Friday, November 30, 2007

More about Christmas trees

I found an article on WikiHow about cat-proofing Christmas trees, which you can read here. It's basically the same stuff I put in my last post, but it might be worth a read if you're having problems.

I also came across this picture:

The caption was "Beagle proofed tree". Hooray for beagles! :-) Picture courtesy of momthebarbarian.

Christmas kitty

Courtesy of Cute Overload... I thought this picture was especially cute!!

I need to get more pictures of my kitties.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cats and christmas trees

Sorry, Lindsey and Beth for being a little late with my response.

To be honest - don't hate me - but I've never had a problem with my cats and Christmas trees. I've had 6 cats in my lifetime, and the only trouble we had was with my first cat Misty. She was two months old her first Christmas, and she climbed up into our (artificial) tree and knocked it over! Hehe But after that she never bothered with it.

We always put more breakable ornaments up high (or not on the tree at all), and made sure the ornaments near the bottom were fairly kitty-safe. My current cats tried to climb the tree during their second Christmas with me (age 15 months), and they got slightly tangled in the beaded garland and got out of there as fast as possible! They've never touched the tree since.

Since I don't have much personal advice there, I looked up some advice on websites. :-) I found a pretty good site here and another one here.

The biggest thing you have to worry about is NO TINSEL around cats. I've mentioned before that once a cat gets string into its mouth, he HAS to swallow it. Tinsel will cut up the kitty's tummy and that's not good. :-( So avoid that stuff.

Using a water bottle for discipline is an option, for the cats that respond to squirts of water. You can try the whole negative reinforcement. Spray water, make loud noises, etc. whenever the kitty goes up the tree. Praise her, give treats, rub her head when she comes down from the tree. One person mentioned putting cans of coins on the bottom branches so whenever the kitty hit them, it would rattle and scare the kitty. I think this would only work for certain cats though.

Try putting aluminum foil on the ground beneath the tree and/or at the base. Apparently some cats don't like walking on it! In the second link, someone said: "Another thing you can try is that clear plastic runner matting you can use to protect carpets ... arranged upside down around the base of the tree. It has little plastic pointy things on the bottom and *most* cats will avoid stepping on it." That's a great idea.

You can get no-chew spray (called "Bitter Apple") at a petstore. We had this for our dog. Again, this would depend on the cat, but I could see how they would not like the smell! Try spraying that on the bottom of the tree, and especially the electric cords. I also read that cats hate orange scent too, so you could try hanging orange peels or using orange cleaning products.

I think that a LOT of it depends on the cat and the age of the cat. Some cats are just wild and crazy - Beth's cats, for example. :-) Paul's first cat - Chipi - was that way too. He said they just gave up on trying to keep Chipi out of the tree, and avoiding putting breakable ornaments up. If your cat is just a hyper kitten then it might be something he or she will grow out of. Hopefully, for your sake! :-)

Camping with a puppy

We had the privilege of going camping with Jera three times. I actually really enjoyed camping with her. Here are some of the things I learned:

1. Don't worry about bringing a whole lot of camping gear for the puppy. We lugged Jera's crate with us the first time, only to not use it at all. We also brought toys for her to play with, but she was more interested in pinecones and sticks. We did bring rawhides for her to chew on, her food and water bowl, and food.

2. For the food: We put each meal's serving in a little baggie. That way, I didn't have to measure anything out. I put all the baggies in a large ziploc to keep the freshness. Jera actually ate very little when we went camping. Not sure why. She was more interested in burying her food. (Just ask Joanna!)

3. Get a stake. I know people are skeptical that I'm still an advocate of the stake, since that's how Jera got away from us. However, I don't know how you could go camping without it unless there were lots of people. I'm pretty sure with just the two of us, it would be impossible for us to set up a tent while holding onto her leash. Make sure the stake is firmly planted to the ground, never leave the dog unattended, and keep an eye on the dog so he/she doesn't tangle himself.

4. Whenever someone goes to use the restroom try to take the dog with you. We found this out the first time we went camping with our family. There were seven people total. We realized that Jera needed more exercise than we were giving her, so whenever a group would head to the bathrooms (about a half a mile walk), they took the dog. She got lots of exercise this way! Of course, she wasn't allowed IN the bathrooms, so someone would have to wait outside, but all the walking was good for her.

