. 

  1. Is this something you want with your heart?  I believe that following your heart is the key ingredient for living a joyful and fulfilling life.  Everything else will fall into place if you make following your heart a priority.  Another way to look at this is how making a decision feels.  If it feels good, it’s usually the right decision for you.
  2. Is this something you want with your head?  While following your heart is most important, your decision still needs to make sense for you.  Can you justify this decision to yourself?  Be careful here that you don’t give too much airtime to input from others, or at the very least, choose carefully who you consult with.  When you make the decision to live a big life, there will inevitably be people in your life who will try to convince you that it’s too risky, that you can’t possibly be successful, that this is not for you.  Don’t listen to them.  Only listen to your own inner guidance.
  3. Is this part of my journey?  This question requires that you’ve done your homework and spent some time getting clear on what your path is.  Making decisions becomes much easier once you’ve identified your life’s purpose.
  4. Does this excite you, even if it’s a little scary?  We don’t really progress on our path unless we stretch beyond our, often self-imposed, limits.  If it feels exciting and joyful, it’s right for you.  That’s not to say that you may not feel some apprehension.  Anytime you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone, you will feel a combination of enthusiasm and doubt.  Joyful anticipation should outweigh trepidation on this one.
  5. Are you making this decision from faith and not fear?  I think that’s the most important of the five steps.  Your decision should come from inspiration, not desperation.  I always remind myself that truth and fear cannot coexist.  If my decision is fear-based, it will not be for my highest good.  There’s a reason for the catch phrase “leap of faith.”

Once you allow yourself to approach taking risks from the perspective of making a conscious choice to step into your power, you will come to embrace its transformative power.  You will find that your big decision will yield equal if not greater rewards from the universe.

How do you approach taking risks?  How do you make big decisions?

Seven Social Networking Sites for Cat Lovers

Facebook

Guest post by Mary Ward

Fellow cat lovers know we are a different breed, and we’re darned proud of it!  What you may not know is that beyond blogging there are some wonderful sites out there for people like us and our precious pets, where we can link up together, share, and help troubleshoot some of the more concerning aspects of companionship. You can find a social networking site for just about everything, and that is especially true when it comes to the cat lover in you.  Here are seven of the top social networking sites on the net for cat lovers like us.

1. My Cat Space – This is what social networking is all about! This site links you up to the very best in cat information and links you to cat lovers everywhere. You can share your stories and pictures, or simply drop in to see what new tips are out there. This is a great site to go to meet other cat lovers just like you!

2. Feline Fanatic – If you think that there’s nobody out there as passionate about their cat as you, visit this site for awhile. You will see that you are not alone in your love of felines and can visit with other like-minded individuals and share your views. A great meeting spot for feline fanatics everywhere!

3. Catster – Sure you can search under any given topic, find blogs or forums of other cat lovers, and search for valuable information—but there’s even more! It’s all about connection here and whether you connect with cat lovers in general or chat it up on a given subject, you will feel right at home here.

4. Meow Mail – As cat owners, there’s a special understanding of how cherished our pet is. Through this social networking site, you can share your opinions and thoughts on just what it is to love your cat. You can connect with others who recognize a cat not just as a pet, but as a part of their family.

5. Cat Club – This social networking site is so elite that you have to join as a true member to gain access. You can not only get access to a ton of information, but you can reach other cat lovers from all across the world. You can share stories and photos, and even gain some valuable discounts in the process!

6. Cat Hobbyist – The point of a social networking site is to meet others like you or with similar interests, and you will do just that here. You don’t need to hold back on how much you love your cat, because you are bound to meet many others just like you on this popular site.

7. Purrsonals.com – There is truly something for everyone, and this site is testament to that! If you want to date others that love cats as much as you do, then this social networking site can act as your matchmaker. This is the perfect dating site if you want to connect with and meet a fellow cat lover like yourself.   

Whether for fun, camaraderie, education or information, these sites have lots to offer the cat lover in any of us.  Join in and get your daily dose of feline fun and facts!

Mary Ward is a freelance writer and likes writing about animal-related career topics, such as how to obtain an online Vet Tech degree, job and education tips, and more.

