Frivolous Friday – You’d Better Believe Your Cat Needs Grooming Help

Some cats need extra special attention because of their fur type. However, we’ve found that all cats should be groomed. It’s good for the cat’s health as she will swallow less fur when she grooms herself, it’s a great bonding activity, and you’ll notice less fur on your clothes when you leave the house and clinging to your furniture, carpets, lampshades, floating around under the bed and dressers… those of you with cats know what I’m saying.

Sophie is a shorthair tortie. She does not get tangles or mats. Niiiiiice. She’s an easy maintenance cat. And of course, she loves to be groomed. Well, yeah, there are no tangles, so there’s no pain. Grooming is a lovely experience for Sophie. And we groom her often with a fine-tooth comb to remove her constantly shedding undercoat. I’m always surprised at how much fur comes out of her when she seems practically bald to start with.

Then there are the long-hair cats. Some of them have nice fur that doesn’t mat, so combing/brushing isn’t highly necessary, except for the reasons mentioned above. Then there are cats like Olivia. Yup, she’s prone to mats. Darn it. And, like most long-hairs who are prone to mats, she HATES being combed or brushed.

I thought she might be a fluffy cat, so I started grooming her when she was quite young. She hated it then and she dislikes it now. I’ve tried a variety of grooming tools and she kicks and bites each one of them. So I’ve had to make some decisions and try some new tactics. I comb her when she’s happily resting in my lap—nothing invasive, just a comfortable combing.

The other day I managed to work on a mat while she lay on my desktop. Little by little.

There are many grooming tools advertised, but I’ve found that not all tools work with all types of fur. Sophie’s fine-tooth comb pulls too much for Olivia, but the wide-tooth comb works pretty well on her fur and it is a good tool for working out the mats and tangles. I use scissors when I have to, but only when Olivia is super relaxed and then I’m super careful. You sure don’t want the cat to bolt and someone to get cut. Holding Olivia down and forcing the issue is out of the questions. Her feral beginnings still live fiercely inside her. I find that if I work with her mood we can get somewhere whether I’m trimming her claws or combing her.

Lily was a dream cat—such a sweet and relaxed and trusting cat, but we had to hold her down to trim her nails. We hated the fight so much that we’d sometimes make appointments with our vet just to have her claws trimmed. Already, though, I can trim Olivia’s claws without issue—if we do things her way. It takes time, but it works and it doesn’t terrorize Olivia (or me).

I am absolutely no authority on cat grooming, although I enjoy watching the cat groom herself. I think we all learn various techniques and methods with each of our cats. As we discussed, the tools for each cat may also vary. But here’s a site with great tips and pictures. https://www.wikihow.pet/Groom-a-Cat

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Thoughts for Thursday – What’s Happening in the Klepto (and Calico) Cat Factories

We’ve just published Book 52 of the Klepto Cat Mystery series. The print and kindle versions of A Whisker Away are both available at Amazon.com. Order the print version and receive an autographed copy at https://KleptoCatMysteries.com.

I’ve finished the first complete draft of Book 2 in the Calico Cat Mysteries. One more meticulous edit and it will be ready to visit the professional editor. The artist is working on a cover design. We could launch by mid July—something to look forward to, readers.

Meanwhile, I’ve been asked to write an article on cozy mystery-writing for the WPN newsletter. That’s Writers and Publishers Network (formerly SPAWN). I did a podcast with Kathleen Kaiser, available on all major podcast services https://talkingbookpublishing.today/episode-12-patricia-fry/ and I sat in on a panel discussion about cozies a few months ago.

Coming up, I’m on a panel produced by Broward Libraries in Florida along with cozy mystery writers, Mollie Hunt, Diane Stuckart, Debbie De Louise, and Carol Douglas. We’ll talk about writing cozies with cats.

What’s next at the Klepto Cat (and Calico Cat) Mysteries Factory? Hopefully more fun cat adventures for both Rags and Olivia because, well, I’m still having too much fun to do anything else.

