Friday, December 2, 2016

Fun Friday!

We just love Fridays around here. And today is an especially fun one. That being said, we'll get right to it.

First up, we have the fantastic Friendly Fill-Ins challenge, hosted by our pals over at 15andmeowing and McGuffy's Reader.

This week's fill-ins are a precursor to Christmas, which makes us very happy. Here they are:

1. I have a hard time finding a gift for _________.
2. I have no problem finding a gift for _________.
3. One of the best gifts I ever gave was _________.
4. One of the best gifts I ever received was _________.

I had to put my thinking cap on for a while, and ended up with these:

1. I have a hard time finding a gift for my dad.
(My dad is a pretty handy guy, and he loves taking it upon himself to personalize things like his truck and his fish aquariums in very unique and creative ways. That being said, his Christmas wish list often consists of tools and all sorts of parts and pieces that I honestly never wholly understand. I'll think I know what I'm looking for, and then I get to the store or online and find dozens upon dozens of options and don't know which is the one he might actually need. It makes it hard not to be like, "Hey, Dad, you know how a while back you mentioned wanting those air deflectors for your truck? So, can you tell me which store carries those, and maybe in which aisle, and how about on which shelf? While we're at it, do you by any chance have the exact part number for those things? Because, you know, I'm just curious like that." Honestly, what even are air deflectors for a truck?)

2. I have no problem finding a gift for my mom.
(My mom is one of those low-maintenance, humble, easy to please sort of gals. She loves cats, and cats, and anything to do with sewing, crafting, and cats, and cooking, and simple and easy things like soaps and lotions, and pretty much anything you get her. Whew.)

3. One of the best gifts I ever gave was a big box full of food and toys for the animals at the local shelter.
(I did this last Christmas. I got a big box and bought enough dog and cat food, treats, and toys to fill it. Knowing how much even a simple can of yummy goodness or a treat or a new toy can brighten a pup or kitty's day, I wanted to provide plenty of those for those animals still awaiting their forever homes. I try to do something along these lines for the shelter animals each year.)

4. One of the best gifts I ever received was my first digital camera.
(I wanted to go for something far less materialistic for this fill-in, but I just kept coming back to this answer. There is a reason, though. I received my first digital camera from my parents for Christmas back when I was a teenager. That was the first camera that really got me taking pictures on a regular basis, and which really sparked my hobby of stalking my furbabies in order to acquire as much photographic evidence of their cuteness as possible. I used that first digital camera for over a decade, and it was pictures from that very camera that got me started on this whole blogging journey. Who ever thought I'd be thinking a camera for leading me to meeting all of you pawesome blogging buddies!)

Now, speaking of Christmas, all I can say now is here's Eddy's picture of the week:

It's blurry, I know, but this is Eddy we're talking about. And a cat frolicking in a Christmas tree isn't exactly the most stationary object around. So, that's what Eddy's been up to.

Okay, what's up next? There's a kitty in this blogosphere who hasn't been feeling well, and that kitty is Sammy. We're sending our well wishes and warm thoughts to Sammy, and we're also participating in the Come Fly with Me blog hop today in his honor.

Sammy is known for his Tuesday Teasers, when he posts a picture from somewhere around the world, trying to see who can guess the location, and who gets stumped. In honor of that, and of course in honor of Sammy, the Come Fly with Me hop was organized for all of Sammy's furiends to help take him all over the world.

Sammy, the furbabies here wanted us to give you a tour of Shawnee National Forest, in our home state of Illinois. Pup Astrid asked to be your official tour guide.

Now, seeing that we've arrived at Shawnee National Forest, we're going to take you to its Garden of the Gods, Sammy. To get there, we'll just squeeze through here...

Then we'll just climb a few stony steps...

And then we'll have ourselves a nice little view...

See that rock there at the right, Sammy? In its entirety, it looks like a camel hiding behind some trees. See?

Well, we sure hope you enjoyed Shawnee National Forest just as much as we did, Sammy. We sure enjoyed your company! And, of course, we're sending lots and lots of purrs and prayers your way!

(Edit: We just learned that Sammy will be making his way to the Rainbow Bridge today. May you fly high, Sammy.)

Now, on to today's art. Can you believe that, once in a blue moon, I have the audacity to draw something that doesn't have four legs and fur? I know. The horror! But, nevertheless, here are some festive little fellows I drew for this weekend's art fair:

These Santas are meant to be ornaments, but I've learned they make pretty good bookmarks, too (sorry, Santa). The last two are feeling pretty patriotic, in large part because tomorrow's art fair is benefiting our local VFW. I figured, why not have Santa himself honor our veterans? So, there you have it.

Ho ho ho! Have a fun and festive Friday!

