Posts Tagged ‘cats’
I’m sitting here tonight going over our monthly and annual budgets. We’ve been doing pretty good at saving some money wherever we can in our goal to move to another state next year. I’ve worked at slashing our spending and am surprised at the savings I’ve found in one important area – pet food.
By pets, I’m not including the poultry, horses or cattle. Strictly dogs and cats – 3 pooches and 7 purrers. Even though we are now feeding a higher priced feed to both cats and dogs, we have actually been saving quite a bit of money. It all comes down to a better quality feed and the animals eating/needing less to be healthier and more satisfied.
Even though I am fairly well versed in animal nutrition, I used to be bad about watching sales and using coupons for my cat and dog food. Whatever seemed to be decent pet food for a decent price AND had coupons available prompted me to try to save a buck. Unfortunately, my critters paid for it with poor coats and up/down weight issues. So I went to the other extreme and bought really pricey, overly hyped feeds. I think probably more to assuage my guilt than anything else. This also didn’t really benefit my animals or my pocketbook.
Flash forward to last winter when I went to work part-time for our new Tractor Supply. I chatted with a few of the nutritionists and feed reps to see what they were feeding their own animals. I found it very interesting that most of them were using the TSC brand “4 Health” pet food. It’s priced pretty much in the middle of the scale and the ingredients seem to be exceptionally good. So I gradually switched my crews over to the age or issue-appropriate formulas and I am thrilled!
Both cats and dogs have all done very well with these feeds. Their coats are thick and glossy, they all maintain healthy weights, fewer hairballs for the cats and a large bonus overall – less poop. That may seem funny or trivial to some, but when you have a 125 pound hound, you want much smaller landmines and way fewer of them. Since there are so many less fillers and more of the good nutrients, the animals utilize the feed better and need less to be happily full.
So I’m curious what kind of pet food do you feed your furballs? Anyone else use 4 Health?
Just a quick post to introduce you to the baby of the house. “Ernie” is a polydactyl cat with extra toes on each of her paws. She actually has little “thumbs” on her front feet which makes her two times the menace of the other cats ~ she can open drawers and latches like a person! I’m baby-proofing several cabinets now. I did try to get a better photo of her feet, but she kept swatting at me so I’ll wait until the monster is asleep for that. You can see a bit of her thumb in the second photo.
As for her name, it obviously stems from a beloved and well-known figure in American history. What isn’t quite as well known is that the Nobel prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway had a his house full of these “abnormal” polydactyl cats. In fact, even decades after his death his home in Florida is still a haven for the descendants of his original six-toed cat that he received as a gift from a ship’s captain.
These type of cats are said to be much more common on the East Coast than here in the West. I personally hadn’t come across one until we adopted Ernie after someone dumped her at our non-pet friends’ house. At the time we had a hard time telling if she was indeed a girl, so I called her Ernie and Mr. MoonCat was calling her “Hemi”. Got a little confusing since we already have a “Hammy” in the house.
I am so grateful for those lovely readers who have commented and emailed me regarding that last post/rant/scream. You are wonderful! It is amazing how much a simple “you’re not alone in how you feel” or just plain “you’re not alone” can mean to a person ~ to me. Thank you all so much for being there.
I’m actually feeling a tad bit better and poor Mr. MoonCat is like a little kid about sparkly decorations, so we’re going to get with the program and try to cheer it up around here. He is of the opinion that I will feel even better if I have pretty things to look at.. (If you have seen Chevy Chase’s movie “Christmas Vacation”, you’ll have an idea of what Mr. MoonCat’s vision of decorating entails….Mine is closer to the Charlie Brown version.)
Of course, my agreement to go ahead and decorate has now spawned arguments about the tree. He wants a GIANT tree
while I would prefer a smaller, more manageable tree.
His theory is that we have a giant ceiling in the great room so we should have the GIANT tree. My counterpoint is that the big tree will cost 3 times that of the one I like and just because we have the space, doesn’t mean we need to fill it!
Plus, I have a vision of the tree sitting in the lower-ceilinged corner with goodies all around it ~ off of the floor where lions and tigers roam. I have an old corner tv stand that we’re not using similar to the one below:
I think it would be really cute to put the lighted Christmas village on the shelves behind the glass doors. (It will be much, much safer for the little villagers to be ensconced behind the glass ~ we have large monster kitties that roam freely in this home!) My stand isn’t as nice as the one above, but I think it will do ~ for now… hint, Mr. MoonCat… I like the one above..
So what do you think? A 12ft-ish tree or a more modest, manageable, magnificent tree of about 4 or 5 feet sitting on a pretty stand with a village nestled below? Whichever way we go, you know it’ll have to be made secure from the ferocious felines…
**Are you getting the impression that everything we do around here comes back to the critters? How will it affect them? What kind of destruction and havoc can they wreak? Gotta love ’em or else….
Latin Name: Nepeta of the family Lamiaceae
Alternate Name(s): Catmint
Description: Perennial herb that grows to about 3 or 4 feet high. Some varieties are grown as annuals. Catnip leaves are a greenish gray or green heart shape and grow opposite each other on sturdy stems. The tube shaped flowers grow in clusters towards the stem ends and can be in various colors such as blue, pink, white or lavender.
Habitat: Catnip grows extensively and originates in Africa, Asia and Europe but is also very easy to find in the United States and the rest of North American now.
Growing: Extremely easy to grow from seed. To get an early jump on Spring, you can start the seeds indoors about 6-8 weeks before the last frost in your neck of the woods. Cover the seeds lightly with soil and keep moist. If you cover the pots with plastic this will aid in keeping the humidity up. It is very important to not let them dry out – now or once they’ve sprouted. Keep the pots in a warm location until the seeds have sprouted. Once they’re up, put them in a sunny place until they are big enough to plant outside. It is best to gradually introduce them to being outside in the wind and sunshine. Above all, keep them moist. Catnip sucks up lots of water for its entire life cycle.
