Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Dark Side of Animal Rights

Be careful which activist organizations you support, many are not what they claim, and few do real good.

Recently an article came out online confirming what many of us had stated about PETA for a while, they operate high kill shelters. The reason for them having kept this hidden as long as they could is the very reason they created the bandwagon they charge people to ride.

As many people know, fame and fortune are like crack, highly addictive, and it destroys who you are. PETA has been addicted to fame and fortune for many years now, enjoying the power to make or break businesses and the perks these corporations pay for protection from their merry band of protestors.

Another common reason people will create bandwagons with the guise of helping is a bloodlust, their love of violence has made Sea Shepherds the prime example of this. Nothing short of terrorists seeking an excuse to intimidate and bully with violence and death.

Sea Shepherds are throwing out the rest of the ocean to offer one species a short lived reprise from being hunted, and to do this they attack ships, sinking them, full of toxic materials. The killing of humans to accomplish their misguided mission aside; the oceans are the most important environment on the planet, without their ecosystem, we all die, as in all animals.

Sure, life will continue on in spite of all animal life being absent, and eventually new animals will evolve to take our places, but is this worth the price of driving everything else extinct? Greenpeace was once like Sea Shepherds, but they grew up and thought about their mission more objectively, then corrected their methods.

Greenpeace now does great work, producing slow, steady, and lasting results. Violence only begets violence, and they have realized that causing harm will only drive the demand for the products based on animal suffering.

Humane Society, RSPCA, and many small time groups work with the governments and law enforcement, while protecting what they can. These groups need our support most, they do not ask for more than needed and care little about the fame.

So how do you know if an activist group is good on their word? This often appears to be a daunting task, but it's pretty simple most of the time. Talk to their supporters; if the supporters seem excessively fanatical or defensive, chances are they are a bad organization.

By asking tough questions like what policies the group endorses and which agencies they work with, you can learn a lot, especially if they offer only vague platitudes or slogans. The lack of solid answers is a red flag, they are likely looking for attention, instead of solutions.

You should also ask to see the financial records, true activists are against hiding these; the records will show what actions they have taken for, or against, their cause. The financial records will offer another very important bit of information, who backs the organization.

Most people will not know exactly what to look for here, so I will offer a quick rule of thumb. Look for any company that sells food, clothing, or cosmetics. Key words are any feel good labels like organic and all natural.

Both organic and all natural labels are scams, they will often use misinformation and bully tactics to break the competition, and they usually care nothing for the environment or animals. Those topics require far more explanation than I have time for now.

If they deal with domestic companions; ask how many adoptions they have helped with in the last year, the Humane Society loves to give this number, and it shows they are more interested in saving lives, even at the cost of a few pennies. Many of these organizations only exist because of donations, and often they will ask for foods, medicines, or other necessities instead of money.

Please, support animal rights, and do so by supporting organizations that do not harm animals.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spaying and Neutering - The Evil Hypocrisy

Spaying and neutering, often called "altering" as a means if sugar coating it, are genocidal traditions of mutilation. The practice is nothing short of barbaric and inhumane, based on fears which were outright lies to fuel an artificial demand for nonhuman companions. The result is the emergence of puppy and kitty mills.

First I will address the baseless and hysterical fears used to justify this inhumane practice. The most common one is the fear that the nonhuman species will over populate. While humans are a good example of a species which actually has done this, humans are neither willing, or allowed, to be neutered to control our population.

Doctors and politicians are actually encouraging us to over populate more, meanwhile we rape the environment and displace other animals then turn around and slaughter the other animals when they try to return to their natural homes. So it is highly hypocritical for any human to ever say we should control the populations of any other species for any reason.

That's the biggest problem, but only one of many for this issue. Another baseless fear is that other animals will bring diseases to us. News flash, we have vaccines now and most diseases are not transmissible across species. In the past, other animals were regularly blamed for transmitting diseases that they are incapable of carrying. The real fault was our own, poor hygiene and lack of medical science were the biggest offenders.

Today, the few trans-species ailments are easily controlled by medications and proper precautions, so it's still our own fault if we do get hurt by them. Our species is one of the filthiest species on the planet, we breed diseases, viruses and bacteria, by our own existence. Yes, we do this to ourselves more often now because of communal living.

But what about the environment? Seriously, I have heard people suggest that allowing those animals who want to be wild alone can cause problems for the environment more serious than our cutting down trees and draining swamps does. Nope, no species could ever cause the harm humanity has, even the dinosaurs did not come close to the damage we have caused.

We have been selecting these species, cats and dogs, based on cosmetic traits for centuries. The result is a lower fitness. They need to be allowed into the wild so nature can correct the problems we created for them. This is a tough love issue many of us nonhuman care givers will cringe at, but it must be done.

Their wild populations will suffer a lot, many will die of preventable illnesses, but the mistakes we have made in their breeding will be corrected by nature eventually and they will find a place in the ruined world we have created. We should be sharing this land with all other animals, not destroying them just because we're too weak to control our own population for the sake of the entire planet.

I touched on the puppy and kitty mill problem, I need to get more in depth with it before closing. Spaying an neutering these species fuels the demand for the unaltered ones, which produces a huge demand for the mills. A mutilated animal has a high risk of several health problems, obesity being one, depression being another very common one, the imbalance of hormones makes them more prone to other issues like acne, infections, infestations, and personality disorders.

The shelters then have to require a huge payment to adopt them, large enough to make puppy and kitty mills extremely profitable. Profit makes human society do the most idiotic things, including torturing other animals. Many vets get paid by the mill owners to perpetuate this cycle by enforcing the mutilation, like seed companies demanding the unused seeds be destroyed, it creates a perpetual market.

