New Year, New Friend!



Our son is home for college break, so of course his kitten is here for the holidays as well. We were all a little nervous about introducing a fourth cat to the house, but things have gone very smoothly!

Puck and Marty
3 Boys in a Tree

Marty is used to living in my son’s dorm room with him, so he had no problem moving into my son’s bedroom here at the house. We kept the cats separate for the first couple of days, and then started letting Marty loose when we were around to supervise. We had a couple of little hissing fights here and there, but overall, they are all getting along. Marty spent the nights locked in with my son for the first couple of weeks, and he was also locked up when we were out, but now he has free run of the house.

My old lady cat, Logan, is being a little cranky with him, but he has learned to keep his distance from her. Logan would prefer to be an only cat. She and Bean often hiss at each other as well. They mostly give each other space and it’s all fine.

Hector D. Byrd

Hector really surprised me this Christmas. Usually she is petrified of anything new. I put her gift on her cage expecting her to check it out from a distance, and she went right over to it and started tearing into the paper! So brave! It took her about a week to open the toy, but she seemed to enjoy the process. She’d tear up some paper and then ignore it for a couple of days, but she finally opened it and I hung it in her cage. I’m thinking I may always wrap her new toys and let her open them. It seems like a great way for her to get used to something new.

Puck loved all the many boxes around the house for the holidays and checked every single one many times over.

It was a year ago this week that I first got the sugar gliders. Sadly, I’m in the process of looking for a new home for them. They just aren’t a good fit here. The cats are obsessed with them. I thought it would be OK with them being marsupials and not crazy little rodents, but my cats still think they are fun to hunt. I can’t take the gliders out of their cage without the cats prowling around. I have to keep the glider cage partially covered during the day and fully covered at night when they are active because I’m worried about cat claws hurting them through the bars of the cage. If one of the gliders ever happened to escape the cage, it wouldn’t have a chance. I’ve been in touch with a woman from a sugar glider group that has a couple of gliders and wants to add to her colony. She seems knowledgeable and willing to put in the time to acclimate the my boys to her others slowly. She’s coming later this month to meet the boys and take them if all goes well.

I hate rehoming pets. I believe in the home forever thing, but there have been times in my life where I have had to make the very difficult decision to find new homes for pets. Yeti, a shelter dog I adopted had to go when he wouldn’t stop biting my kids.

For a few months now I’ve been trying to make a decision about the gliders. They are so cute and soft, but I can’t really enjoy them. Living with the constant worry of them possibly escaping the cage or getting away from me when they are out isn’t fun. They don’t get out of their cage enough because of it. Quality of life for them living in a cage all the time isn’t great. Yes, I give them the best food, they have plenty of toys, and they definitely enjoy each others company, but their interaction with me is limited, and I feel that this other home where her only pets are gliders will be a better fit. Fingers crossed it all works out.

Kitties and Cali

#With the colder weather, Logan and Puck have been snuggling more. Usually, Puck finds himself a cozy spot, and Logan works her way in. Bean is a solo guy, I don’t really find him snuggling with the other cats or Cali.

Puck was happily enjoying his cozy spot until Logan moved in.

Eventually, he figured out that she wasn’t leaving, and he went back to napping.

My new Sundays food for Cali shipped, so I’m still waiting on that. Looking forward to seeing how she likes it and sharing my thoughts on it. They have been sending me emails, and I’m intrigued about it being a dehydrated food, and having a “jerky-like” texture. I think Cali might really enjoy that.  We’ll see!


Pets and wildlife

Cali isn’t much of a hunter!

Saw a Facebook post this weekend about a woman who was concerned her dog kept chasing and killing wildlife, chipmunks, bunnies, etc. Some people suggested muzzles. leashing, fencing, etc. I suggested a simple bell.  It gives the wildlife a bit of a warning so they have a fair chance to get away. I always encourage people with outdoor cats to make sure they have bells on their collars as well. Why not give the chipmunks a chance? 

