Happy Healthy Cat Month: Show the World That You and Your Cat Are Purrfect Together

September is Happy Healthy Cat Month—and there’s never been a better time to show our cats some extra love. Recently, the cat lovers at Meow Mix ran the Purrfect Together Survey, which asked cat parents around the country about their special bond with their four-legged friends. Here are some of the meow-nificent results:
83% of cats take naps with their humans
This is surprising—and not because 83% of people love napping with kitty. The bigger question is: Who are the 17% of deprived humans who don’t get to experience the joy of napping with their cats?
80% of cat parents believe they can interpret their kitty’s meows
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While humans and cats may purr in different languages, that doesn’t stop most cat mommies and daddies from understanding what their kitty wants—whether it be some treats, cat nip, or just a snuggle partner.
72% of cat parents love to surprise their kitties with treats
Speaking of treats, nothing makes a cat happier than some spontaneous, unexpected goodies from the person who cares for them the most.
55% of cats love chicken-flavored nibbles
Exciting news: Meow Mix has just released a brand new culinary-inspired food made with real chicken or salmon, Bistro Recipes—a classy meal for a classy kitty! Head over Meow Mix’s new Purrfect Together web portal right meow, and you can download a coupon for $2.50 off any bag of Meow Mix Bistro Recipes.
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And that’s not all! You need a classy painting to go with that classy meal. On the Purrfect Together portal, you can enjoy the unique experience of converting a photo of you and your cat into a Meowsterpiece—a digital “oil” painting that helps express and immortalize your cat-love on canvas. I did it, and you should too! (Poor Horus was not thrilled to pose with me, can you tell?)
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Now it’s time to show me how special your human-cat bond is! Post your Meowsterpiece on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #PurrfectTogether. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Paw It Forward With Morris the Cat

Hey Random Thoughts of Crazy Mandy readers! Morris the Cat, from 9Lives cat food, here. (You may have thought that a cat’s only computer skills involve laying on the keyboard while others are trying to use it, but in fact, we are very tech savvy.)

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For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve starred in over fifty 9Lives cat food commercials, am an advo-cat for kitty rescue, and was even crowned one of Advertising’s Greatest Icons by the Museum of Broadcast Communications. (But I must say, I took issue with this honor. I didn’t know I was advertising all those years… I just really love 9Lives!)

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In case you couldn’t guess, I’m purr-ty much an expert when it comes to eating, and that’s the subject of my next venture. As you know, the holidays are ‘prime eating time’ and I want you to be able to chow down like a pro.

I also thought, with everyone in the holiday spirit, it’s a great time to give back. Lucky for you, giving back is as easy as using your opposable thumbs. With those two bad boys – and the rest of your fingers – you can help feed a kitty in need. Watch this video to find out how. (Spoiler Alert: It’s totally FREE!)

I don’t know about you but all this meowing about food has gotten me hungry.

I’ve made it my mission to help cats and humans eat well – and by extension – live well. (I’ve often said the key to life can be found in your food dish.) With that in mind, I invite you to check out my Official Guide to Eating, Munching, Snacking & More. If you’ve ever caught yourself inhaling your food between errands or carting your human kittens around… or if you mindlessly shovel in your dinner while catching up on the latest episode of “Meownton Abbey” or “Silicon Alleycat”… then this guide is for you!

In it, you’ll learn how to eat like the true foodie you were meant to be. On my site Prospurr.9Lives.com, you can also enter to win a customized drivable cooler, so if you do have to eat on the go, you can do so in style. And don’t forget to tweet #MorrisFeeds to give hungry kitties the gift of a tasty, hearty 9Lives meal.

On that note, my stomach is starting to rumble. What’s on the menu tonight, you ask? 9Lives Lean & Tasty and a side of Meaty Paté with Real Chicken. For a beverage I’ll be enjoying some delicious tap water. How about you?

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Catching Up With Morris the Cat

When I was a kid, there was no Grumpy Cat, no hilarious cats-doing-funny-things videos, and, well, there was no internet, let alone YouTube. However, there were TV commercials featuring Morris the Cat, the star of the 9Lives cat food. Because of him (and Garfield), I placed “own an orange stripe-y cat” on my bucket list.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking (writing) about, Morris the Cat starred in over fifty commercials ranging from the 1970s up to the present He also was the cute fuzzy face of the “Million Cat Rescue” initiative, which helped boost cat adoptions throughout the country. And, last but not least, his latest incarnation had him serving as a feline technology correspondent at South by Southwest.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to interview Morris the Cat about his new effort: ‘Live Well & Prospurr.’ Keep reading to see how he responded to my questions.

