Book review: Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is the first in the brand new Magical Cats Mysteries series. Even if I didn’t already love cat-themed mysteries, the cover would have drawn me in for sure: cats and books, my two favorite things!

 From the publisher:

When librarian Kathleen Paulson moved to Mayville Heights, Minnesota, she had no idea that two strays would nuzzle their way into her life. Owen is a tabby with a catnip addiction and Hercules is a stocky tuxedo cat who shares Kathleen’s fondness for Barry Manilow. But beyond all the fur and purrs, there’s something more to these felines.

When murder interrupts Mayville’s Wild Rose Music Festival, Kathleen finds herself the prime suspect. More stunning is her realization that Owen and Hercules are magical-and she’s relying on their skills to solve a purr-fect murder.

I loved everything about this book. The character of Kathleen, a determined amateur sleuth whose boyfriend in Boston went on vacation and returned home married, which prompted her move to Minnesota, is extremely likeable. The small Minnesota town she moves to is home to a cast of enjoyable secondary characters ranging from interesting to slightly bizarre. But it’s the cats who steal the show in this mystery. Owen is addicted to his Fred the Funky Chicken catnip toys, and Hercules is a fan of Barry Manilow’s music, which is definitely one of the more unique character traits I’ve seen in a cat!

I prefer if cats don’t talk in cat-themed mysteries, and these two don’t, but they do help solve the mystery, and at times, overshadow the human characters. I had no problem with that! But what really endeared me to Owen and Hercules is the fact that they seem to have magical powers: they can appear and disappear at will. Okay, so far, nothing that your average pet cat can’t do, right? But Owen and Hercules appear to be able to walk through walls and other solid surfaces.

The murder mystery gets solved, with a lot of help from the cats, but the magical properties of the two cats are left up in the air. Some readers may be bothered by this, but I actually liked it – it makes me look forward to the next book in the series even more.

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat is a whimsical, funny, magical read for cat and mystery lovers.

Sofie Kelly is the pseudonym of young adult writer and mixed-media artist, Darlene Ryan. Sofie/Darlene lives on the east coast with her husband and daughter. In her spare time she practices Wu style tai chi and likes to prowl around thrift stores. And she admits to having a small crush on Matt Lauer. You can learn more about her on her website.

A Cat’s Prayer

Allegra cat napping sleeping sunshine

 Now I lay me down to sleep,
the king-size bed is soft and deep.
I sleep right in the center groove.
My human can hardly move!

I’ve trapped her legs, she’s tucked in tight,
and here is where I pass the night.
No one disturbs me or dares intrude
’til morning comes and “I want food!”

I sneak up slowly to begin
my nibbles on my human’s chin.
She wakes up quickly, I have sharp teeth
and my claws I will unsheath.

For the morning’s here and it’s time to play.
I always seem to get my way.
So thank you Lord for giving me
this human person that I see.

The one who hugs me and holds me tight
And sacrifices her bed at night.

~ Author Unknown ~

June is Adopt-a-Cat month: Meet more cats looking for their forever homes

The American Humane Association has designated June as Adopt-a-Cat Month® to help raise awareness for the plight of homeless cats.  June is kitten season, and shelters and rescue groups are overflowing with cute, adorable kittens who are joining the millions of older cats.  There’s something for everyone, and all of these cats are deserving of a loving home.

Earlier this month, I introduced you to some wonderful cats who are looking for homes, and today, you’ll get to meet a few more. Some are local to my area, others are fostered with organizations readers of The Conscious Cat volunteer with. Please share this widely – let’s help find these cats their forever homes!

I’d also love to hear your story if you adopted a cat in June. E-mail me a photo of your new family member, along with a brief description of how you found your new cat and why you picked her, and I’ll feature some of the stories in a future post. 

