Category Archives: Julia Williams

Is It OK to Kiss Your Pet?

By Julia Williams

It goes without saying that we all love our pets and they love us back. I don’t think anyone would ever argue about that. Yet we may have a difference of opinion on the appropriate ways to give and receive that love. Some pet owners like to hug their dog or cat, while others say that pets don’t really like or want hugs. (I believe it depends on the pet).

Some people let their pets show their love with copious licks, even smack dab on their mouth. Others, like me, are uncomfortable with the thought of letting a dog or cat’s tongue come into contact with our lips. I do let my cats lick me on my face, but I draw the line at mouth kissing.

Opinions aside, is it really safe to kiss your dog or cat? Are there any health risks to letting your pet give you a wet kiss on your mouth? Considering where dogs and cats often put their mouths, should we be letting them shower us with affectionate licks?

Veterinarian, dog lover and author Dr. Marty Becker admits to kissing his pets, but he also says “I know I probably shouldn’t.” Dr. Becker says veterinarians are divided about the issue of kissing pets. In a veterinary publication, Dr. Christina Winn recommended that vets kiss their clients’ pets as a way to foster better relationships with them (the people, not the pets). Other vets vehemently disagreed, on the grounds that it is actually possible to catch something from kissing your dog or cat. Zoonotic diseases – those that are transmissible from animals to humans – do exist. Nobody disputes that. The difference of opinion is in regard to the risk, i.e., the likelihood of getting a zoonotic disease from kissing your pet.

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It’s National Hairball Awareness Day! Yay?

By Julia Williams

It’s pretty much a given that if you have a cat, you don’t need a special day in April to make you aware of hairballs. Cat owners are, unfortunately, all too familiar with those awful things. I don’t think there’s any sound more wretched than the gagging noise a cat makes that signals a hairball is about to be deposited on your carpet.

That our cats never do the hairball hack on the linoleum is surely proof that they’ve all been carefully trained by someone other than us. (And you thought cats couldn’t be trained. Ha!). Ah yes, there it is…right there in chapter one of the Cat’s Handbook on How to Annoy Your Human.

Now, you might think it’s funny that, some years back, some unknown person declared the last Friday in April to be National Hairball Awareness Day. I would chuckle right along with you, except that hairballs are really no laughing matter. Aside from the carpet cleanup and the likelihood that sooner or later, you’re going to “find” a hairball with your bare foot, frequent hairballs could be a sign of trouble with your cat’s digestive system.

How frequent is too frequent? That depends upon who you ask. Some say even one hairball is one too many. For me, more than one every few months per cat would cause me to take a much more proactive approach. While I’m not sure you can ever completely eliminate hairballs, there are some things you can do to greatly minimize them (more on that later).

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Things Only a Cat Person Would Do

By Julia Williams

“Cat People” are a special breed. There’s really nothing too outlandish when it comes to the things a true cat person will do to keep their kitty content. Yes, we Cat People willingly suffer for the greater good of our feline friends. I mean…isn’t that Cat Commandment #1 in the adoption contract? I’m pretty sure it is, and I’m also positive cats know it’s mandatory that you cater to their every whim. They certainly act like it, and they didn’t just pull that “I’m the King of my Castle” attitude out of thin air, did they? No, your cat thinks you worship the ground he walks on…because you do.

I’ve recently discovered that there are some universal “Cat People” truths. I.E., there are things every diehard cat lover does at some point for their furry best friend’s happiness. Further, while these things might be seen as eccentric to the no-pet crowd, to Cat People they make perfect sense. I say that will full confidence, because I recently polled a large group of Cat People on this very subject, and certain “themes” emerged. Here are some:

We Don’t Wake Sleeping Felines

Cat People do many things to avoid waking the cat. We watch TV programs we don’t even like if there is a cat sleeping on our lap and the remote is out of reach. Forget about grabbing a snack, answering the phone or using the bathroom. Our food may get cold, our legs may go numb and we might nearly expire from thirst, but one look at the sleeping cat and everything else is forgotten.

When our kitty sleeps on the computer chair, Cat People sit on the edge to type. It’s not the least bit comfortable and sometimes makes sentences come out like this: I ki93te dkfill be te4 fjje. Yet the cat is blissfully unaware. My computer chair is one of Annabelle’s favorite sleeping spots. Even when she’s awake but lounging in the chair, she gives me such a pitiful “you’re not really gonna make me move?” look that I just can’t. So I suffer.

