Mikan’s First Fun (?) Ride

January 21st, 2013

Our miracle cat, Mikan, has been so healthy and brightening our daily lives together by showing her ever-evolving cat-personality!  She is almost seven months old, and she is not yet in heat.  She had such a physically weak start of her life, so it might take a little bit more to mature physically.  Well, her mom thinks it is just fine, and is even happy about seeing Mikan still a little kitten.  Our vet suggested (and I totally agree) to wait to spay her until she hits a few heat cycles.  In that way, her skeletal system will be able to grow properly with support from adequate natural hormone levels.

Anyhow, Mikan will have a vet visit coming up this week (due to her coughing), and another soon for sure when she is ready for a spay surgery.  Now, I’m thinking how to make her feel comfortable with a car ride to the vet (or at least OK with it).  Only thing I could think of is…yes, you guessed it, positive reinforcement and training!  I wish I don’t need to do all that, but it seems necessary for the benefit to this family as a whole.

Happy cats = happy family.

It was a very sunny Sunday afternoon when we decided to take both cats on a pleasure ride. Mikan always follows Tora around everywhere in the house, so it could be good thing.  Jeffrey and I loaded up Tora and Mimi in my car.  Tora likes being “free” in the car, but we kept Mikan in her carrier where she feels safe with her blankie, with the flap left open so that she could come out if she wants to.  We drove around our neighborhood for about 15 minutes.  At first, Mikan looked nervous in her carrier.  She was watching the scenery passing fast in front of her eyes.  Her eyes were wide open.  Thankfully, her breathing was normal.  On the other hand, Tora was totally chilled and perched on the back shelf near the rear window, and enjoying the view and the movement of the car.

"Sister, just watch me!"

After the ride: "There are lots of space here."









After about five minutes of driving at 15 mph. in our neighborhood, Mikan came out of her carrier and walked toward the window.  I gave her a little treat – she ate it.  Yes, she is a sucker for these crunchy treats.  We did that routine a few more times, and it’s time to go home!  It’s good to stop when it is still positive experience.  I believe that Tora being there with Mikan helped her feeling secure about being in the car.  Tora’s energy was relaxed in the car, and our human energy was good also because we knew it was a fun ride for them.

"Hey Brother, the car ride wasn't that bad, but don't tell mom and dad because I prefer playing with you in the yard."

Who do I thank the most for the first training?  I thank Jeffrey for his safe driving (he hates driving slow, but he was willing 15 m.p.h. for his little girl, Mikan), and mostly, I thank Tora for being a such a confident car-rider!  He is my little big boy.

**Watch how Mikan thanked Tora… 

We continue to dream about days in the future that we could travel with our furry kids for a weeks-long or even a month-long vacation.  So far, so good.  More rides to come.


Transforming Your Kitty Photo into a Beautiful Art

December 17th, 2012

I have a question to you all.  How many cat pictures of your own do you put up on the wall?  Well, I have only two on the wall in my house.  To be honest with you, they are hanging on the wall in the toilet.  There were two reasons why I placed them in the toilet.  The first was that it is practical in a way that I wanted to admire my furry kids’ as often as possible.  The other reason was that these pictures were taken by me, and they are not professional grade, unfortunately.  I had no idea how to make my photos presentable in the living room until my friend, Johnny, gave me a gift.

After I lost my dearest blue tuxedo cat, Mimi, Johnny gave me a beautiful picture of Mimi in an art form – Painted Photograph!  The picture was taken by me when Mimi was alive, but Johnny downloaded it to his computer and made it into an amazing brush-painted-look photograph.  See this!

Mimi - Before

Mimi - After








This beautiful painted picture is hanged in the living room (proudly) where Jeffrey and I can see every day, and it is a conversation piece when our cat-friendly house guests are over.  We love this art because it is different from a boring photograph and it is SO beautiful.

