Sunday, March 30, 2008

To the vet

I took the cats to the vet on Saturday to check out the blood in their stool.

The vet took a fecal exam from both of them, and it came out negative. Since I only saw the blood once, she said it could have been just a broken blood vessel and nothing to worry about, unless they seem to be behaving differently. I should keep a close eye on them to make sure it isn't something that happens frequently.

I also asked her about Lewis' weight and annoying crying. He is 11 pounds now, and according to her still at an okay weight. She said she doesn't want to see him gain any more weight, but since I'm already being careful not to overfeed him, then I shouldn't worry about getting him down to under 10 pounds. (Side note: The difference between my last vet and this one. Cats with weights over 10 pounds were flagged as "obese" at my last vet. She constantly reprimanded me for his weight, which frustrated me because I've always been careful not to feed him too much. I appreciated that this vet was able to give me an honest answer based on Lewis himself, and not on just numbers.) She told me not to worry about the exercise bikes yet, but to supplement his food with a weight-loss food that would help fill him up without giving him the calories. I'm supposed to do about half of his normal food and half of the weight-loss food for now, so that's been an interesting juggle. :-)

As for the thyroid problem that I wondered if Lewis had, she said it's very rare that a cat as young as him (3 years) would have trouble with that. She wouldn't discount it completely, but I should watch him and if I ever notice the signs then I should bring him in for a blood test. More things to watch. :-) I would like to write a blog post about the signs of thyroid problems for cats, but that will have to come later!

Overall, Lewis and Ebony are quite healthy cats and the vet said I take good care of them. That's happy to know, and I hope that means they are with me for a long while yet. :-)

Weekly link roundup

Doggy Disneyland draws animals, owners by the pack
"[H]is Dog Mountain studio and dog chapel... have evolved into a kind of doggy Disneyland, drawing animal lovers and their pets from all over."

Declaw your cats -- or not -
"For animal-rights activists, it was nothing short of torture."

Things You Must Consider before You Get a Pet | Wise Bread
"It is important to find out about the pet you want before you bring it home, and these are the lessons I have learned that could help you save money and sanity."

100,000 dogs given second chance at life -
"Authorities in Indian-Administered Kashmir's main city have canceled plans to poison nearly 100,000 stray dogs as part of an anti-rabies program."

Read other animal-related links on my

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Last night, my husband and I suddenly smelled a quite foul smell. We walked around, sniffing, until we discovered the source: the litter box. A peek inside showed us a pile of bloody stool.

Today I did some research on this. The most helpful site I found was this one. Apparently blood in the stool is called hematochezia. It seems that in older cats, it can be a sign of cancer or tumors. However, in younger cats it is a less serious problem, like parasites.

I called the vet and made an appointment for Saturday. Since I'm not sure which cat passed the stool, I will have to bring them both in, though I suspect that Lewis is the troublemaker. I am not worried that it's something serious, but rather hope we can figure it out and get him all better!

