HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT ANIMAL COMMUNICATION?
Mostly, I learned about it accidentally at a Natural Health Fair that had a lecturer on the subject. My world first tilted, then expanded to reveal amazing answers to life-long question, even, finally, answering for me the question, "do animals have souls?" I then started researching, turning over every stone and listening for every cat meow I could find to locate a teacher. Fortunately, one "fell into my lap" and I was able to experience classes with an internationally known Animal Communicator, Jeri Ryan, Ph.D.
ARE ALL THE CHARACTERS IN THE BOOK REAL?
Absolutely! The psychic, the renters, the Feng-shui Man, the animal communicators, and definitely all the cats were very real. For privacy, though, the humans—except for the communicators—all have been identified with aliases and given physical characteristics that were not their own, i.e., calling the short one tall, the blond one a brunette. As far as my memory would allow, every word in the book is absolutely true. I left a lot out because I was hazy on a memory; I wanted this book to be as true as if I were being sworn in as a witness to the life my cats and I lived.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO WRITE PURRS & PROMISES? I felt that the knowledge that I had learned and received from the professional communicators and from my cats needed to be shared with every person on the planet who comes into contact with animals. Toward that end, I organized Ladies In Writing, a critique group which met every Saturday for four years, even on most holidays. The thought of caretakers, rescue workers, vets, and others being able to communicate with animals about their care, about where they hurt, or to reassure them by explaining what is being done to them and why and how--just imagine how it would change the world. It's so huge I get teary-eyed whenever I think about it. Imagine if zoo keepers, if shelter workers, and just ordinary caretakers had a way to communicate with their wards--to find out if they were hurting, or sad, or needed to see a vet. Wouldn't that be amazing?
WILL THIS BE YOUR ONLY BOOK? I hope not! I have two books, much shorter than Purrs & Promises currently "in the works." One is a glossary of alternative medicine and holistic healing terms, SPEAKING HOLISTICALLY. The other, with the working title THE MIDNIGHT MOOSE & OTHER MEMORIES, will be a compilation of short writings about special memories. Several of them will be of my life in Alaska, where I lived for fourteen years, a few will be sketches of the animals that have wandered briefly into my life, and just odd little stories of my life's interesting and sometimes amazing happenings and encounters with other species. MOOSE will be the kind of book you take to read while waiting for appointments, or when you snatch a lunch break. I hope to have them in publication by end of 2017.
ANY LAST WORDS FOR YOUR READERS? Yes, actually. First I recommend that readers look at the voluminous website on cat care: http://www.lisaviolet.com which will explain more fully the reasons I have five must-do, minimum care rules:
1. SPAY AND NEUTER as soon as possible. Over one million cats are currently euthanized yearly for want of a home.
2. NEVER DECLAW. The word declaw is a misnomer. It is actually an amputation of the "fingers and toes" up to the first knuckle. Close your eyes and imagine that for a moment. It is considered an illegal procedure in much of the world, yet we civilized Americans often prefer to save a couch than to save a cat from this barbaric, painful procedure which often leads to litter box avoidance which, in turn, leads to a homeless or euthanized cat. If you educate yourself--you won't amputate.
I am baffled as to why it is considered OK to "declaw" a cat, yet you never hear of a declawed dog, and I have seen couches, carpet, blinds, doors and table legs clawed up by dogs.
3. KEEP THEM INDOORS. An outside cat is a walking target for all kinds of poisons, cars, loose dogs, wildlife and sadistic humans. Admittedly, it places a burden on the caretakers the same as having a human toddler does. Mother Nature attempts to control the balance of nature by making some animals prey animals, at times, and victims at other times. You don't want your cat responsible for killing birds, or for being dinner for dogs, coyotes, and "hunters."
4. MICROCHIP. If an animal is lost, a microchip can be their ticket home; also put ID ON a safety collar (ones that come apart when caught on something) with current tags AND current phone numbers! All tags should have a permanent phone number where a finder can contact you or a stable family member as soon as possible--time is of the essence. Only about 20% of cats are returned to their family.
5. WHEN YOU ADOPT, that animal will depend on you and, if treated with care, will love you beyond anything you could have imagined. But they need to be taught, trained, and cared for as though they were a toddler until they learn the house rules. Treat your pets with kindness, consideration, patience, and respect, and they will repay you many times over for that investment.