Recently, I had an opportunity to give the same gift to my dearest friends who lost their cat, Merle to a coyote.  I had a few good pictures of Merle, so I asked Johnny to select one for me, and to create a special artwork for my friends.  Wow, he did magic again!  This is between you and me, I know his secret…Johnny is a life-time cat lover – he and his wife currently have four furry kids, and he knows a kitty’s heart and soul.  He captures the unique essence of who the individual kitty is (was) with his artistic sensitivity.  It shows in his art.

Merle - Before

Merle - After

Merle - After








If you have a special photo, or two, that you wish to hang as an art in your living room, I am full-heartedly recommending my friend, Johnny.  He will make it happen.  When he makes it manually for more brush-stroke effect (as opposed to just running a software program to make a photo “looks like” a painted art) his rate is about $60 (8×10 finish).  For details, please contact Johnny directly at “jleblanc (at texas dot net)”.

Happy Holidays!!

Tora’s New Sister

November 21st, 2012

Oh my goodness!  I don’t know how many times had I dreamed about this day – the day that Mikan can get out of her quarantine suite (master bathroom and closet combined for luxury) and she can explore  everywhere in the house (she might think our house is a huge castle!).  Finally, she can live with all of us – yes, ringworm is OVER.  The most exciting thing was to observe the re-introduction of Mikan and Tora again after 11 weeks!   Both cats briefly met in late August before Mikan started to show various sickly symptoms.  I was little anxious and nervous about this process this time.  I was just crossing my fingers hoping everything would go well.

"We are finally together!"

As soon as the door opened, Mikan dashed out of her “cell”, and there was her long-awaiting brother, Tora, with open paws (OK, I am imagining things).  In reality, Tora was sitting there to greet her with his extended neck.  Then, he started licking the top of Mikan’s head right away!  Mikan was so excited to see something new, so she couldn’t sit still for Tora.  She took off to other new areas of the house to explore.  Tora chased her everywhere.  They were both hyper-active as if they couldn’t contain their emotions of excitement and joy!

Today, on the fourth day of Mikan’s integration to the family, I am so thankful that Mikan is doing extremely well.  She looks as happy as a clam, jumping and galloping everywhere.  She already has a set of permanent canines, too.  It was wild to see her baby teeth canines and permanent canines existed side by side for about two weeks.  We will surely continue feeding her high quality homemade raw meat with right supplements for her.  I’ve learned that Omega 3 (Salmon oil) and turmeric have been a big help for her skin condition in addition to our daily supplements.

"Yep, we play!!"

Since Mimi passed in late June, Tora has been mellower than before.  He adapted himself to be an only cat in the house, acting like a human rather than a cat, in my opinion.  However, Mikan brought him back to his natural state – being a cat again!  He runs so fast that my eyes cannot follow his movement.  He has distinct moments of being active and being relaxed.  In his relationship with Mimi, he was instigator and Mimi had to hiss at him in order to let him know “enough is enough”.  Now, Tora hisses  to Mikan to let her know “too much is too much”.

All is well.  My husband and I felt big relief this week.  We sat in our backyard with our favorite Green Tea Latte from Starbucks this afternoon, and took this happiness ALL IN.  Welcome, little sister to your home and family!  Life is sweet.

"Do I look beautiful now?"

Acrobatic Cats: Does Your Cat Have a Potential?

November 13th, 2012

Two of my cat-fanatic friends notified me about this crazy cat show called Acro-Cats!  You might say, “Huh?”  Can cats do an acrobatic performance?  Without wasting any time, I booked the tickets right away to see the opening night of the show last night!  Let me tell you about these amazing kitties who are so well-trained to do the performances with about 100 people in front of them!

"Tuna" the cowbell drummer, and her fan!

Yes, she CAN rock!

