Saturday, March 31, 2018

The package {part 2}; #ChewyInfluencer

As I talked about last week, sometimes I procrastinate and procrastinate on a review in search of perfection - until it's not even necessary or useful anymore. We've been hanging onto a couple reviews - so we're calling this week, "review week!" We already reviewed a book (Cat Tails - Heart-Warming Stories about the Cats and Kittens of RESQCATS: blog tour/review) and a cat bed (Smiling Paws Pets 2-in-1 cat cube). Yesterday we posted part 1 of our review as part of the Chewy Influencer program. Today we're sharing our final review of the week: part 2 of our review as part of the Chewy Influencer program. It's our first month as part of the program - so we're especially excited to share our experiences with Chewy and the items we tried.

Disclosure: We received Nutro Wild Frontier Real Chicken & Beef, Real Salmon & Trout Recipe Pate Multipack Adult High-Protein Grain-Free Cat Food Trays, [2.65-oz, case of 12 twin-packs] - for free in exchange for an honest review. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat only shares information we believe would be of interest to our readers. The content is ours - neither Nutro nor Chewy are responsible for the contents of this post.

MK: Momma Kat
BC: Bear Cat
EM: Ellie Mae 

If you missed part 1, you may read it here: 
The package {part 1}.
{Later the same day}
MK: FOOD?!?!
EM: I'm suspicious.
BC: Yes, yes you are. You're a total kiss up ... makes me wonder what you're planning!
EM: NO! I mean, I'm suspicious about this food thing!
BC: Because you didn't hear a can open? Or because Momma has a history of trying to pass off diet food as real food?
EM: Momma might just be tricking us to catch us and do horrible things to us.
BC: Oh, SHUT UP. You only get your teeth brushed once a week! I have to put up with it EVERY DAY!
EM: I get my claws clipped as often as you do though!
BC: Poor baby.
MK: Okay, kitties. {putting down the plates of wet food} Introducing Nutro Wild Frontier Real Chicken and Beef ... TADA!
BC: You really need to get out more if you enjoy this so much!
BC: PATE?!?! You've GOT to be kidding me! You're giving me pate? This isn't food!
{Bear stops when he sees Ellie chowing down on the wet food}
BC: YOU'RE EATING PATE?!?! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! Do you have no self-respect?!? No sense of ...
{Bear gets a whiff of the food}
BC: Hmmm ... it actually smells like food! And it has gravy!!! I might have to make an exception ...
MK: I really like that it's high in protein - I researched a lot of foods to find foods high in quality proteins. Besides your kibble, I wasn't very successful. So this is a winner on that front as well! Grain free! No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Just good food.
{Pause as Momma watches the cats eat}
MK: Ummm ... ELLIE?!? You might want to take a breath ...

{Ellie keeps chowing down on the Nutro Wild Frontier wet food}.
MK: Chewy is easy to love: they have a wide selection of QUALITY pet products, freshness is guaranteed, and they offer fast shipping and easy returns on all orders. With orders over $49, one to two day shipping is FREE! After hearing so many bloggers talk about Chewy's fast shipping, I was eager to see the difference for myself ... and sure enough! FAST! Much faster than any other seller I've encountered. Though my favorite part is 24/7 customer service. How many times have I been up late at night shopping for cat supplies, had a question, but couldn't ask it because chat wasn't available?
{Light snoring is heard}
EM: WHA?! Not AGAIN ...

MK: Don't worry, Ellie ... Bear didn't really fall asleep ... he's commenting on what I was saying ...
BC: HEY! She was boring me with the details. We're CATS! Does it taste good? YES! That's what we care about. However ... DO YOU MIND??! We don't want to hear you jabbering away when we're trying to eat our wet food treat!
MK: Huh. Looks like everyone's happy! I'm surprised you two are going to finish your plates! I'm glad I gave Nutro Wild Frontier Real Chicken & Beef and Real Salmon & Trout Pate  a chance. 
BC: HEY! We're doing all the work! WE gave it a ...
EM: Shut up, STUPID! We want her to give us more of this ... the only work you're doing is being obnoxious.

In this conversation the cats tried the Chicken & Beef flavor. The next day, I served the Salmon & Trout variety and the cats loved it just as much as the Chicken & Beef. Bear usually turns up his nose at food containing trout - but that was not the case here. Even more impressive ... the cats ate every bit every single time I fed Nutro Wild Frontier. My cats have a bad habit of only eating a food once - if I serve a food they scarfed down before, Bear will hardly touch it - and Ellie doesn't lick her plate clean.

Have you tried Chewy, Nutro Wild Frontier wet food, or Fancy Feast Filets? Were they a hit with your kitties and you?

Friday, March 30, 2018

The package {part 1}; #ChewyInfluencer

As I talked about last week, sometimes I procrastinate and procrastinate on a review in search of perfection - until it's not even necessary or useful anymore. We've been hanging onto a couple reviews - so we're calling this week, "review week!" We already reviewed a book (Cat Tails - Heart-Warming Stories about the Cats and Kittens of RESQCATS: blog tour/review) and a cat bed (Smiling Paws Pets 2-in-1 cat cube). Today (part 1) and tomorrow (part 2) - we have two reviews as part of the Chewy Influencer program. It's our first month as part of the program - so we're especially excited to share our experiences with Chewy and the items we tried.

