Adopt a Cat Month

Kitten season is here and so is Adopt a Cat Month! Did you know that more than 3.2 million cats enter animal shelters annually? Did you know that 860,000 cats are euthanized? Animals being euthanized due to lack of space and overpopulation makes me very sad, since this is a preventable problem. Spaying/neutering pets and catch-neuter/spay-release programs dramatically impact animal overpopulation issues in communities. If you want to add a fur person to your family, please, please consider checking out your local animal shelter or rescue group first. There are so many lovable cats (and dogs!) that deserve wonderful homes.

Moreover, this is Father’s Day weekend! Some shelters may run Father’s Day specials (read: discounts!) as well so be sure to ask about those too!

I’m so happy we adopted these two boys! I think they are quite handsome but I’m probably biased.

Garrus’ Follow Up Vet Visit

As you may remember, Garrus (aka Gentleman Cat) underwent extensive dental surgery two weeks ago. Dr R wanted to check how his mouth was healing and determine the next steps needed to make Garrus a healthy and happy cat.

Aaron and I were pleasantly surprised that we were able to get Garrus into the carrier in under 10 minutes and with remarkably minimal fuss. He wasn’t too happy about it and there was at least one pitiful meow saying “I want to lodge a complaint with the management about this!”. He didn’t meow at all in the car but let me know he was quite alarmed when we were in the vet office lobby. “Excuse me but there are dogs in here and I do not like this at all!” he seemed to say. Thankfully we were put in a room lickedy-split and instantly the complaints stopped.

When a tech came in to ask me questions, I told her that he has been eating, hasn’t displayed any lethargy, and has not vomited or had any diarrhea. In general he eats about 1 can of wet food a day but frequently when we offer him more food during the day, he faffs about and seems anxious. While he expresses gratitude by being affectionate and sweet, he won’t always eat the food we offer him. We’ve experimented with how we present the food (finely chopped, at room temperature instead of right-out-of-the-fridge cold) and ensure that Charlie doesn’t come in and make him nervous. I reported that Garrus sometimes appears ill at ease around Charlie, who, in his desperation for a playmate, will occasionally get most persistent and end up pestering Garrus.

The tech took him in the back, where she weighed him and took his temperature, and brought him back to the room, where Dr R examined him. I was pleased to learn that Garrus gained 0.6 lbs in two weeks! Most of the sutures dissolved on their own but she noted that there is still some inflammation (stomatitis) in his mouth. The treatment for this is steroid therapy, and she wants to see him again in three weeks to monitor his progress. In response to the anxious behavior I reported, Dr R thought that Zylkene, a natural supplement that helps pets manage stress, might be useful. We had given the boys this when we first adopted them to help them acclimate to the house and overcome shelter shock. I hope that these treatments help Garrus feel better all around.

Dr R reported that Garrus behaved exceptionally well and acted rather calm, huge improvements from how withdrawn and skittish he was when we adopted him 10 months ago. Cat parent achievement unlocked! He didn’t fuss at all while being weighed or getting his temperature taken, and, while not happy about getting his mouth examined, did not freak out. We had no issue getting him back into the carrier either. On the car ride back I repeatedly told him that he was such a good boy. (Yes, cats need to be told this too, not just dogs.)

About an hour after I let him out, I found Garrus investigating the carrier on his own.

He moved his head up as I snapped this photo, showing me his vampy teeth.

“I am pleased to report that the carrier is clear of any dangers, madam. Thank you for your cooperation.”

This is one of his favorite sunning spots. Sometimes after he finishes a lounge like this, he comes into my office for a visit. I love petting his soft, sun-warmed fur.

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

As summer kicks off, many of us will be spending more time outside doing activities like hiking, camping, swimming, and traveling. (In Texas, I plan to stay out of the heat and NOT bake as much as possible.) One consequence of outdoor activity is exposure to insects and wildlife. One of these critters are ticks, which can transmit via biting a really nasty illness called Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis). This can affect both humans and animals and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other tick-borne diseases can include anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Yuck!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Naturally, since May kicks off the summer season, it has been designated as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. The best way to combat Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is to take preventive measures. Here’s how you can protect your pets:

