Determining your cat’s baseline for health, appetite, and behavior

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Purina ONE. The opinions are all mine.If you’ve been following our social media accounts lately, you might know that we’ve partnered with Purina ONE® to help them promote the launch of their newest cat food, Tender Selects Blend With Real Chicken and support the Purina ONE® Whole Body Health Project. What is the Whole Body Health Project? Created by Purina ONE expert behaviorists and nutritionists, the Whole Body Health Project provides easy, daily routines you can create with your cat to help promote lifelong health and happiness. One of these routines is determining your cat’s baseline for physical health, appetite, and behavior. I’ll walk you through the steps of determining your own cat’s baseline and let you know how Ben, Jack, and Hugo measure up.

Step 1: Keep an eye on your cat while he is eating. Does he eat quickly or is he a grazer? Does he come running when he hears you put the bowl down? Knowing your cat’s typical eating patterns can help you build smart feeding routines for Whole Body Health.

Photo shows tuxedo cat eating his cat food.

  • Three-year-old Jack is a grazer. I’ve mentioned before—he is actually our pickiest eater and rarely comes running when he hears food being served. He eats at his own leisure and on his own terms.
  • Two-year-old Hugo, on the other hand, tends to scarf his meals down. He eats quickly and loudly, making sure to circle around the other cats’ food bowls after they are finished to see if they have any leftovers. He is a very healthy weight, though, (around 12 pounds) and gets plenty of exercise during playtime.
  • Despite his bigger size, five-year-old Ben isn’t a super eager eater. He will, however, become very vocal if he believes we have missed his usual dinner time. He knows when he is hungry and will let us know it is time to eat. Ben eats at his own pace and doesn’t always finish his meal, which might come as a surprise to some. He’s bigger than the other cats by several pounds, so we try to keep him engaged and active during playtime.

Step 2: Check your cat’s coat. When your cat is healthy, his coat should be shiny and glossy and his skin should feel elastic and hydrated. You can check your cat’s skin by using the “pinch” test: Gently pinch the skin by your cat’s shoulders. If your cat is properly hydrated, his skin should spring back upon release. To promote healthy hydration, make sure your cats have plenty of fresh water each day and try including wet food in their daily diets.

Photo shows tuxedo cat with very shiny black coat.

  • Jack’s coat is soft and sleek. He keeps himself very clean after eating meals and using the litter box. His skin is healthy and passes the hydration “pinch” test.
  • Hugo’s coat is silkier than Jack’s, but just as soft. He also passes the “pinch” test.
  • While Ben’s coat is silky, he often struggles with reaching all his parts and in the winter sometimes exhibits dry, flaky skin. We make sure to brush him daily to keep a healthy sheen on his coat and we make an effort to ensure he’s fully hydrated. Ben is also the only one out of the three who loves to play with his water, so we let him have a few minutes alone each day to splash around in the bathtub and drink from the faucet.

Step 3: Observe your cat’s play style. Signs of healthy play include the ability to play socially with other pets as well as playing solo. All cats play differently, but knowing your cat’s baseline can help you build smart routines for a lifetime of Whole Body Health. Did you know that establishing a daily playtime routine with your cat encourages healthy physical and mental growth?

Photo shows two tuxedo cats. One is playing with a toy mouse.

  • Jack wins playtime by a landslide. He is by far the most playful cat I have ever known. Not only will he bring his toys right up to us and meow loudly to let us know that he’s ready to play, he will play fetch with you for hours. Sometimes we even catch him playing by himself—tossing the toys up in the air and jumping around to play catch with himself. Jack is very social and loves to play with Hugo, often chasing him back and forth throughout our home to engage in a quick tumble.
  • Hugo is also quite social when he plays. If Jack initiates the game with us, Hugo is quick to join in and loves to play fetch as well. Out of the three cats, I’d have to say Hugo is the most timid, so sometimes it takes a little encouraging to join in, but he gets very excited when I take the feather toy out. He loves to hunt. Sometimes he will catch the feather firmly in his mouth and start walking for the door, as if he needs to take his prey to another room to enjoy it!Photo shows tuxedo cat playing with a toy mouse.
  • Because Ben is quite a bit heavier than the other two, he isn’t as active when it comes to playing games. But when Ben gets excited, he can still jump and leap just as high as Jack and Hugo. Ben is less of a social player—he will often sit on the sidelines and watch while Jack and Hugo play, and sometimes we catch him playing solo as well. This is ok—all cats play differently and knowing your cat’s baseline for play is what matters. Understanding your cat’s playing style can keep you alert to any changes that might indicate a potential problem.

How often should you reestablish your cat’s baseline? Purina ONE experts suggest you should be monitoring your cat’s daily routine, but you should re-check your cat’s baseline at major milestones in his life, such as during kittenhood (or at adoption time), after spaying or neutering, when he enters adulthood, and during his senior years.

