Chessie the Cat & Word Search

"Chessie" Mascot Matchbooks

Photo Credit: Cheryl via Flickr

Some cat naps will be remembered forever!

In 1933 an etching of a sleeping kitty by Viennese artist Guida Gruenwald caught the eye of the advertising executives at the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. By September of that year, the kitty (now known as Chessie) appeared for the first time in Fortune Magazine. The black and white advertisement let everyone know about C&O Railway’s new air conditioned sleep cars. Chessie’s slogan was “Sleep like a kitten and wake up fresh as a daisy in air conditioned comfort.”

C&O Railway’s new mascot was a hit! The American people fell in love with Chessie. Soon she was known as “America’s Sleepheart.” Merchandise of all kinds featuring the sleeping Chessie was sold. The first calendar featuring Chessie was sold in 1934 and 40,000 copies were distributed.

Chessie didn’t remain a solitary mascot. She was given a family that included two sleepy kittens and a mate named Peake. When the U.S. was brought into World War II, Chessie, Peake, and the kittens began supporting the soldiers. Peake became a furry little soldier himself. Chessie supported her soldier from the homefront and helped to sell war bonds.

Eventually C&O Railway was bought out by Amtrack. For a few years Chessie remained the mascot for the railway and even started being featured on the outside of train cars. However, in 1986 Chessie was retired as a mascot after a 53 year long run.  The C&O Historical Society continues to honor Chessie and even maintains an online shop for her memorabilia.

For more information about Chessie, please read my post Chessie the Legendary Railroad Cat.

Want to compete?

I got a score of 25,090 on this word search. Can you get a higher one? The faster you find all of the words, the higher your score will be.

Instructions for the Interactive Word Search

  1. Words from the word list on the right are hidden within the puzzle. The words may be spelled forward, backward, or on a diagonal.
  2. Click on the first letter of the word, drag the cursor across the word, and click on the last letter of the word.
  3. The puzzle is finished once you have found all of the words.



What do you think you will always remember about your cat?

5 Types of “Flu” That Could Affect Your Cat

Humans aren’t the only ones to catch the flu. Unfortunately, our cats have a set of “flu” illnesses all their own. Most are illnesses that only affect cats, but some are zoonotic (spread from species to species and even to humans). Awareness of these flu bugs can help to get sick kitties the help they need sooner.

The Flu in Cats

Flu in cats - black and white cat

Photo Credit: Heather Dowd

Illnesses that are classified as the flu in cats are not always caused by a strain of the influenza virus. Flu in cats takes the form of an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms that are common to all 5 of the illness listed below include:

  • Fever
  • Runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

The flu can be a serious illness for cats – especially young kittens. Secondary bacterial infections are very common with these flus. If you think your cat may have any form of the flu, contact your veterinarian right away.

Vaccines exist for numbers 1, 2,  and 5 below. Always do your research and speak with your veterinarian about the pros and cons of each vaccine before assuming that it is right for your cat. The best ways to prevent the spread of illness are to keep sick cats isolated (with their own food, water, litter box, and toys) and to encourage good hygiene among the humans in the household. Always wash your hands after touching a sick kitty!

#1: Calcivirus

The Calcivirus is one of the most common causes of flu symptoms in cats. This virus has a lot of different forms, much like the seasonal flu that hits humans every year. Cats may develop ulcers in their mouth, pharyngitis (sore throat),  a cough, and inflammation of the trachea.  Some even develop a limp from a transient arthritis (most often seen in young kittens).

A veterinarian can test for the calcivirus by taking a swab from the cat’s throat. There isn’t a specific treatment for this virus, so the symptoms will be treated. A cat can be a carrier of the calcivirus for up to 2 years following the infection.

#2: Feline Herpes

Most cases of the flu in cats are caused either by the calcivirus or feline herpes. The symptoms of feline herpes tend to be more severe than the calcivirus. Frequently cats with feline herpes will experience conjunctivitis (an eye infection) and develop ulcers on their corneas. One a cat contracts the feline herpes virus, the cat remains a carrier (and thus able to spread the disease) for life.

