Month: February 2011

In memory of Sophia: cat owner runs half-marathon to benefit cancer research

Melissa Steinberg lost her beloved cat and best friend Sophia to lymphoma in November of last year.  On May 7, 2011, Melissa will be running in the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half-Marathon to raise money for the Animal Cancer Foundation to help find a cure, or at least more effective treatments, for this devastating disease for both humans and their animal companions.

Melissa first met Sophia when she was living in Los Angeles and working crazy hours in the film industry. Even though she was worried that her lifestyle at that time was not conducive to having a pet, she began looking at photos of cats at LA shelters online.  Says Melissa “I looked at all of those cats, and I thought, how can I pick just one?  But then I saw Sophia, with those eyes.  I just couldn’t stop thinking about her and I couldn’t wait for the weekend when I would be able to go to the shelter and get her and bring her home.” 

Sophia was about 4 years old.  The shelter workers wouldn’t even let Melissa touch Sophia without protective gloves.  Sophia was terrified, and they were not sure whether she would be aggressive. Melissa had already made up her mind before she even met Sophia, and brought her home that day. Sophia hid for three days.  She wouldn’t eat, and ultimately, Melissa had to crawl under the bed and syringe feed her.

On the third night, Melissa was watching tv, and Sophia was watching her. “Finally, she came out, jumped on my chest, curled up and went to sleep.  From that moment forward, we were inseparable” says Melissa. Sophia never lost her fear of people, with the exception of Melissa and her husband David, whom she met after adopting Sophia.

Eventually, Melissa moved to New York with Sophia. Melissa attended law school, and she was worried that Sophia might get lonely, so she adopted another cat, Dr. Katz, from Animal Care and Control in Manhattan. The two cats hated each other from the moment they met, and couldn’t even be in the same room together. Sophia only ever wanted to be with Melissa and David. She slept on Melissa’s pillow every night. She was happy.  Eventually, Melissa and David adopted Earl Grey to keep Dr. Katz company.

When Sophia was 10 or 11 years old, Melissa noticed that she wasn’t eating, and took her to the vet for tests.  She knew cancer was a possiblity, but she hadn’t even gotten the test results back when Sophia crashed.  Melissa rushed her to the VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Norwalk, CT in the middle of the night. Sophia was in extremely critical condition, and spent five nights at the clinic. She still didn’t have a definitive diagnosis, so Melissa took her to the famed Animal Medical Center in Manhattan.

The diagnosis was lymphoma, and Sophia received chemotherapy at the Veterinary Oncology and Hematology Center in Norwalk, CT.  She never responded well. Eventually the disease started to affect her central nervous system, and she wasn’t eating, no matter what they tried.  In order to get nutrition into her, the vets inserted a naso-gastric feeding tube.  Sophia pulled it out. The vets placed an endogastric tube, but while recovering from the surgery, Sophia kept getting seizures, which they were not able to control, and she died that night.  

“From the day she got sick to the day she died, it was barely more than a month,” remembers Melissa.  “It was a terrifyingly fast-moving, aggressive cancer.  For most of her illness we didn’t have much time to think, we just acted.  We made sure she had the best possible care, but that meant we were at the vet nearly every day.  We knew she had a terminal illness, but we truly believed we’d have her for several months, if not years.  We never believed we could lose her so quickly.”

During Sophia’s treatment, a friend who was about to run the New York marathon suggested to put together a fundraiser to help defray Sophia’s massive veterinary costs.  Melissa thought about it, and had just started training when Sophia died.

Melissa decided that it was more important to do something to honor Sophia’s memory, and she choose the Animal Cancer Foundation as the beneficiary.  She choose ACF because Dr. Gerald S. Post, DVM, ACVIM, one of the founders of ACF, was Sophia’s vet at the time of her illness.  “He was very caring and thoughtful and loving with her when she was so sick.” She choose a California location to honor Sophia’s heritage.

Melissa has never run a half-marathon before, but she ran competitively in high school, so that distance is not foreign for her.  Until the weather improves, she is training on the treadmill, but she is signed up for some shorter road races over the next few months.

If you’d like to contribute to Melissa’s fundraising efforts and help honor Sophia’s memory,  you can do so by visiting her fundraising page at Crowdrise

The Animal Cancer Foundation develops and supports research that advances the prevention and treatment of cancer for people and pets. Specifically, their endeavors focus on furthering research in comparative oncology, which is the study of cancers that occur similarly in both pets and humans. In this way, ACF is committed to advancing the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of such cancers, and becoming a preeminent resource in educating the public and scientific community.