5. Always look for ticks. We pulled ticks off Jera during every camping trip. Bring rubbing alcohol and tweezers for their removal.

6. If possible, bring an extra sleeping bag with you just in case. You never know when your puppy might walk into the tent and promptly squat on your sleeping bag. Trust me.

7. Have fun with your puppy! We certainly did. Jera did really well camping - she slept on our sleeping bags with us, she loved the outside air and the hikes. We will miss her next summer when we go camping again!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meeting neighbors

I wrote this for my parents' newsletter last spring.

The best way to meet your neighbors is to get a dog.

Our new puppy was a whiner - she didn’t like being left alone. She especially hated when Paul left for work before dawn without petting her. I would lay awake in bed for an hour after he left, unable to sleep because of her pitiful cries. After a few days of this, she got better, but I knew some apologies had to be made.

I hadn’t really talked to my neighbors much, but when I knocked on their door to say sorry for my loud puppy at unearthly hours of the morning, they were as nice and friendly as can be. They had a dog too, they understood what puppies are like. Since then, we’ve often met outside - walking our dogs, always stopping to say hi and exchange pleasantries. We even got our dogs to play together although her golden retriever is a bit big for our beagle puppy. We meet other neighbors as we walk our dog throughout the complex, and throughout our area of the city. We meet other citizens when we go downtown and walk our dog around there. We recognize the smile that people flash when they see a puppy, and we love to answer their questions. The fresh air is good for all of us, energizes us. The exercise means that we can put our hoodia diet pills back in the cabinet.

We’ve met people at the dog park, too. We go there a lot to let our dog run. We see the same people there, know their dogs. As we stand and watch them play, we talk about things. It’s fun. We realize we don’t know anyone’s names - only the names of their dogs. It’s a community, though. A community of dogs and their owners.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New kittens

Lindsey asked a great question in a previous post and I thought I'd copy my answer here. She said:
I would love to ask you a question. I am going to be getting 2 kittens very soon (they are my parents' Christmas present to me - as soon as I find two that I love, they're coming home with me), and I am so excited! I do have one concern though, and from this post I think you might be able to help. I am a full time graduate student and I also have a part time job. As a result, I am often not home for large chunks of time during the day. This is one of the main reasons that I want to get 2 - so that they will have each other. Do you have any suggestions for how to keep them behaving when I'm gone and how to make the most of my time with them when I am home? I'd love to know how you handled this!

When I first got my kittens, I was still living with my parents, though I was gone from the house 60+ hours a week. My parents also both worked full-time, so my kittens were alone quite a bit. When they were 7 months old I moved to my own apartment and worked a normal 40 hour a week job. I found that they behaved quite nicely as long as I kept the apartment kitten-proofed! I would say maybe confine your kittens to a certain room until you feel comfortable knowing what they can get into. For example, I found that my kittens loved knocking things off surfaces. So - all the stuff I kept on top of my dresser was put in a drawer. Be especially careful if you have breakable things! Don't leave string around - because of their sandpaper tongues, it's very hard for a kitten to spit it back out again. Any time I have had string laying around my cats have ingested it and then returned it a few days later - in a more disagreeable manner! Even if you don't want to let your cats on the kitchen counters, keep them clean of food and dirty dishes so your cats don't have a reason to jump up. Also, make sure their cat food is very secure and don't leave a bag of cat food lying around! My cats will chew through ANY bag of cat food within hours. :-) Oh and one other thing - if you can, make sure to clear a spot in front of a window where they can watch the world go by. My cats can sit for hours in front of the window. I found I always have to open the blinds in the mornings or my cats would go THROUGH them! I put a nice little table in front of my window and they loved that. The best part was they could watch for me to come home.

As far as making the most of your time with them, I guess just play with them and cuddle with them as you can. The more you play with them as kittens, the healthier they'll be and the more active they'll be as adults. Laser pointers are excellent for playing with kitties. I'm glad you're getting 2! :-) After having two I would never go back to having only one. I love to love on my cats, so I am more interested in the cuddling than in the playing, unfortunately! (Which is probably why my cats have always tended to be rather sedentary!) I rarely push them away when they come to me, and I always try to keep a lap open for them. I also pick them up a lot and squeeze them, but not every cat will tolerate that.

