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Archive for the ‘cats’ tag

June 5th, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Cat Care


June is Adopt a Cat Month.  There are many reasons why cats make great pets: they’re easy to take care of, easy to transport, and can be just as playful and affectionate as a dog.  While I love all animals and have lived with them my entire life, I have never had a more loving and fun pet than my 10-month old kitten, Comet, who we adopted from a shelter at Christmastime. But just because cats are easy to care for doesn’t mean they don’t require any of your time and attention!  If you think that a cat or a kitten might be the perfect pet for you and your family, consider whether you can provide the following care:

  • Feed your cat a balanced diet.  I feed Comet twice a day with healthy wet and dry food, like Blue, Merrick, and Tiki Cat.  Of course, as with a human child, they’re entitled to a treat every now and then and I’ve never met a cat that resisted Temptations!  Also be sure your cat ALWAYS has fresh water to drink.
  • Provide a litter box and keep it clean.  I’ve never had to “potty-train” a cat; I just showed them where the box was and they knew to use it.  Most will not use a dirty one, so be sure to clean it out as often as possible.
  • Buy a collar and an ID tag with your contact information.  Even indoor cats should wear a collar at all times.  Make sure it has a breakaway buckle, like this one from Petco, for your cat’s safety.
  • Groom your cat regularly.  Brush your cat regularly for a healthy coat and minimal shedding.  Make sure you also have nail clippers and styptic powder to trim their claws. A scratching post will also help trim them down.
  • Annual trips to the vet are a must.  Keep your kitty up-to-date on shots and vaccinations.  Have him or her spayed or neutered if this hasn’t already been done.

Finally, even though cats are known for their independence, they still crave human love.  Provide him with catnip and toys to keep him stimulated, but remember that his favorite toy is you!  These guidelines for cat ownership will help ensure that you have a happy kitty and that your family will have a loyal friend for years!

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January 3rd, 2013 at 5:00 am

Winter Pet Safety Tips


Winter has just begun and temperatures will continue to drop for a little while.  It’s easy enough for us to survive the harsh season, but make sure you also protect your pet from the colder weather!  Here are a few essential safety tips for your furry friend:

  • Never EVER leave your pet alone in the car. You probably already know that summer can turn your car into an oven. Well, winter can turn your car into a refrigerator and be just as deadly to your animal. Also be sure to clean up any antifreeze spills from your car, as antifreeze is a highly poisonous chemical for dogs and cats.
  • Bring your animal inside during the colder months and make sure they have a warm place to sleep, such as a blanket that’s away from drafts.  If you live in an area with many outdoor cats, provide a warm shelter for them that’s lined with old blankets and regularly check the bedding to make sure it’s still dry.
  • Be sure to wipe your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in from the snow.  Otherwise, he could be ingesting salt or other dangerous substances while licking his paws.
  • Consider outfitting your short-haired pet in a coat or sweater for when they do need to go outside. Some of you may think it silly to put clothes on animals, but your little critter may thank you for it! has some adorable options!
  • Make sure your pet is wearing his ID tags at all times!  More pets are lost during the winter than any other season, so make sure your pet can be easily identified so he can be returned home more quickly.

Pets are our family, so do everything you can to protect them this season!  How do you prepare your critters for the winter?

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September 12th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Julia Child’s Life with Cats

This year is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Julia Child, the beloved French Chef. But did you know that Julia was also a cat fancier?

Authors Patricia Barey and Therese Burson have written about this life-long love affair in their new book, Julia’s Cats: Julia Child’s Life in the Company of Cats.

“About six years ago, I read a biography on Julia Child and was intrigued by a black and white photo of her in Paris with a kitten in her lap,” said Burson. That curiosity spawned a whole book.

“When Julia and her husband Paul moved to France,” said Barey, “a maid brought a cat into their home to be a mouser, and Julia fell in love. At first she called the kitten Minou, which means ‘kittycat’ in French, but when they found out it was a female, she became Minette. Most of her cats were named some version of Minou.”

Pat and Terry pored over Julia’s papers at the Schlesinger Library in Cambridge, MA, where they found hundreds of pictures of cats taken by Paul, an amateur photographer. “We also found a treasure trove of correspondence,” said Terry. “Both Julia and Paul were wonderful letter writers and wrote about everything, including the antics of their various cats.”

I asked Terry to share her favorite story of Julia and her cats. “Julia traveled so much that she didn’t always own a cat, but always doted on them. One day, her housekeeper in Cambridge brought her a kitten. That house had a rather elaborate alarm system, and Julia couldn’t seem to train the cat not to set off the burglar alarm. She reluctantly gave the cat to her sister, Dorothy, in California. But every time she called Dorothy, Julia would ask to be put on speaker phone so the cat wouldn’t forget her voice.”

In fact, that became Julia’s calling card of sorts. When she would reach a friend’s voice mail, she would leave this simple message: “Meow.”

When Julia retired to California, the apartment she lived in didn’t allow pets. She abided by the rules for a while, but at age 91, she got a kitten. When Julia Child passed away later that year, they found that cat, also named Minou, curled up on her bed.

Related Picture Books
Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat by Susanna Reich
Les Oeufs Verts au Jambon: The French Edition of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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October 26th, 2011 at 10:34 am

Creatures of the Night

Images of black cats and bats surround Halloween, but how did these animals come to be associated with the holiday?

Obviously, both are creatures of the night. With their glowing eyes and vertical pupils, black cats can be quite spooky, especially if you’re already in the mood to be spooked.

Many Halloween traditions can be traced back to the Ancient Celts (2000 years ago), who celebrated their new year on November 1. At this time of year, the Celts believed the barrier between the living and dead was temporarily removed, and souls of departed relatives and friends would inhabit the bodies of animals, especially cats.