An Interview with Gwen Cooper, Author of the New York Times Bestseller Homer’s Odyssey

Gwen

Gwen Cooper is the author of Homer’s Odyssey – A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat, and the novel Diary of a South Beach Party Girl.  A Miami native, Gwen spent five years working in non-profit administration, marketing, and fundraising.  She coordinated and led direct-service volunteer activities on behalf of organizations including Pet Rescue, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, the Miami Rescue Mission, His House, Habitat for Humanity, Ronald McDonald House, the Daily Bread Food Bank, and Family Resource Center (an organization providing emergency shelter for abused and neglected children).  She also initiated Reading Pen Pals, an elementary school-based literacy program in Miami’s Little Haiti.

Gwen currently lives in Manhattan with her husband, Laurence.  She also lives with her three perfect cats—Scarlett, Vashti, and Homer—who aren’t impressed with any of it.

I’m delighted to welcome Gwen Cooper to The Conscious Cat today.

Gwen, Homer’s Odyssey made the New York Times Bestseller list less than two weeks after its publication.   It’s a wonderful book and I’m not surprised at its immediate success.  What does it feel like to see your book become so successful in such a short amount of time?

It’s hard for me to say, because it still hasn’t really sunk in yet!   So mostly what I’ve felt is shock, interspersed with moments of pure elation.
 
When did you first know you would write a book about Homer?

November of 2007.  I’d had the idea a couple of months earlier, but that November was when I finally felt like I knew, in general terms at least, what the story would be and how it would be written.

I was captivated by your story and by Homer almost from the very first page, but I was particularly moved by your account of the events of 9/11 and the days following.  You lived through every pet owner’s nightmare.  As a result of this experience, do you have any advice for pet owners to prepare for emergency situations?

That’s a tough question to answer, insofar as there are some things in life you can’t fully prepare for.  But what I learned from the experience was that I should always have at least a week’s worth of supplies—food, litter, a few gallons of water—in my apartment at all times.  My cats ended up trapped in my apartment near Ground Zero for days before I could get back to them, and because I didn’t have any extra supplies handy, I had to walk for miles—and then climb thirty-one flights of stairs—with two gallons of water, seven pounds of litter, and five pounds of cat food.  The process of getting back to them might not have been faster if I hadn’t had to carry all of that, but it certainly would have been easier.

What was the writing process like for you? 

The process of outlining this book was long and agonizing and had me tearing my hair out at times.  How to summarize twelve years of a life in 80,000 words or less?  But once I had my outline done, the writing itself was pure joy.

What does a typical day of writing look like for you?

I’m usually up between 5:30 and 6:00am, and writing by no later than 7:00am.  Then I write for as long as I can until I run out of steam.  Usually I try to put in at least an eight-hour writing day, but of course some days go much longer and others are much shorter.

What do you love most about being a writer?

Writing!

What do you like least about being a writer?

Writing!  I’m sure a lot of writers out there will know exactly what I mean when I say it’s frequently a love/hate relationship.

Who or what inspires you?

There’s no one specific thing, except that I’ve always been in love with language itself.  As soon as I get an idea for a really great phrase or sentence, I’m off and running.

I’m also always inspired by the idea of telling a great story.  With Homer, the initial “a-ha” moment came when I realized that a book about this blind cat, and the impact he’s had on the lives around him, would be filled with action, adventure, romance, heroes, villains, journeys, quests, triumph in the face of adversity, and all the great narrative “bones” that underlie a story truly worth telling.  Once I realized that, I couldn’t wait to get the story on paper and out into the world.

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

Actually, the first reading I ever did for a book I’d written was the reading I did in Miami Beach to launch Diary of a South Beach Party Girl.  I’d moved from South Beach to New York about six or seven years earlier, and very few of the friends I’d had before the move still lived in Miami—so I knew my parents and some of their friends would come, but I didn’t expect much of a crowd.  But around 150 people showed up!  I was absolutely floored, and it was just a really great way to kick off that book.

What are you reading at the moment?

The City & The City by China Mieville.  It’s phenomenal.

Are you working on another book?

I’m working on a proposal for another book, although my agent has basically threatened me with death if I talk about it before it’s written.  (I kid!  But, seriously, she’s anxious to keep it under wraps for now.)

And lastly, what does Homer think about his newfound fame?

Homer is taking it pretty much in stride, although we’ve been getting a ton of gift baskets and toys and gourmet cat treats lately.  I’ve probably always spoiled my cats, but now they’re really spoiled, and I sometimes wonder if Homer wonders why he’s suddenly so indulged these days.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Gwen, and much continued success with Homer’s Odyssey!

