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6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Pet in College

Hi!

I wrote this article, “6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Adopting a Pet in College” for my college’s chapter of Her Campus. You can read the article here.

I decided to write this article after discussions my roommate and I had over his decision to adopt a cat. When we were at PetSmart one day, he saw a little black and white kitty and fell in love with her. He immediately filled out a form to adopt, unsure whether it was the right choice. We had plenty of conversation about whether or not it was the right time for him or not, which is what inspired me to write this article.

The little girl’s name is Yvie (pictured below). Soon she’s going to get her own post about how she’s acclimated to our home with Chuck and Barry (spoiler alert: it hasn’t been going smoothly, but we have hope yet)!

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The Top 10 Best Barry Bleps

Barry bleps. A lot. I’m always catching him in the act of it – I notice him sleeping, pink tongue sticking straight out of his mouth, and he’s completely unaware of it. I pat him lightly on the head and he wakes up – confused, he looks at me, the tongue still flopped out of his mouth, unaware that it’s happening. Sometimes I leave him in his ignorance, and sometimes I poke it, just for fun, then he licks his lips and stashes his tongue back where it belongs.

I’ve documented many, many Barry bleps. There’s nothing quite like his bleps that can get me creeping across a room, careful not to make a sound and disturb him, preparing my camera to sneakily snap a few pictures from every angle.

So I’ve decided to rank the top ten Barry bleps, from least-amazing-yet-amazing-blep to the Number One Blep.

10. Mini-blep

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Nothing too extreme – this mini-blep is definitely a blep, but a subtle one at that.

9. The First Documented Blep

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There’s nothing quite like finding out that your cat is a blepper and realizing that you get to experience in-person bleps for the rest of your life. Plus, a kitten blepping might be the most precious thing I’ve ever seen.

8. Playing Dead Blep

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Okay, maybe he’s just sleeping and not doing a trick, but check out that leg positioning, check out that chunky-looking blep. This picture is slightly unsettling and extremely adorable.

7. Cherub Mini-Blep

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Barry’s chubby and innocent-looking face in this photo reminds me of a cherub. Do you think cherubs blep? Or is Barry a trail-blazer?

6. Bird-watching Blep

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What’s better than staring at birds with your tongue hanging out of your mouth??? Barry would argue, “nothing!”

5. The Birthday Blep 

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The birthday was mine, and as a birthday present, Barry decided to grace me with one of the most intense bleps I’ve ever seen! This blep is full-tongue awesomeness.

4. Shocked Blep

What’s better than a cat looking super surprised? A cat looking super surprised with a super-blep on his face!

3. Sleeping Super-Blep

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This blep – with Barry sleeping and looking like a pure angel – is the most serene thing I’ve ever seen.

2. Hungover Blep

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So, obviously Barry doesn’t drink because he is a cat, but if you’re familiar with hangovers, then you know that this photo of Barry encapsulates the feeling perfectly.

1. The Angry Blep

This is the all-time best blep that Barry has ever done: that devilish glare, that silly tongue hanging out of his mouth. Am I supposed to be taking his anger seriously? Am I supposed to be laughing at that tongue? The mysteriousness and weirdness of this blep is why it has been awarded the title of Number One Blep.

Honorable Mention: Chuckie’s Mini-Mini-Blep 

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Chuckie never bleps, so I only have this one photo. I figured it deserved an honorable mention – although the smallest of bleps, it’s still a special blep in it’s own right.

So those are the best of the bleps! Comment and let me know if you think I have the right ranking, and show me picks of your own kitty’s bleps!

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A New Way to Workout: Yoga with Chuck

Do you feel like your fitness goals have stagnated, that you’ve fallen into a rut? Is your current workout routine just not doing it for you? Are you getting sick of the same old yoga poses (such as the – yuck – downward dog) that you’ve been doing over and over again?

Thankfully, my fitness-addict kitty cat, Chuck, has been working out a new yoga routine that you can try in the comfort of your own home! With this routine, Chuck has lost three pounds and is as fit as all of the meowdels you see on Fancy Feast commercials.

So lay out your yoga mat in a relaxing part of the house where you can’t get distracted by any pesky birds. And make sure your water is bowl is close by – you don’t want to get dehydrated!

Warm-up

So even though yoga is consists of stretching out your muscles, Chuckie still chooses to do a few minutes of warm-up stretching before he really busts out the more difficult moves. He prefers to get on the very tip of his paws and stretch his body out to it’s fullest potential while also arching his back and extending his neck.

