On Sunday I took off for Falls Church, Virginia with a person I’d never met before to get together with a bunch of other people I’d met on the internet. Sounds like the sort of thing they tell you not to do, but I happened to know that each of these persons, including myself, owned at least one tortoiseshell cat, so I knew the worst we’d do is talk about what our cats did in the litterbox or deposited on the floor.
Besides, I did know one of the people—Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher and the personality, along with tortie Allegra, behind The Conscious Cat website and author of the blog post that brought us all together, “Tortitude”—the Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats. I had met Ingrid at a Cat Writer’s Association conference in 2009 and purchased her book the following spring. And the group of us have been trading cat stories for at least a year on the blog post, so we had only to meet in person to feel complete!
We met at the Stray Cat Cafe in Falls Church, VA, hosted by Harry and Julie Shubin, and the book signing and Chinese auction proceeds would benefit an organization for which he volunteers and fails in fostering for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation of Arlington, VA.
I mention “fails in fostering” because they’ve officially added another cat, Piper, who had been a foster for about five minutes, as evidenced by their car…but they’ve also found homes for many cats thr0ugh the years.
We also had the pleasure of meeting Renee Austin of Whimsy Cats Specialized Home Care for Cats in Ashburn, VA and
author “you-know-who” of Eva’s blog EvaEvaEva. Eva and my Peaches were BFF, and Peaches even became Eva’s virtual assistant for a while last year. Don’t just adopt a senior kitty, hire one too! I was very happy for the opportunity to meet Renee, especially since out cats had become such good friends using our computers behind our backs.
While it’s nice to see Ingrid and Renee, I also wanted to catch a little bit of the artwork in the cafe—really wonderful colorful style and actually dimensional as the paintings continued right off the canvas onto the wall. Along with the Lost Dog Cafe, the Stray Cat Cafe helps to support the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue, so you can “eat, drink and rescue”. The menu includes Mouse Tails, Catnip Dip, Nachos Gatos, and many more feline-themed foods, and feline-themed drinks like a Neuter Shooter, Feral Hiss and other amusing names that have to do with less-than-amusing feline activities.
We’ve been corresponding on the internet and feel as if we’ve known each other for years, but without the internet we probably wouldn’t even know about each other. All of us remarked at what a wonderful opportunity it was for us to be able to get to know each other, share stories and interests and eventually get together thanks to Ingrid’s one blog post about “tortitude”!
You can see photos of everyone’s cats by visiting The Conscious Cat on Facebook.
“Cats are like potato chips, it’s hard to have just one.”
Years ago, a friend of mine had a refrigerator magnet that read that phrase, and it still makes me laugh, and it’s still true.
More cats are owned as pets than any other pet—73 million as opposed to 68 million dogs—and I think it’s partly because of what I discovered. I had six cats plus fosters at the time, and there always seemed to be room for one more.
And unfortunately, there always seemed to be a big supply of cats to fill the need.
Right now, in the middle of “kitten season” when shelters are overflowing with unexpected and unintended litters of kittens, it’s time to help take the burden off of shelters and foster families who have taken in cats and kittens to foster, so if you have room help to celebrate Adopt a Cat Month.
Read more about Adopt A Cat Month, co-sponsored by the Catalyst Council website, dedicated to helping the country’s most popular pet get the respect and health care they deserve, and American Humane, protecting children and animals since 1877.
Locally, Animal Friends is offering an adoption deal between June 1 and June 30: adopt a cat for just $20.10! Animal Friends is a no-kill shelter, so adopting cats from them will open up more cage space for more cats.
And all the foster families in of FosterCat would love to see their foster kitties in new homes and then be able to help other homeless kitties!
In addition, our friend Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat is asking for your adoption stories, and at the end of June the most touching story will win an autographed copy of Buckley’s Story!
So if you’re not already overflowing with kitty love, fill that spot with a homeless kitty!
It’s never welcome news when a friend’s cat is ill, especially when the friend is a skilled caregiver providing all the requirements for a healthy life. Logic or intuition, or both, may warn you that only the most virulent diseases could get through the defenses your friend has provided her cat, and the outcome may not be good.
Yesterday our friend Ingrid King said goodbye to her precious Amber. Ingrid always described Amber as “a wise old soul in a feline body”, quiet, loving, gentle, purring constantly, providing comfort and support for her human mom though times of great change and other loss.
