This Old Dog Learned 10 New Tricks in 2016

OK, well maybe not new tricks, exactly. But there were a few things I learned or relearned in 2016.

After all, what’s one more?

If you go to an adoption fair and the kitten you’re adopting has a littermate in the cage left behind, don’t think twice. Adopt the littermate, too, so they won’t miss out on four months of kittenhood together.

Yes, bonded littermates do remember each other after a months-long separation.

Cat Attract really can resolve pee problems

We had a period during which Reno started peeing on our bed. We took him to the vet; no UTI. We covered the bed with a shower curtain, he just peed on that.

We clean our litter boxes throughout the day (usually after each use), so that wasn’t the problem. We invested in a bunch of Feliway diffusers, no help.

Our vet suggested sprinkling Cat Attract on the litter (or purchasing the Dr Elsey’s litter that’s been laced with Cat Attract). I was skeptical, but it worked. I wish I’d tried it before I had to trash the featherbed and duvet and take the sleeping bag to the dry cleaner.

There’s nuthin’ like a pom pom

My cats have tried every toy imaginable, including the high-tech remote-laser Pet Cube camera. 

But Reno’s favorite toy in the universe is a simple pom pom that he bats around like a hockey puck, takes upstairs and downstairs with him, and leaves in his noms dish. It’s the toy he always comes back to, and one he never grows tired of.

You can never have too many heated cat cups.

Remember the first time you experienced heated car seats, and now you can’t live without them? Like that. We have more heated cat cups than cats.


You CAN have too many cat exercise wheels. Even if you only have one.

The onefastcat exercise wheel was the worst $200 expenditure ever.

Assisted living facilities often accept pets… with caveats.

I got a crash course in Assisted Living this year (thank you,!) when I had to move my mom to a facility. It was a decision I had to make in the space of a couple of hours with no advance preparation.

I was surprised to learn that most assisted living facilities are pet friendly. But you’re usually limited to one animal, and there’s a size limit — usually under 20 lbs.

Dogs must be leash trained, must not rush or jump up on people, and cannot bark excessively (cats cannot disturb residents, either). The resident must be fully capable of pet care without assistance from the staff.

These guidelines would have kept my mom from keeping her two dogs with her–they’d never been on a leash or had any training, and a knock on her door always generated five minutes of non-stop barking.

Had I been prescient, I might have arranged for my mom’s dogs to go to obedience school while she was still living alone, and I would have gotten her labrador certified as a therapy dog (by law, facilities cannot prohibit therapy/service animals, no matter what their size.)

As it turns out, her condition made pet ownership at the home inadvisable and we rehomed the dogs.

Plan ahead for your pets. Cuz you never know when you’re gonna go.

Which brings me to the next item on my radar: Be purrpared.

Two years ago, I suffered a brain injury. Hubby was certain I wasn’t going to make it — seeing your spouse unconscious on the sidewalk with blood streaming from her ears will do that to you.

Despite my brush with death (and the pall of Carrie Fisher’s death hanging in the air), I haven’t yet made plans for my brood when the time comes. I don’t know anyone who’d have the capacity to take them in and don’t have the money to set up a trust for their care. This needs to go on my resolutions list.

Maybe yours, too.

Play more. Tweet less.

Get off the damned computer and play with your cat already. Your cat won’t be around forever, either, and they can never get too much attention.

Silvervine can resurrect the kitten in geezer cats like a rabbit out of a hat.

Tripper never really learned how to play. He was born in the wild, and lived there until joining our household at the age of one- or two-ish. Now about 13 or 14 years old and 22 lbs, he’s not exactly a ball of fire. More like a ball of Jello.

He got some Silvervine in his Christmas stocking, and suddenly he’s a kitten again. Helicopter leaps hops, somersaults, playing with the Demonic Duo; you name it. He even climbed to the top of the tall cat tower for the first time ever and considered jumping to the top of the ceiling-high entertainment center.

Cats don’t care who’s president.

I’ve got to figure out how to channel that.

Category: Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Mousebreath Magazine is an award-winning online magazine that celebrates cats and the cat-centric lifestyle. Editor Karen Nichols is a popular conference speaker and writer, whose current project is The Cat Scout Handbook. She is also the denmaster at

Comments (9)

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  1. Mr Puddy says:

    ☆ HAPPY MEW YEAR ☆ 2017

  2. Toffee Ripple Fuzzypants says:

    Brilliant advice, Food Lady!

  3. Purrjamm Cats says:

    Thank you so much for all great advise. What is your recommendation on heated cat cups? We want something that is safe and works, kitty tested. Thanks again! Happy New Year! Love your articles! Purrs

    • Mousebreath Magazine says:

      I swear by K/H heated cat cups. LINK: Really well made; last forever. We’ve got six of them. They are extremely safe and the heat element only goes on when a cat is sitting inside. Easy get the cover off to wash. Come in several sizes and colors. Highly recommend.

  4. Sue Brandes says:

    Happy New Year.

  5. So glad to hear Tripper has a new lease on life! Dr. Elsey is a hero to many! It’s expensive, but so are new duvets and blankets!

    The Humane Society of the U.S. has excellent guidelines for ensuring our cats’ welfare after we are gone.


    • Mousebreath Magazine says:

      Thanks, Pat! We’ve got the HSUS guidelines, it’s just a matter of figuring it all out. This year was an eye-opener, and a gotta-get-off-my-butt-and -take-care-of-it year.

  6. Connie says:

    those were some good lessons to learn

  7. Kitties Blue says:

    At almost 18, maybe Lily could use some silvervine as she actually does still like to play in short doses. Lots of good advice here…thanks!


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