Thinking outside the box (Or, The importance of a good nap)

Our cat Lemon is, to put it lightly, severely bossy. He will stomp around for hours, screaming about one thing or another. Literally, hours! And not meowing… screaming. Maybe he wants to go outside (which is not allowed), or he needs us to watch him eat. Whatever. His demands are varied and specific. And they must be met immediately, or we will face his wrath.

We’ve actually taken him to a behaviorist who said he has anxiety. Our vet calls every once in a while to check on him because she knows he doesn’t let us sleep at night (Dr. O’Connor at Highland Veterinary Clinic is the best!). We have tried every solution you can think of, but the stomping and screaming continues.

The solution… a heated blanket! Lemon loves to lay in the sun and be warm, but, as we’ve told him countless times, that’s not always possible. Last year, we bought him a heated blanket. No one else in the house has a heated blanket. Just Lemon. And it really works! He calms down and goes to sleep. He will even snuggle with Imogen, which was previously unthinkable. Lesson: sometimes it pays to think way outside the box when you’re trying to solve a problem.

Last week, he was having a particularly vicious tantrum and we gave him a calming treat, turned on the blanket, and he took a four-hour nap! When he woke, he came around and gave everyone a snuggle and a purr. All he needed was a good nap.

P.S. He is actually the sweetest boy ever and I love him to pieces. But seriously, he can be a little monster.

October 2012

Are you a monster when you don’t get to sleep?

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Lemon in the garden

Lemon thinks he likes greens, and he definitely loves to explore new places. He won’t run away, so we take him out in the garden sometimes. We don’t allow him to eat the plants, but he does it anyway.

Lemon in the garden

We’ve had a good crop of tomatoes and cucumbers so far, and one kabocha squash. I hope we get more squash. They’ve sure spread out enough!

Garden

cherry tomatoes

Garden

kabocha squash

Spring Cleaning!

It’s that time of year! It really is quite funny how excited I am about cleaning my house but this year, besides getting everything sparkling clean, I had a new mission in mind. To actually do it all… and do it naturally!

Before I set out on this journey, I did some research for the best “recipes” for homemade cleaning products. I found two really great cleaning sprays, a furniture dusting spray and a multi-purpose cleaner.

Multi-purpose Cleaner

  • Mix equal parts water and vinegar
  • a few drops of essential oil

Since I try not to be wasteful, I reused my spray bottle from my Green Works cleaning spray that recently ran out and 4 cups water and 4 cups vinegar nearly filled it up. I also added some lemon essential oil to help cover up the vinegar smell. In the future I may add more seeing as my grandpa asked me later in the day what I had been doing with vinegar.

Furniture Dusting Spray

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essential oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 3/4 cup water

I bought a spray bottle for this since I did not have one on hand. Overall, this new experiment cost me so much less than going out and buying harmful cleaning products. For an idea of the cost let me share this with you…

  • Vinegar- $3 for a gallon bottle
  • Lemon Essential Oil- $4.99 from a local store or you can find oils on Amazon ( and you only use a couple drops for an entire bottle so it will last for years)
  • Olive Oil- already had on hand for cooking
  • Extra Spray Bottle- $1

Will I be doing this again? You betcha!!! Everything looks so amazing and clean. I think it is important to also note that the vinegar smell doesn’t linger (well maybe on your hands a little). Best part? It is completely non-toxic and my little children (aka pets) are safe too!

See doesn’t she seem happy about it?

Now let’s see…. what other cleaners can I make myself…

My new tail-wrapper

Imogen

Check out this little tail-wrapper. Isn’t she a bundle of joy? (She wraps her tail around her feet every time she sits. Every time!) We got this little angel from One of a Kind Pets last summer after losing our precious Voogaman. I will confess, she was very bad when we first brought her home. Very very bad. She ate everything! But now, I’m totally in love. She brings me so much joy and laughter. And Lemon loves her too.

One of a Kind Pets (OOAK) recently moved into a new building on W. Exchange St. behind AutoZone. If you remember the big metal ball that marked the old bowling alley, rest assured, it’s still there. It playfully represents a ball of yarn and I’m told, will soon have a metal kitty or two hanging from it. Anyway, I can’t recommend OOAK enough! They rescue cats and dogs from the pound before they’re about to be euthanized. All pets are spayed or neutered, microchipped, and have had a complete medical exam before they go home with you. They also have a low-cost spay and neuter clinic.

If you’re not in the market for a new furball, consider making a donation to the spay/neuter clinic. Spay and release programs like theirs work better than other overpopulation programs. They also offer low-cost/no-cost spay and neuter services. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to roam, and they have fewer health problems.

Kitty food plates

Kitties love to be special. They demand it, really. What better way to make them feel special than by letting them eat off beautiful dishware?

Here’s a secret: you don’t have to break the bank to do it!

I found these lovely little plates at the Goodwill and originally planned to use them for candles. Once Lemon spotted this plate, it was his. He loves it! And it only cost me $.50, not $3-4 that they charge for cat food dishes at the pet store.

He’s happy… I’m happy.

(sorry there’s no kitty in the photo… he’s camera-shy)

Spring is Coming

IMG_5147Spring is just around the corner – after all this snow melts! This week and next are the ideal time to start seedlings indoors, to transfer to their outside home in 6 weeks. We also have to plan for grass restoration and other gardening activities. Let’s prepare for those Japanese Beetles before they eat all our roses this year! Here are a few tips I’ve gathered throughout the winter.

Grass

The best way to grow and thicken your lawn is to aerate and overseed. NaturaLawn of America is a company that can help you grow a thick, beautiful lawn with no harsh chemicals. They use effective and safe organic products and Integrated Pest Management program to help you grow a healthier lawn, naturally. If your grass is thick, you are less likely to have a weed problem because there’s no room for weeds to grow. Natural approaches like this are better for kids and pets too.

