What Type of Pet ID Do Your Pets Need?

Pet ID

National Pet ID Week
April 17-23

National Pet ID Week

Have you ever found yourself wondering what type of pet ID your pets need? With the weather getting warmer and our pets and their humans outside more, we have a timely reminder about putting ID on your pets.  After all, April 10-17 is National Pet ID Week.

Types of Pet ID for the Collar

There are numerous types of Pet ID that you dog or cat can wear on his collar.  Here are just a few.

  • Engraved brass nameplates screwed to the collar
  • Metal name tags affixed to the collar with a D ring
  • Plastic name tags affixed to the collar with a D ring
  • Name tags with information embroidered to the collar
  • GPS tracking collars that also include owner information

You can go the “just the facts maam” route or you can dress up your pet’s ID with cute bone shapes or paw prints. You pet’s ID can be colorful or just in black.  The choice is entirely up to you. The important point is to be sure that your contact information is on your pet’s ID. It’s advisable to provide your home and cell phone numbers.  It’s up to you about providing your address.  We only provide the name of the town we live in along with our pet’s name, our last name, one cell number and one home number.

If we are traveling with our dogs we can be reached by the cell number.  But for added insurance some folks also purchase a temporary ID tag that indicates where they are staying when out of town or provides the name of a trusted friend or neighbor.  As professional pet sitters, some of our clients use a temporary ID tag that provides our contact information.  Either way, this readily visible information provides the quickest way for your lost cat or dog to find his way home. When your pet is wearing a collar it’s also much easier for someone who finds her to grab your frightened pet before she escapes fro  her would be rescuer.

A study conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and published in 2012 provided interesting information indicating that far fewer of the animals that end up in shelters belong to someone who is looking for them than was previously believed.  However, 15% of the dogs that were reunited were wearing a collar with ID or were micro chipped. The good news is that 93% of lost dogs and 74% of lost cats were recovered.

Microchips

We strongly advocate that you also have your vet implant a small micro-chip in your cat or dog.  All too often pets, especially cats, escape the house without a collar.  Pets can wriggle out of their collars and unscrupulous people can steal pets and then present them as their own.

Virtually all veterinarian clinics have micro-chip readers and most shelters do too.  Our veterinarian practices a great safety check. When we first presented with either of our two adopted dogs, the clinic scanned the chip to assure it was indeed registered to us. This is important because people do steal pets.

There are several micro-chip companies available. Here are a few.

No matter which company you choose, please be sure to keep your information updated. When your pet adoption is final, contact the microchip company and be certain the registration has changed over to your name.  If you move or get a new phone number be sure to contact the chip company and any registration services you use and update the information.  If your pet ever goes missing you will be glad he was wearing a collar with ID and had an up to date microchip!  Just do it.


Beth Leatherman Harwell and her husband Billy Harwell own and operate a small pet sitting business, Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC.  Along with a professionally trained group of team members, they provide pet sitting and dog walking services to pets who live in any part of Mooresville, NC 28115 and those who live in near by areas of Mooresville, NC 28117, Cornelius, Davidson and Mount Ulla, NC.

 

Pet Poison Prevention

It’s National Pet Poison Prevention Week

March 20 – 26, 2016

Pet Poison Prevention

pet poison prevention

Beautiful AND lethal to cats

Managing all the steps necessary to keep our pets safe, healthy and happy can keep us on our toes. That’s one of the reasons we need reminders such as National Pet Poison Prevention Week. There are so many dangers for our pets that it’s difficult to keep up with all of them.

In the Garden

For instance, did you know that for a cat exposure to any part of a Lily can lead to kidney failure?  Don’t feel badly. More than 70% of cat owners don’t know about all the dangers of lilies. While I was doing research for this blog post I was stunned to learn that even exposure to the water in a vase containing lilies can be lethal for cats.

The Pet Poison Hotline has developed loads of information that we can use. They have developed an awareness campaign, No Lilies for Kitties that provides methods we can use to educate ourselves and each other. I especially like their short videos that highlight the most significant information.  I learned that day lilies, tiger lilies and Easter lilies are among the most deadly.

For cats, exposure to any part of the Lily can lead to kidney failure. Although you can start first aid at home, there are no home remedies for the treatment phase. It’s essential that your cat begin treatment by the veterinarian as soon as possible after exposure and in no case more than 18 hours after exposure.  Any more time than that and your cat will have an extremely poor prognosis, most likely resulting in the need to euthanize your cat due to acute kidney failure.

 

 

Along with the Lily there are other plants in the garden and landscape that are poisonous to dogs or cats or both. Be sure to learn about any plants you already have as well as any new plants you are considering. The ASPCA offers a list of toxic and non-toxic plants for dogs, cats and horses.

pet poison prevention

Harwell Family Vegetable Garden

If you grow vegetables that are toxic to cats or dogs you may want to put a fence around that part of your garden. We learned this the hard way one year after Beau and Luke took a romp through our garden while we had the soaker hose on.  Fortunately, the dogs were not hurt, but we decided to protect our garden from being raided by our pets as well as the deer that live in our woods.

Common vegetables found in the garden that are poisonous include onions, garlic and chives.  Although the ripe fruits of the nightshade family are safe for dogs and cats, the plants are not safe. These include tomato and rhubarb leaves and stems and green potatoes and green tomatoes. We even keep the compost bin inside the fenced in area of the garden.

Dangerous ornamental plants include the sago palm, azalea, hibiscus, daffodil, dieffenbachia, geraniums and hydrangeas. Cocoa mulch gives off a chocolate aroma that is attractive to dogs but not safe for them to ingest. Remember that lawn and garden fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides are poisonous to our pets too. Yet another reason to consider organic gardening.

