Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hello from Orlando

We've been here in Orlando this past week, enjoying some nice time off for Christmas. We brought Lewis and Ebony with us as we always do. My family loves having cats around again, and the kitties certainly love all the extra attention!

The best part about Orlando for the kitties is the huge porch off the back of my parents' house. It's nice and big, completely screened in. It overlooks the backyard which ends at a peaceful lake. There are birdfeeders and a birdbath in the backyard, which bring the birds, and lots of squirrels running around. The screens are usually crawling with geckos (though not as much in December) which is great fun. And of course there are bugs and ducks and cranes and all sorts of other wildlife. It's truly kitty heaven.

Lewis loves the porch. He sits by the sliding glass door when it's closed, and runs out as fast as he can when we open it. He stalks the critters (he can't get to most of them, due to the screens). He lounges on the cushioned lounge chairs and watches everything with a careful eye.

Ebony takes a bit longer to come out. She's quite a fearful cat so loud noises and commotion scare her. However, as the week has worn on, she has allowed herself to be more and more comfortable on the porch and has spent her fair share of time there as well.

As I've been watching Lewis walk around, I've realized that he's lost a lot of weight. We didn't even need to try weight loss pills! I guess reducing his portion sizes and separating his food bowl from Ebony's has done the trick. He will always have that flabby skin, but it's a good thing when he's not filling it out. I'm proud of him!

It's too bad we're leaving tomorrow. The kitties will not look forward to leaving the porch behind, nor will they enjoy the 8-hr-ish car ride back to Atlanta. Poor kitties!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The best exercise

They say the best exercise for a cat is another cat. I would argue that this option comes in a very close second...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Someone stole my cat

My husband and I can't get over how much this cat looks like Lewis! And the picture cracks us up too.

Humorous Pics
more animals

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas gifts

My husband and I recently moved to a new apartment almost half the size of our old one. We went from 2 bedrooms to 1, and have been trying to purge our stuff. It doesn't all fit in our new apartment! While our space is definitely workable, we don't really have any extra room. We were asked by our families this week to provide Christmas wish lists. We had a really hard time coming up with something! Our families, like so many others in this country and in the world, are struggling financially. So, asking for big electronics or Outer Banks rentals vacations were really not going to happen. We needed to find things that would be inexpensive yet were legitimate needs that wouldn't clutter the already full apartment.

After jotting down a few things on the list, I had a moment of inspiration. I wrote, "Things that we can donate to Good Mews."

That might sound like a weird request, but the more I think of it, the more I like it. Good Mews, as well as kitties in general, are near and dear to my heart. I invest a lot of time in the place and I really want to see the needs of the shelter be met. Also, a lot of the stuff is small and fairly inexpensive. For example, they are hosting a can drive where you bring in cans of Science Diet and Fancy Feast cat food. If you just buy a few cans, it's not very expensive and each can is appreciated by the shelter. It would bring me a lot of joy to bring a big box of donations to them one day after Christmas!

I sent my family Good Mews' wish list. I don't know if they'll be as excited about this type of present as I am, but we'll see.

If you're looking for some inexpensive gifts ideas for this Christmas, perhaps you can check with a local shelter to see what their needs might be and ask for that. After all, isn't Christmas about the spirit of giving?

Dog food scores

I've been talking a lot about cat food recently, mostly because that's what's currently on my mind. A lot of the ideas behind good quality cat food also translate directly to dog food (avoiding the corn and by-products). Joanna sent me this scoring chart for dog food which I really appreciated. Take the test and see how well your food scores! The scores for popular dog food brands are at the end.

How to grade your dog's food:

Start with a grade of 100
  1. For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
  2. For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
  3. If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
  4. For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
  5. If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (I.e. "ground brown rice", "brewers rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
  6. If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
  7. If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
  8. If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points
  9. If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
  10. If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
  11. If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
  12. If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
  13. If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog is not allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
  14. If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog is not allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
  15. If it contains salt, subtract 1 point
Extra Credit:
  1. If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
  2. If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
  3. If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
  4. If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
  5. If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
  6. If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
  7. If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
  8. If the food contains barley, add 2 points
  9. If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
  10. If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
  11. If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
  12. For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
  13. If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
  14. If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point
94-100+ = A, 86-93 = B, 78-85 = C, 70-77 = D, 69 and below = F

Here are some foods that have already been scored.
Dog Food scores:
Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Adult/ Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Premium Adult / Score 72 D
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
Exceed Lamb & Rice with Natural Lamb/ Score 57 F
Eagle Pack Natural Formula /Score 93 B
Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Adult/ Score 85 C
Eagle Pack Large & Giant Breed Puppy/ Score 86 B
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 93 B
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Kibble N Bits / Score 43 F
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Balance Large Breed Adult/ Score 66 F
Pedigree Small Crunchy Bites/ Score 47 F
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Royal Canin Potato and Rice Vet. Diet/ Score 84 C
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Taste of the Wild / Score 110 A+
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Guest posts wanted!

I apologize for the deluge of posts today! I am going to be really busy from now until Christmas, so I am trying to finish my to-do list. :-)

I made some changes to the sidebar of this blog. I added a section called "Pet Food Brands", where I will keep a running list of brands that are recommended for a healthier, corn-free and by-product-free diet. If you have a brand that you want to add to the list, please let me know! Also, if you've tried a brand and you dislike it, please let me know that too. I also started a list of links to local pet food & supply stores. I'd like to promote local business, especially if the store is committed to selling high quality food. Right now I just have two that are here in Atlanta, but I'm definitely willing to include links from other towns and cities. If you have a local store that you'd recommend, let me know and I'll link to it!

This brings me to my next point. If any of my readers would like to write a guest post at some point, let me know! I'm always interested in hearing what other people have to say. If you feel passionate about an issue, or if you'd like to review a particular animal-related product or brand, then email me (ashley {at} twentysixcats {dot} com) or leave a comment here. I especially would love some non-cat posts, since that seems to be the majority of my focus. :-)

So, reader feedback wanted! Guest posts, product ideas, questions from cat behavior to home insurance with pets, or even just suggestions... all are welcome! You can leave a comment here or email ashley {at} twentysixcats {dot} com.


