Saturday, February 26, 2011


“LAWDY, LAWDY,” Miss Eva used to say, “I declare, it do be spring! I seed a crocus this mawning!” And sho’ nuff, I would go out in the yard to the “first crocus” spot, and there would be a spot of sunshine smilin’ up at me.DSC_0931

The daffodils are up and budding, if the weather holds, they will be showing color next week.DSC_0935

Normally we have camellias in bloom all winter, but this year it has been a bit slow. These camellias are usually finished by now.DSC_0936DSC_0938

The mice are out and about… and Spook caught himself some fast food. Or maybe it was not fast enough food. Obviously not fast enough…DSC_0933

The pansies have enjoyed a nice rain followed by some nice sunshine.DSC_0934

Sunday, February 20, 2011


THEY SAY IGNORANCE IS BLISS – and so it might be, but it is also lethal. Buddha said we suffer because of ignorance, and I sure can’t dispute that. He also said to question everything, even every word that he said. But we are taught at such an early age to believe the “authorities,” whoever they are, that we seldom question, especially if that authority has some kind of D—after his or her name. MD, DVM, even PhD makes us think that person has ALL the answers. Having accumulated a few of those letters myself, let me clue you in – the smarter the person truly is, the more they realize they don’t know… they MAY have a lot of the answers, but not ALL the answers. And Buddha said, “Question, question... question everything, question everyone. Question yourself.”

No, this is not a religious post, nor am I getting into lies told to us by politicians or would be politicians or anyone else… and some may think this is a frivolous post… but if you are even half way intelligent, you will know that if you learn one thing, you can bet it is related to 10 more things, if you but think about it. So, this post is about pet food. Well, that and believing in things. I considered calling this post Ignorance is Lethal, and indeed, it often is. We as a nation are poisoning ourselves with unhealthy diets and we poison our pets, as well. But then, it is all related.

DSCN2646 OK, where did all this start? It started with a cat with a problem. First, Hadji started wetting the bed. My bed! We still do not know why. He showed no signs of bladder disease… all the vet could figure out was that it must be an emotional problem. No, we have not introduced a new animal into the house… not even new furniture. It happened before our schedules got all screwed up. All seemed status quo. All we can think of is he was still grieving for Snuffy, his little SPCA friend and bunk mate for the last 11 years. So, Hadj was put on diazepam. I was not happy about doping the cat, but the tinkle problems stopped. The vet also put him on a diet of c/d… a Hill’s Science Diet for cats with bladder problems – even though none of the tests said there was any bladder problem. But, well, even after a second opinion which stated – “It can’t hurt him” – we started on a full diet of c/d.

HadjiTie At the beginning of all this, Hadji weighed in at 15.5 lbs.; he is a BIG cat, long, tall… and used to feel like a ton of bricks when I picked him up. Then one day I noticed he was like a feather. He stopped playing, running thru the house with Rascal, jumping up and down off the window shelves. He even became less vocal. Originally I picked Hadji out from the other kittens at the SPCA because he yowled when I walked in the cat room. “Hey!” he yelled, “Pick me!” and so I did. That was almost 13 years ago.

What do you feed your pet(s)? We fed the boys whatever they seemed to like, a can of wet food, often with gravy on it, and a cup of dry crunchies to graze on all day or night, whenever they wanted a nibble. If you have read any earlier posts, you will see that I try to do the best by my animals, heating pads for the outside cats, heated water bowls, even a heater for the birdbath since the last 2 winters have been brutal for this area. In other words, anything that would give them comfort. Or so I thought.

Have you ever considered that what you are feeding your pets might not be in their best interest? “What?” you say? If it is not good for them, surely they would not be selling it. Really? Remember a few years back all the pets that died from Iams dry dog food, and some other brand, I forget what it was now. Seems the dry ingredients were prepared in China and shipped in huge barrels to Canada where water was added, probably a few other chemicals, a little fish or chicken flavor, then the food was dried and crunched into kibble size, packaged and sold. There was no mention made that the ingredients were originally prepared in China until dogs started dying. I think it was the next year the Chinese, in order to increase their profit margin, added some other chemical crap to baby formula. Thousands of Chinese infants died. Remember the lead paint problems in toys? They don’t care… it is all about the money.

