Dogs be like: Coffee…Go! Go! Go!

I’m not a coffee snob. But lately I’ve been drinking enough cups of Joe to know the difference between “battery acid” as one of my co-workers put it, and a genuinely fine brewed cup of java. I had one such cup as I neared the halfway point of my shift at work last night. It was strong in flavor, but mellow at the same time. It had me peppy. Correction, it had me revving and ready to go! go! go! It’s not my first time getting hyped up on caffeine, but having so much pent-up energy and no real way to a expel it put me in mind of some near and dear creatures I know.

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Of my three dogs, Jordi the Husky-mix is probably the most high energy and athletic dog. I take it for granted that I have such a wonderfully huge backyard to let him run around and play in. I assume that this is enough, or at least better than if I had a small yard or no yard at all, i.e. if I lived in an apartment. I let the dogs out regularly, at least three times a day. And they’re outside for a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes, but many times going on an hour.

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Koba Go!Go!Go!

Surely this routine of regular outdoor time is enough to work out any hyperactivity he must have? Surely he must be content with regularly romping in the leftover dried fall leaves and chasing the family of squirrels up trees? Surely he must be satisfied and exercised enough that he should behave like a perfectly good and well trained dog once he’s back indoors, right?

Well, after sharing my stories of various damaged furniture with coworkers and other dog owners, I’ve been receiving the same advice. His breed needs to be walked regularly. In my mind, he’s walking all the time. He walks around the house which is a large 4 bedroom home that he has nearly free reign of. And he has a quarter acre of backyard to run free in all the time. How can he not be exercised with all this walking?

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Meh, just open the back door. They’ll be alright.

Well, free time and structured walking are two different things. I know this, but it still doesn’t make it any easier for me to maintain a consistent walking schedule with my dogs. Between working 6 days a week and staying busy with my new online endeavors, I find it very easy to neglect this very simple dog-owner duty.

I’m about halfway through with the Cesar Millan, Be the Pack Leader book I mentioned in my last blog. And I have garnered lots of great insight, as well as the repeated advice to walk my dogs. Keeping dogs well exercised not only feeds their animal needs to be active, but it tires them out in a way that removes the need for destructive behavior. I keep reading this and hearing this and yet I’m not putting in the effort to walk them and wonder why me being out of the room for 15 minutes results in a 6 inch hole eaten into my bedroom mattress, or why two of my living room sofas have no cushions. None.

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R.I.P. Sleeper Sofa

Pent up energy from my dogs can only be expressed in so many ways. I guess I should be lucky that this energy isn’t expressed in a more violent behavior. Although my two boy dogs have had a few spats here and there, with the lack of regular exercise things could very well be more dramatic between them than it has been.

 

For the first time tonight I think I was actually able to empathize with them with that lovely hot cup of coffee from the work cafeteria. It made me feel so energized. So alive. So ready to move my feet and do something. Anything! And that’s probably exactly how my dogs feel on a day-to-day basis. Only caffeine is not the stimulus to their instinct to move. Where as I had the wiggles, and pretty much became a non-stop busybody the remainder of my work shift, the dogs have their own way of releasing their wiggles and need to go !go! go!

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Ahhhh!

This catharsis isn’t going to make an instant change in my routine, and I can’t promise that I’ll be training them like it’s the Olympics seven days a week. But I am definitely becoming more attuned to some of their basic needs and allowing myself to make more room for patience and understanding when their limited methods of expression are focused in a way that continually reduces my living room furniture.

Thanks for reading, be sure to check out my uploads at YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Also check out my affiliate sponsored pet store at www.catsdogsharmony.com till next time keep the harmony!

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Who’s the real bully?

A couple of months back I wrote an article on a fight that broke out between my now one year resident Husky and the newly adopted bully pit. Because of his breed type, a lot of finger pointing defaults to the pitbull. I, being a novice dog owner, aligned myself with that philosophy and was determined to keep an extra careful eye on him and discipline him as necessary.

I’m so misunderstood

It’s become a regular routine for me to rotate the dogs. While I’m out of the house, one dog will be in my room while another is out back in the yard, or one will be in the garage while the other is free to run the house (usually Jordi, my Husky who has a very low prey drive and doesn’t bother the cats). Sometimes two are in a kennel and one is given free time. While I’m at home all three dogs are out and about with the cats in the mix. Cat and dog incidences are virtually non-existent, but I’ve continually been experiencing incidents between my two boy dogs about every other week. Biscuit, my bullypit just keeps bumping heads with Jordi. What could I do to get him under control, I thought? I’m always careful to give them individual treats and to separate them with this much territorial space as possible so they don’t feel the need to protect their food or themselves. But, even without the temptation of a treat to fight over, from time to time when my back was turned a scuffle would break out. It lasted no more than two to five seconds with me intervening with a shout or clap of my hands. Jordi my supposedly goofball would always look casual and innocent, while Biscuit was noticeably worked up with tense face muscles and keen ready eyes. The front of his muzzle was even flushed red. He was obviously keyed up and ready to rumble. But was he really the instigator?