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Pose 1: The Arm Reach

Chuckie swears that this move is the reason he has triceps of steel. Simply lay on your side and stretch out one arm as far as it can go – and then do the other. Hold each arm for one minute and repeat three times.

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Pose 2: The Half Cat Twist 

Sit on your butt and twist your body slightly to one side and raise your other arm in the air. Hold the pose for a minute and a half and then switch sides. This pose is great to prep your abs for the next pose.

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Pose 3: The Full Cat Twist

The Full Cat Twist is one of the most demanding yoga poses ever created to date. You must balance on your tail bone and twist your torso to one side – and hold it for two minutes before switching! Chuck swears that The Full Cat Twist is the reason he has that six pack hidden under his fur, so even though this one is difficult, you don’t want to skip it!

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Pose 4: The Leg Lift

Lay on one side, with your arms balanced over your chest, wrists curled towards you, with one leg in the air and the other outstretched. You might look like a cat playing dead, but what you really are is a calorie-burning, muscle-building MACHINE. Chuck even theorizes that you lose up to thirty calories per minute that you hold this pose.

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Pose 5: Upside-Down Cat on the Wall 

This is Chuckie’s all-time favorite yoga pose because he says it really gets the blood pumping to the head. Position yourself next to a wall and rest both legs against the wall while extending your arms to the maximum. Hold for one minute and then switch sides.

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Pose 6: The Lick

The ultimate goal of this pose is to stick a leg behind your head. This pose will work your abs, your glutes, your hamstrings, your quads, and even your calves.

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For those who don’t have the flexibility and muscle strength to perform The Lick, then you can perform The Lazy Lick, of which the goal is to stick the leg straight up in the air slightly in front of you instead of behind your head. Here is Chuckie demonstrating The Lazy Lick:

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After The Lick, do a few minutes of your favorite cool-down pose (except the downward dog, which doesn’t mix well with a cat’s routine).

And there you have it – Chuckie’s ultimate yoga routine! Not all routines are easy for beginners, but with enough time and practice, you should be able to purrfect most of his poses. And after sticking it to it for a few months, you’ll be as fit as a meowdel.

(Psst – keep an eye out for the next blog post: The Top 10 Best Barry Bleps!)

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36 Times Chuck and Barry Made Me Smile

The short answer is literally all of the time, but Chuck and Barry both have such unique, adorable quirks that leave me happier than a clam. Here’s some of the things Chuck and Barry have done to make me smile:

1. The first time they snuggled with me

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It took awhile for Chuck and Barry to come around to me, and I didn’t want to pressure them. A day after I brought them home, they finally came over for cuddles, and I couldn’t have been happier!

2. Their first vet visit 

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Look how good they’re being in their cage! Not picture is the incessant crying on the drive over, but that was more adorable than annoying if anything.

3. The first time Chuck laid on my chest

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I had no idea the amount of love I was in store for, but I couldn’t have been happier than when he insisted on laying on my chest.

4. When Chuckie stood up

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Look at him!! That belly! Those awkward hands! And a sleeping Barry! Too cute, I couldn’t help but smile.

5. When Barry got stuck in the couch because he was playing too hard

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He’s so silly!

6. Snuggling with Chuck and Barry

Chuck and Barry love to snuggle up in bed with me, and it makes me disgustingly happy every single time.

7. Spooning with Barry

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Even better, whenever I’m laying on my side, Barry comes and nuzzles himself right against my stomach, so that we are essentially spooning. What cat does this?! I’m not smiling in this picture, but I am very, very happy.

8. Halloween

My little bumble bee and hot dog couldn’t have looked any cuter on Halloween! I debated about whether or not to buy them Halloween costumes, and I’m so happy I did! Although I only left the costumes on for a few minutes because they both hated them.

9. When Chuckie grabs my hand 

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Sometimes I am administering belly rubs, Chuckie likes to take a hold of my hand and hold on to it. Why? I don’t know. But it makes me smile every time.

10. Whenever they sit in bizarre ways 

I get that they’re trying to show off their fluffy tummies, but what in the world is Chuck’s pose?! And can Barry possibly be comfortable sitting like that?

11. When Chuck chewed the pen

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This picture of Chuck is literally my Facebook cover photo.

12. Box play time!!!

Chuck and Barry, like all cats, LOVE boxes, and they look so darn cute when they’re sitting in them!

13. The time they disappeared, and I found them snuggling like this on a chair

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They’re too close as brothers, but it’s adorable.