Meanwhile visit the Klepto Cat Mystery website: https://KleptoCatMysteries.com and the Calico Cat Mystery website: https://CalicoCatMysteries.com. Learn more about me, Rags, Olivia, and see a list of 100 things you can learn from reading my cozy mysteries.

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Cats as Floor Monitors

I always thought dogs were the best pets for kitchen clean up. You drop a dollop of mashed potatoes on the floor and the dog’s right there to lap it up. Spaghetti, a cherry tomato, a slice of cucumber, or a green bean, the dog is bound to lick that soiled floor clean. On the other hand, a cat is more likely to leave it lay.

Sure, the cat is intrigued when something drops. She will run to it or saunter, depending on her mood, and she’ll sniff it and generally walk away, unless it’s tuna or something she isn’t supposed to eat. Olivia is a fiend for peanut butter, especially the kind in the Reese’s peanut butter cups. No, we don’t let her have that at all. We happened to learn of her elevated sense of taste when she dug a wrapper out of the trash once and began licking it. No-No, Olivia.

Has your cat ever helped you find something you thought was lost or pointed out something you should know about? Some cats will let you know when they or another pet in the family has urfed on your carpet or your bed, for example. Cats will show you where the lid to your toothpaste went. They’ll hide things from you—knock an earring off the dresser and bat it underneath. But they’ll often eventually help you find it—usually long after the occasion for which you desperately wanted to wear it.

Then there are bugs. Cats have bug radar. It’s uncanny the way they can scope out even the tiniest bug in the most obscure place and they’re eager to tell you about it.

I notice they will usually walk away from a spill from the litter box, however—you know, when something clings to their fur and drops off later someplace in the house. No one seems willing to admit to that faux pas. I remember an incident some years ago when I found one of those “cling-on” bits from the litter box half way up a wall. Now that was startling. I figured that the fluffy cat I had at the time, when he realized something was stuck to his bushy tail, gave it a fling, and the “something” hit the wall. Cats can be creative.

 

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Newsday Tuesday – 10 Amazing Cat Stories and 2 NEW Books!

First, I’d like to announce that both the Kindle and Print versions of Book 52 of the Klepto Cat Mystery series, A Whisker Away, are ready for purchase at Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0978226LP/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1623755342&sr=1-1 . Order your copy today.

Speaking of Books: Have you read Debbie De Louise’s book Pet Posts: The Cat Chats? This is a fun and informative book featuring blog posts—some of them written from the cat’s point of view. Also available in print and ebook formats at Amazon.com.

We all love hearing and reading about some of the amazing things cats do. And make no mistake, cats can do and have done some pretty incredible things. How often do you marvel at something your cat does—his reaction to  a word, a timely gesture as if he understood a command or a suggestion, an unexpected response, or a seemingly brilliant and totally unexpected activity or response?

Some cats become famous for things they’ve done whether the deed was intentional or not. Heck, when it saves a life, who cares what made the cat do it, instincts, a survival mentality, or intelligence?

Here’s a rundown of 10 incredible cats doing some pretty amazing things, from saving a baby to surviving a fire to chasing a bear up a tree (and this cat was declawed, believe it or not). There’s the story of Tiger, a cat that took on four pit bulls and, not only saved a 97-year-old woman’s life, but survived to mew the story, as did a feisty cat who challenged an alligator.

Also in this collection of hero cat stories, is one about a cat that called 911 to save its owner and how cats were used in wartime.

And to think that we commune and cuddle with some of these rough-and-tumble warriors.

https://www.toptenz.net/top-10-amazing-cat-stories.php

 

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Mindful Monday – Which is Your Cat’s Best Side

We all have cameras at the ready now and many of us are constantly snapping photos of our pets. I often receive cute pictures of a great-granddaughter smooching with her horse. She’s 3. Another three-year old great-grand posed recently with her favorite chicken, Reba, on her shoulder. And you know how often I photograph my cats and other people’s cats. Just a while ago I caught Olivia pulling my sweater off a countertop and claiming it as hers. Yes, she was sitting on it all prideful-like.