Around the House

The Pet Poison Hotline offers  Preventing-Pet-Poisonings-Infographic (2)that is easy to read and follow. As you walk through your house thinking about pet poison prevention consider these items.

pet poison prevention

3 Hungry Pups Waiting for Peanut Butter

Food: Chocolate, grapes, apple and pear seeds, avocado, onion, garlic, chives, macadamia nuts, caffeine, alcohol, salt, unbaked yeast dough, moldy food and any items containing the artificial ingredient xylitol are poisonous. Even some peanut butter is now sweetened with xylitol so be sure to read the label.

Cleaners:  Laundry and dishwasher soap pods are attractive to pets and dangerous. Oven cleaner, fabric softener, bleach and dryer sheets, rust and lime removers, toilet cleaners and ammonia should all be kept out of reach of our pets. Perhaps you are ready to explore making your own cleaners with far safer ingredients including baking soda and white vinegar. But still exercise caution in storage of these items.

Medications: All prescription and over-the-counter medications should be kept out of reach and sight of pets. We all know how curious they can be. It never ceases to amaze me at what kind of containers and doors determined dogs and cats can open. Be particularly vigilant about medications for the heart and acetaminophen. Whether in human or pet dosages these can be deadly.

Decorative Items: The batteries in our remote control devices are poisonous to our pets.  We need to be very careful with liquid air fresheners and potpourri. Remember our earlier discussion regarding houseplants too. The most dangerous plants are those in the Lily family. Other house plants including asparagus ferns, corn plant, dieffenbachia, cyclamen, philodendron, jade, aloe and pothos are poisonous.

Miscellaneous Items: Often times you will find these items stored in the garage because we use them in or on our vehicles and garden equipment.  These items include anti-freeze, de-icers, windshield cleaners, motor oil, gasoline, kerosene, paint, paint thinner, water softeners and gardening chemicals.


 

We often hear the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s certainly true for pet position prevention. We hope these reminders will keep you and your pets safe as you prepare to enjoy your Spring together.

pet poison prevention

Daisy Mae’s Adoption Day Intro to Her New Yard

How to Play with Your Cats

play with your cats

Curious Cat

Do You Know How to Play with Your Cats?

Who doesn’t love to play?!?  That goes for your cats too. Did you know that cats enjoy playing fetch?  It’s a little different than playing fetch with a dog but just as engaging. Cats enjoy hunting for “prey” so you can put their natural instincts to work. When you play with your cats, be sure to let your cats “catch” the prey or it’s much too frustrating for them.

Choose toys that are sized right for your cat to bring to you in her mouth. It’s much more pleasant to have her bring a stuffed “mouse” than the real thing! Try to mimic actions that mice might make when getting your cat’s attention. Or use a feather on a wand and mimic a bird.  It’s really cool to see the cats we take care of engage with their toys and play time will bring you both a lot of pleasure.

Jonasek the kitten gives us a lively demonstration about the joy of playing with cats on this You Tube clip.

D – I – Y Toys

how to play with your cats

Cat cave by Jess

Toys can be expensive motorized ones, inexpensive stuffed mice or totally free paper bags and boxes. One cool idea is to make a cat cave from a box covered with an old t-shirt. Jess from the blog Practically Functional  writes about how easy it is to make this cat cave. Her step by step written instructions with photos demonstrates how she used objects that otherwise would have gone in the trash.

 

 

Ali Andrews provides a You Tube clip to demonstrate another method of fashioning a cat cave from a t shirt and box.

how to play with your cats

Stella in her blanket cave

Our friend Stella saves her humans the trouble and creates her own cave under the blankets. In the photo you can see me trying to entice Stella out from under her cave with a toy. Stella also enjoys playing with her very own oatmeal box!

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The folks over at World’s Best Cat Litter Blog show a whole bunch more!  Enjoy.

The Playful Kitty Blog provides more ideas.

Inexpensive Cat Toys

play with your cat

cat toys

To help build your bond with your cats it’s a great idea to play with your cats in an interactive manner.  After you play you can put the interactive toys away until the next play session. Your cats will also enjoy the toys more if you rotate them in an out of use just as you might rotate toys in and out of use with your children.

If you are supplying plenty of enrichment via cat caves, elevated surfaces, cat scratchers, cat TV (views of bird feeders outdoors) and indoor kitty gardens your cats will enjoy their day and still get plenty of exercise.

 

You can find these cat toys in most any pet supply store.

Play-time Etiquette 

It’s best to supervise your cat during play time and to inspect the toys  for safety after each play session.  Remember you play with your cats to give them the necessary exercise, build your bond and to teach them how to play gently. With catnip it’s best to see how your cat responds and remember not to over stimulate your cat.

Mimic the action of their natural prey by dragging the toy away from your cat so he has to chase it.  Let your cat catch the toy and “kill it.”  Keep your hands away so your cat does not learn to scratch or bite you instead of the toy.  The “kill” is the natural reward but a treat or two as a reward from you can signal the end of the play session and your cat will associate the reward with you.

After the play session your cat will be ready to curl up in her comfy cat bed or lounge in a sunny windowsill.

play with your cat

Cat lounging in window sill. All he needs is a view of a bird feeder!

 

 

 

 

Six Facts Your Cat Wants You to Know About Kitty Litter Boxes

6 Facts Your Cat Wants You to Know About Kitty Litter Boxes

We love to look at pet designated days, weeks and months.  Earlier this month we noticed that January 22 is National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day.  The day is designed to remind us to pay attention to what our cats are trying to tell us in the only language they have. Rather than simply being annoyed when your cat pees outside the litter box, scratches your sofa or meows incessantly, you are encouraged to think about the issue from your cat’s perspective.  With thoughts about what your cats might ask we offer 6 facts your cat wants you to know about kitty litter boxes.


 Fact # 1 About Kitty Litter Boxes:  Cats prefer their litter boxes to be located in quiet places.

