Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cats on Twitter

My husband enjoys Instructables.com, and today he sent me a fun link. Here's a description from the site:

Give your cat a Twitter account and have her post updates automatically whenever she sits down on her bed or when she leaves her bed. In addition, capture pictures of your cat when she's on her bed and upload those as well so you can keep tabs on her antics while you're away from home.

In this instructable, I'll walk you through the process of
* building a cat sensor out of a simple momentary switch, foam core and foam strips
* reading the cat sensor on your Mac or PC using Arduino and Processing
* automatically posting status updates to Twitter when your cat takes a nap or wakes back up
* taking pictures of your cat on the bed with a webcam and uploading the pictures to a webserver

Want to see a twittering cat in action? Follow @zooooey on Twitter.


Maybe when my husband wants a new project, I'll see if I can convince him to set this up for our kitties. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the link and fat burner reviews. :-)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dinner

Someone sent me this and I thought it was great!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back to Atlanta

We traveled back from Orlando to Atlanta last weekend after a nice and refreshing break. We had a really nice Thanksgiving dinner, where I had seconds and even thirds... I'm going to have to go on a weight loss diet soon!

The kitties loved their time in the warmer weather, spending much of their time on the porch where they could see the ducks, birds, and squirrels and chase bugs and geckos.

Coming back to Atlanta, we had the cats loose in the car again. Lewis in his usual fashion curled up between the front two seats and stayed there the entire trip. The car doesn't seem to bother him at all. Ebony, on the other hand, was another story. She cried and cried for 2 hours after we left Orlando. She kept pacing around the car and driving me nuts (I was driving). Finally, I pulled off the highway to a Walmart and picked up a cat crate. We have a soft-sided carrier for them, but I was worried that it wouldn't be a comfortable place to leave them for a long period of time. I thought perhaps she would feel more at ease in the crate. At the very least, it would keep her from getting in my way as I'm driving.

She still cried, but I felt that they weren't so desperate of cries. We'll definitely use the crate for her in the future. Lewis does fine without it, so I'm not sure we'll get one for him (it's a small crate, only big enough for one cat).

Next time we go on a long trip with the cats, we're going to try and get some sedatives to at least take the edge off. Poor kitty.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Adventures in Orlando

The kitties really love visiting Orlando!

They have been spending a lot of time on the big porch. They can see all sorts of animals from the porch - geckos, birds, squirrels, ducks, bugs, etc. They certainly love "hunting" and following their natural instincts! :-)

The cats have already brought two geckos inside.

Lewis was chasing a gecko on the porch, and the gecko ran up the screen. Lewis followed. :-)

The second night we were here, Lewis got shut into my parents' room for the night. I noticed he was gone and was really worried. I figured out the last time I'd seen Lewis was right before my parents went to bed, so I went to bed telling myself that he was probably just in their room and not lost outside somewhere! You can imagine my relief the next morning when my parents woke up, let Lewis out, and he came to remind me that it was breakfast time.

Believe it or not, he was closed in their room again last night too. Sneaky cat! We think he's hiding in the closet, among the clothes and Christian Louboutin shoes. We'll have to do a better job of checking tonight.

Visiting Orlando

I'm typing this from Orlando, where we're visiting my parents for Thanksgiving! It's the baby's first Thanksgiving, so her grandparents are excited that we came. I have always brought the cats with me when coming to my parents house, and this time was no different. It was the first time we traveled in the car with me, my husband, the baby, and Lewis and Ebony.

It was funny - the cats kept climbing into the carseat to look out the window. The baby didn't seem to notice at all, but I chased them out anyway. I thought it was funny.

Lewis and Ebony drove me nuts in the car. My husband said they weren't acting any different than normal, so I wonder if I am just short of patience with them. My parents offered me their dog's old crate for us to contain the cats when going back to Atlanta after Thanksgiving.

I normally let the cats have free run in the car, but after writing this post last May, I began to wonder if that's the wisest choice. I don't want them to cause an accident and then having to rely on things like social security disability. We'll have to talk about it more before we leave.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lewis and Ebony

Some recent pictures of Lewis and Ebony.

Me and Lewis

Popular lap

Kitties on the window sill

Ebony's new seat

Happy puppies

Someone sent me this video yesterday and I couldn't help but smile.

The caption:
"My Dogs greeting me after returning from 14 months in Iraq"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Animal control

So more on the dogs next door...

They bark. A lot. (Or, rather, one of them barks.)

I actually feel bad for them. They're in their little deck all day; I never see anyone out there with them. I see them out there all the time, rain or shine, cold or hot. They really deserve better than they're getting.

I decided to call animal services yesterday using my unlocked phone (our county has anti-tethering laws, and the husky is chained up).

Basically, they told me off. They said that as long as the owner himself wasn't abusing them, there wasn't anything they could do.

I told them about the dogs fighting, about the husky bleeding, about how the husky was tied up and the pit bull wasn't. Animal Control told me that dogs fight - that's just what they do.

I was disappointed. Now what?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bay window

Ebony and Lewis

One of my favorite features of our new house is the bay window in the front room. It looks out to the street, and there are lots of birds and squirrels who enjoy our front yard.

I'd like to get a bird feeder and a bird bath for the front yard. Not so much for the birds, but rather for the kitties to be able to watch the birds. I'm mean. :-)

As you can see from the picture, there is a good sized window sill where they can relax. I put a pillow there for their sake, although it's really only big enough for one cat. I've debated about getting a second pillow or perhaps making one that will cover the entire space. (It's trapezoidal in shape.) The afternoon sun streams in and the kitties sprawl out there, soaking in the rays. They almost always are there in the window when we return home after being gone. Usually, we can see Lewis because of his white fur, but only Ebony's eyes if we're looking.

Right now, we have some pie pumpkins sitting in the window waiting to be made into pies. Seeing Ebony laying next to the pumpkins just seems appropriate - I love the contrast in colors, and how fall-ish!

I think Lewis and Ebony consider themselves in kitty heaven with this window. No amount of loose diamonds could make them give it up! Hey, it's the least I could do, right?

Approaching holidays

Now that it's November and the weather has turned chilly, I have been getting exciting about the upcoming holidays! It will be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas with a child, and I think kids always add a new, fun element to holidays.

I was thinking this year we would do christmas photo cards to show off our baby and perhaps our new house. I am trying to line up a photographer to take the pictures, and this morning my husband and I were discussing what might be a good backdrop.

The thought crossed my mind that in previous years, we have always attempted Christmas pictures with Lewis and Ebony. We are usually unsuccessful at getting them to cooperate, so we've never actually sent out cards. I wondered if we should try and get a family picture this year with the cats. If I could figure out how to get them to sit on our laps then I might try it... but as it is, they usually are more interested in escaping. Oh well.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baby + kitties

It's been 6 weeks since our baby arrived and we passed around the White Owl cigars. I was anxious about how the cats would respond to a new member of the family, especially a member that makes loud noises, takes our attention, and does not feed them!

So far they've adjusted rather well. They definitely have gotten the short end of the stick as far as attention goes, and that makes me sad. I am trying to be better about that, but it's difficult when I have a baby on my lap and all the cats want to do is crawl into my lap as well.

Ebony has become extremely needy and desperately wants on our laps and to be petted all the time. She had her moments before, but now it's all the time. She'll even do it to visitors, which is very unusual for her!

