Beware of Shopping Bags


My wife bought some gifts Saturday evening and was given a large shopping bag to carry them in. When we got home Frankie was immediately interested in getting inside the bag. So much so that I had to move the bag to the bedroom where he couldn’t get to it.

I don’t know what happened after that. I’m sure Rose probably went through the bag and took out whatever was not meant as a gift. Whatever she did, she moved the bag and set it on the floor next to her closet.

We went out for lunch today and shortly after we returned we heard a commotion in the bedroom. It sounded like Frankie knocked the bag off the dresser, where I thought it still was, but the noise didn’t stop. Soon we saw Floki racing down the hallway with a large bag attached to him.

He ran up onto the table and then down under the table and then into the living room. We tried to stop him but he was completely freaked out. At one point the bag ripped and most of it fell away but there remained a large piece still attached to him. He jumped onto the coffee table and then up onto the sofa where he ran across the back of it and then back down. He then ran into the Florida room. I followed him out there and closed the door. He stopped on one of the cat perches and I tried to get the bag off him but the handle was around his neck and under his right armpit. I couldn’t pull it off.

I called out to Rose, “Can you give me the scissors?!” She immediately got them and brought them too me. Unfortunately, As soon as I tried to cut the handle the scissors broke. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep Floki calm for very much longer but then I remembered I had another pair of scissors nearby so I grabbed those and cut the handle off.

Below is a video of the last part of this drama. There might be some mild cursing so turn the volume down if that offends you.

Floki immediately jumped down and went into the cubby hole at the bottom of one of the perches. There we could see that he had a large amount of drool coming from his mouth. I assumed that is what happens after spending a long two minutes frightened out of your wits.

Fortunatly he seemed to recover quick and was napping next to me not long after the incidence.

Bag handles are very dangerous for cats. I have known this for a long time. Probably since Chris was young and almost got stuck in a bag handle.

At the time I thought it was funny but if it happens when nobody is around it could be life threatening, especially if the cat freaks out like Floki did. If we were not around and if that was a canvas bag it would not have ripped and would have eventually hooked on something and with Floki in a state of panic he might have been strangled. It is a scary thought.

Most of the time I do a good job keeping bag handles away from the cats when I am not around. I fold the canvas bags so they are not an enticement and I cut the handles off the paper bags I get at whole foods if they don’t go to the trash or recycling right away. Sometimes I do let them play but only if I am there watching.

On a side note, you may be wondering about the video. I saw this camera on Amazon on sale for under $20 so I thought I would buy it. I wanted something I could leave on so I can check up on the cats when we go to Germany as well as something I can use for security. The camera I bought takes relatively good quality videos for the price but it has issues that make it a bad buy.

It not only saves the videos in a format that my computer does not recognize but it puts every little clip in a separate folder. I can only view them using my phone and if I want to save it I can’t just download it I have to play it and hit the record button while playing. It then saves an mp4 file that has the audio and video out of sync. You wouldn’t believe the trouble I had getting them back in sync before uploading to YouTube. After uploading I noticed the end is further out of sync than the beginning. Lately I haven’t been using the camera but fortunately I decided to plug it in before we went to lunch.

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One Small Poop for Cat, One Giant Leap for Cat Health


Recently I recieved microbiome test kits for pets from a company called NonNomNow. The test kits are called “Insights” and I got them at no cost to me in exchange for an honest review. You can read about why I think testing the microbiome is important on my previous post about this product here.

The kits arrived about ten days ago but it took that long for me to actually witness a cat pooping. Finally, this morning I saw Chris in the box. I wanted to retrieve his poop before he buried it but I was two seconds too slow.

The kit comes with two swabs and two vials. I was momentarily confused by that but then I assumed there were extras in case of mistakes. After reading the directions I saw that this was the case. The kit also comes with a small resealable bag to put the sample in and a pre-labeled return envelope. It also comes with a card that has the registration number on it and a place to write your pet’s name in case you have more than one pet like I do.

Once you have acquired the poop, the next step is to insert the cotton swab into it and rotate. If needed you can use it as a scoop to get about a pea-size piece.

Then place the tip of the swab in the vial, which contains a small amount of liquid, and then push down on the top of the swab. This will eject the tip.

The next step is to screw on the lid and shake. Then put the vial in the enclosed resealable bag.

At this point the directions say to apply the barcode sticker to the bag but the sticker came pre-applied. This concerned me a little but I assumed the directions were written at a time when the label came separate. The next step is to place the bag in the supplied envelope and seal it.

Finally, go to the website listed on your card to register your test kit.

Once registered the only thing left to do is drop off your test kit at the post office and wait for the results, which should take two to five weeks. When the results come back I will share them with you as well as my thoughts about it.

