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A Special Bed for Cats with Arthritis

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  Little Simone , our Himalayan cat, has a significant amount of arthritis, as did Murjan , our late Turksi Van cat (he is so missed!). Of course, cosequin capsules are a daily "treat," However, early on, we came across an orthopedic memory foam bed (just like the ones for people) that both cats have loved. I throw a blank on top to protect the covering although it is washable and because Simone (pictured above) especially loves soft and warmth.  Now that Murjan has passed over the rainbow bridge, Sula , our parish cat (and book writer), who also has advanced arthritis has inherited the second bed. The beds are available from Chewy -- and no, I am not a rep nor do I get anything for an endorsement. I just know how hard it is to make life easier for cats with arthritis. Especially comfort. Simone sleeps very peacefully for hours on this bed.                                     Sign up for the MSI Press LLC newsletter                           Follow MSI Press on  Twitter ,  Fa

Our Wonderful Beta Cat Has Brought Four Shy Cats Out of Their Shells

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  When our alpha cat, Murjan , died, I thought that Happy Cat, Murjan's best pal and truly a pal to all the cats, would take over as alpha, keeping all the remaining six cats in line. That did not happen. Happy Cat earned his name by his mellowness. Our biggest cat at 16 pounds, he is our gentlest.  Integrating cats into healthy cat families and growing happy cat families is indeed tricky business. But it is easier with a beta. Happy Cat has shown us that again and again and again and again. Simone lived under the bed. She had been afraid of her shadow ever since we rescued her from human bullying on the street. Born a stray, she found houses intimidating, but there was safety under the bed. Of course, she would come out to eat, and we would cheer whenever she chose to spend some time in the sun. Then, a couple of years later, along came Happy Cat. While Simone still finds security in being under the bed, she comes out a lot more often and interacts with Happy Cat, the only cat she

Cats and Cancer

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  A couple of months ago, in a Cancer Diary post, we shared the ways in which cats get cancer. When our first two cats, Intrepid and, pictured above, Murjan, came down with cancer (small cell lymphoma), one of which died within four months and the other which lived an additional 2.5 years, we were in shock. We were aware that cats could get cancer because of our experience with MSI Press author, Sula , parish cat at Old Mission.  But then it really hit home and in big numbers.   First, Intrepid and Murjan .  Then, two other cats have since been diagnosed with cancer.  Happy Cat beat skin cancer, after only one round of freezing it off his nose.  Snyezhka is now a one-year cancer survivor at the Animal Cancer Center in Monterey, Califonia, where she sees Dr. Teri Arteaga, who is also Sula's vet oncologist.  That totals 2/3 of our 6 cats! Different cancers, different cat backgrounds (all are adopted street cats), different cat breeds. No idea of causes, either, but clearly no cat i

Feral Cats 4: Wooper, the Odd Duck, er, Cat

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  This is a series of Caturday posts on the topic of taking in  feral cats .  General information (from pervious posts): For a few decades, we have rescued feral cats. In fact, with only one exception, our "domestic" cats have been ferals that we brought inside to join other ferals, already domesticated, as part of a bonded cat family. Right now, we have five cats (alas,  Murjan , the single non-feral cat we had, died from cancer last fall), all of whom get along pretty fabulously. Of course, all of that is easier said than done, and the bonding took time -- lots of it. Here are some of the things we did to create our cat family, some of which is not at all typical of what others have done, but it has worked for us. We don't trap the feral cats at all; we win them over and invite them in. We do this by feeding them a distance from the house and walking away, then moving the dish closer and closer to the house and walking less and less far away, until they are eating at ou

Cancer Diary: Cats with Cancer

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  Personal experience from the editor: When three of our six cats were diagnosed with cancer, it was at a late stage. (The number is normal; 50% of cats over the age of 10 end up with cancer.) Even talented feline oncologists cannot turn the clock back. They can try to stop the clock, but sometimes the damage is too great.  We lost Intrepid to cancer three years ago (and wrote a book about him). He survived only a month of chemotherapy; he was diagnosed too late, and several important organs were in the process of failure: kidneys, pancreas, stomach. His older "brother" (not biological) who came from Jordan as well was diagnosed at the same time.  Murjan  managed to survive three years on chemotherapy, but by the time he died last Sunday, he was on seven medicines, periodic hydration, and down to 5 pounds (from 16). He fought valiantly, but ultimately the cancer won. Likewise, our young Lynx Siamese cat, Snyezhka, has breast cancer, diagnosed at stage 4, treated with surgery,

Cancer Diary: Understanding, Accepting, and Coping with Stress

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  (diagram and contents of diagram from Beth Frates via Twitter) Literature gives suggestions for caregiver as if life is calm and caregivers are never angry or stressed out (implying that it is wrong to be so). The reality is that even in the best of circumstances, i.e. the existence of good support systems, caregivers do burn out . Thinking that other caregivers do not and that it is wrong to be angry or somehow even to instinctively respond with an unkind word or behavior is somehow is unique and makes one a bad person creates quite a guilt trip later.  In normal, circumstances, caregivers become sleep-deprived. Sleep deprivation leads NATURALLY to short tempers, frequent frustration, and, yes, bad decisions. Individuals' decisions that are made while sleep deprived cannot be thought of as intentional or well considered. At one point, I was so sleep-deprived that I fell asleep and drove off the road and into a field of cabbage (fortunately, I was not on a major highway), with m

Birchbark Foundation

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  Our beloved cat, Murjan, died three months ago tomorrow.  We still miss him! The emergency room vet who received him in his last few minutes of life kindly made a contribution to the  Birchbark Foundation  in his name. That was comforting -- as is the grief counseling that the BBF conducts.  Click on the link to learn more about the BBF and its great work.

