Frivolous Friday – Sunday is National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day

catsbirdofparadise-034Evidently, veterinarians designated National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day to encourage people to bring in their cats for evaluation a couple of times a year.

Certainly we have questions for our cats—“Why do you do that?” “What do you want?” “What are you thinking?” Do you suppose our cats have similar questions for us? Cats are inquisitive. Sometimes they stare at us as if they are trying to figure us out. So what questions do you think your cat would ask you?

  • Why are you disturbing my nap?
  • What are you eating? Can I have some?
  • What did you bring me?
  • What’s in that box—or on the other side of the door?
  • Where have you been—why do you leave me sometimes?
  • Why are you doing that instead of paying attention to me?
  • Why do you bring strangers in this house?
  • Why do you keep moving my toys?

Here’s a fun site explaining more about cats and suggesting additional questions your cat might want to ask. http://www.theanimalstellme.com/blog/answer-your-cats-question-day

Do let us know if you get any answers from your kitty.

Posted in About Cats | Leave a comment

Thoughts for Thursday – The Inside Cat Versus the Outside Cat Controversy

lilyalyzayfeb2010-015There are many types of human-cat relationships. While some of us pamper our cats and even personify them, others let their cats be cats and roam to their heart’s content. Most household cats are a blend of both. They have the comfort of a home when they want to curl up in a cozy bed and dine on gourmet cat food and they also have the freedom of the out-of-doors where they can express their wild side.

I’ve had inside-outside cats. After one found gopher poison and one was probably taken by a coyote, I changed my ways. All of my cats for the last twenty years have been indoor cats. Well, except for Dinah.

We adopted Dinah when she was almost full grown. While she loved being inside (that’s dinah-dummyher sitting on the dummy’s lap), she absolutely had to have time outdoors. Dinah never ever, to my knowledge, used a litter box. She held herself until someone was awake or came home to let her out. She’d even go out in the rain to do her business. She’d complain, as if telling us to make the rain stop, but she’d go out lickety split, do her job and race back in through the door, which we always held open for her.

3 catsIMG_1977Katy, our Himalayan, had a fascination with the out-of-doors as she got older. It could have been simply that she wanted to be with me when I was gardening. Eventually, I started letting her out when I was in the yard to watch her. She didn’t go anywhere. All she wanted was to lay in a sunny spot and watch me work—maybe chase a butterfly now and then. I always left a door open in case something frightened her. I knew that the house was her safe zone and I wanted it available to her.

I wonder what Lily would do if she were allowed outside. She has always lived indoors and

Peeek-a-Boo

Peeek-a-Boo

she doesn’t appear to be missing anything—longing for anything. If she had occasion to go out, she’d probably rush back inside as soon as she realized there is no kitchen out there. Her life revolves around food and water. If she were forced outside, I could see her scouting around to find where other outside cats (and maybe dogs) are fed. She’d learn their feeding schedule and start standing in line with them to be fed. I could see her visiting the Maine coon next door at meal time, then trotting across the street where a couple of outdoor cats are fed. She’d probably soon discover neighbors with a heart for a pretty tabby who sat sweetly on their porch looking hungry.

Have you ever had a cat show up regularly at your door for a meal? Some years ago, we started seeing a big yellow cat in our yard. Eventually, we offered him lunch and he’d come back again and again. Finally he showed up with a sticky note on his head that said, “I belong to Tyler, don’t feed me.”

Coming around to see what all the fuss is about

Coming around to see what all the fuss is about

I’ve told you about my mother’s cat, Smokey. He’s my model for Rags, the star of my Klepto Cat Mystery series. Well, he’s one cat who, even as a kitten, could not be convinced to stay inside. He loves the comfort of the home, but he also has to explore the great outdoors. It’s in his DNA.

About five years ago, another cat started showing up at my mother’s back door at meal time. He had a collar and tag, so we found out his name is Gibbs and he lives in the neighborhood. When we talked to his owner, we learned that Mama isn’t the only one who feeds this cat. He’s trim—almost to the point of being too thin, despite the fact that he eats every day at my mother’s house and at least three or four other homes on the block. I suppose his family tried to keep him inside, too.

