Sunday, April 27, 2008

No-scratch kitties

Recently, my husband has been getting frustrated with our cats' claws. They aren't scratching the furniture or carpet really, but they are scratching us. They often leave behind deep scratches on our laps when they jump down from our laps, or they hurt when they purr and knead their claws on their legs. Also, they tear up our clothes when they do those two things.

It hasn't bothered me too much, but my husband was asking me if there were any solutions. I mentioned these soft caps that you can put on your cats to keep them from scratching, and he immediately got excited.

Today we went out and bought some. We got Soft Claws, but there is also a similar brand called Soft Paws. We put them on tonight, so we'll see how well they do! They were slightly expensive ($18 for 40), so if they don't last very long then we'll have to find another option. But so far they seem to be good and they don't bother the cats at all!

I'll keep y'all updated!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Weekly link roundup

Toxic Cats and Dogs - Well - Tara Parker-Pope - Health - New York Times Blog
"At a time when people are fretting about toxins in baby bottles and prescription drugs in the water supply, a new report shows that our pets are teeming with chemicals as well."

The Associated Press: Bear gave off no reasons for concern before trainer's death
"The grizzly bear... seemed to obediently follow cues — which made its killing of its trainer with a bite to the neck all the more stunning."

Scientists offered $1 million to grow laboratory chicken -
"An animal rights group is offering $1 million to any scientist who can create lab-grown meat that is commercially viable and indistinguishable in taste from the real thing."

Married to the Empire: The Great Stare-Down
"Calvin and Doogie were both in the window staring down this interloping cat, when the cat decided he needed to come closer. I think he's taunting my boys."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tail Whacker

From an email forward that my sister sent me:
A woman was working in her yard with the weed whacker, when she accidentally cut off the tail of her cat.

She ran screaming into the house, and told her husband, wondering what to do.

He replied calmly, "Get the cat, and the tail, and we'll take them to Wal-Mart."

She was incredulous. "How could that possibly help?" she asked.

"Well," he replied, "they're the world's largest retailer."

Okay I know the thought of accidentally cutting a cat's tail off is a little horrific, but I thought it was funny. :-) magnifiers

Saturday, April 19, 2008

This could have been Zoey

I saw these two pictures on Cute Overload today. They are of an adorable beagle puppy chomping down on a little kitty! This reminded me SO much of what Zoey would do - chomping on Lewis' head. And the cat in the pictures reminded me so much of Lewis - just sitting there taking it!

Weekly link roundup

Autistic girl connects with animals -
"Sixteen-year-old has worked at an animal sanctuary since age 9... Sara believes that her 'gift with animals is because of my autism'"

'Big black dog syndrome' leaves them homeless -
"According to animal shelter officials, big, black dogs like Gozer have more trouble finding a happy home than do other dogs. Some shelters even have a name for it: 'Big black dog syndrome.'"

Build Your Own Cat Tree
"You can make your own five foot tall cat tree for a fraction of the price if you are even the tiniest bit handy with tools."

Today's Pictures: Son of Bitch
"[D]ogs are just as expressive as humans, if not more so. These photographs from across the globe chronicle his lifelong pursuit of man’s best friend—and capture a spectrum of canine lifestyles."

Cats & hairballs

My cats seem to have trouble with hairballs. I used to give them special hairball food, but I switched to regular food when I started reading the ingredient labels. However, I've noticed a few hacked up hairballs on the floor since then - yuck!

My vet recommended that I get in the habit of brushing my cats. I've never brushed them before, so I had to go out and buy a soft-bristled brush. I want to say that they love it - but they don't, yet. :-) I'm sure they will in time! Brushing your cats is the best way to decrease hairballs.

If that doesn't help, then my vet recommended switching to food with the hairball-prevention formula. You can also buy a hairball paste that helps encourage them to pass. Whatever you end up doing, it's important to take care of it because it could be really dangerous to the cat to be having a lot of hairballs.

For further reference:
The Ubiquitous Hairball -
Hairballs -

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

O The Places You'll Go

This is a post I originally wrote on February 8th, 2006 at my other blog.

I was working at my computer and I heard a rustle behind me. Ebony had crawled into the trash can and was just sitting there as pretty as can be!

Lewis got jealous and found the nearest available thing he could sit in.

