Monthly Archives: April 2011

Henry the “Spirit Healer” Cat Helps People AND Pets

By Julia Williams

Last December I introduced you to a wonderful three-legged feline named Henry. This extraordinary kitty is a different kind of “Therapy Cat” than those who visit nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities, but his healing work is just as important, and has profoundly changed the lives of many.

I’m writing about Henry again today because his messages of hope, tolerance, resilience and love are too important to forget. Henry shares his story so that others can learn new things and overcome their traumas and tragedies; I want to share Henry’s story to help his healing work gain momentum and reach an even larger audience than it already has. (There’s one more exciting reason for this post, but you’ll have to read to the end to find out what it is!!).

Henry reaches out to help people of all ages through his website,, through personal correspondence and through his critically acclaimed books. “Henry’s World: a Three-Legged Cat’s View of Human Absurdity” is a heartwarming compilation of short tales by Henry about his life, along with hundreds of emails Henry has received and responded to. “What’s the Matter with Henry? The True Tale of a Three-Legged Cat,” was written for children but inspires young and old alike. A third book “What About Me? I’m Here Too!” addresses the emotional issues experienced by healthy siblings of chronically ill children.

Cathy Conheim, Henry’s Mom and self-described Cat Scribe, says “People speak to animals differently and more openly. Animals are our safe havens, an unending source of unconditional love and acceptance. Whether the animals are real, stuffed, or virtual, they become trusted confidants and helpers.” It’s largely for this reason that Henry has touched so many lives. Over the past six years, Henry has received over 50,000 letters from children – and from adults and critters too!

Henry was named the 2010 ASPCA Cat of the Year and more recently, created the “Ouch! Emotional Bandage” app for the iPhone and iPad. This app lets you personalize a blank bandage with a photo and message, or select one of the pre-made bandages. Then you simply e-mail it to people who care about you, as a way to let them know you are hurting and need some TLC. (Brilliant idea, Henry!).

Henry’s words of wisdom include: You aren’t defined by what happens to you; we don’t get to choose what happens to us in life, but we do get to choose how we respond; play the paw you are dealt and be the best “You” that you can be; remember to connect with those you care about. And the one that might be the most important lesson of all: just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do something.

The healing messages are for people, but all profits from the sales of Henry’s books and other fun stuff on his site goes to help animals, as well as human children. Says Henry, “I try very hard to teach humans better ways to be and raise lots of dollars for animals. Any group anywhere in the world can buy my books at our printing cost for $8, sell them for $20 and keep the money locally for the animals in their area.” Henry’s books are not sold in a bookstore, because then there would be no profit for the animals or the children.

Says Cathy, “If we could inspire enough people to buy just ONE charming book about a rescued cat, this would create a lot of money for the animals! I think it would be a great story of the power of the internet, the power of healing…of animals helping animals. Henry and I don’t care how the money made is used as long as animals or kids benefit. Let’s say someone had a $1000 vet bill; if they sold 83 books they could pay the bill. People sell Girl Scout cookies by the zillion, fat and sugar, the drug of choice for kids. Why not sell something pawsitive and do good things with the money?”

Here are three simple ways you can help spread the word about Henry and his healing messages: 1) buy a book or two for someone you love; 2) tell others to check out Henry’s books and other cool stuff at; 3) if you know of a group who might want to buy Henry’s books as a fund-raising tool, please encourage them to get in touch with Henry.

Now for the exciting news – we’re giving away some of Henry’s books and other neat things to three lucky readers!! To participate, simply leave a comment stating that you want to be entered in the giveaway, and include either your email address or a link to your “contact me” info. Sorry, only residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible to win, and entries must be received by May 6, 2011.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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A Guide Dog…for a Guide Dog?

By Suzanne Alicie

Mr. Graham Waspe and his guide dog Edward moved through the world side by side for six wonderful years before the dog developed a rare form of glaucoma and lost his sight. Edward received the best veterinary care available, but due to the pressure of his condition and the pain caused, it was decided that the best course of action was to remove Edward’s eyes. Waspe and his wife Sandra were devastated by the loss of Edward as a guide dog, but made sure to help him adjust to his loss.

Waspe said “If it was a person or a child, you could at least explain to them what was going to happen. In the case of an animal, of course, you can’t, so we found that side of it very traumatic.” In November 2010, Waspe got another guide dog, a yellow lab named Opal. Amazingly, the new dog is also a “guide dog” of sorts for Edward, and they all visit schools and community groups in their area to teach people about guide dogs, their training and the Guide Dogs for the Blind charity. Edward was well known throughout the area, but it seems as if Opal is also establishing herself as a remarkable dog that completes this picture.