I hope these steps have allowed you to establish your own cat’s baseline and help you better understand your cat’s personality and needs. It’s so important to pay attention to what our feline friends are trying to tell us each day in their own ways. Knowing your cat’s baseline and personality type helps bring you closer to your cat and establishes a healthy, happy relationship that you can depend on for your cat’s lifetime. To learn more about how you can create healthy routines for your own cat, visit www.purinaone.com/cats/whole-body-health.

Fixing up an old cat tree

When Ben and Desmond were kittens, we bought this giant cat tree for them to play on. I even have this adorable video of the first time they ever climbed it!

If you have indoor cats, it’s important to provide them with furniture that allows them to climb and scratch. Being able to climb keeps their minds and bodies active in an otherwise mundane environment, and giving them something to scratch encourages them to destroy something other than your living room furniture! This tree has gotten lots of love over the past five years. In fact, it’s gotten so much love, the bottom scratching post has started to look a little… well, shredded.

A photo of a cat tree shows a lower leg severly damaged from being scratched by cats.A photo shows a close up of the scratched up leg.I’ve been in a fixer-upper kind of mood lately–must be all that HGTV I’ve been watching!–so I set out to figure out a way to fix up the bottom leg of the tree without spending an arm and a leg.

The first thing I needed to do was find some twine that was roughly around the same width as what was used on the original. I found a package of twisted sisal rope at a local hardware store that seemed like it might do the trick. The shading was a little darker than the rope used on the original legs, but that didn’t matter too much to me. The best part was I bought the package of rope (100 feet) for less than $8.00.

Photo shows a package of tan twisted sisal rope.

The next thing I did was strip out most of the old rope that was already shredded from the leg. Most of the rope came off pretty easily, but there were a few parts stapled in that I had to wrench free.

Photo shows cat tree leg with most of the damaged rope removed.

Next, I took my trusty hot glue gun and carefully began the process of coating the leg with glue and winding the rope around the leg. This process took a little longer than I thought it would, mostly because Jack thought I was tossing the rope around the leg for his own enjoyment.

Photo shows a cat playing with the rope.

A photo shows the project half finished.

All in all, it probably took me about an hour and a half to complete this project. I am so pleased with how it turned out! The cat tree looks almost brand new again! Let’s just hope I glued the rope on tight enough for it to last this time.

Photo shows the leg of the cat tree before and after repair.

Photo shows a cat looking at new cat tree leg.

DIY Weekend

City living is starting to weigh on me lately, especially since I feel like we have outgrown our tiny apartment. Unfortunately, it will probably be another year before we’re able to move into our own home and buy lots of pretty new furniture. Most of the furniture we own was bought nearly 10 years ago when my husband and I moved in together. I know once we buy a house we’ll probably trash a lot of what we have and start over. (In fact, I am dying to trash most of what is in my home office and just do a complete overhaul on it… another time, maybe!) I woke up today and just couldn’t stand to look at the cabinet in our bathroom anymore. I think I must have bought this thing over ten years ago. It’s made from very thin wood, the white paint is chipping, and it was packed with so much crap and dust. It probably won’t make it through the next move with us, but I just couldn’t bear to look at it any longer. Jack agreed–a trip to the arts & craft store was in order.

Photo shows a cat sitting on top of a white cabinet.

I ended up going with a “tidal blue” colored spray paint, to match a wedding gift I have hanging in our bathroom. I also bought a couple of beige baskets to help keep us organized.

Photo showing spray paint and basketsI sanded down the top of the cabinet, as well as all the edges and shelves, to help make the paint grab onto the wood better. It only took me about 15 minutes to coat the entire cabinet, and another half hour to dry. Probably the quickest DIY project ever! It feels great to have everything organized and in its own place. And I am in LOVE with the color. It’s kind of amazing what a quick coat of spray paint and a few baskets can do. What do you think? Jack is a fan! What a great helper. Photo shows painted cabinet with cat sitting on top.

Keeping your cats hydrated in those hot summer months

Compensation was provided for this post by Purina

Ben the tuxedo cat enjoys some fresh air at a park.

We love summer!

Well, summer is finally here and I couldn’t be happier! To me, summertime means concerts, vacations and the beach! We might live in the northeast, but Boston can get HOT in the summer. In fact, the last few weeks have given us several 90-degree days in a row. Keeping a keen eye on your cat’s water intake is important during these hot summer months. To help you stay in tune with your cat, check out these four tips Purina Pro Plan has compiled on proper hydration. Are you doing enough to keep your cat’s water intake up?

Keeping the cats hydrated is a constant concern of mine, especially since Hugo has a tendency to spill the water bowls the second I put them down. That’s why we also make sure to feed the boys Purina Pro Plan wet cat food every day. Not only do they love the taste; I know it is providing them with the extra hydration they need to stay happy and healthy.