Who, me? A bully?

One day Biscuit was confined to another room and Jordi and Koba, my German Shepherd-mix we’re free to roam in the living room.


I heard the tell-tale snap and growl from the adjoining kitchen. I quickly looked over and saw Koba cowering from Jordi as a leftover bone was being guarded on the floor. No doubt about it this time. Jordi, being bigger, older, and the alpha male of the three was showing his dominance and claim to the chew treat. Would I have come to the same conclusion if it had been him and Biscuit? Probably not, “Got to watch those pitbulls” you know? Fast forward to the next incident… I was laying on my bed with Koba and Jordi at my feet. I was checking my email on my laptop and my daughter was beside me playing on her phone. We heard a vicious snap and growl and both looked up expecting to see Biscuit, but he was in the garage. Koba again was on the receiving end of a show of Jordi’s dominance. Apparently she was too close to Jordi as he snuggled beside my feet. I’ve been noticing more and more lately Jordi becoming somewhat possessive which I hadn’t noticed in his character before. Of all 3 dogs, Biscuit has definitely been the most affectionate but since his arrival Jordi seems to be getting jealous? Or am I just anthropomorphosizing him? He’s definitely been trying to get closer to me, and sometimes physically blocks Biscuit from getting to me when I’m giving out pets.

Koba showing rare affection

In any case, the final show of aggression came when all three dogs were in my presence and I clearly saw Jordi bite Biscuit on the top of the head. I think there was a rawhide cow ear involved this time. But Jordi was the aggressor. A few days later and Biscuit has a small red scar on his muzzle where Jordi has bitten him over an unknown cause.

Everybody on my bed, as usual

The triggers are not always consistent and sometimes they’re not identified at all, but I have definitely discontinued my automatic blame on Biscuit as being the aggressive one in the bunch. Whether it’s jealousy, or instinctual need to dominate, or fight for something else other than attention, I am definitely seeing Jordi as less of a goofy get-along pal with paws and more of what he is. A dog. A complex and multi-faceted animal with unique needs and personality. Intelligence and primal instinct all rolled into one. As a side note, I’ve even caught Jordi snapping at one of the cats who approached to eat from one of their bowls while Jordi was eating from it. (some nerve!) That earned him a couple of hours of time out in the garage as well as ingraining it in my mind that my lovable blue-eyed,brown-eyed dog was no innocent angel pup.

Jordi and Tulip enjoying (?) each other’s company.

So the truth is out. There is a bully in my home, and it’s not Biscuit. It’s Jordi. This is an issue that I will continue to watch and intervene in as necessary. I will make sure that all the dogs get as much equal attention as possible and that their needs are met. It is my goal to do more research on dogs as a whole so that I can do more training for myself as an owner and give more personalized training and conditioning to my dogs. At the moment I’m reading Cesar Millan’s Be The Pack Leader * which is giving me helpful insight.

*Purchases made through affiliate link gives me a commission.

Because of the difference in their build and breeding I am still aware that one dog may have more capacity to cause damage but that doesn’t make him the more dangerous dogs. In order for them to live together in harmony, and show mutual respect for each other I’ve got to put in the work. I’ve got to make sure that Jordi and the other dogs recognize that there can only be one alpha. Me. And as far as everyone being so quick to caution me on watching out for the unpredictable Pitbull, I say don’t believe the hype. Open your eyes and open your mind and look at what’s really going on. The details are in the dog.

Getting used to each other day by day.

Thanks for reading, be sure to check out my uploads at YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Also check out my affiliate sponsored pet store at www.catsdogsharmony.com till next time keep the harmony!

I’m ba-a-a-ck!

So sorry for the long absence. Time has really gotten away from me. It wasn’t my intention to neglect the site, I’ve just been stirring other pots so to speak. I’m not the type of person that dips her toe in to try something new. I jump in with both feet. Let me catch you up to what I’ve been doing lately.

I started this blog as a passion for my pets and my desire to share stories about them with the world. Immediately after, I began setting my sites on other avenues that I could create on.

I created an Instagram account just for them and have been uploading pics nearly daily. In order to do this I’ve been taking constant photos of them to find just the right pic to post.