They don't seem to understand that they can't step on the baby, which actually makes me laugh. I try very hard to be conscious of when I am pushing them away (I don't want to push them away every single time the baby is around, or they will associate being "rejected" with the baby). However, I have to gently remove them when they want to sit on the baby. :-)

The other day, the baby and I were on my bed taking an afternoon nap. It was getting close to 5pm, which is the cats' dinner time. Lewis decided to wake me up in his usual fashion of cuddling up with me. However, in his rolling around he rolled on top of the baby, waking her up and making her cry. I thought that was a little funny. Generally, though, the cats avoid the baby and don't try to get in the crib with her or sleep next to her, so I don't worry about them smothering her.

We'll see how they react when the baby is crawling around and going after kitty tails. :-)

Unchain your dog

When I was at the vet the other day, I saw a sign saying that as of last month, chaining/tethering your dog is now prohibited in Fulton County. I haven't thought through the issue of chaining in detail, but my initial thought is yes! I'm glad. It makes me sad to see dogs chained up, especially when the chain is so short.

It really bothers me that the dog next door is chained. The county we live in has had a ban on tethering dogs since 2005. All morning, that husky has been howling and pulling at his chain. It makes me sad because it's been raining and he has no way to get out of the rain.

Seeing that it's illegal, I'm not sure if I should report it. I am torn between wanting to be a good neighbor, and wanting to see an animal treated right. I'm also slightly concerned about raising a family and having cats with two potentially dangerous animals next door. (Though, you could argue, that they are enclosed within two fences and chained, so the dogs are unlikely to get out.)

I was reading through the site UnchainYourDog.org all about why tethering dogs is bad for them. It makes me sad that this is an issue. It makes me sad to look at the dog next door and see him chained up. (The way our houses are positioned, the backside of my house looks into the neighbor's backyard, so I have a clear view of the dogs. Hence, why I see it so often and why it continues to bother me.)

I know that one option would be to go and talk to the neighbors and perhaps try to explain to them that tethering is illegal. However, I am not sure I could muster up that much courage. And I'm not sure I want my first interaction with them to be about something negative. They might blow me off as a salesperson trying to sell life insurance rates. Sigh.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dog fights

So my neighbors have a weird setup in their backyard. They have a raised deck (completely separate from the house) where they keep two dogs - an unneutered male pit bull and a husky. The dogs can't get off the deck, and it just seems a cruel way to keep one's dogs! That was a red strike against the house for us, but we decided to buy it anyways.

Today I arrived at the house in the afternoon to hear lots of growling and yelping. I ran to the backyard and looked into my neighbor's yard. The dogs were fighting - the pit bull was on top of the husky, and the husky was yelping. They did this for a while, then stopped for a while. This happened three separate times. The last time I was getting really concerned. The husky was bleeding from the neck, which is where the pit bull had sunk his teeth. The husky was tied up, and was trying really hard to get away from the other dog.

My heart broke for the husky. I decided to call animal services, but they were closed for the day.

I don't want to make enemies of our neighbors right after we move in, but I can't ignore fighting dogs like that. :-( With all the dog fighting and pit bulls that are in the news, I definitely don't want that next door to me.

So we'll see what happens. If I see blood again, I will call animal services. Maybe next time it will be during the hours they're open!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Porch kitties

DSC_6133

We live in an apartment on the second floor, with a nice big porch overlooking trees and other pretty greenery. Lewis and Ebony are the least-adventurous, most clumsy cats I've ever had, which does have its advantages. The main one being that they are not climbers or risk-takers. So, I can let them on the porch without worrying about them jumping off, even if they see a squirrel or a bird!

I really like fresh air so I usually open the porch door during the mornings before it gets hot. We keep our thermostat on the high side - usually around 80 - so I try to leave the door open until the A/C turns on. Fortunately, it hasn't been quite as humid this summer so most days I'm able to have the door open a few hours.

Lewis and Ebony love going out on the porch. Lewis has now learned a new trick: if he goes to the door and starts crying, I will open the door for him and he can hang out on the porch. Now that he's discovered this power, he loves to wield it. He also especially likes to use it when I'd rather the door be closed - as in, during the heat of the day when the westward sun is shining full-on. I think he just likes making me do things.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The days I miss

I fed the cats their dinner today. They looked at me, looked at the food, and walked away. Sigh.

I miss the old days. I miss the days when they would cry for their food. I miss the days when I'd put the food in the bowls and they'd gobble it up hungrily. I miss the days when the bowls would pretty much be cleaned out right after I fed them.

I would totally take two fat cats over their current issues - whatever those issues are.

We currently feed them each 1/8 cup of Natural Balance dry kibble food in the mornings. In the evenings, we give them 1/8 cup of the same. We also give them each 1/8 can each of Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul canned food.

Ebony loves the wet food. She gobbles it up then hovers around Lewis. Lewis eats about half and then starts pawing at it as if he's trying to bury it. He actually makes quite the mess, tipping over his dry food and water bowls all at the same time. He won't stop until we manually remove the plate of wet food from him. (He doesn't respond to loud noises or when we call his name, or even if we toss things in his direction.)

I feel like we give them so little food, but they don't finish it. We have never free-fed them, so they shouldn't be used to coming back for it later. We were hoping that the wet food would encourage Lewis to eat more, but it doesn't seem to be working.

We tried getting a new container that was air-tight to keep the food fresh longer. We buy 6 lb bags, so it's not like we buy a really big bag and keep it forever. The guy at the pet shop asked if we lived in manufactured homes or kept the food in a garage, but we don't - we keep it in our apartment living room.

Like I said, I miss the days when feeding them wasn't a hassle. I miss just putting food out and having them eat it. I miss not having to monitor them to make sure Ebony doesn't steal Lewis' food and that Lewis doesn't tip over all his bowls.

Sigh.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rubber band-it

A month or so ago, a group of friends threw a baby shower for me and our expectant little one who should be making her appearance in just a few weeks. One of the gifts was a beautifully done diaper cake. When I went to take it apart, I realized that each diaper had been rolled and held together with a rubber band, and the "layers" were secured with bigger rubber bands.

I took off all the rubber bands and put them in a pencil holder on a bookshelf where I keep all my office supplies. Since it was on the bookcase, I didn't think much about cat-proofing.

Lewis, you see, LOVES rubber bands. He likes to consume them, then regurgitate them later because - well, rubber bands are not meant to be eaten by little kitties. He does this with normal office-y rubber bands, and also the kind that you wear in your hair.

Today when we got home we found rubber bands all over the floor. Apparently Lewis had discovered the stash. I'm still slightly confused about that one, as it was in a bookcase where he didn't have easy access. It was as if he knew the rubber bands were there and went for them - like they were candy or cat treats.

We picked up all the ones on the floor and we buried them deep in the bookcase so he can't get to them now. I rolled the smaller rubber bands into a rubber band ball and I'll stick that in the junk drawer in the kitchen. I don't know what it is that makes him always want to eat it! Maybe there's a certain taste that appeals to him. I hope this means the end of the hacked-up surprises we find or we're going to have to find some dental discounts!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Lost dog is a hero

I thought this was a cool story.

Lost Dog Saves Man With Down Syndrome From Nearly Fatal Seizure

Recently, a woman named Yolanda in Florida had a neighbor give her a dog he had found. The neighbor asked Yolanda to care for the dog while they looked for his owner. Yolanda agreed, and they put up fliers and posted ads on Craigslist trying to find the owner. (By the way, Craigslist is a great place to post ads if you either find or lose a pet. It's also a great place to buy or sell things, anywhere from sofas to Mp3 players to kitchen sinks.) Yolanda had two sons, including one with Down Syndrome named Christian, who both warmed up to the dog.

Four days passed and no one had contacted her about the dog. However, the dog knew how to guarantee himself a home:

Christian retreated to his room to watch a Barney video. The dog dozed beside him.

Yolanda had just stepped onto her porch to water the plants when the dog flung himself into the screen door, barking madly.

