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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: 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!

Feline Friday: National Hairball Awareness Day

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That blue bed is as hairy as Seren-Kitty!

Do you know what today is?  It’s National Hairball Awareness Day! RomeoTheCat and FURminator are once again co-sponsoring an event to bring attention to this big-hairy-deal.

Have you ever discovered the latest squishy “kitty creation” by stepping on it, barefoot, at 3 a.m.? Ewww!

Cats, and some dogs (Pomeranian owners, am I right?!) swallow fur during self-grooming. Hopefully it ends up in the litter box or yard. But when it comes out the other end, the cat vomits hotdog or cigar-shaped hairballs.

Cats spend 30% of their lives grooming.

 Shedding season increases the odds kitty will “urk” more often, especially in longhair cats. The techie term for hairball is a “bezoar.”   I warn you, don’t click that link until after breakfast. I’m not posting a picture cuz I don’t want readers to “urk.” (Turns out, humans get bezoars, too, Ewww!)

I’m fortunate that Seren has short fur, but even that can accumulate and be swallowed. We kid that fur in a pet home should be considered a condiment, but if kitty swallows too much, it stops up the system. Baseball-size hairballs have been removed from cats. Most cases won’t need surgery, though, and most hairballs can be easily eliminated.

That's a wad won't go into the cat, or stain my carpet on the way out.

The no-brainer solution is to groom kitty and pull off the fuzz before it gets swallowed. I have grooming tools–the dog Furminator (above) is awesome and works especially well on the Magical-Dawg. (I don’t even wanna think what size bezoars he’d produce!)

I received a kitty-size Furminator to test on Seren-kitty for this month. She is IN LOVE…I have the handy grooming tool next to my chair. Each evening Seren arrives for a session of lap-snuggling and purr-icity while the kitty Furminator massages her whiskers to tail. She has not “urked” up a hairball this whole month, ever since we began getting rid of the extra fuzzies.

Here are more ways to manage hairballs. Do your cats get hairballs? What do you do to prevent ’em? What about your DOGS and hairballs? Cats that groom dog friends increase their hairball risk, too. Do your fur-kids like or loathe grooming. What are some tricks you use to keep a handle on fuzzy-icity? Please share!

Groom the cat. The cheapest, easiest hairball cure is to regularly comb and brush your cat. Any hair you remove won’t be swallowed to end up staining your upholstery. The Furminator eliminates up to 90 percent of shed fur.

Feed a hairball diet. A variety of commercial products are designed to prevent hairballs. They include extra nondigestible fiber. That helps push swallowed hair through the digestive tract, so it is eliminated naturally with each bowel movement.

Add some fiber. If you’d rather not switch foods, just add fiber to kitty’s regular diet. Mix in a teaspoon of plain bran or Metamucil to canned meals. Flaxseeds or psyllium husks, available in health food stores, also act as natural laxatives and work well. Add ¼ teaspoon of flaxseeds or psyllium for every meal.

Offer pumpkin. Canned pumpkin—the plain type, not for pies—is very rich in fiber and cats often love the taste. Get a jumbo-size can, and divide into teaspoon-size servings and freeze in an ice cube tray. Thaw one serving at a time, mixing into the regular food or offer as a treat once or twice a week.

Give a bit of honey. If your cat doesn’t appreciate canned pumpkin, you can offer a natural laxative, two or three times a week. Combine raw oatmeal, honey, and olive oil into a paste. Offer one to two tablespoons as a treat when hairballs are a problem.

Lubricate the gut. Butter will make your cat purr, but it won’t help hairballs. Digestible fats like butter can cause diarrhea and usually get absorbed before they can move the problem out. Instead, offer non-medicated petroleum jelly. It looks nasty but many pets like the taste. It will coat the hairball to make it slide more easily out of the system. If kitty refuses to accept a finger-full scraped into his mouth, just spread the jelly on his paw so he has to lick it off as he grooms. Commercial hairball remedies often add salmon or malt flavoring to similar petrolatum products. Take care to follow label instructions or your veterinarian’s advice, though. Overuse of these products can interfere with the pet’s use of fat-soluble vitamins.

