SCRATCHING YOUR NICHE? #Pets Bloggers on Social Media

KarmaButtIt’s snowing … here, in North Texas. And my fingers are blue from the cold! It’s a good excuse to take a closer look at pet blogging because my colleagues at BlogPaws just released a PAW-SOME infographic (see below). Because the truth is, bloggers get itchy about providing good info the best way they can and this infographic is all about scratching your niche. (pun intended *eg*)

Do you blog? Blogging these days is all about leveraging expertise and connecting with your audience. Nobody does it better than the members of BlogPaws (I’ll be speaking at the next conference, yee-haw!). I’m even a member of the Pet Blogger Influencer Group there, where we get to share resources and valuable information on the biz.

Get a load of the latest information for a “peek beneath the fur” of what pet bloggers reveal about how social media influences and impacts their blogging.

Do you agree? Is social media important to your blogging? You’re here reading this post so I know you visit at least a few blogs–how’d you get here? Did you subscribe here, or see it posted on Twitter or Facebook or Google+ or….fill  in the blank. Do tell!
'Pet Bloggers on Social Media

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!

MEOW! 6 Ways to Silence Loud Mouth #Cats

dog and cat fight

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Recently we had a discussion with some of my Facebook friends and colleagues who have new kitties with — let us say — loud mouth issues, LOL! New cats and especially kittens can be very demanding, and it’s quite a challenge to silence meows from loud mouth cats.

I figured this was the purr-fect time to share some of the information from a couple of my books, particularly since kitten season is here. COMPLETE KITTEN CARE has some tips on choosing your new kitten based on breed (of course, strays may choose you!)

ThreeCatBooksA few cat breeds are famous for their loud voices. Siamese-type cats are known for their distinctive meows and love to hold long—and loud—conversations with their humans. If you adopt one of these kittens, they’ll always get in the last word!

BREED TENDENCIES (from Complete Kitten Care)

  • Highly active, in-your-face: Abyssinian, Balinese, Bombay, Burmese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex, Egyptian Mau, Javanese, Oriental Longhair, Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue, Siamese, Somali, Tonkinese
  • Less active “lap sitter”: American Wirehair, Birman, British Shorthair, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, Persian, Ragdoll, Snowshoe
  • Vocal, opinionated: Balinese, Color-point Shorthair, Japanese Bobtail, Javanese, Oriental Longhair, Oriental Shorthair, Siamese, Tonkinese
  • Quiet, prefers watching: American Wirehair, Birman, British Shorthair, Chartreux, Egyptian Mau, Exotic Shorthair, Havana Brown, Korat, Scottish Fold, Snowshoe
  • High-fashion models, requires lots of grooming: Exotic, Himalayan, Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, Persian, Ragdoll, Scottish Fold (longhair)

Cat communication begins early in life. Kittens less than three weeks old vocalize a defensive spit, contented purr, and distress call (similar to adult meow) if the baby becomes isolated, cold, or trapped. Interestingly, the call for “cold” sounds much higher pitched and disappears from the repertoire once the kitten can self-regulate body temperature at about four weeks of age.

cute bald baby cat close up

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Cats rarely meow at each other. They learn to direct meows at humans because we reward them with attention. Each cat learns by association that meowing prompts feeding, access to locations, and other resources provided by humans. Some cats learn to produce unique meows for each circumstance.

Humans often overlook body language that makes up a great deal of cat communication, but feline yowls, growls, hisses and purrs get our undivided attention—especially at 5:00 a.m.

DEALING WITH CATERWAULING (from ComPETability: CATS)

In multi-pet homes, troublemakers (other pets pestering) may prompt problem meowing. Cats introduced to other cats or dogs for the first time often meow more as a result. Felines use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with other cats, but seem to reserve “meows” primarily for talking to their people. Meows are demands: let me OUT, let me IN, pet me, play with me, FEED me! As the cats become more passionate and insistent, meows grow more strident and lower-pitched.

sitting  maine coon cat isolated on white

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos.com

Giving in to meow-demands tells Sheba that pestering works to get her way, and any response such as putting the pillow over your head, yelling at her, or pushing her off the bed still gives her the attention she craves. The only way to extinguish this behavior is to totally ignore the cat.

That means, you DON’T get up to feed her; you DON’T indulge in toe-tag games; you DON’T yell at her, spray her with water, or give any attention at all. That’s hard to do when she’s paw-patting your nose, or shaking the windows with yowls. It can take weeks to months to get rid of this behavior once established, but with patience, it can be done.

