Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Kitty's first leash walk outside

Fergus the kitten outside on a leash

Fergus the Siamese is a deep believer in the power of play. He spends all of his day stalking, hunting, pouncing, chasing or plotting. And unfortunately, he likes to play many of these very wild and rambunctious games with my senior cat, and Maggie has never been one for wild play.

Keeping the peace between these two very different personality types means trying to wear Fergus out as much as I can, and that isn't always easy. He can finish up a play session with tons of energy to spare, and he uses that energy to make Maggie's life difficult.

So this week, I tried something that's worked wonders with Popoki: I put him on a leash and let him come outside.

Fergus the kitten looking apprehensive

Fergus hasn't been outside for any meaningful length of time since he was rescued as a very tiny kitten. So on his first leash walk, he was understandably a little apprehensive about the whole thing. Look at those pinned ears! He's not quite sure what should happen next.

And the dogs weren't at all sure that their indoor kitty should be outside in the yard. Check out the supervisor in this photo. She has a lot to say about this whole thing.

Sinead the Boston terrier looks at her kitten through the window

While Sinead was worried about what was happening with Fergus, and she thought she should come out to help, there was someone in the house who seemed to have no sympathy at all for my feisty little kitten. In fact, when I told her that he seemed a little worried on the walk and might need a little reassurance, this was the look I got.

Maggie the cat giving me a snide look

Yeah, no sympathy there.

So we'll keep up with the leash walks for now. I think Fergus will grow accustomed to them in time, and I think it will help his relationship with his sassy sister. Whatever I can do to help, I'm all in!

Thanks for looking, and do leave me a comment so I'll know you were here, okay?

And be sure to check out the other blogs in this BlogPaws Wordless Wednesday hop. Everyone is so creative. You'll be glad you joined in.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pug bathing schedules: How often is too often?

Liam the pug during his bath

Giving a pug a bath isn't a fun job. Despite their barrel-like little bodies and short legs, pugs can be remarkably fast and agile when they're trying to get away from something they don't want to do, so catching them for the bath and keeping them in the tub is a workout. And once they've submitted to the bath idea, pugs are experts at using expressions like this to make humans feel bad about bathing them.

Guilt trips galore!

As a result, I've typically tried to keep Liam's baths to a minimum. He hates them, and I felt certain I was doing him a favor by keeping him away from things he didn't like--and that might not be good for his skin.

As it turns out, I was using the wrong approach. And that means Liam has many more baths in his future.

Liam the pug in profile during his bath

Like most pugs, Liam has a lot of trouble with his skin. He develops tiny little rashes on his belly from time to time, and he often deals with yeast-like infections in the folds of the skin on his face. Liam is also very sensitive to any kind of skin discomfort, so when his skin is even slightly inflamed, he spends a lot of time licking, scratching and pacing. Where Sinead can ignore almost all types of discomfort, Liam can't. And when he isn't comfortable, I'm not comfortable. He always comes to me for help, as does any self-respecting Velcro pug.

Recently, he developed another bout of intensely itchy skin due to a cause I couldn't quite pinpoint. So off to the veterinarian we went. As we were discussing Liam's skin, I mentioned that I'd been bathing him once every other week, trying to balance keeping him clean with drying out his skin. And his veterinarian recommended that we up his baths to two times PER WEEK.

Liam the pug in the bathtub

The thinking goes that Liam's itching is due to a combination of yeast overgrowth on his fur and irritation from environmental allergies like grass and carpet fibers. Both of these irritants come from outside of his body, and they latch onto his fur. By bathing him more frequently, we can remove those irritants before they compel Liam to damage his skin with licking and itching.

In addition, we're using some conditioning agents during his baths that help to keep his skin soft and supple between baths. Those conditioners can also help to keep his skin from itching, and they can keep the skin softer, so it won't tear when he scratches.

Bathing Liam 2x per week doesn't top my list of favorite things. But I must say: Since we've started doing this, he's been sleeping through the night without waking me up for help. That's a lovely change, and it does make the work a little more worthwhile.

