Do You Have a Pet Disaster Plan? #FoodShelterLove Tips Here!

This post is sponsored by Hill’s® .I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program, but Amy Shojai’s Bling, Bitches & Blood Blog only shares information relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Seren is NOT a fan of the carrier–but it’s the safest spot for her. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I live in Tornado Alley, and this year we’ve already had a rash of damaging storms hit North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. Disasters happen all year long, though, and don’t discriminate about where you live. Cats and kittens, puppies and dogs and other animals are victims, too, and often animal shelterslready overstretched become the go-to resource during disasters. That’s where Hill’s® Disaster Relief Network comes in.


Image courtesy of Hill’s.


Image courtesy of Hill’s

Hill’s established the first-of-its-kind national network in 2013 as an extension of its Food, Shelter & Love® program. In its first year, the Hill’s network delivered free pet food to 50 shelters and veterinary clinics across the country in response to 11 major incidents – including floods in Colorado, fires in Idaho and Arizona, tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas, the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco, Texas, and most recently, the mudslide in Washington and tornadoes in the central and south regions of the country.

Hill’s Media Tour to talk disaster preparedness and disaster relief kicks off May 7th just in time to coincide with FEMA National Pet Disaster Preparedness Day on May 9th. Here’s a sneak peek to help you plan ahead, so that equal opportunity disasters don’t spoil your day…or life.


Image courtesy of Hill’s


If you must evacuate, take your pets along. It may be days before authorities allow you to return home.

If you’ve got to evacuate, find a hotel, friend, or other accommodations in advance that will let you bring your dogs and cats. Some places make exceptions for pets in case of disaster but not all accept cats and dogs. While my two cats likely would be accepted, I don’t know if my 90-pound German Shepherd would be as welcome. :(

If you must leave your pets or are away when disaster strikes, be sure to display a pet rescue decal on your front door or window to let first responders know there is a pet in the house. Include your veterinarian’s contact information.


Karma likes cozy spots to sleep. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC


You’ll need to find them fast so play pet detective and scope out all the hidy holes. Even better, teach your cats and dogs to come when called or take refuge in their pet carrier. Practice ahead of time by leaving surprise treats or simply turning the carrier into the mealtime spot, and “home of irresistible food.”


Make sure all dogs and cats are wearing collars and up-to-date pet identification. If you have nothing else handy, use a felt-tip marker and write your phone number and name on the pet’s tummy.

Attach the phone number and address of your temporary shelter, if you know it, to the pet’s collar tags. You can buy temporary tags or put adhesive tape on the back of your pet’s ID tag, adding information with an indelible pen. Write directly on a flat nylon collar or halter to make it easy for a stranger to read the information.

Be sure you have current pictures of your pets with you, too, in case of separation. My cell phone is full of pictures of Seren-Kitty, Karma-Kat and Magical-Dawg.


Image courtesy of Hill’s


In addition to providing for human family members, have a “pet kit” ready to take along that contains a three-day supply of all the pet essentials, including food. If easily packed, take an extra towel or blanket for each pet. Don’t forget sturdy leashes, harnesses, carriers or X-pens for safe confinement.


A halter and leash gives you something to grab. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Have you ever had to ride out a storm with your pets? How did you manage the situation? What about fire? One year we had horrendous floods here and folks had to flee, awakening with water coming under the door.

How have you managed during disasters? Did you evacuate and take the fur-kids with you, or were you forced to leave them behind? That would just about kill me…I’d likely risk my life and stay with them, if it came down to it. Please share how you prepare for the worst.

Be sure to watch this PAW-some video, too!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. You’ll learn about the latest book give aways and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Magical-Dawg Reviews Revel from The Honest Kitchen

IMG_2465I received a free 2-lb box sample of the new REVEL dog food from The Honest Kitchen for an honest review. I am not being paid for this post, and The Honest Kitchen is not responsible for the content of this article.

I was first introduced to The Honest Kitchen at a Blogpaws Conference a couple of years ago, and received some cat food samples. At the time, my old kitty Seren ate a therapeutic food recommended by the vet, so I set aside the samples. Then Karma-Kat showed up on the back patio last February, so hungry he tried to eat my shoes, and I mixed up the samples and have kept the dehydrated cat food on hand ever since.

So when asked to sample Revel, the latest offering for dogs from the company, I agreed. I don’t typically feed canned food to Magic because it’s not really cost effective for his size. I suspected he’d like it, though, since he insists on cleaning out the cat food bowls if I don’t get them picked up in time.

