Happy Birthday Seren! Happy Gotcha Day Karma!

A pets adoption day is a special event. Today is Seren’s 21st birthday–mee-WOW!

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Photo courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEREN!

When a kitten was discovered asleep in a flower pot on a friend’s back porch about the first week of June, my friend called me for help. You see, her four-year-old daughter REALLY wanted this kitten, but my friend was allergic yet didn’t want to take the baby to the shelter. So it was Amy-To-The-Rescue.

As soon as I walked into her kitchen, this tiny baby with blue-jean-color eyes raced across the floor and climbed up my pant leg, put her paws around my neck, and it was all over. I was smitten. I wrote about this in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul. The veterinarian judged her to be about five months old, so we counted backwards to give Seren a February 1st birthday–which also happens to be my Mom’s birthday.

Complete Kitten Care bookSo today, in honor of that Seren-Kitty’s 21st birthday, I’m delighted to announce the updated edition of my award-winning COMPLETE KITTEN CARE which is now available FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited. For those who prefer physical books, the print edition is here.

My still-teeny Siamese wannabe will get as much lap-time and treats as she wants, including protection from the pester-cat, Karma. Oh, and yes, Karma-Kat’s picture is also in the updated book.

KARMA’S GOTCHA DAY

Four years ago, the day before Seren’s 17th birthday, we prepped for a horrible ice and snow storm set to shut down North Texas for several days. On Friday January 31st, Magical-Dawg saw “something” dash across the back patio. A hungry, not-so-tiny kitten with blue-jean-color eyes came to the window and paw-clawed to get inside, never mind that a big black doggy face stared back at him.

He wore a collar, too, so I thought he must belong to the new neighbor. When I opened the door, he ran–I followed, and called for him. He kept running until I meowed at him. He stopped, mewed back, and then can running back to me. And a week later I blogged about him when knew that Karma was home for good.

The veterinarian guestimated Karma to be about 7-8 months old, so we counted backwards and–holy cats!–assigned his birthday in July on the same day as Magical-Dawg’s birthday.

German shepherd puppy in party cone

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

WHAT’S YOUR PET’S BEST GIFT EVER?

So what do YOU think? Is there some really kewl karma and serendipity and magic happening here? For Karma to arrive so timely for Seren’s 17th birthday when, frankly, my old lady cat had been so ill that I feared her days were numbered. I know Seren would argue that SHE never asked for a kitten for her birthday, but Karma certainly turned back the clock and gave her new energy when he arrived.

However, having Karma around means Magic no longer pesters Seren the way he used to. Magic would waggingly welcome the idea of sharing a birthday with his best cat buddy, Karma. He’d been trying to make friends with Seren for seven years to no avail–and suddenly discovered the joys of a kitty playmate that LIKES him.

Have you ever had new furry wonders arrive at JUST the right time in some weird-and-wonderful coincidence? What’s the best birthday or gotcha-day gifts your fur-kids ever got? Do tell!

In the play STRAYS, THE MUSICAL we included a very short, funny but poignant scene called INAPPROPRIATE PET GIFTS, in which a puppy asks an older dog about the best and worst gifts he ever received. Worst gifts include a hotdog costume for Halloween, and the puppy’s best gift was an old shoe that smelled like the owner–“Heaven!”

“What’s the best gift you ever got?” asks Puppy.

Old Dog answers with two words. “A home.”

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Fat Cat? Fight Kitty Obesity with 8 Ways to Slim A Cat

Is your cat fluffy or fat? Kitty obesity is defined as exceeding ideal body weight by 20 percent, and today about forty percent of cats are considered overweight. Fat cats tend to carry a “pouch” of fat low in the tummy, but seem of average size otherwise. If you can’t feel the pet’s ribs, and/or she has a pendulous or bulging tummy, your pet is too plump.

I’ve been head-down busy working on the next book projects (shhh, news to come!) and haven’t posted in a while. But today, I released the next installment in my CAT FACTS, The Series, which covers feline obesity. So I hope today’s post is a help to you and your feline friends.

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES

You’ll find more detailed information about feline obesity in Cat Facts, The Series 15 (O): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Obesity, Otitis, and Outdoor Shelter.

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

fat cat liver disease

Overweight cats that stop eating are at higher risk for fatty liver disease.

I’m fortunate that Seren-kitty has always been petite, a good eater but not overly pudgy. She doesn’t even have that tummy pouch. In her case, she’s always been very active and I think that’s one reason she remains so healthy even at nearly 21 years old.

Karma-Kat tends to put on the pudge, even though he’s very picky, compared to Seren. She’ll eat just about anything and never gains an ounce. Personally, my own metabolism is closer to Karma’s than to Seren. Drat!

