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Whisker Wednesday: Pet ‘Net & Cat Intros

Tímon að hugsa um systur sína

Adoption love...a beautiful thing! (photo courtesy of Maria Magnus)

Yes, it’s time for the 4th Annual Pet ‘Net Event, yee-haw! And this year we’re re-visiting the first topic, and a fav of one and all–PET ADOPTIONS!

Pet ‘Net 2011 joins pet bloggers (including me!) all across the country to spread the furry word on November 16 about the many advantages of pet adoption. There are even ways you can donate and help promote all adoptions.

Since November is also National Adopted A Senior Pet Month, I’ve already blogged aboutpuppy-to-senior-dog-adoptions at my Puppies Site. That means today’s Woof Wednesday blog has been hijacked by the kitties. Mee-wow!

Kitten to Old Fogey Cat Intros

Cat lovers often decide to adopt a new pet without consulting the old-fogey feline. Maybe you’ve recently lost a beloved old cat and believe the surviving feline is lonely, or perhaps you worry that the singleton kitty is bored without companionship.

Maybe. Or maybe not.

Here’s the deal–would you want to have a funny-smelling stranger come into your home, sleep in your bed, eat from your place, poop in your toilet (without flushing!) and go cheek-to-cheek with your beloved? Proper intros work wonders to smooth the hissy fits.

Kittens Don’t Count

Well, they do, but not so much in terms of social standing. Your senior citizen kitty already “owns” your pillow, the top of the TV, the litter box and food bowl–and your heart. A kitten due to age won’t challenge the older cat’s authority nearly as much as an in-her-prime adult feline. So when thinking about adopting a new furry wonder, a baby cat won’t be as big of a threat or challenge to your resident feline’s status quo.

.

Shelter kittens smell like...well, shelters.

Stranger Danger

Getting hissy with strange cats is a NORMAL cat behavior. In the wild, the feline that’s too friendly with a weird interloper risks getting eaten. Cats identify safe people (or other pets) by their familiar smell. A fresh-from-the-shelter a new pet that hasn’t been kitty-groomed by the group with licks and cheek rubs might as well be Frankenstein-Cat.

Tolerate THIS!

The sight, sound, and smell of a strange cat pushes kitty buttons to extreme. But blocking one sense (sight of each other for example) reduces arousal. That helps enormously during cat-to-cat intros, which is one reason my must-do list includes initially separating the cats. That also allows your older cat to maintain run of the house and ownership of all the prime kitty real estate.

Shut The Door

Confine the new kitten in a single “safe room” so the resident cat understands only part of his territory has been invaded. Young kittens that haven’t a clue anyway won’t care. But if they’re the least shy, being sequestered offers a safe, soothing retreat with a litter box, food and water bowls, toys, scratch post and other kitty paraphernalia. Being the “new kid” can be stressful for shrinking violet kittens so build the baby’s confidence with a room of his or her own before the whisker-to-whisker meeting.

Keep the solid door closed for at least a week before risking a face-to-face. Watch for your resident cat’s reaction. Hisses are normal. Trust me on this! It may take more than three weeks before those growly-sounds fade.

See, if you try to intro them too soon and the fur flies, the cats will remember that AWFUL-NASTY-TURRIBLE-DEVIL and bring a bad c’attitude to future meetings. It’s better to take it slow and avoid having the kitties practice bad behavior. They’ll have a lifetime together so what’s a delay of a few days or weeks?

Feed the cats on opposite sides of the door, to associate each other’s smell with good things. After each cat has had a meal, switch out the plates temporarily so that they can sniff the bowls and become even more familiar with each other. It’s even better when a bit of food is left, because that helps the cats identify good stuff—food—with the other animal.

Try some playtime on opposite sides of the door, too. Have another family member deal with the kitten while you (or whoever your aging kitty ADORES THE MOST) interacts with the resident feline. Catnip could be helpful–sure, get the old guy drunk. If he sniffs the kitten and gets a bit of a buzz, that could be a very positive association.

Sniffing and paw pats underneath the door are positive signs. The cats should “know” each other by scent before they ever set eyes on each other. Expect normal posturing, fluffed fur and hissing and when that begins to fade, you’re ready for the next step.

Trading Spaces

Swap out the cats after a few days. That gives the old cat a chance to get up close and personal sniffing where the devil new cat has been. And it allows the newly adopted baby to scope out the environment.Kitties have no interest in meeting new people or pets unless they feel comfortable with their environment.

Reduce any potential kitty controversy by creating a house of plenty. Your home should have so much good-kitty-stuff that there’s no need for the kitten and old cat to argue over it.

Place multiple litter boxes and feeding stations in different locations so that one cat can’t own and “guard” the facilities. Increase territory with cat trees, shelves to lounge, tunnels and boxes to hide, and toys galore. It doesn’t have to break the bank, either. Cheap thrills like empty paper bags or wads of paper serve as irresistible toys that often appeal more than the high dollar versions. Cardboard boxes, a cleared shelf on the bookcase, or a soft blanket under a lamp really get the purr-motor rumbling.

Nose-To-Nose At Last

Once the BIG DAY arrives, just open the “safe room” door, stand back, and let the cat’s meet. Supervise, of course, but don’t force interaction. You can feed them on opposite sides of the room or play interactive games at a distance to smooth this first meeting. The cats may ignore each other for hours or days and that’s fine, too.

