Monday, November 30, 2009

No Rest for the Wicked!

Oh noes! Ceiling Cat's got a substitute, but what about when I'm busy? Please forgive me!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This is going to be a hectic week, but stay tuned for posts on:
  • The CAT SHOW I went to this weekend
  • Theo's Training
  • The Best Cat Treats*
  • Pearl's New Airline-Approved Cage Traveling Suite
  • And much, much more
Until tomorrow... >^..^<

*base=3 domestic kittehs owned by yours truly
**sample not to include human food, e.g. French fries (ahem)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Up, Homefry?

My faithful readers will understand the gravitas of yesterday's dinner: it was a Burger King night.

Why 'ello, wot ees theeees? Oh ho ho ho! Eet ees a leetle French Fry?

le NOM, le NOM, le NOM

I even got Ollie to perform a trick for her fry, though it was not captured on camera. Perhaps I have underestimated her talent appetite?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bleachy Clean

Once upon a time, when I was in college, I was laundering a small load of white Oxford shirts because I was a waitress, and these are the sort of things they make waitresses wear. With a tie. It was awesome. Moving on.

So, I was trying to get to my shift on time with a clean and glowing white shirt. I ran to the Laundry Room on my floor and yanked my whites out of one of the communal $1 dryers, then shuffled back to my dorm room. As I sprinted down the hall, it occurred to me that the load in my arms felt a little bulky... but I dismissed this feeling of suspicion and unease since sometimes fluffy, freshly-dried things can seem like this.

As the whites fell out of my arms and onto my extra-long twin for folding, I quickly discovered why it felt like I was carrying more laundry than just a few white shirts. I was carrying more than just my Oxfords! There were stowaways in my load! And NOT white kittens!!!

There, lying amongst my laundry, were gnarled gym socks… some stained wife-beaters… and tighty-whities.

Some cheap, dirty punk on my floor must have thrown his “whites” (and I use that term loosely, because many of these items were hardly what I would call white anymore) in with mine to save $2 and detergent! The knave doubtlessly planned to sneak in and abscond with his whites before I came to collect my laundry, but his plan was foiled when I came early.

I carefully separated his laundry from mine and dropped it in an old shopping bag, using the hook of a hanger as a make-shift claw, so I wouldn’t have to touch it. It was foul, but not nearly as foul as having to wear my tainted clothing later that night. I left the bag sitting ominously on the dryer.

I tell you this story, dear readers, so that when your cat sleeps on your freshly-laundered clothing, you will think of this tale and rejoice, because it could have been worse. Much worse.

A white kitten (or any kitteh, really) is so much better than a stranger’s tighty-whities, don’t you agree?

Seventeen Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat

Here’s a great way to start your week! Seventeen Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat.

Click on the link to learn about other animals that purr, how Nikola Tesla basically owes it all to kittehs, how many cats Abe Lincoln owned and MORE.

I hope you find a fact or two that will make you the Cat’s Meow at Thanksgiving...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wait a minute...

I ordered a box of avocados...

... not avoCATos!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dedicated to Daisy

Dedicated to Daisy, who’s famous for her fashions:

Even more priceless photos from Vogue's feline-inspired fashion photo shoot if you click here!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's a CATTOO?

Pearl has a Cattoo, and you should get one, too. Come on! Everybody’s doing it. >:-)

Actually, Pearl is the only cat I know on a purrsonal basis with a Cattoo, aka cat tattoo, but I'm hoping it becomes the next big thing, because there's a very clever idea behind it.

So What’s Up with This Cattoo?
Pearl was spayed prior to her official adoption, per East Bay SPCA regulations. I faintly remembered when Ollie had been spayed, so I knew what to do. I checked Pearl’s incision regularly to make sure everything was healing properly, and things were looking normal.

About a week and a half after Pearl's surgery, the shelter called to see how she was acclimating, and to ask how she’d recovered from the operation...

