Saturday, December 31, 2011

You say Goodbye, but I say Hello!

Wrapping up an incredible 2011 is hard to put in just a short post. In 2011, Piper joined my feline family and started my blogging regime. Without her, this blog wouldn't even exist. I am thankful that she ended up with my family, even if it upped our fabulous feline family count to seven (EHH!) cats!

Piper was my miracle. She has showed me that you can overcome life's hardest obstacles, like when Piper lost her five kittens due to a miscarriage. In a matter of a few weeks after, she bounced back to health and started her new life as a Shubin family cat.

Without Piper, this blog would not exist! I would not have met so many wonderful contacts at BlogPaws in August, and met them again at the Cat Writers' Association Conference in November. I never thought that I would only be eighteen years old, and already have a blog with followers and Sandpiper Facebook fans!

I love coming on to my blog and seeing the feedback, as well as leaving feedback and comments to my other blogging friends. I have met so many people, like Amanda LeGaux of the Greenies Team! They sent Sandpiper Cat a lovely Holiday card and Greenies treats! (Which came in handy when Sabrina and Piper made a jail break at 2 am and had to be lured back into my parents' room).



Thank you to all the wonderful mentors I've had, Ingrid King of Conscious Cat, Deb Barnes of Zee and Zoey, Layla Morgan Wilde of Cat Wisdom 101, Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella, Caren Osrin Gittleman of Cat Chat with Caren and Cody, Angie Holland Bailey of Cat Lady Land, JaneA Kelley of Paws and Effect, Janiss Garza of Sparkle Cat, Kate Benjamin of Modern Cat, Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, Teri Thorsteinson of Curlz and Swirlz  and so many other wonderful women who continue to blog daily!

Happy New Year from Piper and Rachel!
And I am very proud to announce that one of our upcoming January posts will be an interview with Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell! Don't miss the premiere of My Cat From Hell Season two on Animal Planet, Wednesday January 7th, 2012 at 8pm EST!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas to the Dog Locked the Car

Animals always find me. As my family likes to say, the S in Shubin stands for sucker. And it does.

I was in the TJ Maxx parking lot getting some last minute gifts and I noticed an adorable puppy in the car next to me. I called it, thoughtnt was adorable and went into the store. As I shopped I thought about the dog and how it was cold outside. As I walked back to my car I saw that the dog was still there. I wasn't going to leave and go home and not feel guilty that the dog was locked in the car. I called my mom and she said you can wait but I don't know what you can do.

Thank goodness for my smart iPhone! I googled what to do if you saw a fog locked in the car. It mostly showed me answers for dogs in cars during the summer. I decided to search for the non emergency police. I calle and they dispatched an officer who showed up right away.

He watched the puppy, who we seemed to have woken up from a nap. He felt the engine and said it did still feel warm. But since it wasn't hot out and the dog didn't seem to be in distress, there wasn't really anything he could do but check back later. I felt defeated, but kindly thanked the officer and shook his hand. I wanted to see animal justice served, but I guess you don't always get what you want!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Three Dogz Giveaway Winner Photos

Azizah of gourmetpens.com won our last giveaway! Here are some pictures of her cats enjoying the goodies.

Koa


Tyco

Ellie! What a face!
You can see Azizah's post here. Thanks for the pictures Azizah!

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Hey all! Just an update for our fans - the 50th Facebook 'like' will get some fabulous goodies in the mail...so here's to it! Sandpiper's Facebook.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Hanukkah ~ Festive Cat Menorahs!

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. Almost a month without a post, and I'm ashamed. But I have been fervently working on college applications and homework, so I was being productive and not just lazy!

As so many wonderful posts have been written about Hanukkah by A Tonk's Tail...err, Tale, and our friends at Cat Wisdom 101! You can read their articles via the hyperlink.

As the eve of Hanukkah closes, I wanted to show you the cat menorahs that my family uses to celebrate Hanukkah. Enjoy and happy holidays!


This one is only decoration!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Feline Wellness - Acne

Today starts a new series of on-going blog posts I will be doing about Feline Wellness, inspired by all my fellow cat bloggers who blog for feline health!
Feline Acne,  is actually a common ailment that cats face. In fact it is so common, it happened in my household today. My cat Brooke seems to be having a difficult bout of acne. Our black cat Henry is prone to cat acne on his chin. Though his acne is not ever as large as Brooke's and it always dissapears quickly.

Brooke lounging on my bed after her visit to the vet.

This past Sunday night my parents noticed that Brooke seemed to have small bumps on the side of her face. Not wanting to be alarmists, we decided that we would watch the bumps but not take immediate action. This morning as I was lying in bed, I was givving Brooke a chin rub when I felt quite a few more bumps under her chin. They were close to her collar and seemed to be about pea sized.

Since these lumps seemed to be out of the ordinary, we decided to take extra precaution and make Brooke a vet appointment. Fortunately, the vet had an appointment a few hours later.

