Month: August 2011

National Holistic Pet Day

cat box grass yard

Did you know that today is National Holistic Pet Day? Who knew, right? It seems like if you look hard enough, there’s a “holiday” for just about anything these days.

Since holistic medicine and health are subjects I consider important, I decided to look into this particular “holiday” a littlemore. I actually don’t like the term holistic health all that much since it is often interpreted as only encompassing what are considered “alternative” therapies such as acupuncture, massage, Reiki and more. I prefer the term “integrative.” Integrative medicine is defined by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at the National Institutes of Health, as “combining mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.” That, to me, is a truly holistic approach: combining the best of all worlds.

National Holistic Pet Day was originally founded by Colleen Paige of the Animal Miracle Foundation and Network. And apparently, I’m not the only one who didn’t know about this day. 90% of the more than 700 pet owners surveyed by Halo Purely for Pets didn’t know about it, either.

Halo’s survey uncovered some interesting data. Of the 700 pet owners surveyed,

73.2% exercise their pets regularly

28.7% learn about holistic living at their local pet food or natural food store

62.2% use non-toxic household products

48.9% use natural supplements for skin, coat or digestive care

38.7% take their pets for regular dental check ups

55.5% play mind stimulating activities and games with their pets

6.7%  take their pets for acupuncture

48.7% help a local rescue or shelter

41.5% use all natural shampoo and grooming products

When asked what they would do to celebrate National Holistic Pet Day (now that they know there is such a thing),

37.7% plan to switch to all natural pet food

52.7% committed to getting their pet regular exercise

34.2% will visit their local pet food or natural food store to learn more

49% plan to avoid ingredients prohibited for humans (such as chicken meal)

38.5% plan to switch to non-toxic household products

40.5% would like to try mind-stimulating games with their dog and/or cat

7.7% would like to try acupuncture

28% will switch to an all-natural shampoo or grooming product

Dr. Donna Spector, HALO’s consulting vet and frequent guest on the Ellen Show, offers 10 ways to celebrate National Holistic Pet Day – from feeding an all natural food to regular dental care to living chemical free.

I suspect that if I surveyed our readers, the percentages of those who already do some or most of these things would be much higher than those in Halo’s survey. I’d love to hear your experiences with holistic or alternative therapies – please share them in a comment!

You may also enjoy reading:

Integrative medicine for your cat

An introduction to Spirit Essences, and an exclusive discount for Conscious Cat readers

Book review: The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care by Celeste Yarnall and Jean Hofve, DVM

About the author

Coming to a computer near you today: The 2011 Pettie Awards

The 2011 Petties

The date has finally arrived! The winners of the 2011 Pettie Awards will be announced during a virtual awards ceremony at 5pm Eastern today! You’ve voted and voted and voted some more, and now we’ll find out who the winners are.

I will be watching the ceremony at BlogPaws, so I will find out right along with you who won. Every Pettie winner, and there will be eight, will receive $1000 to be donated to a shelter or rescue group of their choice. I will split my prize money between two groups, Casey’s House, the group who rescued Buckley, and Kitten Associates, the Connecticut based rescue group founded by fellow Pettie nominee Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair.

Dogtime Media just announced that they will be giving away additional donations, and you, the viewer, can decide where they should go. All you have to do is tweet. Simply use the hashtag “petties” (#petties) to congratulate your favorite bloggers via Twitter between 5pm and 8pm ET on August 26. The two best tweets, as selected by the official DogTime Petties Awards Committee, will each receive a $1000 donation to a non-profit shelter of their choice. Additionally, one lucky DogTime reader will win $10,000 for his or her favorite shelter. To be eligible, install DogTime’s adoptable iframe between August 26th and October 31st on your website or blog. Winners will be selected November 1.

To watch the ceremony, go to http://www.dogtime.com/petties.

The 2011 Petties

Regardless of who wins, Allegra, Ruby and I already feel like winners, because of all of you. We couldn’t do what we’re doing here without you, and we appreciate your support, whether it’s reading us every day, telling your friends about us, and, of course, voting for us!

 

About the author

Product review: Sureflap Microchip Cat Door

SureFlap Microchip Cat Door

Guest review by Fern Crist, DVM

The SureFlap Microchip Cat Door is a new-to-the U.S. product from the United Kingdom.  It uses RFID technology to read a cat’s veterinarian-inserted microchip and determine whether or not to let the cat inside. This prevents strays, and other animals, from entering a home and adds a high-tech level of convenience to the homes of outdoor cat owners.

