29 August 2011

Our kitty neighbors

Tyler and Tippy catsThese are our neighbor's cats Tyler and Tippy. We've talked about them before. Tyler is a gigantic 25 pound boy with huge, extra-toed paws. Tippy is soft as silk and has crystal blue eyes. Tippy visited our house one night after escaping from her home and we kept her safe.

Mom has been taking care of them this week. I don't mind too much because she usually goes over when I'm snoozing. Mom is very careful to change her clothes and wipe her arms and legs after she comes home, but I can still smell that she's been with other cats.

I understand why mom likes visiting Tyler and Tippy. They're both friendly and  beautiful. Look how pretty Tippy's eyes are. I guess it's okay that mom visits so they can be indulged while their mom is away.  She cleans their box, grooms them, gives them their canned food dinner and a little bit of love. But mom always comes home to me.

Tippy's crystal blue eyes

28 August 2011

Our neighborhood anipals

Mom went for a bike ride around our neighborhood this morning and saw some of our neighborhood anipals.

This black & white kitty had a fantastic spot in his yard to take a nap. Most people wouldn't see him but mom has eagle-eyes for cats and saw him right away. Kitty snoozing on rock

This is Bear. He's a very cute Cairn terrier. This is the first time we've seen him because he walks down the street behind ours.


This is Whitey. He lives a few houses down from us but he rarely leaves his yard. He's very friendly and came over for petting and a good roll in the sunshine.





18 August 2011

I'm on Sammi's crinkle paper!

Raven on crinkle paper

It may seem like a small accomplishment, but I'm on Sammi's crinkle paper! Sammi loves her crinkle paper and thinks of it as her "safe" spot in the living room. She's on her paper all the time and guards it very closely. I usually walk around her paper because if she hears me set foot on her crinkle paper she comes running to chase me off. But this time she was resting on her perch and I quietly crept onto her crinkle paper and camped out for awhile. I got to stay on her paper for about 20 minutes. Mom petted me and I purred. Then Sammi realized I was on her paper so she came to claim her territory. But she didn't chase me off right away. She sat behind me and let me stay there for a little longer. I'm sure she was only nice to me because mom & dad were there to protect me. After a few more minutes I got off her paper so she could have it back.

16 August 2011

Duck in Sammi's diet

Ground duck meat

duck meatballsSammi eating duckDuck, duck, yum!

I'm on a limited ingredient diet to try to get rid of my allergies. My new food is Natural Balance Duck & Pea. It's tasty, but there's too much carbohydrate in it for my system and I need more meat! After all, I am a carnivore and I need to eat more duck than peas.

Mom bought two duck breasts and two duck legs and cooked them for me. She cut all the meat into little pieces, which was ok, but I decided I prefer tiny bits or even pate like my canned food. So she put all the meat through the food processor until it was itty bitty pieces. She added a little water until everything came together into a clump.

I eat only a couple ounces per day so mom made lots of duck meatballs and packaged them in plastic wrap for freezing. She can defrost one whenever I need more and I'll have fresh duck meat for a long time.

My dry food is available all day. I also get about 1 ounce of duck for breakfast, another ounce for dinner, and a little more for a night-time snack. It's really nommy. I hope this is the solution to my allergy problems and I get to eat duck for a long, long, time.

15 August 2011

Our new Whisker City litter mat - fun and functional

After our little bug infestation from the corn-based litter, mom decided to try a new type of litter mat. The mat we had was a big rectangle made of rubber with a loopy litter-catching surface.  (It's this one). loopy rubber litter matWe liked it because it was very soft and didn't have any prickly parts. Mom liked it because it traps almost all the litter from our paws. She also liked that she could use the vacuum cleaner to clean the litter out of it. The only bad thing was that it was hard to get completely clean, especially using clay litter. She'd take it out to the driveway and give it a thorough squirting with the hose, but the clay litter gets sticky and doesn't come out of the loopy surface. When we used the corn-based litter, it would dissolve when it got hosed off, so the mat would get really clean.

cat-shaped litter mat

Now we have a Whisker City Litter Mat. It's made of foam and has little ridges to bump the litter off our paws. It's soft and gets the litter off, but it's much smaller than our other mat. Mom thinks it will be easy to clean because the litter can't get stuck in it. She got this little one as a test and if it works as well as she thinks it will, she'll get two of the the big rectangular version to put around our boxes.