Today on my way home from Good Mews, I passed a pet food shop and decided to stop in. It's called Pawsibilities Pet Food & Supply and I was immediately impressed. I've talked before about trying to find a local pet food store where I could buy natural pet food (i.e. food not made from corn and animal by-products). This one is a bit closer to me than the other one I found a few months ago. I spoke with the owner for a bit about food, and specifically raw food. I've done some research into raw food diets and have been interested in trying it. I got a small package called "kitten grind" (which is NOT made of kittens... I asked! they need a new name! :-)) and will give Lewis and Ebony 50% raw and 50% kibble. We'll see how they like it!

I really appreciated the time the owner took to help me, and the explanations about the different kinds of food. I also found the food priced fairly reasonable (as high-quality pet food can be quite pricey!). If you live near historic Roswell, GA, then I highly recommend stopping by. Actually, I recommend no matter where you live trying to find a local pet food store. I'm all about supporting local businesses, and I was surprised to find that I've lived so close to these stores for the past 3.5 years and never knew it. These stores often only sell high-quality food, instead of the corn-filled ones that you find at the grocery store. I've talked a lot about buying good quality pet food, or you might as well get some life insurance quotes for your pet!

Update on Erika

A few days ago, I mentioned Erika, who was Eva's sister. We were told to give Erika a lot of loving due to the passing of her sister. Well today I went to Good Mews for my normal shift and found out that Erika got adopted!! :-) I was so excited to hear that. I'm glad she has a nice, loving home now. A few other kitties were adopted too. Actually a whole bunch were adopted on the 22nd but I didn't recognize their names which means they were probably kittens. (Can we say Christmas presents?? I can't say anything; my kitties were Christmas presents too. Some people get engagement rings, others get cats!) One of the cats that was adopted yesterday was a nice tom cat with part of his ear gone. We were talking about how toms with ear nicks are often the hardest (of healthy cats) to adopt out because they look mean. It's like the big black dog syndrome.

I'm happy that the kitties found new homes, but a little sad to see them go! Overall happy though. :-)

Friday, November 28, 2008

About Eva

A few days ago, one of the shelter kitties named Eva was put down due to illness. There was kinda a sad twinge to the atmosphere when I worked at Good Mews the most recent time.

Eva was only at the shelter for a few months. She was abandoned with her sister, Erika, in September. She had diabetes and also a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), which is fatal if left untreated. She and Erika were placed in one of the Special Needs rooms, because of the dietary restrictions. (No Fentraphen for these guys!) I remember that we had to keep the water fountain in the room for Eva, because diabetic cats need a lot of water. When I was there last, I saw the fountain in the main shelter area. I'm glad other kitties are getting to enjoy it, but it did make me a little sad.

Erika I think will be moved to the main shelter, since she was in the Special Needs room to keep Eva company. We were instructed to give Erika lots of loving, as she is surely sad and lonely without her sister - and perhaps not really understanding where Eva went.

Good Mews is a no-kill shelter, but that doesn't mean they never put an animal down. They will never euthanize a healthy cat to make room for more cats. They will try to fight for the sick kitties, to get them better, even if it's a chronic condition (like Eva's). However, they also realize that sometimes the most humane thing is to put the kitty out of its pain and misery. It's sad, but sometimes it's better that way.

Rest in peace, Eva.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Jeepers Peepers!

One of the cats in the shelter is named Tricky. A few years ago, poor Tricky got in the middle of a domestic dispute. Boyfriend was mad at Girlfriend, and shot Girlfriend's cats. Tricky was the only one who survived, but unfortunately did not escape unharmed. She got a bullet wedged in her body and is now her back two feet are paralyzed for the rest of her life. Don't feel bad for Tricky, though. She doesn't realize she's paralyzed. She has full use of her front two paws, and scoots herself all around the shelter.

You can immediately spot Tricky because she's wearing a diaper. She has no control of her excretory functions, so the diaper keeps her and the shelter clean and dry. I'd never seen a cat wearing a diaper before! At first I thought it was a baby diaper adapted for a cat, but then I discovered that they actually get them from a special website that sells diapers for animals. They are called Peepers. Here is a picture of a cat (not Tricky) wearing a diaper:

You can get the diapers at a site called (And, if you want to help out Tricky, just contact Good Mews for how to give them a donation of diapers for Tricky.)

I also read on the site that pet diapers can be used for housebreaking puppies. A-ha! I wish I'd known that. :-) Twould have been nice!!

Oh and something else Tricky likes - watching a DVD for cats on her pop up tv. It shows birds and squirrels, and for some reason she and the other cats just are mesmerized!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Slinky cat

Courtesy of

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fun in the kitten room

Ah, kittens! I haven't gotten the opportunity to be around kittens in a long time. They sure are cute!

Good Mews has a separate room for their kittens. This week for the first time I had the pleasure of doing what needed to be done in that room. The kittens, however, do not see me as the person who is changing out their food and water bowls, or vacuuming and mopping the floor. No, they think I'm there to play with them!

I did take some time to play. But, I couldn't dawdle all day! As I was mopping, one kitten was intent on chasing the mop all the way around the room. He followed me as I went, attacking the mop head. It became a sort of game between the two of us.

At one point I bent over to mop underneath a bench. Another kitten jumped from a nearby cat tree to my back! That really surprised me and made me laugh. I wasn't sure what to do! I finally convinced him to jump off again, but he stuck close - he wanted his head scratched!

The adult cats on the other side of the big windows were jealous of all the fun we were having. They sat looking in, and when I came by with the mop, they crouched down as if they were going to pounce too. Such cutie pies! I hope that these kittens aren't in the shelter long, and are able to find permanent homes soon. ("Forever homes" as they are called.)

order Phentermine

Someday, it could happen

At Good Mews, they mark all the cats with microchips and use the scanners to verify that it's the correct cat before administering medication. I was watching the woman do this, and it reminded me of Jera and an article a friend sent me.

The article, from MSNBC, was about a cat coming back after being gone for 13 years. An excerpt:
A couple recently had an unexpected reunion with an old housemate: their pet cat who went missing more than 13 years ago. George, who was last seen by Melinda Merman and Frank Walburg in 1995, was turned into an animal hospital after the manager of a mobile home park trapped the sickly feline.

A microchip implanted in George allowed him to be traced back to his owners.

(The article also said that the cat weighed less than half of what it used to. Perhaps that's the best fat burner! Of course, I'll take putting Lewis on a diet over that method...)

