Cat Writers’ Association Certificates of Excellence Announced – Thank you for 10 Years of Memories

My first CWA conference in 2011 – White Plains, NY. I’m here with friend and fellow blogger/writer, Janiss Garza.

Wow. It’s been ten years since I’ve joined the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) in 2011 and with a blog, three books under my belt, and several national print and online freelance writing gigs, it still sometimes feels like a dream. I didn’t start life out thinking I’d be a published writer, it just sort of fell into my lap when a tough economy in 2009, along with my two cats – Zee & Zoey – who had a litter of kittens that helped get me out of deep depression and inspired me to write my first book – The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey – A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary, that it all changed.

The CWA hosts an annual communications contest and Certificates of Excellence (CoE) are awarded to entries as judged with scores of 90 and above out of 100. Winners were just announced for our 2020 contest period, and I’m humbled to say I earned ten certificates this year. I bring this up to thank you all for your years of support, for taking the time to follow me, and more importantly, for being patient with me as I improve my craft. I’m also bringing this up because as the days go on, it’s no longer possible for me to blog or write with any frequency, so earning these certificates will be something for me to look fondly back on, as any entries I might be able to submit moving forward will be few and far between.

I decided for the fun of it to take a trip down memory lane. Since first joining the CWA, I’ve earned 51 Certificates of Excellence and 8 MUSE Medallions (these reflect the best in category from the CoEs and have not been announced for the 2020 contest). I was awarded Cat Writer of the Year in 2013, a special award sponsored by Friskies Purina and I also won the Adopt-a-Shelter Pet award for the article Any Cat Can be a Feral Cat, Even Yours for 2015, the Feline-Human Bond award, and the CWA President’s Award (representing the best of all MUSE Medallion winners) for my book, Makin’ Biscuits – Weird Cat Habits and the Even Weirder Habits of the Humans Who Love Them for 2016, the Fear Free Pet Enrichment award for the article, Is Your Cat Feeling Stir Crazy? 10 Tips to Relieve Feline Boredom in an Everyday Environment, and the Senior Cat Well-Being Award for the article Stairs, Safety and Senior Cats – 10 Tips to Help Ease Your Cat Into His Golden Years for 2018.

2013 and winning the Friskies Writer of the Year was a Sally Field moment for me – “They like me, they really like me!”

Jazmine says with her being the inspiration for the cover of Makin’ Biscuits, of course we won the President’s Award for 2016.

The cherry to top it all off – being published in several national magazines, including the last issue ever of Cat Fancy magazine published March 2015 (I wrote an article on famous cat-loving people throughout history) as well as currently writing for Catster magazine. There is something incredible about seeing your name in print and to this day, it’s always exciting. Not to mention how crazy it is. I have a no-nonsense life working as the depot administrator in the government depot of a company dealing in military airline parts, refurbishments, etc. It’s highly stressful and extremely time-consuming, so it’s always surreal to see something from my cat life crop up in the midst.

2014 at the Global Pet Expo and seeing my Cat Fancy article for the first time in a public setting! (“Don’t Delay – Early Spay/Neuter Comes With Significant Benefits for You and Your Kitten”)

I love writing for Catster – I’ve met so many interesting, devoted, and caring cat people along the way.

Over the years, I’ve had email correspondence with several famous people – Julie Newmar from Batman, actor Eric Roberts, Vanna White, Carrie Ann Inaba, Christopher Knight (Peter from the Brady Bunch) to name but a few. I’ve spoken to Audrey Hepburn’s son on the phone, people overseeing the late Winston Churchill’s estate, Marlon Brando’s estate and so much more. I’ve met incredibly inspirational people dedicated to cat welfare and I’ve seen some people become rising stars right before my eyes, like the now-iconic Jackson Galaxy who I also used to chat with on the phone, even having his cell phone number back then. Sometimes it’s hard to compute the odd dichotomy, but I’m so blessed for all I’ve been opened up to.

2012 CWA conference in Los Angeles with Jackson Galaxy. My how times have changed (for him, at least!)

I’ve learned about spay and neuter, TNR, the feline-human bond, cat enrichment, cat health, senior cats, kittens, cat bereavement, multi-cat homes and so much more. I’ve also spread my wings, expanding my creative energies to graphic design, photography, and even t-shirt design (Yes! t-shirt design, check the pawsome styles out, here). This year I won a CoE for a series of photos I took of my cat, Mia, so that was really exciting for me and I hope to pursue more opportunities like that, too. And trust me, while the recognition is nice, there are nearly as many entries I submit that don’t win a certificate or award, and that’s okay, too. I’m not a writer or creator to win awards, I do what I do because I love the craft and it brings me joy to educate, inspire, and entertain when I can.

This is one of the images from my portraits of Mia article that won a CoE. I’m certainly not a photograpy pro, but I love everything about this photo and am so proud it was acknowledged for an award.

Thank you all again for the support – I have a great new book project in the works. It might take me a couple of years to complete, but it’s a good one, I promise.


2020 CWA Certificates of Excellence

Ten Great Reasons to Celebrate Jazmine for Her 7th Birthday

Happy 8th Birthday to Kizmet, an Extraordinary Cat!

June – Adopt a Shelter Cat Month: 10 Great Reasons to Adopt a Cat During COVID and Beyond
“It Takes a Community: Paul the Cat Guy” – Catster magazine, November/December 2020
“It Takes a Community: Documentary Hopes to Change Community Cats’ Fate” –  Catster magazine, July/August 2020
Six Great Reasons to Adopt a Senior Cat and Ten Tips to Keep Them Happy and Healthy

“Cool Cats: From Motherless Kittens to Ambassadors” – Catster magazine, May/June 2020

Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles – Facebook Page

Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles – Facebook Page

Moments Captured in Time – Portraits of Mia



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  1. Wow, what an amazing decade! I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we met at our first CWA conf! Congrats on your accolades past and present 😻

  2. Stephanie Brodersen says:

    Congratulations on all of your success!😘🌞😻

  3. meowmeowmans says:

    Congratulations on ten amazing years with the CWA, Deb!

  4. jmuhj says:

    ConCATulations, Deb — every commendation is richly deserved. Sharing your article on “feral” cats widely, again, with special message, because the message is more important now than ever. You may know that the last Surgeon General decreed spay/neuter “elective” and delegated PPE for human-specific use first and foremost, effectively undoing the advocacy community’s hard labors of love and making it next to impossible for us to continue doing our work. People are still waiting MONTHS to get their own cats spayed and neutered! So spreading this message far and wide is critical. We all need to understand WHY so many cats and kittens are coming in to ACCs, humane societies, shelters, rescues and sanctuaries, and why there are so many felines outdoors now. It is certainly not cats’ fault! nor is it the advocacy community’s lack of caring or hard work that has made this tragedy occur. And it is up to us to educate others and spread the message, so that we can do everything possible to continue our work and, as Best Friends Animal Society says, Save Them All.

  5. Brian Frum says:

    Congratulations on the Certificates of Excellence and WOW, what a fun look back!

  6. Leah says:

    Many congrats and concats on your C of E’s and your fantastic career of many years, Deb!

  7. Caren says:

    Huge Concatulations to youuuuuu!

  8. Ellen Pilch says:

    You have accomplished a lot over the past 10 years. Congratulations on your well deserved certificates. XO

  9. databbiesotrouttowne says:

    huge conga rats to you Deb; very happy for you on your certificates
    and all of your a CHEESE mints !!!!! talk about an awesome ten…
    here’s to the next ten; looking forward to that book….how about a “hint” 🙂

    { hope de wee gran babe is doing great ♥♥