Author’s Life

It’s our second blog anniversary – and we have a giveaway to thank you!

Today is our second blog anniversary! We wouldn’t have gotten to this point without you, our wonderful readers – thank you for reading, commenting, and adding to the discussions!

To celebrate, and to thank all of you for reading, we’re giving away a fantastic goody basket filled with fun things for you and your cats, including an autographed copy of Buckley’s Story. Look below for details on how to enter the drawing.

When I started this blog two years ago, I was looking for a way to share my passion for feline health and nutrition with a wider audience. I was also finishing writing Buckley’s Story, and I wanted to get word about the book out to cat lovers around the world.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the incredible journey this blog (and the book) has taken me on since then.

Amber was the inspiration behind this blog. She was the original Conscious Cat, a wise old soul in a feline body. Those of you who have been reading for a while will remember  her contributions to the blog in her Amber’s Mewsings columns. When she passed away suddenly in May of last year, I was devastated, and I still miss her each and every day.

Allegra joined our family in April of last year, and quickly became a regular contributor by sharing her life as a not-quite-kitten-anymore in her popular column Allegra’s World. Her posts frequently get more views than my own!

One of the things I love best about blogging is the community it creates.  I love connecting with other bloggers (you’ll find a list of my favorites in the Blogroll in the left sidebar), and I treasure the friendships that have formed as a result of these connections. I’m looking forward to making many more connections when I attend BlogPaws later this year.

When it comes to connections, one of the most amazing examples of this is a post I wrote in August of 2009 titled Tortitude – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats. The post has generated almost 2800 comments as of this writing and has turned into the online home of a community of lovers of this particular kind of cat. What began with exchanging stories about the torties that share our lives has evolved into some real life frienships that will hopefully turn into a real life meeting in the near future.

This just goes to show – you never know what might happen when you start blogging. I can’t wait to see what the next year brings!

To enter the drawing for our anniversary basket, please leave a comment below and tell us how you first found The Conscious Cat. Share this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter and post the link in a separate comment for an additional chance to win. This giveaway ends Tuesday, March 15.

Disclaimer: Allegra does not come with the basket!

Thank you to Whimsy Cats for creating the beautiful basket. Whimsy Cats brings you peace of mind by providing specialized in home visits and cat sitting for your cat’s special needs in Northern Virginia.  Whether you want them to administer medications or fluids, conduct general wellness check-ins or stop by after surgeries or medical events, they offer daily or occasional visits depending upon the needs of you and your cat.

Pet Bloggers Challenge

The Pet Bloggers Challenge was initiated by two members of the pet blogging community, Edie Jarolim of Will My Dog Hate Me? and Amy Burkert of GoPetFriendly.  I thought it would be a nice opportunity for some of you to learn a little bit more about why I blog and what my future plans are for The Conscious Cat.  So, I’m taking the challenge, along with other bloggers such as Romeo the Cat and Lorie Huston, DVM  at the Pet Health Care Gazette.  (Psst:  I was supposed to post this yesterday, but they’ve extended it until 11:59pm tonight, so I’m still good!).

So, without further ado:

1.  When did you begin your blog?

I started blogging on March 1, 2009 – we’ll soon be celebrating our 2nd anniversary!

2.  What was the original purpose for starting a blog?

The Conscious Cat was inspired by Amber, and my vision was for it to become a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans.  I was already publishing my bi-monthly newsletter News for You and Your Pets, and I was in the process of writing Buckley’s Story.  Starting the blog gave me an opportunity to reach an ever growing audience of cat lovers who are as passionate about their cats and their health and happiness as I am.

3.  Is your current purpose the same?

Yes, absolutely.

4.  Do you blog on schedule or as the spirit moves you?

I usually blog three times a week:  Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.  I keep an editorial calendar, but it’s very flexible.

5.  Are you generating income from your blog?

Yes.  The Conscious Cat Store features products hand-picked by me (and some are even approved by Allegra!).  I receive some income from carefully selected companies who advertise on my blog.  I only advertise products and services that I’ve either personally used, or that I believe will be of interest to my readers.

6.  What do you like most about blogging in general and about your blog in particular (bragging is good)?

I love to write!  I’m passionate about educating cat owners about feline health and nutrition, and blogging gives me an easy way to reach a wide audience.  I love the community blogging builds – from fellow pet bloggers to my readers, I’ve “met” so many wonderful people through this blog.  One absolutely amazing “by-product” of this site has been the community of tortie lovers created by my post Tortitude – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats.  I wrote the post in August of 2009, and it’s generated more than 1400 comments as of this writing!  The thread has become a place for afficionados of cats with this particular coloring to gather and exchange stories about their cats, and the friendships that have formed as a result are something I never expected when I started this site.

7.  What do you like least?

The days when inspiration is slow to come.  Coming up with original content on an ongoing basis, and meeting my own high standards for that content, can sometimes be a challenge.

8.  How do you see your blog changing or growing in 2011?

I’m hoping that the rapid growth I’ve seen over the past year will continue (and I wouldn’t complain if it magically went viral overnight, either!).    I’ll continue to expand the topics I’m presenting.  I’m looking forward to hosting exciting guest bloggers.   I have some great giveaways planned.  And most of all, I’m looking forward to all the comments I get from my readers each and every day.

