Cat Weather Prediction for South Florida – Hot and Sunny with a High Probability of Window Napping

Yeah…it’s hot out! Remember to keep yourself and your pets hydrated!

Rainy season in South Florida typically begins sometime in the month of May. True to form, I think it rained nearly every single day since then, up until June 21st, the official first day of summer. Mother Nature, taking it as a literal cue, flipped a switch and it was officially hot. Unlike other regions in the country, we don’t gradually ramp up to summer, you just wake up one morning and it’s 90 degree hot. Read more

The Cat Daddy of Our House Shares Some Favorite Memories and Photos for Father’s Day

It all started back in 2005 with this photocopied image of a kitten who would eventually change my life, and Dan’s. We brought him into our home, named him Zee, and he has stolen our hearts ever since. Happy Father’s Day, Dan! Here’s to many, many more photographs and memories!

Editor’s Note: As a writer, one of the most difficult tasks for me is when I’m told to summarize a 1000 word concept into 50 words or less. Like an artist, words are the paintbrush to my canvas and I don’t do well with a minimalist approach. You can only imagine then, what it would be like to tell a seasoned photographer to do the same – task them, from their near endless library of pictures, to pick out their favorite one. But that’s exactly what I did with Dan for this Father’s Day.

Those of you familiar with my blog know Dan is responsible for the vast majority of the pictures I share of our feline gang. Sure, I might doctor them up with inspirational quotes or funny little props, but for the most part, I share them as is. He’s brilliant at his craft and the cats are his babies – they love and trust him so implicitly that the camera becomes an extension of him, and as a result he’s able to capture the essence of each of them with what seems like ease because they are completely natural around him.

While I know it’s impossible to pick a favorite photo, I thought for Father’s Day it would be fun for Dan to pick out a couple pictures of each of our seven cats – Zee, Zoey, Mia, Peanut, Rolz, Kizmet, and Jazmine – as well as our angels, Mr. Jazz and Harley, that were extra-special to him. I then asked him to briefly describe why he chose each particular photo. It was a long trip down memory lane for him, but I think it was a beautiful trip nonetheless. Each of our cats has captured his heart in a unique way and he’s the ultimate Cat Daddy in my eyes.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there – I hope you have a wonderful day. Now, without further ado, the table belongs to Dan!

hearts

Truth be told, I’m a Cat Dad (or Daddy) with a camera who loves to observe and capture images of his “kids” – what father doesn’t love to do this? However, this seemingly simple task becomes a daunting challenge when you realize that my image catalog contains nearly 50,000 digital images, most of which are images of our little furballs.

48,512 images to be exact…

I can’t even begin to describe how difficult the process of reviewing, selecting, eliminating and re-selecting actually was. There were so many images that are personal favorites, and there were far too many of those that had to be set aside to move the final selection process along. I ultimately ended up with two images for each of our lovable felines, and then I slipped in a few bonus images in which more than one of the gang appears.

I hope you enjoy viewing these images and that they inspire you to get out your camera and capture moments like these of your own “kids.” There’s always a hint of mystery and just enough of us in them that makes them fascinating to watch and photograph.

Photo one – Zee

Deb gave Zee to me as a gift nearly 12 years ago when he was just a kitten. I’ve always admired the Maine Coon for their personality and intelligence. This image of Zee is one of my favorites because he’s always keenly aware of my presence and should I go off to another room, he will follow. And yes, that fur is as soft as it looks.

Photo two – Zee

Zee is an indoor cat, as are all of our cats, but on the occasions that we allow them some supervised “outside time” in our fenced-in back yard, Zee relishes the moments. He rarely attempts to run off and explore, and will quietly observe you in his repose of stateliness.

Photo one – Zoey

Zoey, our Bengal Queen and most certainly not your typical laid-back lap cat! She’s curious, can be naughty and quite a handful. She’s very vocal and VERY loud when she wants to be, but she’s also very affectionate and particularly loyal to Deb.

