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Pet First Aid – Handling Common Emergencies

In my last blog, I gave you a list of items you should have in your pet’s first aid kit. This time I would like to go over how to handle some of the more common health emergencies associated with dogs and cats. As always, please call a veterinarian for serious or life threatening situations. When in doubt, they are your best bet for providing proper care to a sick or injured pet. Always remember that animals in pain may bite out of fear, so approach injured and sick pets with caution and NEVER touch wild or unfamiliar animals without assistance from qualified wildlife handlers. Read More »

Stress-free Homes Improve Health and Behavior of Cats and Rabbits

white rabbitTwo recent studies have highlighted the role that stress and boredom plays in pet behavior and health.  Although carried out on research colonies of cats and rabbits, both contain important lessons for pet owners.  Steps as simple as establishing a routine substantially reduced the pain associated with serious illnesses.

Novelty vs. Routine

Experience has taught me that stress plays a major role in the health of all captive creatures, be they insects or elephants.  While novelty and new experiences may be positives, established routines also have their uses.  Read More »

Till Death (Or Pets) Do Us Part – How Having Cats Changed My Marriage

I’ve been married to the same wonderful man for almost 17 years. Around our house, we refer to him as The Tall Guy. “We” being the cats and me. That’s how they sign their cards to him. Our cats were strays and they’re still independent in nature. Although I’d love to think they think of us as Mommy and Daddy, I’m pretty sure they see us solely as the two-legged creatures who appear to dole out the food.

We were married for six years before we had cats. Looking back, all I can think is, “What on earth did we do with all our time?” (I know what we’re doing with it now: Fighting a losing battle against cat hair.)

But there have been other changes since welcoming cats into our home, many I’m sure most pet lovers can relate to. Read More »

First Aid for Pets – Creating an Emergency Kit

Emergencies can happen at any time, and it is important to be prepared if they do. Lots of stores, including That Fish Place, sell ready-made first aid kits for dogs and cats, but I’ve composed a list of materials you will need in case of medical emergencies. Remember to store all of the listed items in a waterproof plastic container and keep it in a readily accessible place. Read More »

Rescue and Recovery – Lost and Injured Pets in Devastated Japan

Like the rest of the world I’ve been glued to the TV and newsfeeds watching and reading about the devastation caused by the earthquakes and resulting tsunami. The loss of life is staggering, but in tragedies like this I always wonder about the welfare of the animals that are also affected. What happens to the animals whose owners are missing, dead, or injured? Is anyone there to look out for them?

Base personnel in Misawa draw blood from VA search & rescue unit dog.

Organizations that provide food, supplies and shelter to aid our fellow human beings start campaigns to gather donations for the cause immediately. Mainstream organizations receive a lot of media attention and donations from the public. The organizations that provide care to our four-legged friends in need are less well-known, but they do exist, and you can help too! I’ve listed just a few of the organizations that are dedicated to helping the furry victims, as well as the furry aid workers, now in Japan.

Ark Bark – This amazing Japanese rescue group is gearing up for the arrival of homeless and displaced pets. They’re hard at work building additional shelters for the large amounts of pets already arriving. You can donate to the cause on their website, just add “for earthquake animals” in the notes.

Canine Assistance

World VetsWorld Vets provides veterinary aid all around the world. They are currently coordinating with other rescue organizations to provide care to Japan’s many lost or injured pets. Donations to the organization are tax deductible.

AKC’s Companion Animal Recovery Canine Support & Relief FundStarted in the wake of 9/11, this 501C 3 charitable organization’s mission is to fund canine search and rescue teams deployed throughout the world, wherever tragedy strikes. You can donate to their cause through the link above. Remember to note that it is on behalf of Japan.

The Annenberg Foundation – The Dog Bless You project harnessed the power of the Facebook community to donate $100,000 to Japan animal relief efforts. Check out their page here.

Photo credits:
The 1st photo was taken on March 13, 2011 in Misawa-shi, Aomori Prefecture, JP, and was posted by The Official US Navy Imagery.
The 2nd photo was taken March 11, 2011 and was posted by Fairfax County

A Home Away From Home – Foster Care Organizations for Pets of Deployed Military Personnel

BubblesMilitary service members across the country are deployed on active duty missions every day. Many of these people have pets that need a caring, safe and loving homes and families to care for them while their owners are deployed around the world. Some may not be able to find someone to care for their pets while they are away, leaving them with the agonizing and painful decision to relinquish their beloved pets and pet ownership rights to an animal shelter or rescue group. They may never to see their pets again or know if they found a new good home. Read More »

Join A Cause and Help Animals

Poultry Factory FarmAnimal lovers know that animal welfare is one of the most important issues in the world.  I thought I’d blog a little on several organizations that work against animal abuse and mistreatment. You can help the animals in many small ways, whether by giving a little money, choosing not to wear fur, becoming a vegetarian, signing a petition, adopting a pet from a shelter, or even just spreading the word. Without animals, our world would be a very sad place. Please click on at least one of the following links and get involved today! Read More »

Staying Updated on Laws Affecting Pet Ownership and Animal Welfare

Dog in a ShelterRecent concerns over animal hoarding, introduced species and animal attacks have resulted in a confusing maze of new laws.  Many are legitimate attempts to address serious problems, while others seem over-reactions based on poor research.  I’m an attorney as well as a biologist, and yet even with this background I find it difficult to keep up with all the changes.  However, I’ve found several organizations that track pending legislation and provide links to actions that can be taken…I hope the following helpful information is useful. Read More »

10 Ways to “Go Green” – Environmentally Friendly Pet Edition

Adopt from a Shelter There are so many unwanted animals already in the world waiting for loving homes. Bring home one of these loveable mutts rather than opting for a purebred dog – who was born and raised purely for profit.

