Here is a photo of Flash and Alex. It was taken October 16, 2005, a few months after we adopted Flash and Tigger as kittens.
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?
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
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.
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.
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 Example of Chris’s “Badness”: Bad Cat Chris Versus Spray Bottle published August 14, 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What do you think? Do you have a favorite post or photo that you can remember?
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.
Here is an old photo of Flash, Tigger and Alex from January 2, 2006. Flash and Tigger lost their mother at a very young age and because of that, I assume, Tigger developed a need to suck on Flash’s belly like he was nursing. Sometimes when Tigger did that Flash would lick himself on the chest at the same time. Here, Alex joined in on the fun.
As they got older, Flash became increasingly irritated with Tigger and eventually put an end to the belly sucking.
Today is Ginger Cat Appreciation Day and we have loved and appreciated all of our ginger cats, starting with Tigger who we adopted in 2005.
After Tigger we adopted Chris in 2009 and you all know how that turned out.
2014 brought us Frankie who is both affectionate and naughty, like Chris only maybe not quite at Chris’s level.
I don’t think there is a need for Ginger Cat Appreciation Day since, I am sure, all of you with ginger cats already appreciate them.
After her beloved cat, Pumpkin, died, my mother-in-law decided to open her home to another cat in need. This is Finnegan.
He is another ginger boy like Pumpkin but he is also not like Pumpkin. Just like all cats, he has his own personality.
I expected him to be shy around strangers and thought I would have to go look for him under the bed but I didn’t. Instead he came out to greet us. He is a very sociable cat but he is not a lap cat, at least not now. Perhaps when he is more comfortable he will be.
We visited twice since she adopted him. The second time I found him napping on the bed so he certainly feels right at home.
He is also not shy about blocking the doorway.
We brought him one of Floki’s mice to play with. I bought a bag of ten mice and still had a few left so we thought he might want one. He was mildly interested for about five seconds and then not so much.
Finnegan, or Finn for short, got his name because he looks like an Irish redhead. He is about three years old and was once a stray that was brought in after someone alerted the organization that he appeared injured or “beat up.” I don’t know all the details but he is far too friendly to be feral.
Another interesting thing is that he has no white on him anywhere. The tip of his tail is very light but not quite white. I don’t recall seeing a ginger cat with no white. I wonder how common that is? What do you think about Finn or about ginger cats with no white?
Those flowers are for Mom, Frankie.
I’m just inspecting them for quality. Mom deserves the best.
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?
Our Florida room is the perfect place to have a nice nap in the morning sun.
You would think that our cats would learn this and hang out here every morning, but cats can be unpredictable. As I write this on Thursday morning, all three boys are in the sunless spare bedroom.