Photo two – Zoey

Zoey, the Huntress. I like this image of Zoey because for me it’s a bit mysterious and seems to capture the Asian Leopard Cat side of her genetic makeup. The golden light on the left of her is a result of a sun puddle reflecting off the wood flooring.

Photo one – Rolz

I think Rolz would be first in line if the Egyptians put out a call for a model to update the sculpture of the Great Sphinx of Giza. Rolz has a sense of regalness about him which he likely gets from his mother and father (Zee & Zoey).

Photo two – Rolz

I love the intensity of expression in Rolz’s eyes in this image. Again, very much like his mother.

Photo one – Peanut

Peanut can often be found in a corner of our living room where we leave a blanket on top of the tile floor for the gang. She likes to lie there to watch the comings and goings throughout the house.

Photo two – Peanut

Peanut also likes to sit in our window sills to watch the comings and goings of creatures in our yard. I took this image of her from outside with a very long telephoto lens, capturing the moment precisely when she recognized me and focused her gaze.

Photo one – Mia

Shhh… Mia’s hiding! Because her tail is across her face, she actually thinks I can’t see her. We keep a large basket full of plush toys that she and the others are fond of curling up in. At night, those plush toys become gifts to the Gods, which we find scattered about our bedroom floor in the morning.

Photo two – Mia

I love the symmetry in this image and the intensity of color in Mia’s eyes. She’s lying on a cushion, made by a friend of ours (thanks again Liz!), which we keep on the floor in front of a window.

Photo one – Kizmet

We adopted Kizmet as a kitten after Deb spotted him in our local Pet Supermarket. Obviously she fell in love with him, texted a photo to me, and the story continues…

Photo two – Kizmet

And here he is today, a very regal old soul. He’s incredibly loving, and had a great influence on easing and transitioning the next adoption (Jazmine) into our home. At night, Kizmet appears on the sofa with us, and proceeds to climb behind Deb’s head, puts both paws around her head, and then lays his head on hers.

Photo one – Jazmine

We adopted Jazmine after fate introduced us to her at the Global Pet Expo in Orlando several years ago. This is just one (of many, many, many) favorite images of her taken one morning in our kitchen. The sun comes through this window each morning and she loves the warmth as well as the cool marble window sill she lays upon.

Photo two – Jazmine

Yup! This is it!!! My all time favorite of favorite images! She’s got me now (and had me at the first meow). One simple look, a slight tilt of the head and I’ve melted. I caught this image of her while I was working at my computer and she jumped up on the table and just sat patiently waiting for me to acknowledge her. (Deb used this image on the back cover of her most recent book, Makin’ Biscuits).

Photo one – Harley

One of our “Angel Cats”… I took this playful image of Harley when I first began experimenting with digital photography.

Photo two – Harley

Another favorite image of Harley. It’s such a reflection of the personality she had and the trust and love she had for those around her. We miss our “Butterball.”

Photo one – Mr. Jazz

Another of our “Angel Cats” and the cat that inspired Deb’s recent book, Purr Prints of the Heart. This is our Mr. Jazz a few years before he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. He so enjoyed being out in our backyard in our Tiki Hut during supervised “outside time” days.

Photo two – Mr. Jazz

I love this image of Mr. Jazz because to me, it’s as though he’s looking back at us before he crosses the bridge telling us that everything will be okay. He and I had a very special relationship. He is forever immortalized in Purr Prints of the Heart.

Mia snuggling into her Daddy, Zee. Mia absolutely loves and adores her father and likely spends 80% of her time with Zee.

Peanut, Zee, Zoey, and Rolz

Winter time in South Florida means temperatures in the 70’s and the windows of our house are all open to allow in the cool breezes and fresh air. There are always cats in our window sills. Now if I could just get a shot of all of them in a window at once, and have enough patience to wait for all of them to look into the camera at the same time!

A favorite image of Mia and her brother Rolz. Feel the love!

The beginning of the love story… Classic Zee & Zoey!

Cat That Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged? He or She Might Be More Affectionate Than You Think

Zoey is actually a very sweet and loving cat…but only if it’s on her terms! No surprise hugging, thank you very much!

