Author’s Life

Sunday Purrs: Thanksgiving ABC’s 2011

Allegra Thanksgiving

It’s hard to believe that Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the United States. As we’re looking forward to spending time with family and friends, it’s important to not lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday: a time to count one’s blessings. For the past couple of years, I’ve made a Thanksgiving ABC’s list. Some of the items on the list repeat year after year, others are new.

Here is this year’s list of what I’m thankful for:

A: Allegra

B: Books and blogs

C: CatsContinue Reading

The Cat Who Changed My Life

Buckley relaxing

Five years ago today, a small tortoiseshell cat came into my home, and my heart, and changed my life in ways I never could have imagined.

Those of you who read Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher already know that bringing her home was not smooth sailing for us. For those of you who haven’t, I’d like to share this excerpt about the day she finally became a full time member of our family:

It finally came down to one phone call from the animal hospital about a week later. A client had inquired about adopting Buckley. That was all I had needed to hear to make up my mind. On October 9, 2006, Buckley came home for good.Continue Reading

My Cats and the Maple Tree

cat maple tree fall

There is a maple tree in front of my bedroom window. We planted it when we first moved into this house, almost thirty years ago. I’ve watched it grow into a beautiful, mature tree. This tree has been with me through a lot of life –  through both joyful and challenging times. Each fall, it’s one of the last trees to turn, and when it does, it turns the most incredibly bright, vibrant red.  When the light is just right, my entire bedroom is infused with a red glow from the tree.

The photo of Amber above was taken six years ago, when the tree was at its peak. This glory only lasts for a few days, then the leaves all fall off almost overnight. I look forward to the tree turning color each year – it’s such a constant in a life that is filled with so much change.Continue Reading

A Tribute to Bob Dole

Bob Dole longhaired orange cat

On Saturday night, Bob Dole, my dear friend Robin Olson’s beloved cat, died peacefully after a long battle with cancer. He was surrounded by those he loved.

Bob was Robin’s mother’s cat. When she died unexpectedly five years ago, Robin took Bob in, initially intending to find a good home for him, because she already had multiple cats of her own. Bob had not received regular veterinary care while he lived with her mother (a regular topic of dissension between Robin and her mother). When Robin took Bob to her vet, he was diagnosed as FIV positive and diabetic. Continue Reading

We’re the Tortoiseshell Sponsor at the National Capital Cat Show

National Capital Cat Show

I’m excited to announce that Buckley’s Story is the Tortoiseshell Sponsor at the National Capital Cat Show!  The show takes place September 10 and 11, 2011, at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA.  

The National Capital Cat Show is one of the largest cat shows in the country and features a huge selection of cat supplies, including cat toys, cat food, grooming supplies, and friendly people willing to help you with your cat questions.  It’s truly a cat lover’s paradise.

Come visit us at our booth, purchase autographed and personalized copies of Buckley’s Story, and enter a drawing to win an autographed copy of the book. We’ll also have lots of fun freebies for you and your cat!

Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher

And that’s not all! I’m also excited to announce that we will have a very special guest at our booth for the entire show: Dr. Fern Crist, the veterinarian you know from Buckley’s Story and from several articles here on The Conscious Cat. Dr. Crist will be answering your cat health questions.

We will also be selling healing gemstone cat collars and jewelry (for the humans) designed and handcrafted by Dr. Crist. The stunning designs incorporate Dr. Crist’s love of rocks and vast knowledge of the healing properties of gemstones, her artistic creativity, and her veterinary experience. 

The bracelet below is my most treasured piece of jewelry, and only one example of the gorgeous pieces Fern creates. She made this bracelet for me after Amber died. Each stone was selected for its healing properties for helping with grief, sadness and depression.

healing properties of gemstones Rock Spirit Design

The photo below shows only some of Rock Spirit Designs’ cat collars. Cat collars can be custom made to help with specific health conditions.

cat collars gemstones healing stones crystals

So mark your calendars, and plan to join us at the National Capital Cat Show! For more information about the cat show, please visit the official website of the National Capital Cat Show.

Meet Feebee, My First Feline Soul Mate

Feebee

There are many different definitions of the term “soul mate.” Even though the term is often used in connection with a romantic relationship, a soul mate is simply someone we feel a deep and immediate connection with. We can’t always explain rationally why we’re so drawn to a soul mate.

For me, the term soul mate also has a strong spiritual component. We enter into these soul mate relationships not just because we’re drawn to them, but because they hold lessons for our personal and spiritual growth. And not surprisingly, I believe that this connection doesn’t just exist with humans. It also extends to cats.

Liz Eastwood, the publisher of the Natural Cat Care Blog, also believes that feline soul mates exist. She calls them ” soul cats,” and has devoted an entire series on her blog to featuring some of these special cats. I was honored that she chose to feature Feebee in her series. He was my first cat,  and also my first ” soul cat.” I say my first, because I think I’ve been blessed with more than one of these special cats. Amber was definitely another one, and so was Buckley. And I suspect that Allegra and Ruby are, too.

The interview was originally featured on Liz’s blog. Here’s your opportunity to learn more about my special guy.

feline-soul-mate

How did you find each other?

Feebee was born to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life.

I should probably explain his name -most people think Feebee is a female name. The first time Walt picked him up, he said “hi there, little fishbreath” after getting a whiff of his breath, and we thought that would be a cute name. However, we also thought nobody should have to go through life with a name like Fishbreath, so we shortened it to F.B., which didn’t flow nicely, so somehow it became Feebee.

When we picked him up to take him home with us, he was six months old. When we put him in the car, he sat by the back window and cried and cried for the first half hour of our drive. Then he came to the front, curled up in my lap, and went to sleep – and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the two-hour drive. That was my first taste of the kind of happiness he would bring me for the next 15 ½ years.

feline-soul-mate

Is there a personality trait or experience that stands out?

