Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: The Lost Cats and Lonely Hearts Club


This post contains Amazon Associate links*

Reading contemporary romance novels is one of my guilty pleasures, and when the book features a cat, so much the better! The Lost Cats and Lonely Hearts Club by Nic Tatano is one of the most delightful books in the genre that I’ve come across in quite some time, and what’s even better, it’s part of a series. And it features a tortoiseshell kitten – how much better can a book get!

While covering a story, network reporter Madison Shaw discovers a litter of orphaned kittens. It’s Friday night, and all the shelters are closed, so she takes the kittens home. Suddenly, her glamorous life changes as she takes care of the kittens around the clock. When a video of her caring for the kittens goes viral, the resulting media circus has a domino effect on her career and her love life.

I loved this book so much! The story has enough twists and turns to keep you reading, the characters are immensely likeable, and the author’s love for cats comes through in the descriptions of how the kittens, especially the little tortoiseshell, worm their way into Madison’s heart. My only issue with the book is that the tortie is a male, and the author never mentions that male torties are extremely rare. I kept hoping that at some point in the book, somebody was going to point this out to Madison, but that never happened.

There are four women at the center of all the action in the book, Madison, and her best friends Tish, Rory and AJ. There were four kittens in the litter Madison rescued, and when they were old enough to go to their forever homes, guess where they went? And there is a second book by Tatano, The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift, featuring Tish and her kitten, which I just started reading. I’m really hoping that there will be a third and fourth book, featuring Rory and AJ and the remaining kittens.


If you enjoy lighthearted romance, you will absolutely love this book.

The Lost Cats and Lonely Hearts Club is available from Amazon.

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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Thursday, March 23, 2017

They call it the Silent Killer

Saturday, my sweet dog Ike died of hemangiosarcoma. Tragically, we had no idea he was seriously ill.

In fact, he'd had his senior exam not long before this. We were constantly alert to Ike's daily health, and probably nothing would have changed the sad outcome. I'm sharing these details in the hopes it may help someone else...although sadly, there is very little that can be done to prevent or treat it. At the end I will list a few suggestions.

Ike's symptoms (*this may not be the way it is for all dogs):
1. Ike was 10 years old. Over the last several months he seemed excessively tired at night, preferring to remain on his pillow in the living room rather than climb the stairs to join us. We'd mentioned it to our vet who surmised multiple possibilities for this. Maybe it was joint pain. We even considered that he wanted to be downstairs to stay with our other dog, who had started sleeping downstairs as well. Maybe it was just part of aging. Looking back, it was the cancer we didn't know was in his body, making him so tired.

2. One day a couple weeks ago, Ike had diarrhea with a little blood in it. You never like to see blood in the stools. In the past, I've taken my dogs to the vet the moment I see this, and almost always it has turned out to be something benign that improves in a few days. We decided to bring him to the vet the next day...but the next day the stools seemed okay so we figured it was nothing serious.

3. Over the course of a few weeks, Ike vomited twice. Maybe he ate too fast. Once was in the car. Maybe he ate too close to riding and the motion made him sick. He had a sensitive stomach. I wasn't overly worried.

4. A few times, Ike refused his breakfast. Once we had started mixing in a new food. Maybe he didn't like the food. And he always readily ate treats, and ate fine by dinner time.

5. This up and down pattern of feeling off and then feeling better, eating then not eating, gave us a false sense that he was getting better. Looking at his overall trend, however, we had decided that he should be checked out soon to find out what was going on.

6. Saturday he came upstairs to wake us up, as had been his pattern. He then trotted downstairs and we let him outside and he seemed fine. When he came inside, he refused his food. I called the vet and made an appointment.

Moments later--and I mean just moments--he was lying on the front porch, very still. I got his leash and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk--something that usually elicits elation--and nothing. He didn't respond at all. Immediately, we rushed him to the emergency vet.

There, in a very short time, the doctors did bloodwork, xrays and ultrasounds and gave us the diagnosis-- hemangiosarcoma. A tumor on his spleen. And blood in his stomach. It had ruptured. The vet was very, very clear. Ike was in bad shape. Surgery to remove the spleen could be done, and was the only way to tell for sure if the tumor was benign or malignant. But of all the cases she's seen that presented themselves like Ike's, and had ruptured like Ike's, they were almost always malignant. And if she removed the spleen, the cancer came back in a very short time. One time it was only 10 days. Other times it was a couple weeks to two months. Even with chemotherapy after surgery, the prognosis was poor. And the surgery would be around $5000. I don't have $5000, but I would have done it. I would have, for Ike. We asked the vet if there was any chance it was benign. She said no. Given that there was really no hope, we had no choice but to do the one very difficult almost impossible thing that we were totally unprepared to do. I won't go into details about that, and many of you know from your own experiences how devastating it is to go through. We held him, loved him, cuddled him, told him he was a good boy, kissed him and said goodbye, run free, see you at the bridge.

