Thoughts for Thursday – Would You Like to Train Your Cat?

Are you scoffing yet? “Train a cat?” you say. To do what? Sleep sixteen hours a day, beg for food, turn her nose up at the food, sprinkle litter throughout the house, leave fur on everything, scratch furniture, dive for the door when someone opens it, meow when you’re talking on the phone?

Yeah, that’s what cats do. Most of us would like to retrain cats from some of their natural habits or habits that maybe we allowed them to develop because—well, because she was so cute when she was a kitten. Sometimes we create the monster in our precious kitty-cats.

I once had a cat named Pom-Pom (my small children named her). She liked joining the family for supper, so the kids and I provided her own chair and let her sit at the table with us. How do you explain that to guests who, perhaps, aren’t as cat-friendly as you are—you know, those who believe cats have their place?

I’ve been guilty of confusing my poor cat when a guest comes in and sees the cat sitting on the kitchen table or counter. I’ll say, “No-no, Fluffy. You know you’re not allowed up there,” while lifting her down and sending her on her way. Talk about mixed messages for the poor cat, who often sits on the table.

So how do you train a cat? It depends on what you want him to do. A favorite treat is a good start—but you’d better be clear about how you want the cat to behave. You must be strictly consistent and clear in your “demands.” But be reasonable too. Is this something beneath the dignity of the cat? For some, no amount of treats is going to make him change or perform.

You must have a deep understanding of cats and your cat in particular. And it doesn’t hurt to choose a breed or a cat with just the right personality that is conducive to training. This is not all cats. I know of some who were rescued from shelters with just the right temperament, including some who have performed in movies. Samantha Martin, the woman behind Acro-Cats, the wonderful troupe of performing cats, adopted all of her cats from shelters.

If you have a desire to train your cat to embrace the cat carrier, for example, to stop inappropriate elimination outside the box, or to do a few tricks, put your paws on a good book on the topic or a video. There are so many for a variety of purposes, I won’t even try to advise. I suggest doing your own research to find the most appropriate teaching device for your situation and desires.

Read a lot of articles and books, and watch a lot of videos. Would love to hear the results.

As for training my own cats—in our house it’s the other way around. They have us trained to observe treat time and meal time. They know how to wake us up if we’ve slept in or randomly if they’re bored or they can see the bottom of the kibbles bowl.

I don’t know what books they’ve read or what videos they’ve watched, but they’ve done a pretty good job of teaching us our place.

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – What’s a Cat Writer?

That’s probably the one most often asked question I get when I mention the Cat Writers Association or conference. The second is, “What’s with the ears?” Yes, some of us wear cat ears for fun throughout the conference. And a few even bring their cats to the party—trained cats used for therapy and teaching.

The cats wear harnesses and leashes and ride around in pet-friendly strollers. They are content to sit quietly during the sessions, but they do get free time to lounge in their rooms as well. Some perform as part of a session. And all attendees love seeing and interacting with these cats. We all miss our cats and enjoy that cat fix.

Members all write about cats and/or are cat artists, photographers, veterinarians, behaviorists, and so forth. What’s the big deal about writing about cats? I think that all of you reading this have a connection to a cat, several cats, or cats in general. Many of you care about the plight of cats and advocate for them. You are eager to learn more about cat issues and you adore sweet cat stories. So do those of us who belong to the Cat Writers Association (CWA). Our goal is to educate, advocate, and entertain with cats as our theme. We want to make a difference for cats while dabbling in a field and a subject we adore.

We learn a great deal from each other through the website, newsletter, social media accounts, and at the conference. That’s the beauty of a conference—that and the camaraderie and fun. Hopefully, our efforts to attend the CWA conference and the fact that we continue researching and learning is beneficial to you through our blogs, articles, and even our cat fiction.

This year, the Klepto Cat Mysteries garnered two Certificates of Excellence from CWA—a prestigious award. And I came home with a lot of new information and perspective to share with my readers throughout the year.

If you’re interested in knowing more about this amazing organization, visit the website at There are two levels of membership. Professional members have to be published or be a professional in a cat-related field. But there is amateur membership opportunities as well.


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Newsday Tuesday – Fun and Camaraderie at the Cat Writers Conference–Plus NEW Book

You may not have missed me, but I’ve been gone for a few days. I flew to St. Louis for the Cat Writers Association Conference where I enjoyed hanging out with a mix of writers, artists, veterinarians, animal behaviorists, cat rescue experts, therapy animal professionals, cat breeders and others who adore and advocate for cats. I also met representatives of some of our sponsors from Purina, Petco, Catster, GoodNewsFor Pets, CATalyst Council, Fear Free Pets, Cat Fancier,  Pet Sitters International and many others.

