Karma and Charlie {a blog}

Fur Children Basics

I am often asked how pet owners can make their fur children happier and more comfortable. You would think my answer involves more toys or various forms of pampering, but it's actually the simple, basic things that mean the most to our pets. 

These items may seem like common sense to you, but let them serve as little reminders or perhaps new tidbits of useful information. Please share this list with your human children so that they, too, can become responsible pet owners one day.

Fur Children Basics:

1. Fresh water daily. This doesn't mean just topping off the water bowl (a lot of animals complain to me about that). They want a clean bowl and fresh water at least twice a day. Many cats also love drinking from cups or sink faucets. Indulge them; they will be so grateful!

2. Food that isn't chock full of by-products, sugar and ingredients that no one can pronounce. The first and second ingredients should both be a type of meat. Special treats should make up only 10% of your pet's diet. Stick with food that's appropriate for his/her age, energy level and health needs. Your pet will live much longer.

3. A collar that fits. If you can't get any fingers underneath the collar, it's too tight and is probably choking them. If you can get your whole hand under the collar, it's too loose and may slip off.

4. Spay/neuter your pet. There are an estimated 8 million animals in shelters with no homes, and it's up to us to help eliminate this crisis! Save lives by spaying/neutering and adopting from your local shelter.

5. Adequate exercise and play time. Dogs especially love to go for walks with their owners. Even if you have a huge, fenced-in backyard they can run around in, take them for a 30-minute walk every day. For cats, engage them with toys, laser pointers and cuddle time. This is so important to them! 

6. Refuse to purchase an animal from a breeder or a pet store. Puppy mills and inhumane conditions SHOULD BE ILLEGAL! 

7. Microchip, vaccinate and keep up with any medications. Many local shelters have reduced-cost services, so check them out before you go to a regular vet's office. The cost of your pet's microchip may go toward feeding a homeless animal. What's not to love about that?

8. NEVER leave your pet in a hot car. And if it's too hot to walk on the pavement with your bare feet, chances are good that your dog's paws will get burned. If you're too hot or too cold while outside, your pet is, too.

9. If your animal is domesticated, keep him or her inside and out of any nasty weather. How would you like to sit outside during a blizzard or a torrential downpour? They don't like it, either! 

10. If you see a stray animal roaming the streets or see one that is being abused or neglected, please call your local Animal Care and Control agency. They will investigate the situation and help the animal if possible. 

11. Instead of assuming that your cat or dog is being a brat by peeing in the house, rule out any medical issues first. He or she may be in real pain and in need of veterinary care. If it's a behavioral issue, try explaining what you'd like your pet to do by using mental pictures. Animals communicate telepathically, so the more you can show them images of what you're saying, the more they'll understand. Invest in an animal trainer to help with any behavioral issues. 

12. The more love and respect you show your fur children, the more you'll receive from them. Animals are very sensitive to energy in the home, so if your family's energy is stressful, chaotic, unsettling or even violent, the animal will react accordingly. Try to provide a peaceful environment where they can feel safe and loved.


Karma and Charlie

I have two cats at home, Karma and Charleston "Charlie." Karma is an ornery, beautiful Siamese kitty who chews everything, and Charlie is a perfect little saint who can do no wrong. He's a Maine Coon with beautiful coloring, tufts of hair sprouting out of his ears, and the fluffiest tail you've ever seen. I try REALLY hard to love both of them equally, and I think I do a good job demonstrating my love to both of them, but it's quite difficult not to favor Charlie. 

And here's why. Karma has pica, a condition characterized by the "voluntary ingestion of non-edible materials" (fabcats.org). Pica can be quite common in Siamese cats, and the fact that she was probably weaned too early from her mom is a double whammy. 

This is a list of what Karma has chewed her way through since I adopted her last fall:

1. Six pairs of spring/summer shoes that were at the back of my closet. I didn't realize what she was doing until the weather got warmer and I started looking for a pair of sandals.
2. Three laptop power cords.  
3. My kitchen chair.
4. Several tampons she pulled out from under my bathroom sink. She chewed through the wrappers and then ran around with the tampons in her mouth while I chased her.
5. An ungodly amount of toilet paper and pens. 
6. Charlie. When he was a baby I was afraid she would crush him and literally eat parts of his body off. Thank goodness he quickly learned how to defend himself. Now he's bigger than her, and they play-fight all the time. They charge each other like they're attacking and then stop to lick each other's heads. They are precious together.
8. The thin white layer of covering under my box springs. At 5:30 a.m. she'll crawl up in between the layer and the box springs and make as much noise as a raccoon scraping an attic floor.
9. Three sets of blinds. 
10. Several pairs of earrings.
11. The edges of several books.
12. My sanity. She has chewed her way through my sanity.

I know you're sitting there thinking, "You're a pet psychic! Tell her to stop!" Well, I did, and it made absolutely no difference. When I asked her why she chews everything, she showed me an image of her as an abandoned, anxious kitten. That's when the behavior probably started, and now she claims that she just likes the feel of different textures in her mouth. The only thing that stops the behavior is me using a spray bottle with a mixture of half water and half vinegar, as recommended by my vet. As soon as she sees it, she bolts into another room.

So maybe the greatest lesson from all of this is the reminder that they are still animals with their own sets of issues. And while it may seem like they're being naughty, always check first to see if there's an underlying medical condition causing the behavior. Many times if a dog or cat is urinating on the carpet, it's not because of bad behavior. It's very possible that they could have a UTI or some other medical condition. 

So how do I put up with Karma's chewing, you ask? Well, the amount of pure love she gives me when she's not chewing her way through my apartment far outweighs the cost of everything I've had to replace. Her love is unconditional, and I am grateful that we found each other.



A Gift

When I was little I never dreamed I would telepathically communicate with animals as an adult. I mean, how cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs does that sound?! I wanted to be a teacher, or an astronaut, or a writer. But the universe had other plans for me. 

After discovering I was a psychic medium at the age of 32, more and more frequently I starting feeling and hearing animals in spirit. It started as a subtle energy---I would hear random bits of information in my head or feel their spirits surrounding me---and it quickly morphed into full-blown mental images, words, and sometimes audible noises. The average bear might think that kind of nuttiness calls for psychotherapy and a tall drink of lithium, but the more messages I started relaying to people, the more real it all became. 

And so it began, my life as a pet psychic. I started reading about animal communication and volunteering for my local humane society. I studied animal behavior and reached out to pet owners. I began seeing how much my readings affected the animals and their owners, and I vowed to become the voice for as many animals as I could.

Since then I have done hundreds of readings and talked to all kinds of animal species, both living and deceased. I consider my gift a blessing, even when a random cat (in spirit) wakes me up at 3 a.m. and wants to discuss how much she misses tuna. 

Becoming an astronaut would have been way cool, but having the ability to talk to a horse seems just as magical to me.