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Halloween Cat Costumes? Hissss-terical!

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orange cat in tiara princess dress

“Ready for my close-up!” (Image Copr. Karla Spence/Flickr)

Halloween cat costumes–I can hear the cats snickering (or screaming in horror). Do your cats “do dress up?” With Halloween just around the corner, thoughts of goblins, ghosts and get-ups begin to tease at the back of pet lover’s minds. Princess Molly in the picture seems quite happy with the frills but I suspect my Seren-Kitty wouldn’t be quite so accommodating. If you want your cats to willingly wear costumes, TODAY is not too early to introduce the notion.

In fact, knowing how to get cats to accept wear-ables may be important to kitty health. (How’s that for a teaser? :)) Read on to learn more.

cat in costume

“Snoopy’s got nuthin’ on me!” (Image Copr. Karla Spence/Flickr)

The images in today’s blog were taken by the amazing photographer Karla Spence who obviously has the cat costume thing down pat! Probably the most kitty acceptable accoutrement (especially if your cat already wears a collar) is some neck adornment like the red sash on the Sky Pilot picture, above. Whole body costumes, as below, take a bit more getting used to. Also remember that the photos here–and in advertisements–are POSED shots! Sure the cat wore the costume and looked great at the moment the shutter clicked, but thereafter may have been throwing a hissy fit. The Number One consideration for cats and costumes must be IS IT SAFE, and a close second is–how does it affect your cat emotionally?

cat in motorcycle jacket costume

“Just call me Fonzie.” (Image Copr. Karla Spence/Flickr)

Safety issues include making sure the costume fits correctly. Too tight can cut off circulation or block vision. Too loose can tangle kitty feet, slide off partially and get caught on “schtuff” that again can cause injury or even strangulation.

Check for any chew-able parts of the costume. I caught Seren gnawing the cellophane wrapper on packaging yesterday, so if the costume has “danglies” that entice paws or nibbles, remove them. Remember to SUPERVISE your costumed cat. Even laid back cats that seem to take costumes in stride shouldn’t be left unattended.

Emotional issues also can be problematic. Cats hate change so anything new tends to hiss them off. Slow and gradual introductions to the costume are vital. I have a step by step 7 tips for Halloween costumes written for puppies–but it applies to adult dogs and cats just as well. Please share with anyone you know who plans to dress up their pets for the coming season.

You might want to share it with ANY pet parent. Because as I said earlier, there are times when therapeutic wear can be very beneficial. There’s an awesome product called the Pet Therapy Jacket that has some wonderful functions. It can hold a hot or cold pack in a particular spot (over achy arthritic hips), or help keep a bandage in place on a paw. It comes in several sizes, including jumbo for the largest cats and dogs. Here’s a review of the Pet Therapy Jacket.

cat wearing pet therapy jacket

Seren accepted the Therapy Jacket immediately.

I talked about the Thundershirt in the blog before, and how much it helped Seren deal more calmly with veterinary visits. Well, a Thundershirt is a cat costume! Here’s a review of the Thundershirt, and check out Seren wearing hers below.

Does your cat dress up for the howl-idays? How does that work for you? Do you do full costumes, fancy bows and collars, or does your cat say GET THE !@#$%^! AWAY FROM ME WITH THAT THING! Do tell…

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Happy Cat Month

black and white cat sleeping

“Happiness is dozing in sunshine…” Image copr. “Olive Eyes” via Flickr

As September draws to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on how YOU celebrated National Happy Cat Month. Oh, you didn’t know? Well here at the Shojai household, every month–nay, every HOUR is designed with cat happiness in mind.

Seren On Stairs

“They built the stairs for me…now if they’d train the sun to stay there!”

Just ask Seren. She’ll tell you.🙂

I’ve spent the last month blogging on cat happiness over at Chewy.com on such things as How Cats Show Happiness (in some pretty interesting and unexpected ways!), as well as Weird Ways Cats Show Love. You’ll find some other fun topics at my Kitty’s Korner blog, too.

What makes your cat happy? Is it food that starts that purr-rumble? Or a particular game or toy? Seren is partial to sparkle-balls (yes, go figure MY cat would love bling). She’s always been a play-kitty and a reluctant lap-sitter, but over the past 6 months or so she’s demanded lap time.