My thoughts turned to Jera, wondering if that could happen to us. She does have a microchip implanted and even though I never expect to see her again, a tiny bit of me will always have that hope that she COULD come back. I'd love for her to come back. The more I ponder it, the more I realize that despite the frustrations that come with puppy ownership, Jera was really an amazing dog. And her disposition fit our family so well. It's funny that the dog who worked out for us was the one bought from a pet shop, while the one we did "right" and adopted from an ad on Craigslist was the one whose personality didn't really fit with our family.

I'm not advocating pet shops, of course, but I'm just sayin'...

Good Mews

Recently, I have had the wonderful opportunity to spend one morning a week volunteering at a local cat shelter called Good Mews. It's a cage-free no-kill shelter that is home to about 100 cats. I have done two shifts so far, and I've really enjoyed it.

You'll probably hear me talk about Good Mews a lot on this blog, so I'll try to describe the basics of how it works. I've never really had the chance to observe how an animal shelter is run, so this has been interesting to me. I'm on the clean and feed shift, which means that me and about 3 other people are in charge of cleaning the litter boxes, vacuuming and mopping the entire shelter, washing toys and bedding, washing and replenishing all the food and water dishes, and feeding each cat, in addition to other tasks. Other volunteers handle the medications for the cats that need that. There are two shifts every day of the year; I'm in the morning shift. All total, I was told there are 300 volunteers that keep Good Mews running!

Being cage-free, Good Mews is divided into rooms. The entire place is painted with bright, happy colors and has an overall pleasant feeling about it. There is the main shelter area, which is where most of the cats are. It has shelves where the cats can hide, several cat trees, benches, and even a TV with a DVD of squirrels and birds! (The cats seem to like it and that makes me smile.) There is a separate room for the kittens - it's closed off from the main shelters so any kittens 9 months and under are not at risk of being injured or catching diseases from older cats. There is also a separate room with cages for cats who are sick. This room is also separate from the shelter and once you enter this room and do any sort of cleaning, you aren't allowed to touch any of the other cats in the shelter again that day. New cats coming into the shelter go to a third separate room where they are kept in cages and observed for two weeks. There are other sections of the shelter, like the offices which just have computer desks and bookshelves, which I might talk about later.

I highly recommend volunteering at an animal shelter if you have the time! I think it's rewarding, and I do enjoy getting to play with the kitties! I was very overwhelmed at first by 100 cats not in cages running around! But the past two times I went I wasn't quite as overwhelmed and even have been able to play with the kitties. I'm still trying to learn their names and who they are so I can greet them by name when I come in to work every week.

Another thing I've learned is of the many things that can be donated to a shelter to help it functioned. One thing they are always in desperate need of is clumping kitty litter. I know how expensive kitty litter can be, and I can't imagine how much they go through each week! Perhaps I'll watch for sales and stock up in order to donate to Good Mews. Things to keep in mind. :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

If you needed a reason...

If you needed a reason to get a Roomba vacuum, here it is!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Craigslist ad

Someone sent me this link to a Craigslist ad this morning. Since Craigslist ads don't stay around forever, I'll copy-paste the text here. (The serious part of me wants to respond to this seriously, but since I'm not sure if it's a legit ad, then I'll treat it with the humor that the author intended. As a disclaimer: I did remove one line about catfighting because I don't think professional animal fighting of any kind is funny. You can read the original ad here.)

Ferocious Attack Kitten (Atlanta)

Ferocious attack kitten is available for adoption to any home willing to accept him.

This destructive kitty has been trained as a proud warrior and will fiercely defend your house, even against you. Well-trained since 10-weeks of age to attack anything in his presence, he will protect your family from evil things, including the following:

* insects
* other trained attack kittens
* babies
* toilet paper
* anything under a blanket
* unwanted house guests
* bathroom faucets
* paper bags
* floor rugs
* Chuck Norris
* Feet.

Great with children (assuming you don’t like the children). He is housebroken, but only because he wants to be. This attack cat has trained himself to seek out his food anywhere you hide it and rip the bag open to feed himself, great for those who travel extensively. Also trained to drink water out of toilet bowls and dishwater from items in the sink. Knows how to open some doors. He will find you wherever you hide.

Neutered (trust me, you wont want to him to procreate). Has not been declawed, but you'll figure that out really fast.

Understands and responds to a variety of vulgar and profane verbal commands. Has a very soft and furry belly, like a teddy bear - however he will bite your face if you try to touch it.

Willing to accept trades. Potential adopters must have experience with trained attack-kittens... please be prepared to show scars.

For the love of God, someone please take this thing out of my house.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

But he's so CUTE!

I really enjoy reading the comic strip For Better or For Worse, which I have been following for years. In the recent strips, they have acquired a little puppy.

This particular strip of the mom, Elly talking to a friend. Her friend is pointing out that a puppy is only going to give her more work and tie her down even more. Elly's response: "But, Connie... He's so CUTE!"

This made me laugh. I've been there. After having Jera, we swore we would never get another puppy. In fact, when we looked for a new dog, we started out by looking for an adult. I pursued several adult dogs before coming across an ad on Craigslist for a puppy. I fell in love... I knew in my head I didn't want to do the whole puppy thing again, but then when I saw her she was just so cute...

Of course, in my case it ended up being a negative thing. Zoey wasn't a bad dog at all, but she wasn't a good fit for our family. I hope to get a dog someday - after we get a house and a yard - and I won't let myself consider a puppy. I've learned my lesson!

But puppies sure are cute, aren't they?

This post by North Carolina health insurance

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sad news from Zoo Atlanta

I got an email from Zoo Atlanta today with some sad news.

Dear Zoo Atlanta Members and subscribers,

We are very saddened to report to you the sudden and unexpected loss last night of 26-year-old African elephant Dottie. Many of you have been following her pregnancy during the last several months, and the sudden loss of this wonderful animal and her unborn calf is tragic and heartbreaking for us all.

Dottie's health had begun declining last week, and she was on antibiotics to treat unexplained weight loss, cloudy urine and decreased protein levels in her blood. Her health and behavior were closely monitored, as with all of the Zoo's animals, but her death last night was unexpected. As recently as October 24th during a routine ultrasound Dottie still had a viable pregnancy. The exact cause of her death has not been determined.

