Choosing the Right Food for your Cat

Introduction

It’s rather easy to obtain a pet. Sometimes a cat or a dog will simply show up at your doorstep. And you, being a soft touch for those big begging eyes, open the door and let the creature in–to your house and your heart.

The other way to obtain a pet is to first decide what you want — cat or dog– and then go looking at the local shelters for that certain creature that will share your living space for ten to 15 years.

That is where I found my two cats. They are litter mates and I adopted them in 2007. They were about two years old and according to the shelter people their owner could no longer care for them. We went home and began the process of settling in.

Julie, a tuxedo(Black and white), ate whatever came her way, and turned the hallway between living room and bedroom into a runway. Janie, a tortoise shell was a willing accomplice to whatever Julie decided to get into.

It wasn’t long until I realized that Janie had food problems.

Julie and Janie in my big chair

She literally could not digest most food I set out for her. That bit of knowledge started a thirteen year battle with food–what could she eat ? what would she keep down? I have read dozens of food labels, numerous articles on food; we have visited vets, studied food allergies.etc.

I found out so much about cat foods, the best ingredients, raw foods, home cooked foods, specialty foods, cheap foods, expensive foods, brand name foods.  There are certain ingredients in foods that cats need for good health, good coats and long life. I began to realize that choosing the right food for your cat, and my cat, is more than price and advertising.

Choosing the right food for your cat- meat eaters

Simply put, cats are carnivores, more to the point, obligate carnivores-that is meat eaters. Originally, cats were tolerated  around the farm and in the barns because they were death to the mice.  Cats could live on small rodents and birds as their sole food before humans began to invent such things as mouse traps and poisons to kill rodents.

Years ago. I remember walking by the isles of foods with my mother and there was one all purpose food for cats and dogs labled Ideal dog and cat food. Mother bought several cans every week for our cat and dog.  A daily treat was milk. In addition, the pets got trimmings off chicken and beefs cuts.

Today, the dog and cat sections are separate, with all kinds of branded foods. Foods  of all kinds and flavors designed to take care of any and all kinds of special problems that your cat might have. We have all spent so much time time reading labels, so as to be sure we are getting the right thing for our beloved pet.

Reading labels-Selecting Brands

There are so many brand labels that it takes an expert to choose the right food for your cat. It takes a while to figure out what is inside the can. Two label sections that must be read carefully in order to learn what is inside the mystery can are the Ingredients and Guaranteed analysis.

Labels and ingredients on food cans

Ingredients:   Lists water, meats, veggies, vitamins and minerals in each serving. Ingredients are listed in reverse order of amount in each can. For instance, if water is listed first, then water(sufficient for processing) is the largest ingredient, then next largest amount is pork,then chicken,etc all the way down to supplements to trace minerals.

Guaranteed Analysis: lists protein, fat, fiber, moisture, ash, and other items depending upon what category the prepared food is designed for such as weight management, sensitive skin, digestive system, urinary tract, etc.

Somewhere on the label you should find that this food meets nutritional standards of AAFCO cat food nutrient profile. You will also find the manufacturer’s name and address. Look them up online for more details.

When shopping for cat food, protein should be the highest percentage. Fiber and fat should be lesser percentages and ash should be small percentage such as 1 to 2.5, 2.8% or at most 3.2 %. It is believed that  a smaller percentage of ash is better for keeping the urinary tract healthy.

If your kitty is a healthy, happy cat, that plays a lot, eats well, and gets a good health review from her vet, you should not have too much difficulty finding good healthy food for your furry buddy.  Grocery stores usually carry two or three brand name canned and dry foods.

You can usually find, for a moderate price, Friskies, Purina, Blue Buffalo, and other brands in your grocery stores. You have the information on the labels to help you select good food for your cat. You will also have the choice of dry or canned food.

Your cat may have a preference.   A lot of working people like the convenience of dry food. It can be left out all day and your cat can eat at will. Be sure you have a water bowl close by. Cats need to drink lots of water with dry food.

Pet stores carry more brands of cat food than all purpose grocery stores. Some carry their own brand which is a little less expensive than specialty brands. You will find a full line of Purina, Blue Buffalo, Hills, Royal Canin, and several others.

Of all the  brands you will find, my preference are the brands I have mentioned. I have always been able to find good nutritional food that my cats like with these brands.

But what about Janie and her special food problem?

Specialty Foods, Prescription Diet Foods

Choosing the right foods for my cat turned out to be a life-long search. I had an excellent Veterinary service in my town, and we went through numerous tests and trials of different foods. Nothing stayed down. It got to the point that I wanted to scream when I heard that retching sound that came shortly after she ate.

She was losing weight. Through tests we eliminated everything but the possibility of IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease). Finally the vet suggested that we do an Endoscopy to see if anything was growing in the digestive area or a malfunction.

I left her overnight and came back for her the next afternoon. By process of elimination, the diagnosis was IBD. The vet suggested Hill’s prescription diet food.

I have to tell you, Janie is a fighter. She is a normal sized adult female cat with a normal weight of 8 to 10 pounds. She weighed just a lttle over 4 pounds when I took her home after her endoscopy. I made a bed for her on the foot of my bed. She stayed there for 3 days-only getting down to go use the litter box- then back up to the bed.

