Time to plant a Feline friendly Garden!

Spring!   Time to plant the Garden!

I know a lot of my customers want to plant their gardens soon and why not plan a few plant for your kitty?

Here are some ideas for planting some window box plants ( for city or strictly indoor cats) or some more open-air ideas for more free ranging feline friends.

Wheat or Oat Grass: (Grow to Height: 1 foot) What cat people call ‘cat grass’ is actually either wheat grass or oat grass, and sometimes, a combination of the two.  While wheat and oat grasses could eventually grow to be 5 feet tall if grown outdoors and left to seed, the grains grown by both plants are toxic to cats and so they must be kept short – either by feline “mowers” or by human hand clippers.

Tips for growing from seed HERE.

Lemongrass: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Both cats and people love the smell of the aptly named lemongrass. In fact, some people even say their cat prefers lemongrass to any other plant!  The plant itself is quite healthful offering a host of benefits. It has antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic, diuretic, sedative, and digestion-improving properties! Lemon grass can grow as tall as 3 feet and given room to spread, may span as far as 8 feet over time.

Tips for growing lemon grass in pots HERE

Catnip: (Maximum Height: 4 feet) A member of the mint family, named for its most enthused appreciator, catnip interestingly has opposite effects for people and cats. While many “sleepytime” and relaxation tea blends contain catnip to soothe and sedate us, its scent gives many of our adult feline friends a frisky burst of energy. (Though not all adult cats react to catnip, and kittens never do.)  It’s thought that this works by mimicking feline “happy” pheromones. When cats eat catnip however, it has an effect very similar to that in humans. Cats mellow and become calmer.

Tips for growing catnip indoors HERE.

Mint: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Catnip’s not the only member of the mint family kitties like. In fact, you can plant any one of the hundreds of mint varieties out there for both you and your cat enjoy!  One particular favorite of mine which I grow in my own garden is a chocolate mint plant that truly tastes like a grasshopper ( the delicious cookie kind – not the insect)! Other great options are apple mint, lemon mint, and of course, the classics – peppermint and spearmint. ( A word of caution with this one however – EXCESSIVE intake of peppermint can cause digestive upset in cats. For this reason, it’s important you monitor your cats, especially when first introducing the plant. A leaf here and there is fine, a salad bowl portion is not. Fortunately, most cats only nibble, preferring to smell and rub against peppermint plants rather than eating them, so this isn’t likely to be a problem.)

Tips for growing herbs like mint indoors HERE

Parsley: (Maximum Height: 2 feet)  Says LA Times writer, Julie Davis in her own article on cat garden growing “Parsley is a favorite that provides vitamins A, B, C and beta carotene, potassium and other minerals…” And of course, like many of the plants here actually, parsley is dual-purpose  – a yummy dietary addition for both you and your favorite feline.

Tips for growing parsley HERE.

Zinnias: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) While your kitty may not necessarily prefer these to some of the other plants in this list, zinnias are safe for feline nibbling, and even considered among the edible flower options for people.  Besides – they add a nice flash of bright color to an otherwise green-on-green kitty garden!

Tips for growing zinnias indoors HERE.

Marigolds: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Marigolds give of a wonderful fresh, almost minty scent and as an added bonus help deter unwanted garden pests.  They are also completely safe for cats and once again, add a nice splash of color to a cat garden. Like zinnias, marigold petals are also sometimes used for culinary purposes.

Tips for growing marigolds indoor HERE.

Johnny-Jump Ups:  (Maximum Height: 10 inches) A variety of violets growing an abundance of little delicate flowers adds more color variety and visual interest to a feline garden. While most commonly coming in variations of purple, yellow, and white, these edible flowers are available in a wide assortment of color options.

Tips for growing violets indoors HERE.

Thyme:  (Maximum Height: 1 foot) While there is a specific variety of thyme – cat thyme – which is a favorite of felines (be warned, says petMD – cat thyme has a particularly strong and some say, unpleasant, odor to us humans), any sort of thyme will appeal and be safe to grow in your kitty garden. “Cat thyme has the same soothing effects as catnip, with the attendant feelings of contentment…” says petMD. Bonus – thyme adds a yummy burst of flavor to roasted meat and vegetables!

