Meal Time Mayhem

Meal Time Mayhem (2)

Pantry Shelf Meal Prep

I mentioned in a previous post that feeding time is a production in my house. We have two dogs and four cats, not to mention the bunny. Here’s why keeping them all alive can be a bit time consuming.

Breakfast is served at 6:00 a.m. during the week. Sometimes it’s the same time on the weekends, and other times it may be an hour or two late. The dogs are at an age where they would rather sleep than eat, but the cats remind us when it’s past feeding time.

I gather the six bowls and line them up on one of the pantry shelves. I don’t try to get everything together on the counter because I think I will be bombarded with cats, although hubby does this with no problem. They are content to gather at my feet during meal preparation. I start with the cats. I open one large can of wet food and distribute it among four bowls. Dry food is then mixed in with the wet food. Done! The cats are easy. No one is on medication.

The dogs’ meal prep is more involved. Each dog gets wet food, because Moose and Red no longer eat dry food. Not only have they started refusing it in their old age, but Moose has 14 teeth and Red has 12 teeth. (Dogs should have 42 teeth). I figure that they have made it this far, so I am not going to force the issue. I’m just thankful that they still have good appetites. Since they eat exclusively dry food, I put a teaspoon of canned pumpkin on top to help prevent loose stools. Following the pumpkin begins the med distribution.

I cut up one chondroitin/glucosamine chew into quarters, and each dog bowl gets a quarter, saving the other two quarters for the next day. Moose has a probiotic capsule that I open and sprinkle onto his food for his frequent tummy grumbles. Red gets a quarter of a pill for his nervousness and Moose gets a tablet for his heart. Whew!

After all the food prep, it’s time to eat! The dogs eat first, in their separate crates. Moose was food aggressive when he was younger, so we learned early on that eating apart from Red was best. I give Red his bowl first, which sits atop paper towels, because he is a slob who will get the concoction all over the crate floor. Next comes Moose, no paper towels required.

By now the cats have zero patience. Vlad gets shuffled into the laundry room, Tiki gets her bowl on the counter, Tiger eats in the bathroom, and Barnabas gets his food in our room. I would love to just feed them all together, but I doubt that would be possible. Vlad in particular is a chow hound; he is always trolling for any leftovers from his brothers and sister. This method works well for keeping track of who is eating and who may not be at any given time. I don’t free feed, meaning I do not leave dry food out during the day for the cats to graze. Our beloved Ozzy was on a strict food regimen, so we’re not used to leaving food out anyway.

After breakfast the dogs go outdoors, come in and snooze on the couch. The cats are sometimes seen but not heard from until it’s time for dinner. They are grateful for all the food prep, right?

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Tiki Seems to Have an Opinion on the Cuisine We Serve

Priscilla Has Left the Building

Priscilla Has Left the Building

My feathered friend has passed away. If you read Blue Suede Bird, you know that I had a blue parakeet that started out as Elvis but had a name change to Priscilla, once the bird we thought was a male started laying eggs.

Priscilla died on Thursday, May 2. I came home from work and she was gone. I’m not certain how old she was, but I believe Moose was young when she came into our home, so I am guessing she may have been in her double digits. She outlived two cage mates. From what I understand, that is a good run for a parakeet.

I will miss Priscilla’s singing. I loved to hear her chirp. Seeing her perched in her swing made me smile. I also talked to her. The morning of the day she passed, I told her to be a good girl and that I loved her before I dashed out the door for work. I’m content with the knowledge that she knew that, even though she may not have understood me.

I’m sure she is at the Rainbow Bridge, soaring as high as her beautiful blue and white wings can take her. Priscilla is a young bird again, her health restored, her voice strong. She’s serenading the other animals with songs I enjoyed when she was with me.

I kept my little birdie’s swing, as I know how much she loved it. Priscilla may have left the building, but she will remain in our hearts forever.

(Stink) Eye of the Tiger

(Stink) Eye of the Tiger (1)

Waiting Impatiently

I love Tiger to pieces. He can be a crabby tabby on a good day, but when he’s hungry, he takes crabby to a new level. He’s the only cat I’ve had who gets cranky at meal times.

If you read Rude Awakening, you know that when Tiger wants to eat, he wants to eat now. After the pestering, one of us staggers into the kitchen, tripping over assorted pets, to get their food together. If I have a.m. food duty (and most of the time I do, morning person that I am), their wait is extended because mom needs her coffee first. Otherwise, who knows what I will feed them in my fog. I figure that they have waited hours between meals already, so what difference does a couple minutes make?

