Newsday Tuesday – Are Cat Cafés Passé

Around 2014 we began hearing and reading about cat cafés. I’ve visited a couple of them, you probably have too. And you’ve read about cat cafés here in this blog. I wondered if they’re still popular or if they’ve gone by the wayside as trends often do. Are they making a difference for cats? Most of them, as you know, strive to find adoptive parents for homeless cats and kittens.

I checked and learned that cat cafés are actually doing quite well in their mission. It is predicted that 2020 will be the best year yet for the cats supported by these cafés. While, in 2014, there were a few such establishments where you could go for a cup of coffee and a lapful of kitty love. Today, it’s reported that more than half of the states have multiple cat cafés with several in some cities. If you want to find a cat café in your area or where you’ll be visiting soon, you’ll find a guide here: https://thatcatlife.com/ And be assured that a visit to one cat café is in no way representative of them all. Each one is different. But they all have cats and all of them have the same premise—to find good homes for the cats.

Some serve simple drinks and packaged cookies, while others offer more elaborate coffees and desserts. Some are housed in tiny alcoves while others have elegantly designed rooms and restaurant. Here’s a site listing 170 cat cafés worldwide, including at least one in Poland, Brazil, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Chicago. https://www.thecatniptimes.com/cat-cafe-directory/  Here’s one listing just cafés in the US. I don’t know how old this directory is: https://www.meowaround.com/continents/north-america

This year why don’t you add a visit to at least one cat café to your list of fun things to do?

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Mindful Monday – Love Those Reviews!

Authors rely on feedback for their work—reader comments and professional reviews are priceless. I pay attention to both the positive reviews and those that are a bit critical. I actually learn more from the critical ones. Fortunately I receive few of those, but some of them have been helpful. What do I learn from critical reviews? In very few cases, I learn how petty and ignorant a person can be. But mostly I learn new and different ways to present my stories—I get some valuable feedback that I actually apply.

As for the positive, flowery, complimentary, beautiful reviews—of course, I treasure and value them. What author doesn’t love hearing that her words matter—that she has inspired a reader or touched them in a meaningful way with her story? And believe me the Klepto Cat Mysteries have garnered hundreds of wonderful reviews. Thank you, everyone.

I don’t usually enter my books in contests, but recently I entered A Very Meowy  Christmas in the Reader Views Contest and one of the judges has read the book  and she posted a review at their site. It was such a wonderful review I want to share it with all of you.

One of my decisions when I first started writing the Klepto Cat Mysteries was to write my stories from a human point of view without giving the cats a voice. My books, as most of you know, are human-driven with a lot of kitty-cat action. This reviewer appreciated that fact. I wonder, do any of you read cozy mysteries with cats where the cat speaks or where the cat has a point of view? I haven’t read a book where the cat talks.

Another thing she mentions is that she found it easy to get to know the characters and to follow along with the story even though this was the 38th book in the series. She said she found it so engaging that she plans to read more of my books starting with Book 1. Music to an author’s ears!

Speaking of cat mysteries, many of you will remember Lillian Jackson-Braun and her “The Cat Who” Mysteries. I read something about her just recently and learned that she and I share a birthday. Both of us were born on June 20. Wow, that was a bit of interesting trivia (for me, at least).

Here’s the link to the Reader Views review of A Very Meowy Christmas.

https://www.readerviews.com/reviewfryaverymeowychristmas

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Frivolous Friday – What’s Happening in the Klepto Cat Mystery Factory

We’ve just finished revising Book 2 of the Klepto Cat Mysteries and the revision work is almost finished for Books 3 and 4. Why are we revising? To improve the formatting on the print books–you’ll notice we improved the look of the print books with book 29–Meowmoir of a Klepto Cat and we want to bring all of the books up to that standard.

I’ve also learned more about what works and what doesn’t work in writing cozy mysteries, and I’ve felt a need and a responsibility to improve the writing–the way the story is presented, as well as to upgrade the way it looks. Books 1 and 2 are now up to par with my ideal.

