Training Your Kitten to Enjoy her Carrier


Cat in Soft CarrierMost cats learn to hate carriers because they associate the carrier with a bad experience – it comes out once a year or so, and means a trip to the vet’s office!

But a carrier is an important part of life for our feline friends, so here are some tips for helping your cat learn to like the carrier:


  1. Start by just leaving your carrier out in the house, so your cat can get used to it. Open it up, and block the door, so that your cat can investigate if they want to.
  2. Cat in Hard CarrierMake the carrier attractive to your cat – add some comfy bedding, and then a favorite toy or some catnip.
  3. Once your cat is feeling comfortable with the carrier, try closing the door for a few minutes while she is inside – leave the room, and come back and give her a treat when you open it back up.
  4. Once she is feeling comfortable with that process, try walking around the house for a few minutes once you have closed the door. Then, set it down, and give her a treat again when you open it back up.
  5. When that part is going well, try taking for her a short drive – even just around the block – and reward her again with a treat once you’re back inside. Your cat will learn that the carrier and the car don’t always mean a trip to the scary vet.


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Happy Tails: Charlie and Leo


When Paul Fleming decided just more than a year ago to bring some furry friends into his life, he decided two cats were better than one – and that those two should be rescues. After a bit of searching, with help from his then 11-year old daughter, Zoe (“a really, really big cat lover”), Paul found what he was looking for.

“I decided I wanted a bonded pair so we could keep them together,” Paul said.

Brothers Charlie and Leo were in a feral colony that had been rescued by ACR and were being fostered by the aptly surnamed Pat Hope. As with the majority of feral rescues, the kittens were leery of humans, especially strangers.

Charlie and Leo at 8 weeks

“They were very shy,” said Pat. “We had to spend a lot of time playing with them, cuddling them, getting them used to being handled. But that’s really a pleasure. And they turned out to be really nice lil’ cats.”

Thanks to Pat’s patience and hard work, the meeting between the Flemings and the young brothers was a success and a new family was formed.

“I knew from the get-go that they were rescue cats and it was going to take awhile to get them to come out of their shell.”

For Charlie and Leo, that shell came in the form of Paul’s bed.

“It took about a month before they would come out [when people were around],” said Paul. “But that was fine. We brought them their food and we just let them become socialized on their own terms.”

Charlie and Leo

The first breakthrough came at night, when the home was still and safe.

“They would both come up and lay with me on the bed for a half hour or so, and that was great,” said Paul.

Now, with Leo – the less timid of the two – leading the way, he and Charlie – the “troublemaker” – are full-fledged members of the clan… any time of the day.

“If you’re in a room,” Paul said, “they want to be in the same room with you.”

But as much as you can socialize them, at the end of the day cats are still cats: “They both love to play with their food. They take the kibble to the top of the stairs and let it fall specifically so they can chase it down. They still need to ‘kill’ it,” said Paul with a laugh.

Charlie and Leo on the stairs

Paul, who, prior to Charlie and Leo, owned a single cat who lived beyond 20 years, doesn’t hesitate to recommend a bonded pair to anyone who was considering it.

“It’s great to know when I’m not home they’re not lonely,” he said, “because they’re going to be hanging out together, playing together and enjoying themselves.

“And it makes me feel good that they have each other.”

And surely Charlie and Leo feel just as good that Paul gave them that chance to be together, forever.

—Edward Fraser

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Farewell, Romeo.


RomeoRomeo the Cat left us Saturday.

Ten years and 5 days after he curled up in our hearts Romeo left for a better place, taking a piece of us with him.

He’s been struggling lately. A couple of years ago he was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), a hereditary disease that causes cysts to grow in a cat’s kidneys and liver and eventually leads to kidney disease and failure. We’ve been on borrowed time and every day, week, month and year has been a gift.

But he’s been slowing down. He spent most of the past week by the refrigerator, which puts off a bit of heat from underneath it. Once we figured out why he liked it there, we got him a little space heater and a pillow and put it in the corner of the kitchen so he could stay in the middle of the action, where he always wanted to be.

