Thunderstorm Anxiety in Your Pets

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Few people are happy to endure the the sounds of a severe thunderstorm, complete with darkening skies, strong winds, flashes of lightning and crashing thunder.  Some become extremely anxious, and for some, the fear of thunderstorms turns into a full-blown phobia.

Some pets, especially dogs, are also affected by thunderstorm anxiety to varying degrees.  While some pets may tremble, whine, pace or hide under the bed during storms, in more severe cases, panicking dogs have been known to destroy furniture, jump through windows or otherwise harm themselves during storms.  In either case, this type of behavior is the sign of a very unhappy pet.

Fear is a normal response to a fear-inducing situation, whereas phobias are irrational, extreme reactions in which the fearful response is magnified to the point of dysfunction.  Behaviorists are not sure which part of the storm frightens pets the most – the lightning flashes and thunder, the winds blowing around the house or the sound of rain hitting the roof.  Some dogs even show signs of anxiety an hour or more before a storm hits, leading to the theory that they are reacting to changes in barometric pressure.

Many cats become nervous during storms and generally hide from the disturbance under beds or in dark, quiet corners.  Unlike dogs, they tend to not progress to the phobic stage – they simply wait out the storm in their safe place and come out of hiding when the storm has passed.

So what can you do to help your pet deal with thunderstorm anxiety?

Probably the best treatment is avoidance.  If there’s a place where your pet feels safe, be it a kennel or crate or a finished basement that is relatively light and sound proof, you can have your pet ride out the storm in his safe place.

Another option is desensitization.  This approach gradually retrains your pet by exposing her to gentle reminders of a thunderstorm such as a recording of distant thunder, and rewarding her for staying calm.  The idea is that over time, the response to the stimulus decreases. 

There are a number of natural remedies that work well for mild cases of thunderstorm anxiety.  My favorite is Rescue Remedy, a Bach Flower Essence blend.  There are other natural calming aids available, Holistic Pet Info offers a good selection along with some good advice on how to handle situations that cause stress for your pet.

It is important that you remain calm when your pet is afraid.  Our pets pick up on our emotions, and if we’re anxious, they’ll be anxious as well.  While it’s tempting to cuddle and comfort your pet during a storm, in your pet’s mind, this rewards the fearful behavior.  It’s much better to provide your pet with a safe, familiar place where he can ride out the storm.

In severe cases, a visit to your veterinarian is in order.  Your veterinarian can prescribe anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication to help keep your pet calm during storms.

Amber hates thunderstorms.  She chooses the shower stall in our small, windowless bathroom in the basement as her safe place during storms.  I’ve tried to sit with her during storms and comfort and reassure her, but she much prefers to be there by herself.  Once the storm passes, she comes back upstairs.  She would like to add that she particularly hates storms that come through during breakfast or dinner time.

Distance Healing for You and Your Pet

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As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, in addition to being a writer, I’m also a Reiki Master Practitioner.  You can find out more about my work with pets and with people on my Healing Hands website.  One aspect of Reiki that is often intriguing to people new to the concept of energy healing is distance healing.

Distance healing, also known as remote healing, is an energetic healing process that can be best explained through the principles of Quantum physics.  It has been proven to be extremely effective, sometimes even more effective than local, hands-on healing.

How does it work? 

Quantum physics shows us that everything is made up of energy, and everything is connected.  Everything is part of the same, continuous whole.  Long distance healing is “wireless” healing.  We accept that cell phones, televisions and even our garage door openers work in this wireless way.  It’s not much of a leap to accept that all energy travels that way, including the energy of healing.

In a distance healing session, the practitioner connects with the person or animal requesting the healing energetically.  Every living being has a unique frequency, and the practitioner tunes into that unique energy.  We are all part of the same unified field of consciousness, and it’s simply a question of “dialing in” to the correct frequency.  Once the connection is made, the practitioner sends the healing energy to the recipient.  

Recipients of distance healing report the same sensations recipients of hands-on healing experience, such as a sense of heat or tingling in certain parts of the body, a sense of calm and peace, and a deep sense of relaxation. 

Success Story (human):

A client needed major dental surgery and requested distance Reiki to help with pain control and accelerate healing.  Reiki was sent the day before the procedure, during the procedure, the evening after the procedure, and twice more in the days following the procedure, two days apart.  The client reported less pain, less bleeding and more rapid healing than with prior surgeries of a similar nature.