So this is the moment of truth, for any human who has their genitals in tact, it is a vile hypocrisy for you to even consider doing this to any other animal. You are no better than the likes of Mao and Hitler.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Pepper's Talents, Intelligence, and the Damage of Sports

Pepper has become good at letting me know what she wants now, by always going to what she was staring at I have taught her that's how to tell me what she wants or needs. So now all i have to do is ask her what she wants and she'll look at it, then to me. The only time she doesn't is when the camera is on her, she always looks away from the camera.

The big trick is letting her know what the question tone is, most cats don't give you too many opportunities to use it, but Pepper gave me enough that she learned to tell when I was asking "what?" Now, when she wants to play, she'll look at the toy she wants us to play with, she loves it when I throw the shiny ball about.

It's cute when she wants a specific food, she looks at the food cabinet, and if I think she's eaten enough of the healthy stuff I ask her which one she wants and point to each on in turn. She looks away when it's the right one. She can tell by the sound the bag makes when I poke it as each one is in a different type of bag.

She has also gotten very crafty about getting me to pet her, she'll approach for pets then move to a place I have no tech devices when I start to follow her. It's so cute how she does this that I can't help but give her attention and pets as a reward for outsmarting me.

Now something that angers me. Sport use to just be an annoyance, but lately I have come to hate all sports and their fans. Yes, Seahawks, Sounders, Mariners, you all suck and need to just leave, and take your scumbag fans with you. Go to Texas or some other state where your lack of intelligence and compassion will be appreciated.

My Pepper has a minor heart condition, normally it means nothing, but loud, sudden, sounds can make her ill. It's bad enough Seattle allows those cannons and other such noise pollutants, as well as encourage the idiotic fans to drink and drive and pollute the air with their cars. Enough is enough, these are bad for the city, and the police presence required to maintain your fans costs us too much as a city.

So I will begin a campaign to end sports in downtown Seattle, the "No More Morons" campaign. Every game I will remind the intelligent people just how horrible this sports crap is, and how bad for the environment it is. Right now I smell only car exhaust, in my second story apartment I can smell all the black crap you scum are making us all breathe just so you can watch some morons bash each others' heads in.

My Pepper sits on my lap, shivering in terror because of the cannons and drunks going to their cars screaming and yelling. I am no longer annoyed, I am furious now. Watch the power of social media destroy your value. #NoMoreMorons means no more major league sports scum.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Say "Yes" to Catnip - All Natural High

Catnip is a fun little plant when you have cats, I got a bit worried about Pepper's love of it though. So I searched everything I could on the subject and found that catnip, much like marijuana, is almost impossible to overdose on.

I also discovered that it is the oils that cause the effects, when inhaled it causes almost the exact same reaction as a human with marijuana, In spite of the rumors of marijuana's use. Catnip will effect different cats differently, some get playful, other lovable, others will just want to nap.

Pepper gets extremely relaxed after a short bit of play. She loves to lick the catnip to get more of the oils too, another common method they use. So she now has a catnip pillow and a catnip hard ball.

Yes, this is the first time I ever got catnip for one of my cats throughout my whole life. So I now call Pepper my druggie cat, as a cute little name. Her life has been one stressful situation after another and I think she has earned the right to be relaxed whenever she can be.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Finicky Foodie - Pepper's Palate

Pepper is one of the most finicky cats I have ever seen, not in a bad way though. She refuses to eat anything that resembles human food, the problem is that this includes canned or soft cat food.

Anyone with a lot of experience with cats and dogs will tell you that dry food is not enough, no matter how healthy it is, because it can give them constipation if they don't drink a lot of water as well.

Another benefit of soft food is the enzyme content. Animals need exposure to certain enzymes, bacteria, and chemicals that don't survive the drying process. These ingredients are preserved in canned foods.

The enzymes and bacteria will help the animal digest food more efficiently, thus allowing their bodies to absorb the important nutrients easier. So it is important to get get cats and dogs to eat some raw foods, canned or other soft foods will suffice. If they refuse to eat it, you have to explore a bunch of flavors and textures.

Pepper likes gravy, she likes the soft and canned food gravies so much she'll eat some of it to get the flavor. So I am buying those foods with gravy and "soft centers" and giving her three choices at a time.

One choice is the heavier healthy dry foods, she'll eat some of those. The other is a cheap generic type that she loves, Meow Mix or Top Kat are her favorites now. The third is a small amount of some canned or soft food that comes with gravy in it.

Her middle bowel is almost always empty by the end of the day, while she barely touches the other two. But she is eating some of the other choices so they are not wasted.

This is one of the challenges of adopting an adult feline, figuring out their favorites without wasting too much money. With a kitten you have a lot of freedom, because they shaped by what they are exposed to.

My advice is to prepare for a lot of experimentation and wasted money, you can't let them starve and they will not like everything you put in front of them. Pay attention to what they rush to when you open the container, and find alternatives that cover their needs best. If all else fails, take them to a vet for an exam and ask the vet for advice.

Photogenic Animals - Black Cat Photo Storm!

There are specific traits many people think about when they call something photogenic, and they are all wrong, especially for nonhuman animals. Pepper has taken to being more photogenic with each picture I take of her, and it's because she is losing the shyness she had when she first arrived.

For those who don't know, or don't have the time to read back through this blog, Pepper was really depressed when she first arrived because of being rejected twice and neglected. So taking photos of her was bit and miss, the best ones were when she slept, or was unaware of the camera being pointed at her.

But now she poses, looks at the camera when she's not busy, even smiling for the photo sometimes. She has come to enjoy it. All animals are photogenic, the photographer is responsible for bringing out the beauty in them.

