Thoughts for Thursday – Your Cat’s Genealogy

Most of us who share our home with one or more cats, don’t care much about where he or she came from. We love the little furballs and accept them for who they are. But occasionally someone might ask, “Is she part Siamese?” or say, “He looks like he could have Persian in his ancestry.” Where did the M on her forehead come from? Do those ear tufts mean she’s part Maine coon? What about the ticking in her fur—is that an Abyssinian feature? The fact that he loves water might mean he’s related to a Turkish van cat. And what about that constant meowing—what breeds tend to be vocal?

At some point, surely you’re curious about your kitty’s heritage. Well guess what? You can have your cat’s DNA tested and learn volumes about him. Check out this site:

I found it fascinating that there are only four original cat races. All of the cat breeds we recognize now developed from these four—coming from the Arabian Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, South Asia, and Western Europe. The DNA test can 90% accurately determine from which of the four your cat’s heritage originates. And in many cases, it will define what percentage of, say, Persian, Birman, Egyptian Mau, Australia Mist, Siamese, etc., your cat is.

There are also DNA tests for genetic health indicators—is he prone to certain diseases? Here’s a link to a company that does this sort of genetic testing:

I’d love to hear from anyone who has done DNA testing on their pet.



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Wild (And Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Protect Your Pets Today

This is a noisy and generally HOT day and there can be all sorts of hazards for our pets. Here’s a short list of things to watch for with your own pets and those in your neighborhood.

1: Protect your pets from the frightening sounds of fireworks.

  • Secure your pet inside the house or fenced yard or crate where they feel safe and from where they cannot break free.
  • Play music to help drown out the sounds of fireworks.
  • Use a Thundershirt to help calm them.
  • Talk to your vet about using a pheromone spray or tranquilizer for seriously excitable pets.
  • Best of all, stay with your cat or dog or take them to a place where it will be quiet.

As an aside: Lily is scared of the trash truck, having workers in the house, and thunder, but the fireworks booming in the near distance from our local high school and the pop and crack of neighborhood fireworks don’t bother her at all—at least while I’m nearby.

2: Keep your pets safe in the heat.

  • If you take your cat or dog with you someplace, do NOT leave them in the car unattended. If you’re reading this blog, you already know the dangers. But maybe you need to remind some of your younger family members or neighbors.
  • If you take your dog (or even cat) on a leash to the parade or other daytime activities today, check the temperature of the pavement. I can’t tell you how many dogs I see at the end of a leash walking with their masters on the blacktopped streets when temps are soaring into or near the triple digits. If you must walk your dog, stay on grass—even dirt. Invest in some doggy booties. If your cat likes to go out with you on such occasions, carry her. Provide a cat backpack where she can ride. If it’s hot out, she probably should be left at home with the air conditioner turned on.

Have a happy and safe Independence day.

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Newsday Tuesday – Purry-Furry Visits From the Other Side

First, we have a winner. As you can see, Lily chose Pearl Hilden’s entry in the caption contest. She seems to have chosen Pearl’s name paws down. Congratulations Pearl!!!!

Now to the topic for Tuesday. And oooooh, what a delicious subject it is. After writing yesterday’s post—celebrating cats who have passed—and feeling a little blue afterward, I thought I’d try to rebound with a fascinatingly enchanting topic. How do you feel about visits from your cats who have passed? Do you sense them around you? Have you seen any of them—a fleeting or lingering image? It has happened to me and I know I’m not the only one. I’ve talked to friends who describe having visits from a beloved cat who has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. At the Cat Writers’ Conference last month a group of us sat around discussing some of our experiences of this type.

I remember, a couple of times, feeling a recently passed cat jump up onto the bed at night when there were no living cats in the house. I’ve felt a cat rub against me, but look down and there is no cat. I see a cat out of the corner of my eye, only to look and realize no one is there.

But some of my most intriguing and beguiling “other worldly” experiences come in the form of a living cat. For example, Lily came to us as a tiny kitten and she brought with her some of the traits I loved about my cats who had, by then, passed. Almost immediately, she expressed the same sort of admiration and adoration for me that my beloved Himalayan, Katy, had. She kept me in her sight at all times. When she wasn’t curled up in my lap or snoozing next to my foot as I typed, she was nearby staring at me.  And she has slept with me every night for all of her eight years.

