Archives for posts with tag: your neighborhood pet sitter

Courtesy of Ingrid KingImage

“Cats have a reputation for being low maintenance, which is probably one of the many reasons why they have surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in America. Unfortunately, because of this reputation, many people think cats don’t need as much attention as dogs do. They couldn’t be more wrong. 

Play is vitally important to a cat’s mental and physical health, and it’s especially important for indoor cats. Even though cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day, when they’re awake, they need stimulation, and the best way to accomplish this is with play. In the wild, when lions, tigers and other wild cats aren’t sleeping, they’re either hunting, or teaching their young to hunt. And play is nothing more than channelling your domestic tiger’s hunting instinct into play.

Benefits of Play

  • Exercise. Obesity is the number one health problem in cats. According to a recent survey, 55% of America’s cats are overweight or obese. In addition to feeding a species-appropriate raw or canned diet, exercise is the best way to keep your feline charges fit and trim.
  • Relief of boredom. Cats who don’t get challenged or entertained get bored, which can lead to depression. This can be a problem especially for single cats. I learned this the hard way when Amber died shortly after I adopted Allegra as a 7-month-old kitten. We both learned together what it takes to keep a single cat happy.
  • Stress relief. You may wonder what our pampered house cats could possibly be stressed about. Feline stressors range from changes in their environment to picking up on stress from their humans. One of the best ways to counteract stress in cats is through regular playtime.
  • Help with behavioral challenges. If you watch Jackson Galaxy on My Cat from Hell, you will have noticed that “play therapy” is part of Jackson’s recommendations in almost every case he tackles.
  • Increase of the bond between cat and human, and between cats in the same household. Cats chasing each other and playing with each other is a great way to build a bond between cats in the same household. Playing with interactive toys is a wonderful way to increase the bond between you and your cat.

Creative Playtime for Cats

Toys that simulate play and satisfy a cat’s innate hunting drive will be most effective for creating a fun play experience for your cat that also helps her burn off excess energy. Even though there are lots of cute little catnip filled toys on the market, simply placing one in front of your cat and hoping that she’ll play with it doesn’t work with most cats. Interactive, fishing pole type toys such as theNeko Flies or DaBird are the best way to get your cat playing with you, and to satisfy her hunt/prey instinct. 

Certified Cat Behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett provides wonderful advice on how to make all the right moves with interactive toys in her article on Interactive Play Therapy:

How you move the interactive toy is important. Don’t wave it around frantically just to give your cat an aerobic workout. That’s not how cats naturally hunt. Stick to what’s natural for your cat. In the wild, a cat would stalk her prey while staying as quiet and invisible as possible. She would inch closer and closer and then, when she gets within striking distance, she would pounce. Cats don’t have the lung capacity to chase to exhaustion so don’t conduct marathons throughout the house. Move the toy like prey, alternating between fast and slow motions so it gives your cat time to plan her next move. Here’s a tip: movements that go away from or across your cat’s visual field will trigger her prey drive. Don’t dangle the toy in her face or move it toward her.

 

Interactive puzzle toys can be a great way to keep your cats entertained and mentally stimulated when you can’t play with them. The toys are designed to be filled with treats, and they challenge kitty to retrieve the treats through varied openings in the toys. 

Rotate toys in and out. Don’t keep the same toys out in the same spot all the time – this will almost guarantee that your cats will get bored with them. Put some toys away for a week or two, and then bring them out again. Your cats will think they got a brand new toy. Of course, you don’t want to do this if your cat has a favorite toy that she plays with all the time. I’ve turned my family room into a giant kitty playroom. There’s is no human furniture in the room, only cat trees, scratchers, and a ton of cat toys. Every once in a while, I’ll take some things away, bring out others, and rearrange everything to keep Allegra and Ruby interested. 

Cat toys don’t need to be expensive. To a cat, almost everything can become a toy: grocery bags with the handles cut off, boxes, toilet paper rolls, milk carton tops, tissue paper – in a cat’s mind, these were all just made to be played with. Some cats enjoy chasing bubbles, or batting Q-tips around the bathtub. Think like a cat, and you may be surprised at the things you already have in your home that make the purr-fect cat toy. 

Make time for one or two play sessions, 10-20 minutes in length, each day. You and your kitties will find that you’ll look forward to these session every day.   

