Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Top Ten" Checklist for Adopting a Cat

  1. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, consider taking home two. Cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. Two cats can provide this for each other. Plus they’ll provide more benefits to you. Cats’ purring has been shown to soothe humans as well as themselves – and they have an uncanny ability to just make you smile. A great place to start your search is online. Sites like let you search numerous shelters in your area simultaneously to help narrow your search and more quickly find the match that’s right for you and your new feline friend.
  2. Find a cat whose personality meshes with yours. Just as we each have our own personality, so do cats. In general, cats with long hair and round heads and bodies are more easygoing than lean cats with narrow heads and short hair, who are typically more active. Adoption counselors can offer advice to help you match the cat’s personality with your own.
  3. Pick out a veterinarian ahead of time and schedule a visit within the first few days following the adoption. You’ll want to take any medical records you received from the adoption center on your first visit. Kittens in particular should accompany you to make the appointment – even before the exam itself – so staff can pet the cat and tell you that you’ve chosen the most beautiful one ever.
  4. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat before it comes home. Visiting the shelter or animal control facility should be a family affair. When adopting a new cat with existing pets at home, discuss with the adoption facility how to make a proper introduction.
  5. Budget for the short- and long-term costs of a cat. Understand any pet is a responsibility and there’s a cost associated with that. A cat adopted from a shelter is a bargain; many facilities will have already provided spaying or neutering, initial vaccines, and a microchip for permanent identification.
  6. Stock up on supplies before the cat arrives. Be prepared so your new cat can start feeling at home right away. Your cat will need a litter box, cat litter, food and water bowls, food, scratching posts, safe and stimulating toys, a cushy bed, a brush for grooming, a toothbrush and nail clippers.
  7. Cat-proof your home. A new cat will quickly teach you not to leave things lying out. Food left on the kitchen counter will serve to teach your new friend to jump on counters for a possible lunch. Get rid of loose items your cat might chew on, watch to ensure the kitten isn’t chewing on electric cords, and pick up random items like paper clips (which kittens may swallow).
  8. Go slowly when introducing your cat to new friends and family. It can take several weeks for a cat to relax in a new environment. It’s a great idea to keep the new addition secluded to a single room (with a litter box, food and water, toys, and the cat carrier left out and open with bedding inside) until the cat is used to the new surroundings; this is particularly important if you have other pets. If you’ve adopted a kitten, socialization is very important. But remember – take it slow.
  9. Be sure to include your new pet in your family’s emergency plan. You probably have a plan in place for getting your family to safety in case of an emergency. Adjust this plan to include your pets. Add phone numbers for your veterinarian and closest 24-hour animal hospital to your “in-case-of-emergency” call list.
  10. If you’re considering giving a cat as a gift, make sure the recipient is an active participant in the adoption process. Though well-meaning, the surprise kitty gift doesn’t allow for a “get-to know-one-another” period. Remember, adopting a cat isn’t like purchasing a household appliance or a piece of jewelry – this is a real living, breathing, and emotional being.

Monday, May 25, 2015

How Pets Make Your Life Better

Pets - life begins when you get one!  Or at least a better life!  And that's the truth.  It has been proven that pets help their owners live longer, happier, healthier lives. 

How do we do that?  Just look at all the things I do for my mom!

1.  I provide companionship.  Now that all of the other kids are grown and gone, Mom spends a lot of time alone.  Dad is often busy with other things.  I keep her company during those times.  She loves to talk, and she talks to me all the time.  We read together, watch TV together, walk together, play together, and even sleep together.  I love my mom and she loves me.  As long as we are together, we are never alone.

2.  I guard the house.  I know I am very small, but I am brave!  I guard the house from all kinds of things.  And if it is too big for me to handle, I bark loud so Mom hears me and knows that something is around that shouldn't be.  And of course, when I bark, the others join me!  Often just the noise of all of us barking will scare the intruder away! 

3.  I make Mom happy.  I can tell when she is sad.  We pets, especially we dogs, can sense that.  And whenever I see that she is a little bit sad, I will jump up in her lap and cuddle.  Or sometimes I will dance and make her laugh.  But I will do whatever it takes to make her smile.

4.  I help her teach the grandkids things.  When they come visit, the get to help take care of me and the others.  This teaches them how to care for things that cannot take care of themselves.  It teaches them responsibility and compassion. 

5.  I help babysit.  Speaking of the grandkids, I help take care of them.  When she is busy in another part of the house, I play with them or sit with them.  I sometimes sleep with them at night to guard them or just to keep them company. 

6.  I help her business. Lots of the designs in her CafePress shop were inspired by me!

7.  I hunt.  We live in the country so I hunt for mice and rats and moles and anything else that might get in the house.  Mom does not like these things in the house and so I hunt them down as soon as they come in the yard - that is if the cats don't get them first!  I am not like Bob though.  I do not chase squirrels.  I kind of like them!

8.  I help Mom cook and clean up.  Sometimes when she is cooking she will let me sample her latest recipe to see if it is good.  Most of the time is is - but not always!  And sometimes she will drop something on the floor while she is cooking and I will clean it up so she doesn't have to!