Kitten Associates Mazie

Mazie is being fostered by by Kitten Associates founder Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair fame. Mazie was rescued before her time was up at a high kill shelter. She had just given birth to 3 kittens. Mazie is a little over a year old. She’s basically a big kitten. She’s a love bug, outgoing, chatty and has been a great mom. Her kittens are grown and Mazie’s ready to find her forever family. She’ll hug your head, jump high after toys. She is very playful, with big green eyes and a combination of both spots on her sides and tiger stripes on her legs. Some of her toes are black and some are pink. She’s got so many colors and markings, she’ll amaze you! Mazie’s daughter Polly Picklepuss is also available for adoption.

Maine Coon Rescue Alliance

This beauty named Astra is being fostered by Maine Coon Rescue Alliance in Austin, TX. She is about five years old, and is a very social and sweet cat. She gets along with everyone who comes through the door. She would do fine with small dogs (under 12 pounds) – she loves to play with them. She cannot be placed in a home with large dogs since she was attacked by one when she was young and is abolutely terrified of them. She is a great lap cat and is very affectionate. 

Forever Home Feline Ranch

Max is a special needs kitty – he has feline leukemia. He currently lives at Forever Home Feline Ranch in Rochester, IL. He is a very affectionate, playful boy who loves people. Kept in a cage for the last 3+ years, he didn’t get to experience a normal kitty’s life like looking out a window, walking around a house, sitting on a couch, meeting people, pets, loves and cuddles. He can’t wait to see what he was missing and is looking for either a permanent or foster home.

Fancy Cats Rescue Team

These three babies are named Java, Mocha and Kona, and are fostered through Fancy Cats Rescue Team in Herndon, VA. They’re tiny balls of energy who zoom around the room, tumbling and playing. Their antics will keep you amused all day. Java is a boy, and Mocha and Kona are his sisters. Java has little white socks, and the girls are all brown tabby. We don’t know if they are actually related; they came from an overcrowded shelter with some other kittens of roughly the same age. But they’ve been together in their foster home for awhile now, and they all play together wonderfully.

Lost Dog and Cat Rescue

You knew there’d be at least one tortie in this group! Robin is fostered by Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in  Northern Virginia. Robin is  is an outgoing, fun cat who loves everybody. She especially enjoys playing with her sister Jackie. Robin is a spunky kitty who you will fall in love with!

All of these groups have plenty of other beautiful cats looking for homes. If you’re looking for a new feline companion, please visit their websites, and look around.

Product review: New Wellness grain-free canned food

Allegra and Ruby Wellness canned cat food

I don’t usually accept food and treats for review here on The Conscious Cat. I like what I feed Allegra and Ruby, and I won’t use them as product testers for diets whose claims I can’t verify. However, I have been feeding Wellness® grain-free canned food for many years, and it meets my criteria for what constitutes a species-appropriate diet for cats (a feline diet must be completely grain-free, and it must be canned or raw. I don’t recommend ANY dry food for cats).

When a representative for Wellness® contacted me to see whether Allegra and Ruby would like to taste test their new Succulent Cuts with Savory Sauces for Cats line of grain-free canned diets, I accepted their offer (and there was much celebrating on Allegra and Ruby’s part). 

The new Wellness® Cubed, Sliced and Minced canned diets are 100% grain-free and contain no added artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. For each recipe, Wellness® has paired succulent cuts of wholesome, all natural protein sources like chicken, turkey, salmon and tuna with savory sauces that are designed to please the palate of even the most finicky feline. The new diets come in 12 different sliced, cubed and minced varieties

Finicky is not a word I’d associate with either of my two. Ruby would probably eat just about anything I put in front of her. Allegra is a little more discerning and sometimes needs a little encouragement whenever I present a new brand or flavor.

We tested the Minced Chicken Dinner and the Sliced Turkey Entree. Allegra got the chicken, Ruby the turkey. But why don’t I let the girls tell you what they thought.

Allegra: Finally! I told you about those cans that had been sitting on our kitchen counter last week, and even though Ruby and I tried our best, we just couldn’t figure out how to open them ourselves, and we had to wait for Mom to do it. When she popped the lids (She makes it look so easy – why can’t we figure it out?), the smell coming at me was incredible! I couldn’t wait to taste what smelled so good!

