Thursday, January 28, 2021

Never Did I Imagine I Would be a Pioneer

by Christine Michaels

When someone would ask, "where do you see yourself 10 years from now," in  my "younger" years, normally in a job interview I had a prepared statement. Something along the lines of a position utilizing my degree... I now say I have no idea. In this fast-paced digital life where everything changes and evolves yearly even monthly, it is impossible to answer that question.  It is my hope to be doing what I love most.

 In April 2009 I moved from south downtown (Brickell area) to a new building in north downtown, within a neglected neighborhood--empty gravel lots, old, dilapidated buildings and many stray cats.  Never in my life did I live in a neighborhood with stray cats. I thought they only existed in other countries. How wrong I was. That led me to do some homework and seek answers to my burning questions about how to help these stray cats that looked hungry and sad. Thus, the more I learned, the more hands-on I became in helping these helpless creatures. 

A community cat in downtown Miami

So I started learning how to care for these stray cats and kittens and find homes for the friendly ones. But there were so many. A few volunteers across South Florida would never put a dent in the estimated half a million homeless pets.  Education was key to get others informed and involved. So I started blogging to share what I was learning with hopes of motivating residents to take action in their neighborhood. This was in 2009.

First I never realized there were other cat bloggers. And some who had been blogging consistently for over a year.  I wasn't alone! We shared our knowledge and love for cats through our blogging. 

At a pet blogging conference in May 2012, the keynote speaker was Betsy Saul, founder of She shared the history and progress of our nation in helping stray and unwanted dogs. But the world was sorely behind in science when it came to stray cats. The population of stray and feral cats was only rising at epidemic proportions. That is the greatest need.

A slide from Betsy Saul's presentation

She went on about how to start a movement. The room was so quiet, Betsy had us spellbound.

When she asked the question how many blogs were dedicated to feral and community cats, out of an entire conference room of 200 attendees, only two people raised their hands. Ironically those two individuals raised their hands from the "newbie" table.   The two bloggers were Peter Wolf of and me. Certainly there were others in the country right? 

It was not until after the conference that I met a veterinarian at my regular job and she brought her dog on a tour that I was guiding. I was excited to talk to her about pet care especially cats. When she asked me how long I had been blogging, she turned to me in amazement and said, "Do you realize you're a pioneer ?"  I stood dumbfounded.  I studied in college and held a Master's degree in business. Never in my dreams did I picture myself a trailblazer in a field not related to my academic studies.

To learn that my hard work, blood, sweat and tears was paving the way was one of the greatest discoveries and joys of my life. 

I had joined the ranks of cat bloggers like Bonnie Koenig, Ingrid King, Deb Barnes, Debbie Glovatsky, Tamar Arslanian, and Caren Gittleman to name a few. 

Christine Michaels, Snoopy, Deb Barnes, GloGirly

Pioneering women. 

Little average me. 

Ten years ago:
I had no idea I would become a cat owner.
I had no idea I would become a cat lover.
I had no idea I would become a stray and feral cat trapper and rescuer.
I had no idea I would become an award-winning, nationally recognized cat blogger.
I had no idea I would be a pioneer. 

I Am A Pioneer. 

And I used to say I'm not a cat person!

The power of social media and passion combined with determination can move mountains to make a difference in my city. Yes we are making a difference. 

Join us--and let's move mountains!

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