A bit of posturing with hisses, cautionary swats and other snark-icity is to be expected. Do stop the interactions if growls start rumbling. You may want to replace the closed door with a baby gate so the cats can sniff and meet through the safety of a barrier but still be segregated. Until you’re sure the old cat won’t mangle the baby, or the baby won’t terrorize the oldster, supervise or keep the new kitten segregated when you can’t. It can be love at first sight, or may take weeks or months to accept somebody new into the family.

For all you new kitten adopters out there–conCATulations! You’ll find many more kitten-specific tips in my Complete Kitten Care book.

SPECIAL THANKS

This month as a special “thank you” to all my furry-fantastic-followers, I’ll give away a paw-tographed copy of Complete Care for Your Aging Cat and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog. To get in the running, simply post a comment in the blog about your special pet (old fogey or not) and I’ll draw two names at the end of the month. You can use these award-winning updated books as a resource for yourself or wrap up for a pet-friendly holiday gift to a fur-loving friend. And as an EXTRA-special incentive–and to encourage all of y’all to mentor each other and spread the blogging/twitter/Facebook love–the two winners get to name one purr-son who gives them wags of support and deserves a book, too!

#AskAmy Sweet Tweets

Folks who “follow” me on Twitter @amyshojai and @About_Puppies are the most awesome Sweet Tweets around–they love #cats and #dogs and #pets, many #amwriting. We’ve become a great community including those in the #MyWANA social network twibe hosted by the awesome @KristenLambTX.  So I’m stealing borrowing Kristen’s methods and creating my own hashtag. Just follow and include the #AskAmy in your tweets if’n you’re interested in pithy links to articles, books, blogs, experts, fictioning and sparkle-icity!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Less Adoptable? More LOVE!

Natalie's "Tess" doing well after surgery!

Last week I shared a blog on Adopting Other-Abled Pets  prompted by the amazing Petfinder.com initiative on adopting less adoptable pets.

That blog received lots of feedback, and this past Monday the puppies.About.com blog shared tips about how to help blind puppies. After all, blind pets rarely consider themselves “disabled” and still become wonderful companions.

Do you share your home with a “less adoptable” pet? How did you find each other? Has living with an “other-abled” pet affected your life in positive ways? I encouraged folks to  share pictures and stories and today you’ll find some of them in the blog! I gotta admit, y’all made my day-week-YEAR with these heartwarming experiences. After reading them, check out the ASK AMY VIDEO at the bottom of the post for some tips about adoptions and shy dogs.

NATALIE HARTFORD’S “TESS”

Our older animals deserve all the love and attention in the world as much as our puppies do!! I am not sure if you saw on my blog that my dog’s been getting older. She turned 10 this year and just before her birthday, she ruptured the ligament in her knee. She had to have surgery and hubby and I have invested well over 150 hours of physio into her recovery. She’s recovering wonderfuly and at her 9-week check up, the vet said she’s walking amazing and is doing exceptionally well – all swelling is gone – and we can move towards gradual return to all activities.

The 3 months has been hard but the most wonderful thing has also come out of it. Hubby and I both feel more bonded and connect to Tess. We’ve spent more time with her, touching her, working with her, healing her, and loving her…it’s just filled us with joy! And to see her come through this with such an amazing spirit, unconditional love, and happiness – just amazing.

I know that this means her arthritis is going to kick into overdrive sooner rather than later. And I know we’ve already got some hip issues. But I don’t care. She’s my baby and I’ll be with her to support her and work with her as she ages….because that’s what I committed to! Because I love her. Because I am here for her for the long haul no matter how hard or easy it is. If she were human, she’d do no less for me!

KARYL CUNNINGHAM’S “JODI”

Karyl with Freckles and Jodi.

Jodi is the dog I grew up with. She was 6 months younger than me, so we had her as long as I can remember. Half beagle, half who-knows-what, she was the pick of her litter and the best dog a family could ask for.

Now, when I was very young, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Turned out we had arsenic in our water, which the testing company had told us was safe. I had been exposed to that water before I was born, and drank more water for my body size than my parents or sister, so I was the only one in the house affected. Well, we ended up finding out that Jodi had epilepsy too –The dog and I grew older, and we had a pretty solid bond. Partly, I think, because I knew she had the same disease I had.

She is, by far, the smartest dog I have ever known. It took us a while to figure out, of course, being stupid humans. ;)  She … grabbed a big mouthful of straw and dropped it on top of the food to hide it from the birds. Score one for the dog. When winter came, dad kept finding the tennis ball in her water bowl. Then he watched out the bedroom window one day, tennis ball in the water bowl that was now frozen over. She walked over to the bowl, pulled out the ball, took a drink of the unfrozen water beneath the surface of the ice, and put the ball back in. Nobody taught her this – she learned it all on her own.

We cannot forget that the vets said she wouldn’t live to see 10. So, around the time we both turned 10, I started spending hours out with her alone, telling her I loved her, telling her when it was time to go, not to worry because we’d be okay. I promised her, every night, that when the time came I would say goodbye.

And she lived on. She started slowing down after a while, we were worried it was getting close to time to say goodbye… But when that puppy Freckles joined the family, she sprang back to life.Eventually she started to slow down again. One day I came home from school, and my parents told me they had taken her in. . .  I was more devastated that they hadn’t told me. I had promised her… promised her every day I would say goodbye, and then I wasn’t given the chance.

Karyl's cat Simba, blind in one eye (maybe both).