Our vet felt under Brooke's chin and was surprised to feel how large the bumps were. Perhaps it is due to stress. Brooke's routine has been disturbed when my parents went to France for a week, in addition to being closed out of my room while my grandparents were staying there. Even though all has been returned to normal, Brooke appears her normal self.

The problem with feline acne, is that the exact cause is truly unknown. Ways to help avoid or reduce the cause of feline acne include not using plastic bowls (try ceramic or metal bowls), wiping the area after eating, and keeping the food bowls as clean as possible.


Right under Brooke's chin is where the acne lies.

The vet gave Brooke a shot to hopefully rid her of the acne within the next two weeks. After the two weeks have gone by, the hope is for the acne bumps to have dissapeared. I will post an update about Brooke's acne in two weeks, along with my next feline health post.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Three Dogz Giveaway!

Deb Larocque from Three Dogz has kindly given me some great goodies to review and give to one lucky winner! Three Dogz is Upscale apparel for Cat, Dog and Horse lovers.

"All of THREE DOGZ™ products and apparel designs are original, eye-catching, touched by classic styling, with fashion forward appeal."

To enter this giveaway, please 'like' Three Dogz on their Facebook page AS WELL AS leaving a comment here on my blog, with your email!

If you don't put your email or leave some way for me to get in touch with you, I won't be able to include you in this contest. I want everyone to have a chance to win these lovely prizes:

Paw print tissue paper,  cat lover mouse pad, cat lover coaster, cat lover pencil and cat and dog shaped paper clips.

Deb kindly gave me a set of the gifts to give away and I couldn't be any more happy with the products! The tissue paper will be great to wrap presents in for all the animal lovers on my gift list. The coaster is on my  nightstand, protecting it from the water bottles I bring upstairs every night. The mouse pad is fun to use when I am working on my blog. The pencil and paper clips are great for school or work, everyone loves my cat related accessories.

This giveaway will run from Saturday November 26 to Saturday December 3 until 8 pm EST. Only accepting entries from the United States. Winners will be contacted via email and will be given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. I will use random.org to choose my winners.

Thanks for entering, remember to put down your email & good luck!

Note: I was not paid or compensated for this review. I did receive these products free of charge to keep. The opinions of this review are solely mine.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cat Writers' Conference!

This past weekend I attended the 18th annual Cat Writers' Association Conference in White Plains, New York. The getting there wasn't easy, but it was a blast to meet my fellow bloggy buddies who have helped me so much in the last few months. 

I got to connect with so many fellow bloggers. My new friend Layla Morgan Wilde from Cat Wisdom 101 featured a picture of the cat ladies (including me) having lunch whic you can see here: here.

I also enjoyed getting the most pawsome swag bag and attending the Westchester Cat Show! Here are some pictures to capture the highlights of my trip.

Awesome swag bag including a litter scoop, tons of cat toys, treats, food, a Bissell Stomp Pad, a calendar and many other useful cat related things!


 
Lenny, a purple lilac British Short hair 4-month-old kitten at the Westchester Cat Show.

Hanging with Ingrid of Conscious Cat (left) and Deb!

Another favorite part was meeting Deb Barnes of Zee & Zoey!

Ingrid won the Hart's Chewable Vitamins Award for her article on The Joys of Adopting an Older Cat.

The conference was very useful, I made lots of new contacts and met so many amazing cat writers. A senior in high school could've never dreamed to go on such an amazing trip.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Castor & Pollux Natural Petworks Giveaway!


Hi everyone! Tonight's post is really cool, because I have been given some awesome stuff by the Castor and Pollux Natural Petworks people to give away!

Castor Pollux Pet is all about natural and organic pet products. The company started in 2000 and continues to succeed today. Their goal is to "provide pet parents with healthy, safe, and innovative choices for their dogs and cats."

Castor and Pollux has provided me with 8 cans of their adult cat food and 2 organic cat nip toys and a big ol' bag of nip to go along! All of this could be yours if you win!

To enter, please leave your email! Contest runs from 11/8/11 to 11/22/11 EST. Winner will be picked at 8pm EST on 11/22/11!

*Comments without email addresses will not be entered.

Good luck!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31DBBB - Task 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (Little behind...)

Task 11:
A web of more ideas that string from posts I've already written.

Task 12: Making a Posting Calendar/Post Plan
I try to post at least 2-3 times a week. I keep a book that I write all my blog ideas in.

Upcoming posts will include: Castor & Pollux Giveaway, My personal cat literature from when I was a kid and a review on the new Zee and Zoey book.

Task 13: Take a trip to the mall...
Well I'm always at the mall. What brings me there is when I specifically am looking for something, if I know a store is having a promotion and if I have a good coupon. Their slogans aren't always what brings me into the store, it's the price. I'm typically not someone who pays full price for most things. If a tank top is $20, I'll wait until it's on sale for less than $15. I try not to pay full price when I know most products will go on sale within a few weeks.

Task 14: Update a key page on your blog...
1. What is the most important page on your blog? Him, well I guess it would be the...about me? I mean, people want to know who I am and what my blog is about. Whenever I visit a new blog I always check out the "about me" section to see what the person is like and what they do.
*I'm hoping to update my blog and get a better "about me" and just vamp up the blog to a little higher standard.

