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Chihuahua Nation’s Chi-Leprechaun Pawty

If you have a Chihuahua, you need to belong to Chihuahua Nation – a worldwide group of people and their Chihuahuas. We get together to socialize our pups, have some laughs, learn from each other and help rescue Chihuahuas in need.

This month’s event was for St. Patrick’s Day. Hosted by Ada Nieves, this pawty was a sea of Chihuahuas and their pawrents dressed in green.

I made my pups their outfits. Eli was especially tolerant of his headpiece. 🙂

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It was a fun day with good food and great people! Come join the fun!

The unadoptable senior shelter cat – Tony’s story

I missed “Adopt a Senior Pet Month” by a couple of days but here’s my story.

After I put my cat, Simon, to sleep in January of 2011, I wanted to wait to adopt another cat until i found the right one. I didn’t begin my search for a cat until 8 months later. My criteria was:

  • An orange or beige cat to match my carpet (less vacuuming!)
  • An older cat since they are frequently overlooked
  • A cat that wouldn’t be scooped up right away because it was overly cute
  • Already declawed (yes, I know it’s terrible but I wanted a cat that had it done already. I have not and do not plan to declaw Milo for the record.)

I reached out to a few shelters that had cats that might fit the bill but for whatever reason they weren’t the right one. Some of them didn’t get along with other dogs or cats, some were already adopted, etc.

Even though I no longer lived with my parents I discussed the idea with them. My dad, an animal lover, thought every cat was a great cat.  My mom, an animal tolerater, was not keen on the idea of me getting another cat and shot down every cat i showed her (not literally shot! I realize the phrasing of that sentence sounds bad, lol.) Anyway, my mom did not approve of any cat until i showed her Tony’s picture on Petfinder. Only then did she say “Oh, maybe you should call about him.” I figured that was a sign that Tony was the right one for me. tony2

Tony was a 22lb cat that had been dumped at a New Jersey shelter by someone claiming a neighbor had left him behind when they moved. The problem with that story was that they knew too much about the cat.  I think the cat was theirs, and they got tired of dealing with his issues, which of course they neglected to tell the shelter about.

When I visited Tony that same night (the shelter stayed open late to accommodate my availability) he was squished in a tiny cage as that was the only option they had for him. He took one look at me and gave me the evil eye. They took him out of the cage, put him on the floor, and he promptly ran under the row of cages. I offered to sit and wait for him to come out which he eventually did when he smelled the treats I brought him. However, he wouldn’t eat any. He just sat there hissing at me.

I liked his attitude and knew not many other people would, so I said I would take him. The staff thought I was nuts but agreed to let me take him home that night (they didn’t even charge me, but I gave them a donation anyway).  I guess any person who had that much patience for an angry cat must be a good person.

I adopted Tony without knowing if he was friendly with other cats or dogs. I also didn’t know about his issues.  I didn’t find out about those until a few months later. Initially, all seemed okay. When we arrived home, I barricaded Tony in the hallway so that he could assimilate into the family at a slow pace. Well, he wasn’t having any of it. He sat there a bit and let the Chihuahua and the other cat smell him through the gate then pushed past it and entered the main area. No one fought, so I let it be.IMG_0484

He wasn’t the friendliest cat, but I learned his quirks like he only likes to be petted with your feet (I’m guessing he was abused at some point) unless he comes to sit or lay on top of you.  I need to let him do his thing otherwise he gets upset.

The only real issue he has is marking with a lot of urine which started once I introduced Milo to the mix. Milo wants to play and Tony wants no part in it. I believe Tony is just trying to show he’s upset. Because he doesn’t have claws, when he swats at someone or another animal, they aren’t too bothered by it, so I think he gets frustrated.

Lately, Tony has been slowly integrating himself into the group. I find that he now sleeps on the couches even when other pets are on them. He has slept in cat beds that are laying around – even if they are way too small for him. 2014-12-02 11.17.34 He even sprawls out on the floor when Eli and I play fetch in the hallway. However, if anyone gets too close to him or if he gets spooked, he springs up and runs away.

 

It’s taken three years but Tony is finally starting to act like he’s part of the family. I am still the only one he lets pet him, but that’s okay; I know he’s happier here than in the shelter, and I believe that I saved him from being returned back to the shelter once he started marking. We work through his issues and make accommodations for the situations that cause him stress like getting stalked by Milo when using the litter box – I’ve added a litter box in the bedroom so that he can usually do his business without another animal in his face, also that litter box is huge which allows his giant body to easily fit in and turn around without feeling squished helped the problem a bit.

Tony is now 15 years old. He has lost a few pounds but is still a giant cat. While he still doesn’t fully trust me, I have gained his trust enough to know he’s living a great life and is overall content.

Senior pets make the best pets. Try it; you won’t regret it.

Tony making himself at home on the table while I sewed.

Tony making himself at home on the table while I sewed.

