Buckley’s Story – Release Day

Amber reading Buckley's Story

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.

Amber’s Mewsings: New Camera

It’s my turn to write on here again!  Things have been pretty exciting at our house these last couple of weeks.  Mom’s book Buckley’s Story is almost finished and should be available online in another week or two.  Mom is eagerly awaiting her first copy.  I think she’ll probably start chasing the UPS truck down our street any day now, that’s how impatient she is to finally get her hands on the actual book.  The book’s website is almost finished.  I sat on Mom’s lap when she looked at the most recent design last night, and even though my sister Buckley is the star of the site, I have to say, it’s really beautiful.  I love that Mom is so happy – it makes me happy.

There’s been more excitement around here.  Yesterday, Mom bought a new camera.  And I’m sure you can guess who she took the first picture of.  She hadn’t quite figured out all the settings, so the colors don’t look quite right, but don’t you love how I positioned myself to help her get such a dramatic shot:

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I think it nicely depicts the depth of my purrsonality, the yin and the yang, the light and the dark – well, you get the idea.  Of course, after a while, all of this photo taking got kind of old – she kept trying to take more pictures of me, and all I wanted to do was take a nap.  Didn’t I suffer enough when I patiently sat through the professional photo shoot for her book cover?  You can read all about that experience here.  The things I will do for my Mom!

Fall has arrived here, and with it, the new tv shows have started.  Mom doesn’t watch a lot of tv, but she has some shows that she really likes, and now that they’re all back on, she’s been watching a little more tv than over the summer.  Buckley used to be her tv buddy – she’d spend entire evenings just stretched out on Mom’s lap or curled up in her arms.  I would occasionally join them, but I also like my space, so sometimes I’d prefer just sleeping somewhere else while they watched tv together.  But I know Mom misses having a tv buddy, so I’m doing my best to fill that gap for her.  So we’ve been cuddling and watching tv together, and I can see why Buckley liked it so much.

Mom likes to watch shows that she calls medical dramas – I don’t know why anyone would want to watch that, so many sad things happen on those shows.  Why humans find that entertaining is beyond me.  I can feel Mom’s energy change when she watches those shows, and sometimes, she’s so moved by the story that she even cries.  I don’t like that at all.  I know it’s only make believe, but I don’t like it when  Mom is sad.  I like it much better when she watches happy shows.  But I know she finds watching her shows relaxing, so I guess that’s good.

Well, that’s all I have to say for today.  It’s time for a nap now!

Pretty Litter

Amber’s Mewsings: Mom Goes to a Cat Show

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It’s about time Mom lets me write here again!  I have much to say, and all of it is important!  Maybe I should have my own blog – my friend Eva just got a blog of her own, you should check it out at Conversations with Eva.  Cool name for her site, huh?  Somebody sure gets that for us cats, it’s always about us.  Make sure you read The Beginning, the story of how Eva found her forever home.

Meanwhile, things are great here.  Mom was gone most of the weekend, she was at something called a cat show.  From what I understand, some people take their cats to these big places and they have to be really patient and well-behaved and they get shown and judged in something called a ring, and they win prizes.  Interesting concept.  Not something that appeals to me – I already know I’m Number One.  But Mom was really happy when she came home from that cat show place each evening, apparently lots of people are really excited about Buckley’s Story coming out soon, and when Mom is happy, I’m happy.  She also brought me a new catnip toy each day from a place called Mouse Factory.  Strange name, if you ask me, because none of the toys she brought home looked even remotely like a mouse, but wooeee, they are filled with heavy duty catnip!  I could smell that she had catnip with her the minute she walked in the door.  I immediately went to her bag and sat and stared at it until she took the toy out and gave it to me, then I proceeded to thoroughly lick it and cover it in drool.  Then I had to take a nap to sleep off my catnip high.  This was primo stuff, people.

Mom has been busy writing and getting everything ready for her book launch, and I like that she’s been home a lot.  Even though I may sleep in another room while she’s working, I still like knowing that she’s home with me.  This is so much better than when she was gone more than ten hours each day.

That’s it for today.  Remember – it IS all about you!

Amber’s Mewsings: Labor Day

Mom is taking a break from posting today, but she and I want to take a moment to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.  This idea of a Labor Day holiday is a very strange concept to me.  What is this labor?  Cats don’t labor – cats just relax and enjoy life.  But I do know that resting and relaxing is very important for feline and human health, so this is how I’m going to be spending my labor day:
First, I'll lounge in the sun....
First, I’ll lounge in the sun….

 

....then, I"ll relax some more....
….then, I”ll relax some more….

 

Did you say dinner was ready?
Did you say dinner was ready?