Francesca: Pearl is looking good! But I did want to ask you guys about her stitches, because they still look very prominent.
EBSCPA: Oh, you mean the blue-ish line on her stomach?
Francesca: Yep, that’s the one.
EBSCPA: Ah! Not stitches. That’s a tattoo!
Francesca: A whaaaaaa?

EBSPCA: We tattooed her! You see, when a male cat’s been neutered, it’s easy to tell, you just look at the ahem. However, there’s little evidence left to indicate whether or not a female cat has been spayed. There have been some cases when we’ve operated on female cats, for example stray cats that we have no medical history for, and we get inside… and nothing’s there. They’ve already been spayed. That’s why we tattoo our female cats after spaying. It’s an easy way for anyone to tell that the operation has already been done.
Francesca: BRILLIANT!

Here’s a picture of Pearl’s CATTOO

The naked eye cannot see the Cattoo.

Voila. Scandalous! Please don't tell her mother.

Whoever came up with this idea is GENIUS. I encourage you all to talk to the shelters and vets that you know, and see if they’ve heard of this Cattooing. If they haven’t, maybe they’ll start! It seems like a smart idea to me. It would be great for any kind of female animal.

Does anyone else have a Cattoo?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cats on a Plane!!

The holidays are quickly approaching and that means travel for a lot of you out there, myself included. Come December, I’ll embark on my annual, transcontinental journey from California all the way to the snowy tundras of Michigan—only this year, I’ll have a travelling companion: PEARL.

Yes, Pearl is hitching a ride to The Mitten, which means I have to find the perfect airline-approved carrier. Unfortunately, the one I’ve set my heart on is too pricey to seriously entertain. Ah, the SleepyPod.

The SleepyPod is one of those products that you wish you’d never seen, because once you do, you’ll never forget it, and simply nothing else can compare.

O SleepyPod, I love you, but you are too proud. I’m still shopping around for a safe and attractive bargain, so we’ll see what I turn up with.

Any suggestions? Send them my way!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Ahoy, Hemingway Kitteh!

While staring dreamily at my computer screen, it came to my attention that the Paw de Chat kitten gamboling about at the top of my blog appears to be a Polydactyl Cat. Here's another picture of a Blue Tabby KitTEEN for reference.

I’ve never had the honor of meeting a Polydactyl before, but I hope to someday. If I make it out to Key West, Florida, then my chances are probably pretty good, since that’s the breeding ground for the rare Polydactyl Kitteh—literally.

According to local lore, Ernest Hemingway made the acquaintance of a sea captain who owned an unusual six-toed tomcat. Upon his departure from Key West, the captain gave the cat to Hemingway as a gift. This phalange-licious feline became the founding father of the unusual many-toed cat population in Key West, hence the common nickname for a Polydactyl; "a Hemingway cat."

As to why else so many cats, including Polydactyls, call Key West their home, The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum website has the answer:

During the shipping days, and before the days of pesticides, cats were kept to catch rats and mice. The weather is mild here and cats can live comfortably outdoors all year around; they are also quite prolific so they are numerous. There are local residents who feed many stray cats and there is a profusion of restaurants and guest houses where the cats can panhandle for hand-outs.

Although Ernest Hemingway led a troubled life, his love for cats is an admirable quality for sure. As my great-grandmother Kokko always said, “Never trust a man who doesn’t like cats.” Right on!

There are other fascinating facts compiled by a certain Lisa Rufle, including Polydactyl Cat adventures at sea, how they were true American settlers, and why they were accused of witchcraft and sorcery, but "permission to republish Polydactyl Cat Basics in print or online must be granted by the author in writing"… and we’re on a tight deadline here. :-) So I encourage you, instead, to check out the page here.

Do any of my dear readers have the pleasure of living with a Polydactyl Cat?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clawin' Up the Wrong Tree

I loved this picture too much to resist.

When I was growing up, a few of my cats LOVED to climb trees, but Theo and Ollie are indoor only. I've been keeping my eyes peeled for the ideal cat tree so that they can experience the joy of climbing, too. I don't think a bonsai tree will cut it, though...

