Feline Enrichment and Writing Suggestions with Sassafras Lowrey (PPiC Ep 11)


The significance of enrichment for cats, Sassafras Lowrey’s newest books Claw This Journal and Jillian on the Junior Showcase, and ideas for aspiring canine and cat writers. The most recent episode of The Pawsitive Submit in Dialog

Sassafras Lowrey, Zazie Todd, and Kristi Benson chat via Zoom from their home offices

By Zazie Todd PhD

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Watch episode 11 of The Pawsitive Submit in Dialog on Youtube or beneath, hear through your favorite podcast app or beneath, or scroll all the way down to learn the highlights.

Enrichment for cats and ideas for aspiring writers

On this episode, we chat with canine coach and creator Sassafras Lowrey. We begin along with her newest e book, Claw This Journal, which is filled with enjoyable actions to do along with your cat. We find out about how Sassafras’s cat Factor got here into her life and why she wrote this e book. We discuss enrichment for cats, and the way it’s necessary to tailor it for particular person cats. 

We take one of many actions from the e book, making awards to your cat, and take into account what our cats would get prizes for. We additionally find out about Sassafras’s most up-to-date e book, Jillian on the Junior Showcase.

We get Sassafras’s ideas for budding writers and discover out about her personal writing routine. And as all the time, we chat concerning the books we’re studying proper now. 

Studying Cats and Canines: The recording of A Dialog with Lili Chin, Sassafras Lowrey, Zazie Todd and Kristi Benson  (Studying Cats and Canines can also be accessible on Youtube)

Interview with Sassafras Lowrey about Chew This Journal

About Sassafras Lowrey:

Sassafras Lowrey  is a Licensed Skilled Canine Coach (CPDT-KA), Licensed Trick Canine Teacher (CTDI), AKC CGC/Trick Canine Evaluator and AKC FIT DOG Teacher.  Sassafras’ canine coaching books embody Methods In The Metropolis and Chew This Journal. Sassafras is an creator and multimedia educator who writes recurrently about canine coaching for main nationwide publications. Sassafras’ canine coaching articles have recurrently appeared in main canine magazines like Dogster, The Bark, Fashionable Canine, and with The American Kennel Membership in addition to mainstream publications together with WIRED, Condo Remedy and The New York Instances. 

Sassafras was lately the recipient of a Cat Writers Affiliation Muse Medallion award for her journal work about cat coaching.

Sassafras Lowrey’s web site  Fb  Twitter  Instagram  

The books we chat about 

On Animals by Susan Orlean 

Doomsday with my Canine by Yu Ishihara 

Comparative Animal Conduct by Richard Maier 

Unhealthy Cree by Jessica Johns. 

The books can be found from all good bookstores and the Companion Animal Psychology Amazon retailer  

The books recommended in episode of 11 of The Pawsitive Post in Conversation are On Animals, Doomsday with my Dog, Comparative Animal Behaviour, and Bad Cree

Highlights of the dialog with Sassafras Lowrey

Z: The explanation that we’re speaking to you at present is due to your fantastic e book Claw This Journal which is implausible, I find it irresistible. It is so filled with actions to do along with your cat. It is actually enjoyable, [it’s got] all totally different sorts of issues in there and it is received area for folks to jot down in it as properly. So you are able to do the actions, you may maintain observe of what you are doing, there’s even a piece on decoding your cat’s meows. It is simply pretty. So inform me about this e book, Sassafras, and why you determined to jot down it. 

S: Yeah so it is a e book that was a lot enjoyable to place collectively. I really feel like there usually are not sufficient essentially like concepts about enrichment and play with cats on the market. And so I used to be actually excited to have the ability to to convey collectively a few of my favourite actions and issues to to encourage folks to have extra enjoyable with their cats, strive new issues with them. And so yeah it was a ton of enjoyable to do and actually got here out of conversations that I’ve had with cat lovers desirous to get concepts for various issues that they’ll do with their cats. 

Ok: So one of many issues that I actually like about this e book and your related e book for canines is that there is room and locations so that you can write which I feel helps immediate folks to assume. I appreciated the way it made me take into consideration my very own cat and the stuff that I do with my cat. So one of many components that you just had was about your assembly along with your cat. So what was your assembly along with your cat Factor? Inform us about that.

“I’ve completed lots of writing about junior handlers and inside the canine present world and so it was very enjoyable to have the ability to create a fictionalized twist on that story.”

S: Yeah, so I at present have one cat. His identify is Factor. He’s 9 and a half which does not truly appear potential to me. However we had a reasonably eventful first assembly. I used to be residing in New York Metropolis. I used to be strolling residence, it was pretty late at night time in the course of a snowstorm, and there are in lots of communities, however positively in Brooklyn the place I lived, there are lots of feral cats. And we noticed — I used to be strolling with my accomplice — and in the course of the snow we noticed one thing dart from a pile of trash luggage on the road in New York to a snow financial institution. And we thought it was a rat at first after which we noticed it transfer once more and we realized it was a really, very small kitten. 