Below are some of the causes of hematochezia (copied from the site I linked to above):
  • Viral infections (panleukopenia), bacterial infections (Salmonella), protozoal agents (coccidiosis), or intestinal parasites (hookworms and roundworms)
  • Dietary intolerance from eating spoiled food, overeating, ingesting foreign material (especially bones), a sudden change in diet, or eating people food
  • Dietary allergy to certain food substances, such as to particular proteins, lactose, high fat content, etc.
  • Masses of the colon, rectum or anus such as benign (polyps) and malignant (cancer) tumors
  • Inflammation of the colon (colitis)
  • Trauma of any sort (bite wounds to the anal area, fractures of the pelvis that disrupt the colon or rectum, the passage of sharp ingested objects, or the insertion of instruments or materials into the rectum)
  • Bleeding disorders (coagulopathies) of the body may result in bleeding from the lining of the lower bowel. Examples include ingestion of rat poison that contains anticoagulants, inherited clotting disorders (rare in the cat), decreased numbers of platelets (uncommon in the cat), disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) from massive infections or organ failure, and severe liver disorders.
  • Intussusception (the telescoping of one part of the bowel into another) secondary to foreign bodies, tumors, or parasites
  • Stricture (narrowing) of the anus or colon, secondary to previous trauma, inflammation, cancer or a foreign body may result in bleeding, especially as stools are passed
  • Chronic or intermittent constipation and attempted passages of dry, hard stools
  • Anal sacculitis (inflammation of the anal sacs) or anal sac abscessation can change the consistency of the fluid in the anal sacs to a bloody liquid that may coat the stools as they are defecated (this is uncommon in the cat)
  • Proctitis is inflammation of the rectum and is often associated with colitis
I am going to take this chance to talk to the vet about Lewis' behavior problems in regards to being hungry all the time. I was talking to a coworker today who suggested that perhaps he has a thyroid problem. I don't know if it's the problem, but it's definitely good to keep an eye out for unusual behavior since that's the only way Lewis can communicate that something is wrong. Perhaps all Lewis needs is a vacation - a Hilton Head rental. ;-) What a spoiled cat!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Annoying cat

I have always fed my cats twice a day, 1/4 cup each at 7:30am and another 1/4 cup each at 6pm of dry food. It's what my vet originally told me to feed them, and so I've always done it that way. Recently, with my new working schedule, I have switched the schedule to 6am and 5pm.

Lewis has always been the annoying one, especially in the mornings. He usually starts an hour before the mealtime, finds me wherever I am, and walks over me crying. If I'm asleep, he rubs his face against mine until I wake up. I usually push him off the bed, which doesn't bother him - he just gets right up again. This is so frustrating to me who is trying to grasp the last precious 60 minutes in my comfy bed before I have to get up and face the day. Sometimes I hide under my covers, but that usually doesn't last long because I'm quite a fan of being able to breathe.

This has been a problem for years, and I'm getting quite frustrated with it. The other day I mentioned to my husband that perhaps we should keep food out all the time for our cats. Ebony, the female cat, would do just fine with that. I doubt she would eat more than she needed. Lewis, the fat male cat, already struggles with being overweight and he is constantly hungry. I honestly think he would just eat himself silly, and if I left food out all the time then I wouldn't be able to control the amount he eats at all. My husband doesn't think it would be good to leave food out.

Has anyone dealt with this? Does anyone have any ideas?

This post brought to you by office space Connecticut

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Puppy & dog training books

Last January I gave away a book called Maran Illustrated Puppies. I thought it was a great resource for the new puppy owner, with easy-to-follow instructions, tips, and ideas for taking care of a new puppy.

I wanted to point out to others who didn't win but might be interested in the book that it's now available online!

You can read the Puppy book here. Or, check out the book by the same authors about Dog Training here.

(Joanna: You should definitely check out the puppy book. There are some Australian Shepherd puppies in it!)

Enjoy these free resources!

funny t-shirts

Weekly link roundup

Foods You Should Not Feed Your Cat
"Some foods which are edible for humans, and even dogs, can pose hazards for cats because of their different metabolism... The following common food items should not be fed (intentionally or unintentionally) to cats."

Korean Company To Clone Dead Pets
"[The company...] to offer customers a re-creation of their deceased pet for $150,000." This makes me think of the Futurama episode, "Jurassic Bark".

Make Sure Your Pet Enjoys Your Vacation
"Worried about how Fido will fare while you're away? Do some research to minimize the stress of leaving your pet in someone else's care."

Cute Overload! :) Behbeh Beagle Howl
"Learning to Baroooooooo for the first time!"

Read other animal-related links on my

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Weekly link roundup

I have been using to organize my links, and they have a feature which auto-posts the links you save every day. I messed around with it for a while trying to get it to work on my blog here, but it seems that it's not possible to do with Blogger. Sigh.

So, I will try to do a manual weekly link roundup each weekend. :-) Here are some of the links I've collected over the past few months.