Ruby: I smell food! Woohoo! It’s dinner time!

Allegra: When Mom put the dish in front of me, I wasn’t quite sure at first. It looked really different from our usual raw food, and it looked different from any of the canned food Mom occasionally gives us, too. But boy, did it smell good! So I took a lick – and that was all I needed. I proceeded to eat the entire can in one sitting. Yummy!

Ruby: Food, food, food! Put it down already, Mom! I’m totally starving! I haven’t eaten in hours!!! – Oh. Hmm. This is different from what I had for breakfast. But it’s food! It smells great! I’m going to eat it all as fast as I can!

Well – I told you not to expect much of a review from Ruby.

Allegra eating canned Wellness grain-free food

Allegra takes her product testing duties very seriously!

We were also sent cans of the Minced Tuna Dinner and Sliced Salmon Entree varieties. I only very rarely give the girls fish protein based food, so we’re saving them as a special treat. 

If I were feeding canned food on a regular basis, I would definitely consider adding these new foods to my rotation. I think it’s important to feed a variety of flavors and textures to avoid having your cat stuck on only one diet. The different texture may be an issue for some finicky eaters who are used to the standard canned food texture, for those cats, Wellness®’s regular grain-free canned varieties may be a better choice.

If your cat has tried these new products, let us know how she liked them in a comment!

For more information about Wellness and their wide range of products, please visit their website.

You may also enjoy reading:

The truth about dry cat food

Cats are not small dogs, especially when it comes to nutrition

Feline nutrition: who bears the responsibility?

Integrative medicine for your cat

cat veterinarian stethoscope

Advances in veterinary medicine make it possible to treat medical conditions in cats that would have been a death sentence a decade ago.  Conventional veterinary medicine offers anything from chemotherapy to kidney transplants, and cats can now receive almost the same level of medical care as humans. On the other end of the medical spectrum, alternative and holistic therapies such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and herbal treatments are also becoming more accepted for pets, as more people are understanding that well-being encompasses body, mind and spirit. As people are experiencing the benefits of alternative and holistic therapies for themselves, they’re also looking for alternative ways of caring for their cats.

I believe there are benefits to be derived from both approaches to medical care for our cats, which is why I like the term integrative medicine. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at the National Institutes of Health, defines integrative medicine as “combining mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.” In other words, integrative medicine lets you pick the best of both worlds.

Finding a veterinarian who successfully combines both of these worlds can be challenging, as Dr. Nancy Kay wrote in a recent blog post on the challenges of combining Eastern and Western medicine for pets. According to Dr. Kay:

“It can be difficult to find a veterinarian who practices Western medicine and supports referral for complementary medicine, and vice versa. Truthfully, it is difficult for a veterinarian to be extremely well versed in both disciplines (hard enough staying truly proficient in just one of them). There are a few veterinarians who do a great job with both, but they are few and far between. Western medicine is the discipline predominantly taught in veterinary schools throughout the United States. Proficiency in complementary modalities including Chinese herbs, homeopathy, and acupuncture requires additional training and certification.

 What can you do to avoid having your veterinarian roll his or her eyes at you? As you know, I am a big believer in picking and choosing your veterinarians wisely. Certainly, open-mindedness is an important trait in any doctor, whether providing service for us or for our beloved pets. The “ideal vet” is happy to have you work with other veterinarians so that your pets receive the care that is best for your peace of mind. Just as most of us have a number of doctors for our health needs, it’s perfectly acceptable for your pets to have different doctors for their different health care needs.”

I completely agree with Dr. Kay. I’ve had the good fortune of working with one veterinarian who was equally brilliant with conventional internal medicine and several holistic modalities (acupuncture and Chinese herbs) for eight years, but I’ve been unable to find that level of integrative medicine in a single vet since she relocated to a different part of the country.