Donate Clean out your closets, but before you toss away any old towels, leashes, or toys call your local animal shelter to see if they are in need of donations. You would be surprised by the variety of stuff shelters are in need of (even old computer equipment)! Read More »

Pets as Presents – Things to Do Before You Adopt an Animal as a Gift

Gift CardThe holidays are approaching and its time to go shopping! Around this time of year people come to That Fish Place – That Pet Place to begin scoping out pet possibilities for their kids. Nothing would please a little boy or girl more than to open up a box on Christmas morning to find that Santa has left them a real live animal for being so good all year! But what Santa (and parents!) need to remember is that an animal should be treated differently than most presents. Here is a checklist I’ve composed for prospective live gift givers to review before presenting a pet as a gift.
 

Is it OK with Mom and Dad?

Countless times right after Easter and Christmas I see animals being returned or surrendered to us because “Aunt Shirley” decided it would be nice to present her nephew with a living surprise without checking to see if it was OK with his family first. Most of the time, this happens because Mom and Dad simply were not ready or willing to take care of an animal they hadn’t been expecting. Although Aunt Shirley meant well, she should have discussed it with her nephew’s parents to make sure they also wanted a new pet to feed and care for in their house. Doing this would have spared everyone a lot of heartaches and headaches!
 

Have you done your research?

Never buy an animal on a whim and expect its young owner to know just what to do. Read, go online, and talk to employees at the pet store to make sure you are picking the right animal for your child and that you will be able to give it everything it needs to be happy and healthy.
 

Will the child be able to properly care for this animal?

100044953_e33c9aa266_oVery young children may promise they will do all the work, but let’s face it; the job usually falls to Mom or Dad. Make sure the child will take an active role in the care of their pet before giving them one for Christmas, and make sure Mom and Dad won’t mind picking up the slack.

 

 

 

Do you have a plan for the animal before Christmas Day?

Animals cannot be kept in the box they came home in from the pet store all night long. Most of them will chew their way out before morning or their urine will possibly burn a hole through the box or cause them to get respiratory problems from breathing in the fumes all night. If you decide to pick up the animal on Christmas Eve or sooner, make sure you have a cage or a temporary set-up complete with food, water, and shelter until Christmas morning.
 

Did you put holes in the box?

This may seem obvious, but I have heard painful stories of animals being found suffocated after only a few minutes in an airtight box. If you are going to wrap the cage or box with the animal in it at the last minute before the child wakes up Christmas morning, be sure there are breathing holes in the box.
 

Do you have all the supplies ready along with the new pet?

Nothing is worse than opening up a new toy and realizing there are no batteries included with it. The same goes for a new pet. What good is your pet gerbil if you can’t put him in his new cage and watch him play right away! Be prepared to gift a cage, accessories, food, and bedding along with the new pet.
 

Do you have a “Safe Zone” for the new pet?

Holidays are hectic stressful times for pets and people alike, and it will be much worse for a brand new animal in a brand new home. Once the excitement has worn down over the opening of the live gift, place the animal in its cage and move it to a “safe zone” — a quiet room where friends, relatives, and other pets will not be able to bother it. It may be tempting for your child to parade around showing Grandma and Grandpa the new bunny she’s gotten, but for the bunny, this is a very scary experience! The best way to make a good impression on a new pet is to respect its boundaries and give it time to adjust to a new home. Save show-and-tell for another day, when the animal has had more time to adjust to his new home.
 

Have you considered gifting the supplies first?

Since the holidays are so hectic, it’s a good idea to buy the cage and accessories first and have your child open these on Christmas morning instead of a box with a live animal in it. First of all, this will keep things from getting too crazy what with setting up the animal in its cage and keeping intrigued relatives at bay. Second of all, this will extend the excitement for the child because now she has a chance to pick out her new animal and can look forward to going to the pet store the next day to get her REAL gift! And then she gets to pick out what she likes best without you having to guess which color or personality type she would prefer beforehand.
 

Will you commit to the gift?

This happens more with rabbits and chicks over Easter, but I’ve seen it happen with other animals at Christmas too. Sometimes families believe it is okay to get their son or daughter a baby animal to raise for a while with plans to get rid of it as soon as it is older or the weather gets nice. I have a big problem with this! First of all, you cannot always guarantee to find a home for your adult animal when you are ready to get rid of it and sadly, this sometimes results in animals being released into the wild or dumped on a farm somewhere. Secondly, this is teaching children that once something becomes too big, old, or expensive to care for, it is okay to abandon it. Owning a pet throughout its entire life is an educational and enriching experience that will help children learn about life and responsibility. If you plan on getting your kids a pet for Christmas, be prepared to care for that animal until the day it dies. Pets need proper housing, food, and veterinary care, and if you ever find yourself in a predicament that makes it impossible to continue providing these things for your animal make sure you have a suitable plan to re-home that animal with someone who can. Pets are not temporary. They are for life.

With all this in mind, try to enjoy preparing to bring a new pet into the family at Christmas time. Planning ahead will make things much easier, and it can be a warming experience to see that look in your child’s eye one he or she realizes you finally said yes to that pet they’ve been wanting so bad! Adding a new member to the family is a wonderful experience if done properly, so be smart, be safe, and always keep the animal’s best interests in mind. Happy Holidays!

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