Well, to them a few minutes makes all the difference, especially to Tiger. If I go upstairs to do something before I feed him, he often follows me. He voices his displeasure at my dawdling, and either tries to bite my feet or swat me. When I return to the first floor, he runs ahead of me, I guess he thinks he’s my guide to the kitchen, in case I forgot where it was.

He walks through the kitchen hissing and growling, to let everyone know that he is not happy. I can’t help but laugh, because it is comical. Food distribution is a production with two dogs and four cats milling under your feet.

A hungry Tiger lashes out at not only me, but also the animal inhabitants of the house. He will swat the dogs who aren’t doing anything but waiting themselves. Barney and Tiki are also on the receiving end of his ire, but it’s poor Vlad that takes the brunt of Tiger’s wrath. I think the orange bully knows that his brother is a lover and not a fighter, and uses that to his advantage. Barney and Tiki are more likely to stand up to Tiger swat to swat. Of course, before he starts terrorizing his brothers and sister, he gives them the stink eye. It’s a look that says don’t mess with me, I am hungry, and I am eating first! Tiger may have hierarchy in the feline population, but both Moose and Red came before him.

I use part of the pantry shelf to arrange the bowls to keep them from swarming me. Sometimes when I’m getting their meds to mix in with the food, I see Tiger on the shelf trying to get to his meal. He is the only one to do that, impatient brat that he is.

The dogs are fed first, followed by the cats. Tiger’s mood changes when I walk with him to the bathroom, his breakfast in hand. Everyone eats in separate rooms to avoid any squabbles over food, and it makes it easier for me to keep track of who is or isn’t eating at any given time.

When Tiger finishes breakfast, the crankiness is gone. He retreats into bed and continues to do what he does best—ignore me.

(Stink) Eye of the Tiger (2)

Tiger Takes Feeding Time Seriously

Nail Trim Time

Nail Trim Trauma (2)

Moose Paws

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! While I wish I had an Irish Wolfhound to write about on this holiday, I do not. Instead, how about a post about Italian greyhounds who turn into feisty little wolves when it’s time to trim their nails?

Way back when Moose was a puppy, trimming his nails was less problematic. I used regular dog nail clippers. I never cut the quick, which is the part inside the nail that bleeds if nicked. He was an active little guy, and concrete helped to wear down any long nails, making trims infrequent.

When Moose got a bit older, he decided that I wasn’t going to trim his nails anymore, at least not without a fight. He would try to nip me, my docile puppy now a 22-pound dog who thought he was a wolf. I was confused because I handled his paws as suggested by his puppy class instructor so he would be used to having his feet touched. He must have forgotten that lesson.

When Red came along, he was just as bad with his nail trims, and some of his nails are dark, making the quick harder to see and avoid cutting. We bribed them with candy, and for a time that worked just fine. Granted it wasn’t exactly healthy to give them little disks of sugar, but as they gobbled them up, I trimmed. This was a successful process that unfortunately didn’t last long at all. Well, it was good that they stopped getting candy.

I threw in the towel when they got wise to the candy-nail trim procedure. I decided to take them to a local groomer instead. I thought a professional would do a better job than I could, and I was correct. We went a few times, and Moose was better behaved than Red, which isn’t saying much. We left with shorter nails, but the boys were still jerks about it. The groomer did a great job, but I felt bad for her having to deal with my little stinkers, so I sought another solution.

With most of my options exhausted, my last resort may not have been the boys’ first choice–the vet. They go once a year for their checkup and vaccines, and teeth cleanings as needed. Now they go every few weeks for nail trims. The procedure at the vet is down to a science and they do an excellent job. The nails are neatly trimmed with little to no drama and everyone leaves happy. It takes no time at all and the pups are on their best behavior. Maybe it’s the location that makes the difference? Whatever it is, we have gone this route for years now, with great success.

Incidentally, I have also tried nail grinding with no luck. I purchased a unit and tried it, had a friend try it, and it was a no-go. Moose wasn’t a fan, and although I haven’t tried it with Red, we’ll stick with what works. I gave the grinder away after my failed attempt with Moose anyway. We love our vet (and I think the boys secretly do, too).

Nail Trim Trauma

Red Paws

Blue Suede Bird

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Elvis?