Disclosure: We received Fancy Feast Purely Natural Tuna Filets Cat Food Topper, 10 count - for free in exchange for an honest review. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat only shares information we believe would be of interest to our readers. The content is ours - neither Fancy Feast nor Chewy are responsible for the contents of this post.

BC: Bear Cat
EM: Ellie Mae
MK: Momma Kat
The Boy: Momma's fiance

{The doorbell rings}
BC: {running around crazily between the windows} HUH?!? They're here to kill me! They're here to kill me! They want my brains! My superior intellect!
EM: Superior? Congratulations! I think everything in those couple sentences were the equivalent of our litter box deposits...
BC: {stopping his frantic, panicked running} Who asked you, Smellie?

BC: {back to running around crazily from window to window} I KNEW IT! I kept telling Momma they'd come for me - but she refused to listen! I need to hide! I need to get out of here so they can't beam me up to their ship! Wait a ...

BC: ALUMINUM FOIL! I need aluminum foil, Momma! I need to wrap myself in the stuff! It's the only thing that will prevent me from being beamed up to the their ship!
EM: Oh ... for the love! Last time Momma got out the aluminum foil, you thought it was mocking you. And then you ran under the bed because of the noise it makes.
{Bear hears Momma open the front door}
BC: You're working with them! WHAT?! Did you sell me out for a dozen doughnuts?!? Or did Smellie sell me into servitude?
EM: Don't look at me ... but just saying ... if I could sell you into servitude, how would I go about it? Is there a website for that?
MK: Knock it off you two. We got a package.
BC: I don't know what that's a euphemism for ... you know ... in non-cool kid slang ...
MK: It's on the far side of the porch! 
BC: {GASP} It's not a "package!" It's their ship! {using his paws} Is it about this big?
MK: Umm ... actually, yes.
BC: I KNEW IT! CLOSE THE DOOR! Are there little purple elephant-like ... err ... I better check for us because I can't describe what I saw in my dream. 
EM: It wasn't a dream! That was gas. I told you cheese and catnip before bed was a bad idea.
BC: Shut up, Smellie! You act like I haven't lived this long for a reason.
EM: Ummm ... because you have NINE LIVES?!
BC: That's just a rumor. 
EM: You're right ... you're still alive because Momma protects you from your own stupidity.
BC: I ... CLOSE THE DOOR! I mean it! If you don't close the door, they'll catnap me!

EM: You catnap yourself for eighteen hours a day.
BC: I'm about to be abducted by THEM and all you can do is make jokes about how much I sleep?! 
EM: You're right. I should be throwing a party!
BC: You'll miss me when you're gone, you know.
EM: Why would they take ME!?!
BC: I wasn't talking about ME leaving ...
MK: It's raining cats and dogs out there.
BC: NO! NO! Don't go out there!
MK: There aren't any aliens, Bear.
BC: Famous last words. Ask the dinosaurs how that worked out for them!
MK: Bear ...
BC: Wait a ... it's RAINING cats AND dogs? I've got to see this! It sounds messy. If I were you, I wouldn't go out there. You might end up with a brain injury and then you'll forget ...
BC: Oh. Wait. You already do.
MK: Do what?
BC: Forget to feed us.
MK: I do not! The Boy took over kibble duty. And he doesn't forget..
BC: Not with the good food.
MK: It's the SAME food!
BC: And it's tasted especially foul ever since.
MK: You seem to eat it just fine.
BC: A cat's got to eat. It doesn't mean I'm not starvatating!
EM: Ummm ... given the definition of starvation ...
BC: SHUT UP, Fatso! STARVATATION is not the same thing as STARVATION. It's a matter of degree. 
MK: As fascinating as this conversation is, I'm going out to get the box. It looks like the box from Chewy!
BC: Chewbacca sent us a ...
EM: Who's Chewbacca?
BC: {keeping an eye on the package/"THEIR ship"} Momma's last boyfriend. Hahahahahahaha.

MK: We joined the Chewy Influencer network. Each month, we'll get one or two items to try out from their vast selection of pet products.
BC: Do they stock tasty whole chickens?
MK: I don't think so.
BC: HMPH. Then they don't have a vast selection! What's a selection without tasty whole chickens?
BC: Do they have a suggestion box?!
MK: I wouldn't know. You could just be grateful we get to try yummy food.
BC: So now we're guinea pigs? I bet I won't like anything they send. "Yummy" remains to be seen ...
EM: You mean tasted?
BC: Tasted what?
EM: Yummy is tasted, not seen.
BC: SHUT UP, Smellie! 
MK: Did I mention that one of our items this month is tuna filets?
EM: Hard to argue with that.
BC: Oh, FINE! I'll try them. But I want the record to note that I'm under duress.
EM: Yeah, sure. You're under duress to eat tuna. Only if you have gas afterwards.
BC: Shut up. And leave my gas out of this!
EM: I beg you to leave your gas out of this all the time, but it doesn't stop you from spreading it around does it?
MK: {walking back in from outside} Okay, kittens! Who wants some food?

MK: How about we try the Purely Fancy Feast Tuna Filets first?!
BC: TUNA?!?!
MK: Yep. All natural tuna.

