The Tiniest Tiger Cat Community Caring about Cats, Big and Small Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:10:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kitten Season is Coming! #FoodShelterLove Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:10:10 +0000 This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love Program, but The Tiniest Tiger only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Annie and Eddie in their cage

Annie and Eddie waiting for their forever home.

Kitten Season is Coming!

March is the start of Kitten Season.  This means that shelters will be overloaded with kittens along with juvenile and adult cats and in need of more help.  Almost two years ago we  were lucky enough to find Annie and Eddie at the Grayson County Humane Society.  They were passed the young kitten stage and about three to four months old when we adopted them.  So many juvenile and older cats are looked over because so many people want to adopt a kitten.

Annie and Eddie napping

Annie and Eddie Napping

This is one of the first photos we took of our little family members when they first came to share our lives.   They have brought so much joy into our lives.  If you are looking to adopt soon, try not to overlook the kittens that are a few months old or the older cats that are in the shelter.  They are full of love too and ready purr their way into your heart.

The Hill’s® Food Shelter & Love™ Program


Food Shelter Love

The Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love™ program donates food to shelters across the country 365 days a year. Their passion to help provide proper nutrition that will in turn help more cats find their way into a loving family’s home. This programs is an example of how the company lives out their mission statement based on the following four pillars.

  1. Volunteer:  Encouraging loving individuals to support their local shelters by caring for and spending time with local shelter pets.
  2. Donate:  Whether it’s cash or pet toys, local shelters can always use donations. We can help get donors connected directly to your organization.
  3. Choose:  Helping pet parents everywhere learn more about our shelter program and find out how choosing Science Diet® for their own pets can help thousands of shelter pets around the country.
  4. Adopt: The ultimate goal of the program is to bring some love home.




Healthy Development Hills


Kitten Season Means Greater Need for Proper Nutrition

Kitten season means  a greater need for proper nutrition for growing cats at the shelters.  Hill’s Science Diet Kitten Healthy Development Original cat food provides perfectly balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition for growing kittens.  The Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love program has donated over $240 million worth of food to nearly 1,000 shelters helping over 6 million pets find their forever homes.    Every time you choose Hill’s Science Diet for your own pets, you too are helping continue their mission of supporting shelter pets when they need it most.

Annie and Eddie kissingHere is Annie and Eddie today.  Still best friends, still loving each other and us.  We are so grateful for the shelters,  the volunteers and programs like Hill’s Food, Shelter and Love that work to help save lives and find loving homes for so many cats every day of every year.


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Treats to HelpTake Care of Your Cat’s Teeth #CatDentalHealth Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:00:52 +0000 This post is sponsored by PetSmart, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Dental Health Month, but The Tiniest Tiger only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. PetSmart is not responsible for the content of this article.

Annie and Eddie with Feline Greenies

Taking Care of Your Cat’s Teeth

Our Eddie was born with a genetic defect that lead to the extraction of all his teeth but his canines.  He is doing better than ever after his surgery but we want to do everything possible to help him hold onto those canines.  Annie’s teeth are in good shape and we want to keep them that way.  We started brushing the kittens teeth when they were very young to get them used to the process.  We want to do what we can to maintain their dental health and help prevent  dental disease.

Did you know that 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by the time they are just three years old?  When your cat’s gums are inflamed, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and if left untreated can lead to serious health issues with their heart, liver and kidneys.  So the build up of plaque and tartar along with gingivitis are serious heath concerns not just a dental issue.

Feline Greenies® Dental Treats Help Reduce Tartar

Feline Greenies
Feline Greenies are the only cat treat to have The Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance for tartar reduction.  These treats offer complete nutrition and help your cat maintain good dental care.  Feline Greenies have a unique shape and crunchy texture that’s proven to reduce tartar.  Plus, they must be super tasty because our three cats come running when it is time for their dental treats and we have to make sure each cat gets their own treat because Annie has been known to swipe a treat from her brothers.

The Feline Greenies help clean your cat’s teeth by using their natural chewing action to clear away tartar buildup from the surface of their teeth.  These dental treats are made from a natural formula with added vitamins, minerals, taurine and chlorophyll for optimum cat health.  Each treat is only 1.25 calories and they contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, so daily treating will not lead to your cat becoming overweight.

