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Archive for November, 2009

dog-under-treeLocal animal shelters are filled with cats and dogs abandoned due to the economic crisis. It really bothers me how many people got rid of their pets for financial reasons yet maintain an unlimited cellphone plan and mindlessly text all day! The fact is that many people will not adopt an older cat or dog for fear that it only has a few years to live. Remember cats can live as long as 20 years, so if you adopt a twelve year old cat and if it’s in good health, you can have eight good years with it. Giving a second chance to an abandoned older cat or dog is a very rewarding experience. Perhaps this holiday season, some can really help the animal shelters and adopt a needy animal. If you cannot adopt a pet due to allergies or financial reasons, animal shelters could use old blankets, food or anything else that you can donate. Spend your money on cat toys or a pet carrier instead of paying for minutes to mindlessly text all day!

cat-and-vetStatistics show that dog owners are more likely to bring their pets to the vet for regular visits than cat owners. Cats are usually only brought to the vet when they are sick or even worse, beyond treatment! Why is this? Do cat owners love their pets less than dog owners? I don’t think so. Cats really hate going to the vet, the ride in the car, the sounds of dogs barking and strange people handling them can really stress them out. So we tend to bring them in only when they are sick. This should not be so. Cats, like dogs should visit the vet for regular check ups as well as be up to date on their vaccinations. Lots of veterinary offices now offer quiet “feline only” seating areas. Today’s veterinary hospital personnel are very attuned to the needs of our furry feline friends and they know how to  handle them with a gentle touch and soothing demeanor. So don’t wait until you cat is listless, not eating or not playing with her cat toys to take her to the vet. Make that appointment for a checkup today. That reminds me, my two are way overdue as well so I have to make that appointment right away!

bengal-catThe most common cat in america is the domestic short hair. This kind has no pedigree. Each cats behavior is personality driven.  Your really never know how one will behave until you bring it home.  Among the purebred cats, two of the most different are rag dolls and bengals. Benjamin Hart, a professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California’s School of Veterinary Medicine says that Rag Dolls are generally very friendly and affectionate but very placid. Dr Hart says that Bengals are the opposite of placid. They are energetic, active and always ready to play. He says that they were bred to look like a wild cat or a miniature leopard. They are loving and loyal but Bengals are not lap cats. So if you have a Bengal, get lots of cat toys are start playing!

dog-and-cattogetherIt’s safe to say that dogs are the natural predators of cats. There is no doubt that your cat will feel threatened with the introduction of a new dog. You must do the right things at the beginning of their introduction, or things could go wrong!  Do your homework. If you are adopting a dog from an animal shelter, make sure you ask about how the dog acts around cats. If you are adopting from another owner ask if they have cats in the house or if the dog was ever exposed to cats. If so, how did the two get along. If the dog was raised around cats, it is very unlikely that he will attack your cat when you get him home.

Separate the two as soon as you get the dog home. Use a gate and keep the two in separate rooms. This will enable your cat to take the initiative when approaching the new dog. This is important because the cat is the one who will feel threatened.

Once the cat can comfortably approach the dog, then the gate can be removed.  When the dog and cat are together, pay very close attention to how the behave. Do not let the dog bark, chase or lunge at the cat. This could ruin any possibilities of the two ever getting along. Use a short dog leash if the dog is a little too enthusiastic. Watch very closely. Attacks  happen very quickly and since your cat is much smaller (in most cases), she could be seriously injured. If you have any doubts or there are any signs of the two not getting along, you cannot leave them together alone.

The cat will usually only attack if the dog corners her. A cat scratch could harm your dog. Especially if he gets clawed in the eye. The dog could suffer corneal lacerations or other serious injuries.  When stopping the dog from chasing or barking at your cat, be firm but gentle when correcting him. You don’t want the dog to develop a negative reaction toward the cat. If your cat hisses at the dog, do not yell or punish her. The same kind of negativity toward the dog can develop.

Be very careful and patient. You want them to become best of friends!

cats-playing-with-toysSome cats are very independent creatures and need to be taught how to come when called. Some do it by nature. Here are some tips that may help.

1. I always recommend talking to your cat a lot. Call her name in a very calm tone and say kind soothing phrases. Encourage her to come to you. Pet her and brush her frequently.

2. Pick a word such as “snack’ or “dessert.”  As soon as I say “snack” both my cats come running.

3. Choose a special dry snack that she likes. I give my cats a snack every evening. (sometimes too much of a snack!).

4. Say the word again when she eats the first piece. Then place another couple of pieces in her dish and say the word once again.