I think that’s a symptom of her increasing age (along with the more piercing me-wows late at night). I’ve been referring to my own tips in the aging cat book these days.

Today we had a rousing game of chase-the-sheets as together we made the bed. It was as if Seren reverted to kittenhood! I know she’s happy as long as she engages in these games. Play therapy also builds confidence in shy cats and so can help keep them healthier (and slim and trim!).

I am Only Borrowing it..

“I am only borrowing it,” says Bella, “It makes me happy because it smells soooo good–like YOU.” Image copr. “KrazyBoutCats” via Flickr

Does your feline friend have any unique fun foibles that tell you s/he’s happy? Please share! They may end up in a future ASK AMY video or on the Kitty Korner blog . . . or even in the next thriller. Macy (the Maine Coon in LOST AND FOUND) loves his stuffed Mickey Mouse toy and plays fetch, for example. It’s always more fun to include REAL cat and dog experience but of course it’s legal for fiction authors to make schtuff up, too.

Fair warning. You know a writer’s brain fully caffeinated can be a scary, dangerous thing!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Feline Friday: Outdoor Cat Safety

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Seren loves exploring the roses–but only when on leash.

This Memorial Day it’s vitally important that you stay safe over the holiday–your fur kids are counting on you! Of course, it’s equally important that you keep the cats safe. In the best of all possible worlds, cats could roam back gardens and chase butterflies, enjoy sniffing the roses and have a wonderful time being cats–as they were meant to be. But the reality of the situation is that dangers lurk even in the back garden.

In my neck of the woods, coyotes venture right onto the back patio ready and willing to make a snack of Seren-kitty. Strays also may expose a pet cat to dangerous viruses, and cars can’t swerve every time to save the pet’s life at the risk of their own safety. You can train your cats–purrsuade them–to stop door dashing behavior to protect them from accidental escape. You’ll find a number of additional cat management solutions in the Competability: Cat-to-Cat book as well.

There are fence products available for cats to help you create less dangerous outdoor sanctuaries. Cat containment systems like Cat Fence-In attaches fine webbing to existing outdoor fences to keep cats safely inside while allowing them to enjoy the outdoors. Purr…fect Fence  also offers a complete backyard fence enclosure. Affordable Cat Fence receives positive marks as well. All three offer do-it-yourself kits. Here are some more tips on how to keep outdoor cats safe.

Do your cats have outside playgrounds? How do you keep cats safe when they’re outside? Have you trained your kitty to a leash for safe exploration? Please share!

And in the spirit of fun, here’s the latest Simon’s Cat video on the subject, enjoy!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Blogs, Pet Food & Summer Colds

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Looking for a new friend

Pets make us feel better just by being there…

I’m sick today, urk. No voice. Stuffy head. Feel exhausted. So that’s my excuse for the brevity. I’ve had folks suggest a number of remedies–eat marshmallows to coat the throat and my personal favorite, sip “Hot Damn” (cinnamon flavored schnapps). Need to snuggle with my Seren-kitty and have the Magical-Dawg deliver some chicken soup (but he’ll want to share…). Colds suck anytime, but summer colds are particularly aggravating. Hope y’all stay healthy and I promise, I’ve sanitized the links and suchlike so germ-icity won’t infect you today on the blog.

Do your cats and dogs know when you’re under the weather? How do they act? Do tell.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

New Writerly Production? book a year or more? Is acceleration of content a good thing?

Love Is Murder, check out Sandra Brown’s edited anthology of romantic suspense (pre-orders now available)

Blogging Tips for Writers–FOCUS FOCUS FOCUS!

More Blogging Tips–make it EASY to comment plus all about moderation

Author Facebook Pages, why have them?

New Anthology Opps from Margie Yee Webb the co-creator with Dahlynn McKowen for Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Cats. And Ken McKowen and Kathy Baker are co-creators for Not Your Mother’s Book . . . On Dogs.

Meredith Bernstein Literary Agency has new website with value-added for writers. Meredith was my agent for many years and I can’t recommend her highly enough.

Hyperthymesia and Marilu Henner’s Brain from the awesome Writer’s Forensics Blog of Dr. Lyle

Authors On the Air, a new radio show might be worth a look, suggested by author CJ West

PET SCHTUFF

Cat Food Recalls and Dog Food Recalls expanding. Here’s further info from the FDA.