Thank you—and thanks for having me on your blog!

You can learn more about Gwen and her book on her website , and you can find her on Facebook.

Amber’s Mewsings: Mom Goes to a Cat Show

new toy

It’s about time Mom lets me write here again!  I have much to say, and all of it is important!  Maybe I should have my own blog – my friend Eva just got a blog of her own, you should check it out at Conversations with Eva.  Cool name for her site, huh?  Somebody sure gets that for us cats, it’s always about us.  Make sure you read The Beginning, the story of how Eva found her forever home.

Meanwhile, things are great here.  Mom was gone most of the weekend, she was at something called a cat show.  From what I understand, some people take their cats to these big places and they have to be really patient and well-behaved and they get shown and judged in something called a ring, and they win prizes.  Interesting concept.  Not something that appeals to me – I already know I’m Number One.  But Mom was really happy when she came home from that cat show place each evening, apparently lots of people are really excited about Buckley’s Story coming out soon, and when Mom is happy, I’m happy.  She also brought me a new catnip toy each day from a place called Mouse Factory.  Strange name, if you ask me, because none of the toys she brought home looked even remotely like a mouse, but wooeee, they are filled with heavy duty catnip!  I could smell that she had catnip with her the minute she walked in the door.  I immediately went to her bag and sat and stared at it until she took the toy out and gave it to me, then I proceeded to thoroughly lick it and cover it in drool.  Then I had to take a nap to sleep off my catnip high.  This was primo stuff, people.

Mom has been busy writing and getting everything ready for her book launch, and I like that she’s been home a lot.  Even though I may sleep in another room while she’s working, I still like knowing that she’s home with me.  This is so much better than when she was gone more than ten hours each day.

That’s it for today.  Remember – it IS all about you!

The Cat’s Purr – A Biomechanical Healing Mechanism?

cat-purr-healing

We all know how wonderful it is to be around a purring cat. Is there anything more soothing than to be lulled to sleep or woken up by the sound of purring? A cat’s purr is not only calming and relaxing. Research shows that the cat’s purr has healing properties and can actually heal bones, muscles and tendons.

In a 2006 study conducted by Fauna Communications, researchers found that the frequency of a cat’s purr (between 25 and 140 Hz), covers the same frequencies that are therapeutic for bone growth and fracture healing, pain relief, swelling reduction, wound healing, muscle growth and repair, tendon repair, and mobility of joints.

A natural healing mechanism provided by nature?

The researchers at Fauna Communications believe that it’s possible that evolution has provided the felines of this world with a natural healing mechanism for bones and other organs.  From the Fauna Communications website:

“Being able to produce frequencies that have been proven to improve healing time, strength and mobility could explain the purr’s natural selection.  In the wild when food is plentiful, the felids are relatively sedentary. They will spend a large portion of the day and night lounging in trees or on the ground. Consistent exercise is one of the greatest contributors to bone, (Karlsson et al, 2001), and muscle (Roth et al, 2000; Tracy et al 1999), and tendon and ligament strength (Simoson et al, 1995; Tipton et al 1975).  If a cat’s exercise is sporadic, it would be advantageous for them to stimulate bone growth while at rest.  As well, following injury, immediate exercise can rebreak one and re-tear healing muscle and tendon (Montgomery, 1989).  Inactivity decreases the strength of muscles (Tipton et al, 1975). Therefore, having an internal vibrational therapeutic system to stimulate healing would be advantageous, and would also reduce edema and provide a measure of pain relief during the healing process. “

I’ve always believed that animals, and cats in particular, are healers.  Isn’t it nice to know that just listening to our cats purr is not only good for our soul, but also good for our body?

And just in case your own cats are too busy chasing toys or watching birds right now, here’s a video of a cat with a seriously strong purr to tide you over until your own kitties can get back on the job.

SE banner formulas for cats Allegra

Book Review: “Homer’s Odyssey” by Gwen Cooper

HomersOdysseyCover

Some books about animals warm your heart.  Others touch your soul.  Homer’s Odyssey, subtitled A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wondercat falls into the second category.  This moving, inspirational and often funny story about a blind cat with a huge spirit and an endless capacity for love, joy and a determination to persevere no matter what the obstacles is a wonderful celebration of the bond between a cat and his human and the transformational power of loving an animal.