Hill’s Prescription Diet didn’t help and I decided I needed a different Vet with some different solutions.I found a Holistic vet that uses both natural remedies with latest trends.

First we did a check of food allergies-found out Janie was allergic to almost all foods normal cats eat! Beef, Duck,Lamb, potatoes, milk, oats, plus some additional items with very small allergic reactions. She wasn’t allergic to eggs, fish,chicken, turkey, rice, venison, peas.

That’s when I learned to read ingredients. The surprise for me was how many processed cat foods have potatoes as a base that holds foods together. We put her on venison- in fact Julie ate venison too- for a long time and Janie gained her normal weight back (10 lbs). I no longer heard that awful retching sound.

Janie did well for several years with Venison and other “wild” meats that I could get through my Veterinarian. We also had her on a probiotic and an Omega-3 fish oil. She began to build up an intolerance to the food that had worked so well and she was back to being unable to hold anything down.

By now Janie was 10 or 11 years old. My vet put her on prednisolone.

Janie curled around her water bowl

That is where she is today. The only thing that keeps her from vomiting everything she eats is the prednisolone. She is 15.

Choosing the right food for your cat- many choices for many situations

Some owners today want to tailor their pet’s diet for special nutritional needs:breed, size, health conditions and other defining traits. Personalized pet food is beginning to emerge as the latest trend in specialized diets.Big-brand names are looking at developing foods that address certain diseases that haven’t been included before.

Special grain-friendly foods are being developed to minimize allergies  and skin disorders. The food industry is also looking at special food formulas that will calm anxiety issues.

There is no end to specialized foods that are tailored for life stages and genetics.There are also plenty of dry foods available for pets , but some  owners are opting for fresh,human grade diets.

Most of these personalized food choices are for dogs at this point, but the demand for similar specialties for cats is in the wings. One company  —Smalls, out of New York,is offering fresh, freeze-dried,and kibble cat food subscriptions.

As long as we have cute little kittens and puppies that are looking for a home and people who fall in love with these adorable little fur balls, we will have companies working on foods that will appeal to the palates of these delightful babies, and also appeal to their owners.

I hope that the information in this article is helpful for people who have pets with dietary problems, as well as pets who just like to eat and entertain their owners. Keep reading those labels.

I’m Barbara Nelson and I would love to hear from my readers, Janie and Julie would love to hear from you, too.

Dog and Cat Years Compared to Human Years

Pet Care Trends

How old is your cat or dog, really?

When people start talking about their pets, the topic usually gets around to deciding how old your pet is based upon your age.  Inevitably someone will come up with the age old answer,”Well they say that a dog ages about 7 years for every one of people years.” Then everybody begins to calculate how old “Fido” is  by multiplying his real years by seven. Read more: Continue reading “Dog and Cat Years Compared to Human Years”

Relief for Pets with Arthritis

Cats and Dogs and Arthritis

If you suffer from arthritis, and most of us dodo, who have reached the grand old age of 45 and up,  find it hard to believe that our beloved pets either have or will have some form of arthritis.

Case in point: I have two cats, both around 14 or 15. Both are females, both are spayed and so have never had a litter of kittens. Both have lived indoors in the very lap (mine) of luxury. One of them is crippled with arthritis in the spine and hind legs; the other one has a touch of arthritis in a front leg. Continue reading “Relief for Pets with Arthritis”

Litter and Litter Boxes–A Review

General overview

If you have a cat, you have a  litter box(es) with litter in it(them).  There are as many litter boxes and kinds of litter as there are cats–or it seems that way. Walk into any  full size pet store and you will find a full wall of litter products and varieties of boxes to hold the litter.

Store litter section

If you have one cat, you will certainly have one litter box, or perhaps two, if you listen to the experts. Experts say that for every cat in the household, you should have one litter box per cat plus one. Translation: If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 boxes. Realistically: one cat, one box; two cats, two boxes etc.

A Review of Litter Boxes

Since there are not quite as many box designs as there are litter varieties, I am going to  review boxes first. Go into any pet store and you will find:

  •   Self-cleaning boxes that drop down the solids for easy extraction
  • Throw away boxes made of a heavy cardboard that can be discarded with the litter – designed for a short term stay
  • Plastic boxes designed for corner areas
  • Small boxes with low sides- designed for small areas- and small kitties.
  • Boxes with high sides-designed to keep litter in the box and not on the floor outside the box
  • High sided boxes with low cut entrance for easy access by kitty
  • Robot boxes  that you apparently never have to touch
  •  Closed top boxes for Kitty privacy

Prices run any where from $10 to $40. A lot depends on where you intend to put the box and how much you feel like spending. Remember it needs to be scooped at least once a day. The box needs to be completely cleaned once a week– that is– old litter dumped, box washed out with plain water, dried and refilled with fresh litter.

Unless you are totally into the latest high tech items on the market, I recommend keeping things simple. Your cat wants a place to go when nature demands it. If you have a large cat(10+lbs.) get a large box–regular rectangular, or high- sided( if your cat is young and agile and you don’t want to sweep litter everyday). Remember, one cat-one litter box; two cats- two litter boxes.

