In Good Company: Cat Writers’ Association Communication Contest Awards

I couldn’t be in White Plains, NY, with all my fellow members of the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) this Friday and Saturday, but I was there as much as possible in spirit, obsessively checking e-mail and Facebook to read news of what was happening in the workshops and social gatherings, and at the awards banquet on Saturday night. Most of all I truly missed the opportunity to socialize face to face with all these e-friends!

I am also very proud to have won four Muse Medallions, the highest honor awarded by the Cat Writers’ Association, these chosen from the awarded Certificates of Excellence announced last month. When the awards list is published, I’ll post a link so you can explore all the winners.

the creative cat

You'll recognize this one.

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Mail Call

painting of cat

Warm Winter Sun, oil pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Well, The Creative Cat has won a Certificate of Excellence in the Cat Writers Association (CWA) Communications Contest!Thank you, Namir, for inspiring me to do this!

And so has Great Rescues as a gift book, as well as the illustrations and the notebook paper, “22 Cats” in the back of the book!

two black cats looking out window

Mimi and Mr. Sunshine keep an eye on the birds.

In addition, and article, a photo and an illustration have won, “On Dying and Death, and Remembrance” in an edited version and “Birdwatching“, both published in Meow, the newsletter for the Cat Writers’ Association, and “Peaches“, the portrait I painted last year for Ingrid King and then published as one of my set of Feline Art Cards.

painting of dilute calico with amaryllis

Peaches

The award letter reads that “the standards for winning a Certificate of Excellence are very high and this award is a recognition of your outstanding work.” Also, winners of the coveted CWA Muse(TM) Medallion are chosen from among the Certificate of Excellence winners, all of which will be announced at the annual conference in November.

What a wonderful ending to a somewhat frustrating week! It’s like a reward, and all the thanks go to my family of cats, yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s.

Read more about the Cat Writers’ Association and their annual Communications Contest. If you are a writer, illustrator, videographer, artist or in any way create public communications about cats, please read up on the organization and consider becoming a member!

Congratulations to all the other winners as well, since we’ll probably all get our packages at about the same time!

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


A Sweet Award

Peaches and Peonies Detail

Peaches and Peonies Detail, pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

I was honored and excited to see that “Peaches and Peonies” had won a Certificate of Excellence in the illustration category for my line of feline art cards in the Cat Writer’s Association Annual Communication Contest.

I also won another Certificate in the contest, for my poem “Pawprints and Raindrops” which was published in the April issue of Catnip Chronicles. Kelly is the subject of this poem, and they used “Sunday Morning”, a painting of Moses, as the illustration.

The Cat Writer’s Annual Communication Contest includes self-submitted works in categories from books and articles to websites and cartoons, anything published that includes feline interests as its subject. The Certificates are awarded to works achieved 90 points or above in a scale of 100 as judged by our peers. The entry receiving the highest award in each category wins a Muse Medallion, but this won’t be announced until the Cat Writer’s annual conference in November.

I have also entered Peaches’ image in one of the special award categories focused on senior cats, so we’ll see in November how it goes. I was hesitating to plan for the conference seeing Peaches’ condition as we came into the autumn, but now I can consider it.

Many thanks for your condolences

I’d like to thank everyone who commented, e-mailed, sent e-cards or whatever else you’ve done to let me know you care. Every message is another step to healing, and I’m sure Peaches is off somewhere knowing she deserves the memories. Because she came to me as a senior I knew our time would be brief, but still it’s hard to believe she was only with me for five years—we packed a lifetime into those five years. As she slipped into chronic kidney failure this spring and very slowly gave into it, and especially in the past week, she and I had plenty of time to think about what life would be like without her here and I used these many late nights to convince myself to face this reality. I have the wisdom of the twelve cats who’ve crossed the Bridge before Peaches and who taught me to accept it by preparing myself because they wanted their last moments with me to be moments of joy, not pain, and they didn’t want to see me suffering any more than I would see them suffer. I actually feel Peaches’ elation at being freed of the body that was holding her back.

