Archive for the ‘General’ Category

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I’m published! Cat Fancy article – “From birth to your home – your kitten’s journey”

7 March, 2011



I have an article published in the April 2011 issue of Cat Fancy, the leading cat magazine in the US.

Entitled “From birth to your home – your kitten’s journey”, it is about the first twelve weeks of your kitten’s life.

I got the inspiration to write the article after a friend of mine who loves baby-sitting my kittens remarked that most kitten owners seldom get to see how their kittens grow and look like during the weeks before their go to their new homes.

The article is chockful of photos of Catswhiskers Sorrel, a beautiful red silver girl.

Thank you to Sonya, Adi, Den and Francesca who helped in the writing of the article, for letting me use your photos and for your patience in reading all the drafts and giving constructive feedback. 

And a huge thank-you to Annie Shirreffs, Editor of Cat Fancy for her support and encouragement in writing the article.

And thank you to all the kittens and cats of Catswhiskers without whom this article would not have been possible!

To celebrate, I’m giving away my kitten guide, “Taking your Kitten Home” to anyone who leaves a comment on this post.  Please note that the guide was written for British kitten owners, so the sources for food and cat products will have a UK slant.

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5 days to visit the Taj Mahal

23 January, 2011

A huge THANK-YOU to the 45,000 viewers who’ve read and left comments on The Cat’s Whiskers blog.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 45,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

The busiest day of the year was May 9th with 244 views. The most popular post that day was And so to bed ….

When I first started writing this blog, it was to share my experiences of being a first-time cat breeder – call it lessons from an imperfect teacher.  This was 4 years ago. 

Whenever I add a new post I wonder if anyone will read it, so I just want to say how chuffed I am by people’s support – your comments really help me go on. 

Please let me know if there are any topics that you would like addressed:  sometimes I assume that everyone knows everything about say, fleas, or assume that no one’s interested in, say, fleas.

 I’ve also made some great friends (many thanks to Sonya, Molly and Naomi!) and hope to make more friends in 2011, so keep those comments coming!

Best wishes,

The Cats Whiskers

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Snow can collapse cat fencing

20 December, 2010

 

I have Secur-a-cat cat fencing.  It keeps my cats in and the neighbourhood cats out.

As you can see from the photo above, the cat fencing is made of salmon netting that’s strung between aluminium struts that have been bent at an angle of 60 degrees.  It is very robust and can withstand a lot of punishment.  Hand on heart, it is the best investment I’ve made in my cats’ welfare ever.

Last year, the snow fall was so heavy that I returned one night to discover layers of snow had accumulated on the netting and iced over.  The snow was so heavy that it pulled some of the struts off.  The netting hung in disarray and there were gaping holes in the fencing.

Goodness knows how, but my cats hadn’t twigged that the fencing was down and done a runner.

They were very interested though, in why I was running round the garden in pitch-black darkness.  They shadowed me closely as I shook the fencing with a broom to get the snow off.  What with the cat familiars, I’m sure my neighbours thought I was a witch trying to get some momentum before taking off.

Have you ever had to mend cat fencing armed with just a torch and twiddly bits of wire, festooned with lengths of salmon netting, in the middle of a freezing snowstorm?

Fast forward 12 months and four inches of snow fell in London yesterday.  Deja vu?  You bet.

This time I was prepared with my trusty broom.  Results below.  Fingers crossed that we don’t get any more heavy snowfalls.

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Hair of the Cat

28 July, 2008

The following conversation took place when a few of my office colleagues went out for lunch today:

Colleague 1 (lifting something invisible something off hamburger and looking pained):  Urgggh … I think it’s a hair.

Me:  Human or cat?

Colleague 2:  Does it matter?  Does it make it better if it’s cat hair?

Colleague 3 (owner of 2 Ragdolls and a Bengal):  Of course it does.  Cats are always licking themselves and their hair is very clean!

Reaction of non-cat-owning colleagues:  priceless!

I think all cat owners will recognise the fact that when you have a cat, it’s hard to avoid cat hairs creeping into your food and other bits of property.  But it’s something you get used to.  Just the other day someone lifted a cat hair off my neck because she thought it would irritate my skin.  It was a ginger hair, and I expressed a fondness for Teddy who had shed it, much to the bewilderment of that person.

But in case you are now making plans never to accept any food and drink from me, let me assure you that my standards of hygiene befit someone with 4 planets in Virgo and shares in Milton Disinfectant.  Why, I even lick the kitchen counter before cleaning it!

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“The most powerful muscle in the world …

11 May, 2008

 … is a dog’s chin.

When a dog rests its chin against any part of you, you’re stuck in that position till it decides to move and release you.”

Rupert.jpg

What a succinct yet touching description of the loving relationship between dog and human.  Entitled “Playing Footsie“, it is reproduced with the kind permission of Snugpug, from her blog. (http://snugpug.blogspot.com/).  Snugpug is owned by two dogs, a miniature schnauzer and a smooth-haired fox terrier.  The photo of the charmer with melting brown eyes is Rupert, the terrier.

It’s no different with cats.  Which is why I had to pay a visit to the osteopath, caused in part by my physical contortions in trying to accommodate a large Maine Coon who has chosen to use me as his bed. 

Our furry companions may be smaller than us, but ounce for ounce, just one paw is enough to control us!

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New – Links page

2 April, 2008

I have added a new page to this blog, it contains links to sites that I have found helpful or interesting in the course of my reading about cats and holistic approaches to health.

You’ll find links to cat clubs, raw-feeding sources, homeopathy and other cat-related sites.

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Now mice can get the sniffles too

4 February, 2008

Scientists have genetically-modified a mouse so that it can catch a cold.  Previously the only mammals that could catch colds were higher primates like man.  It’s thought that this development will lead to potential new treatments for colds because these mice will enable more testing to be done. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7225742.stm)

So why did this news send a chill down my spine?

