Pretty Litter

Sunday Purrs: Sundays Are for Reading

Amber reading Buckley's Story

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible
and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. – Charles W. Eliot

Reading is as essential as breathing to me.

I’ve been an avid reader as far back as I can remember. My parents started reading to me as a very young child, and I surprised them by reading on my own long before it was taught in school. At first, they thought I was faking it and that I was only repeating the words from memory.

During all the changes I’ve gone through in my life, good and not so good, books have always been there to provide entertainment,inspiration, escape, advice and so much more.

It should come as no surprise that I particularly enjoy books about cats as well as other animals, and I offer a wide selection of my favorites on my Reading List.

My “to be read” pile is usually out of control, and I like it that way. In fact, I get a little twitchy when the pile gets too low. Between the books I see reviewed on some of my favorite book blogs, the books I find browsing at my hometown Barnes and Noble store, and the books publicists and authors send me for review, I don’t think I have to worry about running out of reading material anytime soon.

I usually read at least two or three books at the same time. Currently, I’m reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy, The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and a German women’s magazine (a way for me to try and keep up with my native language).

What are you currently reading?

Sunday Purrs: Navigating Turbulent Times

Navigating Turbulent Times

Turbulence is life force. It is opportunity.
Let’s love turbulence and use it for change. – Ramsey Clark 

We live in challenging times.  The economy, the stock market, political battles – everywhere you look, there’s turmoil. Mercury is currently in retrograde, and if you believe in astrology, it means that during this period, things can go a little crazy, and our reactions to the ever-changing situations can cause confusion and frustration.

We can’t control the planets, or what is happening in the world, whether it’s the world at large, or our own small piece of it. But we can choose how we react to what’s happening around us, and we can control what we focus our thoughts on.

Here are some simple steps that can help make navigating these turbulent times a little easier:

–  Make a conscious decision each day to look for things that make you feel good.  Look for things to appreciate.  Look for the positive aspects in the people you interact with.  By focusing on what’s good in your world, you’ll allow less of what’s not so good into your energy field.

–  Go on a news diet.  At the very least, stop watching the news first thing in the morning, and last thing before you go to bed at night.  What you see first thing in the morning will stay in your consciousness throughout the day.  What you see just before you go to sleep will make its way into your dreams and spoil a good night’s rest for you.  Consider foregoing the news altogether.  If you feel you must be informed, be judicious about where you get your news.  There are ways to get the news without the hype.

Practice simple acts of kindness.  This is a fun and easy way to take the focus off yourself and any fear and worry you might experience.  Yield to the car in front of you trying to merge into your lane.  Smile at the harried clerk at the store.  Take an unexpected small gift to someone in your office.  Trying to make someone else feel better feels good. You’ll be surprised how much these simple little acts can shift your consciousness to a better place.

Spend time with your cat!  Spending time with cats is one of the best ways I know to instantly shift your vibration from negative to positive.  It’s impossible to be fearful and worried when you watch a kitten play or when you have a purring cat in your lap.

Find serenity in the middle of chaos. Breathe, take a walk in the fresh air, unplug, read; any or all of these will help you feel calmer. Or follow Merlin’s lead in the photo above: find a bench in a park or in your backyard, and enjoy the calming beauty of nature.

What are you doing to help you navigate these turbulent times?

Pretty Litter

Allegra’s World: Spring Play

Allegra beautiful tortoiseshell cat stunning markings

If you read my sister Ruby’s post last week, you already know that she’s had quite a few adventures. Ha, and Mom thought I was a handful when I was her age!

Now that the Pettie campaign is over, I have more time for other things again, but I have to admit, I liked having such an important job. Maybe Mom could run for something else. I think Ruby and I made a great team.

Mom said she’ll have some new products for us to test soon. Bring it on – I’m ready!

The nice thing about not having to work so hard is that I have more time for play. My favorite game right now is playing with these little plastic springs. Mom plays that game with us every morning after we’ve had our breakfast. She tosses them for us, and Ruby and I chase after them. Sometimes we play with the same spring and bat it back and forth, but most of the time, we prefer to have our own spring to chase.