Do you have inside cats? Outside cats? A mix of both? Or is yours an inside/outside kitty? How’s it working out for you? Have you ever changed the ways of an outside cat—brought him inside to live? Was it a difficult transition? When we adopted Sophie, she was ten-weeks old. She’d been living with other cats in an overgrowth of ice plant. One day,  a kind lady, who was concerned about her, trapped her and took her to the nearest veterinarian. Despite the fact that she was frightened and seemed a little wild, we learned about her, visited her, and brought her home. We hoped to acclimate her to the indoors. She must have been so thankful to be saved from the elements as she’s never once tried to go back outside. She’s been a purrfect indoor cat. So I guess you can change a cat’s stripes.

Posted in About Cats | 2 Comments

Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday — New Toy For Sophie and Lily

Cats are curious–in fact, down right nosy. They must examine everything that comes into the house. Our cats stay hidden when guests visit. Once visitors leave, however, they sniff the area where they sat. But bring a cat a new toy that you can’t wait for them to enjoy and they’re liable to turn their cute little noses up. Not our two cats–not this time. Here they are with their new “Scratch and Snuggle Bowl” we brought in this week.

Lilysophietoy5They examined it and negotiated who would use it first:

Lily was cautious at first.lilyfootin

But soon she had taken the thing over.LilyNewToy

She even let sister Sophie have a turn.sophienewtoy

 

Posted in Funny Cats | 1 Comment

Newsday Tuesday – The Tabby

GoldieYesterday we talked about cat color. Today, I’d like to focus on the tabby. As I said in our last post, tabby cats are the striped or swirly-patterned ones.

There’s the classic tabby. This cat has a blotched swirly pattern all over. Some say the fur pattern resembles a marble cake.

A mackerel tabby is striped. This is the cat most would call a tiger cat.

The spotted tabby has spots instead of stripes or swirls.

The ticked tabby has tabby markings on the face (thin black lines around the eyes and creating an M on the forehead). But this tabby’s coat is more like an Abyssinian.

The patched tabby is also known as a tortie tabby or a torbie. This cat’s fur typically lily-pianodisplays patches of red and brown.

Tabbies are not just alley cats—the tabby coat is recognized in many cat breeds today, including the Persian, Maine coon, manx, Scottish fold, rex, American curl and many “pointed” cats. That is cats with points such as the ragdoll, colorpoint shorthair. Their points are considered lynx points.

Tabby cats come in many colors and shades–from grays and black to browns and tans, silver, beige, cream and various shades of red.

Some of our more famous tabby cats were Garfield, Morris (of 9-Lives fame), and Dewey (the library cat)—all red tabbies. There were also Thomasina of Disney fame and Monty, the tabby in Stuart Little.

I’ll bet you can name scads more tabby cats you’ve known and loved. Now you can also identify the type of tabby.

Posted in About Cats | Leave a comment

Mindful Monday – Cat Color Quandary

winfieldIMG_1781What color is your cat? You may think you know—but you could be wrong.

Do you know the most common cat colors? You might think it’s black because you see a lot of black cats in your neighborhood and at local shelters. Or you notice more bi-color cats. Did you know there are only a handful of common cat colors or styles of color for cats? They are: tabbies, solids and smokes, torties, patched tabbies and calicos, pointed cats, and cats with white markings (also known as bi-color cats).

Tabby cats (or tiger cats) are striped. Evidently all tabbies have an M on their forehead. LilyFebThe tabby patterns are thought to be the original color of domesticated cats.

There are four different tabby patterns, mackerel, classic (or blotched), spotted, and ticked (also known as an Abyssinian tabby). But tabbies come in different colors, brown, red, cream, silver, and blue/gray.

Solid or smoke cats are the same color all over—black, blue (gray), white. When the roots of the cat’s fur is white, the color is known as smoke. There are no solid red or cream cats.

Smokey, AKA the Klepto Cat

Smokey, AKA the Klepto Cat

This is something I didn’t know—maybe you didn’t either. A cat with just white paws is “mitted.” The white spot on a cat’s chest is called a “locket.” A cat with white belly spots has
“buttons.” A “bi-color” is pretty much half white. Ever heard of a “van”? This cat is white with a color patch on the head and tail. A “harlequin” is mostly white with several large patches of color.

