Dog-centric & Cat-astic Online Pet Shopping!

Did you know that a BUNCH of y’all shop online for your pets? Scroll down to see a very kewl infographic with some stats. Meanwhile, I wanted to share with you some of my new “finds” and recommendations for the fur-kids (and pet-loving peeps) in your life! Several of these can be found at my new home-away-from-home, and some even offer some free trials. How kewl is that?

For the next THREE DAYS (Weds, Thurs, Friday) these two books are FREE on Kindle, just in time for helping the pets get along with visiting grandkids. *s*

DogHatesDate CatHatesDate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FountainAdvert

 

 

 

My Karma-Kat and Seren-Kitty are LOVING this fountain! And there’s still time to use the code to get it at a deep discount for the furry wonders and pet lovers in your life. For a full review and details, just click here!

 

 

KarmaLitterBox2Karma and Seren are both liking the Perfect Litter, a natural light weight product that’s also environmentally friendly– AND has a color-code change if the urine pH goes to high. The company will even give you a free one-month’s supply to try it out. For my review and more info click here, and for  the trial offer you can click here.

Cat-Litter-MatOh my CATS! how I wish that I’d had this litter mat years ago! It’s the Doggone Smart Cat Litter Mat and it catches/contains tracked litter better than anything I’ve ever seen. My review and details are here.

SwiPets_sm2Are you faced with a big-hairy-deal? especially at the holidays, guests don’t always consider fur to be a condiment like us pet-folks do, LOL! The SwiPets glove is a handy way to brush off the fuzz, and a great stocking stuffer for pet lovers. I keep one in my car, too. My review and details are o this page.

BarkGenie

Do you have issues with dogs barking, or cats wrangling? I’ve always been a bit suspicious of those “push button” answers but the Bark Genie actually does work in many cases. It’s an ultrasonic tone that interrupts the behavior. This may be the perfect answer for keeping pesky pets away from dangerous holiday decor. Check out more details at this link.

 

 

catleash DogLeash

I was sent free leashes to review from Lavian, and they’re spectacular. Soft, supple, made to last–a bit pricy, but hey! our pets are worth it! Click the pictures for a small dog/cat leash in red, or the large dog leash in black.

K9_DogTreats_lgNo guilt K-9 Fat Free Treats–these are Magical-Dawg’s new favorite and I don’t have to watch his waistline! Check out details and my review here.

Kaviar Equal time for the cats! Kitty Kaviar makes Seren’s purr rumble! Low fat and a great appetite stimulant for reluctant eaters. Learn more here.

NekoBirbug TeleRodPlaytime for the cats! Karma has a new favorite toy in the Birbug from Neko Flies. These make him LEAP and run with joy! The Telescoping Rod means you can extend your interactive reach for shy kitties that want some distance, or bring it near to you. Click the pictures to learn more.

And…I promised some statistics, so check ‘em out below, Furry fantastic, eh?

BlogPaws Holiday Pet Blogger Influence and Christmas Gift Spending

Cat Behavior & Dog Training Gift Books for Parents and Lovers

MERRY CAT-MAS & HAPPY HOWL-IDAYS! This time of year means visitors of all ages and your pets may object to these INTERLOPERS. These tips can help–and the books are FREE today (Weds), Thursday & Friday! Please share with anyone you think could use the help!

My Cat Hates my Date: Teach Cats to Accept Babies, Toddlers & Lovers

My Dog Hates my Date: Teach Dogs to Accept Babies, Toddlers & Lovers

CatHatesDateDogHatesDateI love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

How To Give Pets As Gifts

puppy with ribbon

Pictures courtesy of Deposit Photos

The professionals used to say that the holidays were a TERRIBLE time to get a new pet–that impulse adoptions could leave the cat or dog without a home after the cute-holiday-thrills wore off. More recently, though, the ASPCA conducted some surveys and discovered that when done properly, these adoptions can be lasting, loving adoptions. So I had to re-think my advice.