Litter box station

Litter boxes should be placed well away from the feeding area and in a low traffic area. Cats like privacy. If you live in a small, one-bedroom apartment as I do with no enclosed porch, your bathroom becomes the cats’ bathroom as well.

A review of what goes in the box

Again, I’m going to list the kinds of litter, by that I mean, the additives that go into the litter for review.  But first a little history.  Before World War II, most cats were outside animals, mostly because of the bathroom situation.

Cats traditionally dig a hole in loose sand or dirt, do their business and then cover it up. It’s tidy, but not for indoor living. People who really wanted to keep their cats indoors were relegated to using sand or dirt and ashes.  This led to an everyday major cleaning job.

An enterprising gentleman by the name of Ed Lowe was introducing  “Fullers Earth” or Kiln dried clay to people with chickens  and wondered if it would answer the cat problem. In 1947 he filled 5 lb. sacks with his clay and marked it “Kitty Litter “and charged 69 cents.

It sold. That was the beginning of the company Tidy Cat. Many companies with special reasons why you should buy their litter have come on the market since then.

Besides clay litter, there are other products on the market for Kitty’s use: wheat litter, wood chips litter, that all tout a cleaner way to take care of your cat’s bathroom chores.

The first litter was just that: litter. No additives, no clumping, no deodorant. Just plain litter. You put it in a pan and set it on the floor, in a corner. You could scoop out the solids, but you stirred the rest to let the litter dry out.

When the smell got to be too much, you took the pan outside and dumped the smelly litter somewhere in the weeds or in the bushes.

Then someone invented a way to make litter clump. When the cat urinates in the litter box an additive causes the wet litter to clump into a firm ball. It’s a simple non odorous way to scoop up the clump and the solids and toss into the garbage.

Kinds of Litter

  • Non -clumping Litter
  • Clumping Litter
  • Flushable Litter

Clumping litter is the most popular type of litter, so I’m saving that to explore last.

Non-Clumping Litter is usually clay with no clumping additive.  It can also be made with paper, pine sawdust, even grass. The trouble with non-clumping litter is that urine can pool under the litter  and cause a bad smell.

Litter can also be made from crystals that change color if your cat has a kidney or bladder infection.  For cats prone to this problem, a litter that can give you an early signal that something is wrong, is worth using.

Flushable Litter is a great environmentally friendly choice. Flushable litters are made from corn, wood, or wheat, or walnut shells. When your cat uses the litter box, just flush the mess down the toilet and forget it.

Clumping Litters are probably most used. Litter is mostly made of clay, but can be made of wheat or walnut -shells. You have a large list of additives to choose from:

  • Dust-free
  • Scent-free
  • odor-free
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • fresh scent
  • Multi-cat
  • Lightweight
  • Ultra attractant

Some of these are self explanatory. We will talk about those in a minute. Some may not be so clear. Most cats know what a litter box is and how and when to use it. Some cats have a little trouble learning to use a litter box so some litters have an attractant ( a smell that tells them this is the place).

If you are having trouble litter-box training your kitten, you will definitely want a litter with an Ultra Attractant added .

Some companies have come up with a litter that will clump better, be more odor free and whatever else you want a litter to do when there are several cats in the house. These are labeled Multi-Cat.

Lightweight--Let’s face it, litter is heavy, so at least one company has come up with a lightweight version of  a ten or 15 lb. container of litter. Supposed to work as well as the heavyweight kind. You might use more, which means that you might be buying it more often.

Cats are peculiar about scents. Some will accept a scent added to the litter, others will absolutely not. You will have to work that out with the cat.

Litter Recommendations for Cat Households

The cost of a container of litter varies, depending on what you want the litter to do. Clay litters are less expensive than the environmentally friendly ones. Containers come in a variety of sizes: 10, 12, 15, 20 lbs.

I recommend that you get a dust-free, good clumping, scent-free litter.  That is the minimum that you will want to use for your cats.

Store Refill Station

There is one other choice of a dust-free, clumping, scent-free litter that is easy on the pocketbook and it is offered at a well-known pet chain. All you have to do is to return to the store with your container and refill it. You can buy a 16lb or 32lb container of litter. You get a dollar off for a refill. You can do this as long as you have cats. I currently pay $6 for a 16lb container once a week. I have two cats.

Scent-free, dust-free and good clumping litter is good for most cat households. I recommend a litter with these three  components, nothing less, to be the necessary elements to look for in any litter. Other additives will depend on any special needs you may have for your household.

Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know what you think of my litter review. Leave your comments below. Barbara Nelson

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Planning a Road Trip with the Dog

Introduction

When the weather begins to moderate, we begin to day dream about vacation time. The days grow longer; daylight stays until almost 8 o’clock in the lower United States and we have “cabin fever.”What is “cabin fever” you ask? It’s not a real, physical illness, it’s a longing to get out of the house and plant flowers, take a long walk in the sun, build something, go fishing, etc. Most of us are disgusted with Winter. It’s so cold outside, the days are short, and our tempers get “short” too.

Family members begin to talk about where to go this summer. The kids want to go to a Theme Park; Dad wants to take a prolonged road trip,with a couple of fishing side trips along the way. Mom wants to go somewhere that doesn’t require her to do anything domestic. She wants to be pampered, she doesn’t want to cook, wash or iron clothes.