  1. Tick-preventive products. Ask your veterinarian which would be the best solution for your pet.
  2. Vaccination. Again, speak with your veterinarian whether your dog should be vaccinated against Lyme disease. This may depend on where you live, your pet’s lifestyle, overall health, and other factors.
  3. Signs. Know the common symptoms of Lyme disease such as fever, appetite loss, lack of energy, lameness, stiffness, discomfort, pain, and joint swelling. These symptoms can progress to kidney failure as well as cardiac and neurological issues. Check here for more information.
  4. Avoid. If possible, don’t go into areas where ticks are likely to be found such as tall grasses, leaf litter, marshes, and wooded areas. (Side note: velociraptors might be hiding in tall grass too!)
  5. Check. Once indoors, make sure that a tick has not hitched a ride on you or any of your animals.
  6. Fortification. Place a barrier of wood chips or gravel between your lawn, patio, play equipment, and wooded areas. By doing so, you will restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
  7. Sprays. Have a green industry professional inspect your property and spray the perimeter to reduce tick populations.
  8. Maintenance. Clear shrubbery and brush close to the house. Prune trees. Remove litter. Mow grass short. Let the lawn dry thoroughly between waterings.
  9. Removal. If you find a tick, use gloves and specialized tweezers, not your bare hands.

The American Veterinary Medical Association provides excellent information about Lyme disease and its effects on pets. You can also find information on flea and tick preventive products, disease precautions for outdoor enthusiasts and their animal buddies, and the CDC’s boatload of data pertaining to Lyme disease. To learn how to prevent Lyme disease in people, especially children, check out information from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

Did you know that animals, such as dogs and cats, can experience asthma and allergies just like humans do? For that reason, the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation designated May, a peak time for allergy symptoms, as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. While this campaign is directed at humans, conscientious pet owners should be able to recognize the way their pets may present symptoms of asthma and allergies.

Common Asthma Triggers in Pets

  • Dust
  • Pollens (grass, trees)
  • Air pollution, such as vehicle exhaust
  • Mold
  • Mildew
  • Smoke (fireplaces, tobacco products)
  • Household sprays and chemical solutions, such as hair spray, flea spray, air fresheners, household fragrances, and personal perfumes
  • Cat litter dust

Common Asthma Symptoms

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Breathing difficulties (i.e. wheezing, labored breath, shallow breath)
  • Panting
  • Dyspnea
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Pale or blue gums* [If you spot this, go to your vet immediately.)

When we took in Garrus and Charlie, we noticed that Garrus occasionally wheezed. We had not seen this behavior in previous cats, so we brought it up with our vet. Dr R thought he might have a mild case of asthma and suggested we make a log of how often he wheezed and if we noticed other symptoms. If his wheezing episodes became more frequent or more severe, we would investigate the issue further.

At the same time, we transitioned the boys from using regular litter boxes, which they used while in foster care, to Cat Genies after they fully integrated into the household. One of the things we like most about Cat Genies is there is no dust from cat litter! Aaron discovered that safflower seeds are excellent, environmentally-friendly substitutes for the plastic granules that a Cat Genie uses. We have since noticed that Garrus wheezes infrequently now, and Dr R was most pleased by this report. Dr R remarked that she had another feline patient that displayed asthma symptoms but these decreased after her owner switched to a litter that produced much less dust. She thought the same thing had happened with Garrus.

Common Allergies in Pets

  • Contact: Medication or detergent found in flea collar (example)
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Allergic to flea saliva
  • Food Allergies: Some pets don’t tolerate certain ingredients well such as beef, chicken, soy, and wheat.
  • Inhalant: Indoor or outdoor environmental factors (smoke, pollen, etc.)

Common Allergy Signs in Pets

  • Sneezing
  • Excessive grooming
  • Excessive itching
  • Paw chewing
  • Skin inflammation
  • Ear infection
  • Rashes

If you want to learn more about pet allergies and asthma, check out Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic, Pet MD for Canine Asthma, Pet MD Dog Allergy Center, Pet MD for Feline Asthma, 7 Common Cat Allergies (Pet MD), Pet Partners,and Canna Pet. If you think your pet may have asthma, allergies, bronchitis, respiratory issues, or other health concerns, please contact your veterinarian!

Chip Your Pet Month

Like many months throughout the year, May is a bonanza of pet-related awareness campaigns. Among others, May is Chip Your Pet Month!

