Gourmet Pets

I had a discussion one day, a while ago, with some fellow cat people, about what they feed their pets, how much it cost to feed their pets and how it relates to what the people feed themselves.

As you know, I’m fairly particular about what I eat. I like to buy organic. I don’t eat junk food (usually). I like my food to be as natural and as additive-free as possible. So, for me it seemed obvious that I would feed my pet the same way.

Bazel gets Wellness brand cat food (A different flavour each day of the week – he only likes the poultry or fish ones). He gets one 5.5 ounce can per day at $1.99 per can. Then, on the vet’s recommendation, Bazel also gets a scant ¼ cup of the Hill’s Prescription Diet dry – the one that keeps his teeth clean. One bag of that stuff is about $30ish, but it lasts for months and keeps his teeth tartar-free. Teeth cleaning for cats can cost thousands since they have to knock them out to do it, so I reckon I’m saving money in the long run.

 On Sundays, Bazel gets a special treat. I get him the small cans of Snappy Tom  tuna or tuna with salmon dinners. He gets one of those in the morning and one in the evening. Each can is $1.69. They’re yummy because they look like actual chunks of fish, not all pasty like the usual cat food. (Zoom’s cat, Duncan, gets his special treat on Tuesdays)

I also always try to have some cat grass in a pot growing somewhere he can gnaw on it.  Sometimes he eat a whole bunch of it and throws up. Apparently cats enjoy throwing up cat grass. They eat it specifically so they can barf it back out. Cats are mental.

A lot of people think I spend too much money on cat food. But that cheap stuff in the grocery store just doesn’t even look like, smell like or contain ingredients that resemble real food. And yet, I know plenty of pets live long and happy lives on it. I don’t know if Bazel is any better of with his all-natural food or not, but it doesn’t make me gag when I open it first thing in the morning and that’s the important thing.

I usually buy Bazel’s food at Global Pet Foods on Bank Street. What a great place. They don’t sell animals, of course, but they have pretty much everything else pet-related you could ever possibly want or need. Lots of natural pet foods and healthy pet treats; toys, crates, leashes and other gear.  It’s also a very social place. The owner’s and/or employees’ dogs are usually there. Customer’s dogs wander in gamboling with each other. Cat people are in the cat section exchanging tips and ideas on cat toys and cat entertainment and cat food. 

Occasionally a gerbil person can be found in the gerbil section. They’re usually alone looking at blocks of wood shavings or little gerbil mirrors.

So, anyway, I’m wondering what you feed your pets? Back when I was a kid our pets foraged for food on the farm. They’d get table scraps and when (and only when) foraging and scraps were scarce they’d be supplemented with store bought pet food.

Now vets are horrified by the idea of pets getting people food. They’re horrified by the idea of pets being outdoors and eating mice or birds or plants or random bones they’ve dug up.

Of course back in the day, pets didn’t live to be 36 years old either.

I once worked with a woman called Marissa (yes, that’s her real name) who was one of those certifiable vegans who give normal vegans a bad name. She only fed her cat potatoes and beans because cat food was made from “the putrid flesh of murdered animals“.

I once had a cat named Dwight who was obsessed with spaghetti. Whenever he smelled it cooking, he’d try to dive into the pot. I had to lock him out of the room if I wanted to eat my spaghetti without being killed for my meal.

Bazel is only obsessed with normal cat things like fish and cheese. He will also happily kill me for either.

Now that I think about it, I always seem to have very aggressive cats.

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Disclaimer:  I am earning no revenue nor am I receiving any gifts for mentioning any of these pet food brands or pet food shops….though I would happily accept gifts and/or revenue should they be offered.

Creatures Great & Small

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We live just outside the city – a 10 minute drive – in an old residential area with lots of big, big trees and large areas of designated green space/brush. So, there’s a fair bit of wildlife that has made its home alongside the human residents of this neighbourhood. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that the wildlife is struggling to exist in the tiny bits of green space that haven’t yet been taken over by the human residents.

Anyway, when I go running, I go very early in the morning, just as it’s starting to get light. First, because I still have some energy then and can get the whole exercise business over with and get on with my day. But also because the air is fresher, there are no cars and only a few people around that early (dog walkers and other runners).

So, most mornings I also get the pleasure of communing a little bit with the local wildlife before they go back into hiding for the day.

However, this morning, I hit the jackpot. I don’t know what was going on last night in the critter world, but it was like a freakin’ no-petting zoo out there. A Disney movie’s worth of chirpy, prancey, skulkly, scrabbly, creatures. In 45 short minutes here’s what I encountered (along with the usual assortment of birds, dogs, cats, ducks, geese, squirrels and chipmunks):

  • 5 rabbits
  • 2 raccoons (Together)
  • A wild turkey (On someone’s roof)
  • A deer (Looked like a fully grown doe. The second deer I’ve seen this week)
  • A fox (At least I think it was a fox. It scurried by very quickly and was in among the shrubbery. It might have been a coyote or maybe a small puma, but I don’t think there are too many of those in Ottawa)
  • And, a big fat waddling gorgeous[1] LePew . (Fortunately I could smell him just before I saw him so was able to give him a very wide berth without having to make any sudden movements that might have scared him).

 I really need to get a pair of those camera sunglasses I’d been fantasizing about inventing for years until I found out they already exist. It’s just impractical to carry an actual camera while running.  And I see the most amazing things. 


