Friday, December 2, 2016

Holiday Cat Food Drive

Remember kitties in shelters awaiting homes this holiday season. Purchase some special treats or food for felines and I will deliver everything to Cats Exclusive Veterinary Center by the end of the year. They will match donations pound for pound! They will donating the goods to Seattle Area Feline Rescue. I can pick up your donations when I sit for your kitties or feel free to contact me for another arrangement, or you can drop off items at Cats Exclusive. Cats Exclusive Cat Food Drive

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book review: Baker & Taylor

To distract yourself from current events (AKA the election), I suggest reading a good cat story. The True Tails of Baker and Taylor is not just cute anecdotes about the two kitties who lived at the public library in a small town in Nevada. It also illustrates how societal norms have evolved to include companion animals in our daily lives and how we view them as having individual personalities and not just as a species. In 1982 the librarian, Jan Louch, and her co-worker decided that they would purchase two Scottish fold cats to live at the library. Now I think there is a greater awareness of adopting rather than buying cats but at that time many cats in the area were outdoor/feral cats kept on ranches simply for controlling rodents. Douglas County, Nevada grew in size and changed in demographics as Californians moved into the area, as well as libraries changed in the wake of the Internet and home computers. Baker and Taylor did not have a Facebook page, photo-shopped website pictures or selfies being tweeted, yet they became famous via library conventions and at trade shows where the company after which they were named used their images on posters and shopping bags.

There are many reasons Baker and Taylor were so renowned and loved by people, many of whom lived out of town and had never even met the boys. Cats make many people feel relaxed and comfortable, just like therapy animals. Many shelters now have reading programs where school age kids come in and read to cats and dogs; this provides the animals some one-on-one time and helps children become more confident in their reading skills.Consider cat cafes, which have become "a thing" in many countries. Many skilled nursing/senior homes have a resident feline. I've also read about yoga classes with adoptable cats "helping" in the studio. Kitties in public places help us remember to take a moment, pet the kitty and just be.

If you enjoyed Dewey, the Library Cat check out The True Tails of Baker and Taylor. Highlights include short bios of other library cats around the U.S.

Taylor strikes a pose

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Let's celebrate ALL cats

Why is October 16th National Feral Cat Day? Because that's the day Alley Cat Allies officially became a non-profit 25 years ago. This group has done incredible work for cats, from hands-on rescue after Hurricane Katrina to challenging laws and government policies that are deadly to cats. They offer a National Cat Help Desk hotline: (240) 482-1980, ext. 330. ACA hosts an online Veterinary Resource Center so that veterinarians themselves can then help community cats and the folks who care for them. By providing grant money and education on how to implement low cost/high volume spay/neuter, they partner with shelters across the country to stop the killing of cats turned into county shelters. 

I think ACA is not only helping how our systems in place handle stray and community cats but how many people view them. The vast majority of animal welfare and animal protection groups have embraced trap/neuter/return as the proven and humane method of allowing community cats to live out their natural lives without suffering endless breeding cycles and all the issues Tomcats bring to the table. In my experience however, it's usually one special animal who acts as the catalyst for people who have a shift in their thinking. My client Beth has been a devoted kitty mom her whole adult life, and while all her kitties were rescues they were usually indoor cats. Here is her story of BK, a feline on his way to being feral after being abandoned outside to fend for himself. BK is still a bit of a wild child and he is loved just the way he is! 

In the spring of 2010 a bedraggled little black long-haired kitten wandered into my yard. He was matted, dirty, had “stud tail”, & was scared & hungry. So of course I started feeding him. In the beginning, he wouldn’t come anywhere near me. I was patient & talked to him in soothing tones telling him it was OK to come eat. At first he would only eat in the yard & watch me. Then after months went by, I managed to get him to come closer & closer until he came on the porch where I made him a bed. I named him BK.

Our first breakthrough happened when BK sniffed my hand, then finally allowed me to pet him a little. It took lots of food & kind words to finally get him to trust me. As soon as I thought he wouldn’t freak out, I got him into a cat carrier & off to the Vet we went! Pronounced healthy, he was neutered & got all his shots. As I like to say, “$367 later he was “mine.” I honestly thought he might take off but he didn’t & still lives with me & my other cat. He’s still a bit wild & is the only allowed outside during the day because he was “homeless” for the first year of his life & screams to go out. Little by little he’s staying inside more & always stays in at night where he sleeps on the bed next to my head unless he’s on one of the kitty perches or on top of the armoire (his favorite spot!)

