I am delighted to announce that I won the 2019 Shojai Mentor Award from the Cat Writers Association (CWA.) This award, named after past-president Amy D. Shojai, recognizes the CWA member “who has offered guidance, encouraging counsel, support, or other help that has had a direct and positive influence on another’s writing/publishing success. The recipient shall exemplify the highest ideals of the CWA vision, that is, to promote communal support, networking, and mutual respect between colleagues.”

The award was announced at the association’s virtual ceremony last Saturday. I hadn’t submitted any of my own writing to the communications contest, but watched to connect with and congratulate my fellow cat writers on their wins.

I am truly honored to have won this award, especially because I have such tremendous respect for the two women who nominated me.

Sarah Chauncey, the author of the upcoming P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna, who won Muse Medallions for her articles A Cat by Any Other Name and My Cat’s Death Broke My Brain, had this to say:

“Although I’ve been a professional writer for 30 years, my career took a turn in 2018, when I began writing about mindful approaches grieving the loss of a cat. Building a platform isn’t easy at the best of times. When one’s topic is culturally taboo, that makes building a “platform” even more challenging. This person mentored me into the world of cat writing, she welcomed my posts, and made it possible for me to share the things I wanted to say, to the right audience.

But she’s given me so much more than that. She welcomed me into the cat-writing world at a time when few outlets were open to articles about pet loss, grief, and issues around euthanasia. Not only did she give me space to write about these topics—which boosted both my visibility and credibility—she’s also been an enthusiastic champion of my upcoming gift book, and she’s made introductions and connections I never would have been able to make otherwise. She has gone above and beyond in her kindness and generosity, sharing her wealth of knowledge freely and using her own substantial platform to boost my emerging one. Most recently, she surprised me by writing a preview post for my book (and sharing it on her social channels), which resulted in several dozen new email subscribers to the Tuna email list.

It’s fair to say that without her support, my book either wouldn’t have a publisher, or it would have taken much, much longer. On both professional and personal levels, my work and life has been enriched through my relationship with this person. I can’t repay her generosity, but the Shojai Mentor award would go a long way towards letting her know how much I appreciate her mentorship.”

Ingrid R. Niesman MS PhD, the Director of the SDSU Electron Microscope Imaging Facility at San Diego State University, whose writing about FIP and COVID-19 you’ve come to know here on The Conscious Cat, and who won a Muse Medallion for her article A Report from the Winn Feline Foundation Symposium on FIP, Part Two: The Cats and Their Humans Who Fight This Battle, had this to say:

“I was searching for a place where I could post some articles about my feline research to tap into public support for feline research. I ‘cold-emailed’ this person to see if she accepted guest articles to her website since I determined she was interested in science and feline medicine. I wanted to work on my writing skills after taking a few science writing courses and attending the Santa Fe Science Writers Workshop a few years ago, but work commitments set me back. This person graciously accepted my novice work, patiently edited, and provided me with stories ideas and direction. I am steadily gaining confidence that in the next few years, as I retire from academic life, I can continue improving my writing. I am grateful for the opportunity she has provided me to grow professionally without boundaries and to contribute to the success of her website. This is true mentoring.”

Heartfelt appreciation

This award means so much to me.

I’ve been fortunate to have had some amazing mentors in both my professional and personal life. I’ve always considered mentoring others a way to pay the gifts I received from my own mentors forward.

I’d like to extend my profound appreciation to Sarah and Ingrid for nominating me, to the Cat Writers Association for sponsoring the award, and to Amy Shojai for her kind words about me as she presented it. I’d also like to thank Kate Benjamin for more than a decade of being my mentor and friend. Kate’s mentoring took The Conscious Cat to levels I couldn’t have achieved without her support.

And since this is a cat writers award, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all of my cats, both past and present, for the inspurration and for getting me started on my journey of becoming a cat writer.

33 Comments on Cat Writers Association Shojai Mentor Award


  2. Many purrs of tribute to you! I know that you have certainly helped my kitties have a better life, and helped me get through their illnesses with the excellent info you provide. You also helped guide me in my grief when each passed. I still use your info to guide my step daughter who recently adopted 2 kittens. Thank you for it all! You truly deserve this award!

  3. I’m so happy for you, Ingrid. Congratulations to a woman, a cat lover, and a writer, who’s well deserving of this award. See, Ingrid, good things can happen, even during bad and sad times. I hope you and Allegra are celebrating.

  4. Congratulations Ingrid! This is well deserved. Your wisdom & compassion make such a difference for cats & the people who love them. You are my ‘go-to’ for all things cat ❤

  5. How outstanding! Congratulations, it’s well-deserved. How lovely to have happy news during a difficult time.

  6. Congratulations, Ingrid, on a job well done. I’ve personally found Conscious Cat to be a must have and should be on the must have list for every cat person.

  7. Well done, Ms. Ingrid! You certainly deserve this recognition. Your writings have helped me through some very difficult periods in my life- both cat and non-cat related. I am so happy for you!

  8. Four Paws up!

    This is so deserved. Your meticulous research, hard work and love for cats show through in every post. I, among many others, have benefited and been greatly comforted by your words. Grateful thanks for all you do. Congratulations Ingrid!

  9. You have been an inspiration to me with your website and writing. I pass things along to all my cat friends.
    I am so happy for you.

  10. Sometimes your posts are fun with a story about your cat’s antics. But the reasonS I return to your posts are the variety and quality of information. Your deserve the award

  11. What an honor and a joy it must be for you as a writer and a cat lover! Congratulations and I wish you continued success in all your cat and writing endeavors! As a fellow writer and cat lover I applaud you!

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