Join us as blogger and journalist BJ Bangs introduces herself, her cats and her blog: Blog of the Month for March, here on TheCatSite.com.
Please, tell us about yourself and your cats -
While I’ve been a journalist for years, I’m relatively new to blogging. I started my blog in mid-October. Knowing that I wanted to establish myself as a credible knowledgeable cat writer, the buzz I was getting from an online writing class was that if you ever wanted to write a book or be published, it was a must to have a blog. I started at wordpress.com, but soon realized that if I wanted any hope of getting some financial rewards, I’d have to migrate to wordpress.org. So now, it’s moved over to bjbangs.net. The header is of Little Yellow, who started following the other cats around like their shadow soon after being adopted. At little more than six weeks, he was very little then. That’s sure changed, but I kind of like the name, so he’s still my Little…
I grew up on a small farm with cats, but never really considered myself a cat person, as such. I had a horse and some rabbits and was fond of them. My grandmother would take the broom to the cats and drive them all outside, and one by one they’d find their way back in.
It took a while for me to make the big commitment to owning and care for a cat. But after graduating from college and a few years of living by myself, I took in a stray. She looked like a Maine coon, with huge double paws. She and I co-habited by ourselves for about nine years. After my grandmother died, my dad wanted a kitten. I took him to the shelter, and low and beyond, a sweet Russian Blue kept hooking me with her paw. After over 20 years, she crossed the Rainbow Bridge, just a few years ago. Today, I have four cats: my mom’s cat that I’ve inherited, a tuxedo boy named Clyde; my beautiful black kitty with her pink collar, Indigo; my Siamese with steel blue eyes, Linus, who is the absolute love of my life; and my silver coon mix, who is a brat, Little Yellow. I often have three cats sharing my space when having my morning coffee.
When I adopted Linus and his brother, a black Siamese, who died from FIP within the year, they helped me appreciate how entertaining and special cats are. While I had volunteered at local animal shelters before, I really started giving the whole cat writing thing more serious thought. I came up with an idea for a book which has yet to materialize. But I can picture it so clearly that I’ve just got to do it.
And as for me, I’m a journalist/photographer/communications person that has developed a real love for cats, and wants to share that love by writing about issues that impact them. Cats have an unconditional love, and that’s one thing that makes them special. No two are alike, and they know when you are down, or upset, or happy and jubilant. They are the most unbelievable creatures. There’s nothing better than snuggling up in front of the wood stove with four best feline friends.
So it’s fun to write about them. And believe me, the more I write, the more I could write. When I took the online blogging class, the facilitator asked: what if you get tired of writing about cats. I don’t see that happening because as I research the internet, I could blog three times a day and not even hit the tip of the iceberg.
What is the focus of the Blog - Your special angle on cats?
My blog: bjbangs.net - Paws for Reflection, focuses on anything and everything that impacts cats around the world. That includes travel, books, rescue, heart-warming rescue stories, state and local legislation impacting pets, and horrific abuse stories. There doesn’t seem to be one place that pulls all these things together, and I’m trying to fill that void. I also put in some lighter posts under the Monday MEOWSings heading, like how the cats fared during a recent renovation fiasco.
What I’m finding is that the more I write, the more I find to write about.
Presently, I blog three times a week, plus hold a full-time newspaper job, do some contract web work, play the guitar on a volunteer basis for the Alzheimer’s care center where my mom resides, maintain a house, and yes, spend time with my four best feline friends. I’d really like to devote more time to blogging because I see a bit of a disconnect in pet related information on the web, and as stated before, I would like to fill that void. I sort of consider it being the news person for the cat world.
I’m pretty amazed at the depth of the blogging world. I’ve connected with notably PetMd and Homer the Cat. And I’m looking forward to connecting with many, many more in the cat world. I was also astounded when a person from California wrote a blog post about me and my blog, saying that’s exactly what she wanted to do. I’ve also had some mentions and re-tweets from some pretty credible people in the cat writing world. And of course, I’m thrilled at the exciting opportunity to be featured on TheCatSite.
When and where do you usually write your blog posts? Where are your cats when you’re writing and do they help out?
I’m either upstairs in my office or sitting in front of my laptop downstairs on the coffee table. When I’m upstairs, I usually make the kitties stay downstairs because they love to walk across the keyboard and shut down the computer. After three or four times of that happening, they are banned from the office. They also get their paws entangled in all those many wires, and cling for dear life, when trying to disentangle them. So sharing the office doesn’t work too well.
When I’m at the laptop, they try to steal my lap, but its set up doesn’t allow for them to walk across it, as well. But even though they may not physically be with me, they are always with me, in spirit.
Are you currently involved, or have you been involved in the past in other cat writing projects? Can you tell us a little bit about those?
I work for a newspaper and whenever the occasion arises, I will write about a cat related issue. It was a series on pet overpopulation and the ensuring problems that resulted in a Muse Medallion from the Cat Writers Association. I write about cats whenever possible, but my editor shakes her head, and just thinks I’m a crazy cat lady.
I’m also the Portland, Maine Cat Examiner, and am trying to post more and more articles to that site. I find pet professionals don’t really understand the value of Examiner.com, and look at it as more of a hobbyist writing position. But with the crunch on the print business today, they shouldn’t discount it because it too could be a clearing house for pet related information statewide.
I have some ideas and pitches out, including one to blog for a larger newspaper, but they haven’t materialized, yet. Establishing myself as a credible cat/pet expert is the number one short-term goal of my blog.
Is there a single blog post that you're most proud of? Care to share the story and a link to that post?
Probably one of my favorite blog posts is one of my first. Remember, I only started the blog in late October. It was about the numbers of cats around the world, and their plight. Cats in the United States, England, and Japan fare very well. But that’s not the case worldwide. In China, cats face some horrendous abuse. Some countries still have customs allowing cats to be on the dinner table.
It’s interesting in that cats are everywhere. They are in war torn Afghanistan. They are in South America. They are on islands. In Japan, they have cat cafes where people can have their morning job and spend time with the kitties. Where there are people there, there are cats, except Antarctica. It’s too cold for them to survive there.
The human/animal bond is a particular interest of mine, and I’m sure I’ll be having some interesting posts on the power of cats to better the lives of their humans. Another post that I found entertaining was on the KitKat Klock’s 60th anniversary. It inspired me to put one up on my kitchen wall as a reminder of years past.
Any special message for TheCatSite.com members?
All of us bloggers need subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook likes and comments. The point of blogging is to make an impact and share information. So please follow me at @bjbangs on Twitter, subscribe at www.bjbangs.net, or invite me into your circles on Google+. My Facebook page, is set not set up as business page, and I’m trying to figure out if there will be a way to migrate it to a site specifically to promote my blog and other articles. I also want people to share ideas. In years of reporting, I’ve found the best stories come from conversations with others. It’s all about helping the cats, and the people that care for and about them.