I think BK came from ”down the street” as I know there’s another cat who looks just like him who lives with some neighbors who rescued her around the same time. She’s also named “BK” (Black Kitty). Even though he can be a handful sometimes & is a bit of a bully, he also has turned into a very affectionate cat with a big, rumbling purr. He’s still afraid of anyone he doesn’t know but he seems to love me & I love him.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

National Feral Cat Day is coming soon!

Wondering what's going on in your community for National Feral Cat Day this coming Sunday, October 16th? Check out :National Feral Cat Day and stay tuned to my blog for another "formerly feral" story about a kitty client of mine!

Gigi,  one of the first feral kitties who came into my life and helped educate me. She came from one of the first TNR sites I worked on, in a south Seattle area called Hillman City. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Meet some KittyStars...

Here are just a few of the kitties I visited in late summer. Adorable huh? We usually have fun with toys (da bird especially), catnip (lots from my garden this year), and just hanging out together.

MJ, with Da Bird toy in foreground
Ginger Pye

Gus and his fave toy




Iggy (yes, he's a boy and a torti!)
Nora, Iggy's sister

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Humane Economy, book review

I've had an incredibly busy summer taking care of kitties all over Seattle! I do find time to read, usually while taking a dinner break with my own kitties. I'm a fan of Wayne Pacelle's first book, The Bond, so was happy to find his latest book, The Humane Economy, at my local library. I keep up on a variety of animal issues but actually learned a lot from reading this. There is good news re. animal protection but remaining vigilant in what companies and practices you support with your consumer choices has never been more important. Wayne's coverage of SeaWorld, trainer deaths by killer whales and the hailstorm resulting from the film "Blackfish" gives us hope that people will eventually stop spending entertainment dollars to see couped up marine mammals. If you have ever wanted to go on safari, Wayne discusses which countries to travel to in order to view splendid wild animals and which places still need to curb the poaching and trophy hunting they allow.

Greyhound racing is one issue I've seen gain momentum very quickly over the last few years; 19 tracks still operate in six states but I believe we will see these tracks close up as well in the newt 10 years. People have probably met lovely "retired" greyhounds in their neighborhoods, are more educated about what the dogs endure and are less likely to support the tracks. Animal based circuses are another. Consider that Feld entertainment (Ringling Bros.) decided to retire their elephants from life on the road (yes!). With cities such as Redmond and Port Townsend banning performing wild animal acts and reduced attendance in Seattle, these shows were finding it difficult to justify their costs.

In the U.S., the number of companion animals killed in shelters each year has dropped by 80% since the 1970s to 3 million. PetCo and PetSmart have made an impact by featuring animals from rescue groups instead of breeders and puppy mills. Wayne discusses certain shelters that had historically high kill rates and how they worked to turn their numbers around to very high "save rates." He gives a brief mention of trap/neuter/return of community cats but I suspect that TNR efforts are making much more of a difference in shelter kill rates where volunteers have taken on the long-term goal of sterilizing street cats. Fortunately Becky Robinson has written all about how TNR is affecting change for cats in her new book, The Evolution of the Cat Revolution, available here:
Alley Cat Allies

Wildlife management in the U.S. is another area Wayne covers and we should listen since our tax dollars are going towards the killing of tens of thousands of coyotes, mountain lions, bears and wolves. Why does the federal government kill these animals? To protect ranch raised farmed animals, usually grazing on public lands. All this ties in well with the information about how said ranchers and producers are being swayed to change their methods to (slightly) more humane accommodations for the animals who end up on the dinner plate. Companies such as Chipotle caused a chain reaction with giants like McDonald's and Walmart following to eliminate sow crates and offer egg laying hens a tad more room in their cages. Again, your consumer choices make a difference and it's pretty easy in Seattle to find alternatives to cheap meat and dairy products. Humane Society of the United States has led the way with farmed animal reform laws in individual states as well as helping expose cruelty within farming operations.