June 4th was National Hug Your Cat Day and while it’s a day I rejoice in theory, after all, who doesn’t want to smother their precious kitty with hugs and kisses in a loving embrace, let’s be honest – not all cats like to be hugged. I’ve got seven cats – each with a completely different personality – so it’s pretty easy to substantiate my claim. They run the full gamut – from Peanut who I jokingly refer to as my Robert Palmer cat – she’s addicted to love – to my Zoey who becomes so horrified at the prospect of a hug, if I dare attempt one, she’ll recoil her body like a twisted pretzel and push away from me with such force, you’d think I was holding her down to immerse her in a tub of hot water (but mind you, on her terms, she’s the same cat who sticks to me like glue when I settle on the couch at night to watch TV). Read more

Living in Comfort with Cats – 10 Tips to Managing Cat Allergies

Editor’s Note: This article was previously published. However, with it being allergy season, coupled with the fact so many cats are not adopted, or are brought to shelters because of cat allergies, it seemed prudent to share it again.

By trying different tips and techniques, there are ways to manage cat allergies and peacefully co-exist with a cat.

From this picture, you’d never know I was once allergic to cats.

Being immersed in the world of cat blogging and advocacy, I’ve heard just about every excuse there is from those that don’t have a cat but might want one, as to why they can’t. Having a dog ranks right up there, but the most common reason is because of cat allergies. As a happy pet parent to seven cats, along with the fact millions of cats are living in shelters in need of a good home, I’d like to let you in on a couple secrets so you can adopt that adorable ball of fluff you’ve always wanted (or keep the sniffles to a minimum with the cat you already have)!

First off, for most of my life, I’ve lived in a home with both cats and dogs. At one point I had 5 dogs and 4 cats living together, so I can assure you, unless the circumstances are extreme, cats and dogs are able to get along if you’re willing to put the time and effort into making it work. My other secret – I’m allergic to cats. Or, I should say, I was allergic to cats. I made some lifestyle changes years ago and have been allergy-free ever since. The good news, with some perseverance and preventative measures, most people that are allergic to cats can manage their symptoms too.

Contrary to popular belief, cat hair itself is not allergenic. Cat allergies are caused by the Fel d 1 protein emanating from sebum found in the sebaceous glands of cats. The protein attaches itself to dried skin (dander) which flakes off and floats through the air when cats wash themselves. An allergy occurs when the body over-reacts to this substance  and produces excessive amounts of histamine which leads to the irritating symptoms associated with cat-allergies – itchy eyes, sneezing, skin rash, etc.

There are many causes of allergy attacks - molds, plants, and pollens can trigger an attack

Your cat might not always be the cause of your allergies – often it can be plant pollen or other substances in the air that are carried into your home that can trigger an allergy attack.

Ironically, it might not always be the cat that is the root cause of the allergy. Outside cats (and humans) can bring pollen, mold, and other allergens into the house, or there may be airborne allergens in the house from dust mites, carpet dust, mold spores, or pollen and chemicals in the environment that trigger allergies. Rather than assume it’s the cat, check the cat is actually the source of the allergen by getting a skin test done by an allergist. Some sufferers are successfully treated for the symptoms with allergy shots or over the counter antihistamine tablets, nasal sprays or homeopathic remedies.

If a shot or medication doesn’t do the trick, here are some other tips:

1. Remove dander from the air with strategically placed ionizers and HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) purifying systems. These units come in a variety of sizes, prices, and styles to suit your needs, budget, and home square footage.

2. Keep your cat out of any bedroom where the person is allergic and do not let them sleep on the bed. Provide other comfortable sleeping areas for him to nap and if you do allow him to sleep on the bed (for some cat lovers, it’s impossible to say no), wash all bedding in 140-degree hot water at least twice monthly. This will eliminate both dust mites and cat allergens and there are products available, such as DeMite, that can be used with the laundry detergent to kill harmful particles.

