Happy New Year
from Ingrid and Amber!
May 2010 be filled with abundance, love and joy.
Expert Advice on Cat Health, Nutrition and Lifestyle.
In memory of Buckley’s first Christmas with Amber and me:
An excerpt from Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher
Soon, it was time to get ready for Buckley’s first holiday season with Amber and me. I traditionally put up my Christmas tree during Thanksgiving weekend. It is a small, four-foot high artificial tree that I have had for close to twenty years. While I like the idea and especially the wonderful pine scent of a real tree, I also find it too much of a hassle to deal with having someone bring the tree into the house for me and then to remove it again at the end of the season, so I have been quite content with my artificial tree over the years. And since having a fake tree has even become the environmentally conscious thing to do in recent years, rather than feeling like I should be making apologies for it, I am now politically correct. The tree sits on a small table next to the dining room cabinet. The table is draped with a red tablecloth that reaches all the way to the floor, creating a perfect little cat tent underneath. Amber always enjoyed hiding underneath the tree during Christmases past, and now Buckley got to share in the fun. It provided endless entertainment for both cats, and it was a new experience for Amber to be stalked by Buckley from underneath the tree.
In addition to playtime, the tree also provided lovely moments of quiet contemplation for all three of us. Most evenings before going to bed, I turned off all the lights in the living room except for those on the tree and put on some soft Christmas music. With both cats curled up on my lap, we simply sat by the tree and enjoyed the lights, ornaments, and the profound sense of peace these moments brought. This experience has always had a meditative quality for me that was greatly enhanced by the shared energy of the two cats.
Amber had never been all that interested in the ornaments on the tree. I decorate the tree with ornaments I have collected over the years, many of them cat-themed, which should come as no surprise. Some of the ornaments have great sentimental value, such as the silver bell that I brought home after cleaning out my father’s condominium after he passed away. As far back as I can remember, that silver bell was on the Christmas trees of my childhood. Other ornaments were gifts from friends or items I had picked up while traveling. I always hung the breakable ornaments on the side of the tree furthest from the dining room table. In the past, Amber had occasionally jumped up on the table and batted at the ornaments she could reach from there. Thankfully, she had never tried to jump up on the table the tree was sitting on. I was not sure what to expect from Buckley, but she turned out to be far more interested in the tent underneath the tree than the actual tree or ornaments. I never once even saw her on the dining room table trying to bat at ornaments she could have reached from there.
Buckley’s first Christmas was a special time for all of us. This little cat had never gotten presents before in her life. Needless to say, I completely overdid it that year, and I was not the only one. Many of my friends also showered Buckley, as well as Amber, with toys and treats that Christmas. Buckley had a difficult time deciding what was more fun—the actual toys and treats or helping me tear them out of their colorful wrappings and ribbons. She had a wonderful time that first Christmas, playing with abandon and giving herself up to total joy.
Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, but it is also a time for reflection on the many things we have in our lives that we are grateful for. Gratitude is a wonderful way to raise your vibration and shift your energy. The vibration of gratitude is a powerful force. It can shift your mood and your thoughts from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance.
I’ve come up with a whole alphabet of things I’m grateful for this year:
A – Amber, for her loving, wise and gentle presence in my life, for being the inspiration behind The Conscious Cat, and for reminding me to slow down and appreciate each moment.
B – Buckley, for opening my heart and changing my life in ways I never could have imagined, and for inspiring me to write her story so that her lessons can be shared with the world.
C – Cats – I can’t imagine a world without these wonderful creatures.
D – Dogs – my friends’ dogs, my Reiki clients – dogs are so much fun to be with.
E – Eating out – one of the great pleasures of life, especially when shared with good friends.
F – Friends – I am richly blessed in that area. Since I no longer have any family left, my friends are my family.
G – Google – what did we ever do without it?
H – Health. The fact that mine is excellent.
I – Inner peace – when you have it, life makes sense.