Wayne writes, "...we need to broaden our understanding of moral responsibility to animals. Cruelty isn't limited to practices that we in society hold in general contempt, such as beating a dog or setting a cat on fire, or even long-established but now widely reviled activities such as dogfighting or commercial whaling. The abuse of animals is also embedded in economic enterprises that provide staples in our daily lives. Because it's both routine and invisible, and we play no direct role in the violence, we generally consider it a moral problem not of our making. Our physical removal from harmful actions towards the animals provides a sort of buffer. Yet as end users, we enable it, just as we have the power to deny it by abstention. It is only consumers who give these products value, or, conversely who can make them worthless in the marketplace." (pg. 256-257) The ways in which certain animals are marginialized and others are considered members of are family is interesting in many ways; in my experience it is often once special animal who changes a person's perceptions.

Check out Wayne's blog and how you can purchase the book (remember to boycott Amazon until they stop selling body-gripping animal traps and foie gras!):
Humane Society of the United States

"Love me, don't eat me"

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let the Sun Shine!

Some kitties are lucky enough to have a custom catio and other adventurous felines take matters into their own paws to stake out their own space with the best view of the neighborhood. If you just can't build an outdoor cat enclosure, here's an article on creating an outdoor inspired space for your indoor cat. Invest in a tall kitty condo with lounging platforms, grow cat-safe plants or buy fresh cat grass weekly, and let the sun shine in. Your kitty deserves the sunniest window in your home and preferably an open window (safely screened of course) where he or she can smell all those fascinating outdoor smells. Sisal mats, baskets,and cardboard boxes are inexpensive and offer interesting textures to scratch and sleep on or in. If you can find a hefty log from a recently cut tree, even better. Basking in the warm sun is one of the pleasures of being a cat!

Friday, July 8, 2016

How to Help Kitties in our Community

Here are two easy ways to help homeless and community cats in Puget Sound: 

Friends of Campus Cats needs items for their annual fund-raising Jumble Sale, and they need them now! They are gratefully accepting donations; please contact them to make arrangements for delivery or pick-up. Wanted are books, jewelry, collectibles and vintage items, knick knacks, kitchenware, small appliances, even smaller furniture, lightly used toys, guy stuff, amusing oddities. (No clothes, please, unless they are unusual; they are already amply endowed with quality clothing from a consignment shoppe.) Campus Cats is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) org dedicated to the humane management of feral cats on UW campus and elsewhere. This year’s Jumble Sale is scheduled for July 30th at 10 AM (last Saturday of the month) in the Maple Leaf neighborhood - no early birds please. 

PS: Volunteers are needed on the day of the sale. Get paid in popsicles and pizza! Email or call 206-524-7326 to arrange for delivery or pick-up. 

Everyone's favorite shelter in Arlington, Purrfect Pals, will host their annual gala in October. The Black Cat Ball provides more operating funds for Purrfect Pals than any other fundraiser. More than 400 supporters will come together to enjoy a Halloween-themed champagne reception (costumes optional), gourmet vegetarian or vegan dinner, fine wines and both a silent and a live auction. If you can attend it's a lot of fun! 

If you own a business you can donate a gift certificate and have you business listed in the catalog. If you have a favorite wine you enjoy, consider purchasing a case to donate as wine is very popular in this auction. Or donate in honor of your favorite kitty and receive a tax deduction too.

To donate online, click here: Black Cat Ball online auction donation form

Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Your Cat is Hurting...

As our companion kitties age, it's natural that they may develop arthritis or stiffness after getting up. However it's often difficult to tell if and where they experience discomfort. Lots of clients tell me their kitties sometimes favor one paw or have limps that come and go. Many cats go into "hunker down" mode when they go to the vet's office so guardians may need to video the movement or behavior they are concerned about to show the doctor. Given that cats in the wild are prey for many animals, it's instinctual for felines to hide illness and weakness. Here's a good resource to keep handy if you think your cat may be silently suffering:

