Category Archives: Uncategorized

Photo Friday: The Irresistible Suitcase


I took out my suitcase the other day to start packing for our trip to Germany but Frankie immediately took over half of it. I didn’t mind since I didn’t plan on packing most of my clothes until just before leaving.

Eventually he fell asleep.

I know the technical quality of these photos is not great because of low light and a moving cat in the first two, but I don’t think many people will complain.

As a side note, we are leaving today and will be in Germany for about ten days. That is why I have not posted this week and probably will only post once more before coming home. We will be staying in Munich and Stuttgart while we are there. If anyone knows any cool day trips we can make, feel free to share it with us. We have some ideas but nothing set in stone.

Advertisements

Photo Friday: Cats on Film


I recently read a post on Cat Chat with Caren and Cody where she posted old photos of Cody as a kitten and apologized for the quality. It reminded me that most of the photos I took of my pets back in the days when I used film cameras were not that good. I was capable of good photography back then but pet photos were usually taken spur of the moment in bad lighting without much effort put into quality.

I did manage to find a group of photos taken January 20, 2010 that are not too bad. We were still living in South Carolina at the time and a coworker sold me his Canon SLR that he bought for school but never used after his class was over. I bought a roll of film to test it out and then sold it on Ebay. Here are some of the test photos.

This is Chris with one of the pacifiers he stole from visiting guests that had a baby.
Here is Abbey.
I have used this Photo of Abbey but I thought it was worth showing again.
This is Tigger and Abbey’s brother, Alex.
This is Flash, Tigger’s brother. He died three months later at less than six years old.

I know this is not my typical one-photo Friday post but I thought you might enjoy a glimpse into the past. It should be noted that we had two other cats, Sneakers and Princess. Sneakers went to live with my stepson, Nick, in 2007. He also took Princess when we moved to Myrtle Beach in 2009. Princess came back to us in 2010 but probably after these photos were taken.

Sneakers, Princess and Vinny, taken May 20, 2001. Vinny was no longer with us when we moved to SC.

Floki’s Microbiome Report


I waited a long time for Floki’s microbiome report from NomNomNow but did not see it in my email so I went looking. For some reason, you can create an account and log into NomNomNow’s website if you have subscribed to their meal program but if you order a microbiome test, your results come in an email and no login is required. I think this is a mistake. For one thing, having a universal account would be a good way for them to cross market their products but it would also be convenient for a customer to log in and have information about their pet available to them.

I had to take a different approach. Since I didn’t have an email about Foki, I found the email sent to me about Frankie and clicked on the link. The test result number was embedded in the URL so I just changed the last two numbers to correspond to Floki’s test. Thankfully I still had the card. I think the average consumer would have been on the phone with them asking what happened to their results.

I should mention that these tests were given to me in exchange for an honest review. If you wish to understand what the Microbiome test is for, please read my post NomNomNow’s Microbiome Test Kit. To learn about what the results mean, you can read my post Chris’s Microbiome Report. Today I just want to compare Floki’s results with Chris’s and Frankie’s.

Floki scored best on Composition, getting 10 out of 17 while Chris got 9 and Frankie got 7. In diversity Floki and Chris both scored 2 out of 3 and Frankie a 1 out of 3. All scored in the normal range for both. As I mentioned before, it is unclear what the numbers 17 and 3 represent or what the difference between composition and diversity is.

Chris’s gut bacteria was dominated by one specific type, Bacteroides (73%), while Frankie’s is dominated by two types, Bacteroides (46%) and an unclassified bacteria in Enterobacteriaceae family (29%). Floki is in between with a predominance of Bacteroides (51%). I think having too many of one type of bacteria is not ideal but it could also mean that type is needed more because of their diet, I don’t know.

Floki scored a bit better than Frankie and Chris in most, but not all, in the Firmicutes family. This may be good for cats that eat dry food. Floki eats a mix of homemade raw wet food and a good quality dry food.

Floki, Frankie and Chris all scored low in the Actinobacteria family. This could be because they do eat some dry food which is higher in carbohydrates.

The level of Fusobacteria in all of our cats is high but there is little information about it. so there is no point in speculating about weather this is good or bad.

Frankie and Chris are both low in Prevotella while Floki has moderate levels. All our cats are high in Bacteroides, with Chris being the highest and Frankie the lowest.

Floki scored highest in the richness category but they were about the same in evenness. Their overall diversity scores were almost identical. There is still a lot that is unknown about gut bacteria in pets and there are variables such as genetics and diet that may influence the level of benefit from each species of bacteria.

