Losing Mimi

July 11th, 2012

It was all of a sudden and with 0.1% chance that I thought it could possibly happen.  One of my cats, Mimi, was killed by a coyote or a fox, we don’t know which one.  Mimi was only five years old, raised by us since she was about an eight weeks-old kitten.  She was an inside cat with limited outdoor exposure – only in our backyard which is surrounded by cat-fence.

Beloved Mimi

Apparently, on that day, in the middle of the night, someone opened our outside gate to scope out the house, and scared Mimi who was sleeping in the backyard.  She must have run out of the gate and went to outside.  Then, the gate was closed by the same someone.  She couldn’t get back inside.  I still clearly remember Mimi’s shrieking scream in my bed at 5:56 a.m. on June 26th.  I ran downstairs to the backyard to look for Mimi.  She wasn’t found anywhere inside of the yard or outside the yard.  At the end of the day, my husband and I found half of Mimi in a woodsy area in the field next to our house, about ¼ miles away.

As I saw her remains lying on the ground, I couldn’t breathe properly.  The emotional intensity was so great that I felt it from the core of my guts.  It was as if a powerful tidal wave was rushing up in reverse from my guts to my throat.  It quickly became beyond my control.  I burst into tears, and cried out aloud, “Oh, Mimi.  I’m so sorry, Mimi”.   A lady who lives behind the woods heard my unstoppable loud sobbing, and asked if I was all right.  My husband told her why I was crying.

You all who lost your pets might relate to this pain and sadness.  Each day is a healing process, and it gets a little bit better every day.  I so appreciated the warm and compassionate messages from everyone.  Tora has been less active, and sometimes seems to be looking for his sister in the backyard or in the house.  I am using flower essences (of course!) to ease his emotional down time.  I took a few bottles of flower essences myself, too.

OK, from here, it is practical information.  I was very impressed with the cremation service done by Pet Rest in Pflugerville.  We brought Mimi’s remains to the Emergency Hospital near Central Market South.  They have an affiliation with Pet Rest.  They told us that it would take two weeks to have her ashes back to us.  Here is what I’ve learned.  If you would like your pet’s ashes back, they will arrange an “individual” cremation that your pet is the only animal in the firing chamber.  Otherwise, all remains will go to a mass/public cremation with other animals.  I found out this after we picked up her ashes.  I wouldn’t have minded Mimi’s ashes were mixed with other animals who also deserve lots of love and life acknowledgement, but it is nice to know that all I see in the plastic bag was “genuinely” Mimi.  🙂  Do I sound little silly?

Mimi's Altar with her favorite food bowl

We paid $190 for Mimi’s cremation.  Her ashes came back in ten days in a very nice looking urn with a very sensitively written card.  They were carefully placed in a black velvet sachet with an embroidered white “M” on it.

Mimi will have two other splurges in the near future.  She will be communicating with Sonya Fitzpatrick who is a celebrity animal communicator.  I have read her book, and watched Animal Planet TV shows about her, and I have been wanting her reading on my cats.  Now is the time to do it!

The other splurge will be to have an artist make stained-glass art from a Mimi’s picture as a memorial.  I searched many, many pet memorials online, but nothing really appealed to me until I found the stained-glass artist!

A Family Trip to Sedona - Mimi loved Sedona, but not the car-ride...

Stay tuned for my next report about animal communication session with Sonya!

She was a calm Zen kitty

"I was a kitten before..., I am an angel now."

Trois Chats Mes Amis – The Three Cat Friends in France!

June 17th, 2012

My husband, Jeffrey, and I just came back from the vacation in France.  This was a very special trip that my mother in Japan, Jeffrey, and I had talked about and dreamed about for about five years.  It became our reality finally!  We had spent about two weeks in a various towns and villages in the South and the Central part of France.  Aside from crazy drivers and automobiles in Paris, we enjoyed the countryside driving – total distance of 1,500 miles.  Along this road trip, I made a few furry friends who could speak the universal language – being kind and loving to each other.

