A First Peek at “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher”

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Today is a difficult day for me – it’s the six month anniversary of Buckley’s passing.  It’s hard to believe that six months have gone by already.  I still miss her each and every day. 

“Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” tells the story of how one small cat changed my life in ways I  never could have imagined.  It’s the story of Buckley, a joyful, enthusiastic and affectionate tortoiseshell cat I met while managing a veterinary hospital.   Buckley challenged me to overcome long-held emotional patterns and taught me and everyone who came into contact with her universal lessons about opening the heart, following intuition, and living a life filled with joy.

In her memory, and to celebrate her life rather than mourn her passing today, I would like to share a small excerpt from the book with you.  This is the description of our first meeting:

“I went to see Buckley for the first time. And I fell in love. Hard. And fast.

   She was a small cat, and she immediately came to the front of the cage and rubbed up against the bars. When I unlatched the door to her cage to pet her, she practically threw herself at me – something I came to call “full body love” as I got to know her better and realized that this was one of the many ways she would demonstrate her affection. This little cat loved with her entire being. It took several minutes of talking to her and petting her before I even noticed her deformed left hind leg. It bent upwards at the knee at a ninety degree angle. Our veterinarians were unable to determine whether this was a congenital birth defect, or whether it was an old injury that had never healed right. It certainly did not seem to bother her, nor did it slow her down. She barely had a limp, and she used the knee of the bent leg to push off when she ran and jumped. Her “disability” definitely was a non-issue for her – she didn’t know the meaning of the word. After a while, I didn’t notice it anymore, either. It was just part of who she was, and I was always surprised when people asked about it.”

“Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” will be published later this year.

Never Give up on Your Dream – Part Two

I blogged about never giving up on your dream back in April, when Susan Boyle first burst onto the scene.   Yesterday, she sang “Memories” on “Britain’s Got Talent”, and she is now favored to win in the contest’s final next Sunday.  Here’s the clip from her performance:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7Ayk9G7-sc

As someone who’s moved one step closer to making my own life-long dream of writing and publishing a book come true yesterday, when I submitted the manuscript for “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” to my publisher, this idea of never giving up on your dream definitely resonates with me.  While the only thing Susan and I have in common is the fact that we both have a cat, there’s still something about her journey and her performance that is captivating to me.  I know I’ll be cheering for her to win this contest – and hope that she continues to inspire others to follow their dreams.

There is something that Buckley and Susan Boyle have in common.  Buckley also never gave up on her dream.  I can’t wait to share her story with you when the book comes out.

Amber’s Mewsings: First Post

Mom said I could ocassionally write something on this blog – after all, I’m the wise one who inspired the creation of it.

So this afternoon, Mom made me pose for pictures for a professional photographer.   It wasn’t the most fun I ever had, but there were treats involved, so I was being a good sport about it.  I mean, come on – the photographer’s assistant was holding these squeaky dog toys over the photographer’s head to get me to look at the camera!  For God’s sake, I’m a cat!  I look when I feel like it, not when you try to get me to look.  Anyway – I knew how much this meant to Mom.  She wants a really good photo of the two of us as the author photo for her upcoming book “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” , so I played along.  The book is the story of my “sister” Buckley, who left us in November.    She was pretty smart and between her and me, we taught Mom a lot of stuff that she shares in the book.  And even though the book is about Buckley, I’m in it, too.  The three of us had (and still have) a very special connection.

Mom says that’s enough, I can’t say more about the book right now, but she says that soon, there’ll be more information about it.   I have to go take a nap now anyway – posing for photos is pretty tiring.

Here’s a picture of me with Buckley (she’s on the left).

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Book Review: “The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats”

As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, I keep a Reading List on my website.  Reading is as essential as breathing to me.  When I read a book that I find educational, inspirational, helpful, moving, interesting, or just plain fun, I want to share it with everyone.  I thought it might be fun to periodically  introduce and review some of my favorites here. 

Today’s  book is “The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats” by Clea Simon.

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This is one of my favorite cat books.  It’s a book for cat lovers.  It’s a book for women who love their cats.  And it’s a book for men who love women who love their cats.

Author Clea Simon examines the bond between cats and women from all angles – from history and mythology to interviews with cat women from all walks of life, the book is a compelling mix of facts about cats and the women who love them.  It’s also a memoir of the seventeen years Simon spent with Cyrus, the kitten she adopted as a young single woman. 

This is a joyful book, celebrating the role cats play in womens’ lives.   If you are a woman who loves cats, or if you want to better understand a woman who loves cats, you will enjoy this book.