Of course, since they’re small and bouncy, they frequently disappear under furniture. Part of the fun of the game is to watch Mom try to retrieve them, even if she’s not very good at it. Usually, she just goes to the closet where she keeps some of our toys, and gets out a new spring. So I’ve had to step in and get some of the springs out from under stuff.

As you can see in the video below, I’m quite good at it – I managed to find not just one, but two springs under the stove!

httpv://youtu.be/q6uQW-8X2RM

Sunday Purrs: Gratitude

Gratitude

 We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. – Cynthia Ozick

Gratitude makes you happy. Research by Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis into the psychology of gratitude has shown that people who practice gratitude are 25% happier.  They are more optimistic about the future and feel better about their lives.

The energy of gratitude is a powerful force.  It can shift your mood and your thoughts from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance and joy. Gratitude is about being in the present moment, and appreciating what’s around you. Gratitude is about choice: you have the power to choose how you view any given situation in your life.

Gratitude is also a practice. Practicing gratitude is a great way to start and end each day.  Think about five things you’re grateful for before you get out of bed each morning, and again before you go to sleep each night.  Do this for a few days and you will notice how the shift in your energy will transform your life.

My five for today are:

1. Allegra

2. Ruby

3. A lovely breeze coming in through the open window.

4. That first cup of fresh brewed coffee in the morning.

5. Good health – my own, as well as Allegra’s and Ruby’s.

What five things are you grateful for today?

You may also enjoy reading:

Sunday Purrs: Creating Balance

Five habits to expand your thinking

We’re the Tortoiseshell Sponsor at the National Capital Cat Show

National Capital Cat Show

I’m excited to announce that Buckley’s Story is the Tortoiseshell Sponsor at the National Capital Cat Show!  The show takes place September 10 and 11, 2011, at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA.  

The National Capital Cat Show is one of the largest cat shows in the country and features a huge selection of cat supplies, including cat toys, cat food, grooming supplies, and friendly people willing to help you with your cat questions.  It’s truly a cat lover’s paradise.

Come visit us at our booth, purchase autographed and personalized copies of Buckley’s Story, and enter a drawing to win an autographed copy of the book. We’ll also have lots of fun freebies for you and your cat!

Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher

And that’s not all! I’m also excited to announce that we will have a very special guest at our booth for the entire show: Dr. Fern Crist, the veterinarian you know from Buckley’s Story and from several articles here on The Conscious Cat. Dr. Crist will be answering your cat health questions.

We will also be selling healing gemstone cat collars and jewelry (for the humans) designed and handcrafted by Dr. Crist. The stunning designs incorporate Dr. Crist’s love of rocks and vast knowledge of the healing properties of gemstones, her artistic creativity, and her veterinary experience. 

The bracelet below is my most treasured piece of jewelry, and only one example of the gorgeous pieces Fern creates. She made this bracelet for me after Amber died. Each stone was selected for its healing properties for helping with grief, sadness and depression.

healing properties of gemstones Rock Spirit Design

The photo below shows only some of Rock Spirit Designs’ cat collars. Cat collars can be custom made to help with specific health conditions.

cat collars gemstones healing stones crystals

So mark your calendars, and plan to join us at the National Capital Cat Show! For more information about the cat show, please visit the official website of the National Capital Cat Show.

Nutra-Thrive-Cat

Sunday Purrs: Are You Addicted to Technology?

Are You Addicted to Technology

Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything,
except over technology. – John Tudor

As a professional blogger and writer, I spend much of my day online. I also have a BlackBerry that keeps me connected to e-mail and my blog when I’m not at my computer. I love the world of e-mail, blogs, social media and other forms of online communication and the opportunities it presents. I especially love how it has changed how we meet people and form friendships in ways we never could have imagined even ten years ago.

Technology has allowed me to make contact with people I never could have met in real life.  Whether it’s the author I’ve admired for decades, or the veterinarian whose articles I’ve only read in journals before, or the many fellow cat people who share my love for these incredibly fascinating and wonderful creatures – I treasure all of these relationships.  Some of them have turned into real-life friendships.