Dottie was one of three African elephants at Zoo Atlanta. She has been at Zoo Atlanta with Tara and Kelly since November 1986. "I know our veterinary and animal management team worked diligently to ensure she received the best care and treatment possible. This is especially sad for us because Dottie was pregnant with her first calf," said Dennis Kelly, President and CEO. "We will miss her here at Zoo Atlanta."

As our greatest fans and supporters, we wanted you to know as soon as the news was released. We share your grief and thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

The Zoo Atlanta Membership team

You can read more on Zoo Atlanta's work holding website here. Also you can see some pictures that I took earlier this year here and here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lewis and dinnertime

Lewis must have been born starving. And for some reason, he's afraid he'll never get another meal.

I don't get it! It's not like I have ever "forgotten" to feed him. But starting about an hour before his mealtime, he cries incessantly for his food. I try not to ever give in so as not to encourage the behavior. It doesn't help that my computer is right next to his dinner bowl. Today I was looking online for an unlocked phone (since I dropped my cell phone in water and now it doesn't work), and he continually meowed pathetically and climbed all over the desk and the chair. He acted all cuddly - rubbing against me, putting his paws on my chest and rubbing his face on my nose or chin - but it didn't work. I remained steadfast about the 5:00 feeding time.

I've thought of a few things. One is to set an alarm and always feed him when the alarm goes off. That way, he won't think that his crying is getting him fed. Or perhaps he'll think that his crying will make the alarm go off faster. I don't know, but it's probably worth a try.

One thing I've also done is get out the spray bottle. We fill a bottle with water and spray the cats when they get on things we don't allow - the counters, the dining room table, and the back of the couches. This time I sprayed him when he meowed. He ran away, and stayed quiet. My husband is concerned that this method is going to confuse him - that Lewis will think I'm punishing him for being near me, and not for crying.

Does anyone have ideas? Is there a way I can communicate to Lewis that I WILL feed him today, and he doesn't have to remind me for an hour straight? Do you think the spray bottle is a good idea, or do you think it just will confuse him?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kittens and toilet paper

I saw this adorable video today on Cute Overload.

It reminded me of my cat Misty, when she was a tiny kitten. Shortly after we got her, I got a bad cold. We were living overseas at the time, and boxes of tissues were hard to come by, so we just got used to carrying around rolls of toilet paper when we got colds. I didn't have a nightstand so I had to keep the toilet paper on the floor next to my bed at night, and I found it really annoying having to bend over and get it. Since I was the bottom bunk of bunkbed, I decided to string up toilet paper to the slats of the bed above me. This allowed easy access during the night! It worked great, but one morning my mom woke me up and pointed at the toilet paper. Misty had discovered it during the night and the entire thing was shredded. I don't know HOW she managed to have so much fun on top of me without waking me up!

This post brought to you by computer memory

Sunday, October 19, 2008

More frustration

I've talked about being frustrated with my cats peeing everywhere here.

We moved a few weeks ago, and I was really concerned that they would mess up the new place. We bought some Feliway and put it in the main room (the living/dining room). It seems to be working; no messes to report!

HOWEVER... the bathroom is another story. For the first time in my post-college life, we have a bathroom that doesn't have carpeting! We also have a perfect alcove for the litter box. We try to keep it clean and change it daily because I know cats are fastidious.

At one point, we had three bathrooms so we had 3 bathroom rugs leftover from that. We had put two in the closet and had the one down that matched our shower curtain, towels, and other bathroom accessories. However, the cats peed on that several times and pooped once - completely destroying it. (We thought we'd go replace it, only to discover that it cost $35!!) Then we put another one down, which they peed on. We washed it and put it down again, and they peed twice more. Then we put a third down and they peed on that one several times too. We finally just threw it away.

Today we noticed that they peed in the same place, just right on the linoleum. (Or vinyl. Or whatever the non-carpet-material is in our bathroom.)

I'm frustrated because we've never had trouble with them peeing on the bathroom rugs before. I have the second rug in a plastic bag and when we get back from vacation I'll research the best way to clean it so it gets rid of the pee completely. Perhaps some green products will have the enzymes necessary to kill that smell. I also will need to wash the shower curtain, as they have peed on the bottom of it several times. (It touches the floor when it's hung from the rod.)

I also want to try and find a bathroom rug that's plastic - something that we can step on when getting out of the shower.

Argh!! I love cats, but... so frustrating!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Misty's birthday

Yesterday was Misty's birthday. (Misty was my first cat, that I got in 1993.)

My mom was here visiting, and we spent some time reminiscing. Misty would be 15 years old now, if she were alive. It's weird to think that if she hadn't have gotten feline leukemia then she still could be alive! My life has changed so much since the last time I saw her in 1996.

Though both my parents had had cats while growing up, she was the first cat we'd had as a family. She was overall a good cat, but we did make a few mistakes with her that we didn't repeat with subsequent cats. Misty was sweet and cuddly, but we discovered when we got her as a 6 week old kitten that she loved to PLAY! Most kittens do love to play, of course. We - and my dad especially - played very rough with her. We would let her chase our hands which was cute when she was a tiny kitten but got more painful as she grew older! She loved to attack our hands and we'd just be very rough, almost wrestling with her.

In retrospect that wasn't a good idea. She was overall a nice cat, but could be very mean - especially when she was tired of being stroked! We've learned that you shouldn't teach a cat to play-attack your fingers, hands, or any body part - because when they get older it can hurt! It's better to play with a string attached to a stick or something else that won't be so painful. Our other cats were not NEARLY as vicious as Misty could be.

We loved Misty, though. I have fond memories of my first kitty, the one I thought about and dreamed about for so long! I was heartbroken when my parents informed me that we would not be able to take Misty with us when we moved to another country. My aunt very graciously gave Misty a wonderful home. I always expected to see her again, but I never was able to before she passed on. I will always wonder if she felt abandoned by me.

Happy 15th birthday, Misty!

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When you have to give up an animal

I got an email from a friend today. Her husband decided to surprise them with a puppy, which of course the kids were very excited about. However, they soon discovered that their daughter is allergic to dogs and has been having a lot of trouble breathing. So my friend is trying to find a new home for the puppy.