What is a “jellicle cat”? A black and white cat. And we all know that a “tuxedo cat” is black and white and looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo.

When it comes to torties and calicos, the

Daisy

Daisy

descriptions become more complex. Here’s a link to learn more about these interesting color designations. http://www.fanciers.com/other-faqs/colors.html

Of course there is also the pointed (Siamese) pattern. This means dark “points” on the

cat’s face, paws, and tail. You see points in the Siamese, Himalayan, and some rag dolls and also non-breed cats. The colors vary from dark brown (“seal point”) to reds, grays (blues) and include tabby points and tortie points.

Katie

Katie

This, I thought was fascinating—pointed cats always have blue eyes. White cats and cats with a lot of white markings can have blue, green, gold, copper or odd-eyes (one blue and one green or gold eye). The most common eye color for cats is greenish-yellow to gold.

Now, go take a close look at your cat and see if you can more accurately determine her color. Is she really black or is she smoke? I was told that Lily is a dilute tabby, but this report says that only the blue patched torbies or tabbies are consider dilute tabbies. Now I’m not sure of Lily’s color.

I have a friend who says, “I don’t know what color Lily is.” She says that every picture I send of Lily makes Lily look a different color.

Did this report change your mind about your cat’s color?

Posted in About Cats | Leave a comment

Frivolous Friday – National Dress Up Your Pet Day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tomorrow is National Dress Up Your Pet Day. Sure, you may not be able to get your cat into a tutu, tiara, boa, or bow tie, but it’s a fun concept. I saw a lot of dogs, cats, and even a therapy rat and a couple of ferrets dressed up when I attended the 2016 Cat Writer’s Association/Blog Paws Conference. What a kick!

For a special treat to yourself today, visit this website and you’ll see a variety of adorable animals all dressed up. http://www.dressupyourpetday.com

I made a cape for Lily once when she was a kitten to match the one I made our two-year-old granddaughter. She has since outgrown her tolerance for such things, however—Lily and the granddaughter both.

A friend of mine photographs animals at a shelter to help find homes for them. Sometimes sasha 027she dresses them for added interest. A couple of years ago I helped make costumes for a conga line of Chihuahuas.

I think we’ve all seen dogs and horses dressed up for parades—wearing hats, sun glasses, even t-shirts and skirts. And maybe you used to dress a willing puppy or kitten in doll clothes when you were a child. Little did we know someone would one day invent a national day to dress your pet. Who would do that? Possibly someone involved in the pet clothing industry.

Have you noticed the increase in pet apparel in pet stores, department stores, feed stores, and even pet boutiques? Even some stores are accommodating dogs and cats. Harrods in London has an annual pet fashion show.

Lily and CWA Conf 032Do you know someone who dresses their pet? Sure, this time of year you’ll see dogs wearing raincoats and horses wearing blankets for warmth. You see pets wearing Christmas attire and there are some famous dogs photographed wearing sharp-looking clothing. But some people change their small dogs’ clothes every day–putting a different shirt or skirt on Fifi or Fido every morning.

Evidently there are ordinances against dressing your pet in some cities–it’s considered a form of cruelty. An animal might overheat in a leather jacket on a warm day, for example.  And a cat could become tangled in the straps and ruffles of a garment. And just imagine how the undressed pets in the neighborhood views the dog or cat walking past their yard still in their pajamas or wearing a dress shirt and tie.

 

Posted in About Cats, Living With Cats, Products for Cats | Leave a comment

Thoughts for Thursday – Keep Outdoor Cats Cozy This Winter

sept2016-003Although cat advocates recommend keeping cats indoors for their ultimate safety, some cats just won’t tolerate being cooped up inside. The model for my Klepto Cat Mysteries, my mother’s cat, Smokey, is one of those. When he arrived special delivery from Idaho six years ago as a kitten (from my sister-in-law’s surprise litter), he already had his mind made up that he would be an outside cat. Especially now that he lived in a nice climate. And no amount of human reasoning could change his mind. So Smokey goes out by day (unless it’s raining or windy—he does have his limits) and he comes in before dusk.

