Easy and surprising cat toys

You don’t need to spend money on kitty this Christmas if you just use what’s already in your house.

My daughter made my husband a cat toy for his birthday. We were broke and she wanted to make him something he would “really use,” which I’m pretty sure she swiped from Alvin and the Chipmunks, and she knows that he loves to play with the cats.

So she took a stick from outside, secured a piece of yarn to it tightly, and wrapped it around the stick. Then she wrapped it up in some wrapping paper to give to her papa for his birthday. And wouldn’t you know it, not only did he love it—the cats did, too!

That got me thinking. We really don’t need to buy the cats presents; we have so many in our house already just waiting to be made! We decided that we’ll make a couple of catnip balls by sewing some felt around the catnip we already have, and my daughter is making our cats a similar toy she made already with some bells she bought for the season. These should make some very easy gifts to give our kitties this year—and leave a few more things under the tree, too.

One word of advice: if you do use catnip toys, don’t put them under the tree until the last minute unless you want to wake to torn presents!

Give cats some time

Sometimes cats are like brooding teenagers.

For a few weeks, our oldest cat took to himself. He virtually ignored us—after being a loveable cuddle cat for years—preferring the basement instead. He often sat in the basement window, looking at any critter who passed by, or even just lounging between the litter boxes, which was sort of weird, but whatever—it was his thing.

We were really worried about him, wondering if he was dying—he is 12 years old, after all—or if something was wrong with him, or even if he was depressed. We tried enticing him out with catnip, his favorite, carrying him upstairs—anything we could think about—but he just didn’t want to hang out. He still ate and digested fine, so the vet said that it could be a psychological thing.

Then the fall weather started moving in last week and we opened up all the windows in the house. Poof—he was back upstairs and cuddling with us, or hanging out in the windows! What the heck?!

Could our cat have blamed the summer heat wave on us? I honestly don’t know, but I think that was to blame for his moodiness. He simply needed time to come around and forgive us for the closed-up house (believe me, kitty, we all hated that!), I suppose. Cats may simply just need time, too!

Stay Away From Over-the-Counter Flea Medicine

"Some of the side effects associated with those over-the-counter products are vomiting, seizures and lethargy, and even death."

Many of us cat owners are well acquainted with fleas. I remember being perplexed when fleas started appearing on my indoor cat. But, they can come in many ways and I had to start treating her for them. I treat my kitty for fleas throughout the spring and summer, and fall if she needs it. When I first started treatment, I was confused as to the options. After doing some research, I realized that over-the-counter flea medications and collars are a no-no, and here is why.

Over-the-Counter flea treatments and collars found at drugstores and pet stores are not recommended. Veterinarians recommend not using them as they can be dangerous. There have been cat deaths related to the active ingredient – Pyrethrins. That is the active ingredient in most of those products. Pyrethrins are a derivative of a flower that is toxic to cats, chrysanthemums.

Some of the side effects associated with those over-the-counter products are vomiting, seizures and lethargy, and even death. Veterinarians recommend a product such as Advantage or Frontline. They will kill the fleas without typically harming the cat, as long as you use it correctly. Optimally you should order it from the veterinarian but some Petco and PetSmart stores sell it. True, it’s way more expensive. But trust me, it’s effective and worth it.

One thing to keep in mind that you will need to choose the right formulation for your cat’s weight. Don’t use a formula for larger cats on smaller ones and vice versa. That can cause issues or just not work well and get rid of the fleas. NEVER EVER use a formulation for dogs on your cats.

Cat videos for a person hopelessly allergic to cats

Watch these videos and cry.

It's one of the great tragedies in my life that I'm severely allergic to cats. I sneeze and my eyes start burning if I get anywhere near a living room that houses a cat. But I really would love to have a cat at home. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs, too, but cats like the solitude that I would inevitably provide them. Like many others allergic to cats, I feed my misery by watching cats being adorable or hysterical. There is no dearth of options on the Interwebs. Here are some of my favorite cat videos and pictures:

Tokyo's Cat Cafe. In Japan, it's very expensive to keep pets at apartment complexes, if they're allowed at all, so many cat lovers can't have cats of their own. As a remedy to this problem, Tokyo's Cat Cafe allows cat lovers to come into the shop to play, pet and feed their feline friends. They can also sip tea and order food while they interact with the cats. This video from The Guardian online shows how adorable and well-organized the Cat Cafe is. I wonder when this will become a worldwide phenomenon.

Maru, a Japanese cat that really likes boxes. Another Japanese kitty, Maru is one of the most famous cats on YouTube because he's so ornery and curious. His best-loved videos have him jumping into hollowed-out boxes and getting his legs stuck out of the box. Aw! Another hilarious video features poor Maru wandering around the house with a paper bag stuck on his head. I wish I could have a cat this cute.