If your tabby is tubby, why should you care? Obesity increases risk for diabetes, and is an aggravating factor in heart problems, arthritis, and skin problems.

fat cat thin cat

Common Causes for Fat Felines

Spaying and neutering won’t make kitty fat, but does reduce metabolic rate—how fast and efficiently food is use—by 15 to 20 percent. So unless food intake and exercise are adjusted after surgery, cats can gain weight.

Middle aged and older cats also tend to gain weight. Part of that may be due to changes in aging senses. While feline appetite is stimulated by scent, veterinary experts say a partial reduction in smell sense prompts cat to eat more food.

Indoor-only cats exercise less since they don’t have to chase mice to survive. Couch-potato pets fed high-calorie tasty foods often overeat either out of boredom or from being over-treated by owners.

8 Ways to Slim A Cat

Your vet should rule out potential health complications beforehand. Kitty crash diets can prompt deadly liver problems, called hepatic lipidosis. It’s best to aim for losing only about 1 percent of kitty’s starting weight per week. Medical supervision or a special therapeutic weight-loss diet prescribed by the vet may be necessary for obese cats. But for moderately overweight kitties, these tips work well.

  1. Curb Snacks. Eliminating or reducing treats easily cuts calories. Instead, reserve part of the kitty’s regular diet—a handful of kibble, for instance. Keep it handy to dispense as “treats” when Kitty pesters, or reward with attention, not treats. (Ooooooh I can hear the cats now yowling, “No fair!”
  2. Meal Feed. Rather than keeping the bowl full for all day nibbling, switch to meal feeding measured amounts. Divide the daily food allotment into four or even five small meals keep her from feeling deprived. Multiple small meals increase the body’s metabolic rate, so she burns more calories faster. (Hey, this works for me, too, when I can manage to do it.)
  3. Offer Diet Foods. Reducing diets typically replace fat in the food with indigestible fiber, dilute calories with water, or “puff up” the product with air. “Senior” diets typically have fewer calories, so switching older pets to an age-appropriate formula helps. “Lite” diets aren’t magical and only mean the food has less calories than the same brand’s “regular” food—it might have more calories than another company’s food. Some cats eat more of the diet food to make up for lost calories, so you still have to measure the meals. Be sure to check with your vet before deciding to make major nutrition changes, though.
  4. Go For A Walk.  Make twice-daily 20 minute exercise part of your routine. Cats won’t power walk, but a slow to moderate stroll at the end of the leash once or twice a day around the house or garden will help burn energy.
  5. Schedule Play. Interactive play is the best way to encourage feline exercise. Feather toys or fishing-pole lures that the cat will chase are ideal. Some cats learn to play fetch if you toss tiny wads of paper across the room or down the stairs. Entice your cat to chase the beam of a flashlight. Or toss kitty kibble for the cat to pounce and munch.
  6. Create A Hunt. Put food at the top or bottom of the staircase, or on a cat tree so kitty has to get off her pudgy nether regions to eat. If she can’t manage stairs or leaps, put the bowl on a chair and provide a ramp up so he’s burning a few calories. Setting the bowl across the house from Fluffy’s bed also forces her to move.
  7. Puzzle The Cat. Commercial treat balls and interactive feeders are great options. Place one or two meal portions inside kitty puzzles so he must work to get the food. This can solve portion control, exercise, and the pester factor all in one.
  8. Automatic Feeders. When you must be gone during the day, consider using an automatic feeder. Some have refrigerated units to offer fresh canned food servings from locked compartments at timed intervals

How do you handle your pudgy kitty? Does he or she eat a special diet, or do you try to increase exercise in some way? What tricks work for your clowder, please share! Obesity impacts more than looks. It’s also a longevity issue. Overweight cats have an increased risk for dying in middle age. A slim cat enjoys all nine of her lives.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

CatFriendly.com Launches: A Veterinary Resource from AAFP

Go ahead and admit it–if you love reading and talking about cats, sharing cat stories, and (especially) providing good cat care for your special felines, the new CatFriendly.com website is right up your alley(cat). Sorry…couldn’t resist.

cat friendly practice

Last year, I was honored to be asked to serve on the Cat Friendly Practice Advisory Council. This is an outreach effort of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) to connect with cat caregivers and provide good information for keeping your cats happy and healthy.

In their continued effort, last week AAFP announced the launch of a new “cat friendly” Internet destination, with content written by feline veterinarians. Mee-WOW! Believe me, if your cats could read, that’s where they’d hang out. And since they can’t read (and you have control of the mouse *s*) I urge you to take an eye-blink look at CatFriendly.com. The site includes a searchable database for you to “Find a Veterinarian or Practice” to help you locate an AAFP member veterinarian or Cat Friendly Practice® in your neck of the woods.