Pepper is no exception, and she is not a particularly exceptional looking cat, though her fur is so soft and luxurious it's impossible to resist petting her. What makes our companions so wonderful in photographs is the bond between the human taking the photo and the other animal, you can tell when someone they know is behind the camera or not because they will ham it up for the human they know better.

Wildlife photographers are not interested in the animals putting on a show, we love their photos for capturing the beauty of nature as it is, so this does not apply to them. I do envy wildlife photographers though.

The trick to taking great photos of your companions is to regard them as you do your human friends. Act casual and natural, take the shots as they come, and don't worry if they are not perfect. That last part is important, because the images will always be perfect for the viewer, so stop worrying about the color or breed of the animal, or even if they look at the camera.

Most of our nonhuman companions are becoming very familiar with the idea of being photographed, to them it's just an easy way to make us happy. For us it's a way to keep them alive forever and remind everyone of how awesome your friendship was.

To those who have this stupid idea that black cats "make horrible selfies," stop being selfish. Black cats are no less photogenic than a Persian. This is nothing more than some vicious rumor started by some idiots who probably think seeing a black cat online is bad luck, stop giving superstition and ignorance validation.

So I propose a world wide black cat photo storm, lost pics of your black cats everywhere, thousands of pictures, old and new. Keep doing this every day until this stupid notion dies, so fewer cats have to.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Grass - The Best Way to Unwind

Pepper is talking a lot more these days, even waiting for me at the front door when I am gone. Her behavior is becoming more social and trusting of me, knowing I won't allow her to he harmed is helping her open up a lot more.

She seems to have grown bored of the hallway, but still won't trust the elevator. I may have to carry her into the elevator some day, with the leash and harness on. Perhaps when she sees it's harmless she may accept the beep and mechanical noises without fear.

Her new grass garden was ready this morning, she loves it. Pepper constantly thanks me for it, meowing and head bumping then jumping up to her garden and nomming on the grass. It has four types of grass in it, and a large, heavy, wooden pot.

I had bought a small "refill" and used a container to grow it when I first brought her home, she loved it enough that I figured the larger one was worth the investment. It offers her comfort when I am not around.

This morning she was extremely hyper and affectionate, calling out to me every once in a while. Her voice was gritty the first month because of URI, but now it's clear, even kitten like.

Pepper purrs the instant I pick her up now as well. It's odd though, she does not like the lap yet, but loves to be carried around. I think she is still associating the lap with medicine and nail clipping. So I am putting her on my lap, not letting her get off until she purrs, she is starting to relax.

This leads me to also believe that most of the people she has known well have pushed her off their lap when she wanted affection. Her reaction is one of fear, not distaste. So I say to anyone adopting a cat or kitten, let them on your lap. They will stop kneading if you simply let them know it hurts by stopping petting them.

They do not learn to not knead with claws if you just push them off your lap, instead they just learn that the lap is bad. Read further back in this blog for more detailed explanation on how to teach a cat well.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happiness is a Best Friend

Pepper loves chasing a laser light, some cats don't. A neighbor told me how his cat, Ollie, chased the laser until he figured out where it was from. The reason for this is the curiosity, for some they chase it to try to catch and study it, for others it's a toy. Pepper not only knows that I control it, she also knows what makes the little red dot.

She chases it purely for the fun, and if it vanishes when she still wants to chase it, she looks at me, then the pointer, then me again. It is her method of asking for more play time, and she knows I will almost always keep playing until she's bored. For Ollie it was more about not knowing what it was that made it fun.

I have been encouraging Pepper to be curious now, even helping her discover new things. She has learned to recognize what doors open in which ways, and what the handles look like and how they function. She will sit in front of a door she wants me to open, watch me open and close it over and over, then walk to a different door and do the same thing.

I had no idea what she wanted the first few times she sat in front of a door, but when she started exploring the hallway outside the apartment J soon figured it out. She explored the rooms I could gain access to, like laundry and trash bin, but was always more interested in the doors. It's not just doors, faucets and light switches too.

The one thing that seems to really interest her is the closet door, a double sliding door where they overlap in the center. She understands how they open on each side, sometimes she explores inside a little bit, but then she stands in the middle as if expecting it to open in the middle as well. Lately she shows less interest, perhaps she figured out it won't open like that.

She is learning which doors I can open, yet often gets persistent about doors I can't open, looking at me with that "come on, just do it" expression. It is so nice to see her curiosity blooming now, as it seems to overpower her fears. She is still very cautious of new animals, especially hairless apes.

I bought a deluxe grass garden for her too, I used a refill in a small container to see if she liked it. The grass seems to calm her when she's agitated and she enjoys rubbing her face in it and chewing on the individual blades. When she gets use to walking with me, she will love one of our local parks, for now I will keep her supply of live grass steady.

Her health is also improving. The Humane Society takes great care of the animals, but many become depressed or heart broken about being discarded. Pepper was a bit depressed, and she didn't do much, and ate only the food that the shelter gave me for the first couple of weeks. Now, with her playing and exploring more, and her mood improved a lot, she is looking much more fit.

Pepper's claws are powerful, she is shredding the cardboard scratching thing I got her, it is the only thing she uses her claws on. Seriously, I have never seen a cat this frightened of using their claws. She worries I'll punish her for kneading on her bed, won't use her claws to hold on when frightened, and never claws the carpet. I am worried that she won't use her claws to even defend herself.

I bought her some fancy, all white, porcelain dishes, she did not like the plastic bowls I got her originally. The new bowls only cost $1.50 each at Daiso, but they are fancy dishes, and she does prefer them. She use to take the food out of the plastic dishes before eating it, and would not drink water from plastic dishes at all.

