The Real Deal Before and After the Purina Better With Pets Summit

by Deb at 12:10 AM • Uncategorized22 Comments

The last time I was in NYC was in 2010 – I was attending a writing conference that had nothing to do with cats. A few months after that, I found the strength and resolve to start Zee & Zoey’s blog and write my first book! 5 years later… wow… so much of my life has changed!

I had not mentioned this earlier, so it may come as a surprise to some of you to find out I have just returned from a two day, all expenses paid trip to New York City!! I was selected by Purina to attend the 2015 Better With Pets Summit and it was an opportunity too good to pass up. Not only would I be learning about ways to improve the emotional wellness between pets and the people that love them, but I would also get to hang out with some of my fellow blogging friends, meet new ones, and get paid to write about it. What?!!!!!!

I will be blogging about my experiences over the next couple of weeks, but for now, I just want to share all the eclectic, behind the scenes kind of stuff that won’t be making the professional editing cut!


Hey New York!! Bumper-to-bumper traffic and all – here I come!!

First off, let me say that it’s always been a dream of mine to attend one of these summits. I’ve drooled with envy over those that have been able to attend in year’s past and when I got the email telling me I would be going, I nearly fainted with the sheer joy of it all! I packed my usual cat related paraphernalia and even splurged on a cheap pair of low-heeled leopard boots to wear to the event thinking they would be practical, stylish, and comfortable!

Naturally, since I had NEVER worn them before, they were anything but comfortable. But that’s the essence of being a woman – we are always eternally hopeful against all odds that our new footwear will be comfortable right out of the box, even though we will be traipsing around for miles at a time without a sitting break. Hey… I never claimed I was the brightest bulb in the room, but to my credit, my feet did look cute…

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Standing in the shower at the W Hotel in my room while wearing my super cute boots. The shower was bigger than my entire bathroom at home…

The real reason for my sore feet and traipsing is because I decided to make the most of my stay – the summit was only 1 day long – so I took the earliest flight I could from Fort Lauderdale to New York the day before, allowing me to arrive bright and early to spend the day sightseeing and hanging out with Angie Bailey of Catladyland/Texts From Mittens who was already in town for the summit and Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat (who lives in the city).


Angie and I getting ready to begin our day of sightseeing and foot torture… Despite the jackets, it was actually extremely warm out and at one point we brought our jackets back to the hotel!

Rockefeller Center and The Shop at NBC Studios was our first stop and we had a blast taking pictures of anything relating to Friends, SNL, Jimmy Fallon, and Seinfeld. After that, Tamar had to leave us for a prior engagement and we were on our own.

The first thing we did was find a deli to eat lunch at, and after that, we went to the breathtakingly beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral where they check your purse for guns before you can even enter the place to violate it by taking hundreds of touristy pictures (the guy didn’t even bat an eye when he saw cat ears in my purse).


Just hanging out with Jimmy Fallon – Hmmmm…. notice anyone PHOTOBOMBING my picture?!! Thanks Angie!


This is just one of the many shops devoted to SNL stuff!


Your standard Rockefeller Center picture with flags and ice-skaters!


I have close up shots of the Rainbow Room Observation Deck NBC Studios marquee, but I decided to share this long shot instead so that you could get a sense of the trees this time of year.


Unfortunately I was a few weeks too early to see any of the fabulous Christmas decorations that New York is famous for – the closest I could come is this holiday scene made out of Lego’s (there is a whole store devoted to Lego’s)!


This picture didn’t come out so great, so I applied a weird filter technique to it!! It’s the only time I took my cat ears out – to pose with this awesome lion that graced the front doorway of a gift shop!


In front of the gorgeous New York Public Library – it’s so big you could easily get lost in it!


St. Patrick’s Cathedral has to be seen to be believed! Naturally, none of my pictures did any justice to this stunning structure – I have put a few images together as a collage to give you a better idea of just how impressive it is.

But more disturbing than the now commonplace worry of finding lethal weapons in a place of worship, was our stop at Saks Fifth Avenue. We needed to find a restroom and being that the store was right in front of us, that’s where our tiny bladders dictated we go. I kid you not, at any given moment, we felt like security was going to come and grab us for being lowly “common folk.” The clothing was insane – not insane as in beautiful (although some of it was) – insane as in the price.

We played a game – “guess how much this costs?” and just to give you a range – dresses, tops, sweaters, and lightweight jackets were between $350.00 to $8900.00. There was one dress in particular – a sleeveless cotton wrap style that was quite frankly, hideous. If it was given to me as a gift, I would not want it and it looked like something from a rummage sale. It was priced at $850.00 and after we both burst out audible gasps of disbelief, I got my soapbox angry on.