Unfortunately, many cat owners place the kitty litter boxes in the laundry room which is extremely noisy when the washer goes into spin.  Add to that the sound of the dryer when the dryness sensor goes off. And just imagine what happens if the washer goes out of balance just when your cat is using the litter box!  Those scary noises can negatively impact your cat’s willingness to use his litter box.


 

Fact # 2 About Kitty Litter Boxes:  Cats don’t like scented kitty litter.

Their noses are extremely sensitive and your cat may find the aroma you like quite distasteful.  There’s another reason for your cat to avoid the litter box.  Nobody wants that.


Fact # 3 About Kitty Litter Boxes:  Cats like clean litter boxes.

Think about how you feel if you go to use the toilet and there’s “stuff” in it. Cats with their keen sense of smell are easily put off by the odors from the litter box.  It’s best to scoop the litter box after every use, but that may not be practical.  However; it’s pretty easy to get on a daily or twice daily litter scooping schedule.  Your cat’s nose as well as your own will appreciate the effort.


Fact # 4 About Kitty Litter Boxes:  The standard to strive for is one litter box per cat + 1.

If your house has multiple levels, please put at least one litter box on each level of your house.  How would you feel if you had to run from the second floor all the way to the basement every time you needed to go potty???   By having multiple litter boxes each cat can choose his or her favorite “bathroom.”  If some of your cats prefer different types of litter you can easily use the preferred kind in that cat’s preferred litter box location.  The same thing regarding covered or uncovered litter boxes is true.  It will probably take some experimentation to find the just right combo. But it’s so worth it to keep a beloved family member happy for his 15 – 20 years of life.


 

Fact # 5 About Kitty Litter Boxes:  Cats don’t like eating in their bathrooms.

Just imagine how you would feel if your dining table was next to your toilet!  Not particularly appetizing is it?  It’s best to locate your cat’s food and water bowls in or near the kitchen and to place their litter boxes in the bathroom or in open door closets in quiet low traffic bedrooms or perhaps even in your home office.


 

Fact # 6 About Kitty Litter Boxes:  Sometimes kitty litter box issues are indicators of medical problems.

And…these medical problems can be life threathening particularly when it involves a urinary track blockage in make cats.  Read the blog by our friend and colleauge Rita Reimers the Cat Analyst regarding a cat with a urinary tract blockage.

Rita is a trusted colleague who also offers cat sitting services in the Charlotte area.


When you next need kitty sitting services call us at 704-662-0973. We provide kitty care services for residents in Mooresville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mt Ulla, NC who live within 8 miles of our home base. Check out our kitty sitting page to learn more.

How to Keep Your Cats and Dogs Safe During the Holidays

How To Keep Your Cats and Dogs Safe During the Holidays

Pet Safety is important year round. The extra decorations, rich foods and company in and out of the house make the holidays a time to be extra vigilant to keep your cats and dogs safe. With that in mind we offer these seasonal tips to keep your cats and dogs safe during the holidays.

cats and dogs safe

  • Stabilize your Christmas tree so it’s not easily tipped over
  • Don’t decorate with plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs including lillies, holly, mistletoe and poinsettia
  • Don’t use tinsel on your tree…it can cause an intestinal blockage
  • Don’t leave lights on the bottom branches of your tree…pets can be burned and can also bite through the electrical wires
  • Keep ornaments out of your pets’ reach…they can cause an intestinal blockage, choking and cuts on paws
  • Don’t let your pet drink from the Christmas tree water…the preservatives can harm your pets
  • Use lighted candles only on shelves high enough your pets cannot knock them over
  • Don’t use edible decorations on your tree
  • Keep ribbons and strings on your packages out of your pets’ reach
  • Consider putting a baby gate or pet gate around your tree
  • Don’t feed your pets rich and fatty goodies…they can cause pancreatitis
  • Don’t give your pets uncooked dough…it can expand in their stomachs and create bloat
  • Grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts can lead to organ failure
  • Alcohol, chocolate and foods sweetened with xylitol are poisonous to pets
  • When entertaining guests caution them not to feed your pets tidbits from the holiday table and to keep their plates and glasses out of reach of your pets
  • Consider confining your pets in another room when guests are present
  • At New Year’s remember that most pets are frightened by loud noises such as fireworks
  • Perhaps most important, don’t give pets as gifts…instead give the bowls, beds and toys needed and adopt your pet after the holidays

We wish you a safe and joyous holiday season!

xylitol your cats and dogs safe

National Cat Day

October 29, 2015  –  Today is National Cat Day

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We celebrate cats everyday. We’re glad one day is set aside for special attention. How do you plan to celebrate National Cat Day?  The founders and sponsers of National Cat Day have identified 20 Ways to Celebrate.

Ways You and Your Cat Can Celebrate National Cat Day Together

  • If you have one or more cats, how about making it a special day for them? One of the ideas we like the most includes baking some cat shaped cookies for your family and friends and some tuna cookies for your cats. Click the link to see a recipe for tuna cookies.
  • Another idea is to update your cat’s supplies.  Is the litter you use safe for your cat.  Does your cat need a new litter box?
  • Does your cat have places to climb and hide; scratching posts; toys?
  • Is your cat’s food healthy for him?  Read the labels and check with your veterinarian to make sure you are providing proper nutrition for your cat.
  • Speaking of the veterinarian, when was the last time your cat was seen by the vet? Cats should be seen by the vet every 6 to 12 months. Well cat visits are important to assess for dental disease, to assure that your cat is at a heathy weight, to assess the need for vaccine updates and for a general head to tail exam.
  • Important Tip: Don’t just pull out the cat carrier when you are ready to visit the vet. Leave it out with a catnip infused toy in it. Consider leaving some of those tasty home made tuna treats in the carrier.
  • Cats frequently don’t drink enough water so it’s important to provide fresh water and to consider installing a fountain.
  • Another great way to get adequate water into your cat is with canned cat food or tuna.
  • Play with your cat. Their minds and bodies need exercise on a daily basis.