One problem is that Pepper is a stoner cat, she loves her catnip and gets lazy when she sniffs it. At first I didn't notice a change, between getting sick from the stress of moving in and her being depressed there was almost no difference. Now that she is acting more alive and happy, it's pretty clear that the catnip makes her really relaxed.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Kitten Konundrum

The Kitten Konundrum is where people think the younger ones are so cute and adopt because of that, then discard the cat or dog once they become adults. This was far more common when I was growing up, but still happens today. It's sad that humans would adopt based on cuteness, and a very shallow idea of what's cute at that.

I prefer to adopt kittens over adults for one reason only, the kitten has an easier time adjusting their personality to suite me. I always plan on being with them for the long haul, until they grow old and die with a smile on their face for having lived a good life. This is one of the only two valid reasons to adopt kitten instead of an adult.

The second reason, and why I get as young as possible, is to delay the inevitable as long as possible. Cats and dogs have much shorter lifespans than we do, adopting only kittens a human could have five or six cats their entire life. It is hard to see them go, and was a reason I went without for so long before adopting Pepper.

Pepper is six years old now, that is no more than 14 years I get to spend with her. I am 39 years old now and will probably live another 40 years. Giving optimal health for Pepper, that's less than half my remaining life, which means I will have to deal with another best friend's death again. This is the reality I was considering when adopting, a reality I had prepared for before allowing myself the companion.

I suffer from depression, what that means is that I dwell on things, negative events stay in my focus longer and all problems become mountains to climb. Pepper offers a distraction for me, pulls me away from a problem long enough to regain focus and shed the frustration. In return I dote on her, giving her everything she needs and wants, as long as it won't endanger her health.

Today, Pepper has opened up a bit more. She no longer cowers when I reach to start petting her, which she was always a bit nervous at first. She knows I will accommodate her love for water straight from the faucet, even picking her up to set her next to it. She is eating a small amount of the canned food as well, she was afraid of it at first.

She doesn't go under the bed except to test if I am paying attention to her now. She comes right back out from under the bed when I call her. When I am at my table she sits in the windowsill where I can see her. I see her sitting up more often as opposed to the crouching position.

She lays out on the carpet a lot now, relaxed. When she first came, she would only lay in a ball or on her paws ready to bolt if threatened. The elevator is becoming more of a curiosity for her each day, I am hoping when we go to the vet it will be on a leash instead of putting her back into the cat carrier.

These adjustments are the hard part about adopting an adult cat, set in her ways and hurt in the past, she has to learn to trust again.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Friends

A dog spent about three hours with us today, her name is Caramel. I was watching her for a neighbor while he had to go to an appointment. Based on my experience, people tend to be too pushy and expect nonhuman animals to make friends and get along much too fast, you really have to let them go at their own pace.

Caramel is very cat friendly, she even seems to understand them well. Pepper is not yet stranger friendly, but shows no difference between cat or dog. So I let Pepper observe from her perches, where she feels safest. Eventually she figured out that Caramel could not get onto the counter or windowsill and just watched from there.

Pepper won't claw anything, she hasn't even used her claws to defend herself yet, so I knew Caramel would be safe. When Caramel did have a chance to get near Pepper, my girl took a defensive posture, which is really just a glare with ears back, at the approaching stranger. Caramel sniffed for just a bit then backed away to explore more of the apartment.

That was it. Caramel is willing to be friends but also seems to know to give Pepper her space until she'd ready. I was in control of the situation, though I was allowing it to play out on it's own I could step in before either got hurt if one of them showed any aggressive behavior. That is the key to introduction, let them decide the speed.

Eventually the two will become friends or indifferent. Indifference must be acceptable, you cannot force friendships, but indifference can later become a friendship if they are not pushed together. Younger nonhuman animals tend to become friends much faster, and if they have only positive encounters with strangers the younger ones will be very friendly.

Older nonhuman animals tend to take a lot more time and patience if they have either had a lot of bad experiences, or no experiences to learn from. Pepper is the latter, she doesn't fear nonhuman animals at all, but has no idea what to think about them because her only exposure to strangers was at the shelter where it was a gambit if behaviors.

There is a chance an adult cat will always be a loner, they won't like any strange nonhuman animals, ever. These are also the ones quick to growl or scratch your hand if you ever pet another animal. So it is advisable to pet another nonhuman animal first, get their smell on your hand, then allow your friend to smell your hand.

How they react to this will tell you if they are capable of making friends. For Pepper it was curiosity and indifference, so I knew what to expect their first long encounter. This was why I did not mind watching Caramel at all, Pepper knew Caramel existed before meeting her and I knew Pepper's reaction as well.

All in all, it was a great experience for all of us, Caramel finally got to hang out with me, she has always been excited to see me in the lobby. Pepper got to watch and see what Caramel was about. I got to see enough Pepper's reactions to know her pace for future introductions.

In a few months I may be watching Caramel for a few days, it is possible they become best friends, based on their reactions to each other. Caramel has been around cats all her life, very positive experiences, which is why she understands them so well.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Troubles of Anger and Punishment

So, Pepper got angry with me a few times now, one time it was beyond my control. I decided to touch on the subject of anger because of this. Humans show a wide variety of behaviors when we are angry, it is no different for the other animals. This makes it difficult to really understand when they are angry and for what reasons.

It is not always the last thing you do which makes them angry, maybe you moved their favorite place to sit in the sun last week and they just noticed because it's been cloudy since then. So you have to look for the cues, one common one is the isolation.

The nonhuman will almost always avoid the person they are angry with until they forget why they are angry. You must give them time to stop being angry before trying to apologize or they may take longer to forget they are angry. However, sometimes they get comfortable where they are don't let you know.