She also came to us with some of Dinah’s traits, in that she couldn’t seem to get enough to eat—still can’t. We named Dinah for her fascination with food. During her naming process, I one day sang out, “Someone’s in the kitchen with Dinah…” because you couldn’t go in there without her following after you in hopes of getting a handout.

And Lily brought with her a fascination for water similar to the fixation with it that Winfield had.

When it comes to her behavior and personality, she’s a fine blend between the gentle sweetness of Katy and Winfield and the daring and silliness of Dinah.

She’s also a communicator when she has something important to say. But I think she gets that trait from us humans. We have some deep conversations with our cats around here.

I’d love to hear your stories of “spirit” cats.

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Mindful Monday – Those Dear Cats Who Live Only in Our Heart

DEADLINE FOR THE CAPTION CONTEST:  We’ve received some interesting possible captions for the photo I showed you on Friday. Let’s set the deadline for your captions for Wednesday–July 4. Read the particulars at last Friday’s blog post.

If you’ve loved and cared for cats for any length of time, you’ve experienced the pain of kitty-cat loss. Today, I’d like to honor some of the cats I’ve loved, from my first childhood cat, Beloved Belinda, to our handsome “woodpile” cat, Max, who lived rather awkwardly with us for seventeen years. By that, I mean he loved being our cat, but he never truly became domesticated in every sense of the word. All of the cats I’ve known have taught me something and/or helped me to evolve along my earthly path while gifting me with extraordinary pleasure during our time together. I’m sure you feel that way about the cats in your past and present.

Eight years ago when I wrote Catscapades, True Cat Tales, I had a friend create this photo depicting several of the cats who had, by then, pussy-footed across the rainbow bridge. Winfield, the white odd-eye cat on the left, was one of the friendliest, most gentlemanly male cats I’d ever encountered. He was sort of forced upon us and are we ever glad we took him. He had a safe and loving home for as long as he lived and he brought us enormous joy and comfort.

The orange and white kitty next to Winfield is Rosie. She came into my life rather quietly and she exited in the same way. At a young age she suffered a fatal aneurism. There was a rainstorm the night I rushed her to an emergency veterinarian hospital in the next town. Sadly, I drove home without her, and she, too, is remembered fondly.

The calico in the top row of clouds is Daisy. She was one of several colorful kittens born to a Himalayan-type cat I’d rescued and the two of them remained with me through some rough patches in my life. I think Daisy and I learned a lot about life from each other.

Crystal (center) was the purebred shaded-silver Persian I’d dreamed of having for most of my adult life. And what a sweet being she was. She looks healthy here, but she came to me with feline leukemia before much was known about the disease or how to diagnose it. Our love affair was cut way too short, but her memory does not fade.

I also purchased Katy, the Himalayan shown next to Crystal. When she developed a serious infection in the uterus and it had to be removed, I considered her a rescue. Anyone having purchased her for breeding may have simply discarded her and what a waste that would have been. Katy (Katrina of Ojai) was a wonderfully loving being—one of the sweetest kitty spirits I’ve known. We shared a beautiful life together for 18 years.

Mandy was one of several calico-type cats I collected. She represents another phase in my world as a cat-mom. I literally did collect calicos during that period. That’s when I learned the gamut of personalities among calicos.

Gus is the grey and white boy. I found his mother, PomPom, at the local pound when my children were the ages of my great grandchildren—so many years ago. She was about as unique as cats come. If there’s bipolar in cats, PomPom was probably afflicted with it. We allowed her to have three litters of kittens—that was before I’d become educated about the wisdom of the spay-neuter movement. PomPom and all of her offspring, including the two kittens I kept, Gus and Molly, will always be remembered.

While I envisioned this post to be uplifting—I wanted to celebrate some of my favorite feline friends—my idea seemed to backfire a bit. I’m feeling a little sad right now. I’m grateful that these beautiful beings existed. I feel warm when thinking about them, but sad that they are only a memory. If you’ll excuse me, I want to go cuddle with Lily and Sophie now.

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Frivolous Friday – Name That Photo!!! And Win a Prize!

Let’s try something new today. Yes, it’s a contest. You might agree that I have some interesting photos of cats. Here’s one that I believe deserves—no, it cries out for—a caption. So I’m reaching out to my followers and visitors to this blog site to come up with a clever, suitable captions.