I’m told when they gave her the shot, she fought it the whole way down. Mom thinks it’s because she wasn’t done protecting us… was hoping she could teach Freckles how to before she went. I think she was waiting for me to come say goodbye. The vet said she wouldn’t make it to 10. She would have been 17 that spring…

I still miss her. Nearly 10 years later and I still miss her…Some things never go away.   (Edited for length, see the whole post here)

There was mom’s old cat Shoebee (so named because he would come up and sit on your shoes to be petted when he was a baby) who was born without a breastbone… and liked to swim in the bathtub as my sister found out once by surprise.  Then there’s the recently departed Timbit who we found on the side of the road, who never really fully developed – kept part of the blue of her kitten eyes, never really grew at all, was always a bit sick. And my Simba who has been mostly blind in one eye after an injury of unknown origin when she was still living outdoors. We thought she was going to lose that eye, she never did. She now appear to be going blind in both eyes in her old age.

George …seems to have some neural problems, as well as deformed legs, so she wobbles and flops around a bit. Still hunts, though, but my parents have to watch her because she once fell out of a tree and broke her hips.

Maggie's Harley, a furry blessing!

MAGGIE ROSENTHAL’S “HARLEY”

I adopted Harley from Downtown Dogs because his story touched my heart; not because my brain was engaged. What was I thinking bringing an adult dog with no known history into a licensed day care setting ?  The first time I took him to church, to be blessed, he took off down a ½ mile driveway looking for the highway to Tennessee.  The first time I took him to the beach he attacked

Harley with a special friend.

a dog two times his size.  And the first time I tried to license him in Massachusetts they refused to do so because they didn’t believe he is a lab hound.  (They are probably right, but his sweetness won them over in the end.)

Harley is very handsome, except when he falls asleep and his tongue pushes out where teeth should be.   Harley is WONDERFUL with children.  From the infants to the students who come back to visit, he is gentle, patient, and forgiving. A baby climbing over him elicits a happy thumping tail. Getting to ride shotgun in the school van elicits a happy thumping tail. And dinner ? Ecstasy!

He no longer starts fights with other dogs, because he has learned to read my body language and knows I will be there for him.  His willingness to trust is a direct reflection of the love and support of the women at Downtown Dogs. Their prediction that he would always be by my side, however, was wrong. As his confidence has grown he is very happy to take off without me and ignore my first and sometimes, second call.  He is the proverbial bull in a china shop, but he does step over the cockatiels, instead of on them. A skill I greatly appreciate.

Adopting a skittish, almost toothless, adult dog and expecting him to adapt to young children twelve hours a day was unrealistic at best.  And during the first few months I wasn’t sure he would be able to meet the state guidelines for dogs at day care centers; but he has. He hasn’t stolen a pizza off the table in months.  He’s learned to wait outside the doorway while the children are eating, with no closed door to remind him. And he happily shares the couch with one of the four year olds, during quiet time.

What no one knew when I adopted Harley, was that he would develop seizures; making him a physical and mental special needs dog.  If being the offspring of bully breeds, being dark, being skittish and almost toothless hadn’t been enough against him, the addition of epilepsy would have removed him from most adoption lists. Thankfully, we didn’t know. And instead of being one more dog euthanized, he has become a full time volunteer at a day care program and a beloved member of the pack.

MICHELLE JAMES, PRESIDENT, DOWNTOWN DOGS GROUP

PUTTING ON THE DOG   Amy, I am co-founder of a small rescue organization in Tennessee, the only rescue in our area that focuses primarly on adult and “special needs” dogs. Your post was serendipitous for me today, as I read it literally 5 minutes after receiving an email from a local citizen criticizing our rescue. She wrote, “I really don’t understand the point of saving animals that have broken legs from being run over, or other really bad injuries, and spending hundreds or thousands of dollars for vet bills doing that, when it’s $40 to end their misery and put them to sleep.”

The public, and even some rescuers, often express that opinion to us; it’s their attempt to “fix” our problems of lack of space and funding. It’s so cut-and-dried to them: sacrifice the few to save the many. I try to let such negative comments roll off, but some days are harder than others.

We are SO excited about your special post for these amazing creatures! Since our inception a little over 2 years ago, we have rescued and successfully rehomed a deaf pit bull, a blind dachshund, a 3-legged mixed breed dog, a one-eyed cat, many middle-aged and older dogs (some who were initially feral). We have provided many life-saving surgeries and medical treatments, including several heartworm treatments. We did all of this in spite of advice to spare the resources and euthanize these animals so we could move more puppies out of the area. Our response is always, “There are plenty of other rescues moving puppies – we are here for the ones considered the misfits of the misfit world.” Here are a few of their success stories.

Boy George:  Our first “other-abled” rescue is a white pit bull, named Boy George because he looks like he is wearing eye-liner 🙂  Because Boy is such a celebrity, he has his own video. (Amy’s note: It’s a Kleenex moment…HAPPY tears!)

Losing a leg doesn't slow Walker down!

Walker:  We got a call a few weeks ago about a small dog with a leg injury running loose in our downtown area.  Good samaritans had been feeding the little guy, but he was too scared to come near anyone.  One of my volunteers was able to catch him.  He was terrified, and the injury to the leg was severe: a gash near the joint that was extremely infected.  Although Dr. Walker was unable to save the leg, little “Walker” has recovered fully from the amputation and has no idea anything is missing in his life.  He is loving life as Melissa’s foster dog, all of his fears have faded away and he is a total social butterfly.  Walker will soon be ready for adoption into a permanent loving home.