  • Many people enjoy sleeping with their cat until Sheba opens her meow-mouth. You may need to make a hard choice, and shut her out of the bedroom. Cats shut out of the bedroom often continue to pester from the other side of the door, and may even scratch or otherwise cause damage.
  • Choose a “safe room” on the other side of the house stocked with lots of toys, a litter box, scratch object and food, and confine noisy cats out of earshot.
  • If other cats or dogs instigate the meowing, separating and confining the problem fur-kid away from the others can help. When the dog stays in his crate for the night, he can’t chase and tease the cat—or vice versa.
  • Meowing can result from boredom. Offer a Treat Ball or other irresistible toy that keeps the cat’s brain (and mouth) occupied so she won’t meow.
  • Closing windows so your cats can’t hear or see outside strays may help. Anything that attracts roaming cats to visit during the night should be discouraged. For example, avoid leaving out food on the porch, and clean up brush piles that make attractive critter hiding places.
  • When all else fails, invest in earplugs to help you ignore the cat’s please for attention!

VET ALERT!
For some reason, cats tend to become more vocal when suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure), which can be a result of kidney or heart disease. When Sheba can’t hear her own voice any longer, she tends to meow louder and longer. Excessive meowing also may be a sign of deafness in aging cats or even kitty Alzheimer’s (feline cognitive disorder).  Check with your veterinarian about excessive meowing in any cat and learn more about aging cat issues in COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT.

Here’s a fun Infographic that was shared with me–does any of this look familiar to you? How do you deal with bedtime pester bugs? Do tell!

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!

Cat Bed
Cat Bed by Terrys Fabrics.

Kittens Thrive with Training & #FoodShelterLove

KittenCage

One of 30 kittens at an adoption event where I was asked to take pictures…this baby was adopted, YAY! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s®  Science Diet® and Food, Shelter & Love™ Program, but BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Nothing trumps kittens for furry love, but when March kitten season rolls around, your local animal shelters drowned in a furry tide of cats of all ages that need adoption. Kittens can become pregnant as early as 4-5 months of age! Yes, babies having babies–that explains the bumper crop of kittens, right?

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Bottle babies abound during kitten season! Image courtesy of Tonya Jensen

Thank heavens for fostering, dedicated shelter staff, and you–yes, YOU, one of the folks who volunteer, visit to help socialize the pets, donate your time or toys, or just SHARE this message to help give cats a paws up. Just spreading good information about care helps ensure kitties get the best chance for adoption. Y’all do the work of the angels.

THREE T’s OF KITTEN SOCIALIZATION

Yes, kittens (and cats) CAN be trained! I know that I’m preaching to the choir. Never doubt that you can make a positive difference while fostering, helping the babies through proper socialization. While kids are taught the three Rs, kitten socialization involves learning the Three Ts:

  • Touching: Touch the baby all over gently with pets, handling the ears, paws, tummy and more. Being taught that touch is pleasant helps with bonding to people, and hearkens back to how Mom-Cat cared for her babies. A kitten that accepts and trusts handling will be less stressed by veterinary exams, and so get proper timely care as she grows up.
  • Talking: Kittens don’t use words to communicate, but will need to pay attention to humans who do talk. She won’t understand all your words, but certainly understand the emotion. You can teach kittens to pay attention to humans simply by responding to them with the same words and phrases each time. Try saying, “You’re beautiful.” or “I love you.” or “I’ll keep you safe, baby.” And mean it–and she’ll understand, and blossom and BECOME beautiful, and more confident.
  • Timing: Kittens and adult cats pay exquisite attention to the details of their life. They easily learn consequences when they make mistakes (or do something right) if you tell them THAT is what I like, or THAT is not acceptable. Since cats do NOT respond well to punishment, think about catching kittens and cats in the act of doing something RIGHT and rewarding the behavior with praise, toys, healthy treats, or praise. Give the reward immediately–timing is key–to ensure good communication.

HILL’S® FOOD, SHELTER & LOVE ™ PROGRAM

FoodShelterLoveMore help is always welcome, of course. That’s where the Hill’s® Food, Shelter & Love ™ Program comes in, and not just for kitten season. The company donates food to shelters across the country 365 days a year, to date $240 million worth of food to nearly 1,000 shelters, helping over 6 million pets find a new home.

How kewl is that?! but it’s the babies–kittens–that benefit most, because proper nutrition has such a lasting impact on health and happiness. Good food even impacts kitty mood.

