Saturday, November 30, 2013

Belated Black Friday Giveaway & CWA Recap

About a bazillion years ago as we cats tell time, our mom abandoned us for a weekend with other cat bloggers at an event known as the 20th Annual Cat Writers' Association Conference.

She was invited to attend the CWA event both for the award ceremony and for three days' worth of conference sessions on writing, photography tips and such.

Her roomie at the event was none other than Glogirly, the designer of the Association's new logo (cool, huh?).

She had a ton of fun hanging out with other celebs such as the author of the very entertaining Whiskerslist: The Kitty Classifieds and Sparkle's very talented human, who also is an author and publisher.

From left to right: Whiskerslist author Angie Bailey, Glogirly & Sparklecat's human
(pardon the awful cell phone camera quality!)

Glogirly presented a very informative session packed with practical photography tips for the newbie and the seasoned shutterbug. And Sparkle's human gave a great talk about how to monetize your blog. A fun time was had by all, except for us poor deprived latchkey kitties back home. But we digress.

Our mom did eventually remember she had three feline dependents, ended her wild gallavanting, and returned home. With swag in tow. Lots of swag.

So much swag, we all decided we needed to share the largesse. So without further ado, we present to you our

Belated Black Friday Giveaways!

The first one is open to all U.S. residents. It consists of two - count'em two - bags of nomilicious treats, plus catnip and mousie toys!

The second giveaway is open only to residents outside the U.S. and it consists of a classical music CD mixed in such a way as to employ sonic anchoring - bioacoustic principles meant to provide a calming effect in stressful situations. Also included are two collars: a festive holiday one plus a kitten-sized one you can share with your favorite shelter, if you'd like. Also included is a package of nip nibblers!

If you're interested in grabbing this loot for yourself, just tell us in a comment below which giveaway you're eligible to win, and be sure we have a way to contact you via email.

The giveaways are open until next Friday, December 6 at noon.  The winners will be announced on Saturday, December 7.


Rules and FTC Disclaimer:  

No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Winners are chosen using and will be notified by e-mail. The winner of the giveaway will need to give us a physical address to which the prize will be mailed within 72 hours. 
(no P.O. boxes please) 

If a reply email containing the physical address where the prize should be mailed is not received by that time, an alternate winner will be chosen again by random. The winner will be announced in a separate post following the drawing. 

We were given these samples by the gracious sponsors of the Cat Writers' Conference, and were not compensated in any other way, nor were we asked to do a review or giveaway. All opinions in this article are our own.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fun Find: DIY Cat Car!

Kitties! We discovered the secrets hidden inside the Very Large Package wrapped just for us:

We had a big combo Thanksgivvikah family event last night and the package was brought down from where it had been safely stashed out of the reach of prying paws.

And what to our wondering eyes should appear?

Our very own roadster! (Pardon the spoiler - it wasn't adjusted properly for this photo)

Faraday claimed it immediately, and then Allie decided it fit her style perfectly:

 This, kitties, was created with an x-acto, a Sharpie and a stapler!
We sure do like Fun Finds that cost a kitty's humans zero green papers! (Save'em for more Wand Toys, we always say.)

While Maxwell studied the lines of the roadster from afar, a new "toy" appeared on the horizon:

Although we have been told the quadcopter is daddy's toy, Maxwell begs to differ.
He thinks it's WAY cool!

Maxwell with human brother, the expert pilot

Stay tuned for next Friday's Special Edition Fun Find post: 
Faraday's (First) Annual Holiday Gift Recommendations!

Tomorrow: Our Belated Black Friday Giveaway!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chanukah Fun, Midday Update

We have family coming in today! And I'm being very helpful around the house.

Daddy needed candle supervising.

And I had to make sure the nommy menorah looked purrfect! (Well, okay, Allie supervised THAT.)

Here's an up-close photo of the edible menorah, in front of our chocolate dreidels - YUM!

There's this ginormous bag with OUR name on it that we get to open tonight! Stay tuned for more UPDATES!

Faraday, out.

We wanted to take this moment to let you know about an auction for a fellow cat blogger to help her defray medical costs for her sweet Annabelle. Please click the badge below to be directed to the auction site - we've already bid on two pawesome items!

Wishing you ...

A very Happy Thanksgiving, from our home to yours!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

By Popular Demand: Bubbie's Latke Recipe!

We've tried them all, but the best is going right back to the basics, just like gramma (Bubbie) used to make:


6 to 8 potatoes, grated finely
(you can use russet, purple or sweet
but russet is the classic recipe!)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. chives
1 onion, diced or grated
Flour, if needed
Vegetable oil, to fry


Mix in a large bowl all ingredients with a wooden spoon.
Add small amounts of flour, if needed to bind ingredients together.
Form the mixture into patties.

