CWA Friday Feature ~ How My Cat Career Started, by Arden Moore, Pet Health and Safety Coach and member of Cat Writers Association since 1999
Ever since I was eight years old, I’ve been fortunate to always have a cat or two in my life. My childhood cat, Corky, was a friendly, adventurous Siamese. He joined me each time I fished off the pier in our backyard lake in Crown Point, Indiana. He loved eating bluegill fish I caught. He also enjoyed swimming to the raft in the middle of our small lake with our two dogs. When we kids were done swimming, I carefully placed Corky back in the water and he happily paw paddled and used his long tail as a rudder to steer toward shore. Once back on land, Corky shook each wet paw and found a sunny spot to finish grooming.
Corky was the first of many fine felines to teach me never to stereotype or limit the capabilities of cats. Since Corky, I’ve had cats named Samantha, Murphy, Callie, Little Guy (aka Dude), Zeki, Mikey, Mort and now Casey. Each sported their own purr-sonality and each has made my life a bit better.
At the same time, I was fortunate to have a terrific mentor in high school – Janice Dean, my journalism teacher. Like Corky, she taught me to never limit my goals. She encouraged me to walk into the weekly newspaper office in my town with my high school newspaper clippings and convince the new editor that he needed me to be a high school sportswriter. He hired me on the spot – my first paying gig!
During college at Purdue, I took a full load of classes while working as a correspondent for the Post-Tribune, a daily newspaper that circulated throughout Northwest Indiana. On the day I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications, the Post-Tribune hired me as a full-time reporter. Nine years later, I was hired by a major newspaper, the Sun-Sentinel, based in South Florida. In my 20-year stint in newspapers, I covered everything from Super Bowls to space shuttles and interviewed major headliners as well as ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
From there, I accepted a senior writing position at Rodale Press, home of Prevention Magazine and Men’s Health Magazine along with an array of award-winning books on herbs, health and DIY. I was fortunate to work as a senior book writer by day and freelance articles for Rodale’s many magazines by night.
Then, in 1999, I made the gutsy career move to leave the safety of the W-2 work and go freelance. Since then, I have written or co-authored or ghostwritten more than three dozen books. And for eight years, I was editor of Catnip, the national monthly magazine for Tufts University’s stellar veterinary school. In 2008, I became one of the first to host a pet podcast – the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio. That show now draws more than 600,000 loyal listeners and has been named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s top pet podcasts – twice. Currently, I write the nutrition column for Catster and am a major contributor to Dr. Marty Becker’s Fear Free Pets blogs.
I’ve made major moves from South Florida to the Leigh Valley in Pennsylvania to Oceanside, CA and now to Dallas. My cats always made these moves with me and together, we explored and settled into our new turfs.
Today, I am still reinventing myself – a trait I realize is key to professional survival and success, especially as for those who are self-employed. My passions today are educating people on pet health, behavior and pet first aid. I am the founder of Pet First Aid 4U, a veterinarian-approved, hands-on program featuring Pet Safety Cat Casey and Pet Safety Dog Kona, a pair of shelter alums. I am also the master instructor for Pro Pet Hero’s online, veterinarian-approved pet first aid/CPR instructor program and I travel the country conducting customized classes with Casey and Kona.
Casey is a long-legged, confident orange tabby and Kona is a smart, wants-to-please terrier mix. Together, we have traveled to teach in 11 states. Like my childhood cat, Corky, Casey continues to teach me to focus on the present, ask for what I want (what’s the worst that can happen? You get told no.) and to delight in life’s simple pleasures and to always remember to laugh.
They also teach me the importance of giving back. Both are certified therapy pets and twice a month, we visit our “Brookdale buddies” at a memory care center in Dallas. Casey arrives wearing a cowboy hat and sitting tall and proud inside the pet stroller. Kona is all-smiles as she walks easily on the leash. The residents look forward to our visits as do we.
Another lesson I’ve learned is to maintain a positive, professional approach to Facebook, Instagram and other social media venues. I use these outlets to promote others, to showcase the amazing world of pets and to alert people about public appearances that Casey, Kona and I make. It has reaped followers and business opportunities. I recently did a Satellite Media Tour for Vetriscience that includes dozens of radio/TV appearances to identify pet holiday safety tips. And I just completed two pet books aimed at kids that will be released next year by Storey Books. The editors noticed all the Facebook posts showcasing the pet talks that Casey, Kona and I were giving at kid camps and approached me about this two-book deal. In these books, Casey and Kona will be ‘cartoon-ized’ and unleash some tips to kids.
Finally, I am proud to be a member of CWA and will be celebrating my 20th year with our organization in 2019. Together, we can and are making this a “meowvalous” planet for our feline friends.
— Arden Moore