AVAILABLE NOW IN
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PURRS & PROMISES
DEANNA CHESNUT, AUTHOR
Photographs are the property of the photographers, and may not be copied, printed, or otherwise reproduced on any other site or used in any other publishing medium without the written permission of the individual photographer: Betty Bobo, all photos of Texas scenery. All other photos property of Deanna Chesnut.
Copyright 2017 Deanna Chesnut
AN INTERVIEW WITH
DEANNA CHESNUT B.A., M.A.
AUTHOR, PURRS & PROMISES
WHO IS DEANNA CHESNUT? I'm an ex-farm girl raised in southeastern Nebraska on a dilapidated farm which is where I learned to hate everything feline. After school, I worked in Chicago, then joined the military, lived in Alaska, and then, following my divorce, went back to college before finally settling in Texas. In the meantime, I was taken "in paw" by a friend's lovely cat and fell in love with her in that one-night stand. After getting my degrees and relocating to Austin, Texas, I was finally able to settle down and adopt my very own cat.
In addition to looking at cat videos, I enjoy writing, crafting greeting cards, reading, surfing the Net, and learning more about alternative healing therapies.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE YOU WANTED BE A WRITER? During my childhood, I loved reading, admiring the authors who wrote books that could give me new friends, let me explore strange places, and which encouraged my imagination to fly. I wanted to be one of those authors, but instead, for most of my life, I only wrote Christmas letters and diary entries. It was not until I had been a cat-mom for many years that a subject I had to share came into my consciousness. After being deeply affected by my heart-and-soul cat, I knew I had to tell others about the amazing beings called "Cat," to share their stories, and to help others by sharing the knowledge my furry sages had taught me.
WHAT IS YOUR WORK BACKGROUND?
After high school graduation, I moved to Chicago to begin my life's big adventure as a teletypist on the Rock Island Railroad. I have lived in a number of states, and have done a variety of income-producing work in government and private industry, including teaching and the legal and medical-related fields. I usually held a second job to be able to afford to pamper the cats as they deserved.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME A CAT-MOM?
After being a cat-hater for the first half of my life, I finally settled in one place--Texas--and became a cat-mom. One cat led to another and soon I had two. My first cat, Sami, a Siamese, was my first teacher on how to live with a feline and what it meant to be a cat-mom. My second cat, Little Bear taught me so much that it took PURRS & PROMISES to explain it all. And finally, my third cat arrived, my little Bella who represented my own childhood.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE PURRS & PROMISES? Six years ago, I began a book about what my cats had taught me. I never expected it to take this long to finish; I never expected it to be a memoir of my own life; I had expected it to be a lot easier and quicker than it was. I expected incorrectly.
When I began writing the cats' story, I realized it made no sense without me. When I added necessary details, it just sort of evolved into my memoir, though I never considered that anyone would want to read about my life. Although I feature prominently in the book, it really is all about the cats--the way they found me, adopted me, cared for me, taught me, and honored me by loving me.
HOW MANY CATS HAVE YOU OWNED? Only a few. I just have a lot to say about the ones I did have, but after listening to my stories about my life with cats, I'm sure some people think I must have been a hoarder.
Let me be clear, though. I no longer consider myself a cat "owner." An owner is a word that signifies power and control. I have been privileged to be a caretaker to some wonderful felines. Only once did I ever have more than two at a time, and that was when I just had to do a rescue and added her to the house as a third. Adding that one cat to the others seemed to multiply the fur bodies in the house by at least ten. Much as it distresses me, I know that for me, and for the cats, two at a time is a full house.
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO BECOME, AS YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF, A GOOD CAT-MOM? In trying to learn to be the best cat-mom I could be, I researched, read gadzooks of books, went on cat chat boards, volunteered with rescue groups, and observed my cats. When the internet became available, I spent endless hours looking for websites of cat information. For several years I was a moderator and behaviorist on a cat chat board with over 350 members. But mostly, the cats were my teachers after I learned to pay attention to body language, habits, and their actions in general. Then, when I learned of Animal Communication, it totally changed the game.
Also, because one of my renters led me to the concept of holistic healing and natural medicine, I sought out as much information and as many classes as I could, both for my own well-being and to be able to help animals in general and my cats in particular.
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