Secret trick to ensure latkes stay perfectly round: Freeze them til they're semi-hard!

Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a pan and fry until golden brown.

Our rabbi loves to fry them in his deep fat fryer - he was the one who told us to freeze them in advance!

Serve with applesauce & sour cream. YUM!

Thursday Trivia - a day early

As Chanukah begins tonight - the first time it's landed this early since 1888! - we decided to swap days and offer up a special Chanukah Trivia:

The origin of the tradition of latkes

It might surprise very few to hear that latkes weren't eaten at the first Chanukah celebration. But it may surprise you to hear how youthful the tradition is!

Photo: Lynn Gardner via Creative Commons
We actually have Catherine the Great to thank for these yummy fried treasures. Catherine...and a famine.

Back in 1825, food was so scarce in Russia that she ordered farmers to plant potatoes instead of grains.

This was because potatoes could withstand harsher winters, had greater nutritional value and higher yields.

The farmers initially weren't very happy with this decree, as potatoes didn't have a terribly good reputation at the time.

According to Carol Green Ungar, the first potatoes to be planted in Europe were watery and bitter. But of course, when your ruler tells you to plant plant potatoes!

By 1850, the potato was firmly entrenched in the diets of all Russians - and ubiquitous enough to make their way into a Yiddish children's song: "Monday, potatoes; Tuesday, potatoes; Wednesday, potatoes... Shabbos, potato kugel!"

So it was a natural progression for these golden tubers to find their way into holiday celebrations. By the time the first American Jewish cookbook was published in 1889, they were here to stay.

And now you know: Chanukah: 2,178 years old. The latke: a youthful 163!

Chag Orim Sameach - Happy Festival of Lights!


Yiddish Potato Folk Song
"The Little Known Story Behind the Latke," by Carol Green Ungar. Jewish Action, Winter 5774. Page 60.

Gratuitous shot of our latest accomplishment: Chocolate Dreidels - YUM!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Toon Tuesdays: Lists

Shoebox "Lists"  

We kinda figure these guys started the list tradition because their minds are just warped that way. (Mommy can vouch for that - she works with them and they totally crack her up!)

(Obviously Tom hasn't heard of Meowstard...!)

Toon Tuesdays feature animal (and sometimes human) humor made by the peeps over at Shoebox Greetings (a tiny little division of Hallmark) - where our mom works, too!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Follow-up: I Spy

...continued from yesterday:  "Holy CAT, that's a big dog...!"

(Our Monday Medical series will resume next week)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Constitutional: I Spy

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Photohunt: Over

"Why yes, it does feel a bit like I'm towering over you from up here.
Does that bother you?"


We're participating in the Weekend Cat Blogging blog hop...

...and the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun Find: The Dog Pod

If you have a fun find you'd like to share, send us a shout-out by clicking on the Contact Us link in the right sidebar.


We think this Fun Find works both for dogs and cats.

We love the clean modern lines of the Dog Pod in bamboo.

Made by a Canadian company called Vurv Design, you'll have to save a bit for this one. Its price tag is a bit spendy at $899!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Trivia: Pussyfooting Around

The fact that cats walk silently (when they so choose) is universal and so today’s trivia word seems to be a very intuitive one. And in part, it is.

Today, if someone is “pussyfooting around”, they’re either walking stealthily, or proceeding with caution. Maybe they’re even figuratively tiptoeing around a topic.

Faraday "pussyfooting" on the counter -
perhaps he knows he should not be there?
Many people think Roosevelt coined the term, but – though there’s no doubt he was fond of the word – he didn’t invent it.

The verb “pussyfooting” as we know it today seems to have surfaced in print back in 1903, in the Atlanta Constitution where a columnist wrote: “Vice President Charles Warren Fairbanks is pussy-footing it around Washington.”

A related reference surfaced a bit prior to that, in November of 1893 as an article in Scribner’s Magazine referenced “…men who were beginning to walk pussy-footed and shy at shadows.”

But what if we told you it had an entirely different meaning over the pond?

The website Word Origins suggests that the use of the word is unflattering and pejorative. And in truth, whenever we’ve heard it, the word is usually delivered with a bit of scorn: “stop pussyfooting around!”

But what we didn’t know was that this could mean, “stop being a teetotaler!”

Wait. What?

It all goes back to Indian Territory Oklahoma in the early 1900’s – and a man by the name of William E. Johnson. Johnson, a renowned teetotaler, was apparently known for his silent walk.

Evidently Maxwell is not a pussyfoot ;-)
Newspapers in Muskogee, Oklahoma branded him as “the gent with the panther tread” and began
calling him “Pussyfoot” Johnson.