I’ve also jumped into making YouTube videos! Just when I thought I couldn’t be more creative, I started recording my little fur babies and really throwing myself into the editing process and thumbnail creations. I tip my hat to the long-standing creators at YouTube. Putting up fresh, and exciting quality content is a lot harder and time consuming than it seems.

Finally, I’ve become very interested in becoming an entrepreneur and have been researching and developing a small, but useful I hope, website in the pet care niche. Ultimately I will be offering original merchandise and hand-picked pet care items, but for now I’ve done the next best thing and partnered with several affiliate brands to offer goods and services. I think you’ll like what you’ll find.

There are also several cool T-shirt creations I’ve designed to promote both my channel, as well as the brand that I’m creating around my budding business that can be found at Teespring.com.

Again, instead of starting one thing at a time, it seems that I’ve thrown quite a few balls into the air and have been struggling to juggle them. This blog-my flagship project, has been pushed to the back of the line. There are so many stories I have to tell and so many things to update on the site.

Please forgive me, and know that I haven’t forgotten about CatsDogsHarmony.blog. There is more to come, and I can’t wait to put it out there.

In the meantime, check out some of the links of my new endeavors below and let me know what you think. All comments, questions, concerns, and criticisms welcome. I aim to improve, and be the best I can be with my work.

www.CatsDogsHarmony.com

Instagram: CatsDogsHarmony

YouTube: Catsdogsharmony

Teespring.com: Type catsdogsharmony in the search bar

Thanks for your patience, and until next time, Keep the Harmony.

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IWAPBO #2

The American pitbull terrier was first recognized by the United Kennel Club, the breed was rightly seen as the perfect “nanny dog”

To continue the series on Pit-bull ownership, I offer another account of a dog owner and his bully breed. The Interview with a pit-bull owner series (IWAPBO) is my attempt at offering a more balanced story of a new world I’ve become a part of: the Pit-bull world.

My guest in this Interview is Gary C. from Kansas City, MO.

Catsdogsharmony: What makes Pitbulls (PB), so special?

Gary C: They’re unique. They’re smart. Historically they were bred to watch over children. That’s why they are good with them.

I did some brief research on this after the interview to verify this information. According to two different websites that I will quote below, this seems to have some merit. The first is from Alternet.com. Link here.

“For most of the 114 years since the American pitbull terrier was first recognized by the United Kennel Club, the breed was rightly seen as the perfect “nanny dog” for children because of its friendly nature, loyalty and stability. As the ASPCA notes, the pitbulls were “once considered especially non-aggressive to people.””

Apparently there are multiple types of PB breeds, and 2 strains in particular that can give either the more “aggressive” type that are trained to attack,  or the “friendlier type, according to the excerpt below from Pethelpful.com. Link here.

Unfortunately, the wrong kind of people are still finding the first strain of the pit bull dog attractive as guard dogs for illegal activities. They are stout built dogs with square heads and firms jaw lines and a very ominous appearance. In the wrong hands, the pit bulls are trained to protect their owners during illegal activities such as drug deals. They are trained not to let ANYONE come near their owners or their property. Many of them are not being trained to warn their owner or to keep the stranger at bay, they are being trained to attack and kill whoever or whatever comes near. They are being trained to be aggressive.

Now, back to the Q&A:

CDH:  Have you always liked PBs?

GC: Yes, I’ve always liked them. I like Pitbulls, and German Shepards.

CDH: So what made you decide to get one?

GC: I always knew I wanted one.

CDH:  How many PBs do you have? Names? Male or female? Purebred or mixed?

GC: I have one. Its a male, his name is Apollo. He’s a purebred, blue-nose.

CDH: Did you adopt or buy? How long have you had him?

GC:  He was bred. I picked him out of a litter of 7 when he was a puppy.

CDH: How old is he now?

GC: He’ll be 2 years old in December.

CDH: Is he an inside or outside dog?

GC: Inside, only goes out to go to the bathroom.

CDH: What personality does your PB have?

GC: Crazy! He just likes to look at me funny and smile at me. He loves to ride with me. He doesn’t tear anything up when he’s in the car, he just jumps in the car and looks around, ready to go.

He doesn’t like to be inside the house. When I let him out he really doesn’t like to come back in. I’ll call him, and he hears me but he looks around everywhere but at me, then when I call his name louder he eventually comes in. (Gary demonstrates by lowering his  head and looking left to right as if he’s trying to avoid looking at me).

Sometimes when me and my wife will be relaxing on the bed. If he’s up on the bed too he’ll try to wiggle between us if we getting too close, like he don’t like seeing us hugged up. (I laughed at this).

He can break out of his cage somehow too. I don’t know how he’s opening the door but he can.

CDH: What brand of dog food do you feed him, and how much does he eat?

