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Category Archives: Cats

Solving the Sergeant’s Piddle Problem

Gilles and Linda Auger started making diapers for their cat Bowie and later for their rescued Chihuahua ChiChi.

“From this experience, we decided to create our own hygienic clothing manufacturing company for pets.”

cat named Bowie wearing a diaper

Bowie the cat

Now, that is one agreeable cat.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently received from the Augers’ company Créations Entre Chats Et Chiens a pair of custom-made diapers Sergeant’s uniform to test on my incontinent elderpin Scooby.

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The overall-style diapers are designed kind of like a Thundershirt in that two straps wrap around the front of the dog’s neck/chest area and fasten with velcro.

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Velcro straps also secure the diaper part of the garment to the piece that wraps around the dog’s back.

The garment itself is constructed with three layers of waterproof fabric. On the area that covers the problem area, there is a netting in which you can tuck a sanitary napkin for added protection. (In order to be more eco-friendly, I just used old fabric scraps.)

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In theory, I like the Augers’ design a lot.

The velcro straps allows some flexibility in the fit. If your dog is having a fat day, you can just let it out a little.

Unfortunately – most likely due to my poor measuring ability – Scooby’s diaper doesn’t fit snugly enough. It bags out around his bottom, and the straps aren’t long enough to tighten it around his belly as much as he needs.

As a result, he is able to wriggle out of his little sergeant’s uniform and continue doing his business where he pleases.

Furthermore, the fact that some of the scratchy part of the velcro touches his underbelly encourages his desire to get out of his diaper.

While I cannot say for sure that the overall-style diaper has saved us from any accidents in the house, it is pretty cute (if, like me, you appreciate camo dog clothes).

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If I can con a friend with sewing skills into helping me alter the the diaper a bit, I think there is hope for its functionality.

However, I would recommend that the Augers switch the placement of the male and female velcro strips so that the dog’s skin can only ever possibly come into contact with the softer bristles.

In spite of this product not working out perfectly for us, I still encourage others to check out DiapersforDog.com, where the Augers sell their pet accessories to an international audience. (Just pay more attention when you are measuring, unlike me!)

This small company is new; the proprietors are friendly; and they are still perfecting their designs and rolling out new ones in a variety of attractive patterns.

I am happy we had the chance to try this handmade product and wish the Augers luck with their business venture!

Have you discovered any cool new pet businesses lately?

Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed here are honest.
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Whirlwind Nebraska weekend

Sometimes getting out of town without the dogs is exactly what I need.

Especially when I know there will be plenty of cute animals and cool people where I’m headed.

Stop 1: Lincoln

Megan and Crystal

Grinning cousins.

That’s Megan, one of my second cousins on the Wiebe side. When I said I was coming to Nebraska for a  recent weekend, she and her partner Claire kindly allowed me to crash at their Lincoln apartment.

I first stopped for a dinner of homemade noodles and sauce with my best friend Kenton at his mom’s house.

The kitten Megan and Claire recently rescued from a tree welcomed Kenton and me when we arrived at their door.

Megan's kitten

“Mew are you?”

Sadly, I captured no photos of my other cousin Kyle – Megan’s brother – slaying the karaoke crowd later that night at the Ding A Ling Bar in Raymond, Nebraska. (He’s a braver soul than me. I stay far away from karaoke mics.)

I did, however, snap a few pictures – and throw down some cash – the next day at the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market.

I’ve been meaning to get to Lincoln on a Sunday ever since Megan helped me put together a post about the farmers’ market for this blog.

fresh produce at Old Cheney Road Farmers' Market

A Nebraska harvest.

I picked up some fresh produce for a veggie tray I was tasked with providing for my mom’s birthday party later that day.

I also picked up something for the dogs – chewy beef heart treats from Chisholm Family Farm.

Chisholm Family Farms dog treats

Chisholm Family Farm makes it easy to feed your dog raw, natural food and treats.

The booth next door held exactly the kind of gifts I had in mind to present to my mother on her 58th birthday – all-natural beauty products.

wingsets

Wingsets natural beauty care.