Tips for growing thyme indoors HERE.

Rosemary:  (Maximum Height: 5 feet) As a bush-growing herb, rosemary is a fun contrast among the grasses and typically low-growing herbs and flowers. As a safe choice for cats (and a yummy choice for your meat and potatoes!), rosemary adds a wonderful pine-like fragrance to the home and boasts the added benefit of repelling fleas in your kitties.

Tips for growing rosemary indoors HERE.

Carrots: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) While your cats aren’t likely to go digging in the dirt for delicious root we love, carrot tops are a healthful herb they may enjoy. As a matter of fact, their lack of interest in a carrots below-the-soil offerings can make things really easy and inexpensive for you.  Simply save and plant your left-over carrot tops. They won’t regrow their roots, but they will readily offer up a bunch of pretty lacy greens.

Tips for re-growing carrot tops from scraps HERE.

Valerian: (Maximum Height: 4 feet) As mentioned earlier, not all cats respond to catnip as a stimulant. However, if your cat is among this crowd of indifferents and that’s a little disappointing to you, you may find valerian is the trick! Like catnip, valerian is actually a sedative in humans – in fact, I keep a box of valerian tea and supplements around in case I’m feeling stressed. In kitties however, the effect is just the opposite and it’s suggested that even if cats don’t care about catnip, they will take to it. In fact, says Herbal Cat Care author, veterinarian Dr. Randy Kidd, “Some cats go even crazier for valerian.”

Tips for growing valerian indoors HERE.

Lavender: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Unlike other human sedative herbs, lavender has the same tranquilizing effect in our cats as it does on us, and both people and feline friends appreciate it’s sweet, soothing scent (the leaves are fragrant as well by the way, so you won’t need to wait for blooms to enjoy it).  Lavender makes an interesting addition to a cat garden, a yummy addition to your food such as in the classic French spice blend Herbs de Provence (savory + marjoram+ rosemary + oregano+ lavender leaves or flowers) and a luxurious addition to a warm bath.

Tips for growing lavender indoors HERE.

Spider Plants:  (Maximum Height:  3 feet) But wait. Wasn’t I just complaining about my poor spider plant earlier? Yes, and it turns out there’s a good reason my cats were so interested! Says Ruth Amick for the SFGate, “It has grassy leaves, which may be one of the reasons many cats love it. It also contains compounds related to opium, which may explain why so many cats just can’t leave it alone.” As it turns out also, spider plants are safe for cats to nibble on, so if you have a plant you don’t mind sharing with your kitties, you’re good to go.  Actually, the tendril “baby” growths from which spider plants get their name, come already equipped with a little root system of their own so it’s really easy to propagate several new spider plants from a large mature one.

Tips for growing spider plants HERE.

Silver Vine: (Maximum Height:  15 feet) This is one I had never heard of, but sounds quite interesting. Like catnip, valerian – and maybe spider plants, as it turns out – silver vine has a harmless, but intoxicating effect on cats that’s said to be greater than that of catnip. Note that this is the “Actinidia polygama” type of silver vine I’m talking about and not the common vine pothos plants sometimes called silver vine.  Pothos plants, while not poisonous will cause a burning sensation in your cats mouth and often vomiting as well should they try and eat them. For this reason, they are not recommended in the homes of cat owners. Actinidia polygama is an entirely different plant related to kiwi and in fact, produces fruit with a pleasant sweet/tart strawberry-like flavor and more vitamin C than oranges (or so I’m told by the internet). As they are climbers, most advice regarding its growth deals with an outdoor setup near a fence or trellis.

Tips for growing silver vine HERE.



Image: Gardening Know How

Siamese dangers heat up in Summer!

Keeping your kitty out of mischief is a daily duty, but owners have to be extra vigilant during the summer, when threats to your cat’s well-being generally rise with the temperature, says Michael Stone, a veterinarian who specializes in small animal care at Cummings School. He points out a few of the hazards and offers up some remedies:

Accidental poisonings. Fleas and ticks are abundant in the warmer months, and cats can get very ill when they’re exposed to antitick and antiflea products developed specifically for dogs. Cat owners should talk with their veterinarian about the safest preventive measures, especially if there are other animals in the home. Never apply a product that isn’t labeled safe for cats.

