Don’t forget your pet this holiday season


Do you have pets? Do you buy them gifts for the holiday?

I have to admit that I am a “crazy cat lady.” I did buy gifts for our cats for Christmas (as I always do). I did give them their gifts early. It’s hard to keep anything smelling like cat nip under the Christmas tree because they will tear through all the gifts until they find it. Not only that, I love seeing out cats happy and playing with toys.

I also used to buy toys for our dog and our Goldfish. I think everyone – even animals – deserve special treats and gifts for the holidays.

If you would like to include your beloved pet in the holiday festivities, consider putting some gifts under the tree for them. Even better, why not give them their own Christmas stocking. Since we have five cats (almost six, our newest family member is on “medical leave” at the moment), it would be hard for them to each have their own stocking. So they just share a super cute stocking with a cat on it.

The brand Petmate has a lot of fun toys for your feline friend. One of my favorite is the Fat Cat line of toys. We own several of them. Not only do our cats love to play with them, but their whimsical and zany images are fun to look at too.

The Hipster Kickers are funny looking. I love how cute they are. Our cats love to play with them. They grab them with their front paws and kick at them with the back paws. Thank goodness they are made out of a durable canvas-like material.

To make the toys even more fun for cats, they are filled with catnip. If you own cats, you know how crazy they get for catnip.

Our cat Emma enjoying some fun Fat Cat “kicker” toys from Petmate.

Another fun toy (a little too much fun if you ask me) is the Zippy Mouse.

The adorable little Zippy Mouse replicates the movement of a real mouse. It literally zips around and changes direction. Just when your cat thinks they’ve got it, Zippy Mouse moves a different way.

This toy is not only a lot of fun for the cat (even funner for humans to watch them play with it), but it also activates a cat’s natural hunting instincts.

Initially our cats were a bit put off by this toy. They didn’t quite know what to make of it. Once they figured it out, they had a blast chasing it all over the place.

The mouse moves by a human pulling back on it and letting it go. That is the only downside. In order to get it to zip about, a person has to set it in motion.

I refer to this toy in the past tense because I have no clue where it is. It’s somewhere in our home. Most likely under the fridge, stove or couch. I have not seen it in a while.

The little Zippy Mouse looks like this.

You don’t have to spend a fortune during the holiday season like you would on a person, but I do think that pets DO appreciate being thought of too.

These are just a couple of examples of Petmate toys for your cat. They also have plenty of toys for dogs and other critters as well.

Now might be a great time to “gift” your pet a new carrier too, so they can ride in comfort and style on their next vet visit.

For more information on these and other Petmate products, visit Petmate.com. The brand can also be found on Facebook (Petmate) and Twitter (@PetmateProducts).

Are you giving your pet a gift this holiday season? If so, what are you giving him/her this year?


*I received free sample products to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: A Reindeer’s Journey


Opening in select theaters this Friday (November 15th) in New York City, and On Demand November 19th, is the beautiful documentary, A Reindeer’s Journey. I believe the film will be available on DVD on November 26th.

The film is narrated by Donald Sutherland, and was directed by Guillaume Maidatchevsky.

With the holiday season fast approaching, A Reindeer’s Journey would make for a delightful movie to usher in the season. After all, the film is about a reindeer, and as you know, Santa needs his reindeer to pull his sled to deliver presents around the world. However, this film is about a REAL reindeer, and his name is Ailo.

I really love watching nature documentaries, most especially ones like Planet Earth, Blue Planet, Frozen Earth and Disneynature films (Bears, Oceans, Chimpanzee…). I had no doubt that I would enjoy this movie just as much.

Growing up, I always wanted a pet reindeer. Of course, I was hoping it was a magical one that could fly. I still wouldn’t mind a pet reindeer. I think they are beautiful creatures.

This film takes place in Lapland (Finland), at the edge of the arctic circle.

