Why Does My Cat Rub Against My Legs?

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My cat Autumn

Is Autumn trying to trip me?

Well, no.  Unlike in the cartoons, your cat is not planning to make you fall on your face by wrapping around your legs the instant you walk in the door with an arm load of groceries.

Yet the cartoon has some truth in it.  Autumn may rub up against you when you walk in the door.

The reason she does this is because she is marking her territory.  When we think of animals marking their territory, we usually think of dogs spraying the fire hydrant.  But in reality, most animals like to mark their territory—including your cat.

Neutered cats don’t do it as much as untreated cats, but they still do it, and here’s how: Your cat has a gland at the base of her tail that contains her scent.  Other cats notice this aroma, but don’t worry; per my knowledge, no human can smell this scent.

When Autumn rubs up against you, your pants get her smell on them.  This smell marks you as her territory.

Cats may also rub up against walls, furniture, and everything in between for the same reason—marking their territory.  “Cats have scent glands located in their cheeks, forehead, chins, and at the base of their tail”, according to Dr. Jill E. Sackman, senior medical director for BluePearl Veterinary Partners’ in the Michigan Region (quote from PetMD.com).  So that is why they rub their faces, as well as their tails, against objects.

So let us return to the “just entering the door with groceries” example.  Autumn is thinking: what better time to re-mark her human then when you’ve come back from shopping covered in foreign smells?

It’s like she’s saying: “You’re my human slave.  Mine, and no one else’s!”  Personally, I find this selfish, but in an extremely cute way.  X3

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6 Daily Steps to Cure Your Eczema

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Today is the first day in National Eczema Awareness Week; therefore, I thought it would be fitting to share my struggle with the disease.

In short, eczema is a skin condition where your skin gets really dry really easily.  Symptoms can include itching and scarlet patches.  Your skin may feel stiff with tiny cuts, or your skin can get rough and dry, or it can get all weird and bubbly.

I would know, because I suffer from eczema in my hands.  It’s worse in the wintertime.  The winter of 2016 was a bad one for my eczema—my whole hand turned red.

Then, in about 2 months, my hands were almost cured.  The photo you see at the top of this blog was taken in the spring of 2017.  And yes, that is my hand.  Isn’t it nice and natural-looking?

You, too, can have smooth, normal skin, without going to the doctor.

But how?

The short answer is: lotion.  A sea of lotion.  Swimming in lotion. 

The long answer is my mom saw how bad my hands were, and so she took it upon herself to smear lotion on my hands whenever she saw me.

Personally, I thought it was kinda hopeless, so I didn’t really bother to apply lotion.

But eventually, her determination wore off on me.  I started applying lotion on my own, every chance I got.  While talking to friends, while writing, while watching TV—essentially, every time I wasn’t eating.  I even smeared it on before showering.  This prevented the water from washing off what little natural oils I had.  After each shower, I put more lotion on to lock the moisture in.

I purchased some special lotions, but in my opinion, they only helped, they didn’t cure my hands.  The sheer quantity, the sheer oceans that I put on—that’s what cured it.

 

So here’s my advice:

  1. Buy yourself several varieties of lotion that is specifically meant for eczema.
  2. Place these bottles throughout your house, at least one per floor.
  3. Perhaps most critically, place another bottle where you spend most of your time. For me, that’s at my desk.
  4. Use gloves as much as possible. Whenever you are outside in cold weather, even if it’s only for a short time, protect your hands with gloves.  Wear gloves whenever you wash dishes.
  5. Wash your hands as little as possible (while still staying healthy, of course). After all, every time you wash, you are rinsing off precious oils.
  6. During the day, apply lotion just to the backs of your hands, that way your fingers are still free to do stuff.  I do this all the time, including before typing up this blog.  Remember, however, that you must apply lotion to all of your hand at night.  If you don’t, you will have smooth skin on the backs of your hands and rough, red skin on your fingers, as I unfortunately discovered.

 

So that is my recommendation.  Yet, naturally, if your doctor disagrees, go with your doctor.

If you suffer from eczema, then I wish you good luck.  You can read more about eczema here: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema/treatment.

If you do not suffer from eczema, and you just suffered through this blog in the false hope that it would be interesting, then maybe you have a friend or relative who suffers from this condition.  Perhaps you can pass this blog along.

Either way, this is a one-time thing, and I’ll be back to writing about animals next week.