What a trip! In the end, I was scheduled to fly home Sunday, but Phoenix had other ideas and I ended up spending the night there compliments of American Airlines. That’s the first time in all of my travels that I’ve had that happen. Oh, I’ve had flights cancelled, but generally there were viable options and the wait was reasonable, so I waited at the airport.

This time I had to stay over and it turned out not to be a bad thing. The hotel they put me up in was delightful. The weather was great, and I took advantage of the down time to unwind and regroup. Ahhhhhhh! I flew into Santa Barbara yesterday morning refreshed and relaxed. But my busy life as a writer and as the trustee of my mother’s estate revved up as soon as I landed. Good thing I was ready for it.

Tomorrow I’ll share some pictures and stories from the 25th annual conference of the Cat Writers Association Conference in St. Louis. And to think I was just a “kitten” 9 years ago when I attended my first Cat Writers Conference. That’s what you’re called on your first conference. Mew. But first I have some good news. News that I know some of you have been waiting for.

Book 35 (Kindle version) is Available

While I was gone, the fairies worked their magic to publish the ebook version of my latest book—Book 35—“On the Wrong Side of the Paw.” I’m happy to announce that it’s available here:

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Frivolous Friday – Hilarious Cats

I couldn’t help it, I had to share some funny photos of cats. Visit  You’ll see photos of cats in all sorts of interesting and—yes—some side-splitting images. There are cats in precarious situations, twisted in strange poses, interacting with another animal—cat/dog/cow—making faces, hiding and so much more.

Enjoy the chuckles this Frivolous Friday.

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Thoughts for Thursday – Cat Fetishes

A fetish is a sort of obsession or fixation. Most of us have one or two and so do cats. For Sophie, it’s grass. She loves nibbling on grass and yowls for it whenever we step outside in the late afternoon. If we bring a tray of wheat grass home from the grocery store, she knows it immediately. She joins us in the kitchen as we’re unpacking the grocery bags and begins meowing for her grass treat.

Lily loves her tiny stuffed toys. She carries them around in her mouth every single day. As soon as I put them away, she drags them out again. She seems obsessed with having them in strategic places throughout the house. She also loves water. She’s our water bowl monitor. She lets us know when the fountain is unplugged or a water bowl is low or needs refreshing.

Some cats are obsessed with food. Well, Lily is probably in that category too—what else does she have to do all day, but obsess about her favorite things—food, water, and toys? Some cats, however, go above and beyond the norm. Evidently there is a condition in cats who are overly obsessed with food. It’s called “psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior” which involves begging and food-related aggression. In case you need it, here’s an article with more information about breaking the cycle of begging and other food-related behaviors:

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Cat Hangouts

If your cats are like mine, you never know where you might find them. Cats like to explore interesting places: the refrigerator, dishwasher, drawers, wastebasket, bags, boxes, the stove, and even, as you can see, a baseball cap. They love to hide, explore, and drive you crazy looking for them while they’re simply scrunched down in a new hidey place watching your frantic search.

I’ll never forget the time we had two beds delivered. When the deliverymen left, we could not find Lily. We searched in all of her usual hiding places, then went outside and got some of the neighbors involved in looking for her, thinking maybe she’d slipped out when the door was open. We were out of our mind with worry. It was suppertime for the cats. Lily is never late for supper. She’s the most gluttonous cat I’ve ever known. Eating is at the top of her list of important activities. Yet, that evening, she wouldn’t even come out to eat. Yes, something was terribly wrong.

Finally we decided that maybe the delivery people had scooped up our precious kitty with the wrapping they’d removed from the beds and had driven off with her in their truck. Just as we were making the call to the company, however, we see a little furry face peering out at us from a small space behind the TV. She was perfectly okay, but we were a wreck.

Where do your cats hide? Do they have any hidey places you haven’t found yet? How often are they hiding in plain sight?

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Newsday Tuesday – Why Do We Love Animal Videos?

If you’re like me, you love seeing cute cat videos and photos on the Internet. In fact, I enjoy watching the antics of any animal—horse, hedgehog, duck—did you see the momma duck who had somehow collected over 50 ducklings? And she had them all lined up in a row, too. Talk about super mom.

Here’s an interesting article explaining why so many of us are addicted to animal videos on the Internet. I don’t know about you, but when I go on facebook, I flip through political messages, advertisements, any sort of bashing posts or negativity. What am I looking for? Sweet messages and cute and interesting animal videos and pictures. Evidently I’m not alone. According to this article, first appearing in the New York Times, sweet animal videos are a small window of grace in a world full of negativity.