Rather than looking for a vet who can do it all, it may make more sense to either look for a holistic vet for your cat’s basic health care needs and be prepared to seek help from a conventional vet for things that require conventional treatment, or find a conventional vet who may not be practicing holistic modalities, but is open to her clients seeking such care, and willing to work with the client and/or a holistic veterinarian. Having a vet roll your eyes at your if you even mention holistic modalities probably means that this vet is not going to be a good choice for you if you plan on using alternative therapies for your cat. You, better than anyone else, know what’s best for your cat.

The Veterinary Institute of Integrative Medicine provides resources for pet owners and veterinarians interested in the benefits of an integrative approach to animal healthcare. Their advisory board reads like a who’s who in veterinary holistic medicine and includes such well-known doctors as Jean Dodd, a leader in immunology research, Allen Schoen, one of the early pioneers of holistic veterinary medicine and author of Love, Miracles and Animal Healing and Veterinary Acupuncture: Ancient Art to Modern Medicine, and Susan Wynn, an author, lecturer and practitioner of integrative medicine with a special interest in nutition and herbal remedies.

Do you use holistic modalities for your cat? Which ones have you used? Is your vet supportive of your choice?

You may also enjoy reading:

How to choose the right vet for your cat

Flower power for your cat: gentle healing from flower essences

New research brings hope in the battle against FIP

FIP research

Last night, several hundred people gathered in a hotel ballroom in Reston, VA for the Winn Feline Foundation’s 33rd Annual Feline Symposium for an unprecedented event featuring two legendary researchers who presented new developments in FIP research. The gathering included such noted feline veterinarians as Dr. Susan Little, past president and current board member of the Winn Feline Foundation and Dr. Jane Brunt, Executive Director of the CATalyst Council, as well as cat breeders, cat rescuers, and veterinarians. 

It also included cat owners like Harry and his daughter Rachel, who lost their kitten Parker to the disease.  Rachel wore Parker’s collar as a bracelet. “We lost Parker at the age of eight months to this disease I’d never heard of before,” said Harry. “For the last six years, I’ve been following all the research on the disease, and tonight, I’m excited to be here to hear about the latest discoveries.”

FIP are the three worst letters any cat lover can hear. Feline Infectious Peritonitis is caused by a coronavirus and affects the cells of the intestinal tract. The corona virus in itself is a common virus in cats, and cats may not even show symptoms other than perhaps a mild gastrointestinal upset. But for reasons that have eluded researchers so far, in some cats, the benign virus mutates into a highly infectious version that then causes FIP. It usually affects kittens and young cats, and it’s virtually 100% fatal. FIP kills as many as 1 in 100 to 1 in 300 cats under ages 3-5.

Renowned pet journalist and broadcaster Steve Dale opened the event and introduced Alfred M. Legendre, DVM, PhD, ACVIM, Professor of Internal Medicine and Oncology, Small Animal Clinical Sciences, University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and Niels Pedersen, DVM, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Director of the Center for Companion Animal Health and Director of the Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Legendre shared preliminary findings from his study of Polyprenyl Immunostimulant in treating the “dry” (non-effusive) form of FIP. Polyprenyl Immunostimulant is a biologic product that upregulates innate immunity in animals and has a potential to prevent and to control diseases in cases when vaccinations are ineffective, not available, or when vaccinations are not practically feasible. The product shows promise in improving well-being and probably survival in cats with the dry form of FIP. Future studies are needed to look at Polyprenyl Immunostimulant with and without antiviral treatments, and the mechanism of immune response in cats treated with it. Median survival time in the study of 58 cats was 49 days. One cat is still alive more than five years after the study was begun.

Dr. Pedersen spoke about the challenges of FIP research. There are four primary components of FIP research currently conducted at UC Davis:

  1. Study the genetics of the virus.
  2. Study the origins of the virus in shelter environments and how different shelter environments and practices may influence disease incidence.
  3. Screen human anti-viral compounds for cross-reactivity to the FIP virus.
  4. Determine genetic polymorphisms that may be associated with resistance and/or susceptibility to the disease.

He emphasized that researchers can’t find answers without the help of breeders of pedigreed cats. DNA samples from breeds with known FIP histories can help researchers pinpoint the location of genes that may be involved in the susceptibility to FIP and other diseases.

