Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Nurturing Paws

Stories of beloved pets and cantankerous critters are what you'll find in the book Nurturing Paws. It's a collection of essays and poems about animals and their people. Reading each short piece will make you laugh or smile knowingly, and some of them will also bring a tear to your eye.

If you've ever seen the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of book, Nurturing Paws is very much the same type of book, and in fact, some of the authors included in the collection have previously been published in the Chicken Soup series. The stories are mostly about dogs or cats, sometimes dogs and cats. The occasional horse, rabbit and bird shows up, too. If you've ever had a pet or two (or dozens), you'll be reminded of your own four-legged (or feathered) friends.

The quality of the book seems very close to any other trade paperback, although something about the cover design just looks "small press" to me. It might be the font style and size that they chose. The print is not tiny, nor could it be considered large print. I feel like it's a good size for the average person.

This would be an excellent gift for the animal lover or for someone who prefers reading in short bursts. It's great to take to a doctor's office or anywhere you expect to sit and wait. I wouldn't give it to a fairly young child, because some of the essays deal with death, but it's a great choice for older children up to senior citizens.

Nurturing Paws is published by a small press called Whispering Angel Books. The company's founder, Lynn C. Johnston, is also the editor of the book and a contributor. Each piece is written by a different person of course, so the writing styles are quite varied. A couple of the ones I read were very sincere but didn't seem professionally written. Most were written at what I would consider a professional level.

The cover price of the book is $16.95, and you can order it through the publisher or from most major online bookstores. I received a free review copy of the book. The opinions expressed are my own.

TNR with a few laughs and a cool song

TNR = Trap, Neuter, Release.

It's the humane way to keep feral cat populations under control.

Entertainer and cat lover Sarah Donner made a video showing how she provided TNR for two kittens in her neighborhood.

It's fun. You should watch it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Black Cats


The adoption rate for black dogs and cats, when compared to lighter colored pets, is a lot lower. As someone who has been loved by three black cats in my life, I want to join in the conversation and share just how wonderful a black cat can be.



MIDNIGHT

My first black cat was Midnight. I don't remember how Midnight came into my life. I think I was in about second grade or maybe third. Midnight was a very calm cat for a little girl to have. She let me dress her up in doll clothes and push her down the street in my pram.

A pram is like a stroller, but the baby lies down in it, and it has a folding hood to keep off the sun and rain. My great aunt bought me mine while she was visiting us when we lived in Scotland.

How many cats do you know who would let an 8-year-old put doll clothes on her and then go quietly to sleep while being pushed down the street in a baby buggy? Certainly, none of the ones I have now would let me do that!

Midnight also loved to play with my stuffed tiger, which I'd had since I was a "little" girl! So, when my dad brought me home a puppy (Snoopy, a beagle mix), Midnight considered him her living toy. He would toddle through a door where Midnight was waiting to pounce on him, but he never minded. I think he thought he was a cat, except that he couldn't climb trees.

The only time Snoopy ever chased a cat was when he went to live with my grandmother (my dad was Navy and we moved someplace that we couldn't have a dog). My uncle lived two houses over, and his family had a cat (a black cat) named Ebony, who was kind of snooty I guess, and she didn't want to play with Snoopy. She ran from him. Snoopy was used to a black cat who would play with him, so he chased her. Nothing malicious at all, and I think if he'd ever caught her, he would have said, "Tag, you're it!"

We used to take Midnight (and Snoopy when he joined the family) camping with us. We had a motorhome, and my parents belonged to the Good Sam Club, so at least once a month, we went on a weekend campout. Midnight would stretch out on the front dashboard while we were on the road, and she'd play with the wipers if it rained. People seemed to get a great kick out of seeing her up there, especially when they realized she was a real cat! When we got to the campground, she'd walk on a leash, right alongside the dog.

I don't remember what happened to Midnight. I seem to recall my mom saying that she "disappeared." Maybe she did or maybe she got hit by a car or something. She's part of the reason my cats now stay in the house.

MYSTERY

We adopted Mystery on the first Saturday in May, 1978. My mom and I were going to yard sales that morning, and we'd just recently moved to someplace we could have a cat. I saw this beautiful fluffy black cat come walking around one of the houses, and I said, "Wouldn't it be great if she had kittens?" Turns out, she did. We asked, and the kittens were only five weeks old, but at that time there were no rules about adopting kittens only after they're 8-10 weeks old, and none of us knew any better, I guess, because we took Mystery home with us. My mom had a Navy wives party that night, and as it started getting later, the novelty of Mystery's new home wore off. She wanted her mother. After a couple of hours of her crying, I wanted my mother, too. My mom never stayed out late, but she did that night. I even called the party looking for her, and I imagined her dead on the side of the road with no one knowing she had a daughter and a grandkitten at home. By the time she got back, I was crying just as much as Mystery. Pretty soon, we both calmed down and went to sleep, Mystery with an old sock stuffed with other old socks to give her something fuzzy to curl up with.

During the period when I didn't have a cat and Snoopy was at my grandparents, well, I had to have a pet, so I got a mouse. Long story short, I had three mice and a rat by the time we adopted Mystery. She never tried to get to the mice, but she did enjoy watching them run on their wheels and play.

In 1979, Mystery had kittens. Two of them looked Siamese, and I named them Muffet and Meringue. After that, Mystery got hit by a car, Muffet disappeared, and Meringue also got hit by a car. One of Mystery's kittens was a tabby who went to live at my grandmother's house. She named him Tiger. Then another tabby, called Silver Cat, showed up at her house. In 1980, Silver Cat gave birth to Mystery's grandkittens. My great-grandkittens. Two of them looked Siamese, and I named them Martini and Taminar Rossi. Obviously at that time, none of us thought about having our cats spayed or neutered. Martini had several litters of kittens, and some of them had kittens, leaving me with a legacy of love for more than two decades.


 Mystery's last living descendants, her great great grandkittens, were Mouse (1985-2005, pictured at left) and Allie (1987-2005).



Kali likes to be under things.
KALI MALICIOUS

During a road trip in October 2008, I found Kali at the side of a busy intersection. She was about five weeks old and literally less than a foot from the road, hiding in the grass. It took me just minutes to fall in love with her. It took two weeks to convince my husband to add cat #8 to the family. During that time, she lived in Tim's workshop out back, so she was all alone, locked in her carrier (for safety), except for a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours at night. Is it any wonder that she turned mean? She could be quite a little terror when she started biting, kicking and clawing, but I always blamed myself for that.

She's calmed down a lot since her killer kitten days, but she is still very independent-minded. She will only rarely sit in my lap, even though she likes to be near me. When she is doing something wrong and I scold her with a sharp "Kali Malicious," she will usually stop. If she doesn't stop and I try to move her or spritz her with water, she just gets mad.

Kali makes me laugh a lot. When she was tiny and went into berserker mode, I found a caterpillar stuffed toy that was about the same size as she was, and I would extricate my arm and replace it with the toy. I wish I had video of her rolling around and kicking that thing. One day, she rolled right off the bed with it! I waited a few seconds and asked, "Kali, are you all right?" A moment later she hopped back up on the bed, dragging that caterpillar with her. As soon as she got settled, she started biting and kicking again.

