Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sundance and Belle

I'm sure you've already heard about Sundance and Belle -- two trapped horses rescued from the side of a mountain near McBride, British Columbia. The story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

Last September, the owner lost/misplaced/neglected Sundance and Belle (there was a third horse that was never found). The starving animals were found by snowmobilers, and soon a rescue mission was set in motion. For a week, volunteers dug a kilometer-long trench through the snow in order to bring the horses out. They are now housed in a barn, safe, warm and filling their bellies with food. Both are expected to survive. I am so thankful that there are people out there who care so much for the welfare of animals. Please check out this site for photos, updates and stories about Sundance, Belle and the wonderul people who rescued them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Happy Holidays

Snow on Gardeb
I'm taking a break for a week or two -- it's a hectic time of year for us all. I hope you have a great holiday, and a safe and happy New Year.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Lifespan of Animals

Last month, I read about the death of Debby, a 42-year-old polar bear at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Polar bears normally live to about 20 years of age in the wild, so Debby did all right. Though you do have to wonder if 42 years of captivity is better than 20 years of freedom.

So ... how long do animals live? How long does a grizzly bear live? Or a tiger? Or a hummingbird? Apparently, a bit longer than I expected. It's difficult to track just how old an animal can get in the wild, but here's some statistics gathered about those in zoos:

Grizzly bear - 32 years

Horse - 50 years

Chipmunk - 12 years

Tiger - 25 years

Swan - 102 years

Hummingbird - 8 years

I'm surprised at the possible life span of horses, chipmunks and swans. Does this mean the chipmunk that lives in my backyard will be relying on me for peanuts for another ten years? What will happen to him if I move?

If you're interested in reading about Debby, check this out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gorillas, Puppy Mills, and Blogs

Black and white kitten playing
Just a few things:

The United Nations has launched 2009 as the Year of the Gorilla -- a campaign designed to raise money for primates threatened with extinction.

On Tuesday, the OSPCA rescued almost 100 dogs from a puppy mill in Meaford, Ontario. The story is here. I hope they throw the book at these idiots.

I've started a new blog, featuring some of the animals available for adoption at the OSPCA where I volunteer. You can check it out here. Above is one of the kittens waiting for a new home.

Now, I'm off to catch up on your blogs!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Gift Ideas for Your Dog

As promised, here are the latest (though not alway greatest) Christmas gift ideas for your dog:

Okay, this is just wrong. I'm sure the designer of these chew toys is headed for a special place in wildlife hell:

Mini Roadkill Dog Toy

You know how I feel about clothes for a dog, so I won't even comment on this nail polish:

Pooch polish

This little backpack just reminded me of something -- people who tie a plastic poop bag around their dog's collar -- after the dog has pooped. That's just mean.

Harness Back Pack

Dogs love to chase balls, but if you're anything like me, tossing them can get tiresome. Here's a great gift idea that benefits everyone involved:

GoDogGo The Automatic Fetch Machine

How smart is your dog? With the Interactive Brick Dog Toy, you hide the treats, then let your pet find them by moving the sliding "bricks" with his paw or nose. Where treats are involved, I think most dogs are pretty darn smart:

Interactive Brick Dog Toy

And finally, after a hard day of chasing balls, what dog doesn't want to kick back and have a few?

Hiney Sniffen/O'DroolsBeer Squeaker Toys

Don't forget all the animals at your local Humane Society or SPCA -- they would love some new toys, and now is the perfect time to buy in bulk. During the Christmas season, many stores sell "stockings" filled with dog or cat toys at a very reasonable price. The animals would also be happy to receive your old (clean) flannel sheets, towels and blankets. I've found that bathroom rugs with a deeper pile go over well -- they're soft and keep the animals warm.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Gift Ideas for Your Cat

Ah, catnip ... over-the-counter drugs for your pet. But just how many different ways can you package the stuff?

Sushi For Kitties With Organic Catnip

Catnip Cigar

Do cats really care? I'll tell you what I do: I buy a package of loose catnip, toss some in an old sock, tie a string or ribbon tightly around the opening, and present it to my cat. She'll play with it for weeks.

At first, I thought: Oh yeah, buy this toy and watch your cat's eyes go up in flames when she looks into the light, but apparently it's the green pocket laser lights that can damage one's eyes.

Cat Laser Beam Toy

I'm thinking photoshopped because there is no way they got a cat to sit inside this cardboard "Cat Play House". Yet it looks so realistic.