Ailo (eye-ee-low) was born early, before his mother was able to make it down to the spring pastures from the snowy mountain tops. Thankfully he is born perfectly healthy. Sadly, half of the reindeer born in this part of the world will never make it to their first birthday.

Did you know that a reindeer has 5 minutes to learn how to stand when it is born, 5 minutes to learn how to walk and another 5 minutes to learn how to run and swim? They have to. It’s a matter of survival. It takes me longer than give minutes just to get out of bed in the morning.

Along Ailo’s perilous journey to survive into adulthood, he meets many of the creatures native to that part of the world, such as a snowy owl, arctic fox, lemming and a stout (it looks like a weasel), as well as more common creatures like a squirrel, bear and wolves. There is even a wolverine. Those things are SCARY!

The film does go off from time to time and focuses on the other critters in the film, but eventually the film goes back to Ailo and the other reindeer in his group.

There are some spectacular shots of the northern lights too. It’s on my “Bucket List” to see them in person.

This film has a run time of 86 minutes (just shy of an hour and a half).

A real reindeer’s life is not filled with candy canes and sugar plums. It’s a daily life or death struggle to survive. They face so many challenges, from out running predators, to finding food, and trying to survive some of the harshest weather conditions on Earth. Reindeer are amazing creatures. They deserve to be praised for their survival skills. How they can live through the winter is incredible.

After you see this film, you will have new found admiration and respect for reindeer. I know I do.

For the most part, this film is endearing, with shots of adorable creatures. On the flip side, this movie also documents how scary it is when predators are on the hunt to collect their next meal. I prefer looking at cute creatures. I’m not a fan of watching animals being hunted down and killed. I know it’s the circle of life, but at the same time, I don’t like to think about it, let alone see it in action. I literally close my eyes so I don’t have to watch it all play out.

There are plenty of gorgeous nature shots throughout the film, from trees engulfed in snow, to breathtaking fjords. The cinematography is outstanding.

This film is not a ho-ho-ho Merry Christmas film. In fact, it has nothing to do with Christmas except it’s about a reindeer, and people often associate the two.

If you are interested in learning more about this film, click here. If you are in New York City, look for it at a theater near you, otherwise you can look for the film On Demand, or on DVD (coming soon).

Below is the film’s trailer for your entertainment.



*I received a free online screener link in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

How to Keep Pets and Wildlife Safe This Halloween

*This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect my own.  

With Halloween around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what to do to keep our pets and wildlife safe on such a fun night. While it’s enjoyable to dress up and trick or treat for humans, it can be quite scary for pets and wildlife. Dr. Gary Weitzman, veterinarian and president of San Diego Humane Society gives tips to keep both wildlife and pets safe this holiday.

Six Tips to Keep Pets Safe and Happy This Halloween:

  • Halloween causes pets stress:Keep pets inside away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities. To reduce stress levels, keep pets in an enclosed room with their favorite toys and with the television or radio on.
  • Doorbell stress:Excessive ringing of the doorbell can make some dogs bark and raise their stress levels. Consider leaving a note on your door that asks trick-or-treaters to lightly knock rather than ring the doorbell.
  • Candy is a trick, not a treat:Chocolate and other ingredients can be toxic to animals, so keep candy somewhere they won’t be able to get into. Also, be mindful of wrappers and foil – they can be a choking hazard to animals.
  • Be careful with costumes: Just because animals look adorable in costumes, doesn’t necessarily mean they like it! Don’t make your pet wear a costume unless you’re sure they enjoy it. A simple Halloween bandana can be a more comfortable alternative to a full costume.
  • Use caution with Halloween decor:Keep jack-o-lanterns with flames out of reach of your pets or use flameless candles to prevent curious pets from getting burned. Also, use caution with fake cobwebs and other decorations that could be a choking hazard for your pet.
  • ID your pet:Make sure that all of your pets are microchipped and wearing tags with a current ID. Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates plenty of escape opportunities for your pet. If your pet does go missing, a pet ID and microchip will help ensure a quick reunion.