Small Vet Practices On Way Out? IBISWorld reports veterinarians appear to be gravitating toward working in larger multi-doctor practices. What will this mean for your furry wonder?

Pit Bull Saves Owner, Loses Leg awesome story about a hero dog pulling owner from train tracks

New Hyperthyroid Diet for Cats–miracle or disaster waiting to happen? A veterinarian weighs in.

Dogs Feel Your Pain, fascinating read from ScienceNOW thanks to great pet author Cheryl Smith

Bad Journalism How-To on Cat Declaw from Sally Bahner. Let’s be responsible, folks!

Is Innovative Vet Care Too Expensive? Great post by my colleague Jo Singer. I have to say, the only “hate mail” I ever got about a book took issue with my cutting-edge title and the expense involved. Hmnnn.

SAR Dog Organizations Receive $258,000 In Grants from the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Canine Support & Relief Fund, bow-WOW!

Hogzilla–Feral vs Domestic Pig Brains for those who are really into “this little piggy.” Hmnn, wonder what would happen if people brains took that turn (can you say “weird plot idea?”)

This how-to video is on my new must-do list, since Magical-Dawg loves getting dirty and we have white carpet.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Mother’s Day for Pets

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Birta og Rjómi

“This is MY purr-son!” Copr. Maria Magnus/Flickr

There’s no doubt we love our pets—but do our cats and dogs love us back? Kitty and doggy shows of affection aren’t always what humans expect. In fact, a pet’s lovey-dovey wishes might instead puzzle, aggravate or even offend some people. To celebrate Mother’s Day here are 14 ways dogs and cats show love.

Cat purrs can mean everything from delight to expressions of concern. A cat that purrs while snuggled in your lap expresses deep trust and love for you.  Return the favor and talk back—say, “I love you!” She’ll understand the emotion, if not the exact words.

Dog howls aren’t nearly as subtle as kitty purrs but can be a canine Valentine. A howl can mean your dog is lonely. Try scheduling extra face time with your special dog, or offer puzzle toys filled with treats to show your love. It’s harder to howl when chewing something yummy.

Kitty rubbing against you leaves the cat’s scent—marking you as “owned” by them. Cats repeatedly head-bump their most favorite people. Bumping your face is the ultimate show of trust since it leaves eyes vulnerable.

small-IMG_2860

“I trust you no matter what…” Copr. Paul Loades/Flickr

Dogs lean against us. Yes, it can be pushy or awkward especially with big dogs, but it’s a way of showing and asking for love and attention. Either sit down so he can lean and love, or teach him to “sit” before you dole out the attention.

Kitties groom other cats—or humans—that they like. Licking your skin or hair, or even nibbling or sucking on your clothing spreads “family” scent and is an expression of feline love. Return the favor—petting your cat is the kitty equivalent of a love-fest of mutual grooming.

Dogs jump up, not to knock you down, but to give a big kiss. A dog kiss isn’t exactly the same as human kisses. Puppies lick the mom-dog’s eyes and face to show deference. Adults give doggy kisses to humans they love and respect and aim at the face. Kneel to let him kiss you (if doggy smooches don’t bother you). Or offer your hand for a sniff-and-smooch instead.

Cats scratch and pee to calm themselves down, and seek out items that smell most like their beloved human. So scratching your favorite chair or “baptizing” your bed with urine actually is a backhanded kitty compliment. Relieving stress and providing legal scratch and potty opportunities encourages kitty to love you in more appropriate ways.

Puppies pee and roll on their back when owners come home—another way to show deference and declare their love and respect. Most pups outgrow the pee-party, but not the rolling over. Baring his tummy invites a friendly rub, so answer his request to show you love him, too.

Cats knead—honestly, we’re not sure why. Kittens do it to prompt mom-cat’s milk to release. We suspect this instinctive behavior hearkens back to that feeling of comfort and joy. So a cat kneading her human certainly can be a kitty Valentine.

Dogs chew to relieve stress and calm upset feelings, and also seek out owner-scented items like shoes or that Gucci handbag. Why not offer him a Valentine’s gift of a legal chew toy—stick it inside your shoe overnight so it has the appropriate “cologne” to really show your love!

