Jeff Parks, Author of "You Know Your Cat Loves You Because..."
The you tuned into community cats podcast. Ready let's go. Welcome to the community cats podcast. I'm your host Stacey Lebaron. I've been involved helping homeless cats for over twenty years with the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society. The goal of this podcast is to expose you to amazing people who are improving the lives of cats. I hope these interviews will help you learn how you can turn your passion for cats into action. Today we're speaking with Jeff Parks. Jeff is a comedy writer from Temecula. California he grew up with dogs in his life and it wasn't until he was in his thirties that he was introduced to the wonderful world of owning cats however wasn't long after meeting his two cats windows and Mac that he he fell in love with both and officially became a cat person he was inspired by the deep bond. He had with his cats to see if there was research on how cats showed their love for their human companions. He was amazed to find that there were countless articles about the subject. It occurred to him that this question of obvious interest to cat lovers utilizing his comedy background. He started to write out the funny ways. Cats show love to their owners. That wouldn't be found in any official studies eventually. He decided to pursue the idea. Yeah as an illustrated book featuring captions underneath each panel he found a co writer and an illustrator who shared his vision and it was off to the races. The the resulting book. You know your cat loves you because the sweet silly and scientific ways are cats. Show us how much they love. US is available now on Amazon. Jeff Welcome to the show. Hey thank you stacey. I know. I'm not your typical guest but I really appreciate the. I think that a lot hopefully to to offer your listeners. And I'm happy to be here. Thank you again for joining me. And thank you for sending me a copy to review so I have my book sitting here and I believe you have your copy of your book sitting right in front of you did. So we may have you. Read one or two of your favorite passages as we get going in the show but before that you mentioned in your bio a little bit about how you became a cat person and congratulations on that. Can you tell me a little bit about the specifics around on how you found windows and Mac. Yeah it's it's an interesting story. So first of all it is windows and MAC which a lot of people automatically go to the computers but the actual back story is that it had nothing to do with the computers essentially back in two thousand four. My girlfriend at the time moved in with with me and she had windows and that was the first time I'd really been introduced to a cat. We were a little wary of each other. He was a big fan of eating my plants and banging on cards words and everything and weirdly enough after few months we really warmed up to each other and it was a couple months after that I decided to get him a companion so he went out amount and adopted mack. who was a kitten at the time and windows was about two years old fast forward? A few years later we broke up amicably and I was working from home at the time and she thought that I would be better caretaker and I had to admit I was I was very happy that she wanted to do that. And so from there might bond with. Both of cats became very strong just because I was on them so much. It's Kinda hard to describe. I'd always been sort of the dog person and it kind of took me by surprise but but I became an official cap and I was the guy showing videos to friends of the cats and pictures and everything. So that's kind of a little background air. And our kitties dog lake. AAC Or catlike so windows was in fact. I didn't know that can growl like a dog when we introduced MAC to Windows. He growled like a dog which took me. By surprise he was affectionate in some of the ways that a dog was. But you know I was never somebody who thought you had to be dog Kherson Ara Katherine rappers and I always respected the differences between animals. And so I wasn't really looking so much for windows or Mac or cats janelle tavern be like dachshund intact. It was the way they showed their affection. It was so different than the doctor that had led me towards research for the book and the idea for the book and I read through your book just sort of one of those feel feel good books and I just kept sitting there and I'll be like Oh yeah I agree with that. Oh yeah that happened. Oh Yeah I can see and so you know as I was enjoying enjoying it. The one thing that came to my mind was sometimes in this business. Especially when you're in the rescue world and you're fostering a lot of cats or kittens and you Own a lot of cats and you're out there trapping. A lot of cats is that our profession can be extremely overwhelming and emotionally draining. I one thing this book brings forward is levity and joy and some warmth was that your original inspiration for the book yeah. I'm glad you asked that because the original idea for the book Tuck was in two thousand fifteen. I noticed for whatever reason I just noticed that Balkhash in different ways like Mac was less atypical. He was the cat in the beginning. If I approached him