See you then!

Lazarus the Luckless Tortoise

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I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I listen to the Brant and Sherri Oddcast (Podcast).  Personally, I think it’s hilarious.   In fact, I enjoy it so much that I’ve listened to every single episode.

This story is a zany classic from 2015.

A woman listener called in with this hysterical story.  Brant or Sherri must have forgotten to include her name in the clip, because I listened to the whole thing, and I never heard her name.  So let’s just call her “Jane”.

Jane owned a pet tortoise.

Once the tortoise got lost.  They tried everything, but they couldn’t find him.  Finally, Jane was forced to hire a “pet detective dog”, as she called him.  I assume she meant a bloodhound.  Whatever the type of dog was, it sniffed around until it found the tortoise, half a mile from home.  Now, as everyone knows, tortoises move painfully slowly.  The maximum speed ever recorded, according to Wikipedia, is 5 mph.  It’s like watching paint dry.  So considering this, a tortoise walking half a mile is like a human walking to another state, Brant Hansen said.

At any rate, Jane brought him home to safety.

Another time, Jane came home from work, and she spotted her tortoise at the bottom of her pool.  He wasn’t moving.  Without hesitation, she dove into the water, fully dressed in her work clothes.  She plunged to the bottom, grabbed him, and swam upward.  Her shoes fell off.  She broke the surface and placed him on the edge of the pool.

He wasn’t moving, wasn’t breathing—he was dead.  But Jane gave him CPR anyway, and he awoke!

He lived!

And so, they named him “Lazarus”.

Now, most people would have reacted to this story with laughter and talking about how unlucky that tortoise is.

But not Brant Hansen.

He did laugh, but after that, he hesitatingly suggested a different perspective on the events (I’m going to paraphrase here).

Brant: So the tortoise leaves your home, escapes from your backyard, and gets as far away as he can before you finally catch him with a dog.

Next, he throws himself in the pool, trying to drown himself.  And just as he thinks it’s all over, that it worked—he awakes, on his back, to you giving him CPR.

Between laughs, Sherri asks: “What are you implying?”

Brant starts to back-track, saying: “I-I don’t know—”  (At this point, I pictured him holding up his hands in surrender.)

“Yeah?!”  Demands Jane.  “What is your question?!”

Brant and Sherri burst into peals of laughter, and so did I.

Really, just the part about the tortoise getting CPR was funny enough by itself.  But couple that with the Great Escape story, and Brant’s suspicion of, uh, other motives, made a hilarious story that I just had to share.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

And if not, remember that humor is mainly in the delivery, and so you might enjoy the actual podcast more.  If you are interested in going to the source, it was the podcast for August 6th, 2015 (http://branthansen.com/2015/08/07/august-6th-podcast/), and the actual story lasted from 4:50 to 6:30.

So until next time, remember: stay fuzzy, my friends.

 

Photo Credit

Photo by Dawn Hudson.  Image is in the public domain.  http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=133692&picture=tortoise

How Did Houston’s Animals Survive Hurricane Harvey?

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In the aftermath of this devastating storm, stories of tragedy, but also tales of heroism and hope are pouring in.  Obviously, there are more than I could ever possibly cover, but here is the overview.

Some pets were taken with humans when they evacuated, while some were left behind in the chaos.  As the flood waters rose, human heroes helped most of those animals escape.  But others had to save themselves.  This was often the case for large animals like horses.  Hoping they would find higher ground, their owners released them.  Now volunteers, firefighters, and policemen are rounding them up.  (1)

Among the first responders are rescue dogs, and one rescue dog is a Border collie mix named Rocket.  Rocket was a former shelter dog who was deemed “too energetic” to be adopted.  Now, however, he is harnessing that energy in a tireless effort to sniff out and save people.  This brave dog and his handler, Mike Stornetta make an amazing team.  Yet they are just one of 15 rescue dog/handler pairs currently deployed in the Houston area.  And all of them are lending a helping hand– er, paw.  (2)