Any good pictures of your cats in trees?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Black Cat Bonanza!

Today is...

...which is why it’s time for a BLACK CAT BONANZA!

First, some of my favorite Black Cats:

When I lived in Los Angeles, I attended a foster volunteer training session though a wonderful animal rescue group called Kitten Rescue. They’ve developed a list called “The Top Ten Reasons to Adopt a Black Cat.” I am posting the list here, but I encourage you to check out Kitten Rescue’s website.

10. They look like little panthers.

9. A lint brush isn't required for a black-tie affair.

8. Holding a black cat is very slimming.

7. Black cats will match any decor.

6. When you love a black cat, luck is on your side.

5. They are a great accessory to any outfit.

4. They don't care what color YOU are.

3. The neighborhood goth kids will think you're cool.

2. Love knows no color.

and the number one reason to adopt a black cat....

1. They are the least likely to be adopted.

It’s sad but true! A 2002 study in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science that examined adoption rates over nine months in a California pound found that black cats were about half as likely to be adopted as tabby cats and two-thirds less likely than white cats.

I know that many shelters will not adopt out any black cats in the month of October, for fear of animal abuse and worse. The shelter where I adopted Theo wouldn’t adopt out any orange cats, either! I scooped him up right before the cut-off.

In the words of Groucho Marx: "A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere."

Send in pictures of your Housepanthers!

TeleCats: The Scratch Lounge

Our very first Product Demonstration. Paw de Chat presents:
The Scratch Lounge.

If you've fallen in love, here's the website: As I mentioned, I bought mine at Petco!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Treats, NO TRICKS!

Theo's training isn't going very well thus far, and there's one big problem. This kitteh doesn't like many treats! Theo's absolute favorite, tried and true dish is Fancy Feast Beef Feast, grilled. He is one finicky feline.

Any of the Fancy Feasts that have a "shredded" look and are smothered in gravy are suitable as well. He will not, under any circumstances, tolerate a "loaf." We've tried fancier feasts (read: more expensive and très gourmet organic food), but he'd rather starve than eat these better-for-you blends and stages hunger strikes.

The Feast, and nothing but the Feast, so help you God.

Being picky about meals is one thing; I get that. But Theo is just as particular when it comes to treats. The cats I grew up with were lovers of "Pounce." Ollie will eat practically anything, as I discovered the day she absconded with a mini strawberry & marshmallow pancake I'd been eating, carrying it off to her lair. I know it's terrible to allow cats to eat human food, but I have to be honest... On the rare occasions when I indulge in Burger King, it's nice to sit with Ollie, side by side as we nibble. She adores french fries.

Theo, looking on with disdain.

Theo won't eat anything but Beef Feast! How am I to train him?! I saw some dried fish flakes at my pet store, and I may invest. I have the feeling that the grosser the treat is, the more likely he'll be to eat it.

Do your cats have a favorite treat you could recommend?

Hooked on a Feline: Carrie & Kitty

Skelecats in the Closet: Part Deux

Carrie from Michigan (my home state! woot!) sent in a photo of an elusive Closet Cat in action.

Indie, alias "Kitty"

Closet Cats are private creatures. When their hidey-holes are exposed, they do not disguise their displeasure. This intrusion leaves Kitty aghast.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vive Claw de Chat!

The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the veterinary practice of declawing cats within city limits, making it a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in jail.

"It's a complex and painful procedure — you remove the bone at the end of the paw — and it's only for the benefit of the owner," said Jesse Arreguin, who co-authored the law with Councilwoman Susan Wengraf.

"A survey of Southern California veterinarians showed that 95 percent of vets are declawing cats to protect furniture," said Veterinarian Jennifer Conrad. "I urge you to protect cats in your city. It's an amputation of the last bone in the cat's toe."

Retired veterinarian Jean Hofve confessed that she regrets the times she declawed cats. "I declawed hundreds of cats and it is horrible, cruel and inhumane," Hofve said. "After declawing cats develop behavior problems, biting and litter box avoidance problems. To create a situation where more cats are likely to bite is unconscionable."

