Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day

Did you know that having cats is eco-friendly? Having any kind of pet is good, but cats have been proven to reduce your carbon footprint more than any other animal.

Cats are truly hybrids, running partially off of solar power.
First, they are true hybrid animals. Yes, they require food. But they are also solar powered, reducing their need for solid food. The more direct sunlight they get each day, the less they need to eat! really!

Feeling chilled? Don't turn up the heat. Just throw on another cat!
They also help reduce your heating bill. As humans, we have the hardest time staying warm when we are stationary, either sitting or laying down. Fortunately, cats are naturally attracted to immobile humans and they transmit that stored solar energy to their "furniture." If you start getting cold in the middle of the night, don't turn on the electric blanket. Instead, just throw on another cat or two! They are cozy and warm and make that wonderful purring that is guaranteed to lull you to sleep.

Yes, you can make stuff with cat hair!
Your cat can also keep you warm when you leave the house. Thanks to instructions from Japanese crafter Kaori Tsutaya, you can make sweaters, shawls, blankets and decorations from your cats hair and take them with you wherever you go. Using your cat's hair for crafts is also a wonderful part of the reduce-reuse-recycle campaign. Don't send that hair to a landfill, make it into pillows!

Coordinate your furniture with your feline and voila! Instant decorating!
If you don't want to go through the effort of making pillows from cat hair, that's OK. You can skip a few steps and just leave the cats on the couch. Forget store-bought pillow that have been sewn by underpaid children and shipped on smelly, fuel-guzzling trucks. Just color-coordinate your home decor around your felines and you are an instant decorating success!

Big giant bugs in the house? Your cat can take care of it. Or he will at least give the bug some exercise by chasing it around.
Cats are also an eco-friendly method of pest control. Everyone knows about their ability to sustain themselves off of rodents. They can also chase off lizards and snakes. And some cats are pros at hunting pesky pests like roaches, spiders and grasshoppers. Moths don't stand a chance against these natural hunters - unless they fly up really high. Then they're fine.

Cats are pros at reduce-recycle-reuse. They are always finding new uses for household objects such as boxes.
So do your part for Mother Earth. Adopt a cat today!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

New friends coming soon

Ashi cuddles with my foot while I work. It was the best she could get.
There is a lot of sulking going on at my house lately. Bobby is missing his friend Tyrone. Ashi is missing her daily cuddle time with Kristin and the kids. And I am feeling rather adrift in the empty house.

Diedra has taken over the couch pillows. And she doesn't like to be disturbed.
Diedra, on the other hand, is in heaven. She has stopped sleeping all day in my closet and has taken over one of the pillows on the couch. No more Tyrone to attack her while trying to play and no more kids mauling her with love whenever she wanders out of hiding.

Not even a pair of catnip mice can break through Bobby's ennui.
I'm in the process of doing a Spring Clean on the whole place. Once I get the back bedroom done and get some supplies in, I will head over to the Ivins Animal Shelter and sign up to foster. I used to foster cats, but I haven't been able to since Kristin and the kids moved in. I just didn't have the room. Well, now I will have the room. And hopefully this will give Bobby someone to play with.

Diedra can just suck it up.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kitty Bling

I tend to get asked cat questions a lot. The most recent was this one my friend Jen posted on my FB wall:

Hey Kathryn, is there a secret to getting cats to wear collars? What kind is the best? I have two cats that need to be collared and tagged. What's the secret?

Ashi has a blue collar to match her eyes. She knows it makes her look pretty!
Well, the answer is longer than I can post on my wall and it's one I've been asked over and over again, so I thought it would be worth the time to put a full description here.

First you need to get a collar. I highly recommend a reflective collar with a breakaway clasp. The reflective part is especially important for dark-colored cats and the breakaway clasp is designed to come loose if the cat gets it snagged. This one from Petco is a good example and you can get them at any pet supply store for about $10. They come in a lot of colors so you can match your cat or make a fashion statement. Ashi, for instance, has a blue collar to match her eyes. Diedra's is a basic black with a wide reflective strip so you can spot her in the dark. Tyrone's is bright pink with rhinestones (Kassie picked it).

Tyrone stylin' his pink collar.
Because the breakaway clasps are designed to come open if the cat snags the collar on something, they will occasionally lose a collar. Diedra has lost one in the four years she's been with me. Tyrone - the little monster - discovered the trick of getting the collar off and went through several before switching to a different type of collar (it is also why he has a pink one; it's a subtle punishment for losing them all the time). He now has one that has a standard buckle closure but has a section of elastic so the cat can still pull free if it has to. I recommend trying the breakaway clasp first and only going with the buckle if the cat proves to be an escape artist.

Tyrone's collars have a buckle closure because he keeps losing the ones with the breakaway clasp.
I recommend adjusting the collar before trying to put it on the cat. Get a string or measuring tape, distract the cat with something yummy and measure around the cat's neck. Then adjust the collar to that length plus about half an inch.