One animal that needed saving was Penny the pig.  Her owners were told they would be safe where they lived, but the flood waters rushed in more violently than expected.  Penny’s family, including 2 kids with Downs Syndrome, was fearfully wondering what to do when firefighters swam up, shouting that they needed to leave now.  Lisa Eicher, the mother, informed the firefighters that she wasn’t leaving without Penny and their 3-legged dog.  They had owned Penny ever since she was 8 weeks old.  Like true heroes, the firefighters took it all in stride, never once suggesting that they leave Penny behind.  After putting everyone else on the raft, the firefighters swam Penny over on a flotation device.  “You[‘d] better be getting this on video,” one of them said to Lisa.  And she was.  Later, when Lisa, Penny, and the family were safe at a gas station, people gave Lisa blankets, food, and encouragement.  Everyone they met loved Penny’s story, taking photos with her.  “My only regret is that I didn’t charge people for selfies with Penny….” Lisa laughed. (3)

That pet pig had a touchingly happy ending, but it’s not just pets that are in trouble.  Wildlife in all its forms are fleeing the hurricane.  Snakes are swimming in the water, deer are running, and rafts of fire ants are floating along on the currents (yes, that’s a real thing).  And 9 times out of 10, it’s best to simply ignore these animals; otherwise, the scared and confused creatures might attack.  (4)

However, that was not the case for cab driver William Bruso.  Incredibly, he and a hawk survived the storm together.  Bruso drove his cab to the grocery store to purchase supplies.  Somehow, when he came back, a cooper hawk flew into his cab.  It was scared and hurt.  Being a nature-lover, Bruso took it home and fed it.  Later, a local wildlife service was able to take the hawk and give him the medical treatment he needed.  The last video posted on the hawk shows him recovering and getting back to his feisty self.  (5)

All these stories broke a few days ago, but even today, animals are pouring into shelters near Houston, and those centers need our help.  Please consider donating.  And let us continue to pray for those hurt by the storm, animal or human.  Thanks.

 

References

  1. “The 4-legged survivors of Hurricane Harvey” by Mary Jo Dilonardo.  August 31, 2017.  Mother Nature Network.com. https://www.mnn.com/family/pets/blogs/animal-photos-hurricane-harvey.
  2. “Dog deemed ‘too energetic’ to be adopted is helping rescuers after Hurricane Harvey” by Mary Jo Dilonardo.  August 30, 2017.  Mother Nature Network.com.  https://www.mnn.com/family/pets/stories/shelter-dog-rocket-too-energetic-now-helping-first-responders-after-hurricane-harvey
  3. “Family Fleeing Hurricane Refuses To Leave Pet Pig Behind” by Sarah V. Schweig.  August 30, 2017.  The Dodo.com.  https://www.thedodo.com/on-the-farm/hurricane-harvey-pig-rescue?utm_content=buffer6bb44&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=dodo
  4. “Wild animals flee Texas floodwaters” by Michael D’estries. August 29, 2017. Mother Nature Network.com.  https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/how-wild-animals-are-coping-hurricane-harvey-flooding
  5. “Cab driver and Cooper’s hawk ride out Hurricane Harvey together” by Noel Kirkpatrick. August 28, 2017. Mother Nature Network.com.  https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/cab-driver-and-hawk-become-buds-during-hurricane-harvey

What Breed of Dog Should I Adopt?

I have had 2 dogs in my life.  One was a mutt named Buddy, while the other was a black lab/Chow Chow stray that someone just dumped in our pastor’s backyard.  She was only a puppy when she was abandoned.  Our pastor asked if we wanted her, and we said “yes”.  Once we brought her home, we soon discovered that the little black puppy loved to zoom around like a stick of dynamite.  And so she was named “Dyna”.

Sadly, Dyna passed away 5 years ago, and I haven’t had another dog since.  And honestly, for 4 years, I never even thought about getting a new dog.

But that changed last fall.

In September 2016, I went to an outdoor event, and there were dogs everywhere.  Every time I passed one, I felt this urge to pet them and hug them.  I resisted, of course, until I met a splendid Golden Retriever (Golden Retrievers are one of my favorite breeds).  Then, after asking the owner’s permission, I petted him.  It was nice, and the dog behaved, but I felt like something was missing.

I realize now what was missing: that gleam in your dog’s eyes when he looks at you, his owner, his all.  That special bond of unconditional love between a dog and his owner—that’s what was missing.  And I started craving that.

So now I’ve decided to get another dog.  Not to replace Dyna in my heart—no dog could ever do that—but to fill the dog-shaped hole in my heart.

Of course, which dog I get depends on what my local shelter has, and the personality of each dog.  Also, considering that both of my previous dogs were mutts, I am not opposed to getting another one of those.