But there is a downside to all this 24/7 connectedness. As with all good things, there can be too much of it. Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that half of the participants in a study reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study revealed that 59 percent of PDA users check every single time an email arrives and 83 percent check email every day on vacation. (Source: WebMD.com)

Does this sound like the behavior of an addict to you? That’s because it is. All this technology creates compulsive behavior by tapping into the brain’s reward circuit and operant conditioning: the association of stimulus and reward. Every time you hit “check mail” on your e-mail or smartphone, you get a little dopamine hit. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that makes you feel good. Receiving that e-mail, text, or Facebook comment sends a message to your brain that says “Yay! Somebody loves me!” Your brain comes to associate this feeling with the “you’ve got mail” or text message sound on your device, and releases a squirt of dopamine each time it hears the signal.

As if this weren’t bad enough, after you check that e-mail or that Facebook comment, your dopamine levels dip below normal, so you need another hit just to get your levels back to normal. If you’ve ever sat at your computer and hit  the “get new mail” button over and over and wondered why on earth you’re doing that, now you know.

The constant connection to technology can take a toll on our bodies and our mental state, and it  probably behooves us to occasionally unplug, even if it’s only for a few hours. Here are some ways to break the technology addiction, at least temporarily:

  • Unplug for for short periods of time if disconnecting for an entire day seems impossible. You life won’t implode. As with any addiction, there can be a period of anxiety when you first try it.
  • Leave your cell phone at home one day a week. Weekends are good for this. For some people, this will have the same effect as a two-week vacation; the psychological benefits can be that dramatic. If you feel must have your cell phone with you because of safety concerns, keep it turned off.
  • Set boundaries. Don’t check e-mail as soon as you get out of bed. Stop checking e-mail after a certain time in the evening. Set yourself  a time limit when you go on social media sites.
  • Don’t let technology interfere with real, face-to-face contact. There’s nothing more irritating to me than having lunch with someone who keeps a constant eye on her smartphone.

I’ll admit, I find it very difficult to unplug, and I know I need to work at doing it more frequently. Thankfully, Allegra and Ruby are good at reminding me to step away from the computer. Usually, their reminders involve a walk across the keyboard, or a chase around the monitor. I’m going to heed their advice today and try and unplug for a few hours.

How about you? Are you addicted to technology? Do your cats remind you to unplug?

You may also enjoy reading:

Sunday Purrs: Creating balance

Sunday Purrs: Make time for contemplation

 

Ruby’s Reflections: Ruby and the Refrigerator

It’s my turn to write! Wee!!! Boy, do I have lots to tell you! I’ve had a couple of big adventures since I last wrote!

For starters, last week, I fell off the top of the refrigerator. Don’t worry, I’m fine. But see, I like to hang out there. The view from up there is awesome! I can see the kitchen, living room, dining room, and stairway. It’s so cool! And I like to roll around on top, and hang my head over the side and look at the world upside down. That’s what I was doing last week, when, all of a sudden, I started slipping off the side!

I was really scared, but thankfully Mom was in the kitchen and she saw me slip. She reacted quickly and grabbed me halfway down. I was so spooked that I wouldn’t let her hold on to me, and I landed right on top of a full glass of water that was sitting on the counter I was heading for. Yikes! Miraculously, the glass didn’t break, but I landed in the puddle of water it created when it toppled over, and that really creeped me out. Now I was scared and wet! I took off running. I didn’t even know where I was running to, I just wanted to get out of the kitchen!

When Mom finally caught up with me, I could tell she was upset. I didn’t do it on purpose, I just slipped! Then I realized that she wasn’t upset with me, she was worried that I had hurt myself. Well, maybe my pride was hurt – I felt a little silly. And I was wet. But otherwise, I was fine.  Allegra was watching the whole thing and I could tell she was alternately worried, amused, and relieved.

Mom told me that this was enough excitement for her for a while. But apparently, it wasn’t for me.

