Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Tonk's Tale 2013 in Review

We've had the best time sharing our year with you, and we thank you for so generously sharing your time with us on a regular basis.

We look back on 2013 with great fondness, as friendships have grown, new relationships have been built and three kitties gleefully wrought mayhem upon these digital pages.

Uh, momma. Allie thinks you should limit the "mayhem" comment to Faraday. 

*pumps paw in the air* YEAHHHH. Mayhem. Me and Allstate. We ROCK.


Uh, where was I...? Oh right.

Thank you so much for sharing 2013 with us. 

We hope you enjoy this look back on what we think are some of our most notable posts of the year:

January, 2013
We learned all about Animal Blood Donors and how they save lives. We are especially proud of the University of Missouri for inaugurating the program Pets Saving Pets:

February, 2013
Allie was not impressed with our Snowpocalypse. But in more cheery news, we investigated the origin of the phrase "don't get your back up."

March, 2013
 Did we mention Snowpocalypse? Faraday saw it up close and personal....

And since March is National Nutrition Month, we asked the question, "do you know what's in your pet's food?

April, 2013
Since Maxwell's birthday is this month, I chose him as the subject of Petfinder's "I am a Cat Parent" blog hop. I shared what it was like to be owned by a very special deaf boy in "I am Maxwell's Cat Parent."

May, 2013
Our mom cheated on us this month, in "I Kissed a Ferret... and I LIKED it!" We were scandalized!

On a more cheerful note, we learned the origin of the phrase "having kittens" (which we assure you we all were, after having heard of the "ferret incident").

June, 2013
Breaking news this month came from Cornell University as a professor at their veterinary college discovers what we hope to be the key to the deadly virus, FIP.

And our mom related an interesting incident involving empty chairs, trash bags, and bomb sniffing pigs. Yup, you heard right - pigs!

July, 2013
This was an important month as we brought you the disturbing news of a potential law on the U.S. Senate floor that could negatively impact our ability to get compound medications for our pets.

And the University of Cambridge brought us the good news that cat allergens have been successfully isolated, bringing new hope to cat-loving allergy sufferers for a future cure!

August, 2013
In August, we brought you the good news - we won the battle against banning compound drugs for pets!
We celebrated by honoring World Cat Day:

September, 2013
Having made it through the Dog Days of Summer, we discover there are also the Cat Nights of Summer (that one was news to us!!).

And Faraday is shocked to hear that it's Back to School time...!

October, 2013
We absolutely love getting our geek on - which is what we did with this month's Monday Medical post, entitled "what's that thing on my cat's ear?"

November, 2013
We were pretty amused - and very surprised - to learn the origin of the word "sourpuss!"
And we cheered at the news that a new vaccine protocol may be able to save lives. (Look for more on this in January as our own veterinarian weighs in on the topic of tail vaccines.)

December, 2013 
More science fun this month as we looked at why the sky is blue, what Star Trek has to do with deaf cats, and why Faraday's eyes sometimes look green!

Thanks for spending 2013 with us! we look forward to many more fun and informative posts in 2014!

Toon Tuesdays: Bad Book Titles

(temp Technorati claim code: XMVDTXKN7DB4 )
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!)

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!


PetSafe FroliCat Giveaway!

There's still time to enter this very special giveaway - you'll be giving the gift of fun to a shelter pet in the process!

Just click this link here (or the badge to the left, either will get you there) to learn more.

Giveaway is open until midnight tonight!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Blue-eyed Science

A few weeks ago, we talked about why the eyes of certain breeds like Siamese, Birman, Himalayan, and Tonkinese are blue. We showed cool diagrams and got to use nifty scientific terms and stuff. Mommy was in heaven. She's weird that way.

Today we're going to talk a bit about other things that can impact the way blue eyes look.

Sometimes people have asked if our photos are tweaked a bit. (Maxie's eyes can't be that blue in Real Life. Surely you "enhanced" it a bit, didn't you?)

The answer to that is yes...and no.

If you see what appears to be different eye colors from photo to photo, that can be due in part to something called the angle of incidence.

Cameras 2 & 3 positioned for holiday shoot
at singer/songwriter Jewel's ranch.
We see this a lot in my line of work:

Say we're on location. The set is beautifully lit, with three cameras ready to film, positioned in a circle around the subject. All three are looking at the exact same scene, and all three can be "seeing" that scene's colors differently.

The way the light hits the camera lens - and because what one camera sees in the background is different from what the other camera sees - it can make the shot look "off," color-wise. The cameras don't appear to match each other.

But how can this be if the cameras are the exact same make and model, and they are set at the exact same settings, with the exact same lenses? Remember Raleigh scattering that we discussed in our post on December 9?

Light bends, and it bounces. And because the cameras are in different positions, the angle of incidence of the light is different. And therefore the shot will look different.

So we have to color correct - or "shade" - the cameras before we roll.

Below is a perfect example of angle of incidence played out with Allie as the model.

These photos were taken one right after the other, but the camera was moved almost halfway around in position between shot 1 and shot 2. What a difference it made in her eye color!