Melissa Steinberg is an attorney who lives in Connecticut in the New York City suburbs with her husband David, a writer/editor, and their 13-month-old son Jack.  They still have Dr. Katz and Earl Grey.  One of Jack’s first words was  “kitty,” and Melissa and David are very proud of that.

About the author

Anesthesia in veterinary dental care

Guest post by The Animal Medical Center 

When people go to a human dentist, we sit in the dentist’s chair, often time grasping the armrests tightly with white knuckles in anticipation of the procedure about to happen. When the dentist or hygienist tells us to say “ahhhhhhhh” or turn our head, or open our mouths, we may be reluctant, but we can follow their directions to facilitate their work. When they place x-ray films or digital sensors in our mouths and tell us to hold them while they walk out of the room, we do as they say.

February is Veterinary Dental Month. Our pets need the same dental care as we do; maybe more, since they don’t brush or floss twice a day. Our pets are not as cooperative when it comes to saying “ahhhhhhhh” or when it comes to following directions, yet they often experience the same anxiety as their owners when a stranger is poking and squirting things around their mouths.

There has been recent movement to perform anesthesia-free dental cleanings on veterinary patients. The rationale for performing dentistry on awake dogs and cats is that it will be cheaper for the client and safer for the patient. This movement is in direct opposition to the American Veterinary Dental College’s position statement entitled, “Companion Animal Dental Scaling without Anesthesia.”

I understand that many people are reluctant to perform proper dental procedures because of the need for general anesthesia, especially in the older patient. I am a firm believer that “age is not a disease,” and age should not be the deciding factor in determining the safety of general anesthesia for any patient. Pre-anesthesia testing can help determine the risk associated with general anesthesia and aid in the decision whether or not to perform a dental procedure. These tests help determine the function of the internal organs such as the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs, which are necessary to help the body safely handle anesthesia.

Proper anesthesia starts with the pre-op testing but also involves choosing the proper anesthetic drugs safest for each pet. The Animal Medical Center’s Dental Service always places an intravenous catheter to administer drugs, fluids and emergency drugs if needed. We also place an endotracheal, or breathing, tube to protect the airway and deliver the anesthetic gas and oxygen mixture to the lungs. Anesthetized dogs and cats at the AMC are connected to various monitoring equipment to measure the vital signs such as pulse rate, blood oxygen levels, blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and carbon dioxide levels. Finally, we monitor at regular intervals to make sure the vital signs are stable. If any painful procedures need to be performed, we also have the ability to utilize local anesthesia to minimize the amount of general anesthesia needed.

There are many advantages to performing any dental procedures under general anesthesia. First, when we scale the calculus (also known as tartar) off the teeth, there are often large or small pieces of calculus removed. If an animal is properly intubated with a breathing tube, then this calculus cannot be aspirated into the lungs or “swallowed down the wrong pipe.” The biggest advantage to working on a patient under general anesthesia is the ability to work around every side of every tooth. In the awake patient, the veterinary dentist has a very limited view of most of the teeth in the mouth. It’s easy to see the outside of the front teeth, but virtually impossible to evaluate the inside surfaces of many teeth and impossible to see many of the back teeth. A proper cleaning involves cleaning off all of the calculus from every surface of every tooth, both above and below the gum line. In the awake patient, the area below the gum line cannot be seen, yet under anesthesia it is much easier to fully visualize this area.

Once the teeth are cleaned, they need to be evaluated for periodontal disease. This involves gently probing under the gum line in several areas around each tooth in the mouth to measure periodontal pockets, or separation of the gums from the tooth root surface. Imagine trying to do this in an awake dog.

Approximately 75% of cats presenting for dental procedures have a decay of their teeth called tooth resorption. These are holes or decay in the teeth that often start at the gum line. They are quite painful and diagnosed by probing along the gum line with an instrument called an explorer. Again, this is not the type of procedure that could be tolerated by a cat without general anesthesia.

Proper dental procedures require intra-oral x-rays to make a diagnosis. A piece of film or a digital x-ray sensor is placed in the pet’s mouth. The person taking the x-ray steps out of the room and exposes the film or sensor and then walks back in the room. Not too many awake pets will tolerate this type of procedure.