As she opened the door, the dog sprinted across the living room, into the boys' room.

Yolanda screamed. Christian was slumped over, his body writhing in a seizure, blood streaming from his nose and mouth.

The dog ran to the boy, still yelping. But as soon as Yolanda bent to cradle her son, the dog went silent.

"If he hadn't come to get me," Yolanda told Stacey later, "the neurologist said Christian would have choked on his own blood and died."


The next day the dog's owner called the number he'd seen on the flier. He came to pick up the dog, but upon hearing the story about how the dog saved Christian's life, he offered for Yolanda to keep the dog. So overall a happy ending. :-)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wagon kitty

My friend Beth over at The Natural Mommy took this picture and sent it to me. I thought it was a fabulous photograph! I hope you enjoy it too.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Comic


(Click to see bigger)

From the strip Pickles by Brian Crane

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Talking beagle

You know me, I am all about those beagles. Especially beagle puppies. Here is a particularly cute puppy, though I'm sure in a few months that cute little howl won't be so cute or little anymore! :-)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Gotta love kitties

So, story for today about Lewis and Ebony.

A while ago I got a diaper changing pad for the baby that I set on the bathroom counter (without taking it out of the plastic wrap that it came in). One day I had hurriedly threw one of my cloth diapers on top before leaving to go somewhere. Some time later, I noticed it was slightly yellowish. I wasn’t sure what this meant until my mom came to visit, gave it a sniff, and said that it definitely smelled of cat urine. (For some reason, I could identify an unusual smell but I couldn't place it as cat urine.) I was happy that it all came out in the wash and I can’t even tell which of my 13 cloth diapers has already been used. :-) I guess those things were *made* to be peed on. Just, not by cats.

Anyways, a few days ago I lifted up the changing pad to take the plastic wrap off it when I realized that the cat pee had gotten underneath... and had sat there for probably about a month. Sooo... even though it’s a counter top, it reeks. And it’s slightly stained. :-/ My husband washed it really well and we have kept the counter clear of any items including the receipt printer in an attempt to air it out. (Thank goodness that the changing pad is not damaged whatsoever! I'm glad I left that plastic wrap on.) I have been spraying Nature's Miracle on it every day, and that combined with airing out the area seem to be helping. Thank goodness!

Kitties. Gotta love 'em. :-)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Most recently, about Lewis

Life has been a whirlwind for me lately. To be honest, I really haven't had much time to think about Lewis! He's about the same... acts normal except he won't finish his dinner and he's still pretty thin. Ebony on the other hand has gained a ton of weight and now picking her up is like picking up a sack of bricks. I need to put her on a diet, but how does someone put one cat on a diet and encourage the other cat to eat more?? I'm sure I'll figure it out.

We did some bloodwork to test for thyroid cancer, and it came back negative. The vet also did a number of x-rays and said there were no abnormalities. His ionized calcium is still high, though, which is a sign of cancer I'm told. So we're all quite perplexed.

I got an email from the vet a few days ago, which said:

I talked with Dr. Hamilton re: Lewis and the high Calcium. Dr. Hamilton is the veterinary oncologist at Georgia Veterinary Specialists. His advice is to pursue diagnosis as long as he is showing clinical signs (decreased appetite, weight loss). He said that many cats can be "idiopathic" hypercalcemia (high calcium for no apparent reason affecting the health) but have no symptoms. Lymphoma is the most common cancer cause of the high calcium. An abdominal ultrasound would be the next step from the blood work and even endoscopy for biopsy. I do not have an ultrasound or endoscopy. I either refer these cases to the specialist, or Dr. Avgeris (internal medicine specialist) comes here with her ultrasound and endoscopy equipment. Please call me to discuss or schedule.


I'm not sure where to go from here, because in my mind "specialist" means "expensive". I'll probably write more about that later, but that's where we are now. Maybe I should look into affordable health insurance for pets... ;-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pet photography

I came across this link (courtesy of A Dusty Frame) and thought it might be valuable to share here. :-) From Digital Photography School, here are 9 Pet Photography Tips. It's worth a read-through, and there are more tips in the comments. Happy shutter snapping! :-)

Here are some of my favorite pictures of my pets. I look forward to incorporating some of the tips from that site in future pictures. :-) You can see all my animal pictures on my Flickr account here.

Joanna and Jera

Zeke

Amy and Zoey

Zoey in Orlando

Lewis

Lewis

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wrapped around her little paw

Lewis upsidedown

When Lewis and Ebony were about 7 months old, I moved into my first apartment, and established a routine. I'd get home from work around 6pm, pet them and then feed them. Ebony would jump on the bed and roll around on her back. I would exclaim how cute she was and rub her tummy and give her attention. I noticed that she started to do that anytime she wanted something - not just at dinnertime. I guess she figured out how to get on my good side.

So when I saw this article last night, I wasn't surprised at all. An excerpt from "Cats 'exploit' humans by purring":

Cat owners may have suspected as much, but it seems our feline friends have found a way to manipulate us humans.

Researchers at the University of Sussex have discovered that cats use a "soliciting purr" to overpower their owners and garner attention and food.

Unlike regular purring, this sound incorporates a "cry", with a similar frequency to a human baby's.

The team said cats have "tapped into" a human bias - producing a sound that humans find very difficult to ignore.


According to the study, this is something kitties do on purpose to manipulate their owners.

Dr McComb said that the cry occurs at a low level in cats' normal purring. "But we think that (they) learn to dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans."

She added that the trait seemed to most often develop in cats that have a one-on-one relationship with their owners.

"Obviously we don't know what's going on inside their minds," said Dr McComb. "But they learn how to do this, and then they do it quite deliberately."


It makes me laugh. My cats have me wrapped around their little paws; I'll admit it. But, I am a pretty strict owner who doesn't feed them early because of little purrs. So I guess their purrs don't COMPLETELY work on me. :-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Links for today

I was going to try and write up a blog post for each of these, but I think a list is going to have to do. :-)

More airlines embracing furry travelers
More airlines are allowing people to fly with their cats and dogs inside the plane's cabin. In fact, one man talked about buying a seat for his dog and just walking on board with him! He said that the dog can check a bag and is allowed to bring "personal items" on board (blanket, dog dish). Other airlines require the animals be crated.

While I like the idea of making traveling with a pet easier, my initial response is, "What about the many people with allergies?" The airlines claim this isn't a problem usually and that they work with people who have allergies. I am surprised at this - I feel like every other person I try to invite to my house can't come due to being allergic to cats! (It's definitely much worse here in the States than in Peru, the country where I grew up.)


Fugitive Llamas Back On Farm
Okay not the most well-written article, but it was funny to read. And I like llamas.


In the market for a new cat? Consider a Certified Pre-Owned Cat!
A marketing spin put on by the Humane Society of Indianapolis: encouraging people to buy "pre-owned cats". I thought it was quite humorous and creative! From the site: "Take a quality cat home today for one low 0% APR payment ($50 - $135, depending on model) and get the following options at no extra charge!" They are "made in Indiana" (for those who prefer to buy locally) and are a good investment - "Unlike other mobile investments, your HSI cat will increase in value as soon as you drive it home." Also, for the environmentally conscious: "Small engines = low fuel costs". I enjoyed reading this and now I want to go get another kitty. From Georgia, of course - trying to buy locally. ;-)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Laser pointers

We just bought a laser pointer to play with Lewis. (Well, Ebony too, but she's not very interested.) It's so cute to watch him attack the red dot that's moving mysteriously near him...

patrick stewart
see more Lol Celebs

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Those spoiled cats

Shortly after I got my cats (over 4 years ago now), I bought a big container of cat food from Costco. It was a nice container, so I've just kept it around and been refilling it when it's empty. It latches fairly well, without being too difficult for us to open when we need it. However, occasionally the cats are able to knock over the container and get the latch open and have an all-you-can-eat buffet.

