Friday, December 31, 2010

We're Moving!

If you've been following this blog, you'll want to adjust where you're looking for it! All the existing posts are being moved over to my retail site, OldMaidCatLady.com. While I've enjoyed using the Blogger site for them, it doesn't do as much to drive organic traffic to the retail site as it will when it's actually located there.

Seems backwards, doesn't it? People need to find my retail site with the blog on it before they can find the posts that will bring them there...hmmmm. But that's what my SEO folks tell me, so I'm following their recommendation and moving the blog over there. It has something to do with the robots that crawl websites looking for certain elements on them so they know to include them in search results in places like Google, Bing, etc. I'll try to post to both places going forward, but be aware that the first place anything will be posted is on that location.

Purrs!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Keeping Kitty Safe Through the Holidays

We've been in the holiday season for a few weeks now, and different cats cope with it differently...just take a gander at the faces on my two when they were dressed up for this Christmas photo several years ago!

There are many dangers for cats to be found in holiday decorations and goodies, as well. Here are a few to keep in mind:
  • Christmas trees can present an irresistible temptation to climb. After hearing many horror stories of cats pulling over trees and breaking treasured, irreplaceable ornaments, I was leery the first time I put up a tree after adopting my first cat. Watching him closely, I introduced him to the new flora in our home decor. He walked up to it and sat down in front of the tree, looking up at all the sparkly lights as though it was the prettiest thing he'd ever seen. Then he leaned forward and gently sniffed the tips of the branches. I was enchanted! He never did take to climbing my tree, nor did my little Vixen when I took her in. I've been lucky that way, but if you're not sure of your cats on your first Christmas together, keep an eye on them for a while before placing those more fragile ornaments.
  • Garland looks for all the world like a big, sparkling play toy, to a cat. If your cat likes to play with strings, this could be a danger. Be careful of where you use garland, whether on the tree, mantel, or a stair railing. Any of them could prove too tempting for your cat to ignore.
  • Tinsel, or icicles, can also be tempting to cats. And because it's in smaller pieces than the garland, it runs a higher risk of being ingested. If you're finding sparkly metal pieces in the litter box, chances are your kitty's been munching on some tinsel. You may want to forgo that aspect of decorating.
  • Many ornaments may have easily broken-off parts that could present a choking hazard to kitty. Others, especially the older ones, may contain lead paint or glass shards that could do serious damage to a cat's digestive system. Be careful which ones you use if your cats have a tendency to bat them around.
  • Christmas lights are also a danger, especially for cats who like to chew. Who can forget that scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when Aunt Edna's cat chewed through the light string and "lit up" the carpet underneath the living room chair!
  • Ribbon looks pretty wrapped around a package, but this is another item that just looks like too much fun to kitty. If your cat shreds the ribbon and eats some of it, there could be choking, digestive upsets or blockages. Dyes used in the ribbon could have toxic effects. Although your cat may look cute playing with ribbon, it's really not a good idea to let her get into that habit; after all, do you want to come home from a great party to find all your beautifully wrapped presents destroyed?
  • Candles can make a lovely holiday table and are essential on a menorah, but they can also be easily knocked over by playing cats to become a fire hazard, or even set kitty's tail on fire if nobody's watching! There was a video circulating in e-mails several years ago of a family blissfully watching TV as their cat walked on the countertop behind them, its tail catching fire and burning for the better part of a minute before he swished it into the fish bowl and put out the fire. If you'll be lighting candles this holiday season, don't leave them unattended...better yet, just leave them unlit!
  • Chocolate is a part of many tasty treats during the Yuletide season, but it's not good for cats. The theobromine in chocolate can throw a kitty's kidneys, nervous, cardiac, and digestive systems into a tizzy. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, nervousness or trembling, muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and excessive thirst or urination. I know, these symptoms occur with other things, too, but if you suspect kitty's gotten into your chocolate stash and chowed down, get thee to the vet! Chocolate toxicity can be treated, and may not cause permanent damage if caught soon enough.
  • Other ingredients in holiday foods that can be toxic to cats include onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, tomatoes, raw potatoes, chicken & turkey bones, and dairy products. Cats who beg for milk but get diarrhea from it may benefit from a product called CatSip, which is a skim-milk product with added digestive enzymes to help the cat process lactose in the milk. If you suspect that your cat has eaten any of these potentially toxic foods, and your veterinarian is not available on Christmas Day (because when else do emergencies happen?), you can call the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. Be aware that they will charge your credit card $60 for the assistance.
  • Open doors, left that way when unloading packages or baggage from cars, can be a great temptation to indoor-only cats. Curious kitty may see a bird or squirrel in the yard and take off after it. You'll be distracted with what you're doing and may not notice until much later. If you know you're going to be in and out a lot, it's best to confine your cats to another room of the house where they won't be tempted.
  • Many cats get nervous when the house is filled with holiday guests. And then there's the added danger of well-meaning party guests feeding kitty toxic foods from their plates. My cat tends to hide in the closet when we have company, but if your guests are staying for several days, hiding for that long could cause a urinary tract infection, especially in older cats. A weeklong hospital stay costing hundreds of dollars is not the kind of expense you want to incur at this time of year! 
There are several feline calmative products available on OldMaidCatLady.com, from companies like Feliway, Native Remedies, and Natural Pet. All contain natural pheromones or homeopathic ingredients to relax the frayed nerves of cats. You may also want to play soothing music for your kitties; OldMaidCatLady.com has several options for this, many with the reassuring sound of purring added to calm kitty. There's even a speaker that filters out frequencies upsetting to animals, so all that's left are the soothing tones. You can play any CD in your collection on it, relaxing your cats while you're busy enjoying the season!

Holiday time can be a stressful time for everyone, but taking a little extra care can remove the stressful prospect of your cats coming to harm. Now, get out there and enjoy the rest of the season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happiness is a Warm...Kitty!

Cold winter days are even reaching down into Florida this year...and it's not technically even winter yet! Keep your cats safe during these freezing winter nights by heeding these tips:
  • If the thermometer is dipping below freezing, your cats belong inside with you. Ferals who won't come inside can be cozy with a heated bed, of which we have several options at OldMaidCatLady.com. Just make sure that bed is safe for outdoor use. One cold winter, I even saved a feral with a common cardboard box that had the top cut so it could act as a flap. It sat on my front balcony, which was covered so it didn't get wet. Inside, I put an old wool blanket. That cat lived in that box all winter long! He even stopped by more than a year later, sporting a collar, to thank me and let me know he'd found a home.
  • Short-haired or hairless cats get cold in winter, so they need a sweater! While there aren't many made specifically for cats (but I'm looking!), you can usually find a dog sweater that will fit your kitty. If yours won't tolerate catwear, at least provide a nice warm blanket into which he can snuggle. Many heated beds are also made for indoor use, as well.
  • Take care when changing your antifreeze or adding new antifreeze to your car. If you spill any, immediately wipe it up. Antifreeze is deadly to cats; it will shut down their kidneys within hours of being ingested. And yet it smells good to them, so they'll usually try a taste. There is an antidote, but it must be administered within the first 3 hours to avoid "cat-"astrophe. Or you could try one of the pet-safe antifreezes that are sometimes available in your local auto supply store.
  • Speaking of cars, their engines can be a tempting warm place for outdoor cats to sleep when it's cold. If you have ferals in your neighborhood, it's a good idea to knock on the hood or honk your horn before starting the car in cold weather to rouse any kitties snoozing in your engine compartment. Sure, it's a rude awakening, but not as much so as having a leg torn off by a suddenly-moving belt! And unplanned trips to the emergency vet can ruin the best of days.
  • Make sure your kitties have plenty of fresh water available during this dry season. You know how the dry, heated air makes you feel dehydrated? It does the same to your cats. If their water bowl is outside, make sure it won't freeze; cats' tongues can stick to ice in freezing conditions, just like a human's! (Remember the schoolyard scene in the movie A Christmas Story?) A recent story about a kitten rescued after being found frozen to an icy sidewalk points out the danger of cats trying to drink frozen water in winter.
  • If you're feeding your cats canned food that's been in the fridge, it's much more palatable if it's heated for a few seconds in the microwave. I find that about 10 seconds usually takes off the chill. It helps bring out the aroma of the food for older cats, as well. (Make sure your cat bowls are microwave-safe before using them there.)