I hope this helps! Let me know when you get your kitties! Mine were a Christmas present from my parents, too.

Cats sleep anywhere

My cat, Ebony, loves getting in things. Boxes, baskets, drawers - whatever it is, she wants inside. We had a box lid laying on the floor of our apartment for a while, and she loved to go over and crouch inside it. I should have taken a picture!

The other day I was putting away my clothes in the dresser. I had my... er, fine lingerie drawer open, and she (of course) crawls in. I left the drawer open, but she didn't come out and I needed the drawer below the open one. So, I closed the top drawer and opened the one underneath and to my surprise, there she was! I guess she had gone back and crawled down.

One book I really love is called Cats Sleep Anywhere. It's a child's picture book with beautiful illustrations of all the random places cats will curl up. I love it because I can see my cats sleeping in random places too!

So, if you're looking for a nice kids' book for someone, I highly recommend that one. :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kittens are so cute

This weekend I was talking to my best friend, Beth, about her new kitten. Ah the days of kittenhood! They are wild and crazy at that stage, aren't they?

I got my current cats Christmas of 2004 when they were 14 weeks old. At that time, I was working long hours, starting at 3pm and getting home anytime between midnight and 3am. I would be so, so tired in the morning (I usually got up around noon). My kittens would awake early, and want to play with me. Ebony would knead her paws - claws out! - on my body, purring very loudly and squeezing her eyes. Then they would get to chasing each other, running ellipticals on top of me. One morning, I woke up at 6am to the Indy 500 being held on my mattress. In my sleepy state, I stumbled to the door, opened it, and said, "Out! Out!" Then, I went back to bed.

When I woke up for real later that morning, I laughed at how I thought my cats might stop if I just said, "Out!" I don't remember them bothering me anymore!

Ah I miss the days of kittenhood. I don't miss the crazy wild playing though. :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

There must be some mistake

Looks like she's doing just fine

Ah, Zoey. With a stick of course. :-) I can just picture her, running around with that in her mouth!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Why you should get a dog

Just because I don't have a puppy anymore doesn't mean that I'm going to stop posting about puppy things. :-) I think 2 of my 3 readers are dog people, so Must Appease the Masses. (Actually, I think ALL my readers are dog people now that I think about it. Perhaps I should start JUST posting about puppies. :-))

So, for those of you who struggle with health problems, I may have the answer for you! Joanna sent me this article which proves the benefit of animals!

Researchers say that owning a dog can lower your blood pressure. Think what this means. A hug to Rover may soothe your cardiovascular system more than a fistful of ACE inhibitors. A simple snuggle with Spot? Bring on the endorphins and sayonara to stress hormones.

Imagine if dogs found their way into the pharmaceutical marketplace. You might browse the PDR (Physicians Drug Reference) and see Canis familiaris under the generic listing for Prozac, as pooches, too, fight depression. Airlines might suggest passengers pack their pups in their carry-on luggage instead of sending them through as baggage.

Read the rest of the article here.

I found that having an animal (in my case, it was a fish) really helped me a ton when I was feeling somewhat depressed in college. (This wasn't by any means a clinical depression, but I was definitely more down than up.) Getting a fish for me meant giving me something to take care of, something was depending on me for food and care. Getting a fish REALLY pulled me out of my dark mood. It's funny how it was just a fish, yet was all that.

And DON'T get me started on cats... ;-)

See, aren't animals better than the traditional retail-therapy? Just getting a new car or a tv mount for my flatscreen TV or the latest wardrobe wouldn't do anything of these things. Yay for pets!

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to tell...

I got this as an email forward from my dad, so I can't attribute the picture to the photographer (sorry!).


I would hate to be that little bird. I wonder if he got dinner that night. Perhaps the mom has bad eyesight? Perhaps the mom was just using him as strength equipment? Perhaps he had been bad and this is his punishment? You never know how birds discipline their young.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


I got an email today from Zoey's new owner.

Hey Ashley,

Zoey is doing great. She fits right in to our family. She is a very happy pup. I will send you some pictures in a couple of weeks. She loves the kids. Hope you guy's are doing OK. Thanks again for giving us Zoey.