Success Story (pet):

The owner of a fifteen-year-old cat with virulent nasal discharge caused by calici virus requested distance Reiki.  The cat was not eating or drinking and was frail and had very little energy.  After just one distance Reiki session, this kitty started eating – in fact, she got up towards the end of the session and went to her food bowl and ate for the first time in days.  Improvement continued with subsequent sessions.  Her owner reported that she had more energy and seemed stronger.

Why choose distance healing over hands on? 

Other than the obvious reason – the person or animal requesting the healing is not in the same geographical area as the practitioner – distance healing can be a good option for animals who are skittish about being with strangers or too hyper to sit still in a strange environment.  It can also be great in an emergency situation, since a distance session can usually be scheduled with very little advance notice.  For humans with busy schedules, distance sessions allow them to benefit from the energy without having to make time to drive to and from the session.

I offer distance Reiki sessions for pets and for people.  Distance sessions for pets typically run 15-20 minutes, distance sessions for people 20-30 minutes.  Please contact me to schedule a sesssion for your pet or for yourself.

If you have any questions about distance healing in general, or Reiki in particular, please post them here!

Amber’s Mewsings: On Thunderstorms

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I love being an indoor cat.  I spent the first year or two of my life outside, and that was plenty for me, thank you very much. I prefer the pleasures of indoor living.   I’m particularly glad that I didn’t have to be outside in all this rain this week.  Enough, I say!  I want my sunny spots back!  Mom took this photo of me the night we had a really bad storm move through.  I hate thunderstorms, the noise scares me and I can feel the vibration of the thunder all through my body, and I don’t like it one bit.  I go to my safe place in the shower in the downstairs bathroom and wait until the storm passes.  Mom gives me Rescue Remedy when she knows storms are coming, and I love her for it because it helps calm me down a little, but I still hate storms.

Aside from the weather, though, this has been a really great week for us.  Mom got exciting news about her book on Monday.  She got something called “Editor’s Choice” for it.  She was so happy she couldn’t stop crying.  I was happy because she was happy.  I think it means that the book is really good.  It’s about my sister Buckley, but I’m in it, too.   This morning, Mom sent the manuscript off to the copy editor.  I don’t really know what that means, but it made Mom happy, so it must be a good thing.  And this afternoon, we got the photos the photographer took of Mom and me a couple of weeks ago.  I look really good in them, and so does Mom.  She says one of them will be used in the book.

I like it when my Mom is so happy.

An Interview with Linda Mohr, Author of “Tatianna – Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend” (Win an Autographed Copy of the Book!)

***Find out how to enter the drawing for an autographed copy of the book at the end of this post***

It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Linda Mohr, the author of “Tatianna – Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend”.

 
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This is one of the most moving and heartfelt books about the bond between a cat and her person that I have read in a long time. The relationship between the author and Tatianna is one of those soulmate relationships with an animal that come once in a lifetime. Tatianna, through her joyful spirit and unwavering courage, teaches the author about love, devotion and spiritual expansion. In addition to sharing her journey with Tatianna, the author provides well-researched information on how to live with and care for a cat with kidney disease. The book is a triumph of the spirit, both feline and human, and a testament to the truth that we are all eternal beings.

 

Please join me in welcoming Linda Mohr to The Conscious Cat!

Linda, “Tatianna” is your first book.  How did you become a writer?

When I was in high school, I entered an essay contest sponsored by Rural Electric Area Cooperative. Winning writers won an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.  I still have the essay and a photo album full of memories! In my mid-twenties, I worked on a college text on the psychology of clothing, but the publisher decided against it. I taught microwave cooking classes in Palm Beach County, and I have unpublished chapters of a microwave cookbook. I wrote Bobbin’ Along sewing column for a local newspaper during that decade as well.

 So I have dabbled in writing for a long time. My mother recalls me announcing when I was younger that someday I would write a book. Decades later, Tatianna was placed in my life to finally help me accomplish that goal. The best part is that my mother sat next to me at my book signings!

What was the process of writing about Tatianna like for you?

I did not make a conscious decision to write this book. A Higher Being decided for me. The day after Tatianna passed away I was compelled to sit down with a spiral notebook and write. The pen was flying across the pages. I did not know where the thoughts were coming from. But I stayed with it. A few days later I realized I had a message to get out to people and their pets. 

What do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

Animals are a sacred gift, and they deserve our love and respect. We are all connected. Miracles can be accomplished by love and an enduring belief in God. My hope is that the timing is right for this book and that it contains all the best ingredients for learning, laughing, grieving, and growing that makes us better people—to counteract animal cruelty and disregard for animal life that permeates part of our society. Ultimately, I want to make a difference in the lives of people and pets.