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: Reading Monkeys, Chocolate Diet & Musical Cure

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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.

I’m THIS CLOSE to releasing the next book in the COMPETABILITY series, this one on solving cat-to-cat problems. Also, I’ve written a whole series of pet food articles as we;; as first aid tips for the puppies.about.com site and will share the latest links in the Woof Wednesday and Feline Friday blogs so please bookmark and come back. The regular busy-ness will quadruple shortly because I’m due to receive edits on my LOST AND FOUND thriller by tomorrow, yay! Therefore, you may not see me around for a few days as I work hard to regain consciousness and then work through the suggested changes. Hey, that’s a regular part of the book process, don’t let anyone tell you any different.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Research on Reading & Writing Trends

The Chocolate Diet why is this under writer-icity? because it’s a well-known fact that chocolate is BRAIN FOOD that fuels writers. Just sayin’

Poetry.com Returns–Beware! or at least caution. Read the Writer Beware post to learn more info.

Audible for Self-Pub’d Authors, is your book a candidate for an audio book?

Short Story Sales Tips still a good way to promote long fiction? Hmnnnn. Leads right into the next links.

World Of Myth looking for short stories and here’s a Short Story Contest for emerging writers

ITW’s “Love Is Murder” Collection Trailer Go to the Facebook page to “like” it to see this exclusive trailer–writers can learn some tips with this kewl video.

Blog Give-Aways, what to do and what not to do

MAN-DAY with hunks galore at Jillian Dodd’s awesome blog where today author Jen Talty expounds on her books’ hunky heroes (photo examples, squee!)

PET-ICITY SCHTUFF

Do Pets Go to Heaven? on the heels of Easter, three theology experts comment–a fascinating read. And that segues nicely into the next section about ghosts.

“Mag the Ghost wasn’t  any easier to deal with in death than Mag the Terror had been in life. Living in Love, Texas, in her childhood home, wasn’t the end of the world, but Tali Cates can’t see the good things with her eyes clouded by murder and mayhem. Now living at home with her son and her mother and trying to support her family, Tali is faced with a vengeful ghost, intent on ruining her life unless she solves her murder. Now some very human elements are showing violent intent and Tali has to come face to face with the very things she tried to leave behind, her gifts and violence.” Privy to Murder by Carol Shenold

This fun mystery (yes, a ghost appears in an outhouse!) also includes a cat, so I asked my friend–author Carol Shenold–how pets figure in her fiction. I think many writers could learn something from her response:

The Cat Said What? I don’t mean you and your cat will sit down at a computer and write together.  But, what if your cat shows up in your current WIP. How do you handle that? I know many writers who make animals into main characters in the books, complete with dialogue. Not good at that. Animals do sneak in because I live with three, but not as major players, more for comic relief, or just for fun. Besides, life is not complete without them.

I do feel like you have to judge your book, setting and character before putting in a pet, since the main character has to take care of it. It you are writing a thriller, adventure,  horror story, will your character remember to feed and water the animal, take it for a walk, scoop the litter? If not, make sure someone else is around to take care of the cat or dog. Mention it once or twice. Or, make it the neighbor’s irritating pet that shows up at awkward times. The way your main character interacts with animals might give insight into character, or lack of.

Since my animals are part of my life, they do come into the books and have a little fun.  I have to watch them or they might take over. In PRIVY TO MURDER, Tali’s kitten, Chaos, tries to take a bath with Tali whenever she can, preferably with bubbles.  But when Aiden was around, she made herself scarce, not fond of males? Cat’s rule and Aiden has disappeared.”

Monkeys Taught To Read! Well, sorta kinda in a way–they do recognize words, how cool is that? I predict a whole new audience for my work…

National Fire Dog Memorial Statue Planned

New Kitten URI Treatment get ready for kitten season with this new info from UC-Davis

More DON’T HUG YOUR DOG DAY from dog behavior expert Marilyn Wolf, a similar take on the Purina Beneful bad promotion.