Wingsets is a Lincoln-based business operated by a husband and wife team. In addition to a huge array of bath, skincare and hair products for people, they have developed a robust line of pet products. I look forward to trying some of those on our pack in the future.

Stop 2: Beatrice

My next stop was my hometown for a family portrait. I let the professional photographer take care of those shots.

Before everyone got together, though, I snapped this shot of my Dad’s friend Rosie’s adorable Yorkshire terriers.

yorkies

Ermahgerd! Yorkies!

After the photo session in the park, my dad took me out to the farm where he helps take care of a real menagerie of critters raised for pleasure and food.

Jag and Prowler, the resident German Shepherds he’s been training, greeted us when we rolled up.

skulky german shepherds

“Welcome to the farm!”

Named after the rottweiler I grew up with, Prowler is growing up to be a handsome and mischievous fellow. The advice is to be careful when leaving small items, from caps and t-shirts to plastic bottles, unattended in his presence.

german shepherd dog

“I promise not to steal your water bottle in half an hour.”

Dad loves zooming around the farm on the John Deere Gator. I hopped in the passenger seat, and we said hello to some of his animal friends.

dad on a gator

Just a dad, a gator and a horse.

horse and a John Deere Gator

“Didz u say hai er hay?”

Zipper the horse is a sweet old thing who peacefully resides with a small pack of burros. They have all learned to equate the arrival of the Gator in the pasture with treat time.

burros and baby

“Did someone say treats?”

The bison herd on the other side of the fence knows what the Gator means, too. My dad’s favorite bison is this big-headed bull whose tongue is bigger than my wrist.

buffalo tongue

“Just a little closer.”

Apparently, the resident elk aren’t feeling very friendly this time of year.

But in just a couple hours, on the last stop of my whirlwind Nebraska tour, I would see another hoofed creature.

Stop 3: Peru

From Beatrice, I zoomed to Peru, Nebraska, a very hilly, very small college town where the Rains side of my family has roots.

My grandfather, who is buried in Peru, grew up in the town. He was a hometown football hero there, and it’s where he met my grandmother.

Peru is also where my mother originally met my stepfather in the 1970s. Decades would pass before they came together again and began to build a life together.

We celebrated my mom’s 58th birthday at the gazebo in Neal Park where they were married in 2005.

On this Sunday afternoon, my mother was showered with thoughtful and useful gifts, including a leather jacket, an iPhone and this hoodie I wish I could take credit for:

Walk with a Friend paw print hoodie

Who could say it better?

Of course, there was cake!

Catfish the Boston Terrier resented that no one offered her any.

Boston Terrier peeks onto table

That Boston Terrier needs a booster seat.

After the food was devoured and presents unwrapped, nature treated us all to another gift – a not-so-distant view of a deer.

My mom squealed with delight at the beautiful sight.

deer in the distance

Ermahgerd! Deer!

As you can imagine, by the end of this little roadtrip, I was exhausted. But what a great weekend!

Have you gotten out of town recently? What did you do?

Have you entered the giveaway yet? Don’t miss your chance to win a Lavender Neem Shampoo Bar from Baltimore Bumble Crafts!

6 Pinterest Boards That Can Benefit Animal Welfare Organizations (Guest Post)

pinterest buttonIf you’re an animal welfare organization and you don’t have a Pinterest account, get one. Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing social media sites today, growing 4377% since last year, and sending more referral traffic than Google+, Youtube, and LinkedIn combined.

Why is Pinterest so popular? Why are your SEO company, your friend who works in marketing and your mom all obsessing over this site? Because people love looking at pictures. Pictures make us laugh and cry; they intrigue, awe, and entertain us.

Aside from simply scrolling through pictures, most of the photos on Pinterest encourage people to do something. There are pins of recipes to cook, hairstyles to try, DIY projects to create, and . . . animals to adopt?

Possibly!

Pinterest’s call-to-action mindset gives animal welfare organizations an opportunity to possibly increase animal adoption, or at the very least, spread and share animal advocacy awareness. So how can animal welfare organizations take advantage of everything Pinterest has to offer? Check out these six boards to jumpstart your Pinterest account!

