Friday, July 1, 2016

Blog Paws 2016

 by Christine Michaels, President of Riverfront Cats

Christine arrives in Arizona and sees her orange crush from last year--Russell!
(Please don't tell Waffles)

BlogPaws 2016 kicked up furballs, desert dust, and a dandy good time.

If you're a first time visitor to our blog, Blog Paws is the leading social media conference for online pet bloggers. Whether you write about your pet in his/her voice, your voice, or about pets in general or as a vet or vet technician or for an animal welfare group, any pet blogger of any genre is welcome to participate to learn how to improve blogging efforts and build valuable connections.

There's so much to cover, that I'll share some of my favorite highlights.  [Read more on our main blog Pawsitively Humane--To Be Posted Soon].  Also we included links at the end of this blog post to view ALL the photos from the conference taken by conference photographer.

Held in Chandler, Arizona (south of Phoenix), this year Blog Paws  was mostly a time for reflection for me. Built on an Indian reservation twelve years ago, the serenity and the amenities of the Sheraton Wild Horse Resort  provided the ultimate escape from the daily rigors of caring for community cats and guiding residents in their efforts to help homeless cats. While I went from humid heat of Miami to desert heat of outer Phoenix, it was still a welcoming break. I enjoyed every minute of the weather and the conference.

Hotel exterior
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )

Even the hotel lobby with ethereal/spiritual images on circular drop ceiling, boded a sense of tranquility and peace.

Hotel lobby
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )

Deb Barnes and I ready for our spa treatments

Organizers think of everything from the type of seminars, to a dog park and indoor dog sitting room, to the guest speakers, to author book signings, fun activities like Yappy Hour, Meow Hour, and Arts & Crafts DIY pawties. There is never a dull moment.

Pet Daycare (Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )

 Once the conference begins, it's nonstop action! BlogPaws recognizes the dedication and effort of pet bloggers and ensures every one feels welcome and special
Christine Michaels, step-and-repeat at the BlogPaws 2016 kickoff

As a seasoned attendee, the main benefit of BlogPaws was the networking and seeing online friends in person and of course all the pets- dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, ferret, rat, pigs...

These furry attendees are obviously used to posing. Too cute!

And every year there is that one pet, dog and cat, that steals the spotlight and captures your heart.  This BlogPaws it was Samson, the long-haired, 12 week old orange kitten.  I so love orange cats. My first cat is orange, Jean Pierre, he's now 15.

Everyone wanted to hold Samson, and his owner and Samson kindly let me.

rescue cats orange cats Blog Paws
Christine Michaels holds Samson

Orange kitties are the sweetest and smartest.
Samson gets cozy.

rescue kitten orange cats Jenny Lewis Pixel Blue Eyes
Jenny Lewis from Pixel Blue Eyes blog

Pets are welcome anywhere from the seminars to the dining room. All the pets are well behaved and well traveled and accustomed to new scenes and interacting with humans and other pets.

This dog belonging to person next to me,  jumped and nestled on my lap. Love it!

The next highlight is connecting with online friends and fellow pet bloggers. Deb Barnes lives in South Florida, yet we see each other more at yearly conferences. Cat ladies never rest at home.

cat lady bloggers BlogPaws2016
Cat bloggers in cat ears, Christine Michaels and Deb Barnes
Hard work pays off. After consistent efforts in blogging, following the tips, techniques and trade of the best bloggers, a great feeling is the recognition by industry experts in both the social media and your knowledge of the content.  At BlogPaws 2016 I had the opportunity to attend two award ceremonies.  Friday night was the Cat Writer's Association. If you enjoy writing about cats, offline or online, then you must consider joining CWA!  I never realized how many categories and genres there were for cat writers. Visit their website for more information!

Cat Writers Association Awards Banquet
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)

Christine Michaels CWA Cat Writers Association award ceremony
So honored to keep Summer company while her mom, Janiss Garza,
has a chance to get dinner and relax.

Congratulations to Janiss for her CWA Award and to Deb Barnes for recognition for her enlightening article on feral cats!!