While all of our cats had scores that varied somewhat, generally they are pretty similar. I expected that since they do eat the same diet and live in the same house. I was waiting to see all of the reports before doing anything about it and now I think they might benefit from a probiotic supplement.

What do you think? Has anyone tested their pet?

I’m Volunteering Again


As some of you know, I found Chris in 2009 at a shelter that I volunteered for in Myrtle Beach. I left Florida and moved to Myrtle Beach in July of that year because my wife was offered a promotion to go there. I could only find a part-time job so I volunteered at the Grand Strand Humane Society to fill my time. I was not happy there, partly because I didn’t like that all of the 200 plus cats were kept separate in small cages, and partly because we were not able to take out more than one cat at a time and there was no way to know which cats had already been let ot that day and which had not. I did not feel very useful.

After a month or so I left the Humane Society and volunteered for a place called Sav-R-Cats. I liked it there because the cats were kept in groups in larger cages and most were let out into the large community area during the day. Some did not even have a cage and stayed out in the community area full time. I was also able to be more useful there. I set up their Petfinder profile and photographed the cats and put them on Petfinder. I also updated their website and created a brochure for them. In addition, I helped clean cages occasionally when they were at PetSmart, which is where I met Chris.

Sav-R-Cats Adoption Center – Not shown are larger, multi-cat enclosures to the right.

We moved back to Florida in late 2010. This was after the economy collapsed and I again could only find a part time job so I again signed up to be a volunteer at a place called Suncoast Animal League. I was only there for about a month when I was offered a full time job. I kept my part time job for awhile too so I had to give up the volunteering.

I now have two businesses that keep me fairly busy but also give me a lot of flexibility. I will be losing some of my work next month because the company is for sale so I decided to look into volunteering again. I signed up to be a volunteer at the SPCA many weeks ago. I chose the SPCA not for any particular reason except it is the closet shelter to my home.

After about three weeks, maybe more, I still had not heard back from the SPCA about my volunteer application. That is when Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas. I heard about volunteer crews that were being sent there to help out and I had a strong desire to be part of it. I knew that was impossible. People sent into disasters have training and experience so I decided to start at the bottom. I signed up with my local Red Cross.

About a week later, and within a couple of days of each other, I got a call from both the Red Cross and the SPCA. I did phone interviews with both and then went to an orientation with the Red Cross on Friday and then with the SPCA on Tuesday.

At the SPCA I was with one other new volunteer while we were shown how everything works. Most of the cats that are for adoption are kept in small groups of eight or less. Each group has their own room that is about half the size of a typical bedroom. While it is not ideal, it is way better than small, cramped cages. They do have the smaller cages but cats kept there are either in isolation for health reasons or they new intakes.

We were brought into one of the larger rooms and spent some time interacting with the cats there. There were two young ginger kittens and a black kitten that was a little older.

It was fun playing with the kittens but then we moved to another pod where there were two adults and an older kitten.

Both of the adult cats were loving the attention and the gold kitten was quite playful, when he wasn’t eating. After about ten minutes we realized there was another cat in the room, hiding in the cat perch tube.

This fellow was not exactly exited about us being there. Perhaps he, or she, just needs more time to get used to people.

It looks like I will now be helping out there every Monday and/or Tuesday afternoon. I am also on call tomorrow, Friday, for the Red Cross. I am a little nervous about that since I have had no training and don’t really know what to expect but going out on calls is the training so I also look forward to it.

I understand that many of the calls are for house fires. When someone’s home burns down they are put in a situation where they have nothing. The Red Cross helps by giving them access to money to buy clothes and stay at a hotel. It is only short term help but it is desperately needed and I look forward to playing my part.

Our New Cat Scratcher


We were finally able to catch Floki last week to bring him to the groomer to get his nails trimmed. Our last two attempts ended in Failure. With Floki, if you try to catch him and fail, his guard is up for the rest of the day, or longer.

After the second failed attempt we decided to order a new cat scratcher to help keep his nails from getting too long between groomer visits. The sisal scratchers seem to be more useful in directing scratching activity away from furniture but I have always questioned their ability to actually keep nails short.

About five years ago, maybe more, I read about an all wood scratcher that interested me. I knew it might work because several years earlier, our cat Vinny would get on top of my son’s guinea pig cage and scratch the wood. There was one spot with large gouges in the wood from Vinny’s scratching.

At the time I thought I would just save money and build it myself. It seemed simple enough. I thought I might even try angling it or making it horizontal since Vinny used a horizontal piece of wood to scratch on. Unfortunately, I ran into a problem I didn’t anticipate.