Finally, with 75% of cats having tooth resorption and 80% of all dogs over the age of 5 years having periodontal disease, most veterinary dental patients need some type of surgical procedure to correct the abnormality. Finally, it is much easier to perform oral surgery when I’m not working on a moving target.

Given the complexity of the procedures necessary to clean, diagnose and treat a pet’s mouth, it is easy to understand why general anesthesia is so vital to performing proper veterinary dental care. My recommendation to anxious pet owners over the years is to use a little general anesthesia every year in order to maintain a healthy mouth, rather than wait until the mouth has severe disease and needs several hours of surgery to clean up a messy and painful mouth.

For over a century, The Animal Medical Center has been a national leader in animal health care, known for its expertise, innovation and success in providing routine, specialty and emergency medical care for companion animals. Thanks in part to the enduring generosity of donors, The AMC is also known for its outstanding teaching, research and compassionate community funds. Please help us to continue these efforts. Send your contribution to: The Animal Medical Center, 510 East 62nd Street, New York, NY 10065. For more information, visit www.amcny.org. To make an appointment, please call 212.838.7053.

You may also enjoy reading:

Safe Anesthesia for Pets

Caring for your cat after surgery

About the author

Kitten Associates – the new breed of cat rescue

 
In the year’s first post on this site, 7 tips for a healthy, happy new year for cats and their humans, item 7 is “do something for less fortunate cats.”  One of the ways I’m going to do that here on The Conscious Cat is by periodically featuring cat rescue groups.  I hope that by introducing you to these organizations and the dedicated individuals behind them, I’ll give you ideas on how you, too, can help – whether it’s fostering a cat, volunteering to help at adoption events, going to a shelter to give the cats some love and attention, or making a monetary contribution.  And who knows, by giving these organizations some publicity, some lucky cats and kittens might also find their forever homes.
The first group I’d like to introduce you to is Kitten Associates.  I first met founder Robin Olson at the 2009 Cat Writers Association conference.  Even in a room full of cat lovers, Robin’s exceptional dedication to the welfare of all cats, not to mention her huge heart, came through in just the few conversations we had at the meeting.  After the conference I began to follow Robin’s blog, Covered in Cat Hair, where she’s been writing “mostly true stories of a life spent with cats” for the past five years.  Then Robin became aware of the plight of cats in the Southern United States, where euthanasia rates are alarmingly high compared to other parts of the country.   Shelters are overloaded, and shelter staff who spend their days euthanizing healthy cats instead of saving them are pushed to their emotional limits.

In a series of blog posts titled Not on My Watch, Robin began to share stories about these cats.  By sharing these stories, and with help from a solid social media presence, she was able to raise funds for cats that needed life-saving surgery, rescue cats from high kill shelters by working with private rescue groups in those areas, and find homes for these cats.

But it wasn’t enough.  In 2010, in the middle of one of the worst economic crisis our country has ever experienced, and with animal rescue groups suffering lack of funding and shelters closing everywhere, Robin decided to start her own non-profit rescue, Kitten Associates.

Based in Connecticut, Kitten Associates is a new breed of rescue.  According to their mission statement, Kitten Associates is dedicated to saving the lives of cats (and dogs, too!), supporting animal rescue organizations with powerful online marketing tools, and championing legislation for spay/neuter programs to end pet overpopulation.   

In addition to rescuing cats in need, Kitten Associates builds and delivers management and communications tools to struggling, small rescue groups and shelters, to help them be more effective in promoting their available animals, raising donations and attracting more volunteers. Both Robin and her fiancé, Sam Moore, draw on many years of experience with corporate management and marketing communications, and they plan to deliver web sites, databases, communications strategies and other technical and marketing support tools that can help rescue organizations make the most of their limited personnel and resources.  They are able to do this for no or very low cost because they get their funding from grants and corporate and private donors. 

One of their first websites just went live, illustrating why there is such a need for this aspect of their mission.  Heard County Critters is a small group of folks who partner with Heard County Animal Control Center in Georgia. Oddly enough, none the volunteers for the group even live in Georgia. They just saw a need and decided to help out. The animals get 72 hours before they get euthanized.  Sometimes they get a few more days, but not often. Since the municipal shelter doesn’t have a web site or the ability to accept donation using PayPal (they still use Western Union!), Kitten Associates created a web site that links to their Petfinder pages, shows which cat or dog is “urgent” (meaning, his or her time is close to running out), and makes it simple for folks to adopt or sponsor the animals.

