Archives for July 2016

How to Protect Your Picture Frames and Glass Items from Your Cat

Cats Gone Wild

The term “cats gone wild” conjures up all sorts of images. Maybe you picture a cat attacking a person or dog. Maybe you picture a cat knocking all the soap and shampoo bottles into the bath tub.  Maybe you picture a cat knocking other cats down the steps. Maybe you picture a cat resisting your efforts to give it a pill.

cats gone wild

Uncle Billy cuddling innocent Angelo

Our story of cats gone wild is much more mundane. Several weeks ago I was on a pet sitting visit with Angelo, one of the cats we take care of on a regular basis. Angelo had gone upstairs and I was downstairs writing my note for his humans. Suddenly I heard a crashing sound. Fearing the worst, I went upstairs and discovered he had knocked over a picture frame on the edge of a table.  I moved all the photos to the other end of the table and hoped for the best.

That incident reminded me of another time when Toby, another one of our cat clients was chasing his sisters through the house. He leaped on the kitchen island and knocked over a beautiful glass figurine.  It shattered into what seemed like a million pieces.  I picked them all up (with broom and then damp paper towels) and carefully inspected all the cats to make sure no one got cut.

Museum Wax

cats gone wild

Museum Wax

Both these incidents made me think about solutions to prevent cats from knocking things over, particularly things that break.  After a little research I found an article in The solution..tada….museum putty or museum wax! Brilliant!!

You can buy museum wax or museum putty at stores like Home Depot, Lowes,  Ace Hardware and crafts stores. There are numerous brand names.  In addition to holding ceramic and other breakable items in place you can use it to secure a picture frame to the wall.

Museum wax will not only keep your breakables safe from your cats, it will keep them safe from your small children and clumsy adults.  It’s a win-win-win situation.

Whisker Fatigue

What is Whisker Fatigue?

What do you know about whisker fatigue?  Yes, there really is such a thing!!  We loved this article in a recent issue of Modern Cat.  Already we knew that a cat’s whiskers are approximately as long as he is wide so your cat knows if he can fit into a space.  But we also learned that in addition to serving as a ruler, your cat’s whiskers help him to respond to changes in vibrations.

There are proprioceptors at the end of your cat’s whiskers that actually do the work. If you are a human of a certain age you probably have noticed your proprioception has become somewhat compromised. I surely have and am always careful going up and down steps for this very reason.

Your cat’s whiskers are quite sensitive and easily become fatigued.  That’s why it’s so important to give him food and water bowls that allow him to eat and drink without his whiskers brushing against the side of the bowl.  Think low and shallow for food bowls and low and wide for water bowls.  Many cats will also paw at their water bowls so it’s a good idea to have a plate underneath the water bowl to serve as a “catch pot.”

Remember that stainless steel or ceramic bowls are the best option for keeping clean. Washing their bowls daily is a must to keep from getting slimy buildup on the food and water dishes.

whisker fatigue

Chester getting a drink

Or you could just let your cat drink from the sink the way Chester is drinking in the photo above. Gotta love those cats.

It’s Summer Time and the Livin’ is Easy

Are you looking for some day trips from the LKN area to the cool mountains? Here are some of our favorites.

Day Trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains

Take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway for beautiful vistas.

Blue Ridge Parkway Vista

Blue Ridge Parkway Vista

Art in the Park         Blowing Rock, NC      August 13, Sept 10 & Oct 8
There are artists galore with amazing stories to tell.  We love the shops and restaurants that line the main street too.

Tweetsie Railroad   Blowing Rock, NC      Daily through August 21
This is a must for the little kids. I have fond memories of taking my little sister and nieces and nephew. It’s grown a lot since the old days too.

If you will be in the Blowing Rock area, be sure to take the time to visit the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis. You will be amazed by all the neat old fashioned candies along with great outdoor gear. They also have locations in Boone, Asheville, Hendersonville, Waynesville, Knoxville, Winston-Salem, Greenville and Columbia.

