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.

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 (+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 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:, 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.

    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 (+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


    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, 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

    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.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Lucky Cats

    On New Year's Day I always think about good fortune. That's mainly because my Pap-pa, Hoyt Cook, always said that for every black-eyed pea you eat on New Year's Day, you'll receive a dollar in the coming year. I figure it's worth more now. After all, the website Dollar Times says that a 1934 dollar, adjusted for inflation, will buy $16.36 cents worth of stuff today. Or maybe $16.36 today will buy a dollar's worth of stuff. That's more like it.

    Anyway, that's why I eat a lot of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day and think about good fortune while I'm doing it.

    Cats are associated with good luck, too. If you live in the U.S., you may have heard that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck, but in Britain, that's good luck; it meant that the witch or her animal familiar didn't have a grudge with you. One story has it that the first King Charles had a black cat that he loved dearly and considered his good luck charm. When the cat died, he mourned its loss, saying his luck had run out, and the next day he was arrested.

    In Russia, blue cats are thought to be lucky, and bringing a cat along when you move into a new home is said to bring good fortune. In Canada, tricolor cats (aka tortoiseshell-and-white) are considered good luck. Calico cats like Misha (right) are a type of tortoiseshell cat.

    In China, any old ugly cat is considered lucky. Since cats are considered food in China, a cat that manages to survive into old age would certainly be lucky.

    In some parts of Europe, a cat who enters a house of its own free will is said to bring good luck with it. Buddhists traditionally believed that dark-colored cats attracted gold and light-colored cats attracted silver. In Japan, calico cats are good luck, and the Maneki Niko (left), a tricolor cat depicted with its paw raised in welcome, is said to attract good luck and money.

    Whether you believe in these myths and superstitions or not, cat lovers know that at the heart of all these stories you find the good luck that comes from having a cat share your life, bringing laughter, joy, and happiness to their human families.