Category Archives: Cats

Happy Howl-o-Ween!!

image1This is my most favorite Holiday!! Maybe it was the staying out late as a kid, the AWESOME decorations, the bountiful haul of candy, or SCARING PEOPLE that makes it my favorite. But, it’s just the best! Although, it’s not about the candy for me anymore – I still remember how awesome it was when I was younger though. 😉

This holiday can be a nightmare for some animals, funadie-decorations for others, and then the few unaffected who don’t pay much mind to it. Adie, like my husky Prince, is definitely the latter. Prince only thought it was pretty cool when my sister and I would stay in the garage for hours on end, setting up our haunted house, as he cruised around and “helped”. But that was as involved as he ever got. Adie likes to play with the Halloween decorations and lay in the piles of plastic bags that are our “walls” for our haunted house. But she’ll just sleep through tonight, comfy on her bed.

My Shepherd Tobi, though, it almost drove him a bit crazy having so many people come to the door over and over and over randomly, all night long. And, if I had handled the situation any differently, he could very well have been a big ball of stress and nerves that night. Considering his breed, and the fact that he worked alongside me ALL the time. And this was one night a year I was out front, with a lot of people coming over, and he couldn’t “protect me”. 🙂 Even though he would get excited and bark once in a while, he was never stressed or upset. More on the jealous side, if anything.

I have a neighbor whose dog does NOT enjoy Halloween. At. All. He will begin barking tonight around 5pm. And will continue all night in three-to-five-bark increments, until about 10:30pm. I’m not sure what they do with him, but it’s clear he goes outside, and that seems to be it. It’s been this way for years. (Yes, I have offered more than once to help them out).

Nervous or Stressed Doggies:

taco-dogNumber one thing – don’t coddle them when they begin their nervous behaviors. Holding them, hugging them, telling them sweetly that “it’s ok”… That may be very comforting to a human child? It does the opposite to your dog. It actually encourages them to continue the nervousness and it can get worse from there.

You want to keep your nervous pet busy. Give them something to do, so that way they can channel that nervous energy into something constructive instead of barking or pacing or any other sort of “off” behavior they may do. My favorite suggestion is always having something for them to chew or gnaw on, throughout the night. Natural Peanut Butter in a Kong toy, thrown in the freezer. Treat Puzzle toys where the dog needs to figure out how to get the treats out. A new bone to chew on. I like giving natural bones from the butcher, I ask for a shank bone and will give that to the dogs around the time your first trick-or-treater comes by.

snuggled-in-bedProviding a safe place for them to be. A bedroom, bathroom, their crate or a back room away from the front door and all the activity. Have their bed, blankets, or maybe a shirt of yours for them to cuddle up with. Close the door, turn on the radio on low, and give them their chewy to focus on. Going in and checking on them when things are quiet and calm, to tell them how good they’re being will help them a lot. This way they feel protected, and away from all the action going on. They can control the situation they are in – which brings them comfort when they’re in a state of nervousness.

On the contrary, sometimes that can cause a dog to be more upset because they’re not with you. If you are worried about your dog fear-bolting, but you think it has a better time being with you as you open the door to trick-or-treaters, I suggest having them on a tie-down nearby. Whether it be on leash with another family member holding them for safety, or on the railing of a staircase. This way they can see what’s going on but you don’t run the risk of them running out the door if they get scared by a costume. I would still provide them with their favorite toys or a new bone or something to chew on or play with, to keep them busy.

Ultimately, the idea is keeping their minds busy on something POSITIVE while the scary thing is happening. Acting like the boss, not coddling or comforting them. Instead, you will be their leader and tell them, confidently, that you got this and they’re just fine.

My recommendation for those of you with cats that are indoor/outdoor kitties. I suggest you leave them inside today. And keep them in until tomorrow. I posted last week about Kitty Superstitions, and even though the stories aren’t true. People can still be mean to cats on Halloween. Especially if they’re Black Cats! It’s unfortunate, but better to keep your kitty safe!

kane-comfyFor indoor-only kitties, I would also close them up in a room. That way there’s no chance of them accidentally slipping out, or running out/bolting because of fear. Again, you may have a very confident kitty who can take care of him/herself, but it’s better to be safe than to chance it. You Just never know.

Costumes: 

image1Costumes are fun for some, not so much for others. You know your pet best and if you think they’ll dig a costume – by all means, do it! I have never actually put my dogs in full on costumes. But, costumes didn’t start becoming popular until just a few years ago, so that’s just by default, I guess. I did, however, always put my dogs in seasonal-themed bandannas. Tobi loved them the most. He had one on almost all year-round. Prince would tear his off. Adie likes them for a little while, but gets tired of them.

king-harleyIntroduce your dog to them slowly. Let them sniff the items first. Place them on the dog gently. Just lay it on them, at first, and praise them for allowing you to do that. Be sure that the costume size is just right for them. Nothing too small, because you don’t want them to feel constricted. Just make sure it’s a positive interaction, and you try it out a few times before the actual night (I know, it’s kind of late for that – but now you know for next year!).

stooges-halloweenSome pets love them, and wear costumes happily and proudly! And then they can go trick-or-treating as well! It’s just like going on a walk, only in costume – with lots of stops. But it’s a good idea to expose them to you wearing costumes, before Halloween night, as well. By having them watch you put them on and take them off, it teaches the dog that sometimes we can change our “skins”. And they will be less likely to be fearful of other peoples’ costumes.