Task 15: Find a blog buddy. I don't just have "a" blog buddy, but multiple buddies! I belong to the Cat Lady Coalition on Facebook where I can ask questions to many well known/published pet bloggers, like Ingrid King of the Conscious Cat, Deb Barnes of Zee and Zoey, Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat as well as so many others!

Can you have 7 cats in the house & a live mouse?

10/30/11 at 12:36 pm.

I'm on the phone and all of a sudden I hear a bloodcurdling scream and a whole bunch of shrieking and yelling. I told the person that I had to go that something was going on downstairs and there was a bunch of screaming and I had to go check it out.

I fly down the stairs and run into the kitchen where the commotion is going on. I see on the floor...this little guy....


Yes, we have a mouse in the house! It's hard to believe that the poor little mouse was still alive because we have 7 carnivorous cats on the prowl. Pearl, our white fluffy Turkish Angora, hadn't even come up for breakfast this morning, she must have known we had mice in the basement.


After quickly shoving the horrified mouse into a tupperware, my mom brought little mousy outside and released him into the grass. He took off like a speeding bullet, surely shellshocked that he had been played with by our cat Henry.

Aftering promptly posting about the mouse on the loose on Facebook, my cousin reminded me off the famous child book "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie." She said: "Are you going to bake cookies or take him to the movies?"

Hopefully mousy will be lucky next time that he finds himself in a house with animal lovers....and no cats! So the answer to the question is YES! You can have 7 cats in the house and a live mouse!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Catto Contest

Not enough people have entered in the Catto contest for me to pick a winner! Enter here on my original blog post and leave a comment. Say what type of catto design you would like.

I will extend the contest until Monday 10/31/11 at 11 am EST! Post now for your chance to win!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Teal Cat Project/National Feral Cat Day

Cat figures I aquired this summer, all antiques except for cat with bell.
My family is notorious for antiques. And of those antiques, more than 50% of them are cat tchotckes (I knew the word but had to look up how to spell this!). We have cat decanters, that used to have whiskey in them. My dad has a collection of black cat with red bow figurines. Those are really popular.

Cat decanters


Black and red cat collection














I learned about this really cool "project" through Facebook a few weeks ago. It is called The Teal Cat Project. Here is their philosphy, from their website:

Well, we love thrifting and crafting. On an outing to scour Omaha’s many thrift stores for kitty cat tchotchkes to use as centerpieces for a fundraiser (guess what, it was a fundraiser for cats!), we thought of selling the centerpieces to raise a little extra cash. And then we thought it would be a good idea if we could make the kitties just a little bit cooler in some way. And then somehow, in a fevered dream, it all made sense. We spray paint them. Teal is cool. We make each one collectible, like a Cabbage Patch Kid. The kids go crazy. We give all the money to cat rescue groups. This is who we are.


Cat lamps and figures


Cat lamp
 Basically, the Teal Cat Project takes a little cat figurine from an antique store and makes it unique by spray painting it teal, and then selling them online. Each cat has a unique number, so that buyers know that the Teal Cat is authentic.

I love reading their Facebook posts about when they find new cats to paint. They even allow you to "donate a tchotchke" for them to paint. Of course, they state on their website that "part of the project is to use the kitties that are already out there in the world, not to create more," just like people who rescue cats want people to adopt already existing cats in shelters or rescues, instead of buying a cat from a breeder.


Ocean City, MD antique salt and pepper shakers (tall cats)



Salt and pepper shakers from antique store in Covesville, VA


Cat pen holder

Lovely ladies!


Mounted wall cats

Mantle cats

Some other odds/ends cats
Currently, there are no teal cats for sale. The store hopes to get new teal cats out before the holidays. I know I will be constantly refreshing their page, looking for new cats to buy!

Mom's nails in "Mint Candy Apple"

My nails, in "Mint Candy Apple" - using Henry as a nail display.
In the mean time, you can support the Teal Nail Project, which is tomorrow Sunday October 16, 2011 to celebrate National Feral Cat Day. All one has to do is paint their nails teal!

You can visit the Ally Cat Allies website and learn about  National Feral Cat Day.

Cheers to teal cats and nails!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

31 DBBB Tasks 7, 8, 9 & 10 (I'm behind!)

Task 7 - Link Posts

Is this something you’ve done in the past?  Yes, I try to link to other blogs in my posts, such as my beach blog!
What has been the outcome? I definitely get hits through this method.
How do you follow other blogs so that you can link to them? I follow them on  Blogger. Some I get emails when they make new posts.
How did you use the link in your post? I use a hyper-link.
If you’ve used blog links before, was there one way you used them in your posts? I use them when I am talking about other blogs or people or products.
If you’ve had your blog linked to, what has been the result? I got hits from people I wouldn't have, and it makes me happy to know others are reading my blog.