Diagnosing feline herpes is not always an easy task. While there is only one strain of this virus, the cat will only shed it intermittently through  saliva, nasal secretions, and tears. This means that a swab may return a false negative. There is no specific treatment for feline herpes. The symptoms are individually addressed with treatment.

#3: Avian Flu H5N1
Flu in cats - Feel better soon

Photo Credit: Lizbeth*King via flickr

The Avian flu is caused by a type A influenza virus. There are many strains of avian flu, but the one referred to here is named H5N1. This flu made the news in 2006 when it spread from animals to humans. H5N1 is most commonly contracted by birds, but not all infected birds show symptoms of the disease.

Typically cats are resistant to type A influenza viruses, but H5N1 proved to be different. It was found that not only could cats fall ill with H5N1, but they could also spread it to other cats.It is thought that cats mostly become infected with the virus through eating birds which were infected. The cats were found to shed the virus through feces, urine, and nasal secretions. There is no evidence that cats can spread H5N1 to humans.

#4: Swine Flu H1N1

The swine flu is caused by an influenza virus called H1N1. This virus also made the news in 2009 for its ability to spread from animals to humans. Symptoms of H1N1 in cats can range from very mild to severe. Some cats will remain asymptomatic after contracting the virus. In addition to the general symptoms listed above, cats may also have coughing and labored breathing.

A unique characteristic of the H1N1 flu virus is it’s ability to be spread from humans to cats. It is likely that if a cat falls ill after a human has fallen ill with H1N1, that the cat has contracted H1N1. A veterinarian can make a definitive diagnosis by analyzing a throat swab.

#5: Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacteria that causes flu-like symptoms in cats. This is the same bacteria that causes kennel cough in dogs and is related to the bacteria that causes Whooping Cough in humans. Along with the other flu symptoms listed above, bordetella bronchiseptica can cause crackling lung sounds in cats.

A swab of the cat’s throat can detect bordetella bronchiseptica. Antibiotics can be used to treat this flu. Other supportive treatments may be used as well. A cat with an uncomplicated case of bordetella bronchiseptica may recover from the illness within 2 weeks. It is possible for a cat to spread this flu for up to 19 weeks after becoming infected.

Do you have any advice for someone caring for a kitty with the “flu”?

Is a Lynx Loose in Paris?

A recent news story speaks of a big cat on the loose in Paris. A woman first spotted the big cat on Thursday, November 13, 2014. She took a very fuzzy photo of the cat in some brush about 5 1/2 miles (9 km) away from Disneyland Paris. The cat was later spotted crossing a freeway and walking near a gas station. What kind of cat is this?

Searching for an Unknown Big Cat

Is a Lynx Loose in Paris?

Photo Credit: Jeremiah John McBride via Flickr

The claim that a big cat was in the area started a bit of a panic. French authorities jumped into action sending 140 emergency workers by foot and by helicopter to search for the big cat. Citizens were asked travel by vehicle rather than taking walks and to exercise extreme caution if they were to see the big cat.

At first this big cat was believed to be a tiger. There are estimates that the big cat is anywhere between 154 pounds (70 kg) to 177 pounds (80 kg), which would be a very young tiger. It was deemed that the tiger was likely a private pet that had gotten loose.

Now French authorities are not sure that they are looking for a tiger at all. It is very difficult to identify the exact species of cat from the photograph. The next guess is that the big cat is a lynx – probably an Iberian Lynx. This is still uncertain and some authorities say that it is “just a big cat.”

What is a Lynx?

A lynx is one of the smaller big cats. These cats are closely related to the bob cat and are often confused with them. There are 3 species of lynx: the Siberian lynx, the Iberian lynx, and the Canada lynx.There are several common characteristics between the 3 species of lynx:

  • They are very solitary cats that are only seen living together when a mother is raising her kittens or for the purpose of mating.
  • They are nocturnal cats.
  • The lynx can purr!
  • They are very territorial creatures.
  • They live in colder climates and have large, wide-spreading feet that act as snowshoes.
  • They have a flared facial ruff and long black ear tufts.
  • The lynx has amazing eye sight. They can see a mouse from 250 feet (75 m) away!
  • Their tails look as if they have been dipped in black ink (black all the way around the tail). This is different than the bobcat which has black only on the top of the tail.

