Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mousey Mouse spends the day boating.

Mousey's off to have a great day. You have one too.
(drawing by Fred Latimer)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Max on... Care and Training of Your Food Human -- "Feed Me" (part 2)

Who has my treat?
Part 1 of my "Feed Me" series was all about how to get food into your bowl at the exact moment that you want it. Did the techniques work?

In Part 2, we're going to address non-bowl food or food commonly known as the elusive snack or treat. Personally, if I had my way, I'd beg for and scarf down all the threats I could eek out of Her Highness. However, I've found gluttonous behavior to be counterproductive.

Essentially, if you make too much of a "pig" (no offense pig pals out there) of yourself, your food human will notice, become concerned and cut you off from treats, snacks and, in extreme cases, a portion of your regular food. So, having all the treats you want might bring momentary satisfaction...but you have to consider the consequences.

Another thing you must consider when overdoing the treats is your health. I know we don't like to think of that in the frenzy of the snack moment, but restraint is required for two reasons:

1. Obesity in cats is very dangerous. It can lead to diabetes, thyroid conditions, lethargy, heart problems... just about all the things that happen to humans when they overindulge can happen to us. So moderation is the key.

2. Obesity can also lead to the vet telling your food human to cut out the snacks altogether. So, a tip on how to train your food human to keep on giving you snacks is to make sure you don't overindulge. I know it takes some powerful restraint, but keep a handle on it yourself so they don't cut off your snacks.

Some of you might have the opposite problem. Maybe your food humans don't remember to give you the occasional treat often enough. Here are a couple of tips on how to keep the treats coming on a regular basis:

1. Tricks..., choose a little routine of tricks and practice the routine so you have your performance perfected. Next time your food human gives you a treat, thank him/her by quickly running through your little performance. My guess is that they'll be so surprised and pleased that they'll give you another. If they do, run through the routine again. This will embed in their brains the connection between the performance and the treats. Next time you feel as if it has been too long since you've had a treat, throw in a free performance when they are looking at you. It might help them remember that you need a treat.

2. Routinely, do something your human wants. When they pat the couch, jump up immediately and snuggle into their side. Do it over and over and over every time they pat the couch. Then one day, don't do it. They'll probably haul out the old bag of treats in order to "re-teach" you the routine they "think" you forgot.

3. If your food human is going away and wants to shut you in one part of the house, make 'em work for it. I know they can pick you up and carry you there, but they can't if you're ready for that maneuver and stay one quick jump ahead of them. Yep.... make 'em haul out the treats to get you into the "going away" room. Don't overuse this. Just use it when you're really hankering for a treat.

Okay, hope I've started some thinking on your part. Leave some suggestions of your own to share with the rest of the readers.

Have a happy, treat-filled day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ask Noodles - Training Humans

A note from Max: What a great article Noodles has written to answer Cheriswan's question . In fact the question itself led me to start my weekly column on Thursdays on Training Humans. Enjoy Noodles' writing and great advice. And remember to send your questions to Noodles by email . Here's his address: TheGreatNoodles@gmail.com. And now, without further ado, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Noodles:





Hai Noodles!

I am an older rescue kitteh (actually I wuz 3 or 4 at the time) and when I wuz living at the dump (quite a cool place to visit, but very crowded with siteseers and other kittehs) I didn't learn the "cute" kitteh behaviors that seem to enhrall hoomans. Iz there a book or sumpfin to learn this stuff or should I keep trying to train my mom? Iz there a class she can take?

Thanks!

@cheriswan (Twitter)
cheriswan@hotmail.com
Sent from my iPod

Hello Cheriswan!

Training humans can be a very laborious and time-consuming process, but if you stick with it and keep your patience it can really pay off big! Keep in mind as you begin that not all humans are created equal, some will take to regular training sessions better than others. The key is persistence and patience.

When it comes to endearing them to you, this is one of the more basic tricks to get through to them. First, be sure you have a very soft fluffy coat (if you are hairless the task can be somewhat more complicated, but certainly not impossible). Be sure to clean your face in direct view of the humans. They just can't get over the whole "lick your paw, rub face" move... they find it overly adorable. Follow that up with some foot licking (be sure to spread your toes apart wide!) and you will no doubt unlock their feeble minds. Beware! Do not lick your bum in front of them and certainly not in excess! They find that to be rude. Also, do not sit on their laps and lick your bum... this is apparently extremely offensive.

