Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Attending the CWA Conference with a Cat

Mom Paula recently attended the Cat Writers' Association 25th Anniversary Conference and Awards Banquet in St. Louis, MO. She will share more about the conference in another post. We were not able to attend (our Cuddle Clones selves did), but we wanted to let you know about some special cats who were able to attend the conference with their humans.
Clockwise from upper left: Paula Gregg, Janiss Garza (photo Larry Johnson Photography),
Arden Moore (Larry Johnson Photography), Jeanne Kudich

Three attendees who brought their cats with them to the conference agreed to share their experiences: Janiss Garza with Therapy Cat Summer (sparklecat.com featuring Summer), Jeanne Kudich with Chanel (Random Felines), and Arden Moore with Pet Safety Cat Casey (Arden Moore). Each person was asked to talk about the benefits and the challenges of bringing their feline companions to a conference.

Janiss Garza and Summer

Janiss Garza showing Summer's tricks at the book signing event (Sleepypod® Air in background)
Photo with permission - Larry Johnson Photography

Janiss writes for the blog sparklecat.com featuring Summer, Therapy Cat and Kitty on the Go. Summer is a Somali cat who is a Regional Winner in CFA and TICA, and a CFA Grand Premier and Supreme Grand Alter in TICA. She has retired from the show circuit, but is currently a therapy cat. Janiss travels with Summer all over the country and entertains everyone with Summer's ability to do tricks and calm nature around a lot of people.

Janiss shared the following benefits and challenges of traveling with Summer.


I have a little travel buddy. The one thing I hear from most attendees at the CWA conferences is that they miss their cats. I get to bring one of mine! We sleep together, she hangs out while I'm on the Macbook, and she window watches. I'm fortunate that Summer is fully harness and leash trained and doesn't mind going places. This includes TSA at airports. When I'm getting ready to put her carrier through the X-Ray, I need to take her out, and she comes walking right out of the carrier like she's on a catwalk. She basks in the admiration/ surprised stares of the TSA staff and fellow travelers. Because she spends time with me at TSA, the gate, and the hotel lobby, she's a great conversation starter. And often the conversation is about how I got Summer to be comfortable with travel, or how did I leash train her, etc. So, I'm able to tell people about her background as a therapy cat, and spread the word that cats are capable of more than people think. No matter what goes on at the conference - if things don't go as expected, if your networking goes wrong, or for whatever reason, you wind up alone instead of spending time with fellow attendees - you're never lonely because you've got a pal who is there for you and who loves your company.


You will always have a bag to check at the airport. With a cat, it's impossible to get away with just a carry-on. As a matter of fact, your cat's carrier is your carry-on, along with your purse, laptop bag or backpack. You need a suitcase to carry her litter and litter box, small scratcher, food, toys, and a dustpan for cleaning up loose litter (Summer is big on scattering litter at home, and in hotel rooms both!). You need to do a room check before letting your cat out of the carrier once you've checked in. You need to scope out any places the cat may hide, and any nooks and crannies the maids may have missed during clean up that may be hiding things like pills, sharp objects, or other things that may be dangerous to your cat. There is always extra clean-up when you are checking out of the hotel. It's only common courtesy to leave your hotel room no messier than if it was just you and no cat. Bag up the litter and clean up any scattered litter too. (I use a disposable litter tray, so I leave the bag in the tray if I have to leave it in the room.) If you can find out where the hotel trash bins are to dispose of the used litter and any messes, all the better! I also leave an extra tip for any effort the maids have to deal with for my having a cat in the room (although that does not excuse me from leaving the room as clean as possible). Your cat may get bored, and it's up to you to keep things interesting for her. I usually bring one or two of Summer's favorite toys and have playtime with her every day we travel. She enjoys walking on her leash, so I take her on walks in the hotel hallways and lobby too (keeping an eye out for any dogs, of course). If your cat gets bored, she may start acting out by clawing furniture or the drapes, and you really want to avoid that! 
Summer at the CWA book signing event
Photo with permission - Larry Johnson Photography

All that said, having my cat along with me when I travel is totally worth all the extra effort and the few sacrifices I have to make to bring her along! I rarely travel without her, and when I do, I really miss her.