In addition, here are some important tips for helping to protect wild life during Halloween season.

Don’t use fake spider webs or other decorations made of entangling fibers on the outside of your home. Wild animals can easily get trapped and may not be able to break the material to free themselves.

Avoid decorations with loops or closed circles. A foraging animal can inadvertently put its head through a loop or circle and choke itself.

Avoid decorations with small, dangling, edible-looking parts.

Candy, and the plastic it’s wrapped in, can also be a hazard for animals. Don’t leave candy out where wildlife may find it, and dispose of all candy wrappers properly.

Carved pumpkins may be attractive to wildlife as food, so properly dispose of them if you don’t want post-holiday trick-or-treaters. (After Halloween, you can donate your pumpkins to Project Wildlife rather than throwing them away. Pumpkins are used for enrichment for raccoons, providing stimuli to enhance their well-being, but also allows them to practice their foraging behavior before they’re released back into the wild!)

Be alert for nocturnal wildlife while trick-or-treating. Avoid cutting across lawns and through brushy areas to avoid accidental encounters with your wild neighbors.

Drivers on Halloween night know to be on the alert for children, but we encourage you to also be aware of wildlife that may be scared out of hiding by all the unusual nighttime activity.

National Geographic Kids Books new book series – So Cool! So Cute! (giveaway ends 10/12/19)


I’ve always been an avid reader. Sadly, I have been too busy over the years to read as much as I’d like to. I have a nice collection of books I’ve been meaning to get to. Someday…

As a child, I would read all kinds of books. I especially loved books that were educational. Yes… it’s true. I would read educational books. I would grab an encyclopedia (remember those?) and literally read through it from beginning to end. How nerdy was that? It’s true. I think that is why I am so good at answering questions on Jeopardy. I love it when “I” know the answer and the smart people on the show don’t.

I loved reading books about animals, ancient Egypt (I loved to learn about mummies), and other far away places.

If your child/grandchild love animals, and they love to read up about the various species, you should check out a new book series from National Geographic Kids Books called So Cool! So Cute!

So Cool! So Cute! books are filled with fun facts about the specific species. Each page features beautiful, colorful, photography of the species to help bring it all alive.

The first two books in the series are So Cool! Sharks and So Cute! Pandas. I was sent both books to review, along with adorable plush animals.

These books are geared towards kids 3-7 year olds (preschool to second grade). I’m an adult and I think these books are great. I even learned a thing or two that I didn’t know about sharks and pandas.

So Cool! Sharks

Sharks are among the world’s top predators, but that’s just ONE reason why they are SO COOL. So who wouldn’t want to hang out with them to learn more! These books blend awesome animal photos with silly quips and info that will delight young readers and animal enthusiasts. For example, kids can catch the hunting habits of a great white shark while learning that its true nature is as chill as a frozen fish stick. This is the perfect little reader to get their brain buzzing and keep them laughing during downtime, bedtime, or anytime.

I have always found sharks to be fascinating creatures. One of the things on my “Bucket List” is to cage dive off the Australian coast and see a Great White shark up close. I know, I know… sounds crazy. But I am really interested in doing something like that. I know it will never happen (we don’t have that kind of money), but it’s fun to dream about it at least.

I know a lot of people are into sharks. That is why “Shark Week” has become so popular over the years. Admittedly I watch some of the programs that come on that week. That’s because I find sharks so cool, just like the books.

This book is a great starter book for young children to learn about these fascinating creatures. You can read it to them, or they could read it themselves. These are easy readers.

The other book in the series has to do with Pandas. Who doesn’t love Pandas? They are SO CUTE! I especially love how they act. They are very silly. I love how they roll around.

I first fell in love with pandas when I saw the famous Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., when I was a young girl. It was back in the late 70’s or early 80’s if I recall correctly. Sadly, those Pandas died many years ago.