This doesn't happen all that often with Allie. But with Faraday, and even more frequently with Maxwell, you'll see quite a bit of color shift. There's a lack of pigment to "anchor" the color, which means its appearance is more dependent upon those bouncy light rays.

Color temperature can also impact what you see. Take a look at these two photos of Faraday. In the first, it's an overcast day so the lighting is flat and the camera "sees" Faraday's eyes as more blue-green. In fact, the entire photo is more blue in tone.

In the second shot, he's inside on a sunny day, lit from the side. His eyes have more of a green cast to them.

Maxwell's eyes - perhaps because of the complete lack of pigment - tend to vary the most.

He was in a shadowed location for the above shots. In the shot below, he is lit entirely by direct sunlight. There is more scattering of blue light. (Additionally the shot is overexposed, leaving the entire photo looking washed out)

By the way, you can see the same phenomenon played out in the sky above you. You can have two completely cloudless days but one will have a much deeper "Colorado" blue sky than the other. Perhaps it has to do with air quality? More particles in the air (pollen, dust, etc) make for more scattering.

One last point: lighter eyes will much more easily reflect their environment. In the photo below, Faraday is surrounded by green leaves, and you can see that green reflected in his eyes. And in Maxwell's photo, the eye closest to the table is reflecting some of the golden tones of the wood back into his eye.

Again, none of these photos were retouched or color corrected.
This is how they look raw, straight from the camera.

So to answer the question occasionally posed, do I "bump up the saturation" in Maxwell's eyes? Sometimes. As all photographers will do, I color correct my photos before publishing, to "normalize" them. To make sure skin (ahem, fur) tones are correct and not too ruddy or blue. And to make sure eye tone isn't too "off" from the way they normally look.

And here's an example. That photo of Maxie above? Here it is, before and after color correction:

Okay, science/photography class is over. Time for a...

Holiday Extra

That camera shot above in Jewel's kitchen? Here's the final video - it's one in a series of 26 tips we filmed with Jewel, food blogger Jaden Hair and the star of "My Fair Wedding," David Tutera.
(Bonus: it's a pretty cool tip, too!)


PetSafe FroliCat Giveaway!

There's still time to enter this very special giveaway - you'll be giving the gift of fun to a shelter pet in the process!

Just click this link here (or the badge to the left, either will get you there) to learn more.

Giveaway is open until 12/31.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A surprise holiday package from a good friend

We're considering reporting our mommy to the authorities. Truly, the treatment we've received these past two weeks is cruel and unusual. They abandoned us. For realz.

I'll tell you what was cruel and unusual: visiting family in Texas and
leaving me all alone with the Brat. Oh woe is me...

Doods, seriously. What is this? #FirstWorldKittyProblems or something? The gift package sat on the counter for just a few days. Get over it. 

Maxie's such a party pooper. That's okay. I totally blamed him for the Scene of the Crime photo our human brother took while they were gone:


But I digress.

They finally came home and opened up our package. It was from Suki and Bosco and Amanda (okay and their mom who makes all this cool stuff)!!

Take a look at the loot we scored:

"I claim this one as all mine, Maxie. Paws off."

There were catnip soaked leather knots to chase!

And Flippin' Mousies, which TOTALLY have the right name: *flip!*

Maxwell: "Here momma! I'll flip it to you. CATCH!"

"You goin' down, bro!"

(Major flippin' ensues)

"Uh, Allie? Whatchoo got there? Wanna share?"

Allie: share MY fuzzy dice toy? Hrm.....

"Not in this lifetime!"

*evil laugh* Mine! All MINE!
Um Suki? Bosco? Amanda? We kinda think these toys ROCK.

Thanks ever so for the pawesome holiday gifts!!

(If you want to get some Flipp Flopp action of your own, check out their cool Etsy shop here.)

Oh and we hear facebook rumor that they'll have a nifty new handmade leather cat bed up for sale in their Etsy shop very soon!

FTC Disclaimer: These Sukiroo toys were given to us as gifts with no expectation that we would post about them. We were not compensated in any way personally for this review. All opinions are our own.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Photohunt: Shimmer

Faraday is a Platinum Mink Tonkinese. The "Platinum" refers to the tendency the fur has to shimmer in the sunlight.

Can you see? Take a look at the closeup shot below:

Cool huh?


PetSafe FroliCat Giveaway!

There's still time to enter this very special giveaway - you'll be giving the gift of fun to a shelter pet in the process!

Just click this link here (or the badge to the left, either will get you there) to learn more.

Giveaway is open until 12/31.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Photo Week #6: Funniest

We're taking it easy this week and hope you are too! 

This week we're posting some of our favorite photos: 
some just make us laugh, while others make us pause and stare. 
We hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoy sharing them with you.

We'll resume our regularly scheduled programming next week.

Here are the photos that made us laugh:
"Back to school? Why are you looking at me when you say that?"
"Power napping in the window sill"

"Oh come on. Pull the other one."

"What just walked across my paw?!?!?!"

