Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cat fights

Continuing on with memories of Misty...

Misty loved the outdoors. We had bars on all our windows, as was common in Peru, and so we'd keep the window open a little so she could slip in and out through the bars. She loved to be on the prowl. She ran away once, when she was still young, and we found her a few days later. Oh those were very tough days! I remember being SO happy when we found her!

Like I said, I was only 10 when we got her. She was my responsibility and I took my duties very seriously. She was definitely my baby. In our backyard we had a grape arbor, where neighborhood cats liked to meet in the midnight moonlight. Misty was no exception. We often found her walking around up there, at all times of the day.

One evening I remember waking up to cat yowls and screams - the sounds of a fight! I peeked out my bedroom window, and in the dim landscape lighting I could just make out the shape of some kitties on the grape arbor. I was convinced it was Misty, and I was worried that she'd get hurt or killed. I ran to my parents' room and woke up my dad. He graciously followed me downstairs to "rescue Misty".

As we entered the living room, my dad paused by the couch and said, "Ashley, here she is." Sure enough, there on the couch lay Misty, completely comfortable and unharmed. I was so relieved. I felt bad for dragging my dad out of bed in the middle of the night, though!

Friday, September 28, 2007

My very first kitty

I got my first cat when I was 10. I had wanted a cat for a long time, but we moved around so much that I couldn't get one. Finally, in 1993, my parents said we were settled enough for me to get a kitty. I remember my mom had me call on "free kitten" ads in the newspaper. I didn't speak much Spanish, but my mom helped me write out a little script of what to say on the phone. I called a few places who didn't have kittens anymore, and then I called the last one. She had kittens! I was so excited, that I completely forgot all the Spanish I knew. I didn't know what to say, so I gave the phone to my mom. I'm sure she loved that. ;-)

We picked up Misty in November of 1993. She was only 6 weeks old, and a cute little grey tabby. I named her after the horse in the book "Misty of Chincoteague", which was a favorite of mine at the time. Ah, the memories! I loved having a kitty and taking care of her. She lived with us until 1996 when we were unable to bring her with us when we moved countries. She passed away in 2000 from feline leukemia.

By the way, fun fact about me: I was a horse-lover until 7th grade, when I realized my love for cats. I was a huge fan of Marguerite Henry, writer of many horse books. Her most famous take place in Chincoteague, an island off of the Virginia coastline. They are famous for their wild horses, and the "Pony Penning Day" that takes place there every year. One of these days I'd love to see that. Perhaps stay at a nice Virginia bed and breakfast, relax with my husband, really live it up. Who knows, I may do it yet. :-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Overweight pets

Joanna, who is my resident link-sender passed on this CNN article earlier this week. It's an article entitled "Are you 'loving' your pet into an early grave?" and about people who overfeed their pets.
It's common for people to show their pets love by giving them a lot of food and snacks. They pour on the treats, not realizing that one dog biscuit can be 100 calories. They let cats and dogs feast on the fat of their rib-eye steaks and other scraps from the dinner table.

"A lot of owners think their pets are suffering if they aren't getting table scraps and treats," Yee says. "But dogs don't need people food; they're perfectly happy with their own food."

The article talks about how overweight pets suffer many physical problems, including the possibility of early death. This kinda scared me!

I have struggled myself with an overweight cat, Lewis. I feed him the vet recommended amount of good quality "light" food. Yet, Lewis seems to walk round with a pocket of flubber hanging from his belly. It used to be a lot worse; he's looking much better now. I decided that he's never going to be thin, and that I just need to try my hardest that he doesn't get any heavier. :-)

The article suggests two ways of telling if your pet is overweight: check to see if you can feel their ribs (but you shouldn't be able to see them), and they should have an hourglass shape when looking down at them from above (the waist tucks in right in front of the hips). It's probably a good idea to always keep an eye on your animal to make sure he's not gaining too much weight. Also, make sure you're not feeding your animal table scraps and other food made for humans.

Now, if you find that you want to build an outdoor kitchen to accommodate your pets' eating habits, you might want to reevaluate your own overfeeding of your animal. :-)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Today I have to hide in this post the phrase "pulse oximeter". I suppose if I sat down and thought for a long time, I could come up with a great pet-related post that used that term not out-of-place. But, I am tired. Life catches up to you and I have no energy to figure it out.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch. Zoey turns 4 months old on Saturday. She has gotten into this new habit that cracks me up. When her water bowl is empty, she picks it up and carries it to me. It reminds me of Snoopy. I think it's really cute. I'll have to get a picture of her next time she does that!

(Of course, I have to say that after she carries it to me, she begins to chew on it. Not so cute!)

