May 302019
 

CWA conference signA couple of weeks ago, I jetted off to St. Louis to attend the Cat Writers’ Association annual conference. I thought I’d share my conference experience with all of you. This was the 25th Anniversary Conference of the CWA which is quite the accomplishment for any organization.

Now, I have a confession. My main reason for attending the conference was so that I could hang out with some of the other cat bloggers that were attending. But I found the conference to be much more than just a social event. There were some great presentations and wonderful opportunities to connect with cat writers other than bloggers.

The Sessions

Okay…I have another confession. Typically, when I go to these conferences, I rarely attend the presentations and sessions. Or if I do attend, I don’t stay until the end. I usually find them neither interesting or worthwhile to me. But not this time. There were some excellent presentations this year.

Cat Writers Conference

Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson and CWA

On Friday morning, I attended a presentation by Dr. Kurt Venator and Dr. Janet Jackson from Purina on “The Science of Cats: Feline Nutrition and Hydration.” They talked about how feeding cats wet food can help to keep them properly hydrated. It was refreshing to hear a major pet food company like Purina suggest that feeding wet food can be beneficial to cats since I am a big proponent of feeding wet.

CWA conference

The Keynote Speaker at the conference was Dr. Debra Horwitz, a renown veterinarian behaviorist. Dr. Howitz’s presentation was on “Improving the Well-Being of Cats in the Home, Shelters and Post-Adoption.” Dr. Horwitz discussed what we, as writers, can do to educate pet owners, shelter workers and the general public about addressing behavioral issues in cats which can help improve adoption rates and keep cats in their forever homes.

CWA conference

Saturday’s presentations included a Q&A session with Dr. Jennifer Kasten and Tabitha Cromer from Tomlyn Veterinary Science. They focused on gastrointestinal issues in cats, and talked about the use of prebiotics and probiotics to keep your cat healthy. Since I’ve just started giving Ernie and Zoey probiotics, I found this discussion to be very timely for me.

CWA conference

I also attended professional photographer Larry Johnson’s session on how to take picture perfect photos. If I could take photos half as good as Larry’s, that would be a real accomplishment!

CWA conference

Later that afternoon, Janiss Garza and Jessica Spawn, along with some help from Summer, talked about how to use Instagram to build your personal brand and audience. I don’t know how many of you use Instagram, but I know I struggle with it. So I found this session to be very helpful.

The People

Did I mention that the main reason I went to the conference was so that I could hang out with the other cat bloggers? It really is the highlight for me. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know some of these bloggers well and now call them my friends. And since we don’t live close to one another, a conference like this is a great way for us to get together.

CWA conference

We spent a lot of time hanging out in the hotel lobby. From left to right…Julie McAlee, from Cats Herd You, Jeanne Kudich from Random Felines, Dawn White from Lola the Rescue Cat and Janiss Garza from SparkleCat, featuring Summer the Therapy Cat.

CWA Conference

It was great catching up with Paula Gregg from Sweet Purrfections again.

CWA conference

Here’s Bonnie Koenig from The Cat Post Intelligencer, and Jenny Carlson from As the World Purrs, at one of the sessions. Bonnie is also a publish author and was one of the presenters at the conference.

CWA conference

Dawn and I toasting at the Awards banquet.

The Cats

What cat conference would be complete without cats…right? There were 3 cats in attendance.

CWA conference

I already mentioned Summer. I’m always amazed at how calm and relaxed she is despite everything going on around her. No way would Ernie or Zoey be able to handle the crowds like Summer did.

CWA conference

I got to meet Pet Safety Cat Casey for the first time. Casey belongs to Arden Moore, Pet Health Safety Coach, and helps to teach pet first aid and pet behavior classes all over the U.S. Talk about a relaxed cat! Nothing fazed him. Such a pro!

CWA conference

Jeanne Kudich brought Chanel, aka Crash, along with her. I’ve met Chanel before and it was great to see her again. We even got to play a little in her hotel room.

The Awards

Saturday night was the much anticipated CWA Dinner and Awards banquet.

CWA conference

Of course there was cake!

CWA conference

We were first serenaded by Amy Shojai, Marci Kladnik and Paula Gregg with a beautiful rendition of “The Muse.”

CWA conference

Then emcees Arden Moore and Pet Safety Cat Casey got the show started. I have to say, Casey looked mighty dapper in his tux.

There are two kinds of awards…Special and Muse. Special Awards are sponsored by pet-related companies or organizations and judged by outside pet experts, whereas Muse Awards are CWA awards and judged by fellow CWA members. I wasn’t up for any awards so I could sit back and relax…but a number of cat bloggers were in the running. And I’m happy to report that many of them won both Special and Muse Awards. I won’t try to name all of them for fear that I might miss someone, but if you’d like to see a list of all the winners, click HERE. Congratulations to all the winners!

