Pet Allergies

Anyone have a pet that suffers from skin problems, itchiness, allergies? My little Morkie, Cali, has suffered from it all her life. She scratches, she gets hot spots, she even gets a little congested.  I can hear it in her nose. She has been on a medication called Apoquel for the last few years, and it definitely helps, but it isn’t a cure.

I worry about keeping her on this medication long-term, but don’t know that there are any other options. Even with the Apoquel, she has flare ups once a year or so that cause hot spots, itchy paws, etc. In December, she ended up at the vet because she was chewing on her feet so badly that they ended up getting infected.

After the infected paws, my vet suggested putting her on a higher dose of Apoquel. I agreed, but I’m regretting it. For one thing, cost! Apparently Apoquel comes in three pill sizes, 3.6 mg, 5.4 mg, and 16mg.  Cali was taking 1/2 of a 5.4mg pill once per day, and now she is taking one 3.6mg pill.  Apparently no matter which Apoquel dosage you use, the cost is the same per pill, so my cost has doubled.

Aside from not wanting to spend $75 a month on dog allergy medicine, I also have to wonder what the long term effects of the higher dosage might be on her system.

I plan to have yet another conversation with my vet about it, but wondering if anyone else has had any success in treating pet allergies in other ways? Let me know what you have tried, what worked and what didn’t work?


Litter boxes, cozy spaces, and Bean!

It has been way too long since my last post, sorry about that! Sometimes life gets in the way of the fun stuff! I hope you can bear with me on this post as there is lots of different stuff I want to cover.

First of all, Bean is just over 5 months old! He’s getting really big, but he is still really clumsy. I’ve dubbed him Captain Crash.  This cat is not graceful, and not light on his feet! I’m guessing/hoping that once he finishes growing, he will figure out his body and get a bit more athletic.

A neighbor had a sheepskin she didn’t want anymore, so I claimed it, and Bean and the other cats are really happy about it.  We’ve got two sheepskins now, so there is less fighting. Puck is currently curled up on one, while Bean enjoys the other.

We also bought another treat for the cats. Puck used to love to sleep on top of the lizard tank where it was warm from the lights. He was smart enough to sleep on the bar light, so his weight wasn’t on the screen top. Bean isn’t that intelligent. He insisted on sleeping on the screen, and it was just a matter of time before the screen would have been destroyed.  My boys rigged up a top that gives the lights air space so they don’t over heat, but it is a bit crinkly and wiggly so the cats don’t like to climb on it. Sadly for Puck, he lost his warm spot to sleep, but I had to keep the Dragon safe.

My son was sad that Puck lost his warm spot, so he found a solution, a heating pad for pets! We bought the K&H PET PRODUCTS Thermo-Kitty Mat Heated Pet Bed, and it is pretty great! The pad stays plugged in all the time, but it has a pressure sensor, so it heats up when there is weight on it. The cover is removable, so it is super easy to wash.

Although it was purchased with the cats in mind, Cali definitely enjoys it as well! I wish it was a bit wider, but overall it is working out really well.

I added it to the open dog crate that all the pets love to sleep in. The sheepskin that was in the dog crate moved onto the top, so the cats have a new cozy spot that even allows them to look out the window.

Another new addition to the house is a giant cat tree. All the cats seem to be enjoying it, but Bean really loves it! Bean gets into crazy kitty mode every now and then and he tears around the house at top speed. This usually ends with him jumping onto a table, couch, or the cat tree. He loves landing on the cat tree and bouncing his way all the way up to the top-most perch.

Sorry for the not-so-great picture. It’s hard to get a good photo of a dark brown cat tree in a dark red room! But at least you get the idea, that this thing is big!

In other Bean-news, I started looking into getting him neutered. I called my regular vet and they told me the surgery would be about $400! I mentioned to a friend that I thought it was a bit expensive, and she suggested I look into a spay/neuter clinic at the local SPCA. She also sent me a link to an SPCA group that got a grant and is offering FREE spay and neuters. My local SPCA does reduced cost spay and neuters based on income, so I didn’t qualify for their program. The other group that got the grant doesn’t have any financial restrictions, the pet just has to be within certain age, weight, etc.

I sent in an application for Bean to be neutered, and I waited about a week. He was accepted! Good news! Since I want him to have a microchip, that will cost me $25, but the neuter surgery is totally free! Then I found out the clinic is about an hour and a half away. I think my daughter and I are going to make a day of it.  We will drop Bean off in the morning, and do some exploring, have lunch, whatever, and pick him up for the ride home that afternoon. I get bonus time with my daughter, AND a free neuter, sounds like a win-win!

Logan & Bean enjoying the new sheepskin

If you are still reading, thank you! just a couple of updates left for today, first follow up on the Breeze litter box has been in our house for about a month now. I’m actually really liking it. I don’t have a desire to change all four of our boxes to the Breeze system, but this one is working out well.  As a reminder, I have three regular litter boxes under the stairs on the first floor of our house. I added an upstairs litter box when Bean was tiny and we were keeping him confined. Since Logan sometimes gets in weird moods and hides upstairs, she was also using the “extra” litter box, so I didn’t want to take it away when Bean got run of the house.

The problem with the extra litter box I started out with was the clumping litter scattering all over the place. The box is in our laundry room, and I hated stepping in litter every time I walked in there. The Breeze box uses pellet litter and pads to trap the urine. I was hoping the big pellets wouldn’t get all over the place like the other litter did.