I also received the So Cute! Pandas book as well as an adorable plush panda.

So Cute! Pandas

Get ready for cute overload, panda style. And the funny thing is, this panda isn’t just cute. It’s got attitude! You’ll flip over the adorable photos and be equally charmed by what this sassy little panda is thinking on every page. Introducing the brand-new series from National Geographic Kids that combines two wonderful things: super cute photos of all your favorite fluffy animals and silly text that will have the whole family laughing. Add to that some great nonfiction content that gets kids learning, and, what can we say? This series is just so cute!

Admittedly, I didn’t know as much about pandas as I did sharks. That is because there is no such thing as “Panda Week” on television. There should be. Pandas are fascinating creatures too.

Both of these books would make a great addition to any family library.

If you are interested in learning more about these and other National Geographic Kids Books, visit the National Geographic store (linked here).

I have both books and the plush animals to give to a lucky reader.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on October 12, 2019. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

To enter, please comment on this post and tell me why you would like to win this giveaway?

For extra entries, please refer to the giveaway widget.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. The sponsor will be providing the prize package. 

What cat doesn’t love cardboard boxes?


Our cat Bella as a kitten sleeping in a tissue box.

Do you have a cat? We do. We have five to be exact. For long time readers of my blog you probably remember them. I have written about them often. Sadly, both our boys, Velcro and Anakin, had to be put to sleep two months apart (Velcro was old age and diabetes, and Anakin was from a liver disease). We never got over them, and that was a year ago.

Over the past few months we adopted two kittens, Emma and Loca (“Loca” is the female version of “crazy” in Spanish – and she is crazy!). Now we have five cats again, but this time around they are all girls.

Emma is especially unique. She has deformed front feet and extra toes on her back paws (Polydactyl). She does NOT have extra toes on her front paws (she has five, like she’s suppose to). It looks like she has extra toes, but she doesn’t. Poor baby sticks to everything and they get in the way of her jumping around.

Loca is a domestic short hair. Emma I suspect is a Norwegian Forest Cat or Siberian (she doesn’t have the face of a Maine Coon). She is going to be H-U-G-E!!! You have to see the thick legs and monster feet on this baby.

It goes without saying that when you adopt kittens (or a cat), you want to have plenty of play toys for them and things to keep them amused occupied. Actually, we adopted Loca for Emma. Emma, being a kitten, want to play with our older cats (9, 17 and 19). Needless to say our older cats didn’t have the energy to keep up with an active kitten. We adopted Loca so that Emma could have a playmate. It’s worked out beautifully. They are best friends. They play all the time and during downtime, they are also together.

Emma (on top) and Loca (bottom) enjoying the sun by a window.

We have it all… catnip toys, things that jingle, things that squeak, things that bounce… you name it. There is another toy the kittens, and my older cats, love – cardboard boxes. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, they will find a way to enjoy it until we take it out to the recycle bin.

Why do cats like boxes?  Behaviorists claim that they are cryptic hiders, which means they pounce then retreat to their safety place. They also sleep on an average between 18-20 hours a day. That’s a long time and so they seek a den like shelter that keeps them safe from predators-it’s in their DNA. Also, the comfort temperature for a cat is 82-97 degrees! By staying in a box like shelter, they don’t expend as much energy and stay cool in the heat and warm in the cold.

In addition…

Ethologist, Claudia Vinke, Utrecht University in the Netherlands has  independently observed that when boxes are provided in shelters for cats, the cats with the boxes are less stressed, play more and acclimate much faster to their new environment.

Our late cat Anakin was HUGE, but he always managed to squeeze himself into the littlest box. It was the funniest thing to see.

Anakin some how fitting in a narrow flower box (he was a huge/fat cat).

There is a company that offers cardboard boxes specifically designed for cats. They are called Kitty Cardboard.