Nevertheless, here are my favorite dog breeds.

1. Golden Retrievers
A dog in one of my novels, The Fuzzy Feud, is a Golden Retriever, and I hope you can see why I choose that typeDon’t you just love the long, silky fur, and especially the fluffy, flag-like tail?

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2. Bernese Mountain dogs/Australian Shepherd dogs
Both breeds have tan, black, and white fur—a perfect combo, in my opinion.  Perhaps the best part is that patch of tan fur above the eyes; it looks like eyebrows!  It just seems to give so much personality to the face.

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3. Serbian Huskies
Isn’t it amazing how much like wolves these dogs look?  Like wolves, I assume they are beautiful, powerful, and free at heart.  To me, they perfectly spell The Call of the Wild. 

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So that’s my list of favorite breeds.

Are there any other breeds of similar size and shape that I should consider?

Additionally, do you own any of these types?  If so, comment below and let me know of any special traits the breed has.  I would love to hear from you.

Why Do Cat Eyes Glow in the Dark?

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I’m sure we’ve all done this.  Your cat is in an adorable pose, maybe curled up on your bed, maybe stretched out on her back.  Whatever the pose is, you love it and want a picture.  So, hurrying before Mittens decides to walk away, you run and grab your phone or camera.  You get back, and—yes!  She hasn’t moved yet.  You snap what you think is the perfect picture.  Until the image appears on the screen and you see Mitten’s eyes; they’re glowing like she’s possessed.  The perfect picture is ruined!

Well, I can certainly relate.  Plenty of my pictures of my cat Autumn have met this fate.  This got me thinking: why does this happen?  Why, when the light is dim enough, your cat gets The Creepy Eyes?  Humans don’t have that.

Turns out, humans don’t get glow-in-the-dark eyes because we don’t have a certain membrane that cats do.  And it’s not just cats; most mammals have this membrane.  It’s called the tapetum lucidum.

The tapetum lucidum is located at the back of the eye, behind the retina.  Its color is a mixture of green and yellow.  When light beams hit it correctly, the light reflects and you see the green-yellow color.  So the eyes don’t actually glow-in-the-dark; they just reflect the light really well.

This attribute of reflecting the light well is actually the purpose of the tapetum lucidum.  According to the ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats by James Richards, once light has entered the eye and passed through the retina, the tapetum lucidum reflects the light back into the retina.  This stimulates the retina for the second time, which improves the cat’s night vision (Richards).

This is one of the reasons that cats can see so well in the dark.

The other reason is that cats can widen their pupils further than humans can, letting in more light.  Remember the giant orbs of Puss in Boots from Shrek?  Those weren’t exaggerated; cat eyes can really do that.

Despite these advantages, however, it is a myth that cats can see in pure, pitch-darkness.  For more cat myths, consider reading my blog “7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Cats”.

As for your ruined picture, don’t delete it.  You can Photoshop it, use it for Halloween, or maybe just keep it to remind yourself of how very special the eyes of a feline are.

 

References

  • ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats by James Richards. Page 205.
  • 101 Questions Your Cat Would Ask: What’s bothering your cat and how to solve its problems. By Honor Head. Page 94.

E. B. White’s Farm Is for Sale

e.b. white's farm
Mark Fleming, Yankee Magazine

You can buy the farm owned by the author of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little!

That is, if you happen to have a cool 3.7 million dollars just lying around somewhere.

E. B. White, the author of dearly beloved books for children, spent 48 years of his life living on this beautiful farm in Maine.  No wonder it was the inspiration behind perhaps his most famous book, Charlotte’s Web.  If you visit the farm today, you can still see the entrance to the barn where Charlotte wrote those messages, like “some pig”, about Wilbur.

Charlotte'sWebBarn
Mark Fleming, Yankee Magazine

White moved to this farm in 1933 with his wife, Katharine.

After White died in 1985, Robert & Mary Gallant purchased the place.  They have maintained it well for 30 years, and now are presumably ready to retire from that job, so to speak.  Whatever the reason, the couple placed the farm up for sale in early August.

If you can meet the 3.7 million price-tag, you’ll get 44 acres with a farmhouse, which was, amazingly, built in 1795.  Stepping inside the farmhouse, you can still see a wood stove and an “ice box” (old-fashioned refrigerator) that White used to own.  Of the 6 fireplaces, a few still work and can help with the cold Maine winters.  There are 5 bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths.