Deb Barnes CWA feral cats Dusty Rainbolt
Deb Barnes accepting her medallion at CWA banquet
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)


 The final night is the culmination of excitement and hard work, the Nose to Nose BlogPaws awards dinner and ceremony. This is a celebration of the best of the best. All attendees are invited to walk the red carpet with their pet on their way to the happy hour, dinner and ceremony.

Kitten and two chihuahuas walk the red carpet with owner
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)
Carol Bryant and her dog on the red carpet
(Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark)

Then the finalists of the awards are asked to walk at the end. I was honored to be nominated for Best Cause blog for Riverfront Cats.

Christine Michels red carpet BlogPaws social media awards
Award finalists walk down red carpet

Papparazzi Christine Michaels red carpet social media
(I could get used to this)

Christine Michaels cameras red carpet cat blogger
My fellow nominee (Christina) and  Bernard (BlogPaws staff), me

 Of course none of this would be possible without the Founders, the incredible BlogPaws staff and the sponsors. Special shout out to Purina, Natural Balance and Nature's Recipe for their support. It was truly a fabulous event!

Founder Yvonne Divita, Michael Massey (President of Pet Smart), Chloe Divita and founder Tom Collins

Summer hiding from Paparrazi
 (Photo courtesy of Blog Paws; photographer Anabelle Denmark )
This post does not even begin to cover the magnitude and energy of the conference, from the check in, the  social events for mingling, cocktailing and networking, the seminars, meal time, guest speakers, and pet events. I encourage you to click on the links below to view photos from the official BlogPaws Facebook page. 

To view photos of the conference on Facebook:
Day One of the Conference
Day Two of the Conference
Day Three of the Conference

Next year's conference will take place in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Visit BlogPaws page for more information!

*Note: No nonprofit funds were used for this conference.
Most Photos: Courtesy of BlogPaws; Photographer

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Biker Cat Rides the Harley Across the Rainbow Bridge

Owner Christopher Coppola and Biker Cat in California

It is with sadness and a heavy heart that we share the news of the passing of a celebrity cat--Otto, more famously known as Biker Cat.

While his owner carries a famous last name, (Christopher Coppola is nephew to movie director Francis Ford Coppola and brother to Nicholas Cage), it is Otto who took the Hollywood and family spotlight in the past decade once he was featured in Animal Planet riding a motorcycle with his own jacket and goggles around Los Angeles.  This was his lifestyle, hence the nickname, Biker Cat. The two of them proved, that "Real Men Love Cats". Click here to view video by Christopher Coppola.

On an Animal Planet segment focusing on the physical attributes and nature of Burmese black cats, Otto exemplified their athletic build, the distinct gold eyes set wide apart, short silky coat, and the need to follow their owners.  The Burmese is the cousin to the Siamese cat.

Biker Cat was also the celebrity guest at the inaugural Le Chat Noir gala, the first ever pet charity event in Miami focusing on black cats back in October 2010. The brainchild of Christine Michaels and organized by The Cat Network, Le Chat Noir elevated black cats to overturn misconceptions and myths and thus to increase adoptions of these cats, the number one color of homeless cats.

Biker cat and Chistopher sitting on motorcycle in downtown Miami for guest appearance
adopt black cats shelter cats
Christopher, Biker Cat and Christine Michaels on Harley motorcycle in front of EPIC hotel

Otto wearing his goggles.
Later that evening in the Design District of Miami, Florida...
Christopher Coppola and Otto emerge from limousine.
A fedora hat was custom made for him by
the Hollywood costume designer for Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Biker Cat walks the red carpet.
He doesn't even blink with 300 guests excitedly watching and flashing cameras.

"Black cats are sleek, strong, intelligent and elegant. To demonstrate these qualities we glamorized and spotlighted them by hosting this event in a Hollywood black and silver theme and where young black cats adorned with Swarovski collars, were trained to walk on leashes down the cat walk." shares Chairperson Christine Michaels. "With Biker Cat's appearance, it is still the most memorable and talked about pet charity event in Miami."

Otto: "Are you getting this?"
Otto is loving the ladies.