Kitty Cardboard has developed high-quality designer cardboard boxes for cats that are colorful and whimsical. You will be proud to put them anywhere in your home-they’re that nice!  These designer boxes have been flying off the shelves since their inception. They have also been a huge hit with Instagrammers (sic) who have kitty-cat influencers, because the boxes are POST PURRRRFECT!  The current designs are: Jungle BoxMeowter-Space and Purradise. The brand also has seasonal designs for Halloween, and soon a design for Christmas.

Kitty Cardboard sent me a box to review. I received their Halloween box to review.

The boxes are made in the USA. They arrive flat but they are super easy to assemble (I did it in about a minute).

The box has cute Halloween images all around it including a ghost, pumpkin and bats. In addition, there are holes of different sizes on four sides of the box (the box has six sides) to allow for plenty of easy entrances and exits.

When they pop their head out of the holes, it’s suppose to make them look like the figure surrounding the hole. For example, when your cat pops it’s head out of the hole for the ghost, it looks like their face is part of the ghosts face. Hopefully that makes sense.

Here is an example of what I mean.

PHOTO SOURCE: Kitty Cardboard 

Both of our kittens high energy, so it was not always easy to get a photo of them with their heads popped through the holes the right way. I almost got Loca’s photo that way, but she popped her head out too much so it doesn’t look like the ghost’s face like it’s suppose to. I have seen the cats pop their heads out just right, but by the time I grab for my camera, they have already moved or they are out of the box.

Here are my cats enjoying their Kitty Cardboard box.

Peek-a-Boo! Emma says “hello.” As you can see, our cats like to play in the Kitty Cardboard box. You can see one of the toys in the box with her.

Emma peeking out to say “hello” again.

Loca is saying “hello” too. Look… she’s a ghost. LOL!

Loca in our Kitty Cardboard box

Emma trying to get in the box that Loca currently occupied. Emma is a HUGE kitten (she’s as big as our adult cats), but she fits in the box just fine.

Emma not too happy that Loca won’t let her have a turn in the box. You can see Loca inside.

Our cat Bella looking to see if Loca is out of the box yet. Even our adult cats love to hang out in the box, most especially Bella. She usually kicks the kittens out of it so she can use it.

Since I received the Kitty Cardboard box to review, I’ve never gone a day where I haven’t seen at least one of the cats in it. In fact, the box gets moved around (I’m not sure who does it). I’ll put it in one place, and come home from work and find it on the other side of the room. I guess as they jump in and out of it, they are moving it. Either that or my home is haunted. Ha Ha.

If you are interested in learning more about Kitty Cardboard box, or if you’d like to purchase one for your own kitty (it would make a great Christmas present for your cat), visit KittyCardboard.com. The brand is also on Instagram and Facebook. Those links are found at the bottom of their website.

Kitty Cardboard is charitable and devoted to homeless cats. They donate one box to a shelter for every box sold. You can read more about it on their site.


*I received a free sample to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Therapy Pets: 9 Ways Dogs Help with Depression


Over one-third of households in the US have a pet dog. At the same time, up to44 million Americans suffer from a mental illness.

Have you ever considered how an animal can help alleviate a mental health condition? You may be surprised that pets have a highly therapeutic power that can help people with depression.

In this article, we’ll explore 9 ways in which dogs help with depression. Let’s go.

  1. Love Is the Answer

Petting an animal has been proven to lower stress levels and release oxytocin, the “love hormone“. This hormone is key for good relationships.

Relationships with dogs or humans can help show us the light. This can make you feel as though there is a purpose to your existence during tough times.

Although you won’t necessarily feel great every time you pet a dog, it’s definitely worth giving it a go and getting a boost of hormones.

  1. Help Your Helpless Animal

When you’re depressed, you’re likely to feel completely hopeless and helpless. Remember, your furry friend depends on you for pretty much everything.

Just knowing that there is one being that needs you can make you feel a lot less helpless. Your animal asks for help, so perhaps you should try doing the same.