In your book, you share what it was like for you to live with and care for a cat with kidney disease.  What was most challenging for you during those years, and what was most rewarding?  Do you have any tips for others whose cats are dealing with this disease?

The most challenging aspect was dealing with a disease that does not have a cure. Managing the progression of the disease was tiring, and there were ups and downs, good days and bad days—for Tatianna and me. However, the most rewarding part was seeing the disease could be kept at bay for several years—if I was willing to make a commitment. For Tatianna, that commitment was daily fluid therapy, herbal therapy, customized meals, vet visits for periodic blood work, and acupuncture. But the payoff was immense because our bond deepened day by day.

The best tip I have is to catch the disease early. That is tricky since more than two-thirds of the kidney function can be destroyed before a cat shows physical symptoms. But if you have regular diagnostic work done starting when the animal is 6 or 7 years old, that will give you a baseline to compare from year to year. If you notice any changes such as drinking more water, losing weight, vomiting, or not eating, immediately go to the veterinarian. Sometimes, we think the cat will get back to normal in a few days and do nothing. But in a few days, the cat could be in a critical state.

Who or what inspires you?

Three things: My cats (past and present), my home office, and restaurants. Tatianna’s spiritual presence continues to inspire me along with the spirits of all her other fur buddies including Noelle, Taittinger, Marnie, and Katarina. My constant companion is Lexie Lee, a beautiful Norwegian Forest cat mix who blew into my yard after a hurricane. My special writing space is on the third story with tropical breezes blowing through light-spilling windows. I had extra wide window sills made for Lexie Lee, and she loves them! When she’s not on the window sill, she stretches out on the glass top desk, right up against my laptop. Every once in a while she hits a key! When I want a change of pace, I head off to Greek, French, or Italian restaurants all within five minutes of my house!

What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?

My eighth grade teacher, Mrs. Kice, came to my hometown book signing in Kahoka, Missouri. She had something for me and pulled a glass out of her handbag.

“You gave this to me for Christmas when you were an eighth grader. It’s been on my desk all these years! I think it’s time I returned it to you.”

 I was astounded she had saved the gift. I recognized it as one of my craft projects. The six inch clear goblet on a short footed pedestal was decorated with pink and white hearts around the rim along with three sets of pink and white cloverleaves above the pedestal.

One of my favorite teacher quotes is by Henry Brooks Adams–A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. It occurred to me when I saw Mrs.Kice that her effect on the world will continue to ripple with each person that reads the book.

Are you planning on writing another book?

That is a popular question! My focus right now is marketing and getting Tatianna’s message into as many paws as possible! I also write weekly Catnip Connection blogs for my Web site and Seattle Post-Intelligencer.com and enter little writing contests. So these activities keep me busy. Last summer my sister and I compiled a cookbook for our mother’s 90th birthday. I also was involved in another cookbook project this past year. My profile and a family recipe, Apple Crisp, appear in Literary Feast—The Famous Authors Cookbook that was just released this spring. It is a beautiful cookbook featuring 90 authors and stories about their recipes. Sales benefit the King County Library System in Washington.

I am interested in the topic of the loss of our fur friends and the grief process. So I could see doing a book like that in the future. I am also interested in writing shorter booklets on different cat topics. I would also love to see Tatianna in a children’s book!

What are you reading at the moment?

Middlemarch by George Eliot (807 pages!), Perfect Cupcakes (can’t wait to try Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes), Dog Years by Mark Doty (did I really say dog?—just have to keep the book hidden from Lexie Lee!). I just revisited Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success—I love that little gem.

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Linda!

Thank you for inviting me to The Conscious Cat, Ingrid. I appreciate the time with you. Warm Purrs!

linda_mohr_photoYou can learn more about Linda and her book on her website  and on her blog, The Catnip Connection.

***Linda has generously offered to give an autographed copy of her book to one lucky winner!  To enter the drawing, offer your comments and thoughts on this post.  All who participate will be automatically entered in the drawing.  The deadline to enter the drawing is June 9 at 11:59pm EDT.  The winner will be notified via e-mail.

Book Review: “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein

Amber has an open mind and thankfully, she allows me to read books about dogs.  I would have hated to have missed “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”  I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Synopsis:  Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals.