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Hairball Awareness Day + RPO “Free Pet Food” Winner

Illustration by Deborah Leigh

By Julia Williams

First off, let me be clear. I’m combining two topics into one post, but they’re not even remotely related. I just checked my calendar and noticed that today is “National Hairball Awareness Day.” So I wanted to mention it, but mostly because I found it funny that someone dedicated an entire day to the almighty hairball. My good buddy “Mr. Google” refused to tell me who that person was, but never mind. I’ll just give you some hairball facts and then move on to the really important stuff.

What are Hairballs?

Every cat owner is familiar with that dreadful gagging sound indicating that a hairball is about to be hacked up on their carpet. Cats seem to have some unwritten rule that they never cough up hairballs on easy to clean surfaces like the kitchen floor. But I digress. The formation of hairballs is a common feline condition caused by the ingestion of hair when a cat grooms itself. Sometimes the ingested hair collects into a tight ball in your cat’s stomach, which they will then vomit up.

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Musings of an Animal Shelter Volunteer

By Kevin Hattori

My wife Tracey and I are often told that volunteering regularly at our local, no-kill animal shelter is “nice” and “selfless,” but we’d venture to say we get just as much – if not more – out of our experiences there than the cats with which we work.

I’ve been volunteering at the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for more than 13 years, and Tracey’s been doing so for about seven. We both feel the lessons and rewards that come from working with these incredible animals are exponentially greater than the time we’ve given.

People often ask what motivates us to spend every Saturday and Sunday afternoon socializing the cats of PAWS. Well, first of all, we’re huge proponents of adopting from shelters (something instilled in us from an early age). Growing up, all of our respective families’ pets were rescues, or from shelters. Our current cats Sammy and Moosey were both adopted from PAWS, and our Angel cats – Bitsy, Graphite, Lady Madonna, and Maggie – were all rescues, too.

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How Trust and Love Can Change a Dog

By Linda Cole

I have to admit, I’m an advocate for any stray dog or cat – even the ones with aggression issues. I believe pets deserve a second chance when they’ve been lost or cast aside by their owners. Unfortunately, many aggressive shelter pets will never be adopted. But sometimes the right person comes along who makes a difference in an aggressive dog’s life. With trust, patience, respect and love, one person can create small miracles and move mountains. We can change the plight of stray pets, one animal at a time, as long as we don’t give up on them. It’s worth the time to unravel a troubled mind in order to save a soul. I have worked with both an aggressive dog and cat, and that’s one reason why I was drawn to the story I’m about to share with you.

When a stray dog shows up in a neighborhood or at a local shelter, we don’t know what they went through living on the streets. Their history is unknown and we have no idea if they were mistreated, abused or became aggressive while on the streets in order to survive. When a dog shows aggression, his behavior is often viewed as a lost cause and he’s put down. Most people won’t deal with an aggressive dog because they don’t know how to help him, or simply don’t want to deal with trying to change the dog’s behavior. A woman named Heike Munday saw something special in an aggressive dog and rescued her from certain death.

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How to Tell if You Are a “Crazy Cat Person”

By Julia Williams

When I was thinking about writing this article, I initially decided it would be about ways to tell if you are a Crazy Cat Lady. But then I realized that even though a lot of men won’t admit they love cats, I have seen plenty of evidence that they do. Take for example, my new favorite show Must Love Cats. Every episode has at least one story, and usually more, illustrating manly devotion to felines. Many of these guys are so over the top in their cat worship they’d certainly qualify as Crazy Cat Men. So I opted to make this a unisex quiz because hey, we should all know if our cat adoration is out of control, right? Not that we need to defend ourselves or do anything about it – as if that would ever happen! Now answer truthfully, and tally up your “yes” answers to get your score.

1. Do you find it hard to resist buying a new cat toy every time you go shopping for household stuff?
2. When strangers come into your home, are there obvious signs that you have a cat, such as furry mice and other cat toys on the floor, a scratching post, cat tree or pet bed in the middle of the living room?
3. When you’re sitting down and a cat is sleeping peacefully on your lap, do you forego getting up because you don’t want to wake them, even though you really, really need to get up?
4. Do you have any clothing with cats on it, and more importantly, do you actually dare to wear it in public?
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