Any readers out there with itchy pugs? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments. Let me know what you do to help!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Foster kitten update: Baby has a vaccine reaction

Eartha Kitt the baby sleeping

Tiny black kitten Eartha Kitt may look sweet and sleepy in this photograph. But when I took it, I was trying to demonstrate something else. I was trying to get evidence of a vaccine reaction Eartha was living with, just in case the shelter needed to know a little more about what had happened and what should happen next.

Let me back up a little.

Eartha is closing in on the two-pound mark, and that means she's getting close to the weight and age at which she can return to the shelter and find a new family. While the shelter does a good job of disinfecting and vaccinating and otherwise keeping the shelter environment as safe as it can be for resident cats, it does come with a few dangers. And that means cats that enter the shelter must have their vaccines.

Eartha had been too small for vaccines, which is one of the reasons she came to me for foster care. Since she was big enough, it was time to start the shots last weekend.

The shelter gives combination vaccines, which pack many different kinds of protection into one shot. And the vast majority of cats really have no problems with this vaccine at all, aside from a little soreness or stiffness at the shot site. Eartha was different.

After about 4 hours, she turned into a very bendable, very sleepy, doll-like little kitty. I could put her in positions that shouldn't be all that comfortable for a cat, and she'd hold those positions without moving.

Eartha Kitt all stretched out

Then, she started vomiting and she stopped eating. I knew we were in deep trouble at that point. Kittens that don't eat can become kittens that become dehydrated. And since kittens rarely have few fat stores to draw upon, they can almost starve to death when they don't eat for a few hours.

I started bottle feeding her, just as one might feed a kitten. And she went into the shelter clinic for anti-nausea medications and fluids. All told, it took her nearly 3 days to recover. Now, it would seem like nothing ever happened. She's perfectly normal now.

The shelter staff is discussing Eartha's situation and what should happen next. She might need to wait a bit longer than normal for more vaccines, and she might need to get vaccines in stages instead of getting one big shot all at once. And she may need to get vaccines in a separate appointment from her spay, which isn't the typical protocol.

I'm happy to be partnered with a shelter that doesn't treat these little kittens like cogs in the machine. If Eartha needs something special, including more time in a foster home, she can get it. Not all shelters have the funding to make similar choices. But I am reminded of how important funding really is, when it comes to cat rescue. Every shot, every reaction and every extra day spent in the shelter system has a charge involved with it. And those charges add up.

If you're hoping to make a difference in the life of an animal, and you're looking for a donor partner, might I consider my shelter: Willamette Humane Society? Your funds would do so much good.

And in the interim: Wish Eartha the best. I'll keep you all posted on her next steps!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

5 ways pets celebrate Thanksgiving: A Sunday Selfie series

Lucy the blind cat in her scratcher

The cats and dogs of the menagerie celebrated Thanksgiving a day or two late. On that fateful Thursday, the humans were off celebrating with other humans in Portland, so most of the pets were left to their own devices. But as the weekend has gone on, they've all done quite a bit of celebrating. And it occurs to me that there's a thing or two we humans could learn from the ways our pets celebrate. Who knows? Maybe we could apply those lessons to our next big holiday.

Take Lucy here. She's decided to celebrate by ensuring that her little house is clean enough for company, and she's rolled out a little paw of welcome, to invite anyone in to come and share time with her. That's an openness and a kindness that's often missing from human celebrations. But it's a big deal for Lucy.

Eartha the kitten eating food

Foster kitten Eartha has been celebrating the holiday by eating her weight in food at almost every meal. That's wonderful news, as she needs to gain a few more precious ounces so she can head to an adoption event and woo a family that will take her home for good. Eating makes that happen.

But, Eartha always stops any eating she's doing to say hello to humans who come to visit. (This is new, and it means my socialization work is making a difference!) Instead of focusing exclusively on her holiday food, she makes time to appreciate the people who come to see her. We humans should do the same.

