What was your inspiration behind the book?
Celeste Yarnall: I raised 11 generations of championship Tonkinese over a nearly 20-year period using the principles outlined in this book and my previous books. I found the health benefits of incorporating a properly prepared homemade raw meat/raw bone diet so astounding that I believed another book featuring what I had learned would benefit cat lovers everywhere. It seemed to me that anti-aging protocols were never addressed fully before by someone who actually practiced what they preached over multiple generations and over a long term. I don’t use the term properly prepared homemade diet lightly as certain rules and tools must be learned and adhered to before forging ahead. Having said that, the transformation I saw from the transition of my own cats to this diet led me to share my findings. The cats themselves were the inspiration!
Jean Hofve: Celeste and I have been friends for many years; when she started this book, she called me in as a consultant. But it quickly became much more — in fact, it developed into a real partnership. And the good news: we are still great friends — all the more so for having worked so closely together for so many months!
What was the most difficult part of writing the book?
CY: Writing this book with Dr. Hofve was a true joy and labor of love for me. The difficulty came in trying to work with a very short deadline and a tight page count. There is always so much content cut from the draft, which can bring one to tears at the last edit. Also, Jean lives in Colorado and I live in California, so logistically we spent a lot of time on the phone with our computers in front of us, editing and proofing for long hours. My business partner in Celestial Pets, Imelda Lopez-Casper, spent long hours with us hunting down, assembling and cataloguing photos of 11 generations of my cats, as well as many cats whose companions we had consulted with through the years.
JH: Well, the day I found out I didn’t have unlimited long distance on my cell phone comes to mind! But I agree, the deadlines and massive cuts were tough. We struggled with every sentence, down to the last comma, to get down to 192 pages. Imelda was such a trooper — not only a fantastic organizer and proofreader, but also a woman of infinite patience!
What was the most rewarding part of writing the book?
CY: I believe the most rewarding part of writing the book was taking a controversial subject and detailing how very much it helped these animals thrive and be better and stronger generation after generation.
JH: I especially appreciated the opportunity to set the record straight on some of the myths and misconceptions about feline veterinary medicine, as well as to explore and describe all the fantastic alternative therapies that are now available to our cats.
What do you hope pet owners take away from the book?
CY: Everyone reaches a point where they find a system of taking care of their animals that they believe is working for them. Unfortunately all too often I hear pet owners say “my pet is fine, but…” and that but can be anything from skin disease to diabetes to inflammatory bowel. It is that but that I hope to remove.
JH: I hope that readers get a sense of excitement about the potential for their cats’ radiant good health. Even though the intensity and volume of information we share might be a little intimidating at first, I hope they also see that any and every step they take toward improving their cats’ care and nutrition is a huge one that will make a tremendous difference in terms of health and longevity. And especially for people whose cats already have problems, I want them to take away new hope that healing is possible.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
CY: Our reviews have been wonderful both personally and publicly. I see mostly 5 stars on Amazon, and the media and press have been very receptive. Many readers are long-term clients as well as advocates of this way of life, and are looking to incorporate our latest findings and helpful tips for specific problems.
JH: People tell me they love this book, not only for the information, but also for the stunning photographs and just the way it is put together. It really is quite a beautiful book, if I may say so myself!
What is your writing process?
CY: I really enjoy writing. I just need my MacBook and a cup of Assam tea with a shot of raw milk or cream, and my ideas and experiences just seem to flow. I take some protein breaks and keep pushing on when the spirit moves me as I tend to be a bit of a right brain/creative type.
JH: Just ask me a question! I will sit all day in front of a blank computer screen, but the second someone asks a question, the answer erupts from my fingertips like Old Faithful!
Do you have any other books?
CY: “Cat Care Naturally” was my first book back in the beginning of the breeding program. Then came “Natural Dog Care” and a revised version of the first book entitled, “Natural Cat Care.” The latest book brings it all together with the added bonus of the anti-aging protocols.
JH: No, despite writing hundreds of articles for print and online, this is my first actual book. It turns out that it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to write a book — the process was a real education for me.
Do you own a cat or other pets? Tell us about them!
CY: I have almost always lived with and loved animals, from birds and chickens to lizards and even insects, and of course dogs and cats. They are and have always been treasured members of my family. I retired my breeding program last year and incorporated the results into this book. I have two precious Tonkinese kitties, named Lalique and China Rose, who are retired moms and actually great-great-grandmoms! I am also babysitting my daughter’s cats while she and her family live in Hong Kong. One of them, Celestecats Aladdin, is the kitten on the cover of my first book, and the other, Cocoa, is China Rose’s son.
JH: I have four cats: Puzzle and Flynn, sister and brother, turned 12 years old this August; I intercepted them when they were 8-week-old kittens, hours away from the pound. Brothers Spencer and Sundance, 9 years old, were born to a feral mom in Sacramento. Sundance was rescued first, but I ended up fostering the litter of four from 2 weeks of age. Even though I kept telling that little troublemaker Spencer that he would be the first to go, I could only let go of his sister and other brother — those tiny claws were stuck firmly in my heart! There’s a really happy ending for all: we trapped and spayed not only their mom, but her mom (their grandmother), too.
Do your pets influence your writing?
CY: Absolutely. My book is dedicated to the love of my life kitty, whose name was Romeo. All my cats are so very special to me, but maybe only a few times in my lifetime has there been one that so captures my heart that I just knew I had a little soulmate in a fur suit living with me. Romeo was that magical cat whose spirit remains truly one of the brightest stars in my night sky. Not only have they influenced my writing, they also have altered the course of my life, which for the last 20 years devoted to their health and well being. They have taught me to listen to what they and their bodies are telling me they really need.
JH: Of course! My cats are my best and most profound teachers. I have known many extraordinary cats throughout my life and my career — not just my own (though they’ve been mighty special!), but friends’ and clients’ cats, and from each one I learn just a little bit more. It’s my privilege to pass on to our readers all that they have taught me.