Picnic Lunch with Gigi

On the day third of our trip, we left a beautiful old historic town of Saint Emilion (Northeast of Bordeaux), and we were driving through rolling hills of vineyards all around us.  We’ve bought sandwiches and pastries for lunch in the local bakery, so we stopped at a side street where there were big trees – perfect for a picnic!  Soon after we sat down, I located a cat in the distance (I became very good at this on this trip).  This cat walked straight toward us!  We decided to call her Gigi (named after our B&B’s owner’s cat in St. Emilion).  She obviously welcomed us in her territory!  She was so friendly and loving.  I gave her a piece of chicken, but she was not interested in food at all.  She hung out with us in our entire lunch break, and went back where she came from when we left.  Watch the video of Gigi HERE.

Pierre: "Do you want to pet me?"

The other two cats I made friends with were mom and a son (I think…, but not sure).  They live in a small town called, Carsac-Aillac.  They were in our hotel courtyard sunbathing when we arrived.  The younger male cat, Pierre (Jeffrey named him) was curious about us from the second he saw us.  He came right up to us and showed his straight-up excited tail.  The other cat, “Pierre’s Mom” wasn’t there first, but she emerged at some point out of nowhere.  She was calm, quiet, very sweet, and content.  To be honest, I was very tired by that day (day sixth of the trip) being a translator between Jeffrey and my mother all the time, and not being able to be “alone” with my thoughts and activities.  After a brisk 40 min. walk with Jeffrey just outside our hotel, I went back to the courtyard to spend time with Pierre and Pierre’s Mom.  That was exactly what I needed.  The cats gave me the space I needed, gave me healing and calming energy without soliciting, gave me a several chuckles with their fun spirits.  I was totally refreshed after being with them for 30 min. (or actually, I don’t remember how long I enjoyed their company.  It could have been an hour!).

Pierre's Mom: "I love it here..."

The biggest challenge in our trip was not being able know exactly what we ordered at the restaurants!  Our French wasn’t sufficient enough.  I should have put more effort into my on-line language study before the trip…  Oh well…  That being said, I enjoyed the spontaneity in our trip and language barriers.  It reminded me of when I came to the U.S. about twenty years ago.  The greatest thing of all was that not only we truly enjoyed the entire trip, but also that I found the cats in France can speak our universal language – being kind existences and loving to all.

What Do You Do to Relax Your Cat?

May 24th, 2012

"Don't like!" Paws Down...

As a cat owner, we all know that cats are finicky creatures.  Even in their familiar environment, they might jump up in the air with all fours with a sudden noise, thunder, or even simply a new stuff on the floor!!

I got to say, “Calm down kitty…” just yesterday, when I bought a bunch of crinkly gift tissue papers for Mimi to play with.  She loves tissue paper – I thought she would have more fun with more crisp, better quality papers (in my opinion).  I laid the “super crinkly” new tissue paper on the carpet just in time when she came inside through the cat door.  She immediately stopped and detected a new paper five feet away from her, she lowered her tail down. (Fear degree #1).  Then, she slowly approached the paper (I’m proud of her!)  She sniffed it.  Nothing is happening.  Then, she put her right paw on it.  “CRINK!!”  Mimi FLIPPED OUT, jumping straight up in the air with all fours!!!  What a finicky cat…  Here I have another waste of toys that didn’t work.  Oh, wait, I can still use it for the gift wrapping for humans!   Whew.

I am still learning about how to effectively relax cats in general, but here are some techniques that I know work for many cats (it may not work for ALL cats).

1)    Relax YOURSELF – When you’re anxious, panicky, or anxious, your cat is totally “in-tune” with it.

2)    Communicate with a Cat – Talk gently to your cat about what’s going on, and that it is just a temporary situation (whatever it is happening).  Then, send your cat an image of calm and peace, ensuring that everything will be the same as usual soon.  According to my animal communication teacher, animals communicate with images!  Meow.

