Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Giveaway: Cat Chain Link Bracelet from Triple T Studios

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This giveaway is sponsored by Triple T Studios and contains affiliate links*

How adorable are these bracelets! This take on a classic style bracelet is the purrfect accessory for just about any style. The Cat Chain Link Bracelet is 7.2 inches long with a 2 inch extender. Each cat head link measures 0.5 by 0.5 inches. The bracelets are nickel and lead free, and are available in silver plated, 18K gold plated, and rose gold.

Enter to win a Cat Chain Link Bracelet – winner chooses color

For up to seven ways to enter, see the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open to readers everywhere, and ends Thursday, June 1. Winners will be chosen by random drawing*.

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20% Discount for Conscious Cat Readers

Triple T Studios is offering a 20% discount to Conscious Cat readers on all of their products. Simply type code ConsciousCat20 in the promo code box at checkout and then click apply. The promo code box will appear on the screen after you enter your shipping and payment information. Offer is limited and available while supplies last. Visit Triple T Studios to purchase.

*No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook. By entering this giveaway, you understand that you are providing your information to The Conscious Cat, and not to Facebook. We will never sell, rent or share your information with third parties. Winners will be notified via e-mail. Prize winner must provide The Conscious Cat with a physical address to which the prize will be mailed within 72 hours. If this information is not received, an alternate winner will be chosen by random drawing. Winners will be announced in a separate post following the drawing.

FTC Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Triple T Studios. The Conscious Cat is a participant in Triple T Studio’s Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees.

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The CatCon Awards: Accepting Nominations Now!

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The third CatCon convention takes place August 12  and 13 at the Pasadena Convention Center, and will feature an exciting program featuring such luminaries of the cat world as Lil BUB, original cat woman Julie Newmar, Kitten Lady Hannah Shaw, and celebrity cats Nala and Pudge, and many many others. This year, CatCon is introducing the first annual CatCon Awards, and your cat could be a winner!

The awards will be recognizing the best and brightest cats and the people who love them in five categories, including Biggest Newcomer, Best Vocalist, and Video of the Year.

CatCon is accepting submissions until June 3.The awards will be presented by Sunday, August 13, 2017, at 3 p.m. in the Civic Auditorium at the Pasadena Convention Center.

For more information about the CatCon Awards, please visit catconworldwide.com/catcon-awards

For more information about CatCon and to purchase tickets, please visit catconworldwide.com

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Hiring a Professional Cat Sitter: What You Need to Know

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I consider my cat sitter one of the most important people in my life. After all, she’s in charge of Allegra and Ruby when I can’t be there to care for them – what job could be more important? I’m fortunate that my cat sitter is also a close friend. My girls love Renée – Allegra probably a little more than Ruby, who sometimes gives Renée a little “you’re not my mom” attitude… The peace of mind I feel, knowing that the girls are in the best possible hands while I’m away, is priceless.

I’ve also been fortunate that I’ve never had to hire a cold sitter “cold.” My cat sitters have always been friends, or were referred to me by a trusted friend. I realize that not everyone is that lucky, and hiring a cat sitter can be a daunting task. After all, you will trust this person not just with your precious cats, but also with your home.

Beware of pet sitter directories and apps

I’ve become very concerned lately with the emergency of more and more “pet sitter referral” services and apps. These services like to bill themselves as kind of an Uber for dogs and cats. They’re usually started by tech companies and investors with no pet care background. They may seem convenient – hire a cat sitter with the click of a few buttons, pay for the services online, schedule at a moment’s notice – but it’s not very clear how they screen the sitters in their network. When I recently spent some time poking around one of these directories, some of the qualifications listed for sitters were “I have always loved cats and dogs.” Would you trust your cats to a stranger with those qualifications?

While some of these services and apps offer insurance, many don’t. Professional cat sitters are bonded and insured. Additionally, these types of directories undercut the fees of professional pet sitters. They can afford to charge less – often half of what a professional sitter would charge – due to sheer volume, and due to the advertising that often supports their websites. “Many of the horror stories about pet sitters that you hear about on the news stem from people using these apps,” says Jill Rose, owner of Ally McPets Pet Sitting and Dog Walking in Redondo Beach, CA. While she acknowledges that not every experience with these services is negative, she’s concerned that many pets will be put in bad situations due to the lack of experience of the sitters listed. “It could just be a neighbor kid who wants to make a few bucks,” says Jill.

