Not Sharknado, but Barknado for Bark Week 2014!

July 30th, 2014

Barknado is here. Barknado is here. Barknado is here.

Watch the exciting Barknado video from ASPCA.

Yes, you guessed. It’s a spoof on SyFy channel’s “Sharknado” and “Sharknado 2.” Well done.

Now, watch that cuteness again, and make a pledge at ASPCA to Make Pet Adoption Your First Option.

I signed today.

Why should you sign?

More than 7 million homeless dogs and cats enter shelters each year. They need you.

Consider adoption from a shelter in honor of ASPCA’s Bark Week, August 4 through 9. Woof.

Most Important New Movie on Netflix: The Paw Project

June 26th, 2014

If you have Netflix, stream “The Paw Project,” and you’ll never see cat declawing as routine ever again. Even if you don’t have Netflix, you can still receive a DVD of the movie when you make a $10 donation at The Paw Project. Or stream “The Paw Project” on iTunes, U-verse, Dish or amazon.


When I first adopted my cat Choco more than 10 years ago, I thought that declawing was just something you did to keep cats from scratching you. Thankfully, I was set straight by fellow animal lovers, and my kitty was spared the cruelty of losing his claws. And, I’m happy to say that Choco uses his scratching post. And he submits to claw trimmings without much fuss.




Maybe you’re reading this, and thinking I’m some kind of hippie liberal cat-freak, and I don’t know what I’m talking about. It isn’t so. I’ve actually seen a cat declawing procedure firsthand, and while it looks like a quick and simple procedure, the effects can be devastating. To perform a declaw, the vet uses a tool very much like what you’d trim a cat’s claws with to cut the claw at the bone so it can’t grow back. A medical glue like super glue is applied to the tip, and the cat’s paws are bandaged.


Imagine that. You’re a cat.

You’re dropped at the vet’s office by someone you trust. You’re put under. You wake up without the ends of your toes. And it hurts to walk. And you can’t do things the same way anymore. You feel like you have a pebble on the bottom of your paw when you walk or stand. And the feeling never goes away. You may become lame or arthritic. You may lash out and develop behavior problems. You may start eliminating on the floor instead of the litter box. You may lose your life in a shelter because no one wants you anymore.

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Valentine’s Day Hints: Help Your Pet and Partner Get Along

February 5th, 2014

What better time to talk about love and pets than around Valentine’s Day?

Have you ever known a couple to break up over a pet? It happens more than you might think.

And sometimes it’s complicated. For example, one partner may be allergic to the other partner’s pet. That can be tough, but when it’s just a case of a pet and partner not getting along, well that’s a completely manageable situation!


If a pet is coming between you and the love of your life, try these helpful tips from the ASPCA, and have a happy Valentine’s Day:

One: Ask your partner to be the bearer of all good things for your pet whenever possible. That means that your significant other should do the feeding and dispense treats. And, if your pet is up for it, your partner should also engage in play sessions with your pet.

Two: Ask your significant other not to force interaction with your pet. Pets tend to see the approach of someone they fear or distrust as a threat, so it’s best for your other to play it cool and let your pet make the first overture of friendship.

Three: Reward your pet with treats for every step it takes to investigate your girlfriend or boyfriend. Reward positive behaviors like sniffing, approaching or rubbing.

How have you solved problems between your pet and partner?

Thanks: Image via Maura Teague’s flickr photostream.

It’s OK. Gift a Pet This Christmas!

December 15th, 2013

Choco is very soft and vocal. He’s a pink-nosed wonder of a cat who forever changed my husband’s feelings about felines in general. A tuxedo cat, he’s never underdressed.

Choco and Oscar

And he was my Christmas present in 2003.

Choco wasn’t just any Christmas present, but my favorite gift ever. (There he is on the scratchy pad with his partner in crime, Oscar.)

For years, you’ve probably heard the myth that giving a pet as a gift is a bad idea.

Well, the ASPCA is busting that myth. And they say that yes, it really is fine to give a pet as a gift at Christmas, or another time.

Here are the numbers from the ASPCA research:

  • Ninety-six percent of people who received pets as gifts thought it either increased or had no impact on their love or attachment to that pet.
  • Eighty-six percent of the pets referred to in the study are still in the home.
  • There was no difference in the recipient’s attachment to the pet based on whether the gift was a surprise or known in advance.