The dichotomy of crazy makes me crazy. Within feet of Saks are homeless people living outside. I also connect with people on a daily basis that are struggling to get by, many of them willing to give their last dollar just to help someone else in need. And the shelters and rescues that would give anything for a donation to help an animal… Ugg… Don’t get me started. A dress that literally, between materials and labor probably cost $8.99 to make, was selling for $850.00!

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in capitalism and feel very blessed to live in the United States where we have the ability to profit from our efforts – but that kind of profit is obscene. Yes, I know Saks has to pay astronomical overhead, but even so, it’s just not right.

Okay. Soapbox off. We finally went back to the hotel to meet up with friends for dinner. I got to hang out with some of my favorite cat cohorts like Ingrid King of The Conscious Cat, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, Janice Garza of Sparkle Cat, Lisa Richmond of A Tonk’s Tail, Joanne McGonagle of The Tiniest Tiger, Tamar Arslanian, and Angie Bailey. I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Dawn White of Lola The Rescued Cat and Laura Zaccardi of Squeedunk. Neither was going to the summit, but both live in the area and made the effort to drop by!


These wonderfully blurry and horribly lit pictures are me meeting two of my favorite cat ladies for the very first time – Laura Zaccardi on the left and Dawn White on the right.

I suppose it was the excitement of it all that caused me to accidentally leave my Samsung tablet at the restaurant (I use the tablet to take pictures as my iPhone is really outdated and takes poor quality photos) and my ratty old sweater in the cab we took back to the hotel. The good news – the restaurant had found my tablet and would hold it for me. The bad news – I would not have it to take pictures for the summit and I would have to figure out a way to get it back before I went home (not easy because unless something is within walking distance, which it was not, it means paying for a cab or Uber). As far as the sweater, we all collectively decided to agree it had found a lovely home with someone that really needed it.

After getting back to my room, thoroughly exhausted, I did not sleep a wink, because that’s always God’s little joke with me. Have an important function to get up early for… hmmm… I’ll show you! Needless to say, I woke up with massive black bags under my eyes and looked a fright, but oh well… at least I was going to an incredible event… It’s not like there would be lots of pictures shared socially or anything like that…

I got through the summit… which was AMAZING… which I will share details about in my next post… I was also able to get my tablet… it was on the way (sort of) to an exclusive event that Tamar kindly invited me to – the week old opening of a CAT CAFÉ in SoHo called Koneko!! OMC – the Purina Better With Pets summit and a cat café. If one of my nine lives were to end tomorrow, I would die happy! I’ve always wanted to go to a cat café and it was everything I had hoped for – a hip and trendy place devoted to rescue that was filled with a very manageable number of cats that were up for adoption.


The very cool Koneko logo on a tote bag! Love it!


This is Thomas – one of the Koneko cats I fell in love with! All the cats that are brought to Koneko are carefully screened to insure they will be okay in an environment with lots of people and other cats. The cats are also up for adoption.

After as much cat loving as I could fit in, it was off to the airport for my late-night flight home. I booked my first ever Uber ride and was picked up by a gentleman from Indonesia that regaled me with stories of how he prayed to God that his wife would finally become pregnant after years of trying, and that she would have a son. His wife did get pregnant, but God gave him a daughter…

The moral? I don’t know. I was just happy to make it home in one piece with my loving Dan and my sweet kitties waiting for me. I am very blessed to have been a part of the event and honestly, the only thing that was truly surprising to me was that I did not happen upon a stray kitten somewhere along the way to bring home…

Have a wonderful Caturday all…

To be continued….

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  1. It feels strange not to have attended this event together–my partner in cat conferences! How I wish I could have gone. But alas, my paying job was beckoning and homeless cats needed to be TNRd. Looking forward to experiencing the adventure through your blog posts.

    p.s. You look beautiful on your first day of sightseeing. Love the sweater and leopard print scarf.

    • Deb says:

      Christine – I can’t tell you how many times I brought your name up! It was very weird not having you a part of it and I hope that one year we will be able to take NY by storm together! And thank you on telling me I looked beautiful… sigh… so not the case, but you are a sweetheart for saying so!

  2. Thanks for sharing, Deb. Sounds like you had a fantastic time, both at the summit and visiting NYC. Look forward to hearing more stories about your trip. 🙂

  3. What a nice synopsis of your visit to NYC! The photos are wonderful. NYC is full of paradox–I too was once troubled by the bodorcation betweem wealth and poverty. I know now that the city does a lot more than I first realized for people in need. The biggest struggle I have is the cost of living for those who work in the wonderful restraints, hotels, entertainment venues that make this city The City of Cities… And I know it Amy sound counter to my rescue heart but Saks is my version of Mecca! That comes from the part of me that wanted to be in the fashion industry. I don’t have the eye or the stomach for it so here I am, working with organizations to develop communication plans! And trying to rescue and rehome kitties…
    It was such a delight to have the opportunity to meet you–I was so disappointed that I missed BlogPaws. I am already looking forward to the chance to do it again! Can’t wait to read more about the conference!