Maggie the cat looks out the window

Maggie has been taking a few moments from the hustle and bustle to look at the birdies out the window and collect her thoughts. There's a lot going on in the house, and sometimes she gets a little overwhelmed by the action. When that happens, she steps away and looks outside for a bit.

We humans often forget to take on these self-care steps during the holidays. We keep going and going and going, even when we should rest. Maggie reminds us that taking a time-out could be good.

Sinead the Boston terrier and her toy

Sinead the Boston terrier here reminds us to take the time to play. She's been asking the humans to throw this little turkey leg from her BarkBox on a nearly constant basis (she's asking hubby to throw it as I take this photo). She always finds room for fun. And I sometimes forget that fun is vital.

And finally, lest we forget....

Popoki the cat on a fitness machine

Popoki has been spending quite a bit of time on my new elliptical exercise machine. (I have no idea why, but that's something for another day.) The average human gains a full pound during the holiday season, and most of us don't lose that pound before the next holiday comes. Exercise can help, and Popoki is a good reminder.

What do you think of our holiday Sunday Selfies? I'd love for you to leave a comment and let me know.

And if you're inspired to talk a little about your own cats and dogs, why not join in the fun? Every week, our awesome friends at The Cat On My Head host this selfie series, and we'd love to see more people participate.

So grab your camera, take some snaps, put them on your blog and join the fun! We'd love to have you!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

November 2016 BarkBox review: Happy Thanksgiving!

Liam the pug with his turkey toy

Holidays like Thanksgiving are meant for feasting and celebration. This year, Liam the pug and Sinead the Boston terrier will be cozying up to some toys on their feast day as the humans get together with other humans. But, these little dogs will have plenty of things to keep them company, as the BarkBox came just in time!

As a reminder: I don't get compensated for these posts in any way. I write about the products in this box because I like them and I think they deliver value to dogs and their people. But, there is an affiliate link at the end of this post. If you follow it, I will get a little discount from BarkBox for my work. No pressure.

The big treat in this month's box is this sweet plush turkey from Loopies. We have quite a few Loopies toys in the menagerie, and often, we're very impressed with them. They're usually quirky, clever and tons of fun for the dogs to play with. This one misses the mark a little, however.

Liam apparently loves wing meat, and he likes to get to the stuffing of a turkey as fast as he can. So this toy looked like this after about 3 minutes of play.

Turkey dog toy with ripped off wing

Yikes! If I had bought this toy, I'd be really mad. But, BarkBox toys are different. They come with a guarantee, meaning I can get in touch with the company and get a replacement for toys that don't work for my household. I just have to send a note to the company, which I did.

The other toy in this box is much more durable, and it also has a turkey theme. It's a little drumstick from PLAY, with a handy little squeaker inside. Sinead has been working with this since I unpacked it, and she seems happy as anything to have it.

Sinead the Boston terrier with her toy

I imagine this toy will give us many weeks of fun and play. Sinead sure seems to love it.

As is the case with most BarkBox shipments, we also got many different types of treats and snacks to try. Chicken jerky strips, turkey-sausage treats and turpumpkin treats are all inside this box for the dogs to try. I'll be parceling them out very slowly over the next month or so.

Bags of dog treats

And to make those wintertime walks a little less gloomy, we also got a roll of pickup bags printed with funny sayings. If you're into scatological humor, you'll love these.

That's it for this month's shipment! If you'd like to see reviews of prior boxes, click here or here or here or here. And if you want to try your own BarkBox, use my code for a discount. And leave me a comment, so I'll know you were here!

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cat television: Hummingbirds and hunting neighbors

Small hummingbird on a feeder

Four of my cats live strictly indoors. They have never experienced uninterrupted and unsupervised outdoor time, and they are accustomed to watching the world go by as they perch in the many windows that are arrayed around my house.

I break up their time indoors with games, with leash walks and with catios. All of those steps help to ensure that a cat's vital hunting instincts are both respected and honed. But I also ensure that they have plenty of things to look at right on the other side of our windows. And lately, the cat television has been tuned to some wonderful channels.