The bottom line? There is much research that still needs to be done. Research requires money, and cat health studies are notoriously underfunded. In his opening remarks, Steve Dale’s statement that “if FIP happened in the dog world, there would already be a cure” was met with loud applause from the audience.

How can you help? Educate yourself about the disease and raise awareness. It’s a devastating disease – both physically for the affected cats, and emotionally for the cats’ owners. But there are small glimmers of hope. Help keep that hope alive by contributing financially to organizations that fund FIP research.

Resources:

Winn Feline Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 1968 that supports studies to improve cat health. If you have a cat, it has benefited from the work this foundation does.

The Bria Fund for FIP Research provides funding for FIP research. Bria was a nine month old Birman kitten who died from FIP in April, 2005. Bria had the good fortune to live with Susan Gingrich and her husband, James Shurskis, in Harrisburg, PA. Susan is a sister of Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and founder of the Center for Health Transformation. The Center provided a generous contribution to establish the Bria Fund.

SOCK FIP (Save Our Cats and Kittens from Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is a global consortium of cat lovers, breeders, rescue groups, veterinarians and geneticists who are working together to support research on feline infectious peritonitis at the UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health (CCAH).

July 10, 2011 update: Thank you to Steve Dale for posting the complete audio from the symposium on his blog – to listen, click here.

Photo: morguefile.com

Book review: A Cat Like That by Wendy Wahman

A Cat Like That by Wendy Wahman

This delightful book for young readers aged 4-8 helps children (and their parents) understand how to interact with a cat. Wendy Wahman’s charming, whimsical, brightly colored illustrations accompany sound advice and will teach cat-loving kids some new facts, and perhaps empower nervous kids to make new feline friends.

What does a cat want in a best friend? Someone who knows just where to scratch. Someone who can read the many moods of a cat’s tail. Someone who knows when to play, and when to stay away.

My absolute favorite part of the book is this:

“I’d send a kiss with my eyes by blinking slowly…and hope I got one back.”

This book is purrfect for kids who are about to adopt a cat or meet a cat for the first time – especially for the overeager ones!

Check out this cute video about A Cat Like That:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80WcGcwpvaI&feature=youtu.be

Wendy Wahman has won many awards for illustration, but her greatest joy is loving the two-, three-, and four-legged animals she has known. She is also the author of Don’t Lick the Dog: Making Friends with Dogs. She lives in Washington State. You can learn more about Wendy and her work on her website.

This book was sent to me by the publisher.

Allegra’s World: Help from Flower Essences

Allegra The Conscious Cat

I can’t believe it’s been a whole month since I last wrote on here! Well, not exactly – Ruby and I told you about our tunnel adventure a week ago. That was really something! I’m happy to report that the evil tunnel has remained calm, and that we enjoy playing with it again.

Everything is good here. I really like having Ruby around and I hardly ever get annoyed with her anymore. I still wish she’d tone it down a little when Mom gets our food ready. You wouldn’t believe the screaming that’s going on then! Like Mom isn’t getting our meals ready as fast as she can. Ruby really needs to cut her a break. But, I guess that’s why I’m the big sister. I’m the patient one. It’s good to be me.

Speaking of food. A pet food company sent Mom some cans of food that Mom says they want her to write a review about. We mostly eat raw food, but about once a week, Mom gives us canned food, too. I like both kinds. I think Ruby does, too, although with her, you’d probably never know, I think she’d eat anything Mom puts in front of her. She’s also very interested in whatever Mom is eating.

But I digress. So these cans of food have been sitting on the counter for a couple of days, but neither Ruby nor I can figure out how to open them. I wish Mom would hurry up already and let us try them. I told Mom I should probably be the one to write the review, but she obviously hasn’t made up her mind about that. But one way or the other, you’ll see a review soon. (Or else, you’ll see a news report titled “Cat Figures Out How to Open Can” because it’s just too tantalizing to have these cans sitting on the kitchen counter, right where we can see them!)

