Raising Kitty: (Chicken) Breast is Best

I’m sure there are some cat moms who will close their browsers once they read just the title of this post. But that’s okay. While what you feed your cat is a highly controversial topic, I think it’s a topic that needs to be discussed–with patience, understanding and an open mind. Maybe if we cat moms owned the topic, felt confident in our decisions about what to feed our cats, we could diffuse the tension and guilt that always surrounds this topic.

Corey was adopted. I don’t know what he was fed as a kitten. Being rescued from the streets, I’m sure he wasn’t raised on organic kitten formula or free-range chicken breast in his youth. Look at him, he’s a healthy adult cat with a life full of watching birds and snoozing the afternoons away.

Multi-tasking: Corey snoozing on his window perch from where he watches birds.
Multi-tasking: Corey snoozing on his window perch from where he watches birds.

The fact that I didn’t control Corey’s food in his early years has opened my mind about the best thing to feed cats. Before I adopted Corey, I had planned to feed any kitten that appeared on my doorstep with only organic, natural, free-range meaty foods that I made myself. Ha! Being a working cat mom makes that difficult. Shoot, sometimes I struggle to feed myself.

Cat food (krunchka) technology has made leaps and bounds since I was a kid. Now, you can find everything from straight-up flavors to hairball or weight control formulas. If your family believes in the benefits of natural and holistic foods, there’s even that for cats. I’ve found Purina One Smartblend foods to be good for Corey. He eats the chicken and rice formula. It gives me the convenience of feeding him quickly, but I’m not sacrificing nutrition or taste. I feel like a good cat mom when I feed Corey krunchkas he loves so much he scarfs them down and I know he’s getting the nutrition he needs.

Of course, I can’t ignore another hot button topic: cat obesity. Surely, there are a lot of factors to consider in this epidemic: snacking too much on non-nutritious treats or a lack of exercise. While I feed Corey a measured amount only twice a day, I do sneak him pieces of ham or turkey luncheon meat, give him cat treats or surprise him with a bit of tuna in his food dish. I also make sure to balance these treats with physical activities like playing with faux mice, feathers and catnip-filled fuzzy balls. I believe in providing my cat a balanced life.

Corey snacking on some cat grass. Such a treat for him!
Corey snacking on some cat grass. Such a treat for him!

All things considered, there’s not one right thing to feed your cat. Each cat has his or her unique nutritional needs. Our families have different financial situations or structures that either allow for taking a great amount of time and care in feeding our cats or require sometimes taking cheaper or quicker alternatives. We all know what’s best for our cats, but I have noticed one common factor. It exists in many families with healthy cats, even though their diets and lifestyles were distinctly different. It’s love–every healthy cat I’ve known is fed with love. What more does a cat need to thrive?

Raising Kitty: Holiday Traditions

There’s nothing more that I look forward to than enjoying holiday traditions with my cat. The look of wonder and surprise in Corey’s eyes is the best present this cat mom could ever get. Truly, as a child, I got joy from receiving tons of toys. Now, I feel joy and happiness from experiencing the holidays through Corey’s eyes. Let me share a few of the traditions we celebrate.

Trimming the tree: There’s nothing quite like tromping around a Christmas tree farm in the cold, strapping it to the top of your car, worrying the whole way home if it’s going to fly off or not and getting home to set it up and decorate it. Corey absolutely loves to help: he’ll drink water from the stand, knock down glass ornaments and, my favorite, he’ll scale the trunk sending pine needles everywhere.

The Christmas village: Whether you have a handcrafted village or slowly collect a ceramic town and townsfolk, as soon as it’s set up, I carefully place Corey on the village and we play a hearty round of “Giant Cat Attaches Sleepy Town!”

Gifts: Really, what else do cats want? They’ve been making their own list and checking it twice since two weeks before Halloween. On Christmas morning, you know “Santa’s” done a good job if your cat has sniffed out the ‘nip and ripped open his Christmas mouse (mind you the toy was at the bottom of the loot).

And, my favorite thing to give Corey? Why some cat grass. I’ll start it a week or so before the big day. He’ll chew it, roll in it and then show a distinct disinterest in it until it dries up and dies.

