Roxy’s Romance Tips

If you haven’t noticed, it’s Valentine’s Day! Over on Twitter, Roxy has been sharing her best romance advice, to help you with your relationships – whether it’s Valentine’s Day, your Anniversary, or just because! To make it a little easier for you, she has insisted that I immortalised the advice here on this blog – so without further ado, here we go!

Tip One

If you like someone, just lick them. All over their face is a particularly good spot, especially if they haven’t woken up yet.

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Tip Two

If your other half is on the phone to someone else, show your displeasure by trying to get between them and the phone. Bonus points if you ‘accidentally’ press the end call button. All the attention, back to you.

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Tip Three

Lavish your loved one with gifts. Dirty socks, lost hair ties, even dead rodents really say ‘I love you’.

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Tip Four

Don’t subscribe to this ‘my side of the bed’ nonsense. Live a little. The best place on the bed is always where your co-inhabitor wants to sleep.tenor.gif

Tip Five

Stop worrying about morning breath. Expose your other half to it as much as possible, until they have no choice but to embrace it.giphy (7).gif

Tip Six

Want a manicure, but your subtle hints aren’t working? Dig your claws right into your loved one’s skin. The nail clippers will be out before you know it.

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And that’s it! Roxy hopes these tips help you out with your future better halves – whether they’re feline or human!

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Review: The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs

Full disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. When you buy through Amazon after clicking that link, I get a little kickback, which helps keep this site going. However, I did not receive anything in return for writing this review. 

I have been playing computer games for as long as I remember. That sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true. One of my first memories is sitting on my dad’s lap, playing The Secret of Monkey Island –  still one of my favourites, especially now I understand the jokes that went over my head as a babe in arms. For my eighth birthday, my grandmother bought my two games: Tomb Raider II, and The Sims. And so began a lifelong love of simulation games. I remember spending hours playing that first Sims game, followed by every expansion pack. Even when I wasn’t playing, I was designing houses on sheets of paper, trawling through the official guidebooks to select furniture. This continued into Sims 2, 3 and now 4.

As a base game, Sims 4 has been my favourite yet. It received a lot of criticism for not shipping with certain features (basements, swimming pools, toddlers), but learning from their mistakes with Sims 3, EA has been careful to expand the game slowly through both free additions with patches and paid expansion, game and stuff packs. The latest expansion pack, Cats and Dogs, was no doubt the most waited for – but was it worth the wait?

The Good

As each version of The Sims has had it’s own pets based expansion pack, Cats and Dogs is no doubt the most thought out. The decision was made to restrict the expansion to just two additions. In contrast, The Sims 3 Pets added cats, dogs, and horses (including unicorns), plus small pets, which could be found all over the open world at random. The ambition is to be commended, but is it any wonder why that’s when it all started to go wrong for Sims 3? I personally never successfully added a horse to my sims’ family – it always crashed the game. So whilst it was a move that resulted in criticism from many, focusing on just two animals seems to have been a wise choice.

‘Create a Pet’ has brought back many customisation features that are missed elsewhere in the game, which possibly suggests a wider roll-out later down the line. Whilst I haven’t played with them extensively, the ability to literally paint spots on your dalmatian’s back is great for users wanting to truly make the game their own. Being able to put a piece of toast on my cat’s head was also much appreciated. But I kept it simple for my first playthrough, and just recreated a cat I know and love – Roxy.

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Whilst pets aren’t playable characters this time around, you can give them traits that will influence their autonomous behaviour. Virtual-Roxy is affectionate, clever and spoiled – much like the real one. This made her act quite differently to the stray I later adopted, Tom, who was a free spirit, mischevious and a prowler. I found this actually made the game more fun, as I never knew what the cats were going to do next.

I, of course, can’t talk about the game without mentioning the new vet career. However, this is slightly misnamed. Becoming a vet operates more like buying a shop or a restaurant than getting a career. Whilst a great addition to the game, this does mean I haven’t explored the feature much yet – Gone is my excitement over designing buildings, and I don’t have enough time to play to make my sim rich enough to buy one. But the small elements I’ve played were enjoyable, and I look forward to exploring it more.