What are your favorite photos of your cats? Do you chase your cat around hoping she’ll pose for you? I love shots that feature Olivia’s tail—so majestic. And I’ve yearned to capture her doing her signature stretch where she stretches out her front paws with her tail arched over her body touching her head. Magnificent. She does this several times a day, but do you think I can get a good shot of that? Not yet. And now the stretch seems to be less dramatic—she isn’t putting as much into it as she did during her first year. I have a couple of shots of this pose, but they aren’t that good. I’m just not quick enough.

I like quirky, hilarious photos of cats, where they’re caught off guard doing something out of the ordinary, like curled up or laid out in a crazy sleeping position. It’s fun to photograph cats with props—flowers, a ceramic or stuffed cat or teddy bear, looking into a mirror or interested in something unusual such as the piece of lettuce Olivia found on the floor once. What did she do when she saw it? She sniffed it, then laid down next to it and posed for a picture. Yeah, she’s getting the idea. Mama’s always looking for a cute picture to post.

If you want to see more photos of Olivia, check out my facebook pages, facebook.com/PatriciaFry, Facebook.com/KleptoCatMysteries and Facebook.com/CalicoCatMysteries.

And don’t forget to send me your great, hilarious, and fun photos of your cats to use in this blog.

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Fun and Factual Friday – The Why’s and How’s of Presenting a New Series

Okay, so this is day 5 of my “me” posts—all about me and my work. As you’ve learned, I have a fairly successful thing going with the Klepto Cat Mysteries and I’m having such a good time creating stories for Rags’s fans. Why, especially at my age, would I even consider bringing out a new series, which most of you know I have done in recent months. Why? I was inspired.

Olivia made me do it. Olivia was found living under a house with her siblings when she was a wee kitten. We first met her through her photograph—who could resist that cutie pie with that adorable head tilt? We had recently lost our precious Lily to kidney disease, and were ready to love another fur being.

Olivia is such an interesting, creative, ultra-curious—almost eerily aware cat. She’s just a year old now and is no longer tiny. She’s 11 pounds of rough-and-tough, sweet and sassy fluff and we love her to pieces.

I began displaying photos of Olivia on my Facebook page immediately upon bringing her home, and she has charmed my followers (now her followers). People enjoyed my stories of Olivia’s antics—mishaps, shows of affection, and downright naughtiness. She’s unique—but then each cat is. And the more time I spent with this delightful calico, the more inspired I became to capture her purrsonality on Facebook and in this blog. I found myself sharing bits and pieces from Olivia’s repertoire of mischief in my Klepto Cat Mysteries. Then I got the idea (thank you, Olivia) to give her a cameo appearance in a story. That was so much fun and so well received, that I took it a step further and YES, I wrote the first book in a new series featuring Olivia.

Oh! Olivia has piqued the interest of many—fans love her character and are asking for more. Spoiler Alert: Book Two—Where’s Olivia, is in the works Oh yes, after the cliff-hanger at the end of Book One, I went right to work on Book Two.

Check out Olivia and her Calico Cat Mystery series at amazon, but also at our new Website: https://CalicoCatMysteries.com. Order print books from the site and you’ll get the book autographed and pawtographed—yes, with Olivia’s actual paw print. No worries, I’m not stepping her foot into ink. We took one paw print using nontoxic, child-proof ink mixture and a friend and fan carved a rubber stamp for us. Thank you, Claire!

 

 

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Thoughts for Thursday – When I Put Pen to Paper

Finally I was ready to start writing. Eeeeeek, scary. Would I be able to pull it off? I had already put in decades as a nonfiction writer and author by then. And I’d never taken a course in writing—well, one creative writing course forty years earlier. I wrote a poem. That was creative. Now to the challenge of creating a valid, cohesive, entertaining, meaningful story. Yes, meaningful. It is important to me that I teach through my writing—even fiction. At my KleptoCatMysteries website I list 100 things you can learn from the Klepto Cat Mysteries. Some of the things are tangible, how-to-type things, others have to do with kindness, respect, how to treat people and animals. And fans do love my characters. Some say they’d like to sit down and get to know some of them better over tea. Others say that reading my stories is like visiting with old friends.