I remember watching a documentary last year about the last great flu epidemic, the Spanish flu of 1918, that killed 40-50 million worldwide.  Research done recently revealed that this flu was a variant of the bird flu, H5N1. 

Now, how could bird flu have spread to humans?  Surely by virtue of its name and type, bird flu is supposed to have been confined to one species – birds.

However, it seemed that may have been another vector involved, pigs.  Pigs are susceptible to both bird and human viruses.  At that time World War I was being fought and huge armies were quartered near livestock.  It was possible that pigs caught the bird flu and they acted as “mixing vessels”, causing the virus to mutate sufficiently so that humans could catch it. (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1005_051005_bird_flu.html

http://www.pighealth.com/influenza3.htm)

So, is it too much of a leap of fantasy to substitute “mice” for “pigs”?  Surely by increasing the susceptibility of mice to human viruses, the possibility is open for mice-type viruses to be modified within these mice to be contagious to humans?  What precautions are these scientists taking to make sure that diseases, once unique to smaller mammals, won’t leap the species-barrier from rodents to humans?

It’s harder to shut Pandora’s Box now that we’ve opened it.

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How to photograph cats (the amateur way)

24 July, 2007

— Round up kittens and place on table.  Crouch to take photo at their level.  Forget to use tickle toy.  Kittens more interested in running away.  Special effect achieved:  headless kitten.

— Round up kittens and place on kitten pen.  Surface is pink towel, not complementary to coat colour.  What the heck.  Wave tickle toy in one hand while trying to take photo with the other.  Kittens attack tickle toy and camera wavers.  Result:  special effect of blurry kitten.

— Round up kittens again.  Try to get close, closer and even closer.  Kittens take dislike to camera lens being stuck in their face but strike beautiful pose.  Click on shutter release but too slow and get beautiful shot of back of kitten.

photooops1

— Round up kittens again.  By now kittens are exhausted with playng with tickler toy and flop down and fall asleep.  I need a new camera.

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The best photos I ever took were either spontaneous, or by chance, managed to click on that lucky moment.  Here are two of them:

phototwokittens2

This first one was taken with the help of my cat wrangler and also my hubby, much screaming of “now now – hold it up now” and cursing as the shutter release went its own slow way and the battery refused to refresh.

phototeddy3

This second one was taken in the garden just as Teddy lifted his head up.  Good thing he held the position for a few seconds in time for the shutter release to catch up.

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How to photograph cats (the professional way)

24 July, 2007

Some more tips from the excellent 1-day workshop organised by the Novice Breeder Advice group in May this year – professional photographers, Anatoli Krassavine and Valentina Koulagina shared their secrets of how to photograph cats.  They showed us some of their handiwork, and made it all look easy.  In short, if you want to take good photos of cats:

— Get on the cat’s level (or get the cat on yours using a prop like an ironing board).  Don’t shoot any of those downward views of your cat looking up (use that ironing board)

— Don’t use a built-in flash (as it’s not powerful enough, and too slow).  Use an external flash unit and move it farther from the camera lens, at an angle of 5-10 degrees

— Background – use a plain background.  The colour should complement the cat, its eye colour and fur pattern.  It should not be reflective.

— Use a reflector shield to bounce the light off the flash onto the cat – it can also be used to direct natural light onto the cat.

— You need at least 2 people for cat photography – the photographer and the cat wrangler.

— Try hiding a hot water bottle under the covers of the surface – cats enjoy heat and may settle down.

— Use entertainment (e.g. tickler toys).  Cats also love a cuddle.  Or use bribes like food, dip a prop in tuna oil for instant attraction!

— Keep props simple, e.g. a feather adds a spot of colour and interest and changes the character of the cat.  A simple stick, fruits and veg are other props.  A yellow rose complements the amber eyes of a cat.  Or use owners as props.

— It is not mandatory to photograph the whole cat.  Get close, and  closer and even closer for dramatic effects.

— Most importantly:  The cat will do what it wants, when it wants!

[PS – For best results, I think it helps to have a really good digital camera as well, plus photo manipulating software like Photoshop]

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How to prevent cats from biting through electric wires

2 May, 2007

Here are some photos of cabling/wiring before and after they were tidied up:

Wires1

Wires2

Neat, isn’t it?

And it’s a good safety measure if you have curious cats.  All it takes is for a cat to decide it wants to sample a wire for the cat to be electrocuted.  It’s usually fatal.  I’ve heard of a kitten that did just that – bit straight through a TV cable.  The owners were distraught.

Accidents don’t just happen and it only takes minutes to make sure your cat or kitten won’t bite through wires by mistake.

(And another reason why I was so anxious to tidy up the cabling is my Bengal girl had started sampling one of the electric wires – there were actually teeth indentations on the wire which really freaked me out)

Any excess cabling can be wound round a product called cable coil.  Any remaining dangly bits can then be bunched (up to 3 wires) and wrapped up in a cable tidy (the thing that looks like spiral binding used on a document).  It looks fiddly, but it isn’t.  The first time I tried the cable tidy, I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use and what amazing results I got.  And both cable coil and cable tidy don’t cost the earth if you buy them from e-bay.  Mind you, if you do source your cable tidy from e-bay, compare products – what seems cheap is probably for a shorter length.

(one caveat:  if you do unplug your ADSL connection in your bid to tidy-up the cabling, be very careful when re-connecting it.  I don’t know what I did, but I’ve managed to lose my ADSL connection and damage the router – I’m a source of amusement to my tecchie friends!  It was an old BT frog-type router which BT conveniently don’t support any more.  2 x 40 min phone calls to BT later, and the advice we got was:  “go to PC World and buy a new router”. )