Another time, she'd been playing rough with Trickster, one of her big brothers. He'd had enough and he let her know it. With a "Hmph!" Kali moved away about six inches and sat with her back to him. So he started playing with her tail. She jerked around like she was going to smack whoever it was, saw it was him, and said, "Hmph!" again and turned back away. That happened three or four times in a row. It was really funny to watch them together.

I remember teaching Kali to play with her first toy ball, an orange ping-pong type ball. She had no idea what to do with it when I sat it in front of her, so I started batting it around for her and she caught on very quickly. She now has a variety of practice golf balls (with holes, easy for cats to pick up), two sizes of whiffle balls, balls with bells in them, big balls with little balls inside them, a tennis ball, a mini-soccer ball, and a volleyball. One of the best toys, until she destroyed it, was a beach ball with the world globe printed on it. I won it in a "Get Smart" movie giveaway, and I had blown it up and tossed it in the closet. She kept sniffing around it, so I pulled it out and threw it down the hall. Now, this thing is regular beach ball size, at least 18" across, so much bigger than baby Kali, but she chased it down the hall and leaped on it, spreadeagle, and rode it until she fell off. As many times as I would toss it down the hall, she'd chase it down. Of course, being an inflatable vinyl ball, tiny pinholes began to show up all around it. I covered them with tape and kept going for as long as we could, but the beach ball finally died its last death.

Kali is also big about covering things up. She tries to cover the water bowl, meaning toys and scraps of paper show up in the dish all the time. If someone yaks up a hairball, Kali is right there, dragging any nearby toys, socks or garments on top of it.

One day after work, my husband walked into their room, saw a toy or two in the water, and said, "Your cat has left you another art installation." After that, I started taking photos of her Kallages and I've posted some of them on DeviantArt.



NO DIFFERENCE

Those are my three black cats, and as you can tell, they all had or have their own distinct personalities, just like any other cat. I believe it was good luck (and in Kali's case, a guardian angel) that brought my three sleek black cats to me. I don't love them because they are black or in spite of it, I just love them.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Target Brand Rips Off ModernCat

I was disappointed, but not really surprised to learn that Target is one of those mega-corporations that delight in stealing ideas from smaller start-ups.

ModernCat is a terrific website with great information on cat products, and they also manufacture a few products of their own. Their products are produced pretty much by hand, with the health and well-being of cats in mind.


Target apparently liked their unique scratching post concept, but instead of asking for a licensing deal to manufacture them en masse, the corporate bigwigs decided that it's okay to rip off the little person, steal their concept, and run them out of business.

Either that or some low-life that's working for them saw the ModernCat scratching post and passed off the idea as their own. You can read more about it on the ModernCat site.


Whichever, ModernCat's artistic and functional product is now being mass produced in China to substandard specs, allowing Target to undercut the retail price ModernCat charges, without paying ModernCat a dime.

That complete lack of ethics and morals, the lack of true innovation in corporate America, and the propensity to steal from the little guys is what is ruining this country.

Target, you should be ashamed!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Make It Monday for Cats: HackyCat

It's sort of a hacky sack for cats, this latest DIY cat toy is. It's very easy to make and it's environmentally friendly, because you recycle old socks or shirts to make it.

Basically, you need a fabric tube. The designer used the sleeve from a thermal shirt but also recommends making it with thin socks. Knot one end and trim as needed. Add a little stuffing and catnip. Knot the other end and trim. Voila! Instant cat toy. It looks like something my cats would enjoy, and next time I clean out my closet, I'm making some!


The complete instructions are free at Pets Advisor

Not Just for James Bond: Pussy Galore

Well, not so much Pussy Galore as pussy vet bills galore. I've been quiet on the blog lately, at least in part, because of all the issues the cats have been having.

Remy still has extremely high liver enzymes. We are slipping him lots of extra treats and mini-meals, and his weight has been fairly stable over the past three weeks. Every so often we give him the lactulose to make sure he is not getting backed up again. He is having weekly B12 shots right now to see if it helps him.

Wicket began (late one night, of course) to pant heavily and his heart was racing. We took him to the emergency vet, and they found that one of his kidney levels was a little elevated. We took him to our vet in the morning for more tests, and at that time, his kidney levels were both fine, though he was a tad dehydrated and had some fluids before coming home.

Jynx, our FeLV positive boy, has had a bad case of feline acne. No idea why that popped up suddenly when there's been no changes in his environment or toys in about two years. He had the problem, seemed to clear up, then all of a sudden his chin was four times normal size. The vet cleaned it out and found crystallized pus! After all the digging around, his chin was about ten times normal size and he didn't want to eat anything for another 24 hours. He's doing a bit better now.

Trickster, like so many of the humans we know, is having major allergy issues.

Indy has now started on Humulin-N (replacing the Vetsulin that can no longer be sold in the U.S.) and he seems to be doing okay. He acted odd one night, after about a week on the new stuff, so in to the vet he went for a glucose check, and he was a bit high (I expected him to be low). Doc said that was not a bad place to be getting used to the new stuff, so to keep the dosage the same.

It's been a very busy and stressful few weeks. I was also leaving my old job and starting a new job, and that has its stresses as well. I will keep posting here, hopefully a bit more than I've been able to of late.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Try Business2Blogger for product review opportunities

Have you heard of Business2Blogger? Perhaps you've seen their button on some of the blogs you visit. Do you know what they are? If not, keep reading, and I'll explain.

Business2Blogger is sort of like an eharmony or match.com for businesses and bloggers. Businesses large and small are looking to bloggers to review and promote their products through posts and giveaways. A lot of bloggers are interested in getting new products to try, and product giveaways are a tried and true way to pick up followers, readers and friends.

A couple of months ago, I signed up for Business2Blogger with my lifestyle blog Rhyme Schemes and Daydreams. Every couple of weeks, I get an B2B email listing a few businesses that are looking for blogs to review their products or services. It doesn't say who the companies are, but it gives an idea of what the product or service for review is and it includes any specific requirements.

Business 2 Blogger

The marketing folks at these companies are sometimes open to hearing from any interested bloggers, but others want placement with specific types of blogs - fashion, parenting or wedding-related, to mention a few examples I've see come up. They may not care what kind of blog you have as long as you have at least 10,000 readers a month. Some need people in a specific geographic location. There's never a guarantee that you'll see a listing that's right for you.

If you do meet the criteria for a listing, you click on the link, fill out a form, and submit. The form asks for the number of visitors your blog gets, how you'll promote a giveaway (if any), for basic contact information, and for an explanation why you think their product or service would be a good fit for your blog.

The whole process takes just a few minutes.

I've never gotten a review out of being in B2B, but I haven't been a member for long. I don't qualify for all of the opportunities. My blogs don't yet get enough readers for some of them. Many companies are looking for parents and I don't have kids. My blogs are focused on cats, hurricanes, and general lifestyle, and those topics don't come up too terribly often.

That said, I'm glad to be a member and have the opportunity to receive those lists by email. Someday, I'll see the perfect fit for one of my blogs, fill out the form, and get a product review opportunity out of it. Then it'll be worth it. If you're a blogger, you should consider checking out Business2Blogger.

Have you gotten your RecycleBank coupons?

I received my coupons for free Friskies canned food today. We need to pick up more food this week, so four free cans will really come in handy!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Will Work for Cat Food

If I had a cardboard sign, that's what mine would say. If you have hungry little mouths to feed, here's a deal for you.

