I Am a retired zoologist, professional animal behavior consultant, and published author. Enhancing the human-animal bond and supporting conservation are two of my greatest passions. I am also an Intuitive Empath and an Energy Healing Practitioner who utilizes Light Language for healing. Through blending science and spiritual truths, I enjoy inspiring, uplifting educating and unifying others. As my Cherokee heritage teaches, We Are One!
I ran from her initially; fearful of the love that called. Terrified of losing a timeless love again. Unable to let love in again. Blind. Unable to See.
Eventually I surrendered. I let Love in. I let love lead.
I couldn’t see I couldn’t hear Shut me off when you were near Like a cloud A dusty mirror Disappear, you disappear All of a sudden All alone I’m calling out I’m calling love’s gonna let me know –“Let Me Know”, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
She’s shown me worlds I never could have imagined. She’s challenged me in ways I never knew possible. She reflects back to me what I have yet to see within.
I am forever grateful.💝
Hocus is not unique in what she offers our family and the countless souls she encounters while she is here on Earth. Every one of our animal companions is a compassionate teacher in furry, feathered, or scaly suits. Every moment we have with them is a gift. Every emotion they invoke within us is a message.
But are we listening? Are we open to learning from them? Are we willing to go within? Are we willing to SEE clearly?
Yesterday was the anniversary of our beloved Hocus Pocus’ “Gotcha Day.” Coincidentally, it was also my Aunt’s birthday and the date of when her mother (my grandmother) was tortured and killed, then dumped on the side of the road for a small boy and his dog to later find.
A myriad of emotions. Among them, Joy and Gratitude Reigned. 👑
My grandmother is still with us. She is our guardian angel. Her tragic transition out of this world was only the beginning; a new life for her … for all of us. And I honestly believe that our grandmother, Dolores, had a divine hand in directing Hocus Pocus to us. There are no coincidences.
Even in tragedy there are miracles in the making. Rebirth. Life Reborn. Beginnings. Alchemy. Forgiveness. Awareness. Transformation. Insight. Healing. Spiritual Sight. Awakening. Love Waiting. ♾
No matter the illusion of form: birth, death, celebration, suffering; they are all invitations to remove the blocks to the awareness of love’s presence. They are calling you Home to Love. 🧡🖤💛💖 Love Is. ✨♾✨
For you could not control your joyous response to the call of love if you heard it, and the whole world you thought you made would vanish. —ACIM, chapter 13
As I mentioned above, yesterday was Hocus Pocus’ “Gotcha Day”, and we are still celebrating!!! If you haven’t heard of a Gotcha Day, it’s basically an adoption day/ the day your animal companion came into your life. So, for those of y’all who love cheesy videos, here ya go 😉
Love’s gonna let me know Like the day you took me home We counted every minute left to go My love’s gonna let you know – Let Me Know, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
And if you’d like to read an excerpt of a current book in the works, you can view “Love At First Sight … Not Quite” in the link below. It’s a short story about how Hocus Pocus found our family, and more importantly who really invited Hocus into our lives. I am forever grateful.
Hello Friends, and happy weekend! I hope this finds you and yours well in all ways as we are in full swing of winter. Here in the northeast we are preparing for a major winter storm, so this will be a (relatively) short post.
Let’s get to it! It’s Caturday! So let’s talk cats.
If you are fortunate to be the guardian of a feline, then you are blessed beyond measure. Being “owned” by a cat does have its benefits; albeit frustrations and confusions, too. But any confusion and frustrations are easily mitigated when we understand the WHY behind behaviors.
If you have been flowing with this blog for a while now, you know that house cats are:
If you have been paying attention, then you now know that all house cats need:
Proper, positive socialization to a variety of sights, sounds, and scents
Daily mental stimulation
Ability to exercise their natural instinct to hunt
Acceptable outlets for their natural behaviors
To feel safe in and around your home
Litter boxes that are spacious, clean, and the right fit for each feline’s lifestage
Appropriate and species-specific nutrition
Regular, species-specific veterinary care
Basic positive (fun) training time
Knowing all of this is only part of the pussycat puzzle. Innate Behaviors are often at the heart of these needs.
‘People have forgotten this truth,’ the fox said. ‘But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.’ ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
All in the Instincts!
Many of the behaviors we observe our feline family members displaying are closely controlled by genes. These behaviors are called innate behaviors. They are behaviors that are inborn; naturally occurring in all members of a species. Within each species, Innate behaviors are predictable. These behaviors can be performed in response to a cue (changing of the seasons, daylight, etc.) without prior experience /exposure to a particular cue.
Think of them as reflex responses/actions. Unlike behaviors such as learning to ride a bike, tie your shoe, or brush your teeth, Innate behaviors do not have to be learned or practiced.