Also, Lewis and Zoey have started playing together. It's cute too. More pictures, note to self.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Visit your local shelter!

The first time I went to get a dog, we went to a pet store. I would never do that again - for reasons that are another post. I would encourage anyone who is looking for a dog to check out their local shelters first. If you are in Atlanta, one I recommend is Atlanta Pet Rescue. They have all sorts of dogs and cats, a good variety of breeds and ages. If you are looking for a particular breed, all you have to do is wait and be patient.

Another option is finding a pet through Craigslist. This is where I found my dog, Zoey. Craigslist is more individuals who are giving away their pets due to various reasons - not enough time to spend with the pet, health issues, moving, etc. One entry I read was about an owner who was about to enter drug treatment and wanted to make sure his pet had a good home. Craigslist can be great also if you want an animal other than a dog or cat. Again, you have to be patient but it's worth it when the one you want comes along! You can also check it for pet supplies, like cages.

A lot of people want puppies, but there are good reasons to consider getting an older dog, especially if you've never owned a dog before. Older dogs are less hyper, you can better tell their personalities, and you don't have to deal with potty-training issues as much. Of course, the advantage of puppies is that you can shape them to a certain extent through exposure to various things at a young age.

As for cats, I personally love kittens and probably wouldn't go for an older cat. However, older cats need homes too and they have their advantages. Like dogs, you can see what their personality will be like and they'll be less wild and destructive. While kittens are really cute, they can also be really annoying when they want to play Chase the Toes in the middle of the night. :-) (Or, if they're like anything like my cats, they'll want to either hold races around your bed or they'll want to purr loudly and knead their sharp claws on your stomach. In the middle of the night, of course.)

So, next time you are in the market for an animal be sure to check out your local shelter!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Finding a vet

When I moved to Atlanta a few years ago, I knew I needed to find a good vet for my two kitties. I asked my boss, who has two dogs, for a recommendation, and she pointed me to one that was practically next door that they used.

I went there a total of three times. I wasn't too impressed, especially after he told me that he had brought his cat in that day to be declawed. The cat apparently was tearing up the new furniture. I was skeptical - what vet declaws his cat because of furniture? But, I like giving people the benefit of the doubt so I said nothing. Then he told me my cat Lewis weighed 8 pounds. I was curious about that - Lewis was (and is!) a little fatso and I knew 8 pounds was way too light. (I was right. A second opinion later told me he was actually 11 pounds.) The thing that clinched it though was when I brought Lewis in for a urine sample, and I was asked to leave him for the day because his bladder was empty. I picked him up at the end of the day, and he was so out of it. He wouldn't eat (NOT like Lewis at all), was all dopey and couldn't even make it to the litter box. I called the vet, concerned. The vet assured me that Lewis hadn't been given any medication. I decided to see a new vet.

A year or so later, my boss happened to ask me if I was still seeing the vet they had recommended. I admitted no, and told them the story. They then told me how the had their own problems with the vet - how he tacked on all these extra fees, didn't do what he charged them for, and was overall more concerned about the money than the wellbeing of the animals. He drove his luxury car, with his custom hubcaps and fancy billet grille, and kept the office in disrepair. I could definitely see where they were coming from.

Last week, I was surprised to see that vet made the news. I'm not going to comment on this particular case, but I thought it was interesting. Apparently, the vet was treating a dog, and tacked on these extra fees that the owner couldn't pay. So, the vet was holding the dog until the owner paid up. Because of my negative experience with this vet, I wasn't too surprised. I'm so glad this didn't happen to me. It goes to show you how important it is to find a good vet.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Wild animals and the government

Joanna sent me this article entitled "Bambi vs. the Bureaucrats: Oregon Seizes Pet Deer, Controversy Erupts". It was pretty interesting, and I finished the article not really sure where I stood on the issue.

An excerpt:
Had he been a hunter, and had the mottled white doe that tumbled down a hill into his rural Oregon driveway six years ago been an adult, Jim Filipetti could have ponied up $19, applied for a deer tag and gunned the animal down. He could have butchered the deer the state now knows as "Snowball," mounted her head on the wall and moved on with his life.

But Filipetti chose to raise the injured fawn as a pet, spending thousands of dollars on veterinarian bills to treat her deformed hooves, installing strips of carpet throughout his house so she wouldn't slip on the hardwood floors, and feeding her a steady diet of sweetpeas, tomatoes and green beans—"the best that Safeway had to offer," he says. After 12 months, the house painter moved her to a pen outside his home in Molalla, Ore., but she was still a member of the family. "It was like having a dog around the house," Filipetti says.