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You’ve been a TV star since the 1970s and yet you look as vivacious as ever. How do you keep your youthful glow?

People ask me all the time if I’ve had work done. But in fact, my whiskers stay perky thanks to a disciplined regimen of napping, sleeping, napping some more, eating (9Lives, of course), and just generally hanging out. I want to emphasize this last one because even though it’s categorically important for our health and happiness, it’s also the easiest to forget as we go about our busy lives. That’s why I developed my Official Guide to Relaxing, Chillin’, Unwinding & More. (I had to take some time away from hanging out to write it, but I hope you’ll agree it was well worth it.)

Are humans allowed to know what’s in this guide or is it for fuzzy cats only?

Oh no, the guide was written for all species, both two- and four-legged. And let’s face it, cats are pretty good at hanging out already. I know relaxing can be daunting—what with work, kids, errands, and chores—but that’s why I created the 5 levels of hanging out. Even the most stressed out person can master Level 1: Kicking Back. Then, as people get more comfortable with the idea of just relaxing, they can move on to the higher levels and ultimately achieve what I like to call Prospurr.

How does someone know when they’ve achieved Prospurr?

Excellent question, Amanda. Prospurr is the Holy Grail of hanging out. It’s not so much an action as a state of mind, but purr-haps I could describe it best like this: It’s like the moment you flop onto the couch after a hard day, mixed with the tingling sensation of getting scratched behind the ears, rolled into the drool-inducing taste of a bowl of 9Lives. You humans out there probably haven’t tried 9Lives, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one. For more tips on hanging out, go to this website that I built with my own four paws: www.prospurr.9lives.com

I know working in show biz can mean very long hours. How do you keep to your hangout regimen while you’re on set?

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Just like Brad Pitt or Liam Hemsworth, I have a stand-in who sets up all my shots for me. That way I can rest in my trailer—ahem, carrying case—until the cameras start rolling. My stand-in is polyester and has a tag that says “Made in the USA,” but he does the trick. All I have to do is show up and look handsome… which is easy since I’ve spent the whole day getting my beauty rest.

Certainly the entertainment industry, and the world in general, has changed a lot since the 1970s. How do you keep up with the times?

I chase the times like a red-laser dot, and I’m always on the lookout for cool new tech gadgets that help cats and humans live well. One of my new favorites is the Apple Watch—it lets me track how much time I spend ‘napping’ versus the time I spend ‘sleeping.’ AND, today it told me that I took 19 steps going from my bed to my food dish—nothing like working up a sweat before a big meal.

What is the best advice you could give to someone who wants to live a better life?

Watch cat videos! A recent study conducted by some really smart people at Indiana University found that after watching a clip of Lil Bub, Nora the Piano Cat or of course, yours truly, participants felt increased levels of joy and energy. Science doesn’t lie, people! Bonus points if you watch said cat videos curled up in bed or on a fluffy couch.

If a cat watches cat videos, does it have the same effect?

Yes—in fact, the effect is multiplied. It’s like topping 9Lives Super Supper with even more 9Lives Super Supper. Some days I’ll watch cat videos the entire four hours I’m awake.

It seems like you’ve got a pretty nice life, Morris.

I’m very lucky, but to me, being a celebricat isn’t about paw-ty hopping or head-booping Hollywood royalty. It’s about enjoying the simple pleasures that let me live well—and helping others to do the same. You may not know this but I was actually a rescue cat in Chicago before I was ‘discovered.’ This year, with your support, I’m donating a million meals to the ASPCA. Every time you tweet using #MorrisFeeds I’ll donate a bowl of 9Lives to a kitty in need. And I haven’t forgotten about my human fans: Go to www.prospurr.9lives.com for a chance to win $300 towards a relaxing getaway… You deserve it!

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5 questions with Amber Benson, author of The Witches of Echo Park

Book Cover - Witches of Echo ParkAmber Benson is an actress (you probably know her as Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) a director, and an author. Her most recent book, The Witches of Echo Park, comes out today. Here’s a quick summary of the book, courtesy of Amazon.com:

Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…

Luckily, I was able to catch Amber (via email) before she started her book tour, and ask her these five questions:Photo - Amber Benson

1) What inspired you to write The Witches of Echo Park?