(Apparently he admitted to wearing rubber heels on his shoes…?)

Johnson made his way over the pond in 1916 to broaden the reach of his prohibitionist message. And it was there that “pussyfooting” came to be known as supporting the ban of alcohol.

Word Origins tells us,

“The English took the nickname and applied it as a derisive term for a prohibitionist or teetotaler.

A 23 July 1919 cartoon in Punch had this caption:

Gloomy Policeman. ‘You’ve had enough. Better go home.’ 
Reveller. ...’Shurr-up—Pussy-foot!’” 

So now you know!
Oxford English Dictionary, pussy-footed, adj., 3rd Edition, Dec 2007, Oxford University Press, accessed 25 Dec 2008 .
Louis E. Jackson and C.R. Hellyer, A Vocabulary of Criminal Slang (Portland, OR: Modern Printing Co., 1914), 68. 
"Over 90,000 Bottles Liquor Confiscated," Evening News (Ada, OK), 29 Apr 1908.
Word Origins

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

'Toon Tuesdays: Lists - "if cats could..."

Shoebox "Lists"  

We kinda figure the Shoebox writers started the list tradition because they have so much funny inside, it's gotta have an outlet!

Toon Tuesdays feature humor from the peeps over at Shoebox Greetings (a tiny little division of Hallmark) - where our mom works, too!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Paws for the Philippines

We interrupt our Monday Medical series to bring you this important message from BlogPaws:

"The Blogger Disaster Relief Network has been activated once again as pet lovers from around the world band together to assist the pets impacted by the typhoon in the Philippines."

BlogPaws members are working with World Vets to help promote The Power Of One: one act of love, one donation of any size can make a difference for pets in need.

World Vets is providing veterinary supplies, financial support and on the ground teams on site in the Philippines.  Please consider donating your "one" thing today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Snoozin'

"Well we were, until someone brought the camera out."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Photohunt: Neat

No one understands the importance of staying neat and a cat.


We're participating in

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fun Find and Review: Natural Pet Company's Cat Toy Megapack

If you have a fun find you'd like to share, send us a shout-out by clicking on the Contact Us link in the right sidebar.


The very nice Florina at The Natural Pet Company contacted us several weeks ago and asked if we wanted to review their new Toy Megapack. 

We instructed Mommy to write back
immediately and say YES!!

The box arrived (naturally Maxwell thought *that* was the toy).  But then the Megapack was unveiled and suddenly the boys were all "what box?!?".

Wand Toys!

The Megapack came with three interchangeable attachments of varying lengths and feathers.  And the pole is a nice compact size, breaking down into 2 pieces -perfect for storing safely away when playtime is over.

But did the cats like the wand toy? That's a resounding YES.  The Natural Pet Company's wand has a swivel hook at the end that emulates the fluttering of real prey, and all three cats were captivated. 

Faraday does his best meerkat imitation
while showing off his wand toy prowess.

In fact, most of our photos weren't usable because of the aerobatic action going in in the family room.

As many of you know, Faraday is somewhat of a wand toy aficionado. He looooves them. A lot.

In fact, he tried to intercept the wand toy and carry it off to his hidden Wand Toy Lair on more than one occasion. (No, we never discovered where his hidden cache is, but we're working on it.)

Allie loved the pink feather - of course.

Two of the three feather attachments came with an easily removable bell, so if you're concerned your pet might swallow it, simply snip it off. 
We never leave wand toys out, they are always used under human supervision, so we left ours attached. 

"I think this yellow is a lovely contrast to my blue eyes, don't you?"

Uhm, and in case you couldn't tell - the Megapack was enthusiastically received at our home.

You can purchase an Interactive Feather Wand Megapack of your own at The Natural Pet Company's Amazon store here.  We think the $9.99 price point for three very nice feather attachments is a deal.

Faraday thinks wand toys make the perfect holiday gift for that special kitty in your life!

FTC Disclaimer: We were given this MegaPack sample by the Natural Pet Company, but were not compensated in any way personally for this review. All opinions are our own.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Trivia: At Bay

If you hold someone at bay, you’re keeping him or her at a distance, or at arm’s length. The Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms defines it as a way “to control something and prevent it from causing you problems.”

I have to admit, I walked into this Thursday Trivia research thinking it was a slam-dunk easy topic to write about. Hah.

The Word Detective complained that this wasn’t as easy to figure out as one might think, simply because there are far too many “bays” in the English language. First you have nine different nouns, then you have six different verbs. There’s even an adjective thrown in for good measure!