Thinking about someone else can help with depression. When you have a pet, suddenly you need to remember to get out of bed, pick up their food, and ensure they have enough to eat and drink.

  1. Dogs Need Exercise and So Do Humans

Less than one-quarter of Americans exercise enough. However, the body produces endorphins when we move which can work as nature’s own anti-depressant.

Other benefits of exercise include increasing blood flow to the brain and reduced feelings of anxiety. There are also improvements in other health conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure.

By owning a dog, you’ll be required to get up and out every single day to walk your furry friend.

  1. Forest Bathing Isn’t Just for the Japanese

In Japan, “forest bathing” is a well-known practice where people spend time in nature, being mindful of their surroundings.

It’s thought that forest bathing or nature therapy can help reduce diseases of both the mind and body. Now, doctors are also prescribing such methods to those suffering from mental illness.

Being in nature can boost your immune system, help you sleep, and lower your blood pressure. If you’re walking your furry friend, make sure you visit a beautiful park or, better yet, head out into the forest.

When you’re there, turn your phone off and leave it in your bag and practice walking mindfully and concentrate.

What do you see, what can you hear? How does all this greenery make you feel? You may even want to take refreshment with you to enjoy next to a tree.

  1. Pets Need Routine

Those suffering from depression may find themselves sleeping in late, missing breakfast, and sitting around the house all day.

However, if you have a dog, this simply isn’t possible. Your dog provides you with routine. They need you to let them out in the morning, encouraging you to step outside yourself.

They require feeding, which may encourage you to turn the kettle on and prepare yourself some tea and food. Furthermore, as we’ve discussed, a pet dog needs a walk and they will get you out of the house every day, preferably for them at the same time.

Having this routine can provide you with a strong sense that you are needed. This is a powerful feeling which can help people even on the bleakest of days.

  1. Never Feel Lonely Again

What’s great about dogs are that they really are furry friends. When you’re feeling sad or alone, they’ll curl up next to you. Even if you have a depressed dog, you can get through it together.

Having companionship at home has been proven to prevent the development of illnesses. In fact, isolation can trigger depression in some people. You won’t feel isolated when a dog is wagging its tail and happy to see you.

If you’re feeling lonely, why not talk to your pet? Just voicing your concerns out loud can sometimes make you feel better and no-one is a better listener than a devoted dog.

  1. Meet New People with Dogs Easily

When you’re out walking your dog, you may be surprised by the sheer number of people who will say hello to you.

Most of these people will be fellow dog owners who you may recognize over time and get to know. Your dog will ensure you meet lots of fellow dog-lovers.

If you’ve met a few people while walking your dog that you enjoy talking to, why not get their numbers and plan to walk your pups together every other day.

This social activity isn’t too demanding either. You’re simply walking and occasionally chatting but will help bring you out of your shell.

  1. A Pet Provides a Sense of Security

In a world where sometimes it feels like everything we do is criticized, returning home to a pet that has nothing but love for you is a wonderful thing.

Your dog will provide you with a loving sense of security and you can guarantee they’re not judging you.

  1. Take Inspiration from Your Pooch and Be Mindful 

Ever wonder what your pet is thinking about when they’re sitting next to you and staring into space? Perhaps the answer is absolutely nothing and that’s a beautiful thing.

Your dog doesn’t hold a grudge, it doesn’t ponder over why you’ve said something a certain way, it simply moves on.

We are, of course, very different from our pets. However, why not try being mindful the next time you notice your dog staring off into space! You might be surprised by how many benefits this can bring you.

How Can Dogs Help with Depression?

If you already have a pet, now’s the time to truly appreciate everything then bring you.

However, if you don’t have a dog you may now be tempted to run out and buy one. Before you do this, make sure you truly can take care of a pet.

Have you experienced yourself how dogs help with depression? Share this article on Facebook.