For more information about the book, click here.  For more information about the author, go to http://www.cleasimon.com

A Veterinarian’s Thoughts on Cat Food

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I recently posted an article titled “How to Choose Healthy Foods for Your Pets“.  In it, I acknowledged how difficult it is to find the “right” diet for your pet, given the varying and often confusing information available on this topic. 

As a follow up to my article, I’d like to post a comment Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM, left on The Pet Connection Blog.  Dr. Pion is the founder of the Veterinary Information Network, and he is responsible for saving millions of cats’ lives by being the first to discover the link between taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in cats in 1987.  He is also the co-author of “Cats for Dummies“.   This is what he has to say about cat food:

“The only definitive comment I’ll make about the cat food debates is that anyone who tells you they know THE ANSWER is not worth listening to.

Pet food companies want you to buy their food — and for the most part if you stick to a major brand you can’t go too wrong. Still — without doubt, RESULTS WILL VARY 🙂

Feeding from cans and bags is convenient. And since for most it seems to work, that isn’t a bad place to start.

I still believe in mixing up what you feed. But I can’t say that my wife (also a DVM) follows that. But our cats seem happy and healthy and that’s about all you can hope to achieve.

Plant based dry foods are not a natural foundation for a cat’s diet, but for convenience and cost, they are commonly fed and most cats seem to do just fine.

How much commercial foods are at the root of diseases like feline hyperthyroidism and diabetes are intriging questions.

The hard part is sifting through all the opinion, emotion, marketing hype, and researcher bias when trying to decipher the “science.” Suffice it to say I won’t be surprised if we figure out how commercial diets are leading to these conditions in some cats.

At the same time, it is hard to argue with the observation that cats seem to be living longer in the decades since commercial cat food feeding has become more popular. Cause and effect? Who knows.

I won’t get into the raw food debate, other than to say I wouldn’t be happy if my wife (can you tell she does all the pet care) decided to go down that path. Suffice it to say, my concerns are more for human health than feline health. But still, I won’t claim that I know the definitive answer on this topic.

Raw foods, dry foods, canned foods — my observation is that consumer choices are often made more to please the pet owner (influenced by advertising, peer pressure, and pseudoscience) than the pet.

I probably have said too much already. But I’ll end reminding everyone that everything and everyone dies. Somewhere in the midst of spending huges amounts of time, energy and money trying to cheat death, we have to remember to enjoy life and accept imperfection — it’s the best we got right now.

I personally would much rather live well (for me that means purposefully and doing what I believe is right for those I love and all whose lives my actions effect) than long (or even prosperously).

And to set the record straight, although I consume a lot of diet coke, I have not had a devil dog in over a decade 🙂 ”

(quoted with permission from Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM)

Eco-Friendly Water Bottles

water-bottleI just had to share this super-cool water bottle I got for my birthday yesterday with all of you!  It’s made by SIGG , and the bottles come in an amazing variety of wonderful designs (but of course, I happen to think this particular cat design is the best).  They’re reusable, lightweight and eco-friendly.

I won’t belabor the point of why drinking water is so important, I think we’re all aware of how drinking 6-8 glasses a day should be part of any healthy lifestyle.  Why not make it easy and fun by having a beautiful bottle to drink from?  If you don’t like plain water, you can make it more interesting by adding sliced lemon or cucumber or a sprig of mint for a little bit of flavoring.

Fresh water is also important for our pets – make sure your feline and canine companions have access to clean, fresh water at all times.  I recommend filtered or bottled water rather than municipal or well water for pets – I avoid drinking tap water, and I’d just as soon Amber doesn’t, either.

A Visit to a Very Special Cat Sanctuary

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In loving memory of Buckley

Yesterday was an emotional day for me.   I went to the open house for Casey’s House, a private rescue group in Bluemont, VA.  Cindy Ingram, the founder of Casey’s House, rescued my precious little Buckley from a farm in southwestern Virginia, where she and about twenty other cats were kept in marginal living conditions.  Buckley passed away last Thanksgiving weekend.   While I had been supporting Casey’s House for many years, I had never actually seen the facility.  When I met Buckley, she was already living at the animal hospital I managed at the time.  (You will get to know Buckley and her story in my upcoming book “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher”).