How can you manage minor joint aches and pains at home? Many of my clients give their kitties a joint health supplement on their food. There are lots of websites to buy reputable veterinary supplements on. Cannabis supplements are also popular and these are often used for a variety of issues in addition to body aches, such as nausea and helping to increase appetite. Infra-red lights (reptile bulbs) can feel good during our dreary, damp days. These can be set up with a clip lamp or you can purchase a stand that holds the bulb at sufficient height for your kitty to doze under. (Only use these under supervision of course.) Heated beds are also soothing. Acupuncture and laser therapy may be recommended by your veterinarian. I prefer an acupuncture vet who makes house calls so that the experience is more relaxing for kitty. It may be helpful to keep a notebook of your kitties ups and downs so you can figure out the best treatment combination. The bottom line is that it may take some trial and error to help your kitty feel his best during his golden years. It's not uncommon for cats to thrive into their 20s with good genes and all the best care..

Sidney, obviously feeling relaxed, cozy and safe (showing his belly), taking his after breakfast nap.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kitten Season!

Kittens at a Best Friends nursery 

Who doesn't love kittens or puppies?! Of course they are super adorable but pet overpopulation is still a HUGE problem in our state as well as across the U.S. and in many other countries. Did you know that many animal shelters do not have the resources to care for underage kittens and routinely kill them? Fortunately organizations such as Best Friends in Kanab, Utah is helping to change this practice. They provide training and grants to establish kitten nurseries, where neo-natal felines without mothers to nurse them can be bottle fed and cared for. Staff and volunteers lovingly tend these little fuzzballs around the clock, which also helps to socialize the kittens in addition to making sure they are physically healthy. 

Kittens with their mom often need a quiet foster home for the period of time it takes the kittens to eat solid food and reach at least 2 lbs. so they and their mom can be sterilized, given vaccinations, and then made available for adoption. This process can be as long as 2 months, especially if there are any complications such as upper respiratory disease which is common amongst kittens as their immune systems develop. Fostering is a great option if you aren't quite ready to commit to full-time companion animal or have some extra space in your home and the time and attention to devote to them short-term. You can call on the shelter with any concerns or questions and their veterinarians provide all medical care. It's a great experience even though you have to give the kitties back at the end - unless you decide to adopt them. (That is what's called a "foster failure" but it's not a bad thing!)

Want some inspiration? Check out these precious wee ones who were featured on the Best Friends website recently: Best Friends babies

Please encourage everyone you know to Adopt and not Shop for a pet and to spay or neuter of course!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Beautiful Black Cats

It's been a busy Spring for me! I wanted to highlight some of the gorgeous black cats I sit for. This particular grouping was all part of my "spring break" week. (Their peeps graciously allowed me to feature their kitty's photos here.) 

Hector - a gentle giant of a kitty

Hector lives with two tabby brothers. They all enjoy catnip and da bird.

Cinders - a tiny girl and very active youngster

Cinders enjoying the concrete surface (on her harness)

Phinney, only 5 mos. old, recently adopted from PAWS. He is already an accomplished purrer.

Phinney lives with an adult tabby brother.

Ella, after a bite of delicious food

Henry, he's a chill fellow. He lives with Ella and a brother who is an orange tabby. His brother is the 
hunter of the family while Ella and Henry are the snugglers.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day action

Today is Earth Day so it's a good day to reflect on the larger world outside. Unfortunately so many species around the world are threatened or endangered that it's difficult not to get discouraged. Sadly humans are pretty much behind all the factors that contribute to a plant or animal species demise. How can you not feel overwhelmed? If you are a registered voter, contacting your legislator regarding wildlife and environmental issues is an easy and free action. Most major non-profit groups such Humane Society of the United States, World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, Snow Leopard Trust and the Iinternational Fund for Animal Welfare will send you regular emails about upcoming state or federal legislation that pertains to wildlife. Just log onto their websites and get signed up. 

Today I chose to highlight a wild cat I didn't know much about. There are only 2,500 Andean cats left in the wild. Unlike majestic lions and tigers, this guy is as small as a house cat! A coalition of organizations is working to purchase protected land in Argentina where these cats live. In honor of Earth Day please consider skipping your Starbucks or lunch out today and donating $5 or $10 to help these little cats.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

City Kitties Outside

With more high rise building sprouting up all over Seattle these days, I fear "kitty high rise syndrome" may increase as well. Cats can get bored inside and being outside, even on a small balcony, can add interest and excitement to their lives. But just like humans, savvy felines make errors of judgement or have accidents that can end up being painful and disabling or worse, fatal. Here's a story about one lucky kitten  who survived an incredibly long fall and will make an excellent recovery. Being young likely helped his survival, as older and overweight cats may not fare so well in a fall.