I just found this site called RecycleBank that's all about ways that you can "green" your home. You earn ponts and then redeem them for various incentives. One of the deals they have going on right now, and I don't know how long it will last is free Friskies canned food.

I joined a few minutes ago and then I clicked on "Earn Points" at the top, and the very first thing is something about earning points and entering to win great prizes. That link takes you to a promotional page where you go into each room of a "house" and you click on the plus signs on the images and answer questions or play games, and it tells you right away how many points you earn for each thing.

Once you have some points built up (I earned 100 points in less than 20 minutes), then click on "Get Rewards."

They have a bunch of Rewards Categories, and if you scroll that mini-window all the way to the right, that's where the Pet rewards are. Right now, the Friskies canned food is "on sale." It's normally 75 points for a coupon for two free cans, but tonight, it's only charging you 10 points. They mail you a coupon.

I've looked around a little bit, and you can earn points for gift cards, discount coupons, magazine subscriptions and lots of stuff.

If you want to give RecycleBank a try, it's free to sign up.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cat Lovers' Mouse Pad

This is cute, if a little strange. It's a mouse pad in the shape of a cat's head. You put your hand in the cat's mouth to reach the mouse. I did say it was strange.

Just the design of it will keep your hands warm in a cold office or if you suffer from cold-mouse-hand-syndrome, but it also has another feature: a USB-powered heater.

I found one place that lists it for sale, but I didn't shop around so it may not be the best deal. The site is GeekStuff4U. I have never ordered from them, so if you're interested in buying one of these, please research it as you would any other product or company.

The mouse pad/heater is made by Thanko, the Japanese company that also brought us the Cat Face Allergy Mask.

All you need is a pair of cat ears to look like your favorite feline while breathing a little easier (theoretically). The mask also has a USB function - a built in fan. I'm not sure if it's to cool the air you're breathing in or to help blow away any allergens that might make it through the mask.

You can't say the company isn't imaginative!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Loudest Purr

My cat Indy has a loud purr, and he's a pretty happy cat, but I don't know if his decibel level matches that of Smokey, a British cat whose powerful purr can even disturb movie night!



So, what do you think? Are Smokey's raucous rumblings the loudest purr you've ever heard?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

When Kitty Gets Sick

Today, I saw a post from a woman, a fellow sweeper, whose cat developed crystals in his bladder. She asked for suggestions on how to bring in extra money to pay for his medical care. I know where she's coming from. A few years ago, when Quinn had his heart attack, I had the good fortune to win a Playstation game system. I'm not a big gamer, but I would have kept the system, if we weren't trying to pay off the credit cards we'd just run up at the emergency vet, our vet, and at least two other animal hospitals that could run tests our regular vet wasn't equipped for. Not to mention the meds he was on. Buying special foods and baby foods to try to get him to eat. Lucky for me, someone bid near retail for it, and getting that payment was a real blessing when we needed it.

This woman's cat's issue hit close to home, too. Several years ago, my cat Indy (left) developed crystals that blocked him from urinating. He's 11 now, and it's been at least 6 or 7 years since he had to have the crystals surgically removed. We started using an over-the-counter Urinary Tract dry food and Friskies Special Diet can. Over the years, Indy developed diabetes, so we started mixing in Hill's Prescription Diet dry, then his younger brother Remy developed a sensitive stomach (which is probably linked to the liver problems he's having now), so we began using Iams Digestive Care instead of the UTI dry. We still use the Friskies Special Diet canned.

KNOW WHAT'S NORMAL

The most important part of keeping your cat healthy is to be observant. It's even easier if you only have one or two cats. We have 9 now and have had as many as 12 at one time. It's hard to tell who's doing what in their litterboxes (or outside of the boxes in some cases) without isolating them.
  • If your cat urinates inappropriately (outside the box), s/he may have a urinary tract infection.
  • If s/he drinks a lot of water, it could be a sign of kidney disease or diabetes (my cat Allie used to get a big drink in their room, then he'd follow me to the kitchen and get another big drink almost immediately; it turned out he was in the beginning stages of kidney failure).
  • If your cat urinates a lot (leaves a really big puddle in the box), that's another sign of diabetes.
  • When you pet them, see it as an opportunity to casually examine their bodies. My husband found Mah-mah's breast cancer because he was running her chest and belly and felt a small lump he'd never noticed before.
Those are just a few examples. Basically, you need to pay enough attention to what your cat does, how s/he acts when normal, so that you quickly recognize the abnormal. Just like in people, the sooner you realize there's a problem and get treatment, the better your chances of a full recovery (and sometimes it will save you money over treating an advanced condition).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Update on Remy

Remy has now been on antibiotics for nearly a month. First he was on Baytril tabels. Then the doc switched him to Clavamox, the liquid that smells like bubble gum. Who thought that was a good idea for cats?

When last I wrote, Remy was going in for x-rays of his liver. The images showed that his liver is abnormally small, so small that he was either born that way or at some point he had a massive infection that ate it away. X-rays also turned up that his colon is enlarged, which is not unheard of in cats or people, apparently. Basically, his digestive system is bottlenecked.  To clear him out, the vet prescribed lacralose as a stool softener. That's also a liquid. At least it doesn't smell like bubble gum.

Remy doesn't like having his face washed, either.

So the procedure is, we give him 1.25 ml of Clavamox, a portion of which he mixes with drool in his mouth and then slings all over the room. Then we wait 20 minutes and give him 1ml of lacralose, which is thick and sticky, and he just lets that dribble out the sides of his mouth and run down his chin. He started that last Friday.

He finally made a sloppy diarrhea on Monday morning, which I witnessed, so I know it was him. (Multi-cat household and all. Misha won't come out of the bedroom these days, so we can't close Remy in there alone. We left him in their room alone all day Thursday and he seemed extremely unhappy and really looked sick afterwards, so we're trying to avoid that now.)

Today, we came home and I found a soft poop and a couple of big splats of diarrhea, along with some normal poops. I have to assume that at least some of the soft stuff came out of Remy. He acts like he's feeling a little better (except when he knows it's time for the double dose of ick).

We are feeling more hopeful that Remy will live through this and be okay. Hopefully he won't have to take the lacralose every day for the rest of his life. The vet said some cats have to take it regularly, but maybe that just means once or twice a week.

He took the last dose of Clavamox today, which should make the process a little easier going foward. Maybe I'll have even more positive news in a few days.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Our cat Remy is Sick

Remy is 10 and a half years old. His mother had wandered up to our rural home a few months earlier with two kittens in tow. We took in the babies when they were weaned. Mah-mah was still too skittish, but by the time she'd weaned her second litter, she walked straight into the carrier. She spent the rest of her life as a well-loved indoor cat.

Remy has been throwing up a little more than usual, and we felt like he'd lost a little weight. He's also been acting like he's extremely hungry all the time. He's always had a sensitive stomach, and he really didn't like the Solid Gold food we recently switched to. He liked it at first, but after a while, he started turning up his nose.

We took him to the vet a couple of weeks ago, and he had lost a pound since he was last in a few months ago. The blood test results came back showing high liver enzymes. The doc initially thought it might be hyperthyroidism, which made sense to us (my husband had that), but the thyroid was fine. He was on Baytril for a little over two weeks and showed some improvement. Then he started throwing up again, always within a couple of hours of having his Baytril. He was down to 3 pills left and it was Saturday night, and I said, "Let's not give it to him again."

