Feeding the Kitties + DIY Reusable Wet Wipes for Cleaning Up After Them

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I currently have three cats residing in my house. Two are mine (Schrodinger and Ziggy Stardust) and one is a long term guest who’s hanging with us until his owners find a place to live where they can have him back (Martok).

Every morning, I feed them two cans of wet food (generally Friskies). One or more of them had some diarrhea issues earlier this year, so I now mix a scoop of probiotics into each can (I do all this prep work in the basement bathroom with the door closed so they don’t try to eat it while I’m serving it out!).

I then divide this food up into an automatic feeder (linked below) which goes off numerous times throughout the day and one extra bowl (so that they all don’t just scramble at one serving). I’ve been using this automatic feeder system for a few years now; it ensures they get some of their favorite food throughout the day at various times and also keeps them from associating me /too/ much with food. This has really helped reduce early morning wake up meows. I also take care not to feed them /immediately/ after I wake up.

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I should note that they literally always have some dry food so it’s not like they’re starving. I put a cup of dry food into their food tree every morning. The food tree (linked below) works really well for slowing down their eating and reducing “scarf and barf.” It also provides a bit of a challenge for them so they’re not just mindlessly eating all day.

Right after putting their wet food out, I put one of Schrody’s pill-pocket-and-capsule-covered-Prozac pills into whatever container he’s scarfing that day. I also put a squirt of salmon oil over his food, to help him with his senior cat joint pain.

As an ADHD cat owner, I’m not always the GREATEST at remembering to do things like, clean the cat bowls (they’re nowhere near the kitchen and I use them daily so it’s a little inconvenient to figure out when to do it). It’s much easier for me to remember chores when I make it super convenient and simple for me though, so for quite a while now, I’ve kept some wet wipes down stairs in the cat room to wipe out all the cat bowls and containers on a regular basis.

Recently though, I’ve been really trying to reduce the amount of waste in our house (thanks to the By the Book podcast episode on “Zero-Waste Home”), so I decided it was time to stop buying wet wipes. They’re really not good for the environment. Adam Ruins Everything did a segment at one point on why these “flushable” wet wipes are actually TOTALLY NOT flushable and how they wreck havoc on our plumbing systems. They also aren’t biodegradable.

So I made my own reusable wet wipes! It was super simple and they’ve worked really well as a replacement. In addition, the vinegar in it disinfects the bowls and helps keep the kitties healthy.

DIY Reusable Disinfecting Wet Wipes

Materials:

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Bambooee towels (we’ve actually used these for years now; they’re a great replacement for paper towels. John still insists on keeping power towels in the house for SUPER big messes, but we rarely use them at this point; our use has gone WAY down). OR Extra cloth rags
White vinegar
A container with a lid to keep them in.

  1. Use scissors to cut the bamboo towels/rags in half, so you have a nice little pile that’s approximately the size of your usual wet wipe.

  2. Stack the rags all in a Tupperware container.

  3. Pour white vinegar over them all. Ensure all the towels/rags are completely soaked. If there’s a bit of excess vinegar in the bottom of the container, it’s not a problem.

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And that’s it! I’ve been using them for weeks. When they’re dirty, I just throw them in the laundry and then stack them up for the next time I need to make new ones. The cat bowls and containers do need to be properly cleaned in the dishwasher or with dish soap regularly, but this definitely helps reduce the mess in the meantime.

The vinegar wipes work great for wiping down general cat room messes, cat bowls, their food mats, and the floor around them, when they’re being particularly messy eaters. I have found that they’re not a good replacement for wet wipes for litter box or poop mess (I completely clean out the litter boxes once a week or more, but it can be useful to have these on hand for in-between time messes) so I still use paper towels for those occasionally, but I’ve /way/ cut down on my waste for this.

How I Get My Cranky Anxiety-Ridden Old Man Cat to Take His Damn Prozac

This is an older photo of us. My hair hasn’t looked like that in a while!

This is an older photo of us. My hair hasn’t looked like that in a while!

I’m starting to experiment with Amazon affiliate links, friends, so you’ll start to see links to products I personally use and love now. :)

Schrodinger Beethoven Dickson-Lorenzen is my first and most favorite kittyface. He purrs when he sees me, naps on my lap for hours while I’m working, and meows at me to turn on the bathroom faucet for him every night.