Here are some facts ***not intended to substitute for your veterinarian's opinion***
1. Not all masses on the spleen are cancerous.
2. Hemangiosarcoma is very invasive and there may be no clinical signs until the dog suddenly dies.
3. Golden retrievers, along with other breeds such as German shepherds, Boxers, English setters, Labrador retrievers are more likely to get hemangiosarcoma.
4. The up and down symptoms we observed are due to the fact that the mass is bleeding, and then the dog recovers temporarily as new blood cells are made.
5. Symptoms include:
slight lethargy
loss of appetite
nose bleeds
mild anemia

6. Upon rupture, symptoms include:
pale tongue and gums
rapid heart rate

7. Treatment options include:
blood transfusion
but prognosis is poor and life expectancy even with treatment is about 3 months.

8. Prevention includes:
Breeds that are predisposed to this may benefit from yearly ultrasounds.
The vet may routinely palpate the abdomen to check for masses.
Routine bloodwork in predisposed breeds may help identify possibility of tumor.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What Are the Small Pockets on Your Cat’s Ear?


A cat’s sense of hearing is much better than that of a human. A human ear can hear sounds of very low frequency of 20 Hertz to a very high frequency of 20,000 Hertz. Cats’s hearing is about the same on the low end, but they can hear high pitched sounds of up to 100,000 Hertz. Everything about a cat’s ear is designed by nature to aid her in hunting, and that includes the ability swivel her ears. But what is the purpose of those small pockets on the side of your cat’s ear?

Anatomy of the feline ear

Your cat’s ear, just like a human ear, has three main parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The outer ear is made up of the pinna, which is the large triangular part, and the ear canal, which normally has few hairs and is white or pink in color. The middle ear is contained in a small bony pocket at the base of the skull and can’t be seen from the outside. The inner ear contains the actual organ of hearing (organ of Corti). This is where sound waves transmitted through the middle ear are converted to nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. The inner ear also contains three small fluid-filled canals set at angles to each other that are responsible for the sense of balance.


Henry’s Pockets

As we know, cats are mysterious creatures, and the small pockets on the side of your cat’s ear, also known as “Henry’s Pockets,” are one of those mysteries nobody seems to quite understand. They are a normal part of a cat’s ear anatomy, but seem to have no known function. One theory, according to Wikipedia, is that the pockets  aid in the detection of high-pitched sounds by attenuating lower pitches, especially when the ear is angled. So perhaps these pockets help your cat hear the mouse before she can smell or see it.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How Would Your Cat’s Carrier Fare in a Car Crash?


This post is sponsored by Sleepypod

For most cat parents, putting a cat into the carrier is stressful. We may try to train our cats to accept the carrier, we may try to manage our own energy so that our cats don’t pick up on our stress, we may use calming remedies such as Stress Stopper and Feliway, but the reality is that, while all of these help, it’s still going to be a challenging experience for most of us. But have you ever given any thought to whether your cat’s carrier is safe, should you get into an accident? Do you know which carriers are safe and which aren’t? Do you know what the safest place in the car for your carrier is?

According to the Center for Pet Safety, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety, pet travel carriers can offer distraction prevention, which is important to prevent accidents. However, proper pet passenger restraint is critical for successful crash protection. Carriers that are not structurally sound or have insufficient connection strength can directly affect the safety of the pet, and they place human vehicle occupants at risk of injury, should an accident occur.

In 2015, the Center for Pet Safety performed an independent study of carriers that claim “testing,” “crash testing,” or “crash protection” in their marketing materials. The purpose of the study was to

  • Independently evaluate the current-state travel carrier products and carrier connection products that claim “testing”, “crash testing” or “crash protection.”
  • Examine the safety, structural integrity and crashworthiness of carriers where the manufacturer makes no claims of “testing”, “crash testing” or “crash protection.”
  • Determine top performing carrier brand(s).

CPS does NOT use live animals in their testing. They use crash test dummies that simulate the dimensions, weight proportions and articulations of a feline or canine body.


The study results may surprise you. Most of us would probably think that hard-sided carriers are safest in a crash, right? But that’s not necessarily true.

Top performing carriers

In July of 2016, CPS published the first Crash Test Protocol and Ratings Guidelines for Pet Carriers. The Top Performing Carriers from the study were the Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock and the PetEgo Jet Set Forma Frame Carrier with ISOFIX Latch Connection. Additionally, later that month Sleepypod voluntarily certified their entire carrier lineup with Center for Pet Safety.