Innate behaviors are instinctive.
They are controlled by genes and always occur in the same way.
Innate behaviors do not have to be learned or practiced.
Innate behaviors generally involve basic life functions, so it’s important that they be performed correctly.
These kinds of behaviors are also called instinctive behaviors. An instinct is the ability of an animal to perform a behavior the first time it is exposed to something that causes a response, within their body.
Our cat committee is currently creating a book for families that will discuss more of this in detail. But that’s the basics of what you need to now about today’s topic.
There is one innate behavior I would like to talk about today that really fascinates me about felines. And I really think you’ll enjoy it. It’s called Caching.
Have you ever noticed your cat trying to cover his/her food? All of our cats do it after they have finished eating if there is leftover food. Well, let’s be honest: Knox never leaves any food. -Pretty sure he’s a direct descent of Garfield.
Cats who cover their food are not unusual critters. Many more species do this behavior than most realize!
Critters Who Cache
Many animals practice the behavior of caching. Here are a few examples:
Caching behavior is the storage of food in locations hidden from the sight of both conspecifics (animals of the same or closely related species) and members of other species. For some species, the function of caching is to store food in times of surplus for times when food is less plentiful. However, there is evidence that some caching behavior is done to ripen the food. Foxes and squirrels tend to spread out their food in small caches (“scatter hoard”) so that, although one may be discovered by another animal, enough will remain.
Why Cats Cache
Cats are predators and prey. Cats who live in the wild, (feral cats, cougars, panthers, etc.) often attempt to bury uneaten food or cover a recently killed carcass. It’s believed wildcats do this to:
avoid attracting any predators to the area
attempt to not alert potential prey that a feline hunter is in the vicinity
Once the wildcat has eaten his/her fill of their prey, the cougar will cover their prey with substrate (grass, leaves, or other ground material) to protect it from spoiling or from being eaten by other animals. The cougar will usually remain in the area near his/her cache for several days, occasionally returning to feed on the carcass.
Bobcats will cover the remains of a large kill with debris such as snow, leaves, twigs or grass. The bobcat will revisit the carcass and eat again. Panthers will rake leaves and twigs over a carcass to hide the carcass from scavengers. This behavior is very common and is part of a natural and healthy wildcat. Check out these fascinating felines caching their food in the wild!
A Caching Cougar In
Below is a time-lapse video an adult female mountain lion
who has been followed by Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project. This cougar is in
northwest Wyoming, caching a mule deer she killed:
In winter, it’s common for cougars to lose access to at least half of every elk they kill. Cougars tend to feed on one side of an elk at a time, and by the time they are finished with one side, the other can be wedged beneath a solid layer of compressed snow and ice, and completely inaccessible. -Mark Elbroch, Teton Cougar Project
This is important to realize because it helps us understand the foraging ecology of cougars. Cougars need to kill a specific amount of meat to meet their energetic demands for living, but they kill much more than this. In summer, bears steal their kills, and in winter, cold weather and snow steal their food. Thus, cougars are often unable to consume all of what they kill, and so they must kill again more quickly. -Mark Elbroch
On Nov 2, 2015 a hunter spotted a cougar caching her prey:
Mountain lions typically cache their kills beneath a mound of snow but when temperatures drop precipitously at night, this behavior frequently backfires. Unlike foxes, coyotes, and wolves, cougars lack the strong feet and stout claws for intensive excavation. Thus, when snows become thick ice that hinders their ability to feed, cougars abandon their kills to hunt again.
Habitats Created from
Most people think of beavers as ecological engineers, building
dams, and creating new habitats from their creations, but a new study shows mountain lions modify their
environments in a similar way.
Unlike wolves, mountain lions leave large intact pieces of dead meat on
the landscape that draw lots of species that then distribute those nutrients
far and wide. It is so important to ecosystem health to maintain carrion on the
landscape which supports a huge diversity of wildlife through supplemental
feeding, through maintenance of invertebrate community. It just goes on and on.
– Mark Elbroch, the Director of the Puma Project
I love this video below.
It’s rare footage of a subadult female cougar. In the video she’s just waking from a long
nap, and is slightly disoriented … A bit
later she is caching the elk carcass she discovered and claimed as her own.
House Cats Who Cache
Caching behavior is also quite common in house cats. A lot of folks think this is because their cat doesn’t like the food, but in fact, it’s an innate behavior inherited from their ancestors.
Even the comfy couch cats who have never set paw outside retains this feline instinct. A feline’s natural instinct is to cover food from scavengers or potential threats that might be tracking the scent. Unlike their wild cousins and dogs, House Cats are not scavengers; they are both predator and prey, so they don’t bury their leftover food to consume later; with house cats, it’s for protective purposes. But because all cats are individuals within the species, the degree to which the cat attempts to hide/bury the food depends on the individual cat’s comfort level and concern for exposed uneaten food.