Task 8 - Interlink your old blog posts
Have you done this in the past?  Yes I try to do this as often as I can, like my first blog post that launched this blog; about my foster cat Piper.
Do you notice you get more traffic to older posts?  Yes! Surprisingly I got a comment on an old post, which I was very curious about.
If you’ve interlinked your posts and use a plug-in that recommends similar posts, have you notice if interlinking or the plug-in gets more views for older posts? I also post all my blog posts to Sandpiper Cat Blog's Facebook and Twitter.twitter.com/blueglassesgirl

Task 9 - Join a Forum and Start Participating
If you already belong to a forum, do you find it helpful? I belong to the online BlogPaws community.
 If so, in what way(traffic, post ideas, etc)? Well, I participate in the Newbie to BlogPaws group and the 31 Days to Build a better blog.

Task 10 - Set up Alerts to Monitor your blog's niche
How do you keep track of what is going on in the pet world? I suscribe to many animal blogs and get email updates.
Do you have alerts set up? Yes, I get email  updates for every comment response.
How do you use them for blogging (post ideas, to monitor what is being said about you/your blog)? I use the stats on my blogger and I can tell in what country I'm getting hits from.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cattoo Tattos (say that 5 times fast!) A giveaway!

Tonight's post  is a very exciting first for SandPiper Cat blog! We are having a contest! But first, a review.


Modern Cat owner Kate Benjamin's website Cattoo Design, is a place to share pictures of your cat tattoos, or cattoos. A new product featured on Catto Design that you can purchase, are cattoo temporary tattoos.
I choose to try the pawprint on my wrist and the tribal cat on my ankle. I applied the tattoos on Sunday 10/2/11. The paw rubbed off (probably from wearing lots of bracelets) by 10/8/11. The tattoos are said to last 3-5 days and I would say they last about 2 more days longer, depending on where you put them.

My ankle tattoo is still on, but parts of the cat have rubbed off. Though, I have had quite a few people ask me if it was real! I was really surprised, because I don't think I seem to be the type of person who would wear a tattoo. I'm afraid of needles. Though if I was going to cat a tattoo, it would definitely be a cattoo.

These tattoos are a really fun way to experience having a tattoo, perhaps without all the pain! And there are more designs than just the pawprint and tribal cat. There are cattoos that say Cat Mom, Cat Dad and a tribal cat head as well as the pawprint and tribal cat. You can purchase them here, separately for $5 for two sheets of one design, or all of the tattos (2 sheets of each) in a package that is $20.

BUT WAIT! Two lucky winners will win their favorite cattoo design! Kate has offered to ship anywhere! Please comment on this blog and tell me why you would like to win the cattos and please leave your email (so I can contact you if you win).

The contest will run from tonight 10/12/11 to next Thurdsay 10/20/11!
I will number your posts and then use radomn.org to choose a winner! Good luck!


Monday, October 3, 2011

31DBBB - Task 6: Blog Tips (VERY Belated post -- beware it's a long one!)

Today's 31DBBB Blog post is reading blog tips on ProBlogger and sharing tips I found helpful for blogging!

What articles did you find the most helpful? Why?

1. I read Seth Godin's blog on helpful tips. While yes, some of them were helpful...there were a few where I have to blatantly disagree.

11. Don't write about your cat, your boyfriend or your kids. *No, I really think writing about cats is ok. I think about some of my favorite blogs including I Have Cat, Conscious Cat, Catsparella and Covered in Cat Hair and I realize that you can even make a living while writing about cats.
49. Give credit to those that inspired, it makes your writing more useful. This advice is definitely something I would even reccomend. Give credit where credit is due. If you got an idea for your blog off of someone else's...mention them and link their blog to your post! You scratch their back (promote them) and they almost always help or return a favor.

2. I read Rand Fiskin SEOmoz's 21-tactics-to-increase-blog-traffic and found more helpful ideas.
1. Choose the Right Blog Software (or Custom Build) -I am honestly not sure how I even found Blogspot to host my blogging needs. I started my original blog Cape May Chick back in March 2009 for my personal needs. I wanted to share my love of Cape May, in a form that other friends and family members could read. I didn't know that I would start Sandpiper Cat Blog in April 2010 and really take off after that.
14. Use a Human Voice - I don't necessarily agree with using a human voice. I feel like if a blogger does it right, they could get away with writing in the voice of their animal. Of course, there are certain blogs such as Bocci's Beefs and Preston Speaks that are written in the dog's perspective/voice. I did my most recent post with a little help from Piper and Sabrina, a review of Junk Food Flyers. I did the basic...add "z" to many of the words, and just write in the voice I think Piper and Sabrina would write in. I'm not saying that it's something I will write a whole blog in, it was just an interesting experiment to test out.