Purina Stinko Again? This time they did apologize for comparing a neighborhood to a stinky litterbox in a TidyCats NoMorePU campaign. Are the ad guys playing with catnip? Don’t tell me you didn’t inhale!

Is Cesar Milan Going To Fix Your Dog? an excellent post from veterinarian Dr. Rayya who explains the difference between behavioral problems and problem behaviors.

Some of y’all know that music is a HUGE part of my life. It seems to heal us and make us whole on so many levels. A friend sent me this video and I had to share with everyone. HANKY alert!

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: Thrillers, Pets & Writing

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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.

WRITER-ICITY SCHTUFF

Why Small Presses Fail–and what to watch out for, from Writers Beware

Congrats to fellow ITW Debut Author Donna Galanti. Her thriller A Human Element released this month. This story, like its characters, is a hybrid that combines science fiction, suspense and romance. As a twin myself, I found that aspect of the story both chilling and fascinating. Read more here–and aspiring authors may wish to take a closer look at this publisher, too!

For more thrilling romance from well known authors, check out the upcoming collection. That’s a must-read, to be sure, cain’t wait! PW Starred Review says, in part: “If a person is known by the company she keeps, then the company of the 30 romance and suspense writers in this stellar all-original anthology speaks volumes about bestseller Brown. From Lori Armstrong’s sexy “Holding Mercy” to Vicki Hinze’s sweet “Wed to Death,” there’s romance aplenty. But there’s also loads of suspense, including Lee Child’s “I Heard a Romantic Story” and Cindy Gerard’s “Dying to Score.” Hankering for a flight of romantic fantasy? Take a trip to a bizarre Savannah neighborhood in Dianna Love’s “Deadly Fixation” or to the Chicago of Patricia Rosemoor’s “Hot Note.” The action spans the globe, imparting a real feel for locales as diverse as the Mexican jungle; Halifax, Nova Scotia; London, England; and south Texas. There are familiar characters such as Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid (“Vacation Interrupted”) and new ones readers are sure to want to see more of, like William Simon’s Nicholas White (“Spider’s Tango”). Chockablock with nifty plot twists, these stories aren’t to be missed. (June)”

More from ITW--some of your fav thriller authors, check it out!

WEIRD-ICITY & FUN SCHTUFF

You Type, She Says in any language, fun to play.

Middle Eastern Poetry Meets Bollywood & More from my friend Carol Shenold’s blog

Google to End Ebook ReSeller Program

Amazon Ebooks in Spanish

PET-ICITY SCHTUFF

10 New Cat Health Studies Funded by Winn Feline Foundation

Ally Cat Allies Petition Re: Loews Hotels Killing Cats Animal friendly? really…

Cat World Records–most toes, longest whiskers, loudest purrs, oldest (38 years!) and more

ALLEY CAT RESCUE Hosts International Free Feral Cat Spay Day April 27, 2012

Scottie the Flower Shop Kitty

Lost German Cat Returns Home After 15 Years

High Cost of Cutting Edge Vet Care–would you do it?

I covered a lot of this cutting-edge care in my book. And I got my first hate mail as a result from somebody deeply offended that so much $$ might be spent on mere pets. What do you think? Have we gone too far? Or would you go into dept to fund health care for YOUR dogs and cats? 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 with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Big Hairy Deal & Stop Litter Box Snacking

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On Monday Mentions you saw my Hairball Celebrity Creature, and a number of folks had terrific guesses. Today you can find out just WHO that was supposed to be–featured on PeoplePets.com, a gallery of 9 of the hairy hopefuls are profiled.

To see the whole gallery plus the five finalists, and vote for your choice of winner, click on the logo, above.

In the spirit of Woof Wednesday, but with a nod to the cats, today’s Ask Amy has a cross-species problem to address. Does your dog (urk!) snack from the litter box? Learn why dogs eat dung in this article. How do you keep Poochie away from the poo?

I’m in the process of completely revising my ComPETability book to be even more prescriptive, and some of the tips from the book are presented in the video, below. What are some other ways you handle the problem? 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 with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!