Milo the turkeycat

Every year The Westchester Cat Show takes place in November and showcases over 200 cats who get primped for their turn in the judging ring. This year they also had a Cat Fashion Show “Catwalk Follies” which featured designs by none other than Ada Nieves. My cat, Milo, got to wear the purrrfect outfit – a turkey costume!

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In addition to this fun and fashionable show, the event had several rescue groups on hand. At least 14 cats got adopted during the weekend!

Overall, it was a fun weekend and Milo and I had a great time. I think all the attention went to his head a bit though. When we got home, he hopped back into his carrier and spent a lot of time checking himself out in the mirror. I think I created a diva!

No one likes to sleep on the floor! How I built a feral cat a home

If you are a follower of my blog, you already know that I am a huge animal lover. As a child, I would always try to save stray cats in the area near my home (my parents never let me keep any though!). So, it’s no surprise that I am still interested in helping street cats. One of the ways I want to help is by doing TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release). I took a class on this one day and learned about an easy and cheap way to make insulated housing for feral cats.

This is what you will need:

  • A styrofoam cooler (I saved mine from a delivery of raw cat food that I ordered online one day. The cheap ones from the drug store will work as well.)

  • A storage tote with latches that is slightly bigger than your cooler (measure inside dimensions of tote)

  • A jigsaw (a regular saw and drill will also work)

  • Sandpaper (optional)

  • Straw or hay

  • Blanket

2014-01-19 12.56.37As you can see from the picture, I did not do a good job of measuring and then buying the proper sized tote. I didn’t take into account that the dimensions listed on the tote were its total outside size – not the inside dimensions. My cooler was way too big! Thank goodness I had my dad on hand to assist during the project. (Okay, fine. He ended up doing the whole thing, but I directed him!) The best tote to buy is the kind with the latches. It will prevent the lid from flying away in the wind and it will allow you easy access for cleaning.

You can see that we cut off a big chunk of the cooler. This actually worked in our favor 2014-01-19 12.57.07because it was one less hole that we had to cut for the door. Because our jigsaw floated away in Hurricane Sandy, my dad drilled 5 giant holes in the side of the cooler and used a little saw to cut out the door. It wasn’t as pretty as I wanted but most feral cats aren’t divas!  When cutting your door, make sure to cut it several inches up from the floor so that rainwater does not flow into the house.

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After the door was cut, we used sandpaper to smooth out the edges to ensure no cat gets scratched walking in or out. You will also see that we used the extra pieces of styrofoam to help insulate the cooler even more. If you don’t have extra styrofoam, you can use hay or shredded newspaper to fill in the empty gaps.

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In the end, I felt like this housing was a bit small. I think only one cat will fit in there. Bigger is not always better though as bigger housing will allow more air to flow in, and it won’t stay as insulated. Include a layer of straw or a pillow stuffed with packing peanuts and shredded newspaper inside for comfort and be sure to check the housing every once in a while to make sure nothing is wet or soiled. If you don’t tape down the lid of the cooler, you can easily remove it to do the inspection.

Housing like this can help you earn a feral cat’s trust enough to catch it and get it fixed to avoid building a huge kitty condominium. 

This would be pretty awesome in a yard though!

This would be pretty awesome in a yard though!

If you would like to learn about TNR, check out this site.

 

If you’d like to help my kitty Milo win some great stuff from Jackson Galaxy, please click “admire” on this page https://www.snapyeti.com/snaps/16094

Thanks!

Howloween! One of the many reasons to love October

October is one of my favorite months of the year. It is Autumn, hiking trails are beautiful AND it has Halloween….cough cough…. I mean HOWLOWEEN!

Yes, that’s right. I said Howloween. The time of year when it’s perfectly acceptable to dress your dogs up however you like. This year I had two dog-centered events to attend, so I wanted to have some really fun costumes. Mimi played the role of a Chia Pet and Eli was very fittingly Oscar the Grouch.

I started my quest to create their costumes last year. I found a cheap small plastic garbage can in Target and spray painted it silver. I stored that thing for a whole year! On Friday, I dyed Eli’s fur green by using regular green food coloring and water. As you can see, the green didn’t really show that well, even on his white fur. I dyed him three times using a spray bottle, dousing him in cups of green water, and submerging his paws and tail in a big cup of green water. The water was really green, but perhaps his fur is not an ideal texture for absorbing dye. Good thing he doesn’t have to worry about dyeing his grays anytime soon!

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Earlier in the week, I drilled two holes in the bottom of the can – one to connect it to the wood platform that sits on top of their carriage (screw and nut) and one to feed a rope with a carabiner on it to connect to his harness to ensure he wouldn’t jump out (and so that no one could snatch him if I looked away for a moment). I did leave enough slack to allow him to stand up fully and adjust himself however he wanted. Interestingly, he never did try to get out of the can.

I placed a really comfy blanket in the garbage can so that he would have a soft place to sit and he enjoyed it so much that when he got tired, he 2014-10-25 16.24.59just curled up and went to sleep in the can which made it look like the can was closed!