What Caching Behavior Looks Like In House Cats: The cat is burying something. The cat is pawing at the carpet, kitchen tile, or dragging her front paw on the floor around their food mat, puzzle feeder, or bowl. The cat may become so focused on burying the food that he/she pushes the food mat/plate around. Some cats may pull a blanket, tissue paper, or food mat over their leftovers, if these items are nearby.
House Cats Caching Food
In this short video you can see one of our feline family members covering his food, and how similar this behavior is to cougars:
Become the Observer of Behavior.
Frustrating felines, puzzling pussycats, and bewildering behaviors common in homes with house cats. But all behavior has roots. Either it’s learned or innate. Caching is just one example of how we so often misunderstand cats and mislabel cat behavior. We label the behavior, make it wrong, or make fun of it. But this particular caching behavior works for cats; it serves an important purpose. Once we begin to understand that all behavior serves a purpose, we gain a new perspective.
We gain compassion.
We know that wildcats and house cats are learning all the time. We can choose to learn as well. It’s up to us as stewards of Mother Earth, and guardians of house cats to learn how to show respect, better communicate with them, listen better to them, and to learn something new from them every day.
“Reality is always kinder than the stories we tell about it.” – Byron Katie
A Matter of Misperceptions
Cougars, like house cats, are often misunderstood. The video below is a rare and intimate glimpse into the family lives of America’s second-largest cats. The film debunks long-held perceptions of cougars as solitary, anti-social animals and reveals their social and caring side: This footage was gathered by the conservation group Teton Cougar Project, revealing a family who is playful, affectionate, and interdependent. The footage also shows that sometimes, adult female cougars adopt orphaned kittens that would otherwise perish.
It shows how behaviors are passed down from one generation to the next, how young kittens learn from interactions with their mother and siblings, exhibiting behaviors such as stalking, caching and sharing meals.
I invite you to watch this short film, “The Secret Life of Mountain Lions”:
Use your voice for kindness, your ears for compassion, your hands for charity, your mind for truth, and your heart for love.
I hope wherever you are, this finds you and yours at peace in all ways possible. As we release 2018 and welcome 2019 I offer you this blessing:
If I could lay before you the dearest gift this evening
It would be a time of no beginning and no end.
It would be life filled with good health and peace and inner joy that can only come from the Spirit.
You would quietly refine your thoughts and words so that you never draw to you anything but the finest.
You would rest deeply and breathe in sweet peace.
You would know the tremendous difference between the material and the spiritual – turning from anger and frustration to a safe haven of love.
You would always be the most loyal friend – not only to others but to yourSelf.
All the issues of life rise out of the heart – so this is a gift from heart to heart.
– A Cherokee Feast of Days by Joyce Sequichie
Below is a video I created a few years ago with that beautiful Cherokee blessing.
We are All setting aside 2018 and shifting into a New Year. As one chapter in life ends, another begins. Have you taken time out of your hectic holiday schedule to consider what this upcoming year has in store for our precious souls, and how you will create a new chapter???
Below are just a few of the questions that come to mind when I consider the new chapter that’s beginning for us all. In each question I’ve included my favorite inspirational videos or posts from the past few years. I hope you enJOY!
My husband’s stone, reflecting a sunset on the ocean
As we let go of 2018 and glide into 2019 …
Will this be a beautiful new beginning? – An ending to a complex chapter?
Will there be more joy and laughter? – An ending to shedding tears?
Will we know that with every thought and deed we Create ripple effects in unimaginable ways?
Will we lovingly release the past and graciously welcome the new?
I hope so.
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language. And next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.” (Little Gidding) ― T.S. Eliot
I am not one to dwell on the past. I rarely even glance a day behind me, but I do know that we can learn from the lessons that come through us; for the past challenges and future opportunities are lessons we can learn from now.
This year has been a blessing in innumerable ways. Many of these blessings are yet unrecognized, but they are there. It’s also been a challenge. As I look forward in gratitude to the new chapter, I am reminded of so much that family, friends, and countless communities have been moving through. But more importantly, I Am thankful for the tremendous healing and growth that have come from it. I am grateful for kindness, compassion, unity, and forgiveness.
We are All in this together.
We Are One.
On a more personal note, it’s been one helluva rollercoaster. I do love a wild ride, but I deeply miss someone whom we said goodbye to, so this video is near and dear to my heart. Although it highlights 2016, its message is still relevant today for many families with furry ones. I hope this speaks to your mind and heart; a reminder of what gratitude, empowerment, laughter, Joy, and Unconditional Love can bring.