9.  I help keep her warm.  When it is cold in the winter, I will snuggle up with her in our chair and help keep her warm.  I am not big enough to sleep on her feet and keep them warm like Ginger did.  But I snuggle up as close as I can get.  I must do a good job because sometimes she will make me move because she is too hot.  I am a good warmer!

10.  I help her stay healthy.  She is losing weight and part of that is because she and I walk together whenever we can.  We haven't been doing too much of that lately.  It's been raining so much here, I'm afraid I would have to learn to swim if we came to a puddle!  But when it is nice, we both get our exercise by walking together.

It is not just dogs that are good for you.  Many different kinds of pets can be helpful.  Pet owners have been found to have lower blood pressure and make fewer doctor visits than non-pet owners.  Children raised in homes with two or more pets are less likely to develop asthma.  Pet owners are also less likely to suffer from depression.  So if you want to have a better life, get a pet!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Homeless Pets Need Food Too

Mom is very concerned about people having enough to eat.  She participates in all sorts of food drives and events to help feed the hungry and homeless.  But there is one group of hungry beings that are often forgotten - homeless pets.

Now I know what many of you are already thinking.  If people are homeless, they certainly don't need to have a pet.  But for the homeless, pets are companions, friends, protection - they are family.  It may be the only connection they have with another being.  Many will share their last bit of food with their companion animals, often going without themselves to feed their beloved friend.

Homeless pets need our help.  And if we do something this month - just one little thing - imagine the difference we could make!  Many large cities have food pantries for pets.  If not, then often human food pantries will also distribute pet food to people that need it.  The wonderful organization Pets of the Homeless collects and distributes food for homeless pets and they have collection centers all over.  We even have one near us.  So what if we all donate a can of pet food, or a dog blanket, or even just $1.00?  Do you know how much that could be? 

If you would like to get involved in a bigger way, I have some ideas!
  • Arrange a food drive challenge at your school, your office, your church, your neighborhood, or among your friends
  • Set up donation boxes at local businesses
  • Do you own a business?  Set up a donation box.  Offer discounts or a gift to people who bring in donations.
  • Are you a member of a theater group, or sports team, or club?  Offer discounted admission in exchange for donations.
  • Do you have good but unneeded pet food at home?  Donate it!
  • Organize a car wash and collect pet food for payment.
Homeless pets need our help.  Can you open your heart to them?  Let's feed homeless pets this month!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I May Not Know My Address But My Chip Does

I have never been lost.  In fact, none of us dogs have ever been lost.  Mom keeps us inside a fence and the gate is always locked.  But many years ago, we did lose a pet.  It was before I came to live with Mom, but she has told the story many times - about the day they came home and found the gate open, and Harvey, their beloved Boston terrier, gone.
It was a terrible day for everyone, especially for Jessica, Mom's other child.  Harvey actually belonged to her.  Mom tells how they searched the neighborhood for hours, called all the animal shelters, put up posters, and placed ads in the paper.  But there was no news.  It was especially hard because they weren't sure what had happened.  Had they accidentally left the gate open?  Had someone stolen Harvey when everyone was at work and school?  Was he hurt?  Was he scared?  Was he even still alive?  Mom knew that they would probably never find him.  But she tried to keep up hope for Jessica's sake.
I am glad I have never been lost.  But if something did happen one day, and the gate was left open and I just had to go exploring, I have a much better chance of being found than Harvey did.  I have a chip.
"Chip" is actually short for "microchip."  Micro means it is small - no bigger than a grain of rice.  It doesn't look like much but it is awesome!  It carries a number that can be read with a special reader.  And that number tells whoever is reading my chip where Mom lives and how to contact her.
It didn't hurt either.  I did have to go to the vet.  It felt sort of like getting a shot.  But I didn't mind because I always get a special treat after a trip to the vet - especially if I have to have shots.
I am seven years old and have had my chip since I was a puppy.  It doesn't itch or bother me at all.  I don't even remember that I have it most of the time.  I only remember when I hear about someone losing a dog or cat.  Yes, cats can get chips too!
I don't think it costs a lot of money either.  There are nine of us dogs and cats at Oak Valley and we all have chips.  Mom isn't rich so it must not cost too much. And it doesn't have to be replaced when it wears out.  Can't say that about my collar and tags!
Nope, I don't worry at all about getting lost.  No matter where I may roam, a vet or the animal shelter will probably have a chip reader.  And Sally, our friend at the shelter, says that they scan all pets for chips now as soon as they come to the shelter, just in case they have lost their Mom. 
So please, if you are a pet Mom (or Dad), get them a chip.  Then you won't ever have to go through the agony of wondering what happened to a much-loved family member.  May is Chip Your Pet Month!  What a great way to celebrate - by chipping all of  your furry family members!
P.S.  The story of Harvey does have a happy ending.  A few months after he disappeared, Dad saw him at the home of an elderly gentleman who lived several streets away from them.  He said Harvey just showed up at his house one day hungry and scared.  He never saw the posters.  He did look in the paper but didn't see Mom's ad.  So he just let Harvey live with him.  Harvey looked happy and healthy and he and the man really seemed to love each other.  Dad and Mom talked and decided to let Harvey stay there.  Besides, by then Spot, the Chihuahua, had found Jessica - but that is another story!