He was a very affectionate cat. He loved to cuddle, and he slept in my arms most nights. He loved food – all of it, not just his cat food. He had some very strange tastes for a cat that included mustard covered bits of lettuce, cantaloupe, and potato chips. He was also very playful, and particularly loved catnip stuffed toys that he could hug to himself and kick at with his hindlegs.

What made you aware of your special bond?

I think I didn’t realize that he was my soul cat until after my divorce. He’d been with us almost ten years at that point. There was never a question that he would stay with me, and it’s a good thing he did. The divorce was only the beginning of a very dark period in my life: four months after my former husband left, my mother passed away after a short illness. Between trying to adjust to life as a newly single woman, and mourning the untimely passing of my mother, I felt completely overwhelmed. Just getting through each day seemed impossible at times. But Feebee was by my side for all of it, and somehow, I managed. He let my tears soak his soft grey fur. His quiet, loving presence eased my sadness. He was a great listener, and his rumbling purr provided comfort. He cheered me up with his utter cuteness.

Despite his loving presence, the pain and sadness sometimes became unbearable, and there were times when I considered just ending it all. But whenever these dark thoughts entered my mind, I would also think of Feebee. Knowing that someone still loved and needed me made it impossible to give up on life. Who would take care of him if I wasn’t around? And each and every time, love pulled me back from the edge – this special love between a cat and his person. Feebee gave me many gifts throughout the almost sixteen years he spent with me, but none greater than the gift of life.

He was also instrumental in guiding me toward a new career. There’s nothing like major life changes to make you re-evaluate your life. I had become increasingly unhappy with my corporate job but had no clear sense of what I was meant to be doing with my life. Then Feebee took matters into his own paws, so to speak, and developed bladder stones. The time we then spent at veterinary hospitals for diagnosis, treatment, and surgery led me to change careers. I started volunteering and then working part time at veterinary hospitals, which eventually led to a full-time position managing an animal hospital.

I would love to hear about your special “soul cats” – share them with us in a comment!

 

Happy 4th of July 2011

Allegra and Ruby 4th of July

Happy 4th of July
from Allegra, Ruby and Ingrid

While Independence Day may be a favorite holiday for many of us, it is probably also the most traumatic day of the year for most cats.  Even though many municipalities don’t allow private fireworks, people still seem to find a way to have their own. Unless you live far away from civilization, chances are, your cat will most likely have to deal with the noise from fireworks.

A cat’s sense of hearing is much more acute than ours, and so the noises are much more intent for them.  Add to that the lack of understanding of what is going on and you can have a very scared cat on your hands.  But celebrations like the 4th of July don’t have to cause such anxiety for your cat.  Here are some tips for helping your cat cope with fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud noises:

  • Create a safe space for your cat. If you’re having a party, unless your cat is very social and doesn’t mind a  lot of commotion, keep her confined to a quiet bedroom. Put her favorite blanket, bed or toys in with her, along with a litter box and fresh water. Shut the curtains and drapes and turn on lights to lessen the flash of the fireworks.
  • Leave on a TV or music to drown out the noise from the fireworks. (This works during thunderstorm season as well.)
  • Make sure that your cats are wearing their identification tags and that the information is current.
  • Consider a natural calming aid like Rescue Remedy, Stress Stopper, or Composure calming treats.

Happy Father’s Day 2011

Lion father and lion cub

Happy Father’s Day
Whether your kids are human or furry, enjoy your special day!

My dad passed away seven years ago. I still think about him every day. My relationship with him was complicated at times, but I always knew that he loved me, and I have lots of wonderful memories of him.

His life was shaped to a great extent by his experiences during World War II in Germany, and as a result of experiencing so much loss at such a young age, he held those he loved close to him – at times, too close for a daughter who wanted to spread her wings and fly from the nest!

He instilled in me my love of nature – some of my earliest and fondest memories are of long walks in the woods and parks near our home.  He taught me the names of all the flowers, trees, butterflies and animals we’d encounter on those walks.

He loved the Alps – his happiest times were spent hiking those beautiful mountains.  His love of the Alps dated back to his days as an American POW. When he was first captured, he was held in the basement of a home in Bavaria. Through a small window, he could see the snow covered peaks of the Alps, and he decided then and there that he would climb as many of these mountains as he could once he was free. The dream of one day hiking in those mountains kept him going through those dark days.

He worked hard at a job he didn’t enjoy all that much to provide for my mother and me.  We were by no means rich, but he always made me feel like we were.  He loved to travel, and after taking early retirement, for the next nine years, he and my mother traveled extensively.  He especially enjoyed his travels in the Western part of the United States – every Western movie he’d ever seen came to life for him there.  He would talk about those trips for years to come.

He had a difficult time dealing with my mother’s death, and his life contracted again.  He didn’t enjoy traveling by himself, and other than his annual visit to the United States, he stayed close to home.  When he became ill with prostate cancer six years after my mother died, I wasn’t sure he would want to fight – but he surprised me.  He wanted to live, and he survived.

After the life changing experience of going through cancer treatment, he decided that it was time to make a lifelong dream come true.  He sold his home of forty years almost overnight, and bought a condo in the Black Forest, where he spent the last two years of his life in an environment that he loved.   Having been a life-long worrier all his life, he learned to live in the moment and “appreciate each flower and each butterfly,” as he told me during my last visit with him.  He passed away after a short illness, and knowing how happy he was the last two years of his life was a great comfort to me.

My dad had a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately good life, and I miss his physical presence in my life every day.  His spirit, however, is never far from me.

Ingrid King with her father

If you still have your father, tell him that you love him today.

Photo of lions: iStockphoto, photo with my Dad taken during my last visit with him in June of 2003