I emailed her back with words of advice. I've done the give-away-a-puppy thing. I am a firm believer in keeping your dog (or any kind of pet) for its lifetime instead of only when it's convenient for you. However, life happens and the ideal isn't always possible. You don't know when a family member might be allergic, you unexpectedly have to move, or it might be a case like ours where the dog's personality just doesn't fit with our family. (Side note: if you're thinking of getting a dog and don't know for sure that no one is allergic, then I'd recommend doing a "test drive" before actually committing to a dog. You can borrow a friend's dog, or do a trial of the specific dog you're interested in, or go stay with a friend who has a dog. These also might be great for learning about the responsibilities in caring for a dog, if you've never had one before. This will all help prevent a situation where you have to turn around and give the dog away.)

So, life has happened, and you have a dog that needs a new home. What do you do? Well I highly recommend Craigslist if there is an active one in your city. Another option is One side note: we were unable to list Zoey (our 5-month-old beagle puppy) on Petfinder because she hadn't been spayed yet. We were waiting until she was 6 months old (which is recommended) to spay her, and we had some financial issues that prevented us from going ahead and doing that. I was frustrated that they wouldn't let us list her, but it all worked out in the end.

I'm hoping that even though you're looking to find a new home for your dog, you're concerned about the dog going to a good home. I'd recommend charging an adoption fee in order to ensure that the dog goes to a good home. Most people who genuinely care about the dog won't mind a fee. (We asked for $40, if I remember correctly.) I also screened the people who were interested. I called them and talked about Zoey and asked about their home life (whether they had a yard, etc.) at length before I felt comfortable saying "yes". I was very impressed with the family who ended up taking Zoey. I was looking for a family with a fenced in yard and experience with dogs as pets. If possible, go visit their house and check it out. In my case, that wasn't possible due to distance but I looked up their address on Google maps and saw that they weren't lying when they said they had an acre of land! I was also impressed that they had had dogs before and raised them from puppies until they died of old age. It seemed like the perfect home for Zoey! And even after meeting them, I felt very comfortable with them. The only thing that makes me sad is they have not returned any contact to update me on how Zoey was doing. They did send me a picture last Christmas, but other than that nothing. They had never promised contact, even after I hinted at it, but I was hoping! It's okay though. I still feel confident that they were the best family for her.

If you are giving away a dog that isn't spayed or neutered, make sure the perspective owners aren't planning on using the dog for breeding (this of course is more of a concern if the dog is purebred). One option you could consider is asking for a more significant adoption fee (like $200), which is refundable upon proof of spay or neutering. Ideally, it would be best to go ahead and have the procedure done before giving the animal away, but often financial issues make that almost impossible.

Hopefully you'll feel as confident with your dog's new owner as I felt with mine! And if you're in the Atlanta area and interested in a 9-month old male Pomeranian puppy, let me know!

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Flight of the penguins!

I know this is kinda old news now, but I did want to mention it on this blog! Mostly because the pictures are just adorable, if penguins are adorable.

(Insert quote from Madagascar: "Cute and cuddly, boys, cute and cuddly.")

In Brazil, over 300 penguins wandered away from their usual hunting grounds in search for food. There wasn't much food, and they were starving to death. So a group of animal activists helped out by getting the penguins back to their normal territory. They loaded them up on a cargo plane and transported them to southern Brazil and let them go.

One neat thing that has come from this is that scientists were able to really observe the penguins and learn more about their habits and livelihood. They have bands on their flippers so that scientists can follow them and chart their migratory patterns. I think it's great that we as humans are able to learn more about these birds.

Also, the article gave me warm fuzzy feelings! You can read about it on here. I also HIGHLY recommend checking out the great pictures they got of the penguins.

The Magellanic Penguin is native to coastal Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, and some on the coast of Brazil (where these penguins were). They are related to the African Penguin, who are on exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium (where I saw them in 2005). Until I visited the aquarium, I kinda imagined all penguins to be the same as Emperor Penguins! So it's neat to learn about different kinds, with their own unique markings and job descriptions.

Cute cat mug

I saw the cutest mug today:

The description says:
"This charming mug is the cat's meow! Featuring two adorable felines playing with a string of pink yarn that tangles into a heart and a curling black 'tail' handle, this cup is the perfect gift for a great friend, cat lover or coffee drinker!"

Okay don't you just love the tail for a handle? And the little pink ball of yarn... I'm also a huge fan of the overall design of the mug.

Of course I have so many mugs - cat-themed and otherwise - that I really don't need another one. Too bad! Maybe I'll keep my eye out for it and if I ever see it for a price I can't refuse then I'll get it. :-)

You can find this mug and other cute stuff here. (That isn't a sponsored link - I just saw it, loved it, and wanted to share!)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Natural pet food

I recently moved to a new area, and I have been trying to learn all the new stores around me. One thing I'd like to do more is shop at local businesses as I can, so I've been keeping an eye out especially for those types of places.

Yesterday I was driving and noticed a store that said "Pet food". Intrigued, I stopped in to see what it was all about. I was greeted warmly by two little dogs - a poodle and a 6 month Yorkie (SOOOO cute!) and the worker. I told her why I was there, and she took me to the cat section and explained all the foods that they carried.

I really appreciated the fact that she took the time to explain everything, and also that all the foods there were natural without all the added yucky stuff (animal by-products, corn, etc.) that really isn't very healthy for the animals. I was excited to see the variety they had because I have been disappointed with Petsmart's selection. My cats don't seem to like very much the taste of the Blue Buffalo pet food (though I have been really impressed with the ingredients! I wish my kitties gobbled it down as much as they did their other food!). So, when this food runs out I have been considering switching brands again.

The woman at the pet food store gave me samples of three different kinds of food she recommended. So I'll try them and in a week or two when I finish their current food I'll go back and pick up a bag of whatever brand the kitties seem to like best. Currently, I have samples for:
* Nature's Variety Prairie Lamb Meal and Oatmeal Medley
* Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Light Formula
* Advanced Pet Diet Select Choice Lite Chicken & Salmon

I'm eager to try a brand that the kitties will like better and to help Lewis with his weight loss. Also, if you're in the Roswell, GA area you should check the store out. The side says "Dog Gone Green Pet Food", but I found their website which call themselves Red Bandanna Pet Food, so I'm not sure what their name is. :-) But definitely check them out to get a good variety of healthy pet food for your animals!