So how can you safely give your kitty the fresh air and enrichment he needs? With outdoor enclosures, cats can have "outdoor time" when the weather permits. For kitty guardians living in apartments or condos where no structural changes are allowed, the Kitty Walk systems are ideal. You can also easily take these with you when you move. Your cat will quickly learn the routine and when it's time for him to go back inside, a few treats should help as a reward for his cooperation. No matter what type of enclosure you choose it's always best to allow for "outdoor time" only when you are home and can monitor your kitty to make sure he is comfortable. If you can install a cat door or leave your own door open enough for kitty to come and go then you can be sure he is able to come back inside if he gets cold, wet or overheated. (Just like people, some cats enjoy the cold or heat and others don't.) Put a kitty condo or chairs with cushions out so your cat has a soft spot to doze and a bowl of water. Spring is just around the corner, we'll all soon be able to appreciate the outdoors again!

This is a DON'T!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ready for the Kitten Bowl this weekend?

This Sunday, February 7th, watch the cutest little "footballers" play around on the Hallmark channel. All 71 kittens will be available for adoption after their big game. This is a great way to raise public awareness of all the precious kittens and cats in shelters awaiting homes.   

Monday, January 25, 2016

Kitty Stars

Check out some of the cute short films entered in the 2016 Catdance Festival!
 I love how cats truly own the Internet. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day!

Squirrels are part of our urban landscape and just like birds, they are not only important in our ecosystem but super fun to watch! The infant squirrels who years ago fell out of a very tall tree into my back yard may or not still be around  (I cannot tell them apart). Those four squirrels had been bottle fed for a month by a licensed wildlife rehab center and while not exactly tame, they weren't afraid of humans. I felt some obligation to feed them during the fall and winter months and continue to do so. So now all the squirrels living in my garden share a bowl of sunflower seeds and peanuts in the colder months and help themselves to whatever fruit and vegetables I attempt to grow. They prefer zucchini blossoms to the actual zucchini so I never have to worry about a glut of giant zucchinis like a lot of gardeners, or even having any squash actually. Oh well, the kitties and I think squirrels are cute and enjoy having them around so I can buy zucchini at the farmer's market if I want...

Monday, January 11, 2016

How Catified is your Home?

Here are some shots of two very kitty-friendly homes! Scarlett is a 4 year old orange tabby who requires a lot of stimulation in her daily life. Trout as well, is a busy little person. Their parents encourage these smarties to be curious and confident with lots of enrichment options such as a variety of scratching/scent marking options, climbing levels, and spots to "cave." When the kitties are at home on their own the blinds are open so kitties can watch the world outside and enjoy sun breaks.

Scarlett at the top of her four-in-one condo. She can use the chairs for climbing as well. Hanging in front of the window is a humming bird feeder that Scarlett's people keep filled. There is also a large tree squirrels scamper on in Scarlett's view.

Scarlett observing me in her kingdom. In addition to the large kitty condo, Scarlett can choose to scratch the sisal rope post for a different texture.The centerpiece of the room is her leopard print tunnel. This is particularly fun to hide out in when playing with da bird or a laser.

Trout enjoying the warm indoors on a clear but chilly day. The corner window gives him an incredible view of the neighborhood and the urban wildlife.

Trout has probably spotted the neighbor kitty across the street in this picture. Being up high allows him to feel secure.

If your kitty isn't using her kitty condo, moving it to a different area with more of a view or near where you spend a lot of time will help. If your cat is climbing on a certain chair or other piece of furniture repeatedly, that is probably a good spot to put her own condo. Remember that offering a more interesting alternative is the best way to redirect a behavior you dislike. Cats need to scent mark belongings in their home, which is what scratching your sofa accomplishes. Either a cardboard scratcher or a sturdier post near or next to the couch should make them happy. Their own bed on the sofa or near it would also be ideal. I hope this makes you excited to arrange your living space so that your feline family members get maximum enjoyment from the home you share!