3.  Chris Garret from Chris G - I read his post Art of Getting Things Wrong.
"Fear of feedback is just one of many reasons why we can all aim for perfection to the point where we don’t get anything meaningful done," said Chris in his article. I really thought that this quote made a lot of sense. I love good feedback and really don't get that much anyway. I do get comments occasionally from my parents saying "Rachel, you spelled something wrong." Well, we can't all be perfect with spelling. I don't often use spell check in my blog even though I should. I know now, that even if I get negative feedback, not to linger on the comment,b ecause like Chris says, you won't get anything meaningful done. I think this also applies even for me in school; writing a paper that gets a comment I don't agree with or a low grade because someone doesn't agree with my writing. It's a lesson that carries true to everything.

4. Yaro Starak from Entrepreneurs Journey and I learned about a really cool type of blog post, called Pillar Article.

 Write at least five major “pillar” articles. A pillar article is usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. I love writing articles that tell people what to do. Wait, that sounds mean! I like to write articles helping people learn something new. Informing people about different cat subjects makes me happy.

5. Jeremy Schoemaker from Shoemoney - I didn't find anything helpful here, because I'm not in blogging to make money at the moment.

6. Liz Strauss from Successful Blog - here I read about tips on getting readers to post comments.

1. Look before you speak. When you’re on a new blog look around for minute, don’t just read a post and comment. Take in a bit about the blog and the blogger. Read the comments that came before yours as well. Think about what you’d say if you were in a discussion with all of them. Folks will recognize that your comment has substance and take you and your comment more seriously. I absolutely love this tip. I've abided by it, but I hope that other readers will do this. before I leave a comment on an blog post I have something to say about, I always poke around their blogosphere and learn about their posting styles and find out if the are a blog that I want to keep reading.

Why readers don't leave comments
1.  What you write is so complete, that I don’t know what to say except good job. I feel silly writing that, so I read and move on. I try to make my writing a complete thought, but often I have run on sentences that go on and on and on and on and on and on.....and on. I try to make sure I leave my posts open for interpretation and hope that like art, everyone will read my post in a different way. So always leave a post if you have something to say! I promise I will read it, reply and not laugh at you (unless you are joking!)

7. Daniel Scocco from Daily Blog Tips - Lots of useful information here
1.  The user must know what the site is about in seconds - I think it is pretty obvious that my blog is about cats. I think it is evident from my posts taht I have a blog about pets. Correct me if I'm wrong.

2. Make the content scannable - Other than this post, all of my blog posts have short comments that are user friendly and are easily readable. I hope that people don't turn away from my blog, because I'm a writer and like to write like I'm writing a newspaper article. 

 8. Chris Brogan from ChrisBrogan.com
6. It’s okay to use a personal voice. In fact, there’s no point blogging if you’re going to write like a cold robot. But keep personal and useful in balance. Why wouldn't it be okay to use personal voice? I enjoy writing in personal voice, becasue most of the time I can't when I'm working on the school newspaper. And I know that eventually I will have a job where I probably can't write in first person. But that's okay because my blog is an outlet for that.

21. Put your blog posts on a diet. Read them with your audience in mind. Can you thin them out? Remove unnecessary words. Make them tight. If I'm posting, there is usually a good reason. It normally means that I want to share my thoughts with the world and I hope that you, as the reader, believe it's worth reading.

33. Add your blog URL to your email signature. I actually just did this before I read this post. Yay!

35.  If you’re going to promote your blog via places like Twitter, be sure to do it tastefully instead of just dumping links into the stream. Consider asking a question, or pointing out a rather insightful comment. I try to be tasteful when I post my blog post to Facebook. I also try to give a little "taste" so people want to continue reading the post.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Junk Food Flyers from Moderncat Studio

Tired of boring old cat toys? Want something eco-friendly and crinkly, that you know your cat will love? Then you need to buy Junk Food Flyers from Moderncat Studio! Created by Kate Benjamin and tested by her kitties!

These flyers are made from "clean recycled cat food bags" as stated on a card included with Sandpiper Cat's Junk Food Flyers. Kate sent Sandpiper Cat two Junk Food Flyers to write a review...so from the head cat Piper and her assistant Sabrina, we bring to you, Sandpiper Cat Blog's review of Junk Food Flyers.


Sabrina inspecting her new toy.
 Piper's review

 

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Get a whiff of that!
 
Deez krinkley crunchy toys are one of my new favorites. I liked to hold the crinkle in between my pawz. It even makes a good hat! I think other kittiez would like these toyz because they are fun to chase! They try to runz away but I am so fast I can catch it! I have to share mine with Sabrina, but she likes to runz around with themz on the bed.

Sabrina's review!

I never hadz these junk food toy before. I like to have my mom throw them up into the air so I can demonstrate my super kitty flying powerz and jump to catch them! Watch me catch them on the bed here: video

The Junk Food Flyers can be purchased on Kate's Moderncat Studio Etsy shop. Junk Food Flyers can be purchased in a set of 5 for $5. Shipping is $2 in US, $2.50 Canada and $3 anywhere else.

Junk Food Flyers will have your cats running around like crazy! These are worth purchasing!

Visit Moderncat Studio at http://www.moderncat.net/.


I have in no way been compensated for my review. Moderncat Studio sent the toys to me to review for free. This review is solely my own opinion.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Help us win a Facebook contest!