 “Adorable Animals” Board

little girl and cat meme

 Who can resist a board full of adorable animal pictures? No one with a heart! Create a board that showcases animals being silly and cute. Keep the board light and funny, something that will make people cheer up if they’ve had a bad day. Make sure to include pictures of all types of animals; don’t limit yourself to only cats and dogs. Most people who love animals love all animals, so don’t pass up a pin of an elephant taking a bath just because your organization doesn’t have any elephants to place up for adoption!

 “Up For Adoption” Board

Visiting animal shelters can often be overwhelming and even sad. How are you expected to pick one cat or dog to possibly adopt when you’re surrounded by so many that are just as adorable, and just as in need of a home? Creating a board with pictures of all the animals you have ready to be adopted is a great way to interest potential adoptive parents—without them feeling rushed, overwhelmed, or sad.

Upload a picture of each animal you have up for adoption to this board. In the pin description, include their name, age, breed, and their personality traits. Remember to keep the board fun and uplifting! The goal isn’t to make people feel bad that these animals don’t have a home, it’s to get them excited and eager to adopt!

adoptable dog on pinterest

Play around with fun names for this board, such as “Will Cuddle For Owner” or “Looking To Adopt A Human.”  Set yourself apart by writing the personality traits from the animals’ point-of-view! For example: “My name’s Buddy, I’m a 3-year-old beagle mix. In my spare time I enjoy practicing my howl, intimidating squirrels, and getting my belly rubbed.” For animals that have certain personality issues, be honest but sensitive. Saying, “I’m very loyal and protective, and I don’t like sharing my owner with anyone else,” is better than saying, “not a family dog.”

If your website has pages for each of the animals you have up for adoption, link the picture back to their page. If there’s one general page, instruct how to find that animal on your website. To make things really simple, you could include a “To find out more about me, call: (XXX) XXX-XXXX” at the bottom of each pin description.

Remember to include instructions about how to get in touch with your organization if someone is interested in adopting an animal. You can do this by including the best way to contact you in your Pinterest account description, as well as on each of your board descriptions.

“Adopted” Board

 adopted dog on pinterest

 Ask the people who have adopted animals from you to send you a follow-up picture. Upload those pictures to this board along with a short description of the animal’s adoption story. These stories are heartwarming and worth sharing. It will also show people that your organization truly cares about the animals that you place for adoption, and that you don’t just forget about them when they leave.

 “Wish List” Board

live trap on pinterest

 This is a great idea for all non-profit organizations. Create a board and fill it with things that your organization needs. This could be anything from dog food, kitty litter, and blankets for the animals, to water and hand sanitizer for the employees and volunteers!

“Animal Advocacy” Board

 

This board can be whatever you want to make it. You can pin inspiring stories about animals that have survived abuse, animals in the news, quotes about animals and animal rights, products that donate a portion of their proceeds to helping animals in need, anything you want!

“Pet Lovers” Board

 

 All pet owners have a special relationship with their furry friends. Pin anything animal or-pet related to this board! Pretty collars and leashes, cool water and food bowls, pet-related home décor (welcome mats, wall decorations, picture frames), pictures of celebrities with their pets, recipes for treats—anything a pet owner would appreciate!

These six boards are a great way to begin your Pinterest presence, and the opportunity to increase adoption and raise animal rights awareness is always worth it. So get on Pinterest and start pinning pictures of adorable animals right now!

 Guest blogger Michelle is an aspiring writer and animal lover. She has a passion for the Internet, specifically social media and blogging. She loves how social media connects people across the globe, and appreciates that blogging gives her the opportunity to voice her thoughts and share advice with an unlimited audience. She blogs at Socialwelove.

Readers: Do you follow animal welfare organizations on Pinterest?

Do you follow Crystal Wayward? You can!

Follow Me on Pinterest

From animal lover to animal advocate

Angela with her cat Fifi.

The following post was written by my cat-lovin’ friend Angela. Like me, she is a lifelong animal lover who ony recently decided to become involved in the animal rescue community. Angela recently decided to volunteer with Wayside Waifs, a non-profit shelter in Kansas City.

My mom, my boyfriend, and my best friend all said the same thing when I told them I was going to start volunteering at an animal shelter: “Oh my god, do not get any more cats.”