Outside, water dominates the landscape.  You will enjoy 2,000 ft of ocean front on the picturesque Maine coast, as well as a pond.

Near the coast is an old boathouse where White did his writing.  You can even sit on the wooden bench where he wrote Charlotte’s Web, while sea breezes blow softly through the open window.

e.b. white's work bench
Mark Fleming, Yankee Magazine

E. B. White kept the location of his home secret during his lifetime.  He was a quiet, private man.  When people came to his office to see him, rather than meet and greet them, he would sneak out the fire escape.  It would seem that introverts will be introverts, no matter what century they live in.

But back to the present.  Regardless of whether you are rich or not, you can still visit this National Historic Site, and stroll along the quiet paths walked by the man who loved animals.

Make plans today.  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/E-B-White-House/103761349662037)

 

References

7 Lies You’ve Been Told About Cats

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Tuesday the 8th of August is International Cat Day; in honor of that, it would be a good idea to increase our knowledge and appreciation of our feline friends.  One way to do that is to rid ourselves of those pesky old-wives tales about cats.  Since the Mythbusters are no longer doing that kind of thing, the job passes to me.  So, without further ado, here are the myths.

  1. Cats can see in the dark. Like most myths, this one has a grain of truth in it.  Cats can see very well in low light, much better than humans can.  However, the key word here is “low” light.  In no light, they will be blind.  If you put a cat in a room with no windows, at night, and shut the door, that qualifies as no light.  I did that once, and my cat Autumn pooped on the floor.  I was unhappy with her until I learned about the “no light, no sight” thing.  Then I realized it wasn’t Autumn’s fault.  She just couldn’t find her way to the litter in the pitch blackness.  After a nightlight was installed, I never had any more problems.  Remember this, and save your carpets.
  2. All cats love catnip. This is untrue.  As kittens, cats have no response at all, and only one-third to one-half of cats respond to it when they grow up.  Also, responsiveness is partially inherited, and partially related to personality.  Extremely friendly cats have the most extreme reactions.  Although catnip seems to cause no ill effects, it might be best to play it safe, and use catnip sparingly.  It is best used to get your cat interested in a new scratching post, or a new toy.
  3. All cats love milk. Most adult cats do like milk, but it doesn’t like them.   Although it varies (like the catnip reaction), the majority of cats lose the ability to digest the sugars in milk as they grow up.  So milk actually gives them diarrhea.  See “10 Weird Cat Facts” for more about this.
  4. Cat allergies are caused by a cat’s hair.  Cat allergies are actually caused by a protein found in either the cat’s dandruff or in the cat’s saliva.  Naturally, dandruff can get into the cat’s hair, and since cats lick themselves a lot, these proteins do get into the cat’s hair, too.  However, it’s not the hair itself that causes the allergies.  It’s a protein from their saliva.  Some people would call this a hair-splitting distinction, but I wouldn’t, because puns annoy me.
  5. All cats hate water. This is a very disputed issue.  Many cats hate it; I know that my kitty, Autumn, does.  Nevertheless, the fact remains that some individuals love water.  Even whole breeds enjoy it, like the Turkish Van cat, according to AnimalPlanet.com.  On that same page, someone named Trista commented that she knew of a cat, who took showers with his owner every day.  In fact, he begged to be let into the shower, and even put up with being shampooed.  Another example is the two bath-loving cats on YouTube–Sirius and Samoa.  Seemingly 100%-comfortable in the water, they spend a long time, walking around the tub and playing with each other’s tails.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waTbbAw6Gmw&t=37s)
  6. The only people who love cats are crazy old cat ladies. This is incorrect on many levels.  About the old-age claim, what little girl hasn’t asked her parents for a kitten?  As for the “single” factor, my grandmother loved cats, and she was happily married for decades.  And finally, it’s not just women who love cats.  Many famous celebrities, including Mark Twain, Leonard Nimoy, Morgan Freeman, Jay Leno, George Clooney, and Ewan McGregor all love felines and don’t mind been photographed with them.  Perhaps the ultimate example of the male cat-lover is Jackson Galaxy—a musician who runs a TV show called “My Cat from Hell”, where he cures feline behavior problems.  The show is on its 8th season.
  7. Cats are arrogant, cold creatures who don’t really love their owners. As any long-time cat owner knows, this is just plain false.  When I first see Autumn in the morning, she runs over to greet me, wrapping her tail around my legs.  Cats do the wrapping movement to rub their scent onto you, to mark you as their territory.  It’s like she’s saying: You’re mine, and mine alone.  When I’m at my desk, Autumn frequently strolls over to me, and sprawls across the papers that I’m trying to work on.  Then she shoves her head underneath my hand.   Sometimes, before I start petting her, she starts purring for no obvious reason, except perhaps, her love for me.  Her message is clear.  I love you.  And you should pet me.  Now.  