They did that the other night. My husband and I were in the bedroom and we heard the noise of the container, and my husband went out to investigate. It had taken them (or, I should say, Ebony - because she is almost always the culprit) almost no time to get the latch open.

Yesterday we were talking about it and I mentioned that the container was over 4 years old and I wonder if the latch was wearing down. And then I wondered if we should go ahead and buy a more airtight container to better keep the dry food from going stale. My husband said, "Yeah I've noticed that when they don't eat is when it's getting towards the bottom."

I said, "Interesting. I noticed that some of their eating issues started when we switched them from cheap corn food to the more higher-end food. I thought it was because they were getting used to the higher quality, but maybe it's because the cheap foods didn't stale as easily due to the preservatives and chemicals in them." Because, we all know that Twinkies last much longer than freshly baked bread!

So, we decided to get an airtight container, something that sealed and wasn't open like car grills. We walked around Target, but they didn't really have anything big enough for cat food while at the same time being airtight. Finally we decided to go check out The Container Store.

Have you ever been there? It's an awesome store - full of all the containers and organizing tools you could ever want! I like browsing around there, but their prices are a little on the high side so I don't often buy anything there.

We found exactly what we wanted there and we decided to go ahead and spend the money. They had two sizes of pet food containers, and we opted for the smaller size that holds about 20 lbs. of dry cat food. We probably could have even gone smaller, if they had had a smaller size. It's tall and narrow, so it fits well in the space we have for it.

I will be curious to see if the kitties seem to notice the air-tightness. I hope they appreciate it! Spoiled little babies. :-)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lewis update: still waiting

We got a Pack N Play for the baby yesterday, and Lewis and Ebony have decided we actually got it for them. One of the two spent a majority of the day sleeping in it.

Lewis' new sleeping spot

I couldn't get any pictures of Lewis sleeping, because he lifted his head anytime I moved from the computer chair. (I put the doll there to demonstrate to my husband how the Pack N Play was to be used, and also how the new cloth diapers I bought worked.)

I received a call from the vet and it seems that we are still waiting for the results of Lewis' bloodwork. Apparently, they had a pathologist look at the results and they are waiting for the pathologist's report. I'm not sure what exactly this means - if it's a good sign or bad sign. I'm not even sure what is likely to happen at this point - surgery, diet change, or medication like Stimerex ES? They promised that we'll know more next week. Let's hope so!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Baby red pandas

The Red River Zoo is a zoo up in Fargo, North Dakota. They have a red panda exhibit there, and something amazing happened almost 3 weeks ago: the red panda Shan Tou became a mommy to triplets! Three baby red pandas were born, which is extremely rare.

Their progress is being detailed on the Red Panda blog. You can see cute pictures and videos. Here are some highlights:




So cute! I love red pandas. I look forward to the babies getting a bit bigger and seeing videos of them moving about and playing!

poisonous plants

The other day, Lewis threw up in the living room (thankfully, not on my Naot sandals!). I investigated and saw something a little odd for an indoor cat - dirt, tiny branches, and small leaves. Hmm. I'm not sure where they came from, but I have two suspicions. One, from our porch - there are some dead leaves on there left over from last fall. I could see him getting into those.

The other possibility is one of my potted plants. (However, doesn't explain the leaves or sticks.) I have noticed that one of the cats (probably Lewis) has been getting into the pot. The plant has been sitting on the end table in our living room and occasionally I'll find bits of dirt around the pot on the table. None of the leaves have been damaged, and the dirt has been just lightly messed with so I didn't think anything of it. However, a friend wondered aloud to me if the plant might be getting Lewis sick.

The plant is called Devil's Ivy (scientific name: Pothos). After looking it up, I see that yes - yes it is toxic to cats! Great. I've had this plant for 3+ years now and I never knew! It's listed on ASPCA's "17 Common Poisonous Plants". Pet owners should check out the list to make sure they don't have any toxic plants around!

I called the vet to tell her about the plant, but she said that if the cats aren't getting into the plant itself then it's probably not the cause. But I'm glad it's on Lewis' file as a possibility, though. I'm going to call tomorrow and see if they got the results from the thyroid tumor blood test that he had last week. As of yesterday, they hadn't heard back from the lab yet. I hope we find out soon. :-/

My Devil's Ivy can be hung, so I'm going to try that to keep it away from the kitties. However, we might be moving soon so I don't want to bother hanging it until we're a bit settled. So I'm trying to find a plant sitter in the meantime.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take Your Dog to Work Day

Tomorrow is "Take Your Dog to Work Day"! According to the website that sponsors this:
"First celebrated in 1999, Take Your Dog To Work Day was created to celebrate the great companions dogs make and to encourage their adoption from humane societies, animal shelters and breed rescue clubs. This annual event encourages employers to experience the value of pets in their workplace for this one special day to promote pet adoptions.

"On June 26, 2009, businesses, animal shelters and pet-care professionals from around the world will work together to better the lives of shelter dogs everywhere. Thousands of businesses will open their doors to employees’ pets on this day in celebration of the great companions dogs make."

This sounds like fun to me, though I don't have a dog anymore. When we first got Zoey, I brought her to work with me for the first month or so that we had her. That was a lot of fun, and people seemed to really enjoy having her there! Of course it was only temporary - once she got old enough I left her at home and came home at lunch to take her on a short walk. We always talked about having a "Take Your Dog to Work Day". Too bad I didn't know about this then - it would have been fun to try and implement! (There were a lot of dog lovers at my company at the time.)

Other companies are getting into this too. If you live in Stanleyville, NC, Chick-fil-A is offering free "Waggy Deals" for your dog tomorrow if they come through the drive-through. You can see more stuff like this if you check out Take Your Dog's Twitter page.

Of course not everyone thinks this is a good idea. I came across this article written by someone who dislikes the concept.

If you bring your dog to work tomorrow, you can upload pictures to Flickr with the tag "dogsatwork". You can also browse everyone's pictures here.

Fishy fishy

My husband sent me this link today. It's a how-to for knitting cute little fish!



I don't know how to knit, but I wish I did! These would make awesome cat toys! You just stuff them with a little catnip and kitties would go nuts! And it seems like a great thing to do with extra yarn. (I'm assuming. Since I don't know how to knit, I don't actually know if that's a problem - leftover yarn in weird colors.)

I sent the link to my mom, who DOES know how to knit, and she offered to teach me so that I could make these. She told me that Lewis and Ebony would love the process of me knitting - chasing the yarn as I try to stitch. (Hmmm...)

I have too many projects on my plate to add knitting to them, so I'll just hold out for someone else to start making the fishies. They sure are cute, aren't they?

Friday, June 19, 2009

monday morning

I was supposed to take Lewis to the vet this morning, but I got a call earlier from the vet. Apparently the person who took my appointment didn't realize (and therefore didn't tell me) that this test requires Lewis to fast before. And, of course, Lewis has had breakfast, so we rescheduled the appointment for Monday.

I told the vet she didn't know what she was asking! I'll have to take up the food at 9pm the night before and they won't be able to eat again until Lewis has his test. (It makes the most sense for Ebony to fast, too, because there isn't a way I can separate them.)

Oh my gosh, do you *know* how hard it's going to be come Monday morning around 5am when we DON'T get up to feed the kitties breakfast?

Oh don't get me wrong... I really want Lewis to get better. :-) Just... without the insistent meowing in the middle of the night...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

how CAT-like!

