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The last time I bought cat food and treats, I blithely picked up my usual brands and didn't think about how they were packaged, until last week. They are bagged in plastic, of course. I have browsed around at several shops since, and pretty much all cat food is now sold in plastic bags (except the stuff in cans). Some dog food is still available in paper bags, though. The Bulk Barn does carry some pet foods and bird seeds in bulk, though I confess I forgot to look closely at all the options.

This is one area where I don't think homemade alternatives are realistic for every day. Homemade dog food is quite possible, and several of my friends do this. However, cats need taurine, which they cannot synthesize in their bodies. Without it, they suffer eye problems and blindness, among other problems. Natural sources of taurine include shellfish, salmon, dark poultry meat, eggs and dairy. Making cat food would require dinner to be prepared fresh every day, in tiny quantities, and with the assumption that my cats will turn their noses up at whatever is made at least half the time. Also, taurine is destroyed by cooking, so the ingredients will have a very short shelf life.

If I could turn my moggies out to fend for themselves by eating birds and mice, they would probably do just fine (except for the risks inherent in local traffic, skunks, and other neighborhood critters). Also, they kill a lot of birds: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/9-leading-causes-of-bird-deaths-in-canada-1.1873654. A LOT OF BIRDS: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/killer-cats-take-down-billions-of-birds-report-says-1.1312489. Stray and feral cats are among the biggest culprits, so I'm proud to say that both of my girls (like all their predecessors but one) are rescues. All have been neutered.

This Pandora, most commonly known as Dora Exploradora because she is such a snoopy kitty. She came to me after landing up at a friends house as an unwed teenaged mother. Barely past kittenhood herself, she had four kittens with her. Happily, all were adopted (and neutered). She is now two years old.

002



This is Gatita. She was adopted while I lived in El Salvador and she is a bit of a survivor. She had to be declawed in front because she kept escaping from the house (ripping out the heaviest screens we could buy); this was an issue because she would come home with razor wire cuts and we worried she would eventually hit one of the electrified fences. In 2007, she escaped from the house and hid during a rain storm. It kept raining for days and we couldn't find her, although we would occasionally hear her meowing. Eventually, we had to leave for a long-planned holiday to western Canada for two weeks. When we returned, there was still no news. Finally, after eight weeks, I spotted her in the neighbour's driveway. The kids and I followed her around the neighborhood for over two hours and I was finally able use tossed bits of canned salmon to coax her close enough to wrap her in a towel and carry her home. She had lost almost half her body weight, but eventually she was fine. I still have a hard time believing that she could find enough food with no claws, even though I saw her bring home birds in El Salvador. She is now 14 years old. My daughter (who is allergic to cats) will not be pleased to discover that Gatita has taken over her bathrobe.

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Last night I cooked a whole chicken on the barbecue, then set it on the counter while ShuLing and I had a small portion of it for dinner. The next thing I knew, Gatita (normally the most intelligent of the cats) was sitting on the stove licking out an empty frying pan - right beside the plate full of freshly barbecued chicken.
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One or both of my cats is/are fond of stealing socks and carrying them around the house. It can be a pair of socks not yet put away, a clean sock from the "odd socks looking for partners" pile, or (rarely) a dirty sock from the pile that gets started when the laundry basket hasn't made its way upstairs from the laundry room. The socks usually turn up on the main floor, though they also appear on stairs or in the pustairs hallway. When there are absolutely no socks to be found, the cats(s) make do with balls of wool from the craft stash by my bed.

What is the weirdest thing your pet does?
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Ginny, ShuLing's bunny, has a thydroid condition. When she was younger, I just thought she was fat. Then I worried she had developed a tumour under her chin. She has never been particularly friendly or lively, but periodically I would buy new toys for both rabbits as I feltbad that Floppy played enthusiastically with his big cardboard tube, while Ginny refused to do more than nibble half-heartedly at the occasional toilet paper roll. A few months ago, I spotted some salt blocks and thought they might make nice treats. Imagine my surprise whan Ginny practically gobbled hers down. Hers needed replacing befor Floppy had made a visible dent in his. Silly me - that lump was a goitre from iodine deficiency. Since then, she has lost weight, the goitre has shrunk considerably, and she is much livelier. She has destroyed all the Christmas chew treats (including Floppy's), and a toilet paper roll now lasts only a few hours. She is also more willing to tolerate petting, thought that may simply reflect the increased attention she has been getting since she got so much more active. If anyone I see regularly has unbleached cardboard tubes (toilet paper, wax paper, etc) and doesn't mind saving them, you would make a bunny very happy.

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