There.  That’s 7 lies circulating about cats.

Unfortunately, I used to believe some of these– until I brought home my Autumn.  She’s taught me a lot… in between sessions of chasing “the red bug”, of course.

So spread the word.  Let others know the truth about cats.  Not only will this make feline lives better, but, ultimately, it will make the lives of their owners better as well.

And as Adam Savage used to say: “Myth: Busted!”

 

Resources Used:

 

Picture Credit

By Comfreak.  Found on Pixabay.com.  (https://pixabay.com/en/cat-kitten-nature-sweet-cute-755812/)

What You Should Never Feed Your Cat

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Every sane person knows that you shouldn’t feed your cat things like tobacco, alcohol, or garbage.  Additionally, cats are less likely than dogs to eat something that would harm them.  Nevertheless, being informed can prevent many disasters, and so here are 12 things that the responsible cat owner will keep far, far away from the feline.

  1. Houseplants.  The majority of indoor plants are actually poisonous for your cat.  The first step to stopping this problem is to know what kinds of plants you have, and to know which ones are dangerous to cats.  Poinsettias, English ivy, lobelias, foxgloves, and lilies of all kinds—they are poisonous.   See here (https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants?field_toxicity_value%5B%5D=02) for a more complete list of poisonous houseplants.  The intensity of the toxin varies, depending on the species of plant.  Best case scenario, your cat throws up after eating a poisonous plant, and nothing more.  Worst case, death.  Fortunately, that is an uncommon event, because cats rarely eat enough plant matter to do themselves serious harm.   My blog “Why Is My Cat (or Dog) Eating Grass?” can help you prevent this dangerous munching from ever happening.
  2. Onions/Garlic. As you may imagine, this means cats cannot eat anything with onion or garlic in it.  While a small amount in, say, a sauce, may not be harmful, why risk it?
  3. Mushrooms.  These are very dangerous.  Depending on the toxin in the particular mushroom, many bodily systems can be damaged, inducing shock and even death.
  4. Anything with Caffeine. This includes chocolate, tea, energy drinks, and, obviously, your espresso.  If you are tempted to use any of these things as a water substitute, remember that doing so could result in heart damage, among other things.
  5. Grapes/Raisins. According to peteducation.com, these “contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys”.
  6. Anything Uncooked. Examples of this would be bread dough, raw meat, and raw eggs.  Dough can expand and hurt a cat’s stomach/intestines.  The meat and eggs could have in them bad bacteria like Salmonella.
  7. Milk.  Yes, that is hard to believe.  It’s so hard to believe, even for me, that I included it in my blog “11 Weird Cat Facts”.  Strangely, milk just doesn’t sit well with most adult cats.  Milk gives them diarrhea, because their bodies have stopped creating the enzyme that digests it.
  8. Seeds.  These can cause intestinal inflammation and/or blockage.
  9. Bones.  Cats carefully chew their food, unlike our beloved dogs, who practically inhale their food.  Therefore, it is safer to give bones to a cat.  Yet it is still too risky, in my opinion.  If the bone splinters, it could tear up your cats insides.  It’s too dangerous.
  10. Baby Food and Dog Food.  With these foods, a one-time munching is probably fine.  However, if the owner decides to use these instead of cat food, then there is a problem.  Long term consumption can cause the feline to lack the nutrients that it needs to be healthy and happy.  Please, use cat food.  Your cat will thank you.
  11. Human Food.  This is a somewhat controversial topic.  Many well-meaning owners love to treat their cats with scraps from the table.  And this is fine, in moderation.  The ASPCA Complete Guide to Cats recommends that you give such scraps as treats that do not exceed 10% of the regular diet (p. 238).  Otherwise, you risk making your cat overweight with rich human food.  A swarm of problems descend with obesity, too many to be named here.  Vetstreet.com has more on weight management (http://www.vetstreet.com/care/obesity-in-cats).  An additional variable to consider before passing out the human chow to your cat is the fact that many human foods are poisonous to felines.  Of the past 10 foods that I’ve mentioned, 6 are fine for humans, but dangerous for Mittens.
  12. String, yarn, rubber bands, shoe laces, electrical cords, etc.  Yeah, cats will actually try to eat these things.  Perhaps they remind cats of snakes, and so they want to kill them and feast on their flesh.  That’s so… primal.  And dangerous.  These things can get stuck in the cat’s intestines, and have to be removed surgically.  If your cat is eating these things, poor Fluffy may have pika, a condition where felines chew/eat inanimate objects.  Sadly, there is no cure for this, only management.  PetMD.com has some great suggestions to help (http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/digestive/c_ct_coprophagia_and_pica?page=2).

