The Cat Writers’ Association was created in 1992 to share expert information about cats and to support writers dedicated to that effort. Its talented members include authors, bloggers, photographers, cat behaviorists, humorists, artists, veterinarians, and radio personalities, all of whom are dedicated to promoting the well-being of cats.
The annual conference was a couple of weekends ago, featuring seminars and panels on anything cat-related. There’s also an awards ceremony to celebrate and honor the best works of the year. It just so happens that several CWA members are also Catster contributors and won awards, which is really something to meow about.
I was one of those winners: I was selected for the prestigious 2013 Writer of the Year Award, as presented by Friskies/Purina for the compilation of works I had done on my blog, Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection, as well as other venues to promote the health, happiness, and well-being of cats throughout the year.
This truly is a big deal, and the moment my name was called, I knew my life had forever changed. I pictured a parade in my name and being presented a key to the city I live in. I would be swamped by autograph seekers everywhere I went, my phone would be constantly ringing, and surely I would be invited on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which is my ultimate bucket list item.
Well, none of that happened. I did get a call — not from Ellen, but from my brother, who left me a message to congratulate me on some award he heard I won about cats or something like that and then he went on to start talking about himself.
I realized none of this mattered. After all, it’s about the cats. But the real question was would my own cats treat me differently and with more respect after they saw I had won an award? I pondered this question as I was scooping their litter and cleaning up a hairball I had just stepped in.
I decided to test it out and put my beautiful award on the floor next to my still unpacked, swag-filled suitcase. Not even a polite sniff or sideways glance. Zoey was busy tearing away at my suitcase, pawing for loot, and the next thing I knew, there was cat paraphernalia all over the floor.
It was at that point I learned a harsh lesson. It turns out none of it was ever about the writing for my cats. Respect? What respect?
All the purrs of support and the biscuit kneading on my lap by my cats throughout the year were nothing more than a calculated ruse to encourage me to toil away at my computer, night after night, cranking out one article after another. The reality was, my membership in the CWA was strictly a selfish means to an end for my cats. It was about bringing home the cat swag — and they didn’t even have the decency to pretend otherwise.
But, that’s just my cats. Perhaps it would be different for the other Catster winners, so I reached out to find out whether they were getting the validation and respect from their cats that was so blatantly being denied to me. Here are the exclusive scoops, in no particular order:
Angie Bailey, who won a Muse Medallion for her weekly Catster column "Kids, Cats, Chaos!"
Angie says, “I was excited to show my Muse Medallion to my cats — after all, they are a big part of the reason I won the thing. Instead of celebrating with me, they wanted to know where their medallions were. When I told them we’d share the one, they laughed in my face, calling me selfish and a jerk face. And then Phoebe took a giant smelly poop, Saffy begged for food and Cosmo dry-humped a stuffed bear on my bed. No celebrations here … just business as usual.”
JaneA Kelley, who won for her Catster post “8 Ways to Make Your Senior Cat’s Golden Years More Comfortable” and for her blog, Paws and Effect
JaneA decided to sleep with her awards. Thomas and Bella were very upset that their rightful place in the bed had been usurped by a couple of chunks of metal.
“The cats were furious that I decided to snuggle my Medallions instead of them,” she says. “And the fact that they are the real authors behind Paws and Effect only made it worse. My co-workers complimented me on all my new piercings when I showed up at the office the next day. They’d be shocked and horrified if they knew the truth.”
Cimeron Morrissey won a Muse Medallion for her Catster Heroes article “Project Bay Cat Helps San Francisco Bay’s Rock-Dwelling Kitties” as well as several special awards for her Cat Fancy piece, "What’s One Week? Confessions of a Reluctant Foster Parent."
When she shared the great news with the cats of Project Bay Cat in particular, they congratulated her with head-bumps and purrs. “Now that I think about it, their excitement might have had more to do with the wet food I had with me than the award, but hey whatever, I’ll take it!”
Amy Shojai returned home to mixed reviews from her fur-family. “Sixteen-year-old Seren-kitty and smart aleck Magical-Dawg greated me with their usual… “Where have you been, I missed you sooooo much…Treats? Do I smell TREATS?” And the`n they proceeded to unpack my suitcase looking for edibles. (Magic settled for fragrant socks, but Seren is a bit more discriminating.) Since Seren-kitty inspired much of my award-winning book, I wanted her opinion most of all.
“Her reaction? She SNEEZED all over it (yuck!) and Magic decided if it wasn’t edible, it didn’t matter. Since both pets are my in-house editors (nothing gets published without their teeth-mark edits or paw-prints of approval) I do have to listen to them. While they rarely agree on anything and usually compete for my attention (the cat routinely wins), I was surprised when they came to a consensus on my Muse Medallion for Best Cat Behavior Book. They even had a note for the prize committee to improve the appeal of awards for next year: “Needs more bacon.” I’m not sure what the airport security would say about that, though.”
Sandy Robins says, “I didn’t win four Muse Medallions — my cats Fudge and Ziggy did! The awards are simply a visual reminder from them to me that dogs have masters and cats have staff. They did the work. I simply documented their feeling, traits, characteristics and personalities.
Layla Morgan Wilde‘s cat Odin says of his mom, who won for her photograph "Snow Cat" in the Black and White Photography Series category, “I’m my mom’s muse and she can’t even get a Muse in my size? Next year, get me a Mini Muse okay?"
Marci Kladnik, who won three Muse Awards for her contributions, which include her newspaper column "Catalyst for Cats" (Santa Ynez Valley News), just improved her home to include several skywalks for her cats.
“My fur kids have no interest whatsoever in my Muse Medallions,” she reports. "As usual, they were only interested in the toys and yummy treats I’d brought back for them from the conference. I scattered those all over the new walkways and they went for them like a bunch of starving ferals. They only pretended to look at the medals because there were treats on them and my other cats, Tweety and Barney, didn’t even bother to look at them."
Well, there you have it. Despite the fact that the majority of cat opinion leans toward the treats and not the awards, in all seriousness, major congratulations go out to everyone who won. The talent level of all involved is incredible and the dedication and support they have to making the world a better place for cats is to be commended. These awards truly are earned and they are an honor.