Bringing in Feral Cats: The Case of Simone

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 For a few decades, we have rescued feral cats. In fact, with only one exception, our "domestic" cats have been ferals that we brought inside to join other ferals, already domesticated, as part of a bonded cat family. Right now, we have five cats (alas, Murjan , the single non-feral cat we had, died from cancer last fall), all of whom get along pretty fabulously. Of course, all of that is easier said than done, and the bonding took time -- lots of it. Here are some of the things we did to create our cat family, some of which is not at all typical of what others have done, but it has worked for us. We don't trap the feral cats at all; we win them over and invite them in. We do this by feeding them a distance from the house and walking away, then moving the dish closer and closer to the house and walking less and less far away, until they are eating at our feet, at which point they will usually let us scooch or kneel beside them. To get to this point may take weeks. Getting

An Excerpt from Harnessing the Power of Grief (Potter) for Those Grieving over the Holidays: Beginning to Adjust

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  The Christmas season has become a mixed set of emotions for us. My grandson was born Christmas Day 20 years ago -- extra annual joy! The brother of a young man we took for 6 years died Christmas eve this year of covid. This is the first year that our family is observing the holidays without our patriarch, Carl , and Murjan , our beloved cat. So, for sure, grief has wrapped itself around our holiday activities. Here, then, is an excerpt from Julie Potter's book, Harnessing the Power of Grief , that we have found insightful... Beginning to adjust You are not a stranger to this process. There are many times during your life when you have to adjust to and make your way in a new world: the first day of school, going away to college, getting a new job, marrying, moving to a new neighborhood, retiring and living in a new world with no colleagues and no 9-to-5 schedule, becoming ill or disabled at any age and living in a slower world with people surging on ahead of you, emigrating to a n

A Post Worth Repeating for Caturday: Rescuing/Adopting Street Cats

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  Rescuing cats can be take skill and patience in large quantity. For the skill part, we refer you to our earlier post, Rescuing/Adopting Street Cats . Intrepid, shown here, was rescued when his street mother died and he was still a very tiny kitten; his young age made adjustment easier for him than for an older cat. One of the older cats in our house adopted him and raised him, and they remained father and son until Intrepid met an early death as an 11-year-old from cancer three years ago. To this day, his "father" Murjan mourns him. For more posts on cats, cat books, and things feline, click HERE .

Daily Excerpt: Intrepid: Fearless Immigrant from Jordan to America (Leaver & Leaver) - A Real Home and Food

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  Excerpt A Real Home and Food For the first time, Intrepid had a limitless supply of food and water. He understood that he could eat whatever and however much he wanted. He did not understand the limitlessness of the supply. So, he hunkered down beside the cat food bowl in the kitchen, never leaving it except to use the litter box.   How he knew to use the litter box was an enigma. Perhaps he saw the other cats using it. Perhaps something about it came to him instinctively. From the very first day, he was always a clean cat.  Ultimately, after a number of weeks, he realized that the food would not disappear, and he ventured out to explore our other rooms, all of them very large: two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a dining room, a living room, and a closed-in sunroom. One by one, he explored them all.  In the living room, he discovered tall plants. Somehow, he discovered that though the plants were five and six feet tall, if he could get a running start, he could take a kamikaze

MSI Press Authors and Their Cats

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In honor of Caturday, we are sharing photos of the cats who own MSI Press authors, starting with Sula, pictured above, who is herself an MSI Press author. Click HERE  to see Sula's works. Simon is owned by Joanna Charnas, author of chronic illness support books and A Movie Lover's Search for  Romance , who says he is her "foster failure." Click HERE to see Joanna's works. Jeremy Feig was owned by Shelly. He wrote a book about her, How My Cat Made Me a Better Man , that won a book of the year award. Click HERE   to read about Shelly, including excerpts from the book. Carl and Betty Lou Leaver are owned by Intrepid about whom they wrote a book, stuffed with illustrations, and five other cats. Click HERE to see Intrepid . In the picture, Happy (black & white) and Murjan (red & white) share a cat bed. Cindy McKinley Alder is owned by Watson, shown here wrapped in a ribbon. So cute! Click HERE to see Cindy's contributions to the field of teaching, parenting

Planning for Pet Care When Owners Die

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(photo of Murjan ) All too often, when pet owners die, their pets end up trotting over the rainbow bridge behind them. Not by desire but because kin and neighbors turn the pets into kill shelters, and, indeed, like many other older animals, they are euthanized. It is important, therefore, that people include their pets in their post-mortem plans (wills, trusts, powers of attorney, or simple agreements with family members) and make sure their kin are ready to follow through. Following through does not include dumping pets at shelters that will kill them. No-kill shelters can be an option, but not IMHO the best one. Imagine being caged for most of your life. My daughter has promised to take my cats. She has several cats of her own and takes good care of them. I can rest easy that my cats will have a good home when I can no longer give them one. We have a cat angel in our town. She brings in the street cats and finds homes for them. It is amazing how many people will adopt a neighbor'

Feral Cats 3: The Persistence of Snyezhka

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  This is a series of Caturday posts on the topic of taking in  feral cats .  General information (from pervious posts): For a few decades, we have rescued feral cats. In fact, with only one exception, our "domestic" cats have been ferals that we brought inside to join other ferals, already domesticated, as part of a bonded cat family. Right now, we have five cats (alas,  Murjan , the single non-feral cat we had, died from cancer last fall), all of whom get along pretty fabulously. Of course, all of that is easier said than done, and the bonding took time -- lots of it. Here are some of the things we did to create our cat family, some of which is not at all typical of what others have done, but it has worked for us. We don't trap the feral cats at all; we win them over and invite them in. We do this by feeding them a distance from the house and walking away, then moving the dish closer and closer to the house and walking less and less far away, until they are eating at ou