You could see Amber’s inner peace in any photo of her, always composed and calm. A tortoiseshell cat, Amber had the typically unique markings, and Ingrid found her name from the heart-shaped amber spot on the top of Amber’s head.
I’ve gotten to “know” Amber through reading her posts on Ingrid’s blog, The Conscious Cat, in Amber’s Mewsings, but I feel as if I just “met” Amber through reading Ingrid’s book, Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. I really appreciated getting to know the loving and free-spirited Buckley who inspired Ingrid to change her career and then to write the book, but always in the background was Amber, quietly providing support and love, never questioning, always devoted to Ingrid. I’ve known cats like her, and aside from all the other lessons in the book I came away loving Amber very much.
A chronic illness can prepare you for a loss, but an acute disease, especially with non-specific symptoms, can send you and your veterinarian scrambling for answers, and the loss can be a shock. After noticing some non-specific symptoms about ten days ago she began treating Amber for laryngitis and coaxing her to eat, but Amber ended up in feline intensive care and was diagnosed with a virulent calcivirus, complicated by an underlying heart condition.
Ingrid has also been a supportive mentor for me as I’ve learned social networking, blogging and using Facebook.
It’s hard to believe Amber gone so quickly, and Ingrid and her new kitten Allegra must be feeling very lost, so my household will send them love.
As both an animal artist and photographer and a commercial artist and designer, my cats are my muse, even if they aren’t the subject of my creative endeavor.
Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story, has featured me again on Buckley’s Story in “The Creative Process” as I get to offer my understanding of how I create a piece of artwork, writing or a poem, and how my cats have been my muse and encouragement all along, even in commercial art.
While you are there, take the time to read about Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher and about Ingrid’s holistic approach to animal wellness, and make sure you visit The Conscious Cat as well.
I met Ingrid King at the Cat Writer’s Association annual conference in November 2009 and heard her speak about her book. From her loss of Buckley, a joyful and affectionate tortoiseshell cat who was diagnosed with heart disease after only two years, came an entire book, written immediately after Buckley’s passing. Since then it has received glowing reviews in the pet and pet loss industries.
I featured Ingrid and Buckley’s Story in my series Pet Loss in the First Person in the article entitled “Turning Loss into Creativity with Ingrid King and Buckley’s Story”. Ingrid tells how her career wandered around, forming into a helping, healing profession until Buckley joined, then left her life. She began writing in the midst of her grief, with a goal of having the book available to others by the first anniversary of Buckley’s passing, like a promise kept.
Sixth in a series of “pet loss and grief told from personal experience”
If you’ve lost your pet, if the loss is imminent or if your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal condition or you know someone in that position, don’t feel you are alone or that no one cares. As our relationships with our companion animals have become more widely accepted as valid, loving, reciprocal relationships, grieving the loss of your pet has become more widely accepted and even encouraged.
This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities—because there are so many other lists of pet loss information I’ve provided links to main sites and other lists, and focused on the theme of first-person pet loss and and how that loss changed lives and turned into a creative effort.
For as much as is available on the internet today, there’s nothing like communicating in person. Sometimes a regular meeting with a local support group can be the most welcome respite from your grief, especially if you begin before you lose your pet because you can learn from the group’s members what to expect, and they’ll understand how you feel when your pet’s time comes. Find a group with whom you can share your fears and feelings, talk about your pets and plan and attend ceremonies.
You’ll find your local animal shelters often offer pet loss support groups as one of their services. Pet-related businesses also sometimes offer support groups or host events honoring our companion animals as do many religious organizations.
Internet Discussion Groups
Moving to the internet, you can find discussion groups for pet loss in general, and discussion groups for every possible condition your pet could have, often species and even breed-specific. These groups are usually moderated by one or a group of persons and send out a digest of entries each day, and are ideal if your pet is ill or has been diagnosed with a disease because you can share your experiences and information with others dealing with the same condition. The ASPCA has a number of discussion groups including one for pet memorials. You can also check Yahoo groups and Google groups for information.
Fifth in a series of “pet loss and grief told from personal experience”
The loss of a pet brings a profound change to our life and our self, no matter what we do or who we are, but sometimes the loss and how we deal with it opens a door inspires us to make a change in our lifestyle or job, or to follow through with a life dream.
The change may not be something related to the pet who was lost or to animals in general, it may just be that the need to change our surroundings in response to grief spurs us to keep going with that change and before we know it we’ve come up with an entirely new way of thinking or living.