So, you check up on them once in a while, give them some small pets to let them know you are not angry with them, then let them have more time to themselves. Eventually that anger fades and they decide they want more attention, this is when they have accepted your apology and forget to be angry.

The other behaviors can be dangerous or destructive, and these you have to deal with delicately lest they learn them. Knocking pots off the shelves is one of the most common for cats, it's also one that will cost you a few plants. You have to ignore it, do not give them any attention when they do it, pretend they are not there.

It is also good to not clean it up until they are done with their tantrum, they most likely want to see you work. If you ignore the behavior well enough, and long enough, they give up and try something else. If you rush to clean it up and acknowledge the animal in any way, even punishment, then they will know they can get attention from it.

Another common one for both dogs and cats is the wild defecation. They seem to be doing it randomly, but it's not. It is premeditated, unless there is a medical condition. This is the most difficult one to deal with.

You have to clean up the mess, while not acknowledging the animal. Yes, this means not punishing them. If it is purposeful then it's because they want your attention, so giving them any attention of any type will, again, turn this into a learned behavior. This is the most difficult behavior to make them stop doing if they think they well get attention for it.

If it is a medical problem, you may want to make a vet appointment just in case on this one, then clean it up and let the animal know it's alright. They didn't do it on purpose you have to let them know they are not in trouble for it or they may get angry at you and start doing it even when it's not an accident, and then it becomes a learned behavior.

Sitting in your way is not out of anger, but it can be an apology. Sitting on a keyboard, your lap, or even in your path, is actually begging for attention. Both dogs and cats are notorious for this, and if they were angry a prior to this act, it is an apology from them.

Our human children do this as well, so if you have raised human kids, you know the technique already. Same idea here. Attention is everything to our young, and our domestic animals. It is more valuable than all the riches, and more important than even food. Though there are times when the domestic animals will not want attention, like my Pepper who prefers to mope away from me.

I do often see people fall into a cycle with domestic companions, one resembling abuse. The only real difference between this cycle and abuse is that it's not intentional. Never strike a domestic animal in any way, it will turn into a cycle of them being angry and misbehaving for more attention and considering punishment as acceptable attention.

Anyone who has rescued abuse and mistreated animals can tell you, the cycle takes more time to break than bad habits. You have to spoil the animal rotten for a very long time to get them out of that cycle. So don't start the cycle. Ignoring them is the only real punishment that they understand, especially when they want affections. To them, any attention is better than no attention.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pepper's Tests of Courage

Living in subsidized housing, we have to put up with a lot of crap fueled by stereotypes. One of the most annoying is this idiotic notion that, just because we're poor, we don't know how to take care of "pests."

I use quotes because the real pests are mostly human. Anyhow, they had this bug sniffing dog inspection, supposedly to find bed bugs. I had to take Pepper out of the apartment, and she didn't want to this time. Needless to say, she had a problem with strange humans. One of them said something about avoiding the dog, I informed him "it's not strange dogs she's scared of, it's strange humans in a place she doesn't command."

To her, inside her home she is safest, so even if a stranger comes into the apartment, she doesn't worry about it. But out of the apartment she feels like she is not in control and gets nervous. Luckily she doesn't panic, instead she tries hard to get back into the apartment. I took her into the laundry room during the inspection, the dog seems to need to focus or something, sounds like a lot of woo woo to me.

She was a bit worried, it was easy to see as she kept wanting to go back home, but the sounds of the air vent distracted her a bit as her curiosity kicked in. When they were finally finished she went straight into the apartment and checked out what was moved or changed. Finally satisfied she rested a bit then was almost back to her usual self.

She was angry with me most of the night though, though I could not have avoided it I understood and did what I could to show she was okay. The stress made her vomit once she calmed down too, this time she knew she wasn't in trouble and just watched me clean it up.

All in all, she handled the situation well. They say bad things happen in threes, this month it has been four, but only because they upset Pepper most. The latest will set back her getting use to the harness a bit, but now she knows the most important lesson ever:

Pepper will always be coming back to the same home from now on.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Kitty Language and Personality

One common misconception about cats is that they are independent. The reality is that they are very expressive. The problem is that most people don't recognize their expressions, which are a form of language they use to communicate to us.

This pseudo language develops based on their environment and living situation, with a few cues that are almost standard. One example is the tail twitch, where they wag the lower half of their tail quickly from side to side, often signifying annoyance or anger. Pepper uses it to show she wants or needs something.

The wide wag is a sign of happiness or playfulness, combined with other cues to make the meaning more clear, such as pointed up or down. This one is almost universal, I have seen no cats use this cue for anything else yet. Even Pepper seems incapable of keeping her tail still when she's happy or playful.

Essentially, the human companion will learn these when they spend time with the cat, it's simply a matter of paying attention. However, when we do not try to recognize these, the cat will think we're ignoring them and pay us in kind, by ignoring what we tell them. Though they can live on their own, we engineered them to depend on us for affection and attention, they crave it.

So now we have the other side, how do we communicate with the cat? They communicate with body language and tone, it's also what they understand best. The tone in your voice is one of those nearly always understood forms of communication, almost all mammals will use the same tones for the same meanings.

So to ensure they understand you best, make sure your tone and body language demonstrate your meaning. Felines have almost no interest in learning the complex vocals we use for language, to them it tells little about what is meant. So when they are good use happy tones and body language.

When they do something wrong there is rarely a reason to punish them, and never a reason to strike them even a little bit. To a cat there is no "gentle tap" when they are being punished, and they will resent being struck and only act up more. We do have a tone they understand very well, they use it for their kittens all the time.

To let a cat know that they are doing something wrong or dangerous, use concern. Think of them as a human child and tell them gently, firmly, and with only a slight emphasis, not to do it. Watch them, make eye contact if you can, and don't pet them when saying it. The loss of attention is another useful method for a few behaviors.