Back then, any old cat would do. Black cats didn’t become a Halloween icon until the 1800s, when they were associated with witches. Many superstitious tales surround black cats, but according to veteranarians and cat-lovers alike, black cats are just like any other cat. Some shelters restrict adoption of black cats around Halloween for fear of dangerous mischief.

Celts also traditionally lit huge bonfires on October 31 to ward off evil spirits, and that’s how bats became associated with Halloween. The warmth and light of the fires attracted insects and other small flying creatures, the natural prey of bats, who hunt at night. Bats are rarely seen by humans, but the light of the bonfires silhouetted their uniquely-shaped wings against the sky on this one night of the year. Stay tuned for more information on these fascinating creatures (2011-2012 is the Year of the Bat).

Superstitions aside, it’s a good idea to keep safety in mind for all our pets at Halloween. Ringing doorbells and lots of strangers will make most animals anxious. It’s probably best to lock them in a crate or room at the back of the house so they aren’t frightened and won’t attempt to escape through an open door.

Candy is dangerous for animals, especially chocolate, which can be deadly in even small amounts. Keep all Halloween candies out of reach. If you have dress-up plans for your pet, the ASPCA urges caution. Don’t force an unwilling pet into costume, and if your pet isa willing participant, make sure the costume fits comfortably and has no pieces that could become a choking hazard.

Happy Halloween!

Associated picture book recommendations:

Moonlight, The Halloween Cat, by Cynthia Rylant

Bat Loves the Night, by Nicola Davies

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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September 13th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Kits Happen

I want my “no” back. You know, that all powerful mom “no”, the one that coupled with “the look” can wilt a whiner and stop a cookie thief in his tracks. Until recently, my “no” was one of the most effective in the business, honed over years of parenting six kids.

A few months ago I let my guard down. My dear husband (DH) and two of my rotten children conspired against me and brought a kitty home. Until then, I had successfully prevented more than one animal from living in our house at a time, and we already had a dog. They pulled a sneak attack and suddenly we had Pekoe.

Now, I’m telling you this part in strictest confidence. As cats go, Pekoe is the pick of the litter, really more dog than cat. She comes when you call, greets you at the door and snuggles nicely. So I decided that maybe I could live with a cat. One. Cat.

Then, the day before I was to leave town with a couple of the kids for three weeks, DH texted me (I guess this is my punishment for getting him a smart phone):

DH: Bk & wht kitten, 8 weeks old today. Last one. Med to short hair. Should I bring him home?

Me: No.

DH: crying for a home.

Me: No. You own a pet store. He is inventory. Sell him.

DH: Pekoe needs a friend.

Me: No.

I would like to point out that I used three perfectly good noes in this conversation. A short time later, I get an e-mail:

DH: I really think Pekoe would like to have another kitten around, especially when everyone is at work and school.

Me: No.

Later that day, DH calls me from his smart phone (dumb mistake). “Listen, I really think Pekoe needs a companion. This kitten is so playful. They would have fun together.”

Me: “No. There are six people and a dog in this house, so Pekoe already has seven companions.”

DH: “I think they would bond. This is the perfect time.”

Me: “No. Do you hear me? No.”

Again, many strong, emphatic noes. Several hours later, I was running around packing the car for our 3:30 a.m. departure, when DH walks in with the “other” kitty.

I just looked at him and said: “No.”

“I’ll see how they do while you’re gone,” he said. “I promise if there are any problems, he’ll go right back to the store.”

They’re still here — Pekoe, the “other” kitty and DH, although I’m definitely rethinking that last one. The rest of my family calls the “other” kitty “Tea”; I refer to him as “He Who Must Not Be Named.” If you’re looking for a cute kitty, let me know, and please, if you find my mom “no”, return it to me as soon as possible.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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June 8th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Introducing a New Pet

If you’ve been following along on Wednesdays, you’ll remember that we recently added a new kitty to our family menagerie. Even though this was done on the sneak by two of my children and my husband, I have to admit that little Pekoe is pretty cute.

One member of our family, however, is not quite sure how she feels about sharing her digs with a new cat: our dog Hazel. Hazel is a three-year-old soft-coated Wheaton terrier. She’s also very cute and tends to be submissive around other animals. Hazel weighs about 30 pounds and Pekoe is still just two pounds, but given Hazel’s reaction at their first meeting, you would think their sizes were reversed.

You see, Pekoe did what cats do when they come face to face with a big hairy beast — she arched her back, bared her teeth and hissed. It was quite a ferocious display from such a little thing, and enough to send Hazel running for cover in her crate.

Introducing a new pet into the family, especially into a family with small children and other animals, takes time, knowledge and patience. The first thing to know is that you should not introduce a new pet to another animal who already lives in your home until you have had your new pet checked out by the veterinarian, so make that initial appointment as soon as possible.

Once you get the all clear from your vet, take your time. Don’t introduce the animals to each other for at least three or four days. Feed them in different areas of the house and keep them away from each other’s food.

If you have a dog at home and are introducing a new kitty, you want to keep your dog on a leash for that first introduction. Have treats on hand and reward your pup for sitting calmly. Let the cat roam free. It’s not a good idea to hold either animal in your arms, because they can become agitated under stress and bite or scratch in an effort to get away. Keep the first several meetings short and keep small children well away from both animals.

As your animals become more comfortable with one another, you can let them hang out in the same room when a responsible adult is present to step in if things get tense. Keep the animals separated when you are away until you are confident that they are completely comfortable. It’s been a few weeks now and Hazel and Pekoe are still checking each other out. Things are going well, but we know it will take a little time.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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