 To infuse all that is Miami, the event also included bikini models unveiling a new swimwear line. To top it off,  black cats strutted down the catwalk in their diamond collars. To view more photos from the event, click here

Le Chat Noir reached the pages of a widely-read, local magazine. Brickell Magazine features the movers and shakers, leaders of downtown Miami in real estate, fashion, business, and other segments. 

Article in Brickell Magazine.
(To view better, right click on image. Choose Open in New Tab and zoom in)

Le Chat Noir black cats rescue cats charity gala
Jennifer Angel (Emcee & International Astrologist) and
Christine Michaels (Chairperson) Oct 2010

To learn more about the Le Chat Noir event, click here

Volunteer pictured with 6 month black kitten model that strutted catwalk

Biker cat you are a legend and taught the world so much about the intelligence and companionship of cats. Thank you. Ride that Harley motorcycle Otto. Ride over the bridge. Never stop riding, because we will never forget you.

black cats Burmese cats fedora hat

Friday, April 8, 2016

Please Nominate Us for a Nose-to-Nose Award!

It's that time of year. The Nose-to-Nose Award nomination rounds. Last year was the second year Riverfront Cats was nominated and our first win!  Given the company we shared, we did not expect it at all. This truly uplifted our team that our hard work, sweat, and tears did not go unnoticed. It also gives us important recognition and added weight as experts in our field so we are taken more seriously when confronted with challenges and people who do not understand the nature of cats--local residents or city/county leaders and lawmakers. (You can read more about our win by clicking here).

The nomination round is open and we depend on you, our loyal followers, to share our efforts in hopes to win another award in raising awareness about the nature and plight of homeless cats.


The following are two categories we recommend. Feel free to nominate us for other categories!




 We feel strongly about this category. Few blogs are dedicated to stray and feral cats--their nature, habits, ways to approach them, communicate with them, nurture, trap and capture them...We are constantly learning and sharing.  We teach A to Z. For example, we teach about TNRM-Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage:  How to use a box trap vs. a drop trap; where to take cats for low cost or free spay/neuter; how to socialize a cat, how to read body language; how to build cat shelters, etc.. We have been contacted by local media for input on evolving county issues and potential laws that would impact homeless pets and the local animal shelter. Christine Michaels, founder and President, has spoken before county commissioners with appeals to increase county budget for spay/neuter and other programs to reduce the number of homeless animals especially cats. For a tiny nonprofit organization, Riverfront Cats covers a large gamut from rolling up our sleeves and working in the gut-wrenching trenches of the feral, stray and injured cat world to teaching others how to do the same, to working with county and city leaders. 

Contact Name for Creator of the Work being entered: Christine Michaels
Contact Email for the Creator of the Work being entered:
BlogPaws Community Profile Page of nominee:


POST: To Rescue a Cat, You Have to be Smart and Creative Like a Cat

Yes we love those rescue stories of black and feral cats that were saved, healed and adopted. The lows and crescendo highs uplift our hearts and bring tears of joy. This year we shared more educational posts about the hands on work it takes to rescue and capture difficult-to-trap cats. This is reality. From kittens inside buildings about to be demolished to this stray cat (pictured above) that was feral but could not move his hind legs. But never be discouraged. There is always a solution! A little creative thinking and we were able to rescue the cat hours before Animal Control would have arrived. We made a difference for an unknown, stray/un-neutered cat that was suffering.

Contact Name for Creator of the Work being entered: Christine Michaels
Contact Email for the Creator of the Work being entered:
BlogPaws Community Profile Page of nominee:

POST: A Cat with No Name (Pawsitively Humane)

Christine wrote this post on our umbrella website Pawsitively Humane as a continuation to the story of rescuing a feral cat that could not move his hind legs after a car struck him. This posed new challenges. The first post (see above) presented the scenario and practical, creative solution for capturing the cat using items laying around the home.  This story shared the poignant, emotional story of giving meaning, and a name to cat no one knew before that day. Stray cats are cats too. Christine chose to write this story on the PHI (Pawsitively Humane, Inc.) website for strategic reasons:  to educate all pet lovers.  Sharing this story outside the cat-centric blog of Riverfront Cats helps us fulfill our mission of educating the larger pet-loving world about cats.