The revision of Books 3 and 4 should be ready for purchase in print next week and the Kindle version by mid February.

As for Book 41, a super fun story about tracing Rags’s genealogy, it’s in the works. I’m currently doing the final edit (one of about a dozen–maybe more). We’re working on the cover design, my formatter will be out of town for the weekend and we’re hoping that it all comes together so you’ll be able to order the print book before the end of next week, as well. The Kindle version of Book 41, Cats of a Feather, will follow some time in February.

I know you enjoy the Klepto Cat Mysteries, but I’m focused this year on making them even  better. I’ll continue revising the first five or six books and we’ll improve the look of the print books to conform with that of Book 29 and beyond. I’ll bring out new books, but probably not at the rate I have in recent years. Last year I produced eight (8) new Klepto Cat Mysteries for your reading pleasure–a record.

Book 41 will be my 83rd published book total. Thanks to you–because of your interest in the Klepto Cat Mysteries–I will keep producing them for as long as my mind is able to conjure up fresh storylines. I’m sure not tiring of the process.

 

 

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Thoughts for Thursday –Do Cats Mourn?

Certainly they do. Cats don’t like change and they’re  probably more aware of changes in their environment than we are. Cats have been known to detect medical issues in people like some dogs can, and this is probably due to a chemical or other change in that person. Cats don’t usually like change. They’re suspicious when the furniture is moved around, a Christmas tree is brought in, or there’s something new in the room. And they notice when someone or another animal is missing.

Ever try to move a cat? Even our evacuation experience during the fire of 2017 here in Ventura County was difficult for our cats. One of them even suffered afterward from what the veterinarian said was PTSD.

What about when someone or another animal moves out or dies? Does this affect a cat? Certainly it does. While the reaction is subtle in some cats, others will seriously mourn—they’ll stop eating, become more clingy, or they’ll withdraw from their human and their normal activities. Here’s a site with ideas for how to recognize when your cat is mourning and how to help him. https://www.hillspet.com/cat-care/behavior-appearance/do-cats-grieve

My mother had a neighbor cat visiting her and Smokey (her part ragdoll cat) for years. The tag on his collar said his name was Gibbs. Smokey didn’t seem to like Gibbs very much. He cowered when Gibbs was around, but he would wait at the sliding door for him to arrive each morning and he’d watch him with interest. There was a relationship there, even though we didn’t understand it. We became most aware of it when Gibbs stopped showing up. Either he moved with his family or something else happened to him, but one day he didn’t show up and we never saw him again.

Yes, that affected Smokey—something was different and he knew it he and acted out some. It was subtle and it didn’t last for very long, but it was obvious that Smokey experienced something emotionally when Gibbs stopped his daily visiting routine.

That’s why we were concerned for Smokey when my mother died. While Smokey didn’t show much emotion outwardly or change in behavior, everything had changed for him. He was suddenly alone in the house with only visitors coming in to check on him and take care of things around the house.

One of Mama’s granddaughters came and stayed with Smokey for several days. Her plan was to bond with him—to help him bond with her while in familiar surroundings before she took him to her home to live with her family. Smokey had a lot of changes to deal with, but he adjusted, and he’s doing wonderfully. Some cats have a more difficult time, but there is help out there for the grieving cat.

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Cat-Girl Fight!

Twice last week our two female cats, Lily and Sophie had serious scuffles. They’ve been together now for ten years and they get along just fine. Oh, occasionally when they’re bored and they find themselves in close quarters with one another, they’ll lift a paw in a threatening manner and even halfheartedly slap at each other a time or two. Last week there were two rather violent incidents and both times Sophie (the older cat) was the aggressor, but Lily was the most ferocious. (Who knew that little fluff ball could become so fierce?)

Both times the issue seemed to be possession. First, Lily was on Sophie’s favorite blanket in her favorite afternoon resting spot. Sophie began bugging Lily and Lily stood up and fiercely defended the blanket. In the end, both girls walked away.