But some cats never step foot indoors. And some of those live where winters are harsh. gorgebirdbathThe cat outside might be one you’re feeding regularly or a stray that wanders in. You may feel as if there’s nothing you can do to protect him during the winter, except maybe leave a plate of food out in hopes he’ll come close enough to get some nourishment.

Did you know there are little igloo-type houses you can set up in your yard for your own outdoor pets (who refuse to be inside) and/or the stray cats in your neighborhood or even the wild critters that need a little warmth?

Here’s a link to an article on how to keep outdoor cats safe in harsh winters. They even give ideas for building your own shelter. http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/tips/caring_feral_cats_winter.html

Here’s a review of ten different types of outdoor shelters you can buy for cats. https://www.worldsbestcatlitter.com/clearing-the-air/2016/02/10-awesome-winter-shelters-for-feral-cats/

If you see cats outside your window trying to survive another wintery night, consider providing some sort of shelter. If you’re already caring for homeless cats, we’d love to hear about it.

Posted in Cat Care, Cat Health | Leave a comment

Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Water Baby Kitties

Cats don't like water.

Cats don’t like water.

There’s water, water everywhere here in Southern California these days. And boy do we need it. For years now, we’ve been tearing out lawns and replacing them with gravel, decomposed granite, succulents, etc. We’re taking shorter showers and shallower baths, driving around in dirty cars, letting sidewalk chalk, spilled drinks, etc.  remain on cement walkways until the next sprinkle or drizzle and letting plants that need a lot of water die. I’ve even lost a few drought tolerant plants. And we’re doing this so we and our children and their children will have water to drink in the future.

There are some who seem oblivious to the water problems here. They still water expansive lawns, roses, and tropical plants. They let the water run while washing their hands and brushing their teeth. They wash their cars, use hoses without on and off nozzles, irrigate even though it just rained or rain is forecast. There are those who just refuse to conserve water. Lily is one of them. Well, she doesn’t wash a car…she’s a cat. But she does consume a lot of water and even wastes some.

A couple of other things we did to conserve water was to buy a water-saver washing

Lily lapping it up.

Lily lapping it up.

machine and we had our water softener removed. So now Lily can drink out of the faucets again. And she begs every morning and evening for us to turn on the bathtub water at a trickle so she can lap it up.

She loves water. Well, she has a kidney disease, so I guess that’s the reason. She has always consumed a lot of water. Because of her love for water, we have four water bowls for the cats and a kitty drinking fountain. And Lily still sneaks a lap from my water glass every chance she gets.

Each time the water bill comes, I show it to Lily and I remind her she must conserve water—not drink so much of it. But, alas, she pays me no never mind. So I’ve discovered some creative ways to justify allowing her to drink to her heart’s content. When I want to change out the cats’ water—freshen it up, I use the old water to water my indoor African violets or the succulent pot on the front porch that doesn’t get rain water.

At least Lily doesn’t play in her water and spill it like our white odd-eye cat Winfield used to do. Winfield drank water using his paw. He’d stick a paw into the water bowl and lick the water off. That’s how he drank. And he played in his water, often spilling it. Then he got a strange rash of bumps on his chin. Come to find out this was caused by the plastic bowl we were feeding him from. So we went to pottery bowls for food and water, such as those you see in rabbit cages. They are difficult to tip, so less water is spilled and wasted.

Conservation doesn’t end with the people in the house. Even our pets should be included in your water-savings plan. What changes have you put in place to assure a better tomorrow for all domesticated animals? And what about our wild animals—the birds and mammals that visit your yard? What changes have you made to help them survive the drought in California or the harsh winters in your state?

Posted in About Cats, Cat Care | Leave a comment

Newsday Tuesday – Spoil Your Cat the Right Way

CWA1How do you spoil your cat? You notice that I didn’t ask if you spoil your cat. I know you do.

