Tag Archives: Cat Writers Association

Elizabette Cohen;s book, “Most of My Patients Wear Fur: Tales of Small Animals and Their Big City Vet”

Getting a baseline blood work on your pet will aid in early detection of future problems for your cat, dog, or other companion animal. This is one of a myriad of suggestions that Dr. Elizabette Cohen, DVM makes to pet owners in her book, “Most of My Patients Wear Fur, Tales of Small Animals and Their Big City Vet.”

In a series of vignettes, some serious, others hilarious, and some that are almost hard to believe, Dr. Cohen takes readers inside the world of veterinary medicine and surgery.

Published in 2007, the 109-page book, including acknowledgements, is an amazing, quick, educational read. It’s apparent she knows her stuff, has an intense connection with animals and practices cutting edge care for her four-legged patients. I had never heard of Dr. Cohen before attending the Cat Writer’s Association’s Annual Conference in White Plains, NY last November. She had been asked to do a special presentation on pet care, asked for an encore appearance because she had received such rave reviews the previous year. She also graciously gave a free copy of her book to everyone that attended her presentation. I must say I was impressed. She had an answer for every question with medical reasons to back them up. She discussed litter box problems, dental health, and stress related illnesses. I really zeroed in on the need for baseline blood tests as part of regular veterinary exams to establish a norm for the pet. These baselines can then be used to evaluate results from future tests in the event there’s a medical problem.

I’ve often though the veterinary care my cats have received after leaving central New Hampshire some 15 years ago, has been inadequate. In New Hampshire, baseline blood work, testing stool samples for parasites and preventive dental work were incorporated into the regular exam, not something special that you had to request. Until most recently, I haven’t found a veterinarian that performed baselines or testing for parasites and that was only upon request. But that’s another story to be discussed in an upcoming blog post.

Dr. Cohen is an accomplished veterinarian. She is a USDA accredited veterinarian who practices in New York City and Long Island. She lectures of animal-related subjects and offers her services to several nonprofit organizations (thus the presentation to CWA). She received her BA from Columbia University and her DVM from Cornell University, one of the best veterinary schools in the United States. In addition to practicing veterinary medicine, she shares pet advice, delivering Healthy and Happy pet reports every Saturday and Sunday on WCBS880.com worldwide and WCBS 880AM radio in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

In the book, Dr. Cohen talks about:

  • Owners that think they need to learn a foreign language to communicate with a Japanese Akita or any pet with a foreign derivative.
  • If the owner is upset, the pet may sense this and become agitated.
  • Even for exams calling for only booster shots, a thorough exam is a must.
  • It’s easier to feel the size and shape of organs in a thinner animal than one that’s obese.
  • Adrenaline surges from fear can temporarily numb pain, and owners can think the pet is playing tricks on them to gain attention because they act perfectly fine at the vet’s office.
  • Dogs and cats that undergo chemotherapy do not lose their hair.

As you can see, the book offers a wealth of information. In part one, she goes from “Have I Got a Job for You, Strange Events, Stranger Events, Puppy Love and Kitty Care, Help, to When the Time Comes. In this latter chapter, she talks about how it breaks her heart every time she puts an animal to sleep because she’s gone through it herself saying it is an emotional roller coaster,” she says in the book, because it’s hard to know when the right time is. Euthanasia is a very difficult subject, but it’s also kind, because it can be the most humane option when a pet is in pain, or has no chance for recovery. She also advises people that have put a pet to sleep or have lost a pet due to illness or accident to talk to other pet owners because they will understand that it was not just a dog or cat, but a part of the family.

In part two, “The Doctor is Me,” she outlines her journey from childhood to becoming a veterinarian. She talks about her affinity of animals at a very young age, including hatching an incubated chicken as part of a science project, only to keep those chickens at her parents’+++ house until they grew into big roosters. Then, she housed them at her grandparent’s back yard.  She tells how a guidance counselor discouraged her from going into veterinary medicine because there were so few veterinary schools in the country. It was also a time when there were very few females in the field. They encouraged her to go into an easier field like becoming a doctor.

On a humorous, or maybe not so humorous note for veterinary students, she tell freshman students becoming so immersed in anatomy that they no longer see a dog or cat walking, but see ‘a series of  muscles and bones.” Upon graduation, she was faced with the decision of medicine versus surgery, weighing the pros and cons of both. She also faced the decision of working for a nonprofit organization or private practice. She opted for the latter, taking emergency phone calls at the wee hours of the morning.

Even if you haven’t had a chance to hear Dr. Cohen make a presentation, or hear one of her one-minute radio spots, put “Most of My Patients Wear Fur” on your must read list. You’ll come away with a number of times that you’ll think, “Wow, I didn’t know that.” I certainly did, and admit I came away with a whole new appreciation of how difficult it is to be a veterinarian.