Cat Play House

In this particular case, they really should have photoshopped a cat who didn't look quite so terrified:

Novelty Cat Play Houses

And finally, for the cat who always seems to be getting underfoot:

Crazy Cat Wall Systems

Next up, gift ideas for dogs.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas Gifts for Animal Lovers

Last year, I wrote about Christmas gifts for dogs and cats. I thought it was time for some useless gifts for the animal lovers in your lives:

This doormat is so cute, but it's almost book-length so all your guests will most likely get frostbite while reading it:

Dog Day 751 Doormat - A Day in the Life of a Dog

In an effort to appeal to every taste and interest, Monopoly games have gone wild :


Of course, there's one for cat lovers too:

Monopoly - Cat Lovers

I make my own cards and tags, and these would be great to add to those I make for animal lovers:

Done bone paperclips

Get organized

I do not for a moment believe this item will stop my cat from lounging on my mouse, desk or keyboard:

Kit-In Box - Desktop Cat Bed

While searching for these nifty items, I came across some more wonderfully useless stuff for cats and dogs, so I'm going to post those some time soon.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Playboy Bunny

This week, a few people have landed on my blog using the search: Playboy Bunny animal cruelty. Hmm ... until today, I don't believe I've ever referred to "playboy". I thought I'd find out what the sudden interest was. Apparently, some ex-playboy bunny has been charged with animal cruelty -- I didn't check out the details, but thinking of that particular icon reminded me of the time when my daughter was quite young.

Can't recall where we were, but she spotted some Playboy Bunny pins, and wanted to have one of her own. It was difficult to explain to a six year-old just why that cute white bunny head was off limits. Can you imagine what people would have thought if I threw caution to the wind, and bought the pin for her to wear? Great conversation starter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Squirrels' Nests

I've always been curious about squirrels' nests -- those leafy abodes high in the treetops that look far too flimsy to keep their homeowners warm and dry. The nest is called a "drey", and is made from small twigs, leaves and other leaf-like material. The inside is lined fur and other soft material. Apparently, squirrels also build dens inside tree cavities such as old woodpecker holes. If I were a squirrel, I'd go for the den -- seems far more cozy.

I found this information on the Squirrel Rehab Website's fact page. There was also an interesting (and rather frightening) note about just what squirrels might use to build their nests:

Caution: Please use caution as to what you leave laying around your yard. We are getting in more squirrels every year that have their tails tied together with string, twine or fishing line. The mom will find any of these and use them to make the nest with. While growing up the babies usually get their tails tangled up in it and never get free of it. They will fall out of the nest still tied together. So please check around your yard and make sure that you do not have anything they could borrow to use in their nest that would be harmful to the babies.

Something to think about.

Completely unrelated -- we've already had snow here. I'm just not ready for another long, cold winter wrapped in blankets of the white stuff.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Volunteering at the OSPCA

It was a long process involving orientation, interview and training, but I'm finally a full-fledged volunteer at the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), York Region Branch. Yesterday was my first day on the "job", and it was amazing.

First, let me give you the lay of the land at the centre: there is only so much room for cats in the adoption area -- I'm guessing 60 or so -- where the public can view and mix with the animals. The other two hundred or more cats are kept in the back until there is room in the public area, or they're okayed for adoption. This is where I was set to work cleaning their cages, litter boxes, bedding and dishes. These large cages are cleaned daily, and many rooms have windows, but I don't think I need to tell you that it's heart-breaking to see these animals waiting for the next step in their lives -- getting into the adoption area so they can find loving families.

[Excuse me while I take a moment to have a bit of a cry. Surprisingly, I didn't cry while I was there -- it seems to be affecting me more now].

Okay, I'm back.

It took four hours for myself and another new volunteer to clean the cages of about 35 cats. I'm sure once we get the hang of it, we'll be able to speed up the process. Eventually, I'd like to take an extra hour or so to socialize with each cat, but there are other cages and rooms needing cleaning -- and there are only so many volunteers and staff to do the job.

It's obvious that the people working at the OSPCA love these animals, and I admire their dedication and hard work. But this is not the life that these cats signed up for -- they need a welcoming home, and room to run and play. Some of the cats in the back have been there for months! Please, if you know someone interested in adopting or buying a pet, steer them to the SPCA. There will always be people to buy the registered purebreds, but there are never enough to adopt from the shelters. These cats (and dogs) are gorgeous, friendly beings who deserve more.

Note: The photo is not of one of the cats.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Feather and Furs

I was at the hair stylist the other day, and browsed through a copy of the fashion magazine, Elle Canada. Had it been closer at hand, I would have grabbed People Magazine (honestly, I only read it when I'm getting my hair done). So ... I'm looking through Elle when I come across a huge spread on the latest "fashions" in fur (article not available online). How disappointing to see page after page of fur scarves, coats, collars and gloves. Surely they looked far better on their original owners!