Once you have the plain sight bathing in place, you can up your game with a little leg rubbing. Basically, this involves "marking" them with your scent to say that you own them. They apparently interpret this as "I love you and think you're the bestest!" This can earn mad points and you mark your property in the process. Two birds one stone.

A third, and very effective, move is the always adorable, stretch, yawn, curl, snooze. Humans love when we stretch, our little expressions apparently become irresistible. If you can work in some twitching into your snooze routine, this is especially effective. I think this all stems from their busy lives... they hardly nap at all! No doubt they are jealous of our snoozing and much like watching a good movie, I suspect the sight of such luxurious and precise napping functions as a natural endorphin.

Use these three steps and you should be well on your way. I'd also like to point out that Max was inspired by your question and has decided to write regular "train your human" topical articles! Be sure to share your best tips and tricks. Together we can properly train and manipulate our human counterparts.

Enjoy!

Noodles

Katku #2: Happiness




today, I can choose
happy, medium or sad
my choice, a soft purr
~~

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Max on... Care and Training of Your Food Human -- "Feed Me" (part 1)

Note from Max: I am starting a new column today. There is much for all of us to learn from each other on the topic of training your human/staff. I thought I'd cover it all in one article, but there is just too much information. Therefore, after this first column, the Thursday column will address various facets of training Her Highness, fat boy, food human, staff purson, or whatever unique and quirky name you have given that person who THINKS he or she is in charge of your household. Feel free to comment at the end of each column. The more points of view the better....

A Full Bowl

Are you having trouble gaining the attention of your food human at that exact moment when your tummy starts to rumble? Do you take a quick happy trip to your dish only to face disappointment? Do you follow your food human (who happens to be carrying a plate with a tuna-fishy sandwich on it) to the couch fully expecting her/him to share the worderful fishyness of it with you only to hear, "Get down. People food."?

If so, listen up. this week we are going to begin retraining those humans on how this "food thing" is going to work from here on...

Before implementing any program, you must understand the psyche of the human. A brazen demand for food just won't work and often will result in a quick trip to time out. So, listen up pretty furry critter pals: it's important to plan ahead.

Stephen Goldmeir reported on results he found in Current Biology of a study conducted by Karen McComb at the University of Sussex. The results indicated that the combined purr-cry of a hungry cat triggers nurturing instincts in human beings. The study also showed that even humans who don't have cats responded to the high frequency purr-cries by a sense of urgency.

The significance of this finding is that it seems full-blown bellowing doesn't work and is down-right annoying, so we should cut out that action. Fainting with your head draped over the empty food dish also does not work. It will reap only chuckles from you food human and an occasional pitiful photo-op.

So, for best results, practice the slightly high frequency purring-crying sound. When practicing, watch the reaction of your food human. You'll know when you reach just the right amount of subtle urgency.

Don't overdo it. This is an important point. In order to communicate to your food human that he/she has understood you correctly, you must reward them the instant they put food in the dish. Your reward will take two forms:

First, the moment the first bite of food hits the dish, cease the purr-cry. For some reason, the cessation of the urgent sound coming from you is ever so rewarding to them.

Second, take a bite of food and then spend 15 seconds or so applying ankle rubs, nosetaps and head bumps to your food human. The food humans eat up this action and will remember the behavior chain (purr-cry, food to dish, end of purr-cry) that leads to those wonderful head bumps, nosetaps, ankle rubs, etc.

It may take a few repeats of this whole procedure before they learn to put food in your dish the instant you start the purr-cry. Be patient and remember that food humans are not always the quick studies that we are. But, it works, so it's worth taking the time to train them correctly.

Yes, with a persistent, low-key application of this new technique, you'll turn the "Feed Me Frenzy" into "Food Dish Delight" in no time.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mousey Mouse is Back


Good News Kitties: After sending Fred Latimer your comments about his drawing of the little mouse waiting for the mail, he has sent more pictures of Mousie Mouse. In fact, for the delight of the kitties, I have 118 pictures of the little guy.

Fred drew the pictures years ago for his children. He put one 3 x 5 card in their lunch boxes daily. What a great treat for those children. And now, I'll be posting them from time to time for your enjoyment... Thanks Fred.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ask Noodles - Keeping your Cat Happy During a Move

A note from Max: Thanks to Noodles for another great column. This is a fate we all face from time to time, and it's good to have some advice on it. If you have a question for The Great Noodles, send it to him at TheGreatNoodles@gmail.com All questions are welcome.... from critters or humans. And now, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Noodles........