GC: He eats 3 times a day. About 1 1/2 cup in the morning, then 1/2 cup for lunch and dinner. I feed him Purina One, Adult. I feed him dry food, but he gets wet food mixed in on the for breakfast and on the weekends. And sometimes I put in a raw egg too, to keep his fur looking shiny.  There’s a special shampoo I use for him too to keep his white coat from looking dingy. (He couldn’t remember the brand, but I did a quick search online and found that Walmart carries a brand called Healthy Breeds Pit Bull Bright Whitening Shampoo. This may be it.)

CDH: Do you feed him scraps?

GC: No, not really, only rib bones.

CDH: Is he allowed on the furniture?

GC: He’s not allowed on the couch, but we let him on the bed. My wife doesn’t mind, she treats him like a big baby. He likes to try to sit on my feet though! I’m like “get off my feet, your’e too big”, then he gives me a look when he walks away.

CDH: What kind of toys does he like to play with?

GC: He likes to chew on the rope and he likes (empty) water bottles. I’m looking for some other kinds he might like.

CDH: Have you had any bad experiences with any PBs?

GC: No.

CDH: How about other peoples negative opinions of PBs? Has anybody ever given you flak for having one?

GC: Nobody personally said anything, its just some places that don’t allow you to have them. Some apartment complexes won’t accept them, saying that they’re aggressive. My thing is, you’ve never met my dog. How do you know he’s aggressive? I can always put him up in another room if someone comes over or if maintenance needs to come in my apartment.

CDH: What about stories where a PB supposedly attacked someone?

GC: They might have been abused, used as fighting pits. The way they were raised makes a difference. With shelter pets you never know what their past was. And some dogs just don’t play well with others.

(I can attest to this. When my daughter and I were looking through the shelters there were some dogs we looked at that were NOT Pitbulls or any Bully breed that the shelter people turned us away from saying they were were aggressive or not suitable for households with other pets.)

CDH: What about attacks on kids/babies?

GC: Maybe the kid was grabbing on it in a way it didn’t like. Sometimes kids play rough. A dog can’t talk and say “stop”, it has teeth so it might bite if it feels threatened or in danger. Its only trying to protect itself. Also, I think the media puts too much attention on this breed. There are other dogs that bite and attack people, but you never hear about that. I’m sure somewhere a miniature schnauzer has hurt somebody, but you won’t hear about that in the news.

As for babies, there’s the noise.  Dogs don’t like certain noises, it gets them nervous. And certain (sporadic) movements.

CDH: Any advice for anyone thinking of adopting a PB?

GC: Go for it. Don’t believe the hype. I’m planning on getting another one myself. A girlfriend for Apollo. I want the same coloring. When they have a litter I’m hoping for a solid white puppy.

One thing you can try when they are misbehaving is to put some pennies in a empty water bottle or can and rattle it when they are doing something wrong while you’re saying ‘no’. They don’t like that sound, and they’ll stop whatever they’re doing.

End of Interview

So here is another point of view from a PB owner. I am continuing to educate myself about this breed and my dog’s particular quirks and needs. I always learn something new from hearing how other PB owners live with and take care of their dogs.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Don’t forget to check out my Youtube channel and Instagram page. You can also follow me @catsdogsharmony on Twitter.

Until next time, Keep the Harmony!

“Shh!…Don’t talk about it: the taboo of Pitbull fights”

About two weeks ago, I shared a story about my pit bull Biscuit. He and my husky-lab Jordi got into a really bad fight.  Since coming home in August of this year, the two have had snipped and strutted around each other occasionally before in an effort to determine alpha status. There were only a few micro incidents that quickly dissolved in response to my chiding them.

What happened that week was different. It was serious, violent, and bloody. I still can’t put my finger on the trigger of this event, so I’ve kept them separated both inside and outside. One hangs out in the garage while the other is either in-house with Koba, or in the backyard and vice versa.

I shared the incident with my mother, but haven’t talked to the rest of my family about it. Mostly to avoid the “I told you so’s”. You see, my family like many people already have a negative opinion of the breed that is known as the pit bull.

Upon hearing that one of my three dogs was a pit bull mix( the other two are husky-lab, and german shepard mix), one of my aunts stepped on her soap box, and grilled me through the telephone on why I would bring “something like that” into my home, and around my daughter at that?

She retold me many accounts of dog attacks she had seen on the news and asked if I knew that “these kinds of dogs turn all the time?” Well, I didn’t. Because I choose not to watch the news (I may blog about the reason why another time), my mind hadn’t been inundated with scores of gruesome stories of dogs attacking owners, children, and babies.