BC: Is it diet food? Because you're only generous with the diet food!
MK: No.
MK: Look at this great Chewy box! Our blogger kitty friends always comment on how wonderful Chewy's boxes are.
EM: Umm ... I don't know ...
{Ellie watches the box and then checks it out}

BC: Eh. You been in one box ...
MK: And there's packing paper.
The Boy: Great. Like we need more paper. The second bedroom's floor is COVERED with that stuff - and it doesn't even include the stuff out here.
BC: Phht. One can never have too much ...
{Bear turns around to see Ellie on "his" paper}

BC: #$%! ^*&# sisters! Come on ... MOVE!
EM: No. You can't make me! You're not the boss of me.
BC: Oh, YEAH?! 
{Bear whaps Ellie on the nose}
BC: You didn't move far enough! Come on! Get off my paper!
EM: Whatever.

MK: Tuna?!?!
EM: What were we arguing about?
BC: I don't remember.
MK: Whoa! These filets are HUGE! 
{Momma sets the filet on a plate}
EM: Bear?!
BC: Huh?
EM: What are we supposed to do with it?!?
BC: Eat it, dummy!
EM: But HOW?! It's just one huge chunk!
MK: You two should see yourself staring at the tuna filet ... you look like you're expecting it to dress in drag and dance or something!
BC: Tuna in drag? Flounder?!?
MK: Here ... I'll break it up for you ...
EM: Oh! Oh! I LOVE TUNA!!!
BC: Get out of my way!
{The cats scarf down the pieces of the tuna filet}

BC: Nomnomnomnomnomnomnomnomnom ...
MK: It's not a competition!
BC: Phht. Of course it is. We have to see who eats more!
MK: That good?!?!
BC: Talk to Ellie, I'm busy!

MK: The filet is too big for one cat - and more than I'd usually give you two as a treat. But you two love their tuna treats - so I figured this would be a hit.
{Silence as the cats nom}
MK: I really like that it's all natural, 100% tuna! Chewy sells the Fancy Feast Purely Natural Tuna Filets Cat Food Topper in a ten count.
EM: OH! NINE MORE FILETS?!?!? I better get moving so we can eat the rest of them!

BC: DON'T even THINK about it!
MK: Looks like everyone's happy! Chewy is easy to love: they have a wide selection of QUALITY pet products, freshness is guaranteed, and they offer fast shipping and easy returns on all orders. With orders over $49, one to two day shipping is FREE! After hearing so many bloggers talk about Chewy's fast shipping, I was eager to see the difference for myself ... and sure enough! FAST! Much faster than any other seller I've encountered. Though my favorite part is 24/7 customer service. How many times have I been up late at night shopping for cat supplies, had a question, but couldn't ask it because chat wasn't available?
{Light snoring is heard}
EM: WHA?! Not AGAIN ...
BC: HEY! She was boring me with the details. We're CATS! Does it taste good? YES! That's what we care about.
BC: HEY! That was from MY pile of tuna!
EM: Finders keepers ...
BC: More like fatty's fatter. 
{Ellie steals another bit from Bear's pile}
BC: HEY! Eat your own!
EM: Momma?!? You should probably order some more ...

TO BE CONTINUED ... is the second product we're trying courtesy of Chewy a hit too?!?!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Smiling Paws Pets 2-in-1 cat cube

As I talked about last week, sometimes I procrastinate and procrastinate on a review in search of perfection - until it's not even necessary or useful anymore. We've been hanging onto a couple reviews - so we're calling this week, "review week!" If everything goes as planned (famous last words) we'll share four reviews this week: a book, two kinds of treats, and a cat bed! Stick around to find out what we think!

We published the book review yesterday - you may find it here ... Cat Tails - Heart-Warming Stories about the Cats and Kittens of RESQCATS: blog tour/review.

Disclosure: We received the Smiling Paws Pets 2-in-1 cat cube for free in exchange for an honest review. Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat only shares information we believe would be of interest to our readers. The content is ours - Smiling Paws Pets is not responsible for - nor do we speak for - them.

BC: Bear Cat
MK: Momma Kat
EM: Ellie Mae
The Boy: Momma's fiance

{Momma gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom ... and finds Bear in the new cat bed}
MK: He's so adorable ... when he's sleeping ... I can barely stand it. 

MK: {bouncing up and down with excitement} YAY!
BC: You really need to get out more if seeing one of your cats in the middle of the night gets you this excited.

MK: You're awake!
BC: A genius ... you are not.
MK: You and Ellie all but ignored that bed when I took it out of the box. Neither of you showed any interest beyond Ellie whacking the tag around.

BC: That's not ENTIRELY true ... I mean, I guarded the front of it and she stretched over me to look inside. Like I wasn't even there!! GET A CLUE! I swear ... that girl's gotta have her nose in everything! I turn around and she's all up in my grill!