CWA conference

I’ve attended a few other CWA conferences in the past, but for me, this one was probably the best by far. I’m sure it’s due to the excellent planning by CWA President, Deb Barnes, and the rest of the conference planning committee. I want to give a big shout out to the Drury Plaza Hotel at the Arch where the conference was held. The staff there was so friendly and helpful…making my visit a pleasant one.

Next year’s conference will be in Edison, NJ (just outside of Newark), July 16-18, and will be held in conjunction with the Cat Fanciers’ Association Garden State Cat Show, one of the biggest cat shows on the East Coast.

Which means more cats! I can’t wait to go!

  32 Responses to “Meet Me in St. Louis – The 2019 CWA 25th Anniversary Conference”

  1. What a great recap of the conference! I missed the first few sessions because of my arrival time, and now I’m bummed because they sound like they were so good! I always love spending time with you and the other bloggers, and I can’t wait for Chicago! And of course CWA next year.

  2. That really does sound like a most wonderful time, especially catching up with pals.

  3. great review – it was great to see you too!!

  4. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. You really covered that incredible conference just like a professional journalist which perhaps maybe you are or if you’re not you are now. Thank you for a wonderful report of a very moving event and Summer the kitty is amazing. Do you know what race of cat she is?

  6. I enjoyed every line and picture. So good to see fellow bloggers.

  7. What a wonderful post to see what everyone was up to. Looks like everyone had a great time. Excellent.

    Thank you for sharing your adventure. ♥

  8. That was such a good report about the conference. Sure looks like everyone had such a good time. Well done to everyone. The pictures were great too.

  9. Oh Ernie and Zoey thank your yellow haired lady for this wonderful post!! Wow she covered every thing and took so many great photos. Love seeing everyone too
    CWA knows how to put on a conference
    Hugs Cecilia

  10. Wow, now I’m wishing that I had gone, but it sure looks like it was a fantastic event! And New Jersey in 2020…I’m liking that location!

  11. I enjoyed your report. Sounds like you had such a fun time!
    Love the cute kitty centerpiece 🙂

  12. That was a nice walk through of the conference, thanks!

  13. It was awesome seeing you at the conference! Thanks for helping my human and I relive some of it.

  14. I’m glad you got to hang out with fellow bloggers AND learn a thing or too. Hopefully, someday I will make it to one of these conferences.

  15. That sounds like an amazing time. How cool that you got to get together with so many friends.

  16. How great to see the pictures of all these people and kitties we read about ! What a great conference.

  17. Thanks so much for this. I almost felt I had been there.

  18. It sounds like this was one of the best conferences ever!!!

  19. I enjoyed reading about your time at the conference. How nice to be able to see friends and benefit from valuable presentations.

  20. Thank you for telling us about your experiences. I’ve never been. I’m also in awe of how chill Summer is.

  21. Sounds like a real nice experience all around.

  22. I truly loved being able to ask you all kinds of questions about pancreatitis – and everything else. It was a great Conference with amazing friends!

  23. What a GREAT post! Almost like being there with details, photos, descriptions – thanks for that. My favorite part would be seeing people I only know in cyberspace – my fellow bloggers who already feel like friends forever. This world we are in is amazing – so much talent and so much fun. Anyway, glad you got to go and thanks for “taking us” there with this post!!

    Love, Pam

  24. Thanks so much for a wonderful post that made us feel like we were there. It always warms our hearts to see the people behind the posts we love and hear that they are being recognized. I would have jumped out of my fur if I was there but maybe brofur Rumpy Bump would enjoy, relish in fact, the attention.

  25. What a great recap of the conference! Glad to hear that the sessions were worthwhile. And loved seeing all of your photos.

  26. What a great review of the conference ! Claire was with you with her heart ! Purrs

  27. Our mom is so jealous. She really wanted to attend, especially when she saw the schedule of presentations. And she really missed seeing her friends. She, however, is grounded because of Sawyer and Dad not letting her travel alone. Maybe they can drive to NJ next year and bring Sawyer so he can get his meds four times each day, and they can keep an eye on him. Unfortunately, he is not social. So happy your mom had a good time, and we all enjoyed the photos. XOCK, angel Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, angel Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth, Calista Jo, Cooper Murphy and Sawyer

  28. Looks like it was a terrific conference, Sue! We hadn’t heard that next year’s CWA is going to be in Newark. That’s within driving distance … it would be so cool if we could go, and hang out with you all again!

  29. That looks like a wonderful conference, so glad you got to go and enjoy it!

  30. Nice summary of the conference. I also admit that I was impressed this year. I believe CWA is trying to meet the needs of all of its members with a variety of educational meetings. I love seeing all of the cat bloggers and am enjoying meeting and getting to know print writers and media arts people. May I have a copy of the photo you took of me with the singing trio?

    Looking forward to seeing you in Chicago!

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