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.

A Visit to a Very Special Cat Sanctuary

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In loving memory of Buckley

Yesterday was an emotional day for me.   I went to the open house for Casey’s House, a private rescue group in Bluemont, VA.  Cindy Ingram, the founder of Casey’s House, rescued my precious little Buckley from a farm in southwestern Virginia, where she and about twenty other cats were kept in marginal living conditions.  Buckley passed away last Thanksgiving weekend.   While I had been supporting Casey’s House for many years, I had never actually seen the facility.  When I met Buckley, she was already living at the animal hospital I managed at the time.  (You will get to know Buckley and her story in my upcoming book “Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher”).

Casey’s House is named after Cindy’s beloved tabby cat, who came to live with her when she was fifteen years old.  At first Cindy refused her entrance to her house, as she already had two cats and two dogs at the time. Casey, however, was not a cat to take no for an answer. Casey’s “home” at the time was a colony of some fifty cats, and she was probably getting tired of either not getting to her food on time, or eating off of filthy dishes.  Every evening, Casey would be waiting on Cindy’s  porch, obviously hungry, so Cindy would feed her. Slowly, but surely, Casey became a part of Cindy’s family.  Eventually, four of her feline colony friends came to join Casey.  Says Cindy:  “Casey taught me to reach beyond my self-imposed limits, and her house is the dream that now has become a reality”.

In addition to providing a safe haven for older cats, Casey’s House also promotes Trap-Neuter-Return.  Through this program, feral cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and ear-tipped.  Cats that are friendly to humans and kittens are adopted into loving homes.  Healthy feral cats are returned to their outdoor homes.  Casey’s House spayed and neutered more than 200 cats in 2008, making a significant contribution to controlling the overpopulation problem.

I was impressed with the wonderful environment Cindy created for the cats.  There are very few cages, most of the cats live in a large open room, filled with carpeted ramps, cat climbing towers, and lots of soft pillows and blankets for them to sleep on.  New rescues and those with potential health conditions are kept in separate areas until they’ve been checked out by a veterinarian.    What was really amazing to me was how peaceful the energy in that large room felt.  All the cats seemed to get along, there was no hissing, posturing, or fighting.  Cindy said in all the years she’s done this work, she’s only had one incident with two cats fighting.  Casey’s House truly is a safe haven for cats in need.

I left missing Buckley even more than I usually do.  The visit definitely brought on a renewed wave of grief for me.  But I also left feeling good about living in a world where there are people like Cindy, who care so much and do so much for cats in need.

Like all non-profit organizations, especially those helping animals, Casey’s House is struggling in these tough economic times.   If you have a favorite shelter or rescue group that you support, please consider making a donation to them – they need your help now more than ever.  And if you don’t already support a shelter, perhaps you’ll consider making a donation to Casey’s House in Buckley’s memory.  Cindy and the cats at Casey’s House will thank you.

Make a Conscious Decision to Get Happy

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Is there a formula for happiness?  Is there one sure-fire way to achieve everything we want in life?  Well, actually, there just might be.  And it’s as simple, or as complicated, as getting happy.  Simple, because we all have the power to do it.  Complicated, because our conditioning tells us it’s not that easy.

Everything around us is energy, including our thoughts.  Law of Attraction teaches us that like attracts like.  If we focus our thoughts on things that make us happy, we attract more of the same.   But how do we do this in a world that seems to be so full of unhappy things?

We do it by making a conscious decision that we want to be happy.  We have the power to choose our thoughts – so why not choose thoughs that make us feel good?  We can make these conscious choices in every single moment – by choosing to focus on what is working in our lives rather than complaining about what isn’t, by choosing books and television programs that make us feel good rather than depressed or upset, by choosing to be with people who uplift us rather than drag us down into negativity.

Choosing your thoughts, and choosing what to focus on is key in this process.  We often think of choice as something that has to involve a “yes” or “no” decision.  When you begin to think of choice as saying “yes” to what you want, rather than “no” to what you don’t want, you will find your energy shifting.

Once we focus predominantly on that which makes us feel good, we’ll find that the world around us changes.  Life flows more easily.   We attract people and situations into our reality that are pleasant rather than frustrating.   Our lives work.  We get happy.

Today, make a conscious choice:  no matter where I’m going, no matter what I’m doing, no matter who I’m doing it with, I’m going to look for things that make me feel good.

And if you need a little help with feeling good, look to your animal companions.  They’re masters at making themselves feel good.  Have you ever watched a cat follow the sunny spots in the house, or a dog roll around on his back in the freshly mown grass just because it feels sooooo good?

Get happy today!

Loss of Appetite in Your Pet

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For most pets, eating is a joyful part of their daily routine.  So when a pet doesn’t want to eat, it is a reason for concern for most pet owners.  When loss of appetite is short-lived, it’s usually nothing to worry about.  But when your pet stops eating for unknown reasons for longer than 24 hours, a visit to your veterinarian might be in order.