5. Walk away and if she meows again, give her another couple of pieces and say the word again.

6. Repeat the process in about 5 minutes. You will be surprised how quickly cats learn.

Do this with her name as well. Reward with a snack when she comes after saying her name. Before you know it, she’ll be at your feet. You don’t even need to use cat toys to lure her.

Teaching your new puppy to walk on his dog leash

Wednesday, November 25, 2009
posted by Jim Murphy

cute-puppy-on-leashFinally, the time has come for you and your new puppy to go on his first walk. You spend lots of time choosing his new,”trendy” looking dog leash, now it’s time to show him off.  Unfortunately, you puppy does not care about how he looks in that really “cool” dog leash but rather cares about trying to get out of it!  Here are a few tips that may help you out.

1.  Encourage your puppy to follow you instead of  heading for everything that is around him.

2. Take some treats with you and always keep a few in your hand. When you call your puppy and he comes to you, reward him with a treat.

3. Always praise your puppy when you give a treat. Continue walking and praising as you go. Make sure you walk slow, encouraging your puppy to follow you along the way.

4. Stand still if your puppy pulls the wrong way on the leash. Do not pull you force him to walk. Just stop and wait for him to realize that he is going the wrong way. Call him and when he comes, reward him with another treat.

5. Keep the dog leash loose when walking your puppy. Do this only if he is walking beside you not sitting down or pulling you. It ‘s a good idea to take a squeeky toy with you to get his attention every now and then.

Remember be patient. Dog training is a process requiring lots of repetition and praise.  Never yell or hit your dog for not obeying. This is not only cruel but will prevent your dog from learning to walk on a leash properly.

maine-coon-catThe Maine Coon cat is one of the largest domestic breeds. They are known for their thick coat and raccoon type tail. A full grown Maine Coon cat can weight between 15 and 20 pounds. Another very large domestic cat is the Savannah, a cross between a domestic cat  and a small wild cat.  A breeding program for the Savannah cat is still in its’ infancy as male Savannahs’ tend to be sterile to the four and fifth generation. This is a sleek elegant cat with an exotic look.  The Rag Doll cat is also large and muscular. Males can weight 20 pounds or more!  This cat is quiet and very friendly and is often called the “dog of cats.”  If you are lucky enough to own any of these cats, you will know how gentle they can be. You will also know that you may have to buy extra large cat accessories such as cat-savannahcat beds!cat-ragdoll

dog-in-shelterIt’s that time of year again and I’m sure that your pets are on your list of holiday gifts. You may get your cat or dog a holiday stocking filled with goodies or a variety of other types of dog or cat toys. Something additional that you make wish to consider is to make a donation to your local animal shelter or your favorite rescue group. The economy has had a very serious effect on lots of pet owners. Many lost their jobs or their homes or both and were forced to give up their pets for adoption. Some shelters are almost filled to capacity and donations have been lower than ever before.  According to Business Week, Americans spend about $41 million a year on their pets.  You can have lots of fun buying toys for your pets this holiday season but please don’t forget the pets that were given up for adoption and those other four – legged friends that are not so fortunate.

dog-and-cat-togetherThe health of our pets is always a concern  and with the spread of swine flu, some are asking if their pet is at risk. A few cats and even some ferrets have come down with the disease.  NBC talked to some experts about the possibility. Dr. Tom Mowery says that  this not really a concern although a few cases have been passed down from human to pet but he believes that it’s not enough to be worried about.  Dr. Mowery says that he would only test for swine flu in a pet if family members have it and the pet becomes ill. He also believes that pets recover just as most humans do. So if your cat has watery eyes or your dog starts sneezing it is really not necessary to have your vet test for swine flu. Just use the appropriate pet medication if necessary to help him recover. It will also be better for your wallet.

Traveling with dog carriers or crates

Saturday, November 21, 2009
posted by Jim Murphy

traveling-with-your-dogThanksgiving weekend is coming up and many of you will take to the roads with your pets. If you are new to this, there are certain things that you should know about traveling with your dogs in their dog carriers or crates. Pet crates used for travel will be much different then those that you keep in one place in your home. They need to be lightweight with a handle if possible. It’s best to buy a crate that can be folded down for easy storage. Crates for pet travel are often better than a pet carrier. They are usually more roomy giving your pet more space to move around. Another benefit for your dog is that they will be able to see more on the trip.  Whatever type of crate that you decide to use, your pet will not only be nervous because of the trip but also will be irritated because of being cooped up so long. Allowing your pets out for short periods during the trip is an excellent way to keep them happy.  It also helps with the barking which can be irritating to other travelers. Have a wonderful holiday and be safe on your trip with your pet!