Hunter:  Hunter is also a new face at our sanctuary.  A volunteer searching for a lost shih-tzu in the area stubled across Hunter by accident, and called us to say she had found a very sick, starving dog.  When we arrived, Hunter could barely lift his head.  His bones were protruding, and abdomen severely distended.  Examination by Dr. Climer indicated that while only two years old, Hunter had advanced congestive heart failure from heartworm disease; in the days that followed, Hunter lost five pounds of fluid that had accumulated around his lungs.  Although the first weeks were touch and go, Hunter’s lab work now looks great and he is well on his way to health!  He has been a fabulous addition to our sanctuary, aHunter beat the odds.nd like all rescued dogs, he seems so greatful to be alive.  Most rescue agencies would have euthanized Hunter, but once we heard there was the slightest hope, we knew his life was worth fighting for.  We count Hunter among our miracles.

"I'm going HOME!!!"

Doc Hollywood:  Doc is the epitomy of the less-adoptable dog, as he is a male, black, mixed-breed, mid-sized model – the most prevalent of the rescues.  Doc has a white spot on his chest, what I’ve heard called a “southern kiss” because almost all these black mutts in the south have the white spot.  Doc was spotted by one of our volunteers rummaging through a dumpster in a very impoverished part of town, snacking on an old apple core.  Adoptions are so slow, especially with black dogs, so Doc was with us a year, and became one of the favorites in our rescue family.  I wish I had a story from his new adopter, but they have not yet become officially acquainted…Doc was just adopted, via website, by a wonderful couple willing to look past color and give this beautiful boy a new lease on life; he is on his way to his forever home in Connecticut today!

TAINA EDWARDS “VIOLET”

Violet and Miss Fran.

Michele James contacted me to send you the story about Violet.  Michele found Violet when she was only a few months old. She is 13 pounds and part Dachshund. Michele and I met at a “Downtown Dog Rescue” fundraising meeting.  My mother had just had to euthanize her dog after 17 years.  She was distraught, but I thought it was a good idea for her to have another baby. At the time she was 76. As soon as she got Violet I took her to my Vet and she referred us to Dr. Miller in Memphis to check her vision.  She had been born blind.  He told us that we could not have done anything if we had her earlier, nor could we do anything now.  Of course we cried, after having her for only two days, he gave us a book to read on “Living with Blind Dogs”.  My mother soon after rescued another small dog, Prissy. My mother  had a townhouse, which was perfect for the two of them.

My mother passed away unexpectedly last December and she has come to stay with me.  The amazing point in this story is I have a large house with 700 acre farm land around us.  Because of the size I never intended on taking her.  Time after time possible adoptions fell through.  My mother’s home flooded so I had to bring Prissy and Violet to my house.  Soon after that my yard was hit by a tornado.  Well you guessed.  Many friends and volunteers came to the rescue and the volunteers never knew Violet was blind!  She trooped through devastation and was just part of the crew.  Everyone has been amazed that her “ability” has overcome her “disability”.  They have all fallen in love with her.  In addition to her I also have five other dogs and you can only imagine who is the boss!

It was close to impossible to find a good owner because of her blindness.  I was very concerned about bringing her here and how she would  adjust.  It just goes to show you how limited humans are in their rationale, yet one small animal can change our perception about our limitations to adjust.  Thanks for all you do for the ones that man has domesticated, yet abandoned .

PETFINDER.COM SUCCESS! I’m happy to say that Jane at Petfinder.com reported yesterday: “We have our first Happy Tail adoption story. Gwen, a 4-year-old deaf, visually impaired Great Dane who is a survivor of mammary cancer has been adopted!  “I am beyond thrilled to notify you that Gwen has been adopted into a wonderful home of her own,” writes Teresa from Collar of Hope in Bremerton, WA. “Gwen is deaf and vision impaired. She lived for four years in a backyard with pressure sores and without ever seeing a Veterinarian. She was intact and had mammary cancer in one mammary that we had removed. Once all of her medical needs were met and she received soft cushioned bedding and a good diet, she flourished. She is loving, playful and of course goofy as a Great Dane should be.”  Gwen now has a brand new home with two other dog companions to keep her company — an older Pomeranian and a 4-year-old Boston Terrier who both just love Gwen. See pictures of Gwen here. We can’t wait to see the new family portrait!

When you adopt any pet there’s a transition period for both you and the cat or dog. With older animals and those that have health challenges, the transition may take even longer to recover physically and/or emotionally. The greatest gift you can offer–after adoption itself–is patience. This Ask Amy video offers a few tips for dealing with shy rescues.

What have I left out? There’s a wealth of experience represented in today’s blog. Please offer your suggestions and best tips, too. After all–it’s all for the pets!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Adopting “Other-Abled” Pets

PetFinder.com sponsors Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week September 17-25. The event is devoted to giving those pets who are often overlooked at shelters and rescue groups for whatever reason — they’re old, the wrong breed, have special needs, or are simply different or the wrong color — a better chance at finding homes.

Y’all know how I feel about golden oldie pets, after writing two award-winning books that help folks care with the needs of aging cats as well as aging dogs. Senior citizen pets have just as much love to give and often fit very well into families unable or unwilling to manage the hijinks of in-your-face puppies and kittens.

old dog

Old dogs make great friends.

Adult cats and dogs grown out of the “cute” phase also can have a hard time being chosen. But remember that healthy cats and small dogs can live well into their mid to late teens or longer, and you can expect to enjoy at least another half dozen years by adopting a four year old pet. And usually you save costs because they’ve already been “fixed” and have their shots, as well as basic training.