14. When I found Chuck gently resting his paw on Barry’s shoulder

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Again, very close brothers, but so cute. I smile and smile.

15. When they groom each other 

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Thankfully, they are so close that they keep each other from being dirty or smelly. So cute.

16. Whenever Chuck and Barry look for birds out the window

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I can’t help but smile every time I find Chuck or Barry looking out the window. The smile grows wider when they start chirping because they spotted some!

17. When Chuck sat in the dog’s cage

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All the dog wants is to get out of that cage, but Chuck just wants to lay in it! When I first saw this, I laughed and asked him if he wanted to be locked up in there. Unlike other cats, Chuck and Barry are totally cool with cages, including their own cat carrier. If I leave it out, they even play with it!

18. Every time they sleep and look so cute!

How do those two cute little faces not make you break out into a smile?!

19. When Chuckie got in the bag!!!

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One of my FAVORITE Chuck moments and one of the cutest things I ever saw, I was smiling for hours on the night that Chuck climbed into this green Toys R Us bag.

20. Barry’s tongue 

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Barry always has his tongue hanging out when he’s sleeping, and it always makes me smile

21. Barry during his injury

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Don’t get me wrong, when Barry had the build-up of fluid in his knee, I was an emotional wreck. However, I managed to smile as he continued to shower me with affection even through the pain, and the smile on my face got wider every day as I realized he was getting better!

22. When Barry stared at the wall 

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Shortly after recovering from his injury, Barry spent three nights in a row sitting on my pillow and staring at the wall in the dark. Was there a ghostie? A mousie in the wall? Was it the buprenorphine wearing off? Not sure. But it was hilarious and I couldn’t sleep because I was so amused.

23. Tucked-in kitties!

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Enough said!

24. Whenever Chuck plops down and strikes a pose

Chuck is a natural-born model. He knows just how cute he is, and he wants to make sure that everybody knows it, so he’s always striking a pose somewhere!

25. The time their bodies formed the shape of a heart

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Isn’t this just such a beautiful sight?!

26. Loaf cat!!

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Barry is such a good little loaf cat.

27. When they get super excited because I’m about to feed them!

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Not pictures: the bowl of wet food that Chuck is desperately trying to get his greedy little paws on!

28. When Barry climbed into the laundry basket

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What are you doing, you silly kitty?!

29. The one time I walked into my room and found them both waiting for me like this:

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Really, just sitting there, heads cocked, looking at me…waiting to get petted and photographed!

30. When Barry was playing under the doormat

I think he thinks he’s hiding. He really thinks nobody can see him. Sure, Barry.

31. Chuckie waking me up every morning

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A squeaky meow, Chuck’s face in my face, that’s how I’m often woken up early in the morning. It doesn’t even bother me. I smile.

32. When Chuck and Barry wait for me when I’m outside

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I love when they sit at the door and wait for me to come back in (except for when I have to shoo them away so they don’t run outside).

33. Everytime Barry lays on me

Barry is the ultimate snuggler. Whether I’m sitting on the couch or laying in bed, he has to make sure he’s as close to me as possible (and I’m not complaining). Sometimes he even lays on my back when I’m sleeping at night. And it makes me super happy to have my companion around.

34. When Chuck watches over us

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Since he’s a little shyer, Chuck doesn’t like to join big groups of people in the living room and dining room, so he’ll keep watch over us from the staircase. I always break out in a smile when I look over and see his little face peeking at us!

35. Our Valentine’s Day dinner together!

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They’re eating a little bit of sashimi, and a lot of wet food!

36. All day, every day

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My two little babies have me smiling all day every day!

Comment and let me know what your kitty cats do that keeps you smiling!!

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Barry’s First Injury: A Battle with Fluid in his Knee

An injured or sick cat is the biggest nightmare of any cat parent. Recently, I had to live through this nightmare when Barry got a fluid build-up in his knee.

The Symptoms

I knew that something was up with Barry when he spent all day hiding under my roommate’s bed. “Maybe he’s just tired,” I tried to rationalize away. “Maybe he got into human food and got a stomach ache. Maybe this will pass quickly. I’ll keep watch over him, but cats are weird, it might be nothing.”

It wasn’t nothing. My fears were confirmed when Barry finally came out from under my roommate’s bed. He was walking slowly, appearing groggy. When I gave him wet food, he didn’t even finish it, and he LOVES his wet food. I started to become even more worried, but he was eating, drinking, and using the bathroom, so I clung to the hope that it was a temporary stomachache and would soon pass.