These study findings are encouraging, and should help to ease any feelings of guilt you have for giving a pet as a gift. However, it’s also a good idea to gift pets only to people you know well and trust. After all, you need to know that the recipient’s schedule allows for the care of a pet. And, when gifting a pet to a young child, remember that the parent will be the caregiver. Yeah, you should ask the parent first!

The ASPCA recommends giving pets to those who have shown a sustained interest in having a pet, and who have the ability to care for a pet responsibly.  And, of course, you’re encouraged to adopt the pet from a shelter or rescue group.


Do pets change people?

Yes! As I mentioned, my husband never liked cats before Choco came into our lives. I never considered myself a dog person until we adopted Stella, my 70-pound rescue pup, last year.

Pets help us learn more about ourselves, and when we have the time and patience to put into the relationship with our pets, the rewards are great. Pets are a lot of work, but they add soul and character to a home. And a smile to your face.

Are you giving a pet as a gift this Christmas?

Where do Urban Chickens Retire?

July 11th, 2013

Why did the chicken go to the animal shelter?

Because someone who bought it thought it would be cool to have her own fresh eggs, laid right in her very own backyard. That person didn’t consider what would become of the giving chickens once the giving stopped.

It’s a sad story: Many chickens are getting dumped at animal shelters. That’s animal shelters, full of dogs and cats that have no homes. Sure, some chickens end up at sanctuaries with strict adoption guidelines. No, you probably can’t adopt them to eat. Sorry.


Here are some things you don’t know about chickens from someone who lived around them from babyhood until late teens and even raised her very own 4-H chickens. And yeah, all of my grandparents had chickens too. I was surrounded by them!

Five Chicken “Facts” to Know:

  1. They are cute, funny and full of personality, even when all grown up.
  2. Chickens are adorable clucking about the yard, sticking their beaks in the grass.
  3. You probably won’t be able to bring yourself to kill them for the meat once they stop laying eggs.
  4. Chickens become your pets. Farmers may not mind killing them, but are you really a farmer?
  5. They look at you sideways in that funny way that they have and you’d give anything to know what’s in their brains.

It’s difficult to keep coyotes, foxes and other creatures from killing free-range chickens. They must roost in a secure location at night, but it’s always risky in the country. So, when I read this NBC article on the hundreds of chickens dumped at animal shelters by “hipster farmers” in fear of the chicks living 10 years after egg laying stops, I was surprised!

Honestly, chickens in rural areas just never live that long to begin with. When I was growing up, my family never killed any of our chickens for meat, but I can’t recall any 10-year-old chickens. (I must admit, we killed one rooster because it wouldn’t stop its reign of terror.) Maybe a few country chicks do die of old age, but a creature usually ends up eating them before that happens. It’s just the way it is (at least on old-school family farms).

No matter how hard you try to protect them with cages, fencing and henhouses, country chickens usually end up living about three or four years before a predator finally snatches them out of the henhouse in the middle of the night. Foxes dig and climb, you know….


I’m not trying to talk you out of experiencing the charm of having chickens, but just realize that if you put them in Fort Knox chicken prisons in an urban setting, they just may live to be 10 years old. Chickens belong on farms with space to roam, not in small cages in cities. And, certainly, not in animal shelters!

Do I miss having chickens? Well, in fact, I do miss them. A lot. But I regularly come to my senses about owning chickens in the city.

I could get away with caging up a few city hens, but it makes no sense to me. I can travel a few miles to my local farmer’s market and buy fresh eggs from a nearby heirloom farm. Isn’t that better, and cheaper too?


PetProjekt: BPA-free Dog Toys

June 26th, 2013

You wouldn’t give your human baby a toy with BPA, so why give your dog a toy with questionable materials? You know what babies and dogs do to toys, right? It’s right into the mouth!

Blue Bonbal Right

If you shop for dog stuff much, you’ve likely found that BPA-free isn’t really in the mainstream yet. That’s changing. When Petprojekt asked me if I’d like a couple of BPA-free dog toys (disclosure: yes, for free), I quickly said yes!

Not only are the toys from Petprojekt free of BPA, but they’re also free from phthalates, cadmium, DEHP and lead. In short, they’re non-toxic! Yes, they’re safe, but are they interesting?

I received the Chewbies orange squirrel toy and a cozmo (a ball with “legs”). Petprojekt also makes other toys, some of which are pictured here. For instance, get a load of that insane fox!


