Posts Tagged ‘pets’

Feline road trip

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , ,
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Happy New Year! One of the last things we did as a family last year was take a road trip with the cats. This was the first time we took both cats in the car and it was quite an adventure.

At the hotel, Smokey quickly found a place to hide in the blanket. She never goes in there!

Soon the cats discovered the top of the curtain.

Smokey’s sweaty little paws left some marks on the dash.

Missy somehow thought the litter box would be a good bed.

Smokey moved around a lot and eventually settled on my bag.

Missy was cold, so I wrapped her up in a towel and she slept.

Almost home!

They got so excited when we got in the garage. Freedom!

Striking sisters

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , ,
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Missy and Smokey are certainly acting like sisters now, playing and fighting pretty much on a daily basis. At times I can’t tell if it’s fun or too aggressive, but I guess we’ll chalk it up to sibling rivalry. This is an improvement from the times that Smokey would hiss at her new sister!

cats playing through door crack from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

cats playing under door from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

cats fighting under door from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

cat rearing back to pounce from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Pet store finds

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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Check out these adorable little guys!

hoppy hamster from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

spazzy hamster from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

rabbit speed chewing from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Smokey’s adventures

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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It’s been a busy night, so I’ll share a quick set of videos with you of life with our cat Smokey. She’s a finicky girl with some adorable quirks! First she enjoys climbing in one drawer and popping out another, second she tries to escape the scary sound of a dog after surgery on her tooth, and third she tries to walk off the anesthesia from the vet visit.

cat hiding in drawer from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

cat hiding from dog in kennel from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

cat walking off anesthesia from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Sleeping positions

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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How do you like to sleep?

Since Panda sleeps much earlier and I sit in bed on my computer, I’ve noticed some strange sleeping habits and positions that he’ll get into. He loves to be tightly tucked in under the blanket, complete with a tight tuck under his chin. It shuts in the hot air so much that he’ll sweat at night and I recently observed a drop of sweat making its way down his face and neck (ick). I prefer more air flow and will sometimes lay on top of the thick blanket with a light blanket or have various body parts sticking out of the blanket (typically my feet or one leg). I also like to have one leg bent up and one straight out. Since I leave a low light on, Panda will sometimes find creative ways to block the light – usually he’ll crook his elbow over his eyes, but I’ve found him with my nightgown wrapped around his head like a turban before.

There are some commonalities we share though – for one, we both like to sleep with our arms laying next to our heads, elbows bent. Perhaps we like airing out our armpits? We also like to take up a lot of space. For me, this generally means spreading out and draping my leg over him if necessary (he hates that). For him, it’s usually some strange contortion he managed to get into while twisting in his sleep. I’ve had to provide photo evidence of his transgressions to prove how he overran the bed and left me no space!

cat sleeping on bed with body twisted in strange positionI also like to keep things fresh by changing where we sleep in the bed. At first we’d swap sides every now and then. A few times we oriented our heads and feet the opposite way. Most recently we are sleeping sideways, parallel to the wall that the bed is against. Each time we change, Panda complains and hates the idea, but I’ve found that if I keep pushing, he tries it out and ends up enjoying it. Then that new spot is the default and the next change is another little battle (it’s like he forgot he didn’t want his “spot” the last time we changed either).

Even the cats have their funny sleeping preferences, like Smokey’s “happy nap” where she lays on her back in the middle of the floor, belly up and all paws facing the ceiling. As soon as she notices someone trying to take a picture of that, she quickly rolls over and runs off. When she’s in boxes, she loves to prop her chin and one paw over the edge. Meanwhile Missy is a huge fan of crawling in under the covers to snuggle up next to you. Or, if she’s on top of the blanket she’ll often end up belly up, chest to the side, and head twisted back. That’s when you know she’s really sleeping well. 🙂

So do you also have your own sleeping quirks?

My pet Hawaiian shrimp

laelene Posted in photo blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Back when we were in Hawaii, I finally got myself a little Hawaiian red shrimp ecosphere. While I’d seen the crazy expensive closed systems before, I liked that the one I found includes a lid that opens. Just in case I need to feed them or change the water, right? So I happily bought the travel set, which included the jar with sand and a fake little plant plus a separate plastic bottle with the shrimp and some blue pellets (food, I presume). All I had to do was put it in my checked bag for transport back home!

I also decided to get a set of snails to add to my new little ecosystem, just to help clean the water. While in Hawaii, I kept them in the bottle together and spent hours watching them. The snails liked to hide up on the lid, out of the water. Whenever they did go down, the shrimp would immediately gravitate towards them and pick at their shells. They must have some tasty algae growing on those shells! When it came time to travel, I carefully wrapped the bottle in paper towels and put it in a box, just in case anything leaked. I then wrapped the box in some of my clothes to try to offer the best buffer between potential jolts and coldness.