 

For Mimi’s Chia Pet costume, I purchased a remnant of brown/taupe felt-like material for the body and cut out two pieces from a blanket-coat pattern I previously made for her. I ended up chopping off the neck piece of one of the pieces in order to use it solely as a top piece to attach the “chia” leaves to. I used these two items (lawn grass and more grass) and combined them using hot glue and sewed their edges to the top layer of the outfit. To ensure Mimi stayed comfy, I placed a layer of batting in between the two layers and then sewed them together.

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I’ve only had my sewing machine for a few weeks and can barely sew a straight line, but I was determined to sew legs onto Mimi’s outfit. I just held the base on her and marked kind of where I thought legs should be. It worked well enough, but next time I’ll try to do it properly so that she can’t pull her legs out accidentally. 2014-10-27 15.10.13

 I also added extra pieces to the neckline afterwards by creating a grass necklace that I sewed only on the end pieces and a quick stitch in the middle so she would have freedom to move it out of the way if she laid down.

I tied the theme of the two costumes together by dressing as an 80s chick with the multi-colored outfit, blue eyeshadow and a big bow on my head. Together we were Childhood Rewind!

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We had a great day at Tompkins Square Park in New York City and even managed to win third place the next day at the Chilloween pawty.

 Have I mentioned how much I love October???

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Being adorable is tough work - nap when you can!

Being adorable is tough work – nap when you can!

How I made a cat bed from a vintage suitcase

Several years ago I inherited a couple of ugly old school suitcases from my grandmother’s estate. Personally, I loved them and knew I would find a use for them. Initially I built a stand and used them as a nightstand / storage unit, but then I saw some posts about using them to make cat furniture. Well that settled that.

I first set the suitcase on the floor to see if the cats would actually use the bed. As you can see from the picture below, Freddie in particular loved it.

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I thought it looked a bit plain just sitting on the floor and I was nervous that they would knock the ugly stick over and decapitate themselves like my hamster did when I was a kid (side note, don’t use a brick to keep your hamster’s cage cover on), so I headed to the hardware store to find some legs. Turns out legs are expensive so I picked the cheapest of the ones I liked (4 for around $12 total) and spray painted them with some metallic paint I had laying around.

I first tried to just attach them to the suitcase by drilling four holes in the bottom and sticking them in, but this resulted in no stability – the suitcase just collapsed to the floor. I had to wait until the weekend when I would see my dad, so I could steal, I mean borrow and never give back, a few pieces of wood and a saw. Okay, okay, I admit it. As usual, when my dad knew I was doing a project that involved sawing, he stepped in and helped me out…..okay okay, he did it for me….but I stood there and watched!

My idea was to cut four pieces of wood and place them inside of the suitcase to stabilize the material. My dad, the genius handyman that he is, pointed out without nuts, it would still wobble. Off to the hardware store we went. With the proper tools, the rest of the project went pretty quickly. He even cut another piece of wood to lay on top of the four stabilizers so that the cats would have a flatter surface to lay on in case they pushed the pillow out of the way. Yay Daddy!

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To ensure the lid didn’t decapitate the cats, we wedged a few pieces of wood in the hollow space between the top and the bottom pieces.

The final step in this process was to enlarge the pillow I was planning on using. I cut open the back of the pillow and sewed on a piece of old t-shirt. This way the top shows the pretty satin blue colored fabric, but the entire suitcase and edges would be comfy.

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The final bed looks pretty cute, if I say so myself! However, I have only seen a cat jump onto it to take some of the catnip I sprinkled on it. I guess they prefer low-key designs instead of the fancy stuff.:(

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PS My parents’ dog, Jack, liked the bed just fine, so maybe I should give it to him for Christmas!

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Microchips – may be the only way to find your lost pet!

Recently, I started volunteering at my local animal shelter. I have learned many things – like how much work goes into caring for these animals. Their cages are constantly cleaned, they are walked at least three times per day, fed twice a day, medicine given, vet visits, socialization, etc. I also learned that they don’t do anything to help you find your lost animal.

In my mind, I envisioned that if a shelter receives an animal that was found as a stray, it would post it up on its website, send out a notice to local vets, and post on a lost pet page. They do none of this! Instead, they hold your animal for 7 days and then release it to be adopted.

I asked how a person is supposed to find their pet as I didn’t even know this shelter existed up until a few weeks ago. I was told that when you lose your pet, you should go to the police station and tell them about your pet, and they should give you the information of the shelter that should have picked it up if it was found on the street. Now I find this to be ridiculous. What if your pet wandered over to the other town? What if it was picked up by someone in a car and driven to their local shelter?

There has to be a better way. I realize everyone is overwhelmed but at my orientation, there were two other people who offered to do office work for the shelter. Couldn’t these people take on the task of getting the word out there that an animal was picked up?

I am going to try to get this process improved at my shelter, but if it’s not happening there, I’m guessing that it is not happening at many other shelters around the country.

The bottom line is get your pet microchipped! It may be the only way to get your pet returned to you if it goes missing 😦

stray bar microchip