Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa sighting!

Alexander waits patiently to catch Santa on a practice run before his big night. Check out how surprised Alex was when he actually saw the big guy and all the reindeer too!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Baby Seal thinks he's a kitty!

I've heard of neighbor cats, raccoons, and opossums coming in cat doors in Seattle, but here's a story from New Zealand about a charming little seal pup who cuddles up on someones couch! Just so you don't worry that he was harmed, he was fetched by the wildlife services and pup back in the frigid water. At least the fish will be fresher there...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sweet 16

You heard a lot about kittens in the last few posts, however the majority of my clients are senior kitties. Alexander the KittyStar is actually considered a "senior" at 16. Many (most) cats who live long enough suffer compromised kidney function in their later years. I started my kitties on a raw meat diet along with canned food after I had several male cats, including Alexander, develop feline urological syndrome (FUS) over 14 years ago. My understanding is that the acidity of a mainly raw meat diet prevents crystals and blockages from forming. The high water content in a raw and/or canned diet versus exclusively dry food can also help prevent or slow kidney disease. Many conventional vets now recommend canned foods over kibble for this reason. The low protein concept in treating kidney disease is controversial and not one that I have chosen to follow for my kidney kitties. In addition to subqutaneously hydrating your kitty, here are some ideas to keep your cat well-hydrated: gradually add a little extra water to the dish - more "gravy" which to some cats is the best part anyway; a favorite treat of Alexander's is turkey or chicken baby food mixed smoothly with warm water; snacks are important because kidney kitties can feel nauseous (ask your vet about small doses of Pepcid to help with this also); keep water dishes all around the house, especially the bathroom, and use china bowls because these keep the water cool; a lot of cats like either running water from a faucet or fresh water as soon as you refill the bowl so do this frequently. If your kitty has been diagnosed with kidney issues, check out the great resource I listed above. Senior cats can offer wisdom, solace, affection, all without climbing the curtains like kittens! As Eckhart Tolle commented, "I have lived with several Zen masters - all of them cats."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Exhausted just thinking about the Holidays?

My foster kittens (see previous blog entry) were adopted this past weekend from the Humane Society of Seattle/King County! In honor of the good work the Humane Society, Purrfect Pals, MEOW, and the Feral Cat Spay & Neuter Project all do, I want to suggest that if you celebrate a gift-giving holiday in December you consider these fine non-profits or perhaps another animal-friendly charity. You can donate via their websites, Amazon wishlists, or send an old fashioned check in your recipient's name and not have to worry about buying more "stuff" your loved one doesn't really need. A friend of mine sponsors a permanent shelter resident at Purrfect Pals via monthly donations. The Humane Society also runs a pet food bank for low-income seniors and people living with AIDS if you are able to coordinate a workplace donation drive. Some employers match donations so your money goes even further. The need for monetary and food donations is great during these rough economic times when shelters are overwhelmed with companion animals people have given up due to losing their house or because they think they can no longer afford their care. Give a gift everyone can feel good about!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kitten cuties!

Thanks to everyone who helped socialize Rebel, Liam and Ruth-Anne! As precious as these babies are, spay/neuter is the only way to drive numbers of homeless and "euthanized" companions down. Accidental litters happen all socioeconomic levels; witness one of my friends who works at a major employer on the Eastside with highly skilled and highly paid employees. One of her coworkers was giving away free kittens their cat gave birth to for a second time! She counseled him about having the cat spayed and perhaps fostering for a humane organization if he wanted his children to see kittens. Unfortunately she was told to mind her own business and that "having kittens isn't against the law." No, it isn't against the law but neither was dog and gamecock fighting in many parts of the country until very recently. Until just a few years ago owning an exotic wild animal as a "pet" wasn't illegal in Washington State either (ie. the shocking and sad incident in Ohio last month where these animals were legally kept by a private individual). If you have friends or family who insist on pedigreed companion animals, tell them that a good portion of the dogs and cats sitting in shelters ARE purebred and buying from a breeder just continues to support the burden "kill shelters" bear. It's up to people who care about animals to speak up, advocate for them and keep fighting the good fight!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cozy Kittens leaving nest soon

