Saturday, August 16, 2008


We now call Ivan and Boo the Microchippies because we had them microchipped a couple of weeks ago. The cost at our vet is $37 per cat, and pet insurance paid $20 each. They were a wee bit sore between the shoulderblades for a week, but now they are fine. The vet said there are no known health problems from microchipping (i.e., she has never seen a cat get an infection at the injection site, or cancer, etc. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice). By the way, some other collective names we have for Ivan and Boo are "The Celebrity Catheads," which was the name of a band in the late 1980s in Houston, Texas, and "Va Bruvahs," which is Cockney for "The Brothers" (sort of).

The company that manufactures these chips and keeps records that will help reunite you with a lost and found microchipped cat is HomeAgain. Not only do they keep your contact information, but they also send e-mail to area members, vets, and shelters any time a pet is reported lost. This increases the chance that your pet will be found and reunited with you. On one hand it is a bit sad to see the number of pets who get lost (as indicated by the number of notices we receive in e-mail), but on the other hand it is good to know that the Internet is being harnessed for such worthy purposes. A one-year "subscription" to Home Again is $14 per cat. Our vet said that any time a new cat is brought in, they scan it for a microchip, just in case someone found the cat and adopted it, thinking it was a stray. There is a story on the Home Again web site about that very thing happening! A cat disappeared, only to reappear two months later when the lady who had found her took her to the vet to get her spayed!

While microchips are great for locating lost pets, they do not protect pets from ingesting evil substances. Ivan did just that yesterday. We purchased some "glow necklaces" for use when camping. These contain a substance that, when activated, will glow for several hours. The substance is a fluid. To see how much light the necklaces actually produce, we activated one of them. They are actually just long flexible tubes that can be joined at both ends to create circles that fit over the head and around the neck. Once the glow died, we were going to throw the spent tube away. We unhooked the ends so that it was a 22" straight tube. Before tossing it in the trash we noticed that Ivan was interested in it. We dragged it around on the floor and he became obsessed with it, running back and forth like a mad cat to chase and grab it, and flying through the air like a gymnast to seize it, his eyes fully dilated as though he were chasing some serious prey. After reading the package and noting that it is non-toxic, we decided to keep it and use it as a toy for Ivan, but we made a mental note to put it away each time we finished playing, as we did not want Ivan to puncture the plastic and get to the glow goo inside the tube.

Yesterday we pulled it out of the fridge (where we have to keep it or he would find it and chew it to bits) and played with Ivan for a while. He is so obsessed with it that Boo doesn't even want to try to play with it - Ivan runs right over him! We had a good play session with Ivan. We let him "catch" the tube occasionally to keep him interested. When he catches it, he usually lays with the tube between his paws for a while, until we get the tube and play with him some more. However, after letting him "catch" the tube last night, we turned away for a few seconds to get something. When we looked back, Ivan was backing away from the tube and shaking his head. We thought he had gotten the connector off the tube and was chewing it, but there was nothing in his mouth. We quickly inspected the tube and saw that he had punctured it with a tooth, and some of the fluid had escaped. Ivan started running around in distress. We couldn't catch him for a minute or so. At one point, as he ran around, we saw a lot of saliva coming from his mouth. This was alarming! We finally caught him, examined his mouth, and then took him to the sink and rinsed his mouth out. Once we rinsed his mouth he was fine, ready to eat a handful of treats and play again as normal. But we were freaked out! We later determined that the substance either tasted bad, or it stung his mouth, or both, and his body's natural reaction to something undesirable in the mouth was to produce extra saliva to wash the substance away.

The puncture was barely the size of a pinhole, so a very, very tiny amount of the glow goo made it into his mouth. We threw the tube away promptly and won't be letting him play with those again! We would not even have considered it if they had not been labeled NON-TOXIC.

The ASPCA says that many pets are poisoned each year by all sorts of things, including chocolate, grapes, onions, the sweetener xylitol, coffee and houseplants. This article talks about things we might never suspect would poison a pet, as well as more obvious poisons (like antifreeze). It is recommended reading for any pet owner.

We think Ivan liked the tube because it looked a bit like a snake. He and Boo seem to LOVE snake-like toys and objects. They go crazy over some of my necklaces if I move them around in a snake-like fashion. We have started looking for snakey toys in the pet store. The first one we found is the Swizzle Teaser (also called Swizzle Bird) by "Dr. Noys' Pet Toys for Cats with an Attitude". This is a division of Kong Company at - they make the Kong toys that are so popular with dogs. Unfortunately, the Kong web site does not include the Dr. Noys' products. The above link for the Swizzle Teaser goes to an Internet pet store with which we are not familiar, so if you order from them, let us know what you think. Anyhow, we bought the toy at PetSmart (there's a PetSmart about a mile down the road from us, so we frequent it). The cats seem to like the Teaser, and we can get them interested in it most of the time, but they don't go crazy over it like Ivan did over the glow-goo tube! We have yet to find something to replace the tube. The photo at left shows Boo playing with the Swizzle Teaser. The feathers at the end attach via Velcro, and you can purchase replacements if the original feathers gets chewed on a bit too much.

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