I love icanhascheezburger. I go there every day. I spent today catching up on all the ones I missed while I was on vacation, and I especially appreciated this one!



I love cats. :-)

update on Lewis

Shortly after I took Lewis to the vet, I went out of town for 11 days. I did get an email from the vet saying that one of the blood tests came back okay, so that was good, but they were waiting for the other one. Then a week went by and I didn't hear from the vet, but to be honest with all the busyness and traveling I really didn't have time to think about it! So after getting home yesterday, I called the vet to ask if they got the results from the other test.

Basically, one of the tests was going to indicate some issues with the kidney. Those came back fine - he does have a *slight* elevation in levels, but that doesn't indicate kidney issues right now.

The other test was an ionized calcium test which is heightened calcium in his blood. That is usually caused by cancer. Lewis is only 4 1/2, and it's very rare to find cancer in a cat this young, though the vet has seen it before. Right now, there are two possibilities that we need to do further tests. One is that he has a thyroid tumor. We have to do a test for that specifically, and if it's the issue he'll need surgery. The other is that he has cancer or a tumor, and they want to do x-rays and scans on his body to see if they can find out where.

A third possibility is that it's purely behavioral. She asked if we had any major changes happen recently. I said things have been pretty normal around here except for the fact that I'm pregnant. I don't feel that I'm acting any differently, but I don't know what the cats can sense. The vet said that because his calcium levels are high, it probably is more than just a behavioral problem. I expressed concern about figuring out what's going on with Lewis earlier than later, because after the baby comes in September our whole house will be turned upsidedown.

I asked if we only did one, which one should we do, and the vet recommended the thyroid blood test. So I guess we'll have to make an appointment to get more bloodwork done, poor baby.

Lewis as a kitten

I need to add going to the vet to my to do list. It's getting long because I was gone for almost 2 weeks. :-) It'll have to go above "getting auto insurance quotes" and under "return books to library".

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spunky

My family got Spunky back in 1998, eleven years ago. She was a tiny puppy, and her mother's owner tied a little pink ribbon around her neck when we arrived to pick up our new family member. We were, of course, so excited to get a puppy! We quickly learned, however, the downsides of having a puppy, including potty training and her frequent crying/whining. :-) It took me a long time to warm up to her because she was a dog, but I really did have a special place in my heart for her.

We got her when we lived in South America, and when we moved to the States in 2001 we brought her on the plane with us. She loved the States - it was such a good move for her. She mellowed out, and enjoyed having access to a yard where she could run and run and not be leashed.

The past few months, Spunky's health has been failing. It's mostly due to her old age, but my parents haven't had the money to run all the tests needed to figure out exactly what was wrong. She had lost a lot of weight from simply not eating, and not because she was on a diet or Phenphedrine or anything. I got an email from my mom this morning:

Just wanted to let you all know that this morning we took Spunky to the animal shelter for her eternal rest. We took her to the vet on Monday, and after doing a blood test he said she probably had cancer. She has not been eating (had lost about 1/4 of her weight in the last year), and was lethargic and often breathing heavy. They gave us special food for her, but we made the decision if she couldn’t eat, or hold down her food, we would know it was time. That happened this week, so we took her in today.


I know that the loss isn't as hard on me as it is on my family, but I couldn't help but cry this morning. My sister is the hardest hit - it was essentially her dog, and we've had Spunky since my sister was 9. I am very grateful that it was clear to my family that this was the right time for Spunky to go. But, it doesn't make the pain any easier.

Rest in peace, Spunky. We'll miss you.

Amy and Spunky

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Going on vacation

We are leaving this weekend for a bit of a vacation, and we'll be gone for 5 days. I was debating what was the best thing for the cats. I knew their litter box couldn't handle being left completely alone for 5 days, nor did I think that was very fair to them. The only person I know who lives close enough for me to ask them to come in and feed the cats is also going out of town this weekend. All my other friends and previous cat-sitters live in a different area of town, near where we used to live.

I have one friend we've traded cat-sitting over the years we've known each other. It worked out well - we never paid each other, but we were always willing to watch each others' cats when the need arose. She used to have an older cat that at times needed medication, and I remembered that during those times she would hire a cat sitter to come. She felt more confident with a cat sitter who has experience with medicating cats, whereas I've never really had to do that.

So after discussing our options, we decided the best thing to do for this trip was to hire a cat sitter. I got the name and number of my friend's cat sitter, but when I called she said that she wasn't taking on any new clients right now. She did however give me a website that she recommended.

The website is called Georgia Network of Professional Petsitters. You can enter your zip code and it will give you all the pet sitters who are in your area. I used that website to find a sitter (one my friend actually had used once upon a time when her regular cat sitter was on vacation).

The pet sitter came by yesterday to meet the cats and pick up the keys. Hopefully everything works out! It wasn't as expensive as I expected - definitely cheaper than boarding the cats! I'm just hoping right now that Lewis is okay while we're gone and that she doesn't have any problems. At least she's experienced with administering medication if he needs it! You know, if he decides he needs the best acne treatment. ;-)

Lewis

DSC_5909


I've been concerned about Lewis lately. The past couple of months, his appetite has decreased significantly. He stopped finishing his breakfast and dinner. He cries desperately for his food, but doesn't seem to be interested. I tried switching foods, but that didn't seem to help. I tried supplementing wet (canned) food to his dinnertime meal to help encourage him to eat more, but he doesn't even finish that! (I gave him only 1/8 of a can!)

I noticed that he's getting thin, which is unusual. For being such a fat cat, he is all skin and bones now. It's hard to see exactly how much weight he's lost because he still has a lot of loose skin, but I can easily feel his ribs and that seemed to be a little too thin. Combined with his unusual habit of not eating, I decided to take him to the vet.

We're going out of town at the end of this week, so I wanted to get him in before we left. I was glad they had a last-minute cancellation and so I was able to get an appointment for Lewis today.

He's lost 4 lbs since we last had him at the vet, last September. The vet agreed that he did seem thin. She took a blood sample and a urine sample. Then Lewis and I waited while she ran an in-house profile on them.

The results showed abnormalities with the calcium, glucose, and creatinine. I don't understand exactly what all that means... but the vet basically said that it could be the beginnings of a kidney disease, and/or the beginnings of cancer. :-( She took another blood sample to send to an external lab for more analysis, and she's going to get back to me tomorrow or the next day. We'll figure out what to do from there.

I've been kinda in a stupor all day. Poor Lewis... He's very mad at me for being at the vet for 2 hours today. Now's he been a little on the lethargic side, sleeping most of the afternoon. I have alternated between wanting to cry and not wanting to think about it. And then of course I go to an extreme of thinking of all the worst possible scenarios, having only Ebony left, lighting a candle in Lewis' memory... No, I won't let myself go there.

One thing I know is, we definitely need to increase the cat category in our budget! I know both things can be so expensive. :-( I just want my baby to feel better.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

500,000 follow Twitter cat

From CNN Video:
"Sockington the cat has his own Twitter page where he has over half a million followers. WCVB's Jack Harper reports."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pet stuff on Etsy

Have you heard of Etsy, an online marketplace for all things handmade? It's a really cool site, where you can find fun and unique items.

Today I was browsing around Etsy and came across the "Pets" category! I hadn't noticed it before, but was immediately hooked. There is also a subcategory for pet lovers, which is the perfect place to find a gift!

Since I haven't bought anything from this category, I can't recommend any particular seller or product. But if you have any positive reviews to make I'd be happy to have you do a guest post!

And while we're on the subject of pet-related items online, I saw this adorable shirt on Cute Overload.

