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.
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.
Clea is also a respected journalist whose credits include The New York Times and The Boston Phoenix, and such magazines as American Prospect, Ms., and Salon.com. She used to do a fair amount of music criticism, but now primarily focuses on relationships, feminism, and psychological issues.
Clea grew up in East Meadow, on suburban Long Island, N.Y., and came to Cambridge, Mass., to attend Harvard, from which she graduated in 1983. She’s never left, and now happily cohabits with her husband, Jon S. Garelick, who is also a writer, and their cat Musetta.
As a longtime fan of Clea’s writing, I’m thrilled to welcome her to The Conscious Cat today.
Thank you, Conscious Cat. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Clea, you’re about to launch Shades of Grey, the first in your new Dulcie Schwartz series. Can you tell us a little about the book and the series?
Have you ever lost a pet – and then felt like your cat isn’t really gone? That’s how Shades of Grey opens. Dulcie Schwartz is having a miserable summer. Her graduate studies are going nowhere, her nice roommate has been replaced (temporarily) by a boorish subletter, and, worst of all, she’s had to put her beloved cat, Mr. Grey, to sleep. So when she comes home from her crappy summer job to see a cat who looks just like Mr. Grey sitting on her front stoop, she’s sort of shocked. But then when that cat says to her, “I wouldn’t go inside, if I were you,” she doesn’t know what to make of it. Being Dulcie, she doesn’t really pay attention and goes inside – to find her roommate dead, with her knife in his back, and a whole mess of problems waiting. Perhaps it would be a good time to point out here that Dulcie is studying the Gothic adventure stories of the late 18th Century. She just never expected her own life to become a ghost story…
What made you decide to start a new series, rather than continuing the successful Theda Krakow series?
I actually wrote Shades of Grey while Cries and Whiskers, the third Theda book, was in production. I needed to take a break, I wanted to try something different and … voila! Then my editor at Poisoned Pen Press asked about Theda and I was happy to return to her and write Probable Claws. But soon after that, Shades of Grey sold on the condition that I write a sequel. I’ve just finished Grey Matters, which will be out in December in the UK, by March in the US.
You are a prolific writer – did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
Always. I’ve always liked telling stories and I wrote those stories down from the first days I could write. It was just a question of figuring out if I could do this for a living.
You’ve written both fiction and nonfiction. Do you prefer one over the other, and if so, why?
These days I much prefer fiction. I find it more fun. But it requires a different kind of effort. Nonfiction, and for me that also includes journalism, is about presenting a truth, or truths. Facts and research. I believe in over-researching, that is, doing enough interviews and research so you start to hear the same stories again and again. I always want multiple confirmations of anything I’m writing about. I want to make sure I have the story right. I’m also very conscious of what a very smart editor once told me: we strive for objectivity, but it doesn’t exist. We all have a bias, a viewpoint, a prejudice. So when I write nonfiction I also want to make sure that I present the options and, when possible, that I’m aware of my own bias or viewpoint. When I can, I try to state who I am as the writer in a piece. Let the reader know, so she or he can make up her or his own mind about how to read what I’ve written.
For fiction, I’ll do some research but it’s different kind of work. It is more important in fiction to make a believable world than an utterly true one. I am reminded of something Barry Unsworth said about writing historical fiction. (He’s a wonderful writer – check out his Sacred Hunger.) Someone asked him about his medieval mystery, Morality Play, specifically about the hand gestures early actors used. How did he find out that particular tidbit, he was asked. He didn’t, he replied. He made it up. It seemed like something actors of that period ought to do, so he had them do it. And it works, because it makes perfect sense in context.
Another thought on the fiction/nonfiction divide: My husband (Jon Garelick, who now writes about jazz and works as an editor at the Boston Phoenix) used to write and teach fiction. When I first started writing fiction, I said, full of glee, “Hey, this is great! I can make shit up!” And he replied, “Yes, but you have to make shit up.” Which about sums it up. You don’t have to dig up facts and figures, but you do have to keep mining your imagination in order to get words on the page.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I make myself write every weekday, Monday through Friday. Basically, I give myself a word count for the day, most days. I like to write at least 1,000 word or 1,500 words a day. That can take from an hour to all day. I wrote Grey Matters on deadline, making myself write 2,000 words a day and my readers think it’s the best thing I have ever written, but that was hard. I’m happier at 1,500 words a day.
What do you love most about being a writer?
The writing. I love my characters and my books. I just love spending time with them.
What do you like least about being a writer?
The waiting. I was tempted to say “the writing,” because when it’s not working, it’s a bear. I’ll grind out 1,000 words of description or dialogue and know I’m going to cut it later. But really, the worst part is waiting to hear from your agent, from editors, from publishers, from critics. If I could just write and then not care, I’d be much, much happier.