Next time: dangers of the holiday season.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wisdom From My Cat

In the previous post, I talked about the consultation Vixen and I had with Laura Stinchfield, Pet Psychic. At about 20 minutes into the 30-minute session, we'd covered the three areas I'd mainly wanted to address during the call, and I'd gotten some valuable information about the state of Vixen's health and where she is having pain. Since we still had a few minutes left, Laura asked if there was anything else I wanted to know.

I told her that my mother had passed away last year, and shortly afterward Vixen had walked over to my mother's chair and sniffed it, like she missed her. I wondered if she still remembered my mother, if she missed her, if she was aware of what had happened to her, and if she ever sensed her spirit around. Animals are supposed to be sensitive to spiritual presences, so I was curious. What Vixen said absolutely shocked me:
"my grandma comes here one night a week. she comes here on the night that mom sometimes goes out and she stays here with me and she tells me that when i go to heaven i can live with her until i am ready to go be on my own. She says that she has a comfy lap still and she says that she is someone that is helping cats that miss their people on earth."
Laura asked if there was a night each week that I regularly went out with friends for dinner or something, and I said no, but I do to go choir rehearsal on the same night each week! How interesting that my mother would come and sit with the cat while I'm gone. The comment about her lap was curious, as my mother had never particularly liked holding any pets in her lap. What my mother was telling her made me wonder if Vixen was getting closer to the end of her life than I liked to think, and the next part made me wonder even more about that.

"grandma is saying that to me because I am going to be very sad to not live with my mom. my mom talks to me everyday and tells me many things about the world. She is my connection to life and i fear that if I die that I will be lonely for her and I will not know how to learn with out her. mom has taught me everything."
Cue the tears! I knew that Vixen liked to be near me, especially in her later years, but didn't have any idea that she felt that way about me. She was a very smart feral kitty when she decided to come and live with me at about a year old. I do talk to her a lot, but since she can't hear any more, I figured that was more for me than for her! But apparently the messages still get through.

The next part was also unsolicited, and made my eyes leak even more:
"can you tell my mom that i know that sometimes she gets worried and I think that worry is not good for her stomach. tell her that worry is not good for her stomach and worry should be drank away with lots of water and good thoughts. We should spend a little time each day thinking good thoughts together." That made both Laura and me smile, and we wondered what Vixen thought of as "good thoughts". So Laura asked her, and before relaying her response commented that, "She's very wise." Here's what she said:
"I think a good thought is planting something and believing it will grow and i believe a good thought is thinking that you will always be comfortable and cozy and you will have good food to eat and music in your mind even though you can not hear. I believe good thoughts is believing you are rich even though some may look at your life and think your not."
Wow! Laura asked if my mother or I had listened to a lot of music around her, and I told her that not only did I listen to a lot of music, but that Vixen had loved listening to music when she was younger; she'd position herself in my living room at the "sweet spot" and cock one ear toward each of the stereo speakers. Laura thought it was interesting that she would still remember the music from then and be able to enjoy it in her mind. There's usually a song going through my mind, so if cats really communicate telepathically, perhaps she's picking up on some of those, as well. Yeah, I was pretty emotional over this!

We were almost out of time, so I got in a quick final question about when I will sometimes pick Vixen up and set her beside me on the sofa, but she'll sit very near the edge, where I'm worried that she'll fall. She doesn't stay for long, and usually jumps back down at the first opportunity. I wondered if perhaps she would get a little vertigo up off the floor. Here's what she said:
"Yes, my neck hurts a lot. You right about me getting dizzy and i dont like being confused up high. I have a lot of moments of confusion. If i was an old lady my mom would have to pick me up at the supermarket."
My girl made a little joke! We both wondered where she would have gotten that image of a confused older person being picked up at the supermarket; perhaps it was another conversation she'd had with my mother, something that had happened to my mom that she'd never told me about. Fascinating!

The repeated mention of Vixen's neck hurting made Laura think that a chiropractor may help her; I told her I'd already mentioned her symptoms to my own chiropractor and would ask him about adjusting her. He's adjusted animals before, so may be open to the idea. She also needs to have some blood work run at her own vet, to see what's causing her lack of energy and determine what type of supplements may help her. Native Remedies makes something for just about every ailment, so I'll be trying out some of those items that I carry on OldMaidCatLady.com; perfect way to write reviews on them!

Who knows if our pets really do try to communicate with us telepathically? It certainly seems like they are sometimes. If you're also wondering about that, there's a link to The Pet Psychic from OldMaidCatLady.com's links page. I'd highly recommend Laura; she definitely knows animals very well and has given me some valuable information on how to make Vixen's remaining time with me as long and comfortable as it can be.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Do Your Cats Talk to You?

My little cat is about 22 1/2 years old now, a sort of "super-senior", since they say cats become "seniors" by about age 8. She doesn't hear well, yowls a lot, sometimes gets a tremor in her back leg, seems to move more gingerly, and several other things that let me know she's feeling her age. We have a pretty close bond, but if she's hurting somewhere she can't tell me that (although it certainly seems like she's trying, sometimes).

So when Facebook told me one of my friends had "liked" a page called "The Pet Psychic", I was curious. I'd watched professed pet psychic Sonia Fitzpatrick's show on Animal Planet, and was convinced that she could actually "hear" what animals were trying to say to her. And while I think the term "psychic" is a misnomer that can get these gifted people lumped into a group with charlatans, soothsayers, or just plain kooks, I thought it worth further investigation.

So I visited the pet psychic's actual web page and found lots of wonderful testimonials from people whose animals she'd helped, along with photos of their smiling faces. She offers both live and phone sessions, so she can work with animals located anywhere, and even those who have passed away. I thought perhaps she could tell me what I could do to make Vixen's super-senior life more comfortable for the time we have left together, and also wondered if she may have any hidden health issues. So, yes, this crazy old maid cat lady scheduled a session. I filled out the information form, uploaded a photo of Vixen, made my payment, and scheduled my half-hour consultation.

The Pet Psychic is a California woman named Laura Stinchfield, and she called right on the dot at the appointed time. She was quite vivacious and struck me as a genuinely happy person. I gave her some preliminary information about Vixen, pretty much what I said above, and told her I was just curious as to what's going on in her little head. Laura said that she'd get images in her mind when the animals are talking to her, and sometimes if they're having pain, she'll feel it in that portion of her body. Sonia Fitzpatrick had reported something similar about the messages she receives from animals.