And so I instantly begin pulling canine treats out of my pocket and I am attempting to entice this very small kitten, who’s alone, out of this snow financial institution and out of in between luggage of trash, as a result of there’s a blizzard actually coming in that night time. And in order we’re attempting to catch this kitten the bodega proprietor from throughout the road comes out very kindly with some cat meals as a result of he fed the feral cats within the neighborhood, and he proceeds to try to assist us catch this kitten. He has gloves on, he catches the kitten Factor, the kitten that turned Factor bites him, breaks the tooth off on this man’s glove. 

Ok: Oh no! 

S: And he is like do you continue to need this cat? And I am like “Sure?” as a result of I am unable to depart this kitten outdoors. We convey it residence. We already had two canines and two cats at this level. And he instantly charmed his means into everyone’s hearts and ended up in the end being raised by my senior canines on the time. And the senior cats had been like we do not know what you might be however you may keep. In order that was the very eventful means that we met Factor. 

Z: That’s fairly an origin story for the cat. Factor is clearly a really particular cat! And one of many issues that I really like about this e book is you could have a piece referred to as Greatest in Present. And it is about how wonderful all cats are, however how each cat is wonderful in their very own means. And I actually love that. And truly that set me fascinated by my cats and I am additionally going to ask Kristi what her cats will get awards for too, as a result of I feel I really like the best way this e book is such a dialog starter. So for Factor, what awards have you ever made for Factor? Have you ever made any? What would you make for Factor? 

S: I feel that Factor is a really particular cat, however I feel his prime prize might be Pizza Thief. He’s a kitten and we wish to say it is in all probability his origins. We predict he was about six weeks outdated after we discovered him you understand. So he had in all probability been surviving on bagels and pizza crusts and issues like that. However he’s a little bit carb fiend and you must have to observe your pizza slices as a result of he positively could make off with a reasonably good dimension slice of pizza. I do not suggest, it is not good for cats, but when he had his means he could be the last word Pizza Thief. Yeah, it is what he would love. 

Z: Superior. And Kristi what would you give Apricat an award for? 

Ok: You understand I feel it could be arduous. There’s going to be like first, second, and third for him. However positively lap, he’s an inveterate lap cat. He wants tons of lap time and so after I’m gone Yoenne, my spouse, will generally ship me a message and simply be like Apricat’s on my lap once more, like I am unable to even rise up. I feel as a result of I work from home, so he is on my lap a lot of the day. I feel he is both on my chair or close by so after I go away she’s identical to wow I did not understand how a lot lap time he wants. So he is positively gonna be just like the winner for the lap, any lap competitors. Sorry different cats and canines. [Laughter] 

However he additionally actually likes to, and I feel it is in all probability a reinforcement form of contingency that I’ve arrange, he likes to stroll throughout my keyboard and bat at my display. Like earlier at present I used to be having a banjo lesson and Apricat was identical to that, “Your banjo teacher’s happening!” And so he was hitting my display repeatedly after which I used to be like, what was that? I did not fairly hear you understand, like my pc was simply wobbling round as a result of I attempted to, what chord is that? Yeah after which I will simply put him on my lap behind my banjo, it is okay. 

So that may positively be his primary and quantity two I feel, could be the lap. After which I name it pestering you understand very fondly, however he positively likes to get consideration. And right here he comes, he is like “You have you referred to as, human?”. 

S: Sure, Factor is excellent at these video video games, the one’s for cats that you may swipe. He must be, yeah he is all about it. He is like smack it down. 

Z: Wonderful and I really like that Apricat got here to hitch us too. My cats wouldn’t win for lap time. I’ve two cats. They might positively not win for that. However Melina would win for being conversational as a result of she’s very, very talkative. She’s a tortoiseshell cat so she lives as much as that fame that tortoiseshells have of being very, very chatty. And she or he makes every kind of noises, it is not simply meows, it is plenty of chirrups. And you may have a protracted dialog along with her in the event you meow at her, however she does even like mmm form of noises and in the event you go mmm she’ll go mmm. And many very lovely chirrups. So she’s all the time speaking, she’s all the time saying one thing, so that is what she would win for. 

As for Harley I form of joke about Harley and I make out that he is not a really intelligent cat, nevertheless it’s not true as a result of when he cares about one thing he is extremely intelligent. And the factor he’s so good at is opening doorways, and he can open the entire doorways just about. So if it is a door with a deal with that you just push down, he can leap up and he can push it down in order that the door opens. If he is on the flawed aspect of that door, a few of our doorways do not truly shut correctly as a result of it is an older home, so he can put his paws beneath and he may open it that means. 