SureFlap offered to send one of these doors to Ingrid, and since Allegra and Ruby don’t go outside, but my cats do, she asked me to test and review it for The Conscious Cat.

Let me start out by saying that the Sure-flap Cat Door is a wonderful invention. My favorite feature: it is unlocked by the microchips my cats already have in place.

Our last cat door was unlocked by a magnet hanging on the cat’s collar, a concept doomed from the start. Cats mostly regard collars as irritations, something to be chewed, ripped, or tugged off as soon as possible. End result: a lost collar, a cat stuck outside, and you have to keep buying new magnets.

This door runs on 4 AA batteries, allowing it to recognize the microchip and unlock the latch. The batteries pop into an easy-to-reach chamber on the top of the door. You don’t have to stand on your head to get to the batteries. Well done, engineering team!

The installation procedure was not appreciably different from any cat door. I really like the tube extender, an optional part we needed so that the tube remained unbroken through the full thickness of the wall. All the parts click together easily. The hardest part was cutting the hole in the wall.

Once installed, the door needs to “learn” your cat’s microchip. This is done by the simple method of pushing a button and having your cat walk through the door. Repeat as needed, once for each cat. I was delighted to discover that the door remembers the microchips even if the batteries are dead or missing, removing the need to “re-teach” the door every time the batteries need changing.

After we had our Sure-Flap in place, I taped the flap open for a week so my kitties could get acquainted with the door without unpleasant sensations. Since it is easier for them to push through the flap with the microchip feature turned off, the second step was to leave the flap down but unlocked — batteries out.

The third and final step was the reinsertion of the batteries. To open the door when the microchip reader is active, they do need to squinch themselves up a bit to get the microchip, which is between the shoulderblades, close enough for the door to read.  However, they figured out pretty quickly how to position themselves (this part of the learning process goes faster if you have food on the other side!) and now the mechanics of the door are no problem for them.

I’ve only had one issue with our Sure-Flap: the diameter is a little tight for my larger cat. At a lean 16 pounds, he doesn’t so much walk through the door as ooze through. He looks for all the world like toothpaste coming out of a tube. In future models, I’d suggest that the opening be a little bigger.

While I can’t testify that the door is totally raccoon-proof, I can say that as of this writing, we’ve had several raccoons attempt to get through, so far without success. With our last cat door, a raccoon just needed to insert a claw under the flap and pull, and in he came.  This door seems to be made of sterner stuff.

A warning to consumers: the Sure-flap people sell an adaptor that is supposed to allow you to install the flap in a glass door or glass window, through the glass panes. This only works with single pane, non-safety glass. You cannot install the flap through existing double pane glass (the manual suggests you purchase a replacement double-pane piece manufactured with a premade opening in it, which may be prohibitively expensive), and safety glass will just disintegrate if you try to cut a hole in it. Be sure you know what kind of glass you have before you buy the adaptor.

Our first Sure-Flap is installed between our kitchen and our sunroom. We plan to install a second one between the sunroom and the deck, creating a double level of security against those pesky raccoons. We had planned to install it in the sunroom glass, but – well – you guessed it.

So we will be installing the Sure-Flap in the aluminum wall of our sunroom. The manual is discouraging about installation in metal walls and doors, since the metal might interfere with the microchip reader. With no other choice, we plan to use the glass adaptor to install the flap through the metal. Worst case, we can turn off the microchip function and leave the outer flap unlocked.  Hopefully I can post the results of this experiment in the future.

Overall, I rate this as an excellent product. Great ease of use, fabulous concept, strong construction. It could be a little bigger, but apart from that, I’m delighted with my Sure-Flap!

For more information about the SureFlap Microchip Cat Door and to purchase, please visit SureFlap’s website.

Dr. Crist has been practicing veterinary medicine since 1982, and has been working exclusively with cats since 1993.  She served on the board of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.  Dr. Crist is married with four children, two of which are not fuzzy.

