National Holistic Pet Day

When we humans think about our health, we think of mind, body, and spirit or heart. We strive to be healthy and find fulfillment in our lives. As responsible pet owners, we can extend that kind of thinking to our pets as well. When I say “holistic”, I’m talking about the whole, as in the mind, body, and spirit or heart of your pet.

Holistic health begins with good nutrition, physical exercise, and mental stimulation. Is your pet at a healthy weight? Does your pet get enough exercise? Do you think your pet is bored? These are only three questions to consider. As a caring and responsible pet owner, having a healthy and happy pet probably means that you’re happy for your pet too. Everyone wins.

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Here are some activities you can do today to celebrate National Holistic Pet Day:

  1. Have an adventure. Take your dog to a new park. Arrange a playdate with a new doggy friend. Bringing your dog to new places, combined with reinforced training, help your dog to be well-socialized and more confident.
  2. Play, play, play. Exercise can be therapeutic for pets and beneficial mentally as well as physically. By regularly playing with your pet, you strengthen pet-owner bonds, let your pet hone skills (fetching, tracking, pouncing, hunting, etc.), and reduce stress.
  3. Enrichment. Mixing things up a bit and encouraging pets to use their minds as well as their paws and noses can help pets, especially indoor ones, stave off boredom. Consider these ideas: food-dispensing puzzle toys; sensory enrichment (i.e. window perch for birdwatching, pet-directed videos); climbing posts, trees, and shelves for cats; novel objects like boxes, paper bags, pop-up tunnels, and bacon-flavored bubbles for dogs. Seriously!

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Foster Anniversary

At last year’s Clear the Shelter event (held on Saturday, August 19th), our lives changed when we decided to foster two tabbies. We had not fostered before but Aaron and I decided jointly that these boys really needed us.

Aristotle was gaunt, pitiful-looking, and had patchy fur due to overgrooming. Because of his severe stomatitis, he had (understandably) a poor appetite.

Tink, then two years old, had spent cumulatively 18 months at the shelter (partly in foster care). He had been adopted and returned three times, and had recently lost his buddy cat Pan. While he had been successfully paired with a new buddy, Tink was decidedly not doing well in the shelter and spent 95% of the time hiding.

Both cats were skittish, extremely shy, and wary. They needed a lot of TLC and a quiet respite from the shelter. In our care they made noticeable improvements, especially because we were patient and made an effort to gain their trust. Only two weeks later they moved in! Since we brought them home during the Clear the Shelter event, the adoption fees were waived.

A year later, they are very different, and much happier, cats. They are no longer so skittish and timid. Charlie (formerly known as Tink) blossomed into a perpetually sunny, friendly, and affectionate cat. He squeaks! He flops! He snuggles! Garrus (formerly known as Aristotle) underwent dental surgery to treat his stomatitis and is now a much healthier cat with bunny-soft fur. While still on the reserved side, he now asks for visits, bats at crinkle balls, and chases after the red dot with gusto.

As you can see, Charlie and Garrus are not concerned. They may, however, be only slightly overloved in our house.

International Homeless Animals’ Day

In 1992, the International Society for Animal Rights created International Homeless Animals’ Day (IHAD), celebrated worldwide. This year, the 27th annual International Homeless Animals’ Day will be observed on Saturday, August 18th.

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This campaign is intended to raise awareness of the plight of thousands of homeless and abandoned animals across the world and educate the public about pet abandonment, feral animal overpopulation, and the benefits of neutering/spaying pets. Check out ISAR’s website and Facebook page for more information.

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Toothless

Last week was a rather hectic. I was out of town for several days, and during that time Austin Pets Alive! contacted me to schedule Mau’s dental surgery. Aaron dropped him off on Thursday evening and we picked him up the following day. All things considered, Mau’s surgery went well. Due to the severity of his dental disease and multiple abscesses, all of his teeth were extracted. Now we have a toothless cat!

When we brought Mau home, we gave him some peace and quiet by putting him in Aaron’s office for a few hours so that he could get his bearings. He walked a little unsteadily and seemed subdued, which was totally understandable, so we kept an eye on him. At the same time, he was not interested in having lap time or a snuggle.

Mau insisted on claiming the cat tree cubby as his R&R spot and being a hidey cat. Charlie seemed to be thrown off by Mau being so close to “his” spot on the platform above the cubby.

Mau seems to be recovering well after his surgery (or weird alien abduction, as it must have felt like to him). We’re continuing to give him wet food but no longer with antibiotics or other foul-tasting meds, which makes him a happy boy. We think that the antibiotics caused diarrhea, so we are giving him probiotics (Fortiflora) mixed into his food to counter that. Although he’s supposed to be on wet food for the immediate future, he still beelines toward kibbles and tries to eat them whenever possible. We separate Mau from Charlie and Garrus at feeding times or else everyone attempts to eat all other food except their own!

Mau appears to be feeling better and hides less in the cubby. Now we can all adore his handsome face!