Then the kids ask, “Can we take Tops with us, please, can we?” Tops is their new dog. He is part Golden Retriever and no one knows exactly what else. He is a sweet dog, but how will he travel? Mom puts the kids off with a half-hearted, “We’ll talk about it later.” The last thing Mom wants to do is to plan a road trip with the dog.

Train Your Dog for the Trip

The begging, the tears and the shouts of joy are all over and it’s been decided that Tops will go on vacation with the family. Does Tops know about riding in a car? Someone in the family must take charge of his training.

1.Take Tops in to see the veterinarian. Tell the vet you’re going to be on vacation and you want to be sure Tops is healthy. Make sure he has a current rabies shot and any other shots he may need. Get a copy of Top’s medical record to take with you.

2. Make sure Tops is okay with riding in the car. Do some short practice road trips. Make sure none of these trips are to the vet. You want Tops to understand that riding in the car is fun and he may go anywhere with you. Take him places that are strange to him and where people that he does not know are shopping or visiting. Make sure he knows how to act in these instances.You will be his guide.

3.Tops is a large dog so you won’t have a carrier or a crate for him, but don’t let him roam loose in the car. All dogs should ride in the backseat. Keep a leash on him at all times. When you stop at a rest area, you don’t want Tops to bolt out of the car.

4. Stop about every two hours. Dogs need rest stops too.

5. Take dog treats and chew toys. Bring Tops’ favorite food, his favorite blanket or bed and his water bowl. Also bring his comb and brush. He will be getting out of the car into  some places that have weeds and high grasses and you will want to keep his coat clean.

Decide on places to see, Where to Sleep

You have the dates you are going to be gone, you have the dog trained, now where are you going? You have made arrangements to visit a theme park for the kids and the rest of the trip will be sight seeing with overnight stops at motels. Find out from the Theme park their rules concerning pets. Some will allow dogs on leashes while others have kennels for visitors to house their pets while seeing the sights.

Check with Motels about rules for pets. Some allow pets with no extra arrangements, others charge an additional fee for a  pet to stay in the room. A few motel chains do not allow pets in the room. Do not sneak your pet into the Motel, go on down the road to another facility. You can save yourself some hassles, it you decide how far you are going each travel day and make motel reservations ahead of time.

Traveling with a small Dog has a few different  considerations

Before we round out our story , we need to take a look at our friends with small dogs. If you are traveling by car, all small dogs should be confined in a crate or a small carrier. Put them on a leash so that when you stop for a rest, your little dog can’t get away. They should at all times be in the back seat,  All other considerations would be the same as for large dogs. Small dogs are more likely to be acceptable at most Motels.

Some rules are made to be broken, however. My mother had small dogs and the current family pet always rode in mother’s lap in the front seat of the car at all times. In their retired years, my mother and father drove all over the Southwestern United  States. Dad bought a GM pickup truck and a small travel trailer and  outfitted it with everything necessary for camping.  The little dog, sometimes two little dogs, were always with them.

Alternative Travel Vacations

Some people like to “rough it” and spend all their vacation time in the great out of doors. It’s called Camping. With the right gear, camping can be almost as easy as being in your own kitchen. However, everybody in the family should be in agreement about a camping vacation. If even one person is not happy about the choice then the whole vacation will be less than ideal.

But if everybody is “gung ho” about a camping trip, consider National Parks, and National Forests for your destination. All campgrounds have information on rules and regulations for campers, and if pets  are allowed.

 You would be wise to check early on campgrounds in popular areas. During summer months campgrounds in some areas are completely filled.

A good time was had by all

Our pets become part of the family. With a little training, your dog can be delightful company, especially for your kids during a long trip. Also consider that your dog can be a watchdog for your belongings. Most dogs bark when strangers approach, and that can be a good safety measure. Take the dog. You’ll all have a great time.

Color & Breed influences Cat & Dog Personalities-Part I Dogs

Introduction

Some might disagree with me, but cats and dogs exhibit certain personality traits. Some cats are very friendly, some talk a lot, some always run away when they get the chance, some are aloof. Some dogs are friendly from the beginning, some are very shy, some like to bark nonstop. Most dogs are friendly, unless they have been traumatized by loud noises or mistreated. Gently turn down offers of cute puppies, breed unknown, in order to give yourself time to select one with the personality you want.

Now please don’t send me nasty notes telling me that I’m a snob about breeds, and that mixed breed puppies are wonderful dogs with great personalities. I agree.

Mixed breed dogs can be the greatest dogs around. I’m just giving you several things about dogs to think about. If you are adopting a dog for the family, especially a family with children, you might want to consider personality traits and compatibility before you bring the dog home. Remember, you will have that cute bundle of fur for about 10 or 12 years.

There have been studies on what causes certain cats and dogs to exhibit certain traits. It seems that color and breed influences cat and dog personalities. If you know what kind of personality to expect with the pet of your choice, you will have a better idea of what to expect of your new family member. Today we concentrate on dogs.

