Welcome Oliver!

I know it has been a while since I have posted, but things have been very busy in our house. I made it through college (yay!) and a day later flew back home and picked up Oliver! The man of the hour has finally arrived. Let me tell you, he is quite a character.

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“I don’t know how I ended up in this position, but it’s pretty impressive”

When I first went to visit Oliver he was very shy, he was in the stranger-danger stage of his kitten-hood, and wow is he so different now. He always has to be the center of attention and loves to hear himself talk. And his breeder was so right: he is such a cuddle bug and is a big time mama’s boy. He sleeps with me under my covers every night. It has been three weeks since we have gotten home and Oliver is totally settled in. He has even decided that he is willing to share his space with Sam, much to Sam’s excitement (he was thrilled to have a new brother, and was a bit upset when Oliver didn’t take to him right away.)

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“So sleepy”

He also has a thing about electronics. He loves to sit on my computer, whether it is on or off, and it is an ongoing battle to keep him off the keyboard when I am trying to do something. The same goes for my phone. He considers it his possession and is always knocking it out of my hands so that he can rub all over it. Actually he considers everything his, even Sam’s toys. He just goes into a room and takes over everything.

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“What do you mean you want me to get off the computer?”

His favorite toy is his feather mouse, and he will actually even play fetch with it. I was totally surprised when he started bringing me the mouse to throw for him, and just floored when he actually brought it back. I didn’t have to train him to do it or anything. The thing about him being a kitten though is that he wants to play all the time, and I am totally down for playtime, until I got to bed. Oliver doesn’t understand that he will wake me up at three AM by sitting on my head and dropping a toy on my face. He doesn’t scratch the furniture, or the scratching post… he does scratch me. We are working on that, as well as the teething on everything. One of the funniest things though is that he things going to the bathroom is a group activity. He will watch me as he uses his litter box, or try to sit on the toilet with me while I go to the bathroom.

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“I’m just going to hang out here while you finish your business.”

Overall though, he is a great cat, and will fit in with our household. I have already talked with the person who helped us train Sam, and she has given me some pointers to help Oliver get a couple steps closer to being therapy ready. I will also post some videos soon, we are trying to figure out a good camera to use to get some HD shots. So lots of videos coming up: Bathtime, playtime, outside time… or anything else good that we manage to catch on camera.

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The Sphynx Cat

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“Hairless” cats can occur in any breed just by chance and genetic mutation, but the Sphynx cat is a breed that has cultivated these hairless genes in order to get a naked cat. And thus an entire breed of hairless cats was created.

Now, the Sphynx cats are not actually bald, most of them have a soft fuz on their bodies (leading them to be described as feeling like suede), and depending on the season and the individual cat, some might even grow fur on their tails and ears. They can also grow and shed fur throughout different times in their lives. Some are particularly hairless, and these are called “sticky” bald, but even they can grow fur on their faces, ears, and tails. Because of this lack of traditional fur, the cat has no hair to absorb the oils that its skin produces and so must be bathed more frequently than most cats or the furniture could end up with oil marks. As for colors, these kitties can be pretty much every color and pattern under the sun, except instead of it showing up on fur it shows up on their skin, makes you wonder what your tabby would look like if you shaved him, huh? And the wrinkles! The Sphynx wrinkles are one of their stand out features and are an extremely prized characteristic for a cat of this breed to have.

As for personality, as with every animal, they will all have individual personalities, but the breed over all is known for being extremely outgoing and friendly. They are often referred to as being a very “dog-like” cat who are very playful and usually not very graceful. They love the people in their lives, and thrive on the attention of their owners and are extremely affectionate, which can lead to anxiety if they have to be separated from their owners for long periods of time. But they are considered a breed of cat that forms a strong bond with their family.

In the beginning there was a lot of inbreeding just to make sure that the hairless gene was passed on, but this created health problems, especially heart problems, within the breed and so now responsible breeders use something called out crossing, which means that they will breed a Sphynx with a furry cat (usually a short haired cat) and then breed any hairless babies that come from that litter to another Sphynx with no genetic relation. They do this to bring diverse genes into the breeds gene pool.

Personally, I think that they are crazy cute. Obviously, I mean, Oliver is one, but some people think they are ugly, or look like aliens, and so on. But does it really matter what he looks like as long as I love him and he loves me and is happy and healthy?

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Photo cred: Vidar Skauen, Animal Photography

Benefits of Pets

While not all of us have had the experience of working with a therapy pet, most of us know that having a pet has many benefits. But did you know there there are actually physical and mental health benefits to owning a pet? Spending time with your furry (or scaled/feathered) friend can effect you in a positive way. Here are some ways that you pet helps your body:

  • Those who own pets have over all lower blood pressure
  • Pet owners have lower Triglyceride and cholesterol which is a sign of better heart health
  • Pets trigger the release of endorphins (elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which can lead to a calm relaxed state
  • They help diminish physical pain

Bet that was more than you expected, huh? We do a lot for our pets, and though they can speak to us they do a lot for us in return. Pets don’t just help us physically they also help our emotional and mental health.

  • They can help relieve depression
  • They can decrease feelings of isolation
  • They provide comfort (I think we all know this)
  • Pets can help increase socialization
  • Help reduce boredom
  • Pets help lower anxiety (this is a big one for me, and they totally do help me with my anxiety, more than I can say.)
  • They reduce lonliness
  • Promote a sense of responsibility

A big reason that pets can be beneficial is that (excluding fish, who actually can help reduce muscle tension) they fill a human’s innate need for physical contact. They calm and soothe us when we are stressed, they will always listen to what we have to say without judgement, and they will provide us with unconditional love. There are so many animals out there that are just waiting for their chance to help and with the right one, whether it be from a breeder or a shelter, they can improve the quality of your life, and be the friend that will always be there for you.

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Welcome To Oliver in Training!

This is our first post!

About 3 years ago I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and when through chemotherapy to treat it. I am okay now, the cancer has been gone for two years. That being said, I went through much of my treatment alone. My friends were there, but I was at college and so my family was thousands of miles away and with them, my dog Sam. As I was going through treatment, sometimes all I wanted was to hold Sam and just let him love me, but I couldn’t. When I got home, I got to spend all the time I wanted with Sam, but it got me thinking, how many people going through treatment go through it alone? How many people just want an animal friend to hold for 30 minutes just to feel loved and normal again?

Well, recently my therapist and I decided that I was in a good place to get a pet, I had been suffering from some anxiety and depression as a result of treatment (I am much better now, no worries!) but with that behind me, I felt I could bring a new member into my family. I am graduating college in May, and as a present my grandparents are getting me a kitten. And not just any kitten, but a Sphynx kitten. My little baldy. His name is Oliver and he is just the sweetest. The first time I held him he fell asleep in my arms. I am getting him as a personal pet, and if his personality suits, I am hoping that I can train him to be a therapy cat. I was also thinking about how he can’t be with every person who is sick and that gave me the idea for this blog. While I wish I could give everyone a little kitten to cuddle, I can’t, but maybe if I post my journey with Oliver it can help a little. Maybe he can be a therapy cat through this blog and help people escape for a little while, and give them some joy and strength to get through whatever trial they are facing.

I plan on sharing our experiences through posts, pictures, videos and more. I hope that this helps some people! And check back for pictures!

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