The loss of attention or affection should only last during the negative behavior, then resume once they stop, they figure it our very quickly for a few common problems. The first is the kneading, when they are under the bliss of pets, they often use their claws without thinking about it during the kneading response. Simply stop petting them until they withdraw their claws.

They will test it for a bit first, trying just the claws, longer or shorter push/pull motions, and eventually without the claws. Cats are pretty smart, they can figure out the difference in such occasions. Another instance is during play, they sometimes bite or claw without realizing it hurts us.

Wrestling with the cat can be fun, and entertaining, using just your hand they roll onto their back and play fight. But their claws hurt, so most people don't do it much. This wrestling is a lot of fun for the cat though, so they may even resent you not entertaining them. So, do the hand wrestling, then when their teeth or claws hurt you just stop, don't pull away, don't get angry, don't reprimand them at all.

Just freeze your hand in that position and look at them without an expression, or show pain in your eyes. Once they release enough that it no longer hurts, play some more. Like with kneading, they quickly figure out why you stop.

The above will likely counter everything you have read in the books you buy, remember, they are trying to sell books, not help you and your best friend get along. If you have tried other methods, it may take a while for the cat to stop being angry before this one will work again, patience is what a cat's friend needs most, but don't return to the old methods or it will take longer for the feline to trust you again.

I hope you and your feline friends all the best, and Pepper says "mrreow."

How to Teach a Cat to Walk on the Leash in a City

Taking photos with a tablet PC is harder than it looks. But Pepper does stay still enough most of the time. Once I get the dongle in the mail I should get more photos of her playing and exploring, and some video. Anyhow, onto today's topic!

The first step, one that is easier for dogs, is trust. The cat must trust you enough, they need to understand that when you tell them to do something, or not to do something, it is for their best interest only. This does require a bit of spoiling them, but for most cat friendly humans this is what we do anyway.

To know when they are ready watch for a few behaviors. The first is that they will start to walk with you through the house or apartment, matching your pace and darting ahead less often unless they know where you are going. This is the most prominent behavior to look for, it's a sign that they know you well enough to understand your intentions.

Another behavior is the lap time. When they try to cuddle on your lap at every opportunity they are showing trust, they know they are very safe. Not all cats like laps though, body heat can make them feel too hot or they just can't get comfortable. Instead they will often lay right up against you if there is room, the contact is the real sign to look for.

There are many other behaviors that are less common, some very rare, you will have to know your cat well to spot them so I will not cover them here. Once these behaviors become so regular that you expect them, your cat is ready for the lessons.

The trick is not to train them, but to teach. As with all animals, you must be patient and allow them to move at their own pace. Never punish, but reward good behavior. For cats the ignoring technique is pretty effective at getting them to learn a particular behavior is bad. I will detail this technique a bit more in another blog as it is not useful here.

So, you put the harness on them, you can be firm but always be gentle, if they squirm too much then set the harness out so they can look at it and wait for another day. Laying the harness in the open and encouraging them to sniff, even play with, it will help them figure out that it's harmless. Once the harness is on them, they will most likely resent it at first.

This is typical, just watch closely and make sure they don't hurt themselves trying to get it off. Perseverance is your best friend here. You may need to repeat this many times, leaving it on them for short times until they finally stop panicking. Not all cats will do this though, many just get angry at you for putting it on them.

The anger response is easier to overcome, but takes a but longer. They think it's a trap or cage of some sort, so you have to let them be angry for a while until they realize they are not bound by the harness itself. Once they get use to it they will begin to act like it's not even there, though they may still squirm a little when you put it on.

The harness is the hardest part, if they are not use to it, the harness will make them uncomfortable for a long time. On the bright side, once they get their first trip outside they forget all about it.

So onto the leash part, this is easiest for calm cats. For playful cats they will try to play with the leash once it's attached. Let them. Attach the leash while inside, let go of the handle and allow the cat to claw and play with the leash. You have to watch them closely when this is happening or they could catch it on something and get hurt.

Caution is all you need for the playful cat to get bored. The calm cat will, worst case, get angry for a short time and likely not walk right away. This is okay, because your first few minutes outside you want to carry them only a few feet away and reassure them with lots of pets. The playful one will most likely be ready when the door opens.

For the cautiously curious, or angry cat, carrying them until they calm down will do wonders. This is one of the reasons they have to trust that you will protect them. If you feel they are not yet ready, take them back inside and remove the leash, then try again another day. Treats are important at this stage, make sure you have them ready for key events, like when you remove the leash after returning home.

So now your cat is outside, on the leash, probably looking at you and wondering what's next. Start walking, but don't force them. If they choose to go somewhere that's safe, let them lead. The only time you should take command for now is when you need to protect them. They have to know that the leash is freedom, not a cage, or they will never want to go for more walks.

Try to talk to them a lot, using the same words and tones for certain events and actions will help them better understand your needs and wishes. This sounds like common sense to cat friends, but it is easy to get shy when in public. Don't worry, everyone talks to other animals all the time, and everyone talks to themselves more often than that.

Never yank, pull, or drag. If you must, pick them up. They may dig their claws into you, but that's something we accept when we decide to include a feline companion into our lives. You should be use to the claws by now anyway. If there is a strange animal and your cat or the other animal seems nervous, pick them up right away, do not wait for the reaction because if they pull the leash tight too quickly it can still hurt them, and they will no longer want to go on walks.

Some words of advice on all walks. Do not allow them to get into any trash, try to call them away from it, or stand fast and not allow them close enough. If they choose to walk away from it after that, give them a treat. If they don't walk away from it when they can't get closer, pick them up and carry them away but offer no treat. They will eventually figure out that it's for their own safety.