About the author

Euthanasia: The Loneliest Decision (A Personal Experience)

Making a decision about whether or when the time is right for euthanasia is one of the hardest things someone loving a pet will ever go through. Unlike human medicine, veterinary medicine is fortunate to be able to legally offer the option of gently ending suffering when there seems to be no hope for recovery. Making this decision for a beloved pet can be agonizing to the point of being nearly impossible for some pet guardians.

And even though there are some guidelines that can help with the decision process, ultimately, nobody else can make this decision for you. It’s between you, and your pet.

My personal experience with having to make the euthanasia decision:

I’ve had to make this decision three times. In April of 2000, Feebee lost his battle with lymphoma. After tolerating chemotherapy well for almost seven months, he declined rapidly, and instead of choosing more aggressive chemotherapy and blood transfusions, which might have given him some more time, I choose to let him go. And Feebee, in one final act of unconditional love, took the decision out of my hands: he died in my arms while my vet was on her way to my house.

Those of you who read Buckley’s Story already know how difficult my decision was to let Buckley go in November of 2008, when her severe heart disease was compounded by multiple other problems. I probably held on a little too long with her, but I’m now at peace with my decision. She, too, died in my arms, with my vet’s gentle assistance.

My most difficult decision was the one I had to make last May, when Amber came down with a sudden, severe illness. She was in intensive care for four days, and her prognosis was so poor that I decided against pursuing more aggressive treatment and took her home. I spent the afternoon with her before my vet came to the house. Amber laid on my chest, and looked right into my eyes as she took her final, peaceful breath with my vet’s help. I’m still not entirely at peace with this decision, a part of me will always wonder whether I gave up too soon.

How do you decide when it’s time?

There are some markers that can be used as guides. Pain is one of them. No pet parent wants to see a beloved pet suffer. Animals, especially cats, are masters at masking pain, so this can be difficult to detect. Another marker is appetite. For most pet guardians, the first indication that something is wrong is usually when a pet stops eating. A third important marker is dignity. Is the pet still able to relieve herself on her own, or does she need assistance with urination and defecation?

Dr. Alice Villalobos, founder of Pawspice, a hospice program for pets, has developed a Feline Quality of Life Scale that can help care givers determine quality of life based on criteria such as pain, appetite, hygiene, and whether the number of good days outweighs the bad.

Each relationship is unique

But decision points aren’t the only part of the equation. Each pet and each relationship between human and animal is unique.  There is no one right answer. And that’s why making this decision can make you feel like you’re all alone with this awful responsibility.

The emotional aspects of making the euthanasia decision can be incredibly complex. In addition to the love for the pet, and the fear of losing him and not being able to imagine life without him, a care giver’s prior experience with illness and death, be it of a pet or a human, will influence the decision. Religious beliefs may also impact the decision.

Denial can play a significant role in the process. When faced with difficult situations, denial is a natural defense mechanism that initially saves the person from anxiety or pain. However, getting stuck in denial can become paralyzing. When it comes to dealing with a terminally ill pet, love and denial can be intricately linked, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate one from the other.

A lonely decision

Making the euthanasia decision is a lonely decision. While others may provide support and advice, ultimately, nobody other than the pet’s caregiver can make this decision. And that’s where things get challenging. I’m currently dealing with a situation where a client’s cat has been ill for a long time, but the client is not ready to make a decision. She’s gone far past the stage where I would have made the decision, if the cat was mine. But at the same time, I can’t fault this client for not being able to make a decision: her cat, while medically in very bad shape, still responds to her, still purrs for her, and still eats well.

Sometimes, it can be hard for a caregiver to really see how far an animal may have declined. Watching a pet deteriorate a little more every day is hard, but seeing the decline happen a little bit at a time can feed the natural amount of denial most people have that the pet just isn’t that sick. Sometimes, it takes a visit from someone who hasn’t seen the pet in a while to make the pet’s guardian realize just how much the pet has declined.

One aspect to making the decision that is not often talked about was recently addressed in a beautiful post by Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair. Robin’s 14-year-old cat Bob has lymphoma, and has recently stopped responding to chemotherapy. He’s also dealing with multiple other problems. Robin writes:  “Try to watch out for the urge to just get it over with because YOU are suffering watching this natural process occur. This is very very difficult, but we owe it to our animals to give them every option and every day we can.” I couldn’t agree more. We don’t want our animals to suffer, that’s a given. But the euthanasia decision should never be based on our own discomfort with the dying process. I encourage you to read Robin’s entire post about Bob’s battle with cancer, and her struggle to do the right thing for him.