San Francisco passed a similar law on November 3rd, and on November 6th the Los Angeles City Council, in a preliminary action, voted unanimously to ban declawing cats, which council members described as unnecessary and abject animal cruelty.

I have been against declawing since I learned about the procedure at age five, when my family adopted Mariah, a sweet little Tortie who’d already been declawed. She didn’t seem to suffer… until old age began to sink in.

I’ve always loved playing with cats’ paws, and I remember how her paws felt. There were extra flaps of furry skin at the end of each finger, and I could feel that the bones within felt butchered. As she aged, I could tell how it hurt her to jump and do other Cattish things. I know how hard it is for me to walk when I’ve got a blister from an ill-fitting kitten heel, so imagine the pain of dealing with the effects of amputation for the rest of your life.

Now that I am a cat parent myself, I understand how frustrating it can be when Theo or Ollie decides to sharpen a claw or two on a new piece of furniture. That said, if they’re able to do any damage, I’m to blame. Trimming their claws is very simple. Ollie, thus far, has not tolerated SoftPaws, but Theo is completely amenable. There are all sorts of cat scratchers that range from cheap and easy cardboard (stay tuned for a review on my new Theo’s new scratcher later) to the gorgeous creations often featured on

Hooked on a Feline: Michelle & Filbert

I attempted Theo's first training last night. He is immune to Velveeta's charms. My friend Michelle's cat Filbert, on the other hand, prances at her very command. What form!

Special thanks to Kristin for this clever title. >^..^<

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Just Like a Cirrrcus

And if there were any doubts about the epic feats that cats can and WILL perform, may I present to you... The Cat Circus!

There's LOTS more where that came from! Watch the Cat Circus in action here! There are... no words. No words that can possibly capture my amazement.

Oh, Theo...

Will Work For NOM NOM

Once upon a time, many years ago, I attempted to train Ollie to do “tricks.” I wasn’t really sure what sort of tricks, per se, which may have been my problem from the get-go. Ollie was pretty receptive to training at first. Hey, a little Velveeta goes a long way. We were starting to learn the command “touch,” but then a pair of foster kittens entered the mix, I got really busy at work, ad nauseum, and our training sessions came to an end.

However…after reading “Cats are trainable — and that’s not a punchline” on today, I have been inspired to start it up again! Melissa Chan, behavior specialist at the Houston SPCA Chan sold me on cat training when I read this:
“Having your cat touch your hand with its nose on command is one of the easiest behaviors to train,” Chan says. If you hold out your hand, most cats will naturally sniff it. Reward with a treat until the cat is doing it every time you present your hand. Then, start repeating a word like “touch” every time.

This trick can then be used to get the cat to move where you want it by placing your hand in the desired spot. “You can use it to ask them to get off the couch, or teach them to jump through a hoop by putting the hand on the other side of the hoop,” Chan says.
Have you guys heard of Kitten Kindergarten at the Houston SPCA? Check this out! This photo shows kitTEENs learning to socialize and play with other cats during a kitten kindergarten class at the Houston SPCA in Houston, Texas.

Let the games begin! This time, I’ll work with Theo, since he’s the smarter of the two. (Not to worry, Ollie excels in other areas, such as sleeping, napping and loafing.) Here’s my game plan:

1. Sit
2. Stay
3. Come here (We're 80% there.)
4. Jump
5. Flop

I think teaching Theo one trick a week sounds feasible, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress. In the meantime

Do your cats perform any tricks?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are YOU a Crazy Cat Lady?

Voters in Dudley, Massachusetts, passed a ballot measure last Tuesday making it illegal to own more than three cats without a special license. The caterwauling and rampaging of one female citizen's 15 cats led to many complaints from her neighbors, and served as the inciting incident for creating the new law.

In light of this ruling, re-posted a 2005 article that asks its readers, “What's the deal with cat ladies? Are there cat gentlemen, too?”