Anyone who has had cats will know that nothing that is climb-in-to-able is safe. Take, for example, their "help" packing last October:

I love my babies. :-) I'm going to need the best wrinkle cream for all these laugh lines they're giving me! :-)

About Yum Yum

This is a post I originally wrote on January 21st, 2007 at my other blog.

This is a picture of Koko and Yum Yum.


Koko and Yum Yum joined our household on February 1st, 1999. I remember getting the Sunday paper and looking for ads for kittens. We went over to the house - a small house, with 9 cats (they said). It smelled like it too! We picked up the two tiny kittens (no bigger than handheld electronics and held them close, and then we went home. Since they were Siamese, I decided to name them after the cats in my favorite series of books at the time, "The Cat Who..." series. Now I wonder why I would name a cat Yum Yum...

They were such sweet cats, not like the Siamese breed you see in the States (I blame overbreeding). They never yowled or climbed the curtains. They were friendly and liked to cuddle. They looked exactly alike and at first I could only tell them apart by the color of the collars. I don't think my dad ever knew which was which. Over time, I learned how to distinguish the two based on personality and texture of their fur. Koko was always hungry and more vocal. She was also the friendlier one. Yum Yum had softer fur and more aloof, but I won her over. They loved each other, and would play together all the time. Jo and Paul Loeb, animal trainers and writers, once said, "The best exercise for a cat is another cat." And they were right! Koko and Yum Yum were the best of friends.

When they weren't playing together, they were sleeping together. Sometimes it was hard to tell when one started and the other ended. They looked like "yin and yang", to quote Qwilleran. I loved them so.

The last time I ever saw Yum Yum was on February 21st, 2001. Neither of my cats were allowed outside, but Yum Yum would look out the window longingly, so we started letting her out in the mornings for short periods of time.

This particular morning, I remember sitting in the living room reading (I was on summer vacation, for all you northern hemispherers). Koko came in, crying pitifully. Since it wasn't anywhere near a mealtime, I immediately suspected something was wrong. "Where's Yum Yum?" I asked Koko. Meow, was the reply.

I searched the house frantically. No Yum Yum. I called my mom who was at work, and she said she had called Yum Yum that morning but the cat never came. I was worried and heartbroken. The next few days, I spent my time making "Gato Perdido" (Lost Cat) posters and asking all the local business owners if they had seen a little Siamese kitty. No, they shook their heads sadly.

I don't remember when I realized that Yum Yum wasn't coming back. I know it broke my heart, and that Koko was lonely. I mourned for her, and somehow moved on. Four months later, I cried as I handed Koko to my dad's coworker. I never saw Koko again, either. We left for the States a week later.

I grieved for my cats, and moved on. Then, a few days ago, I got an email from my mom.

My mom is in Peru right now for meetings. She was talking with the woman who currently lives in our old house. The woman mentioned a Siamese cat who came in and just made itself comfortable inside the house. The cat belonged to the neighbors, the woman said.

My mom showed her a picture of Yum Yum. Could this be your cat? My mom asked. It could very well be, was the response.

When I found out, my first thought was amazement. Six years later, my lost cat was found? How often does that happen? Wow!

My next thought was, I want my cat back! She was taken from me. (We think the neighbors took her, since it was very unlikely that Yum Yum would have ran away.) I know, this is silly. I have two lovely cats now, and I am living in a whole different continent.

My last thought was sadness. Suddenly, all the memories of Yum Yum came back. The good, the bad. The painful memories of when she disappeared. The heartache, the sadness, the agony of realizing she would not return. Koko's plaintive meows, her loneliness. And she was right next door the whole time? I should have been better. I should have asked around more. I should have showed the neighbors Yum Yum's picture. I should have, I should have....

To most people, this sounds silly, I know. I am not sure why I have felt so down about this situation. Perhaps because I have already grieved for my cat, and put it behind me? That I moved on, and now it is all being brought to the surface again? That the knowledge that even though Yum Yum is back, it is doubtful I will ever see her again? I ache to rub my face in her fur and cuddle her close to me, but it will never happen. It could - I could throw caution to the wind, spend all my savings on a plane ticket, and fly to Peru. I could - but I won't.

So here I am, enlightened in the whereabouts of my missing kitty, yet still sad. I wish things had turned out differently, but such is life.

I am going to go cuddle with Lewis and Ebony now.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weekly link roundup

Switzerland likely to outlaw cat fur trade - International Herald Tribune
"The cats... were shot by hunters near this central Swiss city and sold to tanners for their fur, which is used in garments and blankets in the last West European nation where such a trade is still legal."