At first I dismissed their concern. I only have two cats, after all, which means I can reasonably have at least three more (and unreasonably I can have as many as I want, if at some point I’m willing to share my life with Hoarders).

Cuddle ninjas.

But then I considered my reaction to those horrifying ASCPA commercials. I must admit that I mute that Sarah McLachlan song and avert my eyes from the montages of abused and miserable animals, or within moments I’m sobbing, cursing all of humankind, and vowing to make it my life’s mission to save every kitty. If that is any predictor of how I will respond to real, live homeless cats, it is certainly not a stretch to think that my apartment might become an ad-hoc shelter for unwanted pets.

Luckily, though, I chose to volunteer at Wayside Waifs, which has undergone extensive remodeling over the last decade and become a top-notch, no-kill haven for homeless cats and dogs (and a few rabbits and guinea pigs) in the Kansas City area.

A dedicated team of employees and volunteers – including on-site veterinary and behavioral care providers, cat and dog socializers, and adoptions support staff – cares for the rotating cast of cats and dogs, more than 5,000 of which find forever homes each year. After seeing Wayside’s awesome facility, I did not feel compelled to rush home with a single cat secreted away beneath my jacket.

Angela's cat Bubba smiles for the camera.

In order to ensure conditions at the shelter remain awesome and that animals get the care and training they need, Wayside accepts a limited number of cats and dogs, when previously they struggled to make room for every one that arrived at their door. The majority arrive as strays, transfers from other shelters, or owner surrenders, a process that frequently requires an appointment made well in advance. According to Wayside’s volunteer coordinator, establishing a maximum capacity at the shelter has actually allowed the staff to save more animals, as they can get each cat or dog healthy, socialized, and adopted more quickly, thereby making room for another animal in need.

My first volunteer training session also included a tour of the cat and dog kennels, which utilize some natural lighting and are filled with clean and comfy blankets, a variety of toys, and areas for play and socialization. Depending on their health status and personality, many of the cats also live in small colonies, which involve lots of crazy adorable kitty snuggles.

Bubba displays his nice belly.

As our group of volunteers-in-training wandered between the rows of enclosures, a few cats gazed lazily at me as I peered in on them and cooed like a grandmother. One big black kitty stretched out on his back while an on-duty volunteer lavished him with belly scratches.

And I thought – yes. Cat socializer — that is the job I want.

Before I can work with the kitties, first I must attend the Cats 101 class, which will hopefully teach me how to read cats’ minds like My Cat from Hell host Jackson Galaxy, who, along with Bob Harper, happens to be one of only two tattooed men my mom trusts.

Cats 101 should happen in mid-March, and then I will get to take regular shifts at the shelter.

Volunteers are also allowed to drop in any time to snuggle the kitties after a bad day, which will probably help me stave off the desire to rent a huge house and attack life crazy cat lady-style – at least for a few more years.

You can read more of Angela’s wry writing over at her blog Thunderlutz.

To see a cat that looks eerily like Angela’s Bubba, check out this Magnet Monday post about my ex-cat Luxor.

A gift for King Luxor’s new servants


I had Magnet Lady Kathleen Henn create the piece of custom art above as a Christmas gift, but I liked it so well that I gave it to Luxor‘s mama several weeks early. Luxor, a stunningly handsome lynx point Siamese with the bluest eyes, is totally one of those cats that runs the house. For the three years he spent with me and my ever-evolving pack, he demanded respect from every dog and person he encountered. Sometimes, he did this through sweetness. (“I am throwing myself at your feet to request pets.”) Sometimes, he did it through mean-ness. (“I will crouch here in this corner until you walk by and then launch my 18-pound body at you and sink my razor-sharp cat teeth into your skin!”)

Luxor took over a new kingdom a few months ago — the home of Zach’s sister and her husband. I think they love him even more than we did.

Regardless, there will no doubt be a gift for Luxor under our Christmas tree this year.

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As you can see, we finally got the Norfolk Island Pine decorated. If he still lived in our house, I am sure Luxor would approve — by batting around the ornaments and ingesting (to his possible detriment) the branches. (I do not miss policing the houseplants from his curiosity.)