3. Keep towels and throw blankets on couches and furniture where your cat might nap so you can wash the linens frequently, and change air conditioning filters on a regular basis, as they also catch a large amount of cat hair. You can also use an anti-allergen spray to deactivate allergens. Allersearch ADS, made from plant-based, non-toxic substances, can safely be sprayed throughout the house to take the sting out of household dust by rendering allergens harmless.

Washing cat bedding frequently can help to reduce dander and cat allergies in a home. Consider using DeMite washing solution in the laundry.

To keep your cat from depositing dander on your furniture, provide her with a comfortable throw blanket to nap on that can easily be washed.

4. Carpet is a magnet for allergens, so vacuum frequently with a high-grade HEPA vacuum. Use the hand tools to get into hard to reach spaces – cat allergen particles are very small and invasive so you have to do a thorough job. This includes furniture, throw rugs, drapery, walls, under furniture, and more.

5. Hardwood and tile floors, especially in corners where cat hair tends to drift should be swept frequently. If you find your allergies are being triggered while vacuuming or sweeping, wear a protective mask to cover your nose while doing these tasks. Damp mopping these surfaces (including walls) also helps to keep dander under control. Dust frequently and use liberal amounts of spray furniture polish, as this dramatically limits allergen particles from becoming airborne.

Replacing carpeting with tile floors can dramatically reduce chances of getting cat allergies

My house was once covered in wall-to-wall carpeting. After removing it and replacing it with tiles, any allergy symptoms I had due to my cats were substantially reduced.

6. For extra cleaning, use a vapor steam cleaner. They’re an effective method to provide a chemical-free way of cleaning and killing dust mites, bacteria, mold spores, and cat allergens.

7. Wash your hands after petting your cat and avoid rubbing your eyes. Rubbing your eyes can result in itchy eyes for hours and a strong anti-bacterial soap should be used. You should also avoid excessive hugging and snugging with your cat.

8. Clean your cat. Most cats would prefer NOT to be bathed and its effectiveness isn’t entirely conclusive. As an alternative, try Allerpet, a veterinary recommended, easy to use, non-toxic liquid you apply directly to your cat’s coat to reduce allergens.

9. Use a de-shedding tool like the FURminator to regularly brush and groom your cat. This highly effective tool gets deep into the undercoat of the cat’s fur and significantly reduces shedding. Groom in a well-ventilated area so the dander dissipates.

The FURminator de-shedding grooming tool helps to reduce cat dander in the air

Not only do my cats love to be groomed with the FURminator de-shedding tool, but by doing it, it greatly reduces the amount of dander in the house.

10. Dust from cleaning litter boxes can trigger allergy attacks. Either find someone who is not allergic to do the cleaning, or use a protective nose mask to reduce the chances of allergens entering your body.

One, some, or all of the above  methods might be needed to keep your allergies under control. But with time, effort, and experimenting, chances are that you and your cat can co-exist  peacefully together in your home and you can enjoy a long and happy relationship with your cat. Or, now that you know some tips to making your house allergen-free, you can take the plunge and adopt that cat you always wanted, but didn’t think you could have…

hearts

ALL cats produce dander, though some cats produce less than others. No cat is allergen-free, not even hairless cats, although there are some studies that conclude Rex, Sphynx, and Siberian Cats are less likely to cause allergies than others. If you do decide to look into one of these breeds, please consider finding a breed specific rescue organization or contact Petfinder.com for adoptable cats in your area.

Makin’ News! Makin’ Biscuits Receives Three Prestigious Writing Awards from the Cat Writers Association!

No mistaking whose suitcase this is…

It started off a rather harried and frustrating day, considering I was getting ready to leave for a decidedly fun and hyped-up event – my annual trip to the BlogPaws/Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) conference being held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I went to zip up my leopard print suitcase before weighing it to see if I could meet the ridiculously low-weight standard mandated by Spirit Airlines of 40 pounds for a checked bag (40 pounds? My assorted shoes and cat ears alone would probably weigh more than that) when I got that unmistakable whiff anyone who has cats would recognize. Cat pee. Read more