Cat People let their kitties sleep pretty much anywhere they want to, with few exceptions. When the cat chooses our favorite reading chair or the best TV viewing spot on the couch, we just find other places to sit. Moving the cat is unthinkable. Jennifer Niemi says “I have sat on the floor, as the couch in the family room was fully loaded.” Indeed!

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Can Dogs and Cats Be Best Friends?

By Julia Williams

I read a lot of pet blogs and online pet magazines, and whenever I see a photo of a dog and cat snuggling, I have mixed emotions. One the one hand, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I just love seeing these photos because they seem to support what many pet owners have said – that dogs and cats can be best friends.

On the other hand, seeing these heartwarming examples of interspecies friendships often makes me feel a little wistful. You see, I am a diehard cat fan but I also like dogs and have wanted to add a woofie to my furry family for some time. One of the things that stops me – not the only thing, mind you – is my fear that it will upset my three cats and damage the extremely close relationship I have with each of them.

I say this because I know that while many cats and dogs can be great friends, not all dogs and cats will get along, and some may even be arch enemies. It really depends on several factors, including the individual dog, the individual cat, their interaction, and your household dynamics.
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Judging a Cat By the Color of Its Coat

By Julia Williams

You’ve probably heard these stereotypes about our feline friends: black cats are bad luck; tortoiseshell cats have a feisty attitude (“tortitude”); tuxedo cats are very loving; calico cats are always crazy; ginger cats are super friendly; while white cats are aloof or shy.

People (and even some veterinarians) pre-judge cats by the color of their coat all the time, but is there any truth to the stereotypes? Can a cat’s coat color predict behavior and personality?

Plenty of people who share their home with a tortoiseshell will tell you their cat does indeed have that aforementioned tortitude, but I have to wonder how much of that is perception rather than reality. In other words, perhaps they heard about tortitude somewhere along the way, and projected that stereotype onto their cat. If someone has a preconceived notion that all tortoiseshell cats act a certain way, they may subconsciously look for things that substantiate this. Then too, it seems to me that every housecat could be perceived as having a spunky attitude, at least some of the time. That is the nature of a cat, more or less.

“Black cat syndrome” is a somewhat different story. Shelter workers say that black cats typically have a much harder time getting adopted than their more colorful counterparts. Some believe it’s because of the “bad luck” myth and purported association with witches, while others think it has more to do with the fact that darker colored cats are harder to see and observe in the shelter cages.

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Inside the Minds of Men Who Love Cats

By Julia Williams

Although I don’t currently have a special “Cat Guy” in my life, I love them all because a) they are fond of felines and b) they’re not afraid to admit it. Some men think it’s not cool or “macho” to love cats because they see felines as feminine creatures. I have many wonderful male friends who love cats, and they would all tell you there is zero truth to that stereotype.

Six of my favorite Cat Guys agreed to be interviewed for this article. They are: Dan Powers, the talented photographer for The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey; Fred, “Pop” to Stunning Cathy Keisha; John, “Dad-Guy” to the Island Cats; Kevin from Animal Shelter Volunteer Life; Scott from the Katnip Lounge; and Terry from Brian’s Home. Enjoy!

What’s the best gift your cat has ever given you?
Dan: We currently have seven cats in our home. The best gift is the absolute unconditional love they give to me and the comfort that comes from that love.
Fred: Her love and companionship when I was home recovering from back surgery.
John: Headbutts.  I love when the cats headbutt me.
Kevin: I’m always amazed at how well all of our cats, especially those with whom we have the closest bonds, are able to read human emotions. Unsolicited cat snuggles, purrs and unconditional love are the most wonderful gifts after a tough day.
Scott: Unconditional love.
Terry: Without a doubt, the best gift my cat Brian has given me is that of patience and acceptance. Brian has just the right personality for a multi-cat household. He understands that everyone is different and sometimes it takes a little time for others to find the good in you. He is quick to show kindness, and will give up his treats or playtime if one of his sisters seems more interested. So Brian has taught me how to be patient and has helped me understand that everyone has needs of their own and that helping others is the most important thing you can do.

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