Have you read Dr. Cohen’s book? If so share your thoughts and insights about it. Do you have a favorite pet information book that you’d recommend we read, or talk about in a future blog post? Paws for Reflection welcomes your input and suggestions.






It’s obvious a lot of people love cats. But would you believe there’s a whole organization devoted to writing about them? The International Cat Writer’s Association is devoted to writing about cats, whether it be book authors, bloggers, newspaper writers, artists, or magazine contributors.

Recently, the CWA held their annual conference at the Crowne Plaza in White Plains, NY. Several authors were honored for their hard work, winning Muse Medallions (the top honor in a particular category) and Special Awards. I for one was thrilled by winning a Muse Medallion for a newspaper series on Problems Created from Cat and Dog Overpopulation.

I also had an opportunity to learn so much. There were conferences about blogging, finding credible sources for articles, and writing the perfect query letter. I’ve come back enlightened and energized, with hopes of creating even better cat related articles.

Stay posted, and I share more cat conference information later this week.


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It’s Monday MEOWsings, and I gotta tell you life can just frankly be a BITCH. and we need to get  in control or it’ll take control of us.

Now, I just love Fall. Living in New England, we have bright orange and red foliage greet us as we drive down the street or walk out the back door. The nights are cool, and the sky is bright blue – except this year, which has been remarkably rainy and dreary.

Add to that gloom -Life’s inconveniences and major catastrophes….. What’s going to break next? When my D70 Nikon broke the end of July, I thought it was enough to put me over the top…It was too expensive to fix, so I bit the bullet and upgraded to a better and more expensive model. I thought maybe I should replace it with the same model on E-Bay, but what if the seller was a shyster, and I got ripped off…. A lot of people have success with used online purchases, but with my luck……

OK, so a few weeks later my car started blowing smoke out the tail pipe, and seemed to have no power when going up steep hills. Well, let’s say, five times into the garage (once was for a tire blow-out that a left me walking two miles with flashlight in hand to get home – there wasn’t  any cell service, a problem for rural New England.) After two months of hit or miss diagnoses with the problem getting worse, I said slow down, you’ve got to do something different. I called a person that worked on cars. No, he didn’t have the equipment to diagnose the problem, but here’s something that I hear is very good. That guy said I’ll recommend …… who diagnoses some of the computer problems on cars I work on…..That next call, yes, we do alot of diagnostic work, but it’s a $75 flat fee whether it takes five minutes or two hours. Then we charge .. by the hour… I think I know what your problem might be… So Wednesday early morning, I trundle off to another garage… You have a sensor gone that’s regulating the oxygen intake on your engine. I’ll bet you’re not getting very good gas mileage… And by the way, you need about $1,000 of repairs to get your car inspected.

I’d planned to have a new bay window put in the old farmhouse. Being able to open the windows in the summer would be great. Plus, I could take some photos of the beautiful birds out back. I’ve wanted some since I sold the old house in New Hampshire in 1995. This was going to be the year. I talked with the contractor in June… It was September before he came to size the window, and another three weeks for it to come in. But when he came to cut the hole for the window – Tuesday – it rained for the next three days, leaving a double piece of plastic covering a gaping 10 x 12 foot hole. The weather did not cooperate, and it took another three weeks to complete that project. I just painted the window yesterday….

That job wasn’t complete when a few weeks ago, the bathtub started draining very slowly, like over an hour after taking a shower. The sink had been gurgling, and I was hoping that the trees I’d had cut beside the house would cut back on possible septic system problems. That thought stuck till I flushed the toilet Friday evening to find it coming up through the bathtub drain….. Yikes, and to top it off, how do you  deal with that and four cats that like to hang out in the bathroom… covering the bathtub so they can’t hang out, just in case, it does this again.

I immediately called someone to pump out the septic system, well expecting the worst of a system that was installed close to 50-years ago. He said call a guy to have him shovel off the cover…. He showed early the next morning. We couldn’t find the tank, and I was expecting the worst. He kept shoveling and shoveling following the pipes he found. He suggested renting a small excavator, and pointed out he could do a replacement for less cost than larger contractors. This certainly was worth considering, but…

  •  Could I trust him to do a good job?
  •  Did he know what he was doing?
  • Would I be sorry I made this choice?

With the excavator, we found the cover, well that is about half of it. Water was pouring in around it from the springs that run all through the hill upon which I live… Oh no, water problems, mud problems.. I put in an order on Saturday  morning for a new septic tank.

