ready for a furever home: the "lost our home" cats

Each week, the littles and I volunteer at the cat room at our local PetSmart taking care of cats available for adoption through Lost Our Home Pet Foundation. For the most part, the littles get to play with and cuddle the cats while I scoop litter boxes, but I'm not bitter. I get an occasional cuddle, too. We see cats come in and out, and some stick around longer than others. We get to know those better, and sometimes we just can't understand why they wouldn't be snatched up immediately. I thought I'd highlight a few of the regulars in hopes they might find a forever home. Check out these sweethearts:

Calypso is a two-year-old dilute calico female. She's absolutely gorgeous and has been hanging out with us since mid-January. She was found pregnant in a feral colony. It was obvious that she didn't belong there, so she was moved to a foster home where she had four beautiful kittens. Her kittens have been adopted, and now sweet Calypso is looking for her chance. She loves cat trees (both for hanging out and scratching), and she loves to be brushed. She gets along with kids and most other animals, so would be a beautiful addition to most homes. 


Keegan is a one-year-old female flame point siamese. "Keegan" means "small flame," so she is named after her beautiful siamese markings. A nice couple found her as a stray and cared for her for several months before bringing her to Lost Our Home to find her a permanent home. Keegan is "all siamese," meaning she's talkative, social, and loves heights. She has been in the cat room since mid-November! We can't believe it! 



Lightening is a two-year-old black and white female domestic short hair. She is named after the unique shape of her tail, which is charmingly crookedish. She is very social and sweet. She'll nuzzle and curl up in your lap. She has been in the cat room since mid-December, but has been with Lost Our Home her whole life, waiting for the right family to come for her. She'd love nothing more than to sit on your lap and cuddle, if you have room for this sweet girl. She won't let you down. 



If you're local, please stop by and pay them a visit. They would love to snuggle with you!

Click here for Lost Our Home Pet Foundation's adoption application.


phoenix family makes huge sacrifice for their pets

I read a post yesterday on Facebook that caught my attention. A client of mine reported that a friend of hers was in need of some camping gear. But not because she was going on a vacation. This woman and her family will be homeless as of the 30th of this month. They need camping gear to survive as a newly homeless family.

You see, money is tight for them like it is for so many others. This family has beloved pets, some of which are service animals, and their apartment gave them a mere thirty-days notice that they would no longer be accommodating animals. The service animals could stay by law, but the others who provide them so much emotional support could not. So the family had to make a choice: get rid of the animals or move.

They can't stay, and they don't have the money to move. They won't sever ties with their furry family members, so they are making a huge sacrifice. They are starting over, Little House on the Prairie-style. They are saving every dime and waiting for their tax return to come. Through the generosity of others, they have secured a large tent and a few other necessities, but they need so much more. 

Now before you judge...not that you would, but some might, and I know how these things go and what questions might be asked:

• If they don't have any money, why do they have pets?

• Why don't they just get rid of the pets so they can have a safe place to live?

• Why don't they get a better job that pays more?

Let me fill you in.

I spoke to Dawn, the matriarch of the family. She told me about her husband, Michael, her daughter, Kim (19 years old), and her daughter, Deanna (18 years old). 

Dawn suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS). Since our mutual friend who connected us also suffers from it, I am somewhat familiar with the disease, but, from what I understand, the symptoms and problems that arise from EDS are plentiful and infinite, and differ from person to person, so I would never claim to know all about it. The Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation describes it as:

"Individuals with Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) have a genetic defect in their connective tissue, the tissue that provides support to many body parts such as the skin, muscles, and ligaments. The fragile skin and unstable joints found in patients with EDS are the result of faulty or reduced amounts of collagen. Collagen is a protein which acts as a "glue" in the body, adding  strength and elasticity to connective tissue.

"EDS is a heterogeneous group of heritable connective tissue disorders, characterized by articular (joint) hyper mobility, skin extensibility and tissue fragility. There are six major types of EDS. The different types of EDS are classified according to their manifestations of signs and symptoms." 

I could provide you with the list of symptoms, but you'll probably move on to another post in your feed within the pages or so, so I'll let those of you who are truly interested in exploring more check out the link to the EDNF web site and see for yourselves. I encourage you to do so. In summary, it's like something out of a horror story. 