Another day went by where Barry was not getting any better. I decided I would take him to vet the next morning if he was still sick. “It’s probably a stomach bug,” I thought. “Some antibiotics and he’d be just fine.” I was worried, so worried, checking on him every few moments, but I figured it was just a normal kitty flu or something.

But everything changed when he came out from underneath my roommate’s bed on the second night of him being sick.

Barry walked out of the bedroom and attempted to go down the stairs. He made it one step, stopped, and tried to get back up the step. He could barely make it.

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Notice swelling in his left knee (Picture NSFW)

He stumbled into my bedroom, and that’s when I noticed he was limping. Badly. He wasn’t putting any weight on his left hind leg. At all. And it was swollen. Something was seriously wrong with his leg.

So I did what any loving cat parent would do when realizing their baby was badly injured: I sat down on my bed and bawled my eyes out for twenty minutes (and continued to cry on and off throughout the rest of the night). My poor little baby, injured and in so much pain. What was wrong with him? Was his leg broken? Or was it something more serious – did he break his spine, or his tail? Was it just a sprain, or something worse? Was he dying? Was he going to be okay?

I knew for sure a vet visit was in Barry’s immediate future. In the meantime, I locked him in the bedroom with me to sleep. He cuddled up in bed with me all night. I was absolutely distraught over his injury, but I felt better knowing he was trying to show me that he was alright so that I wouldn’t worry (actually, though, cats will generally mask their pain and hide injuries as an instinct so they do not look like easy prey, but I liked to think Barry was doing it for me, anyway). I checked up on him a few times during the night, and then the next day I called the vet.

The Diagnosis

Chuckie and Barry’s vet had no available appointments and didn’t have a working x-ray machine, so the next option was Penn Vet’s Ryan Hospital, which is close to where I live. I loaded Barry up in his cat carrier and drove him over. I had two classes that day and an orientation for an upcoming internship, but I decided they might have to be skipped or postponed. Barry’s health was more important.

Penn Vet is a great animal hospital with lovely veterinarians, nurses, and staff. Barry got a triage nurse called right out for him and went right back in to the emergency room. I waited around, nervously scrolling through Facebook on my phone. A grown man sat in the waiting room and cried, presumably over his pet, and I could feel my heart breaking over and over. Would that be me soon?

After waiting hours to be seen by the orthopedic team (who were in surgery), Barry finally got his diagnosis: a build-up of fluid in his knee that was causing the pain and mobility issues.

The doctor didn’t know what caused the fluid build up. She said it could have been from a sprain or something more serious, like septic arthritis or an infection. She gave me two options: take Barry home, keep his mobility limited, see if it gets better, and bring him back if not; or get tests done right away to check for any kind of underlying issues besides a sprain, then take him home. I chose to pay for the extra tests to be done right away – I didn’t want to wait if there was something seriously wrong.

Barry was at the hospital for nearly ten hours, and finally got released around seven at night. I don’t want to get into the price of his treatment – it was quite a pretty penny – but I’d spend all the money in the world for Barry’s happiness and health.

The Treatment

Since no underlying condition was confirmed, Barry’s initial treatment was pain meds and rest. The doctor prescribed buprenorphine, an opiate, to be dispensed to Barry every 8-12 hours by squirting it onto his gums. The side effects listed on the bottle were “sedation” (which was good to keep him from running around and injuring himself further) and “increased affection” (probably the jackpot of side effects, coming from a cat mom’s perspective at least).

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Barry sleeping after the hospital visit

If you’ve read my other blog post about my cats’ primal desire to eat all things, you’ll have read that the one thing they WON’T eat is their medication. Giving any kind of oral medication to Barry is borderline impossible. However, Barry’s injury worked in my favor since he was not as able to squirm from my grasp, so I was able to administer his pain meds effectively.

I kept Barry locked in my bedroom for as long as I could manage to keep him in there. Over the next few days, the swelling in his legs decreased and he started walking easier and quicker. After about a week, he was good as new. The doctors called and said they found no underlying cause for the fluid build up, so the most likely bet is he managed to injure himself which lead to the fluid build-up (how an indoor cat fails so hard at being a cat that he hurts himself is my question) and he just needed to take time to heal.

And where was little Chuckie during all of this, you might ask? I had to keep Chuck separated from Barry so that he wouldn’t coax him into playing on the bum leg, and also so I could monitor that Barry was eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping (probably a little bit of excessive paranoia on my part, but with two cats in the room I couldn’t be sure who was eating or who was using the litter box, and I wanted to be sure that Barry was, just in case).