Small female Anna's hummingbird

This is a very small, female Anna's hummingbird. This is one of the smallest birds in the hummingbird family, and they unlike many other little birds in the family, this is a type of hummer that doesn't migrate. These birds are with us in the Willamette Valley all year long.

Even though they are here, the cats do not see these little birds much in the summertime. The hummers feast on nectar, and there are plenty of flowers to eat in the summer. They also eat tiny insects, and those are abundant when the weather is warm. But when things cool down and the flowers die and the bugs go away, the little birds spend a lot of time on the feeders.

This little female must have a nest close to the front feeder as she is parked in her spot first thing in the morning and last thing at night. She is there so often that she doesn't even move when Fergus and Maggie are crowded in the windows to watch her  She sips her nectar without even giving them another look, and since she doesn't react, they don't chitter at her or bang at the window. They watch her, while swishing their tails, but that's about it.

So I was surprised to hear the cats making a great deal of ruckus the other day. I knew something unusual was happening with the cat television. And I wasn't wrong.

White cat hunting squirrels

This tree is the main view out of the front window, and there's a handy little squirrel feeder up top that we keep filled with corn and nuts for our little chittering friends. The other day, neighbor cat Riley thought he had a shot at taking down one of our dining squirrels.

See that little blur on the side of the tree? That's a very young squirrel that came awfully close to being Riley's dinner. Fergus was shouting his support for the hunt, and I think that alerted the little critter that something bad was afoot. Up the tree he went.

Such exciting cat television, don't you think? What do your cats see out their windows? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know!

And don't forget to visit the other blogs in the BlogPaws hop this week. Good stuff!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Blind cats love to hunt (and you can help)

Lucy the blind cat looking at the camera

Earlier this fall, I told you about a little commitment I'd made to spend time playing with my cats each and every day. The theory goes that cats that play more have less energy for things their parents don't want them to do (like fighting or yelling or breaking things), and I was all about making my sweeties happier and easier to live with.

But it occurs to me: When I wrote that post up (and you can see it here if you missed it), I talked a lot about young and healthy little Fergus. I started wondering if I was implying that Lucy doesn't play.

I feel very strongly that blind cats are very much like sighted cats, especially if they are born blind. These blind cats can do many of the things their sighted counterparts can do, and they should be encouraged to engage in behaviors most cats would love.

That includes play.

Blind cat swatting at toy

Lucy here has a very strong and finely tuned hunting instinct, and she also has a great deal of whimsy. Put those two things together, and you have a cat that rarely, if ever, says no to a good game of play. She enjoys putting her mind to good use, and she loves to interact with people.

If I find the right toy, Lucy will play with me for as long as 30 minutes without tiring of it. That makes her a much bigger fan of play that Fergus, who often tires after just 15 minutes of action. Lucy can keep going, and she seems to love it more.

Lucy the blind cat in pounce mode

She clearly gets into the game, too. Look at those fully extended paws and that stretched back! She's working hard.

And notice that she is tracking this toy beautifully. That's no accident.

I find that Lucy does best with toys that make some sort of swishing sound. Things with ribbons or feathers work very well, as she can track the sound of those bits moving against one another. Things with bells and crinkles aren't as successful, as I think Lucy finds those loud noises a little overwhelming. But fabric noises are wonderful.

 Lucy the blind cat with her toy

Lucy also likes her toys to stay far away from her body. She doesn't like games in which the toy gets close to her body. If I get the toy too close, she'll end things with a grooming session. But if I keep the toy moving and above her head, she's thrilled.

What do you think of Lucy's play skills? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know, won't you? Love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Dogs need fashion too: A sweet sweater option for your little dino

When winter rolls around, this little Boston terrier needs a sweater. Without some sort of covering over her little body, she shivers and shivers and shivers inside the house. And going outside becomes an exercise in bribery. She will not set one little hoof out the door without some kind of covering on her body or a cookie in my hand.

So over the years, I've invested in a lot of dog coats and shirts for little Sinead. And this year, Uncommon Goods reached out to me about a different way to keep my dog warm. The company sent me this little sweater as a sample, in return for an honest review. Let me tell you about it.