Shirobu, a Japanese cat who always has to wear stupid costumes. I guess I have a thing for Japanese cats because Shirobu is my favorite YouTube cat of all time. He's a really fat, white Himalayan cat whose eyes and mouth make him look perpetually pissed off. That doesn't deter his owner from putting him in ridiculous get-ups, like a bee costume, a variety of long-haired wigs, and my personal favorite, a tiger costume. She--I assume his owner is a she--pushes him around in a baby carriage.

BuzzFeed's 21 Vintage Cat Advertisements. Obsessive cat loving isn't a recent development. Cats have been used to hock a variety of products, from hair dye to Corvettes, since the beginning of advertising. I don't know about you, but a cut kitten would definitely make me buy a bottle of absinthe.

What are your favorite cat-related destinations on the Internet?

Lost Films

Will they ever be rediscovered?

There's something infinitely mysterious about lost movies. In modern day, it seems like footage never dies, even footage that (mostly celebrities) don't want to be aired, like sex tapes and other leakages. Today, we can't keep our videos to ourselves.

But in the history of filmmaking, only 4.8% of films ever made are available to the public, according to TCM. I wish they had offered more explanation for this--are these student films in grad school? Ten second films of a flower moving in the breeze? Certainly these were acts of love, but it's more romantic to think of bigger-budget films seen by huge numbers of audience members being lost forever. These types of films certainly have shaped our cultural consciousnesses, but since they are lost, we'll never know in what ways.Collectors are constantly searching for these lost relics. The Internet has brought pieces of lost films back together, but there are still many, many more fairly well-known films that still need to be found.

One of the most amazing aspects of lost film collection is that people still know so much about the plot and actors involved with the project, and often have stills or screenshots of the original movie. These lost films are amazingly well-documented, and one wonders about why careful documentation has been preserved, while the film itself has not. In other words, how does anyone know that these lost films ever existed in the first place? How can TCM make an estimate as accurate as 4.8%?

io9.com's Gordon Jackson has compiled some of the most-sought-after lost films from the earliest days of cinema. These films have been lost because of disaster, accident or a perceived disinterest. Some of the films have been lost for decades, and probably will never be found. Others have been destroyed, and will certainly never be found. I find it unreasonably sad that we can know so much about a movie we will are almost guaranteed to never find again.

One of the strangest lost films on the list is Ingagi (1930), a film that was billed as a documentary that featured "found footage" of a tribe that sacrificed women to a giant gorilla. Obviously, the validity of the found footage was challenged and the film was no longer allowed to be distributed, causing it to fall into obscurity.

What do you think about lost films? Do you think collectors of these pieces of cinema history are wasting their time?


So, My Cat Loves Zucchini

I posted last week about my cat Charlotte needing to drop some weight. She’s about 8 years old, a large cat and approximately 18 pounds. Part of problem is that she’s old and lazy. She’s also never been a particularly energetic cat. She just wants to snuggle. After visiting the vet, we have been working to get her to lose weight. I posted that my vet mentioned trying to put zucchini in her bowl as a way to replace some of her food. I was dubious but – she loves it!

Charlotte isn’t particularly picky about the cat food that she eats. She’s easy to please that way. But, she’s incredibly picky about people food. She won’t eat a lot of it, unless it’s a bit of tuna fish or something similar. I honestly didn’t think she would go for the zucchini.

I chopped up some zucchini and made sure that all of the green rind was off of it. I cut it into very small chunks and steamed it. For dinner, I replaced approximately half of her cat food with zucchini. I hid some of it and some of it I left visible. Low and behold, I came back and she had dug in it and eaten all of the zucchini!

I’m excited about this. As my vet recommended, that if she would eat it, that I can replace about half of the cat food she eats in the evening with the zucchini! Hopefully this will help get her on the path to health and wellness.

My Name is Charlotte and I’m a Big, Fat Cat

This is what my sweet cat Charlotte would say if she were able to type! I took her to her veterinarian appointment this morning for a full checkup and some grooming.. It was a huge pain, as most vet trips are, but once we get there, she’s very easy to work with. She’s approximately 8 years old and thus needed a senior checkup, sanitary shave and nail trim. She’s in terrific health but, we need to get her weight under control.

I started giving my cat diet cat food and also measuring out portions carefully. I only give her canned food about once per week.  Part of the reasons for her weight issues is just that she’s just not an active cat. She never has been, even when young. We do have a huge backyard, a cat door and a high fence. During warmer months, we let her outside in the afternoons, only in our fenced yard. But, since fall and winter started, she’s been indoor only.

