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Readers Choice Awards Winners: Cats Categories

Announcing the Best of the Best in Seven Cats Categories


2012 is the fifth year for About.com Readers' Choice Awards, and there are several categories this year for About.com Cats.

The votes are in and they have been scrubbed for "gaming," to ensure the competition is fair. For more information, see 2012 Readers' Choice Awards on About.com. Also see the FAQs about RCA voting.

It gives me real pleasure to announce the winners of the first About.com Readers' Choice Awards for the Cats site.

Best Non-Profit Cats-Only Organization: Friends of Felines Rescue Center

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Located in the small town of Defiance, Ohio, Friends of Felines Rescue Center is a cage-free, no-kill feline facility with a huge international following of fans. The rescue center started in September of 2000, as a "family affair," with Jacci Moss and her daughter, Dawn, welcoming 12 cats into what was then called "Kitty Campus Room." Originally, there was no mandatory spay and neuter before adoption policy, but that was changed in 2002, and their spay and neuter clinic, Earth Angels, started in 2004, was responsible for 11,000 S&Ns before closing its doors in 2011, when the veterinarian moved elsewhere. Spay and neuter are still performed on-site with local vets filling in. Jacci insists on it as well as only adopting to indoor-only homes - my kind of woman.

In 2008, Animal Planet selected Jacci Moss as "Cat Hero of the Year," a title richly deserved. FOF has also won the Animal Rescue Site Shelter+ Challenge for Ohio, and is competing again. Friends of Felines is an outstanding example of what one person can do, with a little help from her friends, and her friends helped FOF win the RCA by 67% of the total votes. Be sure to watch the Live Web Cam for a first-hand look at this amazing rescue for cats.

Best Non-Profit Pets Organization: Alabama Spay and Neuter

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Alabama Spay & Neutersets a high standard for spay and neuter advocates. From a nomination: "By far the most caring spay/neuter group I know of. With the cats they actually have volunteers that lay on blankets with the cats as they come out of anesthesia so they can be comforted."

According to a post on its Facebook Page, the organization has been responsible for 42,420 surgeries since its founding in 2008, and in February, 2012 (Spay & Neuter Month) 703 cats were spayed, thanks in part to funding from a PetSmart Charities grant of for the first 500 spays at $20 each. It's no wonder that this fantastic group won first place in the Readers' Choice Awards, by 63% of the vote.

Legislation pending in Alabama would allow non-profit spay & neuter clinics to hire staff veterinarians, if passed. HB156 was passed by the House on World Spay Day, and the Senate has yet to place its own bill in the calendar. Existing state law requires that all animals adopted from shelters, animal control agencies and rescue groups must be spayed or neutered before going to new homes. As a result, 100,000 animals a year are euthanized in Alabama shelters each year, because would-be adopters simply cannot afford the fees for the surgeries. This bill, if passed, could potentially save at least a large portion of those animals from death.
Source: Veronica Kennedy, The Birmingham News

If you live in Alabama, a letter to your Senator or support at the rally on April 3rd, would be greatly appreciated by the caring folks at Alabama Spay and Neuter.

Best Pro-Claws Website: The Paw Project

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The Paw Project is in my home state of California, and has been responsible for the only anti-declaw laws in the USA. I won't even try to hide the fact that I have admired and supported The Paw Project for years.

The Paw Project has been instrumental in laws banning declawing in eight California cities. The Paw Project and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association are co-sponsor for California SB 1229, which would not allow landlords to require declawing for renters with cats. The bill was introduced by California State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills).

These are just a few things The Paw Project has accomplished over the years. This indefatigable organization is saving cats paws every day, one paw at a time, and I applaud the voters who supported The Paw Project with this win. Congratulations and thank you to Jennifer Conrad, DVM (Director, The Paw Project), Jim Jensvold (Assistant Director, The Paw Project) and the entire Paw Project Team.

Best Website About Cats: The Conscious Cat

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My original criteria for the winner: "The ideal Website should be informational, covering topics such as cat care, health, behavior, and other topics, but written in an understandable manner for the lay person. A touch of humor here and there doesn't hurt."

The Conscious Cat offers all that and more. From a readers nomination: "Informative without being preachy, easy to follow (very important), entertaining, engaging (inviting readers to participate and provide feedback), down-to-earth and from the heart." Although the voting remained close throughout the entire voting period, The Conscious Cat took an early lead and coasted through easily to the end, with 44% of the vote. Well done!

Best Website About Cat Health: Ask the Cat Doctor, by Dr. Shelby Neely

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Although all three nominated Websites are excellent, only Ask The Cat Doctor, by Dr. Shelby Neely, and Cat Man Do (Dr. Arnold Plotnick) are maintained by one person, the veterinarian, in each case. Both of these veterinarians manage outstanding clinics, and both Websites are informative and helpful. I personally would not hesitate to take my cats to either of their clinics, had I lived closer. However, Ask the Cat Doctor surged ahead quickly, and coasted to an easy victory with 85% of the vote.

Dr. Neely asked for the vote, and her fans responded enthusiastically, not only voting, but posting glowing tributes to her professional care of their cats on my blog. A blog comment example: "Ask The Cat Doctor deserves this hands down. I have found so much useful info on the website and in the newsletter. Everything you could ever want to know about cats is there. And while there is some decent stuff on the other sites and I’m sure they are great vets, I trust this cats only vet with every question I have. Imagine my joy when I found that she answers questions all day every day on twitter and facebook too! I’ve written many times and no question big or small is ignored. Thanks Doctor!"

Best Book About Cat Behavior: Naughty No More, by Marilyn Krieger

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"Naughty No More," by Marilyn Krieger, won handily, with 72% of the votes. This book has already been the recipient of several honors, including three awards in the 2011 Cat Writers' Association annual contest (one of them was a special award: the Tidy Cats Feline Behavior Award.") Naughty No More also scored second place in the Top Ten Most Wanted Cat Books 2011.

Book description from a reader: "Marilyn uses both clicker training and other forms of behavior modification in her practice and in this book. Although Naughty No More was written for the novice, it has something for even well experienced cat owners."

Congratulations, Marilyn! I have not yet read this book, but I purchased it and will review it in April.

Best Book About Cat Care: The Complete Cat's Meow, by Darlene Arden, CABC

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This was an unusual situation, and since this was the first time About.com Cats was participating in the Readers' Choice Awards, I could have handled the situation in a couple of different ways.

From a reader's nomination: "This is the most comprehensive book on cat care I've ever read; easy to navigate; full of good infomation; written in easy-to-understand, uncluttered language by a cat expert....eliminates the need for a million books. When you have this one, you don't need a slew of others. Brilliant photos as well."

There were only a few nominations in the category of Best Book About Cat Care and every one of them was for The Complete Cat's Meow. Since I needed at least three nominations in order to be able to hold a Finalist's Vote in the competition, I could have just eliminated this category altogether. I could also have, as Guide of the Cats Website, arbitrarily named two other books I felt qualified, and put this category to a vote. However, looking at either scenario, I felt it would be unfair to Darlene Arden.

Therefore, "The Complete Cat's Meow" holds the title of Winner, and in my opinion, Darlene Arden well deserves the honor. Congratulations, Darlene!

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