What Dawn has been able to achieve is remarkable. She beat the odds and got out of a wheelchair she had been sentenced to for life because of her EDS. She was in that wheelchair for thirteen (YES, 13) years. She describes her victory: "I was on my way to hospice when I said I needed help. I could ask an animal for anything; people much less so." Then along came Bella. Bella was a neglected and abused animal before she connected with Dawn. The two are inseparable. As an untrained rescue dog, Bella learned 53 commands and became her service dog. "Bella made me want to walk and fight and so much more. I have been out of a wheelchair for three years and pharmaceutical-free. I recovered both kidneys and my liver that thirteen years of medications had all but killed off. I did it all with my pets, for my girls, husband, and myself."

Not to be chiché, but they seem to be the definition of "rescuing each other." 

Dawn's daughters, now young adults, both have EDS. Now that they are both over 18, their Social Security benefits (like the kind people really need) are greatly reduced, so money is tighter than ever. To make matters worse, Deanna has autism. She will be filing for disability as a young adult, but these things take time.

So what about Dawn's husband, Michael? Where does he stand? 

Dawn filled me in. "Mike and I were teenage sweethearts...we are disabled family...Mike also has a connective tissue disorder that the doctors are trying to diagnose. He is barely physically able to work part time."

Despite all of these tribulations, the family devotes their time to and has been glued together by animal-related causes. Dawn told me that she doesn't remember a time when she wasn't rescuing some sort of creature (I could relate), and that she holds a special place in her heart for the bully and shepherd breeds–the underdogs. She says "so often they are overlooked, but they are wonderful little souls." Even though their family needs, they give to animals. Dawn reflects that "I have been trying to save every animal I could, since my first memories. Rescuing reptiles, dogs, cats, birds, and whatever helpless being heeded me...our rescue driving has been grounded, as the van has over 160,000 miles on it now, and we can't afford to replace it. All we ever asked for our transports is gas. We did the rest on a limited budget as a family."

Sometimes those who need the most give the most.

So what about their pack? Let's hear about their awesome animals! 

Seven: A therapy cat for Deanna. An elderly orange tabby.

Sweetness: An ESA/therapy dog. Helps the family to alert when Deanna is at her worst. This chihuahua also loves to cuddle with Michael.

Bella: Dawn's "pride and joy," as described. A five-year-old Anatolian Shepherd.

Monty and Snauters: leopard gekos.

Dawn let me know that with her husband's health decline and loss of part-time income due to his condition, they have financially slipped to the point where difficult decisions have to be made. She says "I am not taking my children back to low income housing where we were victims of crime multiple times...I looked into shelters, but none could keep us all together given our daughters' ages and the pets...So yes, we will be homeless, but only for a bit. I will not settle for this for my family."

Even at this bleak time, Dawn maintains a positive spirit and a great deal of hope. Once they receive their tax return, they plan to purchase an RV, some land, and build up a home with their own hands. She pictures it:

"We'll build up chicken coops for eggs, a barn for a goat for milk products, and places to grow fruits and vegetables year-round. Maybe even plant a small orchard for nuts, avocados, and olives. We will have to build up solar panels for power, and a water cistern for bathing and drinking. We will build planters and fill them by hand composting and building soil. Adding in greenhouses and cold boxes for a year-round natural food supply. It's going to be hard. Many would think impossibly so, but I have come back from death's door and proved many experts wrong with just that one act. I was also not supposed to be able to carry children, or to ever walk again. Being told something is hard or even impossible has never stopped me from giving something my everything until another path opens or I progress. The only futile thought is not even trying."

If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is.

So while they wait for their tax returns so that they can start the next chapter in their lives, they'll be camping. Right now, the family is working on gathering the essentials and minimizing expenditures as they spend their last week in their apartment. They are still in need of quite a few things, so if anyone local or otherwise can provide any of the following, they would be forever grateful:

• foster home for their elderly cat, Seven, who would not fare well in a tent.

• campfire cookware

• small camp stove or solar oven

• a few good warm, low temperature sleeping bags

• camp cots

Dawn says "anything will help, and everything is appreciated." 

She didn't ask for it, but I would be happy to facilitate any monetary donations that could go toward purchasing what they need in this transitional period. If you would like to donate, we've established a funding page.