When we realized he was declining fast and there was nothing more we could do for him, our kind vet came to our house and we freed our beloved boy from his pain. While he loved snuggling up next to us, he wasn’t big on being held. But that day he let me hold him against my chest as we cried.


Boys on bed no room sizedWhen we met him, it was love at first sight. We’d decided to adopt a cat and my husband Chris happened to find Romeo’s photo on the site of a Persian rescue, Persian Purebred and Purrbaby, near his work. “Romeo is a red and white bi-colored persian who loves to eat” the description read.

On his lunch hour, Chris went to meet Romeo. Romeo’s interview was a complete disaster. He slunk around the room, not wanting to be picked up or petted. Plus, his permanently cranky expression wasn’t exactly inviting.

“He’s perfect. We want him,” Chris told the rescue. He knew there was something special about this boy.

And he was so, so right.

Romeo had been pulled by the rescue from a shelter in Kentucky. Apparently he had been returned there twice. The second time he was covered in fleas and a skin condition. Plus he was deaf in both ears. The rescue cleaned him up and nursed him through 8 surgeries on his ears to correct his hearing issues, leaving one of his ears permanently folded down. Along with his grumpy expression, he looked like a total “bad ass” as one of our friends commented.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Once he was settled in, we discovered how appropriate the name “Romeo” really was. He was the sweetest, most loving cat one could ever meet. I only heard him hiss one time – when Pugsley came to live with us. Just one hiss to assert his ownership over his domain and then the two boys were best friends for life – Romeo & Pugsley.

Romeo HeartPugsley misses Romeo too. We couldn’t find him for a long time that day and discovered him curled up in a closet where he’d never gone before.

After a couple of years we gave Romeo his first shave down and were surprised to discover a heart shaped marking on Romeo’s side. We’ll never know if that was the true source of his name but it was so appropriate. He was marked with love from the start.

Romeo was with us through so much change over the last 10 years, steadfastly sitting next to us on the couch, patiently observing transition after transition. My husband and I were engaged, married, moved five times in three different cities, and, a couple of years apart, brought home two baby girls.

When the girls were infants and I would get up in the middle of the night to feed them, I would rock them back to sleep and Romeo would climb up on the back of the chair and rock along with us, purring.

As the girls grew, Romeo and Pugsley grew to trust and love them. I always knew where I could find Romeo – snuggled up next to a little girl who was watching TV or playing on her iPad.Romeo and audrey

Having Romeo and Pugsley has been so amazing for our daughters, teaching them how to be gentle and empathetic at a young age. Now, Romeo has helped teach them about love and loss.

He slept partly on my head most nights, eventually squeezing me off the pillow, but I didn’t mind. Then, when he was ready for breakfast he would start his wake up process, trying different tactics each morning – standing on our chests, meowing, pawing our noses, snuffling in our ears – until my husband or I would heave ourselves out of bed and go downstairs to get the food out, Romeo trotting eagerly behind us.

Because he was such a character, he inspired this blog after my co-workers teased me about putting Romeo on Twitter. I did, and a social media cat was born. From the start, we dedicated this site to raising money for shelters and rescues and since then, this little blog has raised $95,000 for homeless pets. Thank you for supporting our efforts. We’ll continue to honor Romeo’s memory by giving to pets in need.

Romeo has been such a Romeo face up close(1)huge part of our lives for over a decade and already our home is emptier without his silent meows, the feel of his soft fur and the sound of his purrs. I keep expecting to turn the corner from the kitchen and see him sleeping on his favorite chair.

We will miss you every day, Romeo.

Until we meet again, sweet boy….


Dear Friends, so many of you have emailed me directly or left Facebook comments, thank you! I am sorry but something was wrong with the ability to comment here for a couple of days but I finally had a moment to get it fixed. Love you all so much and thank you for loving our boy, too. xoxo 

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A Puzzle from the Past


A couple years ago, when we were hosting Hazel Swift and Effie Brisker, an old client of mine from my days as a florist asked to borrow a couple of kittens for a project. She was working for a local company that manufactured jigsaw puzzles, and they were in need of a kitten or two for a photo that could possibly be used on one of their puzzles.

