International Cat Care Conference

International Cat Care Conference

As a professional cat sitter and behaviourist, it is so important to make sure to stay up-to-date with the latest cat science.

Last month, I went to the International Cat Care Conference (aka Cat Weekend) in Birmingham. I do this every year so to make sure to keep up my cat knowledge by learning from experts of the cat world.

I arrived a little bit early as I liked to do just so that I am not stressed. (I don’t like stress. I can handle stress, but I don’t like it if I can avoid it. I am like a cat!)

Since I had a little time, so I browsed around some shops that we don’t have in Ireland…

And found these…

These were so cute and very good price as well!

As time was running out, I headed over to the Conference Centre. This is a new venue so the entrance wasn’t very clear. As I was wondering if I was in the right place, I spotted this guy!

So yes, I guess I was in the right place! Well done, International Cat Care! Such a nice touch!

Signing in at the event, there are so many lovely cat theme souvenirs to purchase. All proceeds will go to the great cause of International Cat Care in promoting the welfare of cats around the world.

Then got myself some breakfast…

And I settled down for a day of learning ahead of me…

Some of the lectures of the day includes my favourite cat behaviourist Vicky Halls talking about negative consequences of keeping cat indoors and how to deal with that.

The day was packed full of incredible talks. Check out the full programme here:

Day 1 – Saturday 16th September

iCatCare Feline Day 

09.00 Registration opens
10.00 From hospital to home – managing and supporting a cat with arthritis
Linda Ryan, Inspiring Pet Teaching
10.45 ‘Desperate housecats’ – the less obvious consequences of keeping cats indoors
Vicky Halls, VN, author and cat behaviour counsellor
11.30 Coffee break
12.00 The ultimate challenge – a stress-free vet visit
Sarah Endersby, iCatCare Veterinary Development Manager
12.30 Cats, wildlife and conservationists
Celia Haddon, author and cat behaviour counsellor
13.00 Lunch break
14.00 Ethical dilemmas – ‘natural mutation’ or a breed too far?
Sarah Endersby, iCatCare Veterinary Development Manager
14.45 From hospital to home – care for the cat with kidney disease
Linda Ryan, Inspiring Pet Teaching
15.15 Tea break
15.30 Raffle draw
15.45 Ethical dilemmas – what is right, what is wrong and how do you know?
Karen Hiestand, Teaching Fellow, University of Surrey
16.30 The super fosterer – how fostering cats can benefit their wellbeing
Vicky Halls, VN, author and cat behaviour counsellor
17.00 End

There was a raffle. I, unfortunately, didn’t win anything this year…

I had an amazing if a bit tiring first day of conference. There were so much information and new knowledge that I felt my brain was exploding.

Another interesting trivia, the conference centre was very close to the China Town, here I spotted the iconic pagoda…

As I was walking towards my AirBnb, I came across this little guy to round up my Cat Weekend nicely…haha

And the AirBnb also has a cat! Here he is coming to say hi to me…

Day 2 of the conference was quite unusual. It was a cooperation between International Cat Care and the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors, it wasn’t the traditional sit-down-and-listen kind of day. Instead, all of us worked on a behavioural case together. The case was very interesting in a sense that it was so realistic! I bet most of us at the audience have dealt with similar case like this!

Here is the trailer of the case we worked on…be careful, grab your tissue.

The case: An owner has two cats, a Korat, aged 13 years, obtained many years ago from a breeder, and a six month old domestic shorthair kitten acquired from a friend of a friend  whose moggy was not neutered in time and was mated by a local stray tom. The owner contacts the vet because the young cat appears to be urinating and defecating outside the litter tray. The vet suggests the in-house nurse takes the case as she has an interest in behaviour and has been to some weekend seminars on the subject. And so the case unfolds to also include a homing centre.

It was such a pleasure to work with the amazing Vicky Halls on a case together…

Again, my head was exploding. The story was so sad that lots of us were tearing up. The good news – we all know it was fictional. The bad news is – stories like this happen all the time at our work.

On Day 2, we have another raffle! YEAH!

I had an amazing weekend and was quite pleased with myself. As I was heading to the airport, that’s why things started to go wrong…My return flight was delayed for 2 hour and 50 minutes! (They didn’t want it to delay for 3 hours or they needed to compensate us according to EU regulations…)

I camped out in the business lounge for 3 hours. I tried to make myself comfortable, got food and drinks, charge my phone and read a book…

I eventually made it home after midnight. And later on, I learnt that I was lucky because the next day, the infamous Ryanair mess started

All in all, it was an incredible weekend as every other year. If you are interested to join us next year, make sure to sign up the iCatCare Newsletter and get notification for future events.

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In the meantime, you might want to read the amazing Vicky Halls’ collection of cat books…

If you are at the International Cat Care Conference next year, please come and say hi! I would love to meet you!

