Animal Care and Control Appreciation

Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week occurs every year during the second full week in April. This effort was created by the National Animal Care and Control Association to recognize and promote professionalism in the field of animal care and control. Agencies and individuals that provide these valuable community services should be commended for all their hard work.

When I see shelter employees out and about, whether I see them at the vet’s office, shelter, adoption event, library, or somewhere in town, I usually try to say hi and express my gratitude for all that they do.

What can you do today on behalf of your animal care and control agencies? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Express your thanks.
  2. Recognize and celebrate their accomplishments and, if warranted, nominate individuals and shelters for awards.
  3. Become involved in a Friends of the Animal Shelter or rescue organization.
  4. Donate.
  5. Volunteer.
  6. Foster.
  7. Adopt.
  8. Spread the word about the wonderful services your shelter and animal control agencies provide to your community.
  9. Raise awareness about the importance of and educate others how to be responsible pet owners.

Photo credits courtesy of Pexels

National Pet Day

Happy National Pet Day!

In 2006, Colleen Paige, an animal welfare advocate and pet lifestyle expert, founded National Pet Day to celebrate pets (of all kinds) and the sheer joy they bring into our homes and lives. As with many pet-themed holidays, this holiday is also intended to shine a spotlight on animals in shelters all over the world.

Garrus and Charlie are former shelter cats. Note the sun-soaked snuggle in progress.

Do you have a cat, dog, rabbit, bird, hamster, rat, mouse, lizard, turtle, fish, or other type of pet? (Approximately 80 million households in the US have a pet. There are nearly 80 million dogs and 86 million cats kept as pets.) How can you celebrate National Pet Day? Here are a few ideas!

  1. Love. Give your pet extra smooches, belly rubs, a thorough brushing, lap time, snuggles, and assorted displays of affection.
  2. Play. Indulge your inner child and play with your pet. Get out all the toys and toss them around or invent a game to play with your pet. (Hide and seek? Bottle cap soccer? Chase?) Get your dog (or cat!) to fetch. Go for a walk. Go to the dog park. Arrange a playdate.
  3. Take pictures of your pet. If you are so inclined, share them on social media using the hashtag #NationalPetDay.
  4. Be grateful. Pets enhance our lives and they teach us lessons about joy, laughter, love, cuddling, playtime, and appreciating the little things in life. What do you appreciate most about your pet(s)? What lessons have they taught you? Have they brought you joy today?

Googly cat sequence initiated. (Boudicca loves to be brushed.) Cue PURR PURR PURR FLOP.

Siamese Pretty Please

Happy National Siamese Cat Day!

Do you share living space with fur people of the Siamese variety? Do you enjoy their talkativeness? Do their blue eyes enchant you?

Siamese Cats 101

  • They are an Asian or Oriental cat with point coloration, i.e. a light body with darker markings on the face, ears, legs, and tail.
  • These point colors come in a number of varieties including Chocolate, Seal, Lilac, Blue, Red, and Cream. There are also Lynx (striped), Tortie, and Tortie Lynx Points.
  • They also have two body types: the Traditional (Old-Style, Classic) and Modern (Show). The latter sports a slim body, small wedge-shaped head, long straight nose, huge ears, and a whiplike tail.
  • Behaviorally, Siamese cats are intelligent, busy, doglike, highly communicative (they will give you a highly opinionated commentary about everything!), and extroverted. They love attention!
  • Siamese cats are chatterboxes with a distinctive loud, low-pitched meow! They caterwaul too and do not like to be quiet.

Modern or Show-Style Seal Point Siamese Cat

Traditional Lilac Point Siamese Cat

I’ve had some exposure to Siamese cats. In middle school, I briefly had a half-Siamese cat but she did not inherit the color-point markings of her mother, a splendid Balinese or long-haired Siamese. Instead Misdemeanor was ink-black without a speck of white anywhere on her. She did, however, inherit the characteristic vocalness and intense inquisitiveness; she had to be into everything, especially all the mischief (hence her name).

Another Siamese cat I knew was a shelter kitten appropriately named Miao. He was feisty (attack all the toys!), demanding, charming, and a handful (he was a kitten, after all, so that was his job). I helped match him to an outgoing family whom he would likely keep on their toes with his antics.

If you have a Siamese cat in your life, be sure to give him or her an extra dose of love and perhaps a treat or new toy today! I’m sure your kitty will thank you vociferously!

Photo credits: Pexel and Pinterest

These splendid fur people are not my own.

Happy Easter!