This is just a short overview of things your cat can not eat.  For a more complete list, check this out (http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=1&aid=1029), or ask your vet.

 To summarize: when in doubt, keep it out (of your cat’s food dish). 

 

Photo Credits

A cat enjoying a meal.  Date: 16:29, 2 May 2015 (according to Exif data).  By Carsondelake, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45552617

11 of the Most Beautiful and Unique Horses

horse-Akhal-teke-gold
By Artur Baboev – give free of charge right for promoting of Akhal-teke article on Wikipedia – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27787013

1. This horse is gorgeous. It looks like a burnished golden statue.  The color would be called “buckskin”.  The breed of this horse is an Akhal-Teke, an ancient breed of extremely slim horses, from Central Asia.  The Encyclopedia of Horses & Ponies by Tamsin Pickeral calls this type of horse “the equine version of the gray hound”.  Wikipedia states that these horses can have a “metallic sheen” to them.  Akhal-Tekes are strong, courageous and enduring, but they are also very hot-blooded, which means they are tempermental (Pickeral).

 

silk horse
From a Russian Website, “Equestrian.ru”.  https://www.equestrian.ru/my/44944/albums/7098

2. Once again, an exquisite equine. It resembles the first quite a lot.  It is a Cremello Akhal-Teke, and what a sheen it has!  Its coat reminds me of some silky, cream-colored pillows that I used to own.  Another smaller, but equally interesting detail is its eyes.  Look at them.  It’s hard to tell, but they are a rare blue.  That makes this horse even more of a rare gem.

 

silver buckskin
Source: questionable.  http://www.hollilla.com/picviewer.php?tid=2611910&refoffset=0

3. A silver buckskin. Again, this horse is similar to the previous two, and of the same breed.  These horses are too long and lean have been beautiful by Western standards.  But in my humble opinion, they are stunning.

 

cuteKathiawari
To find this, search “Marwari horse” on Pinterest.

4. Sticking with the Middle Eastern theme, here is another horse from that part of the world.  She is either a Kathiawari horse, or a Marwari.  The curved, elegant ears are distinctive to those breeds.  (I wonder if they’re touching?)  And what a long, flowing, two-tone mane!  If this horse were an actress, she would be the attractive, nerdy gal who chews on pencils.  Theater aside, however, I realized that all the other pictures until now have been more or less specimen pictures, whereas this photo has personality.

(In case you were wondering, the white mark on her forehead is called a star, and there’s a snip on her muzzle.)

 

multicolored mane
Source: Unknown.  Horse is either “Dreaming of El Dorado” or one of his descendants. 

5. What a lovely Pinto Saddlebred horse!  What a gorgeous, two-tone mane and tail.  Can we all just agree that Pintos are beautiful?  It’s an easy mistake to use Pinto and Paint interchangeably, but they aren’t.  Pinto is a coat pattern where the horse has large blocks of color, which can be on any breed, whereas Paint is a specific breed.  Therefore, in general, all Paints are Pintos, but not all Pintos are Paints.

Fun Fact: white markings on the legs are called socks or stockings.

 

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Post on Pinterest by Brittany Johnson. 

6. All these beautiful horses, and I’m running out of words to describe them with! I guess this one is… breath-taking!  For one thing, see how the dark marking around her eye makes her look like she’s wearing eyeshadow?  So stylish!  Note, too, that her eyes are pale blue, a rarity with horses, and that her halter matches.  And just like the picture before, there is a two-tone mane/tail.  As to a breed, I would assume that this horse is a Paint.  Yes, she has spots, but she also has a large dark patch on her hindquarters, like a Paint would.