EM: {from the other room} It's not MY fault your grill is so huge! I mean, statistically, it's hard to walk anywhere in here and NOT trip over your grill! I'm up in your grill by just being here.
BC: I know you meant that as a joke about my weight ... but you're right ... you just being here is all up in my grill. BYE!
MK: So you were guarding the cube because you knew you weren't going to use it and you didn't want Ellie to either?
BC: Err ... NO! ... I mean YES! Oh, fiddlesticks!!! ... Err ... maybe?
BC: Was it THAT obvious? Why isn't she scared of me?!? You'd think I haven't given that girl a smackdown a time or two!
MK: A time or two?!
BC: Eh.
MK: At first, I loved that we could use this as a cube to sleep in ... AND a bed when you smoosh the top down. You and Ellie didn't even put more than your heads into the cube. I suppose the inside of cube is a little small for you two since you and Ellie are rather ... robust.
BC: A weight joke? Really?! You got up at 3:51am just to call me fat? I'd LOVE to see you shove YOUR doughnut butt in there!
MK: So at night, in the dark, while I'm sleeping - you use the bed? You didn't want me to see you using it?
BC: Whatever. I just noticed the bed sitting there ... it's soft ... it looked a little lonely ... it was time for my 3:47am nap ...  and it didn't smell like Smellie ... why not?
MK: It is pretty cute though, isn't it? 
BC: What's cute got to do with it? I'm a cat! If it's comfy ... count me in! Besides, I have better things to worry about ... like how to keep Smellie away from my new bed. This cushion is really thick and soft!
MK: That pocket on the side adds a nice touch.
BC: Now all I need is a bazooka.
MK: WHAT?!?!
BC: The pocket is to store one's bazooka while he naps, right?
MK: I'm not sure about that ...
BC: What ELSE would it be for?
MK: I don't ...
BC: Wouldn't it be nice to OWN a bazooka I could put in there?
MK: Nice try. But no.
BC: I'm always screwed!
MK: But you have a nice bed ...
BC: And no bazooka to put in the pocket!
BC: WHA ...
EM: {walking into the room} HIIII! Did someone say "cheese?"
BC: Ellie, do something! That stupid camera never sleeps! GET IT! We can't have any evidence that I ...
EM: I'll do anything for cheese!
BC: I never said anything about giving you ...
MK: So now Ellie's your enforcer, tough guy?
BC: I'm too comfortable in my new bed to move. You have to pay in advance for my modeling services! No treats, no pictures.
MK: I'm just taking a few ...
{A paw lands on the camera lens}
EM: Hahahahaha. You got too close!

BC: No evidence.
MK: Well, if YOU like the bed, we could tell other people about it because they might want one.
BC: I'm not giving up this one.
MK: No, I meant they'd get their own.
BC: And while we're talking about this, Ellie should get her own too. I'm a Bear ... but I'm not a SHARE Bear.
EM: You're not a CARE Bear either!
BC: Don't touch my bed, SMELLIE!
MK: I love the versatility of the Smiling Paws 2-in-1 cat cube and bed. You get a bed AND a hide-y hole. The insert padding is soft and perfect. 
BC: Blah blah blah. You're awfully chatty at this time of the morning. Usually you're mumbling and walking into walls.
MK: Smiling Paws Pets creates quality cat and dog products, meanwhile providing simple solutions to common issues pet-lovers face. Besides the product itself ... I love how fast the shipping was. And I loved how much they communicated on the status of the order - I always knew exactly where in the process of fulfillment and shipping we were.
EM: Hahahahaha. I think he's saying he doesn't care about that kind of stuff.
MK: Thanks, Ellie. I know that. You and Bear take your cat beds really seriously. You all rotate and hop beds like over-worked prost ...
BC: WHATEVER. Now that my nap is ruined, I'm feeling a bit peck-ish ...
EM: Maybe you're turning into a tasty whole chicken! You can't have your cake and eat it too, you know!
The Boy: You mean Bear can't have his chicken and eat it too? Hahahahahaha.
BC: What is wrong with all of you?!?! It's four AM!!! It's like a ... a ... LOSER party!
The Boy: What does it say about you that you crashed the loser party?
{Bear leaves to grab a snack}
MK: I saw Bear using the new bed when I got up to go to the bathroom. He's pretty darn cute ...
The Boy: ... when he's asleep!
BC: {from the other room} WHY DOES EVERYONE KEEP SAYING THAT?!?! You act like I'm a huge pain-in-the ...
BC: {from the other room} Huh. Never mind. I'm kind of proud of that!
MK: You and Bear are bed connoisseurs. It's like musical beds around ...
{Momma turns around to see Ellie in the new bed}
MK: Uh oh.
EM: I think we need another bed - because I'm not leaving this one ... it's comfy!
MK: ELLIE! Get out of there before Bear gets back! He'll go on a rampage and break a bunch of stuff.
EM: This is MY bed now, Momma!
MK: Huh. I don't hear anything from back there ... either he's up to something or he fell asleep.
EM: He DID have to walk down the hall to the food bowl ... it's a miracle he made it that far without falling asleep!
The Boy: Do you want the good news or the bad news?
MK: Uh oh.
The Boy: The good news is that Bear's cute. 
MK: Because he's asleep?
The Boy: BINGO!
MK: What's the bad news?
The Boy: He's passed out in the middle of our bed. I'm pretty sure we won't fit.
MK: Ellie, how about sharing that bed with Daddy and ...
EM: Don't even THINK about it!

To get your own Smiling Paws 2-in-1 Cat Cube and Bed - or to check out the other great products (litter mats, beds, carriers and odor and stain control solutions) Smiling Paws Pets makes: Smiling Paws Pets.

A couple more pictures of the cats exploring the Smiling Paws 2-in-1 Cat Cube and Bed:

Monday, March 26, 2018

Cat Tails - Heart-Warming Stories about the Cats and Kittens of RESQCATS: blog tour/review

As I talked about in our last post, sometimes I procrastinate and procrastinate on a review in search of perfection - until it's not even necessary or useful anymore. We've been hanging onto a couple reviews - so we're calling this week, "review week!" If everything goes as planned (famous last words) we'll share four reviews this week: a book, two kinds of treats, and a cat bed! Stick around to find out what we think!