Feline Greenies® at PetSmart®

PetSmart Logo

We like to shop for our Feline Greenies at PetSmart®.  There is a store close to where Paul works so it is super easy for him to stop in when our stock is getting low.

Feline Greenies at PetSmart

PetSmart offers all six delicious flavors of Feline Greenies too.You can also purchase  your Feline Greenies from PetSMart online. You can choose from Oven Roasted Chicken, Ocean Fish, Savory Salmon, Tempting Tuna, Catnip and Succulent Beef.   Oven Roasted Chicken is Eddie’s favorite, Annie loves the Catnip and Mercy prefers the Tempting Tuna.

Annie and Eddie with Feline Greenies

I had to snap this photo really fast while Paul gave Eddie and Annie their Feline Greenies Dental Treats!   Annie has already chomped one of hers while Eddie is getting ready to bat his away from Annie to make sure he get to enjoy his treat.


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Snow Day For Cats! Sun, 22 Feb 2015 23:04:12 +0000 Eddie Snow Day

Snow Day for Cats!

Our cats, Annie, Eddie and Mercy had a big snow day!  Snowflakes kept falling most of the day and with all twelve bird-feeders filled to the brim, they had plenty of entertainment too.   Snow is not unusual for us in the winter months, but this snow accumulated to about 8 inches. Big flakes fell heavy throughout the day even covering over my tracks from filling those feeders earlier in the day.

Eddie was quick to climb to the top of the Cat Power Tower.  The bird feeder on this side is a favorite stop for cardinals.  Eddie’s style is relaxed.  He likes to quietly observe and doesn’t move around too much from place to place.

cardinals snow day

If you look closely I think he is smiling.

Eddie watching snow top of CPT

Annie on the other hand gets excited and sometimes can’t decide where to look first or for how long.  Annie claimed the middle level of the Cat Power Tower. From this vantage point she could take in all the bird and squirrel activity in the back yard.  Annie looks left and right, turns one direction and then another.  She just knows she is going to miss something if she chooses to look only one direction.

Annie snow day Feb 2015

The bird feeder on the apple tree  caught her attention.  She couldn’t seem to believe what she was seeing.

Annie head tilt Snow day

There must have been close to 20 black birds feasting at the feeder on the apple tree.

Black bird feast snow day

Mercy also enjoys the backyard bird activity, but he prefers to stay on the other side of the sun room away from Annie and Eddie.  Honestly, I think especially from Annie because she doesn’t settle down as quickly as Mercy might like.  She jumps up and down the tower and turns from side to side.

Mercy watching birds  snow day

After a lengthy birdwatching session, Eddie decides it is time for a nice cat nap but Annie is still engaged.  I love this photo of the two of them.  Eddie trying to take a nap, while Annie remains in the stalk position still fixated on the birds.

Annie and Eddie Snow Day

Paul and I seemed to have as much fun watching the cats as the cats had watching the birds.

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Puma Under Pressure Wed, 18 Feb 2015 16:55:23 +0000 Puma (17 years) - Puma concolor


Fear Induced By Predators Influences Behavior

Fear of predation causes behavioral changes. This is documented both in research and has proven true through the test of time.  White tail deer living in the eastern United States changed their foraging habits from grazing  and moving on to spending longer periods of time eating in place with the extinction of the Eastern Cougar. Without  the top predator lurking about, the deer  adapted a more relaxed dining style wreaking havoc on the ecosystem, causing soil erosion among other issues.

Up until now,  little was  known about the impact humans, as top predators, have on the behavior of carnivores.  A recent study* investigated the influence of human-induced fear on puma foraging behavior.  The study used location and prey consumption from thirty tagged puma living alongside human dominated landscapes.

Pumas Dine and Dash Out of Fear of Humans

The territory and hunting grounds of these tagged puma  were  identified, breaking the pumas up into two groups: those  living in rural environments and those living in suburban human environments. The research team also investigated kills, measuring consumption of each kill  before a puma decided to move on.