This is a glimpse into what I feel our animal companions are thankful for:
“May Light always surround you; Hope kindle and rebound you. May your Hurts turn to Healing; Your Heart embrace Feeling. May Wounds become Wisdom; Every Kindness a Prism. May Laughter infect you; Your Passion resurrect you. May Goodness inspire your Deepest Desires. Through all that you Reach For, May your arms Never Tire.” ― D. Simone
May every moment of 2019 be filled with inexplicable peace.♥️
Watching the sun as it sets on the ending to 2018 and the beginning of 2019
Thanksgiving is almost here in the U.S. Some dread it; some can’t wait. We keep it low key, so I am grateful for that. Heck, we don’t even have a dining room table since the move, so this year should be interesting. Regardless of the set-up, some families have hectic holidays. That’s why it’s critical to plan and prepare … especially if you share a home with the furry, feathered, or scaly kind.
This short post is dedicated to those of you out there who could use a few tips for Thanksgiving to be less hectic and more harmonic.
In our household, 365 days a year, we do our best to help every animal to feel safe and secure. We continue to counter condition and desensitize animal to their individual perceived threats. We practice energy management. We strive to set them all up for success. We use toolsand techniques to ensure their perceived “threat level” is at zero. We respect boundaries, believe in consent, and factor in FUN!
But these are only pieces of the peaceful puzzle.
Creating safe boundaries is an essential key to creating peace and harmony in your home, especially during and after stressful holiday festivities. If you have children, guide them by showing them how to to respect the animal’s space or enclosure. Teach them to be mindful and respectful of each individual animal’s tolerance for noise and commotion. Ensure that our animal companions have their own safe bubble where they are free from being “loved on” (AKA being pestered). If you have family or friends visiting, remind them to give the animals space.
▪️How do you feel when a friend, family member or stranger touches you without your consent? ▪️How would you react if someone whom you’re sometimes uncomfortable with started stroking or rubbing on you without your permission? ▪️How would you feel if a stranger touched your face, or another area few go near?
🔸Many animal companions experience this daily. They tolerate the uninvited touches, the cuddling without consent, and the petting without permission. Imagine being an animal companion who experiences this multiple times a day every day, for years. Then consider how challenging that could be if you were an animal companion who has a underlying medical conditions, fears, and challenges with close-encounters.
Choice Matters, But There’s More to It.
If the animals choose to be around your guests, remember that the dog or cat may be excited to see newcomers, but in the next instant they very well could be more protective of things they consider “high value” such as bedding, treats, their people, and their food. Remember those stress hormones are in their system!
Also, if the animals in your home are not the best of buds, and they’re merely coexisting with one another, creating safe spaces for each animal and managing your home environment carefully is imperative. Give everyone ample safe space!
Being aware of each animal’s individual threshold, and their need for safe, quiet refuge after any kind of commotion is how we become conscious companions for the animals with which we share a home.
Despite what we often may think, animals are pretty complex creatures. They speak a different language than we do, they have quirks in their personalities that can make them quite unusual sometimes (like us humans) and they often display anxiety and discomfort in ways we don’t.
Over the years we have observed each animal in our home respond with a different type of reactivity to their individual perceived threats. The dog has been known to lunge and bark, freeze and growl, or retreat. Her response depended on what she felt threatened by, and by her individual stress/hormone levels at that moment.
Cortisol is an adrenal hormone with a great number of effects on the body. The level goes up or down quickly in response to stress.
Each of the cats has their own individual response, depending on the trigger at the time, and their individual stress hormone levels. You might recall one of your animals behaving this way when they are stressed. You might even recall doing this yourself!
That’s why we set everyone up for success!
Holiday Tips for Busy Families
Check out the video below (filled with bloopers). I made this a couple of years ago, but the points are timeless. This will give you some giggles, insight, and ideas on how you can prepare your entire family for a Thanksgiving Feast, and how to enjoy the Family Festivities in Harmony!
Remember to Laugh, But Focus on Prevention!
Although I included some silly bloopers in this video, the points I address are very important. Please consider the needs of everyone in your home. Please plan ahead and prepare. And remember that your energy and attitude is contagious!
P.S. Be sure to check out the articles and videos at the end of this post; all are related to what I discuss in this video!
“I am who I am today because of the mistakes I made yesterday.”
― The Prolific Penman
Becoming a Conscious Companion
If you are reading this, I can assume that you love the animals that you share your life with enough to be inspired or learn more to improve their lives. I encourage you to take that love and funnel it into educating yourself, and your family and friends about the basic behavior of the species that you work with, live with, and adore. Every day I challenge myself to learn something new about the animals I love and live with. I hope you do the same.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.