“Other-abled” pets don’t know what they’re missing. Despite loss of limbs, mobility, sight or hearing, they live and enjoy life regardless of the challenges they face. Often, the pet has less difficulty coming to terms with such changes than do owners. Cats and dogs seem to willingly accept conditions that devastate people.

My friend and colleague Natalie C. Markey shares her life with Oscar. His epilepsy inspired her to write a book about Caring For Your Special Needs Dog. Would she have adopted Oscar knowing that he had health challenges? Absolutely! You can hear from her directly in this Pet Peeves radio interview.

Pets can suffer paralysis through accidents, degenerative back diseases or other health conditions. Nobody knows what happened to Willy the rescue Chihuahua, who lived with rear-limb paralysis. He wouldn’t stop dragging himself from place to place, determined to stay in the thick of things. Once owner Deborah Turner got him strapped into his K9-cart (wheelchair for dogs), he was literally off and running. Willy became the mascot for his local branch of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, has his own website, and two children’s books written about his exploits.

Dr. Paul Gerding, a veterinary ophthalmologist, never considered that his Labrador couldn’t still enjoy life when Katie began losing her sight. He wasn’t able to correct the progressive disease medically, but took steps to ensure the blind dog could still navigate her home and yard by memory. She continued to hunt—in safe clover fields with no ditches or holes—and at home Katie relied on the younger dog Grace to be her personal guide dog pal. Similar stories are found in my cutting edge book.

I recently heard from my colleague, Lynette George, about her latest addition to their own little doggie family. “Her name is CeeCee and she’s a miniature, long-hair, double-dapple dachshund.” She went from the breeder to three different owners, and then ultimately was surrendered at the Oklahoma Spay Network because nobody really wanted to handle a blind dog. “Four months old and thinks she owns the world. She has absolutely no clue that she’s supposed to be “handicapped.” Anyway, she’s absolutely adorable. Everybody who sees her falls in love immediately. She took over Petco when she went in – kind of like she does everywhere she goes. She’s just a hoot every day. We LOVE her!”

Pets inspire us with their stoic attitudes. They don’t know how to feel sorry for themselves, and may not recognize they’re any “different” than other cats and dogs. Fluffy and Prince simply want to get on with the important business of eating, playing, and loving their family. As readers know, furry love comes in all shapes, sizes, and packages.

Do you share your home with a “less adoptable” pet? How did you find each other? Has living with an “other-abled” pet affected your life in positive ways? Please share! I’d love to hear your stories and see pictures of your special fur-kids. And here’s the deal. I’d love to create a whole gallery post next week so you can either post comments or email me amy @ shojai.com with “special pets” in the subject line with a picture. SEND NO LATER THAN NEXT TUESDAY (Sept 20) so I can post the next day. Spread the word–we’ll make your pets famous!

Just for fun, I wanted to share the latest Ask Amy video with a question from Tiffany. This applies to dogs as well as cats. What are some other puzzling behaviors your pets perform?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Pets, Vets & Furry Writer-icity

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Frankie in the Sun

Frankie in the sun . . .

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. So I had to share these lovely pictures taken by photographer Jamie Clugston  posted them in my Flickr Kitty Publishing group. There’s also a  Puppy Publishing group on Flicker. A number of these great pictures will also get posted over at the Puppies site but of course you can post ‘em directly there with details about your baby dog’s gotcha day and more. Check out the links, below, and please don’t be shy about sending me your own links or suggestions for others to highlight. First out of the cat-bag today are–CATS!

MEOWY-SHOUT-OUTS

PETFINDER.COM sponsors TAKE YOUR CAT TO THE VET WEEK

During Take Your Cat to the Vet Week, we remind cat parents to take their cats to the vet for preventative care. Even though pet cats outnumber dogs in the U.S. by 15 million, cats go to the vet only half as often as dogs. But cats need preventive care just as much as dogs, and regular vet checkups can help you catch health issues before they become major illnesses that are painful for your cat and more difficult (and expensive) to treat. Check out Jane Harrell’s terrific blog with lots of great information all week long at PetFinder.com

Cats get the short end of the health care stick. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association and the CATalyst Council, cats visit the vet much less frequently than dogs. It’s not that felines are healthier (although cats do hide illness better) but many cats hate the vet so much their owners find it easier to just skip it. But even healthy cats need well exams once or twice a year. Last week’s Feline Friday Heart-to-Heart about heartworms points out one devastating result of overlooked health care.

Why do cats hate the vet? Cats are adept at protecting themselves from stranger danger. What’s familiar is safe, while anything new or different raises kitty suspicions. A vet visit delivers a triple whammy by changing the cat’s routine, environment and exposure to strangers. Here are seven reasons cats hate the vet and how you can ease the angst.

Lily As A Puppy

Lily as a puppy--SQUEEEEE! by Brenda Hawk in Puppy Publishing

DOG STUFF TO HOWL ABOUT

Neat story about a rescue dog from Mexico–check out The Flying Nun from DJones Blog

AMERICAN HUMANE’S HERO DOGS AWARDS Finalists have been named! Take a peek and be inspired by these canine furry wonders–and add your vote to help choose the winner.

Fido & Friend & Five Bobbie Pyron shares recommended books filled with furry inspiration.

WRITER-ICITY YOU NEED TO KNOW

Terry Odell writes romance with a twist of mystery–and her blog today features BLOODHOUNDS! This is great info for writers wanting to include some furry facts.

THINKING BURNS CALORIES according to Joy Held’s Writer Wellness blog.  I need all the healthy help I can get–so I’m loving the fact that angsting over a plot twist gives me an extra boost.