See it to believe it.  There were about 13 performing cats on the “stage”.  They came out of their cages at the trainers’ command one at a time, and then they did all kinds of acrobatic performances including walking on a set of paralleled bars and on a ball (yes, true), ringing a cowbell, playing a guitar (uh huh), playing the keyboard, and many many more tricks.  All the cats are motivated by food/treats.  They do all these amazing things because they know they will get treats right then if they do certain things – we all know about “operant conditioning (O.C.)”.  Many cat human companions think O.C. is for dogs.  🙂  Cats are simply too intelligent and spiritual to be manipulated by humans, right?  Well, apparently, cats CAN be trained to be members of a rock band.

The Circus Cats group has their own trailer bus and tours all over the U.S.  I thought it was interesting that only two cats in the performing cats are males.  Their Mom, Samantha, said that the girls work harder than the boys.  Now I think about the many cats I encountered, including mine, I may agree with that statement.  I will not tell you more than this because I really want you to see these amazingly intelligent kitties.

Circus Cats Tour Bus

I truly, from the bottom of my heart, enjoyed watching their organic and somewhat naturally chaotic performance – that made it so special and charming.  I full-heartedly recommend you to go to the show here in Austin this week only!!  (www.circuscats.com)

If you happen to go to the show, and buy their clicker-training packet as a souvenir for your kitties, keep me informed!  A trick for success seems to be keeping the cats hungry for a long time before the training.  🙂  Also, our patience will be challenged.  It is always two-way learning with our intelligent furry animals.

Reiki for Cats?

November 7th, 2012

Have you ever heard of Reiki before?  Reiki creates healing energy connection between living things.  Although one of my dear friends practices Reiki, I wasn’t interested in learning more about it until my cat, Tora got a treatment from a Reiki practitioner in California.  It really helped heal and lift Tora’s spirit when he was depressed with the sudden departure of his companion sister, Mimi.  Tora started eating better and ran around more right after the Reiki session.  Naturally, I wanted to learn more about Reiki after seeing the result of it, so I drove down to San Antonio to take Reiki Level 1 class in September.

Latest Mikan

Since then, I have been practicing Reiki often with Mikan when she suffered from her bout of high fevers and terrible skin conditions.  I sat near Mikan and meditated with deep breathing.  In the beginning, it was hard to meditate for even 10 minutes, but I think I am getting used to creating, and being in, a calm place longer and longer.  It is so amazing to see Mikan purring loudly on my lap when she was ill.  On the other hand, when she has tons of energy running around, she would come lick my finger and then just keeps on running around.

I also tried practicing Reiki to the cats at my friend’s place.  Mr. J has four cats. The three cats, Marcus, Lenny, and Kiki live in one wing of the house, while the fourth cat, Mimi, lives in the other wing of the house.  Mimi is the youngest cat and was a feral cat raised by squirrels in the neighborhood, according to Mr. J.  She is a very shy kitty.  When I go cat sitting to their house, I rarely see Mimi.  She is so scared and hides from any strangers (including myself, of course).  Mimi loves Mr. J. as her Dad, and enjoys his company and affections, but she is so skittish with others.  Even Mr. J.’s wife took a long time to be able to pet Mimi.

Kiki, the Princess. Loves to be brushed!


I thought Reiki might be able to help Mimi, if she wants to heal whatever part that needs healing on her own accord.  It is always the animal’s choice whether they would take the healing energy or not.  We cannot push them to get it.  Reiki doesn’t work that way.  All I can do is to create the calm flow of healing energy by concentrating on my energy flow.  If the cat wants to heal herself, she might come out of wherever she is hiding to be closer to the energy source, she might start to purr where she was at, or come on to your lap, for example.

Marcus: "I can meditate on our screened-in back deck any time!"

I was creating Reiki flow through meditation for about 30 minutes in Mimi’s wing of the house without knowing where she was.  She didn’t come out to see me.  I was disappointed with a lack of “result”, but I am sure she sensed something was very different energetically in the space.  Interestingly, when I opened my eyes at about 15 minutes into the Reiki session, I saw Marcus sitting right next to the baby gate which separates the two wings of the house, looking at my direction curiously.  He was there for a while.  After 30 minutes passed, I lifted my eyes again, now I saw Kiki in the same spot where Marcus was at 15 minutes ago.  I heard her subtle purring from the distance.