On President's Day, my husband took him back in and more blood was drawn. The test results showed that his liver enzymes were even higher. We stopped by and picked up some Clavamox, and made an appointment to bring him in for a liver x-ray in the morning.  I gave him a small portion of dry (his favorite Iams digestive care) about 6:30pm or so. He had the Clavamox with some tuna for dinner. About three hours later, he threw up again.  After he threw up, because we knew he wouldn't be able to have his usual late night snack or his breakfast, we gave him a little more dry, and he's been fine.

We lost Remy's brother Quinn to a heart condition in 2005. Mah-mah died of cancer in 2007, and a few weeks after that, Remy's brother Missy had to be put to sleep due to kidney failure. Remy takes heart medication daily because he has a murmur, but otherwise, he has been very healthy.

Has anyone else every had a situation like this?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Monday Make-It for Cats: Plush Critter Toys

If you have talent with a needle and thread, let me steer you to instructions for a trio of really cute soft toys.

The patterns and instructions are available at CraftBits. You'll need to print two copies of the pattern, cut out the pieces as directed, and stitch them up. You'll need a needle and thread, glass beads for the eyes (or make some felt ones), fabric and fiberfill, and a little catnip, if you are so inclined. My cats get violent over catnip-filled toys. Once you have all the stuff, it'll only take a few minutes to make each one of these critters, and your cats will love them!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Cats

Happy Valentine's Day!

In celebration of the love holiday, I wanted to share with you a link to a great collection of cat pics. Catsparella collected 21 photos of cats displaying all-natural fur hearts. They are guaranteed to make you say, "Awww."

Monday Make-It for Cats: Kitty Climbing Tree

All cats like to stretch, sharpen their claws, and sleep, and a large cat tree fulfills all those feline needs. For some people, though, ready-made cat trees are a little pricey, and their configuration might not be ideal for your cat's preferences or the space you have available.

A terrific tutorial at PandECats.com shows you step by step how to build your own cat tree. Of course, this one is designed to meet the needs of the maker, but once you see how it's done, you can adjust the plans to be the perfect cat tree for your home.

Build It Yourself
Cat Tree
Judy de Passe of De Purrs Persians posted the tutorial and images, including the photo of the finished tree shown at left. It has places for four cats to sit, and three tall legs that allow the cats to scratch and claw to their hearts' content.

One of the best things about the tutorial is, it lists everything that you need, from tools to materials. Just a quick glance lets you know what you already have and what you need to buy.

I really liked that it explained how to attach the sisal rope with nails. We had looked at some sisal scratching posts at pet stores, and while we had seen nails or staples in the end, we weren't sure if they also needed glue to hold the rope in place. This tutorial didn't mention gluing it, which will make creating a sisal scratching post a lot easier.

This five-foot-tall climbing tree is great for younger cats, but we have cats that are 11 years old or older. Indy is overweight and has diabetes; sometimes he has a little trouble walking or climbing onto the bed. We wouldn't risk building a tree this tall. By taking the elements of construction, we could build something that's wider and shorter, and perhaps add a ramp to the highest point.

If you're not an experienced DIYer, maybe your tree won't look perfect, but as long as it's stable and sturdy, your cat will love it, even if it's not perfect.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Winner Selected

Sleppery did not contact me, no email was listed on the associated blog profile, and no email was listed in the entry. Therefore, I have selected a new winner.

Dave's email was clearly visible on his blogspot profile, and he has been emailed. He has until 11:30pm CT on February 13 to email me his shipping address or I'll keep going down the line.

If you enter giveaways, be sure to visit your blogger profile and make sure your email address shows up. It's easy to do.

First method: After you post a comment on a site using your Google/Blogspot login, click on your name. It should take you to your Blogspot profile, where you should see a Contact area with a link to your email address.

Second method: Go to your Blogger page and see if you can click on your profile there. For example, I would go to crazykittychick.blogspot.com and on the right there's an About Me section that has a link for "View my complete profile." If I click on that, I can see my profile with contact information.

I've seen a lot of other bloggers who host giveaways post that they've been unable to find a way to contact their first winner. I've won prizes because the first person either didn't leave contact information or never responded to an email. Please take the time to make sure your email is visible on your profile OR always be sure to leave your email address within your entry post.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Care and Feeding of Catnip

Despite the cold, my tomato plants are still holding on, which got me to thinking about what other useful  plants I could grow. We'd like to start some strawberries in the spring, and I thought it would be nice to grow some fresh catnip for our pride of cats.

Virginia Tech and several federal and state agencies produced a terrific fact sheet on catnip, which I'll summarize here. If you'd like to read the whole thing, click on the link.

The paper starts out with a history of medicinal uses for the catnip herb, formally known as Nepata cataria. Did you know that catnip is a member of the mint family? I just learned that. In ages past, it's been used to combat insomnia, fight the common cold, alleviate toothaches, and ease intestinal cramps and gas.

The catnip oil that's so attractive to cats also contains compounds that act as natural insecticides and fungicides.

The Virginia Tech paper includes some interesting advice for growing catnip. You can plant in fall or spring, and if you're growing from seeds, you should freeze and thaw them a couple of times, then soak them in water to soften the casing. The plants grow well in full sun and produce clusters of tiny white or lavender flowers on a tall stalk. Both the flowering tops and the leaves are used for medicinal purposes, and the leaves are dried and chopped for cat toys.

The fact sheet concludes with a list of books and websites that contain more information, including how to efficiently grow and harvest catnip on a large scale.

I visited several websites reading about catnip and its cousin catmint. One interesting bit of folklore has it that if you set out a catnip plant in its pot or plant a grown plant, it will attract cats, but if you grow it in the ground from seeds, the cats won't notice. I wonder how that would work, but then again, folklore is quite often built on the practical experiences of real people.

Have you ever grown catnip? Do you have any tips for growing it or preparing it for use in cat toys? Have you ever drunk catnip or catmint tea? I'd love to hear about your experience.

R2AGEDQV7VPN

Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Make It For Cats - Cheap Cardboard Cat Toy

Have you ever paid good money for a cat toy and within six hours, the toy is lost or destroyed? A project posted on Instructables demonstrates how to make a cat toy out of cardboard that's just going to end up in the recycle bin anyway.

Basically, you cut a vague mouse shape, including a thick tail, out of cardboard. Cut an extra mouse body. Slot both pieces and slide them together. The Instructables page has a template to help you get the shapes and slots right for a mouse, but I'm not sure how much the cats will care.

One sturdy cardboard box could be re-purposed into at least a couple dozen toys. You could cut all your A parts and B parts at the same time and store them in 1-gallon resealable bags. When the cat needs a new toy, pull one from each side and slide them together.

These toys are cheap and easy enough to make that you could whip up a batch and take them to your local shelter to entertain the homeless cats or give them as gifts to your cat-loving friends.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

WINNER Harry Potter 4 Ultimate DVD

**SEE UPDATE POSTED ON 02/10/11**

Congratulations to Sleppery who made post #20 on January 31!

Unfortuately, Sleppery doesn't have an email address her on blog profile or on her blog or in her post. Hopefully, she'll see the update to the original post or this announcement. I must receive her name and mailing address by 12:15am on February 9, 72 hours from now) or I will choose a new winner.

Sleppery, if you're reading this, you can find my email on my profile.