If you’re not in a position to purchase a new carrier right now, Center for Pet Safety Founder Lindsey Wolko has this advice for you: “Don’t use the seatbelt to strap in the carrier. Place plastic carriers and soft-sided carriers on the floor of the vehicle behind the front driver or passenger seats.” Wolko admits that it’s counterintuitive, but the two crash test videos she shared with me, one for a soft-sided carrier (featuring Crash Test Kitty), one for a hard carrier, offer convincing evidence. Warning: even though the videos use crash test dummies, they may be disturbing to watch for some readers.

For more information about the Center for Pet Safety, and to support their important work, please visit their website.


Sleepypod: Safety Matters

Sleepypod understands how important your pets are to you, which is why safety is their top priority. Their Pet Passenger Restraint System (PPRS) is a safety system designed by Sleepypod to secure a pet in a vehicle and restrict harmful movement resulting from a sudden vehicle stop or frontal collision. Every Sleepypod carrier and harness includes PPRS components and features to improve pet passenger safety.

In addition to participating in CPS’s survey, Sleepypod has their own Safety Test Program, which requires that every single one of their products meets the highest standards. All of their tests are performed at accredited testing and research locations.

Sleepypod has recorded multiple auto accidents without injuries to pets using one of its carriers or safety harnesses. All accident information was voluntarily shared with Sleepypod by its customers.

Sleepypod will even replace or offer a replacement discount on any carrier damaged in an accident, regardless of the brand.

For more information about Sleepypod’s carriers, and to purchase, please visit their website.

FTC Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, which means that I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see products or services featured on this site that I believe are of interest to our readers.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Goodbye, Ike. Run Free.

It is with the deepest sadness that I have to share that we had to say goodbye to Ike on Saturday. He was 10 years old. He was a good boy.

Ike's Purpose
Ike had many jobs to do here on earth, and he did them all without us asking. We adopted him when he was seven years old, and he knew that in order to stay with us, his first job was to get along with Kelly, our bossy female spaniel. From the start he was a gentleman and always let her have her way.

His next job was to help my husband Mike recover from a life-threatening illness. When Mike came home from the hospital after 41 days, Ike provided TLC, the most powerful medicine around, especially when administered by a warm and furry canine companion.

On a daily basis, he kept me company as I worked from home, and was the best office-mate ever. Then he became a certified therapy dog, giving unconditional love to all he met.

Finally, as our 16-year old Kelly became blind, deaf and in the throes of dementia, he stepped in and guided her every step, slept beside her, and became her therapy dog. Kelly-the-boss-dog depended upon Ike's gentle support.

But most of all, the job he did best--and the job he loved the most--was walking with us, sitting beside us, letting us scratch his ears, and just being with us. And oh, he was so good at it.

Run free, Ike
Crossed over rainbow bridge March 18, 2017 (10 yrs old)
Ike died of hemangiosarcoma--a ruptured bleeding tumor on his spleen. This article calls it "the silent killer."
Here are some pictures of Ike doing what he did best--loving us every day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

How the Assisi Loop Helped a Cat Run Again After Amputation Surgery


This post is sponsored by Assisi Animal Health

When your cat is extremely ill or in pain, there’s probably nothing you wouldn’t try to get him or her to stop hurting. Unfortunately, treating pain in cats is often challenging. For starters, cats are masters at masking pain. Then, once pain is diagnosed, there are very few medications that are approved for long-term use in cats that don’t also carry some serious risks.

As an alternative to pharmaceuticals, many cat owners have turned to non-drug modalities like Reiki and acupuncture.  Another therapy that is garnering more widespread use is targeted pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (tPEMF™). This therapy can benefits cats with pain associated with arthritis, pancreatitis, wounds, or post-surgical swelling as well as many inflammatory conditions.

What is targeted pulsed electromagnetic field therapy?

tPEMF, which was first studied in the 1970s and is FDA-cleared for use in humans, uses low-level pulses of electromagnetic energy to stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms to help relieve pain and swelling.

Assisi Animal Health created the Assisi Loop, a non-pharmaceutical, non-invasive device that is well tolerated by most cats. In fact, many cats really enjoy receiving Loop treatments. Because the Loop stimulates the body’s own healing process, rather than introducing a new substance (like a medication), even a sensitive cat body can handle it easily.