    • Deb says:

      Laura – Yes, I think life in general is a paradox. I think in regards to New York, it is easy to feel indignant because it is so visually in your face at all times. But homelessness and the great disparity between the wealthy and the poor exists in every city, town, and village across the world and so it is easier to pretend it doesn’t exist when you don’t see it in front of you. I am glad to know the city is doing what it can to help.

      As far as Saks, don’t get me wrong – many of my nine lives ago, I was minutes away from starting my new life as a fashion designer. My Mom actually managed a fabric store in White Plains (we used to live in a small town called Hawthorne) and I worked in a retail fabric store when I was older. I have been sewing and designing as long as I can remember and the industry is in my blood! I think that’s why it makes me so nuts – because I know firsthand just how high the markup in fabric is.

      I can’t wait to meet you again – you are such an elegant, classy, and beautiful woman and it would be nice to be able to talk to you without the exhaustion factor!

  4. Ingrid King says:

    It was so wonderful to see you and get to spend some time with you. Loved this write up. NYC is my favorite city in the world. The summit was truly amazing, as was hanging out with you and our other cat lady friends. And I sure am glad you got your tablet back!

    • Deb says:

      I agree with you Ingrid – I love NYC and would live there if I could! No car and living in a loft, writing, in a city that is just so vibrant and alive – that would be amazing.

      So glad to see you as well!

  5. Brian says:

    That summit is amazing and Dad was sad that his schedule didn’t work out this year.

  6. margaret preston says:

    What a fun opportunity, so glad you got to do this! Prayers for you for a great career opportunity as well, God bless, have a great weekend!!!

  7. Flynn says:

    Lovely pictures of your time in New York. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

  8. It was so great to meet you in person, Deb! I love this post! I like seeing New York through other’s eyes and hear their take on what we take for granted. It is an exciting place with so much to take in. I hope next time you come you’ll be here longer and I can take you on a subway ride to Queens to meet the girls.

  9. What a fun post and I’m so glad you got the tablet back. It’s was good to see you (you didn’t look tired to me!) and loved the boots. Talk soon!

  10. Kitties Blue says:

    It sounds like an amazing trip, Deb. I haven’t been to New York since the early 80s. I can’t wait to hear about the Summit. And I can’t wait to have the opportunity to visit a cat cafe. XOCK, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

  11. Deziz World says:

    Glad yous had a good time. We wuld luv to go to all these pawsum events.

    Luv ya’

    Dezi and Lexi

  12. Sounds like you had a great time! Glad you were able to get your tablet back before you returned home.

  13. First of all, I am so jealous – I would give anything to be able to meet you and the other awesome cat ladies at the conference. I would love to be able to go to conferences like that one of these days. I’ll keep hoping and praying… 🙂

    Second, you need shoes from the Walking Company! They are the best – they even have dress shoes. I haven’t tried on any of the dress shoes personally, but if they are anything like their everyday shoes, they should be amazing. They are pricey in my opinion, but they are the only shoes I can tolerate wearing for any length of time with my severe foot pain.

    Third, oh my gosh – Saks Fifth Avenue is insane!! I couldn’t even budget $100 for a dress to wear to the Gala I was invited to (free of charge to me). I had to go to Ross and find a dress marked down to $20. Ha. And they still probably made a profit off the dress…. The prices of things really shocks me a lot of the time. If they’d lower prices, maybe we wouldn’t have so many struggling and homeless people.

    Can’t wait to hear about the rest of your trip!

  14. It was fantastic seeing you!
    First a camera, then a tablet? Hmmmmmmm……….

  15. Ellen Pilch says:

    I am so jealous- I love NYC! Great photos.

  16. What a great trip! I’m now where you used to be about the summits, full of envy! I love the photos around NYC, especially in front of the New York Public Library lion. Patience and Fortitude are my favorite icons in the city, and it’s wonderful to see you got to visit them.

  17. da tabbies o trout towne says:


    Sounds like an awesome time; I’m happy for you that you got to go. Thanx for sharing the weekend; look forward
    to your future posts and MEGA JEALOUS ya got to see a cat cafe !!! ♥♥♥

  18. The guy didn’t even bat an eye at the cat ears in your purse, huh? What was he looking for, again? Was he looking for nip?


    PS. Sounds like you had a great time and I’m super happy to hear that. purrs