Part One

Dogs and Wolves Split

DNA studies of wolves and dogs point to a split into different species about 100,000 years ago. Domesticating dogs may have happened between 40,000 and 20,000 years ago. Researchers cannot agree, but some think that the domestication began in East Asia, others think it started in the Middle East, and others think there was a second domestication that took place in Europe. Whatever world circumstances were in place about 14,000 years ago that caused men and dogs to form working or companion relationships is still in place today. The bond between dog and human is unbreakable. One thing scholars do agree on is that most of the dog breeds we see today are recent developments.

Dog Personalities by Breed

I picked several dogs that have quite different body builds that exhibit personality traits a family might be looking for. In dogs, breeds usually hold to one color or one color combination. In mixed breeds a variety of colors can be exhibited.

1. The Newfoundland–is a giant breed. It is usually black and has a natural ability to swim. It has a very placid personality and gets along well with children. If you love to swim, the Newfoundland is a perfect companion. Just remember, this lovable giant will eat a large hole in your grocery budget.

2. The Pug--is a small dog- a member of the Toy group. Pugs are very social and they can form a special bond with children. They also will be a little easier on your grocery bill. They can have light colored bodies with black faces.

3.Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a medium size dog and is a good companion dog for the family as long as he is the only dog. The Staffordshire is not good with other dogs.

4. Labrador Retriever- the most popular dog around today. Usually come in black, chocolate and light cream or tan. They make wonderful family dogs, but they must be trained. They also are large dogs.

 

 

 

5. Keeshond- is a medium-sized dog with a  fluffy silver and black coat They are great with children and easily learn tricks. These are truly people dogs. They are an old breed. They once were companions and watchdogs on the barges and boats that traveled the canals and rivers of 17th and 18th century Holland.

 

6. Golden Retriever- large dogs. They are extremely intelligent. The Golden is a great dog for a family. They always make good service dogs. By virtue of their name, their coats are golden brown. However, they can have light, off-white coats too.

 

 

7.The Collie is a beautiful, gentle dog. A large dog with a gorgeous coat -light brown over all, and white on ruff, tummy and paws-who is well suited to families.

 

 

8. The Standard Poodle- A large dog that can come in several colors-black, white, gray. These are the wizards of the smart dogs. They are extremely intelligent and do well with all dog sports. Poodles are affectionate, patient, and make very good family dogs.

 

9. The Burmese Mountain Dog-another gentle giant. This dog can weigh between 98 and 120 lbs. when full-grown. They are good companions for children and they get along well with other pets in the family. The Burmese has a long shaggy brown, black and white coat.

 

 

10. The Bull Dog–a small dog that will become the clown in the family. They can be black and white, or light brown or tan and even white. They have a tendency to be stubborn, but they are also very docile and loyal, and do well with children.

 

 

I named just ten dogs out of hundreds of breeds. Some are large, some medium and some small. I know I left out quite a few breeds that are also quite good at being family dogs. These ten breeds have certain personality traits that you can depend upon. Families with children need pets that the younger members can enjoy. Dogs and children grow up together and it’s a wonderful experience. Children also learn that pets are dependent upon their owners for food, exercise, and health needs.

Conclusion

We often leave out the mixed breeds. Some of these dogs are wonderful with families and deserve a good home. If it is at all possible to find out the mix, it will give you a better idea of the personality traits you can expect.

My mother adopted a Keeshond/Irish Setter mix and as the puppy developed into a mature dog, we could begin to see how the two breeds melded together into a beautiful friendly dog. Her body build was more like the Setter- a little larger with longer legs and a longer coat.

But the Keeshond showed up in her coat color- the silver/ black with a thick mane. Her disposition was more like the Keeshond. All in all, she was a wonderful dog, very loving and smart.

Would love to hear from my readers. Let me know what you liked or didn’t like. Next time, we explore the personalities of cats by color.

Information for this article came from : The Thought Co.; dogtime.com; Dog Reflections, May 2008 by Dan; Cattime.com; Pet Wellbeing; Pixabay .com.

My-Pet-Toys-and-Stuff:Home Decorating With Pets in Mind


Decorating a home is more than deciding what you like and don’t like. If you are living alone, that makes the decorating decisions easy. But, rarely do most of us live alone. We may start out alone, but after a while, we add a partner, usually a husband or a wife, then comes children, and after that, perhaps a cat or a dog. All these live additions to the home create new ideas for decorating. I’m not talking about necessities, I’m talking about the additional things that turn an apartment or a house into a home.  Since the Christmas season is upon us lets consider home decorating with our pets in mind.

Home Decorating with a Cat

What we have said about cats in previous articles still holds true. A cat believes everything in the house belongs to her. She just gives us permission to use it. Therefore, she expects us to consult with her on every new item we bring into our living quarters. She must inspect it, smell it, rub her chin on it, give it a full body rub.

Watch her carefully, especially if the new item is a piece of furniture- the next move is to stand up on her hind legs and run her front feet over it. If she has claws, she needs to be discouraged immediately. (See-Train your Cat not to claw the furniture). If she turns around and walks away from the new item, she has accepted it. You may keep it.