Waaaaaaaaand toy! It's a WAAAAND TOY!


PetSafe FroliCat Giveaway!

There's still time to enter this very special giveaway - you'll be giving the gift of fun to a shelter pet in the process!

Just click this link here (or the badge to the left, either will get you there) to learn more.

Giveaway is open until 12/31.

#WholeFoodsPets Taste Test: Three carnivores weigh in

Back in mid-December, we took a look at a new pet food line by Whole Foods Market called Whole Paws®. This marks the very first time a private brand has offered grain free dog and cat food (in both the dry and wet varieties).

As we studied the labels and read up on the ingredients, we found a lot to like about this new line of food. You can read all about it in our original post here.

And then we made three very impatient felines wait to try it out. Faraday was none too pleased about that, as you can see!

In our home, we do not like to feed dry kibble, so we gave the bag of cat food to a friend.

But we're totally digging the wet food, which comes in two sizes - 3 and 5.5 ounce cans. And they come in two styles: paté and shredded.

We absolutely love the fact that they're grain-free.

If you follow our Facebook page, you may have noticed that our last post on WholePaws® spawned a very interesting conversation about their ingredients label.

(By the way, you'll often find conversations like this, plus loads of gratuitous photos of The Three that never make it over to our blog. We'd love to see you there, too! You can follow this link here to "like" us!)

Anyway, back to this conversation: it began with a good friend asking about WholePaws'® ash content. I had never heard anyone express concern over ash before, and asked her about it.

She explained she had lost a very dear and precious cat to FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) and, at the time - twelve years ago - her veterinarian had attributed it to ash.

WholePaws grain free canned food analysis
(click to biggify)
So she was naturally cautious. And so I did a little research.

Bottom line: veterinarians no longer think ash causes FLUTD.

Yes, back a dozen or so years ago, they did think ash (and magnesium) caused painful struvite crystals to form in the bladder and cause blockage.

Now they know differently.

It's not ash that causes the problem but plant and grain based foods that have a higher alkaline content.

Grain free wet foods like WholePaws® where meat is the first ingredient are more acidic, which is good for kitties with urinary issues. In addition, both ash and magnesium are necessary for your cat's health. They provide important nutrients essential for bone growth, muscle and hearth health. In fact, the absence of these ingredients in a cat's diet can cause a completely different kind of crystal to form in the bladder!

According to the Long Beach Animal Hospital, feeding a high quality diet is one of the best preventive measures you can take for urinary issues. Ensuring your cat has sufficient water intake is also critical.

Since the water content in wet cat food is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-80% (and dry cat food is only 10%), WholePaws® canned foods are a perfect choice.

Not only do they provide good moisture, their ingredients are top of the line, and provide a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.

I can't tell you how glad I was that Sukiroo asked about ash. I'm no veterinarian, but the veterinary articles I found were very informative, and you can click on any of the links in our source list at the bottom of this post to read more on the subject for yourself.

Allie's getting a bit impatient. Enough talk, it's time for the taste test!

Four paws up!
One down, two to go. But wait, before I go on, I need to mention one more thing I really like about WholePaws®. They actually have a caloric content on their labels.

That means I'm able to more accurately control how many calories Little Miss "I'm just Big Boned" ingests every day. Like? I love this. And since studies have indicated that cat obesity has increased by an alarming 90% , a calorie count is an important tool for the careful pet owner to have. (I have three other brands in my pantry right now and none of the others offer this info. Thanks, Whole Foods Market!)

Okay, next up: Faraday.

Lip-smacking good!
Not sure if you noticed, but at the beginning of this post I mentioned that we "do not like to feed dry". We'd prefer to be able to say we do not feed dry, but there's Maxwell. The lone hold-out. Our problem child where food is concerned.

If you recall, in our last post we wondered if WholePaws® would be the food that  succeeded in converting Maxwell over to wet food. Our paws were all crossed.

We caught Maxie in the basement where he was hanging out (sorry for the poor photo quality but we had to go where our subject led). We'll let the pics do the talking for us:

Initial test sniff: we added a bit of water to make gravy.
Taste test
Digging in!

He didn't eat as much as we had hoped, but
we think it looks promising. What say you?

Whole Foods Market may just have kickstarted Maxwell's 2014 New Year's resolution: "wet food or bust"!


WholePaws® is available exclusively at Whole Foods Market locations nationwide.

You can follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about special offers and even tasty holiday recipes and tips!


FTC Disclaimer:  I have written this post on behalf of BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network for Whole Foods Market. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about WholePaws®, but A Tonk's Tale only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. 

GOOD! The Cat Doctor Atlanta on Feline Nutrition (do a word search for "ash")
Ash, Magnesium and FLUTD by onlynaturalpet.com
Basics of feline nutrition - catinfo.org
Long Beach Animal Hospital on feline urinary disease
Urinary acidification in the prevention and treatment of feline struvite urolithiasis. Taton GF, Hamar DW, Lewis LD., Journal of Veterinary Medicine.
Cats' Urine Ph Factor