In the name of greed, billions of tons of pet food, baby products, and who knows what else gets produced in China (and a few other countries) so the American owners of the companies can make billions of extra dollars in profits, (not pay any taxes), share holders are happy, and the public no wiser.

Where am I going with this?

Last Monday, Hadji was diagnosed with diabetes, the current new epidemic in cats and dogs. Why would this be considered an epidemic? What is happening that has made so many animals diabetic? First, let’s look at what they would be eating in the wild. Protein. Sure, they would have a few carbs from the stomachs and intestines of the mice, rabbits, voles, birds they would be having for lunch, but mostly, it would be protein, some natural fats… but the carb count would be zero. Now, do your homework, look up the carb count of the food you are feeding your pets. It is easy, just google it and read. Dry food is usually between 40 and 60% carbs and sugars. In other words, it is basically poison. Not quick poison, but the slow nasty kind that slowly destroys the animal’s organs’ ability to function.

Essentially, it is said that a cat with diabetes has only a year to a year and a half to live. A few live a little longer and occasionally there is a miracle. But not very often – ‘dismal prognosis’ comes to mind.

Now I am not finding fault with the vet and the food he put Hadji on even though I firmly believe it is what set off the diabetic reaction. He was just doing what the text books say to do and feeding Hadj what the supposed scientific food company said to feed him. After all, the entire company, Hill Science Diet, was founded for this purpose. But, god bless the internet! Now I know there is a lot of crap on there, and anyone can post any lie they want. And I suppose people can claim to be vets and post information, too, though I can’t imagine why. But I have spent this week doing research, lots of research.

One site you might want to check is . Based on the information you find there, you will know how to do some research on your own. After doing a lot more research, I kept returning to this site, finally printing it out to add to my growing notebook on feline diabetes. She (Lisa A. Pierson, DVM) also has numerous links that are just as detailed as the main section. Even if your cat is healthy, it is a good site to bookmark in the event… well, you know what I mean.

Another source of excellent info for all kinds of cat diseases is Elizabeth Hodgkins (DVM) book, YOUR CAT, Simple New Secrets to a Longer, Stronger Life. It has become my new Bible on cat care. Totally readable, yet with enough technical information, it is a good reference for those with some animal care training as well as those of us who have “learned” thru years of pet ownership or even the new owner. The index is in real small print (my only complaint) but it is 7 pages long. An interesting confession – Hodgkins once worked for Hill’s.

The long and the short of it all is, animals should not be eating foods with gravy, corn syrup, grains, rice, potato starch fillers, or any of a number of other things they pack into the can to make up the weight of the product without all the protein, and to make the animal LOVE it, crave it, like the MSG used in fast food places to make you come back for more poor diet choices. Learn to read labels. Chicken by-products, for example, means things that are not edible – beaks, feet, feathers ground up and pulverized and gravy-ed into cat or dog food. Most labels are too small to read (for an old lady like me) so I look them up on the internet. For some unknown reason, the ‘adult’ version of most pet foods is the least healthy of all with higher grain and starch content than any animal would ever eat in the wild.

The best foods list an actual protein source first, water is often next. If you see corn anything, put it back on the shelf. A quick rule of thumb is to look for the words flaked as being safer, with gravy being most poisonous. Sure, you can say I am full of beans because you have fed your cat XYZ prime filets and gravy for the last 7 years and he is doing just fine. All I can say to you is, the clock is ticking.

Avoid any dry food. In a nut shell – that is my new rule of thumb. The dry food is held together with starches or else it would be almost a powder. The carb level is enough to shut down a cat’s ability to handle the food over a period of time. Most all animals fed nothing but a diet of dry food get diabetes at a much younger age than those fed a mix.