If they can't bury their feces, like dog walkers, you do have to clean it up. So bring small plastic baggies just in case. Sandwich bags work well in a pinch. Reward them after they do go to the bathroom, it seems odd but it will reduce any stress they may feel about doing it someplace unfamiliar so they will be more likely to warn you instead of waiting until they can't hold it.

Be aware of your surroundings at all times. This is particularly important in places with lots of people. Other people may not be watching their step, and if they step on your cat it cab do serious damage to them. Try to avoid large crowds, or carry your cat through them. It is also good to avoid construction sites as much as possible, the machines will always hurt their senses, even as far away as a full city block. Carry them in parking garages or areas where cars can drive until they understand the walking zones and crossing lights well enough to avoid the cars without nudging.

Just remember, the leash is not for you, it's so your feline friend has a chance to see, hear, and smell new things. So allow them to explore when it's possible and safe, taking them to parks is a better idea. But walking them to and from the park will also help them better understand the leash and harness' purpose. If a park with grass is nearby, they love grass, bring a toy too and they will wear themselves, and you, out.

I hope this helps some people who have considered this for their feline friends. Remember, they are your best friends for life if you treat them well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Are Adopted Animals More Affectionate?

I have adopted three cats in my life, one was feral, one from a rescue home, and another from the Humans Society. I have also raised three cats. The connection forged with the ones raised was undeniable, we knew what each other was thinking. But I enjoy spoiling my cats, and it shows when I raise them because they wind up being very independent as they get older.

The adopted cats were different though, they always wanted to be near me, even the feral one who was named Heather. My current one, Pepper, was adopted from the Humane Society, she is the reason for this blog. Pepper is still adjusting but I can already see her need for extra attention and affection. So let's start with Heather.

Heather was a neighborhood dominant cat, she was essentially feral even though she did get food from the humans who represented her in our society. They just let her be, the entire neighborhood knew she was simply not friendly toward people. That was until she met me. For some reason she practically jumped into my arms after I pet her, and everyone just stood there in awe.

I was allowed to take her home, and she moved in quickly. Our connection grew quickly, when I was home she had to know where I was at all times and even slept on the bed curled up with me. She was 10 years old when I got her, and we were inseparable. I believe she had just chosen me, and because of that she she did not want me to leave her. Heather had her one litter of kitten in my bed while I was sleeping, a very high display of trust.

The second time I adopted was from a rescue hone for feral cats. I went in, not sure who to pick as there were some kittens and more social cats. I saw Ghost, he was hiding in a darkened corner afraid to come out. He had a friend hiding with him, my friend was with me too, so we each picked one and took them home.

They both hid under the bed for the first two weeks, we put the litter box and food next to it and let them take their time. When they finally came out they became attached to us almost immediately. Ghost would follow less than three feet from me whenever we went outside, he didn't even notice I had put a leash on him. Ghost rarely left my sight, not out of fear, but because he knew he was safe with me close.

Now I have Pepper, who is constantly testing how much I am willing to do for her, as well as testing her boundaries. I never strike a cat, rarely raise my voice unless they are in danger. Yet sometimes she thinks she is in trouble and acts guilty even when it's beyond her control. I have to pet her, let her know she is a good cat, all the time. She is getting the message, and often asks me for help if she is unsure now, her voice is quiet but her cues are becoming clear.

Pepper never gets angry, and her curiosity seems to be growing fast, as if someone did not allow her to explore much. A big world awaits her when she is ready, and she will always have lots of loving.

The reasons for this stark difference in the amount of affection is because they have been upset, moved, tossed aside, caught, often abused, and sometimes stuck in a cage for long periods of time. They do not deserve this treatment, but they begin to think they earned it. The adopters' job is to show them that they are good kitties, and that they deserve more.

Once they learn this they become grateful for their new human representatives. So grateful that they don't want to ever leave our sides. Not that raising a cat is less valuable, just that there is no reason to pass over an older one who has been through a lot. Their personalities are not ruined by the bad experiences, and when they are mended their behavior always improves.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Curiosity Growing

Pepper is really opening up more. All the stress seems to be fading as she spends more time on the bed, as opposed to under it. Her curiosity is growing stronger, noises in the hallway don't set her on edge anymore, rather, if I have the door open she ducks behind a corner and watches.

She even watched a couple of neighbors walking through the hallway, from a safe feeling distance. Her personality is starting to show, as she plays with her shiny ball and chews on the grass I grew for her when her mood suits her. She does still test to make sure I am paying attention sometimes, sitting and staring at things she wants.

I can tell when she wants me to do something now, she folds her ears back, with a tail twitch when she is impatient. I do accommodate a lot for her, like the sips from the running faucet. I believe she thinks these are signs that she's still a good kitty. I have gotten her to eat a little canned food now, she can't resist lamb.

I know she will take to the harness quickly once she trusts me more. I had to clip one of her claws earlier and she only struggled a little bit, then got a treat after I was done to assure her it was not a punishment. I hope I don't hurt her doing it, but she doesn't claw me at all so it's hard to be certain.

Pepper has taken to rolling on her back lately, playfully. She also sleeps next to me whenever I am asleep, a good sign of trust. On Friday they are doing a pest inspection, some stupid scare about bed bugs last year and now everyone is paranoid. I am going to try just holding her in the hallway, they are using the bug sniffing dogs, she doesn't fear other animals but she does get nervous in the hallway sometimes.

One of the dogs in the building wants to meet her, Caramel, a dachshund that thinks she's a cat.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Bit Sick

It appears Pepper has a urinary tract infection again. It was a medical issue she's been known to have. The closest vet is only open on the second Saturday of the month, so I have to wait until then unless I can find a ride to another vet, I don't drive and buses are too much stress for her.