Barefoot Lass's Favorite Pet Hints and Tips!
Hints and tips for pets

The Art of Walking Cats on a Leash
"Now you must remember leash training a cat will not be easy and may take a fair amount of time... Maintaining your patience, and strict avoidance of punishment or coercion, is paramount to success and happiness for all involved."

How to Avoid Foods Dangerous for Your Dog
"There are some common foods on the human table that are deadly for dogs. It is important to know about them to avoid causing severe or fatal illness in your loyal canine companion."

Kitty Pouch Carrier
"my sister got a kitten a few weeks ago, and he's a handful... he wants to be next to 'mom' all the time, so i made her this little carrier...he loves it!"

YouTube - Cat nap
"A lazy cat enjoys a seven hour nap in the shifting sunlight."

I'm always eager to get links relating to animals, so feel free to send them on when you come across them. My email address is ashley {at} twentysixcats {dot} com

Friday, March 14, 2008

Life in my house

I wrote this post over at my other blog shortly after we got our first beagle, Jera. Enjoy!


Yesterday, Ebony slid down the banister. Paul and I heard some scratching, and we turned around to see Ebbie on the banister, sliding down. I don’t think she realized it was sloped when she got up there. :-)

Today after doing some laundry I left the washer open. A little while later, I looked inside and there is Ebony, investigating. She looked so cute.

Lewis came into the kitchen today. Jera saw him, and bounded over wanting to play. Lewis was frightened and in one swift motion escaped up and over the gate. This is amazing because my cats are anything but nimble. Jera stood at the gate with her tail wagging. Where did he go? I want to play!

Keeping a watchful eye

Jera at the gate

This post brought to you by bull bars

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why I love beagles

I wrote this post originally on August 13th, 2008 over at my other blog, shortly after we got Zoey. I thought it might be a good thing to repost over here.


Shelagh asked in a comment how I chose what breed to get, so I thought I'd elaborate a little on this!

I have been quite obsessed with beagles for about a year now. I started with not really knowing much about dog breeds, and did a lot of research online to find the one that fit our lifestyle the most. I think that's the first thing: find a breed that matches your lifestyle. There are some helpful quizzes online that can help you, like this one.

The first thing I considered was size. We wanted a dog under 25 pounds because we both prefer smaller dogs, and we wanted to make sure that we wouldn't have any problems getting an apartment. (Many apartment complexes require that dogs be under 25 or 40 pounds.) However, a lot of small dogs are yappy dogs, and I knew that would drive me crazy. Another important criteria was the dog had to be good with cats. Those two things knocked out most terriers.

Other things that weren't as important, but still a consideration: the amount of grooming needed, how much energy they had, were they good with traveling and camping, were they good with children, were they friendly. We weren't necessarily looking for a guard dog: we wanted a dog that we didn't have to lock up whenever guests came over. I wanted to force myself off the couch so I looked for a breed that wasn't quite so sedentary, but yet would be okay with daily walks.

Another consideration for me was how much I liked the breed's looks. Was it cute? Was the breed healthy, or was it prone to a lot of complicated and expensive medical problems? I think I generalized here, since I know that all senior dogs will probably have a medical problem somewhere along the line. A great resource was this site, which had a lot of details about different breeds.

I actually made a large spreadsheet, starting with all dogs under 25 lbs, taking away all dogs not recommended for apartment life, and then rating the other criteria. I eventually narrowed it down to 15 different breeds, but the beagle had already won my heart at this point!

Here is what the Dog Breed Info Center site says about beagles:
The Beagle is a gentle, sweet, lively and curious dog that just loves everyone! A happy little tail-wagger!

This is SO true!! Jera's tail never stopped wagging. Even when they were taking blood right before she was spayed, her little tail was working overtime! I really liked having a dog that was so happy all the time - it put me in the right mindset, even when I was frustrated with her. A friendly dog was a big positive in my book, even though I didn't really think about it at the time. I love being able to share my pets with people who stop by to visit.
Sociable, brave and intelligent. Calm and loving. Excellent with children and generally good with other dogs, but should not be trusted with non-canine pets, unless they are socialized with cats and other household animals when they are young.