Hopefully you will do your own research. I learned from a friend that did her homework and taught me. Then I checked out everything she said hoping for even more information. Statistics in hand, I went food shopping. Sure, Fancy Feast is more expensive, but if it is healthier for the animal, then it is what I have to do. But, be careful, they make stuff with gravy, too. READ LABELS. EVO seems to be about the best there is. But the nearest place I can find it is 65 miles north of here in Salisbury, MD.

I also have a philosophy that will not please some of you. I think people who own pets should be able to afford to feed them healthy food, not just the biggest bag that is the most for your money. Can you truly say you love your animals and then feed them poison? Feeding them food that is not good for them is like raising your children on nothing but jelly beans. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

Research… change. The life you save may be our own precious pup or kitty.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


If you've ever  worked for a boss who reacts before getting the facts and thinking things through, you will love this!    

Acme Steel,  feeling it was time for a shake-up, hired a new CEO.  The new boss was  determined to rid the company of all slackers. 

On a tour of the  facilities, the CEO noticed a guy leaning against a wall. The room was  full of workers and he wanted to let them know that he meant business.  

He asked the guy, "How much money do you make a week?"A little  surprised, the young man looked at him and said, "I make $400 a week.  Why?”

The CEO said,  "Wait right here." 

He walked back to his office, came back in two minutes,  and handed the  guy $1,600 in cash and said, "Here's four weeks' pay. Now GET OUT and  don't come  back." 

Feeling pretty  good about himself, the CEO looked around the room and asked,

"Does anyone  want to tell me what that goof-ball did here?" 

From across the  room a voice said, "He's the pizza delivery guy."

Saturday, February 12, 2011


It managed to get up to the low 50s today. The sun was bright and the winds were minimal. What a joy to be able to be outdoors for a couple hours and not be frozen half to death. We did start out cold, 28 degrees and a heavy frost. You can see the frost on the azaleas in the background, and if you look even further, you can see snow in the field on the other side of the trees across the street, in the picture of the hawk looking for breakfast this morning. DSC_0924

The cardinals, finches, and sparrows hid out in the thicker bushes until he left, as he has learned to dive bomb the camellia next to the feeders out front. He usually starts swooping the ground to get a sparrow or a junco. But, after about a half an hour, the little guys get brave and come back. With 13 feeders in one area, the Bird Restaurant is quite a popular spot. DSC_0923 See the bright copper tray behind the feeders? It is a hanging birdbath. The first year I had one, I tried it as a feeder, but I soon discovered the moisture seems to do something with the seed – there is NO drainage – and the copper tray soon “rusted” into a mess of heavily corroded metal. I have no doubt it was probably pretty toxic and even the birds stopped eating out of it. I guess they figured it out, too. DSC_0925

Also, birds need to drink. Imagine that! So, every morning when it is real cold, I go out and flip the tray over and refill it with fresh water. I am barely back in the house before the little guys are in the water getting a drink. On slow days, they sit and peck at the ice. Nothing like making a body feel shamed, right? So, out I go with fresh water. DSC_0919

The littlest birds seem to prefer the tray to the bigger ground level feeder out back.  Maybe because Spook likes to drink out of it, too? However, the larger birds, like Robins, prefer the ground level feeder.

The best shot I never got (the one that got away?) was of a pair of cardinals drinking out of the Buddha birdbath. Papa sat on the rim and watched while mama cardinal had a nice long drink. By the time I got the camera, well… you know – they were gone. DSC_0926

The snow is still on the ground in places. I love to see the pansies peeking thru the snow. The Color Purple… DSC_0915 DSC_0916 DSC_0917 DSC_0921

The boys spent a little time out in the sun, but napped back in their box. I opened the flap door to the cat’s box, but dropped it again as the sun went down. In spite of the warmth of the day, the boys still chose to spend much of it stretched out on their heating pad… DSC_0927 I think they really love the bigger one where they don’t have to curl up on top of each other, tho they still do at night. They have slept that way for years.