J – Joy – it’s what we all strive for. There is joy in life’s small moments, as well as in the big ones. I’ve had both this past year – in spades.
K – Kindness – being kind to others, whether human or animal, is what matters most.
L – Law of Attraction. It makes everything so simple.
M – Music. Everything from classical to hard rock.
N – Novels – the best way I know of to escape reality for a little while at a time.
O – Openness – being open to new experiences allows life to grow and expand beyond self-imposed limits.
P – Passion – especially the fact that I finally discovered mine.
Q – Quiet time. It’s essential for my personal balance and well-being, and I make sure to carve out time for it each and every day.
R – Reading. I usually have at least two or three books going at the same time.
S – Social Media – I’ve made so many wonderful new friends, and reconnected with old ones. What an amazing world we live in where keeping in touch is made so easy.
T – Tea on a cold day. Current favorites: Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice and Mandarin Orange Green Tea.
U – Unlimited possibilities – the fact that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
V– The color violet – this should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me!
W – Walking. It’s the one exercise I’ve stuck with consistently for decades. I love the combination of exercise and contemplation.
X – No matter how hard I try, I can’t think of anything starting with X!
Y – You! My readers, my friends – thank you for all you bring into my life.
Z – Z-Rock (the tv show) and the real life band ZO2 whose lives the show is based on.
Writing this blog post and coming up with this list turned out to not only be fun, but a very powerful example of how focusing on gratitude can shift your vibration. I encourage you to consider making a gratitude list for yourself this Thanksgiving. What does your Thanksgiving alphabet look like?
Even though Buckley’s Story has been available online for the last few days, I choose to make today the official release date. Today would have been Buckley’s “birthday”. I don’t know her actual birthday, so I designated the day she came home with me as her special day. I think she would like the idea of her book being announced to the world on this day.
This has been a whirlwind week for me. On Monday, I received the first softcover copy. I can’t even describe the feeling of opening the package and holding an actual book in my hands. I’m not given to overly dramatic displays of emotion, but I jumped up and down and danced around the house! On Tuesday, the hardcover arrived. I didn’t think it was possible to get even more excited than when I received the softcover the day before, but apparently, it was. The hardcover is the most beautiful book I’ve ever seen. Okay, so I may be a bit biased, but the glossy cover is perfect, the interior design and the photos came out crisp and nice. The overall effect is exactly what I had hoped for.
My publisher had told me it would take four to six weeks for the book to appear on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com, so when I got an e-mail from a friend Tuesday afternoon telling me he had just ordered the book online, I just about fell off my chair. My hands were shaking as I entered amazon.com on my keyboard. And oh my gosh – there it was! My book. On Amazon. And on BarnesandNoble.com.
The book will be available at bookstores nationwide eventually, but it’ll take a little while for that to happen.
Meanwhile, as if all the excitement about the book wasn’t enough, my brand new website, http://www.ingridking.com, also went live on Monday. This is my first professionally designed website, and I’m so happy with what my wonderful web designer came up with. I feel that the site perfectly reflects me, and the book.
What an incredible week. It still seems surreal at times. And in the midst of all this joy, there is a bittersweet component. While the book is a lasting tribute to my sweet little cat, it also makes me miss her all the more. But since Buckley’s message is all about living a joyful life, I know she’s celebrating right along with me.
Tortoiseshell cats are named for their distinctive coloring – a combination of patches of black, brown, amber, red, cinnamon and chocolate. The size of the patches varies from a fine speckled pattern to large areas of color. The term “tortoiseshell” is used for cats with brindled coats that have few or no white markings. Cats of this coloring with larger areas of white fur are called calicos. Sometimes, these colors present in lighter versions such as lilac or cream. Torties with this lighter coloring are called dilute torties. Occasionally, the typical tortoiseshell colors are also seen in a tabby (striped) pattern, and these cats are sometimes referred to as “torbies.”
Tortoiseshell cats are almost exclusively female. Tortoiseshell and calico coats are the result of the interaction between genetic and developmental factors. The occasional and very rare male tortoiseshell cat is the result of a genetic mutation.