Holidays tend to be hectic times when normal routines go out the window. Whether a baby, adult or senior rescue cat or dog, new animals need the stability of knowing what to expect. In fact, some holiday schedules may allow you to be home more during this time to help the new kitty or pooch adjust.

Holiday pets take more work, true. But just think: you’re not only giving the pet to a person—you’re giving a special human to a waiting cat or dog, a fur-kid hungry for a loving, permanent home. Happy holidays, indeed!

Everyone who adores puppies and kittens wants to share the furry love affair but not everyone is ready to receive puppies as gifts. Maybe the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness. But don’t gamble with a pet’s life.

Sure, Grandma is lonely and needs a wagging lap-warmer to keep her company. But she may have other plans, such as visits to the grandkids. A puppy that eats Aunt Ethel’s hat collection will cost you favorite nephew status. A busy new parent may want a pup or kitten for their kids, but have other demands that take priority.

small cute kittenGiving Puppies and Kittens As Gifts

Before you put a bow around his neck, ask yourself these questions. Will the new owner have the time, ability, and funds to care for the dog or cat over the next 10 to 20 years? Is their space better suited for a Chihuahua, Persian or Great Dane? Do they already have a fenced yard? Will Uncle Jim’s knees keep up when hunting with that Pointer pup? Does your mom really want to chase Junior Cat off the mantel every day?

Children delight in pets as gifts but living things can’t be shoved under the bed and forgotten when the latest must-have-kid-gadget has more appeal. Remember—even if Fluffy is for the kids, the ADULT ultimately holds responsibility for the well-being of the pet. Will the child’s parents have the time to spend on one-on-one attention a new pet needs, and deserves? Be sure that the recipient truly wants and is ready for a puppy or kitten

I Want A Puppy/Kitten!

What if the kids, your spouse, Aunt Ethel, or a best friend have made it clear they want a furry wonder, are prepared for the responsibility, and feel ready RIGHT NOW for a furry loved one in their life? You’re sure, and so are they. What can you do?

The time, the place, the person, and the pet must be right for love to bloom into a lifetime commitment. The selection should be made by the person who will live with, care for, and hopefully fall in love with the baby for the next decade or more. You still want the recipient to make this important choice, so give them that gift. Here’s X tips for giving pets as gifts.

4 Steps for Giving Pets As Gifts

  • Plot With Professionals. Contact the professional breeder, shelter, and/or rescue organization and explain the situation. Ask them to conspire with you—arrange to pay a deposit, or fund the purchase FOR the recipient, with the puppy or kitten to be chosen later. Perhaps also pre-pay puppy clicker training classes for the new family member, or fund the cost of the kitten’s first veterinary visit.
  • Go Shopping. Create a “puppy or kitty care package” for the big day. Fill a puppy bed with treats, food, training and grooming equipment, and lots—lots!—of appropriate toys. Don’t forget to include a book or two about the pet’s breed, training or behavior tips, or other fun information.
  • Get Creative. Why not make a “gift certificate” that details this special surprise, and have that ready to present on the big day. Perhaps it could be packaged inside a pet carrier, or in an envelope attached to the collar of a stuffed St. Bernard or Siamese Cat toy.
  • Take Your Time. Holidays can be hectic when normal routines go out the window. New puppies and kittens–even newbie adult pets–need the stability of knowing what to expect. But you can “gift” with the certificate on the special day, and the recipient can choose the best time to bring the pet home. Hopefully you also have the fun of accompanying the person later, when they choose their own furry wonder.

When you do it right, gifting with a pet can be magic. You’re not only giving the pet to a person—you’re giving a special human to a waiting fur-kid.

Have you ever given–or received–a pet as a gift? How did you prepare? What was the result? Please share! I’d love to hear your experiences.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Holiday Sparkles, A Cat-Mas Story

SerenCrash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

“Amy! Will you please get your cat before she tears up the house?”