And then the change may be all about the pet who was lost, and we may also have the product of an immense creative effort inspired by that pet.
So it was for Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons of a Feline Master Teacher. From her loss of Buckley, a joyful and affectionate tortoiseshell cat who was diagnosed with heart disease after only two years, came an entire book, written immediately after Buckley’s passing.
I met Ingrid King at the Cat Writer’s Association annual conference in November 2009 and heard her speak about her book. Since then it has received glowing reviews in the pet and pet loss industries.
Most of us have had more than one pet, and while we love them all we could probably each say that one of them was special in some way, an angel come to teach us a lesson, leaving us enriched in a way no other relationship ever could.
For Ingrid, Buckley was that angel who taught Ingrid how to live a joyful life even as Buckley slowly yielded to her heart disease. That relationship was powerful enough for Ingrid to write the book she had always intended to write, with Buckley as its subject.
Here, Ingrid tells how her career wandered around, forming into a helping, healing profession until Buckley joined, then left her life. She began writing in the midst of her grief, with a goal of having the book available to others by the first anniversary of Buckley’s passing, like a promise kept.
By: Ingrid King
I have been an avid reader all my life. My parents encouraged me to read at an early age. I remember weekly trips to the library with my mother – I would be allowed to pick out three or four books each week, and they never seemed to last for the entire week. Even back then, I remember thinking how cool it would be to write my own book. As a teenager, I kept journals, and there was even an attempt at fiction, or rather, romantic fiction, about a soccer player I had a crush on. Thankfully, that creation disappeared somewhere along the way during one of my moves either from my parents’ house to college, or to my first home – I can only imagine how reading it now would make me cringe in embarrassment.
We always knew the sun rose on our cats, but perhaps we didn’t realize that they had some unique abilities that made them special beyond our affection for them.
After numerous reports on how interacting with a cat or dog can lower blood pressure, how therapy animals in nursing home or hospice settings can elicit a response from an unresponsive person, how assistance animals can help a traumatized serviceperson, how animals in general can both sense physical and emotional changes in us, even if we are strangers, it’s no surprise to find that they can also help to heal us in very specific ways.
A colleague of mine who practices reiki recently wrote a blog post about a cat who was very special to her and who had very clear healing powers. Buckley sought out the animals and people in greatest need while living at the animal hospital, and later when living with the author assisted in reiki treatments. Author Ingrid King also references another post discussing the healing powers of a cat’s purr as the frequency is in the range for healing bones, muscles and tendons.
I met Ingrid at the Cat Writer’s Association conference in November. She’s written a wonderful book after the love and loss of that very special tortoiseshell kitty, Buckley, who helped Ingrid transition her life to a more joyful, intuitive place, then when Buckley was diagnosed with heart disease, went on to teach Ingrid lessons of love in the face of loss. You’ll be hearing more about and from Ingrid here on The Creative Cat, so here is an introduction:
Ingrid King is the author of Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. A former veterinary hospital manager turned writer, she publishes the E-zine “News for You and Your Pet,” covering topics ranging from conscious living to holistic and alternative health. She shares her experiences with consciously creating a joyful, happy and healthy life for pets and people on her popular blog, “The Conscious Cat.” Ingrid lives in Northern Virginia with her tortoiseshell cat Amber. For more information about Buckley’s Story and about Ingrid, please visit http://www.facebook.com/l/61d4b;www.ingridking.com .
Here is an excerpt from her post:
As a Reiki Master Practitioner, I transfer energy to my client by placing my hands either directly on or slightly off the body. I work with pets and with people, and I’ve found that animals, especially cats, are incredibly receptive to the Reiki energy. Some even say cats invented Reiki. While that may be a little far fetched, cats seem to intuitively know how to utilize the energy for their greatest good.
Please read the rest of her guest blog post “The Healing Powers of Cats” on Mind-Body-Spirit Works. A link to her post on the healing properties of a cat’s purr are linked in the first paragraph of that article, but just in case you can read it in The Cat’s Purr – A Biomechanical Healing Mechanism?
And here are a few other articles I’ve found around the internet specifically about cats’ powers of healing:
A cat’s special sensitivity:
A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat (New England Journal of Medicine)
And the benefits of pets in general:
Can Pets Help Keep You Healthy? Exploring the Human-Animal Bond (National Institutes of Health)