I fell in love. You can get it from Amazon... Also check out the other shirts they have, all adorable!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Packing up the fish tank

I hadn't touched the fish tank since Zeke died. It made me too sad. For about a month or two, the tank just sat there, devoid of its resident. I had unplugged the filter so the algae started to grow along the sides. Finally I dumped the water out, and let the tank sit a bit longer.

Then we had an overnight guest and I knew I needed to clean the tank. I had made the decision earlier that I wasn't going to get another fish. It makes me really sad - I have really loved having betta fish! And I'll probably get another one someday, just not right now. We have a baby arriving this summer, and I'm sure there will be other priorities on my list besides "cleaning fish tank". Since we don't have a lot of room at our place, it's best that I don't hang on to the fish tank but rather sell or give it away. I've decided to sell it on Craigslist - I've had good luck selling fish tanks there before.

You're not supposed to use soap on fish tanks, so I cleaned it as best I could with just water and a rag. The algae came off readily, and before too long it looked like new. I did wash with soap the parts that the fish didn't touch - the lid, the outside of the tank. But everything else was just wiped down in hot water and left to air dry.

Then I came to the rocks. They are the hardest to clean. I put them in a colander and ran hot water over them until they seemed to fairly clean. Then I was unsure of how to dry them. I didn't want more algae to grow because the rocks were wet. My husband suggested I put them on a pan and bake them in the oven. He pointed out that baking them also might kill any remainder bacteria mesothelioma. So I did that. Put the oven on 400 degrees, and baked my aquarium rocks for 15-20 minutes. That did the trick - they are completely dry now. :-) It seemed silly when I was using oven mitts to pull something out of the oven - rocks. :-)

So now I just need to take some pictures and list the tank on Craigslist. I am going to sell all my other fish supplies along with my tank, which will actually free up some space in the kitchen cabinets which will be nice. Already, the spot where the tank used to sit looks bare! It makes me sad, but I keep telling myself that it's for the best.

Traveling with cats

My best friend emailed me the other day and asked me for tips about traveling with cats. She's about to move 10 hours away to a new state, and I think this will be the first long trip she's taken with her two cats.

I've taken my cats on a lot of trips, always from Atlanta to Orlando (about 8 hours). I bring my cats with me every time I go visit my family in Orlando which can be several times a year. My family loves my cats, my cats love the geckos and bugs found at my family's house, and I prefer not to leave them alone if I can help it! The first time they did the trip was when they were 7 or 8 months old, so I really don't remember what they were like the first time. (And actually, the very first time they made that trip, I wasn't even with them.)

Here's what I told my best friend.

The safest way to transport your cats in a car is to get a hard-sided airline cat cage, like this one. (I'm not endorsing that particular carrier - it's just an example.) This will protect the cat the most if you get into an accident while traveling. I don't know if these types of carriers can buckle in, but it's probably a good idea to wedge it somehow so it doesn't jostle as you're moving. I think you also need to have your animal's vet records with you if you're traveling out of state. It's probably a good idea to have anyways, just in case something happens.

If you have two cats, like my friend, you can make the decision about whether to keep the cats in the cage together, or get two separate cages. Some cats might do better having their own space, and some cats might do better drawing comfort from their brother/sister.

Now of course this is what you *should* do. I have to admit I've never done this. I don't own a hard-sided cat crate; I have this soft-sided cat carrier. (I WILL endorse that link! I love my Sherpa bag. :-)) Also, I only have one. My cats don't get along well enough to spend 8 hours together. And, it's not very aerated - I feel bad leaving them inside the whole time. So, I let my cats run loose around the car. I personally prefer them to be on my lap rather than crying from their carrier. But, I am taking safety risks when I do that so I couldn't actually tell other people to do the same. :-)

Regardless of whether your pet is caged or not, you need to make sure the animal is comfortable when you travel. Because it's usually hot when I am diving to Florida, I make sure that the air conditioner is at an appropriate temperature. You can also buy sunshades for the windows (often found in the baby section of stores) to help keep the sun off the animal - especially good if the animal is confined to a certain space! Being calm yourself in the car can help calm them as well - play piano music on your CD/tape player, or talk softly to them. When you stop, try to find a parking space in the shade and crack the windows a little bit. Be conscious of your animal and don't leave them in a hot car too long. I always keep a water dish pour some cool water for my cats when I am stopped. They are only sometimes interested in that. I always bring the litter box (with clean litter!) with me (for use at my destination), and keep it on the floor in the backseat. The cats usually like to sleep inside it - I guess it's cool and familiar. :-) In all the times I've traveled with them, they have only used the box once.

If your cats don't do well in the car, or you're uncomfortable with the thought of driving with them, then you can talk to your vet about sedatives. The first trip my cats made, my parents drove them up without me. They got some pills from the vet, and kept the cats (then about 7 or 8 months old) in a laundry basket. The cats just kinda stayed put and were calm the whole time. It might be a good option, especially if it's just a one-time move and not something you're planning to do a lot. I have no knowledge of the risks of sedating your cat, so that's definitely something you should look up on your own and talk to your vet about.

One word: if you DO let your cats loose in the car, be very VERY careful when you get in and out of the car. The last thing you want is for the cat to escape while you're along a highway! You could keep your cat in a carrier for the times that the door will be open, if that's comfortable for you. For me, I have found my cats don't try to jump out. However, I do locate both cats before I open the door, and am very conscious of where they are while the door is open. My husband also helps with this - when we're together, we'll get out of the car one at a time, so the other can help watch for the cats. We've never had trouble, but if your cat is likely to bolt it's something you should take into consideration.

Okay that's all I have to say on the topic. :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Roombas

song chart memes
see more Funny Graphs

And here's a funny recent video of kitty vs. roomba

Friday, April 24, 2009

Sea lions


My parents are currently touring the Northwest U.S. as my dad is out there on sales jobs business, and they are celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary. My mom has been sending us pictures of the sights and scenes they've been enjoying, and I thought I'd share this picture. It makes me smile. :-)

She wrote:
"The day after I got here we walked out behind the hotel and saw some lazy sea lions lolling in the sun. Every once in awhile one of them would roll over and bark, but mostly they just laid there and slept. This picture shows only a fraction of the sea lions that were in this harbor."


She told me on the phone this morning that they would roll over, make their sea-liony noises ("ark, ark, ark") and then roll back to their lazy position. Hehe

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Morning wake-up calls: 3:30am

Yep they're at it again!

Lewis has gone back to his habit of waking us up starting at 3:30am for his breakfast. He gets fed at 5am, so his internal clock is quite off. It's getting really frustrating, especially when sleep is so precious to me these days!

I am considering doing something that would really make me sad, but it might be our only option: closing our bedroom door and not letting the kitties sleep with us. I actually love it when they sleep with us. I love their cute sleeping bodies curled up at my feet. I do NOT love being woken up every 5-10 minutes from 3:30am until 5:00am.

Currently the bedroom door is broken and does not close, so we'd have to get that fixed first. But, it might be something we have to do.

I have been wrestling with the feeding thing for quite a while. I switched their food when we moved to this current location, because I found a local pet food store. They seemed to like it at first, but then they started leaving about half in their bowls. Meanwhile, they seem starving between mealtimes. Their bodies feel solid, so I'm not worried about them starving to death; I just don't want to be bugged if they're not going to eat the food I give them! (How cat-like!)

So I switched to a different "flavor", same brand. They don't seem to like it any better and I personally dislike the smell of the new flavor, so I'm going back.