Shaking my head, I flipped a few more pages until I came upon a another feature -- "Bird call: Fashion Takes Inspiration from Feathers". The subtitle is incredibly heartless: This season, no creature is safe from fashion's greedy grasp - that means you too, cockatoo. It was bad enough that the designers had stripped the skin off unfortunate animals, but then they'd gone and plucked the feathers from a variety of birds -- all in the name of fashion.

I'd thought things had changed -- that we had changed. When did it become politically correct to wear fur again? Why are the designers trying to lull the next, unsuspecting generation into believing that cruelty to animals is okay?

In the 80's, there was a commercial spoof on Saturday Night Live called "Fur: You Deserve It" that showed fur-wearing women being hunted and shot in a park -- a vivid image that's stayed with me for 25 years.

It's obvious we haven't learned anything in all that time.

Friday, October 10, 2008


A few weeks ago, I noticed that my cat, Meeko, had an injury on her cheek -- it was a bit red and looked like it was scabbing over. I couldn't imagine how she'd gotten it, but would keep an eye on it just to make sure it healed properly. A few days later, I spotted this on my kitchen floor. At first, I thought it was a gruesome bug, but discovered it was actually a gruesome chunk of Meeko. She'd obviously scratched the scab out. If you're into skin and fur, you might want to click on the photo to enlarge:

Black cat bald spot
That's one for the scrapbook, isn't it?

So I took Meeko to the vet. She was prescribed antibiotics (which I stopped giving to her because the medication did awful things to her digestive system). Anyway, today, this is the look Meeko is sporting:

Black Cat Bald Spot

It's hard to tell if the fur will grow back. Luckily, she's not the least bit vain.

UPDATE: Meeko's tiny bald spot has grown in quite nicely.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

So Many Things Wrong

Pink Phlox
There are so many things wrong with the world. People starving, economy gone crazy, abused kids, war ... the list goes on and on. I wish I could change all that, but I can't. I can't even manage to put a dent in the amount of horrible things that happen to wildlife and pets, and there's plenty of that:

In Kelowna, British Columbia, the city's parks manager announced there will be a review of its "rabbit culling program". Why? Because an employee of the company contracted to eradicate the rabbits stomped a bunny to death when it didn't die after being shot by an air rifle.

Pesticides. Why do some homeowners believe lawns are more important than the health of our environment, wildlife and children? It's poison, people, and there are alternatives -- like getting down on your hands and knees, and digging out the darn weeds.

In the Northwest Territories, 44 dogs were left unattended by some idiot. They had to be euthanized. I can't even read the entire article, but if you're interested, you can read it here. I found it far too distressing.

I'm sorry for sharing this stuff with you, but I can't help but wonder how people can be so heartless and cruel?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Amazing Products for Pets

I've been spending far too much blog space worrying and writing about stray cats. It's time for some fun, so I thought I'd feature a few of the latest sometimes cool, sometimes useless products for pets:

Umbrellas at Brolliesgalore. One for your dog

I think this is one of those items that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Adult Crazy Cat Lady Costume

(via Snowflake)

The Crazy Cat Lady costume -- just in time for Halloween.


(via Maya-Gabrielle)

Some pets are notorious for gulping down their food only to barf it up a few minutes later. These three posts encourage your pet to dine at a more leisurely pace. Might also frustrate the hell out of them. Note to self: find out if this product is available for humans.

The "click on the bowl to see how it works" doesn't work for me.

Fun Run Outdoor Cat Enclosure

(via Aswan)

This outdoor enclosure is supposed to keep your cat safe from predators and getting lost or run over. But all I can think of when I look at it is:

1) The potential for it to roll down the driveway or lawn, and into the path of an oncoming car.

2) How a large dog might view this as a gigantic toy -- with a live kitty inside! Kind of like a Cracker Jack box for canines.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's Once Again Safe for the Chipmunks to Come Out

Chipmunk at window eatingMy neighbour called me yesterday, and asked if I'd seen the stray cat hanging around. Apparently, our stray has been killing many of the chipmunks -- in a most tortuous, play with them before eating kind of way. This made me jump off the fence that I'd been straddling. I had to take the cat into the OSPCA.