I sighed, and pushed away from the computer. My husband grew up cat-less. Mahmoud neither understood nor appreciated kitten antics, especially while he watched television sports.

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

“Ameeeeeeee!”

By the sound of it, the eight-month-old delinquent had donned virtual racing stripes. She ran laps that traversed the carpeted living room and family room, slid across the oak floor entry, bumped down steps to the dining room, then finished with a claw-scrabbling turn around the slate-tiled kitchen.

Thumpa-thumpata-thumpa-THUMP!

Aha, a new path discovered . . . The sound grew louder as she raced toward me up the stairs and flew down the hallway to land tippy-toed on the guest bed across the hall from my office. I peeked inside.

Seren(dipity) stared back with blue-jean-colored eyes. Then she self-inflated in mock terror and began trampoline calisthenics (boing-boing-boing) on the mattress.

I quickly shut the door, confining the demon seed–my husband’s name for her–to my upstairs domain.

Back in June, a friend discovered the dumped kitten napping in an empty flowerpot on the back porch and called me, her pet-writer buddy, for help. I had been pet-less for longer than I cared to admit. E-mail, phone and fax lines kept me connected to my clients and colleagues, but I figured the kitten would brighten the long, sometimes lonely workdays. Besides, as a pet writer I needed a pet. So it was Amy-to-the-rescue, and love at first sight.

My husband wasn’t so easily smitten. He still missed our elderly and sedate German shepherd but cherished the freedom of being pet-less. I convinced him a lap-snuggling kitten would be no trouble. Besides, the cream-color carpet he’d chosen matched the color of Seren’s fur. It had to be an omen.

The cat gods have a wicked sense of humor. They made me pay for that fib.

The Siamese wannabe had no off-switch. She talked nonstop and demanded the last word. She opened drawers and explored kitchen cabinets. She answered my office phone but never took messages. And she left legions of sparkle ball toys everywhere.

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The colorful toys polka-dotted the stairs. You’d think a peacock threw up. The toys floated in the kitten’s water bowl, swirled in the toilet, and bobbed in my coffee cup. And Seren hid sparkle balls everywhere to later stalk and paw-capture them from beneath household appliances.

Mahmoud quickly learned to check his shoes each morning before putting them on. He was not amused. I knew better than to suggest he should be grateful Seren only stuffed his shoes with sparkle balls and not–ahem–other items.

I’d managed to buffer the cat-shock-effect over the past months by keeping her in my office during the day and wearing Seren out with lots of games before Mahmoud came home from work. Weekends proved a challenge. By Monday morning, my husband reached his kitty threshold and welcomed a return to the cat-free-zone at work.

But now the holidays loomed. Mahmoud looked forward to two weeks at home, two weeks of relaxation, two weeks of napping on the couch in front of the TV.

Two weeks sharing the house with “the devil.”

It would indeed be a Christmas miracle if we survived with sense of humor intact.

In the past we’d often visited my folks over the holidays where we enjoyed a traditional snowy Indiana Christmas morning, stocking stuffers, decorated tree, lots of relatives, and a sumptuous turkey dinner. This year we planned a quiet celebration at home in Texas, so snow wasn’t an option. But I wanted to decorate with lots of holiday sparkles to make the season as festive as possible.

“A Christmas tree? Don’t cats climb trees?” Mahmoud’s you-must-be-insane expression spoke volumes. He’d already blamed Seren for dumping his coffee on the cream-colored carpet. Maybe matching fur color wasn’t such a great omen after all.

But ‘tis the season of peace on earth, and I wanted to keep the peace–and the cat. So I agreed. No tree.

Mahmoud didn’t particularly care if we decorated at all since Christmas isn’t a part of his cultural or religious tradition. But he knew I treasured everything about the holidays. So we compromised.

Gold garland with red velvet poinsettias festooned the curving staircase, wrapping around and around the banisters and handrail. Gold beads draped the fireplace mantel, with greeting cards propped above. A red cloth adorned the dining room table, while in the living room, the candelabra with twelve scented candles flickered brightly from inside the fireplace. Other candles in festive holders decorated the several end tables, countertops and the piano.