After talking to the guy at the pet food store, I decided to start supplementing wet food in the evenings. We decided to give them 1/4 can of wet food and about half the dry food that we've been feeding them. They say that picky cats usually love wet food, and it's a great way to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. Apparently, cats aren't as apt to drink water as dogs, so often cats who are on all-kibble diets have trouble with dehydration. So we'll see if this mixture of wet and dry does the trick. So far, they seem to be eating everything so that's good!

We also got some samples of another brand of dry food, in case that's the problem. I gave them both one evening to see which they ate, but they ate both types the same amount. :-) So I don't know if I'll switch or not. I hate switching their food all the time, but I'd really love to have them stop bugging me! And of course I get tired of picking up leftover kibble from the ground because when they're done they like to play with it. :-) We still have several more samples, so I think I'll try my half/half experiment again and see what they do.

My husband wonders if the cats like variety. They say that cats don't like variety and prefer that their owners NOT change the brand of cat food, but who knows. Maybe my cats are secretly taking Nuphedra without me knowing it. ;-)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cat goes on a crime spree

Here's an entertaining video of Jack, the clothes-stealing cat, from Idaho:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spot the differences

Were you getting tired of me talking about fish? :-)

I can't believe I've never written about bettas before! Well there you have it, most of my knowledge... I'm sure there's more but my brain is tired and the weekend is almost over which means my free time to write paragraphs and paragraphs on betta fish will be more limited. :-)

On to other favorite topics... kitties! I am still in the process of getting 3 months worth of pictures off my camera and uploading them. (Why does it always seem to take so long to get around to transferring pictures from the camera to computer??) I uploaded two tonight that I thought you'd enjoy. They are of Ebony, surprisingly, who hates to me photographed.

Now, at first glance, you might think this is the same picture. However, if you look very closely you'll see the main difference between the two: (click on the pictures for bigger versions)

Ebony Ebony

Do you see it?

Ebony was sitting on my dresser staring at me, which I thought was really cute. (I also thought it particularly cute because I didn't have my glasses on at the time and so all I could see was her silhouette. Thank goodness my camera has an automatic focus; it's very weird to take pictures without being able to see clearly yourself! I recommend always having your corrective eyewear on hand, especially if you are partaking in European or Argentina travel. Yeah, it would be bad if you couldn't see on those instances.)

I took several pictures, as I always do. After snapping the first one, Ebony turned her head, so I lowered the camera to see if she would resume her position of staring right at me. She then, with her paw, knocked down the deodorant bottle that was right in front of her, and then returned to the alert stare-her-down pose that she had been doing before. Thank you, Ebony - I do like it better with the deodorant on its side, a little more inconspicuous. She's such a lady.

Ah, cats. You gotta love them. :-)

Getting a fish, part 2

So, congratulations! You've bought all your supplies and you're ready to set up your tank. Here is what you need to do next.

Rinse everything
It's a good idea to rinse everything, especially if it's been sitting for a while or was just bought from a store. This includes the rocks, the plants, the tank itself, and the pump (you only need to rinse the part that goes in the water). Do not use bleach, as it is bad for fish. If you need to sterilize it, put it in the hot sun for a natural bleach.

Be careful of the water
You don't need special water, but you do need to make sure the water you're using is clean. Sometimes, I trusted the tap water, but other places I didn't. Sometimes I found it easier just to buy the gallon containers of "spring water" from the store - especially if the sink I was using was too short to stick my tank under. It's okay to use tap water but you have to treat it before you put the fish in (the same goes for spring water). I used a brand called AquaSafe, which is in a bright yellow bottle. You can find it and other comparable products at a pet store. You don't need a lot - follow the directions on the bottle, and fishy should be happy.

Preventing ich
Ich (also spelled ick) is a parasite that is common in aquarium fish. It looks like white, cloudy splotches on your fish, and will kill your betta if not treated. (microdermabrasion won't help this fishy!) The best way to prevent it is to put non-iodized salt (found at grocery stores) in your aquarium whenever you do a water change. I haven't been able to find a specific amount, but I think about a teaspoon for a two gallon tank is good. The salt will kill the ich without hurting the betta. If your fish does get ich, you can buy medicine at pet stores. I know Zeke (the first one) got tail rot one time and I bought these drops at Petsmart that made him all better and he lived for 2 more years. (I had him for a really long time!) The drops weren't too expensive either.

Put it all together
Once you've set up your aquarium, added your rocks, plants, water, water conditioner, and salt, you're almost done! Turn on the filter (or air stone, which is what I had) and let it run for a bit - particularly if it's the first time you've used it. It might be helpful to buy an aquarium thermometer to help you monitor the temperature - you'll want to make sure it stays between 75F to 82F (bettas are tropical fish). Don't put a heater in a tank less than 5 gallons, so be sure to keep your tank in a place that is warm enough for the water to maintain that temperature. (I never had any problems with this).

I let my aquarium run for about 24 hours when I first got Zeke. I wanted to make sure the salt and water conditioner got a chance to filter all through the water, and that the water was properly aerated and at the right temperature. The first time I added Zeke to my tank, I did it cautiously as the internet sites told me - adding a little bit of the water from the tank to his temporary bowl, a bit at a time, until all the old water was gone. Every time after that I just plopped him in. :-)

For subsequent water changes, I always let the aquarium run for a few hours before putting Zeke back in.

This is all I'm going to write for now on the subject, but I'm sure I'll revisit betta fish in the future. :-) Enjoy your new fishy!

Solitary bettas

I got this comment from Jes, in response to my post, Getting a fish, part 1:

Actually, male betas are fine in a tank with other fish that don't have big flowing fins like they do. I had friends that had a male beta in their 10 gallon with all their other fish. Until then I had no clue you could put them with other fish. I have seen a few in big social tanks at pet stores. Of course, I'd still be very careful putting the male beta in the tank if it didn't come from a tank with other fish.


I looked into this, and she's right. But, you have to be careful with which fish you pair a male betta with, and to be on the safe side I'd run it by a fish expert at a pet store before doing so. Also, it will depend on how aggressive your particular betta is. For a beginner fish-owner, I'd probably just avoid the situation altogether. :-)

Here are the kinds of fish you'll want to avoid:
  • Fish smaller than one inch (may be eaten)
  • Fish with long, flowing fins (fancy guppies, white cloud mountain minnows, and some long-finned tetra species)
  • Slow-swimming fish (unable to escape bullying)
  • Fish belonging to the same biological family, such as Paradise Fish and gouramis (may attack or be attacked due to their relatively similar appearance and cross species aggression)
  • Mollies (tend to bite the fin or eat bettas)
  • Goldfish (great appetites, preference for cold water, and high excretion-rate)
  • Barbs (nip at slower-moving fish such as bettas)
  • Aggressive cichlids (exception: peaceful cichlids like German rams)


Of course, you should never keep two male bettas together. They are fighters in their natural habitat, and in an enclosed tank there is nowhere for the "loser" to retreat. Some people like to put two males together in a tank with a divider separating the two, so they can't actually hurt each other. I remember doing some research on this when I got Zeke initially, and I'd caution against it. It's stressful for both bettas to see their "opponent" and not be able to defend their territory. A better solution is to hold a mirror up to the tank for a short period of time. That will have the same affect - the betta will puff out his fins and try to look ferocious, but when you take the mirror down the threat goes away and your betta will be able to relax again. Just like Cyber Monday. :-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Getting a fish, part 1

I got my first fish about 5 or 6 years ago. I chose a Betta fish because they seemed less complicated and they were very beautiful.

I bought a fish because at the time I was living in the dorm in college, and they were the only pets allowed. After the long winter, I was struggling with a bit of depression, and I really, really missed having an animal around to care for. Getting a fish was the best thing for me - having the life, beautifully colored, really raised my spirits.