Upon arrival many hours later (and a good 30-degree drop in temperature too), I gingerly opened everything and found minimal leakage of water. The shrimp and snails were just fine. I then set about setting up their habitat and enjoyed a beautiful jar to put on the counter or table. Check out the pictures below to show you what has happened since…

hawaiian red shrimp habitat in store

The original habitat I saw at the store! I couldn’t leave without my own.

hawaiian red shrimp eating off black snail shell

The shrimp, snails, and blue pellets in the travel bottle. Those shrimp loved following the snails around!

cat sniffing glass jar with sand and fake plant

Smokey sniffed at this mysterious new jar while I was putting it together.

hawaiian red shrimp and snails ecosphere self-sustaining ecosystem

I loved sitting and watching them. I mostly kept them on the coffee table or the island in the kitchen.

nerite snail eating in glass jar

After awhile, some shrimp and my snails died. The water began to get murky, so I got a nerite snail from the local pet store.


hawaiian shrimp and nerite snail timelapse from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

I did a timelapse video of the super active new snail and its four little shrimp friends! Little did I know what was about to happen…

spilled water and sand on hardwood floor

The very next day, disaster struck. Smokey clumsily jumped on the counter, but slid and took the entire box and the jar with her.

tools used for shrimp habitat spill cleanup

We painstakingly got the shrimp back in (one was already dead) and sucked the water back in the jar.

It was too much trauma and the water sucked back in was gross with dust and cat hair. Another one died promptly and I was so upset, until I realized that both my two remaining shrimp and snail are used to not just brackish water, but fresh water and salt water. They’re pretty good at adjusting to different levels of salinity, so I decided to clean out the jar and give them fresh water for awhile. Except I had no idea what sort of fresh water to use, so I used a water bottle. By the next morning, that seemed to kill the other two shrimp (or maybe they were already beyond help 🙁 ). And so it was just my poor little snail. Even it gave me a scare a few days later when I thought it had died. Thankfully, by that night it was climbing up the glass again.

After this happened, I immediately decided I needed to order some shrimp to replace the ones I lost and found Shrimp Mart after some searching. I felt they had really reasonable prices, especially when it came to shipping, so I opted for their 20 Opae Ula selection. I wanted to get their live Angel Hair Moss too, but they were out of stock at the time. Too bad! Maybe another time, or hopefully I can get some locally.

naughty cat laying in cage

Smokey was in a time out during our recovery and cleanup period.

packaging for mailed hawaiian red shrimps

The new shrimp arrived in the mail about a week later.

plastic bag with twenty-plus hawaiian red shrimp

Very well packaged! All shrimp were alive and they gave well over 20 (I think I counted 27, but with so many it’s hard to say).

I’m not sure what the pink thing is, but it seems to be a food source. I think it just allows algae growth on it and is just a sort of sponge that the shrimp wouldn’t eat. I carefully transferred the shrimp into the jar and the amount of water they came in was just perfect! I then noticed a strange thing squirming around, which I figured it couldn’t be parasitic or dangerous since it’d been in the bag with all the shrimp on the trip and they were fine.

hawaiian red shrimp larva in spoon

The strange worm-like thing jerking around turned out to be a larva!

over two dozen hawaiian red shrimp in jar with nerite snail

And now they’re happily settled in their new home. I’m thinking about splitting them into two for more space.

I need to make sure I get the right kind of brackish water for them before I use another container for some of them. I hope they don’t feel too crowded in this jar. I’ve since put the pink thing in with them, so they have a place to hide and eat from. And yes, I am much more paranoid about where I place the jar now. No place feels safe, even the ground!

hawaiian shrimp eating

Check out the video of them settled in their home!

Smokey’s calming collar

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, stories,Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Sometimes, Missy and Smokey will get into wrestling matches. I can’t quite tell who is instigating it and who is causing more damage, but Smokey is larger, so just putting her weight on Missy is potentially dangerous. For a long time, I’d just make a loud noise when the fighting appeared to get aggressive. One day, Panda suggested we put collar back on so she can’t sneak up on Missy. We decided to give it a try and we found a surprising result: Smokey appeared to be much nicer overall with the collar on!

smokey cat sleeping on body pillow with red collar on

Look at how angelic she is! She’ll even touch my leg when she’s sleeping.