Now for the fun part: putting on the collar! Wait until the cat is relaxed and calm and don't make a big fuss about it. Put the collar around the cat's neck, making sure not to pull or tug as you fasten it. It should fit a little loose - you should be able to fit two fingers under the collar without it choking. Make small adjustments if needed. Then pet the cat or give it some treats to keep it calm.

Diedra's collar has a wide reflective strip so she can be seen in the dark.
Most cats will freak out a little bit or try to play with it. Keep reassuring the cat and distract it with a toy if possible. If it doesn't calm down within a few minutes, take the collar off and get the cat calmed down with love and treats. After the cat is calm, try again. Most cats will adjust to the collar within about 15 minutes, but some take longer. One of my cats took several days of putting the collar on and taking it off - leaving it on longer each time - until she finally adjusted.

I have also found it helps to tell the cat that they look handsome or beautiful with their new bling. Just stroke them and tell them over and over how lovely they are and how the pretty collar sets off their eyes, or something to that effect. It sounds hokey, but it really does help.

For the first couple of days keep an eye on the cat and adjust the fit if necessary. If they keep scratching at it or shaking their head repeatedly, the collar is probably just a bit too tight. If they get a foot or their jaw caught in it - believe me, it happens - then it is a bit too loose. Also check regularly to make sure there is no chaffing or hair loss under the collar.

That's it! All of my cats wear collars with ID tags in case they get lost. And none of them mind it in the least. In fact, I got Diedra a new one recently and she preened like a beauty queen after I put it on her.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tyrone is leaving!!

I will miss this cute pink nose.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you have already heard the sad news: Tyrone is leaving. After this Saturday I will never again wake up to that cute pink nose in my face or have to correct an article after he leaves his own "comments" by walking across the computer.

Tyrone is packed and ready to go!
Actually, it's more than Tyrone who is leaving. The fact is that my sister Kristin, who has lived with me for almost 4 years now, has found a new job in northern Utah. So she is packing up herself and the kids and moving out. And since Tyrone is technically Kent's cat, he is going too.  :'-(

Bobby critiques Tyrone's box inspection technique.
I am also moving by the end of this month, but I'm not going far. I will still be in Southern Utah, I'll just be a bit closer to town. I found a nice place downtown - OK, it's as downtown as St. George gets - that will allow me to have cats. So as soon as I finish helping Kristin, Kent, Kassie and Tyrone pack up their worldly belongings, I will start packing up myself, Ashi, Diedra and Bobby.

Bobby demonstrates his "From Inside The Box" cardboard deconstruction method.
So things are a bit stressful in the house right now. At least for the humans. For the cats it's a wonderland of boxes! Bobby is a true box connoisseur and has to inspect each and every one that is opened for quality and durability. Unfortunately he is also an artist who specializes in cardboard deconstruction, so we have to keep an eye on him. Several of the boxes already sport his trademark chewing on the edges and flaps. It's quite reminiscent of the Simon's Cat film "The Box."

I promise more photos of Tyrone leading up to his departure. And Kristin has promised to keep me supplied with pics after he leaves. I will, of course, share them with you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Kitten Season!

I was going to something productive today. Really, I was. But I have spring fever big time. Yes, the sun is shining and it's warm, but more importantly it's KITTEN SEASON!!

I don't actually have any kittens in my house this year and I haven't seen any in the neighborhood yet, which bodes well for our local TNR program. But there are still plenty of little kitty fluffballs wandering around. There are some at the shelter already (expect posts soon with details on adoption) and several rescue groups are posting pics and video of their little furry babies.

Maggie's babies from Love & Hisses. Photo by Robyn Anderson.
One rescuer with a site called Love & Hisses raised funds for her foster kitties by starting a pool to guess when Maggie - a very pregnant tabby - would have her babies. The six cuties entered the world on April 2 and the traffic on the Web site crashed the server. They now have a temp site up so we can get the scoop.

Little Queen, the only girl in the litter featured on The Kitten Crew's live feed on USTREAM.
Another site called The Kitten Crew has upped the ante. Not only do they have pics of their first litter of the year, they have a live stream of the kittens on UStream. It's taking me forever to write this because I keep switching over to the feed. It's lunch time and momma cat is being very patient with her 3-week-old wiggling offspring. And oops! One of them got out of the box and is taking off on an adventure! ... and he's back. Whew!

Some other groups are drawing attention to Kitten Season online as well. Alley Cat Allies has started posting links on their Facebook page to resources on dealing with feral kittens and TNR programs. Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue of Sheridan, Wyoming, has been posting fun cat trivia on its Facebook and Twitter to draw attention to its pages. Did you know it's possible for every kitten in a litter to have a different father?

I'm sure there are plenty more links, but I keep getting distracted by The Kitten Crew live feed. One of the babies is confused and is sucking on her brother's tail. Squeeeeeeeeeeee!

I, of course, support getting your kitten fix vicariously instead of first-hand. All of my cats are spayed or neutered and I am very glad they are. Trust me, there are still plenty of kittens to go around. If you want to play with some little ones, foster a pregnant rescue cat or visit your shelter and help socialize the kittens they have there.