My beautiful foster kittens will be going to the Humane Society in a few days to be adopted. The littlest one and only girl RuthAnne was the first to purr and adjusted the fastest to people. Her look-alike brother I named Rebel, since he is having the most difficult adjustment to "socialization." The pretty boy of the bunch, Liam, is tabby and white with wide set eyes. He just started purring this evening! It's very hard to not get attached and probably the main reason animal lovers don't foster. Will they end up with guardians who will be patient and sensitive to their innate shyness, which will in time give way to their darling little personalities underneath? Will they be cherished and cared for no matter if a new baby arrives, a younger animal gets adopted, a divorce happens and a move is required, a new boyfriend or girlfriend shows up with "allergies," or a life-threatening illness befalls the guardian? These are the times you need a companion animal in your life the most! "Pets" are not accessories meant only for when you have the extra time, income, and space; they are lifetime partners who do not care if you can afford a new car or cable or even if you brush your teeth and change out of your pajamas. It is percisely when you've lost something that your cat (or canine) will bestow upon you what matters most, with a head butt or a tiny paw, he or she will let you know that you are loved... and will you please stop feeling sorry for yourself and feed me now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Squirrels are back!

Remember the litter of 10 day old squirrels that fell from a large tree into my back yard one summer night? I recently picked them up from Sarvey wildlife center where they had been cared for until old enough to be out on their own. Sarvey is located in Arlington and it turned out to be a beautiful day for a drive in the country. I saw the variety of amazing owls who live there due to permanent injuries that prevent them from being able to live in the wild, plus two eagles in rehab. My squirrels rode in a carrier in the car and made squirrel noises the whole way - they were eager to get out and get ready for fall by securing food and secreting it away!

This photo was taken of two of the little guys climbing my apple tree a few days after they were released in my back yard by Bao Mitten.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Rescued KITTENS needing homes!

I assisted at a trap/neuter/return site on National Feral Cat Day (this past Sunday) and helped trap a litter of three kittens whom are now in foster care being socialized to humans. There are two B&W ones and one is tabby & white. (Unfortunately I cannot tell the gender yet.) They are about 6 weeks old right now and will be available after their spay or neuter on Nov. 1st. While young enough to be completely tamed, this process takes patience and repeated positive interactions. It works best if they are adopted into a quiet home without small children, overly friendly dogs, or people who simply aren't home very much. It's only be three full days and as you can see they can be held but are still wanting to hide from visitors. If you are interested in meeting them please contact me!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

National Feral Cat Day is Oct. 16th

Sunday is National Feral Cat Day and feline friends all over the U.S. are celebrating feral cats! Check out this darling concept from Omaha NE:
What is a feral cat? A feral cat is often an abandoned kitty who has been outside for a while and is now wary of humans. Kittens born to an unspayed female who grow up without human contact will become feral adults. The crucial socialization period when kittens need to be handled and loved by people is 5-7 weeks. After 8 weeks of age, it is not impossible to tame a feral kitten but it doesn't happen as quickly. Odin, to the left, is a good example of a kitten humanely trapped a little late. He is perfectly wonderful with me but doesn't approach my human friends when they come over. While tame cats may become feral when left on their own outside, they can often revert back to being housecats with patience and understanding. Truly feral cats should be trap/neuter/returned (TNR) to live out their lives as community cats. The term feral is rarely black and white; each situation is unique and cats develop relationships with different humans differently. For more about TNR and National Feral Cat Day, see

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Proud parent of a black cat?

Here's a story confirming what those of us doing rescue work have known for a while - black animals don't get adopted as quickly as non-black ones. Black cats, as well as black lab mixes are usually abundant in shelters. Love should be color blind but for a variety of reasons, these companion animals aren't chosen like their white, ginger, and torti cousins. This is a photo of a wonderful boy named Arthur whom a friend and I rescued off the streets of Seattle. He and two other kitties had apparently been left behind by renters who moved and left the cats outside. Proving the point of the USA Today story, I was able to find an adoptive home for the gorgeous Siamese boy but Arthur and his shy girlfriend happily ended up staying with my friend.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fat Cat?

