September #ChewyInfluencer

Chewy.com lets me choose a few products every month at no charge so that I can review them honestly, and share them with you.

I’m not a big reader. I normally do not have the focus for it, honestly. But, when Chewy had an option for a collection of short stories about cats this month, I jumped on it.

Chicken Soup For the Soul
“I Can’t Believe my Cat did That”

Currently, it’s priced around $10 on Chewy.com

I haven’t finished my copy yet, but I can tell you there is a cat that picks out his own kitten, despite his mother’s protests and another cat that strangely behaves like Noah and his Ark. Some chapters are very quirky and others end up tugging at your heart strings. I plan on gifting this book over to my step daughter.
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The other item we ended up with this month is the Kaytee Crinkle Tunnel Oversized Crackling Tube

Right now it’s priced at $8.29 at Chewy.com
It’s 23″ long, and with a 6″ opening it’s perfect for ferrets, chinchillas, dwarf rabbits and other small animals.
But you know what small critter we always test on in my house? GUINEA PIGS!
We ended up with purple and I laid it out for the girls in the clean pen. They explored with caution, but eventually settled right into it. This Instagram post has 2 slides:

They’re so adorable charging through the tube from one end to the other, making tiny little crinkle noises and sometimes taking naps. They get a little too comfortable for a mom’s taste. I cleaned it out last night and there was old pee and crushed up poop caked inside. It was easy though as I sprayed the inside with my 50/50 spray bottle of white vinegar and water, let it set at least 5 minutes, then rinsed it out and finished up by swabbing it out with a paper towel.
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If you had an interest in any of these items, please know that your order will arrive within 1-2 days and shipping is always free over $49. We place orders for our cats, guinea pigs, and parrots and hope to continue having new items to tell you about every month as a Chewy Influencer.

Rhea the naked bird has passed away

Rest In Peace my sweet angel. I will love you forever. September 26, 2017 __ On Tuesday morning, I received the most difficult call so far in my life. Rhea was found sleeping, very peacefully. A sleep that will last a lifetime. Sometime around 3:00am she passed away, she passed to a better life. That’s the thing with life, non of us are here to stay forever and we have to appreciate every second of it, because it’s very short. PBFD is a terrible disease. It’s known for causing sudden deaths, which is exactly what happened to Rhea. She went to sleep and never woke up. A part of me is thankful that she left this world this way, with no pain and no suffering; she left with a first class ticket, as my great-grandpa used to say. Although physically she looked ok, she was her happy self, she had energy, she had appetite and everyday she woke up ready to rule the world, internally, she was not. Her organs were probably extremely compromised and not ok, which is what we didn’t see or realize. She had monthly checkups and everything seemed just fine. She showed NO signs whatsoever, which has made this process even more confusing. We can’t blame this on anyone. The truth is that we did everything in our control to give her the best life. No medication, no treatment and no doctor would have been what was needed for her to live longer. This was simply PBFD and a natural cause of death. It’s life. As you can imagine, I am completely heartbroken, sad, angry at this situation, confused, can’t stop crying, feeling helpless, pissed that I couldn’t say goodbye, but thankful about the time I got to spend with her. I am thankful about every lesson she taught me [and the entire world]. Please understand that this is a difficult time for me and for Fabiana’s family. Try to be sensible about this situation and try to understand our pain while we mourn her. __ I will keep this account alive to honor her life and remember her.

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I haven’t been around

Mentally, I haven’t been completely, 100%, checked in. Nothing awesome has happened this month. We haven’t even been taking pictures on Instagram. Then I got sick over the weekend. I have this Google doc to upload as a JPEG to show you what boyfriend’s daughter has made for Tommy for the blog, and then I have to put up some product information before the month end. Also, I think by next weekend I have another product to tell you about. I have 34 days left to deadline that one, but I’m making another batch of cat food before then.

So, I have more stuff coming. Very soon. It will happen.

The Tommy #CatsOfInstagram #Catstagram #AllYouNeedIsLove #AndACat

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that only feeds the boys for a month

It’s bigger than the sink!

Start to finish, it takes about 3 hours. That was after deboning half the meat, parcooking the boneless meat, making the slurry, grinding some of the boneless meat, cutting up half the boneless meat with the scissors, opening up packages of bone in meat plus organs, and SQUISH with gloves. I was about to move on to portioning in the ice cubes.

August #chewyinfluencer products

Chewy.com gives us the opportunity to feature products for you!