 

Now I really need a nap!
Now I really need a nap!
Pretty Litter

Amber’s Mewsings: Buckley’s Story Cover

Amber

Yesterday was a really big day for Mom – she got the cover art for Buckley’s Story from the designer.  What do you think – do you like it?  Mom cries everytime she looks at it, and I get a little emotional, too.  It really brings my sister back to life, and it’s so cool that she’s on the cover of a book that’s all about her.  Well, mostly – I’m in the book, too, and I play a very important role in the story.   And since I’m also on the back of the book cover (in the photo with Mom), I guess it’s okay that Buckley gets the front.  Mom reads a little bit from the book to me every day, and I really like that.  It makes me remember all the wonderful times the three of us shared together.  I miss Buckley.

The other cool thing that happened this week was that the banner Mom ordered for the cat show she’s going to be at in three weeks came in.  It’s got my picture on it (the same one that’s the header for this site), and it’s really really big.  Kind of weird to look at a giant version of myself, but also very appropriate.  My greatness can’t be contained in just a small screen-sized version of the picture.  Maybe I can convince Mom to hang the banner somewhere in our house after the cat show.

In case you’re wondering what cat show, Mom will represent The Conscious Cat at the National Capital Cat Show on Saturday, September 12 and Sunday, September 13 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia.  If you’re in the greater Washington DC area, be sure to stop by the Whimsy Cats booth, that’s where Mom will be.  There’ll be lots of great cat health information (Mom really knows her stuff) and free cat goodies.  You’ll also have a chance to enter a drawing for a signed copy of Buckley’s Story!  I know this will come as a disappointment to all of you, but I’m not going to be there.  Mom said I wouldn’t like it, and she’s probably right.  Although it would be fun to meet all our fans in purrson.

“Tortitude” – The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats

tortitude tortoiseshell cat personality

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 TeacherThe 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

Tortitude banner for posts with border

Amber’s Mewsings: Mom Went Away for the Weekend

can I come photoshopped

Mom isn’t much of a traveler.  I think it’s because she really likes to stay home with me and misses me too much when she goes away – which I can totally understand, of course, since being with me is just the best.  She used to go away a couple of times a year, but all that changed last April, when my sister Buckley got sick.  Mom was really upset about it.  Buckley had to take a lot of medications, and the vet said that her heart was bad.  Buckley was a bit of a pistol when it came to taking pills, and I think Mom was worried that our cat sitter wouldn’t be able to give Buckley her pills.  I also think she didn’t want to leave Buckley, not knowing how much time the three of us would have left together.  We were such a team, it was hard to imagine we wouldn’t always be a threesome.  You’ll soon be able to read more about all of that in Buckley’s Story.  Anyway, after Buckley died, Mom was sad for a long time.  I did my best to comfort her, and I know she didn’t feel like being away from me.

But last weekend, she went away, just for the weekend.  My cat sitter came twice a day to take care of me.  She’s one of my favorite people.  She doesn’t just come to feed me (which is the most important part of her visit, don’t get me wrong!) and clean out my litter box (also very important, I’m a very clean cat).  She brushes me, and plays with me, and we watch tv together.    She’s really sweet, and I love her.  In between her visits, I mostly sleep.  I miss Mom while she’s gone, but I guess I understand that she needs to get away from everything every once in a while (well, not really, but I love her and if it’s what she wants to do, I’m okay with it).  She doesn’t do it much, so it’s fine.

It did make me think about how many cats are left alone when their moms and dads have to travel, especially over the summer, when humans do something they call going on vacation.   I don’t understand why you’d need a vacation when every day is just so wonderful that it makes no sense to me that you would want to get away from everything, but then, humans are hard to understand sometimes.   For cats, every day is a vacation day.  We get to sleep in, we have a servant at our beck and call all day long, our meals are served to us, we get to play when we feel like it.  Makes you wonder who the smart ones really are, doesn’t it?

I hope all the cats and their humans are having a great summer!

A Change of Pace, a Shift in Energy

central-park-new-york-wallpaper

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:

  • Take a different route to work.  Instead of going the quickest way, go the scenic route one day.  If you work from home, find a different place in the house to work from.
  • Make small changes in your daily routine.  Do you always follow the same sequence when you first get up in the morning?  Shake things up a bit.
  • Try a new food you’ve never had before.  Is there an ethnic cuisine you’ve  never head but always wanted to try? 
  • Rent a movie that’s different from your usual fare.  Do you usually watch dramas?  Try a comedy. 

You’ll be surprised how these seemingly small changes of pace can shift your energy.

Install the AskVet Pet Mobile App today!

Amber’s Mewsings: Birthday Girl

birthday girl 019

Today is my birthday, so I told  Mom I wanted to write something on here.  So far, my birthday has been pretty great.  I got my favorite breakfast (salmon and turkey, in case you’re wondering), and I got this really fun toy (you can see me with it in the photo).  I humored Mom by playing with it when she gave it to me, but most likely, it will be used as a pillow to rest my head on while I nap.  I don’t want to over-exert myself, it’s just not ladylike.