Casey’s House is named after Cindy’s beloved tabby cat, who came to live with her when she was fifteen years old.  At first Cindy refused her entrance to her house, as she already had two cats and two dogs at the time. Casey, however, was not a cat to take no for an answer. Casey’s “home” at the time was a colony of some fifty cats, and she was probably getting tired of either not getting to her food on time, or eating off of filthy dishes.  Every evening, Casey would be waiting on Cindy’s  porch, obviously hungry, so Cindy would feed her. Slowly, but surely, Casey became a part of Cindy’s family.  Eventually, four of her feline colony friends came to join Casey.  Says Cindy:  “Casey taught me to reach beyond my self-imposed limits, and her house is the dream that now has become a reality”.

In addition to providing a safe haven for older cats, Casey’s House also promotes Trap-Neuter-Return.  Through this program, feral cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear-tipped.  Cats that are friendly to humans and kittens are adopted into loving homes.  Healthy feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes.  Casey’s House spayed and neutered more than 200 cats in 2008, making a significant contribution to controlling the overpopulation problem.

I was impressed with the wonderful environment Cindy created for the cats.  There are very few cages, most of the cats live in a large open room, filled with carpeted ramps, cat climbing towers, and lots of soft pillows and blankets for them to sleep on.  New rescues and those with potential health conditions are kept in separate areas until they’ve been checked out by a veterinarian.    What was really amazing to me was how peaceful the energy in that large room felt.  All the cats seemed to get along, there was no hissing, posturing, or fighting.  Cindy said in all the years she’s done this work, she’s only had one incident with two cats fighting.  Casey’s House truly is a safe haven for cats in need.

I left missing Buckley even more than I usually do.  The visit definitely brought on a renewed wave of grief for me.  But I also left feeling good about living in a world where there are people like Cindy, who care so much and do so much for cats in need. 

Like all non-profit organizations, especially those helping animals, Casey’s House is struggling in these tough economic times.   If you have a favorite shelter or rescue group that you support, please consider making a donation to them – they need your help now more than ever.  And if you don’t already support a shelter, perhaps you’ll consider making a donation to Casey’s House in Buckley’s memory.  Cindy and the cats at Casey’s House will thank you.

Make a Conscious Decision to Get Happy

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Is there a formula for happiness?  Is there one sure-fire way to achieve everything we want in life?  Well, actually, there just might be.  And it’s as simple, or as complicated, as getting happy.  Simple, because we all have the power to do it.  Complicated, because our conditioning tells us it’s not that easy.

Everything around us is energy, including our thoughts.  Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like.  If we focus our thoughts on things that make us happy, we attract more of the same.   But how do we do this in a world that seems to be so full of unhappy things?

We do it by making a conscious decision that we want to be happy.  We have the power to choose our thoughts – so why not choose thoughs that make us feel good?  We can make these conscious choices in every single moment – by choosing to focus on what is working in our lives rather than complaining about what isn’t, by choosing books and television programs that make us feel good rather than depressed or upset, by choosing to be with people who uplift us rather than drag us down into negativity.

Choosing your thoughts, and choosing what to focus on is key in this process.  We often think of choice as something that has to involve a “yes” or “no” decision.  When you begin to think of choice as saying “yes” to what you want, rather than “no” to what you don’t want, you will find your energy shifting. 

Once we focus predominantly on that which makes us feel good, we’ll find that the world around us changes.  Life flows more easily.   We attract people and situations into our reality that are pleasant rather than frustrating.   Our lives work.  We get happy.

Today, make a conscious choice:  no matter where I’m going, no matter what I’m doing, no matter who I’m doing it with, I’m going to look for things that make me feel good. 

And if you need a little help with feeling good, look to your animal companions.  They’re masters at making themselves feel good.  Have you ever watched a cat follow the sunny spots in the house, or a dog roll around on his back in the freshly mown grass just because it feels sooooo good?

Get happy today!

Loss of Appetite in Your Pet

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For most pets, eating is a joyful part of their daily routine.  So when a pet doesn’t want to eat, it is a reason for concern for most pet owners.  When loss of appetite is short-lived, it’s usually nothing to worry about.  But when your pet stops eating for unknown reasons for longer than 24 hours, a visit to your veterinarian might be in order. 

Julie Andrus of Holistic Pet Info takes a look at what loss of appetite can mean:

Moving to a new home or the addition of a new family member can cause stress on your pet and they may not feel like eating.  This type of appetite loss is usually short-lived and can be remedied with coaxing and extra attention to your pet.  When your dog or cat stops eating for unknown reasons, it is time to take a closer look. 
 