She points out something I never knew: many of these “bays” have distinct origins all their own and have nothing to do with one another. First you have your bay window. Then there’s the herb, bay leaf. Oh, and what about the inlet to an ocean? Did you know bay was a color, too? It’s a hair- or coat-color for horses (as in a “bay mare’).

And here I thought “at bay” referenced the sound a dog makes when he’s found prey.

In this case, that’s exactly what it means. “At bay” refers to a hound’s baying, and it comes from the Old French, bayer, meaning “to bark.” (No, not the aspirin. Our bayer is pronounced buy-YAY.)

The phrase has had a nice, long run. Dogs, it would appear, have been holding their prey “bayer” – at bay – since the late 1200s to early 1300s!

Good thing, too. I just can’t see a bay leaf being very effective at holding people at a distance, can you? Garlic, maybe….

English Language & Usage Stack Exchange
The Free Dictionary
The Word Detective Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: October 08, 2013).
Wikipedia: Horse coat colors

Chris via Creative Commons (two dogs) 
MTSOfan via Creative Commons (CU) 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

'Toon Tuesdays: See how annoying?

"Funny, But No"  
Yes, that's actually what the Shoebox team has been calling these rejects for the (many) years our mom has worked there. "Funny, but no" is a legend around Hallmark. So we thought we'd add some of these "rejects" into the 'Toon Tuesday rotation.

We showed our first one on Halloween. Here's our second one - enjoy!

Toon Tuesdays feature animal (and sometimes human) humor created by the peeps over at Shoebox Greetings (a tiny little division of Hallmark) - where our mom works, too!

Monday, November 11, 2013

BREAKING: Tail vaccine for cats may save lives

We have long known that vaccines can cause cancer in cats at the injection site. And when it occurs, fibrosarcomas caused by vaccine have been found to be more virulent and aggressive than ones that naturally occur.

This has been established as a known factor, specifically for rabies and feline leukemia vaccines, says the University of Florida's Small Animal Hospital.

Dr. Julie Levy of the University's College of Veterinary Medicine commented that “one to ten cats out of every 10,000 vaccinated against infectious diseases develop cancer at the vaccine injection site.”

Historically, the injection site was located between the shoulder blades, which made treatment - excision of the tumor with clean margins - virtually impossible.

So in 2006, the Winn Feline Foundation recommended that the injection site be moved to a location where a tumor might more easily be removed.

The location recommended was either a front or back leg. The AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) went even farther, suggesting the injections be made below the elbow or knee joint.

Studies of cats whose injection sites had moved to an intramuscular location such as the leg then began to show an increase in fibrosarcomas at that location. This uptick put to rest any doubts that vaccines (and possibly the adjuvants added to the vaccine to increase its effectiveness) were indeed to blame.

So it's fairly well accepted that in a small percentage of cats, this cancer will occur. And, Dr. Levy points out, even though this is a small percentage statistically, that's still thousands of cats each year who will be diagnosed with it.

Which is why a news release from the University of Florida veterinary college published October 31 brought some very welcome news:  

Julie Levy, D.V.M., Ph.D., and Maddie’s Professor of Shelter Medicine, unveiled the results of a study just completed where they looked at the impact of moving feline vaccine injection sites to the tip of the tail.

Their findings indicated that administering vaccinations in the tip of the cat’s tail was just as effective as vaccines given in traditional locations.

Tail vaccination allows for a far more effective surgical treatment of any cancer that will occur near the site, Levy says.

And because such treatment is less invasive (thus less expensive), she hopes that it will be something more pet owners would be willing to treat.

Treatment to the tail would also be less disfiguring for the animal - another plus. 

One major concern of those participating in the study was how well the injections would be received by the patient!  U of F veterinary student Cleon Hendricks, one of the participants in the research study, admitted to some apprehension. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the cats accepted vaccination in the tail just as well as they did in the leg!

UPDATE: We were unaware that a drug had been developed to deliver a six-month systemic flea prevention through injection, but discovered it in the course of researching this article. Please do not accept this for your pet if offered. The drug, called Program, has also been found to cause cancer in cats. Besides, you need to protect your cat for heartworm anyway, and monthly topical treatments that provide that protection will also handle fleas and ticks. 'Nuff said.


National Institutes for Health Article archive
VetMed's Shelter Medicine site library
University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine New Release
AVMA on the web
U of Fla Small Animal Hospital, on vaccination and sarcomas
Current studies on tail vaccination in cats
Vaccines - do our cats really need them?
Eigner, Diane R. "Feline Vaccine Guidelines". The Winn Feline Foundation. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
Cleon Hendrick's article on his experience participating in the study
Centers for Disease Control: About Adjuvants
Information on Vaccine-Associated Sarcomas