Now that the weather is a bit milder, we will likely start letting her out in the afternoons, just for that extra exercise. After talking with her veterinarian about how hard it is for her to lose weight while being so sedentary, I think that this is the best course of action.

Also, something that the vet mentioned was perhaps replacing some of her cat food with steamed zucchini! My cat isn’t picky with cat food but she is really picky when it comes to “people” food. Apparently one of the other doctors tried mixing steamed zucchini in with dry cat food and it’s worked with her cat. There are a few other dietary modifications we are planning to make, but I’m going to give the zucchini thing a shot.

Do you have any other tips for me? I’m on a mission!

Issues with Matting in Long Haired Cats

My cat Charlotte is a sweet love muffin surrounded by hair, lots and lots of hair. That hair has been an issue since day one, even as a sweet little kitty. I found balls of hair everywhere. Now my Charlotte is almost nine years old and it is a continual and frustrating problem. As cats age, and as they gain weight, being able to manage all of their hair can be challenging. Thus, the hair can get matted and that can be uncomfortable for the cat.

When I spoke to my veterinarian about it, she did say that my Charlotte is a bit..er..Fat, and may not be able to reach all of the areas to clean them and keep them from matting.  Some of it is just that her hair is very long and fluffy. She won’t let us brush her. Will not, won’t happen.

It’s frustrating because while we do take her in for regular checkups, it usually means having to get her in more often to get them to give her a good shave. The expense is not the only issue. Anyone that has a cat knows that a trip in the car, in a cat carrier, is a pretty bad scene. The whole thing is fairly traumatizing to all parties!

The main recommendations are for my cat to lose weight and to brush her. As I said, we can’t brush her really. If we had started when she was tiny, it probably would have been easier. I have her eating diet food and controlling the portions. I’m taking her to the vet next week so I suppose we will see how it’s going then!

I wonder if there is another way to manage it. Thus far, we haven’t found one. What about you? Do you have any ideas for me?

Custom Cat Collars

My cats don’t wear collars. The only time that they go outside is to use the bathroom and I have a high fence around my backyard and a cat door. Every time I put collars on my cats they take them off. I don’t agree with having outdoor cats but if I did have outdoor cats (I really recommend that no one does) my cats would have to wear collars and a tag. I came across some cool cat collars with adorable prints and patterns.  

A few of the patterned collars that I came across included images of owls, cupcakes, damask patterns, cherry blossoms and polka dots. If you love vintage looks, there are some large floral designs that are reminiscent of the 1970s!

Before you buy any cat collars, always keep in mind that they should be breakaway collars. That is especially imperative for cats that go outside, even if just in your backyard, like mine. When cats climb trees, for example, collars can get stuck and end up hurting or killing your cat. That’s why the breakaway collars are necessary.

Always make sure that you add a tag to the collar, especially if kitty goes outside. For optimal cool cat fashion, don’t get a tag with an unusual shape as it will compete with the design of the collar. Instead, just choose a simple circle or rectangular shape.

It’s easy to keep your cat in style. Instead of going with the plain old collars that you find at any old pet store, take a bit of time and find one that expresses your, and your cat’s, unique personalities.

Can Cats and Bunnies Get Along?

The answer is that it depends. How is that for a definitive answer? Honestly, there are just too many variables and depends on the temperaments and ages of individual cats and bunnies. Bunnies in particular can really vary from each other. Some are plain old mean and some are big love bugs. Mine happens to be a big lover! Here is how the whole cat/bunny thing works in my house.

We got our bunny rabbit about two years ago. He lives indoors most of the time, although we do have a large pen for him outside for summer time. He runs around the house a few hours a day at least. Sugar, the bunny, is a stinker so we always keep an eye on him, lest he chew up every cord and then decide to take a nap in the litter box.

Our bunny is very interested in the cats. He’s interested in what’s going on with them. He would love to snuggle up or play. But, cats and bunnies don’t exactly communicate well. He’s not super aggressive either way.

Cat number one is interested in him. Sometimes she will lie nearby or play around just a bit. He doesn’t understand boundaries so we watch him like a hawk. Just once she started to bat him on the head and that is always dangerous. She was mostly just trying to steer him away, not act aggressively.

Cat number two just thinks that he’s an alien. He chases her around sometimes and tries to get next to her but she’s not having that! I often catch her just staring at him as though she’s trying to figure out what he is!

If you have cats and bunnies, or just one of each, just make sure to watch them at all times. One claw in a bunny’s eye and it will be bad news. Also, if a bunny feels cornered, he can put the smack down on a cat with those back legs!