On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through: the sacrifices Denny has made to succeed professionally; the unexpected loss of Eve, Denny’s wife; the three-year battle over their daughter, Zoë, whose maternal grandparents pulled every string to gain custody. In the end, despite what he sees as his own limitations, Enzo comes through heroically to preserve the Swift family, holding in his heart the dream that Denny will become a racing champion with Zoë at his side. Having learned what it takes to be a compassionate and successful person, the wise canine can barely wait until his next lifetime, when he is sure he will return as a man.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life . . . as only a dog could tell it.

But don’t take these words for it  – watch Enzo tell you himself:

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I actually think that both the synopsis and the trailer sell this book short.  In addition to being heartwarming, gut-wrenching, and ultimately uplifting, there is also a deeply spiritual component to this book.   For me, the most memorable part of the book (and there are so many of them)  was Enzo’s mantra “That which you manifest is before you.”  We all create our own reality, and I particulary enjoyed having this concept presented from a dog’s point of view.

For more good reading, check out my Reading List.

A First Peek at “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher”

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Today is a difficult day for me – it’s the six month anniversary of Buckley’s passing.  It’s hard to believe that six months have gone by already.  I still miss her each and every day. 

“Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” tells the story of how one small cat changed my life in ways I  never could have imagined.  It’s the story of Buckley, a joyful, enthusiastic and affectionate tortoiseshell cat I met while managing a veterinary hospital.   Buckley challenged me to overcome long-held emotional patterns and taught me and everyone who came into contact with her universal lessons about opening the heart, following intuition, and living a life filled with joy.

In her memory, and to celebrate her life rather than mourn her passing today, I would like to share a small excerpt from the book with you.  This is the description of our first meeting:

“I went to see Buckley for the first time. And I fell in love. Hard. And fast.

   She was a small cat, and she immediately came to the front of the cage and rubbed up against the bars. When I unlatched the door to her cage to pet her, she practically threw herself at me – something I came to call “full body love” as I got to know her better and realized that this was one of the many ways she would demonstrate her affection. This little cat loved with her entire being. It took several minutes of talking to her and petting her before I even noticed her deformed left hind leg. It bent upwards at the knee at a ninety degree angle. Our veterinarians were unable to determine whether this was a congenital birth defect, or whether it was an old injury that had never healed right. It certainly did not seem to bother her, nor did it slow her down. She barely had a limp, and she used the knee of the bent leg to push off when she ran and jumped. Her “disability” definitely was a non-issue for her – she didn’t know the meaning of the word. After a while, I didn’t notice it anymore, either. It was just part of who she was, and I was always surprised when people asked about it.”

“Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” will be published later this year.

Never Give up on Your Dream – Part Two

I blogged about never giving up on your dream back in April, when Susan Boyle first burst onto the scene.   Yesterday, she sang “Memories” on “Britain’s Got Talent”, and she is now favored to win in the contest’s final next Sunday.  Here’s the clip from her performance:

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As someone who’s moved one step closer to making my own life-long dream of writing and publishing a book come true yesterday, when I submitted the manuscript for “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” to my publisher, this idea of never giving up on your dream definitely resonates with me.  While the only thing Susan and I have in common is the fact that we both have a cat, there’s still something about her journey and her performance that is captivating to me.  I know I’ll be cheering for her to win this contest – and hope that she continues to inspire others to follow their dreams.

There is something that Buckley and Susan Boyle have in common.  Buckley also never gave up on her dream.  I can’t wait to share her story with you when the book comes out.

Amber’s Mewsings: First Post

Mom said I could ocassionally write something on this blog – after all, I’m the wise one who inspired the creation of it.

So this afternoon, Mom made me pose for pictures for a professional photographer.   It wasn’t the most fun I ever had, but there were treats involved, so I was being a good sport about it.  I mean, come on – the photographer’s assistant was holding these squeaky dog toys over the photographer’s head to get me to look at the camera!  For God’s sake, I’m a cat!  I look when I feel like it, not when you try to get me to look.  Anyway – I knew how much this meant to Mom.  She wants a really good photo of the two of us as the author photo for her upcoming book “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher” , so I played along.  The book is the story of my “sister” Buckley, who left us in November.    She was pretty smart and between her and me, we taught Mom a lot of stuff that she shares in the book.  And even though the book is about Buckley, I’m in it, too.  The three of us had (and still have) a very special connection.

Mom says that’s enough, I can’t say more about the book right now, but she says that soon, there’ll be more information about it.   I have to go take a nap now anyway – posing for photos is pretty tiring.

Here’s a picture of me with Buckley (she’s on the left).