In addition to their distinctive coloring, torties also have a reputation for unique personalities, sometimes referred to as “tortitude.” They 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. These traits are stronger in tortoiseshell cats than in calicos – it seems as though these traits are somewhat diluted with the addition of more white to the color scheme.
As of the writing of this post, I share my life with Amber*, and those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while have gotten to know her in her Amber’s Mewsings posts. You will soon be able to read all about Buckley in Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. The photo above shows Buckley in the front, Amber behind her.
Prior to Amber and Buckley, there was another tortie in my life. Virginia was the first office cat at the animal hospital I managed. She was my introduction to torties, and my love affair with this particular type of cat began with her. She, too, had the “tortitude” I so love about these particular cats.
Do you have a tortie or calico in your life? Does she have “tortitude?”
*Sadly, Amber passed away on May 13, 2010, after a sudden, brief illness. I now share my life with Allegra and Ruby, two tortoiseshell cats who have their own columns here on The Conscious Cat, titled Allegra’s World and Ruby’s Reflections.
Photo ©Ingrid King, all rights reserved
No matter how much you love your life, your environment, and your routine (and I do), sometimes, it’s good to have a change of pace and a change of scenery. Following the same routine day after day can lead to stale energy, and a quick and easy way to shake things up a bit is to get out of your normal environment. So last weekend I went to visit a friend in New York City – my favorite city in the whole world. What’s not to love? In addition to being able to walk everywhere you want to go, there are so many great restaurants on every block, there’s Central Park, and there’s the incredible energy of a city of millions of people. And I hadn’t seen my friend in two years, so it was long past time for a visit.
I had a fabulous weekend, and the trip reminded me how important a change of pace and scenery and an opportunity to get out of one’s normal routine can be. Instead of my usual routine I spent the weekend walking around the city with my friend. We caught up on each others’ lives, ate at wonderful restaurants, went to a comedy club (celebrity sighting: Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock!), and hung out with my friend’s cats. I came home feeling relaxed and recharged.
Even if you can’t get away for a weekend, there are simple ways to incorporate a change of pace into your day. You’ll be surprised how even small changes can shift your energy, and as a result, free up creativity, open your mind to new and different possibilities, and make you feel great.
Some suggestions for a simple change of pace:
You’ll be surprised how these seemingly small changes of pace can shift your energy.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there!
My dad passed away five years ago. While our relationship was complicated at times, 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. The photo above is of a town in Austria where we spent many childhood vacations.
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, I wasn’t sure he would want to fight – but he surprised me. He wanted to live, and he survived. Then 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, he learned to live in the moment and “appreciate each flower and each butterfly,” as he once told me. 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.
If you still have your father, tell him that you love him today. My dad had a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately good life, and I miss his physical presence in my life. His spirit is never far from me.
Today is a difficult day for me – it’s the six month anniversary of Buckley’s passing. It’s hard to believe that six months have gone by already. I still miss her each and every day.
“Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” tells the story of how one small cat changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. It’s the story of Buckley, a joyful, enthusiastic and affectionate tortoiseshell cat I met while managing a veterinary hospital. Buckley challenged me to overcome long-held emotional patterns and taught me and everyone who came into contact with her universal lessons about opening the heart, following intuition, and living a life filled with joy.
In her memory, and to celebrate her life rather than mourn her passing today, I would like to share a small excerpt from the book with you. This is the description of our first meeting:
“I went to see Buckley for the first time. And I fell in love. Hard. And fast.