Hire a professional cat sitter

Unless you have a trusted friend or family member who can care for your cats while you’re away from home, hiring a professional cat sitter is your best option. When hiring a sitter, consider the following:

  • What kind of training and/or experience does the sitter have?
  • Will the sitter be able to recognize and deal with medical emergencies?
  • Will the sitter be able to deal with shy or aggressive cats?
  • Does she present herself in a professional manner?
  • Does she have a business license and insurance?
  • Does she present a service contract that addresses fees?
  • How long has she been in business?
  • Does she have a back up sitter if something happens to her?
  • For larger cat sitting services: will your cat always see the same sitter?
  • Does the cat sitter have contingency plans for inclement weather or natural disasters?
  • Is the cat sitter knowledgeable about basic first aid and general cat health issues?
  • Is your cat sitter a cat person? You’d be surprised how many pet sitters aren’t that good with cats.
  • How does your cat respond to the cat sitter at the first meeting?
  • How does the cat sitter interact with your cat? One of my cat sitters showed up for the initial consultation with a peacock feather in one hand, and a laser pointer in her pocket. I knew right away that she “got” cats.
  • Does the cat sitter seem to want to learn as much as she possibly can about your cats? This includes eating habits, play and sleeping habits, health issues, personality, hiding places, and more.
  • Ask some “what if” questions. What would the cat sitter do if she couldn’t find your cat? What would she do if there was a medical emergency?

Ask for references

Ask to speak to other clients of any sitter you consider hiring. Don’t just rely on testimonials on a website. Ask if the sitter belongs to any professional organizations. Membership in a professional organization may indicate a higher level of professional excellence, but keep in mind that most membership organizations don’t screen for quality and accept members simply for paying an annual membership fee.

Finding a local cat sitter

Pet Sitters International, the world’s leading educational organization for professional pet sitters, offers the largest online directory for professional pet sitters.

Initial meeting with a potential cat sitter

I believe that the two most important aspects of choosing a cat sitter are how your cat reacts to the sitter at the initial meeting, and your gut feeling about the interaction between the sitter and your cat, and between you and the sitter. If there is even a smidgen of a doubt in your mind about a potential sitter, keep looking. The right person for you and your cat is out there.

Do you have a cat sitter you love? How did you find her?

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Cat Haven Cat Trees

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This post contains affiliate links*

Cat trees are a must have for indoor cats. They satsify cats’ need to climb, they provide a great view of the outdoors if placed near a window, and they offer an outlet for cats’ natural instinct to scratch. Cat trees are especially important in multicat households, giving cats opportunities to share territory on more than one level, without bumping into each other and creating possible altercations.

I really like cat trees that look like “real” trees. In addition to satisfying all the requirements above, they also mimic a relatively realistic outdoor experience for indoor cats – and they look beautiful in your home, no matter what your decorating style is. In my case, they also satisfy the need for some greenery – I gave up on real plants when my first cat Feebee decimated a ficus tree.

I saw the Cat Haven line of cat trees at Global Pet Expo in March, and while the plastic trunks look a little cheap, for the price point, the leaves looked like some of the higher end fake plants, and the trees seem to be reasonably well-made.

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These trees are made from pressed wood and feature artificial turf carpet at the base. They come in three sizes, with either a round or square base. They are rated for cats up to 32 pounds in weight, but given my experience with less expensive cat trees in general, I would be cautious if you have larger cats, and would probably consider anchoring the tree to a wall to prevent it from toppling.

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The small tree is available from Amazon for $141.02 with free shipping for Prime members.

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The medium tree is available from Amazon for $134.99 with free shipping for Prime members (not sure why the medium is less expensive than the small!)

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The large tree is available from Amazon for $159.99 with free shipping for Prime members.

A word of caution: some cats will eat artificial leaves, and if your cat is one of them, these are obviously not a good choice!

*FTC Disclosure: The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

How Cats Communicate Through Marking Behavior

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Do you speak cat? Even though cats express themselves vocally, they primarily use their face, tail and body to communicate with each other and with the humans in their lives. Another important way cats communicate is through marking behavior. Understanding this behavior will not only enhance the relationship between you and your cat, it will also help you prevent potential problems in your household, especially when you have multiple cats.

What is the purpose of marking behavior?

Marking behavior helps cats establish their territory. It helps identify who’s friend and who’s foe, claim ownership of an area, object or person, and defend that territory. Marking behavior includes scent and urine marking, scratching, rubbing and head bunting, middening, and kneading.

Scent marking

A cat’s sense of smell is fourteen times stronger than a human’s. Cats depend on their sense of smell for survival. Scent signals allow them to find food, to determine whether another animal is a friend or an enemy, and to identify their territory. If a cat smells something particularly interesting, you may see her sniffing with her mouth open. This allows the cat to utilize a the vomeronasal or Jacobson’s organ at the roof of their mouth to analyze scent chemicals, also known as pheromones.