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Mindful Monday – A Little Help From the Cat

Cats like to be involved. I call it helping. Lily helps me tie my shoes when I’m preparing for a walk and remove them when I return. There’s something about the laces that intrigue her. She’s always dragging my cozy slipper sox around the house—trying to bring them to me, perhaps? She also helps me with the laundry. Her favorite games are, “keep away” or “dibs, this towel (shirt, sock) is mine.”

Her favorite activity is helping me in the kitchen. She always takes spill duty. Of course, if a bit of potato or carrot lands on the floor, she looks the other way. But she’s eager to help clean up a cheese or chicken spill. And she enjoys playing “paperweight” on my desk, and “paw the pen off the desk.”

I have to wonder how I ever managed to open the mail or read the newspaper without a cat around to help. Ever feel that way? But cats aren’t very good at helping with the vacuuming. Our cats hide on the highest perch in the house when I bring out the vacuum cleaner.

Outdoor cats make great gardening partners. They seem to enjoy the weed-pulling task, but don’t expect them to help with the watering.

Cats often show interest in your hobbies. Try to take a picture of a cat and she’ll reframe the image before you can press the shutter button. You may be shooting for a sweet close up of her face and end up with a blur of fur instead.

Lily loves tax season when I have papers organized in piles across my desk. At least she only lays on the stacks now. As a kitten, she’d scatter them as soon as I’d leave the room.

Our cats have been known to change the channel on the TV, secretly drop a toy in our shoe, pull things out of a slightly open dresser drawer, shred an important document or receipt, and urp up something overnight so that someone steps in the slimy gooey mess on the way to the bathroom the next morning.

Yes, cats like to be involved. And when the sewing project, card game, dusting chore, or letter-writing activity is over, it’s likely she’ll join you for a nap (or a bowl of ice cream).

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

The print version of Book 35 of the Klepto Cat Mystery series, On the Wrong Side of the Paw, was published May 1. The Kindle version should be available just about any day. Watch for the announcement. In the meantime, here’s the description:

The klepto cat digs up a long-held secret. While helping to manage a colony of homeless cats, Rags uncovers what could be clues to an old mystery. In this story, not only does Rags rescue a toddler from a precarious situation, he nearly loses his life saving a litter of kittens, he diagnosis another cat’s ailment in time to get him the proper treatment, and he paws the culprit in a decades old crime.

Readers Reviews for recent Klepto Cat Mysteries.

“There hasn’t been a book yet in this series that hasn’t kept me on the edge of my seat.”

“Rags’s adventures are heart-stopping at times and heart-warming all the time.”

“This is an extraordinary series.”

“Mystery combined with a loving and supportive family provides a wonderful reading experience.”

“These books are such a lovely place to visit with plenty of mystery in the cozy tradition.”

In the meantime, I’m busy at work on Book 36—another story with many twists and turns and a lot of kitty-cat action. Even though I’ve been doing some traveling,  I’m the trustee for my mother’s estate since she passed in late March, and I was involved in her care for many months, I’ve managed to continue bringing you six new stories each year and it appears that will be the case again this year.



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Thoughts for Thursday – When the Cat’s Away

We all know the rest of that saying—the mice will play. Well, what happens when you go away and leave your cat behind? Some people actually set up cameras so they can watch and even communicate with their animals when they’re gone.

We just returned from a little trip and we left our cats under the care of neighbors. We don’t have a camera system to keep an eye on the cats, but we sure see their reaction to us leaving as we prepare

We had one cat who often knocked the phone off the hook while we were gone. I always wondered if it was because when a call came in, she’d hear my voice on the answering machine and she was attacking the phone trying to find me. Or she was just tired of the robocalls disturbing her nap?

Tips for leaving your cat alone. Leave a freshly worn piece of clothing—pajamas are a good choice—on the bed or someplace else for your cat to cozy up to if she wants to in your absence. Leave plenty of fresh water and kibbles, if you feed kibbles. And try to get someone to feed who can do so pretty much on the schedule your cats are used to. Ask them to check on each cat each time they visit. If you have a hidey cat, tell caregiver where the cat usually hides and have them take a quick look to make sure there’s nothing terribly wrong with the cat.

Leave note with veterinarian’s number and show them where your carrier is.

With cell phones, texting, etc. it’s pretty easy to stay in touch with your pet sitter when you travel—so you don’t feel quite so removed from the home and the cats. You can actually call your landline and talk to your cat if you want to.

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