This is one reason why we looked for a puppy, though as we were looking at rescue groups the question of cats didn't seem to be an issue. I think it would be more of a concern if the beagle had been trained to hunt, rather than be a pet all its life. We wanted a dog that would be good with children, since we will most likely have children while we still have the dog. And of course, a loving dog is always a plus. :-)
Beagles have minds of their own. They are determined and watchful and require patient, firm training. This breed doesn't like being left alone. Consider buying two if you will be gone a lot.

These are downsides to a beagle. With the training, Jera did pretty good. We didn't work with her as much as we should have, but we got "sit" and "drop it" and "leave it" down pretty well. She was also learning "roll over" which was adorable to watch. House-training was another story. Jera was horrible, but Zoey is already months ahead of Jera when we first got her! I think the difference is getting a dog from a family vs. a pet store. I read once that beagles are more difficult to housetrain than other breeds because their noses are so extremely sensitive, that they can smell previous accidents even after you've cleaned them. Jera did much better after we rented a heavy-duty carpet cleaner from Home Depot and went over the carpets twice.
A Beagle has a loud baying cry that was a delight to hunting horsemen, but can be disturbing to family and neighbors. Beagles have a tendency to follow their own noses. They may take off on their own exploration if let off their leash in an unfenced area.

I would rather have a dog with an occasional bay than a yappy bark! Jera was SO quiet (except for the whining!). Sometimes her cries turned to howls, but that was mostly when we first got her and trying to crate-train her. So far, Zoey has been pretty quiet, but she still has a puppy voice. I really hope she's not a barker! Beagles are also runners. Jera would bolt anytime she could (hence... why we don't have her anymore). Zoey so far has not been like that at all. I am enjoying having a dog who follows me around! I'm not sure if this is just a puppy thing, or if Zoey will follow us, so we'll see. I'm okay with keeping the dog on a leash. It's a bit annoying when we're camping, but most campsites require you leave your dog on a leash at all times so it's okay.

So pretty much, I love beagles. They aren't perfect, but they are perfect for us. I can't wait to get a house with a yard so she can run to her heart's content, but right now I think we have a pretty good system worked out with our daily walks and visiting the dog park 4 times a week. I really love going to the dog park, and I can't wait until Zoey is big enough to take her too!!

This post was brought to you by hoodia

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Let me in!

Do you remember me posting about the video Wake Up Cat (officially called "Cat-man-do")? I about died laughing about that video! (It still never fails to crack me up!)

Well the creator of that video, Simon Tandem, has come out with another one called "Let me in!" Here it is below, for your viewing pleasure!

Crate training your puppy

Crate-training is a great thing to do when you get a new dog. Crates provide a "home" for your dog, mimicking the dens that they desire in their instincts. If you have a puppy, it helps with potty training. The theory behind this is that puppies won't eliminate where they are sleeping, and so it forces them to "hold" it until you come back and are able to take them outside. Crates are also a great way to keep them out of trouble when you aren't home or if there are non-dog-friendly guests visiting. Just be careful not to keep your dog in the crate TOO long!

I only have experience crate-training puppies, so I'll focus on them for now. If you have anything to add about crate-training grown dogs, I'd love to hear it!

Buying a crate
You want your crate to be big enough for the dog to comfortably turn around and lie down, but no bigger (especially if you are still potty-training). If your puppy is still going to be growing, I'd recommend getting a crate with a divider. If the crate is too big, then the puppy can eliminate in one side of the crate and sleep on the other. This sounds weird, but Jera did that when the first crate we had was too big! Borrowing a smaller crate is another way to go here, and then upgrading when the puppy outgrows.