So for now, and for always, I will remember her in that moment of inspiration that became her portrait, pretty, petite, and simply going about her daily routine.

Future articles

I have had a number of articles in the works for September and October, but Peaches’ constantly changing condition was my priority in the past two months and I was hard pressed to even write the articles about her that I had planned. When she began to refuse food last weekend, I knew her time was imminent and was writing an article about “how you know” and how to prepare yourself. I thought we had a few more days, but with a kitty the size and age of Peaches, changes happen quickly. She was fully in charge and knew exactly what to do and where to go, and I only followed along to support her. I will finish this article with a slightly different ending than I had thought, but I will take a little more time with it.

I will also finish off the other articles I have on hand—I have three portrait commissions right now and some artwork I’ve been planning, I had word that the subject of a portrait I’d done years ago has crossed the Bridge and I’d like to tell you about her, and a friend’s cat is approaching a critical state with his heart condition. I also have information on processing your own pumpkin for your pets, and about getting out your feeders for your backyard birds as well as saving vegetable seeds to feed to them through the winter. And for Halloween, some stories of feline visits.

As I’ve traveled around to shows and festivals this year, I’ve found some truly unique handmade feline-oriented merchandise inspired by actual kitties just as my work is, and I’ll be writing up these stories and providing links on where to find the goods.

I also have lots of feline photos, including many of Peaches looking darned good in her last few days, and the Gang of Four, and sometimes their mom, complaining about the drop in temperatures.


Coming in July

photo of bergamot flower with bee

Bergamot with Bee

July brings the anniversary of many things feline-related—losses, rescues, births, new artwork, and I’m looking forward to sharing the stories and related articles and information.

I begin below with two losses, but read on, they turn into beautiful things.

Namir

photo of Namir

Namir, photo © B.E.Kazmarski

Today as I compiled and packaged my entries for the Cat Writer’s Association Communications Contest I had bittersweet memories of June 30 last year, the last day Namir spent with me. Though we knew his time was very limited due the advanced nature of his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and more frequent and severe bouts of congestive heart failure (CHF), his last day was just like any other day and for all that he and I shared I am glad we didn’t share a long and painful decline and debility.

I wrote a tribute to Namir about two weeks after he passed, and I’ll run this July 1, in memory of the first anniversary of his passing. It’s not sad because Namir was full of energy and creativity, a truly remarkable cat beloved by visitors to my house—in fact, he was always greeted before I was. I’m looking forward to sharing his antics and laughing over the goofy things he did.

And in his memory I’ll be providing links to information about HCM, which is all too common in cats but with newer treatments and medications is no longer a death sentence.

Lucy

photo of black cat in bed covers

Lucy Helps to Make the Bed, photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Between February 2006 and January 2007, I lost my four oldest cats. In the middle of those losses I fostered and found homes for a litter of kittens born to my Mimi, before she was my Mimi; I kept one of those kittens though I hadn’t wanted to with all the needs of my older cats. I hadn’t had a kitten for years, and my next youngest cat was then 11. Sleek, petite Lucy, solid black with yellow eyes became the new future of my household.

But when she was a year old she was diagnosed with effusive feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and I lost her at 15 months. The entire experience was a story in itself, but to honor Lucy I’ve been working on some artwork using her image, bright and colorful and playful as the kitten she was. I’ll be glad to introduce the artwork and the story of her kittenhood in paintings.

Mimi and the Fantastic Four

kittens nursing

Kittens nursing, ear colors

As much as I would rather have shared a long life with Lucy, she gave me a wonderful gift from beyond the rainbow. A few days after she had passed I was watching her mother in my garden, quite pregnant with another litter, and I know Lucy put the idea in my mind that hot July morning to take her in.

So July brings a rescue day and a birthday. The Big Four will be three years old on July 26, and Mimi joined my household on July 29. Now that’s a reason to celebrate!

And in honor of Lucy, the whole extended family, even the kitties who don’t live with me and those from other of Mimi’s litters, will be getting swabbed and entered into the FIP study at the University of California at Davis. I’ll be providing links to information about FIP and writing a few articles about treating FIP.