he would get up and walk away and that lasted for about seven years but he would come to you and he wouldn't kind of but his head on on you and his tail around you and do other things and so I picked up on the way both catch showed affection windows was a lap cat. He join me pretty pretty much everywhere and so the idea kind of hit me. How do you know if your cat loves you and I thought okay to Google and I was curious to see if I would find? Some of the things is it. I recognize in both cats in different articles and surprise came when they were seven hundred million results. How do you have your cat loves you? So the biggest surprise is there a Lotta articles that mention that may be cats had learned behavior to show affection but didn't really love their owners which I immediately thought that well. That's not right. I don't believe that I don't think any cat owner caliber believes that because we know we live with our cats. We understand their behavior pretty well but the main thing is I thought well you know. Maybe I'm onto something new here. So many people are asking this question that I had so with the comedy writing background. I started to to kind of come up with different ideas that I thought would be funny in terms of how cat which show their love and I quickly paired that with the idea of how doc show their love so the original originally. It was kind of a counterpoint. Where you would have you know your cat loves you because the minute you get home? They're nowhere to be seen. They know you need your downtime. It's been a long today at work. And then the counterpoint would be. Your Dad loves you. Because they're right their core once you get home from work they know you need love and support and so I kinda sat with that idea for a few years it kind of language I go back to and I really couldn't figure out how to form it but in two thousand nine hundred ninety finally hit upon it that it didn't need to be this alternate thing and I also recognize the. It needs to be a lot more than a comedy book that I really wanted to be sincere and heartfelt in sweet and funny and I didn't WanNA traffic in the same stereotypes that you would see in this kind of book where cats are always aloof the old sort of stereotype that the cats trying to plot to kill you in your sleep and I was determined to do something that really showed the joys delays of pet ownership but also bounce some truth and some of the different situations you would find yourself and with your cats. I wanted to be a book that was full of joy and we wanted to mix it up too so it wasn't just one kind of panel. You use the word. We you want to share a little bit about your collaborators. Yeah and actually. It's very important. That couldn't didn't really write the dog lines the way that I wanted to. And so after coming up at the Pew I needed to find someone that I trusted who right well and also be someone I could balance of it and I had work with an actress. Nina brisy on a short comedy film that I had done a few years ago. I saw that she was always posting pictures of her dog. Bruce and updates on how now he was doing and I thought that she would be a good partner for something like this and so I contacted her and told her about the idea for what the book would be. Because I always knew it had to be illustrated with captions. I always knew exactly the type of book that I wanted to be in so I wanted to make sure that she understood why it was that we were going to be doing because the process isis took nine months just to do the Cap Book and we actually have a companion book involving dogs with the same subject coming out in a few months by she really loved it to her credit she. She actually loved it more than I did beginning. She's like let's get to. Let's do it right now. So he set deadlines which was probably the key deadlines for when the actual lines could be written in for sorting through them deadlines for finding an illustrator and our illustrator. Who is amazing? Mark Sean Wilson. He's been published. I in the New Yorker is kind of line of children books out and it was tough finding somebody who could really capture exactly what we were trying to intimate intimate with the captions. Because you have a specific caption and we hid describe each image when we gave it to the illustrate. This is what we wanted to look like. But it's a really hard thing to do still to give somebody a caption and the here's a description. Have them come up with the exact thing you want. And he was amazing we were very fortunate undefined him and he worked with us and still has worked with US hand in hand on everything without his involvement. Actually the book wouldn't be what it is so I'm GonNa have that you brought that got up. I WANNA make sure he gets his due credit because it was a true collaboration in the sense that everything that was written went through between Nina. And why you're here and I didn't realize how intense it was going to be. In terms of the time we spent We would have three and four hour sessions just reviewing maybe seven to ten new sketches. They came in from art to talk about. Where is this cat is? Is this the profile we want. Is this the look we want doing. Need to show them another