Kristen Lamb’s latest Deadly Sins of Writing blog on POV PROSTITUTION is a must-read for aspiring and established authors.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Religious Cats, Little Dog Life Lessons & Pet Resources

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I do my best to avoid talking about politics and religion but just had to make an exception in the case of Ketzel, subject of the above book MEWSINGS: My Life as a Jewish Cat by my colleague Greta Beigel. This delightful book just got a stellar review and I had to add my SNOOPY-DANCE-‘O-JOY! to the celebration. Note: you can click on the book cover to go to the “buy” page on amazon.

What about your fur-kids? In centuries past, cats were worshiped as gods and sometimes still seem to expect that adoration. Dogs, on the other paw, sometimes treat their humans with such deference that we get too big for our britches. So what’s up with YOUR fur-kids? Are they spiritual beings? Do they meditate, celebrate or gravitate to more than the food bowl? Please share!

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Today it’s all about pets.

RADIO SHOWS & MORE

Pet Peeves Radio – Women Training Dogs Camilla Gray-Nelson trains women to train their dogs–and yes, it’s a bit different than the male viewpoint. If you’re a lady with a pet dog and at the end of your leash with Fido’s antics, you’ll want to learn the tips in this show. Camilla has been training dogs and solving problems for more than 20 years and today runs Dairydell Canine Center in Northern California. She and her staff have helped more than 9000 dogs and owners from all over the United States!

Folks, if you have a suggestion for a guest or topic idea for Pet Peeves please drop me a line or post a comment to that effect. It can be funny to serious about what HISSES you off (or makes you purrrrrr and wag) about all-things-pets.

Four Legged Life with Arden Moore offers a pet community with pet care classes, a newsletter, an award-winning “Oh, Behave!” radio podcast with lots of pet-loving celebs, and more. Arden also happens to be the editor of Catnip, a publication of Tufts University (and I have the honor to write for her once in a while!).

PUPPY-LICIOUS PLUG. Those who visit this blog know I frequently share puppy-licious content from my puppies.About.com site. Maybe it’s not kewl to say it’s GREAT info…but I do have a GREAT time writing it. It’s still quite new so each month about 10-20 new articles and that many blogs (plus a weekly newsletter) get added.

HEARTWORM ALERT! Last week I added an article about canine heartworm disease and the fact that the treatment to cure the disease is in short supply. And I heard back from the American Heartworm Society (a GREAT resource for info!) asking me to share this video with more information–of course, I’m delighted to do so!

You know, of course, that cats get heartworms, too. Seren gets her preventive each month, even though she’s an indoor cat. You can find out more at the American Heartworm Society site. Franny Syufy’s cats.About.com site also offers top notch cat specific content. I had the good fortune to work with Franny last year as the contributing writer on cat behavior. Franny’s site has been around about 15 years so you can image the wealth of info she’s got, check it out!

GORILLA OF MY HEART? UC Davis School of Vet Medicine Newsletter has all kinds of great animal-istic information and special thanks to Lynn Narlesky who keeps me plugged in the fascinating latest. Check out one of the features about a HUMAN virus found in gorillas. Can you say “medical thriller plot?”

HORSING AROUND. Fertility vaccine for wild horse birth control, a study from the awesome folks at Morris Animal Foundation.

DOGGY TESTIMONY. My German dog-writing colleague Bernd Guenter pointed out this neat story about a dog helping rape victims testify in court–and how it’s being challenged. Incidentally if you ever need fanTAStic dog photos, check out Bernd’s books and Berner pictures–just awesome!

DOG FIGHT AP? EWWW! Some of y’all have been following the story about the dog fighting ap–yes, there’s an AP for that, apparently. No one has opposed it more strenuously than my colleague Steve Dale who offers details in his blog. And another colleague, Susan Conant, tracked down the link to report and request that offensive aps be taken down–check it out here.

GOOD NEWS FOR PET PASSPORTS. Apparently your pets no longer need to endure 6-month rabies antibody rechecks when imported to the UK–here’s the details about the new rules on pet passports.

LIFE LESSONS and Little Dogs, a most touching blog post by Catie Rhodes

TAKE YOUR CAT to the VET WEEK sponsored by PetFinder.com invites you to take the furry pledge! You don’t need a pet passport to do the right thing by your cat. Stay tuned for more about this later in the week…

Whew–it’s clear that the critters took over today’s Monday Mentions. I’ve got a slew of publishing/writing tips–so many that I’ll share them on tomorrow’s blog.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? I’m nearly ready to record a bunch of new ones, so be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Translating Kitty Ass-ets

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Today’s Ask Amy video addresses kitty tail talk, and I’ve had fun finding a variety of furry models to tell the tale–er, I mean, tail. So give it a shot–what do YOU think the tail semaphore means?  What does Sleepy-Seren’s tail (above) say about her c’attitude?

Burmese

What about this Burmese beauty? Cats talk with their entire bodies, not just meows and airplane ears. What’s that tail semaphore mean when held on high? Happy? Agitated? Relaxed?

cat on railing

And here’s a couple tails held down instead of up–what’s the significance, or is there any? Do they mean the same thing? Seren’s tail rarely stops moving, but other kitties only flail tail when upset. Why should you care? Well…sometimes kitties lose their homes when there’s mis-communication.

July 15-17, Petfinder.com is joining with over 1,500 rescue groups and shelters across North American for what could be the largest adoption event in history–in honor of Petfinder.com 15th Birthday year! That sweet kitty above, with her tail wrapped around her body, is Bella Luna and she’s available–just click on her picture for a link to details. Betcha once she’s adopted her tail talk will transform into happy signals . . .