Vixen had just been asking for food before the call, but I'd delayed feeding her before checking with Laura on where Vixen needed to be during the session. Laura told me that she could eat and talk to her at the same time, so I went ahead and gave her some canned food. She was happily smacking away as the consultation began.

I first wondered if Vixen was experiencing pain anywhere. Laura told me she'd get silent for a minute while she asked Vixen and waited for her response, and said I may hear her typing. After that, she'd read to me the response she'd "received" from Vixen. At the end of the call, she'd forward her notes to me via e-mail. The very first bit was an alert to a new issue about which I'd had no idea. Here's what Vixen told her:
"sometimes i feel like my heart beats really fast and if i was younger i would be playing. i like the idea of playing but my knees sometimes bother me."
Whoa! She has a cardiac problem? That was something I didn't have any idea about, but certainly something to ask her vet to investigate. I'd noticed her limping sometimes & thought it may be her claws getting too long, but also didn't know it was in the knees.

Next, I wanted to know about the head shaking she'll do sometimes, almost like something's tickling her ears, or perhaps it could be something with her hearing that's bothering her. After a little silence and the clicking of her keyboard, here's what Laura got:
"i tilt my head cause it hurts. yeah my head and neck actually hurts and mom is right i dont hear at all. i hear like a beeping noise sometimes (alarm, microwave...) and sometimes i get very thirsty. I am hungry because my body needs it to stay alive otherwise i would feel tired all the time. i need the food to feel energy. My smell has been gone for a while."
So, cats can get tinnitis, too! Who knew? Laura said that sometimes older cats can have problems like hyperthyroidism or diabetes that will cause their blood sugar to fluctuate, and they can eat all the time without gaining weight if their thyroid gland isn't functioning properly. Something else for the vet to investigate. Not having any smell was another surprise; how sad, that she can't even enjoy her food for lack of smell! Maybe that's another reason she's always asking for more and eating four or five helpings of breakfast.

The next part, Vixen volunteered without being asked:
"Can you tell my mom sometimes i want her to pet me softly but not pick me up using my stomach. i dont like that feeling. I am also very sensitive to temperatures so I dont like it when her hands are cold. I like light areas but I dont like light areas for my eyes. its hard. my eyes hurt in the light but my body feels warm."
This puzzled me, because I don't ever pick her up by her stomach, but underneath her arms. She's never particularly liked being picked up or held (or even petted, for that matter!). But perhaps it was an alert that her stomach is bothering her; she has had quite a bit of diarrhea that even a probiotic supplement didn't help. Laura suggested that perhaps she could benefit from a heating pad or bed warmer, which I can certainly get for her. I'd known that her eyes were cloudy and wondered how much she could see, but knowing that the light hurts them was certainly another revelation. She used to love to bask in the sun; how sad that she can't enjoy that simple pleasure any more.

Next, we addressed the yelling. Vixen will sit in the dining room and yowl, something I'd recently read was a sign of kitty dementia. She'll do it even after I've just fed her, sometimes if she wants more food, and sometimes when there's still food in her dish. Here's what she had to say about that:
"i yowl for food cause i like it fresh and when mom mixes it up it makes it smell more. i like to be able to smell somethings. I get confused sometimes. I dont like confusing. sometimes in my box i get confused. i dont like paper in my box. i like soft litter that feels light when it moves. some litter feels dusty i dont like dusty."
Her pattern of having one subject lead to another was certainly interesting. Vixen does miss her litter box quite often, something I've previously talked about in this blog. I've resigned myself to having the floor replaced after she's gone, but I just figured she'd lost a sense of how big her body is, not that she was experiencing confusion while she's in there.

Laura told me she could feel the confusion in Vixen's mind; she'd be getting something from her, and then feel her thoughts sort of wander off. I asked her for clarification on Vixen's comments about the litter; I've been using three different kinds in her box, and wondered which she preferred. One is the Tidy Cats litter I've used with her for years, but she only rarely uses that box. The other box now has a mixture of the Dr. Elsey's Precious Cat Senior, which she seemed to prefer to the other, and some Purr & Simple mixed in with it. Since I've mixed the two when I ran out of the other, she doesn't seem to like that box, either...more reason to have the floor replaced one day. Here was what she told Laura:
"No i like the one that is like sand. Its really soft. that one is not soft."
Based on her having used the box with the Precious Cat Senior in it before I'd mixed the two, I think she meant that it's no longer soft with the other kind mixed in; Purr & Simple is large, brown pieces that look almost like rabbit pellets. I made a note to order more of the one she liked.

This post is getting rather long, so I'll save the rest of the consultation for the next one. There's lots more that had me in tears before the call was finished! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cats Can Get Breast Cancer, Too


Breast Cancer -- in Cats?

In addition to conjuring thoughts of Halloween, October has been deemed Breast Cancer Awareness Month for many years now. Why mention this on a blog about cats? Because people also belong to cats, and people sometimes need reminders!

Cats aren't immune to breast cancer, either, although it's referred to as "mammary cancer" in pets. Little advancement in the treatment of feline mammary cancer has been made over the past 20 years. Early detection and treatment greatly improves outcomes, however.

What Cats Are at Risk?

One in 4,000 cats will likely develop mammary cancer. For some unknown reason, Siamese cats are twice as likely as other breeds to develop it. Older cats are at higher risk, with onset at ages 10-12 being average (slightly earlier for Siamese). But it's been found in cats anywhere from 9 months to 23 years in age. Rarely is it seen in male cats. It is more common in unspayed females, so there's yet another reason to get your cat spayed, if you haven't already. Spaying the cat before her first heat cycle further reduces her likelihood of developing mammary cancer.

Mammary tumors are the third most common types of tumors found in cats. They account for 10-12% of all tumors found in our feline friends. 80-85% of them are what's known as malignant adenocarcinomas. These very aggressive tumors often spread into the surrounding lymph nodes, lungs, pleura, liver, diaphragm, adrenal glands, or kidneys. They are generally treated with surgery to remove all the mammary glands on that side, since more than half of the tumors involve multiple glands (cats have 8 of them, 4 on each side). This is known as a "radical chain mastectomy". Often, chemotherapy is used in conjunction with the surgery, but up to 65% of the tumors return within a year of removal. Most cats survive less than a year after diagnosis. The smaller the tumor when treated, the better your cat's chance of surviving longer.

Finding and Preventing Feline Mammary Cancer

How would you know if your cat has mammary cancer? After all, cats are very good at masking the symptoms of illness, so you have to be diligent. Delay in treatment means higher likelihood of a fatal tumor. Fortunately, you can turn a cuddling session into a check for cancer symptoms! Lie your cat on her side or back in your lap. Check for lumps, just like we ladies are supposed to do. They may feel like a pebble, a BB, or a dried pea. Look also for any abnormally swollen place. A sore or ulcer that won't heal is another sign to look for, especially if it smells bad or bleeds. As always, weight loss or changes in appetite are indicative that something's wrong, as is a discharge or bleeding from the nipples or red, swollen nipples. Any of these things should prompt an immediate visit to the vet. If cancer is suspected, referral to a veterinary oncologist is highly recommended.