YouTube videos

I can't remember how I came across these two videos... But I hope you enjoy! :-)

For the cat lovers out there:

And for those who prefer the canine variety:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Me and Ebony

I love this picture because it's so Ebony. Forget that I've lived with her for 4 years - she always regards me suspiciously whenever I go to pet her or put my hand near her.

Me and Ebony

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canine flicks

I came across this link online today, and thought it was really cute. It listed the six favorite puppy flicks. Here they are:

1. Homeward Bound
2. My Dog Skip
3. Beethoven
4. The Adventures of Milo and Otis
5. Air Bud
6. Best In Show

I have only seen two of them - Homeward Bound and Beethoven - but they were both definitely favorites of mine when I was younger. Especially Homeward Bound - that movie was full of hilarious (to a kid) lines! (Hehe I'm reading through some of them here, and it's making me laugh all over again.)

I'd have to add a few more movies to the list.
101 Dalmations - I know it's a cartoon, but it was one of our favorites!!
Lassie - I haven't watched anything Lassie-related in years, but I LOVED the tv show as a child!
Old Yeller - Okay it just makes me cry
Where the Red Ferm Grows - Yeah another tear-jerker!
Wishbone - What's the story, Wishbone?

What are your favorite dog movies?

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dorm pets

My husband sent me this article from CNN today on pets and dorm life.
As university residence halls seek to transition into more homey environments -- with additions like full kitchens and single-stall bathrooms -- pet ownership is still forbidden for the majority of dorm residents.

But several universities, including MIT, have now added some pets to the "acceptable" list of dorm possessions...

Other schools have jumped on the four-footed bandwagon: Stephen's College, a women's college in Columbia, Montana, allows for many household pets, including dogs, provided that they are vaccinated and under forty pounds.

During the four years I was in college, I did not have a cat either with me or at my parents' house. I really missed being able to snuggle with kitties! I would have loved to be able to have a cat in the dorm with me.

An excerpt from later in the article:
Sophomore Kara Brown, who suffers from asthma, said it is a bad idea to allow pets in residence halls. "I wouldn't love it if cats were allowed just because being anywhere near them makes me sick ... My breathing tubes start to close," Brown said. "I also feel like people usually have too much going on to really take care of a pet, especially now in college when you are already doing so much that takes a lot of effort."

I thought she made a really good point, and as much as I love cats I am inclined to agree with her. I would have loved a kitty to snuggle with, but in reality I think my life in college was too hectic for me to have properly taken care of an animal. Animals need attention, and when you're busy studying in the library or hanging out with friends, it's hard to give enough attention.

Of course, some people would probably do fine. I was very busy in college, but not everyone is. I definitely knew of people who spent a lot of time in their rooms and probably would have been very responsible pet owners. However, I do think those types of people are more rare than the typical college student.

Thoughts? Would you support pet-friendly dorms? Or would you be opposed to them?

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

How's your day going?

Got this as an email forward, and I thought it was really cute.

First you had trouble getting out of bed

You had a stiff neck

You washed your hair and couldn't do a thing with it

You felt like you had a hangover and you weren't even drinking last night

Your new diet really doesn't seem to be working out

You pulled a muscle when you tried to exercise

Your new hat looked better on you at the store

You keep losing things

The boss chewed you out at work

You got caught in the rain at lunchtime

Then the lunch you had didn't seem to agree with you

You feel trapped

Uninvited guests showed up at dinnertime

On top of that you think you're coming down with the flu

And finally, you're alone in the house at night when you think you hear a noise in the basement


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Tales Humane

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went up to Nashville for a wedding. The reception was held nearby a humane shelter, and I could not resist checking it out! They were closed, but I'd actually been there before when Jera ran away a year or so ago. They were extremely kind and helpful.

The place is called Happy Tales Humane, and they are located south of Nashville in Franklin, TN. If you're in that area, I would highly recommend checking it out for your next kitten or puppy! It is a no-kill shelter, and somewhat cage-free. We could see that a lot of the kittens that live there had free run of the place. It was so cute to see them playing with each other; you know I loved it!

We could only see the kitties through the glass. Here is one of the adorable kittens that came over to investigate me when I put my hand to the glass. You can see the reflection of my hand on the picture!

This white cat had been walking around earlier, but settled down for the night. He looked so cute with his little head sticking out! He even closed his eyes, just resting there with his head out. I thought it was adorable.

At one point I had 8 cats all at the glass doors watching me try to play with them. I stuck some paper under the door and coaxed them to chase it. I wish I could have pet them, but they were closed the whole time I was there. Oh well! It totally made my day just to see them there. (Look at the gray cat at the right staring through the glass. Doesn't he look cute??)

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Pet food recall

I'm sure most people have heard about it already, but there is a voluntary limited recall for Mars Petcare food. You can read all the details here.

Mars Petcare makes several different brands of food, most popularly Pedigree dog and cat food. It is being recalled due to the potential contamination of the Salmonella virus.

According to the recall notice:
Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Animals can be carriers with no visible symptoms and can potentially infect other animals or humans. If your pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.

In addition to Pedigree, other brands that could be affected are: Paws & Claws, Member's Mark, Natural Dog Food, Natural Cat Food, Doggy Bag, Red Flannel, Retriever, PMI Nutrition, Country Acres, Special Kitty, Pet Pride, Buju & Ziggie, and Bruiser.

Mars Petcare has a great tool on their site to help you figure out if the food you have is being recalled or not. Get out the bag of food that is in question and go to this link. You'll answer a few questions and the site will direct you to whether the food you have is being recalled or not. Definitely look into that if you have any of those brands at home.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Fat cat

I went to the vet on Saturday for the cats' annual vaccinations and check-up.

They weighed Lewis, and he came out to a whoppin' 14 lbs. Yikes! I knew he was overweight, but didn't realize by that much! I need to get him back down to a healthy 10 lbs or so. The vet warned me that the heavier he is, the more at risk for diabetes he is.

Also, another result of him being overweight is that he doesn't clean himself after using the littler box very well. (According to the vet, he can't reach all over his body because of his weight.) So, when I notice his fur getting crusty, I have to take a wet paper towel and wipe him clean. Ewwww. I think I'll focus on the weight loss!