The results showed strong behavioral responses by female pumas when near human settlements.The female pumas repeated use of a kill site and the time spent consuming their prey declined when near human housing by 36 and 42% respectively.  The female pumas responded to this decline in prey consumption time by increasing the number of deer they killed in housing dense locations by 36% over what they killed in areas with little human development.

This  increase in predation was not due to increased hunger by the suburban pumas but is likely the result of human-induced fear.  This behavior by the carnivores is analogous to the behavior of the white tail deer when sharing an ecosystem with a top predator. The behavior is similar but the environmental impact is yet to be determined. The loss of food from the decline in prey consumption along with increased energy expended to take down more prey may have ramifications for puma populations, in particular with reproductive success. In addition, more carcass availability left over from the pumas dine and dash behavior could bring in a larger number of scavengers looking for a meal.

This study sheds light on the importance of understanding  the extensive and growing indirect impact of habitat modification by human activity on animal behavior. As the human population increases so does the need to understand the impact on ecosystems and the entire food web function.


*Justine A. Smith, Yiwei Wang, Christopher C. Wilmers, Top carnivores increase their kill rates on prey as a response to human-induced fear
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President Lincoln and His Cats Mon, 16 Feb 2015 12:29:54 +0000 Lincoln Memorial with cat

Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day, a United States holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February to remember all presidents, but most might associate with Presidents Washington and Lincoln. Both Presidents were born in February, Washington on the 22nd and Lincoln on the 12th.

While we pay tribute to all Presidents, one former leader stands out not only for his Presidency, but for his love of all animals, but perhaps first and foremost, his cats.

President Lincoln and His Cats

Lincoln was given an unexpected gift of two kittens from William Seward, then Secretary of State. The President pampered his cats, Tabby and Dixie. It is told that he once fed Tabby from the table during a formal dinner at the White House.  Later when  the president’s wife Mary expressed her concern and embarrassment to her husband about feeding Tabby from the table in front of their guests, it is told the president stated, “If the gold fork was good enough for former President Buchanan, I think it is good enough for Tabby.”

Caleb Carman, Lincoln’s friend, told how the president would talk to his cats for half and hour at a time. During his term, Lincoln remarked, “Dixie is smarter than my whole cabinet! And furthermore she doesn’t talk back!”

Lincoln Loved All Cats

Lincoln’s love for cats was not limited to Tabby and Dixie.  He was known to bring home stray cats from time to time. It is reported that Lincoln was distracted by the sound of crying kittens at the Ulysses S. Grant headquarters in Virginia during the siege of Petersburg in March of 1864. Admiral David Porter wrote he was touched by the sight of the president “tenderly caressing three stray kittens.  It well illustrated the kindness of the man’s disposition and showed the childlike simplicity which was mingled with the grandeur of his nature.”

Porter remembered Lincoln petting the cats and quietly telling them, “Kitties, thank God you are cats, and can’t understand this terrible strife that is going on.”

Before he left the officers’ tent, the president addressed a colonel and said, ” I hope you will see that these poor little motherless waifs are given plenty of milk and treated kindly.”


Lincoln with Gracey

Thinking about President Lincoln today, I found this old image I must have made from a President’s Day in the past.   I always liked visiting the Lincoln Memorial and that was before I knew about the president’s love of all animals.  Now, I have grown even fonder of the man and the Memorial.

I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it. Abraham Lincoln

I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being. – Abraham Lincoln

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My Heart Cat and Necklace Giveaway Sun, 15 Feb 2015 01:31:46 +0000 crouching gracey 600

Gracey, My Heart Cat

Happy Valentine’s Day

I hope you are having a happy Valentine’s day.  It has been a bitter cold day outside our home but on the inside, we are all warm, safe and grateful.  Today while Paul made soup for dinner I took lots of photos of Annie, Eddie and Mercy. It takes a lot of shots to get a few good ones that we are able to use. Eddie is the most cooperative.  He sits patiently while I ask him to look at me.  When I say, “Ok, Eddie! Good job!”  He takes off in a full sprint.

Since this is Valentine’s Day, I thought about how Eddie has a little heart on his leg.

Eddie wheres his heart on his leg


Isn’t that the cutest little heart?  And he is the sweetest little cat.  I am feeling especially honored today because I have been given the duty of being his Little Lion’s Guardian.  Eddie dropped off his Little Lion beside me at my desk chair and he has entrusted me to keep the little guy safe all day.  That warmed my heart today.