What about Christmas Trees, plants, gifts, and all things glittery? Think “high.” Think, “no way she can jump from here to there?”  Probably best if you don’t insist on a live ChristmasTree. If a live tree is a must, then the cat will have to be locked in another room when everybody is gone, and when everybody has gone to bed. An artificial tree will be less stressful for everyone. Anchor it well, so there is little likelihood it will fall.

Decorate the tree as you usually would, starting from the top down. Stop decorating about 3 or 4 branches from the bottom, unless you don’t mind redecorating these branches several times a day.

Poinsettias are dangerous for cats. If you have a plant, keep it in a room that is closed off from the cat. Mistletoe berries can make a cat sick, actually, any plant with berries can be bad for a cat. Your furry friend will beg you for any tasty morsel from the dinner table. Don’t give her anything except maybe some turkey-no gravy -and check for bones.

Cats like to pull off ribbons from the presents, and tear off wrapping paper, too. Leave presents in the closet until time to open. Or, if you want presents under the tree before distributing them, put them out shortly before opening, so you can keep an eye out for the cat.

Home Decorating with a Dog

Dogs will do many of the things that cats do, but, if you have taken the time to train your dog, it will be easier to keep your dog away from decorations you want left intact. Make sure your dog responds to commands like : NO!, Stay Down! Don’t Jump! Drop it!, etc.

If you have a live tree, don’t let your dog drink the water in the container the tree is set in. The water may contain some chemicals to keep the tree fresh longer.

Some dogs, however, do like to chew on boxes, ribbons, tree decorations, strings of lights, etc. It is always easier to put hazardous things up or away from places where pets can get to them, rather than spend your days yelling at your dog.

Be careful what you give to your dog as a treat from the dinner table. Chicken bones and Turkey bones will splinter when dogs clamp down on them. If swallowed, these splinters could damage the intestinal tract.

Some vets suggest that dogs should not be given any bones at all, even those that are manufactured and packaged especially for dogs. Bones of any kind can cause choking, vomiting, damage to the mouth, or blockage in the digestive tract.(Check with your vet about bones for your dog). Just stick with some turkey meat, without the bones, if you want to include your dog in the feast.

Dogs will also eat anything left out and easily reached. Chocolate is especially dangerous for dogs. Put the candy box away after indulging in a few sweets.

Note: a few years ago, I had family over for Christmas dinner and we had a round of candies before we left to visit friends. Unfortunately, I left the candy box -lid on- on the coffee table. When we came home, the candy box was on the floor, with the lid off and quite a few chocolates missing. My poor dog was terribly sick. She survived after a very miserable evening. I learned from that incident to always put food away.

So How Can Pets and Decorations Co-Exist in a Household?

First of all, use some common sense when looking for decorations for the house. Don’t get a lot of things that dangle, or have gold or silver sprinkles. If you want live decorations -wreaths-trees, etc. watch your pets to make sure they are not ingesting pine needles, berries, bits of tree bark. If you have a live tree, be sure to sweep or vacuum the area at least once a day.

Keep plants away from pets. Watch for dropped leaves or flowers and pick them up immediately. Especially keep Poinsettias on a high shelf, where even a cat can’t get to. Empty garbage cans every day, even more than that if you are doing a lot of cooking or arranging bouquets, etc.

Artificial trees and wreaths and garlands are safer for inside decorating, if you have pets around. However, remember artificial decorations can be toxic, too. Some paints, glitter and glue can be toxic to pets and even children.

Conclusion

So when you are starting to decorate your home, don’t just “Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly” but rather “Deck the Walls—“high”. Put wreaths, garlands and plants up, out of reach. Sturdy your tree and don’t decorate the bottom three or four rows of branches. Keep your furry friends in mind when you decorate for any occasion.

My-Pet-Toys-and-Stuff:Which Pet for Our Lifestyle


cat and dog

Introduction

When we were children, most of us remember having a cat or a dog around the house. We remember playing with them, chasing them and then laying down in a heap when we finally wore ourselves out. The years passed quickly and soon enough, we were married to the love of our life, going to jobs every day, planning and saving for the future, and thinking we were missing something.

A young couple, married about a year, decided that they would like to get a pet, a dog or a cat, they weren’t sure which. They had good jobs, and a nice ground floor apartment in a good neighborhood. There was a park about two blocks down the street, and a little strip mall across from the park. They weren’t ready for the house, and kids yet, but thought they’d like to have a four-legged, furry friend. But, which pet would best fit their lifestyle?

Since they lived in a small apartment, the husband thought that a cat would be the ideal pet. His wife, however preferred, a dog. So they decided to do some research, and come up with the pro’s and con’s of adopting either a cat or a dog.