 

©Ingrid King 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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I wanted to bring some attention to a rare cancer in dogs because a client of Your Neighborhood Pet Sitter in Atlanta has been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.  When the owner of Marley the Cocker Spaniel first contacted me to hire me as a pet sitter, she mentioned that she had just taken Marley in for testing.  Marley is only 7 and had been having trouble holding his pee and needing to pee more often.  This was atypical behavior for a very well behaved dog.  After she received the test results, she let me know that Marley had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and given six months to live.  In the meantime, we are helping out by being there for Marley on days when her owner has long days at work and giving her and her buddy Bocca as much love and care as we can.  Below are some early warning signs of prostate cancer in dogs.

posted courtsesy of PetWave.com, “Cancer of the prostate gland, also called prostatic neoplasia, is an uncommon but extremely serious disease that can affect both neutered and intact male dogs. Prostate tumors are aggressive, highly invasive, space-occupying masses that usually have spread to the spine, pelvis, lymph nodes, lungs and/or other remote locations by the time they are detected.  Symptoms of prostate cancer tend to develop gradually and include urination abnormalities, straining to defecate, constipation, scooting, bloody discharge from the penis, lameness, lethargy, appetite and weight loss, weakness and depression. Affected dogs can exhibit one, some, all or none of these symptoms. Owners who notice some of these symptoms should take their dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible for diagnosis and treatment.”

DuffyWhen we visit Duffy in her home, we give her a dose of her asthma treatment.

Courtesy of petMD

The lower respiratory tract, or lower airways, includes the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli. The bronchi begin at the end of the trachea, where they split off into two branches. From there they split off into smaller branches, called the bronchioles. The alveoli are the terminal portion of the lower respiratory tract, within the lungs, where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.

Bronchitis is the term used to denote inflammation of the bronchi and bronchioles. Chronic bronchitis is a long-standing inflammation of the lower respiratory tract. The condition of asthma includes both sudden (acute) and long-term (chronic) inflammation of the lower airways due to increased sensitivity to various stimuli, including allergens, narrowing of the airways, and an accumulation of specific cells – seen commonly in inflammation and allergic reactions – within these airways. In cats, both acute and chronic inflammation of the lower airways is denoted collectively as feline bronchitis, or feline bronchopulmonary disease (FBD). Chronic inflammation in the lower airways, if left untreated, may leads to fibrosis (excess fibrous tissue in the lungs) and lung atelectasis (a disease in which the lungs are not able to inflate). This disease can occur in cat of any age, but is most common between the ages of 2-8 years.

Symptoms and Types

Due to the acute and chronic nature of this disease, the following symptoms may be seen for variable period of time:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing (some cats will breath with an open mouth)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Fast breathing with effort
  • Blue discoloration of skin and mucous membranes

Causes

  • The exact cause of bronchial inflammation is often unknown
  • Cigarette smoke, hair sprays, air fresheners, new furniture, and dusty cat litter may initiate an episode
  • Parasitic lung infections (lungworm) are also suspected

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. You will be asked about your cat’s diet, addition of new furniture into the home, and other related questions. An exact cause for this disease is not known, and finding the initiating factor is often a daunting task. Sometimes, something as simple as a new air-freshener is found to be responsible for a sudden episode of this disease, but often the exact cause will remain elusive. After a detailed physical examination has been conducted, treatment for acute cases is started immediately (see Treatment).

In the meantime, your veterinarian will take blood and urine samples for laboratory testing. These blood tests will help to establish the diagnosis, and also to characterize whether the problem is acute or chronic in nature. Fecal samples will also be taken for laboratory examination to see if parasites are present. Your veterinarian may also take samples for bacterial culture to see if infection is involved. X-ray imaging may help in diagnosing the nature, extent, and type of changes in the lung parenchyma (the functional parts of the lung) due to inflammation.

At some hospitals, specific allergy testing facilities are available to find which type of allergen is involved, if any. There are also some specific tests that can be used to take samples from the lungs, which can reveal detailed information about the disease.

Here is a YouTube Video showing treatment

Turkey Tips for Pet Owners from the ASPCA

Reprinted courtesy of ASPCA http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/thanksgiving-safety-tips.aspx

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts—but also for possible distress for our animal companions. Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink.

Check out the following tips from ASPCA experts for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Talkin’ Turkey 
If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don’t offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage Advice 
Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough 
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake 
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing 
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong 
While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

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Sunday, October 21st was a clear, cool and beautiful day for the Furkids Picnic and Party to benefit small dogs adoption and their no kill shelter!  There were contests, lots of dogs, plenty of food and more.  Your Neighborhood Pet Sitters met Max, PIctured above in a crate.  Max is adorable and ready for adoption!  The picture on the right is the adorable Lilly, who is a Furkids rescue alumni.  She was wearing the perfect sundress and bows for the occasion an looking so cute!  Put this Atlanta event on your calendar next year and maybe you will win the raffle or find a new member for your pet family.  To find out more about Furkids, visit, furkids.org

http://www.yourneighborhoodpetsitter.com

 

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A must Read and enjoy, the Huffington Post Reviews Seth Casteel’s new coffee table book “Underwater Dogs”.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/underwater-dog-photos-seth-casteel_n_1277404.html

 

 

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“I Love Pigs”.