Dinner: With some of the cats my family has adopted, we’d prepare a festive feast like no other for them–boiling the turkey neck and giblets and carefully pulling apart the meat and presenting it to their ravenous bellies. Of course, no more than 20 minutes they would let us know not by telling, but by showing, that turkey just doesn’t agree with their systems.

Tell me, what traditions are you sharing with your cats? Which ones are you starting new this year?

 

Raising Kitty: Cat Names

Corey just doing what he does best.

I looooove names. I’ve named brands and products professionally and in my spare time I dream of names for my future kittens. Inspired by Pioneer Woman, this blogger (who is kind enough to give her readers her very best girl names), and this vlogger, I’m going to post some of my favorite names for cats. Who knows? Maybe a kitten will one day show up on my doorstep! Euuuuww!

Boy Cat Names:

1. Purrcy: short for Percival. I love, love, love this name! I think it just sounds so regal, yet I adore the play on words that make this name approachable.

2. Rudiger: I’d save this one for a Maine Coon-like cat. Can’t you imagine a Rudiger with all kinds of fluffy fur and big paws? This would definitely be the kind of name I bestow on a cat only once I had seen and met him.

3. Toonces: Ever since the popular SNL skits, I’ve wanted to name a cat this. No explanation other than that needed!

4. Herman: Growing up, we had an outdoor cat named Herman that we inherited from an elderly neighbor when he had passed. This neighbor gave Herman his name and it suited him so well. He was an orange tabby cat with a white underside who seemed to quite enjoy the roaming life of an outdoor cat (he was neutered, FYI).

5. Boris: My dad had a pair of Siamese cats before my time and I’d love to honor my cat heritage by naming a future kitten after, well, basically their grandcat-pa.

Girl Cat Names:

1. Zsa Zsa: She’d be high maintenance, of course.

2. Marmie: I would name a lady marmalade cat this because I think it’s just too stinkin’ cute. (Psst…I’m hoping my next kitten is a marmalade! Eeeps!)

3. Odette (la chatte): I’ve always wanted a French-like name for a cat, since I tend to speak to my cats in my college-minor level French. Can you imagine waking up and saying, “Mademoiselle, voici votre petit-déjeuner!” Oh, le sigh!

4.Fatzah: This is another cat I grew up with. While, I wouldn’t name any future cats this, I think it’s an adorable name. Fah-tzah!

5. Sally: She was Boris’s companion and for the same reasons, I’d name a future kitten after her grandcat-ma.

What are your cats’ names? What names are you saving for future kittens?

Raising Kitty: Corey’s Adoption Story

As a cat mom who adopted, as opposed to giving birth to a cat (hello—impossible!), I feel like the cat adoption story is underrepresented on blogs. You’ll find birth stories on any mommy blog you turn to, like here , here and here. And, when chitchatting with co-workers, you’ll hear stories of marrying a spouse with a cat from a previous relationship (or singlehood) or cats that wandered upon a porch to be welcomed into a family (talk about a bona fide stork story!). My husband didn’t have a cat before I met him and Corey didn’t “adopt me” as some cat parents are apt to say. As a single woman and new to Cincinnati, I found a cat shelter, filled out the necessary paperwork, went through the selection process and ended up with Corey, my lil’ tuxedoed punkin.

Baby Corey! I sure wish I knew him back then. I would have put him in my pocket! Photo is courtesy of Ohio Alleycat Resource.

Corey was 5 years old when I adopted him. At the shelter, I perused the cats, wandering around the large room that housed them. I went in looking for a cat who wouldn’t be too affectionate, but with whom I could bond. After a few minutes, I found Corey sitting upon a table and he allowed me to walk up and pet him. He made biscuits. I petted a few other cats before discovering him lying upon yet another table. I approached, petted and biscuits were made yet again. The decision was made.

The story doesn’t end there, though, because when you adopt a “mature” cat, sometimes they don’t adjust well or quickly or both to their new home. Now, Corey didn’t destroy anything by scratching or urinating on any dry-clean-only pieces, but for the first year, we pretty much lived like roommates. He would come within a few feet of me at breakfast and dinner time while he waited for me to pour his krunchkas into his bowl. Other than that, we didn’t have much interaction. His initial coldness made me think I had been bamboozled at the shelter. The turning point came when I had to take him to the vet for his cat eye-herpes. Corey wanted nothing to do with me and scurried around my tiny apartment escaping the towel and eventual cat carrier I had for him. After a few tears (mine), I was able to catch him and take him to the vet.