JUST ANOTHER CAT WEBSITE?

Now, y’all know I provide lots of cat care (and dog care) and behavior information here on the Bling, Bitches & Blood blog, as well as in my books. And I know a boatload of wonderful “cat journalists” members of the Cat Writers’ Association who research and fear free cat tipsprovide accurate cat information and advice in a variety of ways. That info ONLY works when you also partner with a veterinarian.

But too many cat caretakers avoid going to the vet at all because of the angst involved. I even wrote a short booklet about the issue, with some tips how to overcome the kitty angst (and your own!). So I’m already preaching the Cat Friendly message.

When looking for solid, credentialed information, it’s always important to know your source. You can never have too much GOOD information to get you started, and having a website designed, vetted and written by feline specialists takes all the guess work out of the equation. So I’m delighted to now have yet another resource to share. Trust me, your cat will LOVE you for this!

aafpWHAT YOU’LL FIND AT CatFriendly.com

AAFP recognizes that folks often begin looking for answers to their cat questions by asking “Dr. Google.” That’s why they’ve created CatFriendly.com to provide veterinary-approved, credible information–while still encouraging you to seek veterinary advice and care. Here are some of the information topics the site covers:

  • Cat Care at Home
  • Keep Your Cat Healthy
  • Diseases
  • Why Does My Cat….?
  • Be a Cat Friendly Caregiver
  • The Toy Box (offers the opportunity to share photos, take quizzes, and other fun stuff!)

Today, we have many more options to find solid information, and provide the best care possible for our kitty friends. Applause and purrs to the AAFP and the Cat Friend Practice initiative–and the new resource website for us all. Please share this great information far and wide!

 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Cold Weather Pet Protection

Cold weather pet protection becomes more important this time of year. Here in North Texas we don’t have snow–yet–but just that wind chill can make it uncomfortable for our dogs and cats. It can also be downright dangerous, especially for pets that spend any amount of time outside, like feral cats or stray dogs. House pets used to warm indoor temps need extra help, too.

Colorful Dog

Different size dogs and variations in coats impact how quickly they’ll be ready for cold weather.Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

PREPARE PETS FOR COLD WEATHER

Here in Texas, the weather stays HOT HOT HOT well into November and December. Now it’s the first week of January, and it’s starting to cool down a smidge. For cats and dogs that will spend a lot of time outside during the cold winter months, it’s important to get ’em ready now.

It takes time for that winter coat to grow. And it’s not fair to the dog to expect him to “get hairy” overnight when the first frost freezes. The video below, from a past KXII-TV pet talk, still has good information with suggestions and cautions for prepping pets for the colder weather to come.

Chow

The Chow has lots of thick fur for cold weather protection. Thinly coated pooches like the Chihuahua may need a coat. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

How do you get your dogs ready? Magical-Dawg would stay out in the wind and wet if we’d let him, and doesn’t seem to have the smarts to come in out of the weather. (Don’t tell him I said that!) The cats, on the other paw, have a very good idea about how to stay comfy and already have the warmest spots staked out for snoozing in sunny puddles on the carpet. Or under the stained glass lampshades.

Feral cats need extra help. Many of the tips, below, work equally well for creating safe outdoor spots for your dogs, too.

KEEPING KITTY SAFE IN WINTER

I wrote about keeping outdoor cats safe on this blog, and received lots of comments here and on Facebook. That discussion had more to do with choosing whether or not to allow cats out. But what if you have strays that refuse to come inside, or a feral colony you care for? My colleague Louise Holton of Alley Cat Rescue shared some PAW-some tips with our Cat Writers Association group and gave me permission to also share it here. What are some other ways to help keep kitty safe? Many of these also apply to keeping outside dogs winterized and safe. Here’s Louise’s suggestions:

A feeding station will help to keep food and water dry and will help with freezing weather. Bedding should be straw or made of a synthetic fleece material such as that used to make horse saddle covers. Blankets, sheets and towels retain moisture and remain damp and should not be used during winter.
If you are unable to build a shelter, you can use any type of strong box or crate, or buy a dog “igloo” from your pet supply company. The styrofoam ice chests work great for cat shelters, with thick walls that provide some insulation.
Mylar insulation is made of polyester and aluminum that reflects radiant heat. It is used to keep houses cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This type of insulation is normally used in attics and is a perfect material to use to insulate outdoor cat shelters.