The winner will receive a kindle or print copy of Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat. If the winner already has that book and doesn’t need a second one as a gift, I’ll send him or her Book 30 upon publication–scheduled to come out in July.

Who are the judges? That would be me, Lily, Sophie and any weekend visitors who happen to stop by.

Note: If you’re outside of the US, I’ll send you the kindle version of either Book 29, Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat or Book 30 Revenge at its Felinest.

Comment here with your caption idea. If you can’t leave a comment for some reason, email me here:


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Thoughts for Thursday – A Picture is Worth How Many Words?

Note: Contest coming up tomorrow. Don’t miss it. More below.

I’ve been checking out cat blogs this week. Why? I want to plan a blog tour and I also want to know what other cat bloggers are doing. One thing I notice is the photographs bloggers use in their posts. Some of them are amazingly exquisite. Some, I’m pretty sure, are stock photos. While many bloggers post stories about their own cats—maybe even have the cats do the speaking—and they photograph their own cats wearing costumes, trying out a new product, visiting the vet, etc, others bring in photos from other sites.

I’m always on the lookout for cats to photograph for this blog. While you’ll see many photos of Lily and Sophie (my cats) and Smokey (my mother’s cat), I also love receiving pictures from readers, friends, relatives. And I snap photos of cats wherever I go—walking through the neighborhood, out the window of my home or the car, when visiting someone with cats, at animal shelters, cat shows, cat cafes, and so forth.

Sometimes it’s a cat photo that sparks an idea for a post or a situation in one of my stories. Remember the piece I did on cats’ whiskers? That idea came about when I saw the photo I took at a cat show of a cat with a tangle of long whiskers. After a photo shoot with Marmalade, our grandchildren’s marmalade/ginger cat, I decided to do a post on orange tabbies. I like photographing cats in the out of doors to illustrate various posts on adventuring cats or ferals, etc. And kittens—I love sharing photos of kittens in all of their delightful innocence. These pictures might accompany a post on coat color, eye color, abandoned kittens, adoption, breeds, cat to cat interaction, caring for kittens, and so forth.

Sometimes I set up a photo. For example, when I was asked to choose someone to win one of my books during a blog tour, I wrote the names of the finalists on pieces of paper and let Lily choose one. Of course, I took a picture of her picking the winner. One time my theme was something to do with money and I photographed Lily with dollar bills all around her. Of course, she posed nicely for me when I wanted her picture with my first book in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. But most of the pictures I post are happenstance and candid. Thank heavens for cell phones—they’re always at-the-ready when the cats are posing pretty.

Speaking of photographs, tomorrow I’m launching a contest involving some of my photographs. You’ll have the chance to win a kindle or a print copy of Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat. If you’ve already have that book and don’t need a second one as a gift, I’ll send you Book 30 upon publication. (For those winners living outside the US, I’ll provide the Kindle version only.)

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – More About the Ginger Cat

All ginger, marmalade, orange, red cats have some distinct characteristics. They’re all tabbies. Most of them (80% in fact) are male. Strangely, most ginger cats I know are female. Their eyes can be gold, green, or copper and, believe it or not, ginger cats—although this is not a breed—tend to overeat. Yes, most of them are chunky, tubby beings.

The most common names for an orange tabby are Marmalade, Ginger, Autumn, Flame, Pumpkin, Sunshine, Tiger, Goldie, and maybe Butterscotch. Interesting names might be Amber, Apricot, Peaches, Scarlet, Cantaloupe, Penny, Rusty. But some of the more creative names include, Cayenne, Cheeto (my fave), Carrot (say what?), and Dandy Lion. The ginger cat above happens to be Marmalade. The one to the right is a female Maine coon named George.

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Newsday Tuesday – Oh no! Your Cat Has to Visit the Veterinarian! Is it Kidney Disease?

If there’s something most cat moms and dads dread, it’s a visit to the veterinarian. It’s definitely an ordeal we’d rather not participate in. And that’s mostly because it upsets our sweet fur-kid so much.

Lily has kidney disease. She may have been born with it because she was diagnosed when she was still a very young kitten. I guess we’ll never know what caused this, but we certainly are treating it. So far the program involves checking her kidney values every year or so and a low-protein diet. Lily is eight years old and doing well, especially for a cat who developed this disease so young. The best news we got this week is that Lily is maintaining her weight (over 12 pounds) and has remained steady at that weight for several years. Yay! She eats well and seems to feel good. Also, the most recent tests show that, while the values are going up (not good), they are going up slowly, thus giving Lily’s body a chance to adjust with each increment.

