Month: November 2012

Review and giveaway: True Grey by Clea Simon

True_Grey

I’m a huge fan of Clea Simon, and was eagerly awaiting this fifth book in the Dulcie Schwartz mystery series, featuring the Harvard graduate student, along with her kitten Esme and the spirit of her departed cat, Mr. Grey. I knew enough from reading the previous four books to set some nice chunks of reading time aside when I received my review copy of True Grey, because once you pick up one of Simon’s mysteries, you’re not going to want to put it down.

In this book, we find Dulcie finally making some real progress on her thesis about an incomplete gothic novel written by an unknown author in the 18th century. But just when things are going so well, Melanie Sloan Harquist, a visiting scholar, shows up and claims that not only has she found the incomplete novel, she is preparing to publish a biography of Dulcie’s author! Dulcie is devastated, because this would mean that years of research were wasted. Dulcie makes several thwarted attempts to contact Harquist. When she finally plans to pay a friendly visit, it’s too late: she finds the woman murdered, and ends up – literally – with blood on her hands. To make matters worse, Dulcie had threatened to kill Harquist just days before the murder when she was venting her frustration about the situation to friends.

Dulcie looks like the prime murder suspect,Continue Reading

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Cats and Christmas Trees

cats and christmas trees

Putting up my Christmas tree is a tradition I look forward to every year. For the past couple of years, I’ve approached this annual event with some trepidation:  after almost two decades of sharing my life with older cats, I now have three-year-old Allegra and barely adult, two-year-old Ruby. Surprisingly, neither of them has shown all that much interest in the tree.Continue Reading

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Finding a cat-friendly vet

cat vet stethoscope veterinary exam

Cats are notoriously underserved when it comes to veterinary care. The  American Association of Feline Practitioners shares the following statistics:

  • In the United States, there are 86 Million Owned Cats and 78 Million Owned Dogs.
  • Almost twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian.
  • Of the cats that do visit the veterinarian, they average 26% fewer visits than dogs.
  • 41% of cat owners visit the veterinarian only for vaccinations.
  • 39% of cat owners say they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if the cat was sick.
  • 60% of cat owners report that their cat hates going to the veterinarian.
  • 38% of cat owners report that they get stressed just thinking about bringing their cat to the practice.

These numbers are alarming, because  they support the misconception that cats don’t need the same level of care as dogs.Continue Reading

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Review: Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte

Kitty_Cornered_Bob_Tarte

If you love cats, you’re going to not only love this book, you’ll probably recognize yourself in at least parts of it. Kitty Cornered: How Frannie and Five Other Incorrigible Cats Seized Control of Our House and Made It Their Home is Bob Tarte’s account of the challenges of a household run by cats. The book chronicles Tarte’s journey from being a one-cat household to ending up with six cats, one of them a hard to manage stray named Frannie.

Tarte writes with an often self-deprecating humor that will make you smile, although it sometimes made me wince a little, too. He portrays himself as a somewhat troubled soul who finds day to day living quite demanding. Despite this, or maybe because of it, I enjoyed the book. This is the story of someone who does not give up on a cat because she presents some challenges. Whether it’s rearranging the house to accommodate feline feuds, sitting up at night worrying about a sick cat, or trying to win over a recalcitrant stray – you can’t help but love Bob Tarte.

For me, the best part of the book was the story of Frannie, Continue Reading

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The Conscious Cat wins Muse Medallion

Muse_Medallion_Best_Website

I’m excited to announce that The Conscious Cat won a Muse Medallion for Best Website in the Cat Writers’ Association’s annual contest!

The contest showcases the very best in the feline field of professional writers, broadcasters, photographers and graphic artists. The Muse Medallions were awarded at the association’s annual conference in Los Angeles earlier this month. I wasn’t able to attend the conference this year, and just received my medal in the mail.

I’m very proud of this award, but it really belongs to you, my readers. Without you, I wouldn’t be inspired to write and blog every day and to bring you all the information you need to keep your feline family members (and yourself) happy and healthy. Thank you for being a part of the best community of cat lovers on the web!

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In praise of senior cats

senior_tortoiseshell_cat

November is Adopt-a-Senior Pet month. If you’re looking to add a new feline family member, don’t overlook the joys of adopting an older cat. Jane Harrell, executive producer at Petfinder.com, lists 10 reasons senior cats rule, and I agree with all of them. With a senior cat, you know what you’re going to get: the cat’s personality is already formed, so you’ll have a better idea of how she’ll fit into your family. Senior cats are usually already trained in the ways of living with humans. They’re purr-fect if you’re looking for a snuggle buddy. And most importantly, since senior cats are often the last to get adopted, you’ll literally be saving a life when you adopt one of these mature felines.