When learning about this family's situation and the sacrifices they are making to keep their entire family together, it makes me cry and smile at the same time. While some people treat animals as if they are last year's fashion accessory, easily discarded, this struggling family is making a huge sacrifice to honor the commitment they made to their pets. They may not have much, but they have each other, and sometimes that's all a family needs to come out sparkling on the other end. 

Connect with EDNF on Facebook and Twitter.

dear lady selling her kids' guinea pig

I belong to a local group on Facebook that allows folks in our community to post things they have for sale, things they would like to trade, or things they are in search of. I've never sold or purchased anything from the group, but occasionally people are in search of a pet sitter, so I chime in where appropriate. People put all sorts of things on the site.

This morning I saw something for sale that disgusted me. 

Guinea pig. One year old. Sweet. The kids have simply "outgrown it." Paid $80 for everything...offering pet and cage and everything for a mere $60. 

I paraphrase, but you get the gist. The "outgrown it" part is a direct quote. 

I wonder how one outgrows a pet. I looked up the definition of "outgrow", just to make sure I'm not off-base or insensitive.




grow too big for (something). leave behind as one matures. grow faster or taller than.

So to outgrow a guinea pig or any other pet, it would require one to either grow too large for the animal or mature beyond the capacity to care for it. 

Let's cut the crap, lady.

Let's be clear.

Dear Lady Selling her Guinea Pig,

You didn't do the research any person should do when accepting a new pet into the household. You didn't realize how much time and care a guinea pig would require, and when your kids didn't pull their load, you were not "mature" enough to parent them and help them understand their responsibility, or–at the very least–take over their responsibility to make sure that the animal survives and thrives. You hold no love for or bond with this animal. You see it as a "thing" rather than a "being." Not only are you trying to find any old other home for this animal, you are also trying to make some money back on this living thing. 

Not that I'm judging.

Let's hope this guinea pig hits the lottery and finds a home much more loving than the one you and your rapidly excelling children have provided. Let's hope this little one finds a family who understands that a pet is not a thing. It's a living being with feelings. 

Let's hope that the person who "buys" your guinea pig understands the life span and care required before taking on the task. I doubt you'll screen for that, so we'll all have to cross our fingers.

Let's hope that their children won't "outgrow" the pet. 

Your children must be quite advanced. I know quite a few adults and children who have managed to stick by their pets through the years despite strides in maturity and physical growth.

So, lady, you suck.

I hope you outgrow your immaturity and lack of compassion and void of responsibility.

I congratulate your adorable guinea pig and wish him well in his new life. Please pass that on to him, if you will. 



rescue cats get their play on with Vitakraft Purrk! Playfuls with #felinesilvervine #sponsored

This post is sponsored by Vitakraft and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Purrk! Playfuls, but Well Minded only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Vitakraft is not responsible for the content of this article.


Most of us enjoy a few extra libations during the holiday season, so why should things be any different for your cat? I know...vino is no bueno for felines and catnip is old news. But have you heard of feline Silvervine?

Vitakraft, a leader in pet products since 1837 (YES, you heard me right...1837) sure has, and they've brought us a line of stimulating cat toys that can be used with it to take kitty play to a whole new level. What is Silvervine, you ask? I hadn't heard of it, either, until Vitakraft invited us to try their new Purrk Playfuls line of toys. 

Silvervine is a plant that grows in the mountainous regions of East Asia. It's 100% natural, and is reported to be preferred to catnip in three out of four cats. Each Vitakraft Purrk Playfuls toy comes with a pack of Silvervine powder, or you can purchase five Silvervine powder packs separately to keep your cat in plentiful supply. Who knew there was something better than catnip? 

All kidding aside, using feline Silvervine to entice play has health benefits for your cat. By stimulating your feline with this safe, all-natural plant, your cat becomes more active and is likely to exercise more frequently. A cat who exercises regularly is typically healthier, just like us humans. When used with Silvervine, the Purrk! Playfuls line of toys will enrich your cat both physically and mentally. Vitakraft reports that cats play 2.5 times longer with Silvervine than they do catnip and return to toys with Silvervine more often.

Why is Silvervine the best?