According to Slate, we first need to define the difference between a woman (or man) who cares for several cats versus an animal hoarder.

“Animal hoarding has also been viewed as an addiction, like compulsive gambling or alcoholism, or as a form of dementia… No one knows why women are more susceptible than men. One member of the Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium points out that women are also more likely to become veterinarians and less likely to perform acts of animal cruelty.”

I hate the stigma of the term “cat lady,” but Slate highlighted two pieces of damning evidence:
  • Not all animal hoarders are cat ladies, but most are. The typical person who gets caught with more pets than she can handle is a woman over the age of 60 who lives alone.
  • They found that two-thirds of the obsessive collectors were women and that 70 percent were single.
Yikes! I know how hard it can be to say no to “just one more” animal. As a foster volunteer, my heartstrings have been tugged again and again. Anytime I visit my local shelter, or even Petco with its weekend adoption events, I want to whisk all the cats away with me!

But wanting and doing are two totally separate things. I consider how my cats would feel, how much food I can afford, how much attention I can share equally and how much actual space I have… These are things that hoarders don’t seem to consider.

So, how many cats really IS too many? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


This cat takes her chess game very seriously.

I especially like this photo because it reminds me of a cat that I grew up with named Guy. Guy was an incredibly savvy street cat that my aunt adopted. He was so clever that he'd look both ways before he crossed the street. He kept himself impeccably groomed, and this included cleaning his own teeth.

I was in my aunt's kitchen on a quiet summer day when I heard a bizarre gnawing sound... it seemed to be coming from just beneath the kitchen window. I peered out and saw Guy, gnawing at the roots of some shrubbery, his head tilted to the side just like our Grandmaster here.

I spied him performing this part of his routine on a regular basis, and his teeth were some of the shiniest, whitest fangs I've ever seen. This can't be a coincidence. Did he discover this on his own, or was he taught by some other fastidious alleycat?

Do any of your cats "clean" their teeth like this?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Why You Can't Afford a Dog (or Cat?)

This morning, I came across an article on that I'd like to share with you, in case you haven't seen it. ("Why You Can't Afford a Dog")

Why You Can't Afford a Dog
The content isn't all about canines; cats are discussed, too. Donna Freedman writes,
How much is that doggy in the window? At least $8,000 over his lifetime--and that's just for basic expenses. Fido costs a lot more if he gets sick, chews up your work boots or ruins the rug. Cats are even pricier: It costs about $10,415 to be ignored until you run a can opener.
In short, if you can't find at least an extra $800 to $1,000 in your budget every year, don't get a pet. If you get laid off, start looking for foster care for your pets until times are better -- and if the job market is particularly bleak (think "unemployed in Michigan"), you may have to give them away outright.
While I agree that anyone under financial constraint, recession or not, should reconsider adopting a pet, I question her recommendation to seek foster care.

It's hard enough to find foster homes for the stray animals that are found and taken to shelters. I personally don't know of any free foster programs for cats that already have owners, but it's possible that they're out there. (Email me if you know of one.)

I have heard of people being transferred to another state or country for a set amount of time that will find a foster for their pet, and pay the foster home a fee for food and litter costs while they are away, but the cost is comparable to what the cat owner spent when they were at home with their cat, so this isn't a solution for people who can't afford their pet anymore, period.

My best suggestion, if you can no longer afford to care for your pet but you think your situation is temporary, is to ask a family member to help out in the meantime. If you're not at that point, but are getting close, then the first step you should take is making sure your cat is indoor only. That will greatly reduce the risk of injuries, illness and accidents, and consequently minimize the likelihood of expensive veterinary bills.

Otherwise, if you truly feel you have to give your cat up for good, then do your best to help him or her make a transition to a happy home. You could post signs in your local Starbucks, or pet food stores. Sometimes libraries or other community gathering places will allow this, too. If your cat is purebred, there are often dedicated rescue groups that will help specific breeds. And if worse comes to worst, taking your cat to a shelter as an "owner surrender" is a last-ditch effort to get your cat into a new home. There's normally a small charge for this, but at least your pet will be given a place to live with fresh food and water.