Sinead the Boston terrier in her dino sweater

This is a sweater that most people would consider as a Halloween product. But I think it's a good option for people looking for a great Christmas gift for small and shivery dogs. (And as an aside, Uncommon Goods also has a ton of cool presents for people who like pets in general. Worth a peek!)

Uncommon Goods, as a company, believes in supporting artists and designers. Many of the products this company sells are unique, handcrafted and one of a kind. This sweater is no exception. It's handcrafted, and it was designed by two very talented people from Peru. The photos I'm showing here really don't do the quality of this product justice. It's soft and pliant and it's very tightly knit. This is something that will last for a long time.

It's also well crafted for regular use. There's a hole in the back, so I can slip on Sinead's harness beneath her sweater and clip to the harness rings on the outside. There are also two little holes in the hood for her ears. Sinead's head is small, so her ears don't protrude all the way out, but she doesn't pull on this hood when she's wearing it, which seems to indicate that it's comfy. Maybe those ear holes make the difference.

Sinead in her dinosaur sweater

That hood is key, for me. I've been wrapping Sinead in sweaters, but her head is almost always exposed. A hood has the potential to keep her a lot warmer. And all of the added fabric on the top of the hood does yet more to keep her warm.

Now, I'm aware that I could get a similar benefit from putting Sinead in a coat with a hood. And I may do that from time to time. But, as I've mentioned before, there is some benefit to dressing dogs up in costume-type clothing--especially when your dog is shy. A dog in a costume is a people magnet. When I've had Sinead out in this sweater, people have run up to talk with me and take her photo. And I've been able to give her a ton of training with these strangers. They give her cookies (although she won't always eat them), they tell her she's cute and they give her a pat. That helps me to remind her that people are awesome.

Don't think you could bear to put your dog in something like this? There are plenty of other reasons to do your Christmas shopping at Uncommon Goods. For starters: The company has some great stocking-stuffer options that are well crafted and unique. And second: This is a company with a long history of supporting wage equality and environmental support. If you want to speak with your dollars about causes you believe in, this is a great place to start. And, it might not be very costly. There are lots of low-cost gifts up for grabs on the site that someone might like.

I'm very pleased with this little sweater, and I'm so thankful that Uncommon Goods sent it to me to try out. I think it's bound to make Sinead's winter a touch more fun and a lot warmer!

What do you think? Leave me a note in the comments and let me know!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Rescue kitties from Willamette Humane Society

Eartha the foster kitty in her kennel

Little Eartha Kit-Kat, my sweet foster kitten, is growing bigger and bigger each and every day. That means she's coming closer and closer to the day when she'll head back into the shelter to find her forever family. And I'll admit to being more than a little worried about that.

While I have been coaching Eartha like crazy, and I am seeing crazy-great results, she remains a pretty shy little soul that is more comfortable in the company of cats than she is in the company of humans. That means she isn't very likely to show off her best side in the shelter. I'm hopeful she can sell herself and her wonders, but I worry.

And then I look around.

I have several little faces in this house--and down the road a bit--that have all come from the very same shelter. For today's Sunday Selfie post, I thought I'd share some of those faces.

Fergus the kitten asleep in his bed

Well, it looks like kitten Fergus has been playing a little too hard this morning and he has no energy left for photography. This little blue bed is heated, and when his body hits that bed, this cat tends to turn into a gelatinous little mess. Rather than waking him up, I'll just let him have his easy.

Fergus, like Eartha, came into this home as a baby little kitten. He was found in my community, along with two of his siblings, and he needed bottle feeding for the first several weeks he was here. I fell in love with him during his foster stay, so he stayed here. So his ending is very happy. And so is the ending of his two siblings. One went to a very loving home that treasures frisky cats (good thing!), and the other went into a very caring home that was looking for a shy soul. Both of those two were adopted within 24 hours of a return to the shelter. 