ALERT for pets on Vetsulin

On Friday, the FDA dropped a bomb on our family when they announced that Vetsulin will be taken off the market.

Vetsulin is manufactured by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health for diabetic cats and dogs. According to the official Vetsulin website, "Vetsulin (porcine insulin zinc suspension) is an insulin developed specifically for veterinary use in both dogs and cats with diabetes. Vetsulin has been used successfully by veterinarians in over 30 countries worldwide for more than 15 years."

Vetsulin.com still contains the assurance that the product is,"the only veterinary insulin FDA-approved for both dogs and cats." That's surprising because in November 2009, the company announced that a problem had been discovered:

The product has been found to be out of specification in regards to the long term stability of the crystalline, or long acting, component. Specifically, the concentration of the crystalline component is higher than what is outlined in the specifications of the product. Consequently, the amorphous, or short-acting, component may have a lower concentration. This could mean that diabetic patients on VETSULIN may experience a delay in onset of action, a delay in peak activity and an overall extension of the duration of activity. The product is remaining in distribution, but supplies will soon be exhausted. Veterinarians should plan on transitioning their diabetic patients to other insulin products and should not be starting any newly diagnosed diabetic patients on Vetsulin.

Indy
At the time, we had a new bottle, and the vet had a good supply available, so we kept using Vetsulin in hopes that the company would sort out the problem.  Here's the big question: Our cat Indy has been on Vetsulin since at least early 2008. It's managed his condition very well. In fact, he had his latest glucose check on Saturday morning, and his blood sugar levels were, as the vet told us, "perfect." Why, after more than 12 years of successful management of small animal diabetes, was the product suddenly found to be of questionable efficacy?

In May of last year, Schering-Plough created the Vetsulin Critical Need Program. If a veterinarian determined that a dog or cat's diabetes could most effectively be controlled with the use of Vetsulin, the pet owner and vet could complete paperwork to join the Critical Need Program. When more Vetsulin is needed, I pay my vet, the vet orders it, and the product is shipped directly to the consumer.

I don't recall if Vetsulin ships via FedEx, UPS or USPS Express.
You know what that leads to? Indy's Vetsulin sitting in a delivery truck all weekend.

We stopped by our vet's office on Monday just before noon and paid for the order. Vetsulin, as with human insulin, is supposed to be kept at a constant temperature. From the client information sheet provided at Vetsulin.com: "Vetsulin should be stored in an upright position under refrigeration (2-8 Degrees Celsius / 36-46 Degrees Fahrenheit). Do not freeze." It's packed with ice, and we have it shipped to my husband's work, so it can be refrigerated instead of left sitting on our front porch all day.

Our vet's office faxed in the order Monday afternoon. We called on Thursday because we hadn't received it yet. The vet's office called Schering-Plough, and notified us that it didn't ship right away because of bad weather, but it was on the way and should arrive on Friday. On Friday at 4:30, my husband called, but the vet's office had not been provided with a tracking number. So, our Vetsulin is sitting on a truck somewhere. Maybe it's outdoors or parked in an unheated warehouse. Maybe it's between 36 and 46 degrees in the truck. Maybe it's below zero with snow packed around it.

We have maybe a week's worth left. It's a very stressful situation for our family all around.

I just visited felinediabetes.com and found some discussion of other products. The only one our vet had mentioned to us before and today is Humulin. The discussion on the Feline Diabetes Message Boards suggest that Humulin is a lot more difficult to dose and regulate than Vetsulin has been for us. Someone had also posted a link to an article about a lawsuit against the makers of Vetsulin. I think Mr. Friedman is to blame for the product being pulled off the market. I'm truly sorry that his dog died, but I wonder if he can prove that Vetsulin is to blame.

We have been very careful to give Indy his doses on time. He gets injections at 8am with breakfast and 8pm with dinner. The vet said we could be safe giving it to him within an hour of that time. I think maybe once we gave it to him nearly an hour late, and we skipped a dose one night when we went to an event out of town for a special occasion. We were back for his morning dose. On a typical day we might be 15 minutes early or late. We keep the bottle refrigerated. We use the syringes twice, with the vet's blessing, and after first use, we keep it in the fridge, too. We swirl the bottle carefully, mixing it with the least amount of air bubbles as possible. My husband doesn't trust the last couple of doses in the bottle, usually (though in the coming days that may not be an option).

I wonder if Mr. Friedman has been as careful with giving his dog injections on time. I wonder if he stored the bottle upright (in the photo accompanying the article, he's holding the box on its side). I wonder how careful he was mixing up the solution each day. The thing is, these things cannot be proven in court, for either side. If it goes to trial and Mr. Friedman testifies he did everything by the book every time, will the jury believe him?

And again, why this problem with the mix of long-acting and quick acting components not a problem for the first dozen years the product was on the market. Did someone else complain because their pet died? Did the FDA suddenly get stricter, or did the manufacturer stop paying off their government contact?

If you have a pet on Vetsulin, I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts and experiences. If you have a pet on Humulin or another alternative, I'd like to hear about that as well.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Make It For Cats - Tetherball Court

What cat doesn't like to climb into a cardboard box or play with a ping pong ball? I'm sure there are some out there, but most of mine are fascinated with either, that is if the younger cats don't monopolize them.

Here's an idea for making your cat his or her own playhouse with hanging balls.

You poke holes in ping balls and then use the string to hang them inside the box. Create a door in the box (either use the open end or seal the box and cut a smaller opening in the side). Most cats won't be able to resist going inside and batting the balls.

The one problem I see with the instructions posted on eHow is that, with my cats at least, the glue will never hold. Here are the modifications I suggest.

1. Use practice golf balls instead of ping pong balls. They already have holes in them. At Walmart, the practice golf balls are cheaper than the ping pong balls.

2. Use cotton rope or clothesline, and run the rope all the way through the golf ball. Tie off one end with a really tight knot. Depending on the height of your box, you could leave a couple of inches of rope dangling and fray it.

3. Instead of gluing the string to the box, poke a hole in the box. Poke the rope through from the inside (you can tape the end temporarily to make it easier to feed) and knot that end tightly.

You'll need to use a fairly heavy duty box, because I could see a cat grabbing the ball with both paws and pulling on it with his whole weight and crumpling a lightweight box.

I think this method will hold up better than the glue method, and you won't have to punch holes in the balls.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Make-Your-Own Cat Toys

We all want our cats to be safe, happy and healthy. I don't know about you, but I don't feel safe buying my kitties toys and products that are made in China.

So many products made for people are recalled because they contain some kind of safety hazard, so what are the chances that some of the pet products are made with substandard or dangerous materials.

Anyway, I keep my eye out for easy ways to make things for the cats, so that I can control what they're made of. Here are some great projects I found recently.

Homemade Scratching Pad. Have you ever looked at the cardboard scratching pads and wondered why they're so expensive. I have. This step-by-step guide on Design Sponge shows you how to turn an old cardboard box into a scratching pad that any cat will love.

Make-Your-Own Scratching Post. Why pay $50 for a scratching post at the pet shop? Over at Craftster, I found a guide to making an inexpensive scratching post using cheap burlap shopping bags, an old cutting board and a wooden post. If your cat tears up the bags too fast, you can buy sisel rope at the hardware store. I saw rolls of it sold by the foot or the yard. The rope could be coiled around and stapled, tacked or glued. Just be sure that whatever you use is non-toxic for your pets and will not easily be pulled out of the wood.