3)    Play Sessions – It might sound counter-intuitive, but cats are craving for “intelligent things” to do.  Playing that consists of chasing and hunting something moving is totally stimulating to them, and that’s what they are hard-wired in their biology.  Believe or not, the play relaxes them.  I have seen many shelter cats who were so nervous and fearful they were sitting in back of their cage box; they came out of the box to play within 10-15 min. of our volunteers’ patient encouragement.

4)    Flower Essences – Natural vibrational energy in the flower water soften and re-balance cat’s emotional state.  I will talk more in-depth about it in a future blog!

5)    Lavender Hydrosol Spray – This is a new addition to my practice.  I tested it with a handful of my clients.  Their cats like it.  Spray it on the cat’s bedding, inside of a cat carrier, and any areas that a cat needs calming effect (i.e., inside the car).  Do NOT use essential oils because they are toxic to cats.

6)    Giving Treats – It’s best given when a cat already calmed down.  Please remember to praise them verbally, too!

Every cat I encounter in the shelter, through cat sitting, and consultations teaches me a lot about how he/she wants to be treated.  I do my best to use my abilities to interpret their messages as correctly as possible.  Will I ever learn “purr-fect” techniques?  No cat has given me the answer yet.

Have You Heard about Cat Cafés?

April 29th, 2012

"Testing my catnip tea!"

A Cat Café is not for cats to have a wonderful afternoon tea time – it is a café for human cat lovers to enjoy a relaxing space with cats.  What a wild idea!  I had heard about a Cat Café in Japan a couple years ago.  I had no idea this cat café phenomena swept all over Japan in past two years…  Today, I looked it up and found that there are over 20 cat café in Tokyo alone, and there are 76 all across Japan.

It was an American TV station which got this “scoop” when I watched it for the first time.   Now you can watch the UK version of this – click HERE.

I researched a bit online about cat cafés in Japan (my Japanese language skills became handy, finally).  There are some varieties among cat cafés.  Some cat cafés work with non-profit animal rescue organizations exclusively and take in sick or abandoned cats just like many animal shelters do here in U.S.  (Like!)  Others work with breeders, and not with rescue cats (Not a big fan!).  All of the cat cafés I checked online arrange adoptions.  Some are wheelchair-accessible and encourage elderlies and handicapped people to visit, focusing on felines’ therapeutic aspect.

The one I was surprised to find was a cat café run by a veterinary hospital and Little Cats (non-profit animal protective advocacy group) together.  With the collaboration of the two, this particular cat café, called Hakobuneko, achieves the greatest from both worlds!  Veterinarians provide all the vaccinations, surgeries, and medications necessary for stray cats, whereas Little Cats offer quality adoptions due to their dedication for the animals.  Hakobuneko cat café encourages both foster and adoption programs.  They charge a customer for $8 for 30 min. (with soft drinks) spending with the cats, and $3 for every 30 min. thereafter.

Assuming that cats are well taken care of and not stressed by the experience, any way to improve cat and human relations seems like a good idea to me!

White Teeth: Give Me Smile Kitties!

April 19th, 2012

"Gosh, here it comes...."

It has been a year since I started brushing my cats’ teeth.  Yep, I do it every night.  Both cats don’t like it, but they learned to tolerate it in order to please me (I wish).  In fact, I bribe them.  They know that I give them three to five bits of crunchy-bad-for-you treats before the brushing.

As you might have already known, I feed them raw meat mix as their regular food twice a day.  According to my animal communicator, Tora missed the crunchies so much that all he talked to her about food was “give me crunchies” (the kibbles I fed for his first four years of his life).  I gave in a little after that conversation.  Oh well, I give myself a bag of potato chips as a treat, so why not to my beloved cats?  It is only fair to Tora.

I use a human-baby tooth brush for the cats’ teeth.  The bristles are softer than the toothbrush made for cats.  Instead of toothpaste, I use a few drops of much diluted colloidal silver which has antibacterial quality in it.  I used to add Peelu natural dental fibers (powder) to the colloidal silver, but it was too much to deal with for me and the cats.