A few days after the great refrigerator tumble, I got myself in trouble again. I like playing in the bathtub. It’s fun to get behind the shower curtain and just walk around in there, and pretend that nobody knows where I’m at. I go there periodically throughout the day. Mom goes in there once a day, and I always wait for her right outside. When she goes in there, strange things happen, and I don’t want any part of that.

Well, the other day, Mom was in there. But I forgot that she was. I took a flying leap through the crack between the shower curtain and the wall, right into the tub. That’s when I realized that there was water falling from the ceiling! Lots of water! Eeeeek!!! I tried to jump back out, but lost my footing on the wet bottom. By the time I finally got out, I was really wet!

I wanted to get a far away from the bathroom as I could as fast as I could, so I tore through the house, trying to get away from the wet – except, the wet was following me! I finally realized that there was no way I could outrun it, so I sat down and started to try and dry myself off. By that time, Mom had caught up with me and wiped me down with a towel. I can’t believe Mom goes in there and stands under that water every day. Humans are just weird. Why doesn’t she just lick herself clean like I do?

Humans say things come in three’s, but so far, I’ve been a good kitten and haven’t gotten myself in any more trouble. Besides, humans say a lot of strange things. I know Mom is holding her breath, though.

That’s it as far as excitement around here goes. I’m really going to try to be a good little kitten. But I can hear a roll of toilet paper calling my name…

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Nutra-Thrive-Cat

Sunday Purrs: The Heat Is On

 cat_summer_fun

If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back? – Steven Wright

Much of the United States has been sweltering in a heat wave for the past few days, with temperatures and heat indices into the triple digits. I hope you and your kitties are keeping cool in the shade or under an umbrella, like Ruby in the photo above.

I come down squarely in the “some like it hot” category, but the last couple of days have been a bit much even for me. Allegra and Ruby are air conditoned kitties, so their only complaint has been that open windows are only happening for a few minutes at a time to give them a chance to sniff some fresh air, something they both enjoy. One thing they absolutely won’t allow me is to close any of the blinds to block out the sun and conserve some energy. My two little sun worshippers are still seeking out the sun puddles in the house. Like mother, like daughters!

Please keep your pets safe in this relentless heat.How are you and your cats coping?

Allegra’s World: Helping Mom Win a Pettie

Allegra Ruby The Conscious Cat 2011 Petties

Things have been really exciting around here! Ruby and I are hard at work on Mom’s Pettie campaign. We really want her to win! Mom is the best, and she works really hard on this blog. Well, we work hard on it, too – so if she wins, we win, too!

And it’s not just the three of us who win, either: if Mom wins, she gets a ton of money. I don’t really know money, but Mom said she gets $1000 for each Pettie. That sounds like a lot of money to me! Anyway, if Mom wins, that money will go to two groups who help homeless cats find their forever homes, Casey’s House and Kitten Associates. Ruby and I both know what it’s like to be homeless. We don’t like to think about it anymore, and we know how lucky we are that Mom adopted us, so we really like it that she wants to help other cats be as lucky as we are, too.

Of course, I’m in charge of the campaign. Ruby just does what I tell her to do. We both love having such important jobs. Not that we don’t have enough to do just playing and napping and eating, but having a job makes us feel really important! So please help all of us win and vote for Mom’s blog twice a day through July 29.

When I’m not busy running Mom’s Pettie campaign, I make time to play with Ruby. She just loves to sneak up on me and then chase me through the house. Well, she thinks she’s sneaking up on me, but I always know she’s coming. I just let her think I’m surprised.

But I admit, the other day, she did startle me. I was sitting at the top of the stairs, just surveying things, when she came flying up the stairs out of nowhere. It was like a black and brown blur! I don’t know what she was after, but she sure as heck wasn’t paying attention to where she was going, because all of a sudden she realized that I was sitting right in her path! It happened so fast that I couldn’t even react and get out of the way. I thought for sure she was going to crash into me. But no, the little monkey simply leaped right over top of me! She jumped straight up in the air and landed behind me. She’s quite the jumper, I’ll give her that. Mom says she leaps like a dolphin.