We started by separating he and Ebony's bowls. We've noticed that when they're in the same room, Lewis won't let Ebony eat until he's had his fill. We also decided to feed him less - 1/4c a day of dry food instead of 1/2c day. When we give him more, we notice food leftover in the bowl after he's walked away, so we're not worried about starving him.

If that doesn't bring his weight down then the vet told us she's going to help us get a diet plan for him. Poor kitty! I know how you feel, Lewis, I know how you feel. We're on diets together. :-)

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Cleaning up

So today we went out and bought a big jug of Nature's Miracle. Tonight, I started in the bathroom - where the stench is the strongest - and set to work. I poured it all over the carpet and now have the fan pointed into the room. I really hope this works! If it helps the smell in the bathroom, then we'll know that the cats were the reason why our apartment reeks instead of something else. (We have other theories - dead animal in the walls, mold, sewer smells coming in through outlets and light fixtures...)

I also want to get Feliway that I mentioned yesterday. We're getting ready to move in a few weeks, and I think that might help while we try to make the move and for when we're in a new place. I don't want to deal with the horrible smell again!

Because of the problems we've been having, we're not going to try and convince some poor friend to take our cats during the weekend of our move. I'm in the process of finding a good place to board them. In the past, I've boarded them at PetSmart's PetsHotel and had a good experience there. Tomorrow we go to the vet, and I'll ask her if she has any recommendations.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Feliway to the rescue

I got an email from a friend this evening. It said:
We also have two cats. We were having problems with them peeing and puking, and we got the Feliway diffuser thing. It looks kind of like a Glade plug-in, and it supposedly releases pheromones to make cats feel happy. It was kind of expensive, but SO worth it! They haven't peed on anything (and we just bought a house, so we were freaked that they would pee everywhere), and our one anxiety-ridden puke-y cat throws up so much less now.

Anyway, just wanted to recommend Feliway. :) Give it a try. I hope it works. I know cat pee smell is wretched. :)

This definitely intrigued me! So I decided to look it up.

I found a helpful FAQ about Feliway on this site. I was going to copy-paste, but I decided it would be better to just point you to the site and suggest you read it yourself if you're interested. It explains everything in good, easy-to-understand detail.

It is interesting reading about Feliway. They claim that it not only will help with urinating outside the litter box, but also will stop cats from fighting. This especially intrigues me, because Lewis and Ebony fight all the time. My last two cats (Koko and Yum Yum) were so cuddly and friendly with each other that it makes me said that Lewis and Ebony seem to dislike each other.

Does anyone else have experience with Feliway? Anyone know of a good place to buy it? I would like to look into it further, but I definitely think this might be an answer for us! It's like with acne treatments - you get to the point where you'll just try anything! I'll see if the vet has any recommendations when I go on Saturday.


I love my cats, but sometimes they are so frustrating!

Lewis and Ebony's new trick is to PEE EVERYWHERE. We've always had wall-to-wall carpeting in our apartments, and we've never had trouble with them not using their litter box until now.

I can attribute it to several things:
  • Traveling - we've been gone a lot this summer, especially in the month of August
  • Being busy - we've added some weekly things to our schedules that require us to be gone from the house
  • New job - I started a new job about 6 months ago that no longer allows me to come home at lunch, and because of the commute I'm overall gone more hours of the day
  • Stress - I know that cats can sense their owners' stress, and ours has been high as of late. We're getting ready to move, and the frustration that has led up to that decision has been great.

Things will calm down after October, and hopefully be all still by next spring! But it still concerns me that any time we start traveling they'll revert back to their old ways. While things may calm down for the school year, we're always going to be the type to travel during the summers - whether it's visiting friends or camping (which we LOVE), it's just something we're going to do. And we've never had problems with them before this summer, and we haven't traveled any MORE than usual.

I've heard that once kitties start peeing on the carpet, it's hard to make them stop. I'm praying that's not true!! I am going to buy some Nature's Miracle that was recommended to me - I need to go to Petsmart to get it I think, and it's an out-of-the-way trip for me so I haven't had a chance to get it.

But in the meantime... SOOO frustrating!! And very stinky. :-(

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Four years ago...

Four years ago a very sweet litter of kitties were born. There were three boys and one girl. They grew quickly, learning to play and eat and live. At some point in their tiny lives, they were taken to an animal shelter so they could find good homes. When they were fourteen weeks old, a woman came in looking for two kitties for her daughter. When she spotted this litter of four kitties, she immediately fell in love and picked the female and one of the males.

The woman took the two kitties home to her house. There they were cuddled by four people, and excitedly told that they were a surprise gift for someone yet to come. The kittens immediately made themselves at home in their new surroundings, continuing to play with each other, eating and living.

Then the Day came. The Day when their new owner would be arriving! The two kittens were fitted with two red and green bows around their neck. They were placed on the bed, and the door of the room was closed. The kittens curled up and listened to the sounds outside. Doors opening, greetings, talking. Then footsteps. The door to the room opened. A redhead walked in, and upon spotting the kittens gasped in delight and immediately bent down to cuddle with them. And I have never looked back since. :-)

Happy 4th birthday to my darling babies, Lewis and Ebony! As a birthday present, I made an appointment to take you to a vet this weekend for your annual shots. :-) (I'm such a mean mommy!)

Lewis on the porch


Halloween costumes

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mama dog protects newborn baby

I love stories of animal heroes. Which is why I post them here. :-) They give me warm fuzzy feelings and make me want to go hug my cats. Because animals are awesome!

I came across this news story about a dog in Argentina. An excerpt from the CNN article "Dog protected abandoned newborn, doctors say":

The temperature was a chilly 37 degrees, Salcedo said.

The dog had apparently carried the baby some 50 meters from where his mother had abandoned him to where the puppies were huddled, police said.

"She took it like a puppy and rescued it," Salcedo said. "The doctors told us if she hadn't done this, he would have died."

Isn't that sweet? The mama puppy found an abandoned baby and took him in along with her six other puppies. I wonder what she was thinking? Her motherly instinct took over?

After observing our cat gave birth to four kittens, I can appreciate the motherly instinct that mama animals have.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Rescued furbabies

I saw the above picture attached to an article in the New York Daily News (online). It was entitled "Saved by a whisker! Furballs in Fay's way get rocky Georgia rescue". I'm sure most of us have heard about Hurricane/Tropical Storm Fay battering Florida right now with rain and wind. Some kittens got stranded on some rocks and were about to be rushed away with the waves! But they were rescued just in time.