"Mom! Gentle, please!!"

The great news is that Tora didn’t need to have any teeth extractions last year at all.  He had eight teeth already taken out in recent years, and I didn’t want him to go through it again if it can be avoided.  The vet told me that Tora seems to have genetically weak teeth and gums.  He had a regular teeth cleaning only at the vet, and Mimi didn’t even need the cleaning!  I saved a lot of money as a result of brushing.

I plan to celebrate this memorable, one year anniversary tonight…by taking one day off from the routine – NOT brushing their teeth, and not feeling guilty about it!!  I’m sure Tora and Mimi don’t mind giving me a night off from it, and they may even be smiling behind my back…

"Yikes, brother! I gotta run!!"

Get Their Game On!

April 12th, 2012

Cats are very particular about choosing their favorite toys.  They usually do not like decorative, expensive toys we get from a pet store.  They like simple and inexpensive “stuff” around the house, like newspapers, shoe strings, a cap ring of a milk jug, etc.

When I go cat-sitting for the first time to meet new cats, I always bring a new toy to play with them.  I found these top three toys to be very effective to build “rapport” with a new kitty!  Interactive play helps a cat exercise, reduces fear and tension, and eases discomfort.  Most importantly, it strengthens our bond with them.

#1 – A Peacock Feather!

This is a winner of the toys (so far).  I haven’t seen any cat ignored this simple toy.  Cats’ eyes get fixated on this one thing for a long time.  They grab it, pounce on it, bat at it, and chew on it until the feather is shredded to pieces.  You can buy it at Tomlinson’s.

#2 – A String and Crinkly Paper

This is a classic combination that almost always works.  I use natural garden twine tied to a stick to play with my cats.  I hide part of a string under layered gift tissue papers, and move the string slowly.  Not only do the cats chase the string, but also they enjoy the sound of the paper.  They bite into the paper as if they are killing the prey!  When I don’t have time to play with my cats, I put one end of the string into my jean back pocket, and drag the string behind me.  The cats like to chase it (or me) everywhere I go.

"Grrrrr"

#3 – Cat Dancer or Da Bird

These are products that you can purchase.  Cat Dancer simulates the movements of a fly.  It consists of a wire with a little rolled up cardboard target on the end.  All you need to do is sit and hold this toy!  Da Bird is a feather attached string toy.  Indoor cats love to see a bird-like thing flying in the air (yes, you have to swing it in the air) and to catch it in the air.

The author of “Think Like a Cat”, Pam Johnson-Bennett, recommends a minimum of two fifteen-minute sessions a day for adult cats.  To meet this requirement, I’ve learned to play with my cats at home while I’m watching TV.  Sometimes, I use a laser toy when I don’t feel like moving at all, but my cats really want to be like wild cats with their roars (somehow, it always happens to be late evening).  One last tip, make sure to “hide” the toy during play – cats love to discover it and pounce while you move it slowly behind or under something.

A play time is over...

OK, here Tora comes meowing at the foot of my desk to play.  Gotta go.

Finally, A Hairball Solution!

April 6th, 2012

Mimi: "I'm so pretty!"

As your cat might have shown you a tube of hairball right in front of you in the kitchen floor, hairball season is here.  Some cats have no problem with hairballs – they just eliminate hairballs with their poops, but other cats suffer from their fur “clogged” in their system.

My cat, Tora didn’t have hairball issues at all until Mimi joined our family.  This might sound ridiculous to some of you, but Tora takes his appearance seriously.  He likes to be pretty and clean.  He wants his sister to be the same.  That’s where the problem starts.  Tora loves grooming Mimi who has much (much) finer hair than his own.  Mimi’s hair doesn’t pass through his system, and actually, completely clogs his digestive system.  It became worse this year – the food doesn’t get through at all once the hairball has been collected in his digestive system.  He has to throw up all the food he just ate.