DIY Pet Bed.  Craftster also has a post on how to turn an old table into a beautiful four-poster pet bed. I could see adding a sturdy canopy to the top for a second cat to use as a hammock.

Isn't this cute?  It's a lucky cat who'll have this to sleep in at night. Or in the morning, afternoon or evening.

Have you made any cat toys or furniture? I'd love to hear more about what you made and how you made it.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Year of the Cat

I just learned that this is the Year of the Cat in the Vietnamese culture. I guess I've just never heard about a Vietnamese New Year's celebration or if I did, the animal of the year corresponded to the Chinese New Year (in which 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit).

I had to know more, so I looked up a little information on it. The Vietnamese calendar is a lunar calendar, based on the cycles of the moon, which is why the new year is being celebrated now; it doesn't quite line up with the European calendar used by the western world.

I found a description of people born in a Cat Year (like the Chinese horoscope system, there are 12 signs, changing each year):

Postage stamps commemorating the Year of the Cat
Cats are smooth talkers, talented and ambitious and will succeed in studies. They are in conflict with the rat. A cat person has a supple mind and patient personality and knows how to wait for favorable conditions before taking action. Cat hours are between 5am and 7am, when cats begin their prowling.

An article on a New Year's celebration contained this further information:

The Year of the Cat generally represents peace and harmony. There are three types of horoscope cats in Vietnamese tradition: water cats, wood cats and metal cats. This year is a metal cat year, considered good luck in Vietnam. The metal cat represents resilience, determination and strength.
HAPPY NEW YEAR OF THE CAT

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Black Cat Licorice

We ate at Steak and Shake by the mall tonight, so we walked back into the World Market and I bought some Katjes-Kinder. I thought they would taste like black jelly beans. I was wrong. They're very hard and chewy and sticky and they're not very sweet and the licorice flavor is a little bitter.

They're really cute though.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Black Cat Human Treats

I just adore my black cat Kali, and I'm enthralled by black cat stuff - jewelry, clothing, signs & posters, you name it.

Last fall, World Market had a lovely black cat bottle of wine (left). It's made by Moselland Zeller, and it was on sale for $10.99 through Halloween. I thought maybe it would be marked down more after, but it just went back up to its regular price of $11.99. We're not wine drinkers, so it seemed like a waste to pay full price, but I surely did want that bottle.

I have looked several times since, and I think they've sold out and restocked at least once. They didn't have any Black Cat wine in stock today, but they did have a white cat and another color, green maybe.

On the candy aisle, I discovered a new black cat treat.

Katjes-Kinder are black licorice candies shaped like cats. It's a Dutch candy, and they also make Katjes-Ohren (I hope I'm spelling that right) which are triangular shaped and I'm guessing that ohren means ear in Dutch.

 The bag of Katjes Kinder was just under $3. Not bad, but I am supposed to be on a diet, and also I would just eat the Kali candy, whereas if I bought the Kali wine, I would have the bottle forever.

Have you seen any cat-shaped people treats?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Win Harry Potter 4 from CrazyKittyChick

**UPDATE #2** Sleppery never contacted me, and I checked again and no email is visible on her blogger profile, so a new winner has been selected and contacted by email. 

**UPDATE** We have a winner: Sleppery! Unfortuately, Sleppery doesn't have an email address her on blog profile or her blog or in her post. Hopefully, she'll see this update or the new post that she's the winner. I must hear from her by 12:15am on February 9, or I will choose a new winner.

If you don't win, Amazon has a great price.
CrazyKittyChick's last Harry Potter DVD giveaway was a big hit, and I have another in the series to give away. Last month, I was lucky enough to win Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Ultimate Edition DVD. The company sent me two copies, with the idea being that I should share one with a friend. The people I know who like Harry Potter already have the movie, so I have decided to share it by having a giveaway.

First, let me tell you a little about this boxed set, because it's much more than the movie.  Here's a list of the extras included in this 3-disc set:

  • Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 4: Sound and Music
  • For the first time, discover how musical themes for Harry, Hedwig, Luna and Lord Voldemort define each character’s identity. Learn how sound effects experts create the crunch of footsteps on snow and the whoosh of a flying broomstick. Visit recording studios and see how each composer brings his orchestral vision to the films. Plunge into fun as Daniel gets the sound of underwater. Feel the magic as music is added to a scene, intensifying the emotion and steering the story.  
    • 5 Vintage TV Specials:
      1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
      2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Behind the Magic
      3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Dark Matters, New Masters
      4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Some Animal Magic
      5. Inside Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    • Preparing for the Yule Ball
    • Conversations with the Cast
    • Reflections on the Fourth Film
    • 3 Challenges/Games
    • 44-Page Sound & Music Photo Book
    • Year 4 Lenticular Card
    • Two Collectible Character Cards: Ronald Weasley, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
    • Bonus Digital Copy of the Theatrical Film
    If you're a fan of the Harry Potter series, you'll enjoy these extra features. Here's how you can be entered to win this set (SRP $39.92).

    MANDATORY ENTRY: Leave a comment on this post telling me what is your favorite theme or song from any film. Be sure to say which movie the song or theme is from. If your email address is not visible on your GFC profile, please leave it in your comment.

    EXTRA ENTRIES: For each item you complete, leave another comment here and be sure to include the link to your tweets.

    *Follow crazykittychick on Twitter AND tweet this message: Enter to win Harry Potter 4 Ultimate DVD set from @crazykittychick http://crazykittychick.blogspot.com (+1 daily)
    *Comment on any non-giveaway post on CrazyKittyChick and leave the title of the post in your comment (+1 daily)

    Eligible comments must be made no later than 11:59pm ET on February 5, 2011. Entrants must be 18 or older, with shipping addresses in the United States or military APO/FPO addresses. One winner will be selected by random drawing on February 6 and notified by email or direct message on Twitter. Winner must respond to this notification with mailing address within 72 hours or another winner will be selected. DVD set will be sent media mail.

    Harry Potter 3 DVD winner

    Congratulations to Joy!

    You posted that you tweeted about the Harry Potter 3 DVD giveaway and you are the lucky winner with comment #72. I've sent you a DM on Twitter. I just need your full name and address by midnight Tuesday to ship out your prize.

    Thanks to everyone who commented and entered. I hope you will visit Crazy Kitty Chick again. I'll be giving away another Harry Potter DVD set soon!

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Keeping Pets Healthy May Keep You Healthy

    A couple of veterinarians have concluded that getting too close to your pet could be dangerous to your health. Dr. Bruno Chomel and Dr. Ben Sun created a report that analyzed surveys from different countries about how many pet owners allow pets to lick, kiss or sleep in the same bed with them, and statistics on diseases associated with close contact between people and pets.

    The report says that even seemingly healthy pets can carry health risks for humans, including parasites, bacteria or viruses. For example, a pet with fleas can bring plague into the bedroom or saliva entering a wound can transmit meningitis.

    The authors conclude the study by saying that the risks can be reduced by providing pets with regular veterinary care to ensure that they are healthy and free of disease and parasites. They also remind that sharing our lives with pets bring many benefits, such as relieving stress and encouraging physical exercise.
    The complete report will be published in the February 2011 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the monthly peer-reviewed public health journal of the Centers for Disease Control.