Disclosure: We received an electronic copy of, "Cat Tails: Heart Warming Stories About The Cats And Kittens Of Resqcats," by Jeffyne Telson - for free in exchange for sharing the new release with our readers.  Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat only shares information we believe would be of interest to our readers. The content is ours - neither the author nor the publisher are responsible for the contents of this post.

Love is a beautiful thing. It has the power to heal, the power to transform, the power to lift up, the power to grow, the power to see a way forward when life is at its bleakest ... treating others with love is never wrong. Loving transforms us as much as being loved. I've talked before about the transformational impact of loving and being loved by my cats. I've seen first-hand just how much of a difference one tiny cat can have - not only for a person - but for the world.

Like many aspects of life, animal rescue gives us a front seat to observe the best and worst of humanity. As much ugliness as there is in animal rescue - cruelty, abandonment, homelessness and euthanasia - the worst of humanity ... one also witnesses the best of humanity. Jeffyne, the author of Cat Tails, had a dream and an idea of how things should be - ideas on how to make the world a better place for cats and people. Inspired by a box of abandoned kittens - and unable to turn a blind eye - she did what most only talk about: being the change she wished to see in the world.

It's easy to talk about making a difference, but it's something entirely different to actually do it. Being so scared of failure or not being good enough, has sidelined me for most of my life. Ms. Telson did what I always dream of doing - she acted. She was afraid, yet her love for cats and their well-being propelled her forward anyway.  Despite all the ugliness she's encountered, she's hung on to the positive and changed her life as much as she changed the lives of the cats she was charged with. And the funny part? It's kind of hard to determine who's changed more - the author or the lives of the cats. Life lessons described by the author in this book - what she learned from her tiny but adorable charges - include: courage, patience, joy, unconditional love, and acceptance

In this book, story by story, cat by cat, we see the author learning more about life and love. The book is a love story, a story of transformations, a story about following dreams and changing lives - least of all one's own. This book is a story of healing - of making the best of horrible situations, of persevering. By creating Resqcats, with the mission of rescue, care and adoption of abandoned and stray cats and kittens - Ms. Telson not only saved thousands of cats, but she also changed herself.

Next to the success story of one woman's dream, one of my favorite parts of the book is Ms. Tolson's courage in admitting feelings that many people will never understand. Like her, I've been called too sensitive. Like her, I've thought something was wrong with me because of how much animal suffering affects me. I've never understood how to go on living my life after viewing animals suffering. It doesn't matter if it's a movie, a reality show, in my daily life ... seeing hurt animals ruin my day and destroys my soul bit by bit. I refuse to ignore the unpleasantness because the cats and kittens can't pretend it's not happening just because they don't like it - so how can I? How can I go about life as if nothing happened? The beauty of the author's story is that she used that unpleasantness and pain for good - she used it to advocate for and make a difference in the lives of cats.

A beautiful book and testament to the powers of dreams, the power of love, and that power of loving and feeling compassion for animals, the author also wishes to expand the readers' compassion and appreciation for animals. Mission accomplished! My only complaint is that pictures aren't included in the electronic version. Pictures are worth a thousand words - and the impact of the stories are lessened by the lack of seeing these amazing cats for ourselves. Okay, okay ... and who can really ever get enough cat pictures?!?

About the book:

CAT TAILS: HEART-WARMING STORIES ABOUT THE CATS AND KITTENS OF RESQCATS by Jeffyne Telson, 332 pp., Animals/Cat Rescue, $27.95 (Hardcover). 
A book about Ms. Telson's journey through creating a cat rescue, challenges and opportunities faced, and priceless life lessons the cats and kittens have taught her along the way.
The hardcover may be purchased on Amazon: Cat Tails (follow the link to go straight to the page). The book is also available through Resqcats' page: Cat Tails (Resqcats)100% of the proceeds go to RESQCATS!

About the author and RESQCATS:
"Jeffyne Telson grew up in Dallas, Texas but has spent most of the last half of her life in California. Although she has Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design from Texas Tech University, she has devoted the last two decades to the pursuit of her real life’s passion…caring for stray and abandoned cats and kittens.

In 1997, Jeffyne Telson founded RESQCATS, Inc, as a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of stray and abandoned cats and kittens.

In the ensuing 20 years, with the help of a small group of dedicated volunteers, Jeffyne has grown RESQCATS well beyond her dreams, into a highly respected rescue organization that has placed more than 2800 cats and kittens with qualified families and individuals.

Today, in addition to being the President of RESQCATS, Jeffyne and her husband, Mitch, share their Santa Barbara, California home with 14 unadoptable cats, 9 collies and 15 giant African sulcata tortoises…all rescued of course!"

For more on the book, the author, and Resqcats, please visit Resqcat's website or Facebook page.

The hardcover may be purchased on Amazon: Cat Tails (follow the link to go straight to the page)

Pictures and blurbs from the book provided by Pump Up Your Book.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Confessions of a {mostly} failed cat blogger

We hope you'll excuse a break from our regularly scheduled content! For those of you uninterested in blogging ... stick around for the cat pictures! I mean ... who can ever get enough cat pictures? And no, I'm not beyond using pictures of my adorable cats to entice people to stick around 😉

Curious about blogging?! Wondering if you have what it takes?! I'm not the person to go to for the elements of successful blogging - by any measure, I've failed miserably. But in the three years I've blogged, I've learned a lot about the challenges of blogging - faced long-term issues from my past popping up in my blogging - learned much about friendship - and expanded my horizons beyond the box of a life I had before. I've learned what NOT to do - and this post shares those lessons with you. So while I can't tell you how to succeed, I can at least tell you how not to fail {well, MOSTLY}.