The second time Lily was in another one of Sophie’s favorite spots next to me and Sophie actually leaped onto the couch with Lily and tore into her—did a body slam. Again, Lily stood her ground. She stood up like a bear, pinned her ears against her head and fought with both paws. She won this battle.

But why is Sophie suddenly becoming so territorial or is she just getting cranky in her old age? She’s 15. Maybe, when we adopted Lily, she expected her to be a temporary guest and she’s ready for her to move on so she can have us to herself. Maybe Lily has been tormenting her without us know it and Sophie gets her licks in when she can.

Do you have cat fights in your home? To what do you attribute them? What do you do about them? So far our cats seem to work the problem out on their own without the shed of blood. But the conflicts are really rather intense, so worrisome.

Well, I did a little research and found a neat site called Pet Nanny–here’s what she says about cats fighting: http://petsnanny.net/why-cats-fight.htm

Basically, she says it’s common for indoor cats and it’s often territorial–Sophie wanted her blanket and (as you can see) the cat grass, to herself. Cats might fight over use of the litterbox, food, toys or their favorite lap. They’ll also have slapping matches over social ranking. It’s a natural response carried down through their wild ancestors. And it’s recommended that you let them work things out for themselves–unless–well, you know.

Posted in About Cats, Living With Cats | 1 Comment

Newsday Tuesday – Are You a Crazy Cat Lady?

This story was in the news ten years ago, but I thought you might find it interesting. Joy Ciarcia-Levy decided to do a piece featuring four women that others probably consider crazy cat ladies and she really went to the extreme when she chose the four women—all seemingly with serious emotional and/or mental issues.

Heck, many of you may refer to yourself affectionately as a crazy cat lady—as do some of your friends and family. You love your cats. You spoil them. You buy toys for them and consider them when you plan a trip. And you may have a few cat-related items around your house—a cat-shaped tea pot, jewelry, a cat motif dish towel or cozy throw, for example. Yeah, that’s me. I’m one of those crazy cat ladies, but not as crazy as some, it appears.

For example, I don’t have 123 cats and have frequent run-ins with animal control about the stench coming from my house. I don’t shun friends and adventures outside the house because I’d rather be with my cats. (Sure I’d rather spend a quiet evening with Lily and Sophie than some people out there—but I mean, let’s be real.) And I don’t treasure my cats over any of my family or friend relationships (although the cats are pretty high on the totem pole). And I don’t live in squalor because of my cats. Check out this story and see how you fit into the scheme of things when it comes to the label, Crazy Cat Lady.

https://abcnews.go.com/2020/cat-ladies/story?id=9033354

 

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Mindful Monday – How to Catch a Cat in the Act

I hope you enjoy my photos of cats as much as I enjoy scouting out photo ops and taking the pictures. But there are some shots that are difficult to capture. You probably know the ones I mean.

There are certain things cats do that are clever, cute, funny, entertaining, and maybe unique. A cat might occasionally leap after a humming bird in your yard, sneak a piece of chicken off your dinner plate, sleep in a particular position, wrestle with the dog, go nose-to-nose with your pet hamster, take a morsel of food from the dog’s dish when no one’s looking, or wrap herself up in a piece of newspaper or wrapping paper. You know what I mean. Your cat provides you with that once-in-a-lifetime shot, but you don’t have your camera ready. You miss the shot. Either the cat doesn’t do it often enough, or she does it behind your back.

Here, it’s Lily carrying her toys in her mouth. She does it all the time. I put them away and she brings them back out and spreads them around the house. She brings me my slipper socks (cozy sock) in the morning to my office. She has even been known to drag a t-shirt off the bed into the hallway. She’s been engaging in this cute activity for nearly 10 years, but it is a real challenge to get a photo of her doing it. I still don’t have a good shot with good lighting, good focus and all. She’s just darn sneaky—seems to want to keep her klepto tendencies under the radar. Although she often delivers a stuffed bear, hedgehog, possum, kitty, or bunny to me with a loud yowl—announcing herself, by the time I get the camera or even phone camera ready, she’s dropped it and maybe even walked away.

Maybe it’s just a game she plays with me. “Catch me if you can.”