After which we have now a door that is a sliding door that slides, like a pocket door it slides into the wall. So if that door is closed he can put his paw beneath it and he simply jiggles it about till it begins to open after which he places his paw up and opens it that means. And the entire cabinet doorways within the corridor, he can open all of these mainly. You can’t maintain this cat out of anyplace except you truly put a latch on or lock it. 

And he opens the cabinet doorways within the kitchen. One time I discovered him curled up in a frying pan within the kitchen cabinet! So his prize is for opening doorways. And fortuitously we have now one door that we have now a spherical door knob on, which is towards constructing code as a result of lots of people wrestle to open these spherical doorknobs, however we have now one and that is the one door that he can’t open. In order that’s his prize. That is an excellent expertise. And I really like that your e book made me take into consideration these items, Sassafras, I feel that is actually cool.

Ok. So I feel we’re speaking about enrichment. I really feel like for Apricat slapping the display is fairly enriching for him, not less than I try to body it that means. So I am not like I simply wish to work. Then you could have lots of enrichment on this e book which I feel is nice and I feel Zazie already talked about that is, and you probably did too, Sassafras, is one thing that individuals miss for cats. You understand I feel lots of people are fascinated by it for canines however I do not assume it is actually reached the cat world as a lot. So why is enrichment so necessary for cats and what’s your cat’s favourite enrichment exercise? 

S: Yeah I feel it is such a thrilling subject that is simply beginning to actually grow to be extra well-liked or talked about extra within the cat world. I feel after we take into consideration enrichment it is usually about canines. And individuals are like, cats are simple pets they only sleep all day, and it is like no, no our cats actually, actually profit after they have alternatives to make use of their brains and after they have alternatives to get extra lively, and it is such an effective way to bond with them. 

So I really like attempting out totally different enrichment actions. Within the e book it is divided out in several sorts of you understand cat purr-sonality concepts. And you understand it is only for enjoyable however not each cat goes to take pleasure in the identical issues. 

There have been a wide range of actions within the e book that Factor wouldn’t be a fan of. However his particular favourite issues by way of enrichment, as a result of he was so younger after we discovered him and we had very senior cats, I am unable to consider how outdated they had been on the time, they handed after they had been 20 and 21. So I feel they will need to have been like 15 after we discovered him, and so they had been such as you’re not a part of us. 

So he turned actually related to the canines as a result of the older cats had been like you might be lively and younger and never one in all us, they had been littermates. So he was all the time very enthusiastic about what I used to be doing with the canines. So his favourite enrichment positively is he likes to become involved in trick coaching that I am doing, however on his phrases. So it is all on his phrases. If the treats are out he is like, I would love treats please. So he is superb at spin, he’ll sit, he’ll provide you with a excessive 5, he enjoys doing a little trick coaching. 

However his all-time favourite might be his window chicken feeders. We’ve got some chicken feeders which are outdoors the window and he’ll very fortunately sit and simply watch the totally different birds that come to eat there. So yearly for his birthday the final couple of years, he is gotten one other chicken feeder to observe. So now he has like an entire little array of channels. 

Z: Superior I really like that, and you have so many alternative enrichment actions within the e book and I feel they’re all enjoyable for the cat but additionally enjoyable for the individual.

Ok: Earlier we spoke to you concerning the e book that you’ve got written that is much like this e book for canines [Chew This Journal]. I do know Zazie and I had been speaking about this, nevertheless it’s fascinating that you just’re writing for each cats and canines. And I do know there’s lots of people who’ve each, however I additionally assume simply you understand, not scientifically, that they are form of a Venn diagram. And there is definitely people who find themselves all canine and people who find themselves all cat and they are going to be a little bit bit totally different I feel in my thoughts not less than. So I assume we’re interested in what variations do you discover about writing for cats, recognizing that some folks can be within the each camp, however some folks will certainly be very a lot within the cat camp. Was it totally different? 

S: Yeah you understand it is all the time such an fascinating, I do not wish to say problem nevertheless it’s all the time an fascinating puzzle, to ensure to attraction to the folks which are like deep cat folks. I feel there’s lots of us which are in each, which are each canine folks and cat folks, after which there are the cat folks which are very like, in the event you do issues with canines I’m so not . So it is all the time a little bit difficult. I’ve truly written for cat magazines and about cats for, gosh, over 10 years, although I feel lots of people do not essentially know that. And I feel it is as a result of the cat folks have their very own world and the canine folks form of have their different world so generally canine people they will be like, I did not know you probably did issues with cats, and I am like sure, sure I do.