I didn’t think, and still don’t think that Biscuit is a threat to either my daughter or to me. But I am starting to think his preference is to be around an only dog, and particularly not around other male dogs. I make this distinction because of Koba, my female German Shepard.  His interactions with her are very different than how he behaves with Jordi, a male. Also if I could do it again, I probably wouldn’t have adopted him into a house full of cats.

Full disclosure: he bit my oldest cat on the paw while following me to the front door to take out the trash.  He had been in my home for barely a month then, and I hadn’t established many house rules for him then. A week later he cornered her in a room that I had left open for her and bit her paw again.

Now, he and the other dogs are trained to stay in the back of the house and out of “Kitty City”.  This helps the anxiety in the cats and the “instincts” he may be harboring. Biscuit has calmed down considerably around the cats and is nearly nonchalant when I’m in the same room with them. But I don’t think I’ll ever leave him alone with the cats. I am not naïve to think he can fully accept them as not being prey, but I am hopeful that as time goes by he gains more self-discipline and accepts them as part of his pack.

So this is it, me talking about a Pitbull/Bully breed in an unfavorable light. This is an issue that I am only now realizing is a very controversial and sensitive topic.  I question my own intentions from time to time as to why I haven’t returned him to the shelter, which would be an easy solution for me but a likely death sentence for him.

Am I out to prove a point that he can be trusted to be a safe and loving animal in my home? If so, to whom am I trying to convince: others, or myself? There are concerns that I have still, but none that influence me to “get rid of the problem” that is Biscuit.

I will continue to practice methods that will both protect my other animals, and hopefully, retain him to become a trusted and cooperative part of my family. I will update on progress and regress. Keeping my fingers crossed, I encourage you to keep the harmony.

Origins: Tulip

“I’m the Queen, I’m the Queen. Bow down, bow down…”

Today’s post will be on fur baby #5. As I mentioned in my previous Origins article, Tulip was adopted at the same time as Muffin in December 2016. I specifically went to the shelter to get a black cat, because if you don’t already know I love black cats. I think they are beautiful creatures, especially if they are completely black with no other markings.  The Fort Worth Animal Control Center just happened to be hosting an adoption event that specifically waived the adoption fee for black cats and dogs. Score!

Tulip and Muffin Christmas 2016
You there, Muffin. Do my bidding!

I initially saw Tulip in her cage alongside other cats of various ages. She was cute, but her white socks and whiskers were a superficial deal breaker, pushing me to continue my search for the black cat I wanted. The only other black kittens available were in quarantine status for sulfur Lyme dip treatments that would last until the upcoming week. I didn’t want to wait, and so I Tulip became my new black cat.

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Tulip, Clover, Tiger

She’s known as Queen Tulip, not only for her aristocratic behavior “Out of my way peasant!”, but because of her regal beauty as well. Her lean black body is dressed in white socks front and back. The white whiskers on her face are long and white, giving them a butterfly appearance. Her face is narrow and her yellow eyes are sharp and discerning (judging?). She looks like a miniature version of Tiger.

 

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“Uncle Tiger” and Tulip

From day one she proved to be a kitten of importance.  Jordi my husky-labrador came home with us that same day. The kittens were boxed up in a cardboard cat carrier. Once I let them out Tulip began staking her claim to the house immediately. Although Honey gave her customary stranger danger hiss and swat at the new arrivals, Tulip showed confidence and poise as she walked instead of ran away from her cat elders.

Meeting Jordi, a creature that was ten times her size equally unfazed her. Jordi sniffed at her curiously while she brazenly stood her ground, eventually sniffing back at him before strolling off to explore another part of the house as if to say “I’m bored of this giant beast, what else you got?”. This show of bravado sealed the bond between the two and debuted her as the cat with sass.  Its almost as if she is saying “I’m the queen, I’m the queen. Bow down, bow down.”

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“You there dog, do my bidding!”

Tulip’s bravery has teetered towards recklessness on many occasions. Like many cats, she naughtily jumps on tables, knocks over random items to her own amusement, and tries to slip out the front door when someone arrives or leaves. She is also the reason we do not leave our snack plates or beverages unsupervised, and how the dogs have gotten access to items high on shelves to destroy (Tulip!!!)

Did I mention she’s a spider cat? I discovered the need for super-duty curtain rods after her climbing up and bringing down three different curtains, bending and ruining the aluminum curtain rods.  She loves to climb. She climbs the cat condo, the couches, the high shoulders of the wingback chair, and somehow even manages to scale the top my walk-in shower. She isn’t afraid of anything.

She’s never been particularly affectionate. Although she tolerates appreciates being pet, she’s not into cuddles or patronizing us to allow herself to be carried like a baby (like Honey, PJ, Muffin, and Clover have). She’s quick to shut down any bothersome handling with a dainty “mew” and a swipe from those equally dainty, but razor-sharp claws.