Will you “just know?”

It is often said that we will “just know” when the time is right. And I believe that when we do connect with the essence of our animals and manage to set aside worry and fear for even just a few moments at a time, we will know.  It takes courage to set aside our fears, and to tune in to the animal and really “hear”  them.

Ultimately, the only way any of us can make this decision is by listening to our animal friends with our hearts, not with our heads. It becomes a decision of love, not something to be reasoned out on an analytical and intellectual level.

The sad reality of making the euthanasia decision is that there is probably no way to ever be completely at peace with it. And that, too, makes it the loneliest decision.

Have you had to make the euthanasia decision for a beloved cat? What helped you during the decision process?

About the author

Moments of magic

 

two cats in the sun

The therapeutic benefits of pets have been documented by physicians, and scientist.  Pets can act as therapists, fitness trainers, and heart warmers. They lower our blood pressure, remind us to live in the moment, and keep us warm at night. 

And sometimes, pets grace us with simply extraordinary moments. I call them “moments of magic.” To qualify as a moment of magic, it has to be something that doesn’t happen every day. I’m not talking about the joy we feel when our pets greet us at the end of a long day, or the exhilaration we feel when we watch them play. I’m talking about those truly special, rare and, well, magic moments. 

I had one of those magic moments the other day. I was working at my desk. Ruby was on my lap, Allegra on the desk in front of the computer, just about sitting on the keyboard. (Working with two feline assistants isn’t always the most productive way to get things done.). Allegra touched her nose to Ruby (a sign of affection between cats), and Ruby gave her a slow blink in return (a cat’s way of saying “I love you.”) My heart melted. 

Now mind you, those two get along beautifully in general. They play and hang out together. They frequently touch noses throughout the day. But I’d never seen them exchange the slow blink until that day. That’s what made the moment magical. 

What magic moments have your cats given you?

You may also enjoy reading:

The cat’s purr: a biomechanical healing mechanism

Research says cats have healing powers

A magical journey to the Cat House on the Kings

About the author

Kittywood Studios: Behind the scenes of the most popular cat videos on the internet

 cat with camera

Cat videos are taking over the internet. According to some statistics, 30% of all videos on YouTube are cat videos. You’ve probably seen some of them: Surprised Kitty (52 million views), The Two Talking Cats (44 million views), or Cat Mom Hugs Baby Kitten (32 million views),  just to name a few.

Did you ever wonder how these viral videos are created? You’ll be surprised to find out that it takes a lot more than a camera and some cute cats. Watch and find out what purrportedly goes on behind the scenes at the filming of cat videos.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uBZRE5mXpc 

Related reading:

Feline casting call: your cat could be on TV

Pet photography: an interview with Megan Lee of Paws and Claws Photography

About the author

How to Do Cat to Cat Introductions (8 Simple Tips)

cat-to-cat-introductions

Written by Jackson Galaxy

The common wisdom in introducing a newly adopted cat to a resident one in the past was to open the carrying case and “let them work it out.” We most definitely have a new way of looking at things; from the cat’s perspective. Cats are, after all, about territory. Bring a new, utterly alien scent of the same species into the house, and more times than not, we’re asking for chaos. Of course everyone has a story about introducing two cats that went smoothly doing the old fashioned technique. The point to stress is, if it goes poorly, this one meeting is the association that these two cats will hold onto for quite a long time and make a peaceable kingdom a difficult task. It is, ultimately, better to be safe than sorry.

The 8 Tips for Cat to Cat Introductions

1. Base camp for the newcomer

A slow and steady introduction starts with the establishment of a base camp for the newcomer. Once you’ve set up his or her space, you’re ready to start letting the cats make positive associations between one another. This is key, and will be repeated ad infinitum; all associations between the cats during this critical period have to be as pleasing as possible to reduce possible friction when they finally have free access.