I don’t know these incidents were just a coincidence or the proof that they felt healing energy.  I really wish cats could talk to us in English.  Wait a minute, the whole purpose of me learning Reiki is to make healing connection with animals energetically.  In a way, I am learning a new language that is not the “language” in a literal sense.

Cats always help me learn about myself, expand my horizon, and let me learn to trust myself to be an intelligent existence on earth just like… they are!

Focusing on Quality of Life for Cats

October 22nd, 2012

First of all, thank you so much for many friends who sent me warm support and encouragement via email and on the blog.  Mikan has been appreciating them also, and in return, she has great news to share this time!

"Do you want to join me for fun?"

Mikan is doing wonderfully well.  Since I wrote my last blog, Mikan hasn’t had a high fever at all!  She is “fever-free” for two weeks – this is a world record for her!  Mikan’s energy is much more robust and lively, and her motor skills and muscle coordination are getting coherent like a REAL cat every day.  Yaaaay!

You might wonder what we did differently in these two weeks.  We decided to focus on her wellness and quality of life rather than “treating” whatever happening on her skin (there is still no diagnosis from the vet).  I decided not to use the vet-suggested OTC skin cream (Lotrimin) for ringworm nor the enzymatic shampoo for the skin itchiness.  Instead, we let Mikan out in our cat-fenced backyard to run around for one hour every afternoon.  She LOVES that time.

At first, she was overwhelmed by the different noises of the wind, the leaves, the cars, etc., but she got used to these familiar outside sounds very fast.  I learned that UV light kills ringworm fungi, so this was perfect thing to do!  I could tell that she is taking in everything that the nature offers to heal and boost her immune system.  She is engaging every movement with 100% focus outside.  What a joy to be with her to experience that feeling together!  Although Mikan has sufficient space inside her master bathroom/closet suite, nothing is better than running around on green grass, freely under the warm sunshine.

By the way, we had a new window installed in Mikan’s suite the other day, so that she can have fresh air and natural sounds from outside.  I didn’t like the previous widow which didn’t open, so I am very happy with the new one.  It is little a silly that sometimes the house project on a list gets done quickly because of the cats, not because of our needs.

"I like to be in your lap, too."

The other two things I am doing twice daily are Colloidal Silver topical application for ringworm and also homeopathy.  Somehow, Mikan likes the homeopathy – when I show her a dropper, she would come and starts licking the tip of it!  She may know exactly what she needs.  We will re-start herbal remedy this week.  As I’m observing Mikan’s growth week by week, she is certainly gaining weight and clearly getting longer (should I say, “taller”).  I’d better go and take more pictures of her now, so that I won’t miss out capturing amazing Kodak moments.

"I AM a tiger, grrrr!!"

My Journey with Mikan

October 10th, 2012

It has been six weeks since Mikan joined our family.  I am reflecting on how each cat requires different attention for their health.  Mikan brought us a challenge in a good way.  Her weak health status helps me appreciate how healthy Tora and Mimi were when growing up!  I thought that healthy kittenhood was “normal”.  Raising Mikan for six weeks, after five high fever incidents, ringworm, earmites, staph infection, and severe side effects from medicines, I’ve learned that healthy kittenhood should not be taken for granted.

"Here I am at the vet office, again. The doctor is very gentle and nice to me."

According to the two vets I consulted with recently, it is not clear as to why Mikan keeps having fevers over and over.  Neither of them recommends antibiotics nor steroids for Mikan.  She is currently too weak for any kinds of medications.   Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (Oops, this is Mikan’s first typing!)  I am in our master bathroom with my laptop here to be with Mikan.  She will be cooped up here until her ringworm is cleared, which is almost gone.