Antifreeze, a sweet-smelling liquid that’s very attractive to cats, tends to leak out of overheated automobiles during hot weather and puddle on driveways and garage floors. If your cat laps up ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in many antifreezes, it can cause serious damage to the kidneys, and if untreated, lead to kidney failure within 24 hours. Protect your cat by cleaning up spills immediately and fixing coolant leaks in your car right away.

Falls. A cat can sustain serious injury or be killed by leaping or accidentally tumbling from an open window or balcony. Make sure that all upper-story windows in your home are properly screened—and double-check that the screens are tightly fitted and closed.

Encounters with cars and other animals. Of all the warm weather threats to cats, none is more potentially fatal than being hit by a car. Also, bite injuries sustained in fights with other animals are a portal through which bacteria can enter and then multiply and cause a serious infection. Fatal diseases, such as feline leukemia, can be contracted through bite wounds. So play it safe and keep your cat indoors at all times.

Adapted  from Catnip: The Newsletter for Caring Cat Ownerstuftscatnip.com

If I might add another danger.. Heatstroke!  Please be aware that cats do not sweat. So, it might not be apparent that your kitten is getting overheated.  Please see the following graphic for more information:

– The Catman (William Harrison)

Kitty Heatstroke

New Kittentanz Website!

Kittentanz has published a brand new website!  We have included some new features that will make mobile browsing a lot easier!  

We have noticed that as many as half of our customers come to Kittentanz through their phones and we wanted to make the site as best it could be for them.  Please look around and if you find a bug, let us know!

770-735-1405  or catman@kittentanz.com

Thanks!   -Bill 


Siamese and Babies!

We often hear that “the cat resents the new baby” or “the cat is jealous of the new baby.”  This may be true, but do not assume this is the cat’s motivation for house soiling. We have found that is usually not what is going on.  Pottying is about going to the bathroom, not about jealousy.

Cats often quit using the litter box while the lady is pregnant.  Her husband is supposed to be cleaning the litter box, but he does not meet the cat’s standards.  The next difficult time is when the baby comes, and the cat box is not getting attention because NO ONE but the new infant is getting attention….

Purchasing any one of many automated litter cleaning products such as Litter Robot, Litter Maid, Cat Genie, etc. will keep the cat’s litter clean even when you are gone or preoccupied.  This is one time that money can buy happiness!

Another pit fall of new babies is that they soon grow into toddlers.  The most common reason cats and toddlers do not get along is that toddlers ambush cats in the litter box.  I am not picking on your parenting skills or your baby.  This is true of most homes and most toddlers.

Providing a safe place for kitty to potty will prevent trouble.  Not providing a safe place means your kitty will select a safe place.  Chances are, it will be an elevated location such as a bed or furniture.  Kitty will choose something nice and adsorbant that offers a good view of trouble on the way.

From the cat’s point of view, once you wash the bedding or clean the furniture, it is ready to “go” again!  Remmeber that the most important thing about a litter box is that the cat likes it and feels safe using it.  Your decorating ideas simply do not enter into the cat’s decision making process. So keep it clean, and keep it safe , and all will be well.. well at least with the litter box!


Hairballs! Ewww!

With the coming of Spring, you will start to notice your cat grooming more often and shedding its coat.  Licking this loose hair can create another problem: hairballs!  Your cat’s swallowed hair normally passes in  the litter box. But, when it does not, the hair forms a mat in the stomach.  When that mat builds up your cat will vomit this hair and we call these “hairballs”.  The coughing, the choking, and  the wet surprises stepped on in the night are no fun.

Here are a few ways you can help your cat to keep hairballs from forming:

Grooming –  many cats accept or enjoy brushing to remove loose hair. Better yet, brushing also helps keep hair off you and your home. My favorite cat grooming tools are:

  • Slicker brushes whose metal pins quickly remove loose hair even from long coats
  • Soft rubber curries which work better for older cats with sensitive skin and on really short hair

Fiber – special food and treats add bulk and moisture to help hair to pass in stool

Laxatives – flavored hairball treatments coat swallowed hair and pass it in stool.  Some cats refuse these but will eat butter or other oils such as bacon grease and the oil from tuna.