Thursday, February 10, 2011



But no sun,

And the flowers,

Are covered in snow,

Yes, I said snow…

DSC_0909 Yesterday was an ordinary clear winter day, cold, temps in the 30s, but the sun was out to give the illusion of warmth. As the day wore on, the cloud cover moved in with the promise of snow. The heater light was left on all day in the greenhouse, the cats stayed snuggled in their box on the heating pad with short trips out to go potty or eat. The birds were busy stocking up on food as they so often do just before a storm. DSC_0908 DSC_0914

Sometime after I went to bed the snow started and the ground was covered by 2 AM when I made my nightly trip down the hall. The snow was sticking to the leaves and branches… it was a winter wonderland all over again. DSC_0913

For some reason I woke up early this morning… it was one of those days when all I did was think about what I had to do, so I decided to get up and get started. It was a good thing, because WBOC TV called just as I pulled on my jeans, so outside I went with the phone and ruler to officially measure our 2 inches of snow.

After that I came in and grabbed the camera, a can of cat food, and a dish of crunchies, and headed outside again. DSC_0910 The camellias had started to open, again, and, as you can see, have some frost bite on their petals. But I love the color contrast with the red and white and the dark green made darker by the presence of the snow.

The van was covered, but the road was clear – well, as clear as black ice can be called clear. It was pretty slippery, but the traffic has not slowed down. DSC_0912

The snow has started again. We probably won’t get that much more (famous last words, eh?) All I can do is be grateful we don’t have as much as some other places that got socked again, and grateful that spring really will be here before too long. But, I must also remember, it always snows on the daffodils, and they are barely thru the ground.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


THIS IS THE DAY when so many of you got so much snow and ice… my Cousin Sandy measured 51 inches of snow and ice on the ground in her back yard. Friends wrote to me of taking an axe out to chop thru the ice on top of the snow to get to something they could shovel. Their stories were amazing as were the temperatures… one cousin had –8 degrees F, while another was at 34 degrees above  in Alaska where it should have been below zero.

Here, on the Eastern Shore, we had been warned of “significant rainfall,” and got about half an inch. But most wonderful of all, the temps soared to 67 degrees. 67 DEGREES!!!!! OMG! After a hectic morning of DR visits and errands,  I headed out to the yard to quickly plant the 2 flats of pansies I got at Bobbie’s on Sunday – a Better Late Than Never Christmas Gift! DSC_0896  I worked as fast as I could getting the pansies in around the birdbath close to where the bright red coleus and strobilanthes were last summer,DSC_0894 and in the Circle,DSC_0897 around the little critters’ graves.DSC_0899 The ground was soft and wet, still lots of leaves on the ground and the kind of debris one has after a rough winter.

I love pansies, and part of the fun of living on the Eastern Shore is having pansies all winter and into the spring.DSC_0900 These pansies had been sitting at Bobbie’s for a while waiting for all of us to find a time when we could get together. Each time we planned lunch, it snowed. The first time I told Bobbie I couldn’t come up because it was going to snow, she laughed at me thinking I was making a joke. I wasn’t. That was the beginning of our bitter cold, snowy winter. So, the pansies sat and waited.

Our morning started with a visit with the Onley Possum Weather prognosticator…DSC_08761 Opie Possum (or O P –Onley Possum, Only Possum! Official Predictor of GOOD weather)… We do not have Groundhogs here on the shore. They would drown if they tried to burrow in our soil, too close to sea level. We also do not have chipmunks or porcupines or bears. We also don’t have rocks or stones, in spite of the pictures of them in my garden, unless they are brought in from other places. Most of my stones are from PA, a few from Maine… I digress, again. Anyway, Opie showed up for a bedtime snack to see if there was anything left from breakfast, since possum time is the reverse of people time. As I saw him saunter across the yard toward the cat food left-overs, I made note of there being NO SHADOW! Spring is right around the corner! YEA! Of course, that corner just might be 6 weeks away, who knows. But Opie was getting a snack as I hurried for my camera. So you will just have to trust me on the NO shadow part.  DSC_0410

Anyway, Possum in bed, Pansies in the ground, I hurried inside to get cleaned up for yet another Dr’s appointment when I heard a flurry of activity out the front window. DSC_0905 My new resident hawk was back looking for HIS snack, but so far, for all the times I have seen him out here, I have yet to find any feathers around. I have never seen him make off with any little critters. Now, he might have caught some of the mice that have built their little tunnels in the ground under the feeders… I don’t know.