* A note about pet store puppies: Because they are usually kept in cages, they are taught to eliminate in the same place they sleep. Therefore, you may find that at first they will use their crates. This isn't natural, and if you are patient with them the first few weeks, they will learn that they don't HAVE to sleep in their own filth, and they will wait for you to come and let them out of the crate. I know this sounds disgusting, but that's what happened with Jera - we found that time was the key to stopping her from going in her crate.

Setting up your crate
We chose to put our crate in the living room, where Jera and Zoey could still feel part of the family and not "shut off". Make sure to find a place that isn't too drafty or too hot. If your dog is potty-trained, you can put a soft blanket and maybe a toy in the crate for comfort. I wouldn't recommend this if your dog isn't potty-trained though! Also, don't put any puppy pads in your dog's crate. Puppy pads have a special scent that attracts puppies, and you don't want to encourage any accidents inside the crate!

Creating positive associations
NEVER use the crate for discipline!! It might be VERY tempting, but you want to be very careful to always create positive associations with the crate. When you first get your puppy and/or the crate, start by throwing some treats inside. When the puppy goes in, praise him/her extensively. Stop praising when the puppy leaves the crate. If you continue to do this, then the puppy will learn that you like the crate. Never force your puppy into the crate. If you are having trouble getting him inside, then use treats.

This crate is your puppy's private place, so teach your children not to play inside it. Try to make it as nice and comfortable a place as you can! You don't have to add an adjustable beds, but a blanket or even an old t-shirt that smells like you can help a lot (if possible - remember, non-housebroken puppies like to use soft things). Your puppy probably won't like the crate at first. Try doing short sessions in it, to get him used to the idea of the crate and also to let him know that you will let him out again. We always gave our puppies a treat every time we put them in the crate.

Let them "cry it out"
It's heartbreaking to put your puppy in the crate and walk away, only to hear them cry after you. You just have to learn to turn a deaf ear towards it. If you come when they start crying, then they will never learn that it's okay in the crate. This killed me the first week we had Jera. My husband would leave for work about two hours before I woke up, and she would cry and howl the whole two hours. I would lay in bed, my heart twisting, but eventually she settled down and before too long she would be silent until I came to let her out.

* Note: Make sure before you ignore your puppy that she's not crying because she needs to go or because something is wrong.

Dinner time in the crate
One thing that really helped our dogs not mind their crate is to feed them their meals in it. Since beagles LOVE food, associating their crate with mealtime was a very good thing! We always did this with Jera, but when we got Zoey we started out by feeding her in the kitchen. She seemed to have some issues with her crate, and when we switched we noticed a huge difference.

Be careful not to keep your dog in the crate too long. Our dog trainer actually recommended keeping a puppy in a small dog-proofed room during the day, instead of the crate. We were never able to do that, due to not having a small room we could block off (a laundry room may be a great option, if you have one). I worked nearby, so I always came home and let the dog run around for an hour in the middle of the day. Remember: your puppy generally can "hold it" for as many hours plus one as she is months old. (So, if your dog is 3 months old, then she should be fine for 4 hours.) Don't put your dog in a position where he or she is forced to eliminate in their crate. Just keep reinforcing positive associations, and both you and your dog will do great!

For further reference:
Crate Training - HSUS

Monday, March 3, 2008

Follow-up: cat food

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about what to feed your cat. I wrote that when reading an ingredients label, you should make sure that the first ingredient was meat. I included an example of the food we fed our cats, which read "Chicken By-Product Meal".

Later I read something (not sure where it is now) which said that market research shows that "Chicken By-Product" doesn't really count. I suspected as much, so last time I went to the store I took some time to look through all the different brands and select the best one. We finally decided on Eukanuba's Lamb and Rice Formula. I mixed it with their old food and so far they seem to like it! We'll see if it makes a difference after they are on 100% of the Eukanuba.

Check out all the meats on the ingredients label of this brand!

I hope Lewis and Ebony realize how spoiled they are. :-)