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KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Let’s make it the best National Cat Day Ever!!

 

 

Pet Celebration Days in October

October Rocks for Pet Celebration Days

Here’s the rundown.  Celebrate these pet celebration days where celebration is called for and take heed where action is needed.

Month Long October Celebrations

National Animal Safety and Prevention Month

With all the rain we have had lately, now is a good time to go on a search and destroy mission for wild mushrooms anywhere your dogs walk and play.  A former co-worker’s dog spent the night at an emergency animal hospital last night after eating wild mushrooms.  The dog had seizures as a result.  The same thing happened to the dog of a Facebook friend a week or so ago.  Sadly, Actor Dwayne Johnson’s puppy had to be put down after suffering extensive liver damage from eating wild mushrooms.

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

The ASPCA urges us to adopt a dog from a shelter.  We think that’s a great idea. We adopted our sweet Daisy Mae from National Brittany Adoption and Rescue Network (NBRAN) after they rescued her from Caldwell County Animal Shelter.

Sweet Daisy Mae

Sweet Daisy Mae

The ASPCA offers lots of tips about pet adoption.

The ASPCA tells us that approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats. Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.

Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.  About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.  That’s why we support spay and neutering your pets and adoption instead of buying a pet.

Adopt a Dog Month

The American Human Association declares October as Adopt a Dog Month.  They urge us to take the pledge to make our next dog addition an adoption either from a local shelter or a rescue organization.  The Amerian Humane Association recommends Pet Finder as a great place to start.  They remind us that nearly 3.7 million animals are euthznized every year in shelters. That’s a heart breaking statistic that we can all do something about.  Adopt, rescue, spay & neuter.

Dogs bring so much to our lives. They love us unconditionally, encorage us to exercise and bring us lots of laughs. For that matter, cats bring us lots of laughs too…they just don’t show their love in quite the same way.  Here are some of the dogs and cats we have known and loved during the early days of our pet sitting business (along with a photo of our three).

PSX_20140816_193829 PSX_20150901_144043 Billy and pets PSX_20150319_123846 PSX_20150601_001749 PSX_20150901_143740 PSX_20150901_145841 PSX_20150901_145308dozer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Weeks in October

October 1 – 7  –  National Walk Your Dog Week

National Walk Your Dog Week was founded by  Pet Lifestyle Expert & Animal Behaviorist “Colleen Paige” October is usually a great month for walking out of doors. What better way to get the exercise you and your dog need while strenthening the bond between you and your dog! Let this be a habit that starts you on daily walks with your dog.  For those days that you cannot walk your dog due to work and family obligations consider hiring a dog walker.  National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) and Pet Sitters International (PSI) both offer free professional pet sitter/professional dog walker locater services.

October 11- 17  –  National Veterinary Technician Week

Just as nurses and others in the human medical field are indispensable, so are veterinary technicians indispensable to the field of veterinary medicine.  Checck them out on FaceBook and remember to thank them the next time you take your pet to the vet!

vet techs

Special Days in October

We have four special pet celebration days in October.

October 4     World Animal Day

On their website the fouders of World Animal Day tell us about their mission:

To raise the status of animals in order to improve welfare standards around the globe. Building the celebration of World Animal Day unites the animal welfare movement, mobilising it into a global force to make the world a better place for all animals.  It’s celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology.  Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are always recognised as sentient beings and full regard is always paid to their welfare.

world animal day

 

October 14    National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Did you know that 28% of all cats studied in 2014 were obese? Did you know that 17% of all dogs studied in 2014 were obese?  Another 30% of cats were overweight and another 35% of all dogs were overweght.

Excess weight in pets leads to Osteoarthritis, Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Heart and Respiratory Disease, Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury, Kidney Disease, Many Forms of Cancer and Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years).

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention offers these tools to help you help your dog or cat get back to a healthy weight. It takes conscious effort on our parts to accomplish these goals. You can start with simple steps such as feeding your pets on a schedule instead of free feeding them.  Measure the amount of food you provide.  Remember the calories in treats count too.  Perhaps your dog could achieve a sense of satisfaction with a half cup of green beans added to his half cup of kibble instead of a full cup of kibble.

Get active with your pet. You can play chase games with your cat and provide climbing towers for him.  Remember earlier we talked about walking with your dog? That’s a win win for both of you.

Dr. Nancy Kay, on her blog, Speaking for Spot, offers sage advice.

 

October 16    National Feral Cat Day

NFCD_3Sections_Join

On their website, Alley Cat Allies provides sobering facts.

  • Cats have lived alongside humans for more than 10,000 years. They are part of the natural landscape. Feral cats are the same species as pet cats. Feral cats, also called community or outdoor cats, live in groups called colonies and can thrive in every landscape. They are just as healthy as pet cats, but they are not socialized to humans and are therefore unadoptable.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return—a humane approach to managing and caring for community cats—is the only effective method of stabilizing cat colonies. In the last decade, the number of local governments with official policies endorsing TNR has increased tenfold, with hundreds of cities and towns successfully carrying out TNR programs.
  • However, in the majority of cities, cats are still caught and brought to animal pounds and shelters where they are killed. The shelter system is the number one cause of death for cats in the United States. About 70% of cats who enter shelters are killed there, including virtually 100% of feral cats. That’s why it’s so important for people like you to join us for National Feral Cat Day®, and every day, to help change society and create compassionate communities for cats.

You can help change this by working locally to reduce the feral cat population.  Get involved with Lake Norman Lucky Cat Program to help.