However, dude’s got some issues. He is pretty terrified of people and has a lot of anxiety. Now, some cats are shy naturally, but I don’t think that’s the case with Schrodes. He really loves people and loves being cuddled and pet, but he seems to be held back by his fears. He also still hisses at my husband John on a regular basis, although they’ve lived together for over two years now.

Based on my knowledge of his backstory before he was given up to PAWS (out in Chicago, they’re amazing) and his current emotional and physical health, here’s what I think probably happened. His previous owners got him declawed in his front legs. This resulted in his feet being really hurt by the cat litter, so he developed cat litter issues and ended up peeing basically everywhere else (the surrender papers were pretty awful to read). I’m guessing his previous owners got very frustrated by this and abused him in an effort to train him to stop doing it. He’s got one kidney that’s larger than the other, which probably means he was kicked at some point.

He stopped eating when he was at the main PAWS facility in Chicago, so they put him in a foster home with my bestie Holly. I met him through her and fell in love with him. For a long time, we had to put puppy pads in the litter box for him so he had a soft place to put his paws when he used the box. He hasn’t needed that in a couple years now, but it really helped him at the beginning when he was still recovering from the declawing and his previous owners’ abuse.

He was a pretty anxious cat who seemed lonely when I wasn’t around, so I adopted Ziggy Stardust pretty soon afterward so he’d have a friend. They’ve been great bros since and get along really well. He’s much happier now, but he’s definitely still got anxiety issues.So finally, last August, I went to the vet, explained the whole situation, and asked if we could get him on some anxiety meds. He’s been on daily Prozac ever since. He’s been on these meds for the past year now, but it took a LONG time to get him to take the meds regularly and consistently.

My Initial Attempts:

First, I just gave him the pills in his food. He quickly caught on within a week or so and refused to touch them.

Second, I put the pills in pill pockets, which i then hid in his food. I got a few weeks out of that before he refused to touch it anymore. :/ (I later discovered that he greatly prefers the tuna and cheese pill pockets to the salmon ones! Picky animal.).

Third, I got fancy tuna-flavored liquid meds for him and tried putting it in his food, then just squirting it into his mouth. Each time, he caught on and struggled and fought against it even more.

I resorted to getting some flavorless gelatin capsules online to put his pills in (I bought a pack of 1,000 capsules on Amazon, which should last me a couple of years!). I do have to cut these down to a more cat friendly size, but it doesn’t take too long if i just do a whole bunch of them at once. I had to experiment with the best ways to use these capsules - for a while I actually was putting the capsules into a pill pocket and THEN covering it with tuna to get him to eat it, but I FINALLY FINALLY found a method that works. I’ve been getting him to take his medicine consistently in this way since April! HALLELUJAH.

It only took me NINE MONTHS to figure out a system that consistently works!

So. What I do.

My Foolproof Method of Getting Schrodinger to take his damn pills:

  1. Cut a flavorless gelatin capsule down to a cat friendly size.

  2. Put his pill into the capsule.

  3. Put the capsule into a tuna and cheese pill pocket, Schrody’s favorite.

    [I actually work in batches and put a ton of pill/capsule/pill pockets together at a time. I store them all together in a bag so the pill pockets don’t dry out. The capsules soften up a little within the pill pocket, but Schrody doesn’t seem to notice or care.]

  4. Once Schrodinger starts eating his morning wet food, I put the pill pocket into the food immediately next to where he’s scarfing, so he eats it up without even really noticing it. It works every time!

Just look how pleased he looks with himself.

Just look how pleased he looks with himself.

I’ve also started squirting a little salmon oil on the pill pocket lately, as he’s been walking stiffly lately and I’ve read that it can help relieve joint pain in senior cats (he hasn’t been taking it long enough for me to really tell if it’s working, but he does lap up EVERY BIT OF IT, so clearly it tastes good).

The pills combined with more exposure to friendly people on a regular basis (because of the theater troupe that’s been rehearsing in our basement all summer) have REALLY helped him. He’ll actually come out to greet my friends now! He seems much more relaxed and happier.

He still hates my husband John, but that seems to be pretty mutual. Not sure there’s anything I can do about that at this point! But

Elizabethan Ruffs for Shakespeare Cats - Out of Coffee Filters!

