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How Pets Can Help with New Year’s Resolutions

For most of us, especially here at Pets fur keeps, our pets wear many hats:  they are our greatest comfort, patient listeners, our best friends, spirit lifters; just to name a few roles .  Our pets often bring out the best in us, and depending on some of your resolutions, they can be wonderful motivations and inspirations to achieve your goals.   So while your dog or cat probably doesn’t have their own new year’s resolution, that doesn’t mean they can’t help with yours!newyearsdog

Lose Weight & Exercise More:  Year after year, this takes the #1 spot for most popular resolutions, and probably always will, considering 1 in 2.6 adults think they are overweight, and roughly the same percent are obese.  But if you have a dog, you’ve got the best exercise partner ever.   Set a goal of how far you want to walk everyday, and stick to it, but not just for yourself, for your dog: to see your pup’s eyes light up when you say ‘walk’ and grab the leash, to see his little dance as you walk out the door.

For added incentive, download the ResQWalk App (it’s free for both iPhone and Android).  The app tracks the number and distance of all your walks, AND it donates money to the rescue of your choice every time you hit the pavement.  Talk about motivation!

Fall in Love:  Another common resolution it to fall in love or find ‘the one.’   Did you know pets can help with that too?  Yup, and rescue pets have even more sway for attracting that someone special.  Check out these stats from a 2014 survey of Match.com pet owners by Petsmart Charities:

  • 59% of women would be more attracted to someone if they found out they rescued a pet rather than bought one
  • 35% of single women have been more attracted to someone because of their pet
  • 4 out of 5 singles are pet lovers

Plus, there are lots of dating sites just for pet lovers, including DateMyPet , MustLovePets, PetPeopleMeet, PetPassions, & MeetAnimalLovers.

Quit Smoking:  If you can’t quit for yourself, would you do it for Fido or Fluffy?  According to a 2009 survey, 28% of pet owning smokers would consider quitting if they knew the smoke could harm their pets.  I hope you’re one of them!  The ASPCA’s Poison Control Center says “Nicotine from secondhand smoke can have effects to the nervous systems of cats and dogs. Environmental tobacco smoke has been shown to contain numerous cancer-causing compounds, making it hazardous for animals as well as humans.”

Cats who live with a smoker are 2-3 times more likely to develop cancer, including lymphoma, which kills 75% of afflicted cats in under a year.  Cats with smoking families typically have nicotine and other toxins in their urine, and are especially vulnerable to oral cancers because they are constant groomers- consistently consuming the cancer-causing carcinogens from secondhand smoke (Mercola).  For dogs in smoking households, their risk of lung cancer increases by 60%.  Small animals and birds are also at increased risk for lung cancer, heart problems, and pneumonia (Petfinder).

So make this year count- not just for you, but for your pet, too!  Best of luck with all of your resolutions and endeavors for 2015.

5 Ways to Show Your Cat You’re Thankful!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I  want everyone to show your gratitude for the felines in your life!   While cats might be a bit subtle in their expressions of thanks, we know its there, don’t we?  A bird-like chirp now and again, the question-mark shape their tail takes when they are delighted to see us, and everyone’s favorite: the sweet, slow eye-blinks of love.  But just because they are subtle doesn’t mean we have to be!  Here are some ways to show them you’re thankful for the joy they bring to your life.

CatBrushedWords

1) Grooming session:

A good brushing can do a lot for a kitty; it prevents matting, especially in long haired cats, removes lose fur that can cause hairballs (which are no fun for you either!), it can be a great bonding experience with their human, it makes them look healthier and more beautiful, and offers guardians a chance to examine for abnormal skin conditions, growths, and other health concerns.

