Monday, October 09, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Gifts for Crazy Cat Ladies

Female cat lovers are the easiest people in the world to buy gifts for. They always love anything and everything related to cats, whether it be cat-themed jewelry, books about cats, calendars featuring cats or cat-related home decor. Here are my top picks to help you with ideas for your "crazy cat lady" friends.

1) Photo Stamps With Personal Cat Pictures

Photo Stamps are the coolest thing to come around since catnip, in my opinion. Photo Stamps are the brainstorm of, and approved licensed vendor of the United States Postal Service. Sign up for free, upload your (or your friend's) favorite cat photo, then follow the links to purchase. You can change the border colors and perform other small edits of the photos online. Cost: around $20 for a 20-stamp sheet of peel-off stamps. Note: Do not submit copyrighted photos!

2) Smell the Flowers Tote Bag

"Take Time to Smell the Flowers" is a valuable piece of advice for the busy woman, and a tote bag is an essential for carrying around all those things we can't leave home without. This one is decorated with a picture of kitten Joey enjoying his first day outside in a bed of colorful posies.
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3) Famous Artists Cats

Eve Riser-Robert's art is exquisite, and she has captured the style of several famous artists with her imaginative interpretations of how they would have painted portraits of their own cats. I chose Manet's Cats and Matisse's Cats for gifts, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the quality of the prints - a really affordable way of giving fine art to a favorite person.

4) Tote Bag With Flower Cats

From the original "Crazy Cat Ladies Society" (and Gentlemen's Auxiliary), I picked this tote bag embellished on the front with "Flower Cats" by Beatriz Matar, a talented painter from Argentina, who is also a member of the CCLS. No crazy cat lady should be without at least one tote bag, and this one in 10 oz heavyweight natural canvas fabric, really fits the bill. By the way, the CCLS donates $3 from every purchase to Alley Cat Allies, so this would be a "double-duty" gift for her.

5) Cat Note Cards

These cards feature your Guide's own cats, and cover a range of sentiments, from humorous to philosophical, to holiday cards

6) B. Kliban 2006 Cat Calendar

Kliban cats are a perenniel favorite, and this calendar should not disappoint the most fanatical Kliban fan.
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7) Sterling Cat Pendant

This pendant is so cute I've added it to my own "wish list." A whimsical sterling silver cat clings to the 18" sterling chain for dear life. His fat little tummy and priceless expression will please any ailurophile on your gift list.
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8) Cat Digital Clip Watch

Unlike Alice's friend the rabbit, you'll never be late for an important date with this clip watch hangin' around. It can be clipped on a belt loop, a purse strap, or even a binder ring, so a cat-loving student will never be late for school. Cute silver-tone cat with an 18mm watch face works for me.
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9) Movie: The Truth About Cats and Dogs

This is a "chick flick" movie and the cat comes out on the short end of the stick, but I think crazy cat women will enjoy it. Janeane Garofalo and Uma Thurman star as friends-become-rivals for Ben Chaplin. Although some explicit (phone) sex makes it definitely not a family movie, it's a fun flick to watch on a rainy Saturday night with your sweetheart.
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10) "Cat Was Allergic" Hoodie

In cold weather or cool nights any time of the year, a hoodie is an essential garment. This one carries a humorous message along with a picture of my beautiful, snooty Billy, that should send a smile to the face of everyone who sees it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Top 9 Mistakes by New Cat Owners

Adopting your first cat is a huge step, not to be taken lightly. Although cats have a reputation for taking care of themselves, that fact does not equal "no care is necessary." Before rushing in to buy that darling kitten in the pet store window, take the time to do your homework, so you can avoid these common mistakes made by new cat owners. The result will be a happier and healthier cat and a long-term companionship with another living being, the like of which you never dreamed.

1) Adopting in Haste

If you "impulse-buy" a new purse or a new t-shirt, you can almost always return it if it turns out to be the wrong color or the fit isn't right. No harm, no foul; the purse certainly doesn't suffer from its rejection. But adopting a living, sentient creature such as a cat and kitten, to become a family member, is entirely a different matter.

Adopting a new cat should be for keeps, so consider carefully before you make that decision.

2) Failure to Spay or Neuter a New Cat

Every day I read pleas for help from people who failed to spay or neuter their cats: male cats spraying every available surface of the house or escaping outdoors to fight other male cats; female cats who keep the household awake with their loud yowling during estrus; and worse yet, "surprise" litters of unwanted kittens. The overwhelming cat population problem society faces is reason alone to spay and neuter. Add the medical problems averted by S/N and there is no reason not to do so.

