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Cats in Film – Superstar Cats People Love To Watch on the Big Screen

Cats in Film
By Sandy Robins

Breakfast At Tiffany’s

It seems that if you have an idea for a national holiday or special day, all you have to do is lodge your suggestion with someone (I am not sure with whom, to be exact) and bingo, you have a day on the calendar to celebrate.

Case in point: June 19 is National Pets in Film Day.

If you just take cats, there is a plethora of well-known feline actors as well as cartoon cats and, of course, feline-inspired characters such as Catwoman that actors love to portray to show off their feline prowess.

In fact, cats have been stealing scenes throughout the history of cinema. The movie “Inside Llewyn Davis owes its success to a brilliant cat performance from an unknown ginger tabby, according to British film critic Ann Billson who writes for The Telegraph. Billson also noted that the Coen brothers, who produced the film, were so successful because they applied one of the truisms of the Seventh Art: There are few films that are not improved by the presence of a cat.

I would take it one step further and say that many films are only remembered because of their feline stars.

I don’t remember much about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s except that Audrey Hepburn’s character had a cat. Nor do I remember much about the dysfunctional Focker family shenanigans in both movies, but I do remember Jinx, the cat. The movie “The Heat was one big catfight between the Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy characters, but the scene-stealer was the ginger tabby Pumpkin. “Cloud Atlas is a blur, but the sleeping grey tabby that the naked man grabbed and used as a modesty shield until its claws came out made this movie memorable to me. Go tabby!

Not surprisingly, ginger tabbies are definitely movie favorites. The opening sequence of “The Long Goodbye,” Robert Altman’s revisionist update of Raymond Chandler’s private-eye story, depicts Marlowe (Elliott Gould) being woken up by his cat, which tramples all over him and meows nonstop till it gets what it wants. Billson claimed the film as having “a fine bit of Method acting from the ginger cat.”

Billson’s critiques are very cat-centric. She also gives kudos to Jones in “Alien” another handsome ginger puss that performed multiple functions. He is a catguffin—a pretext for characters to go wandering off by themselves. He is a catpanion for Ripley to talk to, provides several moments of catshock by suddenly jumping out at people and remains a wild card to the end because the audience is never quite sure if an alien has infected him.

The James Bond movies are often an intellectual muddle between good and evil but everyone remembers Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s white Persian who made her first appearance in “From Russia with Love,” and returned to nestle in the archvillain’s lap in “You Only Live Twice.” Not to mention the Austin Powers spoof where the white glamorous Persian is replaced by a sphynx named Mr. Bigglesworth.

There is no question that dogs are easier to train for the movies; however, cats, even if they work on cue, add their own special feline mystique that make them scene stealers. And when it comes to cartoon cats, such as Garfield or Puss in Boots, or any one of the memorable Disney movies such as “The Aristocats,” the felines aren’t the sidekicks; they are where all cats belong: in the spotlight center stage as the star.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

Flea Control – Protect Your Pets from Fleas

Flea Control: When Natural Doesn’t Work

By Lisa King


Anyone who owns a cat or a dog must deal with fleas. They not only make your pets miserable, they bite people, too, causing annoying itchy bumps.

Fleas prefer warm, humid conditions, which means they are seasonal in cold climates but are a problem all year round in the Southeast and Southwest. Dogs bring fleas into the house from outside, but even if you only have indoor cats, be on the lookout for fleas. People can track the eggs in on their shoes.

Natural flea prevention is the safest method (see last month’s article “All Natural Flea Control for Pets” by Stacy Mantle), but sometimes stronger measures are required. If you have a persistent flea problem, ask your veterinarian for advice. Consider the people as well as the pets in your household when choosing flea products—if you live with a pregnant woman or small children, topicals—the spot-on medications that you apply between your pet’s shoulder blades— might not be the best choice. Although topicals kill fleas for a month, it can take a few days for all the fleas to die. In addition, in some areas fleas have evolved to be resistant to certain types of topicals.

If you use topicals on your cat, make sure you are using a product formulated specifically for cats. Many topicals for dogs contain permethrin, which is fatal to cats.

Oral flea medications are an option that will not impact others in your household. Capstar kills all fleas within 30 minutes or so, but has no residual effect. Spinosad (sold as Comfortis) is a fast-acting neurotoxin that can have serious side effects in some animals but is very effective at killing fleas for an entire month. Both medications are approved for cats and dogs.

Sometimes it is worth the risk of side effects to use these strong oral medications. One of my cats is severely allergic to flea bites. He scratches them so hard that he wears off the fur and skin on his neck and face. He has had to take several rounds of antibiotics for skin infections. I finally broke down and gave him spinosad, which he tolerates well, and it has kept him flea-free.