The unavoidable opportunity cost of blogging.
One of the first lessons I learned was that time spent blogging means less time for other aspects of life. First and foremost, I've learned that the hours of blogging takes much time away from my cats. For any hobby or job, there are opportunity costs - one must weigh the benefit vs. the cost - and decide what to do with one's time. What makes blogging worth the sacrifice?! Most of us start blogging out of appreciation and love for our pets. Yet we have LESS time for them in an already hectic life?!? I must admit that blogging has increased and strengthened my love of my cats. With each post, I fall a little bit more in love with them as their personalities unfold. With each picture I carefully edit, I see the beauty of God's creation. But are there times I'd rather lay on the couch and cuddle with my cats?! YES!

A quick note about success.
To determine one's success, one must have an idea what it looks like. How do YOU define success?! A certain number of readers and followers? Engagement with your content? Making money? Awards? Community? Each person's different - each person will have a different idea of what success looks like to them. There are bloggers who plod merrily along without ever making a dime - while others derive a full-time income from the art. Before one begins, one must set the goal - determine the purpose - and how you'll know you accomplished what you set out to do.

One of my biggest downfalls was not considering this question. If you don't know exactly where you're going ... how do you know when you get there? For me, success has been nebulous - fleeting. I know I'm happiest when a reader tells me how much I made him or her laugh - how much I've lightened or brightened the person's day from life's struggles and challenges. I love to hear that my reader spit out the coffee in her mouth laughing - or laughed so hard, she cried. That's what I started blogging for - mainly to make people laugh. Bear's brought so much joy - so much love - so much laughter - that I try to repay back to the universe by passing it along to our readers. I've also dreamed of writing a book from my posts. Beyond that, I thought that if I make money ... great. If I win awards, great! But in leaving the point up in the air - to wherever it leads me - whatever happens - I've given up focus - given up purpose - never seen exactly where I'm going.

Beware of arbitrary goals. Are 10,001 readers that much more a success than 10,000? Sure it helps to have benchmarks - a direction - but recognize that the only difference between 10,000 readers and 10,001 readers is the value you assign to it yourself.

Last thought on this topic ... not everyone wants the same things as you do. Time after time, I've loved a person's posts about their cats on social media and I've encouraged him or her to try blogging. That just isn't important to some people. Maybe their issues get in the way - maybe the opportunity cost is too great. I've tried to encourage people with unique takes on our beloved felines. But the truth is that the majority of them aren't interested in expanding into blogging. That's okay. Going back to different expectations and definitions of success - some people just aren't interested. Trying to push your ideas on others never works. And blogging is just hard enough that you have to love it to some extent to even bother.

Doing it yourself vs efficient use of your time.
Blogging is hard. Most people will tell you it's really just a hobby. They might understand that they make time for their hobbies - but there's something about blogging that makes it hard for them to understand our devotion to our craft. I can't count how many times I've heard that I shouldn't stress about a post, a review, a picture because it's not something I HAVE to do. Here's the thing though ... to blog is to be a jack or jane-of-all-trades. Creating content (in pictures AND writing), designing a blog and keeping it attractive and up to date, managing the technical aspects of computing and being online, promoting content - including being active on social media, commenting on other blogs, search engine optimization, keywords ... one's job is never done. There is ALWAYS something more that one could be doing. And feedback?!? Nearly impossible to get. I've put the call out for feedback from my regular readers time and time again - with little feedback. And the readers I lost or unfollowed my page? As helpful as that feedback would be, I'll never know why.

With all the balls up in the air to juggle - deciding how to spend one's time - the proper priorities - is difficult. So much to do ... so little time. Knowing how you define success helps you focus on the balls that matter to you. It's hard to do it all yourself. And - as many bloggers learn how to blog by trial and error - is that an efficient use of your time on all the duties of blogging? Most notably for myself, I decided that I wouldn't spend money (beyond time) on my blog. Because of this, the design of the blog was all on me since I couldn't pay a person to do it for me. To say I spent untold hours on design wouldn't be a stretch. What do I know about graphic design and looking professional? What did I know about the resources and graphic assets that the pros know about? I had no idea what I was doing. Spending so much time on design, I had to give up the other jobs - writing a post, commenting on other blogs, photography. It was, without a doubt in my mind, about as inefficient as you can get. My advice?! Outsource the things you don't know how to do - and instead focus on what you're good at or can reasonably learn yourself. Trial and error for every aspect of blogging robs you of time - and much of it. Deciding the efficient use of your time is one of the hardest parts of blogging. Work is never done ... between posts, design, SEO, social media, commenting on other blogs, etc .... there is always something more you could be doing or learning. It is nearly impossible to professionally do everything yourself. I've spent most of my blogging life overwhelmed with all the things I've needed to do. And for what?! To save a bit of money?

Being cheap can be more costly.
As hinted at in the last section, there are costs to blogging. Because I refused to pay for anything for my blog - I shot myself in the foot in terms of time spent and looking professional. I didn't register my own domain name and instead use Blogger. My header and design are passable at best.  I haven't had goodies made with my blog name printed on them, I haven't given away things to other bloggers or our readers, and I haven't participated in card or gift exchanges. All of these things served one purpose: to save money. But in the end, the pervasive consequence is not being part of the blogging community that does participate.