We do think it's a little strange to step onto a kitty head shaped litter mat. It's novel, but we may have to ask mom to turn the mat around and tuck the ears under the litter box so we don't feel like we're stepping on a kitty head!

14 August 2011

Battling hairballs with grooming

RavenRaven had 5 hairballs in the past 3 weeks. Our poor kitty has been vomiting up food & hairballs left and right. The first hairball I expected because it was a few days after her bath. The cats always groom themselves thoroughly after a bath so it's not surprising that a hairball comes up. Even the second one wasn't too concerning since Raven is a very furry long-haired cat. But the third, forth, and fifth told me my little girl needed help.

Besides creating a mess, hairballs are not healthy. Here's an informative article by a vet describing how hairballs form and how a cat with hairballs might vomit food without any fur in it.  What concerned me most with Raven's recent battle with hairballs was during one episode she must have choked a bit or maybe something irritated a nerve as she regurgitated the hairball because she rolled onto her side, looked scared, then hunched down on the floor for about 15 minutes breathing very quickly and shallowly.

I decided it was time to get serious about grooming. These are the grooming tools I use:

  1. Good quality slicker brushes that have gentle wire bristles.

  2. The Zoom Groom rubber grooming brush

  3. A wide-toothed comb where the tines rotate in the holder.

  4. A flea comb

  5. A natural boar-bristle finishing brush

grooming toolsRaven is very sensitive and grooming is not her favorite activity. I was combing her every few days to make sure her hair didn't get tangled, but didn't really focus on getting her loose fur out.  That has changed.

Now, every day she gets a thorough brushing. The Zoom Groom works by gently grasping the loose fur and by static attraction between the rubber and fur. You're instructed to use circular motions so the hair wraps around the rubber nobs, but Raven will not tolerate that so I use straight strokes down her back and sides.  This tends to leave the loose fur everywhere (and I mean everywhere - on kitty, floor, my shirt) so you have to gather the fur up somehow. That's when I use the wide-toothed comb and slicker brush to get the loosened fur off, and follow that with the flea comb to get the last stragglers of fur. I use only the slicker brush or wide-toothed comb on her belly. The natural boar bristle brush works well to brush her head, cheeks and chin (the kitties love that).  One of the best things about using a boar bristle brush is that it does not create static like a nylon bristle brush does. The entire grooming take less than 5 minutes, which is about all Raven will tolerate.

Each day I brush out a small to medium sized clump of fur. Any amount is good because that means it's not going into her tummy to create a hairball. We've been grooming daily for about a week and she had not produced a hairball yet. Here's keeping our fingers and paws crossed that there are no hairballs in the works.

13 August 2011

Sammi's allergies and diet

Sammi cat
Sammi has been eating a chicken-free diet for 7 days and I called the vet to give him an update on her progress. I was enthusiastic that her itching has subsided quite a bit and she is tolerating the new food. I thought we had finally found the cause of her itchy, red bumps and we were on our way to solving the problem.

The vet said that the prednisone Sammi has been on is probably what's giving her the most relief, and it usually takes several weeks for itching to subside when a diet change is made. He said he was sorry to burst my bubble.
The good news is that we may be off to a promising start. He instructed me to decrease her medication to every other day for a week. If she's still doing well I should decrease her medication to every 3rd day for two weeks.

So even though my bubble was burst, we're better off than we were a week ago when Sammi was awake at midnight sitting on our bed biting at her itchy legs. We'll figure it out and get her healthy, it just may take a little longer.

12 August 2011

Remembering Bentley

Bentley Golden RetrieverA beautiful full moon is rising in a dusky sky. It's a perfect way to remember our Golden Retriever Bentley who left us 2 years ago today. I miss him, but he lived to 17 years 4 days and had a wonderful life with us. I adopted him just before he was 9 years old and we shared 8 eventful years together.  Here's his story of living with us. I never could figure out how to put into words what he meant to me as a memorial for him, so his story is still on our website without an "ending".

Heart Paw PendantFor all our pets I have jewelery that reminds me of some aspect of their lives. For Bentley, I found a beautiful heart-shaped pendant with a paw imprint. I wear it to honor Bentley and remind myself of the important things he taught me. Patience, gentleness, kindness, devotion, forgiveness and love.


Corn-based litter bug problem

Worlds Best Cat LitterBecause of what happened to us last night, if you're using a corn, wheat, or pine-based litter, you may want to keep a close eye out for bug infestations near your litter storage or litter boxes.

