Insta Networking, Facebook Live, Muses, Lifetime Achievement Award to Joan Miller: CWA Conference Wraps Upbeat!


Attendee Instagram Cat Mom with CWA Speaker, Sponsor Lea-Ann Germinder

2017 MUSE Medallion Awards, New Blogger Award and Special Awards Announced

(New York  – Updated June 12, 2018) Cat purrs and paws up! While it was a long, winding road to get to Houston, there was something for every pawson at this year’s Cat Writers’ Association of America (CWA) Conference and Banquet. The Muse Medallion™ and Special Awards for cat writers, bloggers, artists, photographers, and videographers were presented at the CWA Awards Banquet Saturday evening June 9 in Houston following the conference.

Members, Newbies, and Sponsors smashed it up with great networking and collaboration to fresh conference content, much of which was “catured” on CWA’s growing on Instagram @catwriters_com.  A Facebook Live stream  captured the awards ceremony for those that could not attend, and the legendary Joan Miller received her Lifetime Achievement Award to standing applause. Deb Barnes was installed as the new president, pointing to a fresh direction as the organization is poised to celebrate its 25th Annual Awards banquet in 2019.

The 2017 contest included 55 regular categories. There were 41 Muses awarded and $14,000 in cash prizes awarded. While there were no entries in 11 categories and no winners in 4 other categories, CWA encouraged attendees to enter the open categories next year.


Muse Medallion

Kim Thornton, Muse Medallion Award Winner

In reflecting on her well-deserved Muse Medallion wins this year, Kim Thornton, a CWA past president, said, “A Muse win is special because you know that the judges are your peers as well as experts in the fields of feline behavior, health and care. It means that your work has stood up against the best of the best, because competition is fierce. I’ve won a number of Muses over the years and it’s always a thrill for those reasons.

Joan Miller, CWA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented by the CWA and the CATalyst Council to Joan Miller, a CWA member since 1995, who early on recognized the value of the Cat Fanciers Association and the CWA linking their conference and annual breed show – working together to educate cat owners and the general public about cat issues.

Miller’s leadership efforts for over 25 years were devoted to the Cat Fancier’s Association including legislative issues, and as an active CWA member she volunteered consistently as a contest judge and attended many CWA conferences. In 2005, she led a CWA Public Affairs panel acquainting writers with cat-related legislation and trends. When she retired from leadership roles at CFA, Joan agreed to serve on the CWA governing Council of Directors, responding to the inquiry that “I would be enthusiastically involved in any way the organization wishes.”

The CWA Contest entrants were previously encouraged to submit their cat-centric work, which was then evaluated by a panel of professionals, including writers, artists, video producers, veterinarians and other highly credentialed judges. The top submission for each category received the coveted Muse Medallion award at the banquet. In addition to the highly sought-after Muse Medallions, all of the special awards include cash prizes through the generosity of corporate and private sponsors.

This year’s contest also included the new “CWA Council of Directors Newcomer Blogger’s Home-Enrichment” special award for 2017 which was presented to Yasaar Nakchbendi for her blog that inspires cat caretakers to create an enriched and stylish environment for their pets.

CWA Past presidents

CWA Presidents (L to R): Newly Installed President Deb Barnes, Past Presidents Marci Kladnik, Kim Thornton, Amy Shojai

In other award news, the CWA Shojai Mentor Award was presented to Denise Fleck for her outstanding influence in the pet industry and on pet writers at large. The award is now sponsored by CWA in honor of Past President and Co-Founder Amy D. Shojai. The Michael Brim Award went to Kate Benjamin for her work in improving the indoor environments of cats everywhere. This year the President’s Award, awarded for the Best-of-the-Best from all the Muse-winning entries, was won by Sandy Lerner for her book Caticons: 4000 Years of Art Imitating Cats.

“This year’s CWA contest entries were again impressive. We received a range of media, informing the public about cats, offering new insights into our lives with these remarkable creatures, and celebrating all things Feline. We continued to see a dramatic uptick in the number of online and social media entries, reminding us that cats do, indeed own the Internet! We’re all looking forward to seeing what will catch our judges’ fancies again next year,” said Wendy Christensen, award-winning writer, artist, illustrator and CWA Secretary and 2017 Contest Chair.

Background on the Muse Medallion & Special Awards

 In November 1994, the newly formed Cat Writers’ Association, held its first writing competition. Founding member, the late Karen Kuykendall, designed the coveted Muse Medallion. Karen was also the first recipient of a Muse Medallion. The Muse is awarded to the best work of like kind, such as newspaper articles about health and general care, magazine articles about behavior, or newsletter columns. The special awards go to the entry that best covers a specific topic.

About The Cat Writers’ Association — The Cat Writers Association, Inc. (CWA) is an international journalism organization founded in 1992 to promote the interests of cats; to provide a medium for exchange of ideas, methods and professional courtesies; and to promote a high standard of ethics in the collection, creation, and dissemination of cat content. CWA is a dynamic professional group of passionate cat advocates composed of writers, bloggers, photographers, artists, and broadcasters. The Association promotes mentorship, provides writing/publishing educational opportunities, and seeks to improve the quality of cat content by recognizing and rewarding outstanding published work in its annual contest. See for further information. Follow CWA on Twitter at @CatWriters, on Instagram at @catwriters_com and on Facebook at The organization will celebrate at its 25th Annual Banquet and conference in 2019.



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