Jeanne Kudich and Chanel

Bonnie Koenig, Chanel, and Jeanne Kudich in one of the CWA sessions

Jeanne writes for the blog Random Felines. Chanel is a rescue cat Jeanne adopted after fostering her.  Jeanne fosters cats and does other volunteer work with local rescue. She says "from TNR, to education, to advocacy," she is in it for the long haul. Jeanne also writes for the blog "Cats Going Places" alongside Julie McAlee (who owns Chanel's sister, Cupcake) and they share information with their readers about taking their cats out around the city and traveling across the country. Jeanne has been known to bring kittens she is fostering to conferences to help socialize the kittens and many have been adopted from attendees at the conference. Chanel is a black and white short hair domestic cat. She loves chasing the other cats in the house as well as toys. 

Jeanne shared the following benefits and challenges of traveling with Chanel.


I love taking either Chanel or kittens to a conference with me. Being a slight introvert, it gives me a good ice breaker for conversations with strangers. It also is a huge advantage for kittens to get the kind of exposure to different things that they get at conferences. For Chanel, she likes the attention and it builds our relationship being together. Since we are in public, it also allows people to see that cats CAN be out and about and don't mind it. Breaking that stereo type is a big thing for me.


As for challenges, obviously they come with luggage that has to be unpacked and repacked and there is the cautions about travel. I make sure that if I plan to take Chanel or kittens, it is a driveable distance as I don't want to fly with them. The other challenge is that during conferences, if I have to take them out, my attention is definitely divided. I make sure that I keep a very close eye on Chanel or kittens - to make sure they aren't distressed by anything and also to make sure that they are safe from things around the conference. People don't always remember to ask before petting an animal and, especially with Chanel, I must make sure I am watching her since she tends to nip when she gets agitated. This, of course, means I am not always paying 100% attention to any speaker and it also means that I may leave a session or part of the event early if I think they need to go back to the room for some quiet time.

Chanel out and about on her leash and harness
Photo with permission - Larry Johnson Photography

Challenges aside, I love taking them for the exposure they get and the ability to expand their horizons just beyond the four walls of my house. 

Arden Moore and Pet Safety Cat Casey

Pet Safety Cat Casey and Arden Moore
Photo courtesy Arden Moore

Arden is a radio/podcast host for the top show on Pet Life Radio. She is a Master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor and is In-demand professional speaker and emcee. Arden is a cat and dog behavior/safety coach for pet professionals and is a best-selling author of 26 dog and cat books. Pet Safety Cat Casey loves being part of Arden’s pet behavior and pet first aid classes and he loves to travel! He is also a certified therapy cat. You can follow Arden on her blog

Arden says the decision to take Pet Safety Cat Casey with her to attend the Cat Writers Association’s 25th annual conference in St. Louis was an easy one. Casey is a therapy pet and pet first aid ‘assistant’ who has traveled by plane and car to events in 12 states. Arden says she knows better than to try to "wing it" when it comes to flying and spending time in hotels with pets, especially cats.  She advises people to book their flight and on-board space four months in advance. She said Casey aced his health exam and they brought his vaccination records with them on the flight. She also made sure his carrier was airline approved and that she could wheel him in the airport in a lightweight pet stroller that quickly collapses when dropping off at the gate before boarding.

Arden shared the following benefits and challenges of traveling with Casey.


Having a well-mannered cat present in the various educational sessions to remind all of us about the need to boost the health and enrichment of cats. Secondly, to provide a much-needed ‘fur fix’ to attendees as well as pet-loving hotel guests and staff. Casey, especially when sporting his cowboy hat, spiked the happiness factor in everyone he met at the conference. And he did rock it as my co-emcee during the awards banquet!


The biggest challenge? Packing. I brought more items for Casey than myself. And, I made sure to pack lightweight litter and disposable litter boxes, extra leashes and harnesses, a couple of favorite toys, plus his food and treats.

