Monday, June 30, 2008

Cat Rentals

Did you know that cat rentals -- as in felines, not automobiles -- are available in Japan?

This post has been moved to a new site:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Giving Your Cat Medicine -- Instructional Video Link

Want to know how to give your cat medicine?

Here’s a link to an instructional video on medicating your cat.

It’s by “Partners in Animal Health,” courtesy of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Sure wish I’d had access to a video like this when I was struggling to get cat medicine down my cat’s throat.

I tried to get the vet to give me a demonstration, but I only got verbal instructions. I never saw an actual demo.

This video is very well done and looks very helpful. Although I’m not sure that it would’ve made much of a difference when I was trying to give medicine to my late cat Saki.

I never, ever succeeded in her. I’d manage to get the pill way into the back of her mouth – as the video recommends – and then I’d stroke her throat to encourage her to swallow the pill – again, as recommended by the video.

When I saw Saki swallow (I observed her throat), I’d ever so slowly release my hold on her – only to have her spit out the pill! She was only feigning to swallow. I think that cat was smarter than I – I was duped each time.

What have been your struggles with giving medicine to your cat?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Funny cats -- Japanese Cat

A friend sent me a photo of a funny cat from Japan. Is it a Bobtail? Maybe a Manx?

To find out about Japanese Bobtails, please see my post:

Please share any stories you have about Bobtails.

The Woes of Cat Medicine

Do you enjoy giving your cat medicine? If you answered “no,” you’re sane and normal. Medicating a cat has to be one of the more frustrating aspects of cat ownership!

Take my friend, for instance. Her cat needs medicine daily. Because she finds it impossible to pill the cat, she’s taken to driving the cat to the vet everyday. I certainly admire her dedication, but she’s an incredibly busy person and I think there’s got to be an easier way!

She says she’s tried adding the medicine to cat food but the cat sniffs it out. Alas, that’s usually what happens! This trick may work with dogs, but not with cats. I’ve tried grinding the medicine into powder and adding it to either regular cat food or baby food, but that never worked.

Some people find the pill gun effective, but my friend says she can’t use it.

With my resident cat Mittens, I finally figured out a way to give her cat medicine. You can read how in my earlier post:

Please feel free to share any tips and techniques you may have on giving your cat medicine.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Shop and Help Cats

So you love cats and you love to shop? Did you know that there’s a way where you can shop AND help cats?

You can do that through a program called escrip. The program streamlines fund raising – and donations – contributing a percentage of the purchases you make using your grocery loyalty cards, credit, debit and ATM cards to the group or organization of your choice.

You could, for instance, make donations to groups that promote cat welfare.

If you’d like to help humans rather than cats or other animals (my goodness!), you can do that too.

All you have to do is find what groups or organizations you want to help support are included in this program. And see which merchants participate in the program. There are about a 100 of them, including Safeway (in Northern California only), Office Max, Eddie Bauer, and Macy’s.

Then you can register yourself online. The participating businesses will contribute a percentage (may vary between 1 to 5% or more) of your purchases to the groups or organizations of your choice.

Your purchases are tracked and available for viewing online.

I registered myself in the few minutes I had while waiting for a friend. It was really simple. (If anything’s the least bit complicated, I tend not to do it.)

You can sign up for up to 3 causes. For now, I’ve registered:

Feral Cat Foundation

Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition

Project Hunger Inc.

I can shop and help cats!

If you want to know more about escrip, click below:

And here's a list of participating merchants:

I think this is a great idea! It doesn't cost you a penny extra and you get to make at least a small contribution to the welfare of cats -- and maybe even some humans -- by shopping.

I can't think of anything better than to shop and to help cats. A great boon for a shopaholic like me.

Oh, in case you'd like to know about the groups that I picked, here are the links:

Feral Cat Foundation
is a non-profit that helps feral cats in the Alameda and Contra Costa counties of northern California.

Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition
is a volunteer group that helps educate people and gives voice to all suffering animals including unwanted pets and wild animals killed or abused.

Project Hunger Inc. is a non-profit in Grand Island, NE whose goal is to address the reality of world hunger and help local communities through education and action. (Yes, this group is for humans, not cats!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cat Collectibles

If you’re into cat collectibles – or if you want to give gifts to the cat lover in your life – you might consider some cat paws. Well, not real paws, but concrete stepping stones shaped like cat paws.

You can set them in your garden pathway or hang them up on the wall as decoration. You can also get round stones that are like a fat cat, or ones like a lion’s head.

They’re the creations of a general building contractor and nature and wildlife photographer John Pianavilla of Santa Cruz, California.