My style is different—probably because I have not taken classes and I’ve never been much for reading fiction. My mother pointed out, “There’s a lot of dialog.” Yes, I guess there is. My stories are rather dialog-driven. And my cat characters do not talk, nor do they have a point of view. The stories are also human-driven with a lot of participation and contributions by the cats, of course.

My first book, Catnapped, was actually based loosely on a true story. Cats were being catnapped—what a great theme to go with for a cozy mystery with cats. And it worked. There are glimpses into my life, thought process, and character values portrayed throughout all of the books. I don’t know how an author can avoid that.

I’m convinced that my experience over the years writing nonfiction has been extremely useful in this new and surprisingly successful venture of mine. I notice that I bring many of the skills and concepts I learned over many years writing nonfiction to the table when I write fiction.

And how are the books selling? People—especially other writers—want to know. I’m selling between 3,000 and 4,000 copies each month—mostly the Kindle books. I publish each book in print as well for those who prefer holding a book or who want a nice gift for their favorite cat lover.

With this relative success, what are my plans for the future? There will be more Klepto Cat Mysteries. Book 52 just became a reality this week. I’ve also started a new series to produce alongside the Klepto Cat Mysteries. Most of you already know I just launched Book One of the Calico Cat Mysteries. That’s a whole story, which I’ll tell tomorrow. Stay posted.

 

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Wednesday Wonders – How to Choose a Cat Character

So I had my theme—Klepto Cat Mysteries. High five Lily! Now I needed a cat profile to play the part of the klepto cat. I thought about patterning the staring cat after Lily, but it just didn’t feel right. Lily wasn’t the right type. She was soft, sweet, quiet, snuggly, dependent, clingy… I needed a more confident, worldly cat for the staring role. After some thought, I decided to feature my mother’s lanky grey-and-white cat, Smokey. He definitely had the purrsonality I was seeking and what a thrill for my, then, 90-year-old mother to read stories in books with her cat on the cover.

Like Smokey, Rags is half ragdoll, but he looks absolutely nothing like his mother, a ragdoll. Like Smokey, Rags is a confident, friendly, and curious cat. He has his naughty quirks and he just seems more enlightened than a lot of cats I’ve known. Certainly Smokey has never done most of the things I attribute to his character, but I can see him doing some of those things if he had the opportunity.

When I first started writing the Klepto Cat Mystery stories, I constantly used Smokey and Lily, and other cats to flesh out some of the scenes. I observed the way the cats moved and reacted. I practiced describing their various expressions, stances, attitudes, and poses to use in stories. That was (and still is) one way I conduct research for the Klepto Cat Mysteries. One thing I didn’t do was read cozy mysteries with cats by other authors. I did not want to be influenced in any direction, especially when I started getting feedback from readers. Some tell me that my books are their absolute favorite among cozy mysteries. So I believe I’m doing okay with my brand of writing and developing stories for my series. Which brings us to the content of the stories. That’s for tomorrow’s post. (Pix Smokey in various poses.)

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Tell-all Tuesday – Why Cozy Mysteries?

Okay, so the decision was made. I would write what I called light mysteries—fun, easy-reading, light-hearted mysteries. I’d been reading them and liked the feel-good feeling of having entered a world apart from my reality and being thoroughly entertained throughout the experience. I’m not much for hard-core, sappy, or fantasy fiction. I don’t choose to read science fiction. I wanted to see if I could replicate the style of those “light” mysteries I’d been reading. But I needed a theme. Then I remembered something—another author I used to read. Lillian Jackson-Braun, wrote fiction featuring cats. I’m guessing she was at least one of the first to write sweet mysteries with cats. YES, I thought. Cats. I want cats in my stories.

Truth be told, I’m pretty sure it was with my current tabby, Lily’s urging that this thought came to mind.