Contact Name for Creator of the Work being entered: Christine Michaels
Contact Email for the Creator of the Work being entered:
BlogPaws Community Profile Page of nominee:

POST: Another Battle Lost for Homeless Pets in Miami Dade County

Miami Dade Animal Services spay neuter homeless pets
Christine Michaels speaks before County Commissioners
All sessions are televised live for county residents

Addressing the epidemic of homeless pets and animals in Miami Dade County is daunting.  Animal advocates and pet lovers have united and started to add pressure to city and county leaders to work together alongside residents and nonprofit animal welfare organizations to come up with solutions. This is no easy task and a process that will take years for laws and solutions to evolve. Founder and President, Christine Michaels, spoke before the Miami Dade County Commissioners during a session to vote for additional funding for the local Animal Services. Christine spoke with conviction and eloquence in presenting the case for needed funding. Her presentation and demeanor also helped to overturn misconceptions of "crazy cat people".  While in the end the commissioners voted against the funding, Christine planted the seed. She will continue to meet with County Commissioners individually. With patience and determination she is confident the day will come where animal advocates and ultimately homeless pets will win.

Contact Name for Creator of the Work being entered: Christine Michaels
Contact Email for the Creator of the Work being entered:
BlogPaws Community Profile Page of nominee:

Facebook Account:
Twitter Account:


Be sure to scroll to bottom of the screen for the nomination form.

Thank you Riverfront Cats and Pawsitively Humane followers and animal advocates for taking a few minutes to help us fulfill our mission!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

To Rescue a Cat, You Have to be Smart & Creative like a Cat

This injured feral cat with no mobility in hind legs could drag himself with upper body and legs
but here he is losing strength and would not take the bait in the box trap. Time for another solution.

Rescuing an injured cat can pose unique challenges never encountered before. With each rescue we learn new lessons and create or buy tools for the next rescue. To rescue a cat, you have to be smart like a cat and come up with creative spontaneous solutions!

Today I received a call from a friend that his brother found a cat lying in middle of the road unable to move his hind legs. This occurred late night. Then at sunrise the cat had dragged itself to nearby safety, the garden of my friend's apartment complex.  The cat was still alive, breathing, but his hind legs were immobile and twitching intermittently.

Injured feral cat dragged himself to safety during the night.

Fortunately I had purchased a new collapsible drop trap for difficult-to-trap cats.  This orange cat was definitely feral.  Immobile but fierce as his head spun around, fangs glaring, hissing wildly, and front claws ejecting like missiles.  Yes, the drop trap was needed when he showed no signs of taking the bait for the regular drop trap.

Interesting enough, Laurent and I were able to place the drop trap over the cat without a fight. That was easy! But the next part, normally the easy part, proved more difficult.

Normally with a stick we gently provoke the cat to go into the adjoining box trap to transport him. Herein was the problem.  He had no intention of moving.  Perhaps the stress of recent events exhausted him, his energy and will to fight were waning.  We tried to lift the trap and thought perhaps we could push him into box trap. The cat said NO! Fangs, claws, hissing were activated.

Drop trap great solution for difficult cats and animals to catch or trap
A drop trap was placed over this feral cat that could not move his hind legs

I turned to social media in hopes other rescue groups could offer suggestions.  But at 2pm on a weekday, most people were at work and activity was low on Facebook.  Then Laurent came up with a logical solution.  A pole with noose used to control rabid stray dogs might work here. A medical firefighter crew were arriving to help a distressed resident. We asked if they had this noose. They said no and suggested we call Animal Control. So I did but it would take two hours for them to arrive. Two hours is an eternity when an animal is in pain and suffering.  I turned to Laurent and suggested he must have items around his apartment to make one.  As Laurent went inside, I continued to provide updates and answer PMs and comments on Facebook. Word was circulating. But no one had solutions to our dilemma.  Sure enough Laurent returned with a pole, a computer cable, wire hanger, duct tape and pliers.  In less than ten minutes he created the noose.  But would it work?

