Cat Writers' Association Recognizes Dr. James R. Richards for a Lifetime of Mentorship
The Cat Writers' Association (CWA) is proud to honor James R. Richards, DVM, with the 2007
Shojai Mentor Award, awarded for exceptional teaching and inspiring countless cat writers
throughout his lifetime. The award recognizes one CWA member annually who went above and beyond
the mentorship duties by offering superior guidance, encouragement and support to a fellow member.
Amy Shojai, founding president of the CWA and sponsor of this award, can personally
attest to Dr. Richards' impact as a mentor. In a statement posted to Shojai's Web site
following Richards' April 2007 death she wrote, "Long before I dared call myself a real
writer, he valued me as a professional and (unbelievably) treated me as a colleague right
from the beginning. For nearly 17 years, Jim's support was only a phone call away."
Shojai estimates that nearly 90 percent of CWA members had similar experiences with
Dr. Richards' generosity and support. Steve Dale, radio host and nationally syndicated
columnist, claimed in his statement following Dr. Richards' passing that he was the person
he interviewed most.
Dr. Richards was more than a mentor; he was an inspiration to hundreds of cat writers.
He validated their profession by assuring each one that by helping cats, they were helping
people. He was the dinner speaker at the 2004 CWA awards banquet and used the opportunity
to encourage the nearly 100 attendees and reiterate the importance of pets in our lives.
As director of the Cornell Feline Health Center
at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Richards contributed to the CWA
and its members by funding the Cornell Feline Health Center Veterinary Issues Award.
This award, renamed in his honor, continues to encourage and inspire writers to tackle
difficult stories on the topics of technological or medical advances, research, or innovations
in feline veterinary medicine.
Dr. Richards was also a mentor by example. He never turned down interviews and was an
exemplary spokesperson for feline health and awareness campaigns, most recently for the
KNOW Heartworms initiative, which aims to
tackle the myths of feline heartworm disease and create understanding. He was also the
editor-in-chief of Cat Watch, published by the Cornell Feline Health Center.
About The Cat Writers' Association, Inc.
CWA was founded in 1992 and is dedicated to providing news, information, and education
on all aspects of cat care and welfare, as well as improving the quality of writing about cats.
CWA provides members with networking opportunities and encourages professionalism and
communication among cat writers, photographers, artists, editors and broadcasters.
Nancy Peterson, of Chevy Chase, MD, serves as president of this organization.