The Bad

One of my few qualms about the game is this – for a game solely about cats and dogs, there’s really not that much for cats to do. As a regular cat walker, I wanted my sim to be able to harness train their cats and take them out too! (Maybe a future mod will fix this for me?) You also can’t teach them tricks, so you’re limited to getting them to run an obstacle course to build your Sims’ Pet Training skill in a cat-only household. Neither of these things are massive issues but would have added new features to the game that hadn’t featured in previous versions.

My main problem with the game is one that I have had for a long time. Whilst the overall aspiration system is, in my opinion, an improvement over previous games, giving you little goals to complete over a Sims’ lifetime, new aspirations have been few and far between. The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs adds only one, the Friend of the Animals aspiration, which even in my short time playing I’ve been able to complete. For a casual player, this may be less of an issue, but for someone like me who loves a challenge, I’d love to see more aspirations in the game in the future.

The Ugly

As in, graphics problems. I’ve never noticed any graphics problems in The Sims 4, until this expansion pack.

There are so many clipping problems.

And when it’s not clipping, it’s weird moments like the one pictured below.

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Here’s hoping they get that cleaned up in a future patch. Until then, I’ve been turning a blind eye to those little problems!

So, there we have it. The Sims 4 Cats & Dogs – in my opinion, an essential addition to the base game. Just don’t be expecting anything revolutionary.

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If you have been purr-suaded by this review, you can pick up the game by clicking on the picture above. When you make a purchase on Amazon through this link, you’ll also be supporting me and Roxy to keep this site going! Then, be sure to let us know what you’ve been up to in game!

Pros and Cons of Sharing a Bed…

…with your cat.

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Roxy the Bed Invader

Pro: An adorable, warm, fluffy being to cuddle up with when the long, cold nights draw in.
Con: An annoying, always-moving being, warming up an already too hot bed in the summer.

Pro: Building a close bond with your pet.
Con: Building an even closer bond with your pet when she wakes you by licking your eyelids.

Pro: Knowing your cat loves you as much as you love them.
Con: Getting woken up when your cat decides to show their love by kneading your bladder.

Pro: Getting really good at Twister, as a side effect of trying to sleep around your cat.
Con: Only being able to sleep in a quarter of the bed, at most

Pro: You just can’t beat it though, can you?
Con: Not that you could stop it if you tried.

Walking the Catwalk: A Guide to Walking Your Cat

I’ve begun to gain a reputation in my new neighborhood, and whether or not it’s a bad one depends on your view. I’m the cat walker. Every day, me and Roxy take to the streets for a walk. Or whatever it’s called when your cat is on a lead, taking three steps beyond the end of the drive before running back to the front door. And repeat.  I’ve read all there is to know about cat walking. Now I’m going to share that information with you.

Anyone whose ever taken their cat for a walk will tell you it’s nothing like walking a dog. Dogs will follow you where you want to go. When you walk a cat, you’re very much subject to their whims. A leaf blows across the pavement? Be fully prepared to chase that leaf. Find a nice smelling bush? Be fully prepared to stand by that bush for five minutes while your cat gives it a good sniff. Or maybe your cat has a crazy five minutes and decides to race off up the road? You’ll be running after it as fast as you can.

It’s an unusual experience, but not one I’m going to give up any time soon. For a start, the benefits for Roxy are obvious. As an indoor cat, going for a walk means she gets to experience the outdoors safely. I’m there to stop her from running in front of any cars while she chases birds to her hearts content. Plus, it lets her work off some excess energy.  Even if it doesn’t feel far for me, she’s got such little legs it must be the equivalent of a marathon on days when we actually make it to the end of the road.

And it’s not just Roxy who feels the benefits. There’s some relaxing about taking her for a walk and being forced to stop and, sometimes literally, smell the roses. It gives me time to just relax. And it gives purpose to my walk; sometimes, taking Roxy out is the only thing to motivate me enough to leave the house.

Our Top Five Tips

If you want to feel the benefits of cat walking, here’s a couple of tips from me and Roxy:

  1. Be patient. 

    I really lucked out with Roxy. When I put her first harness on her, I don’t think she really noticed. She kept running around like nothing had happened. This is extremely rare. It’s highly recommended that you build up to walks slowly. Start with your cat just wearing their harness around the house. Then attach the lead. Give them time to get used to this. Only when they’re completely comfortable should you take them outside.