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I can see my kingdom from here!

Aside from Tiger, who takes mess from nobody, Tulip regulates whatever space she’s in.  She hogs the food dish from the other kittens, has taken Honey’s favorite resting spot and refuses to move when Honey approaches and is the first on the scene to instigate any smells of food, sounds of snacks.

But as troublesome as she can be, she is still royalty. She has a lady-like trot when she walks fast. And when she’s ready to rest she doesn’t just lay down, she lounges gracefully. She is a kitty diva and she knows it. Her mew is soft but assertive.

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You there Clover, lick my royal ears!

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading another Origins article about my pets. We are more than halfway through with the introductions. Keep up with us on my YouTube channel CatsDogsHarmony for more animal stories. Until next time, Keep the harmony.

Will it Pinterest? Cat project #1

Disclaimer: This is a DIY project I did on my own and any attempt to replicate it is at your own risk. Do research and ask for help if you need it. I am not responsible for any damage or injury from any project you attempt to build.
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I love my cats and I love Pinterest. But just how practical are some of those cool ideas seen on the famous idea sharing site? I’m going to try to recreate one of the ideas I’ve seen Pinterest. Basically its recycling or reusing dresser drawers to use as shelves or cubbies for the cats to climb in and on. I’ve been wanting to try it for a couple of months and I think I finally have the materials to make it happen! Check me out.

Once upon a time I actually bought a set of cat furniture from a company called CatWallz(sp?). They were very high quality, durable upholstered pieces that had a “floating” effect on the wall. There were two shelves and sort of a tube-like thing that the casts could crawl through and peek out of.

 

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Very similar to this, although I can no longer find the company I used online…

 

I loved this furniture. They loved it. It was very cool and very expensive. I believe each piece was close to $100 each. And when I took moved from my apartment, the takedown did damage to both the walls and the units. The next time, I thought, I’ll do something cheaper and less destructive.

Pinterest actually came out about 3-4 years after and the plethora of ideas sprouting from that site put me in DIY heaven. I’ve got a long page of pinned ideas that I’ve yet to get around to trying, so this is the first. Most of those ideas require purchasing specialty materials or being lucky enough to come across them for free (wooden pallets, sisal rope, fallen tree pieces…). The dresser idea seemed practical since I regularly saw odd pieces of furniture being thrown out throughout the neighborhood. How hard could it be to come across a few dresser drawers?

Pretty hard actually. Over the past two months, I’ve collected a few tossed out dressers, but the ones I did bring home were too heavy or bulky to use. Then my neighbors threw out the perfect item. The dresser originally had six drawers but one was missing. These drawers were small enough for an adult cat to lay down inside and not too heavy to lift and maneuver while securing to a wall.

I ended up using only five of the drawers since the remaining one was damaged. I needed the boxes to be in good condition if I was going to rely on them to support the weight of my kitties several feet off the ground.  To keep the boxes on the wall, I’d also need to make sure I secured through the studs behind the drywall. Finally, I’d need some brackets to give some extra hold to the drawers against the wall.

The materials I used were:

  • Wooden/particle board dressers
  • Medium duty shelf brackets
  • 3 inch coarse drywall screws
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Power drill/cordless screwdriver
  • pencil
  • level piece of wood
  • ladder (optional)
  • carpet (optional)

There are several types of screws to choose from, I just chose what I thought was most suitable. The most important thing about the screws is that they are long enough to go an inch or two into the stud to hold the piece in place. Depending on the width of the drawer and the distance between the studs, only one stud line may be hit, but one is a minimum! Unless the drawers will be stacked on top each other in a way that will have extra support, the weight of a cat will not be supported by putting the drawers through drywall only!

First I used my stud finder to locate the studs and a pencil to mark their location. Next, I used a scrap piece of wood and level to mark a long line across to represent the top of where the drawer would go. When I go to attach the brackets to the wall, I make sure each bracket is flush with this line. This way, I know my drawer will be even when I hang it.

Holding the brackets in place, I take a pencil and mark both an outline and the screw holes of the bracket. Then I use my power drill to make holes on those hole marks. The holes I make should line up with the holes in the brackets. I’m not sure of the drill bit size, I have several sizes and I just pick the one closest to the diameter of the screw I’m using. The drill bit width should be equal to or less than the screw width being used. Once I have all my holes pre-drilled, it’s easy for the screws to be secured into place later.

With my brackets firmly on the wall, I carefully place a drawer on one set.  I want to secure the drawer to the wall, not just on the brackets, so I pre-drill holes in the back of the drawer as well and then screw them into place. These screws are also through a stud. Now, even though only one side of my drawer is secured through studs, there are at least four studs holding it. For the other side that is drywall only, anchors can be used in conjunction with the screws.