If you are going to put a collar on your cat, indoor or outdoor, I highly recommend a break-a-way collar. I had a cat get stuck once, and it was scary. Thankfully, I was there to fix the problem right away.  My indoor cats don’t wear collars anymore. They are microchipped, so on the off chance they were to escape, they have that for ID, but my cats are all pretty afraid of the great outdoors, and we are careful to keep an eye on our doors.

Cali got a haircut this weekend, well I cut her hair. I love how she looks when her hair is longer, but with her itchy skin, it just isn’t good for her. Clipping her short allows me to keep a close eye on her skin, and also makes it easier for her weekly baths. I find oatmeal shampoo baths really help with her itchiness. I’ll see how the winter goes. I like letting her hair get a bit longer when it gets cold.

Welcome to Fall

Puck, popping out to say hello


First of all, I miss this blog! Not sure why I’ have gotten out of the writing habit, but hoping to get back to it regularly!

I just heard about a new dehydrated dog food called Sundays Food. Looks like a premium food, no fillers. I got a discount code to try it out, so I’ll check it out and post a review. Cali is doing pretty well with her Cytopoint injections, but maybe a healthier food option will also help. Let me know if you’ve tried it.

Not exactly pet related, but sort of… I got a new tattoo. I had a vision of some kind of tattoo that could incorporate a bunch of my present and former pets. I had the idea of a footprint path, and my amazing tattoo artist, Benjamin Jeness at Summer’s End Studios,  helped bring my idea to life.

From my ankle heading down, there are parrot claws, 4 sugar glider feet, then two each of rabbit, turtle, lizard, rat, chinchilla, ferret, cat, and dog. We simply had to include 4 glider feet since their fronts and backs are so different. I love the way it came out! I really wanted a horseshoe or two in there, but it just didn’t work out design-wise.  Maybe I’ll find a way to add one another time. They are good luck!

This handsome boy is Marty. While I consider him part of our family, he is not my kitten, he is my son’s. He is living at college and loving life. Marty is keeping my son company, helping to relieve college stress, and even providing lessons on responsibility. Marty will join our crew when my son is home on breaks.  Looking forward to getting to know him better.

Marty loves to go for walks on his leash, and loves meeting new people. He expects everyone he meets to pat him!

In general all the pet-family is doing well. I’ll post more detailed updates soon, and of course a review of that Sundays Food when Cali gets a chance to test it.




Work Buddy

Working at home definitely has some challenges. Trying to stay on task can be hard! Aside from the usual distractions of ringing phones, texts, laundry, etc. There are extra challenges around here!

The cats will jump on my desk and leave me toys to throw for them, or just get in my face for pats.

The dog is actually usually pretty good, other than her constant need to bark at anything.

The dragon occasionally looks at me and bangs on the glass of her tank with her little foot so I’ll let her out. She’s easy and will happily hang out on my shoulder while I work.

This morning, Hector was the needy one. She was strutting across the floor, chewing her boxes, chasing the cats, and finally, nibbling my toes! She said “Wanna come up”, so I picked her up and put her on the back of my chair. That lasted about 3 minutes before she got bored and started screeching in my ear. Time to go back to your cage Hector!


Always Be Learning Part 2, The Dragon

Wena’s Tank -Before The Make Over

About three years ago, I got a text from a friend who knew I had kept reptiles in the past. I used to have two snakes, and she has been pet sitting for me for years. She had a friend that needed to find a new home for a snake and a Bearded Dragon. Was I interested in either?

I definitely knew I did not want another snake. I like snakes, I think they are really interesting creatures, but I can’t stand feeding them. I didn’t really know anything about Bearded Dragons, so I told her I needed to think about it.