It's a sweet story! And I just love the pictures that were captured. I am so happy they are rescued and dry. :-)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Favorite sprawling spot

We have at our computer an old upholstered office chair. Our cats - Lewis in particular - find it a nice place to relax when one of us is using the computer. The annoying thing about Lewis getting up there is that he's so fat that it tilts the chair back a little! I'm not really sure how good it is for the chair, either. However, as any cat owner will tell you, good luck keeping a cat off furniture. :-)

Lewis' usual hang-out spot

What's that, a camera?

Must go investigate!

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

What to do when you find a lost animal

My coworker was recently telling me about her friend who found a kitten. He was about 8 months old, very sweet, loved humans, and well-fed. The friend fell in love and decided to keep the cat. My coworker privately expressed concern to me that the cat obviously belonged to someone, and that her friend had not tried at all to find the original owner.

As the owner of a pet who ran away, my heart ached to hear it! I honestly believe that is what happened to Jera - that someone found her and took her in, never bothering to check to see if she belonged to anyone else. They sometimes justify it to themselves by saying, "Well if the original owners really wanted their pet back then I would know about it." That breaks my heart. We tried so hard to find Jera, but living 4 hours away it was too hard. We did the best we could, but we had to draw the line at some point.

So what do you do if you find an animal wandering around? Here are some ideas:

1) Use appropriate caution when approaching a strange animal. This goes without saying.

2) Watch the behavior of the animal and study its health and appearance. There are many signs of it being a stray: it is scared of humans, very thin, has wounds that have healed over, the coat is matted and/or rough to the touch. If the animals is friendly, well-fed, has a clean and soft coat, etc. then it is probably someone's pet. (Though it could have been taken care of and then abandoned.)

3) If you have pets, be cautious about keeping the stray around them until you can get it to a vet. A lot of strays can carry diseases and/or parasites that are potentially dangerous, and you don't want to spread that around.

4) If you can catch the animal, take it to a vet or animal shelter. Check it for potential health problems, and also have it scanned for microchips. That will definitely help you know if the animal is a stray or has an owner desperately looking for it!

5) Put up signs, check out sites like and Craigslist. Do a search engine search for local "Lost and Found" sites. Post a listing of the found animal and see if there are any labeled "missing" that might match the animal you find.

6) Let local veterinarians and animal shelters know of a found animal. Those are definitely the first places someone will contact if they have lost their pet.

These are just some ideas to make sure that lost animals are able to find their way home.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Friday, August 1, 2008

Make way for ducklings!

I thought this was an amazing story! It reminded me of a childhood favorite book, Make Way for Ducklings. (I LOVE Robert McCloskey!) Oh, and Snopes confirms that it's a true story!

Something really amazing happened in Downtown Spokane this week and I had to share the story with you.

Some of you may know that my brother, Joel, is a loan officer at Sterling Bank. He works downtown in a second story office building, overlooking busy Riverside Avenue. Several weeks ago he watched a mother duck choose the cement awning outside his window as the uncanny place to build a nest above the sidewalk. The mallard laid nine eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks and Monday afternoon all of her nine ducklings hatched.

Joel worried all night how the mamma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching. Tuesday morning, Joel came to work and watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off!

The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In his disbelief Joel watched as the
first fuzzy newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. My brother couldn't watch how this might play out. He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling was stuporing near its mother from the near fatal fall.

Joel looked up. The second duckling was getting ready to jump! He quickly dodged under the awning while the mother duck quacked at him and the babies above. As the second one took the plunge, Joel jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the cement. Safe and sound, he set it by the mamma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from its painful leap.

One by one the babies continued to jump to join their anxious family below. Each time Joel hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall. The downtown sidewalk came to a standstill. Time after time, Joel was able to catch the remaining 7 and set them by their approving mother.

At this point Joel realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had 2 full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs, and pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the Spokane River.

The onlooking office secretaries then joined in, and hurriedly brought an empty copy paper box to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother's approval, and loaded them up into the white cardboard container. Joel held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the Spokane River, as the mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight.

As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping into the river and quacking loudly. At the water's edge, the Sterling Bank office staff then tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to their mother after their adventurous ride.

All nine darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to mamma duck. Joel said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank workers, and proudly quacking as if to say, 'See, we did it! Thanks for all the help!

Thankfully, one of the secretaries had a digital camera and was able to capture most of it (except the actual mid-air catching) in a series of attached photographs. Please join me in celebrating my brother - The Downtown Duck Hero!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pet rentals

Joanna sent me a really interesting article, which I thought I'd share here.

It's about a company called FlexPetz - a company that lets you "rent" dogs for a certain period of time. It's geared to people who don't have the time or resources to keep a pet full-time, but still want to enjoy some of the benefits of having an animal.

An excerpt:
In early 2007, Marlena Cervantes founded FlexPetz, a pet-sharing service that allows members to rent out dogs for a few hours or days at a time. Since then the small business—the first of its kind in the U.S.—has expanded rapidly from San Diego and opened branches in Los Angeles, Manhattan, and, most recently, in London. The company's website lists plans to open soon in San Francisco, Boston, Washington DC, and Paris, France.

But in recent weeks, lawmakers have begun taking steps to ban a practice critics call emotionally harmful to the animals.

It's an interesting concept. What do you think? I'm not sure. I can see some positives, especially because I'm a huge pet lover and I've been in positions where I have been unable to own one (for example, in college - I missed having cats sooo much). However, I can also see the negatives - what type of emotional affect does this have on the pet? What's the focus of the company - making money or really providing the service? Who takes care of the dogs' vet bills and makes sure they are healthy? How do you guard against possible abuse?

It seems, though, that laws are being passed to prevent FlexPetz from operating in certain cities in the U.S. (like Boston, for example). It seems this might be the end of the company:
"In response to inquiries from NEWSWEEK about the effect the legislation will have on FlexPetz growth, CEO and founder Cervantes said that as a result of the recent legislation, she has decided to "shelve" operations in the US and London, and that each pet in all FlexPetz locations will be offered to a renter for adoption."

Interesting things to ponder. Thanks, Joanna!

A dog for a day? Lawmakers take action against "pet rental" companies

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