I hope that you and your loved one–including your pets–have a happy Easter weekend! As with many holidays, there are a few things to keep in mind so that your pet stays healthy and safe:

  1. Chocolate is highly toxic to pets, as it contains high concentrations of methylxanthines, such as theobromine and caffeine. You can have a chocolate Easter bunny but to your dog or cat, it’s poison. Seek veterinary care immediately.
  2. Plastic grass used to fill Easter baskets and decorations can easily be eaten by curious pets but can cause lots of gastrointestinal problems.
  3. Plastic eggs and toys are tempting targets for a pet to mouth. This can be a bad combination since the pet can choke on an item or get sick from eating candy or chocolate inside.
  4. Foil wrappings, if eaten, can cause obstructions and upset your pet’s digestive system.
  5. Food coloring can cause an adverse medical reaction. Make sure that any dyes you wish to use are non-toxic before you purchase them.
  6. Xylitol, a sweetener which can found in certain candies and foods (including peanut butter), can be lethal to dogs.
  7. Fatty foods, such as ham or lamb, may make your pet have a very upset tummy or even pancreatitis. Don’t let your pet have helpings of your Easter dinner!
  8. Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks (members of the allium family) are toxic to both cats and dogs and may cause hemolytic anemia and gastroenteritis.
  9. Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, wobbliness, tremors, and joint stiffness.
  10. Alcohol is a big no-no for pets of any persuasion. Keep booze well out of pets’ reach!
  11. Lilies, while beautiful, are extremely toxic to cats. This includes several varieties (Easter, Stargazer, and Asiatic) as well all parts of the plant: the leaves, petals, pollen, and water in which cut lilies are placed. A cat chewing on or ingesting a lily may experience kidney failure or even die! Seek veterinary care immediately.

Something Else to Consider: Rabbits

Bunnies are cute, yes. Bunnies can be great pets, yes. But rabbits are not for everyone! I strongly advise people against from getting a rabbit as an Easter present without doing research first and being REALLY sure that a rabbit is the pet you want. Taking care of a rabbit is not the same as taking care of a dog or cat or fish. Keep in mind that rabbits are one of the most abandoned pets in the US.

St Catrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Or, if you’re a cat lover, you may say St Catrick’s Day! There is no Saint Catrick (to my knowledge) but it’s a fun excuse to have a pet-themed holiday anyway!

Why might this be, you ask? Because today coincides with the feast day of Gertrude of Nivelles, who has become to be regarded as the patron saint of cats. This is a recent development starting in the 1980s. Her association with cats may have sprung from her role as protector against rodents, which dated from the 15th century in Germany, the Netherlands, and northeastern Span.

I don’t have to worry about a rodent problem in my house. Charlie’s got me covered.

Enjoy your weekend!

World Sleep Day

Happy World Sleep Day!

Guess what’s going on at my house right now? Nothing. My house is the place of inaction because there are three happily snoozing cats in it. I could nearly see the z’s floating off of them. I’ve always wondered what my cats dream about.

Being hunters by nature, cats tend to be more active around dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day, with some cats sleeping as many as 20 hours a day. Kittens and older cats tend to sleep more than younger cats. Of course, we have the idiom catnap from our feline friend’s ability to snooze for brief periods of time.

Boudicca likes to snooze, birdwatch, and sunbathe on the window seat in my office. The boys like it too.

I have not timed how much my three cats sleep in a given day and night but they sleep a lot and take their sleep seriously. Everyone seems to take at least one nap in the morning and a longer nap in the afternoon, especially the boys have their 1 o’clock zoomies and scamper session. Maybe they schedule pre- and post-naps as well. I know that the boys, at least, are awake for part of the night because I hear them playing. (They often choose to bat around a jingling ball right around the time we’re going to bed.) Boudicca heads to bed the same time we do. Given her age, she does seem to rest more than the boys do but she is also always down for lap time!

Notice the layers. It is a baby pink bed with a pink blanket inside a box. I had purchased this bed for Queen B and put it on the floor for her; she refused to use it. I put it in a box and instantly she claimed it as hers. She becomes upset at me when I take off the blanket it clean it. This is her supurrviser spot in my office.

Each of the cats has a distinct preference for a sleeping spot, although each will change it up or grab an odd choice, like a scratching pad every now and then. Boudicca usually opts for her pink bed in the bedroom, the couch, her box bed in my office (see above photo), or the window seat. The Downton Tabbies have their orange bed (they like to share), the overstuffed chair, the rolling car seat (Aaron outfitted these for video game use), the ottoman, or the cat tree. During the day they sometimes commandeer the bed and snuggle. At least once a day I catch a snuggle in progress. It’s adorable.

Garrus found a meditating/catnap/sunbathing spot on a scratching pad near the sliding glass door.