Handsome fellow, isn’t he? Just posing for his mug shot. Um, turn the other way, please. DSC_0906

Thank you.

I told him to head on down to Rat Trap Creek where there are a couple of muskrats, so I hear, that pretend to be weather prognosticators, but, frankly, I think they are phonies, just like the Pungoteague Possum they talk about on the radio. WE all know that was roadkill JD found and pretended was a live possum whispering in his ear that Spring was on its way. What’s with these people? The official weather Possums have always lived right here and we always give them a special treat on Possum Day.pitaFlounder2pitaback[1] But we also protect them from the press and being taken advantage of by reporters like Puxatawney Phil. That is animal abuse! Poor thing.

From time to time, friends bring me their baby possums to be groomed as weather prognosticators. 025_22A

03_0A Some work out, others, well, others just won’t have anything to do with it. 06_03A

And that’s the end of this tail. 

Tuesday, February 01, 2011


I HAVE FRIENDS who are famous for celebrating holidays, birthdays, etc., just a tad on the late side. Sometimes I think we carry things a bit too far. However, the important thing is if the heart is there – and not when the presents get there.

Case in point… I got to visit a good friend over the week-end. I used to go there every week-end even tho it is an hour’s drive away. Actually, I used to volunteer at her Wildlife Center back in the days when I had a lot more energy and a lot less responsibility – not to mention ga$ was a whole lot cheaper! And then, my little possum lived out her days there after she outgrew all my cages here so I went up almost every week-end to take food, kitty litter, crickets… anything she needed. After PITA died, the trips were few and far between. Then came Lyme’s disease and everything became difficult to do, including driving for a couple hours.DSC_0881

Anyway, even tho we agreed to skip giving presents, you know how it is when you see something that is just too perfect and you just have to get it for somebody? Well, that seems to happen to me a lot. So, I had a collection of animal related ornaments for Bobbie’s animal Christmas tree, a possum puzzle I found 2 or 3 years ago, and a turtleneck with all kinds of birds on it. SO, we finally got together and had a package opening!

After visiting for a while, I asked if I could visit Blossom who, you might have guessed is a possum, so we trudged out to the Wildlife center and woke her up. It was cold, and Blossom made quick work of her snack… DSC_0884 just poking her head out fast to grab a bite and back into her warm nest. Now let me just say something about her “nest.” DSC_0886 Possums normally move every week or so in the wild. Often more frequently than that. Like cats, they LOVE cardboard boxes and will give up perfectly beautiful, crafted just for them, wooden nest boxes if you accidently happen to leave a piece of cardboard around. Go figure. There are at least 5 or 6 boxes in her cage, maybe some I did not see, and she moves from one to the other on her little possum whim… DSC_0888 If you have never seen a possum on moving day, it is well worth the wait… they actually wrap their tails around their blanket (old shirt, towel, clump of straw) and drag it to the new nest site. I had a piece of rug here at my place that kept moving around, and an old T-shirt. Late one night I saw it being dragged across the car port and pulled up under the cover on the chair that was brought in for the winter. There is a box under that cover just for certain visitors. The little possum was moving from under the wheelbarrow in the shed back up to the carport.

Back here, a second Christmas was in store for Punkin and Spook. I thought their little heated box was too crowded. See them both in there? A full house!DSC_0813 I had hoped one cat would sleep in the old location, the other on the greenhouse. No, they had to sleep together. After all, they have been curling up together for nearly 7 years.. Sooo, I found a bigger plastic box, cut a new door, built a new floor, filled in around the edges, and bought them a bigger heated bed. DSC_0891 They do often stretch out, but they still sleep curled up together. This box is big enough to put a third cat in it – not that they would allow it.DSC_0892 And not that I need another cat, NO THANK YOU!