Category Archives: Julia Williams

The Pet Selfie Craze

By Julia Williams

It’s funny how new words seem to burst upon the scene and suddenly they’re everywhere. Case in point: the one-handed self-portrait everyone now calls a “selfie.” It’s been used so often lately that the Oxford Dictionary named selfie as their 2013 Word of the Year. The selection was big news nationwide, and gave the late-night talk show hosts some fresh comedic material. Conan O’Brien joked that “The Oxford Dictionary has named selfie the word of the year, narrowly beating out twerk. In a related story, the funeral for the English language is this Saturday.”

Interestingly, there’s no clear evidence of the word’s origin. It was initially reported that an Australian named Nathan Hope was the first to use selfie, in a 2002 forum post, but he later refuted that. Regardless of where the word originated, it seems certain that selfie is here to stay. And it was only a matter of time before our pets embraced the trend. Don’t believe me? Just Google “pet selfies” and you’ll see.

Pet seflies are popping up by the thousands on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and such. There is even a Pet Selfies page on Facebook (well yeah…of course there is). There’s also a Cat Selfie app that purports to help your feline with their self-snapped portraits. You put your iPhone or Ipad on the floor and a bouncing “flaming laser” appears on the screen for your cat to chase. Cat Selfie takes a photo every time the cat touches the screen. Curiously, there is no corresponding Dog Selfie app. However, that doesn’t seem to be stopping canines from getting in on the pet selfie craze.

Below are just a few of my favorite pet selfies.

The “Is There Food on My Nose Again?” Selfie – by Misko
selfie misko

The “Budoir Photo” Selfie – by Noel Zia Lee
Unused by Noël Zia Lee OK

“Rocking the Cone of Shame” Selfie – by andersbknudsen
selfie  andersbknudsen

The “Hangin’ with My BFF” Selfie – by Kerem Tapani Gültekin
selfie kerem
The “I’m So Tie-Tie” Selfie – by David~O
selfie David O

“Extreme Close Up” Selfie – by Tina Sherwood Imaging
selfie tina sherwood
“Photobomber” Selfie – by Rocky Williams

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The “Say Cheese” Selfie – by Joshua Ganderson

selfie joshua ganderson

“High on Catnip” Selfie – by Umberto Salvagnin

selfie umberto

The “Don’t Mess with My Bone” Selfie – by Greg Westfall

selfie greg westfall

The “I Am Lion, Hear Me Roar” Selfie – by Steve Hardy

selfie steve hardy

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Clicker Training Your Cat

clicker train martijnBy Julia Williams

Not many people use the words “training” and “cat” in the same sentence. The myth that cats are untrainable is firmly entrenched in society’s mind, right up there with the false belief that all felines are aloof and unloving. The truth is, most cats are perfectly capable of learning, but most people don’t have the patience, the knowledge, or both.

Is it harder to train a cat than a dog? I’m no expert, but I’d say yes because dogs are typically more eager to please us, which makes them more receptive to learning. I doubt anyone could train a cat using only praise as a reward. Treats are the way to get a cat’s attention.

I became interested in clicker training after watching videos of highly trained felines doing basic stuff  like sitting and touching a target with its nose, as well as fun tricks such as the high five, paw shake and hoop jump. “If these kitties can learn, so can you!” I said enthusiastically to my three cats, who didn’t bat an eye and promptly went back to sleep. Apparently they’d need some convincing. Oh, and lots of CANIDAE cat treats. Rule number one: never embark on a cat training expedition without a stockpile of the cat treats your kitty loves.

Next on the list: a clicker. You won’t get far trying to clicker train your cat without one. Although some say you can use a ballpoint pen, the click doesn’t seem loud enough to me to really get their attention. Clickers are inexpensive, though – I paid a whopping $1.99 for mine.
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Llamas and Alpacas as Therapy Animals? Why Not!

Rojo-HiResFloralBy Julia Williams

First there were therapy dogs. Then came therapy cats. More recently, the list of therapy animals has expanded to include horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, potbellied pigs…even llamas and alpacas! It seems people have finally begun to realize what I have known for most of my life – that virtually any animal has the capability to help our seniors, special needs children, hospital patients, rehabilitation facility residents and others who need cheering up.

When it comes to therapy animals, size doesn’t matter because animals are so pure of heart and willing to lend a paw (or a hoof) to spread cheer. Case in point: a big, shaggy-haired llama named Rojo and an equally hairy alpaca named Napoleon can bring on the smiles every bit as much as a fluffy little dog can!

Admittedly, llamas and alpacas might not be the first species that comes to mind when you think of therapy animals. However, the Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas & Alpacas don’t let this stop them from visiting schools, hospitals, senior communities and rehab facilities throughout Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA. Offering friendship and a warm hug, these very special therapy animals help alleviate loneliness and reduce stress, and their presence brings a sense of normalcy to institutional settings.

rojoreading revMountain Peaks, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, offers therapy teams that have successfully completed the Animal-Assisted Therapy Certification process. Rojo was their first therapy animal; this unusually people-friendly llama received his Certification in 2007. Since then, the Mountain Peaks menagerie – Rojo, Smokey, Beni and Little Chap (llamas), and Napoleon, Jean-Pierre and Andre (alpacas), have completed more than 900 therapeutic visits. Mountain Peaks also provides theme-decorated llamas and alpacas for birthday parties, BBQs, weddings and other private and corporate events.

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What Do Dreams about Cats Mean?

dreams_torbakhopper revBy Julia Williams

I’ve long been fascinated by dreams, and even underwent a serious attempt at dream analysis years ago. I read countless books on dream interpretation and dream symbols. Each morning, I recorded what I could recall of my dreams, not an easy feat considering that most dreams evaporate quickly upon waking. (A tape recorder saves valuable time and is less jarring than reaching for a pen and paper and turning on the light to write).

