The CATalyst: Cats Online Report from BlogPaws

Steve Dale, CAT FANCY writer and syndicated newspaper pet columnist, provides a weekly cat news roundup. This week, he reports from the educational conference BlogPaws and shares the state of cats on the internet.

I’ve sometimes suggested that dog owners have dog parks and sidewalks to walk dogs and meet other dog owners. Cat owners have a cat park otherwise known as the internet.

Yvonne DiVita, co-founder of BlogPaws, the annual meeting of pet bloggers that held its 2012 conference last week in Salt Lake City, Utah, agrees. “The internet has given cat bloggers an opportunity to meet virtually; BlogPaws offers bloggers an opportunity to meet in person.”

More than 375 pet bloggers got together at the pet blogging educational conference June 21 through 23. A relatively small number of pet bloggers attended; DiVita says she has no idea how many individuals blog about pets, likely thousands. Of course, the conference does attract many of the most influential and high quality pet bloggers. Increasingly, dog and cat bloggers do have influence, or potential influence.

“Sure there are bloggers — very definitely including cat bloggers — who write for themselves or about their own pets and experiences,” DiVita says. “Once cat bloggers were assumed to be like mommy bloggers, writing trivial and cute pieces — like about changing baby diapers. But increasingly, bloggers make a difference. Many cat bloggers are taking advantage of their blogs to dispel myths about cats, and to write about cat health and welfare.”    

One example, a pawful of bloggers picked up on a story form last winter, as several Loews hotel properties near Orlando discontinued trap, neuter, return (TNR) programs in favor of trapping cats and delivering them to animal control to be killed. The story began on Facebook by an ex-employee. It wasn’t long before a few bloggers picked up on the story, and then the snowball began to roll.

More significant blogs (including my CatChannel cat news blog) began to pick up on the story, and local traditional media followed. Before long, I wrote about the drama at Loews in my national newspaper column and USA Today told the story. When that happened, even more bloggers jumped on the story.

“That’s how it works these days,” DiVita says. Without those initial posts, the story of the Loews cats might never have gotten out.

While there are many influential cat bloggers focused on the welfare and health of all cats, DiVita calls out Deb Barnes and Zoey. See Deb’s blog here.

BlogPaws never left cats behind – but because people sometimes bring their dogs to the conference, BlogPaws wanted to do something special for the felines. This year a hospitality room was created called Catification. If you picture in your mind what a playground for cats must resemble, this was what the room was.   

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