Kitten Associates reflects their founder’s passion and values in every aspect of the organization.  They don’t just want to rescue cats, they want to ensure that the cats they rescued will continue to lead happy, healthy lives in their new, hopefully forever, homes.  Adopters are required to feed a grain-free and/or raw meat diet and may not feed dry kibble.  Declawing is not allowed under any circumstance. Kitten Associates guarantees their adoptions for the life of the pet.  One very unique aspect of their post adoption support includes on-call availability, should adopters have a question regarding health or behavior issues.  

In its first year (which was really only four months long), Kitten Associates rescued 60 cats and kittens – a remarkable feat for any rescue group, but especially for a brand new, essentially three-person operation.

Kitten Associates’ focus for this year is on basic fundraising to obtain a solid financial base so they can stop the constant worry about all the bills Robin currently pays out-of-pocket.  They need foster homes.  They need volunteers.  They need creative folks who can help with event planning and fundraising.  They need experienced cat rescuers, a vet tech or a vet who are willing to be on call for questions after business hours, should the need arise

Kitten Associates have a lot on their plate, and they have a big vision.  Knowing Robin, there is no doubt in my mind that they will achieve their vision, and more.  And more importantly, I know that thanks to Robin and Kitten Associates, cats and kittens that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance at life will find their forever homes.

You can learn more about Kitten Associates on their website, and more about Robin on her blog, Covered in Cat Hair. 

All photos © Robin Olson, used with permission.

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A visit to a very special cat sanctuary

About the author

Preventive Dental Care for Your Cat

Dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in cats.  Seventy to ninety percent of cats have some level of dental disease.  If left untreated, it can lead to health problems for your cat, ranging from bad breath, dental pain and loose teeth to systemic illnesses that can be life-threatening.

Normal teeth in cats should be white or just a little yellow.  Gums should be light pink and smooth (except in breeds with pigmented gums).

What is dental disease?

Dental disease begins with a build up of plaque and tartar in your cat’s mouth.  Without proper preventive and therapeutic care, plaque and tartar buildup leads to periodontal disease, which manifests in red and/or swollen and tender gums, bad breath, and bleeding.  When the gums are swollen, they can be painful – a good rule of thumb is that if it looks like it might be painful, it probably is.

As bacteria from the inflammation and infection associated with periodontal disease is released into the bloodstream, this can lead to damage to other organs such as the heart, kidney and liver, resulting in serious health problems.  Dental disease in cats can also be an indicator of immune system disorders.

One common dental problem that generally shows up around the age of four or five in 25-70% of cats are feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, also known as neck lesions, cavities or root absorptions.    Patients affected with FORLs may drool, bleed, or have difficulty eating.  A portion of affected cats do not show clinical signs.

What are the symptoms of dental disease?

  • bad breath
  • decreased appetite
  • changes in eating habits
  • drooling
  • chewing on one side of the mouth
  • loose or missing teeth
  • red or swollen gums
  • pain when mouth or gums are touched
  • bleeding from the mouth

Since cats are such masters at hiding pain, they frequently don’t show any symptoms until the situation is literally life-threatening.  They will eat even when their level of chronic mouth pain would send a person to the emergency room.  They almost never paw at their face, even with loose or abscessed teeth.  They can get pretty smelly breath from eating cat food, so it’s tough to tell by smelling the breath whether your cat has dental disease or has just eaten.  But even though they don’t show us much in the way of outward symptoms, chronic dental/periodontal disease can cause severe and often irreversible damage to internal organs.

What can you do to prevent dental disease in your cat?

Regular veterinary exams, at least once a year, and twice a year for cats seven and older or for cats with a known history of dental problems, are a must.  During the exam, the veterinarian will assess your cat’s teeth to determine the degree of dental disease.

Since our cats won’t just sit still and open their mouths to have their teeth cleaned like humans, dental procedures for pets require general anesthesia, something that makes many pet owners nervous.  While there are always risks with anesthesia, they can be minimized with a thorough pre-anesthetic check up, including bloodwork to assess kidney and liver function and rule out other underlying health issues.  This will allow your veterinarian to customize the anesthesia to your pet’s health status and potential special needs.  Keep in mind that leaving dental disease untreated may present a far greater risk than anesthesia.

What can you do at home to keep your cat’s teeth healthy?