She is a bit high maintenance for a feline, but this is what I signed up for so it doesn't bother me. I do feel sorry for her, she got a respiratory infection from the stress of the move and now this. Still, she is learning that I will not punish her, and will only correct behavior, accidents are not her fault.

I am thinking most of her past problems were from being punished for things beyond her control, which is a behavior we are correcting with kindness. She is getting more lively, and I don't want to spoil this trend.

Last night she slept at my feet most of the night, though I got little actual sleep because of my own medical problems, which are similar to hers. J have learned several new cues as well, she does litter littering when she's frustrated or in pain. She also calls out when she's curious more often than wanting something, as if to ask "what is this?"

She still fears anything from a can, her previous human said it made her sick. I know that's bullocks because she was eating canned food at the shelter. They had probably taught her, in a not so nice way, to not eat canned food after giving her bad food or something she was allergic to. She does nibble at the lamb and loves the pouch food, I'll get more of that next month, the brand in particular is the B.F.F. brand.

For now she is laying about, it's hard to use a tablet PC to take action photos and video so expect more once I get my OTG dongle in the mail, I have a real camera too. I am including a painting inspired by her as a bonus here.

Pepper still loves pets more than anything, and her tail cues are a bit unique so I am learning when she wants pets most.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The First Weeks

Pepper was quick to want out of the bathroom, her curiosity fueled her desire to explore everything. Since she was calm, and showed no signs of fear, I obliged. She began a seven day period of exploring every nook and cranny she could find. She even learned how to open the doors to the kitchen cabinets, the lower ones she could reach.

I let her have free reign, no boundaries other than three places, two of which were just dangerous if she got stuck, the third was the closet. She didn't need more than a warning to avoid them, I did not even raise my voice, just a soft "no" and she never tried again. Once in a while she would look at me as if asking for permission.

It was this cautious act that helped me to better understand what she was doing, she was literally mapping out where she was allowed to go. I had spent nearly a week preparing my apartment, making it safe for a kitty to have the run of the place. Of course there were some concerns still but Pepper never once chewed on cords, missed the litter box, or scratched anything. Probably the most well behaved feline I have ever seen, from a shelter.

She has one treat that she enjoys after waking from a nap, a sip from a running faucet. I will be getting her a drip water bowel, or making one for her, but for the time being it's a little ritual we have. She will sit in front of the bathroom waiting until I notice, then jump onto the sink. I turn on the water to a small drizzle and she takes as much as she wants. This is probably a trust building task for her, she is testing how much I am willing to do for her comfort. It is a very small thing for me to provide so I do it with no complaint.

She has had a couple problems, both of which were my own fault. I gave her too many cheese centered treats one day, she vomited and acted like she expected to be punished. Nope, it was not her fault nor under her control. I just cleaned it up and showed her loving, pets until she realized she was not in any trouble at all. She also had a fecal accident, several hours later, like a stoppage that just came loose. I did not punish her for that either, too much cheese does that to humans too.

Soon she realized that she could also wake me up when she needed something. As bothersome as that can be when I get woken after only a few hours of sleep, it helps me to learn what she needs and when so I can prepare it before I sleep. She often sleeps on the bed next to me as well, at my feet. It is refreshing to wake up and see her so relaxed now.

One problem I cannot control is the construction across the street, the noise bothers her and she often goes under the bed because the sound is muffled there. She is slowly adjusting to it, but I am not going to push it and let her do so at her own pace. I hope they finish soon.

She is working on her courage right now, often going into the apartment complex's hallway to explore a bit. She is still not sure of the elevator out, but once she conquers that I can begin to teach her how to use the leash. She is so curious and loves attention, it will be good for her to get out once in a while.

Now she is playing with her favorite toy, a shiny plastic ruffle ball, and sleeping on my bed whenever she gets tired. Still working on figuring out which foods she prefers, she fears canned foods because of her past, but we have a long time to work that out. Pepper has brought something to my life I had nearly forgotten about, a companion who doesn't mind my faults, a friend who always enjoys my presence.

Meet My New Best Friend

This is Pepper. Her story began six years ago in Seattle. After five years she was given up to the Humane Society shelter, the human claiming they could not afford her. She was in decent health, and likely frightened as well as heart broken to be discarded by the ones she thought were family.

Soon she was adopted by another human, only be to neglected and blamed for the problems caused by the neglect. When she was returned to the shelter after only six months, her claws had grown into her pads. She was reported to have behavior problems, but then wouldn't you if you were in constant pain?

They treated her, she healed well. The staff reported that Pepper was a sweet kitty, a little chubby but nothing to worry about. She had minor health issues, things I could handle just by watching her.

How I met her is a bit clandestined, due to a tradition I have had since I was young. I spent time with all the cats of the shelter, focusing on the room with those who had the lowest maintanence for health because some requirements I have a hard time remembering for my own health.

The first cat to approach me without prodding, who was at least friendly with the others, was bonded. This meant you had to adopt the one they were bonded to as well, I could only start with one for now so had to pass her up. Pepper was the second one in that room to approach me.

Pepper's first action was to sniff me, then a gentle headbump against my hand prodded me to pet her. Next thing I know she rolled over for a tummy pet. I was still a bit skeptical, she was cautious aproaching me and I didn't want to adopt her unless she was certain she was comfortable around me.

Eventually I just had to adopt her, and did all the paperwork, paid the fees, and off to her new home we went. Only two weeks after all this, the trip home was by city bus so I thought it would take longer, she has officially moved in. The next post will detail her adjustment, for now, know that she is the best addition to my apartment.