3) Neglecting Needed Veterinary Treatment

Although cats may quickly recover from minor illnesses, they can just as quickly die if an emergency isn't recognized. Cats need certain vaccinations, they need annual examinations, and they definitely need and deserve immediate veterinary care when they become sick or injured.

Don't delay in choosing (and using) a good veterinarian.

4) False Economy in Cat Food Choices

Money saved by buying cheap cat food will be spent hundreds of times over on veterinary care. Cats are obligate carnivores, and need a good source of meat protein. They do not need large amounts of grain fillers, especially corn, which is a cheap source of protein used by many cat food manufacturers. Learn how to choose cat food and select the best brands you can afford. You'll find your cat may eat less of the high quality food because they don't have to gorge to get the nutrients they need.

5) Declawing Without All the Facts

Many an innocent new cat owner has been led down the declaw path when a veterinarian asks, "Do you want your kitten declawed when we spay her?" Some veterinarians consider declawing a "routine" surgery, while cat advocates consider it cruel, inhumane, and unnecessary in almost every case. Learn the facts so that you can make an informed decision.

6) Allowing a Cat to Roam Free Outdoors

Many people believe cats deserve the freedom, fresh air, and sunshine of an outdoor life, while many others can offer proof that cats can be very happy and healthy living totally indoors. That the outdoors offers dangers not found inside simply cannot be debated. Fortunately, there are a number of compromises that will give you and your cat the best of both worlds, while keeping him safe and happy.

7) Neglecting Litter Box Maintenance

Cats will consistently use a litter box, if it is kept scrupulously clean, and if the litter is not scented or unpleasant to the cats' feet. Carefully maintaining your cat's litter box will almost guarantee you that you will not be faced with litter box avoidance problems.

Caveat: If your cat suddenly starts urinating outside the box despite your careful maintenance, you should immediately suspect a urinary tract problem, which is a veterinary emergency.

8) Considering a Cat Property

When you join the ranks of cat lovers, you'll soon find that we commonly refer to our cats as family members, rather than "pets." While cats may legally be considered "property" in some jurisdictions, the term ends there. You can no more "own" a cat than you can own another human being. If you haven't figured out the distinction by now, your new cat will let you know in quick order. In fact, many cat lovers describe themselves as being owned by their cats!

9) Not Allowing a Cat to Be a Cat

A cat is not a child, and a cat is not a dog. Cats' unique ways make them the endearing creatures they are. On the other hand, some of their traits may cause frustration because we don't understand their needs. Cats instinctively seek out high places and sharpen their claws because they are cats, not because they are stubborn and disobedient. Our job is to accomodate those needs in acceptable ways.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Up For Adoption

Isn't she just adorable? She and 3 other siblings were found abandoned by a kind-hearted soul. All up for adoption.

Top 6 Movies About Big Cats on DVD and VHS

Most cat lovers also love the big cats from which domestic cats descend. These DVDs and videos about the big cats - tigers, lions, and jaguars - will gain a new understanding and insight that will be helpful in understanding the physical and character traits shared by all cats, big and small.

1) Two Brothers (2004)

French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud successfully combined documentary with fiction in this film about two tiger brothers, Kuman and Sangha, who live in the Southeast Asian jungle among ancient temple ruins. Set in the early 1900s, the story is a rebuke to the era of British Colonialism at that time. The real stars of the movie, of course, are the stunning tiger brothers, who are separated early on in the story, but are united in an ending that will inspire both cheers and tears.

2) Born Free on DVD and VHS

A 1965 Academy Award winning movie (Best Song, Best Musical Score), Born Free still inspires both laughter and tears as the viewer follows the adventures of Elsa, who becomes a pet of British game warden George Adamson and his wife Joy. As Elsa grows from a cub to a lioness, George and Joy are faced with retraining Elsa to live in the wild, to keep the government from placing her in a zoo. The story is just as touching now, as it was four decades ago - tissues strongly advised.

3) In Search of the Jaguar

Glen Close narrates the stunning story of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, biologist, author, and wildlife conservationist, as he explores the jungles of Brazil, Belize, and Panama in search of the jaguar, in order to protect the habit of this endangered big cat. Approximately 60 minutes long.