Pet Safety Cat Casey
Photo with permission - Larry Johnson Photography

"I am blessed to have a wonderful feline ambassador in Casey who is on a mission to improve acceptance of cats everywhere," responded Arden.

Paula Gregg and Cuddle Clones Truffle and Brulee
Paula Gregg with the Cuddle Clones Brulee and Truffle

Paula is a pet influencer and blogger with Sweet Purrfections, LLC. Truffle and Brulee are silver shaded Persians who live in South Carolina and help Paula share information about living and learning with Persian Cats. 

Unfortunately, Paula was working so much on her job when Truffle and Brulee came to live with her and she was unable to work with them on harness and leash training and being out among people. As much as she'd love to take the girls with her to the numerous conferences and expos she attends, the stress would be too much for the girls and her. 

Paula had Cuddle Clones made of Truffle and Brulee and they are so realistic looking and easy to carry to the conference. She said it was fun watching the reactions of the people walking into the hotel and serving her from drive through windows at restaurants. Many people had to come over and see if they were real. Paula said she had to do a double take a few times while the Cuddle Clones rode in the passenger seat beside her because the eyes looked so much like Truffle and Brulee.

Cuddle Clones Truffle and Brulee helping Paula with her CWA presentation.

Truffle and Brulee stayed at home with a wonderful pet sitter, Denise. Denise sent photos of the girls to Paula each day while she was gone. The Cuddle Clones aren't the same thing as having Truffle and Brulee travel with Paula, but it's nice to see the replica stuffed animals looking at her when she's resting in the hotel room.

We hope you enjoyed meeting the cats who attended the CWA conference with their human companions. We wanted to mention that Summer traveled to the conference in the Sleepypod® Air and Chanel traveled to the conference in the Sleepypod® Mobile Pet Bed. Both carriers are safe, stylish, and comfortable for your feline companions.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Interesting to read about the pros and cons - momma's never really traveled with a cat other than moving, but she has traveled with a dog.

  2. Such a fun bunch of wonderful traveling kitties, they are all very special!

  3. Loved this post! Bet the cuddle clones were a big hit as they are so life like.

  4. Taking our babies with us is good for us and for them as well. Great shots. I'm glad you all had a great time.

    Have a fabulous day. Scritches to the kitties. ♥

  5. I loved reading about Jeanne's and Arden's experiences with Chanel and Casey. Casey especially was a real rock star!

  6. Well look there is Mama cheating on us with Chanel!

  7. It must be fun to travel with a kitty.

  8. Awesome post!
    We loved seeing so many bloggers and the great advice :)

  9. I don't think either of my cats will ever learn to travel. Ellie's really curious about everything - so she might come around.

  10. We enjoyed reading the pros and the cons, very interesting post ! Purrs

  11. What a great idea for an article! It was wonderful having these three special kitties and their human's at the conference and I'm especially excited at the myths they are breaking that cats can't travel, do tricks, or be social. Purrs from Deb and the Zee/Zoey gang.

  12. I'd love it if I could take one of my cats out and about. I think Woodrow would be the best candidate. Reading these stories and tips gives me hope!

  13. I love traveling with Plush. Like Julie, I like people to see my kitties out around so they realize life on the road/park/trail isn’t just for dogs. I hope we inspire and enlarge boundaries for other cats. Boy the challenge of traveling for more than a day trip though - I fit all my stuff in a backpack and Plush’s stuff fills half the car! And I don’t even have my stroller or wagon yet!

  14. Our mom just loved seeing all the kitties at CWA! She would love for us to go with her, but she respects the fact that we don't like to go out. Paws up for all the kitties who are trained to wear their harness and travel in a carrier! It's so exciting to hear about their travels.

  15. Great post and congratulations on winning. I would love to attend a conference one day with Layla.

  16. I wish I could have been there to see the cats that came along! It was a lot of fun to bring Manna and Dexter to BlogPaws the year that I did it. I agree with the ladies in this post, packing and keeping things neat and clean is the hard part. Cats can add a lot of joy to travel. :)


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