Not only did she and Missy fight less, but she was less aloof and more tolerant of being held or picked up. It seems that she became more docile, as if it exerted control over her and kept her bad behavior at bay. What a curious effect. It ended up being far more effective than we’d imagined, so now whenever she acts up, we put her collar on. She’ll sit there frozen as we strap it in and then calmly strut around, not looking for trouble. When she sleeps, she actually looks happy. Not alert, or wary, or downright uncomfortable/unhappy. It’s like she’s finally at peace.

This usually works for 2-3 days and then I start to feel bad because she can’t hide from Missy and I also notice her starting to kick at it. So by and by, I remove it and let her be free (but perhaps more prone to attitude too). At least we’ve found something simple that can help curb her issues if they escalate again! Overall she’s getting better at letting us pet her and even hold her at times. I’ll retrain her yet!

When sisters meet

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , ,
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It’s been long enough now that Smokey and Missy are getting along pretty well. They still have some spats, but they mostly keep it civil. Here’s what it was like the first night Missy arrived after her trip. Smokey spent a lot of time stalking her and staring her down. She’d then hiss (I’ve only ever heard her hiss once prior to this) and sometimes run off. I was concerned about them both, so I kept a close eye for hours into the night. Panda and I ended up sleeping in separate rooms so both cats would have someone with them.

Missy first emerged into a brand new home.

Missy first emerged into a brand new home.

Eventually Smokey came by to smell what all the commotion was about.

Eventually Smokey came by to smell what all the commotion was about.

Missy took to the stairs nearby as her hiding spot.

Missy took to the stairs nearby as her hiding spot.

At some point she found a box to hide in and Smokey didn't even know they got so close!

At some point she found a box to hide in and Smokey didn’t even know they got so close!

Most of the night was spent monitoring Smokey as she stared at Missy from afar.

Most of the night was spent monitoring Smokey as she stared at Missy from afar.

Missy hid under the couch a bit and only emerged with coaxing.

Missy hid under the couch a bit and only emerged with coaxing.

Eventually we settled in for bed around 3, though Missy decided hiding under the bed felt more safe than being in it. Maybe she didn’t know that Smokey was stuck on the other side of the door.

Traveling by plane with a pet

laelene Posted in how to guides, lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , ,
1

Ever wonder what it’s like to fly with a cat? Here’s my story… (or skip to the tips if you’re pressed for time)

cat sitting on person meowing and looking out window of back seat of car

Off we go! Missy was a bit worried. What are all those cars?!

My mom finally relented after over a year and a half of debating whether I could and should bring Missy to the east coast with me, so yesterday I boarded a plane, cat carrier in tow. I purchased the in-cabin pet ticket about a week ago – originally there was a place to add the pet from my reservation online, but when I went back when I was ready to commit, it was nowhere to be found. I ended up calling up the airline to purchase it for $125. Luckily, we already had a carrier that my mom used back when she moved one of my previous cats, Jerriey, to Beijing.

The morning of, we packed my bags and then brought Molly down to witness Missy leaving. Molly kept running away and didn’t seem at all interested, but she did notice Missy in the carrier. At first Missy was a little confused, but calm as she wondered what was going on. Once we started to drive, she got scared and meowed all sorts of meows – timid frightened ones, deep guttural ones, and loud complaining ones. Occasionally she panted as if she were hyperventilating.

cat sitting in back window of car driving on freeway

For awhile, she “hid” in the back.

At one point, my mom complained of the smell of feces. My cousin and I were oblivious until much later, when I suddenly smelled it too. I saw one piece, which I was able to pick out with a paper towel. My mom didn’t believe there was only one, so we let the cat out and found a bunch more! We picked them all up in the paper towels and I tried to ignore the smell. Eventually, I found a plastic bag to tie it all up in and Missy seemed better when she was able to move around, sit on my cousin, and look out the window. We continued on and all seemed well until my cousin noticed a strange smell. She looked around and found that somehow Missy had pooped again – this time it was more wet and probably due to the nerves. At this point we were stopping so I could get some See’s Candy to bring back. We used the last of the tissues and paper towels we could find to pick up the new batch and I took the plastic bag with everything to throw it out.