Dexter the Ball Python

Delilah the Western Hognose

Time to research! Bearded dragons are omnivores, so they need veggies and bugs. I can deal with that. I don’t love feeding bugs, but I won’t have any more pets that need to eat other pets (mice, rats, etc.) This particular dragon came with a tank, lights, pretty much everything I would need. Why not?!?

When I started researching, it seemed that many people believed bearded dragons shouldn’t be housed on a loose substrate, so no sand, dirt, etc. I lined my tank with some plastic shelf liner that had a little bit of texture to give my lizard some grip. The reasoning was that lizards could eat the substrate and it would cause a bowel impaction.

For over two years, I kept her on the shelf liner, she had hammocks to bask in, branches to climb, caves to hide in. Eventually, the shelf liner started to wear out, and I started researching again. Should I just replace the shelf liner? It is easy to keep clean, inexpensive, easy to replace. I started thinking it would be really nice if Wena could have some real plants instead of the fake ones I had in her tank. I researched lizard safe plants.

I came across some websites, particularly Josh’s Frogs, and The BioDude, that had articles about bioactive enclosures. More info was definitely needed! This seemed like such an amazing idea to me. My lizard could essentially live in a terrarium, live plants, bugs to live in the soil and keep the tank clean naturally!

The research told me I needed a mix of soils, sands, etc. that would help maintain the right humidity, and allow the cleaning crew insects to thrive and do their job. Josh’s Frogs offered a mix ready to use, so I purchased a bunch of that. More reading to learn what plants were safe. I found that many of the succulents I already had would be perfect for the tank, so I used a bunch of what I had and bought just a couple of bigger plants to fill in.

This is Wena’s tank today. It’s a work in progress. She has killed many plants by eating or crushing them, so I’m still replanting, and trying to figure out what works best, but here’s the thing… I LOVE this tank! It’s nice to look at now. I enjoy seeing all the plants instead of the ugly plastic tank.

It’s SUPER easy to take care of. There are springtails and isopods living in the soil. I almost never see them, but they clean up lizard poop, leftover dragon food, and decaying plant matter. Bearded Dragon poop smells awful. It is enough to stink up the entire room, but now, it just gets buried in the soil and the bugs take care of it. For maintenance, I spray the tank down with a mist of water every morning when I feed Wena. I’m sure in a few months I’ll want to do a deep clean, maybe change out the substrate, or at least some of it, but that’s it.

Top Down View

Here’s the best part of all, Wena is a totally different creature. She used to scratch at the glass of her tank when she saw me. I thought it was cute that she wanted attention, but in hindsight, I think she was bored and restless. Since switching to the bioactive tank, she eats better, she poops more regularly, she climbs, and digs, and eats some of the live plants in her tank. She hunts for bugs. She no longer taps on the glass. Sometimes when I look at the tank, it takes me a minute to figure out where she is. She has choices. Wena no longer basks in the same spot all day, every day.

I love having pets, but I do sometimes worry about them being in captivity. I think about poor Hector who never really learned how to fly. I always do what I can to enrich my pets lives and keep them mentally stimulated. I truly believe that my dragon is happier and living more naturally now. She’s more relaxed. She doesn’t just sit in the same spot all day. She made herself a nice bed of dry leaves where she sometimes naps. She has branches to climb and leaves to nibble.

Back to the reason for this article, always be learning. Three years ago when I set up the dragon tank, I thought it was the best thing for her. I didn’t want to risk impaction with a loose substrate. Now, I’ve read more. I’ve learned that with the right lighting and diet, there really isn’t a risk from the substrate. I’ve seen how happy my girl is to be digging, foraging, nibbling live plants, climbing, basking, all these natural activities are now available to her. It’s amazing to see the change. Part of being a responsible pet owner is being willing to learn, grow, and change. Take care of your pets physically and mentally. Enjoy them!