Pianavilla loves working with his hands and he says he’s always looking for new design ideas.

He thought selling these stepping stones would be a perfect fundraiser for an animal-related organization. He donates a portion of each sale to Project Purr, a Santa Cruz-based non-profit dedicated to decreasing the population of feral cats.

Pianavilla uses a special concrete mixture that he developed to produce stones with a very smooth surface and precise detail.

To add depth to the pieces, he sometimes adds a single color of concrete stain. He also adorns some with broken glass in the pique assiette technique.

The basic stepping stones range from $10 to $25, depending on size and design. The faux-granite stones and the pique assiette designs are based on the intricacy of the pieces.

Check them out at:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cats and Software Engineers

Today we have a post by a guest who's worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley for more than two decades. (He's seen it all!) As a long-time cat lover and observer, he's long noticed a certain affinity between felines and software engineers.

What do cats and software engineers have in common?

Strange question, you might think. Sounds like the set-up line for a bad joke.
But over the years, in my career as a software engineer here in the Silicon Valley, I've seen some interesting parallels between cats and software engineers. There are definitely some common threads that tie them together.

Like what?

The first one that comes to mind is: cats and software engineers both love freely available, and preferably unresisting, food. A recent incident of chicken thievery brought that common thread forcefully to mind.

Mittens, the cat residing at Cheryl's place, has been getting much healthier and happier recently. As Mittens' health improves, her stealth improves too. Not to mention her confidence, her demanding nature, and – yes – even her apparent greed.

Case in point: Cheryl had cooked some chicken and set it aside for no more than a moment or two. Quick as the proverbial flash, Mittens had jumped up on the table, started lickin' the chicken, and promptly ran off with a piece in her mouth!

And this was very soon after Mittens had just been fed!

Mittens needed yet another food fix. Like so many desperate addicts, she resorted to larceny to support her habit.

Clearly Mittens feels much safer and more secure these days. I don't think she would have tried to pull that kind of a stunt previously. And obviously, she would not have done so when she had dangerously lost interest in food.

Little Mitt’s appetite seems quite ferocious these days. It seems to grow by leaps and bounds. In this case, it grew with a leap onto the table and a bound into the next room to devour her ill-gotten gains.

And Mittens seems to be channeling Cheryl’s previous cat, Saki, in the increasingly daring and brazen nature of her attempts to become more and more well-fed.
So what's the connection?

Over the years, I've seen many software engineers ravenously trolling for free food among any and all company events. They stalk it much the same way that Mittens stalks a helpless, defenseless piece of cooked chicken.

"There's a pot luck in HR!" someone will say, whether by email or cubicle visit, and off we'll go to see what's on offer.

It doesn't matter whether or not anyone in the raiding party has actually contributed any dish to the potluck. It's a classic predator-prey relationship.

There are no ethics. Only the eaters and the eaten. “Have lunch or be lunch,” as a Silicon Valley executive and so many others have so memorably put it.

Other times, someone will pass the word: "There's a barbecue in shipping and receiving!"

Or one of us will spy some pizza in a conference room, or in the company lunch area, and word will spread like wildfire.

Unattended food – and sometimes, even attended food! – does not last long in the digital workplace. Certainly no longer than it would with a ravenous kitty like Mittens in the neighborhood.

It’s a jungle out there. And sometimes in here too.

by John Hartsell,

Software Engineer

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Can a Cat do Christina's World?

Have you ever seen a cat “do” “Christina’s World”? I'm talking about Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting. And whether or not a cat could pose as Christina.

I think most everyone is familiar with the famous portrait of Christina. She's lying on her side in a field of grass, gazing into the distance at a weather-beaten farmhouse on a wind-swept New England hill.

Christina holds the upper half of her body upright, one arm extended out to support her weight.

Her face is hidden from view. It’s hard to say whether she’s young or old. She has long hair and she’s wearing a pale pink dress.

The painting has a brooding, haunting quality to it.

In real life, Christina, was suffering from muscular deterioration that paralyzed her lower body. But she refused to let her handicaps stop her from moving around – she insisted on crawling through the grass.

Anyway, Mittens, my resident cat, often adopts a posture that reminds me of Christina. The basic position goes like this:

Mittens is lying on my comforter (almost always), and her face is turned away from me (as always). She’s either gazing into the far wall or resting with her eyes closed (as always).

She extends one front leg out, while tucking in her hind legs underneath her haunches. Her fur has a kind of wind-swept look.

She looks like she’s gazing out into the distance across the empty field under the empty sky.

It’s almost like having a real-life “Christina’s World” in my bedroom.

Uncanny, this cat.