 

October 29    National Cat Day

On their website, the folks at National Cat Day suggest 20 ways to celebrate the day.  If you decide to commission the portrait of your cat, we recommend Karen Dorchesty at Haute Dauge Portraits.  1908369_434803663311547_3989341091501783072_nhautedaugue

 

 

 

 

 

 

We agree with their recommendation to write your congressional representative urging the banning of euthnasia by gas chamber throughout the United States.  And, if you decide to try the idea of donating needed items to a shelter or rescue organization please consider donating to our Presents 4 Pets 2015 campaign.


There you have it folks.  Enjoy those special Pet Celebration Days in October!

 

Meeting the Needs of Your Cats

What Do Cats Need?

In mid April I had the pleasure of traveling to Atlanta to attend a two day conference of the Cat Division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).  Presenters provided information on a wide range of topics including cat nutrition, successful dog – cat interactions, handling aggressive cats, social organization and communication in the cat, compulsive grooming issues, understanding medications veterinarians prescribe and using humane handling and behavior therapy to reduce stress among cats in shelters. In a nutshell, attendees learned about meeting the needs of your cats.

Nibbles

Nibbles

Steve Dale, who delivered the keynote address reminded us that there are more cats in US households than dogs, yet their needs are often overlooked. More cats are given up to shelters than dogs, yet fewer are adopted from the shelters. The most often cited reason for giving up a cat is behavior issues including litter box issues and negative behavior between the cats in a household.

For a long time we humans have believed that cats are independent and non social.  This is just not true. We need to learn to watch for the more subtle cues cats give off when they want to interact and just how they interact.  It’s important for cats of all ages to have toys to play with and to have your home arranged in a welcoming manner for cats.  No, you don’t have to do over your entire home, but consider putting a cat tower in a room, a couple of scratching posts near the furniture you want to protect and some tunnel like areas for your cat to use to satisfy his hunting instinct.

Cat Scratching Post

Cat Scratching Post

When was the last time you took your cat to the vet? Feeling a little uncomfortable with that question?  If you are among the very many cat owners who dread the thoughts of taking your cat to the vet, start thinking like a cat. Instead of only bringing out her carrier when you are going to the vet, leave it out and open so it becomes a part of her every day life. If your cat likes treats, toss a few in the carrier from time to time.  If your cat is stimulated by catnip, place a catnip infused toy inside his carrier.  A trip to the vet will be much easier if you and your cat are not traumatized by the actions necessary to just get in the car.

You might also want to consider using a veterinarian who specializes in the care of cats. If you don’t have a nearby cat specialist, consider using a vet that has a separate entrance and waiting area for cats. All of these steps can ease the stress on you and your cat and go a long way in meeting the needs of your cats.

Curious Cat

Curious Cat

Professionals Who are Interested in Meeting the Needs of Your Cats

Neither Billy nor I have ever lived with a cat, so admittedly we had a great deal to learn when we opened our pet sitting business.  That is the main reason I attended the cat behavior conference  last April.  As we have cared for cats, I have grown increasingly fond of them and have learned a great deal about their needs.  It was time to expand my education and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so.  In addition to continuing education I enjoyed the company of 4 other pet sitters that I regularly “talk with” on line.  We were all interested in learning as much as we can.  These pet sitters know and understand cats and in Rita Reimers’ case, specialize in providing care only for cats.

Rita is also known as The Cat Analyst  and offers cat behavior consultations so look her up if you are experiencing behavior issues with your cat.

Want to Know More about Meeting the Needs of Your Cats?

The IABBC posts a blog that many of you may find helpful.

We also recommend the related articles referenced below.  Happy cat reading!

Pet Poison Prevention and Intervention

Pet Poison Prevention Tips

Our pets are not able to distinguish between safe objects and non safe objects so it’s up to us to keep them safe. March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month and March 15 – 21 is Poison Prevention Week, so there is no better time to talk about this subject than now.

There is a great deal we can do to prevent our pets from being poisoned. First and foremost, be diligent about putting all medications out of sight and out of reach of your pets.  A bored and determined dog can accomplish feats we would never dream of, so better to be safe than sorry.  Make sure household cleaners are safely stored too.

Think about how you might keep a human toddler safe and you have the right idea.  Just remember that although you would not leave a toddler unsupervised, most pets spend a great deal of time every day unsupervised. That means the garbage needs to be empty or made inaccesible to your dog.  For some strange reason the Harwell family dogs like to eat tissues not to mention food wrappers that smell yummy. So we have learned to put a heavy coaster on top of the tissue box and to keep our bathroom doors shut.  We reommend that you keep your toilet lids down or close the bathroom door if your pets like to drink from the toilet.  This is especially true if you use bleach tablets in your toilet tank.  Learn the foods and beverages, houseplants and garden plants  that are off limits for dogs and cats and keep those out of sight and out of reach of your pets. We have tragically read about dogs and cats that have been poisoned by houseplants.      poisonous plants 8648213_f520

It’s much better to be safe than sorry.  Prevention is always preferred to assessment and treatment.  Calls to the  Pet Poison Helpline cost $49.00 not to mention the damage your pet may have already suffered and the worry you may feel.  Calls to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control cost $65.00.

Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline

As professional pet sitters we review safey tips with pet parents when go on our consultation visit. We recommend that all non safe items be out of reach of your pets.  Although they may be fine when you are home on your normal schedule, your cats and dogs sense the difference when you are away several days or more.  Even though we are making frequent visits to your home, your pets may become bored, so we recommend placing all medications in a cupboard your pets cannot access.

 What To Do If You Suspect Your Pet Has Ingested A Poinsonous Substance

Possible signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, trouble breathing, over excitement, loss of consciousness or seizures. It’s important to get veterinarian help quickly, and remember information is powerful.