I sure wish my two cats had the benefit of good nutrition during their first months of life. Y’all have read how my Serendipity showed up as a dumped kitten nearly 19 years ago, and then barely a year ago Karma-Kat did the same thing. I often wonder if Seren, still barely 6 pounds, wasn’t somewhat stunted by her lack of good early nutrition. Karma, on the other paw, is obsessed with food probably because he had to scrounge and struggle to survive.

KarmaSeren

Karma thinks Seren makes a great pillow. Ya think the big boy likes his food?! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Today, of course, they’re both spoiled rotten (sorta kinda in a way) centers of my life! Yep, they have the perfect perch on the dining room table under a stained glass lampshade (heat lamp?) in front of my laptop computer. Doesn’t every cat?

HealthyDevelopment

Hill’s® Science Diet® Kitten Healthy Development Original cat food provides precisely balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition for growing kittens. Image Courtesy of Hill’s

Is your shelter a part of the Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program? Do you want to be? Find out all the details here.

Now it’s your turn. Do you volunteer at your local shelter? Do you foster? How did you find your kitty-of-your dreams? Do tell!

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. To stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Find out about the latest book give aways, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Love Dog & Cat Mysteries? Preview Thrillers With Bite!

German Shepherd puppy and cat

THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Preview Chapters Now Available!

Thank you to everyone who has “adopted” my September Day suspense series. People especially have fallen in love with Shadow, the dog viewpoint character as well as Macy the Maine Coon. My books have been described as “dog mystery books” and “medical thrillers” and “cat suspense stories” and they really are more a mutt-mix rather than a purebred genre. :)

Lost_Found-Shojai-lorezSo I’m taking a page from some of my favorite authors, and posting preview chapters to offer y’all a sample taste, to see if my particular brand of furry thrill-ride suits you. Of course, I hope you’ll love reading the books as much as I love writing them! But also, I don’t want you to buy a book expecting one thing, and be disappointed, either.

I’ve posted the first two chapters of LOST AND FOUND HERE. These chapters include an introduction to behaviorist and trainer September Day and her cat Macy, as well as the very first “dog viewpoint chapter” in Shadow’s voice.

FireFor those who have already read LOST AND FOUND, you can read the prologue and first chapter of the sequel HIDE AND SEEK HERE. The story picks up only a few weeks after the end of the first book, and reveals much more about September’s painful past. Oh, and Macy-Cat becomes an intrinsic part of the plot in this book (yes, I did that on purr-pose!).

Please share this post with anyone you think might enjoy the books. I am doing my best to finish the next story SHOW AND TELL, so stay tuned for more soon!

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!

#Puppies Book & Article Winners at #Dogs Writers Association Banquet!

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

The Dog Writers Association of America banquet was held last night in New York City. It’s traditionally held the night before Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and I’ve had the great joy and honor to attend both events several times. But not last night–due to travel constraints *cough-BLIZZARD-cough* and work issues, I wasn’t able to attend, despite knowing that I had a couple of entries in the running.

puppiescoverMy book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE was nominated for a Maxwell Medallion in the category of Reference Books. I received the Nomination Certificate some time ago and am deeply honored. You can see all the regular category winners here. I hope that you’ll recommend the award-winning book to anyone with a new puppy in their future!

(Equal time for Complete KITTEN Care!)

Much of the book is based on research and articles I’d written over the past three years for my puppies.about.com site, and so this was particularly sweet for me. As many of y’all know, my contract with that company was abruptly cancelled last summer–for those morbidly curious, details here. Ya know, the best “revenge” is always success, LOL!

So an even sweeter recognition came when I won a DWAA Special Award last night for an article written for the puppies.about.com site titled “AKC Canine Good Citizenship Programs.” The information from that article of course is also included in the book. You can see the list of all the special awards winners here.

AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen Award

Sponsored by the American Kennel Club, this award is for the best writing about the AKC Canine Good Citizen Program or the puppy level of CGC, AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy.

Recognized as the ‘gold standard’ for family dog manners, CGC and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy focus on teaching good manners to dogs and responsible dog ownership to dog owners. This award is a $500.00 cash award.

CONGRATULATIONS to all of the nominees and winners! I am very fortunate to live in a world and participate in a community of professional communicators dedicated to sharing life-saving and relationship-saving information about the dogs we love!

Now then–how many of y’all have taken your puppy through the CGC or S.T.A.R. Puppy Programs? Or how about the AKC Community Canine program also mentioned in the article?

And…how many of y’all will be watching Westminster tonight and tomorrow night on TV? *raising paw* Magical-Dawg and I will be rooting for the…well, you know. *s*

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!