Catch Up with Author Jennifer Quasha

The co-author discusses the inspiration behind My Cat?s Life: 101 Stories About All the Ages and Stages of Our Feline Family Members.

By Tiffany Lin

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Jennifer Quasha -- Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life: 101 Stories All the Ages and Stage of our Feline Family Members
Jennifer Quasha co-wrote a Chicken Soup for the Soul book about family cats.
What was the inspiration behind the book?
Chicken Soup has been creating wonderfully inspirational books for decades, but in their latest book, Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life: 101 Stories All the Ages and Stage of our Feline Family Members, they decided to focus on “ages and stages” since, as we all know, our pets change throughout their lives.

Since I have been a freelance pets writer and editor for a long time and a contributor to many Chicken Soup titles, the publisher asked me if I might be interested in editing and co-authoring their next pet books. I was thrilled to be asked! To be a part of such a wonderful series of books was very exciting for me.

Out of all the stories in the book, can you pick one or two stories to which you most relate?
I am a sucker for humor, and the piece, “A Tale of Two Suckers,” had me howling with laughter. It’s about a busy mom who thinks she sees something wrong with her cat, follows her mother’s instinct to protect her children, and has it all wrong. As a mom, I feel like I do this all the time — being flat-out wrong, always with the best intentions, that when I read this story, I felt she was speaking my language.

Another story that made me chuckle is the first story in the book: “Midnight and Stay Awhile.”
It’s about three friends who have gotten together to bury one of the women’s cats that was hit by a car. Right when they were about to end the “service,” the cat returns, making all three wonder whose cat they just buried! There are just so many great stories in this book.

Tell us about your current pets.
At the moment I have an adopted, mostly-beagle dog named Sugar, who is a few wags past puppyhood, and an almost 15-year old, blind, deaf Bichon Frise named Scout. It feels like we are covering the full range of ages and stages right now. My pets are amazing friends to me.

I had a cat as a child, but my husband is very allergic to cats. Too bad for me!

Have you had any other previous pets?
Yes, my immediate and extended family has had many, many cats and dogs over the years. I am blessed to have been raised in an environment that appreciates what a relationship with animals can do for a soul.

What was the most rewarding part about co-authoring the book?
The best part about co-authoring Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life was reading the thousands and thousands of amazing stories that people wrote and shared with us. As anyone who has tried to write a story knows, it is hard, and often emotionally risky — even if no one else reads it. That so many people opened their hearts and shared themselves and their lives was a humbling experience. To that end, every story that was submitted affected the book in some way. It was so very hard to choose only 101.

What was the most difficult part about co-authoring the book?
The hardest part was figuring out which of the stories to include in the book. Sometimes, we would get similar stories and only be able to use one. At other times, in the crafting of the chapters we had to limit the kind of stories we used. For example, we had many more “kitten stage” stories than “teenage stage” stories submitted, so if you happened to submit a story about a teenage cat you had a better shot of being able to make those final 101.

What do you enjoy doing on your free time?
What free time?! I so am blessed to have a wonderful husband, beautiful children, two furkids and an exciting career. I love to read, and I try to stay healthy and give back to the world. If I find free time, usually you’ll find me asleep!

What is one lesson you’ve learned from a cat?
To live life authentically. I can be no one but myself, and cats are a great example of that. They do what they do because they do it. Any questions? I don’t think there has ever been a non-authentic cat. People love to read things into cats, but that’s human. That cat is that cat — there is no mistaking it!

Are you planning on writing more books?
I hope so. I always have projects on burners at all times. Timing is everything, and if the time is right, then something will happen.

If you could tell your readers one thing, what would it be?
It goes back to being authentic, which is also the base of every great Chicken Soup story. You can only be yourself, so tap into it and tell us a story. We can’t wait to hear from you!
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