Pup hits gas, runs minivan over 5-year-old - video
"A dog jumped into a minivan, triggering a freak accident in which the van ran over a 5-year-old girl."

Subtraction: Think Like a Dog
"It’s not a comprehensive topography of his logic, to be sure, but it does chart the most crucial routine of all: eating."

Hedgehog used in non-lethal assault -
"A New Zealand man has been accused of assault with a prickly weapon -- a hedgehog."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cats and thyroid troubles

A bit earlier, I wrote about the possibility of Lewis having thyroid troubles and perhaps that being an explanation of his incessant cries. The vet examined Lewis and said that he appeared healthy, and that hyperthyroidism appears with older cats and not a 3 year old like Lewis.

So what is hyperthyroidism? It’s actually the most common endocrine (hormone) disorder, usually occurring in cats that are 8 years or older. It’s unknown the exact cause, but some attribute hyperthyroidism to benign tumors in the thyroid gland and others blame environmental contaminants called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), which are present in flame retardants in many household products.

What does hyperthyroidism look like in cats? These are some of the more noticeable symptoms:
  • rapid weight loss (most common sign)
  • increased appetite for food and water
  • Demanding food more frequently
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • hyperactivity (acting like a kitten)
  • unkempt appearance or hair loss
  • increased use of the litter box
Other serious symptoms are rapid heart rate, heart murmurs or high blood pressure and if left untreated result in heart failure and death.

There are three treatments for hyperthyroidism in cats. They are: anti-thyroid drugs for the rest of the cat’s life, surgery, and treatment with radioactive iodine. There are pros and cons for each of these, but they are usually successful and properly treated cats go on to lead normal and successful lives.

For further reference:
Hyperthyroidism in Cats

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Red pandas

My husband and I have a membership to Zoo Atlanta. We like to go for a few hours and see all the animals. Our favorite animal there is the red panda, who we've named Firefox. He's usually asleep when we go, but if it's late enough then he's out and feasting on some tasty bamboo. Red pandas are most active at dawn and dusk, so it's not surprising that he's usually hiding away when we visit in the middle of the day!

Last time we saw the red panda out of his little hut, we took 62 pictures! I think this one is my favorite:


Red pandas look more like raccoons than bears. They have a bushy, striped tail and pointy ears. They have beautiful redish-brownish fur - I keep telling my husband that the red panda and I share hair color. :-) Like giant pandas, red pandas are also native to areas of China as well as other nearby countries like Nepal. They also live primarily on bamboo as well as berries and flower blossoms. They are endangered due to the destruction of their habitats and also poaching for their fur. There are estimated to be fewer than 2,500 adult red pandas.

Firefox 2Another name for a red panda is "Firefox", which is the inspiration for the internet browser by Mozilla. You can see how the red panda was the inspiration for their logo (to the left).

I think they are adorable animals, reminding me of cats. I hope they are able to rebound from their endangered status and once again become as common as teak furniture. Next time you go to the zoo, be sure to look out for a red panda!

See the rest of our zoo pictures here (including 7 other red panda pictures).

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Weekly link roundup

How to reduce the costs of pet ownership | Sense to Save
"The part of pet ownership that isn’t often discussed is how expensive they can be."

Even your dog has a blog -
"These days, it seems everyone from the UPS man to your mother-in-law is a blogger... So why shouldn't pets have voices?"

Human Foods, Products Can Kill Pets - WPTZ Plattsburgh
"In 2007, the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center received more than 130,000 calls. Most cases of animal poisoning were caused by common household items."

Clean Green for a Cat-Safe Home
"We all agree that a clean house is not only desirable, but essential to the health of both humans and the cats who share our homes."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Einstein the Parrot

Here's a fun video for you about a parrot named Einstein. You can follow this link (it's better quality) or watch the YouTube video below.

Einstein is a 20 year old African Grey parrot who lives at the Knoxville Zoo. She works with a trainer named Stephanie White, and knows about 200 sounds. (She can do 70 on cue!) African Greys like to mimic sounds, but this particular bird is exceptionally smart. Another smart African Grey parrot is N'kisi, who they claim knows almost 1,000 words and can use them in context. It's a controversial topic, about whether parrots actually understand the sounds they are mimicking.

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