Homemade contraption- resizeable noose

Old cleaning rod, computer cable, metal hangar and duct tape

Opening the slant end of the box trop, Laurent reached down the trap, into the drop trap and in one attempt gently wrapped the noose around the cat.  His claws clenching to the ground, he did not, could not fight back. Laurent gently tightened the noose enough to slowly drag the cat a few inches into the drop trap. IT WORKED! Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Two heads are better than one sexy cat lady's head!

Cat holds onto cage with claws after being dragged into trap.

The cat readily ate the moist Friskies chicken and salmon with gravy. Poor kitty was hungry.

Poor cat was hungry. Notice he doesn't even use his front legs to position his mouth over the can.
His energy and strength are declining.

To learn more about what happened to the cat at the vet, read the continuation by clicking here.

So now my emergency cat lady rescue kit continues to grow.  My next purchase is a fishing net. As I walk around my neighborhood I am discovering other animals that need help. Including ducks. Yes in downtown Miami, the heart of the city, we have a jungle--chickens, hens, roosters, iguanas, raccoon, ducks...A fishing net is definitely useful for catching kittens, and now for birds and ducks. So one of these days I'll drive outside of the city to a sportmans store. I envision Tim the Toolman greeting me at the door.  Field trip!

If you ever get a call or see an injured animal, look around your home for these items so you are fully prepared to help the animal or pet to delay the suffering. The collapsible trap is great for all kinds of animals--cats, kittens, small dogs, birds, ducks, raccoons...


[Click here to see my video]
Tomahawk collapsible drop trap (purchased on Amazon) - $115
Tomahawk, double handle box trap
Pet carrier, medium size
Fishing net with handle
Wire cutters (for cutting fencing or barbed wire)
Duct tape
Gloves (I have rubber gloves for grip. Thick Playtex kitchen gloves)
Towels, old ones
Paper towels
Wet wipes
Moist and dry cat food
Paper bowls
Plastic bags (large ones to place under the trap in your car; small ones for trash)

Feel free to ask questions by leaving a comment below!


At Pawsitively Humane/Riverfront Cats we manage and care for a colony of cats. This posting serves to provide education and guidance on how you can help your community. We do not have a facility, only a small group of volunteers to help manage the Riverfront Cats.

 If you need assistance with a stray, feral or injured cat, please search for local groups on Facebook. Many residents form online groups to help one another. Animal control will come out if there is injured or dead animal but most likely the animal will be put to sleep. If you and/or neighbors and concerned residents want to financially contribute to vet costs to determine if injuries are minor or fatal in the event the cat can live, then it's best to jump into action yourself and seek support from neighbors and local residents.

Good Luck!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cosette is Missing--Why Do Community or Feral Cats Disappear?

feral cats community cats Miami cats
Cosette licking her lips after dinner

Another one of our beloved Riverfront Cats is missing. The second one in two months. Cosette.

Presumed dead, we are heartbroken at the disappearance of another cat.  Two weeks later, Sinbad also went missing.  "What is suddenly happening?!" our team asked.

First, it is natural to become attached to cats in a colony that you regularly feed and manage.  These are live creatures, much like our own pets, that we care for on a daily basis. Even though we can not pet some or pick them up, they know and trust us as feeders.We love and nurture them. The bond is real.

community feral cats Miami homeless pets
Cosette eating her dinner


The disappearance of feral or community cats may occur when:
1. They are sick and naturally leave the nest. (Another blog post on this subject coming soon)
2. They are injured and unable to return home.
3. They are killed by speeding automobile, or stray dog or other predator, or by ingesting some food or material that is poisonous/harmful.
4. They are taken by friendly regular or trapped by someone.

Living in the heart of downtown Miami, any number of scenarios could have occurred.
My mind listing a 100 reasons  in 100 seconds.