Declawing Alternatives

black cat paw

Mimi's paw with claws retracted.

Many years ago a good friend of mine compiled a huge, comprehensive page of information about cats. This friend happens to be the mom of Angus and Donal, Lucy’s brothers, and she is also the person who taught me my first few lines of HTML coding back in 1997, sending my career off in an extra direction of design.

Amby’s Cat Information Page at www.amby.com still exists, and though she hasn’t had the time to update links and information I’ve decided there is too much there to just let it sit unnoticed. I’ll be extracting information, updating links and posting articles on The Creative Cat, beginning with an article Amby wrote detailing the process for trimming claws. In addition to the illustrations, we discussed videotaping the process and adding that to the article as well, so we’ll be working on that project for July as well.

Portraits

Now that I’ve got my studio in shape, I’ll be able to begin working on portraits again, and I really can’t wait. I’ll be posting updates as I work so you’ll be able to see them take shape.

cats on desk

Dinner, now.

But for now, Peaches, who is doing well now that we seem to have her right inner ear under control, wants dinner. Everyone who’s been sending good vibes to Peaches, thanks! Keep it up every so often because it really seems to work for her!


My Creative Process on “Buckley’s Story” by Ingrid King

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 and amber

Ingrid and Amber

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.

image of book cover

Buckley's Story

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.


Life Lessons My Cat Taught Me

Sure, we start out with a kitten or puppy or bird or other animal companion juvenile or adult, and we think we need to teach them how to live with humans. In some important ways, we do teach them a few household manners, but in the end we who love animals know that our animal companions teach us more than we could ever hope to teach them. That is, if we are willing to listen…and admit that we needed to learn the lesson.

photo of allia zobel nolan

Allia Zobel Nolan with Angela and just a few of her recent titles.

Author Allia Zobel Nolan, friend and fellow member of the Cat Writer’s Association, was published on Beliefnet.com, completely unashamed to admit that living with her three angel cats had taught her seven important lessons that she was compelled to share with others. Silly human that she is, Allia had a little “prodding” from Angela , Sinead and McDuff (can you tell there’s a nationality thing going on here?) who apparently “kneaded” her until she was convinced to share the story.

Not that Allia needs a whole lot of prodding to write something. She’s the author of over 170 books for children and adults, was a Senior Editor for Reader’s Digest Children’s Books for almost ten years and just three years ago went freelance as an author and writer. Her illustrated books about cats (actually, I think her cats used her as a medium) include Purr More, Hiss Less, Heavenly Lessons I Learned from My Cat, Why Cats Make Great Kids, and the series expounding the virtues of living with cats beginning with 101 Reasons Why a Cat is Better Than a Man, and that’s the short list. To see all of Allia’s feline-inspired volumes, visit the Cat Books page on her website.

Energetic and overflowing with a non-stop sense of humor, she’s been busy working on what sounds like five books at once and she managed to work a few of my kids into one that will be published this year, Cat Confessions. We’ll write more when that book is released. Seeing all this experience, I’m glad to have her generously coaching me as I write up my first book proposals and look for publishers.

So here’s a link for you—see for yourself what kind of teachers her three wonderful puddies are: http://www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Pets/2010/01/Cat-Life-Lessons.aspx

To see more about Allia, her cats and her books, visit her website at www.alliawrites.com, and her blog at kittyliterate.blogspot.com.


Turning Loss into Creativity with Ingrid King and Buckley’s Story

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.

image of book cover

Buckley's Story

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.

My Journey to Being a Published Author – Making a Dream Come True

By: Ingrid King

Ingrid King and Buckley

Ingrid and Buckley

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.

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The Reiki Cat

photo of author Ingrid King with her book "Buckley's Story"

Author Ingrid King and "Buckley's Story"

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:

Cats Help Shield Owners From Heart Attack (US news and World Report)
Lower Your Cholesterol — with a Cat! (Catster)

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)