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Help a Pet-Loving Military Family

    Thousands of Americans serve in the armed forces, and they are often sent overseas. Sometimes they are going into a war zone, while other assignments have them serving at U.S. bases in Europe or Asia. They may go out to sea for months on end. Service members with pets then have a tough choice. They have to find someplace for their pets to stay, try to find a place at a no-kill shelter, take them to the pound and hope they find an owner before they're euthanized or simply abandon them, hoping they make their own way to a new family.

    At PetSmart this weekend, we saw a beautiful cat up for adoption from the Humane Society. She'd been left behind in Navy housing when her owner moved. It's heartbreaking to think of that poor cat turned out into the cold winter, her regular meals and once loving family now mysteriously gone.

    Photo by John Blackie for the Pensacola
    News Journal.
    Today, I heard a happier outcome for two dogs owned by a member of the Air Force. Technical Sergeant Michael Doane, his wife and young daughter moved overseas. Doane's new assignment kept the family on the move, and even if he could take his dogs, Sammy and Maggie, he knew they wouldn't get the care and attention they needed.

    He searched for a new home for them, and had just about given up when he found Bill and Sherrie Daws. The Daws foster animals for the Junior Humane Society, and Bill is retired from the Air Force. When they heard about the Doane's dilemma, they quickly stepped up to help.  For twenty months, they cared for Sammy and Maggie at their farm. Now, the Doanes are home, and they had a joyful reunion with their pets.

    More about the Doanes and Daws at Pensacola News Journal

    Click here to watch WEAR-TV's video news story and see the happy family reunion.

    If you are in a position to care for an extra animal or two, check with nearby military bases and animal rescue organizations. Let them know you'd like to help. The NetPets website also helps find temporary homes for the pets of military men and women. Service members and their families sacrifice a lot to defend freedom at home and abroad. Caring for the pets they have to leave behind is a way to ease their minds and thank them for their service.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Clip Coupons for Pet People

    Times are tough right now for a lot of people, and sometimes even when we want to help others, we don't feel we can afford to give. Here's a perfect way to make a difference in the lives of pet lovers and animal shelters. Clip coupons and cut used stamps off envelopes and send them to PetCouponsCentral.


    PetCouponsCentral was founded to help people with pets save a little money when they're struggling to get by every month. They also help animal rescue programs and shelters.

    Here's how it works. You're looking through a magazine or the newspaper and see some animal product coupons. Maybe it's ones that you can use, and you clip them. But how often do you see coupons for dog food and you have a cat? Or maybe it's for a brand you don't use. For example, we feed our cat Solid Gold and Hill's Prescription Diet dry food. My mom uses Purina Cat Chow. Anything else, we don't use right now.

    Normally, I would just pass those coupons by, because I don't know many other cat people locally. Now that I've learned about PetCouponsCentral, I'll collect them and mail them in. The coupons will be distributed to individuals who have asked for help as well as to PetsOfTheHomeless.org and other animal charities. If the coupon is expired, it can be sent to military families overseas, who can still use them at the commissary.

    What about the used stamps? I'm glad you asked. They can be used by Nowzad, a group that helps dogs, cats and donkeys in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nowzad helps find these animals new homes and assists military personnel in bringing home that they adopted overseas.

    Pop your coupons and cancelled stamps in an envelope and mail them to PetCouponsCentral and they'll take care of sorting them and getting them into the hands of the right people. It just takes a few minutes of your time and a couple of postage stamps a month.

    I hope you'll visit PetCouponsCentral and take a look at their wish list -- they take coupons for all kinds of animal foods and products. It's a great way to help.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Cute Site: The Infinite Cat

    The Infinite Cat site gets its name from a photograph. It's a photo of a cat looking at a computer monitor that has on it a photo of a cat looking at a monitor with a photo of another cat and so on and so on and so on. Infinite. Cat. Get it?

    When you get to the site, up by the header, on the left, you'll see a menu. See the item that says Cat Comics? That's the first page I visited on The Infinite Cat. I had done an image search online for "cat blog" and this is one of the images that popped up. Clicking on the image led me to the Cat Comics page, which has a lot of really cute cartoons on it.

    The Games section has a whole host of cat-related games. I tried to save the kittens, but I kept falling off the tightrope. I guess I don't have the fine motor control needed. It is very late, and I'm tired.

    I didn't read all the stories and poems in the Cat Tales section, but the ones I read were interesting, uplifting, and in some cases a little sad. I did not read "The Grossest Cat Story Ever." Let me know if I should take the chance.

    The section titled The Cats contains all the photos of cats looking at the computer monitors. I looked at Group 1 - cats 1-50, and I started with #50 and kept clicking "previous" and it's really cool to step back through the photos. You kind of get previews of the next few pics that way. NRFTICP takes you to cat photos that didn't quite fit the bill to be part of the Infinite Cat series of photos.

    Catsville is a collection of links to cat related websites. That one will take a while to explore. Movies has videos including tributes to departed kitties, clips from movies, public service announcements and much more.

    The Infinite Cat is a great site for cat lovers looking for a little something to occupy a few minutes. Enjoy.

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Quest for Cat News

    At the first of the year, I made a pledge to myself that I was going to blog every day. That's been tough to do sometimes, but at least I am blogging more than last year.

    Photo: ToledoOnTheMove.com, enhanced with Photoshop.
    In sparking ideas for posts, I sometimes do a search for news about cats, and unfortunately, a lot of times I just end up feeling sad. I clicked on a story from ToledoOnTheMove in Ohio, about a cat that had climbed up a power pole and was stuck there for two days in the freezing cold. The headline said the cat was finally down safe. Happy story, right? It is a good ending for the cat, who's being treated at an animal hospital and will have a new home when released. What troubled me was that a woman called rescue centers, the fire department, the power company - and no one would help until the local news ran a story and people got outraged about it. Strike two were some of the hateful comments on the story, about how it's only a cat and should be able to get down by itself, and other animals who ended up dying because no one would help, and about how it wasn't safe for the electric company to help the cat. Hello?! Flip a switch, turn off the power for a few minutes, go up in a bucket, and when you're done, turn the power back on. As I said, the company finally agreed to help and no one was harmed in the rescue.

    That was the first story my search turned up. Scanning down the headlines, I found stories about people arrested for killing and/or abusing cats. I found stories about efforts to strengthen laws against animal abuse, which would be a good thing, but it still reminds me that sick people are deliberately hurting defenseless animals all the time. I saw stories about people debating how to handle feral cat populations, about a cat that tested positive for rabies, about a woman sent to jail for animal cruelty. It just breaks my heart.

    Finally, I found a nice story, about a brave cat who helps dogs find new homes.

    KRQE.com

    Harley just retired from Animal Humane New Mexico. For the past three years, he has been helping determine which dogs that come through the adoption center can get along with cats. First, the dogs would visit Harley while he was safe in his carrier. If the dogs behaved, Harley stepped out of the safety zone and met the mutt face to face. Dogs who passed both tests were cleared to go to new homes that had cats in the family. The others had a note put in their file that they would not play well with felines. The process helps ensure that adopted dogs and their new families have a good experience. Three human years is over twenty cat years, so Harley has definitely earned his retirement, and he is now joining the ranks of the cats looking for a new forever home to live out his days.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Win with CrazyKittyChick!

