Wherever I travel, I bump into cats and cat lovers. No matter what language we speak, we’re united by the universal language of love: cats! I happened to meet a very special cat lover at a cat show in 2009 and then again at the Cat Writers Association conference last year. We’ve been friends ever since. Some of you may know her as the Conscious Cat, from her popular website but the person behind the name is writer, blogger and healer, Ingrid King.
Ingrid King is the award winning author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. She is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. Her online magazine News for You and Your Pet goes out to subscribers around the world. Her blog, The Conscious Cat, has been called “educational cat nip for the cat lover” and is a comprehensive resource for conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans. She is a contributing writer to Dr. Marty Becker’s Pet Connection. Ingrid lives in Northern Virginia with her tortoiseshell cats Allegra and Ruby.
LMW: When did you first realize cats were a creative muse for you?
IK: I have to credit Buckley with that – it all started with her. When the idea for Buckley’s Story began to form in my mind, I realized that not only could I make my lifelong dream of being a writer come true, I could also write about something I’m passionate about: cats! Shortly after I began writing the book, I started The Conscious Cat, which was inspired by my cat Amber.
LMW: Who was your first feline love?
IK: I didn’t get my first cat until I was in my twenties. Feebee was a grey tabby cat who was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband. We were living in Germany at the time, but knew we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life.
LMW: You’re a tortie lover. Tell us a little about your current cat family and why torties?
IK: The whole tortie thing kind of snuck up on me. The first tortie to play an important role in my life was Virginia, the first office cat at the animal hospital I managed. She loved me fiercely, ruled the office with an iron paw. After Virginia came Amber. She was a stray who was brought to the animal hospital with her five kittens. For almost ten years, her gentle, loving, wise presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, brought love and affection into my life until she passed away after a sudden illness last May. Buckley joined Amber and me in 2006, and you can read her all about how that came about in her book.
I currently share my life with Allegra and Ruby, two – you guessed it – torties. Allegra has been with me for a year and a half, and Ruby just joined our family in April. They both have their own columns on The Conscious Cat, titled Allegra’s World and Ruby’s Reflections.
I don’t know what it is about torties, but there’s just something about the beautiful coloring and their very distinct personalities, often known as tortitude, that draws me to this type of cat. And apparently I’m not alone. In August of 2009, I wrote a post titled Tortitude: The Unique Personality of Tortoiseshell Cats, which, as of this writing, has more than 5300 comments and has become so much more than just a blog post. It’s turned into a regular community of tortie lovers who enjoy talking about their special cats.
LMW: Do you volunteer at a shelter or for any cat-related cause?
IK: I support various rescue groups with both monetary contributions and through participating at fundraisers and other events. I also occasionally feature rescue groups on my blog.
LMW: Do you consider yourself a crazy cat lady, and is the definition of that term changing?
IK: I don’t – and I don’t particularly care for the term. I think it diminishes those of us who love cats for the unique and wonderful creatures that they are by assigning a label that usually has a somewhat derogatory connotation, even if it’s used with humorous self-deprecation.
LMW: Do you think what defines a “cat lover” is changing in terms of age or gender?
There seems to be a recent shift to include more men in the category of “cat lover”, with media personalities such as John Fulton of “Must Love Cats” and cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy of “My Cat From Hell” leading the charge. I think it’s a refreshing change, and I’m hoping that it will eventually do away with the crazy cat lady term altogether, and we’ll all just be what we are: people who love cats.
LMW: There is much heated discussion about what to feed cats, with advocates for feeding raw, grain-free, wet, dry and everything in between. Even vets can’t seem to agree. What do you feed your cats and why?
IK: Cats are obligate carnivores and require a diet that’s high in protein to thrive. I recommend grain-free raw or canned diets for cats. Cats should never eat dry food. I realize that raw feeding is not for everyone – it took me a long time to become comfortable with the idea. Allegra and Ruby are my first raw fed kitties. They both love their raw diet, and I knew I was doing something right when my vet said “this is what healthy cats should look like!” Their coats are shiny, they barely shed, and they have lots and lots of energy. I do occasionally feed grain-free canned food as well. I think it’s important to feed a variety of foods. By offering a variety, you can avoid your cat becoming finicky and only eating one particular food and flavor.
I write extensively on nutrition, and you can find a lot of information in the Feline Nutrition category on The Conscious Cat.
LMW: Which cat topic are you most passionate about?
IK: I’m passionate about educating cat lovers on all issues related to keeping cats happy and healthy. I’m particularly interested in nutrition, holistic health, alternative therapies, and enriching cats’ indoor environment.
LMW: Any must-have cat toys your cats can’t live without?
IK: That seems to change, but the current paws down favorite are these little plastic springs. Allegra and Ruby both go crazy batting them all over the place. They do have a tendency to disappear under furniture, and I think watching Mom try to retrieve them is part of the fun for Allegra and Ruby. Since I got tired of playing that part of the game, we now have a fairly large supply of the springs, and I only have to go on retrieval missions once a week.
LMW: Cat culture is growing, as is cat blogging and cat-related products. Where do you see this trend headed?
IK: Well, since I’m a cat blogger, I hope it’s going to continue to grow! Statistics show that there are more households owned by cats than dog owning households in the United States, so cats appear to be the more popular pet. It looks like the pet industry, as well as the blogging world, is finally catching up!
LMW: You’re known for acknowledging cats as spiritual teachers. What have your cats taught you lately?
IK: The one lesson that all my cats have taught me, and continue to teach me, every single day is to live in the moment. I don’t know why we humans have such a hard time with this. Cats don’t get hung up on analyzing the past or worrying about the future, they just live every single moment to the fullest, whether it’s eating, grooming, playing or sleeping.
Visit Ingrid at her website at www.ingridking.com or at The Conscious Cat at www.consciouscat.net. Her blog was nominated for a Pettie Award (the Oscars of pet blogging last year and tomorrow is the last date for this year’s nominations if you’d like nominate her.