This Paw Nation article on understanding felinese includes some translation, but every cat has his own dialect. Just like people from different parts of the country have funny accents–unlike me, cuz I have no accent at-all, y’all.

Devon rex

How do your cats express themselves with their furry ass-ets? What have I missed in the video? And  what’s unique about your furry wonders? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Weird Woof Wednesday: Knee-Jerk Reactions & Poopy-Puppies

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Puppies often eat schtuff--and then want to SMOOCH you on the lips.

We’ve had two blogs in a row filled to the brim with writer-icity, so it’s time for a bit of SQUEEEE! puppy-licious fun. There are a number of weird behaviors, though, that puzzle even savvy dog owners. One’s enough to make you question your dog’s good taste–literally.

Coprophagia–sounds all literary-like, right? But that’s just a fancy word for eating (ahem) poop.

Ew! You might want to put down your McMuffin while reading this.

Poop eating can be nature’s way for mom-dogs to keep the nest clean, and Junior-Dawg simply copy cats the behavior. It’s annoying, nasty, and great fun for juvenile delinquent pups. Even the Magical-Dawg indulged in his youth, played keep-away with the crap and one time actually carried some inside the house. Oh yeah, THAT went over well, and reinforced the cat’s opinion of him.

Most pups outgrow the behavior. If you have a canine connoisseur of pungent productions (say THAT fast five time!), these 10 tips to stop eating poop will help.  Just take a look at that face (below) and tell me you couldn’t forgive that keep-’em-laughing puppy! In fact, read on for some neato news.

July 15-17, Petfinder.com is joining with over 1,500 rescue groups and shelters across North American for what could be the largest adoption event in history–in honor of Petfinder.com 15th Birthday year! That sweet puppy above with the goof-ball grin is Booger-Boy  and he’s available–just click on thr picture for a link to details. Betcha once he’s adopted (and you could change the name!) he’d promise not to eat anything you don’t want him to eat…except maybe a favorite sock that reminds him of his beloved human . . .

A less annoying but still puzzling behavior involves doggy scratching behavior. Does your pooch kick when he’s scratched? Is it a certain place if you rub him the right way, or will his leg jitter and jump with any scratch? The Ask Amy video below has some answers–but what have I missed? Why do you think dogs “fiddle” when scratched?

And do your dogs (or pups) eat nasty stuff? How do you handled the problem? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Cancer Support, Disaster Help & Furry Professional Ops

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Please take me home!

I’ve saved up lots of great info to share in today’s Monday Mentions. First, I had to share some of the puppy-licious pictures from this weekend’s adoption event. The babies mostly slept but finally woke up for some yappy-happy playtime. If you have a dog intent on breaking the bark-a-thon record, the latest puppies.About.com tips for curbing barks may help.

Older dogs benefit from a terrific promotion hosted by Morris Animal Foundation on Sunday, September 18, for a K9 Cancer Walk at the Cove at Concord Park in Knoxville. The event will benefit the Foundation’s Canine Cancer Campaign, an initiative to fund research to prevent, treat and, ultimately, cure cancer in dogs. An estimated 50 percent of all dogs will battle cancer. All dog lovers are invited to attend and are encouraged to walk to celebrate the life of their canine best friend or walk in memory of dogs that have lost their battle with canine cancer.

Last week I talked about disaster pet preparation tips on the blog. The ASPCA has worked closely with the Joplin Humane Society and the last I heard, nearly 850 animals have since been rescued__with more than 200 beloved pets being reunited with their families. Here’s one story of a kitty and owner reunion!  Now the recent fires have displaced more families–and animals. Check out this video…and help if you can:

Some might be curious about those initials after my name, C.A.B.C.–that stands for Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (dogs and cats). I’m a professional member of IAABC. This professional membership organization promotes Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive (LIMA) principles in work with companion cats, dogs, parrots, horses and working animals.

In honor of Cat Adoption month in the U.S, the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants have a “special deal” for Cat Division applicants. The application fee has been waived for all new members (to all divisions) throughout the month of June–YEEE-HAW!!! President Marjie Alonso writes, “Cats are currently the most popular pet in the United States and  it’s imperative that we support and educate regarding growing need  for feline behavioral assistance and services to help cat owners.  Learn more about joining IAABC here.

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Adopt a new friend, don't wait!

This past weekend I attended a puppy and kitten adoption and am pleased to say several fur-kids found new forever homes. But there are always so many more waiting . . . and after all, there’s still several days left in Adopt A Cat Month.

CATalyst Council is working with American Humane Association, American Veterinary Medical Association, and Petfinder.com to make this June the most successful Adopt A Cat Month® ever! Check out the official website here. Better yet, visit your local shelter this month to take home a new feline friend! Oh, and check out the fantastic how-to video on kitty carrier training at the end of the blog, courtesy of Catalyst Council folks.

Can’t adopt right now? No problem. Consider fostering. Everyone wants to help critters–well, those who read this blog do anyway! But it comes at a cost. Good news! Did you know that your expenses of caring for “foster animals” may be tax deductible?

Unable to foster? One of my fav organizations Alley Cat Rescue offers a brilliant alternative. You can have a virtual adoption and sponsor an ACR office cat or special needs kitty.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Woof Wednesday: Adopt the Internet Day

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7-7, seven-toed kittens 3

In honor of Petfinder.com’s 15th birthday, Tuesday March 15 has been designated Help Petfinder Adopt the Internet Day, a day devoted to getting the word out there about pet adoption and helping homeless pets find homes. 