Our Tip of the Day:
If you ever plan on going on a hiking trip with your furbaby, which would likely be limited to your pup, don't forget to make all proper considerations and plans. First and foremost, please be aware that hiking can be a strenuous and at times exhausting endeavor, so if your pup has never before been, or if he or she has any medical conditions, please take these into heavy consideration. Also keep in mind your dog's behavior around people and other dogs, as well as around wildlife, and of course be aware of the weather and other environmental factors that could affect how successful a hike with your pup might be. Once you've decided that your pup is a fit candidate for a hike, ensure that you have any and all gear required. A sturdy collar and leash are a must, as well as other basics needed on even typical walks, such as plastic bags and water. Don't forget food and treats, bowls for both the water and food, and of course a first aid kit for your pup. Past that, be sure to consider where you will be hiking and pack additional gear accordingly. You might need booties for your pup's feet if the terrain is rough, or a comb in the case of burrs. Activities such as hiking can make for a fun bonding experience with your pup, but first please always be sure that it is a fitting option for which you and your dog are prepared!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thimble Thursday: Watching and Waiting

Thimble has been thinking a lot lately.

If all this cold has finally entered the air, she's been wondering, then where's all that white stuff that she so loved watching fall last year?

Just keep watching and waiting, Thimble, and it will eventually show up.

This human can't lie. Although I'm not a fan of feeling cold or shivering down to my very bones, I do love the beauty of snow. Perhaps that's why I'm watching and waiting with Thimble, and perhaps that's also why this happened:

I know. What's wrong with me? I just really like snow. I'm sorry.

Happy Thursday, everybuddy!

Our Tip of the Day:
This seems like a good time to give a repeat tip from last winter. Once snow and ice start making their way to you, if you use ice melt salt to combat it, please do consider seeking out a pet-friendly kind. Even pet-friendly salts, though, may not be 100% so, as essentially all salts can lead to skin irritation and/or gastrointestinal upset in your furbaby. For this reason, perhaps consider an alternative, such as materials that allow for better traction on ice, which can include oyster shells. Even then, though, always be cautious with tender kitty paws, and with the paws of those pups who go on walks and might be exposed to salt and such used on neighbors' driveways and sidewalks, which may be of a kind that is not pet-friendly. Also be sure to wipe off those paws when they come back in from outside, especially if they've been in contact with materials such as salt. And of course don't forget your own shoes, as you can easily introduce such debris into the home on your own feet. Regularly sweeping and mopping, especially near the door, can also help reduce lingering salt debris, so that it doesn't end up on your furbaby's skin, or licked off of paws and thereby in your furbaby's intestinal tract. It is of course important to prevent injury with ice-combating methods, but don't forget to consider the safety of your furbaby!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another Nosy Wordless Wednesday

Our Tip of the Day:
I'm sure you all know that our furbabies have a far better sense of smell than us. That being said, please always be considerate with regards to what scented items you bring into your home. Candles, air fresheners, disinfectant sprays, and even perfumes, they all smell far stronger to our furbabies than to us. While some furbabies might not mind scents that us humans add to the mix of things, others might feel bothered by them. Keep this in mind if your furbaby seems to avoid rooms or areas of the house with scented items. What's more, some furbabies are actually sensitive and/or allergic to household items that provide added scent. If you add a new candle or other scented item and start noticing your furbaby sneezing, coughing, secreting discharge from the eyes and/or nose, or displaying symptoms of dermatitis, then it's possible that they are senstiive or allergic to the item and its scent. Certain scents, such as cinnamon and pine, can be especially strong and potentially bothersome, especially to furbabies more sensitive to such things. For reasons such as these, please always keep in mind the ways in which our furbabies differ from us, including their heightened sense of smell.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday Treats (#ChewyInfluencer)

Although Thanksgiving is now behind us, today we have a review that pup Astrid did for her special Thanksgiving treats as part of the Blogger Outreach Program. I wanted something special for Astrid to enjoy on Turkey Day, and when I saw Hill's® Ideal Balance­™ Soft-Bake Naturals treats, I was hopeful I'd found another winner.

To give you a brief reminder, Astrid pretty much only likes soft and chewy treats. If you give her a hard and crunchy treat, she might accept it from you, and she might even gum it a bit, but it quickly becomes obvious that she doesn't really enjoy the whole process. So, it's always soft and chewy treats for this pup.

That's why, when I saw that Astrid's beloved Hill's® brand had these soft-baked treats to offer, I knew I had to get them for her to try. This seemed like a good choice right off the bat, as I barely even got them out of that beloved Chewy box before she was breathing down my neck.

So I opened up the bag, and of course took a close-up shot of the treats themselves. Because that's what you do for one of these things, right?