As mentioned before, early spaying before first heat is the single most effective precaution against mammary cancer in your cat. Annual veterinary checkups are also important. If your cat has miliary dermatitis (also called "feline eczema", "scabby cat disease" or "blotch"), avoid treatments that involve progesterone-like drugs. These types of drugs are rarely used any more, but in the past were occasionally prescribed for miliary dermatitis or even for behavioral problems such as urine spraying. Always be aware of what's being prescribed for your cat; ask questions of your vet if you're uncertain.

To see pink products we're featuring for Breast Cancer Awareness month, along with some really cute Halloween items, visit OldMaidCatLady.com today!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

On Marketing and Cat Health


Having majored in marketing at college, I pay attention to things like the names of products. I mean, seriously, the people who came up with the name "AcipHex" for a drug either never said it aloud, or they have a really sophomoric sense of humor! The first few times I saw their commercials, it took me several minutes afterward to stop laughing.

But turning to more serious matters, I have an elderly cat who always seems to have diarrhea. (Talk about your "ass effects"!) This is despite the probiotic supplement I sprinkle on her soft food every day. Not only unpleasant for me to clean up, as she also has problems hitting her litter box and has a tendency to drape poop across the sides, it has to be causing her some distress, as well. That's why I was really excited to find the product pictured here, RuniPoo Relief. No doubt what that's for, huh?

Who knows what went on in the meetings when the folks at Native Remedies were deciding on the name for this, but I'm ordering a bottle for my little Vixen today. If it even comes close to living up to its name, I'll be a loyal customer!

Oh, and did I mention that I've just added the entire line of PetAlive products to the Old Maid Cat Lady retail site? It's true! You can find a remedy for just about any ailment plaguing your little darlings, from adrenal gland issues to wounds. They're all natural and homeopathic, too. Don't know about you, but I feel better treating my cat with natural products rather than running up expensive vet bills and filling her full of chemicals. Here's a list of the various feline conditions that can be improved with their products:
You'll find all the PetAlive products and many other fine health care products for your cat at OldMaidCatLady.com. And why not pick up a little something for yourself while you're there, too? Anyone who serves their cat as well as you do deserves a little treat now and then!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

This Week's Cat Champions: St Francis Animal Rescue Center!


Our Cat Champions of the Week for August 9-15 are the folks at St. Francis Animal Rescue Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Chrissie, pictured here, is one of the almost 150 cats housed there.

St. Francis is a no-kill, cage-free shelter that rescues unwanted, abandoned and homeless cats in the York County and South Mecklenburg County areas, caring for the cats until they can find loving homes. Their innovative cage-free approach results in happy, well-adjusted cats who do not suffer like those confined to small cages for extended periods of time. Cats are social, sensitive creatures who like to explore, interact and bond with other cats. Visitors to St. Francis Animal Rescue Center always comment on how well their cats get along. Chrissie is one of their more shy residents, but most are very friendly.

This weekend, July 13-15, St. Francis will be holding their big Adoptapalooza event, where they'll be trying to find homes for at least 50 of their cats! The event will feature door prizes, entertainment and refreshment as visitors get to know the beautiful cats and kittens they have available for adoption. The center also holds an annual Blessing of the Animals to honor the feast day for St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

As do most shelters, St. Francis has the constant challenge of funding. They suffered an act of vandalism in July in which their front plate-glass window was broken in the night and a number of their cats escaped. Most were recovered safely, but are still frightened from the experience. And the window replacement bill was a whopping $700! They also struggle to pay their rent each month or face eviction. They accept donations through PayPal, and have sponsorships available for cats in their care. You can also help them by buying your cat supplies and accessories this week at OldMaidCatLady.com, so they'll receive 10% of the proceeds! C'mon...do it for little Chrissie and her friends!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Stuff Coming!


Just got in from Las Vegas at 3 a.m. Saturday morning, after a 2-hour delay in Atlanta due to weather. Been at the Vegas Gift & Home market all week, finding cool new "people products" for Old Maid Cat Lady. It'll probably take me a few months to get them all added, but they should make for a much more interesting Christmas shopping season! Cat-themed rugs, wall art, garden art, figurines, kitchen items, collectibles, even a lamp finial...can't wait to get everything added!

Oh, the photo here is a lioness in the habitat at the MGM Grand; they have a plexiglass tunnel where you can walk through the habitat, and apparently the lions like to lie on top of it...I'm sure that big, meaty bone in front of her has a little to do with that! At any rate, it made for a great photo opp. Check out the size of those paws!

Also coming soon to Old Maid Cat Lady will be plenty of books and DVDs! It's a long process to get these added, so it may take me a little while to get this section updated, but rest assured that the choices in those categories of the site will be getting expanded soon.

Resting up this weekend, but stay tuned for new stuff coming soon!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cat Champions of the Week: Yogie and Friends!

This week's Cat Champions on OldMaidCatLady.com are the folks at Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary in Frierson, Louisiana. Their goals are:
  • Big cat rescue and provision of a safe, stress-free home for life
  • Education of the public about these big cats
  • Conservation and assistance to other sanctuaries when possible.
Housed at Yogie and Friends are tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, servals, and other exotic cats that have been abused, neglected or unwanted. The cats are cared for by a full-time staff of two, part-time staff of three, 15 volunteers serving in various roles, and over 100 community service and Air Force volunteers who donate time and labor.

While it's open to the public on Saturday afternoons, this is for educational purposes only so as not to stress the cats. Many of these animals have been kept in cruel conditions before coming to Yogie and Friends. Several have ongoing medical problems as a result of their prior living conditions. All receive regular veterinary care and attention to their medical needs.

The long-term vision for Yogie and Friends includes expansion and improvement of the current habitats, an Animal Education Center, Veterinarian Clinic and Quarantine Housing, Natural Habitats, a Special Needs Animals Area, Internship Program Dormitories, and a "Yogie Yard" for visitors. Visit their website to see many delightful videos of their residents.

When you buy your cat supplies and cat accessories at OldMaidCatLady.com the week of July 26-August 1, 2010, 10% of the proceeds are donated to Yogie and Friends Exotic Cat Sanctuary! So get to shopping and join us in supporting these noble people doing great work to help cats!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cats and Soldiers


After reading a lot about "war dogs", the canines who assist our troops in war zones, I'd often wondered about cats in war zones, and what types of relationships may exist between them and soldiers. Then I ran across this story about a soldier's special relationship with a kitten, and it warmed my heart.

In Vietnam, soldiers who were leaving in a hurry when American troops were being withdrawn were heartbroken at having to leave behind the dogs who had saved their lives so many times. Since the dogs weren't allowed on military transport planes, they had to be left to an uncertain fate. Their story alerted so many people to their plight that non-profit groups now help bring these dogs home.

But the military doesn't officially train cats for any duties. Those of us who know cats know them to be intelligent and trainable, but they just aren't used by the military. And in a war zone, animals in general are suffering, especially in cultures where pets are not valued as they are in ours. So it would be natural that stressed-out soldiers facing fear and horror daily would find comfort in their soft coats, gentle ways and purring response to affection.

But now that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)in returning soldiers is getting more attention, I believe there is a great need that cats could help to fill for the military. Perhaps shelter cats facing euthanasia could instead be employed as comfort-givers to soldiers. Injured or special-needs cats could help inspire and comfort injured soldiers. Both of their lives could be saved by such a program. Anybody else think this might be a good idea? Any ideas on how to get it going?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cat Champions of the Week: Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary


Our cat champions this week on OldMaidCatLady.com are some folks that will really touch your heart. Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary in St. Pauls, North Carolina takes in cats certified by a veterinarian as being blind. They rescue cats from shelters that would automatically be put down just because the poor things cannot see. Currently, they care for over 40 cats who live at their cage-free, no-kill shelter in St. Pauls. A private, non-profit organization that receives no government funding, they cover the costs for feeding, housing and medical care for these cats and give them a life of dignity.