She was a small cat, and she immediately came to the front of the cage and rubbed up against the bars. When I unlatched the door to her cage to pet her, she practically threw herself at me – something I came to call “full body love” as I got to know her better and realized that this was one of the many ways she would demonstrate her affection. This little cat loved with her entire being. It took several minutes of talking to her and petting her before I even noticed her deformed left hind leg. It bent upwards at the knee at a ninety degree angle. Our veterinarians were unable to determine whether this was a congenital birth defect, or whether it was an old injury that had never healed right. It certainly did not seem to bother her, nor did it slow her down. She barely had a limp, and she used the knee of the bent leg to push off when she ran and jumped. Her “disability” definitely was a non-issue for her – she didn’t know the meaning of the word. After a while, I didn’t notice it anymore, either. It was just part of who she was, and I was always surprised when people asked about it.”
“Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” will be published later this year.
In loving memory of Buckley
Yesterday was an emotional day for me. I went to the open house for Casey’s House, a private rescue group in Bluemont, VA. Cindy Ingram, the founder of Casey’s House, rescued my precious little Buckley from a farm in southwestern Virginia, where she and about twenty other cats were kept in marginal living conditions. Buckley passed away last Thanksgiving weekend. While I had been supporting Casey’s House for many years, I had never actually seen the facility. When I met Buckley, she was already living at the animal hospital I managed at the time. (You will get to know Buckley and her story in my upcoming book “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher”).
Casey’s House is named after Cindy’s beloved tabby cat, who came to live with her when she was fifteen years old. At first Cindy refused her entrance to her house, as she already had two cats and two dogs at the time. Casey, however, was not a cat to take no for an answer. Casey’s “home” at the time was a colony of some fifty cats, and she was probably getting tired of either not getting to her food on time, or eating off of filthy dishes. Every evening, Casey would be waiting on Cindy’s porch, obviously hungry, so Cindy would feed her. Slowly, but surely, Casey became a part of Cindy’s family. Eventually, four of her feline colony friends came to join Casey. Says Cindy: “Casey taught me to reach beyond my self-imposed limits, and her house is the dream that now has become a reality”.
In addition to providing a safe haven for older cats, Casey’s House also promotes Trap-Neuter-Return. Through this program, feral cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear-tipped. Cats that are friendly to humans and kittens are adopted into loving homes. Healthy feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes. Casey’s House spayed and neutered more than 200 cats in 2008, making a significant contribution to controlling the overpopulation problem.
I was impressed with the wonderful environment Cindy created for the cats. There are very few cages, most of the cats live in a large open room, filled with carpeted ramps, cat climbing towers, and lots of soft pillows and blankets for them to sleep on. New rescues and those with potential health conditions are kept in separate areas until they’ve been checked out by a veterinarian. What was really amazing to me was how peaceful the energy in that large room felt. All the cats seemed to get along, there was no hissing, posturing, or fighting. Cindy said in all the years she’s done this work, she’s only had one incident with two cats fighting. Casey’s House truly is a safe haven for cats in need.
I left missing Buckley even more than I usually do. The visit definitely brought on a renewed wave of grief for me. But I also left feeling good about living in a world where there are people like Cindy, who care so much and do so much for cats in need.
Like all non-profit organizations, especially those helping animals, Casey’s House is struggling in these tough economic times. If you have a favorite shelter or rescue group that you support, please consider making a donation to them – they need your help now more than ever. And if you don’t already support a shelter, perhaps you’ll consider making a donation to Casey’s House in Buckley’s memory. Cindy and the cats at Casey’s House will thank you.
Happy Mother’s Day from the Conscious Cat!
If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom in your life, be sure to tell her that you love her today, and every day. My mother passed away 15 years ago, and I still miss her. Even after all these years, I still feel a pang when I see Mother’s Day cards appear in stores.
But I also celebrate Mother’s Day as Amber’s Mom. Amber was a mommy herself when I first met her, so I thought I’d share her story here with you today.
In the spring of 2000, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed by a client who had found the little family in her barn. Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then. Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.
However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat. She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat. I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh. I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.
One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”. I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes. The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention. As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.
After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed. By Sunday evening, she began to relax a little and started exploring her new environment. I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer. Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.
Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul. For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day. She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.
She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse. There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.
Animals come into our lives for many reasons. Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever. Amber is one of these special animals.