I have been using Colloidal Silver 500 ppm topically on her ringworm spots (it is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial).  In my opinion, it has been working very well.  It is safe even if she licks it off from her fur.  I also used a mixture of herbs as a topical application.  I used a recipe from here.  I made a mixture of turmeric powder, neem leaf powder, coconut oil, and colloidal silver.  I applied the mixture to the ringworm spots a couple of times a day.  This worked very well with Tora.  Although he had only a few time exposures to ringworm from Mikan (15min. each time, perhaps) back in August, he got one from her.  I didn’t know Mikan had ringworm back then.

Currently, we are dealing with Mikan’s staph infection that came with the episodes of high fever.  Her soul is beautiful as always, but her face is not so pretty right now.  Mikan didn’t let me take her picture up front, but here is the one she reluctantly let me take for the blog.

"I'll be better looking soon!"

Mikan seems to enjoy the car ride to the vet.  She is always calm and relaxed in the car.  I saw her sleeping on the way back from Round Rock last week!  That is cool.  🙂

On a positive note, from Mikan’s perspective, it is just another day.  Some days, she has lots of energy.  Other days, she wants to rest.  For her, every day is a great day, just some have more playtime than others.  I’m learning to trust the natural process that she’s going through.

My husband and I have been experiencing emotional up-and-downs depending on how Mikan has been doing every day.  Our adventure and learning continue…

Surviving with Mikan

September 26th, 2012

Since our new baby, Mikan has arrived to our house, it has been a month.  You might expect me to talk about how cute and playful she is at this age, but unfortunately, it has been a rough start for her (and us).  It turned out that Mikan has lots of health issues going way beyond our imagination!

"I chose the right house! :-)"

In the recent vet visit, we found out that she has… are you ready for a long list?  Here it is: Upper Respiratory Infection (URI), ringworm, gingivitis, ear mites which spread all over her face and paws.  She also has swollen lymph nodes that indicate Bartonella infection.  All of which are curable and not life-threatening conditions.  I am very thankful for that.

However, taking care of Mikan has been a big adjustment for Jeffrey and I who were used to living with very healthy cats.  Every time after the vet visits, she had high fever, sneezing, and eye discharge.  She got over URI pretty quickly both times.  I’ve given Mikan antibiotics prescribed for the secondary infection for a week.  Fortunately, after a course of antibiotics, Mikan’s gingivitis and terrible mouth odor went away completely.  It must have been a temporary bacterial infection.  One problem solved!

Mikan’s ears had been deep pink color because she scratched her ears so much!  The first vet said “no ear mites”, but the second vet found live ear mites under microscope.  As soon as I heard about ringworm and ear mites present in her body, Mikan and Tora have been separated.  Ringworm and ear mites are highly contagious.  If you have experienced ringworm with your cats (and possibly with yourself), you know how challenging it is to manage.  After Jeffrey and I vacuumed “her bedroom” thoroughly (unfortunately, it is a carpeted floor), we moved Mikan to our master bathroom with tile floor – yep, daily cleaning by sanitizing the floor and walls is necessary to kill ringworm spores.  We are using the guest bathroom temporarily.  Tora sometimes sits outside of Mkan’s room meowing (asking how she is doing).

"I am secretly having "one-on-one hunting training" in my quarter."


Well, after three vet visits, Mikan is finally getting toward her healthy self (we think).  She gained weight nicely to 3.5 lb now – she was 1.75 lb when she came to us.  She plays like a champ and eats like a lion!  We are still separating two cats until Mikan becomes “insured” healthy!!

I have been learning about both holistic and allopathic ways of treating Mikan’s conditions.  I will share my learning next time.  Right now it’s time to feed and play!

"I'm fast."

Welcome to Our Family – Mikan!!

September 4th, 2012


Last Sunday, I woke up with a very strong urge to adopt a new kitty companion in our family.  I had to act on it that day!  Jeffrey and I were out of the house heading to Austin Animal Center by 11 a.m.!!