So what causes kidney disease in cats? Statistics say that one in three cats will develop it in their lifetime, but generally not at such a young age. Kidney disease in older cats is more common.

I found a great site that lists reasons why cats get kidney disease. I thought you might like to see it.

One fact in this report that startled me is how dangerous lilies are for cats. I knew they were poisonous to cats, but I didn’t know how seriously dangerous they can be. In this report, it says that if a cat were to walk too closely to a lily and get a little pollen on her fur, then lick the pollen off, that’s enough to damage her kidneys. If she were to lap up some of the water from the vase of lilies, she could become a kidney patient. If you have cats, DO NOT allow bouquets with lilies into your home. In fact, we should start a campaign to mandate that flower shop owners put a warning on flower deliveries that include lilies or ban lilies altogether for home delivery. When you order a bouquet for someone with cats, ask that the florist leave out the lilies.

Of course, there are other toxins that can cause kidney damage in cats and several other causes of kidney disease. If you have a cat who is losing weight, drinking a lot of water, and urinating in large amounts in or outside the litter box, especially if the cat is elderly, it’s time for a veterinarian visit.

Posted in About Cats, Cat Care, Cat Health | 2 Comments

Mindful Monday – Smokey aka Rags the Klepto Cat

You know him as Rags the Klepto Cat. But to us he’s just Smokey, my mother’s beloved big-boy cat. He’s half Ragdoll and half no-one-knows. He has a mind of his own and he brings my mother a lot of joy and worry. You see, she wanted a lovely lap cat to wile her days away. But what she got was an active guy who insists on exploring the world beyond Mama’s nice home. She wanted him to be an inside cat, but he had other ideas. He’s more headstrong than my mother is and he got his way, so he has two kitty doors and usually a human door-opener standing by who will buy into his whim to be outside or back inside.

He’s also a lap cat. Nearly every day—once or twice—he’ll leap up into Mama’s lap and flop over for a cuddle. No, he doesn’t curl up—he flops and sprawls. I guess that’s his ragdoll heritage.

Mama insists on feeding him canned food to supplement his constant flow of kibbles. But she worries a lot because he doesn’t eat much. It could be that he eats enough kibbles throughout the day to satisfy him. Or he’s being fed something he likes better than Fancy Feast as he adventures through the neighborhood each day. Or it could be that he fills up on treats and isn’t hungry come meal time. He gets a lot of visitors and herds each one toward where the treats are kept, then rubs against us with affection. Not one of us can resist him. So, yes, he gets probably more treats than he should.

Smokey is a cool cat, but he has bursts of energy and will let us see him play like a kitten occasionally. One of his favorite things to do is to pull his toy basket off the shelf and dump it. Then he goes to his hanging toy and bats it around a few times. As soon as playtime begins, it’s over. But then Smokey is almost 8 years old.

My mother gets a kick out of reading some of Rags’s escapades and she can just imagine Smokey doing some of that stuff. She likes that I patterned Rags loosely around Smokey. But he doesn’t seem to be impressed with my representation of him. In fact some of Rags’s actions and activities go strictly against Smokey’s grain. He does not like car rides, for example and he does not carry things around in his mouth, which is why Rags is actually a blend of cats. Rags looks like Smokey and has that confident air about him that Smokey has and sense of adventure, but some of the other aspects of Rags are taken from other cats I know or have known.

Our sweet kitty, Lily, for example, carries things around in her mouth—brings me her toys, my slipper socks, etc. My daughter has had more than one cat who love riding in cars. It seems that when creating a cat character for a series it takes a village of cats—a colony. However, some of the other cats in the Klepto Cat Mysteries are nearly exact replicas of cats I’ve known.

If you would like to learn more about Rags, you must read my latest in the Klepto Cat Mystery series, Meowmoirs of a Klepto Cat. Order your print or Kindle copies here

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Frivolous Friday – Why is My Cat Mad at Me? How to Deal With An Aggressive Cat

While most cats are…well, pussy cats, some seem to have been spawned by an evil Tasmanian devil cat. What makes cats aggressive? Why do some cats play so rough? What causes a cat to fight his way out of a good petting session? Do cats get mood disorders? Are some cats just naturally angry?