Julie Andrus of Holistic Pet Info takes a look at what loss of appetite can mean:

Moving to a new home or the addition of a new family member can cause stress on your pet and they may not feel like eating.  This type of appetite loss is usually short-lived and can be remedied with coaxing and extra attention to your pet.  When your dog or cat stops eating for unknown reasons, it is time to take a closer look. 
 
A sudden loss of appetite or one that develops over time and continues for several days could indicate a variety of illnesses, including:
 
Digestive Disorders – Partial blockage of the digestive tract (foreign objects or possibly tumors) can make it difficult to swallow and can result in your pet’s unwillingness to eat. Parasites, ulcers or bacterial infections, even food allergies can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract which make it uncomfortable to eat. Additional symptoms to watch for are increased salivation, diarrhea and vomiting.
 
Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas secretes its corrosive digestive juices on itself and the surrounding internal organs and tissues rather than on the food in the intestine. The resulting inflammation causes pain and stress in the animal, eventually leading to a complete loss of appetite.  Vomiting and listlessness often accompany your pet’s loss of appetite when the pancreas is affected.
 
Kidney Disease – The kidney’s job is to remove waste products from the blood.  When the kidneys begin to fail, toxins begin to build up in the blood stream and sometimes cause ulcers in the mouth and stomach.  You may notice your pet has stopped eating (because of the ulcers) yet they are drinking and urinating more often because of the kidney disease. With kidney disease, vomiting and lethargy are often present.
 
Dental Disease – One obvious but often overlooked reason for loss of appetite is that your pet experiences mouth pain when eating.  Abscesses, tooth decay and gum disease can sideline even the hungriest pets. 
 
Your pet’s loss of appetite may mean something as simple as his dislike for a new brand of food or it may indicate a more serious medical condition. If other symptoms are present (difficulty breathing, vomiting, lethargy, drooling, excessive thirst), schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.   A physical exam, x-rays, fecal tests and or blood work can diagnosis the problem and a treatment plan can be determined.

Remember that early intervention can mean a better prognosis for recovery and less discomfort for your beloved pet.

Julie Andrus is the owner of Holistic Pet Info.  If you are looking for information on how to manage your pet’s health with holistic or natural pet care products like nutritional supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines, Holistic Pet Info is the place for you.  They carry more than 100 natural pet products including vitamins and nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines.  The site also offers a wide range of well-written and researched articles and other information on animal health issues.

Choose to Live a Conscious Life

Our planet is undergoing a massive shift in consciousness, and as a result, individuals are questioning the old ways of living and making new, more conscious choices about how to live their lives.  But what does conscious living really mean?

The definition of the word conscious is “to be aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts and surroundings”.  It also means “being fully aware or sensitive to something”, “aware of oneself”, and “deliberate and intentional”.  All these terms take us right to the heart of what conscious living means.

Being aware of our thoughts and emotions allows us to make conscious choices about everything from what we feel like wearing today to which career path we want to take.  Thoughts are energy, and each thought has a vibration attached to it that sends a message to the universe to attract things to us that match the vibration of the thought we send out.  We all have the ability to focus our thoughts, and when we deliberately focus them on what we want rather than on what we don’t want, we begin taking charge of consciously creating our lives.  Being aware of our emotions adds power to this process – emotions are our instant guidance as to whether a thought moves us in the direction of what we want or away from it.  When a thought feels good, we’re moving towards our desires.  When it feels bad, we’re moving in the opposite direction.

Being fully aware is the first step to consciously living our lives.  It is this awareness that allows us to tune in to our inner guidance, and the more we do that, the more we are able to become deliberate and intentional in choosing our thoughts.

Ultimately, conscious living means making choices that are in alignment with who we really are at our core.  Using our emotions as guidance, we can make choices about everything from the foods we eat to the cosmetics we use to the products we buy for our pets.  The more we make these conscious choices, the more whole our lives will become.  Every choice becomes a conscious expression of our authentic selves in the world.  The more we pay attention to what our inner self really wants and needs, the more congruent our lives become.

Be forewarned – conscious living is addictive.  Once you live your life from that place of authenticity, you will have very little tolerance for anything less.

Some conscious choices people make can be as simple as eating organic foods, purchasing cruelty-free personal care products, using environmentally friendly products, and watching movies and television programs that carry a positive message, or as far-reaching as leaving a job that is not in alignment with their authentic self to start their own conscious business.

The important thing is to start somewhere, one small choice at a time.  Make that simple choice, and watch your life begin to change.

Happy Mother’s Day 2009

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Happy Mother’s Day from the Conscious Cat!

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom in your life, be sure to tell her that you love her today, and every day.  My mother passed away 15 years ago, and I still miss her.  Even after all these years, I still feel a pang when I see Mother’s Day cards appear in stores.

But I also celebrate Mother’s Day as Amber’s Mom.  Amber was a mommy herself when I first met her, so I thought I’d share her story here with you today.

In the spring of 2000, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she began to  relax a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Amber

Amber

Abnormal Love of Cats?

