Today’s post celebrates a very special individual that we are fortunate enough to call a friend. Introducing Dr. Lynn Bahr – a feline veterinarian and founder of Dezi & Roo. Lynn graduated in 1991 from the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine and has been practicing now for 26 years.
She is a wealth of knowledge and has been our go-to technical resource since 2015 whenever we get questions from readers on feline health or behavior related issues. We’ve learned so much from Lynn and thought it was time to share her story and her passion for enriching every cat’s life (all nine of them!).
Her company (Dezi & Roo – named after two of her cats) was created to enrich and improve the lives of cats (and dogs) and their owners. Lynn’s innovative design and use of pet products has helped her patients solve countless behavior problems while enriching and strengthening the bond between humans and their pets.
Watching the evolution of pets from animals (remember when dogs slept in doghouses and you put the cat out at night?) to cherished family members, Lynn realized that there are growing areas of change that arise as animals adapt to family life inside four walls. Recognizing that pet behavior problems often lead to abandonment, re-homing, relinquishment to shelters and even the premature euthanasia of a healthy pet, she sought to find ways to strengthen that special partnership between people and pets.
Dezi & Roo focuses on providing the effective product, tools, and training to successfully resolve issues that pet lovers face and the opportunity to learn more about what their pets need and why they need it, and the ability to purchase well researched items to meet those needs. Plus, they donate a portion from every sale to pet-related charities. They carry an exceptional line of solution-based pet products that make both your life and your pet’s life so much happier.
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Lynn wanted a louder voice on ways to enhance the human-animal bond through education and by helping to solve common problems with quality products that made owners and their pets happier. Additionally she wanted to find a way in which she could donate even more money to animal-related charities.
Now it’s time to look at three of our favorite products from Dezi & Roo:
Up first, the Hide & Sneak. This unique collapsible cat tunnel is eco-friendly, made of biodegradable paper and cardboard material, and easily expands to nearly 3 feet long (Photo: our own tuxie [bottom right] practically lives in his).
Hide & Sneak is a purrfect playground for your kitty. The Hide and Sneak cat tunnel will keep your kitty entertained for hours and provide a safe haven in which to get away from it all. We have 3 in our home and at least one of the cats is always inside one of them.
Another product from Dezi & Roo that we’ve tested extensively and love (as do all our cats) is called Cloud Nine. It’s pure silver vine powder processed in the USA. Cloud Nine is non-toxic, non-addictive and benefits your cat’s overall health and well-being by adding enrichment into their life. When exposed cats enter a euphoric state that mimics catnip. Except, it is more potent, due to the presence of two cat attractants as opposed to catnip’s one.
And let’s not forget The Wiggly Ball. This is a toy that our cats go nuts over. The Wiggly Ball is an amazing high bouncing ball with a marinated catnip wiggly tail that entertains cats. This toy provides them with the joy of hunting and the feel of catching prey. They are perfectly designed to be easily carried which adds to the fun.
Lynn’s products have all been carefully designed and/or curated and each one thoroughly tested by finicky felines to ensure a two-paws-up rating!
We asked Lynn a few questions about her fascinating feline journey and here’s what she had to share with us:
Q: Why did you chose to become a vet? And why cats specifically?
It was my first cat Rudolph who adopted me in 1980 that inspired me to become a veterinarian and specifically a feline veterinarian. He changed my life which is why I am so passionate about the animal-human bond. Having grown up with dogs, Rudolph showed me how different (and wonderful) cats are. I was a legal secretary, living on my own in Atlanta when he became acutely ill and needed surgery. I had a good friend who was a veterinarian and he opened his clinic at midnight to take care of Rudolph (photo below) and I assisted him in the procedure.
It was at that moment that a light bulb went off in my head and I instantly knew I was meant to help and serve cats in every way possible. I attended college at night and it took me 7 years of undergrad to achieve enough of the right credits to apply for vet school. I did not receive an undergrad degree and am one of the few people to receive a doctorate without it. I was 27 years old when I entered vet school and was one of the oldest students in my class. I was also the only one interested in treating cats exclusively.
Q: Most rewarding thing about working with cats?
Working with cats is a privilege and everything about working with them is rewarding. They are a challenge to handle, hard to communicate with, difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat. Every day that I can help them feel better by alleviating pain, suffering or emotional distress is a great day for me. Having the opportunity to enhance their lives by educating owners or being the voice for them is what I live for. Understanding how they feel and what they feel and addressing their needs properly is something I am gifted at and I love being an advocate on their behalf.
Cats hide illness, pain, depression and stress and identifying problems they are dealing with and being instrumental in alleviating their discomfort or pain is the most rewarding thing I could do. Happy cats make happy owners and I am able to make a positive impact on entire households. I find that really awesome.
Q: How many cats have you owned? How many do you have now?
I have owned a total of 6 cats as an adult. I have two now (and have always had two at a time). Rudolph was my first. He was a grey and white cat with a pink nose. His nose was pale when he slept but sometimes turned almost red when he played. He was named after Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (he was my red-nosed cat). Rudolph was my companion for 15 years and truly one of my soulmates in life. Along with him I had Ashley, a blackish/grey long haired boy whose proper name was Sir Alley Ash of Cumberland Club (the apartment complex I lived in and where he appeared from). Next I had Trudy (she was named after Rudy) and Roscoe. Roscoe was another amazing cat. He was an incredible hunter (who selectively ate the hearts of squirrels) and a lover boy to the max. He would greet people at our front door and crawl up their bodies to get a hug.
Our two current cats are Dezi and Roo. I agreed to foster a pregnant stray cat that promptly gave birth the day after I received her. Dezi (photo below) was born with four other siblings. Lucy, Ethel, Ricky, Fred and little Ricky (who later became my Dezi).