Your baby, your voice.
The more you do on your blog - the more the blog feels like your baby. If you have issues putting yourself out there and taking chances - this could be a problem. Each post is a little bit of yourself that you're sharing with the world. What if no one likes it?! What if people make fun of you? For me, what if no one laughs?!? Writing a blog implies that you have something worth saying - that you think other people want to hear and discuss. It makes you feel vulnerable and exposed. Quite honestly, you'll have readers that will comment on your choices - how you care for your cats. 

You will protect your work like you would a baby. And the best policy is being yourself. Many bloggers use "top 1o" lists, write pet-holiday-themed content, and use photo editing software to manipulate and add to their pictures. When I started blogging, I wasn't sure about photo-editing clothes on to a cat. I wasn't sure about cats pasted in to different scenes. To some extent (not that there's anything wrong with either) - I've avoided both. It's just not me. Neither is themed pet holiday posts (like National Cat Day or My Cat's a Jerk Day). I love reading those kinds of posts from others - but they just don't fit into my blogging voice. 

I should've said, "up until recently," in relation to using software to manipulate and add to pictures I admit that I've used these tactics recently. I'm feeling more confident in my photo-editing abilities, so I've been trying different things out to help tell my story. 
  • RECENT EXAMPLES {click on the pictures to read the associated posts}:

Finding a way to be authentic - and following through - are what truly makes bloggers great. Everyone can be different and bring something unique to the table. My voice is more irreverent, dry, sarcastic, and non-cutesy than most. That's what feels genuine to me. Product reviews are another example. Our product reviews take the form most of our posts do - dialogue between me and my cats. That's our angle - that's our way of being authentic. We stand up for what we believe in more than we capitulate to fit in. I don't apologize for that. I don't apologize for being an advocate for cats and our friends. Does everyone like my posts? No. 

At the same time, a blog should grow and evolve - in a way that feels natural to the blogger. In the past year, we've evolved a lot - from Momma and Bear Cat - to Momma, The Boy (Momma's fiance), Bear Cat, and Ellie Mae. Not always easy - and sometimes I miss the old way - but life changes and we adjust. New and different can be as great as it is scary! And keep challenging yourself! Take up a new social media channel, write a different kind of post (like a top 10 list!), try something new. You might be scared at first, but the rewards can be boundless in terms of one's blog AND one's experience.

Blogging to expand your horizons.
So much of blogging doesn't come naturally. For instance, no where else do I put myself out there like I do with blogging. Infamously, I was the kid in school who had to have a specific direction and specific expectations to projects. Being able to choose format, even topic - was too much for me. Tell me what you want, and I'll give it to you. Blogging has challenged that. I have to come up with the topic, format, content of every single post. Mostly, I use bits of reality and expand on them to write a post. For instance, I took a series of pictures awhile ago when Bear jumped in the open cabinets as I unloaded the dishwasher. I've written several story lines around them. Element of reality - made into a story. In the case of these pictures - they became The Dread Drop, Bear: The Musical"I do what I want" {with supervision, and provided pictures for several posts detailing Bear's misbehavior.

One thing about the issues behind your "limited" horizons: The issues you have in your life will follow you in blogging. Feel unappreciated by everyone? You'll probably feel the same way about your blog. If you have issues with people not liking you - that will follow you as well. Not everyone will like you - and not everyone will comment on your blog no matter how many times you visit theirs. For all the time I've spent commenting on other blogs, I've found the rewards are NOT commensurate with the time spent. Some people NEVER comment on my blog. Some bloggers don't like me and don't include me. This becomes a problem when it triggers past issues of not fitting in.

Another of my issues that followed me into blogging was never feeling good enough. In social situations, in correspondence, I always figure I'm lacking somehow. I think all kinds of things: I'm not a good enough friend, I don't know what to say and I'm awkward in social situations. I figure people are only humoring me in spending time with me. I jut assume I don't fit in and people won't like me. 

I couldn't sell water to a thirsty person - and I don't have the self-confidence to sell myself. Blogging is trying to sell yourself - especially if your goals involve money. I can't ask people to consume my services. I can't ask people to be my champion. I can't ask for help period. It's that way in life AND my blogging. My interest and engagement looks different than most people's. At Conferences, I'm not the kind of person to go up to another blogger and ask to take pictures. I don't like pictures of myself - and I figure no one wants me in their pictures anyway (unless they're humoring me). It's not that I don't like people - it's just that my enthusiasm shows in other ways. Instead of taking pictures with other people, I'm more likely to go up to a blogger and ask questions about themselves or their cats. In blogging, you meet so many different animals. Some will touch you in ways you can't explain. Sometimes you're just curious.  Sometimes they capture your imagination. My enthusiasm for cats shows in how many questions I ask about cats. I love to see pictures - I love listening to stories - I love learning about individual feline stars. So I'm more likely to ask you a ton of questions about your cat(s) and refrain from suggesting a picture with you. 

In life, I seek external validation. I want recognition for a job well done. I want proof that my content is quality. With little feedback from others, this can be hard. Instead, I look to awards from organizations like BlogPaws to tell me if I'm funny, or putting out good content. I'm liable to decide that I'm not funny if I don't end up a finalist in the "Best Humor Pet Blog." I figure my blog isn't that good if I don't show up in, "Best Cat blog." I take all of these as cues of my blogging worth. Even more, I take whether people comment on my posts or not as evidence of quality. If they want to read my blog, it's good, right? Without external cues of success, blogging can be soul-crushing. One may feel that she writes her heart out over and over again - to no difference. Quality of content doesn't make you a successful blogger. Selling yourself does. And I can't sell myself. So every time a list of blogs come out - there's some award - that I don't get, I get depressed and just want to give up.