They even have hearts on them! This was destined to be love at first bite.

Anyway, I made Astrid be a behaved little girl and lie down and wait for a treat. She always obeys, even if she looks downright pathetic doing so.

But don't worry, I didn't make her wait long. (Long enough to snap a shot first, though. Because I'm cruel like that.)

Long story short, Astrid loves these Hill's® Ideal Balance™ Soft-Bake Naturals treats! They're soft, chewy, and obviously quite tasty. I chose the beef version for Astrid, as that is just about her favorite thing in the world. These treats come in chicken and duck flavors, too, though. This beef flavor also has sweet potatoes as a primary ingredient, and even though Astrid won't eat plain potatoes, she'll happily gobble them up in this form.

She'll happily gobble them up indeed, and then ask for more.

And more she got.

A couple of other pluses? These treats are made from pure beef, which is in fact the first ingredient. They are also grain-free, and contain no corn, wheat, or soy. There are also no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors. And they're even made right here in our USA. I guess these treats win all around, and they certainly get four paws up from Astrid.

(Disclaimer: As members of the Blogger Outreach Program, we received Hill's® Ideal Balance™ Soft-Baked Naturals treats in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are our own. We only review products that we believe will be of interest to our readers, and we never recommend a product that we do not believe in.)

Now, for today's art, we're still going all out Santa Paws around here. While the furbabies are loving them some Christmas (as in, the tree), this human is having her some ornament-making fun, like this:

I've got a whole series of little furry Santa doodles started. There's just something about furbabies in Santa hats that really gets me feeling festive.

Warm wishes to all!

Our Tip of the Day:
Today's tip is a reminder that I've mentioned at both Halloweentime and Christmastime in the past. And that is, please be respectful of your furbaby's comfort and preferences when dressing them up. Some furbabies may be more than happy to don a Santa hat or elf ears, whereas others might be perfectly opposed to the idea. Therefore, if you wish to try your furbaby in a festive costume, please always be watchful of their reactions and act accordingly. If your furbaby is trying to get away or looks unhappy during the experience, please be respectful of this and do not force it. Your furbaby trusts you and loves you, so please keep it that way!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Holiday Helpers

For this Mancat Monday, Evan would like to expand on the selfie that he took for yesterday's Sunday Selfie blog hop. Remember this?

Let's be honest, it took a lot of work to get the Christmas tree to that point. You see, we have an artificial tree, and it has to be built up practically limb by limb. Disassembled, it fills up 2 large tubs, a little like this:

It can seem like a daunting task, building the Christmas tree, but I love it. It really puts me in the proper holiday mood. The only setbacks usually involve furry little helpers who, well, try to "help".

It's "help" like this that always earns the kitties around here an early Christmas bribe present. What's so wrong with giving the kitties just a bit of a distraction? Last year they got a new little cat tree. This year, they got this:

Since Evan is paralyzed in his hind legs, and also because he's one of my most adamant holiday "helpers" around here, I always make sure that this early gift is one he can utilize and enjoy.

Though I failed to capture his antics on camera, Evan has been enjoying going in and out of this little kitty cube. This ox of a mancat is also purrfectly capable of pulling himself right up there and sleeping on top of it. Thanks to his love for this cube, I was finally able to manage this:

Whew. Now we're all ready for Santa Paws to come to town!

We hope your week starts off wonderfully!

Our Tip of the Day:
Thanks to a comment made by our pals at The Cat on My Head, today's tip is an advisement that it is possible for our furbabies to be allergic to certain types of trees used as Christmas trees. Signs of such an allergy include respiratory issues, such as sneezing and discharge from the nose and eyes, as well as itchy skin or other dermatitis. In some cases, certain pine trees will spark a reaction, while other types will not. If your furbaby has started to show signs of allergies after putting up your Christmas tree, be sure to consider that as a potential cause. If need be, talk to your vet about what to do for such allergies. Especially in the case of significant symptoms that are indeed negatively affecting your furbaby, consider using an artificial tree that is less likely to cause any allergic or other negative reactions from your furbaby.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cozy Christmas Selfie

We put up our Christmas tree and decked the halls the day after Thanksgiving, just as we do every year. It's always a struggle to hold out that long, but it only seems fair to give Thanksgiving its time to shine. The day after, though, it's Christmas!

Being that today is the much anticipated Sunday Selfie blog hop, hosted by the fantastic Kitties Blue over at The Cat on My Head, Evan was eager to snap a cozy selfie to give you all a sneak peak of our Christmas tree, as well as the kitties' early Christmas gift.