Brushing

The most effective way to prevent dental disease is to brush your cat’s teeth.  Ideally, you get your cat used to this when she’s still a kitten, but even older cats can learn to accept having their teeth brushed.

Diet

Contrary to what you may have heard, dry food does not clean your pet’s teeth.  Most cats don’t chew their kibble long enough for any of the scraping action that is the theory behind this myth to kick in.  What little they do chew shatters into small pieces.  Some pet food manufacturers offer “dental diets” that are made up of larger than normal sized kibble to encourage chewing, but in my years at veterinary practices, I’ve seen many cats swallow even those larger size pieces whole.  Additionally, dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque.

Cats do best on a grain-free canned or raw diet.  In fact, the moisture in these diets may actually help wash away some of the plaque, rather than allowing it to adhere to teeth.  Additionally, the enzymes present in raw food may help prevent plaque.  You can also give your cat raw chicken necks to chew on.  Never give cooked bones to your cat, they are brittle and can splinter and lodge in your cat’s intestines.

Dental treats 

Dental treats such as Greenies are simply dry food in disguise, and won’t do anything to prevent plaque.  The chlorophyll added to some of these treats may help your cat’s breath smell better, but this may mask more serious health problems.

Dental sprays or water additives

There are a number of dental sprays and water additives on the market that claim that they can prevent and even eliminate plaque.  Be very careful when evaluating these products.  Some may help, but others, at best, do nothing except provide cosmetic benefits by making the teeth appear whiter and masking more serious disease, and at worst, may actually harm your cat.  Any product taken internally can have harmful side effects, even if it’s “natural” or “herbal.”  Be especially wary of “proprietary formulas” and/or products that don’t disclose their ingredients.

I brush Allegra and Ruby’s teeth every night. Despite counseling clients in the veterinary clinics I worked at on how to do this, I confess that I never did it with my own cats until I got these two. I used a four-week program to get them used to having their teeth brushed, and they both took to it surprisingly well. So don’t rule out brushing your cat’s teeth with an immediate “no way” response. Give it a try. It may just be the best thing you do for your cat’s health.

About the author

Steeler the cat, accidental (and unofficial) team mascot

I’m not a football fan, and the only reason I occasionally watch the Super Bowl is for the commercials.  But this year, I’ll be cheering for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it’s all because of a friend’s tortoiseshell cat named Steeler.

I first met Steeler when her human, Bernie, discovered my post “Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats here on The Conscious Cat.  The post has received more than 2000 comments since I first wrote it in August of 2009, and has resulted in a small community of tortie lovers who enjoy sharing stories about their special cats.  In the process, Bernie, and many of the others who frequently comment on the thread, became friends. 

Bernie found the abandoned tortoiseshell cat crying at her backdoor in rural Pennsylvania. She had never had a cat before, and knew nothing about cats.  The little cat wanted in, and Bernie did not want a cat.  When it became colder, and no shelter would take her, Bernie decided that any cat that wanted a home that badly could stay.  She called her Steeler, because she stole her heart, and because she’s a big Pittsburgh Steeler fan.  And because, like all tortoiseshell cats, Steeler proudly wears the gold and black not just on game day, but every day.

Steeler became a comfort to Bernie’s husband, who was becoming increasingly debilitated from Alzheimer’s.  After he was hospitalized, Steeler continued to provide love and support to Bernie.  As she got to know Steeler better, she also became familiar with “tortitude.”  Torties tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and they can be very possessive of their human.  Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable.  They’re usually very talkative and make their presence and needs known with anything from a hiss to a meow to a strong purr.  They can be a little unpredictable, and if they were football players, they’d probably be playing defense.

On game day, Steeler watches the games with Bernie.   And she appears to be turning into somewhat of a lucky charm – after all, the Steelers are going to play the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl this Sunday.  When a Pittsburgh television station asked viewers to post photos of their pets in Steeler gear on their website, Bernie posted Steeler’s photo, proudly showing off  her team colors, and even wearing a little Steeler hat.  As of this writing, Steeler’s photo has received almost 50,000 views.

There are plenty of tigers, cougars and wildcats who are team mascots.  Perhaps the Pittsburgh Steelers should consider making a feisty tortoiseshell cat named Steeler their mascot.  So far, she has brought them good luck.  With apologies to my readers who are Packers fans, I hope that streak of luck continues on Sunday.