Like the other formulations, Revel is a dehydrated food that comes in 2-pound, 4-pound and 10-pound boxes. A 2-pound box, once the water is added, will make 8 pounds of food. Simply add enough water to hydrate in the consistency you want, wait three minutes, and serve. I used warm water so it would also add to the aroma that stimulates pet appetites.

For folks eager to offer wet food with wholesome ingredients, I like the concept of being able to mix up single-serving amounts as needed. In my experience, once a container of canned food has been opened and leftovers refrigerated, the remaining food is not as well accepted.

Besides the assortment of vitamin and minerals, the human grade ingredients include free range chicken, organic barley, potatoes, organic flaxseed, organic oats, green peas, carrots, bananas, organic kelp, parsley, and celery. I doubt that dogs (or cats) care whether it’s human grade, organic, or not–they don’t read labels, and we know what sorts of things they like to eat, LOL! But for pet parents that prefer highly nutritious and wholesome choices, this is a fine option.

Revel formulation is high protein, high calorie so is recommended for highly active adult dogs, as well as growing puppies. If your dog tends to be overweight or has health issues that preclude these levels, first ask your vet to recommend one of the other formulations that best fits his/her needs. Revel contains 485 calories per dry cup, consisting of 24.5% protein, 15.3% fat and 46.6% carbs.

Magic would happily eat this every day, but for my 90-pound GSD, a 10-pound box (about $60) would only last him 2 weeks. I love him dearly–but this costs about twice as much as his regular ration. However, as a treat or supplement mix to his food this could work well, since he is still very active and in great condition for an 8-year-old doggy.

You can learn more about Revel and the other The Honest Kitchen food products here. And I’ll let Magic tell you what he thinks…

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick the banner, above. 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 onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you 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!


dog and cat fight

Image courtesy of





What “hisses” you off about your cat or dog?

Magic has started table top cruising to get at the cat’s food. Well, he puts his big paws up on the table, doesn’t actually get ON the table, so I guess we’re ahead on that. Karma-Kat uses my legs as moveable scratch objects (ouch!). And now Seren-Kitty has stopped covering up her “creativity” so we have a bit more of an odor control issue in her potty area.

We love our pets with a passion, but they can make us growl, howl, and show our claws when they behave in objectionable ways. What are your pet peeves? The most common ones I hear from clients have to do with potty training and litter box lapses, loud-mouth pets, digging/clawing issues, and jumping up on people (or counters).

The thing is, all of these behaviors are NORMAL. So what’s a caring pet lover to do, besides pull out your hair with frustration?


Well, first we must figure out why they’re driving you nuts bark-bark-barking or playing Tarzan with the drapes. When the behavior is new and has suddenly appeared or abruptly gotten worse, I always recommend a veterinary visit. You’d be surprised how often a behavior complain stems from a health issue that can be diagnosed, treated and resolved by your vet.

If the pet gets a clean bill of health, that’s the time to look at behavioral issues. Knowing what is “normal” and what might be outside the norm also is important. Yes, dogs and cats can suffer from obsessive/compulsive disorders.

Once you know the cause of the behavior—may be stray cats or wildlife is practicing romance outside your window—then interventions can be figured out. Maybe giving the dog a puzzle toy stuffed with treats will keep his mouth busy so he can’t bark nonstop.

Maybe you’ve been adopted by a new kitten, and the other cats have their tails in a twist. One of the quickest ways to create “hate at first sight” that can last a lifetime is to let the cats fight it out. Instead, introduce them slowly, step by step, keeping the newbie in a room alone at first. Oh, there’s a lot more to intros than that, and I’m happy to give you the step-by-step solution on the most common behavior complaints.


321x278xwpe5ac4d0e_06.png.pagespeed.ic.jImZtb3awCThis Saturday April 25th come to my free PET PEEVES workshop during the Texoma Earth Day Festival at the Sherman Municipal Grounds, from 12:30 to 1:20. I’ll explain the mystery behind weird subjects like—why do pets follow you to the bathroom? For those looking for a new furry wonder to adopt, you can learn how to chose the best pet combos using the P.E.T. Test, sure fire secrets to pet introductions, and more.

I’ll also have copies of some of my pet books available that offer even more detailed explanations and advice about all your cat and dog must-knows. There’ll be treats for the dogs (K-9 Fat Free Treats, my Magical-Dawg loves these!), and a drawing for “earth friendly” Perfect Litter (that turns pink to alert you to possible kitty health problems).