Pro’s and Con’s of Getting a Dog

dog

On the Pro Side

  1. Dogs Bark- can warn of prowlers or other emergency
  2. Dogs don’t need a lot of extra stuff- like litter boxes, etc.
  3. Dogs are pack animals- they welcome human company
  4. Dogs like to run and play- can help with daily exercise
  5. Dogs can be trained-To stay off the furniture
  6. Dogs will protect the family in times of crisis

On the Con Side:

  1. Dogs Bark- They can annoy the neighbors
  2. Can’t get a large dog-will have to get a little “yapper”
  3. Dogs can’t be left alone- they’ll tear things up
  4. Dogs have to be walked-in all kinds of weaher
  5. Dogs don’t always protect-some are too small or too friendly
  6. Dogs need a lot of stuff -leashes, collars, crates, dog beds

 Pro’s and Con’s of Getting a Cat

On the Pro Side

  1. Cats don’t bark-They are quiet creatures
  2. Cats are small creatures-Perfect for small apartments
  3. Cats are loners- they don’t mind being alone all day
  4. cats never have to be walked:provide a litter box 

   On the Con Side           

  1. Cats will get up on counters, no matter how much they have been “trained”
  2. Cats shed – You’ll have fur all over your furniture and carpets
  3. Cats swallow a lot of fur- which they regurgitate as hairballs
  4. Cats will shred your furniture-unless you declaw them
  5. Cats can’t be around babies- They get in the crib and smother a baby
  6. Cats sometimes ignore the litter box- and do their busines elsewhere

What’s Right and What’s Wrong about Dogs

Our couple took the time to visit with friends who had both dogs and cats. They got information about both animals that would help them erase some of their pros and cons. They found out how their friends dealt with certain oddities about each pet. They heard how each pet had made their owners lives much richer. They promised each other that they wouldn’t’t make up their minds until all the information was on the table.

First of all, Dogs bark. They can be annoying, if they just bark because they’re bored. 
Dogs can be trained to bark if there is an emergency, or if someone is hurt or some other action appears to be  
 dangerous. There are numerous stories told about how a family was saved because of a brave dog. 

Dogs are easier because they don’t need a lot of stuff. But a dog needs a number of things for his care. He needs a good collar; a collar that will not chafe the dog’s neck, but will remain snug. He needs a leash that will give the dog room to walk easily, but still gives his owner control. Dogs like their own bed. Some dogs are trained to go into a crate, when his master is gone. Obviously,the dog needs his own food bowl and water bowl.

The following is true. Dogs are pack animals. They like human activity and are fiercely loyal to their master or family. They look forward to that daily walk- and it can be a great way to get some exercise. Rainy days can be a problem, but most dogs won’t mind a little rain or snow. As far as giving a dog certain boundaries–with kindness and patience, dogs can be trained that some items are off limits. The size and breed, or mix, is up to the prospective owner. Consider the size of your living quarters, and amount of yard when selecting a dog. Use common sense; it probably is not wise to get a great Dane when you live in a two-room apartment with no yard.

What’s Right and What’s Wrong About Cats

Cats are smaller than some dogs and they are quieter. Meows usually do not rise to the deafening barks of some canines. Cats are good for small apartments. They usually sleep mos most of the day. However, be sure to leave them clean water and a bowl of kibbles.

Cats don’t need a lot of paraphernalia. They need a food bowl; actually two food bowls: one for kibbles and one for soft food. Cats need the variety of food, and they need lots of water. Some cats do not drink enough water. 
 Feeding them canned food gives them extra water. Cats need a litter box. Do’t get one too small.. Cats like to turn around and scratch around when attending to nature calls. Try putting the box in a semi-private place.

Would you want to do your business in public? 

Also, separate the food and water bowl from the litter box area. Cats don’t like to eat in the bathroom. 

Cats can be trained to stay off some areas. It takes a lot of patience.but they will catch on. Cats can be discouraged from getting on the furniture and scratching the furniture. They don’t have to be declawed. A good scratching post or “Kitty condo” will take care of most of their scratching. Trim their nails periodically.

Cats do have a problem with hair balls. Long-haired cats will cough up hairballs more often. There is a medication that can be given to cats that will dissolve the hairballs. Some cats actually like it so much that they will lick it off your hand.

This last “con” item is an old wives tale. Cats do not get into a baby’s crib to suck away baby’s breath. Actually, cats like milk; babies drink milk, and the cat is attracted to the milk’s smell. That is why they may get into a baby’s crib. They do not intend harm. Keep the cat out of the nursery.

Sometimes a cat will ignore the box. First, have the cat checked out by a vet. Some cats will ignore the box because they are sick. Cats will ignore the box if it is dirty. Scoop the box at least twice a day. Change the litter once a week. Wash the litter box before putting in fresh litter. Just use water. Strong soap and cleanser smells will turn the cat away from the box.

Final Decision on Which pet is best for our lifestyle

The last thing our couple probably will do is go check out some pets, both cats and dogs. Then they can make a decision. Ultimately, it will come down to an emotional decision. The one animal they cannot bear to leave behind will be the one they take home. They still have breed or mix to consider, and,in the case of a dog, the size. Maybe they will get one of each.

Would love to hear from my readers. Did you like the article? Did you get some helpful information? What did I miss?

Barbaran

My-Pet-Toys-and-Stuff-Why did we get a Dog?

 

 

Introduction

According to Statista(The Statistics Portal), in 2017, about 89.7 million dogs lived in U.S. Households. In many households, this scene plays out. Little Jimmy comes home from school and confronts dad with this request: Dad, can we get a dog? I won’t go into all the details, but numerous questions have to be answered, What breed? where will he/she live? inside, outside, doghouse, garage, who feeds, walks, brushes, cleans up back yard, etc.? To which Jimmy answers, “I can.” Up until now, the lady of the house has been quiet. Now she says to Jimmy, and to her husband, “we”ll see.”