Although I had all sorts of pets growing up, I never had a bird. My mom once worked with small birds at a dime store, and is quite fond of feathered friends. Before I came along, my parents had a mynah bird named Charlie who was well loved and comical to say the least. They told me stories of how he would wolf whistle at unsuspecting women passing by the window, their reactions aimed toward my dad rather than his rude avian companion. He could cuss like a sailor at inappropriate times, like when someone from the church was visiting. Charlie had the ability to mimic voices, so if you heard someone calling for you, it might be the crazy mynah bird using someone else’s voice. Sometimes he even threw food down to the dog. Sadly, he passed before I could meet him, but his stories made birds sound so fun.

I realize that parakeets and mynah birds are quite different, but I thought a budgie would be better suited for a first-time bird parent. I’ve had Elvis the parakeet for close to a decade, and he seems to be content and happy in our home. I thought his name was fitting because he likes to sing and chirp, plus he has beautiful blue feathers. He has outlived two previous cage mates and now lives the bachelor life. Or does he?

As I mentioned in Mother’s Day Madness, one day I noticed white objects laying on the cage floor. Eggs! After some quick research, I learned that Elvis wasn’t a male bird after all. This surprising discovery led to an eventual name change, so Elvis is now Priscilla. My bachelor bird turned out to be an independent chick! I’m not sure why there was egg production after so many years, and it hasn’t happened again in quite some time. Apparently, one way you can tell the sex of your parakeet is by the color of the cere (the area just above the beak). For some reason I have never been able to decipher Priscilla’s color. It always seems to look different when I check it.

She loves hanging out on her swing or a wooden branch to watch the daily hustle and bustle. She always has fresh water and birdseed, and a cuttle bone to keep her beak in good shape. It appears that Priscilla does not like treats, because she never touches anything I offer her, yet she eats her seed just fine. She has a bunch of toys which I rotate to keep her from becoming bored. Her one constant is the swing, because I know that she loves it.

I may be a novice when it comes to birds, but I must be doing something right, because the first bird I ever had continues to enjoy a long, healthy life. Elvis/Priscilla is a handsome/pretty bird who is quite loved.

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Priscilla!

A Cautionary Tale

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Tiki the Escape Artist

Few things cause real panic in cat owners. The retching sound before a hairball is ejected onto the carpet can be scary, and emergency vet trips in the middle of the night are far worse. What makes my heart stop is when an indoor-only cat darts out the door, which is what happened to me last week.

Tiki has lived with us for six years, inside the walls of our little Cape Cod. I don’t know much about her past, except that she was found outside and brought to the shelter. All four of our cats have spent time in the outdoors prior to being adopted.

We keep water bottles at both doors to spray any cats that get uncomfortably close. Some people shake pennies in a coffee can as a deterrent, but the water bottle method works for us. When we leave, we exit with the bottle, placing it outside the door until our return. To enter the house, we crack the door open and start spraying. The cats soon learned not to hang out by the door. We did this for a long time, until we were confident that the cats wouldn’t attempt to bolt. I never thought we would have an escape with a cat who has been inside for six years.

My hubby let the dogs out into the yard to do their business. Red fell over outside, and when he opened the door to go assist him (Red ended up righting himself anyway), Tiki went with him, down the concrete steps into the back yard. She froze at the next to the last step, and he was able to scoop her up and deposit her back into the house. I was coming up from the basement, just in time to see Tiki go out the door. Talk about heart stopping. Incidents like these are why all the cats wear breakaway collars with identification tags, and are also microchipped with a registered chip.

So what have we learned from this potential disaster? Never, ever let your guard down. There are plenty of cats who live inside for years and never make an attempt to go out the door. Tiki had never expressed an interest in going outside until that day, although she loves to sunbathe directly in front of the door. I had let the dogs in and out with her there several times before and she never moved a whisker.

As a cat parent, I am adamant about my cats being kept strictly indoors. Tiki’s less than a minute adventure had a happy ending, but that’s not always the case for other wayward felines. Some never come home. Please remain vigilant in your efforts at keeping them in if you choose to do so, as Tiki just proved to us that you never know.

I would also like to wish the puppy that stole my heart from the first time I saw him a very Happy 16th Birthday! I love you, Moose! xo

A Cautionary Tale (1)

Sunbathing Near the Back Door

Rude Awakening

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Tiger’s Rude Awakening

Cats can function as furry alarm clocks, especially when it’s feeding time. Some are subtle about it, while others are downright rude, beating you over the head to wake you up. Tiger has his own obnoxious way of telling us when he wants his breakfast.

We have four cats. Vlad will lay on us, Barney will stare from atop furniture, while Tiki taps me on the head, giving me gentle kisses. Not too bad, right? Enter the orange monster Tiger.