Visit Blind Cat Rescue's site and you'll be treated to photos and videos of the cats in their care. If you can look at much of that without getting a little misty, you're a stronger old maid cat lady than I! So help out these little darlings this week by buying your cats some stuff at OldMaidCatLady.com. 10% of the proceeds from what you buy will be donated to them. And while you're at it, stop over at the Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary site and donate a little something extra directly to them. The blind kitties will purr a little louder if you do!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kitty Palms are now on OldMaidCatLady.com!

Want to stop your cats from scratching your furniture, without ruining your decor? You can entertain your kitties while bringing a touch of the tropics to your home with Kitty Palms! Kitty Palms are now available at OldMaidCatLady.com. You'll find them in a number of categories, or you can just search for "kitty palms" to find them.

A few of the features of Kitty Palms that may interest you:
  • The trunks are made of sisal, which cats LOVE to scratch, and it's available in two colors
  • The platforms swivel all the way around so you can configure them however you need to fit your space
  • There are toys dangling just below the branches, like little hanging coconuts, for your cats to bat around
  • Each of the trees (except the small scratching post) comes with one platform that has a recessed stainless steel dish for food or water, so if you have dogs in the house you can feed your cat out of the dogs' reach
  • You can order additional platforms placed above and/or below to meet your needs; say you have an elderly cat who's not able to jump up onto a platform -- you could add platforms and swivel them into place to make a sort of spiral "staircase" for your cat to walk up.
How cool are these Kitty Palms?! If you don't want a run-of-the-mill carpeted "cat condo" ruining your lovely tropical decor, Kitty Palms are what you've been looking for!

Monday, June 28, 2010

This Week's Cat Champions: TARAA!

When you buy your cat supplies and accessories at OldMaidCatLady.com from June 28-July 4, 2010, 10% of the proceeds go to The Animal Rescue & Adoption Agency (TARAA)! TARAA was founded in 2005 for the welfare and protection of animals. It has rescued and placed over 1,000 animals, mostly dogs and cats, into loving homes.

What differentiates TARAA from the mainstream shelters is that they rescue the animals overlooked by many other rescue groups, on what’s commonly referred to as the “kill list”. Those with skin conditions or health issues such as heartworms, those who aren’t necessarily cute and healthy, or those with minor ailments like ringworm are typical cases. Many shelters automatically euthanize these animals as unadoptable because they just don’t have the resources to save them.

TARAA is the only group in the Jacksonville area currently willing to help these animals. They take these debilitated or sick animals, have them treated by a veterinarian, and then make them available for adoption. Treatments for skin conditions tend to cost $5-$6 per dose, with cats sometimes requiring two treatments of Promeris or Program, and sometimes an antibiotic, to heal.

They also work with several foster care families who volunteer their services and open their homes to these special animals. Once rehabilitated and ready for adoption, TARAA holds adoption days at area pet supply stores. Their website shows some of the animals, features stories about animals available for adoption, and seeks to educate people on issues like introducing cats to new babies in the household and the treatability of skin issues in companion animals.

TARAA’s founder and her husband live on four acres of land referred to as “TARAA’s Acres. On this property, they have a 500 square-foot “Cat House” that houses up to 30 cats and kittens. You can help these and the fostered animals of TARAA this week, simply by buying your cat supplies & cat accessories at OldMaidCatLady.com!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Kittywalk Products are now on OldMaidCatLady.com!


How cool is this? Our Cat Champions of the Week are folks who encourage people to create safe outdoor spaces for their indoor cats, right? And we've just now added the fabulous Kittywalk® line of products to OldMaidCatLady.com! You'll find them in the Products for Cats section, under "Play Time".

Kittywalk hand-crafts these kits in a wide array of possibilities so you can put together the best configuration of outdoor screen enclosure to keep your precious cats protected when they're outdoors. Some have cool hammocks and climbing places. They have a Carnival line that adds a fun and festive touch to your patio or back yard. They even fold flat for travel! You'll also find their cat strollers and carriers handy when traveling this summer.

So while you're out enjoying the summer weather, whether at home or away, use a Kittywalk enclosure to let your cats enjoy it with you, all while remaining safe from dogs, predators, traffic, poisons, and other dangers...just like Belleglen Sanctuary recommends. Like I said, cool!

This Week's Cat Champions: Belleglen Sanctuary


The special folks featured on OldMaidCatLady.com this week are from Belleglen Sanctuary, located in Chico, California. They take in disabled and special needs cats, give them veterinary care and make them available for adoption if at all possible. If not, they give them a home for life.

Some of the cats available for adoption at Belleglen are former blood donors or have special physical, health, or psychological needs. Some cats are elderly or have come from abusive or neglectful homes. Belleglen is also committed to educating the public on the importance of spaying/neutering and the creation of safe outdoor environments for cats.

Those who adopt a cat from Belleglen must provide an indoor home for them. Cats adopted from there have been spayed or neutered, tested for FIV and feline leukemia, vaccinated for rabies, upper respiratory disease, distemper, and feline leukemia, free of fleas and worms, and microchipped for identification if they ever get lost. The adopting family also receives a full medical history and behavioral evaluation on the cat.

As a non-profit organization funded entirely by donations, Belleglen Sanctuary has a constant struggle to pay the bills. This month, they've had to stop taking in more cats due to limited funds. Many of their residents require expensive medication to survive. While they're thankful to receive donations of any amount, they also allow sponsorship of individual cats, and supply the sponsor with a photo and bio of their cat. Monthly and annual sponsorships are available. Visit them online to view a photo gallery of the cats in Belleglen's care; it's obvious that they feel happy and secure there. And when you shop at OldMaidCatLady.com this week, 10% of the proceeds will go to Belleglen Sanctuary! So remember them when you're shopping for your cat supplies.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A New Logo!

When I heard about Jason Sadler's business, IWearYourShirt.com, I thought, "Brilliant!" This guy gets companies to sponsor him every day of the year, and he wears a T-shirt with their logo on it wherever he goes that day, whether it's to the mall, traveling, or to speak to a group at a conference. He also posts info & video about each day's sponsor on his blog, YouTube, and all the social networking sites. Major corporations pay him an amount that starts at $2/day for January 1 and goes up $2 each day of the year.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who thought it was a brilliant idea, because some other guys have modeled their business after his. Dana Severson and Tony Holmes came up with IDesignYourLogo.com, and they do much the same thing with logo design. One logo per day, and the price increases throughout the year. I bought June 16, and what you see here is the logo they designed for OldMaidCatLady.com. Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, June 14, 2010

This Week's Cat Champions: HSNY


Since its founding in 1904, the Humane Society of New York (HSNY) has been a presence in New York City, caring for animals in need when illness, injury or homelessness strikes. HSNY has so many wonderful programs for various animals, including its original founding mission of helping the city’s carriage horses, that it’s impossible to go into them all here. But we’ll try!