Love is in the air—which means it’s time for my annual pet-sex rant. Countless dogs and cats celebrated Mother’s Day this year—and their unwanted offspring will be lucky to escape with their lives. I’m told by those in the trenches that shelters and rescues are already brimming with the furry over-load.

If you’re looking for a lifetime of love, now’s the time to visit your local shelter, animal welfare society, pet rescue—or online resource like Petfinder.com. Puppies and kittens rate off the scale on the cute-factor but don’t let that narrow your focus. Worthy choices of all ages (including senior citizen pets) would welcome your love with a wag and whisker-kisses. Many shelter pets come “pre-vetted” and ready to love—already up to date on shots, deworming, and even that oh-so-important spay/neuter surgery.

Spaying and neutering offers so many benefits and no “down side” for owners and pets alike. During cat breeding season (January to October), amorous girl kitties go into “heat” every three weeks and can produce a litter of kittens about every 65 days. Most dogs are able to produce a litter twice a year. Now is the time to prevent any accidental litter-ary endeavors.

There are still myths surrounding the subject. The surgery to remove the reproductive organs has no effect on a dog’s skills at protecting the house, or being trained. It does not make pets fat and lazy—eating too much does that. Even professional breeders can’t predict what a planned pregnancy will produce, so don’t kid yourself; there’s no guarantee your affectionate beauty queen will give birth to a copy-cat pet. It’s just as likely she’ll produce ugly ill-tempered fur-kids.

There are no medical benefits to having “one litter first” before spaying. In fact, spaying dogs BEFORE their first season virtually eliminates the chance they’ll develop breast cancer. Surgery eliminates romantic yowling, roaming, fighting, urine marking, and mounting visitor’s legs. It prevents fight wounds, messy canine vaginal discharges, and uterine infections, and eliminates the chance of testicular cancer. If you’d like your children to witness the “miracle of birth,” ask the veterinarian to show a tape, or just watch “Animal Planet.” The real lesson you’re teaching isn’t a miracle, but the tragedy of too many pets and not enough homes.

The best time for surgery is before sexual maturity, but adult pets can be altered at any age. Many animal welfare organizations and professional breeders alter puppies and kittens (once they weigh two pounds or more), to make sure there are no accidental pregnancies. Babies bounce back much quicker from the surgery than adults. Pets act a bit woozy until anesthesia wears off. Some will be ready to go home the same day, while others must spend the night at the clinic. Most animals are up and running within hours.

Look at your watch, please. Each hour, three thousand puppies and kittens are born in the United States. Each year, more than twelve million pets are surrendered to animal shelters. Adopt one of these needed, loving animals. And before you allow a tragedy to continue, look at your watch. Please.

Woofs & wags,

Amy

To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Cat’s Holiday Wish–To Go Home

Mia was returned home! Merry Holidays!

UPDATE, 12-16-09–Somebody read this blog and recognized the cat and owner and tonight–MIA IS GOING HOME!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS–May all of your pet dreams (and otherwise) come true!

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Today I received an email plea from a guardian angel  hoping to get Mia the cat back to her proper family. I’ve been given permission to share the information (below) and spread the word. Here’s how she lost her home, and now seeks to be reunited with her loved ones. Can you help?

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My family provides a foster home for Red River SPCA. Nearly every Saturday we take some of our adoptable dogs to PetSmart in Sherman. The adoptable cats that stay in the store come from RRSPCA. It is not unusual for people to approach us at PetSmart while we are showing our animals and ask us for help with rehoming their pets.

That’s where we were, back in July, when a lady brought us her pet cat that she’d had for ten years and asked us to rehome “Mia.”

Her reason was that the doctor had told her that her daughter was allergic to the cat and it was causing health issues with the child and the cat must go.

The lady was in tears when surrendering Mia.  It was plain to see this was one of the hardest things that the lady had ever had to do. She loved her cat so much that she had even had the cat’s name tattooed on her arm.

But the illness continued even after she had given up her beloved cat. So the family ended up in Dallas to a specialist who told them that the child’s illness had nothing to do with Mia the cat.

The middle of October was when the lady called us, wanting her cat Mia back.

We contacted the family that had adopted Mia in July and told them the lady’s story. The family wanted to hold a family meeting and discuss it.  They loved Mia very much and now had had Mia for three months and she was part of their family. We offered another cat we had in replacement. 

We did not hear anything more from the family.. We tried to contact the family a few more times but we did not    hear back from them. So we had to assume that they did not want to part with the cat.

Now it is the end of November and out of the blue the family shows up telling us they had prayed on it long and hard. They said if it had happened to their family, they would want their beloved pet back.

“So here is Mia, please give her back to her family.”

I took Mia and went right to work calling everyone that had been involved in Mia’s adoption, trying to get Mia back to her original family. Unfortunately the computer that held her information had crashed and all was lost. We have no records for contacting Mia’s mom to reunite them. All we can remember is the lady’s first name because it’s similar to my own.

 We believe Mia’s moms name is Aubrey.So here I am writing to ask if there is any way that you can please help. All I need is for you to tell the public — hoping Mia’s mom (or someone who knows Aubrey) is listening — that there is a special Christmas wish out there and Mia wants to come home. If Mia’s mom hears this story, she could call me at 903-327-8477.  I would love to reunite Mia with Aubrey and make this a very special Christmas for everyone involved.  Thank you for your time and a special thanks from Mia, who just wants her mom back! Audrey Rowbotham