So, Chuckie was banned from my room until Barry was all better.

And he was a MESS. I honestly think he had a harder time dealing with Barry’s injury than Barry did! Chuckie is so dependent on Barry, so he would run around the house crying and crying because he wanted to see him. I’ve never seen a cat look so anxious. Thankfully, he was a good supportive brother whenever he got his supervised visits with an injured Barry, and as Barry got better, they were able to be together again.

Dealing with Barry’s injuries was a terrible few days of worry and panic. Thankfully, he turned out okay and he is back to jumping on every available surface and eating everybody’s food. I’m glad that I paid attention to my gut when I thought something was wrong and kept an eye on him. And I’m glad my little ball of joy is now happy and healthy.

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Chuckie and Barry reunited

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Why it’s Worth it to Have Two Cats Instead of One

When I moved into my new house and I was ready to get a cat, I had it in my mind that I was going to get one female kitten. I thought that would be the best option for me because one cat would be easier and I figured a little girl would be less trouble. However, when I met Chuck and Barry, I couldn’t resist the both of them, so I ended up with something completely different than anticipated: two boys.

Two cats means double of everything. Double the vet bills, double the cat litter and food and collars and Frontline Plus that needs to be bought. However, if you’re in a financial situation where you could afford two cats, I would suggest that you go for it.

I really think humans evolved with two arms so that we could pet two cats at once.

Along with double the price tags, two cats come with double the cuddles, double the love, and double the desperate meows for attention. When you have two cats instead of one, there’s double the chance that there’s a kitty around looking to be petted.

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If you look forward to the attention of your feline friend, just imagine how much more you’ll be getting when there’s two of them!

When I’m not home, my cats have each other – they’re each other’s best friend.

As a college student, sometimes I have to be gone all day between class, work, and extracurricular meetings. I try my best to be home and give as much attention to my kittens that I can, but sometimes I can’t always be there. Fortunately, since I have two of them, I know they’ll never be lonely.

Almost as happy as it makes me to know that my cats love me, it makes me just as happy to know that they love and have each other. They sleep together, play together, wrestle together, go everywhere together.

It’s fun to use the cat toy and play with both of them. It’s hilarious to watch them wrestle each other – and take bets with your roommates on who’s going to win (for what it’s worth, Chuck and Barry are both equally excellent wrestlers).

You get to watch two cats grow up into their own personalities. They’re so similar in some ways, but they’re both so different, too. When I wake up in the morning, I know that Barry is going to be the one laying by my feet and Chuck is going to be the one meowing in my face. It makes me feel proud that I can tell the difference between their meows even when I’m in another room.

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Ultimately, having two cats is double the cuteness.

If I had to do it again, I would do the same exact thing. I’m happy with my situation – and I do think that Chuck and Barry are happy kitties, too. What do you think? Is having two cats beneficial and worth it for you?

 

If you would like to continue reading about what it takes to have multiple cats, check out Catster and Petfinder.

 

 

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How do I Communicate with my Cats?

I recently stumbled upon this post from the Way of Cats Blog, and it got me thinking about the connections that I have with my cats. I love this post because it gives me more insight into the way that my cats are communicating with me.

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I have very verbal kittens, and I am gradually learning what each of their meows mean. I can almost even tell the two of them apart. I know when Chuck is waking me up in the middle of the night to get pet, or when Barry is just absolutely starving for attention. I know Chuck’s little meow of approval when he’s getting petted right.

But there’s so many other meows that I have yet to understand! Why are they in the kitchen, alone, meowing? Why is Chuck crying so loudly when I am in the shower?

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Pamela Merritt highlights body language and actions as a very huge part of the way that cats communicate. For me, body language and actions are even harder for me to figure out. I still don’t know what my cats want when they jump on the table. If there’s food on there, I get that. If there’s a plastic bag, I understand that they’re on the table to play with it. But sometimes there’s nothing up there. Are they up there because they want to be climb up high? Do they want my attention, thus misbehaving so that I have to pay attention to them? Have they simply just not learned yet that I don’t want them up there? Is it just a coincidence?

I want to be a great cat mom, but sometimes it’s so hard! When your children can’t actually communicate with you, it’s up to you to figure things out. When your children are another species, that makes it even more difficult.

I’m definitely going to be using this article to help improve my communication with my cats. As a loving, doting, overbearing mother, I want to give them everything they could ever want.