Mercy is such a sweet guy. He sleeps with Paul’s mom and keeps an eye on her all day.  He now plays with both Annie and Eddie but his heart belongs to Paul’s mom.  Here is a photo of Paul’s mom and Mercy.  Seeing them together warmed my heart today too.

Tootie and Mercy

Paul’s Mom and Mercy

Annie has really become my buddy.  She follows me around when I walk through the house. She sits beside me while I work at my desk.  In full disclosure, sometimes when the fireplace is working, she abandons me for the glow and warmth of the fire.  In the evening, she has started to come and get me to play. This is something Gracey used to do too. Today when I was taking photos, I took this one of Annie.

My sweet Annie

I told Paul I got the best photo of Annie.  This is a big deal for us because Annie does not sit still for photos.  But today, she was an excellent little model.  Not only did she sit still for this photo but she allowed me to take photos of her with some of the new handbags coming soon to Triple T Studios.  Typically, I need to set the camera on sports mode and shoot rapid fire hoping for a usable photo of Annie.  But not today, she actually posed for me.

I think this photo really captures Annie’s personality.  Sh is a bundle of love and energy.  You can see how smart she is too in this photo, can’t you?  But there was something more to this particular photo that touched my heart.  And then I realized that this photo is very similar to one of my favorite photos of Gracey.

crouching gracey 600

Gracey, My Heart Cat

At first, I felt sad but then I looked at our sweet Annie’s little face.  She walked over to me, gave me a nose tap and a head bunt and brought back my feeling of happiness.  Gracey will always be My Heart Cat, but there is enough room for Annie too. This warms my heart.

As I write this, Annie is rubbing up against my legs and chirping.  It is that time of day.  Time to wrap up in here and spend some cuddle time with my girl.  Paul is already on the sofa with Eddie and Paul’s mom and Mercy are sleeping soundly under the warmth of an electric blanket.

Thank you for stopping by.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

The My Heart Cat Necklace Giveaway

In honor of our heart cats, we are giving away two of our My Heart Cat Necklaces. When I saw this beautiful necklace, I thought about our Gracey.  Now that she lives in my heart, I thought this necklace was a perfect reminder that love lasts and lives on in our hearts.


My Heart Cat

Two  members of The Tiniest Tiger community will win a My Heart Cat necklace  from Triple T Studios.

If you can’t wait and would like to get your own cat jewelry for you or for a gift pounce here: Triple T Studios

How to Enter

Enter your information in the contest widget so we know where to ship your prize if you win.

Leave a comment below this post telling us about  your Heart Cat.

This giveaway is open to everyone! We will ship the cat jewelry anywhere in the world.  Void where prohibited.

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The Leopard. The Clandestine Cat In The Neighborhood. Thu, 12 Feb 2015 16:09:49 +0000 Photo Credit  @kyslynskyy

Photo Credit @kyslynskyy

 “Secretive, silent, smooth and supple as a piece of silk, he is an animal of darkness, and even in the dark he travels alone.”

This description of the leopard by Maitland Edey captures the very essence of the leopard. The smallest of the four big cats, the leopard is elusive, solitary and proficient at living in the shadows of its larger cousins the tiger and the African lion. Leopards are also adept at surviving in environments occupied by humans but live secretive lives rarely seen making the cat difficult to observe and complicating the ability to make estimates of the leopard population across Africa.

The body size and color patterns of leopards vary geographically and probably reflect adaptations to the different habitats. Leopards have short legs relative to their long body. They have a broad head with powerful jaw muscles. The leopards’ scapula is uniquely attached to its muscles allowing the spotted cat to be a more proficient at climbing. The leopard also has a unique locking wrist that allows for adept tree climbing. Leopards have small round ears, long whiskers extending from dark spots on the upper lip and long whiskers in their eyebrows that protect their eyes while moving through dense vegetation.