Popoki the cat with her nose in the air

Hmm, it looks like Popoki doesn't want to play along, either. Look at that little nose of hers stuck up in the air! I think she can smell the kitten on my clothing, and she's not at all happy about all that. This shy girl doesn't like other cats at all, so she grows upset when she realizes that there are other cats in her mother's life.

Rather than pestering her with photos, I'll just plop some treats down and move on.

Popoki came into the shelter due to financial difficulties in her home, and she struggled in the shelter system, due to her shyness. I took her home to foster her and then kept her. Since I did that, she was also only in the shelter for a week or so. And her ending is very happy. 

And I have one more trick up my sleeve.

Last week, I got to spend a little time with this guy. You may remember him from a previous blog post.

Cole the cat with frog legs

He's a new addition to my sister's family, due to a little help from me. He's adjusted to life with a small human being quite nicely, and he's become a devoted family member that keeps his people laughing all day long. Just look at those frog legs!

Cole was found as a stray kitty, and he spent some time in the shelter due to illnesses. He was adopted within 48 hours of becoming available for adoption at the shelter. 

Clearly, I have plenty of examples of cats that started out in difficult circumstances at Willamette Humane Society and who all ended up in loving homes. Now, I just need the same thing to happen to this girl.

Tiny black kitten selfie

Wish her all the best. And if you're in Oregon anywhere near the Willamette Valley, share this sweet face! She'll be ready for a home in just a few weeks, and I want the best for her. Your help can make it happen!

Thanks as always to the wonderful hosts of this blog. We just couldn't have this much fun without the kind help of The Cat On My Head.

Leave me a note so I'll know you were here, okay?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Should you stop your dog from growling?

Sinead the Boston terrier in closeup

Sinead the Boston terrier may look sweet and innocent. But beneath this sweet puppy face lies the heart of a wolf. Okay, not quite. Beneath this sweet puppy face lies the heart of a chicken.

I've said this before, but it's worth repeating. Sinead--like many small dogs--is a very shy little soul. Many things worry her, including:
  • Tiny foster kittens
  • Mailmen
  • Repair men 
  • Visiting family members
  • Doves
  • High wind
 Yes, she's afraid of almost everything.

And how does she express that fear? She growls.

Sinead the Boston terrier

Many people are afraid of a growling dog, and there's good reason to be worried. It's a scary and rumbling sound that comes from deep within a dog's little chest. It reminds us humans of bites and lunges and movies like Cujo. It's scary.

But here's the thing: A dog's growl is a warning. Dogs who growl are warning the listener that they're uncomfortable and likely to make a bad decision if something doesn't change. A dog that growls isn't necessarily going to make a bad decision. The growl gives us an opportunity to change things.

If you extinguish a dog's growl, you also extinguish the warning system. And that's how one ends up with a dog that bites with no warning. The fear is still there, even if the dog doesn't growl. Removing the sound just removes the dog's ability to talk about the fear.

Growls also provide information we can use during training. If I listen to Sinead's growls, I can understand what makes her feel insecure. I can break apart the circumstances that cause her fear. And when I understand what those circumstances are, I can do training to help make things better.

For example, when I hear her growl, I can intercede with cookies or praise, so the thing that frightens her becomes a little more rewarding. And I can use that growl to help determine when things become overwhelming for her. Maybe seeing a repair man from 12 feet away is okay, but 6 feet is too much. When I know her challenge line, I can do more.

So I always let Sinead growl. She gets no punishment from me for being worried and telling me about it. The more she communicates with me, the better.

How do you feel about this approach? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

And time is running out to enter my holiday dog cookie giveaway. Better enter now!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Purringtons in Portland: A new approach to cat adoptions

Sweet little tabby cat at Purringtons

What's the best way to get a sweet cat like Princes into a new and loving home? Traditionally, we'd all think about cat shelters. We'd put girls like this into kennels or suites, and we'd hope that someone would come in to visit and fall in love.

This week, I visited an organization that's doing things much differently. This group is hosting sweet kitties that need to find homes, but no one would call this place a shelter.