Remember that for every flea you find on your dog or cat, there are dozens more in your home. Here are a few measures you can take to minimize the flea activity in and around your house:

  • Feed your pets a high-quality diet. The healthier your dog or cat is, the easier it will be for him to resist a flea infestation.
  • Bathe your dog regularly with a mild shampoo. If your cat will cooperate (or at least not attempt to eviscerate you), wash him as well, but less often.
  • Use a flea comb on your pets every couple of days during flea season. Drop the fleas in a cup of water with a few drops of dish detergent in it—this will cause them to sink and drown.
  • Wash all pet bedding regularly. Also wash blankets, pillows and rugs where your pets spend time.
  • Vacuum regularly and thoroughly, and not just your floors. Fleas also lay eggs on upholstery and curtains. If you have sofas with slipcovers, you can de-flea them easily by simply throwing the covers in the wash.
  • Keep your pets’ claws clipped. That way, even if they do get a few fleas and scratch, they will do less damage to their skin.
  • Spread beneficial nematodes on your lawn and gardens. They are available at garden stores and some pet supply stores. They not only kill fleas, but many other pests as well.

 


About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”

 

Dog and Equestrian Relationships

Dog and Equestrian Relationships

By Audrey Pavia

It’s difficult to find a horse owner who doesn’t also live with at least one dog. Horses and dogs are a natural combination. If you love horses, chances are you love dogs, too.

Although dogs and horses can often become great friends, danger is inherent whenever these two species come together. The sheer size of a horse, combined with its nature as a prey animal, can mean trouble for even the mellowest dog. Likewise, dogs can pose a great danger to horses as well.

In order to keep your dog safe around horses, it’s important to remember that horses are often afraid of dogs, and will kick, bite or strike to defend themselves. A well-placed kick from a horse can cause severe injury or death.

Conversely, a dog can cause damage to a horse by biting it, chasing it or scaring it to the point where the horse injures itself trying to escape.

Before allowing your dog to be around horses, follow these precautions:

  • Train your dog. Provide your dog with basic training so he will respect your authority when in the presence of a horse. Teach him that horses are not to be chased or barked at. This is especially important if the horse is being ridden.
  • Use a leash. When your dog first meets a horse, keep him on leash so you can control his reaction. Do not allow him off leash until you are certain he will not harass the horse.
  • Teach respect. If your dog has no fear of horses, teach him to stay away from the horse’s legs. Some dogs are so comfortable around horses; they can get underfoot and be stepped on. A healthy fear of horses is a good thing for a dog.
  • Gauge the horse. Before allowing your dog to approach a horse, get a sense of the horse’s reaction to your dog. Determine if the horse seems undisturbed—head and neck are level with the rest of the body, the eye is calm, muscles relaxed—before allowing your dog anywhere near the horse. If the horse is tense, with his head raised and nostrils flaring, or is being ridden, keep your dog away.
  • Watch for pack mentality. Your dog may ignore horses when he’s alone, but could become harassing when in the company of a more aggressive dog. If another dog is present, determine whether this dog might be a bad influence on your normally well-behaved canine.
  • Discourage play. Horses and dogs sometimes like to play together, but this should be discouraged. Horses may find it fun to have a dog run alongside them when they are galloping through a field, but a playful kick from the horse can prove fatal to the dog. This behavior also encourages aggression on the part of the dog, and should not be permitted.
  • Supervise your dog. Never take for granted that your dog is safe around horses. Always keep a close watch on him whenever a horse is nearby.

 


About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.

Benefits of Hugging Your Cat

Hug Your Cat!

By Sandy Robins

Did you know that June 4 is officially Hug Your Cat Day? It’s the purrfect oppurrtunity to celebrate the power of the purr.

It’s actually been scientifically proven that cats are good for us. Research done at the University of Minnesota deduced that cat owners are 40 percent less likely to have a heart attack.

There is no question that if you have had a bad day at the office or, for any reason, are particularly stressed, the moment your cat greets you at the door and insists on a game of fetch (as my Ziggy does) or simply climbs on your lap, you begin to relax and benefit from your cat’s slow and gentle purr.

There are many ways to celebrate this wonderful human-feline bond. Sitting and relaxing with your cat on your lap is a no-brainer.

Grooming your cat can be considered “hugging” her, too, because it is a great way to bond. Once you have found the ideal grooming tool, cats enjoy being brushed and it’s a great way to spend time with her, not to mention the benefits of getting rid of shedding fur.

I mention the ideal grooming tool because lots of cats don’t like the feel of anything metal on their fur and skin. They prefer a grooming mitt that offers a simultaneous massage—who can resist that?

Hugging also falls under the heading of playing with your cat. Cats enjoy all kinds of games and will turn anything into a fun toy—such as a cardboard box that you had something delivered in.

However, the best games are interactive ones .In other words, games that involve both you and your favorite feline—just like Ziggy’s endless games of fetch, which we play with a wand toy. Wands and laser tools are a great way for the two of you to interact. Cats enjoy pounce-and-play type games and will often include a couple of head butts during the games. This is their way of hugging you back.