So take some time (even if your cat doesn’t absolutely  love it) to brush them thoroughly.  Offer treats while you’re doing it, especially if they are not big fans of being groomed.  Feeling bold?  Add nail trimming to the session, too.
2) Extra CatPlayingWordsplaytime

It’s easy to forget about play sessions with our cats, especially after long days at work, household chores, etc. But offering your cat regular outlets to expend energy will make both of you more relaxed at the end of the night.  So put in the extra effort; put down the cell phone or turn off the TV and dedicate some time (or extra time, if this is already part of your routine) to play- no, really play- with your cat.  Get them riled up, panting if possible, using whatever toy they like best; lasers, feather toys, mice, balls…  For a most fulfilling experience, follow playtime with dinner or their favorite treat (For more playtime tips, check out my post ‘The Importance of Playtime‘)

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3) Vet check up

Okay, so no cat wants to go to the vet, but it’s in their best interest.  Domestic felines, like their wild cousins, are experts at hiding symptoms of illness (it’s an instinctual behavior that helps them avoid looking like easy prey to predators), so its important to take your cat for checkups and routine blood work, especially as they get older.  Even if your cat is indoor-only (as they should be) and you choose not to get them vaccinated annually, check ups are key to making sure your cat isn’t suffering in silence.

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4) Special Nom Noms

Now and then its fine to give your cat something special to eat, especially as we ourselves indulge on Thanksgiving.  Just make sure it is in moderation and kitty-safe!  Here’s a great recipe from The Ultimate Cat Treat Cookbook. 

 

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5) Companionship!

Just like humans, cats benefit from having company of the same species. This is especially true if your cat is young, high energy or rambunctious, spends long hours alone, or recently lost a companion animal.  Having another cat to roughhouse and play with typically decreases negative or destructive behaviors.   Or, if you have a newly adopted young’n who tends to bother your older cat,  getting another kitten will give your elder feline some peace.  No matter what your situation is, chances are your kitty could benefit from having another.  Not sure?  Come in and talk to us about it- we’re experts on cat introductions and match-making.  See our current adoptable list here.

Of course, if you really want to show your cat gratitude, your best bet is to open all the cans of cat food and bow down at their feet  😉

Myth, Mysticism and Misconceptions About Black Cats

macbeth

MacBeth, an all black boy who was adopted in the summer of 2014, and has brought only good luck to his family!

Black cats are probably the most iconic feline.  Their mysticism permeates the beliefs and folklore of many cultures across the globe, and can be found in music, literature, even comic books.  Due to their association with witchcraft and the spiritual world, much of the folklore about black cats is ominous.  Although these beliefs have roots that are thousands of years old, some have lingered and continue to haunt- not us- but the black cats of today.

In America those that are superstitious tend to associate black cats with witches and bad omens.  In Greek mythology, there is a story about Galinthias who, in one story, is turned into a black cat before being sent to the underworld with Hecate, the Goddess of death and witchcraft, thus making black cats an omen of death.  A common superstition in India is that if a black cat crosses your path, you will have bad luck (many people think this superstition stems from the Americas, but it does not!).

It only gets worse in the Middle Ages when cats were closely associated with heretics (heretical groups prayed with, and sometimes to cats), and so leaders of the Catholic Church at the time spoke out against them.  In 1484, Pope Innocent VIII went as far as to declare that “the cat was the devil’s favorite animal and idol of all witches.”  For many, this solidified the feline/devil connection without question.

During the Black Plague, people eagerly accepted this scapegoat and cats were rounded up and killed. Of course, we now know that the Black Plague was spread by fleas that thrived on rats, so killing the cats led to a sort of Bubonic boom as the rat population prospered.  The few people that did keep cats (sometimes doing so against the law), often did not fall victim to the Plague. It is possible that people were skeptical of their powers of immunity, thus strengthening the distrust of cats and their familiars.  We don’t know the exact number of cats that were murdered during this time, but the bones of 79 cats (whose remains were dated 13th century) were found in a well in England, suggesting mass killings.

Fast forward to the witch hunts in Europe and Salem, Massachusetts where many presumed witches simply took in or cared for stray cats, but the association with the devil was still lingering in the minds of many.  During this time, the belief that witches could transform into black cats to escape death also took hold.

YOUR LUCK HAS CHANGED

These are certainly the most negative anecdotes of black-cats superstitions throughout history, but they are not the only ones.  In fact, they might be outweighed by the positives ones: tales that see black cats as good luck are present in many, many cultures.   For example, in the United Kingdom, seeing a black cat means your luck will change for the better.  In Japan, this is especially true for single women, since black cats are thought to attract suitors. In Scotland,a black-cat visiting your porch is a sign that prosperity is in your future.  In Italy, a sneezing black cat is considered good luck.