This month we have 2 new products:

Wellness Core Simply Shreds for your kitties and Oxbow Harvest Stacks for your favorite small mammals. Ours? GUINEA PIGS.

The Simply Shreds impressed me. Very simple.
Ingredients
Tuna, Fish Broth, Water Sufficient For Processing, Shrimp.
Caloric Content
33 kcal/pouch

I didn’t feel guilty for giving them to my boys, who are on a pretty strict diet. Last month Princess Yue Pants was our official tester. The boys this month are my Russian Blue mix Tommy Gargoyle, and our black and white tux Stewart.

They are available in four other flavors on Chewy, as well as FOUR FLAVORS FOR YOUR DOGGIES!

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The Harvest Stacks are made with compressed Western timothy hay. It’s 80 % less airborne dust than traditional hay. Perfect for those suffering with allergies. They pack a small punch into this little box. For a 2 lb pet, a package can last up to 18 days. 5 lbs? 7 days. 7 lbs? 5 days. I happen to own approximately 11 lbs of guinea pigs. I left for vacation for about a week and when I’d returned, my boyfriend had went through 3 of these. I found them so easy to use that I ended up opening up the last box to save me from going to the basement and refilling their loose hay bin. I’d recommend these for pet sitters as well as using them to travel and dropping a disc into their travel cage. Chewy sent me a new package so I can document it for you.

my oldest parrot in infrared

It's a Jak Bird! #Flir #ThermalImaging #BirdsOfInstagram #Conure

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Special needs

When I admitted my cats were fat, years ago, I thought I could fix it and that they would go onto have regular lives again, but life gets in the way.

We had a problem  with Tommy keeping weight on months after his surgery. How can I go from a chronically fat lard bub to a guy that’s getting too skinny? I wanted his weight back up for his teeth cleaning, so we increased his food and gave him egg yolk. After about 6 weeks, he had slowly gotten back up to just under 13 lbs from 12. We had him gaining 1.5-3 oz per week. Where he used to eat 5 ounces of food many months ago, he now eats 6 1/2, and I have to weigh him every week in both pounds and ounces. He’s now 8 years old and has had his diet monitored since 2013. He stopped kibble December 2016 and started on wet with canned, then with commercial raw, then homemade since January 2017. His surgery was in February. His weight started dropping again around April or May.

But now he’s steady. Yesterday it was 13 lbs 3.2 oz.
On the other hand… Because I have two… Yay… Stewart has had his weight monitored since 2014. Vet says 11.8 lbs, but his daddy says at least 12, but I said he better not get over 12 1/2 because of his health and it’s more difficult to manage his asthma. His daddy has been in charge of him all summer. I weighed Stew yesterday and he’s 12 lbs 13.6 oz. 

“How much have you been feeding him?”

“Either 5 or 5 1/2…it varies”

“Well, I need you to pull him back a half ounce”

“Ok. I’ll give him 5 ounces”

There is no magic way to keep their weight in check. Have a good scale and a good routine. Right now we’re looking at feeding brother dude #1 a whole lot more and brother dude #2 a bit less. I will be keeping up with Tom and Stew as a ritual, forever.

And you have to if you love your cats. Food is love. I didn’t want my 21 lb cat to become diabetic and I didn’t want my almost 17 lb baby suffering through asthma attacks every week, or turning into another 21 lb cat. But, you can do it. 

I got lucky with my girls. They are 9 1/2 lbs and 10 1/4 lbs and have always decided to keep it that way.

This month’s #ChewyInfluencer reviews

I had chosen two items this month for my cats and my birds.
The cat items didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped, but the birds LOVED their treats.

Zilla Small Animal Munchies Vegetable & Fruit Mix Lizard Food, 4-oz bag

This worked so well for the birds. You take whatever amount you’re wanting to make and then use half that amount in water and stir well, wait five minutes, drain any excess that may be left, and serve.

Ingredients
Sun Dried Bok Choy and Carrots. Freeze Dried Fruits and Vegatables: Zucchini, Green Beans, Peas, Apples, Bananas, Strawberries, Peaches, Pears, Mangoes, and Blueberries.

Koi, Jak, and Idris loved their Zilla

As for the our kitty cat tester, Princess Yue pants, she did try everything at least once.
She had Blue Buffalo Wilderness Pate Variety Pack Duck, Chicken & Salmon Grain-Free Cat Food Trays, 3-oz, case of 12

It didn’t go over well. What she usually gets to eat is Nature’s Variety Instinct (which is also on Chewy.com for reasonable pricing) in duck or chicken. This variety pack we were sent contains both duck and chicken, as well as salmon. I gave her the duck and she ate a very small amount, and vomited shortly after. She refused to try the duck a second time. I gave her the chicken and she ate a bit more, had no vomiting, and refused to try the chicken a second time. The salmon is what she ate the most of. I gave it to her twice, but on the third time she refused, and I pulled her regular food back out.