Candy:

Obviously, this is one thing you really want to watch out for. Dogs shouldn’t have candy of any kind. Sugar is just not good for them. But especially chocolate. Every pet owner should know not to give ANY of your animals chocolate. Ever. It’s not that chocolate, itself, is necessarily dangerous. It’s the concentrated caffeine that comes from the cocoa bean that can cause issues with dogs. Their heartbeat increases and they can’t calm themselves down. It can cause issues in their digestive system as well. Ideally, you want to induce vomiting in case they get a hold of any. But, consider the circumstances first. If my 120lb malamute gets an M&M or 2, she’s most likely going to be fine. But if she ate an entire bag of chocolates, like my sisters dog once did? That would cause a problem. I would encourage vomiting right away. Give her water and watch her. If I were to see any signs of distress, I would bring her in to the vet. But, normally, treatments include fluids and vomiting. Unless the case is pretty bad. So, if your little 5lb chihuahua gets into a snickers bar, that would raise a concern – and I’d most likely take them in to be seen, as a precaution.

It’s best to just keep the candy up high, where they can’t get into it. And also keep a bottle of Syrup of Ipecac in your animal first-aid kid. For those “just in case” times.

bella-ladybugBe safe out there tonight, if you’re going out with your kids. Enjoy yourself! Have fun, and make it fun for your doggies, too!

One last thing! If you’re taking your dogs out with you, at night? Take a look at getting a leash with reflectors on it, or buying reflective material to highlight your dog – just like giving your kids glow sticks. 😉

When A Rumor Begins The Black Plague

 

skulls-for-black-plague

It’s Halloween Time! My favorite time of year. The days are shorter, the nights are colder. It’s gorgeous outside with all the trees changing colors and beginning to drop leaves everywhere. It’s not super hot outside anymore, walking dogs isn’t limited to the mornings, and it’s sweatshirt weather! Plus Halloween is my favorite holiday. Like, ever.

And? The best time to talk about, none other than – CATS! “Unlucky” Black cats to be exact.

stormie

Why? Because the world is full of stereotypes and ancient stories disguised as superstitions. Abuse against cats happen more often around this time of year, typically. Specifically to black cats because they are considered “bad luck” or “evil” – and associated with Witches & Halloween, of course.

As far back as 3000 BC cats were actually worshiped, in Egypt. A symbol for poise and grace. The Lion-headed Goddess Mafdet represented justice and execution. Replaced by the cat Goddess, Bast (Bastet) representing motherhood, fertility, and protection. They were mummified and given the same respect and mourning as their human relatives. To injure or kill one was a capital crime, often resulting in death! What changed? Whoever said cats are demons in disguise? Associated with witches? How could one bring you bad luck by just crossing in front of you? And how are you ever supposed to stop it from doing so, anyway? And what do cats have to do with The Black Plague? So many questions… Don’t worry, I’ve got answers. 🙂

witchs-catThe reputation of cats started to take a turn, during the middle ages, in Europe, synonymous with the rise in belief of witches and witchcraft. That was started simply because the little old ladies who fed and cared for the alley cats, were accused of being witches. So began the story of the Witch’s Familiar.

Folklore says that in the 1560’s, in Lincolnshire, a man and his son were walking home one night when a black cat ran across their path. They picked up rocks and sticks, throwing them and hitting the cat until it ran into the home they were crossing. The home belonged to a woman accused of practicing witchcraft. The next morning the men saw the woman emerge from her home; scraped, bruised and limping. They thought it was too much of a coincidence that she should be so injured, and thus explains the theory of Witches turning into Black Cats at night.

kitty-totem

From a metaphysical standpoint, however – they are more of an asset and associated with psychic powers. Cats are considered the Guardians of the Otherworld (or Underworld, depending on what text you read), teetering on the edge of both worlds, halfway between here and there. They are stoic, aloof, silent and mysterious. The symbolism of the Cat Animal Totem represents creativity, fresh change, flexibility, adaptability and mystery. Despite their “reputation” they’re still a very popular pet, and more now due to the Internet highlighting these qualities, along with their ninja-like abilities and asshole-tendencies, wrapped in a fuzzy little purring package of cute.

With all these cat owners, and many of them black cats, we still haven’t seen solid evidence of them bringing bad luck. Scientifically speaking. The responsible party for spinning that tale? The Godfathers of superstition. Get this… PIRATES! Yup – Legit Pirates. They had strong beliefs and any seaman will tell you that most of them do. But it was Pirates that believed a black cat walking toward you would bring you bad fortune. However, if that black cat was walking away from you? It meant good fortune.

stormie-2

I was telling my cousin this, and how did she put it “I just have great fortune because Stormie (pictured) walks away from me all the fuckin time” Lol!

As stories go, sometimes they start at the end and go back to the beginning, I like to jump around. Let me break it down:

The Pirates began the superstition of bad luck coming to you, via a black cat.

Little old ladies have been feeding and caring for stray cats for centuries, they also happen to look like witches and fit the stereotype. So they MUST be witches – and cats, their familiars.

cat-witch

A man and his son swear they witnessed the cat, they assaulted, turn into an old woman accused of witchery. So now we’ve got witches turning into cats too.

Add all those up and bring in a major religion wanting to wipe out something they didn’t approve of. What do you get? The Black Plague.

The Catholic church was a very powerful entity in Europe at the time, and they had had enough of the witches. They demanded that all of the witches and their cats be destroyed. The numbers reached the thousands, which put a huge deficit in the amount of vermin-hunters. The rats that overran the streets carried the fleas which brought on the worst of the outbreaks. They didn’t realize it at the time, but over time it’s been pretty obvious that when the cat population was high, the rat population low. And vice versa.

sweet-kittiesSo, now you can see where all these tales have spun from, and they make sense. But it is no reason to believe that cats are bad or evil. In fact, they are beneficial to us – as any cat lover will agree with. So, if you’ve been worried about cats, or felt the need to avoid them? Stop and pet them, they love chin and butt scritches the most. 😉