I’m way too dignified for that kind of nonsense. After all, I’m almost two! I’m a big girl now.

And now I have to go. Mom says it’s time to pose for some more campaign photos. A campaign staffer’s work is never done!

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Meet Feebee, My First Feline Soul Mate

Feebee

There are many different definitions of the term “soul mate.” Even though the term is often used in connection with a romantic relationship, a soul mate is simply someone we feel a deep and immediate connection with. We can’t always explain rationally why we’re so drawn to a soul mate.

For me, the term soul mate also has a strong spiritual component. We enter into these soul mate relationships not just because we’re drawn to them, but because they hold lessons for our personal and spiritual growth. And not surprisingly, I believe that this connection doesn’t just exist with humans. It also extends to cats.

Liz Eastwood, the publisher of the Natural Cat Care Blog, also believes that feline soul mates exist. She calls them ” soul cats,” and has devoted an entire series on her blog to featuring some of these special cats. I was honored that she chose to feature Feebee in her series. He was my first cat,  and also my first ” soul cat.” I say my first, because I think I’ve been blessed with more than one of these special cats. Amber was definitely another one, and so was Buckley. And I suspect that Allegra and Ruby are, too.

The interview was originally featured on Liz’s blog. Here’s your opportunity to learn more about my special guy.

feline-soul-mate

How did you find each other?

Feebee was born to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life.

I should probably explain his name -most people think Feebee is a female name. The first time Walt picked him up, he said “hi there, little fishbreath” after getting a whiff of his breath, and we thought that would be a cute name. However, we also thought nobody should have to go through life with a name like Fishbreath, so we shortened it to F.B., which didn’t flow nicely, so somehow it became Feebee.

When we picked him up to take him home with us, he was six months old. When we put him in the car, he sat by the back window and cried and cried for the first half hour of our drive. Then he came to the front, curled up in my lap, and went to sleep – and that’s where he stayed for the rest of the two-hour drive. That was my first taste of the kind of happiness he would bring me for the next 15 ½ years.

feline-soul-mate

Is there a personality trait or experience that stands out?

He was a very affectionate cat. He loved to cuddle, and he slept in my arms most nights. He loved food – all of it, not just his cat food. He had some very strange tastes for a cat that included mustard covered bits of lettuce, cantaloupe, and potato chips. He was also very playful, and particularly loved catnip stuffed toys that he could hug to himself and kick at with his hindlegs.

What made you aware of your special bond?

I think I didn’t realize that he was my soul cat until after my divorce. He’d been with us almost ten years at that point. There was never a question that he would stay with me, and it’s a good thing he did. The divorce was only the beginning of a very dark period in my life: four months after my former husband left, my mother passed away after a short illness. Between trying to adjust to life as a newly single woman, and mourning the untimely passing of my mother, I felt completely overwhelmed. Just getting through each day seemed impossible at times. But Feebee was by my side for all of it, and somehow, I managed. He let my tears soak his soft grey fur. His quiet, loving presence eased my sadness. He was a great listener, and his rumbling purr provided comfort. He cheered me up with his utter cuteness.

Despite his loving presence, the pain and sadness sometimes became unbearable, and there were times when I considered just ending it all. But whenever these dark thoughts entered my mind, I would also think of Feebee. Knowing that someone still loved and needed me made it impossible to give up on life. Who would take care of him if I wasn’t around? And each and every time, love pulled me back from the edge – this special love between a cat and his person. Feebee gave me many gifts throughout the almost sixteen years he spent with me, but none greater than the gift of life.

He was also instrumental in guiding me toward a new career. There’s nothing like major life changes to make you re-evaluate your life. I had become increasingly unhappy with my corporate job but had no clear sense of what I was meant to be doing with my life. Then Feebee took matters into his own paws, so to speak, and developed bladder stones. The time we then spent at veterinary hospitals for diagnosis, treatment, and surgery led me to change careers. I started volunteering and then working part time at veterinary hospitals, which eventually led to a full-time position managing an animal hospital.

I would love to hear about your special “soul cats” – share them with us in a comment!