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So on Saturday, I found out that @barkbox did a #Shakespeare in the dog park toy/treat collection! I of course, had to look for photos of this, and spent probably half an hour just looking at photos of dogs wearing Elizabethan ruffs and playing with Shakespeare themed toys!

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Then I ended up making Elizabethan ruffs for my #cats out of coffee filters. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I literally just cut a hole in the middle of the coffee filter and a cut down the side, put it around their necks, and taped it closed. They didn’t actually seem to mind them too much, although Martok tried to eat his for a little bit.

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They stayed on their necks for a surprisingly long time considering how flimsy a single coffee filter is. It was super simple and fun and I may do this again for Halloween. :)

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Of course I had to match photos of the kitties with Shakespeare quotes. Did you expect anything less?

Petting Cats for Wake Up Washington on WUSA9!

 
Sarah Konsmo from WUSA9 Wake Up Washington interviewing a representative of a cat charity with which Patriot Pawsabilities works.

Sarah Konsmo from WUSA9 Wake Up Washington interviewing a representative of a cat charity with which Patriot Pawsabilities works.

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So late Saturday, Mo, the owner of Patriot Pawsabilities, my favorite cat cafe out in Fairfax, posted asking for volunteers to come in at 7 am today to play with the cats while WUSA9 was there filming for Wake Up Washington. Of course, I volunteered instantly, even though I normally avoid waking up before 9 am if I can help it.

I suffer for my art, can’t you tell? (My life is so hard)

It was a lot of fun! A lot of volunteers came out and we got free cat playing time while the Wake Up Washington team did several live spots on the show with Mo and a representative from one of the charity. My former journalist days were all print or online related and I really only worked with video for one summer before senior year of college. I really enjoyed getting to see them at work! I’ll post a link to the content if I can find it; I was just in the background, but it still would be pretty cool to see myself on TV, if only for a second. :)

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I got to interact with the host Sarah Konsmo a little when I sent her photos of a cat investigating her purse. She said something about tweeting it out, I’ll have to see if that happens or not.

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I’m super glad Patriot Pawsabilities is getting some press! This is my fourth time there and it’s such a great place to visit and such a labor of love. Each time I go, they’ve added something else to make the cafe run more smoothly or more professionally. They now have liability releases everyone has to sign before they go in, which as a lawyer, I super appreciate!

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I actually wrote a story earlier this year set in a cat cafe; I used Patriot Pawsabilities as setting inspiration, because it’s just such a well laid out place (although the name of my cat cafe in the story was Cleocatra’s Palace). That story hasn’t seen the light of day yet because it wasn’t accepted for the initial volume I submitted it to, but it’s still being considered for other volumes of that same publication. So - fingers crossed!

 

 

Wedding Craft Tutorial: How to DIY a Cardboard Cutout of Your Pet

So I got married last year and did a TON of craft projects for the wedding that I’ve never actually bothered to write about anywhere. Someone reached out to me today to ask about the cat cutouts at my wedding after seeing pictures of them on Offbeat Bride, so clearly there’s an audience for this sort of thing!

If you want to see our full wedding profile, it’s up on Offbeat Bride here!


This one’s pretty simple. Basically, I’m a crazy cat lady and I wanted to have cardboard cutouts of my cats Schrodinger and Ziggy Stardust at our wedding, but all the ones for sale online seemed to cost $30+ each! To save money, I ended up figuring out how to make my own.

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  1. I put my cats in their specially purchased sparkly pink wedding bowties and took as many pictures of them as I could for a few days to ensure I could get at least ONE decent full figure shot of both of them.

  2. I edited these photos and cut out a lot of the background to reduce the measurements of the sign I’d need (and also the cost!).

  3. I found the cheapest cardboard signs with a rigid core I could find online. I ended up sourcing these from GotPrint.com! I ordered two 9”x 24” rectangle signs with these images printed on them, with a kraft color core. There ended up being a lot of white space on the bottom of the signs, but I wasn’t worried, as I knew I could cut it out.

  4. Once the cardboard signs arrived, I used an exacto knife to cut out around the cats and make the final cutouts! Although to be exact(O!), I should note that my now husband John quickly decided he didn’t like how i was cutting the cardboard and took the exacto knife away from me and did it himself. Oh well. I tried.

And there you have it! Two DIY cardboard cutouts of my cats for about the cost of half of ones I found for purchase online! These were a huge hit at my wedding and it was a perfect touch!.