Having current information on your pet’s ID tag is vitally important should ever your pet get loose or lost. However, collars can easily slip off, especially if your pet is clever enough to take it off by themselves. With a microchip implanted beneath your pet’s skin, you don’t have to worry about that occurring. If your lost pet is found and taken to a veterinary clinic or animal shelter, the microchip can be scanned, revealing a registration and contact number. Through this registry the pet owner will be contacted and be able to recover their pet.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Check out Positively Woof for a video, Merck Animal Health, and One Fur All to learn more information about the benefits of microchipping, where to get them, and frequently asked questions.
When we adopted Garrus and Charlie, the shelter provided and implanted microchips along with their shots. The cost of these procedures is covered by the adoption fee. In our case, the adoption fee was waived because we fostered them during the Clear the Shelter event, wherein adoptable pets were free! The shelter had the microchips already registered; we simply provided our contact information and updated the cats’ names when we changed them from Aristotle and Tink to Garrus and Charlie. It was a super easy and worthwhile process. While my cats are strictly indoors, if they ever were to get out, I’d have peace of mind knowing that they had more than one method of identification and would be returned to us via that information.

Responsible Animal Guardian Month

The animal welfare organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) established May as Responsible Animal Guardian Month. The campaign’s goal is to encourage people to treat animals with respect and fulfill their obligation to care for those they have taken in as pets. For this reason, IDA uses the term “guardian” instead of “owner”.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Broadly speaking, responsible pet guardians are concerned with the physical, emotional, and cognitive health of their pet(s). By being solicitous about their pet’s overall well-being, said guardians are more likely to develop strong bonds with their pets. Here are ways you can be a responsible pet guardian and give the best possible pet care:

  1. Daily care. This involves providing shelter, healthy and nutritious food, appropriate regular exercise, grooming, behavior training, and at least annual vet visits for vaccines and wellness exams.
  2. Ethics. Adopting only through responsible shelters, rescues, or breeders. Always treat pets with love, compassion, and respect. Report suspected abuse or neglect.
  3. Safety. Microchip and ensure that your pet has current ID tags. Pet-proof your home. Take measures to prevent your pet from getting loose and lost. Teach others how to interact with pets safely, appropriately, and respectfully.
  4. Well-Being. Teach your pet house manners. Apply rules consistently and invest in proper behavior training. Opportunities to socialize your pet with other people and pets. Provide regular play and bonding time. Establish and provide mutual trust, respect, and abundant love between you and your pet.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Want to learn more about being a responsible pet guardianship? The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a useful list and set of guidelines detailing the multi-faceted responsibilities of a pet guardian. In my personal opinion, being a responsible pet guardian is an important aspect of good citizenship and community involvement. Humans and animals alike benefit from the acts of responsible animal guardians. It’s a way you can use your powers for good.

National Pet Month

Did you know that May is National Pet Month? In addition to celebrating pets around the world, the holiday has several specific aims:

  1. Promote responsible pet ownership;
  2. Raise awareness of the benefits of living with pets;
  3. Increase public awareness of the role of pet care specialists;
  4. Promoting the value of service and companion animals.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

You can celebrate National Pet Month in a variety of ways and involve your community too! Think of it as pawing it forward!

  1. Volunteer. Help out at adoption events at your local animal shelter or rescue group. Love on, play with, walk, and socialize shelter animals, as these experiences will help them get adopted faster.
  2. Adopt. If you’re thinking about adding a pet to your life, please consider checking out an animal shelter or rescue organization. There are many lovable animals waiting for the right home and a person to love them!
  3. Foster. Whether you have a pet at home or are unsure whether having a permanent pet would be right for you, consider fostering. Giving a homeless pet respite from being in a shelter is a fantastic demonstration of compassion and altruism.
  4. Donate. You can donate time, skills, supplies, and/or money to a shelter or rescue group. Non-profit organizations like Friends of the Animal Shelter would be a great place to start.
  5. Fundraise. Organize events like community dog walks or puppy play dates, pet photography, pet wash, or animal-themed walk or marathon. Be creative and have fun!
  6. Teach. Do you like educating others? Are you an experienced pet owner? Have you had success in training commands to your dog? Share your expertise with others. Teach children (and adults!) how to properly introduce oneself to new pets and interact with them safely and respectfully.
  7. Share. This goes hand-in-hand with #6. Share articles on social media about pet homelessness, shelter events and programs, and pet welfare. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper and/or city council. Spread the word by mouth and by social media about adoptable pets, and, if you play your cards right, you might end up being a matchmaker for pets and humans! Use the hashtag #PawItForward.

Photo courtesy of Pexels