Actually, technically today is not my birthday, it’s the anniversary of the day Mom brought me home.  She doesn’t know my real birthday, and I don’t really remember.  I know some of you would love to hear my story, so I thought today would be a good day to share it.  I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that my sister Buckley gets a whole book to share her story and I get a single blog post, but it’s only part of my story, so I guess that’s okay.

Me and my five kittens were brought to the animal hospital where Mom worked in the spring of 2000 by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  I was hungry, skinny, and scrawny-looking, but my eventual beauty was evident to everyone even then.  My kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.  One of my daughters, a beautiful Calico, went to live with Cindy Ingram, the founder of Casey’s House.  Cindy rescued my sister Buckley five years later.

It didn’t seem like anyone was interested in me.  I spent my days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area.  People would come and ooh and aah over how beautiful I was, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat, no matter how gorgeous I was.  Mom had recently lost her almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh for her – I knew she was still hurting, and she didn’t think she was ready for another cat yet.  But I also knew that it was getting harder and harder for her to go back to an empty house every evening, and more importantly, I knew we were meant to be together.  I tried my best to get her attention, and she’d pet me occasionally, but she just wasn’t getting it.

Finally, on July 29, a Saturday, she took me home.  She said it was “just for the weekend.”  I knew better, but I wasn’t about to share that with her – she needed to figure that out for herself.  Mom said she wanted to give me a break from the abandoned feral kitten they had put in the cage with me after my own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and I was getting really tired of his constant need for attention.  I had done my mommy duty, and I was so over the whole thing.

After living in a cage for all these months, it was a little overwhelming to have an entire house available to explore.  I wasn’t sure what to do, it felt kind of scary to me, even though Mom did her best to make it okay for me.  I spent most of that first weekend near or under Mom’s bed.  I was so stressed I didn’t even eat for a day or two – and if you know anything about me, you know that food is very important to me!  But by Sunday evening, I felt braver and started exploring.

Of course, all weekend long, I’d been working my magic on Mom.  I really didn’t want to go back to the animal hospital.  Thank goodness, Mom started to get it.  She liked having my gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and she decided that I could stay a little longer.  Big sigh of relief on my part when Mom left for work at the animal hospital that Monday morning without taking me back there!  Mom still wasn’t quite ready to acknowledge that I was home to stay.  Instead, she told everyone that she was “just fostering me.”  Yeah, right.

Somehow, the flyers Mom had made up advertising that I was available for adoption never got distributed, and the rest is history.

Amber’s Mewsings: On Purring

summer morning portrait 003

It’s been a while since Mom has let me write something on here, so I thought it was time that I shared my thoughts on life and other things again, in case you’re getting bored with Mom’s writing.

So there’s this woman in England who actually did a study on cats’ purrs.  The conclusion of the study was that cats learn to vocalize a particular sound to train their humans.  They needed to do a study for this?  Puleeze!  Cats all over the world are laughing.  For those of you who really need to see the details of the study to grasp this universal feline truth, here’s the link.

One very interesting aspect of the study was that what the researchers called “solicitation purring” got better results than a loud meow, for example to make the human get up in the morning to feed the cat.  I have to respectfully disagree with this finding.  I sit by my mom’s head and gently purr in the morning to make her get up and feed me.  I’m so thoughtful and patient, and it still takes her forever to actually get up.  My sister Buckley, on the other hand, used to meow at the top of her lungs and walk all over Mom in the mornings, and boy, did that work – there was no more sleeping once Buckley got to work.  I miss my sister (and not just because breakfast came earlier when she was still with us).

I hope everyone is having a good summer.  I love summer – the sunny spots stick around longer and are more frequent in my house.  I’m an air-conditioned kitty and I like it that way.  I spent the first two years of my life outside, and I can’t say I miss the hot and humid summer days and trying to find a cool place to hang out in during the day, not to mention always having to worry about finding enough to eat.  Mom may be a bit slow on the uptake when it comes to feeding me breakfast on time, but I always know that eventually, it’s going to end up in my dish.  For those of you who do go outside in the summer, Mom posted a great article about hot weather tips for pets a little while back.

And speaking of my life – I have a birthday coming up!  Well, it’s not really my birthday, but July 29 is the day Mom brought me home, so we celebrate that as my birthday.  Mom always buys me a cool present.  So to help her out, I’ve marked some items in our Conscious Cat Store for my Wish List.  If you’re a kitty with fabulous taste, make sure you check out the store – you’ll really help your human with gift shopping if you drop little hints about what you want every once in a while.  And remember to use that “solicitation purring!”

Father’s Day Reflections

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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.