Well, 20 loads of gravel later, and a whole host of digging, I now have indoor plumbing once again. Little do we know how we can’t live without it. I remember the days of an old out house some 50 years ago. That’s when this system was put in. It could have been worse, but I have to admit, it’s been a Fall From Hell.

They say when it rains, it pours…and it sure has this fall, or perhaps all year.  The expense is bad enough, but the stress and the time is another. Waiting for returned phone calls, waiting for someone to show up, making sure you catch them before they leave so you know what to do that night or the next day, ordering materials, making sure the work was done the way you wanted it done. I came home to find a kitchen pipe moved, but I couldn’t open the top kitchen cabinet…..just one more thing…I felt like my head was spinning out of control, and I was ready to very thick head of hair completely out.

At least me and the kitties have been healthy (knock on wood). And we say thanks for what is right, or getting through what went wrong every day….

If you have a story to share, please share.

Till next time, when it’s back to Cats around the World Wednesday…. Gotta run to get that car inspected..


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I’ve been taking an online writing class, and it says to blog about a whole host of topics, not just cats, or cats around the world.  I kinda find that hard to do because I just love cats, and want to write about them, and find out how they fare worldwide.

Today, I’ll still write about cats, but also talk about how to contain your feline friends when having ‘work done around the house’.

I’m having  a new bay window put into my kitchen. It’s going to be absolutely awesome when it’s done, but that’s when it’s done. Needless to say, a project that should have taken two weeks at the most has strung out into three to four. For one thing, the weather has been anything but cooperative.  The contractor cut a five by ten foot hole for the window – and covered it with some lovely double plastic. That would have been fine except it rained for the next three days and then there was the weekend when they didn’t work.  With it being October in New England, it became relatively damp and chilly, and each day seemed more dismal.

That was bad enough without my four feline house companions deciding they had to check out this change. A huge hole covered with plastic was very enticing, and curiosity kept them pawing away at the plastic. Fear of one of them tearing a hole in it, and running off in the middle of the night, added to my woes. Even if they didn’t tear it away with their claws, the weight of their bodies could send them hurling out to the outside world.

Every morning for the past few weeks, I’ve had to prepare the cats for their life upstairs. carrying up fresh food and water, and corralling each of them to the upstairs.  Now you know that after day one or two, they know what’s coming, and they try their hardest to hide and escape confinement to the upstairs for the day. And once one is safely behind the hall door, once you open it to put the second one in, the first one runs out. That scenario gets repeated at least two to three times every morning.

Even though there’s two nice beds and lots of sunshine, food and boxes up there, they want to hang out downstairs and see what’s going on today. Even better, they’d like to find a way to sneak out and enjoy these last days of fall before the winter snows arrive.  I really can’t blame them all that much, but…they need to stay safe and sound so I don’t worry about them all day while at work.

Well, today is Halloween. And there’s no fear for trick or treaters because the construction continues. Today, I have no water because the contractors cut a pipe in the kitchen, put on some new counter top, and spent a lot of hours trying to make the water shut off work. Because of the fiasco they faced today,  tonight, the kitties need to be confined upstairs because they can disrupt the counter top cement that’s still wet…Ouch!!! These cats won’t be happy… And guess what, neither will I.

The long-haired yellow tiger likes to snuggle in my neck and sleep over my face. That makes breathing very difficult. The siamese likes to sleep on top of my head. And the two black cats fight for premier sleeping space so they can snuggle with their mummy. That makes for not such a good night of sleep.

It’s  Meow-oween and my trick will be four unhappy felines being stuck upstairs for the night, with them fighting over me in the middle of the bed.  Our treat will be when the construction is done, and the kitties can have the roam of the house, and I can sleep in peace.


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In the beginning, there were cats, that is almost. Until recent years, it was believed that domestic cats originated in Egypt. Archeological findings had traced them living in a harmonious relationship with man (domesticated status) from as early as 3000 BC.

Advances in science, history and technology have lead us to know cats probably were around when mankind formed its first agrarian society and predate Egypt by over 9,000 years.

In 2004, scientist found the skeletal remains with a cat deliberately buried with a human in Cyprus, dating back to 9,500 years ago. Additional research has linked domestic cats to the Middle East’s Fertile Crescent, dating back some 12,000 years ago. The Neolithic Revolution, the first agricultural revolution, resulted in mankind being nomads and hunters to living in settlements, growing their food, and domesticating animals.

When humans were predominantly hunters, dogs were of great use, and  became domesticated long before cats. Cats only became useful to people when they began to settle down, till the earth to grow crops, and store the harvest for future use.  According to the Smithsonian Magazine’s History of Cats, with grain stores came mice, and when the first wild cats wandered into town, the stage was set for what the Science study authors call “one of the more successful ‘biological experiments’ ever undertaken.” The cats were delighted by the abundance of prey in the storehouses; people were delighted by the pest control.

