Category Archives: Cats
Last night I met a remarkable woman at a downtown Christmas party in Kansas City.
Her name is Betty.
She has always lived in Kansas City. When she was a young girl, she lived on Country Club Plaza.
She really wanted a pet cat. However, her mother did not like cats. So her father brought Betty the next best thing.
A pet skunk.
Lady Esther’s scent glands had been removed, but she was still named for the perfume Betty’s mother wore and that her father didn’t like.
When Betty put a harness on Lady Esther and walked her around the neighborhood, people crossed the street to avoid them.
“She walked with her tail straight up!” Betty says.
When she wasn’t walking or cuddling with Betty, Lady Esther lived in their use. She used a litter box.
“She was just like a cat,” Betty says.
When Betty went to college, Lady Esther was given to a man who ran a barbecue restaurant. Unfortunately, Betty says Lady Esther must have eaten too much barbecue, for she didn’t live long after that.
After college, Betty went on to do work at a local nature center, helping orphaned squirrels and other creatures get strong enough to go back out in the wild. She also spent many years serving lunch to students in a Parkville, Missouri, cafeteria.
Sometimes she runs into them, when she’s out hunting hedge apples for craft projects.
Thanks for the lovely conversation, Betty! I wish you a very happy holiday season!
Readers: What’s the most unusual pet you have ever had or encountered?
Yesterday, I introduced you to my aunt’s new friend, a lost redbone coonhound.
During his stay on her property, he is sure to be very far from lonely.
Lots of animals live there permanently. And because she runs a pet boarding and grooming service, lots of animals come and go, staying for a short period of time.
For most of the canine residents, life is very different than what my city dogs experience. The outdoor dogs don’t get to lounge in front of the TV, but they are comfortable in runs that are heated in winter. They get out for walks and playtime, and they get plenty of food.
One of my favorite residents of the farm is big Mike.
He looks like a timberwolf, but he is actually supposed to be a Belgian malinois.
Mike has been around for quite a few years.
He ended up with my aunt because he went after the calves on the property of his original owner.
He loves to go for a ride in the back of a truck, and he likes people. In fact, I couldn’t believe how patient he was when I helped her clip his toenails.
However, Mike is still not so great with other animals.
He thinks cats make great snacks, and if given the run of the property, he would really upset the horses.
Mike walks with a bit of a limp because one time he did go after the horses, got kicked and needed to a hip replacement.
Even so, I find that I need to hold on tight whenever I walk him. Mike may be slowing down, but he sure is strong.
For the most part, the cats who proliferate on the farm stay away from Mike.
A litter was born not too long ago, and my aunt has been trying to keep the fluffballs corralled until they get a little bigger.
I won’t lie, I sort of wanted to tuck a dirty, little kitten in my pocket and bring him home, but I didn’t think Luke and Scooby would appreciate that.
However, while I toured the property and walked all of the outdoor dogs, Luke and Scooby did seem to enjoy spying on the cats. Maybe someday…
If you live near Plymouth, Nebraska, and would like a farm kitten, contact me via the form below.
Counting money is fun.
Especially when you know the greenbacks will be used for positive things – like feeding, sheltering and nurturing homeless pets.
Of course, collecting that kind of money was what my big hometown event – the Duke Days of Summer Beer & Wine Tasting – was all about.
At the end of the night, I tallied up all of the raffle proceeds, straight-up cash donations and the portion of my Beer Paws sales designated for animal welfare. The next morning, I grabbed my grandma, and we headed to the Beatrice Humane Society.
The setting of the animal shelter in my hometown is modest. But it is clean and cheery, with colorful paintings on the walls.
When we arrived, a volunteer named Brenda – and an adoptable dachshund named Razzy – greeted us.
Razzy also insisted on sitting in my lap the whole time that I was filling out the donation paperwork. It was super hard for me not to take that guy home.
But there were many other pleading faces at the shelter.
Fido has beautiful, heterogenous eyes – one brown and one blue.
Axel is a sweetie with just three legs.
Tex is a just a really big puppy – of the treeing walker coonhound variety.
The largest population at the Beatrice Humane Society, however is feline.
I tried to get my grandmother to adopt Cletus.
He was being held in a special area for kitties with sniffles.
There is another room that is just for kittens.
One of the kittens, outside of this room, was so tiny he needed to be bottle-fed. That was pretty cool to see.
As always, spending any time at an animal shelter is bittersweet.
I wished I could take them all home – especially Razzy and this Siamese-ish little kitten.
Fortunately, Brenda assured me that for the animals without serious health or behavior issues, they are safe at the shelter until they find a new home. I am hoping the funds raised from the Duke’s event will help make all of their stays a little more comfortable for a while.
Thanks again to all who supported or participated in my Beatrice event.
If you would like to learn more about the adoptables at the Beatrice Humane Society, click here.
I just spent four action-packed days in my home state.
I’ll be writing in more detail throughout the week about some of the things I experienced. For now, here’s a teaser.
10 Things I Did in Nebraska Last Weekend
1. Helped raise nearly $1,000 for my hometown animal shelter.
2. Drank local beer.
3. Drank some excellent, apple-y homebrew.
4. Drank cucumber lemonade.
5. Drank a taster portion of the most amazing carrot soup ever.
6. Watched a baby kitty being bottle fed.
7. Got a henna tattoo.
8. Handed out free beer biscuits to dogs at the farmers’ market.
9. Celebrated a six-year-old’s birthday.
10. Met a leopard gecko named Zark. (Check out my videos of him on Instagram.)
Come back tomorrow to learn which of these things happened at a restaurant named for a dog!
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.”
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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Of course, there was cake!
Catfish the Boston Terrier resented that no one offered her any.
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.
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!
If 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?
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
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!
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.
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
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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’.
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?
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.
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.
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.