I’m not sure that anger is an issue as much as fear with some cats. But isn’t that where anger stems from in people? Fear? Does an aggressive cat need an anger management course? Unless you can get Jackson Galaxy to come to your home and have a serious talk with your cat, you’re pretty much on your own to figure out why your cat shows signs of aggression and how to manage it. I’m pretty sure the one thing you do not want to do is respond to aggression with aggression. First, let’s analyze the cat as best we can.

Consider his beginnings. A momma cat and siblings are more important to a kitten than simply warmth and nourishment. Kittens learn a lot about how to be a cat in those early weeks. One thing he learns is how to play nice and that’s vital to his future. Kittens get cues from mom and siblings demonstrating how to play gentle. And when the kitten is adopted into a forever home, it’s up to us to continue that lesson by using our hands for petting, not for wrestling with the little guy. Use wand toys to play with a kitten. If you use your hand to play rough with a kitten, he is going to respond by biting and scratching—grabbing and chewing. Over time, this play can get out of hand and become a bit rowdy. If you wonder how your sweet kitten became a tiger cat, look to your play tactics.

So the number one reason why a cat might become ornery is because he lacked proper upbringing by his mom and didn’t get play-time with other kittens at a young age. Number two is you—or whoever adopted the kitten when he was young. Play gentle, use a toy instead of your hand for exuberant play and your cat will be less likely to use you as a pin cushion and a chew toy.

What if we find ourselves at the claws and teeth end of cattitude—I mean negative cattitude? It happens. You might adopt an older cat who didn’t learn to play nice. Perhaps you’ve agreed to pet sit a difficult cat, you find yourself caring for a feral cat who wandered into your yard, or your grown child moves back in with a feisty kitty.

There are a variety of reasons why a grown cat “acts out.” He’s frightened, he’s territorial, he’s an intact tom, he was taken from his mother too soon, or he’s in pain. You might notice that the cat doesn’t seek you out to terrorize you, but he may react with claws and teeth when you try to hold him tightly, take a treat from him, back him into a corner, or restrain him against his wishes. I know, sometimes it’s necessary. But if you have an aggressive cat, it will behoove you to learn techniques and tactics for when you must physically handle him.

  • First and foremost, have the cat neutered.
  • If he’s afraid when your grandkids visit, make sure the cat has a safe place to hide from them. Honor his fear and the children’s safety.
  • Learn what his triggers are and avoid those situations. Pay attention to what the cat is telling you. If his ears go back, his skin twitches, he’s flipping his tail, or growling, he isn’t happy with what you’re doing to him.
  • Don’t try to make him work through the pain. Maybe he needs a vet check to see if he has a physical problem. If not, probably the cat harbors a fear you will never understand. So walk lightly, make him as comfortable as you can—so that he feels safe and calm. In time, he might actually enjoy brief periods of gentle petting or a little scratching around the neck. You might find he adores having you run your fingers softly over his fur or a vigorous scratching on top of his head.
  • Take a lesson from an expert in how to physically handle this cat when need be. You don’t want to cause him undue stress.

In case you haven’t learned it yet, that little fur ball you brought home—even the one that you’ve lived with for years now—is in charge. To keep peace in the family, most of us play by the cat’s rules. And this makes sense in many cases. But we can also help by not exacerbating the situation through teasing gestures, for example. Cats have been known to gentle down when treated with kindness and respect, although sometimes it can take a while.

Now there are exceptions. We had a terrorist cat living in our neighborhood for a few years. Boy were we glad when his family moved. He was a small ginger cat with a huge bad-boy attitude. He fought with every cat in the neighborhood. He invited petting, but once you ran your hand over his fur, he’d attack with vengeance. He ripped screens trying to get to the indoor cats. He pulled a screen off of one neighbor’s window, went inside, and attacked their elderly Abyssinian while she slept in her little bed. She was okay—just shook up and with only a few battle scars. But he seemed to have another side. His owners said he was a sweet and gentle companion for their three small children. He slept on their beds at night. They adored this little two-faced rebel and had trouble believing he did the things we reported. I have to wonder if cats suffer from mood disorders because I think that cat needed to be medicated.

Let’s hope that all of your cats are sweet, gentle, loving beings. In case you find yourself at the paws of one who isn’t, here’s an article on better understanding the aggressive cat.

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