It’s a bit of a mash note to Echo Park – which is my favorite neighborhood in Los Angeles. It was also a way to write about lady friendships – how women relate to each other, support each other, have each other’s backs. My women friends are what keep my going – my ladies are my rock and I wanted to explore what that means – and what better way to do that then to delve into the world of witchcraft – a coven of ladies who are forced to deal with each other.

2) Is it tough to switch between acting (where you become someone else and are directed on how to be that person) to writing and directing, where you are clearly yourself?

I get bored so easily that I need to be spinning lots of plates in order to stay fulfilled and happy. So it’s less about switching back and forth between all the different things I do creatively, and more about living in a state where I stay fluid and open to anything at any time. I want to live in a way where I can jump into any situation and not be overwhelmed.

3) Where do the characters names come from? For example, Hessika, Devandra and Lyse are very unique, but seem to fit the characters perfectly.

Aw, thank you! I love interesting names – I kind of collect them. There was this kind of timeless quality to The Witches Of Echo Park, so I thought it would be neat to throw in some old timey names to add to that ‘out of time’ feeling.

4) Your other books also deal with supernatural topics. What draws you to that subject material?

You can talk about all kinds of interesting, possibly volatile things in fantasy/sciFi books and keep the ideas just veiled enough that people can take them or leave them when they read the story. I like that you can talk about things without getting up on the soap box and preaching – that you can layer big ideas over genre tropes and the reader can peel back the layers if they want, or not.

5) What is the one thing that you want readers to take away from the book?

I want them to get lost in a magical world. I want them googling all the places in the book, trying to figure out which ones are real and which ones I’ve made up.

 

The Witches of Echo Park (Ace Trade books) is available in paperback form and in e-reader form today. I recommend that you go check it out.

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Guest post – 5 Great Holiday Gifts for Dogs

By Dr. Fiona Caldwell, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance company for dogs and cats.

 pets bestNot sure what to get your dogs for the holidays? Here are five great gift ideas to say thanks to the pups in your life for their unconditional love all year long. You’ll make their tails wag, and several of the items double as a gift for you!

 1. Dental chew toys

Dental disease is one of the most common preventable diseases seen by veterinarians. There are toys available for your dogs to chew on that are designed to remove plaque and prevent tartar formation. This can help stop the progression of dental disease and freshen breath. The added bonus of this is your dogs’ better breath when they get in your face to give you kisses – wanted or not! Your local dog store can help you find a dental chew toy that will be best suited for your dogs.

 2. Bowls designed to slow eating

When dogs gulp their food down quickly they often aren’t chewing the kibble. Chewing on their kibble can actually help prevent periodontal disease by removing plaque and preventing tartar. In addition, eating quickly can cause excessive air to be swallowed by your dogs, which then leads to them having gas. And really, no one likes dog gas. There are bowls that are designed to slow down your dogs’ eating. With the benefits of eating slowly, both you and your dogs will be getting a gift! Your local dog store can help you find a slow eating bowl that will work best for your speed eater dogs.

 3. Treat Puzzles

There are many educational toys for dogs that require them to “work” for a treat. These usually require pets to figure out how to open compartments or tinker with the toy until they are rewarded with the treat. Educational toys are great because they reduce boredom and increase cognitive functions. These toys are a perfect gift for all dogs, but those who will benefit the most are puppies, working breeds that need mental stimulation, and senior dogs. Educational toys can help slow the progression of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction in older pets, which is a little like Alzheimer’s disease. Your local dog store can help you find the best puzzle toys for your dogs.

 4. A canine photo shoot

Celebrate your love for your pets by capturing a picture of them. Take photos of your dogs, have a photo shoot done with the whole family, or use one from the hundreds you probably have on your cell phone! There are tons of photo gift options available these days, including simply framing the photo, making it an art print on canvas, making a custom iPhone case, and putting a picture of your dog’s mug on a mug.

 5. Pet Insurance

Give the gift that keeps giving! Studies show that people with pet insurance visit the veterinarian’s office more regularly. Regular veterinary visits will help keep your pets happy and healthy. Pet health insurance will help ensure your dogs receive the best veterinary care by alleviating the stress of the hefty bill that often accompanies it.