A few months ago I switched from The Worlds Best Cat Litter, which is a corn-based product, to Dr. Elsey's clay litter. I was very happy with the Worlds Best Cat Litter but I thought Sammi's itchy red bumps might be due to an allergy and since she can't eat grain, maybe corn litter was giving her problems.  I had about 1/2 bag of Worlds Best Cat Litter left, so I stored it in the garage.

We're now thinking Sammi is allergic to chicken so the corn litter probably wasn't an issue. A few days ago I ran out of clay litter so I brought in the bag of Worlds Best Cat Litter from the garage and topped-off one of the  litter boxes that was getting low.  It's been two or three days since I brought the litter in, and last night I noticed 40-50 little bugs crawling all around the bag of litter, up the wall, and a few bugs near the litter boxes. Yikes! Creepy crawlies in the house.

Even though it was after 11pm, there was no option but to start cleaning. I carefully took  the left-over Worlds Best Cat Litter, the litter box with the mixed litter in it, the litter mat, broom, and all the other items I keep near the litter boxes out to the back yard. I vacuumed the bathroom floor and used the crevice tool to get under the baseboards. I mopped the floor and wiped the walls. Then I gave the clay-only litter box a thorough inspection. I didn't see any bugs in it, which was good, because I would have had to go out at midnight to find some clean litter for the cats!

Luckily, I noticed the little critters  before they crawled all over the room. Even luckier was that I don't think any hitch-hiked aboard the cats when they were using that mixed corn/clay litter box.

Corn litter bug

seed corn beetle




The first bug is a photo of one that was in the bathroom. I searched online and it looks a lot like some type of seed corn beetle shown in the second photo. The bug website said they get the black spots on their wings and head when they are mature, so my bugs were probably still in the "baby" stage.  :-)

I was thinking of going back to the Worlds Best Cat litter but I'm definitely not doing that now. I don't know if the bugs developing was a fluke because I stored the bag of Worlds Best Cat Litter in the garage for a few months, but I'm not willing to take the chance of it happening again. The bags may be stored for months in the store and even longer at home if I buy several bags when they're on sale.

I imagine this could happen with any corn, wheat, or pine based litter product. Those are agricultural crops and crops have bugs and bug larvae. I'm guessing that the bug larvae survives the litter manufacturing process, and under the right conditions the larvae can develop into creepy-crawly bugs.

I purchased two bags of clay litter this afternoon and refilled both litter boxes with fresh clay litter. We'll be a clay litter house from now on.

06 August 2011

Hummingbird entertainment

Mom hung another hummingbird feeder on our back patio. The birds have been going crazy over the food and they're lots of fun to watch. We sit in our windows and are entertained by their antics. What's really neat is when the birds come close to the window and hover to watch us! You can click each image to make it bigger.






05 August 2011

Sammi's diet - goodbye chicken, hello duck.

Sammi itchy pawIn our attempt to figure out what Sammi is allergic to and stop her shedding & itchy red bumps, we tried changing her diet from CORE fish & fowl dry food to Before Grain chicken dry food. After two weeks we were still at a 50/50 mix of food and her condition was getting worse. At midnight last night she was so itchy she couldn't sleep and was sitting on the bed biting at her legs. It was time to re-start her on the medication the vet prescribed to help calm her system.

I've been giving Sammi's situation a lot of thought, and my new theory is that she's reacting to the chicken. We know she doesn't tolerate grains, and I'm starting to believe she can't tolerate chicken either. The CORE food has turkey, chicken & fish. So adding the Before Grain 100% chicken is increasing her exposure to chicken. If I let Sammi eat too much (a tablespoon) of her sister's Wellness canned chicken food she gets soft stool. The B.G. canned chicken food gave her soft stool when she ate ½ a small can throughout the day. I thought it was the canned food going through her system too quickly. Now I'm thinking it's the chicken.

Pea and Duck cat foodAfter speaking wth the vet, he agreed we should try a limited ingredient diet like Natural Balance green pea and duck food. He's had good luck with it for cats who can't tolerate chicken. The main ingredients in this food are Peas, Duck Meal, Duck, Canola Oil and Flaxseed.

Out with the chicken, in with the duck! Paws crossed this will solve the problem and Sammi's itchiness and shedding will stop. I'm hoping my beautiful girl will get her lustrous, fluffy soft fur back soon and all her itchy, red bumps will be gone.