The Leopards’s Unique Coat

The leopard’s coat ranges from tawny or light yellow in warm, dry habitats to reddish orange in dense forests. There are nine subspecies of Leopards (Panthera pardus). Subspecies are distinguished by unique pelage characteristics. Their body is covered with black rosettes, which are circular in East Africa and square in South Africa. Leopards have solid black spots on their chest, feet, face and rings on their tail. Each individual leopard has a unique coat, and this unique coat is often used for identification. Black panthers, which are often found in humid forests, are leopards with recessive melanistic genes.

The Most Versatile of the Big Cats

Panthera Leopard range

The leopard has the widest habitat tolerance of any Old World Felid, making it the most versatile of the big cats. The leopard’s wide range and ability to survive in areas where other large carnivores have been extirpated has given the impression that the leopard’s conservation status is secure and therefore leopards are often given a lower conservation priority than the tiger and the African lion.

The leopard may be adaptable but not invincible. Leopards are now extinct in North Africa, have vanished from most of the West African coastal belt and continue to decline outside of protected areas in most of East and southern Africa. Much like their big cousins the tiger and the African lion, leopards are also one of the most persecuted big cats as a result of retaliatory killing by livestock owners, poorly managed trophy hunting, and for fur and body parts for the commercial trade in Asia. All three species of cats are victims of loss of habitat, and depletion of natural prey but the leopard is the most resilient in the face of human pressure.

The Highly Adaptable Leopard

But the leopards resilience in the face of human pressure may be because the spotted cat is being squeezed into a buffer zone closer and closer to human settlements yet away from the larger cats in an effort to avoid confrontation with the tigers and lions that share their habitats. The leopards ability to remain elusive in a crowded landscape may be the result of the cat’s instinct to remain under the radar when there are top predators nearby.

A recent study* of  the movement patterns of collared leopards revealed the cats ability to slip in and out of human dominated landscapes, even slinking by very close to occupied houses under the cover of darkness. During the day when human activity was the highest, the leopards restricted their movements to areas further away form the  houses. Further study is required, but it appeared that the leopards took cover in areas of tall crops, such as sugar cane or patches of scrub to avoid human contact.

This study highlighted the leopard as a highly adaptable species with an excellent ability to use resources available in human dominated areas.  India has strict laws to prevent the killing of large cats, even after livestock are killed.  The rural people are also far more tolerant than those in other parts of the world and accept the presence of the big cats in their landscapes.   On several occasions, the collared leopards were seen by people and even chased by people, yet no fatal attacks occurred.

The low natural prey density that is the result of human pressure on the environment implies that a degree of conflict is inevitable due to lack of alternatives to domestic animals for food. If leopards are to be saved in human dominated landscapes, it is important to effectively mitigate conflict by increasing tolerance of the big cats. This study shows that a viable natural prey base is not always necessary for sustaining leopards in an area, but it might affect the number of livestock depredation events.

This study, although the sample size was small, made an important contribution to the sparsely published data on leopard movements. A better understanding of this elusive cat will enable better conservation strategies.


*Odden M, Athreya V, Rattan S, Linnell JDC (2014) Adaptable Neighbours: Movement Patterns of GPS-Collared Leopards in Human Dominated Landscapes in India. PLoS ONE 9(11): e112044. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112044

McGonagle, J. (2011) The Adaptable Leopard: Why the Leopard May Be Better Suited for Survival in a Crowded Landscape than the Lion and Tiger.  Issues in Evolution. Miami University.

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Silver Cat Jewelry Valentine’s Day Giveaway Tue, 10 Feb 2015 23:53:35 +0000 Valentine's Day image



Silver Cat Jewelry Valentine’s Day Giveaway

It is almost Valentine’s Day, the day that we celebrate Annie and Eddie’s Birthday!  Because we don’t know their actual birth date, we chose Valentine’s Day because they brought so much love back into our home.  To celebrate their second birthday,  Annie, Eddie and Mercy decided to do a giveaway of something shiny to three friends of The Tiniest Tiger Community.

The cats chose the jewelry pieces from our Triple T Studios collection.    Here are the pieces of jewelry they selected.