I didn’t want to use chemically treated wood, which could be bad for the cats if they ingest any of it. I also wanted a soft wood like cedar that would allow them to dig into it a little. My feeling was that a wood that was too hard would interest them as much as a steel scratching post. The problem I ran into was that you can’t go into a local hardware store and buy a 4×4 piece of wood that is soft or untreated. I did find a place online but I would have had to buy an entire pallet which I didn’t want to do. So instead of just buying the scratcher at the time, I just forgot about the whole thing until Floki reminded me that we needed something for him since getting his nails trimmed is way too much trouble.

I found the same product on Amazon that I saw years before. The price went up five dollars but considering the time that has passed I would say that is less than inflation. The product is a Natural Scratch 32″ Scratching Post. It should be noted that this is an affiliate link so if you buy a scratcher I will get a little over two dollars and will be able to retire early. Thanks in advance.

When it arrived, our cats were more interested in the box then they were anything else.

Putting it together is pretty simple. The two base pieces have cutouts that allow them to fit together like an “X.” All the pieces have predrilled holes so you just use the included screws and screw the base to the post.

There were two minor things that I didn’t like about it. First, there should have been a recess in the base so the screws would not stick out and scratch the floor. I compensated by screwing them in tight so they dug into the wood far enough to not be an issue but some people might not think about that. I suppose that could have been in the instructions but I’m sure I am not the only one who doesn’t read those things.

The other issue was that I thought two screws were not enough to hold the pieces together properly. I considered drilling two more holes and putting in two additional screws but decided to see how it held up with two screws. So far it seems fine.

The scratcher comes with a “mouse hole” at the top where you can put treats, catnip or toys. I chose to put catnip in the hole for the introduction.

It also comes with a cord that they call an antenna. It is something to encourage your cats to reach up and play.

Of our three cats, only Frankie used the scratcher as a scratcher. He seemed to understand what it was for right away while Chris, and to a lesser degree Floki, were more interested in the catnip that fell on the floor.

It has been a week since I put it together and Frankie continues to use it on a regular basis. I must admit that the instructions had advice for getting your cats to use it but that accidently ended up in the trash before I could read it. I have seen Floki use it a couple of times but not regularly. I have not seen Chris use it at all.

So far I would only rate this as a partial success but I think it takes time for the cats to get used to it and learn what it is for. I blame myself for not putting in the time to train our cats, or at least show them that they have an alternative to their other scratching posts. I also think that even though we bought this mostly for Floki, Frankie’s use of it has had unexpected benefits. Frankie is our resident sofa scratcher and I have not seen him scratch the sofa since I introduced the new scratching post. Hopefully that behavior will continue.

What do you think? Does anyone have a natural wood scratcher? Does it work for you?

Our 1000th Post


This is it. The big one zero zero zero. I never thought I would make it this far. Of course, it took me over seven years. Other blogs that I read accomplished that in far less time but, at the same time, many more blogs stopped far short of 1000 posts or seven years so I do feel like I have accomplished something.

The main thing that has kept my blog posts to less that three a week, besides my job, is that I have never participated in any regular blog hops. Not because I think there is anything wrong with them, but because I don’t want to make any commitments that I can’t keep. I do a Photo Friday every week and sometimes I feel rushed to do that. I am an absent-minded, fly by the seat of my pants kind of guy and I just don’t do well with schedules or things that require organization.

I thought I would share some of the stats from my last 1000 posts. Actually, it would be from my last 998 posts since I am writing this Thursday evening.

Total words written: 202990

Average number of words per post: 203

Followers: WordPress (608), Email(25), Facebook (2586), Twitter (956), Instagram (133). YouTube (104), I don’t have information on other blog readers.

Best day: February 14, 2017. WordPress does not give the total number of views for some reason. I posted this post for Valentine’s day. I didn’t think this post was anything out of the ordinary and am not sure why it was so popular. I suppose it is also possible that another previous post was being viewed that day but WordPress does not give that information either.

Happy valentine's day

Most viewed post:Are Ginger Cats Friendlier?” This was published August 9, 2013 and has 14,318 views.

Second Most Viewed Post:Feral Cat Ear Notching” published September 21, 2014. It has 6684 views.

Pumpkin the cat

The following are posts that I personally think are best for one reason or another.

Best Bad Cat Chris story: The Great Escape,” posted June 19, 2012.

Best Adventure Story: Surviving Hurricane Irma With Cats – Part One and Part Two.

Best Example of Chris’s “Badness”: Bad Cat Chris Versus Spray Bottle published August 14, 2012.