Always Be Learning Part 1

Sleepy Cali

The other day my husband was commenting that maybe we have a few too many pets. Of course I disagree, but I started wondering why I always want new pets. Yes, I enjoy spending time with them. I love watching them and learning about their behaviors, but I also love the research that happens when I get a new pet, and for a long time afterwards. I think that may be why I love exotic pets so much. Not only is there so much to learn to give exotics everything they need and keep them healthy, but the research is always changing.

I did some research before I got the sugar gliders. I knew they had strange dietary needs, needed a big cage, and might smell a bit musky. I figured out the basics, but once I had them, it was time to figure out what worked for me, and what worked for these four new little guys that I just brought into my home.

There is experimenting going on still. Which type of food bowls do they like best? Should I feed them near the top of the cage or on the bottom? How often do I need to clean them? Do they like their fruits and veggies mixed with their blended diet or separate?

A routine is finally coming together for the gliders. I’m happy with the diet I’m feeding them, they are eating well. I’ve learned I need to clean them often, but not too deeply. Too much cleaning and they get nervous and mark their territory again.

One of my gliders, Miney, is really small. I was a bit worried about him when I first got them. He’s adjusting, gaining a little weight, and becoming a bit more comfortable here. He seems to be more nervous than the others, so I’ve supplemented his feeding, and now I’m putting plenty of food in the dark, back corners of the cage where he seems to feel safest to make sure he eats.

Miney spreading his wings, photo by Dave Hamilton

Diet still may evolve as I have them longer, we’ll see! Another thing to be learned was nail clipping. I didn’t realize they would need their nails clipped every 3 weeks! They grow super sharp points, and not only does it hurt when I handle them, but it can also be a danger to the gliders because their nails get stuck on things. After watching about half a dozen videos on Youtube about how to do it, my system is falling into place. I clipped their nails again yesterday, and the boys are starting to get used to the process. They get overloaded with treats, so hopefully they are learning to see nail trimming as a positive instead of a negative.

I’m always reading and learning about my pets and animals in general. I have no doubt my glider care will evolve over time.

It took years of having Hector D. Byrd before I got to a routine that I was happy with, a diet I liked for her that she would eat well, toys she liked, routines she liked, etc. I did change her diet drastically a few months ago when I discovered Bird Street Bistro foods (which I reviewed in another post.) How could I resist a reasonably priced, healthy food that took the work out of the homemade mix I was making?

Next time I’ll share some of what I’ve learned about my bearded dragon, check back soon!



It’s Been Too Long!

Puck loves to sleep on the Glider cage!

I hate that I got out of the habit of writing this blog. Time to get back to it! I have so many ideas of things I want to share.

Although we are still pretty locked down with the pandemic, I did travel a couple of weeks ago. Our son needed help moving out of his dorm room, so we got to spend a week in the Portland, OR area, beautiful!

Cats, Hector, Gliders, and the Dragon stay at the house when we travel, and I have someone come in once a day to feed them and visit. Cali goes somewhere else to stay. I don’t think she would do well being at the house without someone living here.

I have a couple of friends that will take Cali into their homes, so I never worry about leaving her. I think she has only been to a kennel once or twice in her life. Nothing wrong with kennels, they just aren’t the best fit for her. She has so much anxiety, and the commotion of the other dogs, loud noises, being caged, it  just really throws her off.

Leaving the pets was a little nerve-wracking. I hadn’t left the gliders before so I had to figure out what would work for them and the pet sitter who happened to be my daughter this time. I wanted to make sure they had everything they needed, but that it would be simple and easy for my daughter.

The system I came up with for the gliders worked so well, that I’m doing it for myself now. Basically, I’m making up big batches of their blended diet, and freezing it in serving size containers along with their fruits and veggies. To change things up, I add different fruits and veggies to some of the containers, and some containers I mix the blended diet with the fruits and veggies, and others are divided containers. The containers are just flat storage containers that the gliders can also use as a food dish.