Cats blink at their people and also yawn, which are recognized signs of affection; so be sure to blink back. Your feline will understand the communication.

But the most important thing to remember is that cats enjoy their people every day. It’s not a matter of hugging your cat, but how many times you hug them in a day that really counts!

Hug Your Cat Day is a great idea to have on the pet calendar. Actually, every day should be hug your cat day. Your cat deserves nothing less.


About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats

 

The ABCs of Gardening with Pets

The ABCs of Gardening with Pets:
Safe Natural Flea & Tick Repellants

By Stacy Mantle

The use of herbs as natural pest repellents on pets and in gardens is nothing new, and it can be a very effective way to decrease or eliminate your reliance on chemicals. However, when planting herbs, be sure to consider herbs that add to the health of you and your pet, while naturally repelling fleas and ticks.

There are a number of plants that can help you naturally control pests on pets in your garden and around the house. When the proper herbs are mixed between your plants in a garden, they can help naturally repel fleas and ticks, while attracting valuable insects such as ladybugs and worms.

Beware of Toxic Plants
Some of the most effective herbs used to control insects are not only toxic to fleas and ticks, but to pets as well. Common herbs that are generally recommended for flea-and-tick repellent, but can be toxic to your pet if consumed, include:

  • Flea Bane (Pennyroyal)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citronella
  • Fleawort
  • Wormwood
  • Tansy
  • Sweet Bay
  • Rue

These herbs should be avoided in the yard and garden when you have pets.

Safe, Natural Repellents

This leads us to some useful plants that not only act as natural repellents, but are safe for your pets if they decide to snack on them while you’re away. (Note that while these will repel fleas and ticks, they might also work to attract other animals.)

Star Anise is a cousin to the magnolia vine, and placing whole star anise pods around your home can help keep cockroaches and termites at bay. Anise is a natural dog attractant, and many canines have been known to react in the same way cats react to catnip. Star Anise is known to promote vitality and the licorice-spiced plant has quickly become one of the most sought after plants in the world for its healing qualities—shikimic acid, the starting ingredient in the human prescription medication, Tamiflu, is extracted from it.

Catnip is from the mint family and is a very safe and highly effective for the control of fleas and ticks. According to Iowa State University, nepetalactone (the essential oil in catnip) is 10 times more effective than DEET. Remember that anything from the mint plant family is very invasive and can easily take over a garden if left unchecked. Instead, consider some well-positioned containers to keep mint under control. As you know, catnip will act as an attractant for most cats, so you may find your favorite feline rolling around in your garden each morning.

Rosemary is a natural pest repellent that works especially well as a flea, tick and mosquito repellent. You may see rosemary as a natural supplement in many herbal shampoos and conditioners due its effectiveness in repelling pests while serving as an invigorating and refreshing scent for pets and people. Since it does well in nearly any climate, Rosemary is a wonderful addition to any garden.

Lavender is a natural calmant for pets and people, and it also happens to be a great option for natural pest control. These are perfect for containers and will keep pets calm as they lounge on the patio. Not only is it a great way to repel pests, it can help heal sensitive skin after a bite. Simple rub some essential oil directly on the bite and the itch and pain will immediately dissipate.

Lemongrass is not only used to create delicious Asian food, it’s a natural mosquito repellent. You’ll find that this herb naturally attracts cats and naturally repels dogs (under most circumstances), so keep that in mind when you plant. Another benefit to this plant is its ability to keep deer from your garden. Generally, the more fragrant a plant, the less likely deer will be interested in approaching. Consider placing in containers as it has the ability to take over your garden.

Sage has one of the longest histories for medicinal and culinary plants. Egyptians used it as an agent against delirium; the Romans used it to stop bleeding; and it is still used to reduce swelling in injuries. Not only does sage have medicinal values, it’s a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Consider planting some in containers around your garden. Since it’s a desert plant, sage is naturally drought repellent and low-maintenance, doing particularly well in dry desert climates.

Chamomile is not only easy to grow; it makes for some wonderful tea and offers a broad range of medicinal purposes for man and pets. It’s also a natural repellent for fleas and ticks. Steep a tablespoon of in a cup of water, then cool and add it to your pet’s food or water. This can help relieve gas in pets, encourage healing, expel worms and act as a natural calmant. This makes chamomile one of the most versatile herbs around.

Sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) around plants can also help stop most pests, especially fleas and ticks. Not ready to start a garden? You can also apply food-grade DE to your pets coat and on their bedding to repel keep fleas and ticks. To obtain food-grade DE, check your local garden store or order Flea Dust directly from DERMagic. Flea Dust is safe for all animals, including birds and fish. (Do not use pool DE or DE that is not food-grade as it is treated with chemicals during processing.)


Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com, a columnist for many publications, including Animal Behavior College and Pet Age, and the bestselling author of the fantasy novel, “Shepherd’s Moon.” For more information about Stacy, please visit www.StacyMantle.com