Cat arts in British Museum

Cat arts in British Museum

On my last post, I shared with you guys my recent visit to London to check out the annual exhibition by the Society of Feline Artists.

I haven’t been to London for over a decade and haven’t been sightseeing in London for nearly two decades! (Now you know my age…)

I don’t personally like London very much (I am sorry to those who do like London, but I have so much bad experience, I really don’t like London). But I thought, ‘maybe I will give it another shot, it’s been a long time, maybe things have changed.’ Well, it has changed a bit but still London is not a place I would intentionally go to unless it’s for an event. I still don’t like it very much…

Anyway, since I was already there for the exhibition, I did give it another shot to do some sightseeing. Last time I did this I was 18 and I had no money. This time I am much older and have some money. Still not much! London is mad expensive as you all know! But I have at least a few quid to buy myself a drink that I didn’t have last time!

Plus, I know there are some cat arts in British Museum that I wanted to check out!

So after the exhibition, I walked from Waterloo to the compulsory sightseeing spot the Big Ben…

Then another compulsory sightseeing Buckingham Palace…The Queen was in that day, the flag was up.

Then I headed down to Piccadilly and discovered this delightful authentic Japanese confectioneries – Minamoto Kitchoan London.

I got one beautiful assortment for the Cat Man and Cat Boy as gift.

Check that out if you are ever in London, the treats are most delicious!

Minamoto Kitchoan London
Address: 44 Piccadilly London, W1J 0DS
Phone: +44 (0)20 7437 3135
Website: https://www.kitchoan.co.uk

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Then my plan was to head over to Chinatown. I have always wanted to visit the famous Chinatown of London but every time I am in London I never managed to find time to visit, so I was determined to make time this trip.

Along the way there, I noticed there is the show Cat on the Hot Tin Roof is on…haha!

Once I spotted the famous Chinatown Paifang, I knew I arrived.

The famous bilingual street signs…

It felt so great to be around my own people. In case you didn’t know, the Chinatown of London traditionally populated by mainly people from Hong Kong. I nearly felt like I was home hearing Cantonese language around me and the smell of authentic Hong Kong food in the air.

In case you didn’t know, the legendary Wong Kei Restaurant! I have meant to visit this place for two decades but yet never managed to do so. Finally I made it!

Wong Kei is famous for being probably one of the rudest Chinese restaurants in the world but provide good and cheap food. I got a bowl of lovely wanton noodle for £5.30, which as you know it’s very cheap for London. It tastes just like home. The men working in the kitchen also swear like mad, just like home in Hong Kong too! Oh, how I miss the ambience! So are they rude? YES.

If you want to try the Wong Kei experience next time you are in London, here is some information:

Wong Kei Restaurant
Address: 41-43 Wardour Street London, W1D 6PY
Phone: 020 7437 8408
Website: http://wongkeilondon.com
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 11:30a.m.–11:30p.m.

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Finally, British Museum…

Of course, the compulsory visit to the Cat Mummies…

And then the lesser known cat related exhibit in British Museum – Nebamun hunting in the marshes, Nebamun’s tomb-chapel. The exhibit is currently in Room 61 of British Museum.

If you look closer, you can see a cat helping the human with bird hunting.

As a Chinese person, I had to visit the Chinese ceramic collection. It is the biggest ceramic collection in the world outside of China.

Unfortunately, part of the Chinese exhibition is on renovation right now so I couldn’t see the second part of this…

All in all I had a great trip in London, full of interesting cat related stuff! But I probably won’t go back for a while, I still don’t like it very much and the whole time I feel very nervous about terrorism. And then two days after my visit, there was a bomb!

 

Do you look out for cat stuff when you go on holiday or is it just a mad thing I do? Share in the comment below! 

The Society of the Feline Artists Annual London Exhibition

The Society of the Feline Artists Annual London Exhibition

I was really intrigued when I learnt that there is such a thing as The Society of Feline Artists. (Honestly, did you know?) I was even more intrigued when I realised they hold an annual London exhibition! Immediately, within minutes, I got my Ryanair tickets for a same day return trip!

I visited the exhibition two days before the latest London Tube Bombing, and I was at one point on the District Line. I was lucky I picked a different date.

I got to the airport early as I always do. I hate being stressed out, I would rather sit, read a book and drink a cup of tea then running around last minute. As I get older, I started to have anxiety surrounding flying, so I try to avoid adrenaline in my body as much I can before flying!

Does anyone know what this ‘Mystery Flight’ is about?

Here is me on the train heading towards Victoria Station. Look how happy I was going to the exhibition! Of course I got a cat scarf, what else?

That’s me outside the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery.

Approaching to the gallery, I knew I came to the right place…hehehe

Once I am inside, I am surrounded by 4 walls of amazing cat art!

I particularly loved this one, which has such a strong semblance of my cat Fafa.

That’s me very happy at the exhibition.

Look at all these amazing work of art!

