If you follow Bisou and me on Instagram, you’ve likely noticed Bisou has one unusual feature for a house cat. The tip of her right ear is missing, and though some have guessed she lost it in a cat fight, the truth is a little less exciting but meaningful nevertheless. You see, Bisou was a feral cat before I met her. Her tipped ear tells us that while she was spayed and vaccinated as part of a trap, neuter, return (TNR) program. TNR is just what it sounds like; feral and stray cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinary clinic where they are spayed or neutered and given immunizations, then released back into their colonies. Their right ears are tipped to indicate they’ve been through a TNR program. It’s a humane way to reduce the size of feral cat populations, while also improving the health and livelihoods of the cats in our communities who don’t have homes. Without TNR programs that support feral cat colonies and the dedicated volunteers who keep them running, I might never have found and adopted Bisou, so you can bet I’ll be celebrating National Feral Cat Day tomorrow!
Not all feral and stray cats can be adopted. Some have had no human socialization and don’t adapt well to living indoors with people, and in many communities, feral and stray populations are simply larger than the capacity of shelters to accommodate them. The good news is that there’s still a lot we can do to improve the lives of ferals and strays. You can learn to care for the feral cats in your neighborhood, donate to TNR programs and spread the word about TNR and free neuter-spay clinics in your area. Alley Cat Allies is a great resource for feral cat info, whether you’d just like to learn more about feral cats or you’re ready to start advocating for cats in your community. I’m sharing my love for feral cats (and my feral cat momma pride!) with this I ♥︎ Feral Cats tote. All you need to make it is some iron on transfer paper, a light colored tote or t-shirt and an inkjet printer. Just download the template I made so we can be tote twins and you, too, can start showing off your feral cat love! Read on for directions and the download. Continue Reading
Sometimes I envy Bisou. When the alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and it’s time for P and me to wake up and face all the meetings, deadlines and responsibilities adult life brings, my jealously shows. Bisou rises and shines for a quick breakfast and then, because she can, she goes to sleep for as many hours as she pleases. It’s not just about sleep though. Someone makes dinner for her every night and does the dishes. She wakes up looking more gorgeous than I do after getting ready for 40 minutes, with perfect eyeliner and everything. She never has a bad hair day! Of course, being a human has its advantages too, I remind myself. I get to see the world beyond the front door, socialize with other members of my species and enjoy the little things in life that Bisou isn’t able to appreciate. Seasonal eating used to be on the that list of little things. But a while back I started to wonder if Bisou is ever envious of me. She rarely tries to take food off my plate, but she does like to sniff what I’m eating. She eats the same meals day after day, so it would be understandable if she wanted a little variety. Why should people be the only ones to enjoy fresh fruit in the summer, or pumpkins in the fall?
I made Bisou these tiny, cat-friendly doughnut holes so she can get in on the fall pumpkin frenzy we humans are enjoying. I was only able to get a couple pictures of her sitting patiently by her plate of doughnuts before she chowed down on them in a rather unladylike and not very photogenic way, so I think it’s safe to say she’s just as crazy about pumpkin spice as the rest of us. So let’s talk about these doughnuts. The “dough” is a mix of homemade pumpkin purée, chicken and potato starch (a grain-free flour substitute). Instead of the cinnamon and nutmeg you’d find in pumpkin spice doughnuts for people, these are “spiced” with fresh catnip. They’re shaped into a scaled down, doughnut hole shape, rolled in more catnip instead of powdered sugar, and gently baked at a low temperature just until they hold together. Hit the “read more” button for the recipe!
I’ve been looking forward to sharing this knit cat bed with you since I launched Crafts and a Cat two months ago; it was one of the very first cat-related DIY projects I came up with after Bisou was adopted. I always get questions about how to make it when I post a picture of the original bed on Instagram, so I thought now would be the perfect time to revisit it with a brand new gold leaf bed! Say you don’t know how to knit (yet), or you’re more of a dog person. Keep reading! This bed is so easy to make I promise any knitting novice can pull it off. Plus, it’s easy to make it a bit bigger or smaller, so you can customize it for a small dog or any other fur baby you live with. I’m sure there are more elaborate ways to knit a cat bed out there, but I like this method because it’s straightforward, simple and you don’t have to be an expert knitter to make it look great.
This pattern employs just one stitch – the most basic of them all, the humble garter stitch – and is knit on straight needles. In other words, it’s a large scale version of everyone’s first knitting project, the rectangle. Except this one is given dimension and purpose when you attach the ends and cinch the whole thing into a circle, making a soft and cozy cat bed! If you’ve never knit before, try searching YouTube for a video on how to cast on and knit a garter stitch. If you can figure out how to do those two things, you can knit this bed. This project is made even easier by using a bulky yarn and big needles that are easy to handle. Speaking of yarn! I wanted the bed to be plush and super comfortable for Bisou, but didn’t want to spend a whole paycheck on super fancy thick yarn. Instead, I used a technique called plying, which is simply casting on with multiple strands of yarn and knitting as though they were a single strand. The result is a bulkier, heavier knit at a fraction of the cost of luxury yarn. Keep reading for a detailed how-to; your cat (or dog) will thank you! Continue Reading
Wow, what a week! Since my last post, we’ve had a flying carpenter ant invasion, three 100º days that ended in a trip to the vet for Bisou (she’s okay now), and P has gone back to work to prepare for the coming school year. I’m someone who operates best on a routine, so when my usual day to day is thrown up in the air, I end up with a bit of nervous energy on my hands. Instead of cycling through worries and to-do’s, I’ve been trying to slow down, focus on the things I can change and carve out time for enjoyable activities. That last part is by far the hardest, but instead of looking at relaxation time as time I could have used to whittle away at my to-do list, I treat it as time purposefully spent recharging, leading to more productivity and focus later on. And that’s an awfully good reason to make leisure time a point.
This weekend, relaxation took the form of making these adorable, catnip-filled felt toys. When you use a template to trace the cutouts (you can print the templates I made for this project!), it’s actually very easy to put them together. They’re made of inexpensive felt and each have velcro closures that allow you to refill them with fresh catnip. Did you know iron on velcro is a thing? I just found out about it, and it makes this project that much simpler. The toys are stuffed with organic catnip from Tabby James, which I highly recommend because this stuff is seriously strong. Bisou could smell it through the glass jar and the box it came in, and went into full freak out mode as soon as I gave her the toys. The lovely folks at Tabby James are giving away their catnip gift set to 3 of you, readers! So read on for the tutorial and your chance to win some tasty catnip to get you started on your very own toys. Continue Reading
After an unusually cool July, August in Portland has felt much more like summer. Our garden is loving the sun and warmth; my tomato plants are towering over me at nearly eight feet tall and are loaded with green tomatoes, and we’ve been snacking on juicy red strawberries from the patio for the past week. But there’s someone who isn’t as keen about the heat: Bisou. She lays in the sun until her fur is so hot I need an oven mitt to pet her, then when it’s time to head to the shade to cool off, she looks absolutely miserable when she realizes her usual cool spots around the house are hot, too.
On days like this, we all need some extra hydration and cats are no exception. I started making Bisou cat popsicles to supplement her water intake when we had several 100º days in Portland last summer. They’re made of a blend of her favorite wet food and low-sodium chicken broth, so she feels like she’s enjoying a treat while she’s also getting some much-needed hydration. When she’s been laying in the hot sun, I pull one out of the freezer and let her lick it for a few minutes at a time. It makes her happy and hydrated, and it makes me happy, too. Because what’s cuter than a cat licking a popsicle?! One popsicle will last a while, so I usually make just one or two at a time. Continue Reading