But is this already being done? Is there a market for light mysteries with cats, I wondered. By then I’d already joined the Cat Writers Association and I knew there was at least one writer who was emulating Ms. Jackson Braun’s concept. Additional research showed that there were others and that these books were called, cozy mysteries. How cozy! But was there a market for them? Were they selling? Was there room for another cozy mystery with cats?

The answer seemed to be yes. Okay, that’s it. I’d write cozy mysteries with cats. Additional research revealed several more cozy mysteries series with cats, and they all had themes. What would be my theme?

Believe it or not, a cat answered that question for me. My tabby cat, Lily, had a unique habit or behavior. She constantly brought me her toys and even my slipper socks. Could I create a cat character from Lily’s quirk? I’d heard about cat burglars—klepto cats. In fact I’d read of one in veterinarian, James Herriot’s delightful books in the 1970s.  I always believed that if Lily had been allowed to run free outside, she probably would have brought us all sorts of trinkets and treasures from around the neighborhood—an interesting and fun concept.

The first thing you should do when you hit on a theme you want to write about is to find out if anyone else is already doing this. My research indicated that there was not, so now I had chosen my genre and theme. It was time to develop a cat character. But how? What qualities would the cat need? What kind of cat should I feature? Tomorrow I’ll discuss how I chose my staring cat—no it wasn’t Lily and I’ll explain why.

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Mindful Monday – My Path Into the Wonderful World of Fiction

This week we’re going to shake up things a bit. People ask and I’m going to answer your burning questions about writing cozy mysteries with cats. You’ll see some new titles for the daily blogs and it’s your opportunity to learn how I approach the world of cozy mystery-writing.

It surprises people to learn that when I first started writing for publication—48 years ago—my focus was on “give-me-the-facts-

Daisy

ma’am” type writing. I wanted to be a freelance article-writer. I was fascinated by the way journalists could take facts and present them in an easy-to-read, interesting form and manage to get them published in those wonderful slick magazines. I wanted to be one of those writers. I yearned to spend my days creating interesting articles from a mere dit-dot of a theme, and then open a magazine to see my words with my byline.

I held that dream over a period of about ten years. But dreaming isn’t all I did during that time that I was raising three young daughters. I also studied. I read the magazines I wanted to write for. I subscribed to writers magazines and read them from cover to cover. I devoured Writers Digest. Imagine my joy when I eventually saw MY articles published in Writer’s Digest and many other writers magazines over the years.

Finally the day came that I would start my writing career. My daughters were in junior high school, and I had the kind of time I needed to write. I set up a borrowed manual typewriter on a TV tray in a corner of my bedroom, stocked up on typing paper, white out, and carbon paper, and I became a writer. That was in 1973 when beautiful magazines were abundant and freelance writers were, too. Plus, there was actually money to be made and career’s to be advanced.

Fast forward to 2010. I attended a class reunion and discovered that just about everyone I had gone to school with was now retired. I wanted to retire, but how does one retire from writing when you love the process. I had to admit that I was getting a little tired of freelance work—coming up with the ideas, fleshing them out, contacting magazine editors and publishers, writing to their standards, being rejected a LOT… Yeah, I was tired of some of that. “But,” I told myself, “there are many other avenues for a writer who doesn’t want to stop writing. Maybe I could write fiction.”

So I brazenly closed the last chapter on my freelance writing career and wrote a book of true cat stories. It wasn’t fiction, but it was a favorite topic and it was an exercise in writing in story style instead of article style. I had to find out if I could write a story and if I enjoyed the process. I could and I did. The result was “Catscapades, True Cat Stories.” This blog was born of that project.

I soon discovered that there wasn’t a very large market for cat stories or people stories, for that matter—you know, memoirs. “What is selling?” I wondered. I conducted more research and learned that fiction was selling like crazy—fiction ebooks. First time authors were selling bundles of Kindle books.  “Now,” I thought, “that might be a place for me to start. I will write a book of fiction in order to test my ability—to test the waters of a new fiction series.” But what in the world would I write? This post will be continued tomorrow with “Why Cozy Mysteries?”

(Note: Throughout my writing career I always had a cat or two or more at my side. Those pictured here are some of those cats.)

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