2. Use food as a motivator

Top view of two cats eating wet and dry pet food from ceramic feeding dish
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Let’s start with one of the most pleasing motivators-food! Feeding time will happen at the door of base camp until introduction is complete. If the resident cat is not on a scheduled feeding diet, it might be best to put him or her on one for now. Or, if you leave dry food out and supplement with wet food, greatly decrease the amount of dry so that wet feeding time is looked forward to more. Remember that the only time either cat gets wet food is during these “meet and greets” at the base camp door, which can be divided into two daily sessions. Place food bowls on either side of the door with a couple of feet of breathing room for each cat. Ideally, there should be a family member on either side of the door to praise each cat as they eat. The idea is that they are rewarded with food for being so close to the scent of the unfamiliar cat, and also rewarded by you with praise for eating. At this initial point, the door should be closed; the cats can smell one another just fine. If they don’t devour their food at first, that’s okay. They will eventually eat. Don’t give in and move the food.


3. First eye contact

The next step is to open the door just a tiny crack, giving the cats limited visual access to each other. How soon do you move on to this step? As with all steps in introduction, pay attention to the cats; let their body language tell you when they are comfortable enough to move on. Remember that proceeding too quickly will force you to jump backwards by anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. Slow and steady definitely wins this race. We need to remain safe, so use rubber doorstops on either side of the introduction door to prevent any more than visual accessibility. If the door is too high off the ground to use stops, or if one or both cats are muscling the door open, try using a hook and eye setup. Instead of using it to lock a door shut, you would employ it backwards, to give us just a couple of inches of cracked space between the door and the jamb.

Again, the time required in moving from step to step is determined by your observation and the cats’ level of comfort. Keep cracking the door further until each cat could, if they wished, bat at one another-first up to the elbow joint then all the way to the shoulder, just making sure not to leave enough room to let a head get through. The object of “the game” is to give them enough rope to succeed. If they fail, just go back to the previous step.


4. Scent and site swapping

Other tricks to use during the introduction period are “scent swapping” and “site swapping.” In scent swapping, we take a washcloth per cat and rub them down with it, making sure to go across their cheeks, head, sides, and around the base of the tail. Then, present the other cat with the scent of the washcloth in a conspicuous part of their territory, perhaps near a favored sleeping spot or near (but respecting the space of) their food or water. This will start getting them accustomed to the new facts of life; their space will have to be shared with one another, and better to have this fact introduced by scent than sight.

Site swapping relies on more paws–on physical exploration of one another’s space. Once a day, switch the two cats. The new cat gets to explore the house while the resident cat is base camp to freely explore the scent of new arrival without the fear of retribution. This process is best done with a human partner just to make sure the cats don’t inadvertently get in each other’s way while trading places; but if you don’t have help, try putting the resident in, say, a bedroom. When the new cat heads for the kitchen or other area out of sight, move the resident cat into base camp. Both cats should get the praise and encouragement they need/deserve in bravely going where they have not gone before!


5. Play therapy

cat playing with owner
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Don’t forget, during this entire process, to play with the cats! This may seem elementary, but remember, they are just energetic balloons naturally, and even more so during these intense times of stress. Of course, you will have separate play sessions during the introduction phase. Once they’ve met and cohabitated for a bit, group playtime will be another wonderful way of diverting aggression they might have towards one another into a positive route. Refer to our article on play therapy to learn the ins and outs of keeping them both as happy as possible during the period of adjustment.


6. Flower essences

Additionally, consider flower essences to help both (or all) cats get through the initial introduction period with the least amount of stress and anxiety. Spirit Essences has many formulas to choose from, depending on the personalities involved, including “Peacemaker” and “New Beginnings.”


7. Supervise initial interactions

When you think it’s time to let them be in the territory together at the same time, take precautions. If a fight breaks out, do not try to break it up with your hands! Unfortunately, this is most of the time our first instinct. You are almost sure to be clawed and bitten, and it will not be pretty. In the heat of the moment, the cats will not be able to distinguish between your arm and each other, and they will have no inhibition about attacking whatever is handy, even if it’s you. Instead, have an immediate barrier like a couple of large, thick towels or blankets at the ready. You can toss them over the cats to disorient them, and immediately relocate them by scooping them up inside the towel (to protect yourself). There is no need to follow this up with a scolding. That will not do anything except increase the cats’ agitation, which is just what you don’t need! Let the event pass with each cat in their own “time–out”, and start again fresh tomorrow–at the very beginning. Also make sure that when the two cats meet, they have escape routes from one another. Getting cornered is a sure recipe for a fight in the mind of a defense–minded animal like a cat. Keep a close eye on all interactions for the first week or so, not letting the cats have free access to one another when nobody is home.