Help us win a contest on Facebook!

Simply go to this link, scroll down to the bottom and like the comments from Rachel Shubin and Sandpiper Cat Blog.

Please vote! Thank you!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

31DBBB - Task 4 Analyzing The Conscious Cat

The next task in 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, is anaylzing a blog in your niche. My niche, is pet blogging. So I picked one of my absolute favorite blogs, The Conscious Cat, written by my good friend Ingrid King.

1. Identify a successful blog in your niche.

The Conscious Cat

2. Take 15 minutes to do some analysis of the blog in some of the following areas

Content:
  • What topics are they covering? Ingrid covers reviews of cat toys, a weekly post with fun/intriguing stories (such as Mews and Nips from around the Internet), product reviews,book reviews, giveaways, rescues, fundraising for those rescues, cat celebration days, etc).
  • What topics are they ignoring? Ingrid covers a vast selection of topics, particularly from a medical viewpoint, as she had been a veterinary hospital manager. If I could suggest an article to Ingrid, because I don't think she ignores anything, I would suggest an article on how The Conscious Cat post on "Tortitude" (found here) has over 6,898 comments - at 9/22/11 12:23pm - and is still counting!
  • What voice/style do they post in? Ingrid mainly posts in her voice, though she opts to do two columns from her cats Ruby and Allegra's point of views. Ruby's reflections tend to entertain readers with cat toy reviews, as well as Ruby's crazy kitten adventures with breaking things here. Allegra, Ingrid's other kitty, posts to her column, Allegra's World.
  • How often are they posting? Ingrid posts sporadically (don't we all?), but posts 1-3 times a week, if not more.
  • What level are they pitching their posts at (beginners, advanced etc) Ingrid posts not only for beginners, but also posts for cat-pros. Although, the cat-pros sometimes have a thing or two to learn.
Reader Engagement:
  • What topics generate most conversation? It is inarguable that the "Tortitude" post has generated the most feedback. However, whenever Ingrid is having a giveaway, there are many comments of hopeful humans/felines!
  • What styles of posts seem to connect with readers best? Readers seem to respond best with personal accounts, such as Ruby's knocking glassware off the counter, or being a "vertical pee-er."
  • What questions are readers asking in comments? Readers often ask for cat advice from Ingrid, which she takes time to thoughtfully answer each and every person who comments. I've certainly taken advice from Ingrid numerous times. Such as switching our cats to the cat food Weruva, which we are in the process of doing.
  • What complaints do you see readers making in comments? I have not seen any reader complaints.
  • What tools/mediums is the site using (eg: are they using Twitter, forums etc) Ingrid's blog is done through Wordpress, she is on Facebook, and Twitter.
Design:
  • What first impression does their design give? Ingrid's blog design is visually appealing.
  • What have they done well? What have they done poorly? The eye catching banner with Ingrid's past cat Amber and current cats Ruby and Allegra are the first sight eyes will stumple upon entering her blog.
  • What Options do they give readers to subscribe? You can follow The Conscious Cat by email as well as the CC Facebook page.
Monetization:
  • what advertisers are targeting this blog? Cat related items ranging from - herbal essences, cat furniture, as well as many other feline toys, treats, food, etc.
  • what type of affiliate programs are they promoting? Ingrid also uses her blog to promote her book, Buckley's Story, her monthly newsletter 'News for You and Your Pet', as well as featuring links to adoptable pets in the local area.
Traffic:
I visited the Compete website and entered Ingrid's blog. I saw stats for visitors to The Conscious Cat. The chart above shows visitors. It is self interpreting to look at the graph and see the rise of visitors. I have no way of knowing if this is correct. Compete said the sample size for this site is small - psh, whatever that means.

Check back on "The Situation," many exciting new posts coming soon!


Ingrid King and The Conscious Cat, were not aware of this post until it was published. They have in no way compensated me for my review. This review is solely my own opinion and does not reflect the composition of The Conscious Cat.

Monday, September 19, 2011

31DBBB Post 3 - Blog Promotion

Blogging isn't just a hobby for me. At least, it was until I went to the BlogPaws conference. I learned that with blogging you can do so much more than write for your friends and family. Expanding your blog by promoting it on Facebook, having business cards, sharing your link online as well as networking with fellow bloggers.

After going to BlogPaws I came home without any of my business cards left, but plenty of cards with my new contacts. I subscribed to their blogs and read them as frequently as I can. I've been given free cat toys to review on my blog, which I haven't done yet because our cats have crazier lives than we do! I was recently contacted about a no more odor spray for cat litter smells, and will be getting a sample to review on my blog.

I want to not only enjoy blogging for myself, but promote my blog to others and get on the radar. I'm not in it for glory, fame or freebies - but recognition that my writing has touched at least one person. I promote my blog by buisness cards and my Facebook page you can find here.

I know that I have quite a few readers, and I hope to increase my following.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

31DBBB Post 2 - List post

Today's 31DBBB post is a list post. I will talk about ALL the cats I've had in my life, in a list post, with a short explanation.