About the author

Connie Bowen paints portraits of love

Connie Bowen doesn’t just paint pet portraits.  She captures the unique spirit of each pet in each painting, turning the finished work into a lasting treasure for the recipient – a portrait of love.

Connie began drawing at an early age and majored in art at Washington State University. She then completed training and worked for 23 years as a freelance court reporter. Since retiring from court reporting in 1997, she has devoted all her time to the loves of her life: her family, her art, and the expression of Truth.

I’m so pleased to introduce you to this wonderful artist today.

When did you first begin painting pets?

I first began painting pets in May of 2003.

Your pet portraits really capture the unique essence of each animal.  What is the creative process for a pet portrait like for you? 

When I first meet the animal, or view their photo via e-mail, I am immediately drawn to the personality of the animal and the expression on their face. The emotion I feel from them is what I portray in their portrait. Animals have the most expressive eyes and that is the place where I start with each portrait. After the animals’ eyes are painted in, I definitely feel their spirit is with me as I paint.

One time I was working on a challenging cat painting because I was working from a photo that wasn’t very clear. Sometimes when an animal has already passed on, I’m working from cherished photos from long ago and the detail can be lost. I simply asked out loud for help from this particular cat. I went on painting and as I swiveled in my chair, the squeak made an unmistakable spine-chilling “Meow” sound! I have lots of stories like that – of animals coming to my aid as I’m painting.

While pets are featured prominently in your artwork, you also paint other subjects.  What is more challenging – capturing pets, or capturing other images?

For me, capturing pets is my pure joy. The other images are painted more impressionistically. I use the background and other images simply to support the star of the painting – the pet. I take more time capturing the essence of the pet, but time seems to stand still as I do so.

To illustrate my point, one afternoon while I was painting, my husband kissed me good-bye as he left to catch a movie. It seemed like it had been only 20 minutes when he returned. I asked him if he had missed the movie. He surprisingly told me that he had not only seen the movie, but it had been at least two hours that he’d been gone!

The only real challenge for me is when I’m asked to add a person into the painting with the pet. This happens quite a bit with horse paintings. It always takes me twice as long to capture the likeness of the person as for any other subject.

Where does your inspiration come from?

From the photos of the animals, themselves. People e-mail me with the most interesting and adorable photos! I remember one photo in particular had two kitties resting on the bed surrounded by their stuffed animals. I couldn’t wait to start on that painting!

Another photo I received was taken with a phone and the whole image had a lovely peachy tone to it. The pet parent and I decided to leave the colors as they were and the whole painting was done in those colors.  I’m always amazed and inspired by my clients and the creativity that emerges from working together.

Tell us about your own pets, and how they inspire your work.

I have a 10-year old Australian shepherd named Jesse and two cats named Brock and Carma. Brock is a large black male with a little bit of white under his chin. Carma is a small-boned little tabby with huge green eyes. I’ve done quite a few paintings of Brock. He is especially inspiring as he has golden eyes and seems very magical in his poses. It’s hard to find Carma quiet and still. She loves to race around the house, up the cat tree and everything she does is filled with energy. When Carma sees me in my office ready to begin painting and hears the lovely music I am playing, she comes in to sleep in her soft kitty bed and keep me company. She sleeps right by my arm. I love to listen to her purring and kiss her softly and let her know I appreciate her company.

I rescued both cats when they were just weaned. They were both very ill and it took quite a lot of antiseptic baths and all kinds of medicine to get them on the road to health.

My pets inspire my work by being a continual source of positive, loving energy. I delight in their presence.

 

You’re also an author of several inspirational books – tell us a little bit more about them.

My most popular book is the children’s affirmation book, I Believe In Me.  It has sold over 51,000 copies, including the Spanish edition. It won the national Athena Award for book-as-mentor in the category of spirituality. A copy has been donated to each Ronald McDonald House nationally.  I wrote this book for my son when he was one year old. It was published when he was three years old. He’s now in college, and the book is still going strong simply by word-of-mouth.

My second book, I Turn To The Light, is a collection of healing affirmations. This book is meant more for adults, but has reached an audience of children and teenagers.

I illustrated The Sunbeam and the Wave, and also two of author Susan Chernak’s books, Heart In The Wild and All My Relations: Living with Animals as Teachers and Healers. I used pen and ink for Susan’s books. All of my other books were done in ink plus colored pencil.

You can find more information about Connie and her art, along with a huge selection of her stunning paintings, on her website.

All images of paintings © Connie Bowen, used by permission.

About the author