Texoma Earth Day Festival runs from 8:30 to 5:00 pm with many other workshops and lots of entertainment. I understand that adoptable pets also will be available, so you can put your new “peeve-centric” knowledge to work! I’ll see you in the workshop area at 12:30.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick the banner, above. 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 onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you 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!

Complete Kitten Care–New Cover!

NEW-KITTEN-COVER-kindleHey there, all my Facebook Sweet Peeps may have already seen my SQUEEE! new cover designs on the nonfiction books. So over the next couple of weeks, I’ll post COVER REVEALS here on the blog. You’ve probably already seen them in the sidebar but this is the “official” launch…and a kewl offer, so keep reading! :)

First up–COMPLETE KITTEN CARE! The new cover version is now available in print and kindle on amazon, and other platforms soon. This was the first book that I “kindle-ized” and is a title that quite literally has had 9 lives (and counting). For writers out there, this experience possibly will give you hope. Some of y’all may have heard this before.

COMPLETE KITTEN CARE wasn’t the original title. Nope, I was asked to write KITTENS FOR DUMMIES when that brand was pumping out titles like…well, like kittens. After I turned in the manuscript to the editor, and she accepted it, the “For Dummies” publishing franchise was sold to another company, and a bunch of contracted books got cancelled. My editor simply emailed me the news–“sorry but your book has been cancelled.”



I could have ranted and raved and thrown a fit. Instead, I re-read my contract and then sent back a reply to the effect: “So sorry to learn this disappointing news. Since the manuscript has been delivered by deadline, and ACCEPTED, I am entitled to payment in full of the advance as outlined in my contract, and full reversion of the rights. Please advise when I will receive the payment.”

Great lesson–always know what’s in your contract. Most are written in kitty litter so don’t take the first “boilerplate” they offer. Ask for better terms–they won’t shoot you for asking, and may even say yes! If they say “no” then you can decide whether to sign or not.

That same day, I emailed my editor for the “aging” pet books (from New American Library/Penguin) and offered the manuscript to her. The reformatted, re-titled book became COMPLETE KITTEN CARE. That book went on to win several CWA Muse Medallion and Special Awards from the Cat Writers’ Association for both the content and the photos, mee-wow!

Oh, and did I mention that I got paid a SECOND advance for the book, this time from NAL? And a few years later, when the “dummies” franchise rethought their titles, a friend of mine was offered the chance to write the kitten book in the series–which also won subsequent CWA awards. Kewl beans!


This could have been the end of the story, but I promised you nine lives, didn’t I? :) As happens with traditional publishing, when a book no longer sells as well it probably will be “remaindered.” That’s a fancy term for “killed” which means the book gets offered at a deeeeeeeep discount to get rid of left over copies, no more are printed, and it “goes out of print.”

Bummer. Hey, this was an award winning book! and the information actually is pretty ever-green. Remembering the lesson from before, I asked my then-agent to get the rights reverted to me…and then I did nothing for a year or so other than create a head-shaped dent in my office wall and invest in Kleenex with woe-is-me pity parties.

Enter Kindle. Actually, I came late to the party, but finally decided–what the heck? I stuck my furry toe in the digital publishing waters with COMPLETE KITTEN CARE, and learned not only how to properly format text but also pictures. Oh, and redesigned the cover because New American Library owned the original art.


That led to me partnering with Cool Gus Publishing to bring COMPLETE KITTEN CARE back into print and in other Ebook formats so y’all can read it via Nook or iTunes or however you want. And THEN, the next incarnation–AUDIO BOOK! You’ll notice that it’s my voice on the recording, too, since people seem to like hearing authors read their own nonfiction titles. All those years performing onstage paid off!

51mzWKs4JIL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_Yes, the AUDIO COMPLETE KITTEN CARE is available at Amazon, and iTunes. (You can get it FREE with a 30 day trial membership at

Also, next Tuesday, I’ll be giving away free codes to review the Audible version of the book, through this really neato service AUDIOBOOKBLAST.COM where you can sign up for free to receive review copies of whatever kind of book you like. (COMPLETE KITTEN CARE will be in the “general nonfiction” category).

That cover, though, was due a furry facelift. See, I used the same sort of “style” as the design on the original NAL print cover, and times have changed. Hence, the cover reveal for the updated look to match the spiffy updated content. And yes, the photos inside are now in color in the digital versions!

So do you know someone with a kitten in his/her future? Or perhaps a shelter that would benefit from having the audio version in their educational library? It’s kitten season! Please share this post with anyone you think would benefit from some SQUEEEE! cuticity and solid kitten care info.