I am glad she's fitting in so well! But I miss her. :-(

Monday, November 12, 2007

A little close to home

This comic made me a little sad... (click to make bigger)

I wonder where Jera is these days?

Dead kitty

If you like kitties, especially sleeping kitties, and especially sleeping Bengal kitties, here is a must-watch video!

Hat-tip: Cute Overload

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cats in my wedding

wedding cake topper
Originally uploaded by twentysixcats
When I was planning my wedding, I knew I wanted to have cats involved somehow. After much searching on the Internet, I found the perfect thing. A wedding cake topper of two kitties, giving each other affectionate glances and their tails entwined to look like a heart. It was exactly what I was looking for. My friend Susan even jokes that the one cat had orangeish-reddish fur resembling my hair, and the other one had dark fur resembling Paul's hair. That was on purpose. ;-)

It was actually really hard to find a cat wedding cake topper. I found only one or two others, and all were Japanese style which didn't really fit what I was looking for. I could have had one custom made, but that wasn't worth the cost. I was afraid I would have to resign to just making the shape of a cat using wedding flowers or something! :-) I'm glad I found this one.

It now sits proudly displayed in our living room. That's another thing I love about our cake topper - I can use it as a decoration without it looking silly and obviously a cake topper.

Zoey in Orlando

Zoey in Orlando
Originally uploaded by twentysixcats
For more Zoey pictures, check out my photo album here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Animals in the news

Joanna sent me this article about animal heroes. Quoting from the article:

When Debbie Parkhurst choked on a piece of apple at her Maryland home, her dog jumped in, landing hard on her chest and forcing the morsel to pop out of her throat. When the Keesling family of Indiana was about to be overcome by carbon monoxide, their cat clawed at wife Cathy's hair until she woke up and called for help. For their nick-of-time acts, Toby, a 2½-year-old golden retriever, and Winnie, a gray-striped American shorthair, were named Dog and Cat of the Year by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

This article gave me warm fuzzy feelings all over. See, it's good to have animals around! Now, if I could only teach my cat to use a wall sconce to scare off any potential robbers...

Monday, November 5, 2007

So I decided

The decision is made. Please don't hate me. :-(

UPDATE: I took down the Craigslist post because I think we found a good home for Zoey!! It was up for 14 hours and already I got 3 responses. I contacted one and this morning talked to him on the phone for almost half an hour. When I was done, I felt very confident that this would be a really good home for her. We are meeting them on Saturday. So, you can pray that God continues to direct us and that He will somehow stop us if this isn't a good home for Zoey! I will have more details later, after Saturday.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Cat therapy

It happens all too often.

Sometimes it's sudden, sometimes it's gradual. But, before I know it, my head is pounding. I try to massage my temples, which eases the pain for a little bit, but does nothing in the long run. I take two Excedrin Migraine pills, which do help, but it always takes a little time for them to set in.

In the meantime, I try to avoid all lights and loud sounds. I crawl into my room, as dark as I can make it, and snuggle under the warm blankets.

And then - I call out for the best headache treatment I know of. "Lewis! Ebony!" In just a few seconds, I can hear a pitter-patter of little feet and the jangle of tags on a collar. A black head and a black and white head appear at the end of my bed. I pet them, rubbing their soft fur until they purr. They curl up at my feet, or on my legs, and I lay back and let their warm bodies relax me. Hopefully, I fall asleep quickly, to wake up later feeling refreshed and renewed.

That's what works for me. :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Raisin the alarm

(I must admit, I stole the title from Snopes.)

I got this email today, and I checked it out and apparently it's true. You can read more about it here. And be sure to keep raisins and grapes away from your puppy!


This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1AM on Wednesday but the owner didn't call my emergency service until 7AM.

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute Renal failure but hadn't seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet, and the doctor there was like me - had heard something about it, but.... Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give IV fluids at 1 times ma! intenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours.

The dog's BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 ( 1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney
function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids. At the point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care.

He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values have continued to incr ease daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn't control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220. He continued to vomit and the owners elected to euthanize.

This is a very sad case - great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk.

Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats including our ex-handler's. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern.

Laurinda Morris, DVM
Danville Veterinary Clinic
Danville , Ohio