But are you spoiling her to death with too much of the foods she shouldn’t be eating? Or letting her play with something that could be a danger? Maybe you’re encouraging her to spend time outside when she really doesn’t have street smarts. Some people allow their cats outside without flea protection. Or they turn a white cat loose. Did you know that white cats that spend a lot of time outside can get sunburned and even cancerous ears? I imagine a hairless cat should also be kept out of the sun.

Cats are living longer these days. It’s wonderful to know that we could have as many as SmokeyWPixeighteen years with our cats. But that number can be greatly decreased for a cat that is obese or one that is attracted to something that’s dangerous to cats such as poisonous plants, chocolate, avocado, or other things that can make a cat sick. Some cats die from eating metallic bows, ribbon, plastic toys, wiring, cleaning supplies, antifreeze, for example.

We can still spoil or kitties without harming them. Here are some ideas:

  • Keep your cat inside.
  • Identify the things that your cat is attracted to that could be dangerous and find ways to protect your cat from these things.
  • Set aside time each day for active play with your cat. Most cats love it when you get down on the floor with him and interact with a wand toy, a ball, or something else interesting.
  • Offer your cat, especially as she ages, a comfortable, soft bed. Our cats curl up in their beds in winter, but never during the warmer months.
  • Provide a hidey place for your cat and honor her privacy when she needs it.
  • Make sure he has a suitable place to climb and scratch on. According to experts, a cat scratches for a variety of reasons—two are to keep claws in shape and to relieve stress.
  • Cuddle with your cat. Put her favorite blanket on your lap and entice her for a snuggle.
  • Build a perch at a window or move a cat tree near a window for added interest for an indoor cat.
  • Bring in a kitty-safe water fountain.
  • Keep litter boxes fresh.
  • Make sure kitty sees her veterinarian anytime there is a problem, of course, but on a regular basis for a well checkup. Have the vet trim her claws, if need be and weigh her to make sure she’s maintaining a healthy weight.

I’m sure you can add to this list. If you think of something we should include, please leave me a comment.

Posted in About Cats, Cat Care, Cat Health | Leave a comment

Mindful Monday – A Cat Who Changed a Heart

lilywindowNot everyone adores cats. In fact, some people absolutely despise them. I look at a cat and see a beautiful, interesting being. Some people see in a cat something quite different—a dirty, mangy, ill-mannered creature who lives in gutters. Some even fear cats. And many of those people have changed their perception of cats over time. Why? Because of a cat.

My mother’s cat, Smokey, has two new best human friends. One comes to the house every morning around nine to hang out with Smokey and Mama for a few hours. Around eight forty-five each morning, Smokey goes to the front door and waits for Joleen (not her real name) to arrive. Once Joleen has given him a treat, he’s ready to begin his day adventuring in the out of doors (unless it’s cold or rainy, then he prefers to stay high and dry).

His second best friend is one of Mama’s granddaughters who spends the night with her. She arrives from work around six each evening and Smokey is always at the window watching and waiting for her. He likes her because she plays with him. He must enjoy her style of cat-play.

How does a cat know what time of day or night it is? Does he pay attention to the moon and stars or is it the household routine that gives him the clues? Perhaps it’s all done through ESP—he reads Mama’s mind (Joleen will be here soon) or Joleen’s mind (I’m on my way to see Emily and Smokey).

Now the granddaughter has always liked cats. But Joleen does not. They scare her a little. Cover 1-1 copyShe freaks out when they start kneading with their claws. Smokey was almost a deal-breaker when we interviewed Joleen for the job. She was eager to help Mama out—she liked us and our mom—but she was not happy to learn there was a cat on the premises. That has changed, however. Joleen may not be ready to go out and adopt a cat or warm up to neighborhood cats, but she certainly has accepted Smokey. “He’s not like other cats,” she says. That’s what all former cat-haters say once a cat worms her way into their heart. Smokey has never tried to knead on Joleen and she likes the way he butts her with his head to get her attention or rubs up against her legs. In fact, Joleen is so enamored with Smokey that she has offered to take him should Mama ever need to find him a new home.

Read more stories of how a cat has changed a heart in Catscapades, True Cat Tales. http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.html Also available at Amazon.

Posted in About Cats | 2 Comments