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. :-)