Cats were found useful for their predatory abilities. By hunting rodents, the cats kept these menacing pests from ruining their food supply. Thus, cats became a benefit to them. They kept them around for their hunting prowess. Whether or not these cats became human friends, may never be known, but scientists do believe African Wild Cats (Felis silvestris lybica) or perhaps the wood cat (Felis sylvestris) may have actually  domesticated themselves. No matter what people think, cats are smart, so it would be no surprise to find they knew they’d have a better life by befriending these two legged humans.

There’s not a lot of written history about the cat until the times of Ancient Egypt. Here, we can find some information about the unique relationship between the Egyptians and cats, with the Egyptians elevating them to a god-like basis.

Several online sources say the domestication of cats was encouraged in ancient Egypt. Money was given to people who took cats to the royal granaries of a night time, to hunt and deter vermin.

Cats, which may have looked somewhat different from today’s domesticated feline, first started approaching Egyptian grain stores along the banks of the Nile, attracted by the resident mice, rats, and snakes. People became grateful to these cats because they had reduced the rodent population. Because these cats were living in close proximity to man, they were threatened by fewer predators, and were given a bit of refuge. Their kittens, then, became used to mankind, and thus they became domesticated. This same principal applies to today’s feral kittens, which can be socialized and become companion animals.

The story of how cats became sacred feline deities has several versions. Some say that as a result of their usefulness, protecting food stores from vermin, the Ancient Egyptians turned cats into sacred feline deities. The name for these cats was ‘miw’. Other reports say the cat’s first name in Egypt was Myeo or Mau.

Owners went into mourning when ‘miw’ died, and the cat was embalmed and placed in wooden coffins. They were so passionately protected from harm that anyone finding themselves near an injured cat fled from the scene quickly to avert being blamed, and possibly even put to death, for killing the cat. In the event of fire, the cat(s) would be the first to be rescued. After death, cats were mummified for burial – often into enormous tombs with tens of thousands of other cats.

According to the e-book, Cats as Pets, other countries were aware of Egyptian cat worship. There is a story of a battle between Egypt and Persia in 525 B.C. where the Persian commander stationed cats in his front line. The Egyptians refused to attack because they feared hurting the cats.  They lost the battle.

Other stories, some cited in the e-book, Cats as Pets, link female cats and lionesses ked to Sekhmet, the much revered Egyptian goddess of war, while Tom cats were considered sacred to the sun god, Ra.

Perhaps the sacred status is connected to Bast or Bastet, the goddess fertility and love. With the body of a woman and the head of a cat, she controlled the life giving sun’s heat. Bast has the pointed ears of the domestic cat, and was considered the protector of positive forces in the world. Early Egyptians also believed the glow from cat’s eyes held captive the light of the sun.

Another version of this story links the cats deity status to when the Goddess Sekhmet-Bast divided into two sisters, Sekhmet (a dark skinned woman with the head of a lioness with rounded ears) and Bast (the body of a woman and the head of a cat with pointed ears of a domestic cat), creating the cycle of life and death, forming the “Yin Yang” deities of ancient Egypt. Bast, whose sacred color was blue, was the protector of positive forces in the world. Conversely Sekhmet was the protector negative forces, protecting the righteous, providing for vengeance and swift justice. Sekhmet’s sacred color is red.

These domestic cats became treasured pets and were honored in many forms of artwork. By1500BC, and if someone killed a cat in Egypt, they were usually put to death. Despite this, thousands of cats were bred and raised for sacrifice. Their mummies have been found in huge numbers in Egyptian tombs.

In spite of the Egyptians’ efforts to prevent the cats from being exported abroad, cats started going global, and the story is a bit convoluted on how the first cats left Egypt. Some says the Greeks stole the animals to control their rodent problem. It is believed the first domesticated animals appeared in Europe around 900BC. Eventually the Egyptians began selling cats to the Romans, the Gaels, the Celts and later other Europeans and thus the cat population began to spread worldwide.

If the cats were around before Egypt, chances are they may not have had to be exported from Egypt and moved to areas where they could find food and refuge from predators, thus following man to where ever they went. And for my next post, let’s look at where the cats went, as they said “I Will Follow Him”.

What do you think? Do you think cats came to the aide of mankind in the earliest settlements? Do you think their sacred status is linked to the popularity of cats as companion animals today? Do you think cats really are godlike or just act that way? Mine certainly act like they are gods, and they let me know that

Cats From The Beginning

I’d better do as they demand.


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Catpersonable BJ Bangs

A long-term journalist and photographer, BJ blogs about everything cat, including why they make the best soul-mates here on earth & beyond, giving reason to Paws for Reflection.

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