"Hello! I am Mikan"

After three hours of having fun with lots of cats, our heart was set on a tiny, scruffy, yet so adorable, orange tabby kitten.  Jeffrey and I both had an instant attraction to that kitten.  We named her “a little tangerine” in Japanese – Mikan (Mee-Khan).

She is about ten weeks old, underweight, and FIV+ (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), which means her natural immune system is compromised.  I thought of Tora as her companion – he is a laid-back cat with a strong need for grooming other cats (and humans sometimes)…  FIV spreads to other cats through deep bite wounds, and not through grooming or daily sharing of food/water.   We made a decision – we adopted Mikan!

Since she came to our house, Mikan stopped diarrhea, gained weight (she is 2.5 lb now), and she has been playing like a professional hunter!

We finally introduced two cats yesterday after five days separating the two (it required patience on our part because we were so excited for two to meet!!).  Tora knew something was going on in the guest bedroom, but he had never seen her.  Jeffrey opened the door casually, and invited Tora to come in to the Mikan’s room.  Well, the result was…SUCCESS!  Tora immediately approached and started licking his new sister, and the sister took it as if that was from her real cat Mom.

"Hey sister, you're little dirty. Let me clean you!"

Mikan was more eager to be close to Tora – she walked toward Tora more often than Tora did to Mikan.  At some point, Tora stepped back realizing what he was doing (grooming her), kept space from her.  No hissing or growling.  He was staring at Mikan from a distance as if he was trying to make sense out of this whole encounter.  “Who is she?”  “She doesn’t look like Mimi…”  “Can I trust her?”  It was surely interesting behavior to me.  We will be increasing time of their encounters more and more, day by day.

I am sure that Mimi is purring for our happiness from cat heaven…



"Wanna play?"

A Family Trip

August 27th, 2012

"I LOVE sitting in my Daddy's lap!!!"

We just came back from our Colorado vacation.  Tora did another big road trip with us (8 hours straight driving per day for two days).  Jeffrey and I are pretty lucky to have a cat who enjoys car-ride.  Another thing I can brag about Tora is that he can use the litterbox while in the car…  If I were a cat, I wouldn’t.

The main reason we went to Colorado was Jeffrey’s race.  I am also very proud of Jeffrey who challenged himself to run an ultra-marathon called, the Leadville 100 (miles, it is).  He was known as more of a book-worm, not an athlete in his entire life so far.  He started training seriously for the race last summer, and yes, he courageously entered the race and ran as much as he could!  To make a long story short, he couldn’t make it to the finishing line, but he did his best and finished at the 50 mile point.  There was a 12.600 ft. mountain pass runners had to go through, which is the toughest in terms of altitude and narrow path.  That was the hardest part of his race.  As a side story, Jeffrey and I hiked the Hope Pass several days before the race – I was miserable in the rain, freezing cold temperature, and a high altitude.

"Burrr at 12,600 ft. Hope Pass"

Anyway, we enjoyed the whole running and crewing experiences with our friends who supported Jeffrey.  Colorado was very cool in the morning and the night – we loved it.

We rented a one bedroom chalet-style house while in Colorado.  The owner lives downstairs and he was willing to take us in with a cat.  We brought Tora’s litterbox, a scratching post and mat, frozen raw meat mixes, emergency canned food, beddings, new toys, Feliway, flower essences, and large towels to cover some furniture (just in case he scratches – which he did).  Our rented car was full of Tora’s stuff.  Thankfully, Tora behaved very well entire time, and even charmed the owner who came by a few times.

After a long trip back to Austin, we were all exhausted.  Tora immediately went outside yard to smell the flowers, and then he came inside to his favorite spot to chill and relax for a few hours.  We sometimes forget that he is 10 years old since he acts like a kitten most of the time.  While I’ll bet he would have enjoyed the trip even more if he had a feline companion, it sure was nice having him with us the whole time!

Mountains near Leadville, CO