To Foster or Not to Foster

Fostering an animal from a shelter is a great act of compassion and love. By bringing a homeless animal into your home, you agree to give that pet love, care, and attention. Usually when you foster an animal, it is for a predetermined period (which can be a few days, a week, a few weeks, or even a month or longer, times vary) or until the pet is ready to be adopted into a forever home.

Why is there a need for foster homes?

  1. Space issues. A shelter or adoption group may lack sufficient space to house all the animals brought to them. Fostering an animal frees up space in the facility, enabling the organization to take in another animal in need of care and a home.
  2. Special needs. There are many reasons why a foster home would be a safer place than a shelter: an animal recovering from surgery, illness, or injury; animals requiring subcutaneous fluids; animals requiring a course of medicine; motherless kittens or puppies that need to be bottle-fed; expectant mothers; stressed out or shelter-shocked animals.
  3. Too young. Kittens should be at least 2 lbs. and eight weeks of age before going up for adoption. If taken from their mothers too early, they should be socialized with other cats as well as humans. They need to learn what it is to be a cat.
  4. Socialization. Kittens born into feral or semi-feral cat families will need to slowly be introduced to humans. This should happen between four and eight weeks of age. Puppies also should be introduced to other dogs and children with supervision.
  5. Training. Puppies and dogs are more likely to be adopted if they have received some basic training. The better behaved and house trained, the more likely they are to find a home.
  6. Emergencies. For example, when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit Texas, Louisiana, and Florida in 2017, thousands of pets were displaced. Animal shelters, the ASPCA, the Humane Society, and other groups remained in flooded areas rescuing animals trapped in very precarious areas, including horses, pigs, cattle, dogs, and a hawk. Many of these animals were temporarily housed in shelters (some across the country), rescue groups, numerous facilities, and foster homes. In the event of natural disasters, many rescue groups and shelters are in desperate need of fosters to free up much-needed space. This ensures that all animals, both shelter and displaced alike, can receive care until they are reunited with their owners (in the case of evacuated animals) or adopted.

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Reasons to foster

  1. Time. Shelter animals need time to be ready for adopted.
  2. Behavior. By fostering, you learn more about the animal’s needs and personality. Many shelter animals act differently in a shelter than they would in a home, and this is especially true for shy critters. This information is crucial in helping that animal find a truly suitable home.
  3. TLC. Placing an animal in a home environment presents opportunities for much-needed socialization, love, and individualized care. Animals need time to be exposed to and accustomed to new people and pets. It is worthwhile to know, for example, whether a dog or cat does well with children or other pets or would be better suited to a single-pet or child-free home.

Do you need additional reasons to convince you to foster? Check out Petfinder and Vetstreet for more questions to consider.

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Brownie points if you know where the following quote comes from: “…Dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!” 😉

Monday with Mau

In an effort to try to make Mau more comfortable, the APA vet prescribed him a painkiller and an antibiotic. We were quite pleased that we were able to mix these liquid medications into his food, which he ate without a problem. Hopefully these help him.

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mau didn’t stink! I picked him up and he smelled like mostly normal cat. I didn’t sense an overwhelmingly fetid whiff of bad breath! Amazing! I hope that’s the antibiotic at work.

Mau does not like being sequestered, and I don’t blame him. While he spends a good chunk of the day sleeping like any other cat, he mews pitifully for attention when he’s awake. I decided to help him embark on a mini-adventure by picking him up and bringing him to my office. I shut the door so he couldn’t get out and the boys could not get in. This experiment had mixed results. He got to explore and briefly settled for lap time but did seem a bit overwhelmed after a while. He also started asking most persistently for food. Mau is a sweet old man of a kitty but has a low threshold for hunger!

Look at that curious, handsome face!

“Outside!” I’m not sure if Mau ever looks out the window in Aaron’s office.

Mau found a hiding spot under one of my bookshelves.

Mau thought I could not see his magnificent tail.

Greetings from Mau

Aaron and I visited Mau this morning as we brought him food and cleaned his litterbox. He was firmly camped out behind the desk in the corner but looked at us curiously as we sat on the floor. If he wanted to hide, that was OK with us. A bit later I came back into the red room and chilled on the chair, reading a book. I babbled at him and beckoned him to come over to my hand for rubs if he wanted any. He did not, apparently, but he made eye contact with me on several occasions.

I checked on him throughout the day and found him sleeping. I did not want to disturb him so I didn’t linger.

When Aaron came home, we visited our foster kitty. We were so happy when Mau came out of hiding! Very casually, he waltzed right into Aaron’s lap and started purring.

He came over to me too, showed me his floofy tail, and asked for pets. He’s a sweetheart.

We were quite happy when he ate up all the wet food we offered. At the shelter, he had refused to eat the wet food they presented. Maybe that was due to stress or a matter of preference. In any case, we’ll be going through a lot more cat food at this rate! It’s all good though. We’re just happy to help this sweet boy.