Photo Friday: Flower Inspector


Those flowers are for Mom, Frankie.

I’m just inspecting them for quality. Mom deserves the best.

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Chris’s Microbiome Report


Recently I was given microbiome test kits, called Insights, from the company NomNomNow in exchange for an honest review. The first test kit I sent back was for Chris and I just received his results. If you would like you can go back and read my first and second post about this subject.

As I said before, the microbiome is a collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live inside our gut and are essential for human and animal life. The composition and quantity of these microbes determines gut health and gut health is largely responsible for our overall health.

According to the NomNomNow website, the microbiome of humans has been studied much more intensively than that of cats and dogs. Nevertheless, I would assume that we are similar but not exactly the same.

I would like to go through this report and give you my thoughts but it is fairly long so if you need to use the bathroom, go now. I’ll wait.

Are you ready? Here we go.

When you send in the sample you can enter your pet’s description on their website and connect it with the sample number. When you get your report, it is personalized for your pet.

I must say that these first numbers are a bit unclear to me, even after reading the report. For instance, I don’t know what the number 17 represents. Chris has 9 out of 17 what? Chris has 2 out of 3 what? I suppose I should be content knowing he is in the average range but I do like specific details probably more than the average person.

This next section is the meat and potatoes of the report.

This shows that Chris has an over abundance of one type of bacteria. If we click on the green section we get more information.

According to the report, Chris has an abundance of Bacteroides, which I will discuss later. The rest of his microbiome seems relatively normal but because there are too many of one bacteria, the rest are equally diminished, with some exceptions.

The report lists the main groups of microbes followed by sub-groups. Below it talks about Firmicutes.

Chris is in the normal range for this group but at the lower end of normal for all of them.

Actinobacteria is the next group.

It says that “Increased abundances have also been associated with weight loss.” Since Chris is overweight, I wonder if his decreased amount of these bacteria is partly to blame.

Next up is Fusobacteria.

Chris’s level of this one is high although there seems to be little information about it. Wikipedia classifies it as a pathogen but that is for humans and it seems to be more related to oral health. Plus, there are different strains so there seems to be no point in speculating about this without more information.

Bacteroidetes are next and one in the group Chris has collected like a squirrel collects nuts.

The description says that “some members of this group metabolize sources of complex carbohydrates.” This may be elevated because Chris is a dry food junkie. In some ways this could be a good thing. Since Chris is so stubborn about eating his wet food, this bacteria may be necessary to help him digest the dry food, which has more carbohydrates. Of course, this is just speculation.

The last one is Proteobacteria.

No report was given for Chris on this microbe. I don’t know if that is because Chris does not have it in his system or if they don’t test for it at this time. It could also be a flaw in the reporting software. I don’t know.

I went through the bar graph at the top, one at a time, looking for Proteobacteria but couldn’t find it. That probably means it is not tested for but it does bring up a problem with the way the report is presented. The upper bars become very small and it is difficult to click on every one. I understand they want to present the information in an easy to understand way but they should also provide something like a spreadsheet that lists all the results in a format that is easy to see.

The report then shows Chris’s Microbiome Diversity.

The diversity is how many different types of bacteria are present. Generally, a diverse variety is a good thing and Chris is about average here although his evenness score is a bit off, probably because of the too many Bacteroides in his system. The good news is his overall diversity is in the normal range.

I am generally encouraged by the report but since I want the best health possible for Chris and all my cats I need to change a few things.

First, I need to somehow get Chris to eat more wet food. It’s not easy. Sometimes I have to scoop up his food in my finger and let him lick it off. This sometimes works but usually only for a few fingers full. It also falls apart when Frankie sees what I am doing and comes over to investigate.

Second, I should feed them more vegetables. Not much, though, Since cats are carnivores there natural diet would only consists of the vegetables found in the stomachs of their prey. Even so, I give them a raw meat diet that only has meat and a pre-mix supplement. I was feeding them both the raw and the NomNomNow meals which contain vegetables but stopped when they suddenly became bored with it. I might start up again and give it to them once every two or three days to keep them interested. I also started adding pumpkin to their raw food. This is a good source of fiber (as are most vegetables) and fiber feeds the good bacteria. This bacteria food is also known as a prebiotic.

Third, I plan on purchasing a probiotic that I can add to their food. I did this in the past and want to start giving it to them again. This time I think I will buy the NomNomNow brand. They seem like a good, trustworthy company and I like that their probiotics are specifically for cats or dogs, not both. I always wondered how effective a one size fits all probiotic could be.

I know it is a lot of information to digest but what do you think? Would you consider testing your pets microbiome?

Goodbye, Pumpkin


My wife and I visited my mother-in-law about a week and a half ago. We sat down in her Florida room and she picked up her cat, Pumpkin, and put him on my lap.