Generally speaking, the cats don’t sleep in the bed with us for long periods of time. We might bring Boudicca into the bed with us for a snuggle but she usually leaves after a couple of ours. I’ve briefly woken up in the middle of the night to discover that Charlie had surreptitiously crept up onto the bed and curled up behind my knees to sleep. I find it soothing to fall asleep with a purring cat next to me. Boudicca and the boys are polite and don’t bother us by caterwauling at unholy hours of the night. Depending on your cat’s behavior and your individual sleep needs, sleeping with your kitty may or may not help your own sleep hygiene. Additionally, there are a few things to consider about pet safety.

Garrus is quite fond of his blue elephant Pillow Pet.

The Downton Tabbies lounge on the worn car seat. Their new orange bed is shown beneath.

On the other hand, there are many cats that view the night as the prime opportunity for shenanigans: flopping on your head, tearing around the house, getting into ALL the mischief, attacking your feet, yowling, playing with the loudest toys, and starting blood feuds with every pet in the neighborhood. Wild antics can disrupt even a veteran cat owner’s sleep but do not give up hope! Cats, believe it or not, can learn to sleep at night. Adding play sessions during the day can tire your cat out and thereby discourage such lively romps at night. Cats learn so much through play, including manners and boundaries; they also build trust and confidence. Teaching a cat manners (such as bite inhibition) is vital to having a well socialized companion.

Garrus and Charlie like to be high up in the cat tree. When we first put up the cat tree, Charlie spent a lot of time in the cubby; he spends less time in there now.

Sleep hygiene is important for dogs too! Given that dogs are pack animals and very different creatures than cats, their sleep needs vary. Certain breeds can develop sleep disorders, just like humans; brachycephalic airway syndrome and narcolepsy are two examples.

For many years, my family had Miniature Schnauzers as pets, as I’ve mentioned before. As you may or may not know, Schnauzers, like many other types of dogs, have a habit of “nesting” in their beds. This, and the tendency to sleep pressed very close to my parents legs disrupted my parents’ sleep so they trained the dogs to sleep in their own bed. Although it took a bit of work, we were happy with the end result. Since we lived in Minnesota at the time, during the winter the dogs were very insistent in reminding us to turn on a heating pad under the cushions for 20 minutes before bedtime (we turned it off before we went to sleep)! The dogs also liked to snooze on the back of the couch.

Now my parents have Chiquita, a Kooikerhondje, and Chiya, a Tibetan Spaniel. Chiya is not as brachycephalic as, say, a French bulldog, but she does snore a bit when she sleeps. Chiquita twitches while she dreams sometimes.

Chiquita does not believe that guests should sleep alone.

Is it nap time yet?

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day all! I hope you enjoy today’s love-themed holiday and extend such affection to your fur people. Here are some tips to remember so that your furry companions have a safe holiday as well:

  1. Chocolate. This is very yummy for humans but HIGHLY TOXIC to pets. A typical treatment for chocolate poisoning at the vet’s office can run anywhere from $250-$3,000 or more.
  2. Candy. Around Valentine’s Day, candy dishes are everywhere. But again, many types of candy contains xylitol, a sugarless sweetener. Xylitol is highly toxic to pets. (It also can show up in peanut butter, FYI.)
  3. Flowers. Although beautiful bouquets are lovely, many types of flowers can make pets very sick. Roses, for example, may not be toxic to pets but they do have thorns, and these can scratch or puncture your pet’s paws and cause a nasty infection. Ingesting roses may cause an upset stomach too. Keep flowers away from a pet’s reach. (This includes surfaces where counter-surfing dogs or areas where cats may climb.)
  4. Decorations. The paper and ribbons discarded from a beautifully wrapped gift can cause all kinds of trouble for pets if they ingest these materials. Tape, ribbons, bows, cellophane, wrapping paper, and balloons are not for eating!
  5. Candles. A candlelit dinner can be most romantic. A curious pet knocking over a lit candle and starting a fire or becoming injured by the flame is definitely not. Don’t leave pets unattended near open flames. Watch your pets closely if you choose to light candles.
  6. Alcohol. Booze is a definite no-no for pets, so keep any cocktails, champagne, wine, or other adult beverages well away from the reach of curious paws. A pet ingesting even a small amount of alcohol can do a considerable amount of harm. A large amount can lead to potentially fatal respiratory failure.
  7. Pets as gifts. While an adorable puppy adorned with a big red bow sounds like a memorable Valentine’s Day gift, remember that bringing home a pet is a lifelong commitment. Not everyone is prepared, interested in, or able to make that kind of commitment. Having to return a pet is the opposite of romantic and unfair to the animal. Don’t get a pet as an impulse buy. Doesn’t it sound better to bring your loved one to your local animal shelter so that they can choose the pet they want and make an informed, deliberate decision about making a pet a part of their life?