4) Hidden World of the Bengal Tiger Video

This encounter of a tigress trying to help her cubs survive through hunger and danger is more exciting than any fiction. Join the National Geographic wildlife filmmakers as they track 12-year-old Bengal tigress Lakshmi and her three cubs, over a three year period.

5) Tigers in the Snow

Approximately 300 Siberian tigers still survive, in the dense forests of coastal Siberia. Follow Russian and American scientists as their team member risk incredible odds helping to save these endangered cats from poachers and a shrinking habitat. Every minute of this 60 minute film is goosebump-inspiring. Available on DVD and video.

6) Magnificent Tigers

This two-video set features Hidden World of the Bengal Tiger, and Tigers in the Snow, both described above. Available only in the U.S. and Canada.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Top 10 Cat Food

These are my top choices of quality canned food for maintenance in cats (for adult cats). Any of them would form a fine basis for your cat's diet, supplemented by dry food, as needed. The bottom line is that the best food is wasted, if your cat won't eat it, so don't be too focused on the numbers. The order is based mostly by my own cats' reaction to these foods, and as we know, cats will sometimes turn up their noses today at yesterday's favorite.

1) Natural Balance Ultra Formula

Like the other foods chosen here, Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance contains no by-products. The top named ingredients are Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Duck, Salmon, Carrots, Brown Rice Flour, and Fish Meal. It has a pleasant aroma, a nice paté consistency, and my test cats dive into it every time it is served.

2) Nutro Natural Chicken Casserole

My cats have eaten Nutro foods from the first, and Nutro remains a consistent favorite. Top listed ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Giblets, Chicken Liver, Lamb Liver, Mackerel and Rice. Gluten. Guaranteed analysis (converted to dry matter): protein 45%, fat 22.7%, fiber 4.55%.
Manufacturer's Site

3) Drs. Foster & Smith Chicken Formula

This product rounds off my own personal rotation of canned cat foods. My test cats love the flavor, and I love the aroma, consistency, and quality control. Top named ingredients are Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Broth, Brown Rice, Egg Product, Whole Ground Flaxseed, Whole Carrots, Whole Sweet Potatoes, Guar Gum, Whole Blueberries, Whole Cranberries, and Kelp. Guaranteed Analysis (dry matter basis): Crude Protein 45%, Crude Fat 32%, Crude Fiber 5%. (Only available from the manufacturer.)

4) Halo's Spots Stew for Cats - Original

Spots Stew contains no chemicals, fillers, or by-products. Named ingredients are Chicken, Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Celery, Chicken Liver, Carrots, Green Beans, Water, Green Peas, Turkey. One of the original "homemade" cat foods, and still a favorite of many cats

5) Wellness Chicken Canned Cat Food

Wellness presents an enigma to cat owners who appreciate the quality of the food. Some cats love it and will dive right in, while others turn their noses up at it every time. It's on the high end of the price range, so I'd suggest buying a can or two, before investing in a whole case. Top ingredients: deboned Chicken, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Chicken Broth, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, and Vegetable Gums. Guaranteed analysis (converted): Protein 45.45%, fat 27.27%, fiber 4.55%

6) Newman's Own Chicken and Brown Rice

Paul Newman's signature cat foods use Bell & Evans Chicken. These chickens are fed a 100% natural all-vegetable diet with NO antibiotics. The named grains are also grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizer. First named ingredients: Organic Chicken, Sufficient Water for Processing, Ocean Whitefish, Brown Rice, Flaxseed, Oat Bran, Guar Gum, Dried Kelp. Although pricer than most other premium foods, Newman's Own is well worth rotating in your cat's diet.

7) Evolve Natural Canned Chicken Formula

My cats' reaction to Evolve is also an enigma. The food smells absolutely wonderful, and is a nice, juicy paté. They loved it when I first introduced it to them, but recently have been spurning it - a shame, because its ingredients are excellent, and the price is very reasonable. Top named ingredients: Chicken, Chicken Broth, Chicken Liver, Turkey, Ocean Fish, Brown Rice, Carrots, Cranberries, Cottage Cheese, and Peas. Guaranteed analysis: Crude protein 45.5%, crude fat 27.27%, fiber 6.82%

8) Innova Canned Cat Food

Innova, made by Natura Pet Products, has to score high on any list of cat foods. The canned variety is no exception. Top ingredients: Turkey, Chicken, Spring Water, Whole Eggs, Ground Brown Rice, Chicken Fat, Potatoes, and Herring. Guaranteed analysis (converted): protein 44.48%, fat 30.82%, fiber 5.74%. Note: Innova may be hard to find in the major pet food stores, but generally can be found in smaller stores or feed and grain stores. (Site has a store-finder.)