See more at: http://www.petsbest.com/blog/5-great-holiday-gifts-dogs/#sthash.bAIarpPO.dpuf

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Photo of the Day: Fat Cat in a Little Box

Slim isn’t so slim anymore, yet he still crammed himself into this comfortable box:

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5 Awesome Android Reading Apps

Earlier this month I managed to talk Josh into buying me a tablet. (Okay, it might have been retribution for having to stand in Best Buy for 45 minutes while he quizzed a salesman about the games that he needed to purchase for his History in Video Games course.) My very, very early birthday present/pay back, is a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. And it’s awesome.

So far I’ve spent a lot of time (probably too much) playing games, checking my email and downloading apps on it. Since this is technically taking the place of my now somewhat retired ereader (a Nook Color, for the record) one of my first tasks was to find apps that would allow me to read ebooks and magazines. I’ve come across these five thus far:

nextissue1) Next Issue. This app works like Rhapsody’s music service. For $14.99 a month, you get access to over one hundred magazine titles – both new and back issues. If you’re a magazine addict like me (I once had over a dozen different subscriptions) you’ll love this. I’m only a few days into my 30 day free trial, and I think that it’s completely worth it. Just think of all of the magazines that I can read without killing trees and having them in stacks all over my office!

zinio2) Zinio. Since I’ve already stated my sheer love of magazines, I’ll rank this one second. With this app, I can purchase (or subscribe to) magazines that aren’t covered by Next Issue. I’ve purchased single issues through Zinio in the past, but found reading them on my computer to be a complete and total pain in the rear. Having an app for it makes it much easier.

kobo3) Kobo. After Barnes and Noble pissed me off several years ago (I haven’t purchased either a book or an ebook from them since, although I do buy textbooks from them, because they run my school’s bookstore), I turned to other sources, namely Kobo. They are a Canadian company that sells ebooks online, and they also have an array of tablet and standard ereaders that I was drooling over. Plus, they have a free app that syncs with my account, so I no longer have to side load books onto my tablet. Yay.

Mantano4) Mantano Reader. This was an app that I actually had to pay for (although not really, since I received $10 in Google Play credits for registering my tablet.) It handles all of the ebooks that I didn’t buy from Kobo, and has a number of other functions that I’m not going to use. I do not plan on hooking my device up to social media, so while some people might get a kick out of sharing the books they read with their internet “friends,” I have no desire to do so and won’t use that option. They also have some sort of cloud option where you can sync up the app with your computer, but it costs money to use and seems overwhelming complicated.

Play Newstand5) Google Play Books and Play Newsstand. Both of these came preinstalled on my tablet. I haven’t much of a chance to use them, other than to connect Newsstand with my Wired magazine subscription so that i can read it both in my office (in old-school paper format Woo Hoo!) and when I have a break between classes on my tablet. I’ll have to play with both of them more in order to give them a fair review.

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Photo of the day: A cat’s life is SO hard

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January 10, 2014 · 8:07 pm

If you give some cats a box…

They’ll all try to sit in it:

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Book review: Too Cute Puppies and Too Cute Kittens

If you’re like me, you try to resist watching the Too Cute! series on Animal Planet because well, you might end up getting more cats. (And that is something that I do not need.) However, those adorable kittens and puppies draw me in every time. It also doesn’t help that my mom texts me to remind me when it’s on.

Now you can enjoy viewing a bunch of cute little furry creatures with these Too Cute books, both published by Harlequin Nonfiction in conjunction with Animal Planet.

P1030839Like the show, Too Cute Kittens has pictures of various breeds of kittens, from British Shorthairs to Tabby cats. Some of the kittens are shown with others from their litters, or with their mothers, or even on their own, posing in adorable ways. (Have you noticed a distinct overuse of the word “adorable” in this post thus far?)

It was hard to not to “aw” at every single page, because I have a weakness for kittens, cats, and pictures of the both of them. This should be evident by the number of furry creatures that I’ve adopted/rescued/couldn’t resist feeding over the years.

 

Too Cute Puppies is equally, well, cute, for lack of a better word. It’s hard to resist a picture that zooms on the nose of a cute little P1030840Dachshund puppy, especially when the next page is a shot of the whole litter of them laying in one big (cute!) pile of fur. Other breeds of puppies featured in the book include Pitt Bulls, Labrador Retrievers and Rottweilers, to name a few.

The books are available now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Animal Planet website, among other places. They make a great Christmas gift for the animal lovers on your list, although there’s nothing wrong with buying copies for yourself :-).

 

 

(Disclaimer: I received copies of these books from a press representative in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.)

 

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