Of course, my first thought is "Oooh the government needs to stop meddling in our personal freedoms!" When is it more legal to shoot a deer than nurse it back to health? Are we really trying to protect life, or just make everyone robots?

The article goes on to present the flip side of the situation:
[State officials] still insist Filipetti's kindness was misplaced. Approaching wild animals is a bad idea because the well-intentioned are likely to get hurt, says Rick Hargrave, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife. "If they say 'Oh, gosh, the doe has gotten too big, we need to release it,' the doe will go to extremes to get fed. It'll break down fences and break into a house," Hargrave says. "A buck will grow antlers and attack." There's also a risk of catching diseases from wild animals, Hargrave adds.

This isn't the first time a kind-hearted, misguided Oregonian has tried to heed the call of the wild. Last year, an 11-year-old girl in the coastal city of Waldport suffered a bruised skull and jaw after the deer her family had adopted after it was hit by a car decided to turn on the child, pinning her against a fence. And in 2005, state officials discovered a black bear in the home of a Roseburg man. The bear had been living there for years, it turns out, eating people food, even sleeping in a bed made for humans. A dozen times in the past year and a half, Hargrave says, state officials have had to remove wild animals from people's homes.

Now I don't know what to think. I wish that we could all enjoy wildlife and do what's best for it, and have the freedom to do so. However, I do understand that you can't always trust people to act in the animal's best interests. So, I am grateful that the government DOES step in for those cases. All this kinda reminds me of the controversy surrounding the cute polar bear, Knut.

What do you think about this? Do you think there should be regulations about wild animals and the people who take them in? Should you need a permit to do so? Or should animals be left to their own defenses in the wild, just letting nature to take its course?

(Oh and by the way, if you DO stop and pick up a deer off the side of the road, make sure you have a good truck bed liner or their hooves will scratch up the paint. Don't ask me how I know.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Dog-proofing your home

What you need to do to get ready for a new dog will really depend on what kind of household you have, the breed & size of the dog, and the age of your dog. We have brought home two different beagle puppies now, so I'll tell you what worked for us when we brought them home.

1. Start small. Don't worry about dog-proofing your entire home at first. :-) We started with the kitchen, since it was linoleum flooring.

2. Use baby gates. We have two, and we use them to keep our puppy within our sight no matter what room we are in. We also have a barrier rigged up with boxes and a trunk, because the space between the living and dining room was impossible to block off with a baby gate. We got some extra-tall ones because I had read that beagles jump, but I wish we had gotten regular height ones now. They are so annoying to get over!

3. Remove rugs & other soft things (if you can). Puppies seek out soft things to "do their business" - which is why they are more likely to go on the grass than on cement. And for now, don't get your puppy a pillow. We've had to throw away the pillow every time the puppy eliminates on it (because our dogs continued to return to the pillow to eliminate).

4. Watch electrical cords. Puppies love to chew on electrical cords. If you aren't using them, make sure they are out of your puppy's reach. Dangling cords are especially tantalizing. If you have to have them plugged in, see if you can pull the cord part up high. We've found our dog mostly goes for ones that are laying on the ground or dangling.

5. Remove any plants that would be poisonous to your dog. A list can be found here.

6. Clear off coffee tables and other things that are in reach of the dog. Just for now, until your puppy has calmed down. :-)

7. Remove or keep empty trash cans, especially bathroom, trash cans. This might be more of a phase thing, but our dog has recently been getting into the trash a lot.

8. Don't leave clothes or shoes lying around. Puppies love stuff with strong human scent. Examples: shoes, socks, underwear, shirts (especially sweaty ones).

9. Provide lots of fun chew toys for your puppy. Keep in mind that they are teething, and chewing helps reduce the pain they feel in their mouths. If you provide lots of alternatives to your furniture, they will be more likely to leave your stuff alone. Zoey has a kong, a couple plush toys with squeakers, two ropes, a rawhide, and a few other miscellaneous toys that she loves.

10. Don't let your puppy chew on household things. For example: socks, cardboard, plastic kitchen utensils. Even if you don't care that your puppy has it, it might confuse him later on about what is allowed and what isn't. We do give our dog empty 1/2 liter coke bottles, but that's it - all the other toys are hers only.

11. Don't forget to dog proof outside, too. Your puppy might find your teak outdoor furniture especially appealing when he has nothing else to chew!

12. Above all else: WATCH YOUR PUPPY! You will learn what he goes for by watching him, and that will be the best way to know how exactly you should dog proof. We never let our puppy run around the house when we're not able to watch her. If we have to do something - eat dinner, take a shower, sleep - then she goes in her crate. Between the two of us, she's out of her crate most of the time we're home.