- snatched by homeless person
- runover by speeding car
- eat chicken bones
- ingest poison
- swallow small pieces of glass from shattered car windows that get embedded in their paws
- fight with raccoons
- slip and fall into drainage
- trapped somewhere
- did a reported stray dog attack her

Riverfront Cats homeless cats missing disappearing cats Miam
Cosette cleaning her paws after dinner

Mama cat was first cat to disappear. She showed no signs of illness, or lethargy or any odd behavior. Mama was friendly and she trusted regular feeders and allowed them to pet her. Perhaps a homeless person fed her in the middle of night (they camped out underneath the S. Miami Avenue bridge near where she resided), and took her? It is possible.  She also rested in the water drainage.  Perhaps with the unseasonably heavy rains this winter, she slipped in trying to jump from her shelf  in the drainage and fell to the bottom of drainage where it is too high for her to jump back up. Mama was also a little hefty.


Did she possibly have internal injuries from chicken bones? A local resident was leaving them chicken bones. Nooo!  One day I happen to be squatting in the corner of Station Two, cleaning the cat water bowls when this resident appeared to leave them more bones. Timing was perfect to educate this kind-hearted person that leaving chicken bones can kill cats. Raw chicken bones are safe for cats and dogs. But cooked chicken bones are dangerous for cats. They are brittle and splinter and can cause choking or internal organ damage.

Kitten eating chicken bones
(Not a Riverfront Cat; published with permission)

Cosette was feral. Only recently was I able to touch her without her hissing. The first time in almost seven years! I started to cry tears of joy as I always do when I gain the trust of a feral cat after passing years. So it is not possible that she was taken by a homeless person.  One volunteer did say that Cosette did not eat much the night before she disappeared.  This tells us she could have been ill.

There was another intact male cat, Muki, that we could never trap. He showed signs of injuries, dried blood, deep scratches, and weight loss. He was clearly sick and dying.  Did Muki pass his illness in fighting with the other cats?
Muki waiting to be served dinner

Employees who park in the empty gravel lot of Station One, leave Styrofoam cartons of discarded people food. Did the cats eat some food that could have been harmful?

Raccoons have appeared in the neighborhood. Did the raccoons get into a fight with Cosette or Sinbad who were more feisty?  Not likely but possible. Or worse, both Cosette and Sinbad crossed SW 3rd Street in the past. Although lately they stayed on the lot of feeding station, safely hidden in the bushes, did they seek refuge elsewhere with heavy rains? Or did they resume crossing 3rd street with increasing traffic, perhaps fascinated by the growing number of chickens in the area? Yes, community chickens were multiplying! In downtown Miami. A subject for another blog post.

Raccoons are breeding and have learned where to find cat food on a nightly basis

I scoured their area, crawling on my hands and knees in bushes to see if they were possibly injured and unable to move. Nothing. I walked around the neighborhood calling them, knowing they would not appear due to fear but I had hope they heard my voice and would muster the strength to return later in the evening.


This is exactly what happened with Leroy. A friendly black cat.  He was missing for four days. Then one night, while feeding the other cats, we walked around the feeding area, and sure enough the volunteer found Leroy nestled in the grass, with two swollen and bloody paws. He was unable to move. He fought his way back to home base for food.  We scooped him up and rushed him to the vet next day. Fortunately one leg was saved, but the other leg was amputated.  The friendly cat that he is, Leroy adjusted to indoor life and was adopted by Sabrina, a long-time volunteer. He lives the good life with his siblings and sleeps with Sabrina every night. A silver-lining to a painful incident.

Leroy, a three-legged kitty, now loves his indoor home--no gravel, no fleas, no rain, no extreme weather

The list of possible reasons for the cats disappearing is endless.  These cats are also approaching seven  years of age, the average age limit for community colony cats exposed to various dangers and elements.

We still pray for a miracle that the cats will reappear. While rare, it is known to happen even after several months have passed. We love these cats and want to ensure they are not quietly suffering, dying somewhere.

Speaking of miracles, Sinbad did reappear after three weeks.  He looks well, maybe a little thinner. But sadly he's now missing for three days again.  If only we could put tracking devices on them. Now that would certainly provide the world of cat science with great insight as to their habits and patterns and behavior.

Sinbad licking his lips after dinner
(Oct 2015)

We welcome your stories and experiences with disappearing colony cats.