Bad Cat Chris and Chuck

Best Review Post: Kitty Kick Stix Review published August 22, 2017. I’m not saying this is the best product, although it is good, but the cats did their best to be cute and funny.

kitty kick stix

Most Useful Post: Basic Photography for Bloggers Published July 16, 2018. This is probably not useful to everyone but I think people unfamiliar with photography should read this.

High ISO shot of Cat Chris

Cutest Photo: This was a tough choice considering I have about 2500 photos, many of which are very cute. I chose this one of Frankie because it is the first one I think of when I think of cute cat photos. This photo was used in the post “Photo Friday: Under the Dresser” published on August 8, 2014.

Our cat Frankie under the dressor

Best Group Photo: This was taken on May 7, 2010 while we were still in Myrtle Beach. Alex is on the top and Tigger and Abbey were enjoying the second shelf together until Chris joined them. The photo was included in the post “What Goes Around, Comes Around” published on November 28, 2012.

Funniest Photo: This photo was taken April 4, 2010 and was used on the post “Everybody Loves Chris” published June 26, 2012.

Best All-Around Photo: I think this photo of Chris jumping down from a high window is my favorite for many reasons, not the least of which is perfect timing. This was included in “Chris’s Springboard” published January 1, 2013.

Chris jumping down from Window

What do you think? Do you have a favorite post or photo that you can remember?

Photo Friday: That Face


Frankie has got to be the cutest cat in the world.

I know that everyone out there who has a cat thinks that their cat is the cutest but the truth is, you are all wrong. It’s Frankie.

Okay! Okay! I was just kidding. Every cat is cute. I just happen to think that Frankie is the most photogenic of our three cats and would probably be even more photogenic if his lazy dad would clean off the eye boogers.

Frankie Versus Chris – The Microbiome Showdown


I recently received Frankie’s microbiome report from NomNomNow and thought I would compare his report to Chris’s. I wrote about Chris’s report here so if you haven’t seen it, it might be better if you look at that first. I don’t want to repeat it here but simply talk about the differences between the two reports I have so far. Floki’s report is not yet completed. As I mentioned before, I was given these test kits in exchange for an honest review.

I did not yet look at Frankie’s report except to take screen shots for this post so I will comment on each section individually as I compare the reports.

It looks like Chris scored a little better on Composition and Diversity getting 9 out of 17 and 2 out of three respectively but they both scored in the normal range. I did mention on Chris’s report that it was unclear what the numbers 17 and 3 represented but I didn’t mention that it is also unclear what the difference between composition and diversity is. I would think a good composition score means a high diversity.

Chris’s gut bacteria was dominated by one specific type, Bacteroides (73%), while Frankie’s is dominated by two types, Bacteroides (46%) and unclassified bacteria in Enterobacteriaceae family (29%). Normally I would say having two dominant bacteria is better than one but the Enterobacteriaceae family include pathogens such as Salmonella and E-coli. It also includes benign varieties as well so there is not enough evidence to make a judgement here.

Frankie scored in the low but normal range in the Firmicutes family. Chris scored higher but still relatively low.

Frankie and Chris both scored low in the Actinobacteria family. Since this bacteria is associated with weight loss, I made the comment that this might contribute to Chris’s weight gain but since Frankie is skinny I don’t know what to think.

Both Frankie’s and Chris’s level of Fusobacteria is high but there is little information about it. so there is no point in speculating about weather this is good or bad.

Frankie and Chris are both low in Prevotella and High in Bacteroides, with Chris being a little higher than Frankie in Bacteroides. Since they seem to help digest carbs and since both Chris and Frankie eat a fair amount of dry food, perhaps they are necessary. It should be noted that Frankie eats more wet food than Chris but he also tends to puke after eating wet food which then makes him eat more dry food because he is hungry.

Frankie scored a bit higher in the richness category than Chris did but they were about the same in evenness. Their overall diversity score was almost identical.

I see now that making this a competition was pointless for a couple of reasons. There is still a lot that is unknown about gut bacteria in pets and there are variables such as genetics and diet that may influence the level of benefit from each species of bacteria. If I had to pick a winner I would say that Chris’s microbiome seems slightly better than Frankie’s but they both could use improvement.

I still believe this test is useful since a lot is know about gut health and more is being learned everyday. The test also gives us a general sense of our pets overall gut health. For example, The dominance of one or two bacteria tells me I should supplement my cat’s diet with probiotics to help even that out. I mentioned before that I wanted to do that but delayed buying anything until after I sent Floki’s sample in.

I am interested to see Floki’s report. I think he eats (and keeps down) a higher percentage of wet to dry food and I wonder if that will make a difference on his report. I guess we will see.