Living and Working With Cats

For the last fifteen years, I’ve been fortunate that cats have not only played a fundamental role in my home life, they’ve also been a significant part of my work life.  And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

It all started with two office cats at the veterinary hospital I managed.  First, there was Virginia, who I fell in love with at my initial interview despite the fact that her introduction to me involved claws and runs in my stockings.  She ruled the office with an iron paw, assisting me with paperwork, often by sitting right on top of it, and kept me in line with frequent swats at my mouse hand.

Several years after Virginia went to the big office in the sky, Buckley took over as office cat.  In addition to supervising my work and making even the less glamorous aspects of my job more fun through her joyful presence, she had another job at the clinic—to provide comfort to the animal patients and to distract their worried owners. There were times when she disappeared from the office, and when I went looking for her, I found her on the bench in the waiting room, next to a client waiting for news about a sick pet, cuddled up to the person, asking to be petted, and making them smile through their worry. Other times, she curled up next to a recovering cat or dog in the treatment room.

When I left my job at the animal hospital to start my Reiki practice, Buckley came home to live with me and Amber.  She quickly took on the job of Assistant Reiki Practitioner and helped me with the (human) Reiki clients I saw in my home office.  She became an active participant in the healing session. She would get up on the Reiki table and often curl up next to or on top of the client. I realized after a few sessions like this that she intuitively knew where extra energy was needed. I often skipped treating the areas Buckley laid on during a session and concentrated on others instead. I knew my little healer kitty had it covered.

Amber provided a contribution of a different kind to my home and work life.  She was a wise old soul in a feline body; she was my touchstone.  Her peaceful presence provided love, comfort and grounding for me in ways that no one or nothing else could.  When I began to think about starting a blog, she provided the creative spark, and The Conscious Cat was born.

And now it looks like Allegra is continuing the tradition.  She recently took on the position of Assistant Reiki Practitioner Trainee.  As you can see in the photo above, she takes her job very seriously.  At just over a year old, she’s still a little too rambunctious to be allowed in the room during treatments, but she helps me get the room ready.  She enthusiastically greets my clients and provides kitty therapy by letting them pet her and giving kitten nose taps, so that by the time they get on my table, they’re already a little more relaxed than they were when they first walked in the door.  She loves being in the Reiki room after a session and really seems to gravitate toward the energy.  I think as she matures, she will carry on Buckley’s legacy.

Sharing your life with cats, doing work you love, and doing it with the cats you love – it doesn’t get any better than this.

LIVESTRONG Day

If your life hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way, you’re in a very small, and very fortunate, minority.  Most of us have a family member, friend, or co-worker who has been afflicted by some form of the disease.  And of course, our pets aren’t immune to cancer, either.  Cancer is the leading cause of death in cats and dogs over ten years old.  

There are probably hundreds of worthwhile organizations that provide support for cancer patients, but for me, Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG© Foundation has always had a special significance.  

In 2001, at age 78, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Lance Armstrong, and his battle with testicular cancer, provided the inspiration that helped my dad conquer the disease.  A lifelong fan of cycling, and of the Tour de France in particular, my dad was fascinated with Lance Armstrong. When my dad told me about his diagnosis and that he had to undergo six weeks of radiation treatments, one of the first things he said was “I’m going to beat this.  If Lance Armstrong can beat cancer and win the Tour de France, I can go through this and get better, too!”  And he did, and enjoyed three more happy and relatively healthy years until he died in 2004. 

While my dad was going through his treatments, I wrote to Lance’s Foundation.  I thought they’d enjoy hearing the story of an old man in Germany being inspired by Lance Armstrong.  They responded by sending a lovely, personalized package to my dad – a photo autographed by Lance, a LIVESTRONG© t-shirt, and several informational pamphlets.  My dad was touched and thrilled, as was I.  

The foundation designated October 2, the anniversary of Lance’s cancer diagnosis, as LIVESTRONG© Day 2010.  It is meant to be a day of global action, a day to celebrate survivorship and to commit to working toward a world without cancer.  It is meant to raise awareness of the millions of people around the world who live with cancer. 

And because cancer affects cats, too, Milo and Alfie, two mellow, yellow cats from England, are spreading the word about LIVESTRONG Day 2010 on their blog, The Cat’s Meow

I’m not much for wearing colored bracelets to show my support for one cause or another, and yellow is not my color, so I won’t be wearing yellow on October 2 to support this event.  But I will spend some time remembering, and celebrating, all the friends and family members, both human and furry, who have been affected by cancer.  I will be remembering my dad.  And I will say a prayer of gratitude for Lance Armstrong, for inspiring an old man halfway around the world to live a few more years.  

Graphic created by Milo and Alfie.

You may also enjoy reading Lance Armstrong and the Power of Belief.

The Conscious Cat Has a New Look 2010

The Conscious Cat got a facelift!  We’ve updated our look with a fresh new header that now includes Allegra and Buckley as well as Amber (seen above glaring at my laptop), who was the inspiration for The Conscious Cat.  We’ve changed things around a little, added a second sidebar, and increased the font to make it easier to read.

Let us know how you like our new look!

We’d like to thank our fabulous web designer, Nathan Landis, for creating this new look.