Day Trips (or two day trips) to the Southwest Mountains of North Carolina

If the recent amoeba outbreak at the National Whitewater Center scared you off from river rafting, think again. The water is so very COLD at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, NC that amoeba infection is far off the radar.  We prefer to take a guided rafting trip because the guides know where all the big rocks are and can either get you splashed or help you avoid being splashed.  The choice is yours.

Day Trips

We love NOC

Although you can make this a day trip we don’t recommend it because we guarantee that you will be exhausted. Other cool things to do while there include a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.  Hint, a ride in the fall through the Nantahala Gorge is spectacular. End your train ride in Dillsboro, stop at Riverwood Pottery and dine at the Jarrett House.

Disclaimer:  Most of these activities are not suitable for your pets.

Nothing beats a well planned vacation.  We all deserve a little down time when the weather allows outdoor activities. That’s why so many of you are traveling this summer.  Remember that this is the busy season for everyone with school out. Most businesses anticipate their employees will use more vacation during the summer months than other months. So be sure to book your pet care needs early. We have had multiple dates this year that we were fully booked and had to say the dreaded word “no” to some of you. So, book ahead to assure you (and your pets) are not disappointed.

Fireworks and Pets

Fireworks and Pets Mix Like Oil and Water.

fireworks and pets

Fireworks and pets

No doubt any pet owner who did not already know that fireworks scare the heck out of pets has learned that fact the last few days.

We have three dogs of our own and are also professional pet sitters.  During the last few days we have seen far too many anxious dogs and cats.  I am distressed that the thoughtless illegal actions of others have troubled so many pets and people. It’s truly distressing to be taking care of pets in a house that sits on a thumbnail sized lot with houses so close you could practically touch them if you stretched your arms out. In one instance I had taken a dog out to “do her business.” Just as she squatted a huge BOOM went off. The poor dog stopped in her tracks and did not relieve herself out of fear.

A neighbor had left his dog tied up outside. The pitiful sounds of the dog whimpering and whining broke my heart. The cats inside the house went into hiding.

Certainly we don’t want to destroy anyone’s fun. But apparently many people have differing definitions of fun. However; I cannot define “fun” as an activity that causes extreme anxiety and fear in pets and also causes severe trauma for those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). For someone to define this action as “fun” demonstrates their level of immaturity.

More about those issues later in this post, but for now I want to focus on what we as pet owners can do to reduce the fear and stress our pets feel over the sound and sight of fireworks.

Fireworks and Pets:  How Can we Help Our Pets On July 4 and New Year’s Eve

Let’s face it, we most likely will not be able to get our neighbors to refrain from setting off fireworks.  There’s no point in banging our heads against the wall.  Instead, let’s get prepared for dealing with fireworks and pets.  Here are my top ten ideas.

  1. Talk with your neighbors in a friendly manner.  Find out what their plans are and when they plan to set off their fireworks. Tell them you need to know so that you can prepare your pets or plan on being away from home for awhile.
  2. Ask your neighborhood association to send out a notice suggesting that celebrations be confined to one night only each season….ideally on July 4 and New Year’s Eve. Approach this in a solution focused manner to reduce the need for anyone to fee defensive.
  3. Speak up at neighborhood meetings and discuss the realities of the issues around fireworks and pets. Let people know that some pets shake and drool uncontrollably, some pets try to escape their crates or even their homes. Dogs have been known to escape fences if outside when fireworks start. Any human who has ever experienced an anxiety attack is sure to be able to relate to how horrible that feels to the pet. Maybe I’m still just a little hopeful that folks will change their ways!
  4. If your dogs like car rides consider driving around in the country side where there are less likely to be fireworks displays.  Make sure you have the car radio on and bring along some chew toys for your dogs.
  5. Research camp grounds and find out where dogs are allowed and where traditionally fireworks have not been set off.  Once you know, take off on that camping trip. fireworks and pets
  6. For those of you that don’t like to go camping and for those of you with pets that don’t travel well (cats, birds, fish) learn how to make your home a fortress from loud noises. If you have a basement, that’s probably the best spot.  Turn on window air conditioners and fans to generate noise. Invest in a “white noise” machine.  Turn on the TV or stereo with the kind of music you already know is helpful to your pets. Use heavy curtains to help block noise and flashes of light.
  7. Give your dog something to occupy himself.  For food motivated dogs a frozen stuffed kong is ideal. We really like these ideas from Lynnette Walczak. Engage your cat in play. Pull out that laser light or play with a flirt pole to occupy his attention.
  8. Check out calming products for your cats and dogs. Not all products will be effective on all pets so you will need a little trial and error. Some of our favorites include the Thundershirt (they make them for cats too), Adaptil collars and diffusers (for dogs), Sentry Calming Collars (for dogs and cats), Feliway diffusers for cats, Music Through a Dog’s Ear/Cat’s Ear, Bach’s Flower Rescue Remedy and Nature’s Miracle Cat Calming Spray.
  9. If the environmental efforts you made and the calming products you tried did not work, consult your veterinarian for a prescription medication to calm and sedate your pet during the most stressful events
  10. Remember, this too shall pass.  Try to stay as calm as you can because we know that our pets respond to our moods also.