Help! We're moving again and my little princess, Miss Poofy shows signs of anxiety and confusion. She sees me packing our belongings and planning our move in 2 weeks. I fear that maybe Miss Poofy thinks we will be leaving her behind. She doesn't speak human, and I don't speak cat. How can I help and reassure her that she is coming with us? Obviously we would NEVER leave our Miss Poofy behind.

Thank you,
Miss Poofy's HuMommy

(twitter username for my cat: MissPoofy)

Miss Poofy’s mom! I’m so sorry for my delay on this. Sometimes I have quite the backlog, and sometimes I simply nap too much… Anyhow, that aside, I hope that your move went smoothly and the stress Miss Poofy endured throughout is now becoming a distant memory.

Lindsey (my sis) and I moved long distance from WAAAAY up north in Michigan all the way down here to Central Florida. It can be quite confusing. At first, all the boxes look fun. All the recesses of kitchen appliances, dishes and knick knacks to spelunk into and put cat hair on made the house so much fun! Not to mention the killer games of “King of the Boxes” you can play with your siblings.

Then, the big scary movers show up and trample through your house, removing all but a few items. This is often followed by a wrestling match with your humans who cram a pill in your mouth, stuff you into a box, and as you become drowsy you notice we’re all leaving the now empty home.



Two pics of us at our hotel here in Florida the day before we moved into our new apartment. In the distance you can see a pet store... so we knew it would be ok :)

I will say this about moving. It is change. Big change. And us cats are terrible at change. We fuss, cry, hide and carry on because we want everything to be about us all the time… always. Moving seems like it’s more about you humans than anything else. But that aside, I assure you we have no idea what’s going on… just that things are changing and that’s AWFUL unless the change involves more kibble and catnip.

Here’s my quick guide to moving with your favorite feline:

1. Get your pet’s medical and vaccination records and put them in one easy to find place.
If you need to stay at a hotel or get pulled over, you may be asked for these documents. Check with your vet before you leave to make sure you have all the records and permits you need. Also, when you get to your new home, you’ll have everything you need to set up with a new vet.

2. Collar and tag your felines with contact information.
I never wear a collar around the house, but I do have a chip. Still, if we’re on the road, we’re better off with a collar in the event we slip out of the car at a hotel or stop. A collar says to a person, “I own a human and here is their number. Can you call them for me please?”

3. Bring along some travel litter boxes.
My sis and I will hold our pee all the way till the hotel. We tried once getting out and going at a truck stop, but that was terrifying. Have a box handy for the trip that you can use and throw out at the hotel. You can get disposable litter bins at your local pet and grocery store. Super handy. Just don’t dump ‘em out in the back seat accidentally like our human did!

4. Keep us in a crate!
While we love to sit on your lap, if we aren’t used to travelling, we’re better off buckled up and secure. This is not just for our safety in the event of an accident, but also for yours. You don’t want to find me napping under your break pedal do you?

5. Ask your vet about tranquilizer options.
If it’ll be a long trip, consider taking a kitty sleeping pill. This can help you get through the long drive and rather than caterwauling the whole time, you can nap and dream of delicious mice.

6. When you get to the hotel, make sure your human puts out food, water and litter.
This is your critical peepee, poopoo and chow time. Also, hide under the bed to worry your humans into thinking you escaped the hotel room. They love that one.

7. When you get to your new home, stay in a small room until all the ruckus is over.
Those movers will be back and they’ll have to get those boxes back into place. It’s best not to watch ‘cause some of them are big, they sweat a lot and are noisy.

I know I’m too late to help you with your move, but perhaps your question can help another feline have a less stressful move to their new home.

Please send Miss Poofy my best wishes in her new home. I hope she’s found the best sunbeam locations already. J

Best Wishes,

Noodles

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's Hurricane Season: Is your human prepared?

I took this one during the hurricane in 2004

Okay, it's time to make a list and send your human out the door for supplies. There's a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico and a couple more on the way. So, I lived through the hurricanes that blew through here in 2004 and 2005. I know to take them seriously. The weather channel is saying to have a plan.


I took this one after the hurricane in 2004.

So, here are some things to pass along to your humans. Don't stop meowing until they accomplish the list.

1. Be sure you know what to do in case of hurricane. Do you stay put and put up shutters etc. or do you evacuate? If you evacuate, are you taking the pets with you..... you betcha you are. If it's not safe for you to stay in the house, it's not safe for them.