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Frivolous Friday – Strays in the Neighborhood

I could do a photo show of stray cats. I love taking pictures of cats that appear to be on their own or maybe just out of the house for the day while their humans are at work. When I spot a cat outdoors I feel as though I’m suddenly privy to his very private life as an adventurer, overseer of his yard, neighborhood monitor. When I stop to photograph the cat, I’m interrupting his fantasy and his self-imposed job of checking under the shed for mice, keeping the butterflies at bay, and certainly staving off other strays or daytime outdoor adventurers like himself.

Cats and the out-of-doors go together like cheese on a hamburger or whipped cream on Jell-O (well I used to like it that way). Just about every backdrop is a good one when photographing a cat outside—an expanse of lawn, a flowering shrub, a gnarl of dried branches, a section of an old wooden shed, a bicycle (somewhere I have a picture of a cat sitting on a bicycle), a flower bed, the trunk of a tree, a pile of junk even. A cat might perch on a post, peer out at you from under a bush, sprawl across the branches of a tree, hide behind an old shovel, sit on the back of a horse or crouch near a flock of birds at a feeder.

The possibilities are endless and intriguing, which is why I often take my camera with me when I walk around the neighborhood. You should too. It’s good for the body and the soul.

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Thoughts for Thursday – What’s Happening in the Klepto Cat Mystery Factory

While Book 41 is with the editor, I’ve been doing some rewriting. I already did a rewrite—actually two of them—on Book One. I revised Catnapped and we reformatted the print book when we produced the audio book. Several of the earlier print books also need reformatting, and I think they need revising. I’ve learned a lot about fiction-writing these last eight years—I’ve established my style and I’d like to eventually rewrite and reformat all the earliest books in the series to conform.

You might wonder if this is a boring task or if I enjoy the process. Actually, while I yearn to create new stories, I find joy in the revision work too. First, I’m in awe of the depth and creativity in the early stories—in all of my stories. I’ve always felt and still do that it isn’t actually me at the computer typing out these plots. I sure don’t want to say or believe in any way that these stories are channeled from the spirit world—I can’t give what I do that much reverence, but it sure feels-seems as though the material I write is coming to and through me—not from me. I wonder if other writers have the same experience.

Anyway, watch for Book 41—Cats of a Feather—probably sometime next month. And I’ll keep you posted as to the progress on the rewriting in case you want to update your library. I’m pretty sure you’d enjoy rereading all of my books because I can tell you, even as the writer, I sure am enjoying the stories and I’ve read them many, many more times than you have.

Update: the print version of Cat-Eye Witness has been revised and reformatted. We are working on the Kindle version as we speak. And I’m hard at work revising Book 3: Sleight of Paw.

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – When Your Cat Gets a Visitor From Another Species

Lily and Sophie had a visitor of a different color last week. Remi, my Australian shepherd granddog came into the house for a visit. Generally, she waits outside and the cats simply stare at her through the screen door. She’s such a gentle creature, that when she meets a small dog or cat, she crouches or lays down so she doesn’t tower over her new playmate. And that’s what she does when she’s on the other side of the screen door from Lily. (Sophie always watches the dog from an undisclosed hidey spot.)

This day, we invited Remi in and I was surprised at the cats’ demeanor. Lily chose a spot in the living room where she stayed the entire time Remi was here. Sophie also came into the living room and sat out in the open. Neither of them approached the large dog, but they sure were interested in observing her. And Remi never once made eye contact with either cat. She walked wide around them and mostly laid near Lily, but without actually connecting with her. It was an interesting dynamic to watch. It appeared to me that Lily was totally in charge and confident in that power. But she never took her eyes off the dog and she was careful to be in a place where she had a clear escape route.

Here, we’re trying to get both the cat and the dog in the same frame. Remi (the dog) felt trapped and seemed a bit worried about what that ferocious cat might do. But Lily wasn’t concerned. She kept a wary eye on the much larger animal, though.

And both cats seemed to feel less threatened by Remi than they appear with just about any human visitor. No, we don’t plan to get a dog.

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