We joke about hairballs because they are nasty and inconvenient for you and your cat but, hair balls can cause serious blockages. If they are more than a seasonal irritation, please see your veterinarian.

How to take better Holiday photos of your kittens!

Kittentanz’s Customers often do not believe how easy it is to get good photos of your favorite Kittentanz Kitty!  During these holidays, when you go to take pictures of your furry friends,  we hope that these pointers will make you get better results!

The first thing we must discuss is your camera.  Here at Kittentanz we use a Nikon d-90 with a 70-135 lens.  This allows me the flexibility for slightly different exposures and the speed and response to get good photos.  I know many of you might have cell phones and Ipads and those can still work to make great photos.  However, there will need to be much more planning or luck for these devices to get the picture that you can get with even a lower level digital camera.  So if you have one, or are asking Santa, use a mid level camera such as this – Panasonic Lumix ZS20  (http://tinyurl.com/n9edmdm).

You want to use Shutter priority.  For those who do not know what that is – it is a setting on your camera that you can set where you control the shutter speed.  250 or above please!

Use Burst mode – if you have it -to take several pictures at the same press of the shutter.  (It feels like you are a pro!  Click click click …ha!)

Natural light !  Let me say that again — NATURAL LIGHT! — or bright indoor lights.   That means NO FLASH!  This is super important –  getting your kitten posed in natural light or good indoor light,  allows you to work without scaring the kitten with the flash and no annoying “red eye” to deal with.

Close ups!  Close ups are better!  Close ups allow you  to see your kittens’ eyes or to illustrate the emotional moment.  That makes for better pictures!

Focal point is important..  and I don’t mean that the picture is clear… but, the subject is obviously what you intend the viewer to see.  If it is your wife and her new kitten, frame your wife and the kitten as the only major elements in the photo.  Get down to your kitten’s level and take the photo there the focal point will be better!

Focus.. ah.. the last major point..  How to get good focus.  I always make the eyes as the place where I focus the camera.  The eyes are truly the window to the soul, using them as THE element to focus on is a “can’t miss.”  If you are using a cell phone or an Ipad to get your pictures, focus can be difficult. But, closeness and patience will get you better picture!  Remember no flash on that cell phone.

Photoshop is your friend…  A good retouch with a photo editing program is often a good idea.  Removing the little fuzz balls, or the odd piece of litter or dust will make your photo better.  Contrast adjustments and brightness are important too!

I hope these tips will help you take better pictures and remember, I want all of those terrific Kittentanz kittens on our Facebook page!  Send them to me at catman@kittentanz.com


Cleaning carpet for the holidays

I had a conversation today about a timely topic with folks thinking of company.  If you have pets and/or children and have carpet, too, then you need to clean carpeting!  My back ground is industrial cleaning chemistry, so I can help.

My favorite products are Resolve carpet cleaner and Bissell Proheat Pet deep cleaner.  The Bissell cleaner is as easy to use as a vacuum.  It has 2 features that separate it from other carpet cleaning machines:

It heats the water as it applies it to the carpet.  This really boosts cleaning performance.

It uses a single bucket, so it is lighter weight and easier to operate.

Keys to good , clean carpet that does not resoil quickly are using as little soap as possible, water as hot as possible, and extracting the soap thoroughly.  Here is how I do it.

First vaccuum really thoroughly.  Next spray Resolve spot treatment on obvious stains.  Use Bissell’s hand tool to mist high traffic areas lightly with carpet cleaner that is diluted according to directions.  With the machine still set to the hand tool, operate the cleaner over the high traffic areas and stains.  This is to let the power brush scrub the soap into the stains and soiled areas.  Finally, switch from hand tool setting to water only and floor cleaning.  Extract the carpet until water is no longer soiled.

The carpet should look clean when you are done, but some stains will wick up and be visible again the next day.  Spot treat those again and extract again.  Deep stains or heavily soiled high traffic areas may need several cleanings, but since the Bissell is easy to use, I just keep it out until I am satisfied.

What a great tool.  Happy entertaining!  Michelle