Purringtons cat lounge in Portland

This is Purringtons Cat Lounge, in Portland, Oregon. It's located in a fairly busy, dense, funky neighborhood in the northern part of Portland. (Food trucks and second-hand record shops are nearby.) People can stroll right in and pick up a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and I would bet that many people do that. But the big draw: The cats that call this place home while they wait for forever homes.

Sweet black cat in a bed at Purringtons

The cat area is completely separate from the food prep area, although you can bring your drink or snack of choice into the cat room, if you choose to do to. There is a full-time staffer in the cat room who directs the show, and that person ensures that all of the cat rules are followed.

I was pleased to see that these rules are cat-centric. Visitors are told not to pick up any cats, even if the cats seem to want that. And visitors are not allowed to pet cats that are sleeping. The cats rule the roost here, and the people are clearly just visiting.

Tabby in her bed at Purringtons

Since these rules are strict, it allows Purringtons to take in sassy cats that might not succeed in a traditional shelter. Like this girl: She didn't want anyone to pet her, even though she was in a bed in the open, and she wasn't afraid to swat at people who broke the rule. I can't imagine how she'd do in a kennel in the shelter. But at Purringtons, she was thriving. People worked with her to try to encourage her. In essence, they were training her. It did my heart good to see that.

Tabby cat in her box at Purringtons

And I love the fact that Purringtons is damn popular. People must have reservations to visit, and those reservations fill up. And, it's not free to visit. People must pay $8 to head in to visit the cats, to help cover the rent of the building and the cost of keeping the cats healthy and happy, and people happily pay.

When I was there, it was wildly busy. I couldn't believe how many people wanted to come in to visit these sweet cats. Some people even came in cat costumes.

Painting on the wall at Purringtons

The decor makes visiting fun, too. There's a huge cats-in-space mural on the side of this cat room that's original and amazing. All of the bathrooms and the hallways and the coffee house are dedicated with cat stuff.

People who visit get that cats are quirky, and most people allow these cats to be a little wild. For example, this very big girl decided that napping in a guest's coat was a great idea. And the guest let her do that.

Black cat in a yellow coat

The cats at Purringtons come from the Cat Adoption Team in Portland, which is an organization that partners with a variety of shelters in the Oregon area. Many of the cats I saw had docked ears and skittish ways, which suggests that they had at least some feral experience. Others were beloved older cats that came to the shelter due to health issues in their humans.

Purringtons is remarkably effective at getting these cats adopted. Out of the 15 or so cats I met on Sunday, three were going home that day. One had been at Purringtons for just 4 hours before he was chosen. That's amazing.

If you're in Portland, I highly recommend a Purrington's visit. But if you're not, and you work in animal rescue, think about this organization and what it's doing. Is it an approach your community could replicate?

Thanks for reading, and do leave me a comment, so I'll know you were here.

And be sure to visit the other blogs in this BlogPaws hop. Good stuff this week!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

3 tips for hissy, spitty kitties

Eartha the foster kitten in a towel

This sweet face belongs to Eartha Kit-Kat--a 6-week-old kitten that's bunking in the Menagerie until the middle of December. My task during that time: To transform this hissy and spitty kitten into a trusting and family-friendly cat that's ready to move into a home without a lot of hassle or stress.

I'll be honest: This is a tall order.

Little Eartha grew up in a feral cat colony. Her mother was afraid of humans, and she passed that on to her wee little baby. So when she came to me, Eartha was terrified of me.

This isn't behavior we can allow to continue, as it might keep her from getting adopted. As her foster mother, I have to make this little one trust.

Here's my 3-step plan.

1. Kitty goes where the humans go. 

Eartha is most comfortable in her nest home base. But it order to learn more about how wonderful humans are, she needs to meet more humans. And that means she needs to go to the places I go.

Eartha Kit in my lap in the car

Eartha has been to the grocery store, to the shelter, to the pet food store and in the neighborhood. Where I go, she goes. I can't say that she enjoys these trips, but they are important for her. She needs to get out and meet people. These trips are vital.