Placing collectively this e book, it took place as a result of I had received the Muse Medallion from Cat Writers Affiliation for an article in Catster journal about trick coaching with cats. It was a canopy story in 2020 or 2021, uh 2021 I feel for the journal. And so after I received the Muse Medallion, the writer of the canine e book was like we should always discuss cat actions, and I thought of it and it was like, yeah we completely ought to. 

“I used to be actually excited to have the ability to to convey collectively a few of my favourite actions and issues to to encourage folks to have extra enjoyable with their cats.”

So we’re going again to this dialog that we had been having a pair minutes in the past about enrichment being form of not as generally thought of for cat folks. After I was placing the cat e book collectively, it actually was not totally different essentially than the canine e book by way of my writing course of, however I used to be very, very considerate of creating certain that the actions within the e book had been issues that cats had been going to take pleasure in and that totally different sorts of cats would take pleasure in. And that there could be one thing for all cats from the very outgoing, social, possibly form of like dog-like cats, as we’ll possibly describe them, to cats which are rather more shy and reserved. And I wished to have issues in there for each cat. 

Ok: So do you discover that there is stuff that like, pondering once more about Venn diagrams, is there stuff that you’d say is just for canines, stuff that may be good for each, and stuff that is just for cats? Do you could have that in your thoughts? What would you, in the event you had been cornered, what bucket would you set sure issues in? 

S: Yeah you understand I feel that It is difficult as a result of cats are so, so totally different. So like for instance I might completely by no means, ever take my cat Factor out to a pet pleasant retailer. That may not be enjoyable and thrilling for him, he would discover that very, very scary. A cat that I had 20 years in the past was a cat who completely liked going locations, like from a tiny kitten to the day that he handed he was tremendous outgoing, nothing scared him. He would have liked that. And I feel most cats in all probability fall nearer into the camp of going backpacking, out climbing, that form of stuff, in all probability not what they wish to be doing, in all probability extra of a canine exercise. However there are completely cats that take pleasure in these issues. So I tended to err on the aspect of actions that had been nearer to residence for extra of the actions in Claw This Journal, although definitely there are kitty exceptions to that. 

Ok: Proper, for certain. I was into sled canine sports activities, and I could not even rely on all my fingers and toes the variety of instances folks have despatched me like a Fb video of a cat that skijores. And I am like okay that is cool, however no. That is like, I’ve by no means met a cat like that. No. 

S: Yeah there’s all the time, like that one TikTok cat that  does all of the issues and I imagine that cat is clearly having time, nothing is indicating that that cat is pressured or sad. However that is a one in 1,000,000 cat. 

Ok: Yeah precisely, yeah. 

Z: Yeah and I feel one of many issues that I really like about your writing, not simply on this e book however the canine books as properly and in Methods within the Metropolis too is that you’ve got thought of totally different creatures and what they individually may like, and you’ve got made certain that there’s something for everybody’s cat or everybody’s canine. And you’ve got been clear about what sorts of issues to consider as as to if a sure exercise could be acceptable to your personal pet, so I feel that is a very nice factor to do. So yeah thanks for that. And also you’re such an achieved author since you additionally write for youngsters and I feel it is your most up-to-date e book, Jillian on the Junior Showcase. Inform us about this e book. 

S: Yeah so Jillian on the Junior Showcase was my most up-to-date e book launched in January. And it’s a chapter e book for younger readers, actually all readers, that’s set in canine exhibits. And Jillian is a younger lady who actually, actually needs an agility canine of her personal. She attends Kennel Membership with all of her pals and someday she finds a little bit terrier combine behind the fuel station that has been deserted there and is hoping that that canine will grow to be the agility canine of her goals. In order that was an excellent enjoyable e book to jot down. I’ve completed lots of writing about junior handlers and inside the canine present world and so it was very enjoyable to have the ability to create a fictionalized twist on that story.

Kristi Benson is an honours graduate of the distinguished
Academy for Canine Trainers, the place she earned her Certificates in Coaching
and Counseling (CTC). She additionally has gained her PCBC-A credential from the
Pet Skilled Accreditation Board. She has lately moved to
lovely northern British Columbia, the place she’s going to proceed to assist canine
guardians via on-line instructing and consultations. Kristi is on workers
on the Academy for Canine Trainers, serving to to form the subsequent era
of canine professionals. Kristi’s canines are rescue sled canines, largely
retired and totally having fun with snooze in entrance of the

Web site: http://www.kristibenson.com/  Fb   Twitter 

Zazie Todd, PhD, is the award-winning creator of  Wag: The Science of Making Your Canine Glad and Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Glad. She is the creator of the favored weblog, Companion Animal Psychology, and in addition has a column at Psychology As we speak. Todd lives in Maple Ridge, BC, along with her husband, one canine, and two cats. 

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