9) Merrick Cat Food

Merrick Cat Food is considered to be "gourmet" food, and can be obtained in several different flavor combinations. As an example, the Merrick Southern Delight flavor contains Chicken, Chicken Broth, Catfish, Crawfish, Brown Rice, Fresh Carrots, Fresh Zucchini, Fresh Granny Smith Apples, Olive Oil, and other wholesome ingredients. The link offers a variety of eight different flavors in 3.2 oz cans; good for a quick trial.

10) Wysong Chicken Au Jus

This food, which contains only Chicken, Chicken Liver, Chicken Heart, and Water Sufficient for Processing should not be used as an every-day diet for cats.(Even Dr. Wysong recommends alternating foods for a balanced diet.) However, for cats with high-protein needs, or cats with allergy problems, it is an excellent limited-ingredient diet for stabilizing a cat's digestive tract.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Kitten in Box

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Top 10 Toys for Cats

1) Da Bird
Da Bird is da toy with da most! It is by far the most mentioned commercial toy among About Cats Forum members and their cats, and is enthusiastically endorsed by my quartet of cat toy testers. The twirling feather action is so realistic, cats will go ballistic over Da Bird. You'll find that it's a good idea to put Da Bird away after play, or your cats will seek it out.

2) Panic Mouse
For supervised cat play, Panic Mouse is the closest match to the real thing, and our GuideCats who tested it went crazy over it. It uses computer generation for erratic movement of the wand and lure, and the wand is detachable for interactive play. Note: larger, stronger cats may break the string attaching the lure, and there is now a spring wand attachment that is sturdier.

3) Peek-a-Prize Toy Box
The most interesting aspect of this toy is that the cats' natural hunting and stalking instincts come into play. Their interest is not particularly in the "prey" (toys hidden inside the box), but in the thrill of the hunt. The floor soon became littered with toys flipped out of the box by one cat or another, and I was hard-pressed to keep retrieving them so the hunt could continue. This is a toy that cats will not grow tired of.

4) Cat Dancer
Unimaginative humans might pass right by this toy, but rare is the cat that won't be entranced by it. A thirty-inch piece of very flexible piano wire with tightly rolled cylinders of paper on the "play end." Your kitties will go nuts over this one, and will give it very rough play. Because they're priced so low, I'd suggest buying more than one, with multiple cats.

5) Mews Ments Mylar Balls
Cats generally love shiny, crinkly toys, and a Mylar ball provides hours of chasing, fun. If you are patient enough, your cat may even develop a game of chase and fetch with you.

6) Catnip Cigar
Catnip Cigars are in high demand in our house. We almost always have three or four of them lying around in various stages of wear, and the cats, from grumpy old Bubba to Billy, the youngster compete over the ones fresh from the store. The scent lasts amazingly long, and I've found a few spins in a warm dryer refreshes them for a whole new round of play.

7) Laser Pet Toy
The Laser Pet Toy is irresistible to cats of all ages. Be careful not to shine the beam directly into your kitty's eyes. Also, keep in mind that your cat needs to eventually "catch" his prey, so alternate this toy with more tangible lures, to save him from frustration.

8) Toy Mice
A cat can never be too sleek, too furry, nor have too many mice to play with. Your cat will spend many enjoyable hours batting them around, "killing" them, and losing them under your furniture. As a general rule, I always remove any features that might be pulled off or swallowed, such as glued-on eyes, ears, and tails. The cats won't really care about the difference. Leather mice wear particularly well, but colorful fabric ones will also be popular, particularly if enhanced with catnip.

9) Cat Dancer Cat Charmer
This flexible wand toy with the attached 48" fabric "tail" is irresistible to cats. Trail the tail along the floor and give it a wiggle, or whirl it in the air and watch your cat leap and cavort as he tries to catch it. Caution: This toy should not be left alone with your cat. For safety reasons, always put away long stringlike toys after play.

10) Petmate Crazy Circle Cat Toy
This toy has received mixed reviews. Some cats are crazy about it, and others soon become bored. Made of tough, durable plastic, Crazy Circle has openings through which your cat can attempt to catch the ball inside. It's 17" in diameter and bright blue.