The (Cuddly) Joys of Research

Aug 5, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Pets

by Jennifer J. Chow

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Mimi Lee Gets A Clue and links to purchase it.

When I started researching my Sassy Cat mystery series, I knew it’d be loads of fun. Mimi Lee, the main character, is a pet groomer, which meant getting up close to cats and dogs. My only negative experience was the time I got kicked out of a grooming salon—actually, the first place I visited for research. Maybe they didn’t trust that I really was writing a novel tied to pet grooming. Or perhaps it had something to do with the sassy talking cat sidekick in my book.

For the most part, though, I’ve gotten lovely chances to cuddle with some precious fur babies. Right now, I know that times are tough, and who couldn’t use some cuddly joy? My research happened pre-lockdown, when I got to explore the world of pets hands-on. I believe my experiences provided veracity to my stories, and I’d like to invite readers along to virtually relive some of my happy memories:

Cat Café
I wanted to go beyond interacting with one or two cats at a time. To that aim, I visited a feline gathering place. My local cat café offers both time to play with kitties and the opportunity to adopt. It’s also a nice place to grab a few savory snacks and drinks. While there, I played with well over ten cats in the same room. I ended up petting their luscious fur, dangling cat toys before uninterested paws, and observing them stretch across well-intentioned exercise equipment.

Dog Reading?: Mimi Lee grooms a lot of dogs for a living. Besides researching at a grooming salon and watching the fur fly, I also jumped at the chance to meet canines at my local library branch. This companionable activity allowed patrons to partner up with dogs and read together. It was pet therapy at its literary best!

cat on an exercise wheel

Pet Photo Shoot?: The first book in my mystery series, Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, focuses on the plight of some Chihuahuas. Just for kicks, I decided to do a photo shoot with one of my favorite pups, Wonderous. My friend did an outstanding job in providing a matching outfit and props to color coordinate with my book cover

Pun Discoveries?: Cozy mysteries are known for their puns. If you check out some titles, you’ll soon uncover this factoid. I searched online for a variety of animal-themed jokes. Coincidentally, I found one of my favorite puns already framed in a cat-loving relative’s home: “I’d spend all nine lives with you.”

Wild Animal Interaction?: Along with spending time with mainstream pets like cats and dogs, I also veered off to see exotic pets. I ended up getting close to some interesting animals like hedgehogs and ferrets. (The former weren’t as prickly as I’d imagined.)

I must say that pet-themed research has brought me a lot of joy. It’s definitely a wonderful cuddly bonus that comes along with writing a pet grooming series.

Where do you get your favorite cuddles, and how do you find joy?

To enter to win a copy of Mimi Lee Gets A Clue, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “mimi,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 15, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode just went up!

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Jennifer J. Chow writes A Sassy Cat Mystery series (Berkley/Penguin Random House) and the Winston Wong Cozy Mysteries under J.J. Chow. She’s active in Sisters in Crime and Crime Writers of Color.
Connect with her online at and on Twitter and Instagram @jenjchow.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Cute article! Pet research sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day. Haven’t read any featuring a groomer before, should be fun.

    • Thanks, Alicia! It was fun doing in-person research and watching YouTube videos about grooming.

  2. I don’t have any pets but love to cuddle with my brother’s cat whenever I get a chance. Would love to get a copy, count me in! tWarner419(at)aol(dot)com

    • Good luck, Teresa! I used to cuddle with my sister-in-law’s cat (whenever the kitty was in the mood to do so).

  3. Sounds interesting! Count me in!

  4. I really want to read this book! It is already on my look for list.

  5. What fun research! A great setting for a cozy. I haven’t read one like this before.

    • Thanks, Judith! It was a wonderful profession to explore.

  6. Jennifer, your research sounds like one of those tough jobs that someone’s got to do 😉 . Actually, it sounds like the most fun research of all. Thanks for a fun and interesting post.

    • Yes, well, someone’s gotta do it, Paul… 🙂 Thanks for dropping by and reading my post!

  7. We have a winner!


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