What do you think? Is this something you would be willing to try?

Photo Friday: Frankie Escapes Again


Frankie ran out the door last week when I opened it for the UPS guy. At first he stayed close and dared me to catch him. He even stuck his tongue out at me as if he thought he couldn’t be caught. He was right.

Cat Frankie with his tongue out

I put my phone away and casually walked towared Frankie but he darted off and dissapeared. I decided to wait for him outside so I let Chris out and the two of us waited together.

Cat Chris rolling on driveway.

Since it was hot outside we only lasted about fifteen minutes. I then brought Chris in and walked around looking for Frankie with no luck. I gave up after thirty minutes had gone by. Ten minutes after that Frankie was outside the door panting and wanting to come in.

NomNomNow’s Microbiome Test Kit


Recently I saw on the blog “Cat Chat with Caren and Cody” a post about a microbiome testing kit called “Insights” from the company NomNomNow. You may remember I reviewed their cat food which I thought was a healthier option than commercial canned food. I commented on the blog that I thought the Microbiome test was a useful idea and was then contacted by NomNomNow about doing an honest review in exchange for test kits.

I really did think it was a very useful test and I would like to find one for humans too. I have been learning about natural health for over a decade and I have learned that your microbiome is the core of good health. If your microbiome is healthy, you are healthy and vise versa.

In case you haven’t heard the term before, your microbiome is the collection of organisms that inhabit humans and animals alike. These organisms, which include bacteria, fungi and viruses, perform vital functions in our bodies. In humans, these organisms actually outnumber the total number of human cells in the body. Probably their most important contribution is that they help us to digest our food and assimilate the nutrients from that food. If you don’t have a good balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut, you won’t be able to process food properly. This can not only lead to loss of essential vitamins and minerals but the undigested food can get into the blood and be treated like a foreign invader, causing inflammation and a host of health issues. This can also lead to overweight as excess toxins that can’t be processed by the liver are stored in fat cells.

So you can see why knowing the state of your pets gut health can allow you to make informed decisions about what you can do next to improve your pets overall health. You could also provide this information to your vet but I don’t know how well veterinarians are trained in understanding gut health. Human doctors that prescribe antibiotics with reckless abandon don’t seem to have a clue. Antibiotics kill both the bad and good bacteria and they are often the main culprit in throwing the microbiome out of whack. Often, a general probiotic can help but knowing the exact state of your pet’s microbiome can help you, and hopefully your informed vet, formulate a specific treatment plan. You can then retest to see how it is working. If you want more information, there are several articals on the NomNomNow website that you can read here.

Our kits arrived on Wednesday and the cats were interested in it before I even opened the box.

Floki and Frankie inspect the box from NomNomNow

Frankie didn’t even give me a chance to remove the contents.

The box included three tests kits and a couple of samples of food. This was probably why they were so interested in the unopened box.

NomNomNow Microbiome testing kits and treats

Once I removed the contents Chris became very interested in the box.

He tried very hard to dig his way through. Perhaps he thought the treat factory was on the other side.

The treat samples that were in the box were labeled “Chicken, Nothing Else” and “Beef, Nothing Else.” I opened the chicken and dumped it out for our cats to try. It was basically chicken jerkey and Chris was very interested, which was surprising considering Chris is missing eight teeth. The pieces, I thought, were too big and I decided to break them up after I already put them out. Floki was also interested but Frankie seem only mildly interested, almost indifferent. I guess you can’t please everyone. Perhaps he would have been more interested if Floki wasn’t there stealing his food.

The next morning I saw a large piece of partially chewed jerky on the floor, which was surprising because I thought I broke up all the pieces and I thought they finished eating them all. I walked into the Florida room and found another large piece of jerky next to a ripped up bag. I guess I forgot to put the beef jerky treats away.

Now I have to get poop samples to send in. This has proved to be difficult with three cats. I can’t just pull a sample out of the litter box because I need to know which cat left it. So far, after almost three days, I have not witnessed a cat pooping. Once I get a sample I will write about what needs to be done to prepare the sample and send it in.

Photo Friday: Classic Cuteness


When I fould the photo for last week’s Photo Friday post, I also came across another photo of Tigger, Chris, and Abbey, but this one is dated a year earlier, May 07, 2010.

L-R – Tigger, Chris and Abbey

Chris is on my lap now but ten minutes ago he had his head on Floki. I think his affectionate personality is very cute. What do you think?

Cat and Mouse


Floki is over three years old but he is still like a kitten when it comes to his favorite mouse. You may remember this post when I talked about Floki’s favorite mouse and my search to find a replacement. Well, I did find something similar that he likes just as much and bought a bag with a half dozen or more of them. We released about four of them into the wild and Floki plays with them quite often. Many times he will carry one onto our bed and play with it there. I have seen as many as three of his mice on our bed at the same time. In the following video, I see two of his mice.