Dog crotch sniffs may not seem all that loving but are the equivalent of a human hand shake. Request a “sit” instead, then pay him with attention.

A kitty butt-in-your-face is an invitation to sniff—that’s a very friendly and loving gesture! (Not that you want to indulge). Scratch the base of her tail, instead.

Doggy wags that are low, loose and wide are technically a “distance-decreasing signal” that invites attention and love. Tail-less dogs wag their whole body.

Kitten tails held straight up with the end tipped over use this to greet mom-cat, and the tippy-tail is a kitty Valentine when directed at humans—in effect calling you “mom.”

What have I missed? How do your fur-kids show you love–on Mother’s Day and the rest of the year? You can show your Mother’s Day love by “gifting” the pet lovers in your life with something for their pets–maybe even a book (hint hint!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Second Story Cats & Countertop Cruising

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Seren With Lamp
Cats become pests with their determination to stay above it all. They cruise kitchen countertops, lounge atop doors and leap to refrigerator tops to ambush treats.

The urge to be the top cat seems a universal kitty vice. By understanding why cats scale the heights, cat owners can provide legal outlets that keep both the kitty happy, and out of the owner’s butter dish.

Why Cats Love Heights

Cats come pre-programmed to seek elevated lounging spots. Think about it–a kitty walking on the wild side wants to see enemies (and potential munch-able critters) but remain invisible. A cat quite literally believes she “owns” the space she can see.

Cats also control each other’s interactions—or even the dog’s movements—with pointed stares. This cats-eye-power packs even more punch from an elevated perch, giving the cat ownership and control over even more territory. The cat that commands the highest perch is the high-cat-on-the-totem pole in that particular room.

What’s The Attraction?

Individual cats may have specific preferences for lounge spots. But in general, there are five reasons cats seek a particular place.

  • Height. The taller the perch, the more important the cat.
  • View. Perches near important pathways like windows or stairways offer high kitty value.
  • Warmth. Cats are furry heat-seeking missiles, so the tops of warm TVs or computer monitors, or snuggled under lamps prove irresistible. My cat loves to sleep in the paper well of my printer.
  • Comfort. Lounging requires a soft, comfy surface like the back of chairs.
  • Food. Kitchen counters and stovetops smell yummy or even have snacks within paw reach that keep the cat burglar returning to the scene of the cat crime.

You won’t keep your cat on the ground. Cats tend to avoid low spots with no view, or that are cold and uncomfortable. So give your cat what she wants with irresistible legal perch options and make forbidden spots unattractive.
1-B-Seren&books 1-21-08

Grounding High Rise Cats

Evaluate your cat’s favorite perches, and make your choice better. My cat Seren loves to lounge on top of the piano (height) beneath a lamp (warmth) next to the window (view). To purr-suade her otherwise, we placed a three-tiered cat tree that’s TALLER than the piano and has a softer surface (comfort), still under the lamp beside the piano, and still in front of the window.

  • For your cat household, have at least one cat tree (or acceptable high-value lounge spot) for each cat. Otherwise, they may argue over who gets first dibs.
  • Make the legal lounge taller than the forbidden object, but nearby so the location remains attractive. An empty bookshelf can work, or even an inexpensive ladder. Put a cat bed stocked with kitty treats on the paint rack.
  • Make off-limits spots unattractive. Booby-trap counters so they’re no longer comfy. Double-sided tape products like Sticky Paws applied to placemats can be scattered on forbidden surfaces, for example.
  • Cats hate weird textures, too. Aluminum foil that covers stovetops can keep some cats at bay.
  • For hard case cats, invest in clear plastic carpet runner to line the countertop, dining table or other illegal location. Just place it nub-side up, and kitty will seek a more comfy spot to lounge.
  • You can also set up the SSScat! Product, an aerosol can with a motion detector that hisses air to shoo critters away even when you’re not there.

Choose which battles to fight, because it’s hard to win them all—and you want your cat to like you. Seren-kitty isn’t allowed on the mantel because she plays gravity experiments with fine breakables. But she won the battle of the dining room table where she lounges in a plush cat bed beneath a stained glass lamp. I’ve also trained her to exit the printer when I need it. In families, sometimes you must compromise.