What I eventually realized is that I could spend my entire life studying these nocturnal visions, and still not understand what they were trying to tell me. Do I believe that my dreams are an attempt to transfer valuable information from my subconscious to my conscious mind? Yes. Would understanding the messages help in my waking life? Yes again…but decoding the messages is the hard part.

The biggest problem with dream analysis is that it’s so subjective. There is no “one size fits all” interpretation, unfortunately. Dream symbols can mean different things to men versus women; symbols can also mean different things depending upon how you personally feel about them in your waking life. Adding to the difficulty is that dream symbols can have multiple supposed meanings. Whose interpretation is correct? It’s impossible to say. Nevertheless, I will offer here some interpretations about cats in dreams, mostly for your entertainment.

Cat Symbolism in Dreams

Some say that cats in dreams are a symbol for your intuition, and that the health of the cat indicates whether you are heeding or ignoring your intuition. A dream about a sick cat, then, might mean that you need to listen to your intuition more and rely less on intellect.

Other interpretations claim that cats in dreams symbolize femininity, softness, an independent spirit, creativity, power, misfortune, vulnerability, bad luck, deceit and falseness (see what I mean about multiple supposed meanings?).

dream_denise_chan revAn aggressive cat might suggest difficulty with the feminine aspect of yourself. Being afraid of the dream cat implies there is some fear associated with your femininity. A dream feline may be a symbol for someone in your life who is “catty” or malicious. Being scratched by a cat in a dream suggests that you feel threatened.

Dreaming that you cannot find your cat is a metaphor for your independent spirit, and that you feel someone or something is holding you back from being free. Saving a dream cat’s life suggests that you are reclaiming your independence and power.

To see a frisky cat playing in your dream suggests a need to be more carefree and playful in your own life. Cats in your dream can reflect your need to feel loved, or your fear that you’re being untrue to others so they will love you. A house full of cats in a dream represents excessive illusions or things that you believe to be untrue.

Dreams about a wild cat may indicate that a neighbor could be dangerous or that you will have some sort of dispute with them. Dreaming about fighting with a cat could be a warning that you’ll be robbed or cheated in some way, whereas cuddling with a cat in a dream suggests that your enemies can be “tamed.” A cat biting you in a dream symbolizes the loss of something, typically relating to those closest to you.

Dreams about Kittens

Although adult cats are usually associated with independence and self-reliance, kittens are seen as helpless beings. Dreaming about kittens, then, could indicate that you are feeling vulnerable, scared or need help.

dreams_Lucie revWomen Dreaming of Cats

When women dream about cats, the felines are thought to be a symbol of how she views herself. This includes not only her physical body but also her intuition, independence, creativity and her relationships with men.

Men Dreaming of Cats

When a man dreams about cats, the felines are said to symbolize his attitude towards women, or how he thinks women perceive him. A purring cat means the man thinks women find him attractive and he feels comfortable around women. A hissing cat suggests that he feels rejected by women or that there are problems in his relationship.

Have you had any intriguing dreams about cats lately? Now that you know a little something about the symbolism of cats in dreams, you can start to analyze what wisdom these wise felines might be trying to impart.

Top photo by torbakhopper/Flickr
Middle photo by Denise Chan/Flickr
Bottom photo by Lucie Provencher/Flickr

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Great Quotes about Cats

cat-quotes-by-Gangster-Car-DriverBy Julia Williams

There is certainly no shortage of famous sayings about cats. Some are witty, some are wise, and some are just plain wrong. What I mean by wrong is that the saying presents a cat’s character in a way that is completely opposite from what any cat lover would say about their feline friend. When I read quotes like that, I wonder if the person ever spent so much as a day – an hour even – in the company of cats. It would seem not.

I’m not fond of those types of quotes because they perpetuate the myths that cats are antisocial, unloving and undeserving of our affection. I hate to think that someone who’d never spent time with a cat and didn’t know their true capability for bonding with humans, would judge them based on some negative saying.

I have no doubt there are many cats in the world that would’ve had a forever home, if not for some untrue saying. This might seem farfetched, but the reality is that a great many people will just believe what they read without substantiating it with personal experience.

Thankfully, there are lots of other quotes out there that paint cats with an accurate brush. It’s those cat quotes that I will share with you today. Perhaps my favorite cat quote of all time is by the French novelist Colette who said “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” Here are some others I like:
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Funny Cat Videos That Will Make You Meow Out Loud

By Julia Williams

It’s no secret that watching cat videos on the internet is a favorite pastime for many. Remember, this entertaining time waster is so popular nowadays that hordes of feline fanatics flock to internet cat video screenings across the U.S. to watch the videos together, on a big screen (cat attire optional). But thankfully, you don’t need vacation days or travel plans to watch funny cat videos from home on your own computer.

Since Facebook is a virtual water cooler for work-at-home people like me, I see my fair share of funny cat videos. OK, more than my fair share. There are worse ways to take a “comic relief” break from work, right? Plus, laughter is good for the soul. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Here are some of my favorite, recently viewed YouTube videos of cats doing funny things. Enjoy!

Cat plays peek a boo

Cat imitates boxers on TV

This kitten just wants to play – why does he get the cold shoulder?

A compilation of epic jumping fails

Cat drinks from water cooler (this could get expensive)

Cats versus the mirror, vacuum cleaner, an aquarium, their own tail, a lizard and more

A game of one potato, two potato gone wrong

Three cats watch tennis on TV

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