  • First and foremost, stay calm and keep your pet as calm as possible.
  • Try to determine what the poisonus substance may have been, gather up any suspicious wrappers and if your pet has vomited or had diarrhea gather some of the fluids in a clean container.
  • Try to determine the approximate time your pet ingested the poison.
  • Call the veterinarian or poison control center for first aid instructions.  Never induce vomiting without being instructed to do so by a veterinarian or animal poison control expert. (If the substance is acid or a strong alkali or petroleum based, you should not induce vomiting).
  • If the substance is toxic or corrosive and on the pet’s body, brush it off and then rinse with lots of cold water.
  • Transport to the nearest veterinary hospital for veterinary assessment and treatment.

A handy aid with these instructions can be found in the Pet Tech PetSaver App  for your smart phone. The app includes a handy link to nearby veterinary hospitals and emergecny veterinary hospitals in case you are traveling or the pet poisoning occurs after typical hospital hours.

Want to Know More About Care for Your Pets

We don’t know any pet parent that doesn’t want to protect his or her four legged family members.  It’s a great idea to take a pet first aid and CPR class so you can feel and be prepared in an emergency situation.  That’s why we both took the Pet Tech PetSaver class when we had an opportunity. We were so impressed with all we learned that Billy took a three day class to become an instructor.  If you want to know about Pet Tech, click here.  If you want to register for the next class click here.  Classes are scheduled for March 21, April 18, and June 6, 2015.

 

 

Related Articles

Catification

What is Catification?

Jackson Galaxy says, “The catification process starts by understanding how your cat sees the world.”

What are your most difficult “cat problems?”  Does you cat poop just outside the litter box? Does your cat launch into attack mode when a guest enters the home?  Do you find the look and style of cat trees unattractive? Or maybe you just want to make your home more pleasant for you and your cats. Take a look at Jackson Galaxy’s book Catification.

The book is chock full of innovative suggestions.  Galaxy is the host of “My Cat From Hell” on Animal Planet.  He co authored the book with Kate Benjamin, a cat style expert.

The authors discuss the “why” behind cat behaviors and recommend positive methods to work with your cat’s nature, instead of against his nature. We particularly like the superhighway design that Dan and Jenne Johnson, a Wilmington, NC couple, developed after getting the idea from Galaxy’s show.

As professional pet sitters we visit a lot of homes with cats.  We love to visit homes where the humans have put out cat scratching boxes, cardboard boxes and toys.  Most of the ideas in this book could easily be implemented.  Have fun!

CatClimbingShleves

 

 

How to Transition Your Outdoor Cat to an Indoor Cat

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Outdoor Cat

Are you ready to bring your outdoor cat inside to live? Great because outdoor cats, on average, live to age 5 while indoor cats may live into their late teens or early twenties. While you may not be able to transition a feral or barn cat, most cats can successfully make the adjustments. It will take patience and time but can be successfully done.

 

Indoor Cat

Be sure to provide scratching posts and pads for your kitty. To attract the kitty to the scratching post you may want to sprinkle some fresh catnip on it. Cat furniture that is sturdy and stable and has vertical and horizontal angles will be most appealing. Be sure your kitty has some perches where she can survey the outdoors.

 

 

cat scratching posy

cat scratching posy

Cat gets comfortable in litter box

Cat gets comfortable in litter box

Locate her litter boxes away from her food and water bowls because cats are known for not wanting to eat in or near their own bathroom.  You need a litter box on every floor of your house the cat has access to and at least one more litter box than the number of cats you have.
Cats love to play no matter their age so provide safe and fun toys. Furry little mice toys and ping pong balls are great options. Avoid string though because it’s a choking hazard. When you are available to play with the kitty use laser pointers or feathers on a wand to engage your cat. Be sure to put out some paper bags or boxes because most cats love them. And be prepared to share your sink.

 

 

For more information consult The Cat Behavior Answer Book by Arden Moore Catbehaviorcover

or Indoor Pet Initiative of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Ohio State University.

http://indoorpet.osu.edu/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author:  Beth Leatherman Harwell

www.coddlecreekpetservices.com

 

Special Pet Days and Weeks in August

August is steaming hot.  Let’s celebrate the special pet days and weeks in August for a little relief.

dog days of summerdownload
We’ve all experienced the dog days of summer.  We have no idea where the term came from.  Maybe it was because the heat and humidity makes us feel dog tired.  At any rate, we believe every day with our pets is special, but here are more reasons to celebrate those special pet days and weeks in August.  While you are at it, be sure to make some cooling pupsickles for your pets.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month.

This a great time to be sure our pets’ shots are up to date and to consult the the veterinarian about titers.

 Special Pet Days and Weeks in August

August 3 – 9        International Assistance Dog Week

August 15            National Check the Chip Day

August 15            International Homeless Animals Day

August 22           National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

August 26           National Dog Day

 

Assistance dogs provide a necessary service for children in schools, wounded warriors and folks with hearing or vision impairments.  Without these highly trained dogs, the lives of many people would be barren and bleak.  Micro chipping our pets is a great way to improve the chances of a lost or stolen dog being returned home. That helps to reduce the likelihood of more homeless animals.

Cats are not known for liking to travel. Consider leaving your cat’s carrier out so she can go in and out of it at will.  that will make her trips to the vet a lot less traumatic.  You may also want to consider using a vet office that has separate entrances for cats and dogs or seeking the services of a mobile vet.

So, let’s enjoy the dog days of summer.

How to “Pill” a Cat

How to “Pill” a Cat

Does your cat need daily medication?  Does little Susie take her pills willingly? cat-sniffing-tablet

 

 

Yeah, that’s what we thought too.  Recently we had a new client who needed medication for an overactive thyroid two times a day.  We surely needed to know how to pill a cat.