Glider Grub

After I finish my own dinner, I take out one of the frozen containers and put it in the glider cage. By the time they are ready to eat it has defrosted, but it stays fresh. They also always have pellets in their cage, and of course fresh water. Sometimes things get changed up, I’ll add some yogurt to their staple foods once in a while, or a bit of egg. It’s easy to do when I’m home, but not necessary for the week I traveled.

One thing I learned while prepping the sugar glider foods before the trip was that I had been really over feeding them! I used to think they don’t eat much, and they don’t, they are tiny! But I went back and looked at the portions for their diet. They are supposed to get 1 tablespoon of their blended mix, one tablespoon each of fruit and veggies. I think I was probably feeding them close to double that, what a waste! Now I feed them about 5 tablespoons blended for the four of them along with the fruits and veggies. The best part is now I can actually tell when they are eating well. Some nights they definitely eat more than other nights, and now I have a better feel for things, and my food batches stretch out more.

The bottom line is that my daughter had easy directions for taking care of all the pets, and the pets were all happy and healthy while I was gone.

Cali enjoying a hike

A Few Updates

A couple of quick updates here:

The dragon is doing great. She seems to love her new terrarium set up and is making it her job to try and eat all the insects that are supposed to be keeping her tank clean. I’m guessing I’m going to be needing to add more bugs before they have a chance to reproduce! I did add some mealworms to the tank. We’ll see how they survive. It’s awesome to see how active she is nibbling plants, checking things out, digging, climbing, etc.  I’m really happy for her.

Cali is not happy about her increased walk schedule and decreased treats, but she’s doing well.  The lump is definitely just fat, so not a problem, just something to keep an eye on. She is slowly getting weaned off of Apoquel and doing well so far. I plan to take her in for another shot of Cytopoint at the end of the month, and we’ll see how it goes from there.  Cali also had a bath and haircut last week, I miss her fuzz, but she seems happier to have some of that thick mess gone.

Hector is Hector. She is doing great. I was worried about her getting cold a couple of weeks ago when the house felt a little colder than normal. She usually hates having a cover on her cage, but with the cold, I wanted to insulate her a bit. She’s getting used to having her blankie on each night, and actually seems to like it.  I just put a small fleece over the top 1/4 of her cage. It gives her some insulation, but doesn’t block her view.  So far so good!

The kitties are all doing well.  Logan’s blood work all came back within normal ranges, so she is scheduled to have her teeth cleaned and the broken tooth removed on Thursday. Bean is very excited about all the outside animal activity as the weather is warming up a little.  He’s found a new spot to hang out and hunt.

The gliders are also doing well.  I was getting a little bit worried about my little guy, Miney. He has been smaller than the others since I got them, but I started to worry that he might be losing a bit of weight. I reached out to a glider expert through a FaceBook group to get some advice. She recommended “Glider Crack” which is a high protein temporary diet to help add weight to a sick or needy glider. The problem is that my other three boys definitely don’t need extra food! 

It has been a bit tricky getting him out alone, but I’ve been able to do it for the last few nights. I wait until it is close to the time I think they will wake up, about 9pm usually, and I disturb the pouch where they all sleep. I offer treats to the three other boys to encourage them to leave the pouch, and I make sure their food is all set up for them. Once I get the three big boys out of the way, I remove the pouch with Miney in it from the cage. I’ve been hand feeding him the special Glider Crack, and he loves it!

In case you were wondering what kind of deliciousness is in Glider Crack, it is canned chicken, avocado, scrambled egg, calcium supplement, and water, all blended together into a lovely green slime.

Miney seems to be doing well. Other than being a little thin, he seems totally fine and healthy. I’ve added more food bowls and separated things out more in the cage, so hopefully if he is getting chased from food, he will have a better chance to get at it now. I’ve hand fed him for the last 4 or 5 nights, so I plan to take a night off. I don’t want him to become totally dependent on hand feeding. I’ll offer him more Glider Crack tomorrow night, and obviously I’m keeping an eye on him.

I’m ready for Spring! How about everyone else?