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Those of us who love our cats sometimes wonder whether “normal” people might consider us a bit, shall we say, eccentric?  The following are some definite signs that you’re a cat lover:

  • You cut your after-work activities short just so you can get home to see your cat.
  • You dare not move a muscle when you cat falls asleep at your feet, even if you need to get up to go use the bathroom.
  • You sleep in the oddest positions, just so you can accommodate your cat, even if she chooses to plonk herself in the middle of your bed.
  • You take your cat’s name as your online name.
  • When you’re telling a friend about having to take the cat to the V-E-T, you whisper and your eyes dart furtively around the room to make sure your cat isn’t within earshot.
  • You feel naked if your clothes aren’t covered in cat hair.
  • If you own more than one cat, you can tell which cat threw up just by looking at the pile.

Of course, none of us cat lovers consider any of these things abnormal!

Photo: morguefile.com

Bloodwork for your pet: what it means and why your pet needs it

Regular and routine blood testing is an important part of your pet’s preventive healthcare.  It used to be that veterinarians only recommended blood work for older pets, but it’s equally important for younger healthy pets.  It’s the best way to detect potential health problems before they become evident through symptoms.  It’s also critically important before your pet undergoes any kind of anesthetic procedure, even a routine dental cleaning.

Typically, your vet will run a blood chemistry panel and a complete bloodcount. The College of Veterinary Medicine of Washington State University has an excellent explanation of what these lab tests mean.

Amber, who is probably 11 years old (best guess – she was a stray when I got her as a young adult), gets complete veterinary exams and blood work (CBC, chemistry and thyroid) twice a year.

Be Kind to Animals Week May 3-9

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Be Kind to Animals Week” is sponsored by the American Humane Organization.  It celebrates the role animals play in our lives and promotes ways to treat them humanely.

We celebrate the bond we have with our own pets each and every day by loving them, caring for them, and basking in the uncondtional love they give us in return.   “Be Kind to Animals Week” may be an opportunity for us to remember animals who are not as fortunate as our pets.  Some suggestions on how pet parents can participate in “Be Kind to Animals Week” are:

– Donate cash, pet food, or cat litter to your local shelter.

– Volunteer as a fost parent with a local rescue group.

– Volunteer with your local shelter.

– Make a donation to your favorite shelter.

– Appreciate wildlife.

– Report animal abuse.

Rainy Sunday Reading

Another rainy Sunday here.  Amber has given up on searching for the sunny spot and is taking her morning nap.  I think I’ll settle in for a lazy day of catching up on my reading.  If you’re looking for something good to read, I’ve added some new suggestions to the Reading List on my website.

I always have at least two or three books going at the same time.  Today, I’ll finish a re-read of “The Feline Mystique” by Clea Simon.  I might also dip into “Conscious Entrepreneurs“, a collection of inspiring stories about the spiritual journey of entrepreneurship.  I especially like to re-read Chapter 22, which was written by one of my mentors.  I’m also indulging in a guilty pleasure, Nora Roberts’ “Tribute” – this is Roberts at her best, a combination of love story, suspense, and likeable characters.  And I’ll be catching up on my magazine reading – unread issues of Cat Fancy, Ali Magazine and Brigitte are stacking up!

What will you be reading on this rainy Sunday?  Share your favorites!

Amber, on a rainy Sunday

Amber, on a rainy Sunday

Afraid of the swine flu? Don’t be.

You can’t turn on the computer, look at a newspaper, let alone watch television without being bombarded with news about the swine flu.  Words like epidemic and pandemic are becoming part of everyone’s vocabulary.  It’s hard not to be afraid in the face of this barrage of fear-inducing rhetoric.

This is a good time to use your head, and to harness the power of your thoughts.  To begin with, don’t let yourself get caught up in irrational fears.  Think this through.   Statistically, more people die in car accidents than in an epidemic, and yet, we all get into our cars each and every day without giving it much thought.  Today, we have the best medical care, the best public health system, and the best world-wide communication methods in the history of the planet.  This is not 1918.  This is the flu – not the black plague.

Make smart decisions that support your well-being.   Make small choices each day that add up to make a difference in how you feel.  Eat healthier, get more exercise, cut back on sugar.  All of these choices contribute to boosting your immune system.  Find things that bring you relaxation – get a Reiki treatment or a massage, take a hot bath scented with relaxing aromatherapy oils, read a good book, watch a funny movie.  And of course, spend time with your pets!  That’s the best way to relax that I know of.

And above all else, stop worrying.  Worry creates stress, and stress weakens your immune system.  One of the Reiki precepts is “Just for today, I will not worry”.  If that’s too tall an order, try it for an hour.  Another way to get a handle on worry is to allocate a specific time each day for worrying – during that time, let yourself go nuts.  Worry all you want.   Take it to the ultimate worst case scenario.  You’ll quickly realize how crazy most of your worries actually are.  In fact, take a clue from your pets – they never worry.  They live in the moment.  When you live in the moment, there’s no place for worry.

And those of you who’ve followed me for a while already know what I’m going to say next:  don’t watch the news!  Don’t fill your energy with all that negativity.  You have the power to choose where you direct your attention and what you let into your energy field.  You don’t have to stick your head in the sand, but make the choice to not let what’s going on in the world affect your mental and physical health.

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