This selfie was taken before the tree's final touches had been added, and before the Christmas Tree Terrorist Eddy had realized that her victim the tree was being built. Although I have yet to acquire photographic evidence, Eddy has already climbed to the top of the tree, knocked a number of its branches out of place, and littered the floor with ornaments. Many, many times. I don't know whether to consider her a Christmas enthusiast, or to just call her the Grinch.

Have any of our furiends initiated their Christmas trees yet?

Happy Sunday!

Our Tip of the Day:
How about some more tips on cats and Christmas trees?

First, weigh out your options of an artificial versus a real tree. While artificial trees of course are not meant to be gnawed on by a kitty, a real tree could potentially cause intestinal upset if chewed, not to mention that the needles can be sharp and painful, and the water to keep it alive a potential danger. Also consider tree size, keeping in mind that the larger the tree, the more damaging and potentially dangerous it could be should it tip over with the help of a kitty.

After you've selected your tree, choose a safe place in the house to place it. You might want to select a place that is safe and snug but that also has plenty of free space around it, without many shelves or knickknacks to fall and hurt any nearby furbabies should a calamity occur. Ensure that the base is sturdily weighted, or even anchored down (thanks, Melissa, for the suggestion of anchoring the tree to the baseboard!). You can even try something to ward your kitty away from trying to climb the base of the tree, such as wrapping the base in aluminum foil, or even placing safe yet sturdy decorations or other items beneath it to block kitty's access.

And, of course, be cautious of what all goes on the tree. Avoid potentially dangerous or breakable ornaments if need be, and tinsel or any other potential choking hazards or dangerous items. Do your best to avoid leaving dangling or enticing cords or strands of decoration. If need be, keep the easily accessible bottom of the tree low on or free of those dangling and tempting ornaments and other decorations, especially those that are breakable or that could be potentially dangerous. Be sure to unplug all strands of lights or other cords should you be unable to supervise your kitty and the tree, especially if your cat is a known Christmas tree terrorist.

Also consider placing an enticing cat tree or other fun kitty zone near the Christmas tree, to perhaps prompt the kitty to use it instead of the Christmas tree. Cats love new things, which is why the Christmas tree going up can be so exciting for them. But, you can also use this concept to help save the tree. Consider getting your cat new toys at the same time as the Christmas tree, to give them something else to which to turn their attention.

If all else fails, you can put the tree in a secluded area where your furbabies are not allowed. There is also the option of putting it within the confines a barrier that they cannot pass. With some careful planning and trial and error, kitties and Christmas trees can coexist!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Caturday Art: Winter Wishes

It's one of our favorite days of the week, and not just because it's the weekend. Our love for today is in large part because we look so forward to the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena!

For today's art, we got ourselves into the proper winter mood.

This piece will probably end up as our winter blog header, at least for a while. We hope this scene isn't too chilly!

Snow or no snow, November or not, we're wishing all of our furiends out there warm winter wishes!

We're going to stop usual programming for just a brief PSA. We mentioned a couple weeks ago that this human's mom is partaking in a fundraiser to raise donations for one of our favorite, beloved animal rescues, Hospice Hearts.

Hospice Hearts works to find homes for those animals left as orphans when their owners become critically or terminally ill, enter nursing homes, or find themselves in other similar situations. Many of their intakes are senior and/or special needs animals themselves, which means more than average vet visits and therefore elevated costs. Hospice Hearts has had a slew of intakes that has left them nearly depleted in funds, which is why supporters like my mom are trying to help raise funds for their cause.

To read the original post about this fundraiser, please click here. This fundraiser will be closing tomorrow, so if you are able or interested in donating even a small amount, please do so here.

And, just as before, anyone who donates, no matter how big or small the amount, will receive their choice of an art bookmark, magnet, or ornament from me as a token of gratitude!

Again, though, please feel no pressure to donate. I never want to bully anyone into feeling as if they have to do so. Even purrs and prayers can help rescue groups like Hospice Hearts!


Happy Caturday to all of our furiends!

Our Tip of the Day:
As cold, winter weather approaches, please keep in mind your furbaby's health and safety when out in frigid temperatures. Although most of our furbabies indeed have natural coats that better equip them to insulation than us in winter weather, these coats of theirs are not perfect. Animals with little or no fur are of course more susceptible to losing heat when out in the winter weather, as are those that are especially young, senior, or thin or combating any number of ailments. Also keep in mind that no matter the type of animal or amount of fur, when out in frigid temperatures, there are certain parts of the body that might very well be more susceptible to the danger of frostbite. These include the nose, ears, and paws, which should be closely monitored when an animal is outside in cold weather for any extended period of time. Signs of frostbite include discoloration or paleness of the affected area, as well as coldness or hardness of the skin to the touch. If you have any concern at all that your furbaby might be suffering from frostbite, get the animal to a warm location and seek veterinary assistance.