What Kind of Dog to Get and from Where?

Long after Jimmy had gone to bed, mom and dad explore the idea of adding a new member to the household. Mom knows full well who will ultimately be the dog’s caregiver. They called a couple of friends who already had dogs to get some ideas. They decided to go to the animal shelter and to a couple of rescue adoption centers. And they decided they might try to find a Golden Retriever. Since it was to be Jimmy’s dog, they wanted a gentle dog that would play with Jimmy and his friends but not hurt them. They also decided on a fairly large dog that might discourage people out to do mischief or break in the house.

The Dog’s History

The next day, mom went to see an old school chum who had studied to become a veterinarian. She really didn’t know anything about dogs and wanted to find out all she could before they committed to another house member for possibly ten years or longer. Her Vet friend gave her some background and sound advice on what to expect if a dog joined their household. He told her that dogs originated from the Grey wolf– that is where dogs got their excellent hearing and keen sense of smell. He also told her that dogs were communal animals, they ran in packs, they were usually not “loners.” Mom wasn’t sure what that meant. “Someone in the family needs to be the “Alpha dog”, the vet explained, “otherwise, your dog won’t know who is boss.”

Mon was getting confused, and she was beginning to wonder if a dog wasn’t just going to be a lot of trouble. Her Vet friend explained to her that all dogs needed to be trained and it was better if one member of the family was the “head of the pack,” the one person the dog would look to for commands. Actually, he told her that the whole family needed to be in on the dog’s training so everyone would know how to handle all situations. She wondered if Jimmy was old enough to actually be the “Alpha Dog.” The vet said, “If you think he is old enough, that would be a great idea. “Then the dog would be truly his.”

One more thing the Vet suggested to mom.”Depending on what you get, he said. “Have the dog (male)neutered or(female) spayed. Unless you are planning on raising litters of puppies.” She looked at him with daggers in her eyes.

Family Dogs

A goodly number of dogs are considered “Family Dogs. Mom came away with a list of “family friendly” dogs, some small, some large, some medium-sized. “Main thing”, her vet friend said, “Don’t be in a hurry-look over several dogs–take one home overnight.”

When dad got home that night, mom told him and Jimmy what she had learned from her Vet friend.” Wow!, that’s a lot to think about.” “What about it Jimmy, do you think you can learn how to train your dog, and properly take care of him?” Jimmy thought for a few minutes, and then said,”I think so, dad, after all I am 12, and you ‘ve said I have to start learning to be a man and take responsibility.” Mom said, “Well we will help you, after all the dog will be like a new member of the family-but you will be the dog’s “Alpha Male,” the one he looks to for guidance and for praise and love.

After dinner, they sat around the table and looked over pictures and read about the dogs that Mom’s vet friend had suggested. They finally narrowed down the list of dogs that they thought would work with their family to 6.

Their list included: Golden Retriever– a large dog with beautiful golden fur and listed as intelligent, kind, and friendly. Collie-a large dog with beautiful multi-colored fur and listed as gentle, loyal, intelligent and protective. Beagle-a smaller dog with an even temper, and is gentle, intelligent and determined. Brittany-a medium-sized dog with white and brown coat- is happy, intelligent, agile and quick. Maltese– a small, beautiful,fluffly dog -is playful, lively, docile, gentle. The sixth one--a Mix. After all they were going to check out the adoption centers and rescue places, so they just might find a good mixed heritage animal.

 

The Final Choice

They spent several days looking at dogs. They actually found a few purebred dogs, but they seemed a little skittish when approached by strangers. They were about to decide on a beagle mix when mom got a call from her vet friend. He had found a Brittany that the family had to give up, because they were moving across country. The dog had been well-cared for and was only about 2 years old. The family made an appointment to see her and fell in love. She was a well-mannered dog and had been spayed. Jimmy hugged her, named her Tippy and told his parents that this was the one.

A few weeks later, Jimmy started training sessions with Tippy and it wasn’t long until she knew sit;stay; go fetch; lay down. She never seemed to tire of chasing balls, fetching sticks, and wrestling with her favorite human.

Why A Story

This was a make believe family, but how they went about deciding on a pet, a new member for their family, was the right way to do it. They did some research, found the kind of pet they wanted, learned how to take care of a pet, and preferred to look for a pet that needed a home.

My first dog was a toy collie. She had a face like a full size collie, but she was about half the size and had a smoother coat. She was a sweet dog and very gentle.

My grandmother had only one pet that I know of–a little white Maltese. He lived to be 17. Every time I went to visit my grandparents, that little dog always sat beside me on the front porch.

My son begged for a dog when he was about 9. A little young to be the leader of the pack. My husband came home one night to tell me that one of the teachers at the Junior College had a dog he would give to a good home. The dog was a Brittany and was gun shy. The teacher wanted a dog to hunt, but since she was afraid of gun shot, he wanted to find her a good home. We went over to see her. She was so smart. She immediately sensed that my husband didn’t really care about dogs. She went over to where he was sitting, put her head on his arm and sat there until we left. We took the dog. My son named her Tippy. She lived to be 13.

Let me hear from you. I would love to hear about your favorite dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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