You can also get a bitter apple spray that's supposed to keep puppies from wanting to chew, but we haven't been very successful with that. I hope that helps all you new puppy owners. :-) Check out Rocks In My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas!

In the interest of disclosure

You may have noticed that I've started to write more on this blog. I have signed up for PayU2blog, which is a way that I can earn some revenue through blogging. I really wanted to leave my main blog twentysixcats genuine and free from ads or sponsored posts. I didn't necessarily mind using this blog for it, however. I set up Google ads in the sidebar, but that hasn't been very profitable as of yet.

PayU2blog seemed to meet my needs a bit better. It's similar to sponsored posts, except instead of writing a whole post on a link, I am just including the link anywhere in my regular posts. The point is for the company to get their Page Rank up, so they will show up higher in Google searches. So, I have links and certain key words (like "truck rack") hidden in each of my posts. I have made them black to match the rest of the text so you don't get confused by them and links I have included for reasons that relate to the specific posts. I will also label each post with the word "links" so you can know. If you're interested in knowing more about this, you can ask me. Joanna @ Keeping Feet is also a good resource, as she has been doing it longer than me.

Being involved in PayU2blog will force me to write more often here. I hope to include a lot of the things I've learned from having animals in the past, as well as cute stories and pictures. And - of course - information about my own animals. All the information I write here is and will continue to be genuinely mine; if I write about a product or method then it will be because I endorse it, not because I was paid to do so. (If this changes, I will let you know.)

I hope this doesn't chase away the 3 or so readers of this blog. :-) If it chases you away, please let me know. I'd love to see this blog turn into a cool resource for pet owners! If you have questions or ideas about pets in general let me know!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Aww kitty

Kitty, please come down?

(Photo from

Zoey goes to the vet

Yesterday was Zoey's first vet visit!

The diagnosis: she is a healthy, happy puppy with a few minor things that need to be taken care of. They found a few parasites (apparently very common in puppies) and a slight infection in her left eye. I was given medication, and a follow-up appointment will be in 3 weeks.

Also, we started her on heartworm prevention and flea medication. This is something I never did with Jera; always meant to, but kept forgetting to call the vet. Then, on that last camping trip, I was chatting with a vet whole gently chastised me for not taking care of both of those things. I felt like a horrible pet owner, and made a mental note to call the vet as soon as we got back to Atlanta. Unfortunately, Jera ran away a few days later so we never did take care of that. It goes through my mind now that she is suffering out there with heartworms because I didn't have her on preventative medication. :-(

So, we started on heartworm treatment today. Anyone have recommendations as far as brands? The vet gave me Iverhart to try, and said I should let her know at the next appointment in 3 weeks if I want to stay with that brand or switch. The vet also gave me Frontline for the flea & tick control.

The last thing Zoey got yesterday was a microchip implant! That was a big needle, the poor little girl. Even the yummy treats the vet's assistant tried to distract her with wasn't enough. I am glad to have that taken care of, though. Even though having a microchip doesn't guarantee your pet's going to get home (Jera is a case in point), you can't imagine the peace of mind it gives you. We are also thinking of subscribing to a service that helps you when your pet goes missing by contacting vets in the area. That would have been so nice to have for Jera. It's only $15 a year, so I think it would be worth it, but I still need to talk to Paul.

So after all that, the vet bill was a little high yesterday! It didn't surprise me, but I wish that it wasn't so expensive to keep your pet healthy. Paul and I are trying to make a realistic budget that includes the cost of a dog. We had figured the cost to be about $500/year, but it's definitely more for the first year of a puppy's life (what with spaying/neutering, puppy shots, microchips, and start-up supplies needed). We'll see. :-) It all gets confusing - we may need financial consolidation software to keep all this as well as our loans straight!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Two kitties and an 8-hour journey

A few years ago, shortly after I moved to Atlanta, I got a new car. It was 7 years newer than my previous car, and in much better condition. I was so excited to get the new car that I decided to take a trip for the upcoming weekend - Memorial Day weekend. I decided to surprise my parents and go down to visit them in Orlando! But what to do with my two kitties? I was so new to Atlanta that I didn't really have anyone to ask to watch them. So, I decided to take them with me.

It was quite fun. I left Atlanta around 6pm Friday night, so most of the trip was after dark. Ebony cried the first half hour, and then curled up and was fine. Lewis seemed to think the back of my neck was a really awesome place to sleep. I let him stay there for a little while, but soon my neck began hurting and I made him move.

The most interesting part of the night was about 2am, when I hit the toll-booths on the Florida turnpike. Let me tell you it was very difficult to keep two kitties inside the car, while trying to find the correct change and hand the money to the toll booth attendant at the same time!