I have given him both petroleum-based hairball remover (yuk!), and non-petroleum-based Vet’s Best Hairball Relief (that Tora doesn’t want to eat).  It was time to research something better than the two.  I found an answer in one of the feline holistic forum groups that I belong to.  I have tried this with Tora, and after about four weeks now, he hasn’t coughed up single hairball yet!!  It works!  Do you want to know what I used?

Pumpkin, Lecithin, and Ghee

1)    Canned organic pureed pumpkin (NOT the pie fillings) – 1/4 teaspoon mixed in to cat’s wet food or raw food.  It is a good quality fiber.

2)    Lecithin capsule (Nature’s Plus 600mg caps – not soy based) – 1/3 of a capsule mixed in to cat’s wet food or raw food.  It helps “emulsify” a hairball for better digestion.

3)    Ghee (clarified butter) – 1/8 teaspoon to up to 1/4 teaspoon per day per cat.  I give ghee as is, putting on their crunchy treats, or mixed in their food.  It really fatten up your cats, so be watchful for the amount.  Regular unsalted butter will do the same, but it contains lactose.  So, for the cats that are intolerant of lactose, it is better to use ghee.  I use ghee on my morning toast every morning though I don’t have hairball issues myself!  Yum.

If you’re looking for a natural hairball solution, here it is.  It worked with my kitty!  Oh, by the way, most importantly, please remember to brush your cat every day!!  Meooow.

A Doghouse for A Cat? Why Not?

March 29th, 2012

Cat doghouse being constructed

My two cats can enjoy the backyard whenever they want.  We have a cat door leading to the backyard where there is a cat fence all around our backyard for their safety (keeping them inside the yard).  It is great to see the cats just “being cats” outside.  They love chasing small creatures such as geckos in summer months, just sitting outside under the bush, and snoozing on the chair.

What I didn’t know until my husband put up the cat fence four years ago was that the cats started doing their “business” outside.  By the end of every summer, there were a couple dozen “very green patches” in our backyard.  They help fertilizing the grass – I say, “Thank you, kids!”

The downside of having them use backyard as a giant litterbox is that I cannot keep track of their health status by watching their daily specimens.  So, I decided to put a litterbox again on the back porch.  I placed a high-sided big litterbox without a cover there a few weeks ago.  Both cats now actually use it regularly and I am so happy and excited to see their “products” every morning!

However, there is one problem.  Although our back porch has a roof, rain often hit the litter directly and it gets messy.  It doesn’t seem pleasant to the cats’ precious paws.  Well, I would not go in there if I were a cat!!  The solution – getting a doghouse that is big enough to put the litterbox inside.  For the record, I googled “cathouse”, but there were no hits.

Tora - "I want to hang out in here"

So here it is.  Doesn’t it look cute?  My husband is not quite a handyman, but he is willing to do anything for our kitties.  He is so sweet.  Tora is a curious kitty, and he was the first one to check it out.  We placed the litterbox inside of the doghouse.  In order to have them get used to a doghouse-cat-litterbox, I partially open the roof part of the doghouse, so that the transition would be gradual.

Oh, by the way, I recently switched their litter from clumping type to pine pellets to be eco-friendly and all natural to cats.  I have been using a corn-based clumping litter inside the house, but it gets moldy outside.

Mimi - "What is this thing?"

Maybe I should buy another doghouse for the cats to just hang out in…  Then, I might as well get two doghouses for each cat, so that they don’t get fight over it…  My crazy momma syndrome continues…

Three Key Lessons from Animal Communication

March 21st, 2012

LISTEN TO ME!!

Have you heard of an Animal Communicator?  In my interpretation, animal communicators are highly skilled humans who can communicate with animals.  Well, I had been curious about my two cats.  What are they thinking about me, my husband, and their lives with us?  I called an animal communicator in Arizona twice last year.  Both times, I got amazingly insightful comments from my cats, Tora and Mimi, through the animal communicator.  She helped me understand them better, and helped me and my husband to change improve how we interact with them.  Most importantly, it was fun to connect with my own cats in their level of perception!