  2. Don’t force it. 

    Even with all the patience in the world, some cats just don’t want to be walked. Maybe they don’t like the harness, maybe they get outside and just sit terrified. Maybe you’re dragging them along behind you while they refuse to walk (Please don’t do this.) You know your cat, you know when they’re unhappy. I have attempted to walk five cats in my life; Roxy is the only one who has taken to it. If they don’t like it, don’t force it. It’s not worth the extra stress you’ll be causing by forcing them to do something they clearly don’t want to do.

  3. Stay safe. 

    This applies to both you and your cat. Stay alert; keep an eye out for oncoming cars, approaching dogs, sharp objects on the pavement. You’re not just trying to protect yourself, you’re protecting your cat too. If the area where you live just isn’t suitable for walking your cat, consider going to a local park or a quieter street before letting them out their carrier.

  4. Encourage good behaviours. 

    Roxy has always been a door runner. The second I turn the handle she’s trying to get out. But after months (and I mean months) of trying this little trick, she’s starting to get the message; She is not allowed to walk out of the door, even when she’s on her lead. I pick her up, take her out of our flat, walk down the two flights of stairs to outside, and then put her on the ground. And on the way back inside, I do the same. Carry her from door to door. And then she gets a treat, because I’m not a complete monster.

  5. Have fun! 

    A cheesy one I know, but still important. You’re getting to spend time with your fur baby. You’re spending time outside. You get to self-deprecatingly laugh along with passers by. Embrace it.

Indoor Cats Vs. Outdoor Cats

It’s a topic that I find divides the public down the middle – which is better: Indoor cats, or outdoor cats?

Our Transition From Indoor Cats to Outdoor Cats

When I was younger, our cats were strictly in the latter camp. There was a cat flap in the kitchen letting them wander in and out as they pleased. In a house of four under five year olds, I imagine the peace and quiet was appreciated. Moet and Chandon ultimately died of old age, but they both had scrapes with the outdoors at different points.

When we got our most recent feline additions however, they were always strictly indoor cats. Anyone whose met Hector can confirm that he doesn’t have the common sense to cope with a busy road. Roxy had always been an indoor cat when I got her, and her reaction to an oncoming car would probably be to just flop. It seemed unfair to just let Archie out, and PJ was so fed up of the outside when she came to us that she hardly even joins the supervised trips to the garden. As a family, we’re firmly in camp ‘Indoor.’ It just seems to make sense for our situation. But I know many people in the ‘Outdoor’ camp, and can understand where they’re coming from.

I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk.

Harry & Hugo

We have – had – two lovely ginger kittens at my workplace. It ultimately wasn’t my decision to as to whether or not they were kept inside, and a few weeks of litter trays settled the debate – they were going out. To begin with, there were no problems – although the boys continued to come inside to do their business in the litter tray, much to everyone else’s disdain. Then they started to bring in dad mice and birds, which disgusted people more than the litter trays but hey, that’s just what cats do. Then, one of them didn’t come home one night. Then, only a couple of weeks ago, the second dashed out in front of a car and sadly didn’t make it.

It’s sad whenever you lose a family pet, but this death hit me especially hard. I had warned, over and over again, that it just wasn’t safe for cats to go out when there’s a main road right there. In my brief time as a van driver, I was moving dead cats out of the road every week. Surely it wasn’t worth it?

There are many arguments for letting your cat out but for me, the benefits don’t outweigh the risks. The risks aren’t just to your cat – it impacts the wildlife too. The Mammal Society estimates that cats in the UK kill up to 275 million items of prey each year. With the number of domestic cats rising, it’s likely that this number will too.

I encourage everyone to investigate the pros and cons themselves. I’d love to hear your thoughts regardless of which side of the fence you are on! Do your cats live a pampered life inside, or do they live on the wild side?

Cats of My Life

I feel that I am very fortunate, having nearly always had cats at home. When I was born, my parents already had two cats named Moet and Chandon (yes, after the champagne!)

When they went over the Rainbow Bridge, we were a cat free house for a couple of years. I feel that we are now overcompensating for this, opening our home to four cats. It’s time to introduce you to the whole gang.

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