I have unfortunately missed the Opening of the Exhibition as I was on holiday in France. So I signed up the newsletter immediately to get notification for next year’s opening. I would love to meet the artists who exhibit.

For cat lovers in Dublin (or other parts of Europe to be honest!), I think it’s worth thinking about visiting the exhibition. Fly over in the morning, have a nice lunch, walk around, do some shopping, fly back. It could be a lovely day trip with other cat loving friends.

The gallery is in a very handy location of a few minute walk from Waterloo station, just right across the Old Vic Theatre, as you can see here below…

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Gallery on the left hand side under the tree, Old Vic on the right.

Llewellyn Alexander
Address: 124 -126 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1 8LN UK
(Opposite the Old Vic Theatre)
Phone: 0207 620 1322/1324
Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10am – 7.30pm
Closest Tube Station: Waterloo

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Since I missed the Opening, I have been in touch with Lois from the Society of Feline Artists as I would like to learn more about the Society and the annual exhibition, she has kindly agreed to chat with me over the internet.

Alice: Wow! Society for Feline Artists! I didn’t know it existed! I was overjoyed to find out there are artists out there devoted to such genre! Can you tell us how did the Society comes about? (What year does it start? Who are the founders? How is the Society today like? Etc)

Lois: Feline Artists started with a handful of cat worshippers who could paint cats in 1994. The first few meetings took place in back rooms of various pubs in the London area. We were probably under 10 members then and we had very little structure, and at that time not much direction, meaning any idea of how this idea would mature. Presently we have 87 members; 35 Full members who can use the initials S.O.F.A. after their name, 40 Associates who can exhibit in our annual London show but have less perks than our Full members. We also have friends who are eligible for our yearly prize draw for one our Full members original works of art.

Alice: So you guys have an annual exhibition. I was so upset to have missed the Opening but glad that I managed to visit on later days to see the works. This is going to be a new annual ‘to do’ item for my calendar. Can you tell us more about the exhibition?

Lois: I can’t remember how were introduced to the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery but how lucky we were! They are lovely to work with. We’ve been with them for 23 years. The exhibition runs for 3 weeks usually the end of August then into September. I think because the Old Vic Theatre is just across the road they also capture the early theatre going crowd. There are lots of Luvvies around, as the Young Vic theatre is just down the road. So, there is quite a buzz in the area and people with time on their hands can drop in for a look.

Alice: Can you tell us more about the members of the Society? I imagine they are all cat lovers?

Lois: Most of us have or had cats. How else do we get such a variety of models? When we get together there is the usual round of cat stories: births, deaths adoptions etc. just like family!

Alice: So who comes to the exhibition? I could imagine some cat lovers like myself but are there other visitors who might not be necessarily cat lovers and still interested in the genre?

Lois: Well, obviously cat lovers. The gallery has a policy of not telling us who bought a painting. This ensures privacy to the new owners of our work. If they want to contact us most of us have a website so they can. As for the people dragged along who are not cat lovers; they can poke around in the gallery and usually find some non cat art to look at. Every one should be happy.

Alice: And how about yourself? How you become a Feline artist?

Lois: This is a difficult thing to answer. Everyone followed a different road that led to the same place. I had a classical art school education in the States and in Paris but when we moved here the layout and design I was doing in the States seemed extremely uninteresting especially with a whole new country to explore. We moved to the countryside and at that time I thought I would have to commute London or at least Croydon! We also had adopted quite a few animals. So I started a pet portrait business. I did endless dogs, cats, horses and quite a few pigs. This lead me into Greeting card designs. I honestly don’t remember how I came across Feline Artists. I must have read about them in one of the art magazines.

Alice: Can you tell us a bit about your work?

Lois: I am probably the least like a feline artist, not a good example. For starters I am not an illustrator, so many of our members are. So what qualifies me to be a feline artist? I paint cats…. but in a different way. The cat in my more recent work is part of a picture that just happens to have a cat in it.

Alice: You are a committee member of the Society, how did you start to be involved?

Lois: I just went along to a few of the AGMs. When one of the committee members left the Society someone thought I would be a good committee member. Hey, I was flattered and so my involvement with the group began. It can be a lot of time consuming work. I don’t think many of the non committee members know how much work we do.

Alice: Is there anything else you want to tell us about the Society and yourself?

Lois: Since doing the exhibition at Cat’s Protection I’ve gotten to know quite a few of our members and they feel like family. I hope the Society continues to grow, producing good quality work for cat lovers. We’ve had so much interaction through Facebook and Twitter. There is much more of a buzz about the Society now. It’s great, long may it continue.

Alice: So this is one of your pieces, WOW!

Lois Sykes, Society of Feline Artists

Alice: Thank you so much for talking to us!

Lois: Thank you!

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Society of Feline Artists S.O.F.A

Website: http://www.felineartists.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FelineArtists/