Whatever you do, please don't let your cat loose into the wild. I have heard that some take this route, thinking that the cat will be better off eating birds, mice, and whatever scraps it can find, and maybe even being lucky enough to win over another family after hanging around for a while--rather than taking their pet to a shelter. The great outdoors are not the place for a domesticated animal. Though shelters are crowded constantly, they are well-organized and run by people who love animals dearly. So as scary as it sounds, please consider a shelter before you opt for abandonment.

Phew! Sorry to bring up a less-than-cheerful topic. I'll post a Lolcat next!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What’s a KitTEEN?

Anyone can recognize a fluffy little kitten, and it’s easy to spot a grown-up cat. But what about that murky, transitional phase in between?

I’ve got a great new term to share with you: KitTEEN, accent on the TEEN, because that’s what these little cats are! This word was dreamed up by a clever friend of mine, and then bequeathed to me. So, since we invented it, whatever we say goes about kitTEENs.

All About KitTEENs
Conveniently enough, kittens move into the kitTEEN zone at about thirteen weeks, so it’s easy to remember when this coming of age takes place.

Like their human counterparts, cat teens go through an awkward stage. Their limbs may be disproportionately long, and growth spurts leave them looking slightly rangy. Their kittenish faces may develop a more striking, mature bone structure, and you’ll notice that your once-clumsy kitten is quickly becoming more nimble.

For example, they don’t have to mountain-climb up the comforter to hop onto the bed—now they can jump! Watch out, because kitTEENs have the smarts and the strength to execute some pretty wild maneuvers around the house.

I foster kittens, and I have always felt a rush to get little ones back to the shelter before they entered the KitTEEN stage. If someone is specifically in the market for a kitten, logic follows that they’d want the littlest one. Others come to the shelter in search of an adult cat, because it’s easier to judge temperament when a cat’s full grown.

I argue that a kitTEEN is the best of both worlds. They are still young enough for you to experience the pleasure of watching them grow big and strong, but they’re old enough to have quite the purrsonality already.

And so, since a picture says 1,000 words… may I please present my favorite kitTEEN of all, the very kitTEEN that inspired the term… Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…


I have a theory that if shelters began to use the term kitTEEN, it could help the “old” kittens get adopted, since it takes the stigma away. Who wants to be an “old” anything? Three cheers for kitTEENs!!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Skelecats in the Closet!

I have to admit, a closet seems like a pretty good place to nap to me, and if you're a cat, what could be better? Closets are dark with plenty of places to hide, excellent for ambushing fellow felines or unsuspecting humans, and there are soft clothes all around with the comforting smell of your human on them...

I gave up the fight long ago and leave some old sweatshirts in the darkest corner for my cats to nestle in and they love it. Theo in particular retreats to the closet when he needs some time to be quiet and reflect. I call it his Fortress of Solitude.

Not all cats require a Closet Cave; some prefer Bed Lurking or the Cat Sack (like Ollie), but a private and safe "hidey-hole" is a must for each of your cats. It's important for them to feel like they have a place of their own to unwind.

Where does your cat like to chillax?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Me-ow You Doin'?

What an event, Paw de Chat's first posting! >^..^<

Since our topic is (and shall always remain) CATS, it seems fitting that I share with you a few images of my inspiration.

My Terrible Two
First up is Theodore Arthur, a domestic short hair orange tabby. He's four years old and quite the character. His favorite activites are kneading, creeping, and inventing new meows. He's also a pro with a feather cat teaser. It seems to me that the late MJ's "Thriller" was Theo's inspiration. He's got it down!

And then there's Olivia Lily. She's a three-year-old domestic short hair brown tabby. Ollie, as I affectionately call her, is a cuddler. She likes to snuggle and especially enjoys burrowing into down comforters or her "cat sack." More to come on that later.

Cute cat pictures are always welcome, so send them in!