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An indoor cat go outside…and return!

Explorer Dexter

Dexter enjoying his new freedom with his leash

Have you ever wondered how an indoor cat becomes an outdoor cat?  Do you ever feel like you are being mean to your cat by making him stay inside because you want to keep him safe and all he wants is to go outside?  Hi all, Maria here!  This is a story of my cat and how we made him an indoor/outdoor cat.

My cat Dexter has always been an indoor cat. As a kitten, he used to destroy the house because he was so young and hyper. I always thought he would grow out of it as he got older, however he is over a year old and still has the same destructive habits. I’ve always noticed how much Dexter loved to chase birds and bugs out the windows, and knew he yearned to be outside. I was very timid on making Dexter an indoor/outdoor cat because I would be heartbroken if anything ever happened to him.

I tried to make compromises so he could get some outside time and I wouldn’t have to worry about him not coming home. I noticed how much he loved to be in the car when we took trips to the vet’s office. So, I started bringing him with me for short car rides to the grocery store or those midnight trips to McDonalds. He loved it. He would sit on the passenger seat next to me and look at all the cars and birds out the window. It seemed like we were both happy with these trips. However, soon after they became a regular thing, Dexter started sitting at the door and meowing when he wanted to go out. I decided to get him a harness and a leash to give him some more outside time. I had never seen him so happy.

Dexter and I started having outside time in the backyard together. I would pull up a chair and give him some extra slack on his leash. He would chase bugs and just relax in the grass. My boyfriend, Brian, and I then taught Dexter how to chase sticks and bring them back to us. Dexter became more like a little dog every single day!! He would walk around the back yard and explore. He was so happy!!

Before I knew it, leash time was no longer enough for Explorer Dexter. He started slipping out of his harness and running around the yard while we chased him and tried to coax him in with treats and food. It was like a fun little game for him. It became harder and harder for us to get him to come inside. I started to feel like we were doing him a disservice by keeping him inside all the time. He would hear cars pull into our driveway and immediately run to the door to try to make his escape when our guests came into the house. He clearly was becoming unhappy inside the house all day.

After the fifth time in a week of him escaping out the door, I finally decided to look up the transition for him to become an outdoor/indoor cat. Everywhere I read, it said to bring your cats outside, and then reward him with food and treats when you brought them back inside. We started bringing him outside on his harness like usual, and then giving him a treat as soon as he walked back into the door. We also started bringing him only out of our back-slider door so he would associate it with going outside. It seemed to be working! As soon as we would pick up his harness and leash off the fridge, Dexter would run to the back-slider door and wait to go outside.

 

We recently had family visiting from out of state, and the girls would constantly let Dexter out without his harness. It was scary at first because he was running right into the woods and would be out of sight for hours until we could finally get him back in. After a couple of days of him getting out multiple times a day, we started leaving his harness on all the time with his identification tag. Once he would get out, it was reassuring knowing that just in case Dexter got to far, he had our address and phone number on his harness. We stopped panicking so much when he got out, and just tried to be confident that when he got hungry he would come back in.

 

The last time that Dexter got out, we decided not to chase after him. He had his harness on and was determined to go on an adventure. We sat in our living room and kept an eye on the back-slider door. An hour and a half later, Dexter came up the porch and started meowing at the back-slider door. We let him in and he immediately ran over to his food dish for a treat!! It was so exciting! Going forward, were going to start letting Dexter out in the morning, if someone is home. It’s always scaring thinking about the possibility of him not finding his way home, but he is an explorer that cannot be contained!!

Talking to the dog–am I the only one?!

Do you talk to your dog or I your cat?  How about your chickens?  Hi all, Amanda here.  This blog is about talking to the animals.  I don’t mean in a Dr. Doolittle way (although–how cool would that be?!).  Nope, I am talking about just talking to your precious pets as if they are your best friends.  They should be, by the way!

I was walking into a dog walking job the other day and when I opened the door I yelled, “Hello, Cooper!  Are you ready to take a walk?”  Then I walked over to the counter to check for a note and then Cooper and I were off on our walk.  While we were walking, I was talking to him about a few business decisions that had been weighing on my mind.  Now, I had already talked to a few human advisors about this same thing, but talking to Cooper allowed me to really get to the meat of the questions I had.

 The thing about talking to a pet is that they don’t answer back or interrupt.  Have you ever had an experience where you just want to tell someone what happened and they keep asking you questions?  I know that they are just trying to get all the information but really?!  I just want to tell you the story–would you let me already?!  

 Or what about this–you are pouring your soul out to your bestie and you can JUST TELL that they are only half listening because they are busy trying to come up with something witty and inspiring to say.  Now, first of all–thank you for caring so much that you want to make sure you say just the right thing.  But I would love you so much more if you would just hear me out!