Like lambs led to the slaughter, we both bravely tried to administer said meds.  Billy was bitten first.  So up next, your intrepid pet sitter # 2.  The first time I wore thick outdoor gloves and bravely followed the instructions of the kitty parent to pry open her mouth and put pill inside and then massage the side of her neck.  Success!  But all good things must come to an end.  The next morning said kitty hissed at Billy so he left her alone until the evening visit.   I tried to bond with said kitty while she hid out under the end table. So far….so good.  She even allowed me to pet her.  Then her Beagle siblings came out of their crates to greet her.  Still all was well.  Then I made the fateful mistake of trying to brush away a tiny speck of dust…….and she pounced!  Ouch went that sharp canine tooth into the flesh of my hand. Those puncture wounds hurt.  And in my case, caused an infection.  Within two hours you could see the swelling and red streaks.  So, off to the doc for a tetanus shot and an antibiotic shot followed by 7 days of oral antibiotics.

Time to do some research on how to give meds to a cat.  First up a conversation with a long time pet sitter.  She asked how I would feel if a stranger picked me up and tried to shove a pill down my throat.  Now, I GET it!!  Enter her two favorite methods altered slightly by me. Here is our new take on giving pills to cats who own our clients.

Preferred Method #1:  Put the pill in a teaspoon of canned cat food and place in kitty’s bowl.  We will heartily recommend this method to all our clients even if their kitty usually eats dry kibble.  Besides, we learned that kitties need some canned food every day because they don’t naturally drink enough water to keep their little bowels in prime shape.

Preferred Method # 2:  If the medication can safely be crushed and dissolved, we will dissolve it in a small amount of hot water.  Next we will pour some tasty tuna water in the solution and moisten a few pieces of kibble.

Short of those methods we will have to decline clients whose cats need pills.  We don’t want to traumatize any precious fur babies and we don’t ever again want to be bitten by a cat!!

by coddlecreekpetservices on January 5, 2014 at

Pet Death and Grief

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Beau the Snow Dog in his prime

Dealing with Pet Death and Grief

 

Losing a beloved pet is so very hard. We are sharing some general tips along with a bit of our journey in hopes that our experiences will be helpful to you.

As a licensed clinical social worker in a local hospice agency I know that everyone’s grief journey is personal and individual. What is right for you may not be right for me. The beauty of the journey is that we each get to make our own choices.

We had no idea how hard it is until last May when our precious Beau was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was just two days short of his 8th birthday when he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and we had just under two weeks to adjust to the idea. By the time he was diagnosed he was pretty far along. When he vomited every meal for two days it was time to take him to our vet.

The initial impression was that he either had a “dietary indiscretion”, pancreatitis or something wrong with his liver. We were given pain meds and prednisone and strongly encouraged to take him to the specialty vet clinic for an ultrasound. We followed up the next day. When the vet told us that Beau had lymphoma I almost fell to the floor. A co-worker’s Golden Retriever had died from lymphoma less than a year earlier and I knew instantly what was going to happen. They told us that dogs can go into remission from lymphoma with chemo and that chemo is not as difficult on a dog as it is on a human. The goal is remission, not cure. We chose to manage the remainder of Beau’s days with comfort directed care. For us that was the right decision. We would have felt selfish to put Beau through any amount of discomfort. For others, we know the decision to treat is the right one. Neither of us can stand in judgment on the other.

While at the specialty clinic I went into the ladies room and sobbed as quietly as I could. That night we invited Beau up on the bed with us. As I tried to go to sleep my mind and heart kept going to the sadness until once again my body was wracked with sobs. I sobbed so hard and so loud that Beau got off the bed never to get on it again.

We strongly advocated for all the comfort measures possible for Beau and felt that we had done for him the best we could do. I dropped out of training for my first half marathon to spend more time with him. We took him on car rides, to our favorite restaurant, for one last hike at Lake Norman State Park and on lots of hikes in our woods. We took video and still pictures of him. And we told him endlessly how much we loved him.

Beau at the restaurant at the lake

Beau at the restaurant at the lake

He declined much more quickly than we had anticipated. It was torture watching him try to poop and not be able to. We called the vet and learned that canned pumpkin helps with constipation.  So we fed him canned pumpkin. Next he lost his appetite (he was a large Brittany who weighed 50 pounds and loved to eat). We tried everything except standing on our heads to get him to eat. We did learn that he liked cottage cheese and plain Greek yogurt. Who knew??? But what he ate at one meal was untouchable at the next meal. We bought very expensive highly palatable canned dog food and sometimes he ate it and sometimes he did not. We cooked veggies and sometimes he ate them and sometimes he did not. Once again we called the vet; this time about his poor appetite. The vet recommended that we back off on his pain meds. But when we did that he just shook from the pain.

Meanwhile I had been researching cures for cancer in dogs along with searching for vets who made home visits for the purpose of euthanasia. We did not want to go to the vet’s office to “put him down.”   While I researched these items Billy dug the grave in our woods. On Beau’s final night with us I looked into his eyes and told him what a good boy he had always been. I told him how much we loved his desire and need to run and be independent. And I told him we would not let him suffer anymore. I told him that I would talk to his Daddy the next day and we would let him go.

Beau's last day

Beau’s last day

On Beau’s last day with us he went on a hike with his Daddy and brother Luke in the woods. We had called the vet (we chose Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice for Beau) and made an appointment. We let Luke wait inside the house and we went outside where Beau was hanging out under his favorite tree next to his wading pool. That is where we said goodbye to him. We were there holding his paw, stroking his head and telling him how much we loved him during his final moments on this earth. We let Luke come out to say goodbye and let Luke watch us wheel Beau in our wheelbarrow to his grave. We laid him to rest with a blankie, a tennis ball and a dog cookie (three of his favorite things). As always Beau was good for a laugh. We had a large tarp under him and used that to lift his body from the wheelbarrow into the grave. As we slipped the tarp out from under him he rolled over and over into the grave. Only our thunder-chasing Beau could do something like that. We covered him with landscape cloth because Daddy could not stand to throw dirt on his face. Together we shoveled the earth over him and piled rocks to mark the grave. It is odd, I am not a grave visitor. But I visit Beau’s grave frequently.