My own experience of adopting an older cat came with Buckley, who was most likely somewhere between eight and ten years old when I fell in love with her.   Even though she was only with me for three short years, I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a single moment.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to three senior torties from around the country who are looking for their forever homes to live out their golden years.Continue Reading

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DIY custom cat climbing wall

cat_box_tower

When we ran our recent giveaway for five Cattystacks designer cat climbers, Conscious Cat reader Becky told me about the box building challenges she and her husband hold, much to the delight of their four cats. She said the giveaway inspired her to build a new and bigger box tower for her cats.

Becky is a mechanical designer who says she’s known for taking various size boxes home for her kitties. After all, what cat doesn’t love boxes? But Becky and her husband took the whole box thing one step further, and decided to hold contests to see who can create the most loved box designs. The judges, of course, are their four cats. The sky’s the limit on the construction; the only restrictions are that the boxes must be cardboard , and they must be held together with grey duct tape.

cat_box_climbing_wall

Becky makes sure that her designs are well constructed to hold the cats’ weight Continue Reading

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Review: The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie

The_Dalai_Lama's_Cat

If I had to summarize The Dalai Lama’s Cat in just a few words, they would be “Buddhism 101, brought to you by an adorable cat.” But these few words wouldn’t do this charming book justice. While this warm-hearted story of a small kitten rescued from the slums of New Delhi through fortuitous circumstances may be a little contrived, it’s also utterly delightful.

When the Dalai Lama, who is on his way home in a limo, having just returned from a trip to America, sees a kitten being thrown into the gutter, he dispatches a staff member to rescue the kitten. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like living with the Dalai Lama, now you’ll be able to find out. Through the cat’s eyes, and narrated in her voice, the reader gets a close up view of the Dalai Lama’s inner sanctum and household. Much loved and spoiled by the Dalai Lama and his entire staff, Mousie-Tung, also known as HHC (His Holiness’ Cat), and dubbed “Little Snow Lion” by the Dalai Lama himself, encounters Hollywood stars, Buddhist masters, famous self-help authors and many others who come to visit His Holiness. The little cat soaks up the Dalai Lama’s teachings simply by being in close proximity to his light.Continue Reading

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Don’t judge a tortoiseshell cat by her color

don't_judge_cat_by_color

Even though we don’t like to admit it, we often make snap judgments based on appearance – and apparently, this is the case for cats as well. In a new study published in Anthrozoos, researchers from California State University and the New College of Florida surveyed nearly 200 people. Study participants were asked to associate 10 personality terms (active, aloof, bold, calm, friendly, intolerant, shy, stubborn, tolerant and trainable) with five cat colors–orange, tri-colored (tortoiseshells and calico cats), white, black and bi-colored (white and anything else).

Tri-colored cats (tortoiseshell and calico cats) rated high in aloofness and intolerance. Those of us who love our torties for their unique personalities, also known as “tortitude,” may disagree with this assessment. Torties tend to be strong-willed, a bit hot-tempered, and they can be very possessive of their human.  Other words used to describe torties are fiercely independent, feisty and unpredictable.  They’re usually very talkative and make their presence and needs known with anything from a hiss to a meow to a strong purr.

But even though there may be a connection between coat color and temperament, all cats are also individuals. Continue Reading

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Can you give your cat the flu?

can_you_give_your_cat_the_flu

With flu season upon us, it’s time to think about boosting your immune system so you don’t get sick. And if you need even more incentive to stay healthy this winter, consider this: it turns out that humans can give the flu to cats.

The first case of a cat getting the flu from humans was identified in 2009, when the H1N1 (swine flu) strain was identified in a cat in Iowa. Since then, there have been a handful of other cases of the flu being passed from humans to cats, dogs or ferrets. Veterinary researchers at Oregon State University and Iowa State University are working to find more cases of this type of disease transmission and better understand any risks they pose to people and pets.

Even though this phenomenon appears to be rare, it’s something to be aware of if you get sick this winter.

If your cat were to get the flu, Continue Reading

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Herbal Medicine: A New Option for Treating Feline Hyperthyroidism?

 calico tabby cat

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats.  It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease.

There are currently three treatment options:  lifelong medication, surgery, and the gold standard, radioactive iodine therapy.

There is also a new feline prescription diet on the market that is said to cure feline hyperthyroidism in 3 weeks. The diet has not been available long enough to really know whether it is safe to feed longterm, and it is only effective therapeutically when it’s used as the sole source of nutrition. No treats, no supplements, no table scraps. You can read more about the diet, and my take on it, here.

There may be another option: at a recent meeting Continue Reading

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