Their hospital and their Vladimir Horowitz and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center help more than 30,000 dogs and cats annually, whose numbers continue to grow. Upon arrival at HSNY’s facility, animals receive a veterinary examination, spaying/neutering, inoculations, a microchip, and the testing needed to prepare them for adoption. You may have heard about HSNY’s helping rescue animals impacted by the World Trade Center attack. This is typical of their involvement in the community. They are an integral part of New York City life.

The Society has long been noted for its innovative, highly individualized approach to animal care. They have long considered the animals’ physical and emotional needs while caring for them. Cats there have daily play sessions outside their kennels. Many visitors remark that their facility feels more like a home than a shelter. In addition to photos and profiles of the pets available for adoption, their website even features video of successful adoptions and of some of the cats up for adoption.

HSNY offer seven-day-a-week veterinary care at affordable rates for those of limited means, including dentistry, advanced care and surgery. They have a a no-cost spay/neuter program for those in need. Their Outdoor Cat Spay/Neuter Program extends this service to feral cats.
But they help animals outside of Manhattan, as well. For example, their Hurricane Katrina rescue team worked in the New Orleans area and brought back animals to receive veterinary care in their hospital before being placed in permanent homes.

Funding such an organization is no small undertaking. HSNY holds events such as their annual photography auction, offers sponsorships of animals, and partners with authors and artists who donate a portion of their proceeds to them. They sell gift items for people and pets in their own HSNY Shop.

HSNY’s volunteers are an essential part of its success, as well. They interact with the animals and make outreach visits to schools. They take animals to visit patients in homes for the aged. They welcome children to visit the animals at the shelter. One of their volunteers even makes handmade beds for the cats there. You can call HSNY at (212) 752-4842 to inquire about helping.

HSNY was recognized with the Independent Charities Seal of Excellence for meeting the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. Fewer than 5% of charities operating in the United States today meet or exceed these standards. An impressive 96% of donations to HSNY are used to fund their programs. We also recognize them this week for their efforts! Won’t you shop a little this week on OldMaidCatLady.com and join us?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Charity of the Week: LFAW



This week's charity on OldMaidCatLady.com is the League for Animal Welfare (LFAW) in Batavia, Ohio. Chartered in 1949, the LFAW’s mission is to better the lives of cats and dogs in the Greater Cincinnati area. They are a privately funded non-profit organization and depend on donations to fuel their operations.

There are approximately 80 cats housed at their facility. All have been tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS, vet-checked and vaccinated. Cats over 10 weeks of age are also spayed or neutered, and each of them is given a name if they didn’t already have one. LFAW provides a loving, no-kill shelter until the animals are matched with a forever home. Each animal’s photo is put on LFAW’s website (pictured above is "Jake"), along with icons to indicate whether the cat has been declawed, or prefers homes without dogs, other cats, or small children. The needs of potential adopters are assessed to best match them with the appropriate resident, and the cats are all microchipped so they can easily find their way home if lost.

Their “My Last Hope” program was established to help older pets find forever homes. This program makes the pets, currently four cats named Fred, Figi, Qwerky, and Sunshine, available for no adoption fee and pays all their medical care for the remainder of their lives.

LFAW also promotes responsible pet ownership. Their website provides information on area clinics and facts on the effects of spaying and neutering. They partner with the UCAN Spay/Neuter Clinic to offer monthly transport from their shelter to the clinic. Each month, they have a spay/neuter assistance program with limited funds to help pet owners and caretakers of feral cat colonies through vouchers to reduce the cost of spay/neuter surgery. LFAW makes free presentations to schools, scout troops, libraries, church organizations, etc. to educate people on pet overpopulation, spaying and neutering, proper vet care, dog bite prevention, and playtime with animals. Presenters are usually accompanied by a dog and a cat from the shelter to demonstrate proper handling skills. LFAW’s website has information on training, finding homes for strays, and deciding what type of pet to adopt, along with links to other helpful sites.

LFAW is always happy to welcome new volunteers, as well. People as young as 16 may work with their cats without parental supervision, and those younger may volunteer if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Some volunteers work with the animals to socialize, train, play with, or just pet them. Others foster orphaned pets and manage satellite adoption events. A general orientation session for volunteers is followed by specialized cat training. Those interested in volunteering may e-mail the shelter at lfaw_vols@fuse.net.

When you shop at OldMaidCatLady.com June 7-13, 2010, 10% of the profits on items purchased through our shopping cart will be donated to LFAW. You're buying stuff for your cats anyway, so why not buy it here and help other cats who aren't so fortunate?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Do You Groom Your Cat?


A common belief is that cats groom themselves so you don't need to bother with grooming them. While it's true that most people don't take their cats to the groomer's like dog owners do, cats do need occasional help with grooming. Regular brushing or combing helps control shedding and hairballs. It also reduces allergens flying around in your home.

Little Vixen is 22 now, so she doesn't really groom herself very often, other than washing her face after eating. She has an arched comb that I think is her favorite thing I've ever bought her. Almost daily, I'll see her combing her face on it. Sometimes, she even feels good enough to bat around her newest catnip toy. (Thanks, Yeowww! catnip, for returning some of the kitten to my senior girl!)

But she still gets mats in her hair, especially around the hip area where she has some pain and doesn't like to groom. She complains and gives me the "demon growl" all the while I'm combing her there, but I get out wads of old, dead undercoat hair, as the photo in today's post illustrates. That's all from this morning's grooming! I find it best to hold her in my lap with one hand firmly around her chest so she can't get away. Then I use the other hand to hold the comb, using my thumb to remove the hair from it when it's full. The part she hates most is when I flip her onto her back to comb her stomach area. That's when she tries to claw and bite me, but keeping her claws filed helps avoid serious injury. She doesn't have many teeth left, so her bite isn't what it used to be, either! When her hips are achy, she also complains rather loudly as I do those areas.

I also like to use a waterless shampoo on her during grooming to give her a fresh, clean smell and condition her coat. Older cats can get dry skin that flakes off into dandruff, especially toward the base of the spine area. I've also tried wipes. While those also give a clean, fresh smell, they don't seem to condition her coat quite as well. They sure are more convenient, however! While at the Global Pet Expo in March, I got samples of several companies' waterless shampoos and have been testing them on her. There's one I like better than the others for its light, clean fragrance. Vixen doesn't care for any of them, natch! More to come on the specifics of that when I can get some of them onto the retail site.

You'll find brushes, combs, and all the grooming tools you need for your cat at OldMaidCatLady.com. As you can imagine, long-haired cats call for different grooming tools than do short-haired ones. If you haven't taken a look recently, click on the links in this paragraph to shop grooming products now!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Economy Must Be Looking Up!

Something happened this week that really puzzled me. As I've posted before, the Charity of the Week program on OldMaidCatLady.com kicks off next week and I'm very excited about it. Each featured charity will get a blurb on my site that explains what they do to help cats, and will receive 10% of my profits that week. They get a little money to help their cause and some publicity in their community; I get some new people introduced to my new retail site; everybody wins, right?

This week, I've been touching base with my June charities to confirm that they've received my earlier communications and see if they need any additional help from me to promote the event to their local communities. So imagine my surprise when the executive director of one told me that they were not interested in participating! It seems that they were only interested if I was going to make a donation to them without anything being done on their part; just write them a check, essentially. I was so taken aback that I couldn't even question her further to see what her objection was.