Tick-nado hitting CT this year!

It has been a long time since I blogged and for that, Dear Reader, I apologize.  I have no excuse–I got busy with life 🙁  Hi all, Amanda here.  Today we are going to talk about something , that everyone is hoping for–warm weather.  Now I know that wishing it won’t make it so but I can try!!!  Warm weather means a lot of great things…short sleeves, flip flops for some (still too cold for me!) and windows open.  Fresh air and lovely walks in the sunshine.  It also means some not so great things–bugs!  More specifically, ticks.

 

We have had a really great winter as far as things go–it was warm most days.  We had some snow here and there but for the most part it has been mild.  Even though that has been great for your local pet sitter (thank you very much!) it turns out it has been a growing season for ticks.  Worse than that, Lyme disease ticks!  

 

Fear not, Dear Reader.  Let’s just be blunt–you have to be vigilant.  You have to check your dogs (and yourself!!!) when you come in from outdoors.  It takes about 12 hours to transmit Lyme disease so when ever you are in an area that is a known tick spot (high grass, lots of trees, etc.) just be quick to check Fido for ticks.  And for our feline friends–you aren’t off the hook.  Even though your friend probably didn’t go on a hike with you, they are still a carrier.  Check yourself.

 

Just because ticks are going crazy this year doesn’t mean that you can’t go on hikes with your furry friend(s.)  Just be careful!  Also worth noting–dogs don’t get the bullseye ring that humans get so please don’t wait for that!  If your dog seems off–bring him/her to the vet.

Below is a link to an article about the tick problems this year.  Not to scare anyone…just want you to be aware!

http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Shaping-up-to-be-a-bad-season-for-ticks-11027659.php

Be safe, my friends!  Enjoy your walks and the soon-to-be warmer weather 🙂

 

Why is blogging so hard?

Hi all, Amanda here.  I have been putting off blogging for some reason–not really sure what?  However, with the new year  I figured I should just bite the bullet and do it.

I would love to talk about my new home office.  For the first time in 14 years, I actually have a place to call my office that doesn’t include my bedroom or living room couch.  I still have my exercise stuff in here, but that is a choice and not a necessity.  Woohoo!

I have been working from a desk that I made out of a table that was my great-Aunt Bert’s.  It is a prized possession and it is still what I work from.  If this desk could talk!

Fleas…no!!!!

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Even pet sitters have problems.  My problem is fleas.  Not personally, of course 🙂  My Lucy is in the unfortunate predicament.  Hi all, Amanda here.  I am writing from my new website…yay!  Of course, my email still doesn’t work 🙁  I don’t care–new website, yay!!!!

Back to the problem at hand, Lucy’s fleas.  My poor baby is suffering, truly.  She is scratching herself silly and taking of bits of fur.  This story begins with an adorable cat who, through no fault of its own, infested the house.  My daughter’s kitten spent a few weeks here while she was settling into a new place and Dexter brought fleas in with the cuddles and meows.  I saw the scratching and felt the bites of the fleas in her apartment while I helped her move.  I treated him with flea treatment, Maria gave him a bath and all was well with the world.

What I didn’t even consider was my dog, Lucy.  She had one of those flea treatment collars on that is good for like 8 months and since I had not had any trouble, I didn’t even think to watch her.   Unfortunately, the fleas in the world today are like super-fleas and my poor Lucy was a casualty of the war.  By the time I realized she had fleas in spite of the collar, she had already removed the fur and parts of the skin under her arms and neck.

I truthfully wasn’t too worried as I gave Lucy a bath in Dawn to kill the fleas.  She tolerates baths but is really not a fan of water.  After the two minutes, we rinsed off the suds and dead fleas and toweled off.  My poor baby kept scratching, regardless.  A few days later, she was still scratching.

Then I took off her collar, switched to one of those behind the head spot treatments, and gave her another bath.    Her scabs started to heal and her skin was red but clear.  I bombed my living area, washed everything I could find, put borax between the couch cushions and vacuumed it, and hoped for the best.  I aired the place out and we watched some tv.

The thing is, while I was sitting there, I saw another flea crawling on her back.  What the heck?!  The next day I went to the vets.  I told them what was going on and I got some chewable flea treatment.  They also gave me some Benadryl so she could stop scratching.  I brought her to the groomers to get a flea bath and brought her home.  So far so good.

Except today, I saw a flea on her.  The flea bath was yesterday!!!!  One of my clients told me about a flea collar they use and I think I am going to get one.  I am really desperate at this point and don’t know what to do.  Hopefully the new collar will work and in the meantime poor Lucy just has to scratch.  Ugh!!!!!