An officer dropped off a live trap in the afternoon with instructions to trap it between the hours of 8:00 and 4:00 when the centre was open. The cat visited us around 4:30 yesterday afternoon -- too late to take it in. This morning, I baited the trap and set it out where I'd previously fed the stray. He (I'm not exactly sure if it is a he or a she) came at 8:00 a.m. Despite the enticing aroma of food, he didn't fall for the trap. Instead, he rubbed up against me, letting me pat him. This was good news regarding his "adoptability" -- friendly, affectionate, but may have some trust issues considering what happened next.

I ran downstairs, grabbed my own cat's carrier and put food in it. He may have been wary of the metal trap, but he walked right into the plastic carrier. He meowed, loudly and piteously, for the entire 20 minute ride to the OSPCA. But now he's safe -- he'll be checked over, given a flea treatment, then put up for adoption. Of course, I cried after dropping him off. I want only the best for him, but I also want the local wildlife to be given a better chance at survival. I'll try to follow his progress, and give you updates.

Thanks to all for your advice!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stray in the Neighborhood

I'm in a bit of a dilemma, and wondered what your thoughts might be. We've had a stray hanging about the street for the past month or two. She'll come close, run around me, crying in a loud, baby-like meow. Eventually, she'll make her way back to the forest across the street where I believe she lives. I fed her for the the first time yesterday, hoping to gain her trust so I can trap her -- winter is coming, and I'm not sure our stray will survive the elements.

That's my dilemma -- should I live-trap this cat, then take it to the OSPCA? I phoned them yesterday, and they will check for a microchip, see to her health, then put her up for adoption -- if she's adoptable. If not, then she may be euthanized, and I couldn't have that on my conscience. Now, the cat did let my daughter pat it the other day after she'd sat for 20 minutes, giving the cat time to get up the nerve to come close. That's hopeful, isn't it?

I don't have a picture of her, but here's one of the elusive bunny who visited my yard during the summer. Actually, she's so elusive, she's even hard to find in the photo, so you might want to click to enlarge:

Rabbit on garden path

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hotel Cats

The Hyatt Regency in Monterey is home to two stray cats (sorry, don't recall their names). I saw them on the first day of our stay, so asked the doorman about them. The cats have been around for about 15 years, and are close companions.

Monterey Hyatt Grey Tabby Cat
Monterey Hyatt Orange Cat

This orange guy was one of the scruffiest cats I'd ever seen, but he was well-fed and friendly. I was told the housekeepers feed the animals, and just as we were packing the car to leave, I spotted the cat house and bowls tucked away in a corner of the parking lot.

Monterey Hyatt Cat Bowls

You know me, I'm a sucker for these kinds of random acts of kindness, and think it's wonderful that the Hyatt has adopted these two strays. Perhaps hotels that provide for animals should be given some kind of "seal of approval" by SPCA. I'd be more inclined to stay at their establishment. Wouldn't you?

Friday, September 5, 2008

California Wildlife

While vacationing in California, I was always on the lookout for wildlife (click on photos to enlarge):

Bird Rock 17 Mile Drive California17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach, winds through a lush forest and along a rocky coastline. How wonderful it must be to live here. We stopped at Bird Rock, home to sea lions and ... well, lots and lots of birds.

Squirrel 17 Mile Drive CaliforniaA sign along 17 Mile Drive advises visitors not to feed the animals, but this squirrel looks like he does all right.

Deer Muir Woods CaliforniaIn Muir Woods, a deer ventured close to the trail for a drink. Like a pack of hungry paparazzi, tourists snapped at the bit of fur visible through the leaves.

Sea Lions San Francisco CaliforniaSea lions or seals? I'm not sure, but these guys in San Francisco are a noisy, comic bunch.

California Pacific CoastQuestion: We wondered why is the rock along the coast is white? Is it bird poop? I'm not quite sure what that speck is in the middle of the photo -- a bee, a helicopter, Superman?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Problem with Comments

There appears to be a problem with the comments left on my blog. I receive an email notification of a new comment, but it doesn't appear here. Checked the help group, and others are experiencing it as well, but there doesn't seem to be a fix for it.

Update: Looks like it's just my "Silly Kitties" post that is giving me problems. I can only see the comments after "Anonymous" if I collapse that particular comment. Unfortunately, I there is no trash can to delete it. Thanks for your help, NT.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Silly, Sleepy Kitties

Cats are usually so elegant and reserved, but sometimes they just can't be bothered with appearances. Because of her black fur, it's always difficult discerning Meeko's various body parts in a photo. You should see the live action when I venture downstairs in the dark -- and she's sleeping on the steps. Click on the picture if you'd like to get up close and personal. Although, to be honest, I don't believe I'd want to be checked out at such close quarters -- technology can be unkind.