THE MODERN BLACK CAT

For the most part, people have accepted these myths for what they are- nothing more than ancient superstitions.  Still, one  in ten people still believe black cats are unlucky.  If you ask me, its people that are bad luck for black cats, not the other way around.  Many adoption groups and shelter volunteers, including here at Pet Adoption Network, truly believe that black cats are more likely to have a long wait before being adopted.  National studies have proven that black and dark cats are more likely to be euthanized.

Chances are its not due to the ten percent of people who are superstitious about them, but rather to other factors like the fact that black cats are harder to get good photos of, they may be considered ‘boring’ or ‘plain’ by potential adopters, and simply get overlooked when the cat in the cage to their left is an orange tabby or Siamese mix.

BlackCats

Anyone who has ever been owned by a ‘mini-panther’ knows how wonderful they are, and that the stigma surrounding them is simply nonsense.  However, the fact remains: black cats need YOU to help dispel the myths, and find them the homes they deserve.  Share this info-graphic and check out our adoptables’ stories.

 

**At PAN we believe October should be a month for celebrating black cats, not for fear mongering… so unlike some organizations, we do not hold black cats back from adoption during the month of October.  Withholding black cats implies that any old witch can fly in on her broomstick and take home a cat from us.  On the contrary, we hold our adoption applicants to the same high standards any month of the year, for any cat.**

 

Gimme Shelter: Winter Feral Cat Care

It is hard to imagine that any animal can survive such harsh wind, snow and frigid temperatures.  Most wild creatures, like squirrels and birds, have great adaptations to help them through (nonetheless, they do appreciate extra seed or corn being left out for them!), but our feline friends need more help to ensure survival.  This post will go over ways to give that help to any feral cats that you might be caring for this winter.

GIMME SHELTER 

Some feral and stray cats, such as those that live in the crawlspaces of apartment complexes, have plenty of warm, dry places to sleep,  but most aren’t that lucky.  When the temperature drops, or there are storms or strong winds, outdoor cats need somewhere to cuddle and conserve body heat in order to make it through the winter.  Whether you choose to go pre-made or DIY, there are a few things to keep in mind: whenever possible, two entrances are always better than one. Cats feel more comfortable when they have an extra escape route, and if they feel more comfortable, they are more likely to utilize the shelter. This is not always possible to do, but ideal.


The entrances should not just be basic holes because this will allow rain, snow, and wind to enter too easily.  Be sure the openings have some kind of flap, cover, tube, or awning to add an extra protective element.  Openings should be just large enough for a cat to pass through, about 5 inches, to deter wildlife from entering.


All shelter floors should be lined straw, which allows cats to burrow under and stay warmer. Do not use hay- it has no insulating properties!  Remember it like this: HAY is for HORSES, STRAW is for CATS.   Newspaper and blankets are not effective insulators either,  and can actually causes cats to lose body heat.  Heated blankets and pads are wonderful additions if you have an electrical outlet nearby. 

Easy DIY Options

Although DIY options aren’t as aesthetically pleasing as the pre-made designs,  they do the job just as well and cost significantly less.  Most can be made with items easily found at any hardware store.  Please note, cost estimates often include the cost of buying extra, so if you make a second or third shelter, you won’t pay as much for them.  For example, if insulation only comes in 20ft rolls, the cost estimate will include that, even though you’ll have extra left over to use for a second shelter.  Thus, your first shelter might cost $50, your second only $30, etc.

Rubbermaid Bin:

Buy two rubber-maid bins, one slightly smaller than the other.  Place the smaller one inside the bigger one, add insulation material (see below) in the dead space, add straw (you can also add reflective material such as Reflextic tape to the inside walls and bottom to reflect a cat’s body heat back onto his or her body).

Easy, affordable, sturdy.  Note the tubing at the entrance.  Visit Spay & Stay's website for instructions.

Easy, affordable, sturdy. Note the tubing at the entrance. Visit Spay & Stay’s website for instructions.

Coleman Coolers:

Coolers are wonderful because they can be bought cheaply at thrift shops or garage sales, and are already insulated, so there is less work for you.  Simply cut openings and fit them with flexible rubber tubing or flaps, add straw, and you’re good to go!  The lids allow for easy cleaning and maintenance.  Again, using reflective tape or Mylar blankets add extra warmth protection.

This cooler was purchased for just $5.00 at a Goodwill.  The metal tubing for the entrance was only another $5.00 from Home Depot.