Betta fish are really easy fish for the beginner, I thought. They are also known as Siamese Fighting Fish. Most of the ones you can buy in a store are males, because they are the pretty ones with beautiful, flowing fins. Females have short fins and aren't usually as vividly colored. They have to be kept by themselves, as they will attack and eat other fish. (Even breeders, I read, only put the two fish together long enough for breeding and egg-laying, before separating them again!) They do fine by themselves, and you can entertain them by holding up a mirror and watching them puff out their gills and fins ferociously because they think they see another fish. :-)

The tank
When you're getting a fish for the first time, you'll need to first consider how you're going to house them. Generally, the rule of thumb is a gallon for each inch long the fish is. (It really depends on the fish, though - some fish require more space than others.) Bettas are nice because they can survive in a smaller space than most fish. A lot of people just put their betta in a bowl or vase.

It's been a while since I researched this so I'm going from memory here, but I would actually caution against just using a bowl for your betta (surprised?). Getting a tank with a filter will keep the water fresher/cleaner, and increase the time between water changes, which reduces the stress on the fish. Also, I found that Zeke was very active and responded to me, compared to other fish kept in a bowl who just sat there unmoving.

I bought an aquarium kit, like the one here. I really liked this particular kit. I had the two-gallon one, but I think a one-gallon tank would do just fine as well. It comes with an air stone filter, which just keeps air bubbles circulating through the tank (rather than collecting and cleaning the water). It also has a hood with a light, and the best part - it is completely cat-proof (unless your cat is particularly adept). Bettas also jump, so some sort of lid is essential - I used to put Zeke in a bowl when I was changing his water, and occasionally he would jump out of it.

The accessories
You'll need aquarium stones for the bottom of your tank - they're easy to find in pet stores, or in the pet section of stores like Walmart. You'll want enough stones to fill a few inches on the bottom of your tank. You will also need plants (as many as you have room for). Bettas' natural habitat are the rice patties of Thailand, and so they are used to having a lot of places to hide. Therefore, you'll want to make sure their tank has plenty of plants, without being two crowded (of course). I had three plastic plants that seemed to serve my Zekes very well. Other than that, you should be set - bettas don't need much in the way of toys. :-)

The food
The food is pretty simple - you can buy Betta Bits from the store. You can also get treats for your betta, which they love - freeze-dried bloodworms. Zeke used to get so excited when I gave him some bloodworms! There are probably other variations of the food, but to be honest I never researched it. :-)

Next I'll talk about setting up the tank for your new betta.

Freekibblekat

Joanna sent me a link to this awesome site, and I'm excited she did!

It's called Freekibblekat.com, and the premise is simple. Every day, you go to the site and answer a trivia question about cats. When you do, 10 pieces of kibble are donated to needy cats in shelters.

There is also a site for dogs, called Freekibble.com. It operates under the same premise.

From the FAQ's:
Mimi Launched freekibble on April 01, 2008. On May 14, she delivered her first round... of kibble to the Humane Society of Central Oregon: 240 lbs. and enough to feed 456 dogs for one day! Since then and as of March 13, 2009, freekibble and freekibblekat, have raised over 120,000 lbs. (60 tons!!!) of kibble.

Freekibble now has 12 shelters across the country on a monthly program.


I like this idea of helping shelters, and also of learning a little bit of trivia in the meantime! Be sure to spread the word, and go every day to donate kibble! I put a button in my sidebar to help direct traffic to Freekibblekat.com, so you have no excuses. :-)

Brought to you by motorcycle accident attorneys

Monday, March 9, 2009

My firefox kitties

I recently came across some adorable pictures of red pandas. I really like red pandas. :-) They're so cute! Watching the one at the zoo reminds me so much of my kitties. I even have pictorial proof of the similarities:



And pictures of Lewis and Ebony:

DSC_3046

Armrest

Speaking of Firefox kitties...
funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Rest in peace, Zeke

Well, as I suspected, Zeke didn't make it through the night.

I was keeping a half eye on him, though I don't know why because every time I saw him it made my heart break. But, one time I checked on him last night, there was no doubt - he was upside down in one of his plants, and his color was almost completely gone.

Rest in peace, Zeke. You had a good long life and I hope that it was a happy one for you. I sincerely hope you weren't in any pain, and that the end came quickly for you.

Zeke

Zeke

I'm going to miss Zeke, and having a beautiful fish, and the tank in our apartment. It provided emergency lights sometimes!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Zeke

I haven't talked much about Zeke, my betta fish, on this blog. I really should talk about him more. :-) Perhaps some posts for the future.

I got Zeke a few years ago, and kept him at work for a long time, until I changed jobs to where I'm working now. (I could bring him in, but I find changing fish tank water at work to be a really annoying task!)

Zeke, however, isn't doing very well. :-( He has been moving a lot slower the past few days. I went out of town this weekend, and when I came back I noticed he'd lost a lot of his color. I was hoping he'd pass while I was gone because my husband offered to take care of it happened while I was gone. I'm afraid it will probably be tonight or tomorrow. He's mostly white now, and moving very slowly, not eating. I know he's an old fish, so there isn't anything I can do now.

My heart is sad mostly to watch this process, and to lose him. I wasn't as attached to this Zeke as I was to my last fish, also named Zeke. But, I still love animals and it makes me sad when their membership card on this earth runs out and they leave us. :-(

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here, Kitty Kitty!

One thing I like to do with my free time is to make cards. I see it as designing with my hands. I've always loved putting elements (colors, shapes, patterns) together to create something fun, creative, beautiful. I also love sending out cards, so it's a way to combine the two! I don't get to do it nearly enough - mostly out of laziness, not wanting to pull out all the supplies and put them all back again so we can eat dinner. :-)

I am slowly building up my stamp collection, scouting stores for sets and custom rubber stamps.
I was really excited to get a set called "Here, Kitty Kitty!" I love it! It has two kitties (one jumping), a ball of yarn, a wind-up mouse, a birthday hat, and the words "Happy birthday from the cat". How perfect is that?? Of course, I don't have very many friends who would appreciate birthday cards from the cat. :-) But I was able to make a card for my mom for her birthday last November:



I was excited with how it turned out, though I thought it might have looked better without the wind-up mousies in the background. I'm looking forward to all the creative ways to use the stamps! And perhaps I'll add some other cat stamps to my collection, and some Beagle stamps if I'm able to find them! ;-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

The German Shepherd

I got this funny as an email forward. Enjoy!

-------------------

One day the German Shepherd starts chasing rabbits and before long, discovers that he's lost. Wandering about, he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the intention of having lunch.

The German Shepherd thinks, "Oh, oh! I'm in deep doo-doo now!" Noticing some bones on the ground close by, he immediately settles down to chew on the bones with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the German Shepherd exclaims loudly, "Boy, that was one delicious leopard! I wonder, if there are any more around here?"

Hearing this, the leopard halts his attack in mid-strike, a look of terror comes over him and he slinks away into the trees. "Whew!" says the leopard, "That was close! That German Shepherd nearly had me!"

Meanwhile, a monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put this knowledge to good use and trade it for protection from the leopard. So, off he goes, but the German Shepherd sees him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figures that something must be up.

The monkey soon catches up with the leopard, spills the beans and strikes a deal for himself with the leopard.

The leopard is furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here, monkey, hop on my back and see what's going to happen to that conniving canine!"

Now, the German Shepherd sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back and thinks, "What am I going to do now?", but instead of running, the dog sits down with his back to his attackers, pretending he hasn't seen them yet, and just when they get close enough to hear, the German Shepherd says...

"Where's that monkey? I sent him off an hour ago to bring me another leopard!"