A photo shows a cat sitting in front of two cans of Purina Pro Plan wet cat food.People always ask me what I feed the trio to keep their coats so silky and smooth. Well, my secret is out. We’re a Purina Pro Plan family. I especially love how all their wet formulas are high in protein, with their primary ingredient as real meat, poultry or fish. You can also choose from wet food in gravy, sauce or classic. A number of their wet foods also contain complements of pasta, vegetables, cheese or rice, which adds a variety of different tastes and textures to mealtime, something that I know the boys enjoy. Both Ben and Hugo can be pretty vocal around dinnertime, especially if we are a few minutes off schedule–they always let us know when it’s time to get up and feed them!

Photo of Jack eating Purina Pro Plan wet foodIf you haven’t tried Purina Pro Plan’s wet cat food and you’re interested in learning more about its ingredients and where to buy it, take a peek here. As a bonus, click on the coupon to get a special deal from Purina–buy 5 cans, get 1 free! Just enter in your email address and get the coupon delivered right to your inbox. If you’ve never tried Purina Pro Plan’s wet cat food before, now is the time! We’d love to hear what you think of it.

Photo shows coupon for Purina Pro Plan Wet Cat FoodSo, enjoy your summer! Keep your cats healthy, hydrated and handsome with Purina Pro Plan wet cat food. Before you know it, we’ll be shoveling out the walkways again!

Photo shows Jack sitting in front of Purina Pro Plan wet cat food cans

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Purina Pro Plan. The opinions and text are all mine. Comments submitted may be displayed on other websites owned by the sponsoring brand.

The Door Buddy: New Favorite Product Alert (plus a Giveaway)!

The last few weeks have flown by for us–why does summer always seem to go by so quickly? In June, I flew to Phoenix, Arizona for my first ever BlogPaws conference! What an experience. And man, was it hot! It was 116 degrees outside on my first day there. If you don’t know what BlogPaws is, let me fill you in. It turns out I’m not the only person who keeps a blog about her pets–in fact, BlogPaws is an entire community of pet bloggers! They get together once a year at a conference (at a pet friendly hotel, of course) to network, learn, and just plain have fun. It’s a great place for bloggers to connect with other bloggers and connect with brands they want to work with in the future. I am so happy I pulled the plug and went this year, even though I didn’t know a single soul. I came away from the conference with so many new friends and connections–and oh, the SWAG! When I tell you I had to check another bag on my way home just to hold all the product I picked up at the conference, would you believe me?

Photo of pet food and supply samples.

Just a small sampling of my BlogPaws swag!

One of my favorite products I picked up at BlogPaws is the Door Buddy, invented by Shanelle and Scott Johnson, one of the sweetest couples you will ever meet. I had the pleasure of meeting the Johnsons in person at the conference and was struck with the ingenuity and simplicity of their invention, the Door Buddy. The idea came to them one day after Shanelle caught their 9-month-old daughter in the laundry room, playing in the cat’s food and water bowl, and headed straight for the litter box! Yikes! Simply put, the Door Buddy allows you to keep any door ajar wide enough for the cat to squeeze through and narrow enough to keep the baby and other pets out. Parents, say goodbye to expensive, clunky, in-the-way baby gates and say hello to your new best friend, the Door Buddy. Not only is it priced at less than $15, but it comes in a bunch of cute colors! Learn more about the Door Buddy at www.thedoorbuddy.com.

Photo of the Door Buddy

Since my husband and I don’t have any kids of the non-fur variety, I have been recommending the Door Buddy to all my friends with infants and toddlers. I can think of so many instances where it could come in handy, too. Maybe you keep your cat’s litter box in the basement, but you don’t want your child or dog to be able to get down there. Or maybe you need to keep a door ajar to create a cross breeze, but you don’t want your pet or child to be able to get into that room. Or maybe your child is old enough to start opening doors and you just need a quick fix to make sure she can’t get in a specific room (or suddenly find herself outside).

Photo showing cat walking through a door with a Door Buddy

Photo of a toddler unable to access a room with the Door Buddy on the door.

The Johnsons are also in the business of giving back. They donate $1.00 for every Door Buddy purchased on their website to Pet Partners, an organization in Bellevue, WA, that provides animal-assisted interactions to veterans with PTSD, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, patients in recovery or nearing the end of life, and children with literacy challenges and disabilities. What a wonderful organization to support! To learn more about Pet Partners, check out their website here.

Photo of Hugo posing with Door Buddy

And, to celebrate the theme of “giving back,” I’m going to give away the Door Buddy that came in my BlogPaws swag bag to one of my readers. Just follow my new friends on Instagram (@thedoorbuddy) and leave a comment below this blog post about how you would use your Door Buddy. I’ll select one comment as a winner by this Friday. I’ll ship it anywhere in the world, too! Good luck!

UPDATE: Congrats to Stephanie S. for winning the Door Buddy!