He jumps on the bed, all 13 pounds proceeding to pace on our pillows. It’s annoying, but easily ignored. If that doesn’t elicit the response he wants from us, he ups his annoyance game.

On the dresser located next to the bed is a clock radio where an old iPod charges. Tiger has found a way to walk on just the right button to start the music. I’m all for blasting heavy metal, but in the wee hours of the morning, not so much.

Remember I mentioned about being beaten over the head? Tiger takes this to heart. He sits on the dresser, proceeding to swat objects onto the floor. There’s not many things up there that are cause for concern, except the lamp. The heavy, brass lamp. He knocks it down onto the head of the unfortunate person who sleeps on that side of the bed. That unfortunate person is always my hubby. Luckily, he has never suffered a serious injury as a result of Tiger’s wakeup call. Did I mention that Tiger swats the lamp cord loudly against the side of the dresser before sending it crashing down?

I’m not exempt from Tiger’s morning tantrums. He wreaks havoc on my hair, but not all the time. He seems to take offense to the smell after it has been processed. That’s when he tries to wake me up if the hubby won’t respond. He bites as close to my scalp as he can and pulls. Hard. I shouldn’t be surprised that the scent bothers him, because this is the same cat who tries to cover up my coffee mug when it’s sitting out.

Tiger has another tactic to let us know that he wants breakfast. There are two pictures hanging on the wall, accessible to the tabby with attitude. He stretches up from the dresser and proceeds to swat the photos repeatedly against the wall. Wham, wham, wham! I think it is even more obnoxious than blasting the music.

As annoying as all of this is, when he doesn’t do it, we miss it. Tiger wasn’t eating for a couple days, and during that time he wasn’t into his normal routine. We’re not sure what was wrong with him, but he left the vet’s office with an appetite stimulant that got him eating again. I thought he might have a hairball blockage, so I found something at a pet supply store to remedy that. Now that he’s back to his usual self, he’s up to his old tricks. Maybe I will buy hubby a football helmet for Christmas.

Rude Awakening

Looking for a Way Out at the Vet

Bun on the Run

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Lockdown

In my last post, I talked about various rabbit habitats that I used throughout the years. Bugs still lives comfortably in the basement, but it didn’t take long before I found a shortcoming with his setup. In fact, I anticipated it.

One thing I loved, yet had concerns about, was that the wire cube construction had no top. It made the enclosure seem even larger than it was, and it was so easy for me to access Bugs to take care of him. The house is two panels high, which isn’t quite the recommended height for bunnies. However, I figured that it might be sufficient because Bugs is not a large rabbit. Also, since I am petite, I wouldn’t have been able to reach into his enclosure had I added a third panel. There is no door built into the wire walls, which would be convenient.

In the back of my mind I thought about a possible escape. Our basement is divided into three sections. The first is where Bugs is located. There are two doorways leading into the next section, where there are hazards for a loose bun. The second section is probably the worst place for Bugs to escape, because he could hide under the stairs, the defunct oil tank, or encounter the sump pump pit (which has a cover and a bucket on top just in case). Anticipating a possible hop to freedom, I put a baby gate across one doorway and a cardboard box across the other.

One day I came home from work and found an empty bunny house. How did Bugs get out, and where did he go? At first I thought he was hiding behind his igloo, but then I noticed that the igloo was turned onto its side. I read that rabbits can climb, but I believe that Bugs got on top of his hideout and jumped over the wire wall.

Frantically I searched the area where I thought he might be. No luck. How do you call a rabbit, and would he answer to his name anyway? I looked under various basement items to no avail. I ventured into the dreaded second area of the basement, but when I glanced into where I had been, out hopped Bugs from who knows where. I was so relieved to find that he was safe. Because I didn’t want this to happen again, I set him up in a spare cage where he devoured food and water, so he must have been out for quite some time. He spent the night in his temporary place until I could figure out a solution to the open top.

I had enough panels to construct a ceiling for his enclosure, but that left no easy way to interact with Bugs. I read that something on top might discourage any adventures, so the enclosure now has a sheet stretched completely across it, secured with clothespins. So far Bugs has not bothered the top and has remained where he should be. I love my bunny, but his disappearing act has given me more gray hare (pun intended).

I would also like to wish my husband and co-parent of the menagerie a very Happy Birthday!