And here I was, thinking that non-profits were off in donations due to the slower economy! I guess that's no longer true, and they're now able to turn away fundraising opportunities that don't require them to organize any events or do anything more than a little publicity work that'll also give them some news coverage for their cause. I'd thought that being selected as one of my Charities of the Week was an honor, and that people would be happy about it. This woman acted like it was an annoyance with which she couldn't be bothered. Her reaction caused me to wonder about whether I'm completely off-base altogether with offering this to local non-profits. I've scheduled one for each week of the next year; will others have the same ungrateful reaction?

If you have a non-profit group that helps cats in some sort of grassroots way, send me your info. In the event that any other of my selected charities has the same attitude as this one and I have an opening in my schedule, I'll plug you into a week. It's great that some non-profits don't need additional donations, but I'm betting that others would welcome them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Less Than a Week!


It's an exciting time here at OldMaidCatLady.com! We'll be rolling out our "Charity of the Week" program next Monday, May 31.

Here's how it'll work. Each week, we'll feature a non-profit group that's helping cats on a local, grassroots level as our Charity of the Week. We'll have a profile on the website that tells about the charity and what they're doing for cats. These charities are located all over the United States. The selected charity will also receive 10% of our proceeds on items sold through OldMaidCatLady.com's shopping cart during their featured week. People who are already buying cat supplies can actually help cats by buying them from OldMaidCatLady.com. Exciting, right?

How'd we find the charities? Through Charity Navigator. They assess how well non-profit groups do with the donations they receive and give them a point value that earns them 1 to 4 stars. Only 4-star groups on Charity Navigator have been chosen as OldMaidCatLady.com's Charities of the Week. They've been scheduled for the next 12 months.

A press release about the program has been posted on our website. So remember OldMaidCatLady.com when you're buying your:
Didn't know we had all that? You need to visit OldMaidCatLady.com again!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Traveling with Cats

Have you ever traveled with a cat? There's a funny song on Garrison Keillor's "Songs of the Cat" album about traveling with cats that pretty much sums it up. My experience was in moving to Atlanta in early 1994, a six-hour drive with my two cats in carriers atop stacks of my stuff in the back seat of my car. I figured they were high enough to see out the windows, which would entertain them along the journey. That was my first mistake.

My girl kitty was actually quite good about the whole thing; she felt secure in her carrier and seemed to enjoy the view. My boy cat, however, was another story. He had never liked riding in the car, and we were barely out of town before he pooped in his carrier and forced me to make a quick stop next to someone's dumpster to empty the offending material from the car. That done, I opened the sunroof to let in some cold, clean air for the next few miles so we could all breathe.

But the ol' boy wasn't through letting me know he was unhappy. He proceeded to meow...and we're not talking a nice little mewing sound like happy cats make, this was a full-volume RAAAAY-ER...RAAAAY-ER...RAAAAY-ER...constantly. Now, remember, this was a SIX-hour drive. I figured he'd eventually settle in and stop it. Next big mistake.

Then I thought, "Well, maybe if I let him out of his carrier he'll find a place where he's more comfortable and stop yowling." Another big mistake. He sat in the rear window and yowled. He got on the floor of the the car and yowled. He climbed over every bit of stuff I had crammed in that car and yowled. I turned the volume of the music louder, and he out-yowled the radio. It was a noise I'd heard at home, briefly, when he wanted to go outside. But he'd always gotten tired of it and given up after a few minutes. Not this time.

The moving experience did give me an answer to the question a visitor would later have upon hearing him launch into that noise, "Wow, how long can he keep that up?" "Five hours and fifteen minutes," I answered with confidence. Yes, for the last 45 minutes of that drive, he collapsed into my lap and fell asleep, exhausted, his head resting in the crook of my right arm that was holding the steering wheel. I remember thinking, "Please, God, don't let me reach a turn in the road that will require me to move my arm and wake up this cat!" For the next move, I went to the vet and got him some "kitty happy pills" that knocked him out. (It was either going to be him or me, and he couldn't drive, so...) He tried to yowl, but just didn't have the energy to keep it up, or reach the same volume, as during the first move, and finally fell asleep for most of the drive. It was blissful. And my girl kitty was happy about it, too.

Fortunately, today there are many more options for making your cat comfortable when traveling. You'll find many quality cat travel products at OldMaidCatLady.com, from rolling cat carriers, crates, and backpacks of all shapes and sizes to travel beds and natural calming wipes that can soothe your savage beast. There are even cat strollers and a bike basket cat carrier so you can take kitty along with you on your daily jog or bike ride. After all, you can interpret that "RAAAAY-ER" as a personal trainer encouraging you to keep going, right?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lots of Amazing New Stuff

Whew! My feet are killing me, my back aches, and I have blisters on my hands from carrying my tote bag around the expo floor for a couple of days...but the Global Pet Expo was phenomenal! Met a ton of great people who have wonderful products that will soon be featured on OldMaidCatLady.com. Food, litter & litterboxes, cat trees, cat beds, catwear, travel supplies, show cages, nutritional supplements, hydration systems...even music, just for the cats. You name it, if it could be made for pets, it was at this expo.

I also got lots of great samples to try, and will be reviewing those products here over the next several weeks. New products should start showing up on the retail site within the next week. More new ones will be added over probably the next couple of months or so. Yes, that's right...it'll take me that long to get through them all! There's a stack of product literature at least a foot tall that has to be sorted, notes deciphered, distributor relationships established, product images & descriptions downloaded, and items added to the site itself. But you're SO going to love the new stuff! There are so many innovative products out there to help us spoil our kitties and keep them happy and healthy.

Stay tuned. Lots more coming soon!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Stuff's Coming Soon!

Always on the lookout for new stuff for our kitties, we'll be attending the Global Pet Expo next weekend in Orlando. Pre-show publicity says that over 800 new products will be debuting there! Granted, not all are for cats, but we'll be telling you about every one of the new cat products we find, and hopefully will also be able to feature many of them on OldMaidCatLady.com. Stay tuned for all the news!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm a Meeeeean Mama!

Older cats don't groom themselves like they did when they were younger, so they need help. Now that the worst of the winter is past us, Vixen is shedding her winter coat. I've found clumps of hair all over the house, so I try to give her a good brushing every day to remove some of that loose hair.

Here, you see today's pile of hair from her morning brushing, along with the very angry tortoiseshell from which it came. You see, Vixen doesn't like to be groomed. She especially hates having her stomach touched. But lots of excess hair builds up there, forming into lumpy mats that eventually need to be cut out. So I endure the hissing, scratching and biting, and even got the "demon growl" this morning while grooming her. She kept that up for pretty much the whole grooming session! So with this pile of hair now in the trash can, she's finally calmed down a little and will soon be asking for her lunch!

Now, here's my shameless self-promotion: if you need a new comb or brush to help your cat shed her winter coat, Old Maid Cat Lady has pretty much every size, shape and design. We've just added some new "people products" too, including some lovely fountains and statues for your spring garden.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vixen is 22...or Thereabout


Twenty-one years ago this month, a feisty little tortoiseshell came to join my household. She'd been a feral cat in the apartments where I lived, one who'd lurk in the hedges and swipe a spotted paw out at you when you passed. I'd see her following along behind the maintenance men, playing with whatever tool belt or electrical cord was dangling behind them. On sunny afternoons, people doing laundry would have to step over her as she sprawled right across the middle of the laundry room floor in the afternoon sun streaming through the westward window. She had big-time attitude.