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Book Review: “The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats”

As those of you who’ve been following me for a while know, I keep a Reading List on my website.  Reading is as essential as breathing to me.  When I read a book that I find educational, inspirational, helpful, moving, interesting, or just plain fun, I want to share it with everyone.  I thought it might be fun to periodically  introduce and review some of my favorites here. 

Today’s  book is “The Feline Mystique – On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats” by Clea Simon.

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This is one of my favorite cat books.  It’s a book for cat lovers.  It’s a book for women who love their cats.  And it’s a book for men who love women who love their cats.

Author Clea Simon examines the bond between cats and women from all angles – from history and mythology to interviews with cat women from all walks of life, the book is a compelling mix of facts about cats and the women who love them.  It’s also a memoir of the seventeen years Simon spent with Cyrus, the kitten she adopted as a young single woman. 

This is a joyful book, celebrating the role cats play in womens’ lives.   If you are a woman who loves cats, or if you want to better understand a woman who loves cats, you will enjoy this book.

For more information about the book, click here.  For more information about the author, go to http://www.cleasimon.com

A Veterinarian’s Thoughts on Cat Food

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I recently posted an article titled “How to Choose Healthy Foods for Your Pets“.  In it, I acknowledged how difficult it is to find the “right” diet for your pet, given the varying and often confusing information available on this topic. 

As a follow up to my article, I’d like to post a comment Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM, left on The Pet Connection Blog.  Dr. Pion is the founder of the Veterinary Information Network, and he is responsible for saving millions of cats’ lives by being the first to discover the link between taurine deficiency and dilated cardiomyopathy in cats in 1987.  He is also the co-author of “Cats for Dummies“.   This is what he has to say about cat food:

“The only definitive comment I’ll make about the cat food debates is that anyone who tells you they know THE ANSWER is not worth listening to.

Pet food companies want you to buy their food — and for the most part if you stick to a major brand you can’t go too wrong. Still — without doubt, RESULTS WILL VARY 🙂

Feeding from cans and bags is convenient. And since for most it seems to work, that isn’t a bad place to start.

I still believe in mixing up what you feed. But I can’t say that my wife (also a DVM) follows that. But our cats seem happy and healthy and that’s about all you can hope to achieve.

Plant based dry foods are not a natural foundation for a cat’s diet, but for convenience and cost, they are commonly fed and most cats seem to do just fine.

How much commercial foods are at the root of diseases like feline hyperthyroidism and diabetes are intriging questions.

The hard part is sifting through all the opinion, emotion, marketing hype, and researcher bias when trying to decipher the “science.” Suffice it to say I won’t be surprised if we figure out how commercial diets are leading to these conditions in some cats.

At the same time, it is hard to argue with the observation that cats seem to be living longer in the decades since commercial cat food feeding has become more popular. Cause and effect? Who knows.

I won’t get into the raw food debate, other than to say I wouldn’t be happy if my wife (can you tell she does all the pet care) decided to go down that path. Suffice it to say, my concerns are more for human health than feline health. But still, I won’t claim that I know the definitive answer on this topic.

Raw foods, dry foods, canned foods — my observation is that consumer choices are often made more to please the pet owner (influenced by advertising, peer pressure, and pseudoscience) than the pet.

I probably have said too much already. But I’ll end reminding everyone that everything and everyone dies. Somewhere in the midst of spending huges amounts of time, energy and money trying to cheat death, we have to remember to enjoy life and accept imperfection — it’s the best we got right now.

I personally would much rather live well (for me that means purposefully and doing what I believe is right for those I love and all whose lives my actions effect) than long (or even prosperously).

And to set the record straight, although I consume a lot of diet coke, I have not had a devil dog in over a decade 🙂 ”

(quoted with permission from Paul D. Pion, DVM, DACVIM)

Eco-Friendly Water Bottles

water-bottleI just had to share this super-cool water bottle I got for my birthday yesterday with all of you!  It’s made by SIGG , and the bottles come in an amazing variety of wonderful designs (but of course, I happen to think this particular cat design is the best).  They’re reusable, lightweight and eco-friendly.

I won’t belabor the point of why drinking water is so important, I think we’re all aware of how drinking 6-8 glasses a day should be part of any healthy lifestyle.  Why not make it easy and fun by having a beautiful bottle to drink from?  If you don’t like plain water, you can make it more interesting by adding sliced lemon or cucumber or a sprig of mint for a little bit of flavoring.

Fresh water is also important for our pets – make sure your feline and canine companions have access to clean, fresh water at all times.  I recommend filtered or bottled water rather than municipal or well water for pets – I avoid drinking tap water, and I’d just as soon Amber doesn’t, either.

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