• all-natural

• safe

• provides physical and mental stimulation

• cats play longer and return to toys more often

• three out of four cats prefer it to catnip

Vitakraft sent us a complete package of Purrk! Playfuls to try. We received two "Bouncy Butterflies," two "Deep Sea Bugs," and a Silvervine Pixie Powder Pack to keep us in supply. The line also includes "Desert Bug" as well as plastic "Marvy Mouse," "Purrky Bird," and "Frisky Fish" that have Silvervine infused right in them. Since the season is all about giving, my children and I decided to take our haul to the Lost Our Home Pet Foundation PetSmart Cat Room where we volunteer each week. We sprung our new cat toys on the following victims:

We'd seen Leah and Keegan before, but Lightening and Houdina were brand-new additions to the cat room, so we didn't know what to expect from them. Keegan is typically quite playful, so I figured she'd really dig the Silvervine-enhanced toys. Leah on the other hand...well, she typically likes to relax and kick back, so I wasn't sure how she'd react or if she'd even be interested.

I was wrong.

My daughter, Campbell, spent a good deal of time holding the Bouncy Butterfly for Leah.

My daughter, Campbell, spent a good deal of time holding the Bouncy Butterfly for Leah.

Leah wore us all out with her enthusiasm for the Bouncy Butterfly, so we made good use of the included doorknob clip.

Leah wore us all out with her enthusiasm for the Bouncy Butterfly, so we made good use of the included doorknob clip.

Needless to say, Leah took right to the Bouncy Butterfly. In fact, she wore us out with her enthusiasm. All three of us spent a good deal of time holding the Bouncy Butterfly for her, but since litter boxes needed scooping and food bowls needed to be filled, we used the handy-dandy doorknob clip that the Bouncy Butterfly came with so Leah could keep playing and playing. She played for about forty-five minutes before taking a break. Amazing. Here's some footage of Leah in action:

Since Keegan couldn't get a moment with the Bouncy Butterfly while Leah monopolized it, we offered her a Deep Sea Bug.

The curled shape made the Deep Sea Bug boing and bounce to Keegan's delight She stalked the bug, pounced on it, jumped all over the place, and lost it under the door several times. Perhaps she liked us to fetch it for her. 

The pursuit and the catch (and the swipe under the door).

The pursuit and the catch (and the swipe under the door).

Though Keegan is always quite playful, she played longer and harder than she normally does. Perhaps she was quite fond of the Silvervine. Check out Keegan in action with the Deep Sea Bug:

Speaking of being fond of Silvervine, our friend Lightening went bonkers over it. At first, she was quite amorous toward the Deep Sea Bug.

"Deep Sea Bug, I love you so."

"Deep Sea Bug, I love you so."

Lightening had a great time snuggling with the Deep Sea Bug, and then she went bonkers. Literally. She pounced and played with the toy for a good deal of time, then abandoned it for the dark side. Unfortunately, I was unable to capture her in a video because I was so busy replacing papers on the desk and making sure her bouncing off the walls didn't get too out of hand. Suffice it to say that we all had a great laugh, and Lightening got some very good exercise. She had a blast, and I think if she had thumbs, she'd give Silvervine two thumbs up.

And what about Houdina, our little shy girl? She hid. Perhaps if the three older cats had not been hogging the toys and bouncing off the walls, we could have coaxed her out for a romp, but she's new to the shelter and quite nervous, so we decided to let her watch from the comfort of her kitty condo. So Vitakraft's claim that three out of four cats prefer Silvervine held true for our sample. 

We had a great time watching the cats enjoy their new Vitakraft Purrk! Playfuls toys, and it felt great to know they were getting some good exercise, especially since they spend most of their days cooped up in a small space. I can see how these enhanced toys would be a great addition to the routine of any cat and would bring some great health benefits to felines of varying lifestyles from the over-active to the sedentary. Purrk! Playfuls is the first full line of cat toys to bring Silvervine to the U.S. The line of toys is guaranteed to make your cat purr, and Vitakraft places their money where their mouth is. Each product comes with a satisfaction guarantee: "If your kitty isn't 100% thrilled with this product, simply return the unused portion for replacement, substitution, or refund." 

Sweet. No risk.

So if you're racking your brain for that definitive gift for your kitty for the holidays, Purrk! Playfuls is the answer.

Feeling lucky? Well, you're in luck. The kind folks at Vitakraft are offering Well Minded readers the chance to win a Purrk! Playfuls toy and Silvervine pack. Please enter, below, for your chance to win.

Connect with Vitakraft on Facebook and YouTube.