I think it’s great that Floki plays a lot. If he is not playing with his mouse that he is playing tag with Frankie. Chris used to be a world class player but now he is more of a watcher.

Ear Polyps, Arthritis, and 19 Pounds


What does ear polyps, arthritis, and 19 pounds have in common? If you guessed Chris then you would be right.

Chris has been shaking his head a lot lately indicating the problem with his ears has become bad again. We had to clean and medicate his ears last time he had that problem and he did not make that easy for us. I even brought him to the vet a month ago so they could clean his ears. I heard him in the other room screaming like he was being tortured. The first (or second) time I brought him in for that problem was when they discovered he needed some teeth extracted. I asked if they could start me off by cleaning his ears but Chris gave them such a hard time that they decided to wait until he was under anesthesia for his teeth.

The other issue with Chris started about a month ago. He stopped jumping on my lap while I was sitting at my desk. Instead he would claw at my legs and I would have to pick him up. After that I noticed him limping slightly. It was time to make an appointment for him at the vet.

I brought him in on Friday. The vet tech brought us into an exam room where she tried to get Chris out of his carrier so she could weigh him but Chris was not budging. I tried to help by tipping the carrier at an angle but he managed to hold on. She suggested taking the top off but the carrier I used had about fifteen screws and I said it was too much work to take it apart and put it back together. I asked if she could weigh him in the carrier and then weigh the carrier later and subtract. She thought that was a good idea and put him on the scale, carrier and all. I don’t remember the total weight but I do remember saying, “I sure hope this carrier weighs more than ten pounds.”

She left us in the room and I put Chris up on the table and opened the carrier door. He just stayed there. I tried to coax him out but he was staying put.

This is unusual behavior for Chris. In the past, he loved to get out and explore the exam room. A stubborn stationary cat was not his style. As recently as last December he was exploring the vet’s exam room.

After a while the tech came back in and we decided to remove the top of the carrier. She started removing screws on one side and I did the other. When we had him out I gave her the carrier to weigh. She came back with a weight of 19.6 pounds for Chris. Holy crap. The last time he was weighed he was 17.9 pounds and I thought that was bad.

I have been trying to get Chris’s weight down for a while now but it keeps going up. For years I have been gradually reducing the amount of dry food he is allowed to eat. I make a homemade food for them that consists mostly of organic chicken along with a high quality supplement blend. I want Chris to eat more of that but he rarely eats more than a few bites before walking away. Sometimes I find myself hand feeding it to him just to get him to eat some of it. Frankie and Floki have no trouble finishing their plates.

Because he doesn’t eat enough homemade food I do supplement with dry food. I have tried not giving him anything else but that does not get him to eat more of the good food, he just annoys everyone with his pathetic crying. I believe the dry food is largely responsible for his weight gain and these last couple of days I have restricted the dry food even more. Now, whenever he is not sleeping, he holds a vigil at the food bowl, talking to anyone that will listen to his sad story.

Anyway, getting back to the story, The vet examined his ears and talked about the polyps that we already knew about. He said they were bad and restricted airflow which promoted bacteria growth and infection. He said he was going to give me more ear cleaner and medicine. The ear cleaner needed to be used every other day and the medicine every day.

He also recommended that they surgically remove the polyps. I asked if they might return after the surgery and he said that they could. I asked how much the surgery would cost and he didn’t know. They would have to get back to me on that.

He then checked his paws and legs for any sign of injury but could find none. I told them he had a slight limp but didn’t know what foot seemed to be the problem. We put him down to watch him walk but he didn’t show a sign of limping at that time. I wished I had thought of videoing him walking at home but I didn’t.

The vet said that he could have some arthritis. He said it was even more likely because Chris was overweight. He recommended I buy Cosequin for him but they didn’t have any in stock. The vet tech gave me a card and said I could order it from their online store but I had no desire to pay double retail because it was coming from the vet so when I got home I looked on Amazon instead. I found Cosequin capsules and Cosequin chews. I wasn’t sure which would be better or easier. The chews seemed easier but if he didn’t like them they would be worthless. The capsules sprinkle on their food but since I have three cats it’s hard to know who is getting how much. I decided to by both and see which I like better.

Back at the vet we waited for quite a while.

Cat Chris at Vet

Finally the vet tech came back with the medicine but they still did not have a surgery estimate so I paid the $150 bill and went home.

That email with the estimate came Saturday afternoon. For $588.43 Chris can be free of polyps for an undetermined amount of time. For now, we will give him the medication. If that works, the surgery might not be necessary at this time. If it doesn’t work, we will probably have to have it done.