My guest today on Who are the Cat Writers’ Association is Photographer, Blogger, and Literacy Tutor Marjorie Dawson.
Tell us a bit about your writing and blogging, Marjorie.
I have been a cat blogger for almost ten years but set off in my current direction when I got my new DSLR camera and realised all the ‘pet’ photography posts were about dogs! No one encouraged cat lovers at all except as an afterthought. This had to change!
So, I grabbed my camera and began to practice with my own models(!), took courses, and searched out ‘in person’ photography tuition which helped me round out my skills. I was able to pinpoint the kind of things beginners struggle with, and my first tip was ‘you don’t have to learn alone’!
How do cats inspire your creativity?
Their good looks, their quirky behaviour, and the moments of pure magic I can capture. The totally insane things they do mean I carry my camera (or my smartphone) around most of the time.
Last year we fostered a beautiful ginger boy who we took on as an emergency foster from a family who struggled to keep him. He was a natural ‘meowdel’ and I spent weeks taking photos of his journey from tattered to triumphant. [He’s gone to a truly loving home!]
What do you enjoy about belonging to CWA?
The Cat Writers’ embraces its worldwide community with its vibrant social media presence. Members are able to gather through the Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram, and (last year) the virtual world for the Conference which was exciting.
A huge thing for me is that those of us overseas receive our beautiful certificates from the Communications Awards, and I was also honoured to win the Kuykendall Image Award. No other organisation is so inclusive of its members and honours so many different talents.
The range of talent in the ranks of the Cat Writers’ association is immense. We have authors, artists, photographers, rescuers, and poets. These people produce work that challenges, delights, and inspires our love of cats. Each person advocates for cats in their own way, with humour, challenging writing, and video. If I can encourage people to take cat photos that get cats adopted or inspire them to take better cat photos at home, it is thanks to the CWA.
Please answer any 3 (or more if you’re inspired) of the following questions.
- What is your favorite cat movie and why?
There are dozens – right? New movie ‘Luck’ on Apple TV+ is a delight and has a black cat but, my favourite is an old movie called ‘The Incredible Journey’. It’s based on the novel by Sheila Burnford and includes a Siamese cat who travels with two dogs. I sat agog as a small child watching the movie and was in tears when I thought the bull terrier had been lost. Anyone who watches the final reunion and doesn’t cry buckets of tears has a heart of stone.
- Did you grow up with cats?
No, we travelled a lot and did not have a regular pet until I became an adult.
- What is your earliest memory of being around cats?
Peanut, our tabby and white, inveigling her way into our hearts from her hideout in the Anderson shelter hidden at the bottom of our garden. Anderson shelters were erected during WWII so people could hide during the many terrifying bombing raids on London. You can find them in hidden corners even now.
- What crosses your mind when someone tells you they don’t like cats?
I have no time for cat haters. You cannot convert them from their hidebound and narrow-minded beliefs, so I just make absolutely sure they know I have cats (lots of cats) and I love those cats, then I make my excuses and walk away. [The alternative scenario might entail spilled blood and me in an orange jump suit….]
- What do your cats think of you?
I have my uses, they say. I serve a nice range of food, although never the right one at the right time. I always remember to serve the Puree Kisses on a saucer as they refuse to lick from the sachet, and I keep the Royal Canin bowl full at all times.
- Tell us a true cat story.
Cat’s have a plan when they are going to move into your home. I observed this with our visitor Thomas (who is not our cat). He started by observing the family dynamic from a distance. Slowly, over a period of weeks, he moved closer and closer as the family became used to his presence and the fact he was a total doofus and no threat.
Then the weather turned wintery and cold. He began to slip inside the house along with everyone else. As he was a known ‘entity’ he was pretty much left alone. Thomas was also sensible enough to let everyone else eat before he approached one of the food bowls.
In case you worry about Thomas jumping ship. Yes, he does go home. His mum knows where he is, and spending time with us must save her a fortune in cat food. We also have better heating than many New Zealand houses. Wood burners are still common and central heating is not – we have heating, so Thomas hangs out with the Dash Kitten Crew!
- Do you sing to cats? If so, what songs do you sing?
I am terrible with songs as I don’t listen to pop music. Our cats have silly names and that is bad enough.
- What cat-themed item is sitting on your desk right now?
- One Photograph of Dash Kitten
- One small statue of Arthur the Sweetshop Cat (Border Co.)
- Two Swarovski Crystal cat statuettes
- One hand painted mini Matrioska cat
- One hand painted cat stone from a Twitter buddy.
- One Retro 51 Cat pen (from Kansas City).
- One kitty Bandana (for Jack) from Bionic Basil in the U.K.
- A deck of Tarot cards designed by Karen Kuykendall who designed the CWA Muse® medallion. I don’t read decks, but the images are so inspiring. I wrote a post about her on the blog, and it is still one of my top posts after a year.