1. Ashley - Ashley was a boy orange tabby, named for Gone With the Wind. He was my dad's first cat, received from a friend whose cats had kittens. Formally named Barney, my dad made the change to Ashley. According to my dad, Ashley was a crazy kitten and the vet (at the time in the 1990's) suggested my dad have him front declawed. Back then, declawing was endorsed by vets - never realizing how truly painful it is to remove the claw and the joint of the cat. He was our one and only declawed cat, something we would never do again. Ashley was one of the unusual cases of cats who got an injection site sarcoma, which gave him cancer. He lived until he was 16 years old and died from sarcoma cancer in 2001, some time around 9/11.


A blurry screen shot of Ashley (bottom) and Marsh (top) from a home video.

2. Marsh - Short for Marshall, - the supreme court judge- was my dad's second kitten he got to keep Ashely company. Marsh was actually a purebred Maine Coone that my dad bought from a breeder (who actually ended up being a hoarder). Marsh was our first and only purebred cat. Another 1990's popular cat decision that we would never make again now. Marsh and Ashley didn't get along, and Marsh wasn't necessarily the sharpest crayon in the box. Marsh one time ate a brillo pad and went to the emergency vet. He ended up living through that and pooping out pieces of brillo pad for a while. Marsh got sick in mid 2005 and it is presumed it was some sort of cancer. Marsh passed in June 2005, a few weeks before we left for vacation.

3. Parker - After Marsh died, we decided to get kittens since my dad and mom were the only ones who've had them before. Parker was one of the first kittens we picked out from lostdog.org. He was a gray tabby and was 2 months old. The rest of Parker's litter, Piper, Paris and one other P kitten all had health problems. It turned out that it was FIP or Feline Infectious Peritonitis, which would claim Parker's life on December 27, 2005 at 8 months old. Parker was the sweetest little baby, and not a day goes by that I don't miss him dearly. I hope that one day a cure for FIP will be found.

4. May - aka as Maybelline, Moo, Moobelle, Anamariamadonnachristinamay (not a typo) and a few other goofy nicknames! She was a brown tabby we adopted from Lost Dog along with Parker. May and Parker loved each other and roughhousing around the house. May had very big ears as a kitten and we did not realize that she would grow into them. May became a big boned, 15 pound cat, currently 17 pounds as a result of taking steroids due to allergies. She prefers my mom over all people, and slinks when my dad pets her.

5. Esterbrooke - Mostly called Brooke, Cookie and occasionally "The Mad Hatter." Brooke is our first tortoiseshell kitten and she is as crazy as crazy comes. Parker and Brooke bonded instantly and became best buddies. They were always by each other's side. When Parker died, Brooke looked around the house for him, and that is how we knew we needed to adopt another cat. Today, Brooke is still as fiesty as ever. She likes to stalk Sabrina and Piper and does not get along with them very well. Of course, what else is to be expected of a tortoiseshell.

6. Victoria (foster failure) - More commonly called Vickie (or Vicki depending on how I like to spell it) is May's mother, but a very small 8 pound cat. Vickie was on the Lost Dog website for 3 months after we adopted May. We felt so bad, her picture was so solemn...she came home as a foster. Vickie hid behind the dry wall in our basement and we slid food bowls in and out for her before she finally came out. She came out for mom's beef stew, but continued to lurk in the basement for three months after we had her. We did end up keeping her. Vickie does not like May, we think because of the time that they were separated. Today Vickie is getting the rest of her teeth out due to bad gums. Sad, but this procedure will make her live longer.

7. Henry - After Parker passed away, we knew that we needed to find another cat when Brooke was grieving over Parker. We wanted to make sure we took the right cat. So on my birthday 12/30 (3 days after Parker died) we went to Lost Dog to look at a cat called Bobby (our Henry). My mom took him out of his carrier, he wrapped his paws around her neck and gave her a nose kiss. Needless to say, sweet Henry came home with us as an additonal birthday present. He is the reason we kept our next kitty Pearl.

8. Pearl (foster failure) - We received an email from our rescue saying that little Page was sick and needed a foster or she would die. Not giving the email a second thought, we took Page home. We nursed her back to health. On the first visit out of the bathroom where we had been keeping her, Henry took one look at her and hasn't left her side since. Pearl since we've had her, has gained quite a few pounds and is a little pudgey.
Pearl, white cat, before she got to be fat.