Full sun is a requirement, but in areas like mine where the heat can get well up into three digits, the plant pretty much needs to sit in a bowl of water during the day or it will not perform at its best. It will handle short periods of drought, but it will definitely affect the growth.
I have found that in our area my plant will stay somewhat green most of the winter if in a sheltered spot with a lot of light (and if I keep it watered). I am pretty ruthless in pruning the plant back to the ground when it warms up in Spring which will make my plant come back bushier and fuller than before. This will also help it to produce more buds.
You can also find catnip plants at local garden stores in the Spring, but you need to be sure you get the right variety Nepeta cataria as some of the plants you find might be more suited towards ornamental uses. They don’t give your cats as much pleasure as the cataria variety. The seeds may also be labeled as Common Catnip which should be the cataria.
I personally keep my catnip in pots. It will reseed itself as well as come back from the previous years plant. Because it is of the mint family, it can become invasive if not monitored. I just prefer to keep it in check to start with.
Harvesting: I regularly give my cats fresh leaves from the many catnip plants I have growing around our place. Once the plant is established (about a foot or so tall), I start harvesting from it. The buds are extremely potent for the cats and they enjoy the heck out of them along with the leaves.
Harvesting is best done in the early mornings after the dew has evaporated and before it gets too warm. Depending on what I’m going to do with it, I will usually cut several stems with leaves and buds and hang them to dry. I bundle them up and tie them with string or a rubberband and then I use clothespins to hang them in a large closet to dry. It is a good idea to have somewhere secure from your furry friends to dry catnip as they can do amazing feats to get to a bunch hanging above them. Once dried I will store the bundles in labeled glass canning jars until I have need of them.
Uses: To provide our domestic felines with a legal, euphoric high. Most cats will start rolling in, eating, and drooling over catnip or catnip toys. They will play and have bouts of craziness until they flop over and sleep for an hour or two. Some major studies are being conducted to determine the effects on the big cats (lions, tigers, jaguars, etc.).
Catnip has been shown to be an insect repellant for humans. It is being used in many natural preparations and where DEET is not desirable.
A lovely mint tea can be made from catnip. It is interesting that it tends to have a soothing effect like chamomile for us instead of the over-caffeinated buzz that the cats get from it.
Notes: The photos of the kitties above are from a recent treat I gave my furbabies. I have a few different varieties of catnip/catmint and was experimenting on which they like the best. It proved for me that the Nepeta cataria is definitely the one with the most “juice”! The cats LOVE it. Actually, 8 of 9 endorse it. My old cat Sheena will have nothing to do with it. I just wish I’d taken a photo of them all sacked out on the futon after this episode. They were all passed out in a row for about an hour. Quiet time for Mommy!
Check out my article: Catnip – Crank for Cats for some more personal insight on kitties & catnip
I will be offering some of our organically grown catnip as well as our homemade cat toys in the near future.
But for now, a quick and easy cat toy that will provide hours of enjoyment for your furry babies can be made in minutes. Take an old (closely woven) sock that has lost its mate and stuff the toe with dried catnip. Tie a tight knot in the top and let them have it. Recycling, reusing, and repurposing at its best! (Plus some major kitty fun)
Disclaimer: The information presented herein is intended for educational, informational, and recreational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent disease. It is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other substances.
I’m Published! I wrote an article about our catnip here at MoonCat Farms and it was accepted by Associated Content for publication. It’s very appropriate since the next herb in my alphabetical herb series is Catnip. Click on the link below to check out my article and be sure to let me know what you think. I’ll have the full post on catnip up here on the blog in the next week or so. I’m excited!
Loralai Original Art is the place to go to check out this print and several others that I have fallen in love with. I was chosen as the winner in her OWOH drawing and couldn’t be more thrilled. When I saw the print of her with her little black cat, I just knew I had to have it! It reminded me of myself with my (fat) little Porkchop. I had it bookmarked to come back after the event. Imagine my excitement when I received an email from Loryia telling me I won! Whoo hoo….
Loryia generously framed it for me (I took it out to photograph the print) and then reminded me that I could choose two more prints. I went to her Etsy Shop and found the following two:
It is starting to look like Spring around here. The wild thing is that both the lavender and the Lion’s Ear (or Tail) both decided to start blooming at the beginning of February – I am just now getting around to showing the photos of the two of them..
I couldn’t believe how early they both got started, or the fact that they actually survived the move last fall. I wasn’t very optimistic for many of my plants since the move was so rushed and haphazard.
We’re starting to get many more of these pretty little guys coming by the feeders. My birdseed bill is starting to get pretty high as they keep bringing more of their friends. The photo below isn’t a great shot, I just liked how I caught him mid-flight with his wings on the downstroke.
This Celtic design birdbath was a Happy Black Friday gift to myself. I’d been wanting a new birdbath for quite a while and handn’t found one that I really, really liked. We were wandering around Lowe’s at about 7am on Black Friday (ticked because we’d missed out on the TV at stinking Walmart..) and out in the garden section we ran upon this little beauty. At $39.00 I should have bought two!
The birds are getting friendlier all the time as they have discovered I am the mysterious being that refills the bird feeders – daily. They used to all leave the yard when I’d walk out. Now they sit about two feet from me, chirping to each other and at me to “Hurry up!”
And finally….THIS is what I see when I am outside looking in. Little furry faces that really, really want to be after those birds.