I kept him in the bathroom for the few days I had to put medicine into his eye. Then, I instated “pet therapy.” Not for me, but for him. I found whatever nook and cranny he was hunkered down in, started a stopwatch and petted him for 15 minutes straight—no matter how cramped my legs or neck would get reaching for him. Eventually, he realized he liked to be petted. Then, one day he sat down on a particular corner of a rug, I approached and he let me pet him. A few weeks later at a certain time each day, he would visit that particular corner of the rug and wait—he was telling me he was ready for “pet time.” Finally, Corey started hopping up on the couch (never sitting on my lap, mind you) and allowing me to pet him. Nowadays, I can’t sit down on the couch without him hopping up beside me or him meowing with all his might in the evenings just for a stroke on his head and a good rub of his belly.

Big Corey!

While I may not have come to be Corey’s mom in a more traditional way, I wouldn’t have any other cat. Looking at Corey’s growth and the bond we’ve built is enough to warm any cat mom’s heart.

P.S. Corey’s sister, Charlotte, is available for adoption. She sports an adorable half-milk mustache!

 

Raising Kitty: Finding Balance

Inspired by A Cup Of Jo’s series on juggling work and motherhood, I want to share how I balance work and cat motherhood. You see, I’ve been a copywriter for 4 years and a cat mom for most of those years, too. Dealing with the antics of an 8-9 year old cat (Corey was adopted) and the trials and tribulations of writing and writing well, there are a lot of reminders that, no, I can’t have it all, but it is worth it.

Corey the Cat!

1. What’s my work schedule?

I wake up a good hour and a half before my husband does, so I’m on breakfast duty. After hydrating with a glass of water (moms have to take care of themselves to be able to take care of their cats, right?) I get Corey’s breakfast ready. Corey eagerly awaits his breakfast, walking around his food dish and walking around the kitchen, but once he has it, he pretty much eats it and then chills out under the coffee table. Then, I get myself ready for the work day. I say goodbye to my husband and Corey and I’m off to work. From 7am to 3:30pm, I’m at work. I do have an hour-long commute, so I like to listen to audio books along the ride. When I get home (on good days at 4:30pm), I feed Corey. It’s pretty much the same routine as breakfast, only there’s daylight. Then it’s exercise, dinner and prepping lunches for the next day.

2. How do I handle catcare?

Well, my husband or I are usually up/at home to feed Corey at his regularly scheduled times. (Routine is important for the well-being of cats.) Sometimes when we go out to see a movie or get together with friends and we know we won’t be back in time to feed Corey dinner, we’ll feed him before we leave. Even if it’s 2pm, he acts like he hasn’t eaten in 3 days and munches down on his food right away. On the occasion that we go out of town, we have an automatic feeder/waterer that we set up. And, we usually have family come over and check on Corey once or twice, depending on how many days we’re gone for.

3. When do I typically hang out with my cat?

Corey and I always have breakfast together—except on the weekends when I’ll get up once he scratches at our door to feed him and then go back to bed (I must sleep in). But, there’s always the nightly ritual of “pet time.” This is when either I or my husband will spend 20 minutes petting Corey. We know it’s important for his socialization to have this one-on-one time and plus we love rubbing his flabby belly.

4. What do I like best about my current setup?

I like coming home to a cat. When I’m having one of those weeks at work where I feel like I’m accomplishing nothing, I scroll through my iPhone pictures and look at a few of Corey. When I see those big, curious yellow-green eyes, I know I’m doing it all for him and I know he’ll grow up to be a better cat for it.

5. How do I and my husband fit our marriage into the balance?

We both love Corey, but we love each other more. We’d never mistreat Corey, or any other cat, but sometimes you have to put out the auto-feeder and take a long weekend to reignite the romance!

6. Do I have time for myself?

I’ll never have as much as I want! But, I take it where I can get it—like my long commutes that I use to catch up on books via audio books. Throughout the day I find little 5 minute snippets of time just to breathe and be alone.

7. Any advice for new cat moms?

Take it slow! Don’t become overwhelmed by everything. Rome wasn’t built in a day and cats surely weren’t raised in a day. Do the best you can each day and try to do better the next. In the end, I think our cats will come to understand and appreciate our sacrifices and love for them.