model. What do we want revises? Perfect all the minutia that you need to look at if you want the birth. You're writing to come through. We did the work for and it shut up on. Hey as a licensed board of veterinary medicine. Continuing Education provider. Private logic understands the importance of proper disease prevention and odor odor control in that cat care environment. Private logic is a leading provider of educational support and product solutions that are designed specifically for Disease Prevention and odor control in the home and professional cat care environments to learn more about our cattery products please visit. WWW dot pro logic dot com or call eight hundred it eight six nine four seven eight nine checkout pro vet logic today. Join the community podcast on Saturday February eighth from ten. Am to five five PM eastern standard time for an online behavior. Day featuring Dr Rachel Geller and Tabitha. Who Sarah Rachel? Tabitha will offer a variety of workshops on common cap behavior behavior issues and concerns from vet visits and enrichment to litterbox and multi-cap household issues. There will even be a kitten. Kindergarten workshop sign up today for just twenty ninety five dollars and be sure to bring your questions on February eighth. If he can't make it that day it's okay. Sign up anyway. So you can view the recordings of the presentations at a later date. It just go to community cats PODCAST DOT COM and sign up today. So you talked about this nine month process when you started out wrote the product you finished with that what you anticipated or did things change in that evolution of the nine months. It did a little bit one of the things that we realized quickly. It was at Nina and I was at didn't want it to be like scatalogical stuff in there in the sense that there was gross stuff so to speak. We want it to be real. There are things that would you know talk about litter boxes and things like that but we wanted to make sure it was probably more comedic than anything and and I hid went through an experience a really horrible experience where Mica Windows who I'd had for fifteen years and he was seventeen at the time had gone through enumerate problems. He'd had diabetes and thyroid issues and he got very very sick. A few months into writing the book in May early May They found a big mass in his stomach. And I had to make the decision to let them go and put them down and it was by far the hardest thing I've ever it had to do and to this day. It's still hard to even think about but the thing is that after that happened the book was already special to me because a lot of it was inspired by both cats but it took on a different a different dimension. And what was important for me was that the book resonates with every cat owner out there. That would really important according to me because I I had become a campus and I knew what it was like to be to a door and to really bond with your cat in a way that you'll do anything for them and you just love them that much so getting the vision out for what the book was. It's very rare for that to happen. I can tell you from having stage comedy where I'd written sketches and produce awesome and doing a short films very to have a vision. For something out creatively. Actually come out and this is the first time it actually happened. I'm so proud of a book that is in front of me because I know that the people who buy it. The cat lovers the from the responses that I've done and the feedback and and everything else. I knew I did what I had set out to do. In collaboration with my other partners. It's it's something else to have that happen. I'm extremely extremely proud of the book. So in combination. With your your vision. You really had some intense determination to pull it through and you pulled it through with in a very difficult difficult time but it wasn't something that said. Hey let's stop this project because you lost windows it was no. We need to keep pushing forward even more so. And you mentioned a little bit more than I won't Belabor it but there's even a bit of a memorial a remembering for him so even though there's joy away there's happiness there's laughter there's funniness there's life to the book too and that's I think important for folks to sort of understand too. Yeah I I took a couple of days off afterwards I was in a pretty bad state. I'd never grieved that hard before and so I told my writing partner in Ireland that I needed a little time off but I also recognize that I needed to go back into it and one of the things that I was able to do. Being one of the was included both Mac and windows in in the book giving pictures illustrator and saying okay. This caption was inspired by. When does this one was inspired by Mack? Able to place them side by side in the book which is is extremely meaningful. Because I I looked at the book quite a bit. See Him there on my computer where he used to always lay and it brings a smile to me and it was tough to deal with them in the beginning especially because you're reading lines that were directly inspired by him but it was more meaningful for me to honor honor him by finishing the book in a way that I knew I knew is inspired by him quite frankly and wanting that