- What is one thing you will only do in front of your cats?
- What famous cat or cat person have you met?
I met Summer at Blogpaws. She is such a petite little Somali and so talented! I wanted to meet Sockington, because he shouted out to us when Dash Kitten was killed. I had no idea until a friend linked it to me.
- If you were a cat, what breed would you be?
An Oriental Shorthair or a Siamese!
- Have you taken a cat first aid course?
Yes, there is a company here in New Zealand that specialises in pet first aid, and I took their course. I would like a refresher, as you should always be prepared.
- Where are you sitting right now? From where you are, how many cat-themed objects can you see? How many cats?
Four cats, nine items (unless I move my head then I can almost double the number of items.) …
- In your cat’s words, tell us how you would save the world.
Toulouse speaks :
“Miss Mollie, the world needs more than cat help but here goes…
- First, stop taking the world for granted—it may look pretty but it is being choked by fumes and mass production. Think carefully about each purchase – do you need it?
- Humans need to use much MUCH less plastic and buy clothes that last a lot longer. Fast-fashion is wrong and abuses the environment. Re-use and Recycle as much as you can.
- Stop wrapping Christmas gifts in paper. (This is a huge thing with my family.) Use Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping in fabric. It’s really pretty and saves trees. Look it up online!”
- Do your cats get along with each other?
Mostly – yes. With the new kid, it’s an ongoing work in progress. New kid Teddy is still learning boundaries and that jumping on his senior napping mate is not a good idea. Miranda shouts at all the boys, and Jack is considering entering when they make napping an Olympic sport.
- Is your cat an unofficial (or official) emotional support animal?
Cats are always a support. If we talk ‘inclusive’, I would say most pets are. The affection I saw for huge dogs and small rats, as well as cats at a recent pet expo was genuine and heartfelt. Every cat, pedigree or plain, looks to us for love and is a support.
- What would your life be without cats?
Empty. tidy, and devoid of subject matter for my photography.
- Have you ever seen a ghost cat?
Seen? No, but I felt Harvey jump up on the bed after he passed away.
- “Adopt, Foster, Volunteer, Donate, Educate” is a common slogan for animal rescue. What do you like to do?
I love to help people feel closer to their cats, so I foster and take photos. Cats go to a home friendlier and more at ease after being fostered. I donate when I can.
However, Education is the most critical element for me:
- If a person knows neutering stops kittens, and gets it done, that’s fewer lives at risk, fewer cats in shelters. Fewer deaths in kill shelters.
- If a person knows a cat needs an annual vet visit it keeps a cat healthier.
- If people know how expensive a cat (or dog) can be, maybe they will think twice before buying, then realising too late and dumping at a kill shelter.
Finally, a thing that I believe is underrated is sharing cats in need on social media, a branch of the education theme. I have seen cats pulled from New York’s ACC to live happy lives thanks to sharing on Twitter.
- What’s the craziest thing your cat’s ever done?
Toulouse climbs up the palm tree in our garden. It is a vertical climb up a straight trunk to the fronds at the top. It is still growing and has reached over 4 metres high (13 ft). Yes, he can get down. There is a video reel on DashKitten Photos to prove it!
His fearlessness stems from the cat café he was adopted from. They had a 2.4 metres (8 feet) tall sisal climbing post he loved and navigated up and down with ease and confidence.
- How would you identify your cat in a lineup?
Toulouse (Tabby with long legs) – would not stand still unless he was asleep on my neck.
Sienna (Senior opinionated tortoiseshell) – would freeze your blood with her tortitude.
Jack (Chubby ginger senior) – would be demanding his raw food (only he eats it).
Phoebe (Dark brown semi-longhair) – would be humming “la la la” to herself. She’s a total flake.
Natasha (Black and white) – would be hiding (she is NOT a people cat).
Silver (Silver tabby) – Well, you wouldn’t be able to find him to put him in the line up anyway….
Miranda (Tuxedo)- stroke her, she’d dribble. Total giveaway.
Teddy – Check out his feet. This chonk’s paws need their own hairdresser!
You can find Marjorie Dawson at these links:
Dash Kitten Web Site: https://DashKitten.com
Blog: The Cats’ Notebook https://dashkitten.com/the-cats-notebook/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/DashKitten
Instagram : Photos https://www.instagram.com/dashkittenphotos/
Instagram: Rescues with Dash https://www.instagram.com/dashkitten/
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That was a really fun post, we love Marjorie! I hate that I missed the BlogPaws conference that she attended, I would have loved to meet her.
Maybe you can attend next year.
One day Brian, I will be at a CWA conference for real!!!!
I really hope to be at a CWA conference one day Brian. Online is great but for REAL? YES!!!!
I loved Marjorie’s answers to the questions!
I did too!
Thank you. I had a lot of (cat) help :-
And a great cattitude!