    If you don't win, Amazon has a great price.
    As a cat lover, I enjoy watching movies with cats in them, and here's a good one: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It's the third movie (and book) in the Harry Potter series, and it introduces the character Crookshanks. He's Hermione's familiar, as it were, and while some of the character's think he's grumpy and mean, it turns out that he's much wiser than they are giving him credit for.

    Last month, I was lucky enough to win Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Ultimate Edition DVD. Not only did I win one copy, the company gave me two copies, so I could share one with a friend. The people I know who like Harry Potter already have the movie, so I have decided to share it by having a giveaway.

    First, let me tell you a little about this boxed set, because it's much more than the movie.  Here's a list of the extras included in this 3-disc set:
    • Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 3: Magical Creatures
    • Tour Nick Dudman’s Creature Shop
    • An Interview in Spanish with Alfonso Cuarón
    • 3 Vintage TV Specials
    • Additional Scenes
    • Creating the Vision: Interview with J.K. Rowling and the Filmmakers
    • Conjuring a Scene: Creating Buckbeak and the Dementors for the Screen
    • Johnny Vaughan and the Shrunken Head Lead Raucous Interviews with the Cast
    • Self-Guided Tours of Honeydukes and Professor Lupin’s Classroom
    • Meet the Animal Trainers in Care of Magical Creatures
    • 3 Challenges/Games
    • 48-Page Creatures Photo Book with Rare Images from Years 1-7
    • Year 3 Lenticular Card
    • Two in a Series of Character Cards: Hermione Granger & Sirius Black 
    If you're a fan of the Harry Potter series, if you love special effects, or if you're amazed by the work of animal actors, you'll enjoy these extra features. Here's how you can be entered to win:

    MANDATORY ENTRY: Leave a comment on this post telling me what is your favorite movie with a cat in it and why. If your email is not visible on your GFC profile, please leave it in your comment.

    EXTRA ENTRIES: For each item you complete, leave another comment here and be sure to include the link to your tweets.

    *follow CrazyKittyChick on Twitter (+1)
    *tweet this message:  Enter to win Harry Potter 3 Ultimate DVD set from @crazykittychick http://crazykittychick.blogspot.com/2011/01/win-with-crazykittychick.html (+1 daily)

    (Through 1/13 you could earn an extra entry by voting for my video in the CBS/Big Bang Theory
    Soft Kitty video contest, however round 1 voting is now over and I didn't make the finals.)

    Eligible comments must be made no later than 11:59pm ET on January 22, 2011. Entrants must be 18 or older, with shipping addresses in the United States or military APO/FPO addresses. One winner will be selected by random drawing on January 23 and notified by email. Winner must respond to this email with mailing address within 72 hours or another winner will be selected. DVD set will be sent media mail.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Please Vote for My Soft Kitty

    UPDATE: VOTING IS OVER.*


    That's me, singing "Soft Kitty" to my cat Kali. She is not amused. I taped this at about 1:30 Thursday morning. See, I'd just found out about The Big Bang Theory Soft Kitty Contest over at CBS.com, and I really needed to get some sleep, and there wouldn't be any time in the morning and entries had to be submitted by 2pm, while I was still at work.

    Sheldon, Penny and Leonard
    Have you seen The Big Bang Theory? It's about these four friends, who are nerdy physicists, and they make lots of science fiction movie-comic book comments that I can relate to. It's hilarious. Anyway, in one episode, one of the nerdy guys, Sheldon, is sick, and the normal girl next door, Penny, is roped into taking care of him, and he asks her to sing to him, a song his mother used to sing to him when he was sick, "Soft Kitty." He proceeds to teach her the song and makes her sing it to him over and over. It's come up in at least a couple of other episodes, too; at this point, we've seen all of seasons 1 & 2 on DVD, and we're watching some of season 4 at CBS.com.

    So, somehow I totally miss seeing the contest on the CBS website until hours before the deadline to enter. I grabbed my Flip Mino and tried to round up a cat to sit in my lap. I'm a terrible mommy and Kali is my favorite, so I really wanted it to be her. She sat at one end of the couch on the floor, and I sat on the other end and cajoled her. I sang "Soft Kitty" and her eyes drooped sleepily.

    "Yes," I said, "That would be so perfect, Kali, if you would just sit in my lap!" I reached for her and she flinched like I was the mean overseer at the orphanage in Oliver! I reached for her again, and she leaped up onto the back of the couch. "Good enough, Kali. Just sit there." And that's how this video was made.


    In a perfect world, I would have had more time. I could have put on make-up and worn something nice instead of wrapping a blanket around my nightgown. My husband would have held the camera. I could have set up something cute, like waiting for all the cats to fall asleep on the couch, getting a more accommodating one to sit on my lap and purr while I sang. Then I would have set the cat beside me, stood up and said, "I'll be right back, don't take my spot," and of course, the cat would have taken over my spot the instant I left.

    I should say, in case you haven't seen the show, that Sheldon is very particular, almost OCD, about his spot on the couch. It freaks him out if anyone else sits there. So, that would have been really cute, and then I would have come up with a better title for the video, too. See, it said "caption" instead of "title" and I was tired, and then after I submitted the video and laid down to sleep, it came to me that I should have given the video a really cute physics kind of name, like the titles of the episodes of the show. Something like "The Trickster Tachyon" (Trickster's a good lap cat) or "The Kali Corollary." Alas.

    Is the video my best work. No, but I hope you'll vote for me anyway. I really love The Big Bang Theory, and the prize is a trip to L.A. and a chance to visit the set. Yes, it's very geeky of me, but that's what The Big Bang Theory is all about.  To vote, all you have to do is type in the verification code on the left side of the screen and click VOTE NOW FOR THIS VIDEO.

    The first round of voting ended January 13, and unfortunately for me, I was not a finalist.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for my video!

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Kick that Scratching Habit

    Actually, this isn't about stopping your cat from scratching at all. It's about redirecting them from furniture and doorframes to appropriate cat furniture.

    Cornell University's Veterinary College has prepared a series of short videos about cats and scratching. Titled Managing Destructive Scratching Behavior, the videos cover why cats scratch, how to choose the right scratching post, and proper claw maintenance. Each video is only a couple of minutes long, and they offer some useful tips. Although, they did not explain how to get your cat to sit still for the clippers; the cat they used is definitely not normal. Or, maybe mine are the abnormal ones. Hmmm.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Welcome to My World

    My cats are in tune with Stanley. When they think it's time for mommy to go to bed (or more like, time for mommy to give them their midnight snack), they climb under the desk, play with the power cables, climb on the desk, and try to help me type faster.



    What do your cats do to get your attention?

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Make Your Own Cat Furniture

    Cat furniture is expensive, and it can also take up a lot of room. Who wouldn't love to give their cat(s) one of those huge climbing tree-scratching post-condo toys? Money and available space may make that prohibitive.

    Here's a great idea that doesn't take up much room. It's a project posted on IKEA Hackers, a website devoted to the re-purposing of IKEA products.

    Grace in Philadephia used black and red Lack shelves to make a series of "stepping stones" on her wall. She adhered non-skid shelf paper to the shelves, so the cat wouldn't slip jumping from one to the other. The cat can sit on the small shelves or use them as steps to climb up to the wider shelf above the door.

    You can find complete instructions and another photo at IKEA Hackers.

    Have you made your own cat furniture? Please share your space- and money-saving tips here at Crazy Kitty Chick.