8. Litterboxes: 1 box per cat + 1

Frisco-high-sided-litter-box-e1646846076767-edited

Finally, keep the food and litter setup established in the base camp room, at least for the next while. The accepted “recipe” is three litterboxes for two cats (to be precise, 1 box per cat + 1), so bear that in mind. Also bear in mind escape routes from the boxes, as the last place we want a skirmish to erupt is while one of the cats is having a “private moment.” They should be able to see as much of the room around them as possible when in the litterbox, which is why uncovered boxes would be highly recommended.

This should pretty well cover the bases for the initial introduction between your cats. Of course there are always variables, but the broken record theme should get you going; do it slow–there’s always tomorrow to make another positive impression. They can, over time, learn that every time they view or smell the other, something good will happen. Do it too quickly and that negative first impression might very well be the one that lasts.

Jackson Galaxy, cat behaviorist and host of Animal Planet’s new show, My Cat From Hell, has been reading about, writing about and working hands-on with cats for 15 years. For more information, please visit Jackson’s website.

About the author

I rescued a human today

Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher cat on sofa

I’ve always believed that animals come into our lives for a reason. They teach us about unconditional love. They help up open our hearts. And sometimes, they even save our lives.

The beautiful poem below makes the rounds on the web periodically, and every time I read it, it moves me to tears. I recently came across this version, slightly altered and adapted for cats, on Romeo the Cat’s blog, and wanted to share it with you today. 

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor
peering apprehensively into the cages.

I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I meowed, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.

As she read the sign on my cage I hoped that she
wouldn’t feel sad about my past.

I only have the future to look forward to
and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.

I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up
against the bars to comfort her.

Gentle fingertips caressed my neck;
she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and
I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my cage door opened and
her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.

I would promise to always be by her side.

I would promise to do everything I could
to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.

So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors.

So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Did your cat rescue you? Please share your stories!

Photo of Buckley, taken after she rescued me in 2006.

This poem was originally written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog’s professional dog trainer. Janine’s passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2011 Rescue Me Dog; http://www.rescuemedog.org/.

About the author

The ultimate cat house

The Cats' House Japan 

Most of us consider our homes cat friendly. We provide scratching posts, cat trees, and lots of toys to keep our feline family members happy and entertained. But how many of us have an entire house that was designed specifically for cats?

A family in Japan does. The Cats’ House was designed by the Japanese architectural firm Fauna+DeSIGN for an avid cat lover.

The house, owned by a family with 16 cats and 5 dogs, features beautifully designed modern furniture and various structures that were created especially for cats: shelves and platforms with rounded corners, bookcases that work like stairs, hidden tunnels and passageways, catwalks on the ceilings, a floor-to-ceiling scratching post and all kinds of other goodies meant for discovering, climbing, playing and of course sleeping. The architecture is very open and invites a lot of natural light to every room.

Be sure to visit The Cats’ House website and look around. I don’t know Japanese, but the page headers are in English, and it’s well worth clicking around for more images of this stunning house.

Here’s a video to give you an idea about what this amazing house looks like:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfO80sSVhkc

About the author

Product review and giveaway: Cascades Boutique cat teepee

cat house playhouse for cats cardboard house for cats

Allegra and Ruby are always excited when there’s a new product to review, and since they had so much fun with this one, I thought it was only fair to let them write the review.

Allegra: When this odd looking box arrived at our house the other day, Ruby and I went to check it out immediately. We do that with all boxes that come into the house, but this one looked really different.

Ruby: I saw a picture of a triangle with a cat in the center on the box! That looked really interesting. There were also words on the box, but I can’t read, so I asked Allegra what they said.

cats and boxes cats and cardboard boxes

Allegra: It says “Native American Teepee for fluffy little critters.” We’re fluffy little critters, Ruby!

Ruby: So this is for us? Woohoo!!!

Allegra: Mom took her time unpacking it. We couldn’t wait to see what it was! When she finally got it out of the box, it didn’t look all that exciting. In fact, it just looked like more cardboard. Now don’t get me wrong, I like cardboard as much as the next cat, it can be very tasty, especially the edges, but this was a bit of a letdown after what it said on the box.