A sudden loss of appetite or one that develops over time and continues for several days could indicate a variety of illnesses, including:
 
Digestive Disorders – Partial blockage of the digestive tract (foreign objects or possibly tumors) can make it difficult to swallow and can result in your pet’s unwillingness to eat.  Parasites, ulcers or bacterial infections, even food allergies can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which make it uncomfortable to eat. Additional symptoms to watch for are increased salivation, diarrhea and vomiting.
 
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas secretes its corrosive digestive juices on itself and the surrounding internal organs and tissues rather than on the food in the intestine. The resulting inflammation causes pain and stress in the animal, eventually leading to a complete loss of appetite.  Vomiting and listlessness often accompany your pet’s loss of appetite when the pancreas is affected.
 
Kidney Disease – The kidney’s job is to remove waste products from the blood.  When the kidneys begin to fail, toxins begin to build up in the blood stream and sometimes cause ulcers in the mouth and stomach.  You may notice your pet has stopped eating (because of the ulcers) yet they are drinking and urinating more often because of the kidney disease. With kidney disease, vomiting and lethargy are often present.
 
Dental Disease – One obvious but often overlooked reason for loss of appetite is that your pet experiences mouth pain when eating.  Abscesses, tooth decay and gum disease can sideline even the hungriest pets. 
 
Your pet’s loss of appetite may mean something as simple as his dislike for a new brand of food or it may indicate a more serious medical condition.   If other symptoms are present (difficulty breathing, vomiting, lethargy, drooling, excessive thirst), schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.   A physical exam, x-rays, fecal tests and or blood work can diagnosis the problem and a treatment plan can be determined. 

Remember that early intervention can mean a better prognosis for recovery and less discomfort for your beloved pet.  

Julie Andrus is the owner of Holistic Pet Info.  If you are looking for information on how to manage your pet’s health with holistic or natural pet care products like nutritional supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines, Holistic Pet Info is the place for you.  They carry more than 100 natural pet products including vitamins and nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines.  The site also offers a wide range of well-written and researched articles and other information on animal health issues.

Choose to Live a Conscious Life

Our planet is undergoing a massive shift in consciousness, and as a result, individuals are questioning the old ways of living and making new, more conscious choices about how to live their lives.  But what does conscious living really mean?

The definition of the word conscious is “to be aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts and surroundings”.  It also means “being fully aware or sensitive to something”, “aware of oneself”, and “deliberate and intentional”.  All these terms take us right to the heart of what conscious living means.

Being aware of our thoughts and emotions allows us to make conscious choices about everything from what we feel like wearing today to which career path we want to take.  Thoughts are energy, and each thought has a vibration attached to it that sends a message to the universe to attract things to us that match the vibration of the thought we send out.  We all have the ability to focus our thoughts, and when we deliberately focus them on what we want rather than on what we don’t want, we begin taking charge of consciously creating our lives.  Being aware of our emotions adds power to this process – emotions are our instant guidance as to whether a thought moves us in the direction of what we want or away from it.  When a thought feels good, we’re moving towards our desires.  When it feels bad, we’re moving in the opposite direction. 

Being fully aware is the first step to consciously living our lives.  It is this awareness that allows us to tune in to our inner guidance, and the more we do that, the more we are able to become deliberate and intentional in choosing our thoughts. 

Ultimately, conscious living means making choices that are in alignment with who we really are at our core.  Using our emotions as guidance, we can make choices about everything from the foods we eat to the cosmetics we use to the products we buy for our pets.  The more we make these conscious choices, the more whole our lives will become.  Every choice becomes a conscious expression of our authentic selves in the world.  The more we pay attention to what our inner self really wants and needs, the more congruent our lives become.

Be forewarned – conscious living is addictive.  Once you live your life from that place of authenticity, you will have very little tolerance for anything less.

Some conscious choices people make can be as simple as eating organic foods, purchasing cruelty-free personal care products, using environmentally friendly products, and watching movies and television programs that carry a positive message, or as far-reaching as leaving a job that is not in alignment with their authentic self to start their own conscious business. 

The important thing is to start somewhere, one small choice at a time.  Make that simple choice, and watch your life begin to change.

Happy Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day from the Conscious Cat! 

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom in your life, be sure to tell her that you love her today, and every day.  My mother passed away 15 years ago, and I still miss her.  Even after all these years, I still feel a pang when I see Mother’s Day cards appear in stores. 

But I also celebrate Mother’s Day as Amber’s Mom.  Amber was a mommy herself when I first met her, so I thought I’d share her story here with you today.

In the spring of 2000, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.  

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she began to  relax a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck. 

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Amber

Amber

 

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