Pumpkin has always been a friendly cat and would often sit next to me while I petted him but he was never much of a lap cat. I put him on my lap a few times but he would usually get down after less than five minutes, usually sooner. This time he stayed on my lap for a long time.

During that time we talked about how he wasn’t doing very well. My mother-in-law knew his time was coming to an end. She faced a difficult decision. One we have all faced before and can understand well. How long do we wait? How bad does it need to be before we are ready to let go? It is a decision everyone hopes they will never have to make.

She mentioned that Pumpkin was acting erratically, like he was disoriented, and thought he might be getting dementia. I thought of my father. During his last two days his mind became increasingly confused, but that was not dementia.

After a while Pumpkin got off my lap and went into the house. On the way in he bumped his head on the door frame. Later we noticed he was lying between the wall and the living room sofa, like he was hiding. Animals do that when they are sick. My dog Tasha did that before she died.

Yesterday I got word that Pumpkin’s time here on Earth was over. It was very sad, only comforted by the thought that ten of his twelve years were spent in a loving home.

The vet said that Pumpkin had become blind, which explains why he bumped into the door. Loss of vision might also explain some of his erratic behavior as well.

To tell the story of Pumpkin it helps to go back to Tigger and Flash. in 2006, my mother-in-law adopted Tigger but the shelter called the next day wanting him back because his brother, Flash, was in great distress without him. She didn’t want two cats at the time and we didn’t want to send him back to the shelter so we adopted both of them.

Shortly after that, Rose’s mom adopted a Maine Coon cat and named him Monkey.

A few years later, about ten years ago, she was ready for another cat so she adopted Pumpkin, who was about two years old at the time. Monkey and Pumpkin did not always get along but they did have their moments.

A few years later Monkey died and it was just Pumpkin along with several strays that came around.

Pumpkin the cat
Pumpkin
cat pumpkin on my lap
cat pumpkin on my lap

The last two pictures make me wonder if I was wrong about him not being a lap cat.

Pumpkin was a very lovable cat and will be missed.

Photo Friday: Plant Lover


It has been a while since I let Frankie and Chris go outside because it has been so hot. I decided to get out with them very early on Friday before the outside oven was set to broil.

Frankie, for some reason, always seems very interested in plants.

I usually like to limit my Photo Friday Posts to one photo but sometimes more photos are needed to tell a story.

For example, this group of photos illustrates how Frankie’s initial curiosity . . .

. . . turned into a full fledged obsession with these plants.

Does anyone know what these plants are? I know Frankie seems to take an interest in several different kinds of plants but I don’t know if they have something in common that attracts cats.

Update: Thanks to Fran Hunne I found out this is a spider plant. I also found the following page that talks about why cats are interested in them: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/houseplants/spider-plant/spider-plants-cats.htm

Watching Fireworks With Chris


For Throwback Thursday I thought I would share this post about watching The Fourth of July fireworks with Chris in 2014.

Bad Cat Chris

We have unusual cats, especially Chris. There is just no better way to say that.

Yesterday we had a lot of company at our house and, as usual, Chris was up in everybody’s business. There is nothing surprising about that. Chris is a very social cat. What is a little surprising is what happened later.

We had planned on walking around the corner where we could watch the city fireworks display but a thunderstorm rolled in just before the fireworks were supposed to start. We sat on our patio as the wind pushed the rain through the screens. We were hoping it would be like a typical summer shower and be over quickly but it lasted long enough for us to give up on watching the fireworks.

Bad Cat Chris watching fireworksThen the rain ended as suddenly as it began and several locals began setting off their own fireworks that we could see from…

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Photo Friday: The New King of Heights


This was supposed to be last week’s post but I just realized I accidently published it as a page instead of a post. Oops.

I used to write about How Chris would manage to get up into almost impossible locations in our house (see here and here and here). Now he is more than ten years old and a few pounds heavier than he used to be. He also seems to have developed a bit of arthritis. Lately, I have to help him onto my lap sometimes.

Chris may be somewhat grounded but Frankie hasn’t lost a step. He is now going places that only Chris would have gone before.

Here he is on top of our cabinet. The height of the jump isn’t as impressive as the accuracy needed since it is a very narrow space and it seems like it would be easy to bang your head on the ceiling.

Who else has a cat that reaches for the sky?

50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Landing


Today marks 50 years since Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made that historic first moon walk. We would like to honor all the men and women who worked to make that increadable feat possible.

Our boys love a good adventure and would have probably signed up for the mission if they were human.

Since they weren’t around back then we were fortunate to have three brave and capable men to fill the role,

Commander Neil Armstrong, Command module pilot Michael Collins and Lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin

It was an exciting time to be alive. I just turned six at the time. While I remember watching the Apollo missions, my memory is a bit fuzzy and they all seem to blend together.

What about you. Who remembers this day? What were you doing and how did you feel?