Lessons from Heaven

Three months ago, I lost my beautiful Calico cat, Charity at the age of 17.  After months of battling illness, I made the heart-wrenching decision to put her to sleep.  I had held her and comforted her for weeks and told her that I would never have another cat again…she would be my last kitty.  I was with her in the end and returned home in tears to receive comfort from my three dogs.  For weeks, Charity’s cat supplies sat packed up near the door, ready to donate to an animal shelter.

Before revealing the end of this story, I must make an embarrassing confession.  I have always been a dog lover.  I love all animals and have had many pets, but everyone who knows me is well aware that I adore canines of every shape and size.    I’ve never been a huge fan of cats.  I am not saying that I don’t like them, more that I have been dispassionate about felines.  I never understood or took the time to understand them on any deep level.  As a result, I could have a friend for years that knew cute little antidotes about my dogs and upon visiting my house would comment, “I never knew you had a cat!”

And so you may ask, how did a non-cat lover, come to own and take care of a cat for 17 years, through multiple moves and up and down economic times?

Seventeen years ago I attended a Christmas Event for pets at my local veterinarian clinic in South Florida.  I had a pet sitting business and I shared referrals for years with this vet.  I was dressed as an elf and there to take pictures of pets and owners for the annual “Santa Paws” event.  A cage of homeless kittens had been placed next to my elf chair and there it sat for six hours that day.  She was a tiny calico with a beautiful, full and fluffy coat, bright green eyes and covered with fleas.  So we went home together that day and I named her Charity because I did not have it in my budget for another pet.

Two weeks later, my animal production agency landed her a job on a major movie and I worked with her on the set.  She actually worked in a scene with a new up and coming actress, named Jennifer Lopez.  That night on the outdoor movie shoot, it was freakishly cold in Miami and I had her tucked in my sweater with only her head sticking out.  As I walked around, talking to cast and crew, I joked that, “I’m not a cat lover, but here is my cat”.   People offered to take her because she was so very tiny and adorable.  The answer was, “No, thank you.  She is mine now.”  We brought home a pay check of $400 for our work (more money than any of my dogs ever made).

For 17 years, Charity was a low maintenance pet.  She was always healthy, sweet, hardly ever even meowed and was kind and tolerant of the five dogs in our pack over the years.  The truth is that I came to love her very much.  The main reason I did not want to own another cat is because I do not like a litter box in my home and all that goes along with that.

When she was gone I noticed a unique presence missing in my home.  My dogs are so wonderful, but cats offer a spirit and interaction that is innately different from a dog.  I was missing her terribly.  I did some research on sitty kitty and other alternatives to litter boxes, but I was not convinced.  Three weeks after she died, I happened into a thrift shop that was sponsored by a cat rescue group.  Unexpectedly, I was faced with tiny kittens running around behind the cash register.  I asked if I could hold one.  They passed me a kitten with bright blue eyes.  She was cute but immediately when I held her, I was compelled to give her back.  I walked out, telling the staff, “My heart is just not ready”.

Three weeks later, I responded to an ad for a free kitten.  When I went to the person’s house, there were two kittens left.  They were playing on the porch, a brother and a sister.  The girl was tiny and mostly white with a calico pattern along her head, back and tail.  I told the owner about my recent loss and quickly gave her a verbal disclaimer.  “I am just going to hold her, but I don’t know if I am ready for another cat.”  Then something amazing happened.

I picked her up and brought her close to my face.  She calmly looked at me and took her right paw and gently placed it on my cheek and began to softly feel my face, in the same way a blind person would explore facial features.   My heart skipped a beat and from that moment on, I knew she was mine.

I’ve named her Jasper.  She now plays in “Charity’s garden” every day.  And guess what?  She does not use a litter box.  She goes out the kitty door I made for her and prefers to dig holes in the garden and go outside!!!!  Ha!

And what happened to the blasé cat girl?  She makes homemade cat toys, takes tons of pictures, teaches the cat tricks and tapes every episode of her new favorite show, “My cat from Hell”.

See Charity, You can teach an old dog, new tricks!

http://animal.discovery.com/tv/my-cat-from-hell/