Ever since then, I have always brought my cats with me on my Orlando vacations. At one point, I asked my mom if she minded that they came with me, and she said, "Well let's put it this way: Never come without them." They do pretty well in the car. Next time we go down, however, we'll have both kitties as well as a puppy. It could be interesting. :-)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Winston gets a bath

Here is a video of Winston, the cat, being bathed. It's so incredibly precious, especially with the kiss on the top of the kitty's head after his bath. :-) Looks like he used a measuring cup from his cookware set so he wouldn't have to stick the cat under the faucet. Smart! (Make sure you turn up the sound, too.)

I was reading the comments, and it seems a lot of people are very critical about the owner for bathing his cat. That frustrates me. I had it when people are critical without knowing the whole story. Unfortunately, on the internet, there are too many people who know nothing yet feel compelled to share anyways. I don't know Winston's reasons for getting a bath (but, judging from his great behavior this isn't his first bath!), but there are several legitimate reasons to bathe a cat:

- Long-haired cats often need regular baths to keep their fur from become tangled and matted. I've never owned a long-haired cat, so I'm not sure how often or how it relates to regular brushing.

- Cats sometimes get dirty and can't or don't clean themselves. Paul and his roommate once took in an abandoned 2-week old kitten, and they had to bathe that cat often because he didn't know to do it himself.

- Bathing cats is an option for reducing allergies. I've heard that if you start bathing the cat regularly when it is young enough, then the cat will eventually stop licking itself so much. (And, most people are allergic to the saliva and not the actual hair.) Even if the cat doesn't stop licking itself, bathing still helps keep the allergies to a minimum.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

meet Zoey!

So, I realized I never posted about Zoey on this blog! I want to introduce the newest Puppy to fit the title "Two Kitties and a Puppy". :-) Below is the post I put on my other blog from August 11.

Today, Paul and I drove out to Douglasville to pick up a little addition to our family. I was struggling with a beagle-shaped hole in my heart, and I knew I needed to fill it. :-) May I present: Zoey!
Zoey is a 10 week old tri-color beagle puppy. She’s simply adorable! :-)

She immediately took to her crate and to the pillow we had for her. Right now, she is curled up in her crate sound asleep. I’m so glad! (She also looks adorable. I want to get a picture, but the camera is in the other room and you know she’s going to move as soon as I get up.)

Sleepy Zoey

Paul and Zoey
You can get an idea of her size here - she’s so tiny! Well, compared to Jera she is tiny. :-) She is smaller than the cats, and I’m hoping that plays to our advantage.


We picked the name Zoey after my favorite character on one of our favorite TV shows. Also, two of the members of the family where we got her from were named Kaila and Kylie, which put together make Kaylee. (I know, I make the most random connections!) This does NOT mean we’re going to name our daughter River.

I hope Zoey makes a good transition to our house, and the same for the cats getting used to her. I am so excited to take her on walks and go to the dog park, and play with her. I’ve missed having a dog! I think she’ll be a good playmate if Jera comes home, don’t you think?

More to come later.

a full house

This past week, my parents were visiting from Orlando. They brought their dog with them for the first time. It was quite a full house! 4 people, 2 cats, 2 dogs, and a fish... I felt quite overwhelmed but now that everyone's gone it seems so quiet.

My parents' dog is a spaniel mix named Spunky. We got her when she was 5 weeks old way back in February of 1998 - so she is almost 10 years old now. We got her so young because the people who owned her mother told us if we didn't take her then, they would give her away to someone else. Since free puppies are hard to come by in Peru, we took Spunky in. She was so cute and tiny, but she also suffered separation anxiety a lot. She cried and cried, especially when we weren't home, and drove our neighbors batty.

Spunky moved with us when we relocated permanently to the States in 2001. She changed a lot after being here. In Peru, she barked a lot and was antsy. We lived on a somewhat busy road with lots of cars and foot traffic, and we had a very tiny front yard. In the States, she had a yard to play in for the first time - how she loved getting her energy out! Also, since my parents' house is somewhat set back from the road, she isn't as distracted by people walking. She's much calmer and quieter. She loves to go sit in the driveway in the sun and watch the world go by.

My parents are traveling a lot this fall, so Spunky is going to be staying with us for a few months. It will be interesting! She loves the cats and the cats love her, especially Lewis. Zoey really wants to play, but Spunky isn't so sure (old woman!). I am excited to take Spunky to the off-leash dog park and see how she does!

So, it will be quite a full house this fall! I feel like I have 4 children. :-) I love taking care of animals, but I'm praying this doesn't sap all the energy out of me!