The centerpiece of Christmas décor was the large glass-top coffee table placed midway between the fireplace, TV and the leather sofa. The wooden table base carried puppy teeth marks, silent reminders of the dog Mahmoud and I still mourned. Since we had no tree, the table served to display brightly wrapped packages that fit underneath out of the way. And on top of the table I placed Grandma’s lovely three-piece china nativity of Mary, Joseph and the Baby in the manger.

Grandma died several years before, right after the holidays. Each family member was encouraged to request something of hers to keep as a special remembrance, and I treasured Grandma’s nativity. The simple figurines represented not only the Holy Family but evoked the very essence of Grandma and every happy family holiday memory.

Of course, Seren created her own memories and put her paw into everything. It became her purpose in life to un-festoon the house. She “disappeared” three of the faux poinsettias, risked singed whiskers by sniffing candles, and stole bows off packages.

She decided the red tablecloth set off her feline beauty. She lounged in the middle of the table beneath the Tiffany-style shade that doubled as a heat lamp, shedding tiny hairs onto the fabric. As every cat lover eventually learns, fur is a condiment. But Mahmoud had not yet joined the cat-lover ranks and was not amused.

“Off! Get off the table. Amy, she’ll break your glass lampshade.”

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

Mahmoud had no sooner resettled onto the sofa to watch the TV when the whirling dervish hit again. The twinkling gold beads dangling from the mantel caught her predatory attention. Seren stalked them from below, quickly realized she couldn’t leap that high, and settled for pouncing onto the top of the TV. From there, only a short hop separated her from the ferocious mantel quarry she’d targetted.

“Off! Get off the TV. Amy, will you come get your cat?”

Crash-galumph-galumph-skiiiiiiid-thump!

I arrived in time to see her complete a second Mario Andretti lap. I swear she grinned at us as she skidded past. With the next drive-by Seren stopped long enough to grab my ankle, execute a ten-second feline headstand while bunny-kicking my calves, then resumed her mad dash around the house.

Mahmoud glared. “I thought you said cats sleep sixteen hours a day.”

I shrugged and hid a smile. Seren had already learned what buttons to push. Rattling the wooden window blinds worked extremely well, but now she need only eye the decorations to garner all the attention she craved.

Cute kitty. Smart kitty. Mahmoud wasn’t amused, but I was.

She raced into the living room, leaped onto the glass top table, and belly-flopped alongside my treasured Holy Family . . .

“Off! Get off.” Mahmoud shooed the kitten out of the danger zone before I could react in shock. This time, I was not amused.

Mahmoud knew what Grandma’s nativity meant to me. “Decorating was your idea. Don’t blame me if the devil breaks something,” he warned.

Before he could suggest it, I caught the miscreant and gave her a time out in the laundry room to cool her jets. We’d relegated Seren’s potty, food bowls and bed to this room and routinely confined her at night or when away. Otherwise, she set off motion detectors and the house alarm–or dismantled the house while we slept. Besides, Mahmoud complained Seren’s purring kept him awake at night.

I used a wooden yardstick to fish toys from beneath the washer/dryer to provide necessary feline entertainment during the incarceration. Several dozen sparkle balls–red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple–and the three missing faux poinsettias emerged, along with an assortment of dust bunnies and dryer lint.

I sighed. The kitten’s age meant several more months of madcap activity and I wasn’t sure how much more Mahmoud could take. He only saw Seren at full throttle. He also suffered from “Saint Spot Syndrome” which meant he recalled only the happy memories of our beloved dog, and overlooked potty accidents, chewed shoes and other normal canine misbehaviors of the past.

Seren suffered mightily in the comparison.

I felt exhausted after the first week of running vacation interference between my husband and the kitten. Whenever possible I kept Seren confined with me in my upstairs office but that backfired. She slept in my office, but once downstairs she turned into a dynamo intent on pick-pick-picking at Mahmoud especially when he ignored her.