9. Nick and Smokey (fosters/lost cats) - The S on our door knocker does not stand for our last name Shubin, but for Sucker! It seems like lost cats always seem to find their way to our door. Nick and Smokey, came at two separate times and both found a happy ending with someone who wasn't us! My dad was on a walk one day and a siamese looking cat followed him home. We had never seen him before in our neighborhood, which made us think that he could be a new neighbor's pet, or potentially lost. None of our neighbors knew him, but they had seen him around for quite a while. When we decided to do something about him, we found out from a neighbor that he took Smokey to the pound. UGH! The humanity of some people. My dad and I put up flyers and he went to the pound. He told them it wasn't his cat, something we should've lied about to get Smokey. This was on a Friday. The volunteer at the shelter told my dad that she had seen signs in a neighborhood a few miles away from us, a missing cat for a chocolate point siamese. My dad and I went to the neighborhood and sure enough the description described Smokey. We called the lady but she said she really didn't think it was her cat, they had gotten a lot of calls already and basically given up hope. My dad sent the picture we had of him, and she called us crying saying that it was her cat. When the shelter opened on Tuesday, she picked Smokey up and we got to see him at their house. They were very greatful. Not many stories turn out that way.
Dad and his buddy Nick. Nick is in the lower left corner, he blends in with the chair.

Nick on the other hand, wasn't so lucky. He showed up in our neighborhood and our neighbors led him to our house. They knew we were involved with rescue and maybe we could help with this cat. We didn't know what to do, we just couldn't have another cat, so we got Nick - our naming of him Nicholas Valentino for Christmas and Valentine's day advertising, if he was still around by 2/14 - into the rescue. For a while we had him stay in the garage until one night he got out. We were on the way to temple and there was no way in heck I was letting him go at night. We were late, as I took the time to get him back into the garage. We decided after that to let him stay in a spare room in our basement. For a while Nick was allowed out about the house, but...Henry started pooping innapropriately after Nick took an interest in Henry's girlfriend Pearl. We knew that Nick couldn't stay. Shockingly, the night after the poop disaster, my dad got an email from a family interested in Nick. We had them over to see Nick and he hid behind our couch and growled. They took him anyway! A successful adoption, or a two week vacation for Nick, either way was good. The adoption stuck and we heard from them for a while...but we unfortunately lost contact. My dad is always said about Nick because Nick really loved my dad. He would mope around all day until dad got home. Dad would sit down in a chair, call "Nick" and he would come running from wherever he was in the house. Needless to say....Sabrina is now Dad's Nick.

10. Sabrina  (foster failure) - Oh little Sabrina. In 2009 during the course of three weeks adoption events, Dad (with me) convinced mom that we needed to foster little Sabrina. She was a black cat, like Henry. We had no intention of really "fostering her", it was just easier to say she was a foster than deny that we were planning on keeping her. Sabrina has a good life, but it is not ideal. She lives in my parents bedroom, with visits to other parts of the house often, because our cat Brooke cannot get along with her. Hopefully we will start medicating both of them, so we can work on having "open doors" as we like to say.

11. BeiBei (successful foster!) - BeiBei was our foster on a Friday night after an adoption event. We took her to just keep over the weekend until she could go out to Leesburg. Of course, she got so much attention on the Friday night at the adoption event. She was a Persian cat with a lion cut, wearing a sweater! It doesn't get cuter than that. A great couple spent a while talking with us. They weren't sure they could have a cat because they had four dogs. They called my dad on Saturday saying they wanted to adopt her. They filled out their adoption paperwork and officially adopted her. They came Sunday evening to pick BeiBei up. She was a sweetie, and the easiest foster we've ever had.
The couple who adopted BeiBei, with her!

12. Gabby (successful foster!) - Although...Gabby and I really bonded. I really wanted to keep her. But we had heard that she didn't get along with other cats and she really didn't. She hissed at Henry...which was a definite sign that she wasn't going to work because NOBODY hisses at little innocent Henry. He's the welcome wagon! Gabby was also a Persian, but less so than BeiBei. She was a silver gray color and very sweet. She loved playing fetch with her little mouse and bringing it back over and over again. She always wanted me to play it at 2 am with her. She got adopted by my mom's friend, who has a bull dog. It's the smooshed face house family! Gabby and Lola (the bull dog) get along great and I haven't gone to visit her yet, but will soon.
Gabby with her favorite mouse to fetch.

13. Piper (foster failure) - Well, you all know about Piper. Took her, same night she miscarried her kittens from 3-7 am in my bedroom. Nursed her back to health and she became bonded with me. She is the reason that my blog is Sandpiper Cat blog! Love my little girl, even if she sleeps with mom and dad.

Evidence of having seven (oops, not yet) six cats.
14. Unmentioned others - There have been seven other kitties that have been in our lives, but only  need a short posting. Molly, a calico and Samson, a black cat, both were adopted by our close family friends (two different friends, at two different times, but both from our rescue). They stayed at our house each for about a week before being brought to their permanent homes. They are both sweet and happy and we love hearing about them.

Sweet, shy little Molly.
Butch - a big male Tom, who spent most of his life unneutered so he ended up with a big head- got left by accident at an adoption event and was an overnight foster for us. He stayed in mom and dad's bathroom and was the sweetest thing. He ended up getting adopted by a nice man whose sister, I believe, wanted to steal him away from him! And the last four kitties were the sweet kittens we fostered this summer who were exposed to VS-Calici and had to be put down. RIP Abby, Frack, Lewis and Michelle.

BYE!!!!! (Foster who I pet sat for).