[1] I’ve seen a lot of skunks in my life, but nothing like this beautiful creature. It was huge and dark, glossy black with two thick dazzlingly white stripes down its back and an enormous, proud, feathery tail. Seriously, this is the first time I’ve ever gawped in admiration at the beauty of a skunk. (While veering carefully away from it)lepew

Taking Back The Weather

Since forever, weather has been vitally important to human survival. So, from day one, people learned how to read nature in order to forecast weather patterns. This way they’d know if they needed to bring the animals indoors, if tomorrow would be a good day for hunting, if the crops needed to be harvested, if it was too early to plant, if a storm was on the way, etc., etc. This method was amost 100% accurate.

Over time some people proved themselves to be better at reading nature than others and they became the designated weather predictors. They’d pass on their skills to the next generation and so on until some wise ass decided this important weather education ought to be formalized and they invented a university and meterological studies and all sorts of highly scientific equipment and specialized weather centers to really pinpoint weather patterns. The Environment Canada Weather Office now boasts a 45% accuracy rate in forecasting the weather. (OOooooOOOooooooOO… 45% is a FAIL, dudes!!!)

One day someone is going to figure out that blogging would make a good university course (if it isn’t already). And they will have some egghead who’s never blogged, but has done a lot of  “research” on it,  teach it and that will be the end of the blogosphere as we know it. Mark my words. ~ XUP

Anyhoooo… back to the weather. I think maybe it’s time for all of us to Take Back The Weather! Because I’m really tired of planning an outdoor activity after the weather people told me it was going to be hot and sunny only to wake up to near freezing temperatures and torrential rain. And I’m tired of going to work in the morning in my rain boots, raincoat and toting a big old umbrella because a “heavy rainfall warning” has been issued and then it turns out to be the hottest, sunniest day ever. (Not that that’s happened around here in living memory.)

So, okay let’s do our own forecasts. Screw you meteorologists and your gyroscopes. We’re just going to go outside and look at nature in order to figure out what’s going on with the weather. How crazy is that?  

Ready?

The Air

  • Take a sniff of the air.  In low pressure, plants will give off a composty smell, flowers will smell stronger. And low pressure means rain or some other precipitation.
  • Also, sounds will also be sharper in a low pressure situation.
  • Check which way the wind is blowing: 
    • Winds blowing in an easterly direction usually mean an approaching storm.
    • Westerly winds mean nice weather ahead.
    • Strong winds mean a worse storm and if trees are showing the underside of their leaves, it means a really nasty storm. When high winds hit a tree, dense leaves will catch the wind and pull the tree over. Folding up its leaves affords a tree some measure of protection.

The Sky

  • Remember the “red sky at night” ditty? 
    • If the sky is red at night when the sun is setting it means there’s a high pressure system mixing with dry air. Since this high pressure system is in the west and since prevailing winds move weather systems from west to east, this means nice weather is on its way. 
    • If the sky is red in the morning, the news is not so good. It means the dry air has passed and a low pressure system is on its way. And low pressure means moisture.
  • The moon:
    • If the moon is reddish or pale also means nice weather.
    •  If the moon is bright and clear, it means a low pressure system is in the air and we all know by now that low pressure equals precipitation.
    • And if there’s  a circle around the moon, rain or snow will follow soon (as the old rhyme goes).

The Birds

Our bird friends can help us predict the weather, too. They already know what’s coming and will adjust their day accordingly.

  • If birds are flying high in the sky, everything is fine and dandy.
  • If they’re down low and/or roosting, rain is on the way.
  • If you see a whole lot of birds in trees or on power lines it means a rain or snow storm is coming really, really soon. If you see birds feeding during a storm, you’ll know the storm isn’t going to be ending any time soon.

The Clouds

Clouds, of course are excellent weather predictors:

  • White, thin clouds high in the sky mean nice weather for a while.
  • Clouds will become thicker, darker and lower in the sky as bad weather approaches. That much, I reckon is pretty straight forward.  
  • If there are several layers of clouds moving in different directions, you know some heavy shit is about to come down.
  • If there are lots of clouds on a winter night, you will know that warmer weather is coming the next day, though it may snow.
  • A clear sky at night, winter or summer, means a nice day ahead.

The Long Range Forecast

If November is a warm month, the upcoming winter will be severe.

If squirrels seem busier than usual gathering nuts, it will be a bad winter.

If the summer is extra hot, the winter will be extra cold.

The first frost of autumn will occur exactly six months after the first thunderstorm in the spring.

If the autumn is windy, then expect a mild winter.

If the spring in windy, expect a cool summer.

If it is a dry spring, it will be a wet summer.

A mild winter precedes a cool spring.

The Weather Related Anecdote

The Old Farmer’s Almanac  has been a great source for long-range weather predictions since 1792. I always make sure I have one in my Christmas stocking because I’m a little obsessed with the weather. Growing up on a farm, (ya, ya, enough already with the growing-up-on-a-farm references) weather was an ongoing topic of conversation, worry, anxiety and joy in the house. And because I still like to spend a good part of my day outdoors, I want to know what’s going on out there—in the days, weeks and even months ahead.

Back to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. One year, back in the mid-1800’s, the publishers noticed that the upcoming edition did not have a weather prediction for a certain date in June and the thing was about to go to print. “Oh hell,” said the editor (because that’s how editors talked even back then), “Just put anything in there,”  So the flunky thought to himself, “Fine, let’s see how they like this” and he wrote —  on this day, it is not only going to be fair, but it is also going to rain, snow and sleet — And, as it turned out, the forecast was 100% accurate. (True story).

This guaranteed them subscriptions for the next few decades.

Although I complain about the weather a lot, like a good Canadian, I actually love weather. I once spent 6 weeks in a country that didn’t have any weather. Every morning the weather guy on the radio would announce, “80 degrees and sunnyyyyy” (in a liltingly musical Caribbean accent). I thought I would like that, but I didn’t.  I actually felt like I might lose my mind if it didn’t rain soon.