The second week began, and as Christmas drew near I found more and more errands that required my attention outside of the house. Mahmoud came with me for some, but other times he preferred TV.

“Just lock up the devil before you leave so she doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I don’t want to watch her.”

It made me nervous to leave them alone together in the house. I worried that Seren might commit some last straw infraction and I’d be unable to salvage any potential relationship. I loved her, heaven help me; she’d hooked her claws deep into my heart. And I loved Mahmoud. I wanted my two loves to at least put up with each other.

But as I prepared to leave I couldn’t find her. At less than five pounds, Seren could hide in the tiniest spaces. One time I found her inside the box springs of the guest bed, but that day–December 23rd–she disappeared and refused to come out of hiding.

sparkles2 002

I think she planned it. Maybe the spirit of the holidays inspired her. Or perhaps some other loving canine (or grandmotherly) influence worked its Christmas magic. Whatever the motivation, when I returned home that rainy December evening, my unspoken holiday wish had been granted.

I found my husband napping on the sofa. On the glass top table beside him the Holy Family nested in a radiance of sparkle balls–an inspired feline gift of toys for a very special Child.

And atop Mahmoud’s chest, quiet at last, rested a very happy kitten.

Mahmoud roused enough to open one eye. “Fafnir–I mean Seren still purrs too loud,” he grumbled.

Fafnir had been the name of our dog.

With a nod toward the overcast day Mahmoud added, “At least our cat won’t need to be walked in the rain.”

Seren blinked blue-jean-colored eyes and purred louder.

Note: This first appeared in a short story collection titled Christmas Cats: A Literary Companion (Chamberlain Bros. Publishing). May your Christmas be joyous, bright, and filled with loving woofs and purrs.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Merry Cat-Mas! How to Create A Pet-Safe Howliday

Yowl_19316291_originalHave you decked the halls yet with your howl-iday decor? What do the pets think? Have they joined in the spirit of ho-ho-ho and wreaked havoc? Or do they ignore the festivities?

The Christmas tree might as well be an early holiday gift to your cats and dogs. Pets can’t resist the urge to sniff, claw, water—and scale the branches to reach the highest possible perch. Don’t blame your cat or dog. It’s normal for cats to compete for the top spot (literally and figuratively) to secure their place in kitty society, and dogs may want to “mark” the convenient indoor doggy signpost.

GirlPaintPet_17890973_original-1CLUELESS PUPS & ACROBAT CATS

Magical-Dawg was born in July, and he came to live with us in early October. So when it came time to put up that year’s tree, I weenied out. We didn’t put up a tree until he was three years old and had sorta-kinda-in-a-way learned to control himself. I already had practice from dealing with the Seren-kitty’s tree love affair.

For puppies, the Christmas season can be a challenge for owners. Your puppy may believe the Christmas tree is a special gift just for his entertainment. The attraction is natural, with puppies wanting to chew branches, pull off decorations, or worse. The result is a holiday that’s anything but merry.

Youngsters won’t care about social standing, but high energy kitten play turns the holiday tree into a jungle gym. Tree encounters of the furry kind not only risks breaking your heirloom ornaments, your pets can be injured by chewing or swallow dangerous items.

Puppies turn everything into a toy. The branches beneath the tree create a great puppy hideout. Tree ornaments that move or make noises lure puppies to grab and chase, garland offers a great game of tug-o’-war, and the twinkling lights draw them to investigate or even chew. That can lead to electrical shock (check out The First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats for tips that can save your pets’ lives). Trees end up toppled, presents and decorations damaged, and sometimes pets are hurt.

DAMAGED MEMORIES

Holidays mean memories and damage to “things” may matter more at this time of year than others. My grandmother always displayed a gorgeous white porcelain nativity each year. That nativity symbolized for me all-good-things about Grandma’s house and Christmas–good food, happy reunions, presents, and love shared by our close-nit family. So when Grandma died, I was blessed to keep her Nativity and continue to display it in my own home.