Your cat may not be as picky as mine. While this package was decidedly a bust, there was most promise in the salmon flavor, which she’d never had IN HER LIFE. I’m kind of proud of her for participating.

Teeth Cleaning Day

Tommy and Yue are 8 year old “almost” siblings. They’ve never had a dental cleaning. Tommy used to let me scale his teeth for tartar, but I lost the tool almost 2 years ago and shrugged it off. Eventually I bought another one, but his tartar had build up so much it would have been uncomfortable for me to try to remove it. Later down the road last August, the new veterinarian called me out on the state of his teeth and said they’d like to clean them.
For about $600
Um.
$600?

Now, I know I lived in the freaking desert for the last ten years where things were cheap and effective, but I don’t think I’d paid more than $400 for a dental cleaning for my dog or other cat aside from the additional costs for their extractions.

His new vet is a cats only facility 45 minutes away, and the $600 was a low estimate, so I started looking at alternatives this spring. Yes, I went from August to July before getting his teeth cleaned but you have to also take into account that we’ve had a rocky spring with Tommy going under general anesthesia at least 4 times since December. Then we changed his diet and over the last 5 weeks we’ve been working on keeping his weight from dropping to he’d be hearty enough for this next round of anesthesia.

If you’re going to get a good teeth cleaning in your cats or dogs, this will always be done under a general anesthetic. They put your animals to sleep for a time so there is no jerking or panic and they work to gently remove the tartar from not just the visible surface of the tooth, but up into the gum line a tad bit because plaque likes to harden in tucked away, hard to reach places.

So. To plan:
Check Groupon.com

Yes. It seems sketchy. Like a $40 hotel room. But, it was a good start. I found several dental deals for pets available on Groupon, but you have to wonder if you get what you pay for. So, then you head to Yelp.com . Yelp is a review site for local business users to leave their honest opinions. The reviews are usually brutally honest.
I found a really good place 20 minutes down the street with a $199 dental deal that included pre op blood work.
But I could do better. Groupon was running a sale that gave me $30 off $100 local deal. And the terms of the offer is that you can get 1 for yourself and 1 for your friend. 2 adults live here so you know where this went. I got 2 Groupons for $169 for my two kitties.

But again; You can do better.

I did. I actually used an affiliate link from MyPoints.com to get reward points for the purchase and got a $25 value back.

Don’t think what you’ve spent leading up to the appointment is the amount you will definitely be paying. Depending on the condition of their teeth, you can run up additional charges for either extractions or antibiotics. Both my kitties gums were very red during the exam and we had a feeling we would run into significant bleeding during the cleaning, and we did. As a precaution we were sent home with antibiotic liquid to give the kitties twice a day for ten days for $75.06.

After we left the vet’s office we ran into a few problems. Tommy was yelling in the car the entire way home while he had been silent on the ride to the vet’s office late that morning. His eyes were very large and black. His dad tried to hold him to comfort him and he ended up being grabbed by Tom with both his nails and teeth out. Tom was not aware of what he was doing. He’d sit still for only about 10 minutes at a time before he was off to do something else. There was no afternoon nap, or evening nap, or any naps since we got him home. We tried to see if he could burn some of it off by chasing the laser pointer, only he couldn’t track it. He was having a reaction to his anesthesia and all we could do was wait.

His sissy, Yue, was not nearly as bad. She was a little overstimulated. She could not nap well either. But, she still tried to cuddle with me and when she was feeling rough she would tuck herself away under the sofa. She was also very hungry. Before her cleaning, her gum line was bright red, so I had no intention of feeding her the regular dry food while she needed some time to let the inflammation go down. She ate an entire can of food all by herself.

Today we’re great! Kitties are back to normal. Yue hasn’t asked me for any canned and her bright red gum line has turned pink. Both cats were taken care of for $390 after discounts and kick backs.

Alternatively:
February is a great month to book dental cleanings.
It’s Pet Dental Awareness Month and you can save up to 20% for those clinics that participate. They will usually have a coupon available. Our cats-only clinic didn’t run that special this February that I had received at my old hospital back in Phoenix, but they did offer 1 free dental cleaning by sweepstakes via their newsletter.