By the time we reached the airport, I felt like the carrier smelled of urine. There was nothing I could do just yet, so I met up with Panda and we checked in our luggage. The cat carrier counted as an item, so I couldn’t bring my suitcase AND the tote bag I usually have, so I checked the suitcase. Since I had to check a bag anyway, I decided to pack an extra suitcase and bring back some of the things I had been meaning to transport, like my Lumnique candle (the whole box it came in) and my set of Crate & Barrel glasses, carafe, and tray that I won.

person carrying cat through security at airportWhen we went through security, I was surprised to discover they had me carry Missy through the screening. I thought I’d bring the whole carrier, but that went through the x-ray like everything else. They also made sure to wipe my hands to check for explosive residue (or whatever else they want to make sure you didn’t touch). Good thing Missy’s an easy-going cat or I don’t know what sort of insanity might have ensued. If it were Molly, she’d be so upset I’m sure I would have gotten injured and she likely would have escaped. If it were Smokey, she’d probably be scared out of her wits and run off to hide. I zipped Missy back into the carrier, gathered our things, and headed to the gate. Once we got there I wanted to do something about the smell coming from her carrier.

cat in carrier by sink with mat being washedI left Panda with our stuff and took Missy to a restroom, where I washed the sherpa mat that sits at the bottom of the carrier. I could see a large stain at the bottom, so the whole thing needed to be rinsed. After washing it with soap and wringing it dry as best I could, I went to all the restrooms I could find to see if there was a hand dryer. Unfortunately, they all relied on paper towels and I didn’t want to waste any more of those (I’d used many sheets trying to pat the lining dry). Back at the gate, I asked Panda to see if the men’s restrooms might have a dryer and he eventually came back with just a slightly dripping wet mat that he’d put through a Dyson Airblade. He got two stacks of paper towels, one to put underneath the sherpa and one to put on top. The nice thing about that material is that even though the bottom was still quite wet, the fluffy top part was practically dry so it was actually pretty comfortable for Missy to use again.

cat face through mesh web of carrier cat sitting in carrier for plane ride united in-cabin pet ticket receipt

cat face peeking out of carrier on plane

Peekaboo!

I’m pretty sure that Missy managed to pee once more at some point after that, but oh well. The smell wasn’t too strong and I really could only tell when I had my nose right up to the carrier. Soon, we boarded the plane and held her carrier on my lap until we were pushing back from the gate. When I went to put her under the seat in front of me, I discovered that there are these annoying plastic boxes that take up a good 2-3 inches, so there was no way the carrier could fit length-wise. I had to put it parallel to my legs, with only the back half under the seat. The seat was also so low it was pushing down the walls of the carrier. I think because we were in Economy Plus, they gave less foot room there because there’s more leg room (most people wouldn’t notice that part so long as their knees aren’t squished).

cat sleeping snugly on lap of person on planeThroughout the ride, I kept leaning over to check in on Missy. I let her head pop out a few times and I pet and scratched her to make sure she got attention. After the beverage service, I left a little water at the bottom of my cup and tried to give it to her, but she wasn’t interested. Later in the trip, she kept trying to break out, so I let her crawl on my lap for a little bit. She was shivering like crazy, whether cold or stressed or both. I then delivered her back to her carrier for the remainder of the trip and checked in on her when we landed. A couple of times she meowed super loud, but the people around me didn’t seem to notice or care. Overall she was great though, and patiently sat in the carrier without a peep.

 

cat exiting carrier after plane ride

Yay, home!

So based on what I’ve learned, here are some tips:

Make sure you buy your pet ticket ahead of time and ask the attendant at the check-in counter to print the receipt for you (keep it handy, they’ll want to see it when you board).

Get a travel-approved pet carrier (soft sides, appropriate size, sturdy – and that sherpa lining on the bottom can be quite useful!).

Book a window seat so you can place the carrier on the ground without bothering other passengers and blocking their way out of their seat.

Either make sure your pet goes to the bathroom the morning of the trip (if possible) or try to use a plastic hard carrier for the first leg of the trip so accidents are easier to clean. Of course if you can’t leave the carrier with whoever’s driving you or you don’t have free checked luggage, you might just have to deal with a dirty carrier.

Try to bring a blanket to help cover the sides of the carrier if it’s going to be cold or you don’t want your pet stressed by everything outside.

Prepare some plastic bags if you need to clean up poop and bring old towels you can swap out in the carrier.

Wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and smelly. Use a jacket that is a tougher material if your pet has claws and might try to kick you with them (that way it doesn’t hurt and it’s easier to wrangle her back to the carrier after security).

 

Have you traveled with a pet before? What would you recommend for air travel, especially for cats?

Cardboard success!

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses, photo blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Alright, tonight’s the first night we saw Smokey go into her new box of her own volition. Pretty exciting stuff, I have to say. Panda did have to cut the hole larger after the original hole turned out to require Smokey to squeeze in and out of. Now she can easily step in and out of the box comfortably. 🙂

cat half in half out of cardboard box with hole in side cat head looking down in box hole cat sniffing hole cut into side of cardboard box cat face peeking out of hole cut into side of cardboard box cat sitting in carboard box with face showing in hole cut into side of box cat sitting in cardboard box with hole cut into side

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