Here's a funny story for you ... in 2016, I nominated myself in the Nose-to-Nose Awards. I was sure I wouldn't be a finalist and I figured if I wasn't chosen, I'd be justified in quitting blogging entirely. I thought I would use the {lack of} Awards to prove I should quit. I truly believed applying and not getting the recognition was the easy way out of blogging - the one way to quit that my conscience can deal with. And then I was named a finalist in the Best Pet Humor category. My plan was foiled - I couldn't give myself permission to quit - and even more so, my horizons expanded exponentially when I decided to attend the Conference. I had absolutely no desire to go before finding out I was a finalist. I did the one thing that scared me. As the old saying goes: Courage isn't the absence of fear, but perseverance despite it.

Other life issues that have followed me into blogging is that I'm a perfectionist. My own expectations and evaluations are the most crushing. I might feel a lack of recognition - but it's those internal battles that create the most problems. I also have issues with procrastination. For reviews and content, I put off doing them because I want them to be the best quality. I want to have the best ideas - the best content - and those posts end up never getting written. Sometimes I find that I want to do a topic justice: express my feelings and impressions adequately - make a difference with my writing. In expecting so much of myself, I become overwhelmed and tell myself I’ll wait until I find the words … which of course, never happens. 

Before I started blogging, I was thoroughly and completely disillusioned with taking pictures. No matter how much I love the shot ... they just never came out the way I saw them in my head. With blogging however - I needed to figure out how to take decent pictures. If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you've seen the progression: dark and blurry shots, to OVER-edited shots, to a new normal with my new camera. I can't think of any way I'd have saved myself time and effort without just doing it. Take the shots - learn - and have patience that the shots WILL get better with practice. Bear used to stop what he was doing or run away when he heard the camera ... now, he hams it up for me every so often!



What I've learned.
  • Having a smartphone REALLY helps. Not only do you always have your phone with you to take pictures of your pets, but it's much easier to engage on the go. At Conferences, you can post in real time instead of waiting until later in the day. To me, the lack is acute. Many topics and panels include examples on smartphones. 
  • When I'm struggling to come up with ideas - I've found that focusing on other things helps the answer come eventually. It's not a very efficient way to do business, but it works. Spending an hour on e-mail gives one some room to work out issues sub-consciously. Taking a break might change one's perspective slightly. It's hard to trust that the idea will come - but I think it does more often than not.
  • If your format is a dialogue, don't plan out posts line by line. My best posts have come from following where the dialogue takes me. Planning out every detail loses the spontaneity ... the crazy things your brain can come up with - and is especially helpful if you write with humor.
  • To gain readers and awareness for your blog, participate in linky parties or blog hops. Other participants will visit - and some might like your content enough to come back on their own. Any person stopping by might become a long-term reader. I found this out the hard way. When I started blogging, I used Facebook as the way to get my blog out there. At the same time, Facebook changed their algorithms and made it harder to get a page's content seen. If you see a page with a million likes - it makes my paltry 580 look less quality. But in most cases, that severe difference in readers is not the page's fault
  • Cat blogging friends are the best. Just saying.
  • Writer's block really sucks. I've heard it described as when your imaginary friend refuses to talk to you. For me, that's accurate. I'd have more luck squeezing a stone for water than forcing a post.
  • You never get used to stories and pictures of animal abuse or abandonment. When I started blogging, seeing the pictures of abused animals - the calls for help - drug me down. Still does. Reading about some human's stupidity and cruelty to a cat is the best way to destroy my day. I make myself look and read anyway - because the only way to stop it is to face it. The animals can't ignore the abuse visited on them - and so neither will I. That said, many of my days have been ruined - my heart's bee broken time and time again by these types of stories.
  • You will never get used to losing cats you regularly read about. For whatever reason, some cats on other blogs steal our hearts. We almost feel that we know them, we're total fans and can't get enough of them - and we cry when they are taken from us. Not only does a fellow blogging cat's death remind us that ours might be next, but you genuinely love the personalities behind the blogs.
  • As much as I haven't seen commensurate returns on my commenting - it's an easy way to get your name out there. Introduce yourself. If you leave a comment the writer finds funny or touching, you might gain a new reader.
  • DON'T COMPARE yourself to other people. You will ALWAYS find some person who beats you on a particular aspect or statistic of blogging. Take your body of work as a whole instead of as pieces. Sure, my Facebook page doesn't have a ton of likes, but I do have other things going for me. Comparing one's self is the quickest way to feel worthless and burn out.

I will never have a social media channel explode with followers. I will never make a full-time income from my blog. I will never win an industry award. As much as I'd like the recognition to validate the quality of my work, if it doesn't happen, that's okay too. I blog because Bear's given me so much joy - so much love - so much to admire. And I pay it forward with my blog. If one reader's day is brightened ... if one reader's load is lightened - that's what matters most to me. I try not to get caught up in the recognition piece - but just like my blog, I'm a work in progress. Will I ever be better than a {mostly} failed cat blogger? The answer doesn't change how much I love my cats or how much I love making people laugh so I'm just going to keep on keeping on with those. How can either be wrong?