same joy that I got for him to be spread to people who are going to read the book and the best part of the entire processes feeling I have a book it wasn't written because I got this great idea idea I think calibers will spend money on it. It was it was like I got this great idea. The cat lovers are GONNA love hike. I can't believe this ideas never been done. You know especially with the -tario type of cats being a Lou preachers. I thought well we know that. That's not right and in fact this was a way to have fun with it but also say hey. Cats are incredible in yearly. EERILY missing out if you don't get that since the release of the book but how has the reception been and have you gone to bookstores or are you like out pounding. The payment or are you primarily using Amazon as your distribution network. Well we have a facebook page if anyone wants to find it just type in your cat lousy because and you'll oh find it so on the facebook page response been great. We've had people who have bought the book and sent pictures of the book of them with the cats that they have which is is great. We've had just basic responses in terms of people writing to US telling us they loved the book and actually that's the biggest thrill so far far I mean we want to earn money obviously but to me to hear that it hit the heart. The way that I wanted is by far the most thrilling part about it as far as selling the book right now. We're exclusive on Amazon. But the idea that we had is we're GONNA go to different that clinics and we're going to try to team up with them where they would sell the book in their clinics and we will donate a portion of the proceeds to a charity that would specifically assist people who are having problems paying. They're bad bills and the reason behind. That was taking care of windows for so long. It got very expensive but I was very fortunate to have the money to be able to pay for all the blood test testing going back and forth and all the medications but a lot of people can't so that's that's something that we just literally started doing and that'll be pounding the pavement to to a degree. But I think that this is a book that will be shared by people more than just finding it in bookstores. And so there's different ways we're going to try to distribute it right now. We're doing giveaways and that kind of thing. But as far as where they can get it would be Amazon a few other online places after that and hopefully quoi am in bed clinics around the country. Well in the show notes will certainly make sure we have the link through to Amazon and that way make sure people have access to it because is where a couple of weeks before Valentine's Day. So what do you get a cat person on Valentine's Day. I mean we don't do chocolate or flowers or whatever you get a macaque apple do that instead so just to reiterate if folks are interested in finding out more or joining any updates update you have that facebook page is really the place to contact you or reach out to you or to the general community. Yeah a couple of things so we have an email mel address for people who want to write about the book if they want to ask anything actually about the book you know. Your cat loves you because at G.. Mail DOT COM. We went out of our way to use a lot of different cats realize realize cats as models for the book so there was a lot of diversity. We WanNa make sure that people were represented to so all kinds of people bull ages nationalities all types of cats. It was really important to me and my partner. That was hard of the book and we want to hear like I said it's really the biggest thrill hearing from in people who have bought the book identified with specific panels and said Yep. That's my cat right there. So that and the facebook page we update usually once every few days and yeah we feedback. That's really the best. Hey Jeff is there anything else. You'd like to share with our listeners. Today there was a lot of joy putting together. This book while we wanted to accomplish was something that would blend all the awesome experience of being in a cat owner in the joy in it and we wanted to also make it interesting. So that if you're reading the book you never quite know what's GonNa come next and that's that's pretty much did it really came from the heart and we're really proud of what we've got here and we hope that people get it and let us know what they think. That's great well. Jeff I want to thank you so much again for agreeing going to be a guest on my show and I hope we'll have you on the future. Maybe when your next book comes out but we'll definitely keep in touch and for my listeners. I really hope you'll consider sharing sharing this podcast with others. I Know Jeff would be happy if you shared the podcast with others that they might consider grabbing a copy of this book. In if you feel up to it please subscribe to the show and write a review. That's really helpful to help. Spread the word about the community cats podcast so thanks so much for tuning in and we'll see you all next week. Thank you for listening to the community. Cats podcast. I really appreciate it if you would go to. It tunes review of the show. It will help spread the word to help mark community cats.