2. If you're gonna hunker down at home, fill the bathtub with water for flushing etc. And, fill jugs of water for drinking.

3. Shopping....

I'm starting the list....you add to it in the comments section.

batteries

cat and dog food

bottled water

cat and dog food

medications

cat and dog food

extra health supplies

cat and dog food

first aid kit

cat and dog food

canned goods humans can eat out of the can

cat and dog food

crackers, etc. things that won't spoil

cat and dog food

flashlights

cat and dog food


Stay safe my critter pals!!!



oh and ...litter.... get lots of litter!!!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Max... on body language...


How do you communicate with your food humans? Do they know what you mean when you're rolling on the floor or yowling at the top of you lungs? If you're with the same food humans for long enough you can develop a communication system through body language that conveys your meaning and you won't have to fuss so much with the meowing -- sometimes those meows just don't work.

Here are some of my favorites.

1. Her Highness knows I want to be held and squeezed when I sit on the coffee table in front of her and tilt my head.

2. Her Highness knows I want some food when I stretch out by my bowl, look skinny as if I'm about to faint. (Doesn't always work, but gets her attention)

3. Her Highness knows she better get up when I throw myself onto her chest.

4. Her Highness knows she better pay attention to me when I walk in front of her "Lassie Style" and lead her about the house.


What signals do you use to communicate with your food humans? Which ones work and which ones don't?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ask Noodles - Raw Food Diet?

A note from Max: Here's a great article from The Great Noodles. If you have questions, please send them to his email at TheGreatNoodles@gmail.com. It makes no difference, Noodles will answer questions from critters and their humans. Now, without further ado, Heeeeeeeere's Noodles....



Dear Noodles,

My name is Sam the Tabby. I'm almost 15 but still look like a kitten in the face. I have some thyroid issues so I take pills everyday that my humanz try to sneak in my food. Otherwise, I'm a pretty healthy kitty.

My mom has been reading about a movement of humanz that make their own cat food and that a raw diet is very good for us cats. But she's afraid to tamper with me, because I'm a little older. Do you know anything about the raw food diet? What are your thoughts?

Love and fishes you handsome kitty!
Sammy
@SamTheCatRocks (on Twitter)


Hey Sammy! Thanks for the question. This is a toughie for sure.

As I was growing up, I lived with constant medical problems. At one point, my vets told my human to have me put down! Shocking, now that you see me in all my pudgy and happy glory. I had ulcers throughout my digestive system, and nearly every morning on her way to work, my food human dropped me off at the vet (because I was bleeding or some other sort of mess).

We went on like this for quite a while, and my food human did the best she could to make my life better. Even, for a time, making my food from scratch. The problem for me though, is that I’m a huge weirdo and don’t like anything but kibble. Her efforts were useless on me.

These days I’m on prescription food for urinary crystals. My food human was uncertain of this diet full of chemicals and fillers. Upon a recommendation from a close friend following my dental surgery (I wasn’t eating so well), she tried Evo cat food. This stuff is supposed to be specially formulated with no fillers and as close to our natural diet as you can get in a kibble. I loved the stuff and it got me through my surgery recovery last winter, I even vomited less… way less (and vomiting is totally my thing).

But my food human worried. What if not having the prescription food caused a relapse and another painful hospitalization? She didn’t want to take the risk and slowly moved me back onto the prescription Hills diet.

I’m blabbing on about all of this for a number of reasons. First, each feline has their own dietary needs so it seems. I, for one, won’t eat anything that isn’t shaped like bunny poo, and that doesn’t come out of a crinkly bag. Add to that the need for me to keep my crystals at bay. I’m getting too old to risk illness. If you don’t require a special diet however, that Evo brand tasted great… as close to the raw/natural diet as I’ve seen.

If your situation allows for some flexibility in diet, I’d recommend asking your food human to discuss the diet with your veterinarian. This way all your bases are covered. Oh and another thing, the raw diet, homemade from scratch can be quite the chore for your food humans. Make sure they look into it sufficiently… us felines require some wacky things in our diets which can be hard to find.

Of course I’m all for making them do more for us. So if they’re up for it and you get the green light from your doc, I say go for it and dominate your food humans!!