Well, just a couple weeks ago, a local animal communicator, Kate Turner-Mays held a workshop on Animal Communication.  I was so intrigued, yet a little apprehensive about going into my “uncharted territory”.  Well, what the heck, I registered to the class after only 5 minutes debating it over whether or not I should take it.

Kate and her family have acreage of land and a ranch, and live with horses, hens, and cats.  In addition to animal communication, she works with autistic children using help from the horses.

During animal reading exercises, I had some hits and misses.  I’m admitting that I’m not skilled yet.  But, hey, I HAD hits!!

Although I want to talk about everything that happened on the day of the workshop, in this blog, I write about my biggest three key learnings from that day.

  1. Trust an animal first.  I work with the shelter cats, and I sometimes have “fear” that a cat might attacks me with no reason.  I cannot play “psychological games” with animals, if I want to communicate with them.  I need to be fully present with them in the moment.
  2. I am not a psychic.  However, I can still practice the communication skills with animals.  It is about using our senses a “muscle” that we don’t use much in our daily lives, and practice it again and again to make it stronger.
  3. Connecting with nature every day.  Sensitizing all my senses to feel.  In the workshop, after a brief meditation, we quietly walked outside in nature to feel, to hear, and to see everything around us connecting with that moment.  I felt really refreshed, soothed, and rejuvenated during and after the walking meditation.  Ultimately, this exercise helps a lot to communicate with animals.

I grew up in the country side of Japan.  There are so many fond memories of my childhood filled with abundance of nature – rice fields, mountains, rivers, fruit trees, birds, flowers, crickets, etc.  The workshop gave me the opportunity to be in touch with my roots where I came from, and my current existence where I am now and what I do with my intention to help cats.

After returning home from the workshop, I heard my cats said, “Mommy, you need more practice!”

Start the New Year with a Healthy Diet for Your Cats – Where Did I Start?

January 3rd, 2012

Once "obese" kitty, Mimi - now she is slim and athletic - the hunter of the house!

What is the “healthy diet” for cats? I had never asked this question to myself until my own cats started suffering from obesity and a food allergy. I blindly assumed that the animal staff at the shelter knew what she was talking about eight years ago when I got my first cat, Tora in Portland, OR. She said to me, “Yep, you can just feed the cat dry food of his choice”. I wish I knew better then. I could have started the healthy diet much earlier than three years of age.(Read my personal story here.)

What do cats eat in the wild nature? That was the first thing came up to my mind. I researched feline diet on-line and through books, and found out that cats are hunters, that raw meat is their natural diet that the Mother Nature created for cats. I later found out that dry food for cats was originally designed and manufactured following the “dog dry food” model. Dogs were domesticated earlier than cats, so the commercial food was created for convenient feeding for dog owners much earlier than for cats. The big difference and mistake here is dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores!

After transitioning my cats to raw food, and witnessed amazing shifts in their energy level, health, and their figures (slender and pretty coat!), I was a convert to raw meat feeding for cats. I’ve met with many cat owners who are curious about raw food for their cats. For the starters, I recommend start your cats with some canned food.  For finicky eaters, you might want to transition from dry to wet (canned) slowly over several weeks.

Free-endless feeding dry food is the worst thing you can do for your cats because they can eat as much as they want. You would think that your cat can “regulate” the amount they eat, and some cats do pretty well. Often though, cats eat food out of boredom and depression from their boring indoor life style. It is natural and healthy to feel hunger. If you haven’t done so, please measure appropriate amount of dry food for your cat’s body weight per day, and feed them in two meals (or whatever works with your schedule) and don’t give them more than that per day. Treats? No, unless you give less dry food on that day to compensate calories from the treats. Generally speaking, the crunchy treats contain too much carbohydrate that cats don’t need nutritionally.

In following weeks, I will talk about the benefits of good quality canned food and raw food, and how I feed my cats with raw food.  Stay tuned…