Breeze Box with top flipped

It’s working! The pellets mostly stay in the box, and the one or two that come out are easily cleaned up from the mat I have in front of the box. I’m amazed that there isn’t any odor from the box. The pads do an amazing job of trapping the urine and the smell. About once a week I change out the pad which is in a slide out drawer in the bottom of the box.  It takes less than 30 seconds to change out the pad, and even when I lift the pad to remove it, there isn’t any mess.  The pad contains it all. Another cool feature is that the drawer for the pads can be put in either way, so if the urine is mostly on one end of the pad, I can flip the drawer to put the clean end of the pad where the cats are using it most.

The pellets are supposed to be changed out about once a month, but at this point I don’t see a need to change them yet. They seem clean, and there isn’t any odor. I was worried about the cost of the pads and pellets, but Amazon sells generic versions of the pads that are very reasonably priced.

The one problem I’m having with the box is that my cats simply refuse to poop in it! I tried putting poop from another box in there to give them the idea, they just buried it. When there was a regular litter box in the same spot, the cats definitely pooped in that one, so it has to be something about this Breeze box. Honestly, I’m not worried about it. The cats go to the other three boxes to poop and only use this one to pee. It keeps the smell out of our upstairs area which is great. If I needed to use this as my only box, I’d definitely have a problem, but as a spare box, this thing is working out much better than I could have expected.

Hopefully I’ll have another post sooner, rather than later, but it’s time for me to see what Hector is chirping, chattering, whistling, and burping about before I get on with my work day.



Get a parrot they say…

Parrots are fun and pretty and smart! Yes, all of the above, and they are also characters! But the truth is parrots are high maintenance and super messy!

I’m trying to get some work done this morning, and Hector strolls over by my desk. “Wanna come up?” she says, but when I try to pick her up she poops, runs off, and laughs!

The kitties had been playing with a toy, but Hector strolled over and took over. She was enjoying watching the ball go around the track, but when the kitties stopped playing with it because she showed up, she lost interest.

Hector moved on…

She decided to remodel the cat perch I made, with a little help from Bean. I had to redirect her back to her cage with an almond bribe. All is quiet for the moment, other than the crunch, crunch of the almond.  Maybe I can get some work done!


Breeze Litter Box

Litter boxes are definitely the worst part of owning cats. With three kitties in the house, litter boxes are an issue. I’m constantly in search of the “perfect” box. Now, going from two cats to three, we’ve had to adjust, bigger food bowl, more water refills, more cleaning, and more litter boxes.

For the two cats, I had two litter boxes downstairs. We have a finished basement, and the stairs between the first floor and the basement have an open area under them. It is the perfect spot to have litter boxes out of the way. I keep a basket of bags there, and it is easy to clean the box, and step into the garage to put the dirty bag directly into the trashcan. When we got Bean, I added a third litter box downstairs with the others.

Little Bean started at our house without full freedom. I set him up in our laundry room which is actually an extra bedroom that we use as a laundry room. He had everything he needed in there, and it gave him a smaller space to acclimate to our home for a week or so until he was ready for run of the whole house.

As Bean gained his freedom and we started leaving him loose in the entire house while we were home, and then finally just all the time, I left his food, water, and litter box set up in the laundry room. Our older female cat, Logan, discovered this, and made herself at home.

Logan is kind of a weird cat. She spends a lot of time in our bedroom, and gets super nervous when extra people are at the house, or really there is any kind of change. I noticed that she really liked having the laundry room litter box, so I left it set up.


I don’t mind having a litter box there, the space works out, but after a few days I noticed we were starting to track litter all over the place. I bought a litter mat which is supposed to help catch and contain the litter, and it does help, but it doesn’t solve the problem.

I had heard of the Breeze litter system, and it seemed interesting, but with four litter boxes in my house, it seemed like it would be an expensive endeavor to keep up with the pads and special litter that go with it. Amazon had a deal I noticed over Christmas for the new covered Breeze box. For $23.99 I could get the box and a starter supply of litter and pads.

The timing was right. I needed a better solution for our laundry room litter box, and maybe Breeze was it.

The new box arrived just after Christmas. It took about a minute to set up, a pad goes in the bottom drawer. The drawer slides into the base, the top snaps on the base, and then you fill the base with the big, pellet litter.

Breeze Covered Litterbox

Design is really excellent. I love that the top flips back and doesn’t need to be removed for cleaning. Such a simple and useful design. There is even a spot on the outside of the box for the included scoop to hang from. The drawer slides open and closed easily. Changing the bottom pad that collects urine takes less than a minute, just pull it out, fold it up, and place a new one in the drawer.

Breeze Box with top flipped

After having it for about 5 days, the cats are still trying to figure it out. They have peed in it, but they are definitely using it less than they were using a traditional box with regular, clumping litter.

The big, chunky litter definitely doesn’t scatter around the house as badly, although occasionally Bean thinks the pellets are toys and I hear him batting one around the upstairs hallway. Even with Bean using the litter as a toy, it is still much less messy than traditional litter.

So far, I’m not noticing any odor from the pads. I did find generic pads on Amazon, so I’m less worried about the price, and since this isn’t a heavily used box, I can probably get away with changing the pad once a week even though we have multiple cats.

First impression is that this box may be perfect for my laundry room. It doesn’t smell, it’s easy to keep clean, and most importantly to me, the cats aren’t tracking litter everywhere.

I’ll update again in a couple of weeks as the cats continue to adjust to the new box and litter.