The Siberian Lynx

Posing siberian lynx

Photo Credit: Tambako The Jaguar via Flickr

The Siberian lynx is found mostly in Asia, Europe, and the former USSR. These are the largest of the lynx species with the males weighing up to 90 pounds. On average the Siberian lynx is 31 to 43 inches (80 to 110 cm) long and weighs 33 to 64 pounds (15 to 29 kg). In the wild they have been known to live 17 years and in captivity up to 24 years.

The fur of the Siberian lynx is a grayish color with yellow to rust colored tints. They are found with 3 different patterns: predominantly spotted, predominantly striped, and patterned. The spots are more visible during the summer than during the winter.

The preferred diet of the Siberian lynx includes small ungulates (mammals with hooves), hares, large rodents, musk deer, and pikas. However, they have been known on occasion to hunt prey that is 3 -4 times their size! Reindeer make a tasty meal for the Siberian lynx.

A Siberian lynx typically has a litter of 1 -4 kittens after a gestation period of 69 days. Males reach sexual maturity at the age of 30 months and females at the age of 24 months.

The Iberian Lynx

Iberian Lynx

Photo Credit: Steve Slater

The Iberian lynx has an average weight of 27.5 pounds for males and 20 pounds for females. Much like the siberian lynx, they have grayish fur with yellow – rust color tints. However, they are distinctly spotted. They are found on the Iberian Penninsula (containing Spain, Portugal, and Andorra). In the wild the only live about 13 years.

The diet of the Iberian lynx is mostly rabbits. If the supply of rabbits is low, they will eat red deer, ducks, and mouflon. They need to eat at least 1 rabbit per day for survival.

There is no true age of sexual maturity for the Iberian lynx. Females will not mate until they have claimed their territory (regardless of age). Their gestation period is 60 days and will produce litters of 2- 3 kittens.

The Iberian lynx is the most threatened species of cat in the world. According to Fauna & Flora International, there are less than 200 Iberian lynx left. The only 2 breeding populations left are found in Spain. The species became threatened because of the destruction of their habitat and that of their prey.

The Canada Lynx

Canada lynx

Photo Credit: Oregon State University

The Canada Lynx is the lightest lynx weighing only 11 to 37 pounds (5 to 17 kg). They have a coat that can be gray to reddish-brown with white tips. A rare genetic mutation can also produce a “blue lynx.” Indistinct spots can be found their coats. The Canada lynx is found in Canada, Alaska, and the northern part of the United States. In the wild, they have been known to live 15 years and in captivity 21 years.

The diet of the Canada lynx consists mostly of snowshoe hares. When those are scarce, they will eat small rodents, small ungulates, and ground birds.

The age of sexual maturity and the number of offspring produced correlates directly with the snowshoe hare population. A female Canada lynx will reach sexual maturity as early as 10 months of age and males around 23 months of age. They have a gestation period of 63 to 70 days and can have litters with 1 to 8 kittens.

What would you think if you saw a lynx in your neighborhood?

Wordless Wednesday: Staying Warm

Niptoons presents:

“Staying Warm”

Starring: Cinco, Manna, and their Daddy

Staying Warm 1


Staying Warm 2


Staying Warm 3


Staying Warm 4

Staying Warm 5

Staying Warm 6


Staying Warm 7

It is actually really rare that Cinco will choose to sit with his Daddy. He’s a Mommy’s boy all the way. Manna on the other hand is definitely a Daddy’s girl.

Who are your pets’ favorite people?

This is a blog hop!


Essential Fatty Acids in Your Cat’s Diet

Not all fat is bad for your cat. In fact, there are some fats, like the essential fatty acids, that your cat needs in order to stay health and thrive. Since essential fatty acids affect most of your cat’s tissues and organs, keeping up on these can help prevent a good number of illnesses.

The Role of Fatty Acids


Structure of a cell Photo Credit: Boumphreyfr via Wikimedia Commons

Our bodies and our cat’s bodies are made up of a complex system of trillions of cells. Each cell has a nucleus, a membrane, and various organelles. The membrane surrounding the cell as well as the membranes surrounding the nucleus and individual organelles are made up primarily of fatty acids. These membranes affect the cell’s ability to function internally and to both send and receive nutrients and information from other cells.