Luckily, our dogs still don’t seem to be interested in the living Christmas tree. Santa Claws will surely reward them for their good behavior.

What’s under your tree for your pets this year?

A one-eared, six-toed dog and other random encounters

As a matter of housekeeping, I must begin this post with these additional photos of Tilly, the lost German Shepherd mix whose foster dad I ran into as he was putting up posters last weekend. As far as I know, Tilly remains at large. These photos were taken during the 12 hours that she was in her foster dad’s care before she escaped.

Also at large, in my neighborhood, is a small, gray cat named Gretta. Having noticed a hand-scrawled poster in the area earlier in the week, I actually ran into her owner Thursday afternoon as I passed through South Oak Park with Luke and Machete. The older gentleman explained that his shy, two-year-old cat always returned from her daytime excursions, but she hadn’t been seen since Sunday. “It’s like the earth just swallowed her up,” he said.

Imagine Gretta all grown up.

If you live near me — and you know if you do — please call the number on this poster if you think you’ve seen Gretta.

Apparently, Gretta is up to date on her shots, but she doesn’t have a collar or a microchip, and her owner said she’s timid around most people, which is unfortunate as far as her chances for recovery go. But maybe she’ll just show up again on her own… I used to be so terrified of my own cat getting lost back at our old house that I outfitted him with more tags than any of the dogs, plus a microchip. He looked pretty blingin’.

Luxor -- heavily accessorized

And now for the part of this post that you started reading for.

Later on Thursday night, Minnie and I had an encounter with a truly unusual wayward dog. We were having an after-dark, girls-only stroll through the neighborhood when a tall, white and brown, bully mix appeared in a yard and began ambling toward us. His posturing was friendly — who could blame him with a bombshell husky mix like Minnie around?

She'll put a spell on you.

I wasn’t scared of the dog, however, the street was pretty dark, and there seemed to be no owners standing by. (This isn’t an unusual occurence in our neighborhood. In fact, just this week, Our Waldo Bungie featured a post about an unfriendly loose dog.)

As the dog got closer, I noticed two things: 1) he had a collar with a name tag and 2) he only had one ear. On one side of his head was a normal flap of white; on the other was just a hole.

Trust me, this is the ear-less side.

As he wiggled around Minnie and me, I noticed, too, that each of his back dewclaws held not one but a pair of nails, each of which had curled long past the need for trimming. They didn’t seem to be curling into his skin, thank goodness, but they clearly needed attention.

Another bad pic. Sorry.

Whether his ear anomaly owed to injury or birth, I have no clue. If injury, it was not recent. Murray, as the tag hanging from his Ed Hardy collar informed me, seemed to be a mellow and happy-go-lucky guy. Since several minutes had passed with no sign of his human, I squinted to make out the phone number below his name and called. The result: worse than no answer — disconnected.

At this point, my heart started to sink. While there was no way that I was about to leave a one-eared, six-toed dog alone in the street, I dreaded the thought of bringing him to our overdogged home, where kennel cough continues to circulate. Fortunately, in the midst of my perplexity, a woman appeared in the doorway of a home on the other side of the street. She wasn’t Murray’s owner, just a friendly neighbor who said she was quite certain of the dog’s owner and she was willing to watch over him until that person arrived home. Relieved, Minnie and I headed to our home.

Did flea spray hurt my cat?



This cat did not die!

I can’t say for sure that Sergeant’s flea spray caused my cat Luxor to have a seizure and nearly go blind, but I will never use it again.

Maybe you wonder why a responsible pet owner who spends way too much money on premium, grain-free pet food would use a flea repellant available at the grocery store. The embarrassing truth is twofold: 1) I favor my dogs over my cat, who has always been prone to sinking his razor fangs into my calves regularly. 2) I succumbed to greenwashing.

Through greenwashing, companies play up the “environmentally responsible” or “natural” aspects of their products. Sergeant’s spray does contain some natural ingredients, including peppermint oil. However, hyping the use of these naturally-derived ingredients seems disengenous if those same substances are potentially very dangerous when sprayed on an animal that grooms itself with its tongue.