2. Kitty has a safe space.

While I am exposing Eartha to a lot of new things, I want her to feel safe everywhere she goes. That's why I use a sack when I take her out. This sack keeps her close to my body, so she's warm, and it allows her to bury her head if she's overwhelmed.

Black cat in her sack

3. Kitty goes from hand to hand.

Who doesn't love to pet a little kitten? And who wouldn't love to help a kitten in need? Nobody, that's who. And every nice person that Eartha meets is an ally of mine. They all help me with coaching.

Eartha kitten in a towel

I have no qualms about pushing my kitten off on people I meet when I'm in the store or the pet shop. They pet her and cuddle her and love her and noodle her. She doesn't purr with all that attention, but it seems like a matter of time.

Having a foster kitten is a big responsibility. Make no mistake. But it's so wonderful to make a big difference in the life of a teeny kitten. All of the work I am doing can help to ensure that she has a bright future in front of her. And that's wonderful work, right?

Love to hear your thoughts on foster kitten work. Have any readers done this work? Any tips for me? Share them in the comments.

And have you signed up for my dog cookie giveaway? It's going on now!

Enter and you could get a big bag of treats like this!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Festive dog cookie options (with a giveaway!)

Liam the pug with Vita Bone cookies

When the leaves start to fall and the weather turns cool and crisp, a pug's thoughts start turning to turkey and stuffing.

Okay, let's be honest. Pugs don't really need a reason to think about snacks. Holiday or no, they're ready to eat. They need no excuses. But, since these guys are so food motivated, and since they're always on the lookout for things to gobble, I'm always happy to try new products. If I can find low-cal things the pug loves, keeping him both healthy and happy is a little easier.

So I was thrilled when the team at Vita Bone asked me to try out their new Turkey Stuffing and Cranberry dog treats. I thought Liam might like these guys, since he likes the other Vita Bone treats we've tried.

Dog treat bag

These snacks are made in the United States, and while they do contain both turkey and cranberry, they also contain quite a bit of wheat. That means these are snacks that don't feel greasy between my fingertips (as many meat-only products do). They also break apart very easily, unlike a lot of meat-only products. That means they can be broken up into very small bits.

I'm happy about that breakability, as these treats are a touch on the large side. Liam would very happily shove this whole treat in his mouth, but I know that wouldn't be at all good for him. Breaking this apart is a better choice. But, those of you with larger dogs might appreciate this big size. One cookie should hold your dogs over nicely.

Liam the pug and a cookie

You can see Liam longing to get his mouth on this cookie. I don't think the snacks come with a perceptible smell, but he seems alert and aware that I have a cookie in my hand. He must be able to smell them.

Happily, these passed the Liam taste test, too. He ate the treat very quickly (as he does with things he likes quite a bit) and then came back for seconds. And I didn't notice any digestive upset due to these treats, either.

Each cookie is worth about 62 kcal, which puts them on the low end of the caloric spectrum, especially if I break them apart and just give a small portion at a time. I plan on doing just that this holiday season.

Do you want to do the same? You're in luck. I have a wonderful giveaway for one lucky reader to win a bag of snacks. A few rules:

  • The contest ends at 12 AM Eastern on 11/21/2016.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • To enter, leave a comment on this blog entry (so I can prove you're not a robot). When you've done that, check off your work on the widget in this blog. No other entry formats allowed. 
  • The number of eligible entries received will determine your odds of winning.
  • The winner will be chosen at random from the eligible entries. 
  • The name of the winner will be posted on this blog, and I'll try to contact you through your comments, too. 
  • The winner will have 1 week to claim the prize, and if it's not claimed, a new winner will be chosen at random.
  • The prize will be sent to the winner by Vita Bone, so you'll need to provide a valid mailing address.
  • Open to residents of the United States, older than age 18.
  • Void where prohibited by law. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Liam wants to wish you the best of luck! Everyone likes to win things, right?

Liam the pug with his cookies

Have a wonderful week! And don't forget to enter!