At several points during this process I found myself feeling guilty for feeling his loss so intensely……..maybe more so than even when my parents died. Now don’t get me wrong. I grieved mightily for both my parents, but never did cry. In searching for answers to these strange feelings I discovered other writings that suggested it is not abnormal to grieve so intensely about our pets. After all, they love us unconditionally and never do anything to hurt us intentionally. We tell them things we might not tell humans. They bring laughter to our lives every day. I felt better with those explanations.

Fortunately the intensity did not last nearly as long as my grief over my parents and my healing journey has been peaceful and strong. I still miss Beau every day and know there will never be another dog like him. I visit his grave whenever I want, look at his picture daily and stroke his fur and collar whenever I want.  I talk about him with my husband and Luke.  And I tell our two new rescues Daisy and Trooper all about him.  Poor dogs; they probably have a complex after hearing so much about Beau!!  These are the things that have worked for us.  We hope the tips listed below will be of help to you on your grief journey.

1.  Talk to your pet and tell him how much you love him
2.  Tell your pet goodbye
3.  Keep your pet’s remains in an urn or bury her body where you can visit
4.  Keep a picture and other mementos (we have a clay paw print, a swatch of his fur, his      picture and his collar)
5.  Talk to and with others who have lost a beloved pet
6.  Go on regular walks where you and your fur-baby used to walk
7.  Consider adopting another pet in his honor (we adopted Daisy Mae and now are fostering Trooper with a plan to adopt him)
8.  Volunteer to walk dogs at your local shelter
9.  Volunteer for a pet rescue organization
10. Advocate with your state and federal representatives for the elimination of puppy mills and the elimination of breed specific bans
11. Advocate for the end of gas chambers for dogs and cats in local shelters
12. Contribute to funds for low-cost spay and neuter programs to end pet over-population
13. Advocate for the end of lab experiments on dogs
14. Our favorite one is to start a pet related business. Our loss led us to this one and now we get to play with numerous cats and dogs on a regular basis. Now that is a win-win situation!

[polldaddy poll=7548930] [polldaddy poll=7548933] [polldaddy poll=7548936]

Pet Safety at Halloween

cute-halloween-dog               With smart planning, Halloween can be a barrel full of fun and safe treats for pets and humans.

Halloween is loads of fun. However, joy can turn to tragedy if simple precautions are not taken to ensure the safety of your pets.

“Pets are curious by nature,” said Dr. Steve Hansen, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Hansen, whose department also includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, asks pet parents to be mindful of their pets this fall.

“Thinking about your home from your pet’s point of view will help ensure everyone has happy and safe holidays,” Hansen said. “Pets have the ability to get into everything, especially during the holidays when there is more to see and do.”

To ensure a happy and safe Halloween for you and your pets, Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC recommends that pet owners be cautious of the following:

Ringing door bells and scary costumes  The constant chatter and squeals are upsetting to some pets.  If your dog or cat is skittish, confine them to a bedroom with the door shut and provide an interactive toy to keep them occupied.

Pet Costumes  Chances are Snoopy and Snuggles will not think a costume is very cute.  You know your pet better than anyone else so assess his comfort level.  You may need to take the costume off after the photo opportunity.  Be sure your pet will not overheat, the costume doesn’t have any dangly pieces that can easily be chewed off, and your pet can still breathe, meow and bark.

Escape artists Sometimes our best efforts are not enough and a pet gets out the door.  Make sure Fluffy and Rover are always wearing collars with identification.  If you have a microchip (we heartily recommend this) be certain you have registered with the microchip company and keep the information up to date.

Tricksters  Keep your pets indoors on Halloween even if that is not your normal custom.  Some adolescent tricksters think it is funny to scare your pet.  Funky costumes can freak out your pet even if not intentional.  Black cats are especially at risk on the weekends before and after Halloween as well as the actual day.

Candles  The glow of candles inside pumpkins is festive. But curious cats and dogs can easily be injured or create a fire hazard.  Be sure to keep a barrier between your pets and lighted decorations or use battery powered lights instead.

Dark and baker’s chocolate While milk chocolate is not poisonous, it will cause your pet to have an upset stomach.  On the other hand, dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate contain high levels of theobromine and caffeine.  Animals are extremely sensitive to both and ingesting either type of chocolate could be fatal.

Xylitol This sugar substitute causes a dog’s blood sugar to drop quickly.  This poisoning can be treated, but causes liver failure if not treated properly.

“Healthy treats” Some people choose to hand out grapes and raisins as an alternative to all the candy.  But be aware that grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Ingestion of these substances can lead to kidney failure for your dog or cat.  We don’t even want to think about what could happen with chocolate covered raisins!

Candy wrappers Your pets will not unwrap treats first and those foil and cellophane wrappers can cause an intestinal blockage.

It pays to plan ahead. Remind your children that pets’ digestive systems are easily upset or   compromised by food items humans can safely ingest. Be sure to have a ready supply of the treats your cats and dogs like and are accustomed to eating.  Remember to meet the needs of your cats and dogs for interactive play, attention, brushing and loads of walks for your dogs so they will be calm before the potentially frightful night begins

If your pet ingests any potentially harmful product, call your vet or a local emergency animal  hospital immediately. Other alternatives include the ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426- 4435 for a fee of $65.00 or the Pet Poison Helpline 1-800-213-6680 for a fee of $39.00.

Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC offers pet owners these helpful hints to keep pets out of danger, while still enjoying the food, fun and festivities that accompany Halloween.