We had the brief photo shoot with Effie and Hazel one afternoon, and that was that. I never followed up to see if an image was used for a puzzle, and the whole thing just slipped my mind.

Well, earlier this week, I was hunting online for a new jigsaw puzzle project for Craig and myself, and I ran across a familiar face!!!

LOOK! It’s Effie Brisker right there in the middle of that picture puzzle!!!

How cute is that??!!

If you want to pick up a copy, the puzzle comes in 750 or 1000 pieces and is available at Puzzle Warehouse, Barnes and Noble , Simple Pastimes, and Amazon.

I think I’ll order one for us. We normally prefer to tackle puzzles with more pieces, but for this cutie I will make an exception!

It was fun to be reminded of this sweet little pair of kittens. They were the first set Wylla got to help foster, so they will always be special to us!   Here are a few photos of the dear things from their time in our care.









If you want to see the lovely cats these two became, here’s an update their parents shared with us last year.

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How Much Would You Spend on Your Pet?


goldfish photo How much would you spend on your pet?

While many pet owners know only too well that vet bills for their beloved cats and dogs can easily run into the hundreds and thousands, more than a few eyebrows raised at the news that a man in the UK had paid £300 (about $400) for a goldfish to have a groundbreaking operation to relieve its constipation.

The story takes on even more significance when you find out that this goldfish was not a beloved family pet, but instead was an ‘office goldfish’ which lived in a tank at the man’s place of work.

The unnamed man had noticed that the goldfish was struggling to pass solids and seemed to be in pain, so he consulted a vet to find out how the fish could be helped. When the vet quoted £300 (about $400) for the mini-operation, the man reportedly balked at the cost, but after thinking about it, he called the veterinary practice back to give them the go-ahead for the surgery.

Without the operation, the vet’s opinion was that the buildup of toxins would eventually have resulted in the death of the fish.

Toll Barn Veterinary Centre in North Walsham, Norfolk UK carried out the operation, which involved first mixing anesthetic with the fish’s water to prepare it for surgery. A tiny tube was used to pump water laced with more anesthetic into the fish’s mouth and a mini heart rate monitor was used throughout the procedure to ensure that the goldfish had a heartbeat and continued to breathe. A tiny scalpel was used to remove two blockages from the goldfish during the 50 minute operation, after which the vet used 3 stitches and waterproof skin glue to help aid healing when the goldfish was back in its tank swimming around.

Faye Bethel, a vet at Toll Barn Veterinary Centre, told local press that: “There was nothing special about the fish. He just liked it a lot. People love their pets – but that was an expensive little goldfish.”

Happily, the fish made a full recovery from its surgical adventures!

The things we do for love

This pet fish isn’t the only one to undergo surgery in recent times. A pet goldfish named George in Australia underwent an operation to remove a tumor from its head. Using a similar process used for the UK fish, the antipodean patient underwent a delicate operation to cut away the tumor and seal the wound.

The procedure, this time costing approximately AUD $200 (£100 or $140 USD), was also considered successful, with the goldfish now expected to live for several more years.

While it’s probably true that most goldfish owners would draw the line at an expensive operation to save the inhabitant of their fish tank, you might be surprised at the lengths some people will go in order to give their pets a second chance or improve their quality of life.

In another UK-based survey, 86% of owners say they consider their pet as part of the family and are happy to pay high vet bills. A couple from Rotherham, Yorkshire UK racked up vet bills for £24,000 ($33,600 USD) since they brought home a German Shepherd puppy several months ago. The couple sold their car, canceled vacation and even decided to forgo Christmas gifts to pay for the four operations the pup has needed thus far.

When asked if it was all worth it, the pup’s owner, Miss Mitchell said, “A lot of my friends say they would have had him put down, but I could never have done that. It’s cost us a lot, but he’s worth every penny.”

This pup is still less than a year old, so could potentially have another 12+ years of costly veterinary treatment ahead of him thanks to his rare genetic condition. Thankfully for his owners, their vet is allowing them to pay off the current bill in monthly installments.