What Sergeant’s packaging doesn’t say — but the ASPCA does — is that peppermint oil, although naturally occuring, is toxic to cats.

Sergeant’s (and other makers of similar products) skirts the safety issue with the fine print. According to the label, the spray is “safe for use around children and pets when used as directed.” Yet, the directions say to apply the spray onto the cat. Of course, the directions also warn of “Hazards to humans and domestic animals” and suggest contacting a veterinarian in the event of persistent “sensitivities.”
Again, I can’t be certain that my use of this spray is what made my cat very, very sick about 30 hours later. After seeing the bottle and considering that I had used the product on him before, the emergency vet seemed confident that his sudden seizure, glaucoma symptoms and frighteningly low platelet count were attributable to a systemic issue, most likely lymphoma.

To our great relief, a couple days and some powerful meds later, Luxor was almost back to himself. The rapid recover, though, does seem consistent with a poisoning or severe allergic reaction. The vet at our regular animal hospital agreed, although he did not discount totally the lymphoma possibility. It’s just nearly impossible to know for sure.

My gut says the problem was the flea spray. And despite what my neighbor says, I’m not just trying to take on guilt. The simplest answer is usually the right one, and given the time elapsed and the cat’s age (roughly 5), a reaction to flea spray seems more plausible than lymphoma or a tick bite or a rare immune disorder.

The truth is, I probably very nearly killed my cat. That sucks. It sucks so much that I can’t believe I’m admitting it in public.

But if there is any silver lining to this scenario, it’s this: If the flea spray was to blame and not lymphoma, then Luxor seems to have made a complete recovery, which means he still has a lot of years left to terrorize me. With a lymphoma prognosis, the future would be a lot more grim.
But I still wish this had never happened, and I promise to be a more conscientious cat owner from now on.

What’s going on with my cat?

Luxor and me. Blue-eyed and bright in our first year together.

Last night marked my first foray to an emergency vet. I feel lucky that I never needed to take one of my pets there until now. I always expected I’d be taking one of the dogs first…

Luxor did not come to me in typically wayward fashion. Rather, I sought him out via Craigslist. I had impulsively decided that I must have an oversized cat — to go with my microscopic dog. In the photo and description provided by his former owner, Luxor seemed like the perfect candidate. With his arresting blue eyes, pink nose and creamy gray and charcoal Lynx Point Siamese markings, Luxor was undeniambly handsome. He had also spent the first two years of his life with a dachshund, so it seemed likely that he’d manage to get along with my miniature pinscher Scooby.

For the most part, they are friends. Scooby and I have both sustained many painful catbites over the past three years, and I swear that Luxor has framed Scooby for a few “accidents.” But I have caught the two of them snuggling — by themselves and with our other dogs — on many occasions. My own relationship with the cat has been rocky. As I said, he’s a biter, and I am his most frequent target. He has also done more damage to my house than any of the dogs. But when Luxor is being good (and that’s most of the time, especially when weather permits him to get adequate backyard time), he’s a dream. And he’s definitely always on his best behavior around guests, so he happens to be one of those cats that all of my friends and family go ga-ga over.

Luxor’s illness came on suddenly last night. He had been puky for about a day, but that’s kind of a cat thing, so I didn’t think much of it. Around midnight, I searched for him and found him lying in a clearly distressed state, huddled against a door in the darkest part of the house. Thinking I could comfort him, I brought him into the bedroom. On the bed, he seemed to go to sleep but his body seemed more limp than usual, and his legs, ears and muscles kept twitching. A few minutes later, Scooby scared him, and he took off but seemed unsteady on his feet. I actually thought he was going to fall backwards from the top step of our staircase.

Terrified that he might be experiencing an allergic reaction to some flea spray I had applied to him the night before (against my own better judgment), I rushed to the vet. By the time we got there, one of his blue eyes was clouded with blood.

The actual diagnosis is still not complete. According to the vet, it seems to just be a coincidence that I happened to apply flea spray shortly before this episode. Rather, it seems that some underlying unknown issues are coming to a head — glaucoma and likely lymphoma. He can’t come home until tomorrow at the earliest. And we have a lot to think about.

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