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My Bugs Bunny

 

Pet Emergency Preparedness

Pet Emergency Preparedness (2)

Ozzy Goes Where Red Goes

Our power went out for a few hours on July 3 after a nasty storm blew through. Because Moose has a heart issue, we decided to leave the house so that he could be in air conditioning. We loaded up Moose and his brother Red for company, and ran some errands with them until the electricity was restored. I knew from experience that power outages are infrequent in our area, and that time without power would be minimal. As for the other fur kids without health issues, the house was comfortable, so we felt safe leaving them at home. Rest assured, had we thought the house was too uncomfortable, we would have left with everybody.

This ordeal had me thinking about pet emergency preparedness. What if we lived in an area prone to natural disasters? If we had to get out fast with the animals, what would we bring? The following is what I would bring for my own pets.

Vaccination Records. My animals are up-to-date on their vaccines, including some that may be considered optional, such as the kennel cough vaccine. That is sometimes required at boarding facilities, and you never know when you may have to put your dog in such a place in an emergency. Cats may also be required to have certain vaccinations.

Carrier/Leash/Identification. Sturdy carriers are a must for cats and small dogs, as well as for small pets like our bunny. Our parakeet Priscilla has a cage that can be lifted out of its stand and be transported. All my fur kids have their own carrier, because even the best of friends can lash out when stressed. (Photo disclaimer: Ozzy voluntarily walked into the crates with the dogs. He was only in them long enough for a quick photo before being ushered out). The dogs have secure collars and leashes, and are microchipped, because identification tags can fall off collars, making it more difficult to be reunited with you should you become separated. Our cats wear breakaway collars and are microchipped, too.

Plastic Bags/Disposable Litter Pan/Litter. I would bring plastic bags for doggie cleanup, and disposable litter pans and litter for the cats. Should we wind up at a hotel, or a family member or friend’s place, they will appreciate our cats having their own spot to eliminate.

Medications. As of now, Red would need his anti-anxiety medication, and Moose needs his heart prescription. I would also bring their chondroitin/glucosamine supplement, and heartworm preventative.

Food/Water/Bowls. I can’t forget the obvious.

Blanket/Toys. If we have the room, my pets would probably enjoy having their favorite blanket or toy with them. They will be stressed, too, and something familiar to them may bring them some comfort. I can count on bringing a stuffed ring, elephant, and platypus for Red.

Everyone’s list will be different, and mine is far from exhaustive, but these are just some items that I would bring for my own animals in the event of an emergency. Use your judgment for your own animals.

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Ozzy Shares Moose’s Crate

The Moo Boo-Boo

The Moo Boo Boo (2)

Treat Time

Italian Greyhounds are a dramatic breed. The most benign injury can elicit a blood-curdling sound that is commonly known among owners as the Iggy death scream. While I’m not sure that I’ve heard the scream, I have heard my fair share of yelping and whining. Moose is our drama king. He lets it be known to anyone within earshot that he doesn’t like his brother Red stepping on him, or nail trims. The trims rarely result in bloodshed, yet he still carries on in his imaginary distress. Sometimes he starts his singing before the first nail is even touched.

Last month we found him holding up a leg, hobbling around on his other three legs. We didn’t see what happened, but we were spared the shrill scream. We think he hurt himself either jumping onto or from the couch. He limped for a bit but seemed to recover quickly.

A couple days later, when he and brother Red were enjoying treats, I thought I saw irritation along what would be Moose’s elbow. On further inspection, his armpit was raw and an angry shade of red.

My first instinct was to slather it with an ointment that I keep on hand to soothe irritated skin. However, Red had just recovered from a nasty skin infection, so I didn’t want to put anything on the area in the event that Moose also had the same affliction. Since the discovery was made on a Saturday, and our vet’s office is closed on Sunday, we decided to show up sans an appointment to see if anyone could spare a minute to look at the spot in question.

We couldn’t have timed our visit any better. There was no one in the office when we came in, and we saw the vet on duty in a matter of a few minutes. After her examination, it was determined that there was no skin infection, but she thought it may have been a result of the leg injury that he sustained. Not only was there redness under his front leg, but it was also on his side, radiating from the leg.

The treatment was rest and a short course of an anti-inflammatory. Moose walked out of the practice his usual happy self, making friends with a Golden Retriever on the way out. I’m happy to report that he has made a full recovery.

As bad as it looked, it could have been a lot worse. Italian Greyhounds are prone to leg breaks, but that is something we have fortunately (knocks on wood) never experienced. Moose’s once blue-colored head is mostly white now, but if he keeps hurting himself, the white on my head may rival the amount on his.

The Moo Boo Boo (1)

Armpit Closeup