Urine marking

Urine marking is unfortunately (at least from a human perspective) the most common form of scent marking. It usually happens in the form of spraying. Cat guardians often confuse urinating and spraying. Urine spraying is a territorial behavior. Cats stand upright and deposit a small amount of urine on vertical surfaces. Cats who are urinating usually squat and deposit larger amounts on horizontal surfaces. Even though both male and female cats spray, the behavior is mostly seen in unneutered male cats, and occurs more often in multicat households, although even a single cat may spray. Spraying is a natural behavior. It is a misconception that cats spray out of spite.

Scratching

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons: they scratch to groom their claws, the scratching motion helps remove dead sheaths from their front claws (they usually chew them off their back claws). They scratch for exercise; scratching stretches the muscles in the front legs and all along the back. And they scratch simply because it feels good. Cats’ front paws contain scent glands, and scratching leaves behind their unique signature on the object being scratched. The scratched areas serve as territorial markers.

Rubbing and head bunting

Cats have scent glands on the side of their faces. Rubbing up against an object or a person allows the cat to mark that object or person. It’s a way for the cat to say hello, and to communicate to humans and other animals that the cat wants to bond with them. By rubbing up against you, your cat is essentially marking you as “hers.”

Middening

Middening is also known as fecal marking. This lesser known form of marking behavior is more common in outdoor cats, who will defecate in an open area without covering their stool to mark their territory. Even though this behavior is rarer in indoor cats, it does happen.

Kneading

Kneading, or “making biscuits,” is believed to be a marking behavior that originates in young kittens. By kneading as they nurse, they claim their mother’s nipple as their own.

Inappropriate marking behavior

Inappropriate marking behavior usually manifests as urinating outside the litter box, and while we humans may consider it inappropriate, there’s always a good reason for it from the cat’s perspective. If your cat exhibits unusual marking behavior, or any time you notice a sudden behavior change in your cat, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. Behavior changes can be indicators of a medical problem. Once medical issues have been ruled out, a program of behavioral modification can be implemented.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Conscious Cat Sunday: Wisdom from Charlie Chaplin

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I recently came across a piece of writing attributed to Charlie Chaplin, titled “As I Began to Love Myself.” Chaplin supposedly wrote this on his 70th birthday, although nobody seems to know for sure whether he actually did. It resonated deeply with me, but it also struck me how much of this wisdom is modeled for us by our cats. Maybe it’s an occupational hazard of being a cat writer that everything eventually comes back to cats for me – but I just  had to share it with you.

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Charlie Chaplin in A Dog’s Life (I couldn’t find any photos of him with a cat)

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY. (Cats don’t seem to have any trouble being who they are in all circumstances.)

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody if I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT. (Have you ever met a cat who has tried to change another cat, or person?)

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY. (To me, there’s something so serene about mature, senior cats – like they’ve found the secret to life.)

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment. So I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE. (Ruby invented self-confidence.)

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY. (Cats have an unfailing ability to revel in life’s small moments.)

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF. (I think all cats are little egoists at heart.)

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY. (Probably not a trait shared by many cats.)

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worrying about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT. (Living in the moment is, of course ,the biggest lesson cats teach us.)

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART. (Cats naturally connect us with our hearts.)

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!

***

Loving yourself can be hard for many. If that’s true for you, I urge you to spend some time contemplating these wise words. Really let them sink in. And then, maybe look to your cats to help remind you to bring more self-love into your life.

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Photo of Charlie Chaplin by First National Studios [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Mews and Nips: Adventure Cat Takes on Big Sky Country

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There’s something fascinating to me about seeing cats do things that I couldn’t imagine Allegra and Ruby do in my wildest dreams. These “adventure cats” hike, camp and sail with their humans, and seem to be having a great time doing so. Otie, a 3-year-old Maine Coon from Montana joins his humans on all their adventures, whether they’re exploring by car, by boat or even by plane. Visit adventurecats.org to see gorgeous photos of Otie exploring his home state.

If you missed any of the stories featured on the Conscious Cat this week, here’s a recap: on Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day, on Monday, we provided comprehensive information on inflammatory bowel disease, on Tuesday, we introduced our new product guide, on Wednesday, we told you about one of our favorite scratching posts, on Thursday, Allegra and Ruby had a birthday surprise for me, and on Friday, we reviewed Molly and the Cat Café.

Today’s video features adventure cat Fish and his little brother, adventure-cat-apprentice Chips. Enjoy!

Photo via adventurecats.org

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