The only thing that’s been happening that I’m not too crazy about is the frequent storms we’ve been having. They haven’t been bad ones, but I hate any kind of storm, even just a rainstorm. The sound of the rain hitting the house really scares me. I run downstairs and hide in the shower stall behind the curtain. It’s dark and quiet in there, and it makes me feel a little safer.

Mom has been giving me magic water twice a day (Ingrid’s note: I give her Safe Space for Cats by Spirit Essences), and when a storm is coming, she gives me even more magic water (Ingrid’s note: I either give her Stress Stopper by Spirit Essences, or a blend of Anxiety and  Animal Emergency Care by Green Hope Farm Flower Essences), and it helps make me less afraid, but during storms, I’m still not comfortable being anywhere else in the house except in my safe shower stall. Mom comes and checks on me frequently to make sure I’m okay and tries to coax me out, but I’d rather stay in my safe space.

What I don’t understand is why Mom can’t just make the bad weather go away. She can do everything else to make my life nice, why not this? I mean, come on, she can even open cans of food! Changing the weather should be a breeze compared to that!

Are you afraid of storms? What does your Mom or Dad do to help you not be afraid?

New campaign hopes to increase feline veterinary visits

Have we seen your cat lately?

You’ve repeatedly seen me report here that cats are underserved when it comes to regular veterinary care. Recent statistics show that there are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet. Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. For example, a recent industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats hadn’t received veterinary care in the past year. 

The disparity may be related to common myths about cat health, such as:

   • Cats are naturally healthier and more problem-free than dogs
   • Feline health problems come from outside and don’t affect indoor cats
   • Cats will display visible signs of illness like dogs do 

The truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual, or, depending on their age, bi-annual, exams, just like dogs do. And because cats are masters at hiding signs of illness, regular exams are especially important for early diagnosis of health problems.

A new campaign, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., with support from the American Animal Hospital Association, aims to address this discrepancy. Titled “Have we seen your cat lately?“, the campaign offers participating veterinary clinics educational materials and checklists to help veterinarians and staff members communicate better with clients about feline wellness.

I’m all for any campaigns and efforts that result in getting cats better veterinary care. For more resources on why regular vet visits are so important for cats, please visit Healthy Cats for Life.

Is your cat due for her regular check up? Why not take a few minutes and make that appointment right now?

You may also enjoy reading:

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

Is your vet cat-friendly?

Flower power for your cat: gentle healing from flower essences

flower essences for cats

Flower essences have been used since ancient times to provide vibrational healing for mind, body and spirit for people. Hildegard von Bingen (12th century) and Paracelsus (15th century) both wrote about the use of flowering plants to treat health imbalances. The healing method became better know in the 1930’s when Dr. Edward Bach, a British practitioner of homeopathy and bacteriology, developed his range of 38 essences known as the Bach Flower Remedies. The most well-known of his remedies is probably Rescue Remedy®.

As interest in holistic modalities for animals increases, flower essences are being used as a gentle, yet effective tool to enhance and improve their overall well-being.

Cats seem to be particularly responsive to these essences. They can help with a wide range of feline problems, from stress to litter box aversion to territorial issues.

What are flower essences?

Flower essences are obtained by extracting the vibrational healing properties of the blossoms after leaving them in sunlight and pure water for several hours. The resulting essence is then diluted out even more, and preserved with alcohol, usually brandy. Some flower essence manufacturers use alternate preservatives such as vinegar. The preservatives do not alter the vibrational quality of the essence.*

How do flower essences work?

Emotional and mental imbalances, if left untreated, will eventually manifest as physical illness. This is no different for cats than it is for people. Flower essences are vibrational medicine. They work in the energy field, similar to homeopathic remedies. They are safe to use, and, unlike some herbal treatments, do not interfere with allopathic drug treatments.

What types of problems can flower essences help with?

Flower essences are particularly effective for behavioral problems and stressful situations, whether it’s a move, trip to the vet, or a new cat in the household. I’ve used Rescue Remedy® for may years for my cats prior to visits to the vet, or during thunderstorms. (I also use it for myself during stressful situations.) I’ve been using flower essences to help with some of the behavior challenges Allegra was dealing with when I first adopted her, and I credit the progress we’ve made in no small amount to the essences.