A small screw can be used to attach the bottom of the drawer to the top of the bracket to prevent any wiggle room, but for the most part, the dresser should be good and tight against the wall.

I used an extendable aluminum ladder for this project. I got it for $45 at a flea market. I thought it was a good price, but for the length of time I had to spend up on the ladder, my feet were uncomfortable. The risers were only about two inches wide. So the majority of my weight was focused on two inches of my foot creating a very painful pressure point. This made me need to shift around a lot while I was on the ladder, which is not something I want to be doing while balancing that high up.

One other difficulty I had was in finding a consistent distance of studs. The area I used was the wall behind my front door in the foyer. I think this small space may have used irregular spacing both horizontally and vertically. I also hit something that wasn’t a wooden stud as some points and had to go back in with a masonry bit to make sure my screws would go down flush to the wall.

Start to finish, I think this took me two hours and maybe fifteen minutes. That includes the times I had to climb down for a foot break, get the masonry bit when my regular one wasn’t enough, measuring and re-measuring for studs, and readjusting my ladder for the drawers I put higher up on the wall.

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Will it Pinterest? Yes! Was it worth it? The jury is still out on that one. The dresser drawers were free, but I spent more than $80 in supplies and two uncomfortable hours on a poorly designed ladder.

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Does it look cool? Darn tootin! I am very satisfied with the results and I think the cats appreciate my effort. I have one finishing touch, that is also optional. I have some scrap carpet that I am going to line the drawers with for some extra kitty comfort. I suppose if these drawers were visible from the ground I might put in attractive looking pillows that would complement the decor of my sitting room. Initially, I also wanted to spray paint the drawers to give them that extra “oomph”, but I will leave well enough alone and be content with a job well done.

 

A video of this is available in two parts on  my

YouTube channel catsdogsharmony “Will it Pinterest

This DIY was incorporated with the kitty condos I already had on hand, and I think they look quite good together. What do you think? Have you tried this Pinterest? How did it turn out? Was it as easy as you thought? I’d love to hear from you. Until next time, Keep the Harmony.

 

Origins: Muffin the Miracle Cat

I know I just didn’t see what I think I saw?!…I did. I jerked the car in park, still halfway in and halfway out of the parking spot. I jumped out of the car and just caught a glimpse of a dirty, furry white cat cowering near the entrance of the movie theater. IT WAS MUFFIN!

Muffin, muffin, muffin!

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In my YouTube video “Meet my 6 Cats“, I introduce my kitty clan one by one, giving each cat’s nickname and describing some of their personality and temperament.  Muffin was given the moniker “Miracle Baby”, but I didn’t go into details. The time has come to give the backstory to this mysterious kitten.

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I’m not mysterious, I’m just very private.

Muffin was adopted December of 2016 during the Fort Worth Animal Shelter’s “Black Friday” event. Black cats and dogs are featured as adoptable pets and the fees are waived. The term is a play off of the biggest shopping year in the U.S., but also it’s a way to give a second chance to black animals that, because of stigma or superstition, are supposedly harder to adopt.

 

Where does Muffin fit into this you might ask? Well, I went to the shelter specifically to get a black cat. If I haven’t’ mentioned it before, I think black cats are gorgeous. So I went to find one. Tulip, my miniature girl version of Tiger was a pretty little black kitten housed in a cage with a fluffy little white cat with gray markings. I didn’t really want that fluffy white ball of cuteness, but I felt bad for leaving him behind.

So when I told the shelter staff to box up Tulip to come home with us, I told her to put in the white cat too. “But the Black Friday fees won’t be waived for the white one.”, she told me. I knew this, but my sentimental heart finalized my decision. I didn’t want to adopt one and leave the other. Good marketing strategy FWAS, very good marketing strategy…

So that’s miracle #1, or rather Muffins’ good fortune. In the end, I was happy that I adopted him with Tulip anyways because having a kitten and adult cat before (Honey and Tiger), I knew that transitioning into a house of adult cats would be a challenge for a new kitten. Now the two littermates(?) had each other for company if the older cats didn’t want to be bothered.

Since day one, Muffin has been nervous, skittish, cautious, and overall a scaredy-cat. He and Tulip hid under the bed the first night. After several weeks, Muffin was still hiding under the bed. He eventually graduated from hiding under the bed to hiding under the lazy boy chair, behind the couch, and behind another chair in the sitting room. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve looked for him, thinking he had somehow gotten out.

This March he did just that but in a very unorthodox way. I have an attached garage that I was rearranging and left the door open between the house and garage. Jordi and the cats were meandering in and out, sniffing about and generally being curious.