Sterling Silver Cat Necklace

Triple T Studios Silver Cat Necklace

Sterling Silver Cat Necklace

This beautiful cat necklace includes both the cat pendant and an 18″ silver chain with an additional 1.5 inch extender.  The cat pendant is 925 silver and is lead and nickel free.  Your Silver Cat Necklace will arrive in a gift box ready to give or to keep.  To learn more about this necklace pounce here: Silver Cat Necklace


Classy Cat Silver Necklace

Triple T Studios Classy Cat Necklace

Classy Cat Silver Necklace

 The classic cat design has just the right amount of bling with the aaa cubic zirconia stones highlighting the cat’s tail. This necklace is 925 sterling silver, lead and nickel free, measure 26 mm by 14.7 mm , not too big and not too small, just purr-fect.  The necklace comes with the 18 inch rolo chain and  weighs 3.83 g. Your classy Cat Silver Necklace will be boxed and ready to give as a gift.  To learn more about this necklae pounce here: Classy Cat Silver Necklace

Shining Star Earrings

Triple T Studios Shining Star Earrings

Shining Star Earrings

There is just a bit of bling with the AAA cubic zirconia stones in the center of the star on the cat’s collar.  These Wire earrings are 925 sterling silver, lead and nickel free, measure 11.63 mm by 36.6 mm, so not too big and not too small.  The earrings weigh in at 2.4g/pair. Your earrings will come boxed and ready to give as a gift. To learn more about these earrings pounce here: Shining Star Earrings

Silver Cat Earrings with Heart Shaped Tail

Triple T Studios Silver Cat Earrings with Heart Shaped Tail

Silver Cat Earrings with Heart Shaped Tail

There is just a bit of bling with the cubic zirconia stones on the collar. These post earrings are 925 sterling, lead and nickel free, measure 12 mm by 17 mm (.47″ by .67″)  not too big and not too small, just purr-fect.  The earrings weigh in at 4.2g/pair. Your earrings will come boxed and ready to give as a gift.  To learn more about these earrings pounce here: Silver Cat Earrings with Heart Shaped Tail

The Silver Cat Jewelry Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Three members of The Tiniest Tiger community will win their choice of silver cat jewelry from Triple T Studios.

If you can’t wait and would like to get your own cat jewelry for you or for a gift pounce here: Triple T Studios 

How to Enter

Enter your information in the contest widget so we know where to ship your prize if you win.

Leave a comment below this post telling us which piece of jewelry you would like to win.

This giveaway is open to everyone!  We will ship the cat jewelry anywhere in the world.

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Which is Your Favorite Cat Tote For Spring? Thu, 05 Feb 2015 18:28:47 +0000 Spring Triple T Studios

New Cat Style Tote For Spring, 2015!

Even though the groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter, we can still think Spring, can’t we? Today it is a balmy 40 degrees in Ohio and the sun is shining in a brilliant blue sky. So while we still have snow on the ground and more to come this winter, it is still time to think about Spring.

We are planning our new products for Triple T Studios and this new tote with a cat silhouette is nearly ready to roll. This tote bag is made from lightweight nylon with PU leather (synthetic leather) trim. The tote is 18.5 inches (47 cm.) wide and 14.76 inches(37.5 cm) high.  We have come up with five fresh and fun color combinations but are curious which color combo you like best.

Help Us Choose The Color Combinations for our New Cat Tote.

We thought we would ask you to help us decide whether to spring forward with all five colors or weed out a couple from our spring collection.

spring nylon bag promo image

Would you be willing to tell us your favorite color combination in the form below?  As a thank you for your helping us decide, if you leave your email and name with your color choice, we will send you a discount code to pre-purchase our new cat tote at a low introductory price sure to make you purr.

The button for your favorite color is above the color combo description.  If you are reading via email  and see only the words, contact form, you will need to click through to take the survey.

Here is the link:  New Cat Tote Color Survey


Thank You for Your Support of Triple T Studios!

We hope you are as excited as we are about this new addition to our  collection.  We have a few other new things coming soon that we can’t wait to share.  Thank you so much for your support of Triple T Studios and for helping us support global conservation projects.

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The Amur Tiger’s Cinderella Story Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:49:31 +0000

Amur tiger in snow

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

An Amur Tiger Cub Named Cinderella

One bitterly cold afternoon, two hunters in Russia’s remote Primorsky Province were stopped in their tracks. There lying in a snow drift was an Amur tiger cub. Hearing the hunter’s footsteps, the cub didn’t roar to scare off the hunters nor did she slink away into the wilderness.  The cub estimated to be about four months old remained lying on her side in the snowdrift, her breathing shallow and her eyes glazed and distant.