How are flower essences administered?

Flower essences can be given orally, mixed with food or water, rubbed on the inside of the ear, or rubbed into the fur at the top of the head or base of the tail. Since they’re energy medicine, the only thing that matters is that they get into the cat’s energy field – how that is achieved is of secondary importance.

The Bach Flower Essences are widely available in health food stores, including national chains like Whole Foods. There are many other lines of essences available. I use the Green Hope Farm essences for Allegra.

I’ve recently become interested in Spirit Essences, the only line of flower essences developed by a holistic veterinarian, Dr. Jean Hofve. Spirit Essences is owned by nationally known feline behaviorist and star of Animal Planet’s “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson Galaxy. During my interview with Jackson for The Conscious Cat, he graciously offered to send me a couple of his essences for Allegra. I’ll let you know how she does with them.

If you haven’t used flower essences for your cat, I’d encourage you to give them a try. If you have used them, I’d love to hear your experience with them.

*Please note that flower essences are not to be confused with aromatherapy or essential oils. Essential oils are generally not safe to use around cats. This has become a hotly debated topic in holistic circles. Even though some practitioners or suppliers of essential oils will claim that their products or techniques are completely safe for cats, the fact remains that cats have a unique physiology and process these oils differently from other species. Some oils can even be deadly to cats. I do not recommend the use of any essential oils around cats.

Photo: morguefile.com

Happy Father’s Day 2011

Lion father and lion cub

Happy Father’s Day
Whether your kids are human or furry, enjoy your special day!

My dad passed away seven years ago. I still think about him every day. My relationship with him was complicated at times, but I always knew that he loved me, and I have lots of wonderful memories of him.

His life was shaped to a great extent by his experiences during World War II in Germany, and as a result of experiencing so much loss at such a young age, he held those he loved close to him – at times, too close for a daughter who wanted to spread her wings and fly from the nest!

He instilled in me my love of nature – some of my earliest and fondest memories are of long walks in the woods and parks near our home.  He taught me the names of all the flowers, trees, butterflies and animals we’d encounter on those walks.

He loved the Alps – his happiest times were spent hiking those beautiful mountains.  His love of the Alps dated back to his days as an American POW. When he was first captured, he was held in the basement of a home in Bavaria. Through a small window, he could see the snow covered peaks of the Alps, and he decided then and there that he would climb as many of these mountains as he could once he was free. The dream of one day hiking in those mountains kept him going through those dark days.

He worked hard at a job he didn’t enjoy all that much to provide for my mother and me.  We were by no means rich, but he always made me feel like we were.  He loved to travel, and after taking early retirement, for the next nine years, he and my mother traveled extensively.  He especially enjoyed his travels in the Western part of the United States – every Western movie he’d ever seen came to life for him there.  He would talk about those trips for years to come.

He had a difficult time dealing with my mother’s death, and his life contracted again.  He didn’t enjoy traveling by himself, and other than his annual visit to the United States, he stayed close to home.  When he became ill with prostate cancer six years after my mother died, I wasn’t sure he would want to fight – but he surprised me.  He wanted to live, and he survived.

After the life changing experience of going through cancer treatment, he decided that it was time to make a lifelong dream come true.  He sold his home of forty years almost overnight, and bought a condo in the Black Forest, where he spent the last two years of his life in an environment that he loved.   Having been a life-long worrier all his life, he learned to live in the moment and “appreciate each flower and each butterfly,” as he told me during my last visit with him.  He passed away after a short illness, and knowing how happy he was the last two years of his life was a great comfort to me.

My dad had a long, sometimes difficult, but ultimately good life, and I miss his physical presence in my life every day.  His spirit, however, is never far from me.

Ingrid King with her father

If you still have your father, tell him that you love him today.

Photo of lions: iStockphoto, photo with my Dad taken during my last visit with him in June of 2003

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