Homer’s story begins when the stray kitten is brought to Miami veterinarian Dr. Patty Khuly (who wrote the foreword to the book), host of the popular veterinary blog Dolittler, at only three weeks of age.  Homer loses both eyes to a severe eye infection, and while nobody would have faulted Dr. Khuly for euthanizing this kitten, she saw something in him that made her determined to save him.  When Gwen gets a call from Dr. Khuly asking whether she would come take a look at this kitten, the last thing the author wants is another cat.  She already has two, and she’s worried about crossing the line into crazy cat lady territory by adopting another one.  But she agrees to take a look – and falls in love.

Homer, the blind kitten who doesn’t know he’s blind, has a giant heart and an indomitable spirit.  He quickly adapts to new situations and environments, and turns into a feline daredevil who scales tall bookcases in a single bound and catches flies by jumping five feet into the air.  Eventually, Gwen and the three cats move from Miami to New York City (and the story of their move is an adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat with worry and concern for this family of four).   Adjusting to city living in a cold climate takes some time, but once again, Homer’s adaptable spirit triumphs.  He even survives being trapped with his two feline companion for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center.

But it wasn’t Homer’s physical feats and his ability to adapt to physical limitations that ultimately transformed the author’s life.  Homer’s unending capacity for love and joy, no matter what life’s challenges may be, were a daily inspiration for Gwen, and ultimately taught her the most important lesson of all:  Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.

It’s rare that a pet memoir is the kind of book you can’t put down – but this one is.  Thankfully, I knew at the outset that Home is alive and well, so unlike what happens with so many books in this genre, I didn’t expect to cry while reading this book.  Little did I know how the gut-wrenching account of the author’s experience in the days following 9/11 would affect me.  Gwen Cooper lived through every cat owners’ nightmare – fearing for the safety and survival of her cats, and being unable to get to them for several days.  The moving narrative and emotional impact of this chapter will leave few cat lovers unaffected.

Homer’s Odyssey is a must-read, to quote from the book’s cover, “for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and hopelessly in love with a pet.”

Coming soon on The Conscious Cat:  an interview with author Gwen Cooper.

A Day in the Life of a Cat Sitter

Today’s Guest post is by Renee Austin.  Renee is the owner of Whimsy Cats, Northern Virginia’s premiere cat sitting service.  Whimsy Cats specializes in cats who need special care such as administration of medication, fluids or insulin, senior cats, post-surgical care, and more.   

Renee Austin

It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m just now turning the car onto the road, heading north for a few miles through the pre-dawn mist, slowing from time to time for the deer that linger along the roadside, and then turning east to join scores of other cars for the trek into town and beyond. It occurs to me that there might be only a handful of other drivers who are as pleased as I am to be on their way to work. In fact, there are times when I wonder if maybe I ought to be paying for the privilege. My clients are generous and kind in their immeasurable appreciation for the services I provide-and they spoil me. You see, I step in for those who want to vacation, or need to travel for work, or have to leave town for a family emergency. I watch over what they value most while they are away, easing somewhat, the strain of leaving cherished ones behind. I am the cat sitter, and I care for the ‘fur-kids’ and ‘fur-babies’ of a very, very wonderful group of people.

My first stop is the final for this particular client. The custom; sit on the step just inside the doorway and greet everyone as they swarm around me, chirping and rubbing (it’s one big group fur-hug), then off to the kitchen to prepare and serve a noisy breakfast, adding in the medications I picked up at the veterinarian’s yesterday. I keep one eye on the diners while reviewing the ‘exit’ checklist and finishing the housekeeping, make a quick dash to feed, water and count the little noses of the feral cats waiting in the yard behind the house, and then head back through to ensure that everything is in order. The visits to this particular home have involved overturned lamps and pillows, a partially devoured loaf of bread dragged into the living room, bottles of kitty medications scattered on the floor, shredded paper towels-all due to the antics of a very active ’hive’ of happy cats. Hopefully everything will still be tidy by the time ‘mom’ gets home. Before leaving, I wave goodbye to the little girl hiding under the desk, and then give each of the others, eight in all, snuggles and squeezes and a final, thorough once-over. The ages here range from several months to 18 years and include tripods, a whole array of colors and personalities and needs, and a blanket of unbelievable feline energy. They’re gathered at the large picture window, watching as I walk away down the driveway.