Our pets cost more than you might think

We’ve seen some extreme examples of the lengths (and costs) that owners are prepared to go to in order to save the lives of their pets, but even fairly routine costs can take owners by surprise sometimes. A UK-based survey of pet owners in 2015 found that on average, dog owners spend approximately £427 (or nearly $600.00 USD) a year on unexpected costs, including everything from vet trips to stays in kennels or catering for dietary conditions, which require specialty food.

You may think that cat owners get off more lightly, but the survey showed that wasn’t necessarily the case, with the average owner spending £322 (or about $450 USD) a year on things they hadn’t budgeted for when they got their kitty, including vet bills, pet stting and money owners have spent on replacing things around the home which the cat has damaged, such as carpets, rugs, wallpaper and electronics which have been nibbled or smashed.

Millions of people in the UK find that owning and sharing their life with pets is hugely rewarding, but anyone going into pet ownership without looking at the potential costs involved could be in for a surprise.

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Happy Tails: Applesauce


“Honestly, I do not understand why somebody left such a beauty outside,” Ilona Tkachyova says of the long-haired, black and white animal that she and her husband adopted in 2013. “She is a really lovely and gentle cat.”


Abandoned in her carrier in front of her foster’s house, Applesauce always erred on the side of caution. When she met Ilona for the first time, she was apprehensive. Fortunately, Ilona was undaunted by Applesauce’s skepticism and approached anyway.

“I tried to touch her and she started licking my hand right away,” Ilona recalls. It was an instant attraction for both. The lick, according to Ilona, was also very tender.

However, adjusting to her new home wasn’t easy. Applesauce hid under the furniture and cried throughout the first night.

It took time, but Applesauce now welcomes her owners home with loud meows and follows them from room to room. She even waits for them on the bathmat while they take a shower. In fact, the bathmat is Applesauce’s favourite place to be.

As for toys, Applesauce can’t be bothered. Ilona and her husband tried every kind of toy that they could think of to encourage her to play. “The only thing she likes, and it was kind of a surprise, is knitting needles.” The little red ball at the end of Ilona’s needles is, apparently, irresistible.


Prior to her adoption, Applesauce had to undergo surgery to remove a mast cell tumour, which left one of her ears bent forward permanently. Although the veterinarian who performed the surgery felt that the tumour was unlikely to grow back, it returned within six months. Despite this setback, Ilona believes in doing what’s best for the animal regardless of whether she is healthy or sick.

“You have to do whatever they need.”

In Ilona’s case, the vet proposed another surgery that would entirely remove Applesauce’s afflicted ear, followed by chemotherapy. Ilona and her husband ultimately decided not to proceed with the surgery. Applesauce is also suffering from chronic kidney disease and there was a chance that she might not survive such an invasive procedure.


Instead, llona manages Applesauce’s conditions through a combination of herbal cancer and kidney support remedies and a holistic diet. It’s working. Applesauce is 11 years old this year. Her tumour has stopped growing aggressively and the couple hope to have many more years with her.

“She is the joy of our home,” Ilona says. “You cannot look at her without smiling.”

— Leslie Sinclair

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Good Thoughts, Please.



I just got back from dropping Bean off at the vet. She’s went in for a teeth cleaning, so she’ll be spending the day there.   Because anesthesia is involved in the procedure, this meant no midnight snacks or breakfast, so she was not a happy Bean today.  She kept yelling and yelling and I just kept apologizing, hoping she would understand and relax.

She’s in very good hands and with people she’s very comfortable around, so there’s no need to worry, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying, of course. I’m a worrier.

It’s really weird not having her in the house right now. You can tell Wylla is a bit confused by the absence of her sister and the disrupted morning routine.   She’s sitting in the window like she normal does after breakfast, but she’s on Bean’s side of the window, and she’s not looking outside, she’s looking around the living room and at me with a face that needs answers. It’s kind of breaking my heart that I can’t offer an explanation she can comprehend.  It’s going to be a long day.

If you wouldn’t mind, please think good thoughts for our dear girl.

Thank you!





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