My other cat had noticed her, too. That was mainly because she'd climb the tree right outside our living room windows and flirt with him. He was a very clingy cat who suffered terrible separation anxiety when I left him to go to work, or anywhere else, for that matter. He was mesmerized by this wild little thing who seemed to take pleasure in taunting him. I toyed with the idea of taking in the odd-looking little cat, who reminded me of an owl with her prominent lynx tips and vivid yellow stripe down the nose. Wily and cantankerous, her personality was most fox-like, thus earning her the name given to female foxes. She seemed to know her name and respond to it from the very beginning. As near as I could figure, she seemed to be about a year old.

Just as tigers have striped skin, Vixen also has sections of black and pink skin; two pink toes with all the rest black, for example. There are even black spots on the inside of her mouth. Her ears look like someone flicked orange paint off a paintbrush onto them, both inside and out. She could be easily spotted from a great distance by that yellow chest, which glowed like a beacon when I spied her sitting in a drainage pipe beside the duck pond one afternoon. I stepped outside and called to her; she gave a little cry and came running straight over to me, circled around and came up beside me, where she let me pick her up and carry her inside. And that was that.

When the time came to move into another apartment, I took both cats to the vet for baths and de-fleaing (this was in the days before the back-of-the-neck treatments we have today), then over to the new place. Vixen was still pretty feisty and didn't like to be touched or picked up. But she was smart as a whip! The cats loved going out onto our 3rd-floor balcony, but were showing a troubling tendency to stand with their front feet on the outside of the lower rail, peering over onto the balcony below. With a fear that they'd jump down there, I kept a close eye on them and stopped them, admonishing, "No back feet on the railing!" Vixen took this to heart. A few months later, I was standing on my balcony talking to a friend, who casually propped her foot on the railing. Vixen pranced over to her and started swatting my friend's foot, claws sheathed, as a reminder of "No back feet on the railing!"

Vixen loved being out on the balcony and would often chew off the tips of my aloe plant. Loved it, that is, until the weather turned hot and humid. As soon as that hot air would hit her in the face when the door slid open, she'd pull back, turn around, and head back into the air conditioning. Smart girl. She loved playing with tennis balls, which she'd grab with her claws and sort of throw for herself. My other cat was another story; she hated him. When he'd stand at the door and yowl to go outside, she'd get an annoyed look on her face. After a few minutes, when she'd had enough, she'd go over and swat him in the face a few times, then sprint across the room. He was always too shocked to chase her. Many was the time I'd find a chunk of his fur on the floor where she'd gotten him good with her claws.

When we moved to Atlanta in the mid-90s, we had a southwesterly facing sunroom. She'd spend every afternoon there, basking in the warmth of the sun. I swear, it made the orange spots in her coat more vivid. Little by little, she got more comfortable sleeping on the bed with me, although it was always at the foot and not near my other cat on the opposite pillow. She also became more accustomed to being held and petted, and even came to enjoy a good brushing...but not for long. When she'd had enough, she'd walk away, and woe be unto the one who tried to stop her. Out would come claws and teeth, and that old feral personality would emerge again.

After my other cat died, I worried that she was growing bored alone all day while I was at work, so I took to leaving the TV on for her...on Animal Planet, of course! She paid attention to it, too, because she changed the way she bit after watching shows on there. Before, she'd grab your hand with her claws and pull it toward her, then sink her teeth into it so she had you trapped. But after watching a fair number of snake shows on TV, she began striking and pulling back, just like a snake would do. It was fascinating...albeit no less painful!

These days, she's become a grand old lady. Her hips give her a little trouble, and sometimes she loses her balance when she first stands up. The brilliant colors in her coat have become slightly duller, more faded with age. She no longer jumps up on any furniture, including the bed. There's no more batting of tennis balls or clawing the sofa. She still enjoys combing her face on the little arched brush I gave her one Christmas; I think it's her favorite gift she's ever received. She loves her canned food meals, and has become accustomed to getting them at least three times a day. But she also still loves her "crunchies", which she swallows whole since her teeth aren't what they used to be. She stands in her litter box and whizzes over the side, a behavior I've addressed before in this blog. For the most part, she's healthy as can be and can often be found curled up and sleeping in her bed underneath my desk. That's where she is now, in fact.

So raise a glass with me to toast 21 years together with my best girl ever, my little Vixen! May she go on for many more years to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cat Butlers

This story in the Florida Times-Union about "cat butlers" at the Jacksonville Humane Society was heart-warming, but it also made me wonder about the cats who find themselves at the city's Animal Care & Control instead. That's not a no-kill shelter, and the cats have a much grimmer potential fate there. Do they have anyone who loves and socializes them to improve their chances of adoption? If I had the time and lived closer to the shelter, I'd love to start a similar program there. Anybody in the Riverside, San Marco or Downtown areas of town so inclined?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It's Always Something, Part II...

Found out Saturday morning that there's a problem with Authorize.net processing payments on the OldMaidCatLady.com website. How'd I find out? There were a few incomplete orders showing on my site. A call to the hosting company's helpline yielded no useful information. ("People just abandon their shopping carts sometimes; there's no way to know why.") Yes, but EVERY time? When I tried to buy something myself, that brought the answer. Naturally, it came after all the financial types had knocked off for the weekend.

Which brings to mind something: In this information age, if you're selling a product to people that will be used 24/7, does it not make sense to have customer service available 24/7 for when it doesn't work? Is there a place in today's gotta-have-it-now world for "banker's hours"? Whatever the case, it'll be Monday morning before anyone is available to address my issue.

I blame myself, mainly, for this; after all, I was the one who set up the gateway. And I should've tested it before rolling out any publicity for the site. But it seems that there should be someone to help new customers set up a gateway so that it functions properly and doesn't reject all the transactions that come its way. While independence is a fine thing, sometimes people just need a little help, and not in the way of a monstrosity of an online help file that's difficult to navigate when all the language is foreign to a newbie. Sometimes, a personal touch and a little hand-holding are in order. In absence of that, a blog on which to vent must substitute!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Special


Valentine's Day has never been my favorite holiday, and 2009 made it even less so. I spent that at the emergency vet clinic with our darling little Frankie, shown here, who was breathing very shallowly and seemed to be swollen through his chest area.

As it turned out, Frankie was in the final stage of FIP. Not knowing his history, the doctors at the emergency clinic didn't pick up on that. They drained the fluid from his chest, which had consumed about 75% of his chest cavity, to relieve his breathing a little, and kept him overnight until he was stable. He came home that Sunday afternoon, but had to go into the hospital at his usual vet on Monday morning. He never came home again, passing away in the night of the following Sunday.

In memory of Frankie, I'm offering a 10% discount on all items purchased at Old Maid Cat Lady from February 14-21, the anniversary of Frankie's last week in this life. To get the discount, when you're checking out you should enter the code FRANKIE210. (This only applies to items purchased through OMCL's shopping cart, as I'm unable to discount items sold by affiliated retailers.)

To finish the story -- We buried little Frankie in our side yard, and a statue of St. Francis now watches over him. The staff at our vet had written little notes all over the box in which they placed his body and taped flowers to it, as they'd grown to love him almost as much as we did during his final week with them. The notes from each of them in the sympathy card they gave me sounded like they had really gotten to know his sweet personality during his stay there. My mother missed him every day until her own death. I continue to miss them both, but am hoping that they are reunited in spirit now.