The Loop’s most famous feline patient

The Loop’s most famous patient is Lil BUB. BUB was born with several genetic mutations, including a shorter lower jaw and no teeth. She also has dwarfism, which means she will stay kitten-sized for her entire life, and she is the only cat in recorded history born with a rare bone condition called “osteopetrosis”. When BUB began to lose mobility and soon was hardly able to walk, her “dude,” Mike Bridavsky, was worried that she might have to be euthanized. Mike heard about the Loop from a fan, and was shocked by the improvement in BUB after he began using it. Now, BUB has gone from being practically immobile to playing, running, jumping, and climbing the stairs.

How the Loop is helped Simba after he had to have his front leg amputated


Simba is a one-year-old Siamese who was found at about 6-7 weeks old dragging his right front leg due to a brachial plexus injury. The brachial plexus is the network of nerves that sends signals from the spine to shoulders, legs and paws. In a brachial plexus injury, these nerves are stretched, compressed, or in the most serious cases, ripped apart or torn away from the spinal cord. Simba’s vet in Texas was planning to amputate his leg if he didn’t start using it in two weeks. Colleen Gately wanted to give him a chance to heal. “I adopted him and flew him to California for treatment at UC Davis’ Integrative Medicine Service.” For about 8-9 months, Simba  received electrical stimulation therapy, cold laser treatment, and water therapy. He was also treated with the Assisi Loop. Despite some improvement, Simba had to have his leg amputated.


“We used the Loop before amputation to help his injured shoulder,” said Colleen. Simba did regain some feeling to his elbow and walked on his wrist. The Loop was also used immediately after his leg amputation. “I instructed the hospital (UC Davis) to ensure his Loop was reset every hour while he was in the hospital after surgery.” said Colleen. “When we got home, I did the same.” SImba stunned his doctors when he wanted to get up to run about 4-5 hours after surgery (and 4-5 loop treatments). He healed very quickly – almost too quickly. “He was running and jumping.” said Colleen. “It was hard to contain him so he wouldn’t bust open his incision!”


Since Simba is a very active cat, it was a bit challenging to get him to lay still for the treatments. “I put it on him while he sleeps and he doesn’t move,” said Colleen. Simba had 3-5 treatments a day the first week post-surgery.”I believe it helped him heal as quickly as he did after surgery,” said Colleen. “I don’t think he would have healed so quickly without the Loop.” Colleen uses the Loop on his left leg  now, since it does the work of two legs. “I put it on his left front shoulder since it bears all the weight in front.” she says. “We do 1-2 treatments per day.”

The Loop comes in two models. The Assisi Loop 2.0 offers a minimum of 150 15-minute treatments, the Assisi Loop 2.0 Auto-Cycle offers a minimum of 100 15-minute treatments. One Assisi Loop can last anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months, depending on the condition being treated and the number of treatments required per day.

For more information about how the Loop could help your cat, visit Assisi Animal Health’s website, contact them via email at, or call 866-830-7342.

FTC Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Assisi Animal Health, which means I was compensated to feature this content. Regardless of payment received, you will only see topics on this site that I believe are of interest to my readers.

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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Meet Me at the Orlando Cat Café


I’m excited to announce that I’ll be at the Orlando Cat Cafe on March 21. I’ll be selling and signing copies of my two newest books, Tortitude: The BIG Book of Cats with a BIG Attitude, and Purrs of Wisdom: Enlightenment Feline Style. And if you already have copies of my books, including my older ones, you’re welcome to bring them with you for me to sign.

The Orlando Cat Café is both a cozy coffeehouse with comfortable furniture, premium coffee, tea and pastries, and 12 to 15 cats roaming freely in the spacious 1,000 square foot Cat Play Area/Adoption Area. For a small entry fee, guests can bring their beverage and food and pet and cuddle all of our feline residents. But if you want to grab your coffee and go, that’s fine as well. The cat café has a separate entrance to comply with health and food safety compliance guidelines. You can also choose to enjoy your latte in the coffee shop and watch the playful antics through a viewing window into the Cat Play Area.


These are just some of the cats available for adoption at the Orlando Cat Cafe

Orlando Cat Cafe Book Signing
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
4:30PM to 6:00PM

For more information, please visit

Also at the Orlando Cat Cafe on March 21:
Proactive Healthcare for Cats featuring Healthy Cat Coach Jodi Ziskin

I’m delighted to announce that the Orlando Cat Cafe will also be hosting my dear friend Jodi Ziskin. Jodi is passionate about pet nutrition and offers seminars and private consultations to help your pets thrive. She will be speaking about how being proactive can be key in avoiding or identifying health issues before they balloon into chronic problems. The seminar will begin at 6:00pm and run for about an hour. For more information, please visit the Healthy Pet Coach website. (Please note that there is a $10 fee to attend the seminar, but there is no fee to attend my book signing.)

Conscious Cat Sunday will return next week

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