When I was done, I ushered everyone back inside the house and shut the garage door. The next morning I loaded up the cats’ breakfast dishes and did my customary headcount. Muffin wasn’t present. I did my usual house search, but to no avail. I went to work and came back, and the next day the same scenario: no Muffin.

He was hiding in a really good spot this time, or had he somehow escaped?   I’d just have to wait patiently. I let my mind ease up and went out for some light shopping and a movie. I actually went several places this particular day, with the movie being my final stop. I was pulling out of my parking space at the theater and checking my rear view mirrors when I saw a flash of white and gray fur!

I know I just didn’t see what I think I saw?!…I did. I jerked the car in park, still halfway in and halfway out of the parking spot. I jumped out of the car and just caught a glimpse of a dirty, furry white cat cowering near the entrance of the movie theater. IT WAS MUFFIN!

 

Somehow this kitten had managed to crawl up under my car and ride along with me for several hours (including the freeway!). He had stayed there through various stops and waited for long amounts of time at each location, never coming out. He stayed under there during a full-length movie and just so happened to come out at a time when I was looking in my rearview mirror! If that’s not a miracle (or good timing) I don’t know what is.

I was shocked and speechless when I picked him up. He was sooty scruffy and looked pretty dazed himself. He looked ok, and when I got him home I cleaned him up with some pet wipes and left him alone to reacclimate himself in peace.

About a week later I noticed a small scabby spot on his tummy. Apparently, he had gotten burned by something under my car. I kept the area clean and kept an eye on him. The spot got uglier before it got better, and about 2 weeks later he had a scab on his belly about 3 square inches in diameter. Ok, he’s got a battle scar, I thought to myself. No problem. But then I notice he wasn’t peeing…

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I don’t normally watch my animals pee, but I had noticed several times that he would go and squat and stay there for a long time with nothing happening. I took him to the vet and to my horror, I was told that the scabbing had covered his little penis. If he didn’t get it operated on soon, he’d basically die from not being able to go. I squeezed every last dime out of my American Express and paid the $1200 for the procedure.

So another couple weeks later and Muffin is doing great. I’m very careful to keep the garage house door closed now and I’m sure he’s learned not to go under there anymore…

muffin head

Who am I kidding? For whatever reason he found the underbody of my car to be a safe space before, he still thinks it is. Here’s part 2 of Miracle Baby:

Last night I let Jordi out back to go potty. The kittens aren’t allowed outside, but they do like to hang out around the glass storm door to look outdoors. Well, both Clover and Muffin had a headstart on me and Jordi and as soon as that storm door they were out! I grabbed Clover and tossed him back inside, but Muffin was just out of reach. I had barely got my hands on him when Jordi decided it was time to play chase the cat.

They ran left and right and left again. Then Muffin ran up. Straight up a tree into one of the tallest trees in my backyard. These aren’t climbable trees (for humans anyway). They are about 3 feet around, thin and tall. And Muffin was somewhere at the top where I couldn’t see in the darkness of night. It was after midnight and I didn’t want to wake the neighbors calling him down, so I left him for the night.

 

I went back out this morning and saw that he had made it down. I called out for him in the front and backyard, but not answer. I posted a missing pet message on the NextDoor app and went about my day. Then when I went to feed the cats there supper I went back out to check on Muffin, taking a dish and scooper full of food with me. The idea is to make the sound of food being served by pouring the kibble back and forth from the scoop to the bowl. It only took one pour into the bowl to hear a response.

Point Blur_Oct152017_074550.jpgIt almost sounded like he was inside the garage, but that couldn’t be. I’m still using the garage as an isolation tool between the dogs until they can get along, and I know for a fact I haven’t let any cats in there. My car is parked in the driveway and as I’m looking at it I’m having a flashback. I run back inside for a flashlight. Sure enough, the mews are coming from my car. I lay on the ground and point my flashlight under my car, and who should I see emerging? Muffin.

 

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Are you ok Muffin?
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Looking like Bert from Mary Poppins
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Making sure his little pee-pee didn’t get hurt again

 

Muffin the Miracle Baby is born again from the bowels of my Chevy’s underhood and chassis. Looking like Bert from Mary Poppins. I’m hoping he just crawled under there while my car has been cooling off. If he’s been under there all day including the drive to Mansfield and back for Jordi’s emergency, that will be another miracle ride for him.

Muffin continues to be nervous and fearful, but he’s a sweet cat once he warms up to you. I’ve said a mouthful on him already.

Check out my youtube channel CatsDogsHarmony for the full video on this caper as well as other videos on the other guys. Until next time, keep the harmony.