 

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Posted on Pinterest by CrazyHorseGirls.com.  http://www.horsecrazygirls.com/fun-horse-show.html 

7. Here is another delightful, two-tone mane-and-tail combo. When I see this horse, the word that pops into my head is “Appaloosa”.  That is, indeed, its breed—“The Leopard Appaloosa”.  However, what many people don’t know is this:  Appaloosas aren’t the only spotted horses.  For instance, the Knabstrup horses are spotted.  Originating from Denmark, these horses are often used in the circus to do tricks (Pickeral).  As you may have guessed by the fact that they do circus tricks, the Knabstrups are quick learners (Pickeral).

 

lifebuzz-30fb484773586850230850dbe8fa8b91-thumb_400
“Rare and Unusual Animal Colorations” by LlamaontheLam, post on imgur on April 12, 2015.  http://imgur.com/gallery/xR8Ey

8. Again, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this charming horse. All the other horses up to this point have been very regal.  Beautiful, for sure, but also so regal that you get the impression that you should just “look, but don’t touch”.  This horse, however, is so cute and perky-looking!  She (or he, I don’t know which) looks like she/he could be your eternal pony pal.  Its color reminds me of foam on coffee, or mixing cream into hot chocolate.  If this were my horse, I would name it “Chocolate Swirl”.   What would you name it?  Anyway, the white streaks might be from some kind of mutation, or perhaps vitiligo, which is a harmless disease that causes patches of fur or skin to turn white.

 

Friesian_Stallion
By Larissa Allen – Contact us/Photo submission, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6642407

9. No list of beautiful horses would be complete without a Friesian. From the flowing mane and tail to the dark, strong build, these horses are classic beauties.  Their bearing drips of proud strength.  “Delicate” is a word that should never be applied to them.  “Chiseled” is better.  Furthermore, the feathering on the lower legs is quite unusual for light horses.  Usually, feathering is found on heavy, draft breeds like Clydesdales (think of the horses that pull the Budweiser wagon in the commercials), but Friesians are the exception to that rule.  This is yet another feature that makes the Friesian so memorable.  On a historical note, Friesians were the favorite mount of knights, because of their strength, calmness, and proud appearance (Pickeral).  On a personal note, Friesians are my favorite breed of horses.  What’s yours?

 

RockySilverhorse
By Andersson LS, Juras R, Ramsey DT, Eason-Butler J, Ewart S, Cothran G, Lindgren G. – Andersson LS, Juras R, Ramsey DT, Eason-Butler J, Ewart S, Cothran G, Lindgren G.: Equine Multiple Congenital Ocular Anomalies maps to a 4.9 megabase interval on horse chromosome 6. BMC Genet. 2008 Dec 19;9:88. PMID: 19099555, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6506295

10. Wow! This is the type of horse that would attract all eyes to itself as it entered the show ring.  It is a Rocky Mountain horse.  A relatively new breed, the Rocky Mountain horse didn’t have its own studbook until 1986, according to Pickeral.  Today, Rocky Mountain horses display attributes of Spanish horses.  They are calm, tough, and have a smooth gait, all things which are making them increasingly popular (Pickeral).  And, of course, they are beautiful.  This particular horse has the classic Rocky Mountain colors: chocolate coat and flaxen mane and tail.  I love the contrast between the dark body and the light hair!  Additionally, the horse appears to be dappled.  Each dapple looks like a tiny star, which makes the whole horse look like it is sparkling.  If all this is not photo-shopped, then—wow!

 

unique-horse-colors-7
Source: Questionable.
His name is Austin.  Photo was possibly posted by MysticPhoto, a friend to Austin’s owner.  Here’s a link to some more photos: http://myhorseforum.com/threads/calling-all-dark-super-dappled-dramatic-greys.404825/page-11

11. I’m awed. If I were forced to choose, this is my favorite horse of all.  I don’t normally like heavy horses a lot, but—wow.  A silky mane and tail, and feathering around the hooves.  Above all, those dapples are amazing; they look like snowflakes.  This horse is a silver dapple, which is a color that is scarcely seen.  Another nice touch is how his owner’s shirt matches his coat.  He’s perfect.  ‘Nuff said.

 

Which horse is your favorite?  Let me know in the comments.