Roo Roo was a feral kitten trapped at the clinic I had just started working at. They threatened to euthanize her because she was so wild (at 3 months of age) so I scooped her up and brought her home immediately. It took a while but I charmed her with play and it soon became evident that she was meant to stay in our home forever. Roo (photo below) loves to fetch and play and has taught me a lot about how to tame a feral cat.
Q: Did you have a favorite cat? Come ‘on…there was at least one…
Of course, each of my cats is my favorite, all in different ways. Rudolph changed my life by inspiring me to become a vet and teaching me everything I needed to know about cats. Both Dezi and Roo changed my life by inspiring me to start a company that helps both pets and their owners. Once again I find myself guided by my pets who have had such a great impact as to change the course of my life. I owe my career as a veterinarian and now an entrepreneur completely to the animals in my life. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite it would probably be whichever cat is snuggled up with me at the moment.
Q: Tell us your TOP TIPS for cat owners to ensure well adjusted, happy cats
Happy cats are healthy cats and happy cats make owners happier and healthier too.
Tip #1) Recognize the fact that indoor only cats have no choices of their own in life.
They are completely reliant on what we offer them. We choose their litter box size, shape, location and litter substrate. We choose where they are fed, what they are fed out of, and what foods they are offered. We choose their toys, their beds, their bowls, and everything within their lives. Cats have few choices of their own. They would be happier given more choices of their own and once owners understand that and begin to expand their options, cats would remain healthier and happier.
Tip #2) Bring the outdoors in
Cats are held captive within four walls for their entire lives. Open the blinds, open the windows, grow grass, bring leaves and branches in for them to smell. Again for owners to be more aware of the fact that their cats have never walked on grass or soil, experienced changes in temperature, smelled different smells, or had the ability to walk around the block to explore new surroundings. Owners should evaluate every opportunity to enhance their indoors cat’s lives by bringing new things into the home. Build catios, window units or other alternative opportunities for cats to experience the outdoors. At a minimum place window seats around the house (off the ground), build vertical spaces for them to climb, train them to walk on leashes, erect cat proof fences, etc.
Tip #3) Play, play, play and more play
Indoor cats are bored, depressed and inactive. Owners don’t generally play with their cats daily. Cats need exercise, mental stimulation and fun. Having a basket of toys for cats is not enough. Owners should actively engage with their pets by using wand toys, laser lights, throwing blankets over furniture to create tents, rotating toys daily. Adding silvervine, catnip, and valerian to their arsenal of toys will give cats new experiences. Using foraging toys for food rewards, making cats hunt for some of their food all help to stimulate their body and mind.
Tip #4) Lots of scratch posts – both vertical and horizontal for cats to scratch on.
I am completely opposed to declawing (having never performed one in my entire career). Scratching is a form of communication and also gives cats the ability to stretch their muscles. It is important they have great areas and substrates to scratch on. It makes them happy.
Tip #5) Seek out cat only veterinarians
Don’t allow a veterinarian who declaws to treat your cat. Take your cat to a vet at least once a year for a good physical exam and blood work. Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness and if an owner thinks their cat is sick, they are likely very sick. Pay attention to any changes (no matter how small) and seek veterinary care immediately. Age is not a disease and many owners ignore signs of illness as due to advanced aging. That is not in a cat’s best interest. Owners need to advocate on behalf of their pets and insure good medical care. Seek second opinions. Good veterinarians encourage owners to do so and are never offended by it.
Tip #6) Cats need wet food more than dry
Wet food is lower in calories and higher in protein and moisture. It is extremely important to feed cats at least 5-6 times daily. Don’t feed one brand or diet only. Variety is the spice of life and cats are used to eating birds, squirrels, rats, mice, chipmunks, bugs, etc. One diet or one brand is not normal. Either is feeding once or twice a day.
Q: What makes Dezi & Roo products unique from other cat (or dog) products on the market?
Dezi and Roo is unique in that all of our products are hand-picked by me and my team of veterinary professionals with specific criteria in mind. All of our products are purposeful and designed to solve common pet problems. They are meant to make living life with our indoor pets easier and happier. They are quality, well-made items that are useful, affordable and safe.
We design, develop and manufacture our own innovative products in the USA and help stimulate our local economy.
In addition, we donate a portion of every sale to animal-related charities to help those pets less fortunate than our own.
Q: Any exciting new plans for Dezi & Roo?
Every day at Dezi and Roo is new and exciting. We are always innovating and experimenting with different ways to bring enjoyment and enrichment into pet owning homes. We are getting ready to launch a new addition to our Hide and Sneak cat tunnel toy that will allow owners to custom design their own tunnel system in ways never seen before. We are adding a new toy to accompany our Cloud Nine silver vine and adding a few variety of sizes to the line as well. Our R&D department is working on several exciting new projects involving food puzzle toys and cat scratchers that will be revolutionary in the market.
In August we will be participating in Catcon in Los Angeles and in November, I will be a keynote speaker at the Pet Professional Guild’s annual conference in Orlando.
Q: In Lynn’s purrfect world … please complete this sentence: “Every cat would have___________”
In my purrfect world, every cat would have the opportunity to find homes where they are understood, loved and cared for properly and where they are given more choices and the opportunity to keep their toes and explore the outdoors safely.
We couldn’t have said it better! Lynn is truly helping to improve the world one cat (and dog) at a time and we applaud her initiative, compassion and vision. Please check out Dr. Lynn Bahr’s website Dezi & Roo
In closing we share this ‘toon from our other friend Scott Metzger (cartoonist at large) … you know it’s time to call Dr. Lynn Bahr when…
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