The cat in Shades of Grey is a “ghost cat” – how did you come up with the idea for Mr. Grey?
The idea came from two sources: my own experiences after I had to put my much loved cat Cyrus to sleep. I felt like he was still around. I mean, I know rationally that it was just that I was used to him, but it really felt quite strongly that he was still a presence in my life. To the point where I actually believed I saw him, sitting on a stoop a few blocks from my house. I told myself, well, there must be another cat who looks like Cyrus. But I kept going back and I never saw that cat again. And, yes, Cyrus is the model for Mr. Grey: a longhair grey with a face more Siamese than Persian, a quiet and dignified manner, and huge white whiskers.
The other spur came from my fellow authors. We were at the Mystery Lovers’ Book Shop annual shindig in Oakmont, PA, the Festival of Mystery (an incredible daylong bookfest, if you ever get the chance), and we were all talking about what to do next. And one — I think it was Karen E. Olson (author of The Missing Ink) — said, “You should write about a ghost cat.” And that stuck.
Who or what inspires you?
Everything. Random bits of overheard dialogue, things seen out of the corner of my eye. Suggestions made lightly but remembered…
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?
That’s a hard one, because so many are so cool. What I particularly like is meeting aspiring writers – and then finding out later, at other events, that they have gotten published too. I’m a huge fan of libraries and independent bookstores. Places like Brookline Booksmith and Harvard Book Store here, M is for Mystery in San Mateo, New York’s Partners and Crime, Baltimore’s Mystery Loves Company… those events are always good. I’m also a member of an international group called the Cat Writers’ Association (www.catwriters.org) and we have our annual conference alongside a big cat show every year, so we always end up signing right by hundreds of show cats. That’s a blast, and between signings, we can go see the kitties. That’s always fun.
What are you reading at the moment?
Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Mantel is a British novelist, possibly my favorite writer. This book, a retelling of the life of Thomas Cromwell, comes out in the US in October but my husband got me a signed copy of the British release as a birthday present. I’m trying to make it last. I sort of read too fast for my own pleasure sometimes. (I’ve been cutting it with other books, most recently Sara Stockbridge’s Grace Hammer, a fun Victorian.)
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Clea, and much success with Shades of Grey!
You can learn more about Clea and her book on her website and on her blog.
Keeping kitty at her optimum weight is important at any age, but especially in older cats. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, osteoarthritis, respiratory distress, lower urinary tract disease and early mortality. As our cats age and activity levels decrease, weight gain often becomes a problem.
Amber has been on a diet for the past several years – I’ve previously written about this here. I’m happy to report that our efforts are working, and she has been losing some weight.
There are several factors that contribute to weight gain in our cats:
Free choice feeding. This has been the single biggest factor in causing obesity in cats. Free choice feeding means that food is left out for the cat at all times, which goes completely against the cat’s natural habit of being a hunter who may only eat one, maybe two meals a day.
Carbohydrates. Unlike other mammals, cats have no carbohydrate-digesting enzyme called Amylase in their saliva. Nature did not intend our cats to consume carbs. They metabolize carbs into stored fat. Unfortunately, most commercially available dry cat food is very high in carbohydrates, contributing to this problem.
Lack of exercise. As we all know, our cats spend most of their day sleeping.
Treats. For most of us, giving treats is one way we show our cats that we love them. I’m definitely guilty of this – especially since Amber is the master manipulator when it comes to getting her treats!
How can we counteract these factors and help our cats maintain a healthy weight?
Stop leaving food out for your cat at all times. Feeding two small meals a day, and feeding “normal” portions can go a long way toward helping your kitty loose and maintain her weight. A normal size portion for a cat is about equal to the size of a mouse. Don’t follow manufacturer directions when it comes to portion size – they’re all much higher than what your cat really needs. When in doubt, consult with your cat’s vetnerinarian.
Feed a meat based diet. This is consistent with the needs of a carnivore. There are many quality commercial raw and canned diets available that are high in protein (meat) and free of grains (carbs). Two brands I like (and they are also Amber-approved!) are the Wellness Core and the Innova EVO lines.
Play with your cat. This is a great way for the two of you to spend quality time together and to get your cat some exercise. For the times you when you can’t play with your cat, get him some interactive toys. Check out the toy department of the Conscious Cat Store for some suggestions.
Limit or, ideally, eliminate treats. If you absolutely must feed treats, look for grain-free treats that are high in protein and give only a few. Amber has, reluctantly, learned that one Greenie treat (not grain-free, but only two calories a treat) is all she’ll get at any one time. She still longs for the days when getting treats meant having a handful shaken into her bowl….
How do you help your kitty maintain or loose weight?