Chewbies toys have a retro feel to me, but it’s a neo-retro. I love that a soft, multi-colored tail comes attached to the rubbery, ultra-squeaky body of the squirrel.



I haven’t seen any other toys quite like these!

As for the cozmo, it rolls like an animal. By that, I mean I think the legs give it animal-like movements when rolling on floors. It’s a nice objet de toss! (Uh, pretty ball to toss.) My dog is out of her I-have-to-chew-on-everything phase, but I think that the legs on this cozmo would have to be nice for a dog cutting teeth.

Green Cozmo

I know that these are dog toys, but my cat Oscar really liked the squirrel. It’s big for him to pick up, but that didn’t stop him from pouncing on the tail!

As for my dog Stella, she enjoys chasing the orange squirrel, though I’m sure she doesn’t think it’s a real squirrel. She regards the orange squirrel and the cozmo as fun toys to chase when her favorite human throws them! And, she dearly loves the hefty squeak of the squirrel. Just today, she took the squirrel out of her basket of toys and bought it to me to play. She galloped proudly with it, making it squeak the whole time!




Petprojekt has a big selection of dog toys, as well as feeding tools and other accessories. I haven’t seen these toys in stores yet, but you can order them online, and check out what they’re up to on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you look for BPA-free dog toys when shopping?

Best Cat Beds aren’t Made for Cats

May 2nd, 2013

There are all manner of cat beds on the market, but my kitties typically turn their whiskers away from beds intended for cats.

A wicker box, however…



This is my green-eyed Oscar, or Oscar-lot as I sometimes refer to him.

Just what does this cat bed do for me?

It’s parked on my desk. Whenever I want to move along a cat behind that’s planted in front of my screen, I simply spray some catnip on the cloth that I keep in the bed. That works well for Choco, who loves catnip and adores sitting in front of my computer.

The problem is that I only have one of these, and Oscar throws Choco out of it. In fact, Choco was resting happily in the box when I started this post, and now he’s planted himself in front of my screen while Oscar sleeps in the box.

The box was given to me with gifts inside, and I have no idea where it was purchased. I need to acquire another one like it though!

Where does your cat sleep? Have you repurposed anything to be used as a cat bed?

Let Them Scratch a Giant Tiger

February 17th, 2013

Have a few couch tigers of your own?

Now they can scratch in style at the same time with this Imperial Cat Giant Tiger Scratch and Shape.




It’s certainly big and wild enough to entertain a couple of felines! Even if you only have one kitty, this giant tiger scratcher may be an object of love.

Made from 100 percent post consumer recycled material, Imperial Cat’s new tiger Scratch ‘n Shapes comes with a bag of certified organic catnip.

Does your cat like large, furniture-like cardboard scratchers?

Give Litter this Christmas

December 10th, 2012

World’s Best Cat Litter will donate one pound of cat litter for each vote you cast at the Give Litter page.

Start your free litter giving now by clicking the badge below!

World's Best Cat Litter - GiveLitter

You can vote each day.

Just chose which shelter you’d like to receive the litter.

If enough votes are counted, both shelters (SPCA of Wake County in North Carolina and Greater Birmingham Humane Society in Alabama) will receive 15,000 pounds of free cat litter!

In case you don’t know, my two cats, Oscar and Choco, both enjoy using World’s Best Cat Litter. They’ve been scratching around in it for years now.

Merry voting.

Full disclaimer: World’s Best Cat Litter is conducting a blogging contest. The blogger who draws the most traffic to the Give Litter page will receive six coupons for free litter.

Give a Plush that Helps

November 3rd, 2012

If your little ones (or perpetual little ones) want a stuffed animal under the Christmas tree this year, then you have some good choices.

CharlieDog & Friends have some very adorable stuffed dogs based on actual rescue dogs! Five bucks from each purchase goes to the specified local rescue group or shelter.

Take a look at Charlie, the mutt that inspired CharlieDog & Friends. He’s pictured with Clyde, the kitty!

Both of these plush animals are based on real pets that were lucky enough to be rescued.

If you give a plush toy from CharlieDog & Friends, you’ll help even more animals! There are several more dogs (but just the one cat) to choose from, so go shopping for the animal lovers on your list.

Are you too old for stuffed dogs? Then buy yourself a collar bracelet instead, and $3 will go to rescue groups.