When Seren-kitty arrived, I was nervous about her rambunctious behavior around the Holy Family. But it wasn’t until three years ago that the worst happened while my husband played his nightly fetch game with the dog–it could have been me, so there’s no blame here. The Magical-Dawg’s ball ricocheted off of the delicate nativity and managed to behead Joseph and lop off Mary’s hand. Sounds funny, right?

I had a melt down. You probably could hear my scream for miles and the sobs lasted days. It wasn’t just china, a THING damaged. It was my personal Christmas, my Grandma, childhood happy times–shattered.

Eventually I stopped crying. There was no question of replacing the pieces–they’re hard to find and besides, it was THAT nativity that meant everything to me. We eventually found a restoration expert able to give Mary back her hand and re-attach Joseph’s head. I’m just grateful Grandma’s Nativity continues to be a part of our personal traditions and holiday happiness.

Since that time, we’ve curtailed Magical-Dawg’s games of fetch, especially around the holidays. Hey, it wasn’t the dog’s fault. But it’s up to us humans to protect what’s important to us–not just our pets but our memories.

christmas cat and dogHOW TO PET PROOF THE TREE

Place “tacky mats” under the tree to shoo away pets. These can be found at pet products stores used to keep throw rugs from slipping, and pets don’t like to walk on the sticky surface. Alternatively, get some Sticky Paws (double sided tap) and apply to place mats or other moveable surfaces and place in strategic locations.

Put small trees inside a baby playpen to keep small pets out. Or use baby gates to keep the pets out of the tree room. Keep breakable or dangerous ornaments out of paw-reach (or better, don’t use at all!). Put only pet safe décor within sniffing range on lower branches.

Ditch the lights, and any “fake-snow” flocking that can be chewed or swallowed. Instead, decorate with cotton balls or pillow-stuffing fleece for that snowy look on branches or around the base. If you’ve chosen a real tree, water with plain water and no additives in case pet decides to drink.

Strings and garland look great on the tree, but prove deadly inside a cat or dog when swallowed. Dried flowers like baby’s breath look lovely and are nontoxic even if clueless pets nibble.

CREATE A PET-SAFE TREE!

Rather than fight a losing battle to keep them at bay, create a second pet-safe tree with these tips, so the fur-kids can enjoy the holidays as much as you do.

Put yourself in your pet’s “paws.” Satisfy her desire to claw, lounge on (or under) the branches, and trust that it won’t tip over under her assault. Match the tree size, sturdiness, base (perhaps add guy-wires for steadiness) to the activity level and number of pets.

To increase the fun factor, insert a few sprigs of dried catnip—but be prepared for the cats to dismantle the tree! Offer some doggy treats under the pet tree for legal dog chewing enjoyment.

Catnip toys make great kitty tree decorations and won’t be destroyed during the feline assaults. Use “orphan” socks (singletons without a mate), fill with the ‘nip, and knot the open end.

Don’t forget the “cheap thrills.” Empty boxes, wads of holiday paper, and even paper shopping bags thrill cats and dogs. Remove bag handles so the pet won’t get hung around her neck.

Toss a few special treats in the boxes or bags. The smellier the treat, the better pets like them.

Be prepared to re-decorate the tree after the cats and dogs have fun. But a “Pet-mas” tree not only answers your pets’ Santa Paws prayers, it means she’ll be more likely to leave your formal tree and decorations alone. That promotes a merry Christmas for the whole family, furry and otherwise.

So how do you handle doggy interest in your yule plans? Are your puppies ho-hum or holiday happy over the change in scenery? What do you do to keep your Christmas memories safe from kitty and doggy damage? Does the baby-gate-of-despair keep the tree and poochie free from harm? Have you ever “lost your head” over holiday damage? Do tell!

And check out more dog and cat care advice in time for Christmas gifts (for your friends or yourself!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!