This article comes from daily Free Kibble (yes, I am hooked on the trivia questions!). Consider this statistic: 53% of cats, in the U.S. I presume, are overweight or obese. This is sad but also frustrating that veterinarians aren't educating animal guardians about diet and that guardians themselves aren't taking responsibility for their kitties' health. Unfortunately the extent of a vet's diet recommendations sometimes exists solely and conveniently on the products sold within their practice. As a raw food advocate for cats for the past 15 years, my views are based on Dr. Richard Pitcarin, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, Diane Stein, and Dr. Don Hamilton. Many naturopathic and homeopathic vets support raw diets while those practicing Chinese medicine believe cooked foods are better for digestion.
Regardless of what you choose to feed your feline, free feeding of dry food is rarely a good idea. Kittens and cats who are not food oriented might do fine for limited periods on such a regime but from my experience this is how cats gain too much weight. It's like having a big bowl of chocolates or cookies at your desk every day - you'd become chubby too! Food is comforting, food is love; there are lots of emotions involved with food but when you feel guilty for not being available for your cat and start substituting too much food you aren't doing what is ultimately going to help your cat live the longest, healthiest life. Most of us have to go to work or leave our cats for periods of time. Fortunately cats sleep a lot and probably don't mind having some time away from us to catch up on their sleep. I have seen some cats who simply cannot regulate how much they eat and have to be fed separately from other cats they live with for every meal. Find a solution that works with your household, inluding some form of interactive play or walking on a leash to achieve your kitty's ideal weight.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Special book for kitty lovers

My dear friend Carolyn Parker has published her first book, a memoir of sorts of her kitty Squeaky's life in Spain. Sixteen years ago, Squeaky appeared at my house in need of help. She was skinny, full of fleas and homeless. I remember it was cold out and Squeaky needed a warm place to stay and some TLC. I had just moved into my house and had several kitties of my own. So Carolyn and her husband "fostered" her and promptely fell in love with her. They lived in West Seattle at the time but it wasn't long before they were planning the next phase of their lives in rural Spain. So off the three of them went. We stayed in touch via their sporadic internet connection and airmail. Carolyn sent photos of Squeaky in her new domain and tales of her harrowing adventures and simple peasures.
"Squeaky's Farm" is about Squeaky's transformation to country living but also about the relationship between Squeaky and her humans. The balance of trusting and allowing Squeaky to experience life versus the desire to shelter and protect her brings up issues many of us face with our kitties, especially those of us who are care for semi or formally feral cats who crave the outdoors. While Squeaky was never a feral cat she still wanted to stalk, hunt, and observe the great outdoors. I never doubted that Carolyn completely understood Squeaky and reading "Squeaky's Farm" confirmed that they were meant to find each other. Our feline friends can teach us a lot - we just have to listen and be humble.
Buy this book for the animal people in your life! By the way, Carolyn is now back in the Northwest and colloborating with humane organizations so that they receive profits from book sales.

Monday, September 26, 2011

happy ending

This beautiful calico kitty must have quite a story to tell! Her original guardians had microchipped her and when she ended up in a shelter they were contacted and thrilled to be reunited after 5 years. Remember - if you ever find a lost cat or dog, take them to any veternarian and have them scanned for a chip. There's not charge for this and it could save everyone lots of heartache.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How feline friendly is your house?

Check out this fabulous example of architecture built with ALL the residents in mind. Hopefully they also have staff that comes in each day to clean...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why cats are not dogs

It feels like fall outside and that means Halloween for lots of folks and their kids, or their dogs they like to dress as kids. These pictures remind me of what I love about cats. No feline I know would stand for this nonsense - as in literally standing there posing for these silly pictures. So I wonder - do these dogs go out trick or treating? Hopefully their moms confiscate any chocolate or raisins they might get.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Play Free Kibble & donate kibble!

If you like kitty trivia, this is a fun way to help feed shlter animals. Sign up to receive a trivia question via email every day and kibble gets donated whether you answer correctly or not. There's also a canine version you can send to the dog people you might have to work with.
Here's my trivia question for my readers: Whose little face is in the picture?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hello again

I took a long break from the KittyStar blog to finish my masters degree and now that I am done writing my final paper, I am ready to start writing about kitties again! Here's a recent photo of Odin. Both he and his brother Adian are doing great. They have been enjoying the warm weather, like all the KittyStar kitties.
We've had an exciting summer - a nest of 10 day old squirrels fell out of the 100 ft. fir tree that stands guard near my back fence a few weeks ago. One was screaming his little head off while the others seemed a bit dazed from the long drop. I found a cardboard box, gathered the nest and four babies up (wearing gloves) and drove to Aerowood Vet Hospital on the East side, where they would feed them through the night until Sarvey wildlife center could pick them up. Other than a tiny cut on one's chin they all appeared fine. Baby kittens are definitely cuter than baby squirrels, and quieter too.