The hunters grabbed a blanket and tossed it over the cub’s head and transported her to the home of their local wildlife inspector in a nearby town.  The inspector saw that the cub had not eaten for days and the tip of her tail had turned black with frostbite. Realizing how dire the situation was for this young tiger, he made an enclosure for her in his wood-lined steam bath and fed her a steady diet of meat, eggs and warm milk.  In two weeks time she was back up on her paws and pacing.  Encouraged by her progress, he named the cub Zolushka, Cinderella in English,  and called on Dale Miquelle, an American scientist and foremost expert on the Amur tiger, based in Primorsky.

Zolushka was sedated and a team veterinarians performed surgery to amputate the necrotic tip of her tail.  Miquelle and his team moved the tiger cub to the Center for the Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Tigers and other Rare Animals, 50 miles to the south in Alekseevka.  The center is operated by a coalition that includes the Russian Geographical Society and the government-funded Inspection Tiger. There is sheeting on all fences, so the tigers can’t see outside, and chutes are set up so that prey can be introduced undercover.  Cameras are installed allowing scientists to observe the animals from a control center without disturbing them.  There are two goals for the Center; to not let the animals get acclimated to humans and to teach the animals to hunt.

Zolushka’s Rehabilitation

Siberian tiger in snow

Wild predator rehabilitation is practiced and has been successful with bears, lynx in North America and once in India with Bengal tigers. But the release of an Amur tiger is a huge risk in the Primorsky region. If a rehabilitated cub became a “conflict tiger”, it had the potential to set back tiger conservation perhaps a hundred years. But the upside of reintroduction of the Amur tiger is huge.  If orphaned cubs could be released to the point of mating with wild tigers, not only would the tiger population get a boost, but also tigers could begin to repopulate regions where tigers have disappeared for decades.  If Miquelle’s team succeeded with Zolushka, their method could be duplicated in other countries.

Zolushka was the first tiger to be brought to the Alekeevka center. In the early months, she was fed meat tossed into her via the chute system. Then she was given rabbits, which were fast but defenseless and eventually graduated to wild boar and onto the larger sika deer. Zolushka learned to be a skilled hunter and in a little over a year, she was ready to be set free.

The Tiger’s Last Wild Frontier

Amur Tiger Range

Amur Tiger Range

This region is truly the tiger’s last wild range.  In India, tiger preserves are enclosed on all sides by the sprawling human settlements. The Russian Far East remains a vast and largely empty frontier with the population clusters around Vladivostok, the port city and last stop for the Trans-Siberian Railway.  This is home base for the Wildlife Conservation Society Russia and Miquelle.

Miquelle’s work is both research and conservation.  He strongly believes that conservation success is related to how much you know about the animal.  And he knows a lot about the Amur tiger.  Miquelle and his team have worked through depressing times where almost every tiger they were studying was poached and they saw the tiger population dip to an estimated 330 to 371 tigers and perhaps 100 cubs.  In 2005, a second census estimated the population to be between 331 and 393 adults and 97 to 109 cubs. Today Miquelle is confident that the Amur population has stabilized and is planning another census this winter to determine if this is true.

But stabilizing a population is quite different from a growing population and that is what makes Zolushka’s story so important.  Her successful release back into the Russian Far East could lead the way to reintroducing Amur tigers into their historic range.

Zolushka’s Cinderalla Story is a Milestone for Tiger Conservation

Zolushka appears to have found a strong male tiger that the scientists named Zaventy. The two tigers are sharing a range and evidence shows they have been feasting on the same kill. Tiger tracks examined indicate Zolushka, who is now of breeding age, may have mated with her male partner.  Miquelle hopes that he will soon see a camera trap photo of Zolushka with cubs following behind her.

She would be the first rehabilitated tiger in history to mate and give birth in the wild.  Zoushka’s Cinderella story is a huge milestone for tiger conservation.

To learn more about tiger conservation visit Wildlife Conservation Society.

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