Fatty acids also perform other roles in the body. They are an energy source that supplies 2 times as much energy to the body as proteins or carbohydrates. Fatty acids also play a role in the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Some of the fatty acids that the body needs can be produced by the body. Other fatty acids can not be produced by the body and must be consumed in foods that are eaten.  Fatty acids that can not be produced by the body are called essential fatty acids.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

One important group of fatty acids which includes essential fatty acids is the Omega 6 fatty acids. They are named from their chemical formulation which includes a double bond at the 6th carbon molecule. These come mostly from plant based sources like pumpkin seeds, hemp, and flaxseed. These fatty acids include:

  • Linolecic Acid (LA) , which is an essential fatty acid for cats
  • Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)
  • Dihomo-gamma-linolenic Acid (DGLA)
  • Arachidonic Acid (AA)

Most commercially prepared cat foods have more than enough omega 6 fatty acids. That being said, deficiencies in omega 6 fatty acids are somewhat unlikely. Should a cat become deficient in omega 6 fatty acids, it could cause the following problems:

  • Liver and kidney degeneration
  • Compromised immune system
  • Behavioral disturbances
  • Miscarriages
  • Sterility in males
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Poor overall development
  • Poor wound healing
  • Dry flaky skin (which can lead to hyperkeratosis)
  • Dull, brittle coat

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Product Photography - Omega 3 6 9 - Top down

Photo credit: Sam_Catch via Flickr

Omega 3 fatty acids are another very important group of fatty acids which includes essential fatty acids. These fatty acids help to regulate inflammation, immune system response, and blood clotting activity by enouraging the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Inflammation due to arthritic conditions (even rheumatoid arthritis) and certain bowel conditions (like ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease) can be reduced by omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids, which have a double bond at the 3rd carbon molecule, include:

  • Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), which is an essential fatty acid for cats
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

These are the fatty acids that tend to be lacking in commercially prepared diets. Deficiencies in omega 3 fatty acids can result in:

  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Stunted growth
  • Lack of motor coordination
  • Eye problems

The optimal source for omega 3 fatty acids is  marine body oils. Dr. Karen Becker, DMV believes that krill oil is the most biologically appropriate for cats. She suggests that cats receive 250 mg per day if they are from 1 to 14 lbs and 500 mg for cats that are 15 – 29 lbs.

Keeping Essential Fatty Oils in Balance

The balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids is very important. Currently the recommended ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids are 10:1 to 5:1. One of the benefits of a good balance is the reduction of inflammation. Both arachidonic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) and eicosapentaenoic acid (an omega 3 fatty acid) can be incorporated into cell membranes. When a cell gets damaged, both fatty acids are released. Arachidonic acid is metabolized by enzymes which increase inflammation and itching. Eicosapentaenoic acid competes for those same enzymes, thus reducing the amount of arachidonic acid that gets metabolized. The production of docosahexaenoic acid (another omega 3 fatty acid) can also compete for those enzymes, further reducing the inflammation that occurs.

Using Supplements for Essential Fatty Oils

Omega 3 Krill Oil

Photo credit: Health Gauge

It is worth noting that deficiencies in essential fatty acids can be caused by the processing of cat foods. At a temperature of only 110ºF (about 44ºC) both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are lost from a food. Poor storage and less than optimal amounts of antioxidants in food can also lead to the loss of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.

If you begin using supplemental essential fatty oils with your cat, prepare to be patient. Since essential fatty oils need to be absorbed into the cell membrane results could take a little while. Many veterinarians will recommend continuing to give your cat the supplement for 9 – 12 weeks before determining its effectiveness.

Always discuss concerns over your cat’s diet with your veterinarian. There are a few side effects to using supplements for essential fatty oils with your cat. Fatty acids do add calories to your cat’s diet. Also, since many supplements for essential fatty acids are based in fish oils, your cat’s breath may get a fishy smell from them. Very rarely cats can develop pancreatitis, which is painful inflammation of the pancreas.

Does your cat take any vitamins or supplements?