Fireworks and Military Combat Veterans

We promised to address the issue of combat veterans and fireworks too.  Here are our thoughts.

fireworks and pets

Combat Veteran Lives Here

Imagine my horror when I read a post in Next Door from someone who apparently had a large fireworks display in their yard.  The individual defended their actions as being patriotic due to her husband’s past military service. I am proud of my father, uncles and even one aunt who served in the military during WWII, another uncle who served in the US Army during the Korean conflict and my husband who served in the US Air Force for 22 years.

However; service in the military truly does not justify distressing others with illegal actions.  Far too many of our former and retired service members served in combat and continue to suffer from the ill effects many years later.  My own father was traumatized and I know many more were also.

The little things truly can make a difference.  Most veterans with PTSD are happy for you to celebrate with fireworks on July 4. To be courteous, please confine the celebrations to one night, July 4.  Please don’t make a week long celebration out of it.  Also know that many combat veterans prefer not to place a sign in their yard.  If they do place a sign be sure to honor it and warn them of your plans. That way the veteran can either leave home for the evening, take anti anxiety medication, turn up the music or do what ever he or she needs to do to ward off the crippling anxiety attack.

For those who think they are honoring military veterans with fireworks, perhaps it’s time to consider a different way to honor our veterans.  The thoughts expressed by many veterans regarding Memorial Day on the Task & Purpose web page are a good start.  One comment in particular rang true with me.

I understand the sentiment and the desire to convey appreciation. Rather than thank me, however, I would prefer people to take moment and think about the original November 11, in 1918. After a horrific campaign, the endless shelling, gassing, and gunfire ceased at 11 am, replaced with the first silence that the battlefields of World War I had heard in four years. Think of the shock and limitless thankfulness the soldiers felt as they heard birds chirping, something we hear and take for granted every day. They had survived hell, and could be reunited with their families. These men carried the scars of war with them forever, as do veterans of all conflicts. —Angry Staff Officer, U.S. Army National Guardsman

Another statement addressed the issue of service as follows.

With regards to being thanked for my service, no one should be under any obligation to do so. If they want to, that’s fine, although ask about my experiences, the people, the conditions. The real, honest stories we share truly help people understand a concept so foreign (literally and figuratively) to them. If they truly feel the need to thank and support service members, I would encourage them to find a veteran’s group or organization and help them out however they can. —Kyle Dykstra, U.S. Army veteran

Common Courtesy

Common courtesy goes a long way in addressing the concerns. For those of you who enjoy setting off fireworks in your yard, please consider the issues and needs of your neighbors (humans, dogs, cats and birds). For those of us who love and care for pets and humans suffering from PTSD, think proactively about how to approach your neighbors in a non confrontational manner. Be prepared with the actions and products that can most help your pets and you get through these difficult holidays. For me, July 4 will always be difficult because my father took his own life 16 years ago on July 4.  Little did we know that he had always hated July 4. Only after his death did we learn that he had taken out an entire company of men one July 4 during WWII.  I make sure not to knowingly engage in anything stressful on July 4 and simply take care of myself and my family the best way I can. May you do the same.