What is your cat’s favorite second-story territory? Do you butt furry heads over the location? Has Kitty won the battle or do you compromise? Here’s an Ask Amy on the subject with tips as well but I’d love to hear from you. Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Fabulous Flowers, Furry Pet Care & Fantastic Writing Tips

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Magic in flowers

Last week I mentioned the 500 antique roses around our house? It used to be 700+ but the drought, armadillos and grasshopper attrition left a dent. You cannot believe the aroma! With all the recent rain, we’re fighting with the weeds but it appears the roses are holding their own or even winning. And so are the wildflowers. As promised, some of my favs are shared here today.

This next weekend I’ll be at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference. This is an organization very close to my heart, as I have met some of the most extraordinary writers and friends there, as well as connected with editors and agents. As a result of attending, I ended up writing a Woman’s World pet column for a couple of years, found my agent (we sold 15+ award winning books together!), and also served as contest chair and president. I’m now a life member, wow! This weekend I’ll be moderating a panel on social media. You don’t have to be there, either, to benefit–if you have questions please post in the comments section and I’ll pose them to the panelist and share in a future blog.

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the TASTY neato-torpedo links and videos, pet schtuff and bling and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Some of this “schtuff” can be hard to categorize and may fit more than one topic so I urge you to at least scan them all. But first…some N. Texas spectacular-arity because when you’re feeling angst, there’s nothing like a dose of Mom-Nature to set you right.

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Paintbrush
antique rose
antique rose
Anitique roses

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Amazon Rewards Content Creators a great post from LJ Sellers

2012 Agents Conference, Writers League of Texas the registration price GOES UP tomorrow (May 1st)

Winners of the 2-12 Edgars Announced

The London Book Fair from an author’s perspective

Writer Beware! avoid this German literary agent and VERY IMPORTANT info on Reversion Clauses in contracts (trust me, authors, you must read this!)

William Bernhardt Writing Programs Best selling legal thriller author’s seminars, workshops and more come HIGHLY recommended (yes, they’re that good). Bill’s also a thoroughly nice guy.

PET SCHTUFF

Big Head Saves Staffie an awesome come-back story about a dog named Diesel hit by car TWICE–from the awesome Dr. Rayya’s Online Vet Journal

Cats Are Con Artists, Dogs Are Sycophants says a new scientific study. Huh? Say it ain’t so, Fluffy…what’s that? Let me fill up your bowl…

39 Pound Cat?! OMG let me NOT fill up your bowl! And here’s more about MEOW the heavyweight kitty and how he came to be where he is today (thanks JaneA Kelley!)

Singer Chris Brown Sells Pit Bull Puppies Online — there are so many things WRONG with this, I don’t know where to start

Protect Cats from Heartworms! According to the website www.knowheartworms.org, in a North Carolina study 28 percent of the cats diagnosed with heartworm disease were indoor-only cats. It’s been a mild winter–mosquitoes are already out and about. And yes, Seren-kitty takes her preventive like a treat. (So does the Magical-Dawg).

Parasite Prevention from expert Dr. Blagburn from Good News For Pets

American Humane Association’s Second Chance Fund helps animals in disaster situations

Cat owners are urged to speak with their veterinarians about preventive medications for their cats so that they can protect their feline friends from potentially deadly heartworm infestations. For more information on CAPC, visit their website at www.petsandparasites.org.

2012 Petties DogTime’s Pet Bloggers Awards with awards going to help fund animal shelters of the winner’s choice. Nominations open June 4 and broadcast in November.

34th Annual Winn Feline Foundation Feline Health Symposium.  Learn all about feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy June 28, 2012 at the Boston Marriott Quincy, in Quincy, MA from researchers Leslie Lyons, PhD, University of California, Davis (speaking on genetics), and John Rush, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, Tufts University (causes, diagnosis, treatment). 

Hemingway Cats Case Awaits Federal Appeal The approximately 40 felines descended from the famous author’s “breeding” program continue to live on the grounds of the Hemingway Museum–should they be caged?

Fact Or Fiction: 10 Diet Myths Debunked, a fantastic post from the excellent blogger August McLaughlin

This terrific video “This Too Will Pass” was pointed out to me from terrific blogger Piper Bayard.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

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