Pest Control

Beneficial nematodes are microorganisms that live 7″ deep in the soil and they kill pests like fleas, grubs (Japanese beetles), several kinds of flies and worms, weevils, ticks, and wood borers.
Pettiti Gardens
in Ohio offers some organic spray pesticides, as I’m sure many local garden stores do. Pettiti was a featured presenter at the Akron Home and Garden Show a few weeks ago, and they did a nice presentation on the Green Stage, highlighting some organic ways to fertilize and control pests. I prefer methods that are safe for me, my pets, and the environment, and I’m glad there are so many options available. I’m going to stick with natural, spray-free remedies this spring and summer, and see how it goes.
Here’s the post about Japanese beetles from last summer. Since you can’t put nematodes in your neighbor’s yard (to prevent Japanese beetles), it might be a good idea to have some plants that repel Japanese beetles – see the post for links and more info.

Plant and Flower Fertilizer

This year, I’m going to grow herbs and hanging tomatoes. (Sadly, we can’t grow vegetables in our yard.) I hope you’re able to grow vegetables where you are. That’s the best local food you can get! If you’re planning to have a vegetable garden, you may want to start a compost pile for yard waste, newspapers, and other compostable materials. Composts produce the best organic fertilizer you can find. It makes your plants healthier and more productive. If you don’t want to compost, look for TerraCycle Plant Food (that’s the name, I’m serious!). They make “worm tea” that you can spray on your plants to give them a great organic fertilizer. No worms are harmed in the making of worm tea.

The company’s flagship product, TerraCycle Plant Food™, is an all-natural, all-organic, ‘goof-proof’ liquid plant food made from waste (worm poop) and packaged in waste (reused soda bottles)!

You should be able to find TerraCycle products at Target, WalMart, and Home Depot.

Water

Don’t forget rain barrels! They save water and rain water is better for your plants.

Happy Birthday Pets

Those of us who have pets instead of kids miss out on planning birthday parties, and seeing the joy on our little ones’ faces as they open gifts. Sure, Christmas is fun, but what about birthdays? I have not yet held a cat or dog birthday party, but I’ve been inspired by a great idea… My mom’s pup is having a birthday party this weekend, and all the gifts are going to the dogs. Not the birthday dogs, but to their less fortunate 4-legged friends.

Instead of loading the birthday dog up with raw-hides, bones, or chew toys, the party hosts ask that doggie friends bring supplies for the local humane society. If you host a pet birthday party, consider having the gifts donated to a local pet organization.

Summit County’s Humane Society is overflowing with wonderful animals who desperately need a home. The staff also need supplies to keep up with the ever-growing population.

In Akron, One of a Kind Pets recently opened a low-cost spay and neuter clinic for strays, which also needs donations and supplies. They are also a rescue organization with plenty of pets for everyone.

These are 2 of my favorite pet rescue groups in Akron. There are many more. Check Petfinder.com to find rescue organizations near you.

The list of needed items is usually the same, and is generally inexpensive:dog bday

Dog Biscuits
Leashes and Collars
Sheets, Comforters, Blankets
Cat liter
Cleaning supplies such as…
Paper Towels
Sponges
Bleach
Vinegar
Latex Gloves
Laundry Detergent
Stamps
Heavy Duty Trash Bags

So while it may sound goofy to have a birthday party for your pets, donating the gifts to a local pet charity makes it worth it!

(photo: that’s not my dog)

One of a Kind Pets

One of a Kind Pets in Akron is a rescue group for homeless pets. They are located at 1699 W Market St in the same building as the gas station at the Market-Exchange 5-point intersection. As a rescue organization, they have saved over 600 homeless pets and placed over 400 into loving homes. Their extensive network of foster families takes care of the animals until they are able to find a home.

One of a Kind Pets rescues pets from the Animal Control facility, which euthanizes dogs and cats after just three days. Akron’s catch and kill policy is ineffective at controlling the cat population because cat lovers would never call them, knowing that the cat will be killed. A spay and neuter program would be much more effective at saving animals.

To Akron’s fortune, One of a Kind Pets has just opened their One of a Kind Pet Spay and Neuter Clinic at 1700 W Exchange in Akron. It’s a low-cost clinic, offering spay and neuter services starting at just $30. Their Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Package includes the operation, plus vaccinations and a flea treatment for just $45. Here are a few facts, which point out why a low cost clinic is so vital to our community:

    kitten

  • 4-6 million adoptable pets are euthanized each year because they don’t find homes
  • 70,000 puppies and kittens are born each day (compared to 10,000 humans)
  • only 1 out of 12 cats will find safe haven in a loving home
  • only 1 out of 10 dogs will be nurtured and loved for its lifetime
  • a female cat that has not been spayed, and her offspring, will produce 370,000 kittens in just 7 years

(the above facts taken from One of a Kind Pets’ newsletter)

The Spay & Neuter Clinic would appreciate donations, which can be directed to animal care, spay and neuter services, or their Pit Bull Fund, the FREE Pit Bull Spay and Neuter program. Many communities have a pit bull overpopulation because the people who have pit bulls often don’t alter them, believing that it emasculates them. It is critical for pit bulls (and all dogs) to be spayed or neutered, for the dog’s health and the community’s safety.

Please keep One of a Kind Pets in mind this holiday season. If you’re able, consider a donation. Check out their wish list before hauling stuff to the curb or dumpster. Or, offer your services as a volunteer. The store on W Market St sells food and toys, with profits benefiting the rescue organization. My dog loves to get her nails clipped there, and I like knowing that the cost helps pets like her find a good home.