Black Cat sitting

While visiting friends at their cottage, I snapped this pic of their two cats, Artemis and Yogi, who are great pals. Arty (on the left) is the cat who wore the cone earlier this year. As you can see, his health has improved, and he's free of the dreaded device.

Cats sleeping

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Party Report

Matilda Algonquin Cat
Matilda's birthday has come and gone, and I'm told it was a hit.

As you're probably aware, I'm not crazy about cats being dressed up, but it was all for a good cause -- kitties raising money for kitties. Perhaps a better idea would have been if the people who attended had to wear faux fur cat costumes. I doubt Matilda wore anything but her own luxurious coat.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cat Hoarders

I dropped by my local Humane Society (OSPCA) today to drop off some stuff for the yard sale they're holding on August 23rd. The large storage room was bursting at the seams, so it should raise lots of money to help run the centre.

While there, I visited the cats (of course) and found that the shelter had recently taken in 42 cats from the home of a "cat hoarder". I'd never heard that term before, and discovered it applies to anyone owning ten or more cats. I looked up "cat hoarder" on Google, and got over 5,000 hits, but didn't check any of them out because I was afraid there would be heart wrenching photos -- and I'd already seen enough.

The OSPCA had posted some pictures at the shelter depicting the living conditions the felines had to endure -- mounds of garbage strewn throughout, and filth coating every surface. The cats had never played with toys nor had any human interaction, yet they didn't turn away when I patted them. I'm hopeful that once adopted, the cats will respond to the love given by their new families.

You know, we joke about the 'crazy cat lady' , but having too many pets might overwhelm the average person -- no matter how much that person believes they love the animals. I suppose, instead of treating these people with humour, we should make sure the cats are receiving the appropriate care.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Just Got Back

California Coast
I just returned from vacationing in California. On our drive along the coast, we stayed in Huntington Beach, Monterey and San Francisco. Although I did the trip about 20 years ago, I was once again blown away by the scenery. I need a few days to get caught up with life (and laundry), but will be back. I'm also looking forward to catching up on all the posts of my favourite bloggers.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wonderful People

There are some wonderful people in the world, and the founders of "Angel's Gate", an animal hospice, are the cream of the crop. Please take a moment to check them out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Matilda's Birthday Bash

Matilda Algonquin Cat
Earlier this week, I received an email from Kim Hong writing for the Algonquin Hotel in New York, inviting Meeko and I to Matilda's 13th birthday party. Do you remember Matilda, the Algonquin cat? I wrote about her here. Unfortunately, we're unable to attend the celebration, but I promised Kim to let you know about it.

Festivities, benefiting the North Shore Animal League America, will include:

North Shore’s Purrrrfect Company therapeutic cats, taking the day off from hospital and nursing home visits, to strut their stuff on the Algonquin Hotel’s “cat-walk.”

Meow-Wear outfitting Matilda’s friends in the latest teen-kitty couture for the cat fashion show.

The North Shore Animal League giving Matilda a special birthday gift of helping find homes for some of her feline and canine friends at their mobile adoption units outside of the hotel from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The Algonquin Hotel’s signature Matilda cocktail and a variety of special purrrr-tinis being sold to benefit North Shore Animal League.

The cat fashion show and birthday reception will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on August 7th. Attendees are requested to RSVP by calling 212-419-9197 or emailing matildaalgonquincat@algonquinhotel.com.

This is a worthy cause, and should be a lot of fun, so if you're in the area, why don't you and your furry friend(s) drop by?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mark Your Calendars

Long haired Tabby Cat
Sometimes we need a nudge to celebrate the furrier members of our world:

National Cat Day
October 25, 2008

National Dog Day
August 23, 2008

One purpose of these special days is to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of cats and dogs that need to be rescued each year. Another is to urge you to celebrate the pet(s) in your life, to give them unconditional love for the companionship they bestow.

Humane Society Walk for the Animals
October 5, 2008

All proceeds benefit the lifesaving adoption, humane education, and spay/neuter programs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wild China

Wild China is a six-part BBC documentary on the people, wildlife and history of China. Here in Canada, the series is being shown on CBC's The Nature of Things, and is narrated by David Suzuki.

Apparently, the biggest problem the producers had was trying to find wildlife to film. But over 16 months and many miles, they succeeded in putting together a fascinating series. Highly recommended.

Of course, it's the Olympics that made the entire production possible -- the BBC was given unprecedented access to remote areas within China. And we can also thank the upcoming Games for the recent Chinese government ban on selling dog meat in restaurants.