I was first introduced to this perfect little book when I read a review from one of my favorite cat bloggers, Cat Chat with Caren and Cody. I instantly downloaded the book, checked out Athena's blog, and emailed the author to see if she'd be interested in joining me for an interview.
A Forever Home for Athena takes readers into the mind of tiny kitten Athena and her sister Lily as they are tossed out into the cruel world following the death of their kitty mom. After many days of being hungry, cold, and wet, they are finally brought to a shelter where more uncertainly awaits them: will they ever get enough to eat, will they be able to stay together, will a nice person take them home or will it be a scary person with a black light around them?
Finally Marie and her mom visit the shelter and Athena instantly knows she's found the human that she was predestined to love and protect forever. The feeling is mutual and Athena finds herself in a home with more love than she ever could have imagined. But the life of a rescue kitty is never easy, and she still lives with the fear of being abandoned and wonders from time to time if her sister found the same beautiful life that she ended up with.
This book touched my heart and is a must read for cat lovers everywhere. It made me smile, cry a tear or 100, and made me so proud to a cat lover and rescue advocate. Snuggle up with your kitty while you read this one and make sure they know that you will keep them safe forever.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Marie. Can you tell us how you came to be a cat writer/cat blogger?
You are welcome, and thanks for inviting me!
I've always loved cats and have always written so I suppose it all naturally fell into place (though it took some time!). It wasn't until I adopted my cat Athena in the summer of 2011 that I started writing about cats, though cats have featured in my fiction writing before (even in my vampire books!). I had a writing blog for some time but found that I was fast losing the enthusiasm to post regularly (and to be honest, running out of ideas). At the time I was discovering more and more cat blogs and loved reading them so I decided to start one for Athena. Cats and animal welfare have always been a passion of mine.
In your opinion, what makes cats so exquisite?Everything! I love their grace, mysticism, intelligence, aloofness, curiousity, beauty, calmness, wisdom, eyes, soul... I could go on and on!.
What is a typical writing day like for you?I tend to write better at the beginning of the day, even though I'm not a morning person. It wasn't always like that. I'm mostly a night owl but adopting Athena changed all that. I think I should point out here that though I have always loved cats, I hadn't had a cat for many years after my other soulmate cat, Suzy, passed away in 1998. She was in my life for 13 years and her loss really cut me up. I decided I couldn't go through that pain again, and also for many practical reasons I couldn't share my life with a cat for a very long time.
Are your own cats a constant source of inspiration for your writing?Definitely! Athena is my muse. No doubt about that. She inspires not only my writing, but other artistic endeavours, like photography. I've suddenly become very passionate about it and it's thanks to Athena and my blogs that I've realised it's something I should pursue. I've always enjoyed taking photos, but now I really want to learn everything there is to know about the subject.
As someone going through the grief process right now, how have you dealt with the loss of beloved pets?Well, as I said, I lost my dear Suzy many years ago now but I still think about her daily. She will always be in my heart and I still feel her spirit near. I also lost my dad back in September 2010 and it took a while to come to terms with that. But rescuing Athena a few months later helped immensely in the grieving process. I always feel that my dad sent her to heal me. I had been thinking of getting a cat just before he passed away, but I needed to grieve properly before deciding to actually start looking for one.
What was the inspiration for A Forever Home for Athena...are you a big adoption advocate?I wrote a few chapters from Athena's point of view in my memoir The Cat Years: How My Cat Soulmates Saved Me and I was amazed at how natural it felt for me to write in this manner, so I thought then that I must write some books from the cat's perspective, perhaps for children. I wanted to tell Athena's story and decided it would be great to write about her adoption and her experience (as I imagined it) so as to promote the importance of animal adoption. I also wanted to give back to the shelter that Athena came from, as well as two other charities I support.
What are you currently working on?My cat Suzy's story, again aimed at children but I'm sure adults will love it too!
What are some of your favorite books?I enjoy many genres but these days I tend to read many cat and animal books, mostly non-fiction. Two books I really enjoyed was Solomon's Tale by Sheila Jeffries (which is not non-fiction but a lovely story about a cat who gets reincarnated to help a young family and A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen, about a street musician who found a ginger stray on his doorstep – a meeting that totally changed his life. These are among my faves.
I understand you are a certified Reiki Master Practioner...can you tell me more about Reiki? I'm fascinated by it.Reiki translates as universal life energy and is an amazing energy healing method that originated in Japan many years ago. Though I'm certified, I don't work professionally in this field yet, but my main focus is to use it to help animals that need it. My cat really loves it!
As a powerful healing energy, animals, especially cats, respond very well to energy healing It can help re-balance energy and can help with mental, emotional and physical problems, whilst also providing pain relief for various illnesses and injuries.
You don't have to be psychic or gifted to be able to offer healing to your own animals. Giving healing to your pet is great for deepening the connection between you. Of course, if you are worried about your pet's health in any way you must visit your vet first, but as a complimentary therapy Reiki works very well. However, it isn't a cure for terminal illness, but it can help alleviate stress and pain.
What are some things everyone can do to help the plight of homeless cats?Raise awareness. The internet has made it possible to do that and even if you can't give much of your time to volunteer at a shelter or indeed help financially, I feel that joining animal rescue sites on facebook, twitter, etc and sharing is a great way to help.
Also, adopt don't shop. It's as simple as that. If you want a cat, there are thousands of them at rescue shelters (some unfortunately will be killed if not found suitable homes, which makes me angry and sad). And if you have cats, make sure to get them neutered. If you are not planning to breed from your cat this is the responsible thing to do. Don't have your cat giving birth and then dumping those poor kittens at local shelters. You are just adding to the problem and they are full to bursting as it is.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marie Symeou is an author, cat blogger, animal healer and animal rights advocate. Visit her at www.mariesymeou.com and her blogs, www.purrsfulloflove.com and www.catgoddessathena.blogspot.com