And remember, if you’d like a FREE copy of the audio version to review, please sign up for AUDIOBOOKBLAST.COM and check the GENERAL NONFICTION category before next Tuesday. I’ll have codes for both the US and the UK store.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick the banner, above. 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 get a FREE BOOK when you 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!


Feeding the Muse: Roses, Armadillos & Publishing

dog with a pencil. isolated on white backgroundHow do you feed your muse? I’ve been head-down busy these days playing catch up on all the writer-icity that had been put on a back burner for far too long. My muse is hungry, screaming for attention, like an itch in that impossible-to-reach spot in the middle of your back. Once you finally start scratching it feels soooooooooo good you don’t want to ever stop.

I’m bad at promising to scratch the itch “as soon as…” (fill in the blank) which is why I’m so far behind. The truth is, the muse doesn’t care that we’re busy with real life, or that we only have 10 minutes to spare. The muse just acts hungrier and more demanding the longer we ignore her whispers, cries, screams for attention.

Sort of like a cat.

Cat, pen and blank open notepadA muse doesn’t care if we scribble on napkins, type with a keyboard, twitter or fritter our litter-ary time with print or Ebooks. She wakes us at 3 a.m. and demands to be fed, she sinks dagger claws into our heart and soul. The muse pushes that soggy nasty ball into our lap, urging us to throw-throw-throw with all our might, promising how good it will feel and to return that ball to our willing hand time after time after time.

She won’t relent until we give in to the urge. The urge to write. To create.

Some of y’all know that we have had as many as 700 rose bushes surrounding our home. Over the years, the roses have been attacked by grasshoppers, leaving nothing but Addams Family stems; bulldozed by armadillos so tender roots fried in Texas sun; and over-pruned, which killed or crippled the plant. We lost roses that had spectacular flowers and amazing pedigrees. Mostly we lost the hybrids, high maintenance specimens that were less able to tolerate the insults, and demanded more attention and care to produce blooms.

But the grasshopper-eaten roses with viable roots produced fresh, healthier growth. Even ‘dillo-dozed roses survived—with scars, to be sure, but still produced stellar blooms. Stay with me, folks, there’s a rose-thorn-sharp point to be made . . .

As an over-zealous pruner, I’ve learned to restrain my instincts and appreciate the thorny, hardened portions of established bushes. This was a hard lesson to learn. See, if they’re cut out completely, there’s no scaffolding to support fresh growth, and the blooms fall in the dirt and are trampled–and the whole bush becomes mulch.

After more than two decades of writing, I’m a prickly, hardened bitch-of-a-pet writer. I do not flinch at the “B” word, it’s a badge of honor in my world. I know when to show my teeth, and choose my battles wisely. So I have less patience for high-maintenance writers or circle-the-wagons “that’s the way we’ve always done it!” attitudes than in my youth. WARNING: Those grasshoppers are voracious and if your roots ain’t healthy, you’re toast.

Don’t let that fact scare you. I can say that now–you can’t seen the head-shaped dent in my office wall from having the pee scared outta me mild concern. Writing is writing, and readers are readers. Publishing has a healthy root system, and will survive armadillos, grasshoppers–and Ebooks, Audio-books, iPads, and whatever-comes-next-pads. It just needs to cut back on the fertilizer and prune judiciously.

Meanwhile, writers—and readers—support each other. Love a book or a writer—say so far and wide! Know a writer struggling with the effort of reinventing themselves? Shine a little color in that corner. That’s what sustains us through the dry spells, the never-ending deadlines, and rejections that nibble us raw. Mentoring each other keeps us sane–that’s the thorny protection that allows us to create our visions and bloom in our proper season.

I want to give a shout out to my colleague Deborah Barnes and her newest book Purr Prints of the Heart: A Cat’s Tale of Life, Death & Beyond. Take a look and see how her Muse inspired her.

Now then, listen–shhhhhh! Listen! Can you hear that?–put your hand over your heart, and you can almost feel the rumble!? No, it’s not the printer whirring…well, maybe it is. But listen closer—and you’ll hear symphony of blissful purrs, and the whist-whist-whist of happy wags–the sound of confident, tenacious, and oh-so-proud garden full of Muses.

Or maybe that’s tummies growling…So all you Creatives out there, the writers, the story tellers, the painters, the poets, the singers and musicians, and and and … Go feed your muse!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick the banner, above. 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 get a FREE BOOK when you 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!