I’m back in the car with cat fur still swirling around me and a grin running from ear to ear. It’s time for the very long drive out to my next client, and after such an excellent start to the day, I’m ready.

It’s the same greeting here-smiles and purrs. Samson leans against me and gazes into my eyes while I’m preparing his insulin and medication, and I just have to stop and embrace him. I take a deep breath, hold it and him, and then let everything out on a sigh. In that one deliberate action my body and mind are completely relaxed. This is the reason why I drive fifteen miles outside of my usual range to come here. His younger sister has recovered from last night, when I sat with her in the basement as she hid from the fierce thunderstorms. She’s waiting at our play spot, opting out of the morning meal for some one-on-one time. We play a bit more after she supervises the clean-up and then the three of us hug and cuddle. I won’t be seeing them again for a few months so I linger. As I head for the door I look back and see, with some regret, that Sabrina is back at her spot…hoping.

Every stop follows a similar routine; a balance between efficiency and details, and entertainment and affection. There are notes, medications, premise checks, housekeeping lists, disinfecting, that all require focus and constant evaluation. And as each household has its particular flow and idiosyncrasies, so do my little whiskered ‘clients’.  Between clients I’m weaving through traffic, diverting around back-ups, always reviewing details of the last visit to ensure I haven’t missed a step, and mentally rehearsing what will happen on the next.

I work mostly with cats that have special needs and chronic medical conditions, so in addition to having the ability to read their individual needs and preferences, I must also be able to tune in to their demeanor and posture, watch for subtle changes in behavior, detect that slight shift in the eyes that says things are not quite right. Cats can be a challenge in this respect. The natural tendency of a feline in the wild to mask any sign of illness carries over completely into the domestic realm.

On top of this, it’s up to me to remember favorite toys, activities, and comfort levels, and to recognize when someone wants rubs and reassurance instead of playtime on a particular visit. It’s important for me to provide individualized attention to each and every cat. While I can’t replace the family who has ‘mysteriously disappeared’, I am at least able to offer a different kind of routine that brings some level of comfort and security until everything is back to normal.

By 10:30am, I’ve finished at the nearest library after sending out progress reports and answering e-mails (I probably know every free WiFi location along any given route that I have to take). Then, I’m off to the mid-day visits and answering calls from clients checking in for updates on their kitties. Today will include a pair of cats – one that decides after eating that he just wants cuddles, and the other who is very shy and has finally come out of hiding to join us, then one special little guy who, on my arrival, leads me straight to his play station for tissue paper ‘facials’ and body rubs, and finally, the sweet older girl with kidney disease for whom I have to administer fluids under the skin.

I swing back around and have a few extra moments to check in with one of my handful of doggie clients. This little fellow has been back and forth to the veterinarian and can use a pick-me-up. His human has been extremely worried, and we’ve worked on a list of questions for him to ask next time he’s at the animal hospital. I’m then off to feed a handsome orange tabby and spend time with him on the veranda, and finally, I stop to give an insulin injection to one of my most challenging and unpredictable kitties. She’s a princess cat, and I never know whether she’ll be pleased to see me, or if she’ll try to run me out of the house before I can pull the syringe out of the bag. Tonight I get off with a nip on the ankle – a clear sign that the food service is way too slow.

Back home I do my own chores, feed and medicate each of the special needs creatures that live with me, and then, even though I’m a night person, collapse into bed before midnight. I’m road weary, but not cat weary. Within moments, my own special group is snuggled up against me, purring and sighing with pleasure – all of us, together for the next several hours.

Not too bad, for a full day’s work.

For more information about Renee and Whimsy Cats, please wisit her website at http://www.whimsycats.com.

Amber’s Mewsings: Labor Day

Mom is taking a break from posting today, but she and I want to take a moment to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.  This idea of a Labor Day holiday is a very strange concept to me.  What is this labor?  Cats don’t labor – cats just relax and enjoy life.  But I do know that resting and relaxing is very important for feline and human health, so this is how I’m going to be spending my labor day:
First, I'll lounge in the sun....

First, I’ll lounge in the sun….

 

....then, I"ll relax some more....

….then, I”ll relax some more….

 

Did you say dinner was ready?

Did you say dinner was ready?

 

Now I really need a nap!

Now I really need a nap!

1 264 265 266 267 268 276