Ruby: Allegra, look! Mom is making something out of the cardboard!

Allegra: I can see that, Ruby. It looks like a tent. Let’s see if we can help her. See, with our help, this is going much faster.

Ruby: Look, it has a little opening in the front. We can go in it!

Allegra: You go first, Ruby.

Ruby: Okay! Oooh, Allegra, this is fun. You should come in, too!

Allegra: That’s okay, Ruby. I’ll just check it out from the outside first.

cats playing with cardboard cat house

Ruby: Coward!

Allegra: Who are you calling a coward? Get out of there and make room for me. I can go in, too!

cat inside cat playhouse

Ruby: Wee! We can both go in it at the same time! Or better yet, I can hide in here and pounce on you when you least expect me to. Watch out – here I come!!!

Since Allegra and Ruby clearly prefer playing with the Cascades Boutique cat teepee to writing about it, I thought I’d add a few things. The teepee is made from nice, sturdy cardboard, and even though it didn’t come with assembly instructions, it was very easy to put together (take it from someone who shudders when she sees the words “some assembly required” on anything!). It comes with a couple of cute different decorations for the front of the teepee to give it that “authentic Native American look.”

You can see the girls checking out their teepee in the video below. It’s become a permanent fixture in our kitty playroom. Ruby uses it more than Allegra, and, not surprisingly, she uses it mostly to stalk Allegra! It seems like the teepee would hold up well to even rough play.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0NU9xBO3F0

You can purchase the cat teepee from Cascades Boutique online. They also offer a Cat Chalet. Both the teepee and the chalet are made from 84% recycled cardboard.

As a special offer for Conscious Cat readers only, Cascades Boutique will offer a 25% discount on both products on all orders placed through September 30. Use rebate code CONSCIOUT during checkout. And one lucky reader will win either a cat teepee or chalet! To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment to let me know why you’d like to win, and whether you’d like to win the teepee or the chalet. For an additional chance to win, share this giveaway on Facebook or tweet about it, and leave the link in a separate comment. This giveaway ends Tuesday, August 23.

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Your cat may not be as old as you think

 Bengal kitten Maine Coon Cat Zee Zoey Mia

At least not in human years. Conventional wisdom used to be that cats age seven human years for every feline year. The limitations of this calculation become particularly obvious on the high and low ends of the age spectrum. With advances in veterinary care, some cats now life well into their teens and even into their twenties, which, using the old paradigm, would make a 15-year-old cat 105 years old, a 20-year-old cat 140 years! On the low end of the age spectrum, a 9-month-old kitten would be the equivalent of a 5-year-old child. If you’ve ever had a 9-month-old kitten, you know that they act much more like a teenager than a young child.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recognizes that there is a better way to classify feline life stages. Individual cats and individual body systems age at different rates, and while any type of age grouping is inevitably arbitrary, they felt that the new age designations take physical and behavioral changes that occur at different ages into account (for example, congenital defects in kittens, obesity prevention in young cats). Of course, aging is a process that is influenced by many factors, including diet, preventive care, genetics, and environment.

The following chart was developed by the AAFP’s Feline Advisory Bureau, and may give you a better indication of where on the human age spectrum your cat falls: 

feline life stages how old is a cat in human years

Why is this important? Cats need different levels of health care at different ages. The AAFP recommends a minimum of annual wellness exams for cats of all ages, with more frequent exams for seniors, geriatrics and cats with known medical conditions. I recommend bi-annual exams for cats age 7 and older. Cats are masters at hiding discomfort, and annual or bi-annual exams are the best way to detect problems early. Once a cat shows symptoms, treatment may be much more extensive, not as effective, and will also cost more.

According to this chart, Allegra and Ruby are both Juniors. Allegra is almost two in feline years, and Ruby is almost a year, which makes her fall right into the middle of the teenage years in human years. Yup – I’d say that’s an accurate assessment!

Photo ©Dan Power. See more stunning cat photos like this one over at Zee & Zoey’s Chronicle Connection, nominated for a Pettie for Best Blog Design.

Lifestages table from the AAFP’s 2010 Feline Lifestages Guidelines.

Related reading:

Feline-friendly handling guidelines to make vet visits easier for cats

Minimizing stress for cats can decrease illness

How to care for your older cat

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