Wishing you the best in your digestive adventure,

Noodles

PS: As a heads up, you’ll probably get the poops at first if you start the new diet.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's Official the Web is Obsessed with Us Kitties


Did you see the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly (the 8/7/09 issue to be exact)? It has a long article by Benjamin Svetkey about us kitties. The article tells how YouTube viewers are obsessed with us. If you are a kitty and are on YouTube, you're a star.

It's only a matter of time before we rule Twitter as well. Here are some highlights from the article. For full impact, get a copy and have your food human read it to you.

1. Nora, a wonderful tabby, plays piano. Her videos have received over 20,000,000 hits. Wow!

2. The article also says that we (again, kitties on YouTube) are becoming a "full-blown pop culture craze." As a kitty, I don't really understand this "culture craze" stuff, but I'm pretty sure it's a good thing.

3. The article concludes that the kitties are far in the lead -- ahead of other species, (like dogs HEE HEE -- apologies to all my canine pals. Max loves ya).

Reasons for those conclusions...

The article says our popularity stems from the fact that we are cute, we are like infants, and we are intelligent. Do you agree?

* Do you have a favorite YouTube video? Comments welcome from felines and canines....


A Note from Max: Special thanks to my pal Elliot. He's a fine pooch and is my main source for this article and for information from the entertainment world. And thanks, too, to his food human, my Aunt Penny, who forked over the money for the magazine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Ask Noodles - Nightime Activities

A note from Max: Noodles has done it again and with a tight schedule this time. He's written another great column. Enjoy and learn. If you have a question for The Great Noodles, send it to him at TheGreatNoodles@gmail.com. Questions from critters and humans welcome.



hello, noodles.

i've got a weird problem for you to solve.

for the last few nights, my furbrother has spent the whole night chewing on slave1's hair. he doesn't hurt her, but it wakes her up over and over again. she's tried changing his food (he barfed) and exercising him a lot just before bed (he barfed). she even changed her shampoo to something that smells vile, in the hope that it would keep him away, but it didn't.

the vet says all his 'numbers' are ok, whatever that means, but staff1 is still worried.

staff1 needs her beauty sleep. no sleep + sticky hair makes her grumpy.

can you help us?

thank you,
quark


Hey buddy! Sounds like your staff is getting harried (har har) – and that’s never good! A happy staff makes a happy home, so let’s see if we can come up with something. Sounds like they’re doing a lot of things right, even if they don’t seem to be the key.

By the way you describe the situation, it sounds like this behavior is somewhat new to the household. Given that, your household staff are doing the right thing in trying to rule out potential health problems such as intestinal obstructions, diabetes, or anemia.

It sounds like your furbrother has Pica, a condition that can also occur in humans if you can believe it!

Assuming all of the vet tests comes back as A-ok, your next avenue of exploration may be dietary (I understand your adventures in that arena have been less than helpful). If it’s related to diet, your brother may be seeking out more fiber. Rather than change his food, your staff might consider adding catnip, grass or sprouts to his daily routine. This may satisfy his need and free your staff to focus on more pleasant grooming products (for everyone’s sake!).

If the behavior continues, your staff may consider attempting to curb the behavior, by way of flavor. The stinky shampoo maybe stinky to your staff and intoxicating to us (we’re weird like that). Instead, suggest she try applying bitter apple. I’ve also heard that felines, such as you and I, are not fond of citrus scents/flavors, so that may be another deterrent to consider.

Should that also fail there are a few other options. Just like training staff to respond to our cries for food, or goofy behaviors for pettings, felines can also be trained. Your staff may consider a brisk tap to the nose followed by a firm “no!” when the behavior begins. If your bro persists your staff can get into more escalated responses such as “time out” or loud unpleasant sounds (these almost always come from a jar or can full of pennies shaken vigorously). That won’t work at night though when staff is trying to sleep.

So my final suggestion is one that I do not take lightly. My personal staff or food humans don’t let us sleep with them. I guess we’re too nutty, all the toe biting and smothering with our glorious big bellies turned them off long ago. On the one hand, we’d love to be in there with them, on the other… we get to get into all kinds of shenanigans when their door is closed!

I hope that your staff find some relief soon. I’m sending them lovely sleepy thoughts in hopes that they’ll catch up on their Zzzz’s very soon. As a feline, I know that sleep is a precious gift and anything less than 23 hours is unacceptable!

Warmest regards,

Noodles

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Waiting for the Mail



This wonderful drawing is by a friend of a friend of Her Highness. His name is Fred Latimer and he's super at drawing kitties and mice.... Thought you'd like to see it.