TIPS FOR WINTERIZING YOUR COLONY

  • You should insulate the shelter with thick plastic or other material such as Mylar mentioned above to keep out wind and cold.
  • You could buy a dog house and modify it, blocking off part of the larger opening to make it smaller and therefore warmer inside for the cats.
  • Size should be approximately 3’ x 3 ’ and 2′ high.
  • Cats will cuddle together inside for warmth.
  • Build enough shelters so that around 6 cats can stay in each one.
  • Use straw for the bedding NOT HAY or blankets or towels.
  • It is safer to have 2 small openings for the cats to enter and be able to get away if danger presents itself. Put the openings on the side of the shelter that is protected from the wind. Two openings will give a chance at escape should a pesky raccoon for instance or any other animal try to enter the shelter.
  • Raise the shelter off the ground by placing it securely on bricks or on a wooden pallet. If left on the ground it will retain moisture and will rot.
  • Clean shelters each spring and autumn by replacing the bedding with fresh straw.

    Be sure and visit Louise’s Alley Cat Rescue to find more feral cat resources and info.

COOL WEATHER PREPARATION FOR PETS

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pet Music Therapy? The Sound of Success!

Pet music therapy can help solve cat behavior problems as well as offer physical therapeutic benefits. Our pet cats are attuned to sound and are incredibly sensitive to noises, including music.

With New Years celebrations this weekend, some pets with noise phobia issues are in for a rough ride (tips here for helping with fireworks fear!). Pet music therapy can also help, so read on.

cat with musical instruments

Seren appreciates string music from my cello or violin.

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES

I’m sharing this information from my PET MUSIC THERAPY entry from Cat Facts, The Series 13 (M): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Mammary Glands, Mange, Marking, Massage, Mastitis, Mega Colon, Miliary Dermatitis, Milk (as Food), and Music Therapy.

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

WHAT IS PET MUSIC THERAPY?

Pleasant music can mask scary noises like thunder, or upsetting sounds like a trespassing cat’s vocalizations that put your pet’s tail in a twist. But more than that, the cadence of certain sounds influences the body’s natural rhythms and can speed them up and energize the listener, or slow them down to calm him.

For instance, a fearful cat can be soothed with music or distracted with nature sounds like water running from a fountain. Lethargic pets that need to exercise can be energized with chirping bird sounds or fast music to get up and boogie to the beat.

pet music therapy

Many dogs enjoy music, and “howl along” with singing or the keyboard.

WHY PET MUSIC WORKS

Sound causes physical changes in the body. Brain waves change with different kinds of sounds—music with a pulse of about 60 beats per minute slows the brain waves so the listener feels more relaxed and peaceful and shifts the consciousness into a more alert state. This rhythm also slows breathing, which calms the mind and improves the metabolism. It works for humans, and also for our pets.

Even the heart wants to follow the pulse of the music—faster rhythms energize the listener as his heartbeat increases and blood pressure rises, while slower tempos calm. Listening to music releases endorphins—natural painkillers that are produced by the brain—and reduces the levels of “stress hormones” in the blood.

cat music therapy

MUSIC IS SOUND MEDICINE

Sound therapy is still considered pretty new. One of the best known applications is ultrasound that uses the “echo” of high frequency sound waves to take diagnostic pictures inside the body—doctors even use it to break up kidney stones with vibration instead of surgery. Over the last 20 years, music therapy has become a staple of the human mental health profession, and is often used with troubled children and brain-disordered patients.

Today, harp music is used to relieve pain that drugs don’t help, soothes emotional upset, and has become of particular help in hospice situations for human patients. The sound of harp music calms fractious cats and offers almost a natural sedative effect so that the upset animals become quiet, and go to sleep.

HOW TO USE PET MUSIC THERAPY

The simplest way to treat cats with music is to put on a CD or turn on the radio. Choose music you like—pets seem to respond best to music their owners enjoy because of the bond you share. If you have favorite music you often play, your pet will associate the sound with your presence, so playing that same music when he’s alone will remind him of you and help ease problems like separation anxiety. Play the music for at least 10 to 15 minutes at a time to get your pet in the right mood.

LOUD, SOFT, CLASSICAL OR ROCK?

Soft music with a slow, steady rhythm helps calm agitated pets. It can help arthritic cats relax their muscles and increase their range of motion. Many pets enjoy Mozart or other classical music. New Age, soft jazz, nature sounds or even ballad-type Country can be soothing. The music should be melodic (not dissonant) and the tempo even and slow. You can play calming music anytime your pet feels stressed, or all day long as a background to help keep him calm.

Turn up the volume to energize your pet. Moderate to loud music with a more driving beat energizes the emotions and can encourage lethargic pets to exercise and lift depression or grief. Rock music, even the driving energy of Rap may get a pet’s tail moving, but any up-tempo music from classical to contemporary has the power to energize.

YOUR TURN!

Do your pets like music? Is it part of your doggy or cat protocol? What style of music do you (and your pets) prefer? Seren does her lion “cough-cough” when I hit a wrong note on the cello, and Magical-Dawg howls along when I sing too high. What about your furry wonders? Do tell!


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!