This cooler was purchased for just $5.00 at a Goodwill. and the metal tubing for the entrance was only another $5.00 from Home Depot. Remember, having two entrances is ideal.


Styrofoam Cooler:  Styrofoam material is often used as shelter insulation, but in some cases, a Styrofoam cooler can be used on its own.  Because they are not weatherproof, they would need to be used only in or under another protective
element like a deck or shed, and only if they could be replaced when needed.   These are easy and very inexpensive.

Small, but cozy and easy.

Faux Rock shelters: These are expensive and can be difficult to cut an opening in, but are a great alternative to use when cat shelters, for one reason or another, need to be camouflaged.  Prefabricated faux rocks can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and garden stores.

fauxrock

Perfect when shelters need to be hidden from neighbors!

Ashot’s Insulated Shelter Design:  Made from a 2ft x 8ft x 2 in sheet of hard Styrofoam, it is pretty affordable, but does require a few tools: table saw, utility knife, caulk gun, etc.  Directions for building available here, or if you are in the NYC area, they are available for purchase from someone who makes them (pricing not currently available).

This is a great design for people that are handy- instructions can be found here: http://www.nycferalcat.org/CatWinterShelterBuild.pdf Also available for purchase in NYC.

This is a great design for people that are handy- instructions can be found here:
http://www.nycferalcat.org/CatWinterShelterBuild.pdf

Insulation choices: spray insulation (kind of messy), Styrofoam, bubble wrap/solar pool cover type material, egg cartons with Reflectix tape (see the ’18 Gallon Tub’ instructable from the Maryland Feline Society), etc.  These options are used in the ‘dead’ space of a shelter’s walls, or to line the inside of the shelter.  Additionally, lots of straw should be added inside the shelter to allow a cat to burrow.

Pre-made Options  These ready-to-use options are perfect for people without building skills or the time to make them, but typically cost more than the DIY options.


Dog Igloo:

dogigloo

Sturdy and easy to find at pet stores (and at garage sales for much less), but they often do not have a flap or covering on the wide entrance which means they need to be placed under a deck, in a shed, etc. unless you fix on a weatherproof flap.

Feral Cat Cylinder:

Cylinder Shelter

These are pretty cute and cost $99.00 plus shipping at Amazon.

Feral Villa

FeralVilla

These come in two versions: unfinished for $48.95, which needs paint, roofing, etc. and a completed style for $72.95.

Thick-n-Thistle

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Comes in two sizes including a heated option. Price for small/non-heated starts at $159 with free shipping.

Remember, if you are caring for outdoor cats, shelter and food is not enough.  These cats MUST be spayed and neutered, or you are doing a great disservice to the local rescue community, not to mention, you’ll spend a lot more money feeding the babies than you would paying for the spay/neuter surgeries.  For general information on Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), visit Alley Cat Allies, the nation’s leading feral cat advocate.  For local TNR resources and clinics in the Monmouth County area, please visit Pet Adoption Network’s ‘Helping Stray’s’ section. 

Best Rescues of 2013 from Pet Adoption Network

As we prepare for another busy and rewarding year of rescue, it is inspiring to look back at the rescues of 2013.  
Here are some of the most memorable stories:

Clive and Callum 

Callum & Clive, full of love.

Callum & Clive, full of love.

These one-and-a-half year old brothers came to us from a horrific situation: a mentally ill person had kept them confined in small pet carriers from the time they were very young. He had found them as babies living outside, and thought he was doing the right thing by taking them in.  Unfortunately, these sweet tabbies spent over a year with barely enough room to turn around, let alone the room to play, chase things, or stretch.  Although their hind quarters were weakened from lack of exercise, their spirits were strong.  Callum, long haired and regal, was immediately excited to play with new things, like feather wands, but Clive, sweet and gentle but coy, was afraid of toys at first and took a bit of time to find his light-hearted side. Both are friendly loving despite their struggles, and have recovered physically and been adopted. Humane Law Enforcement officers, local animal control and Pet Adoption Network volunteers participated in this rescue.

Bright-eyed Burlew (and his sisters, Chalice and Ambrosia) are all still looking for their furever families!

Bright-eyed Burlew (and his sister, Chalice) are all still looking for their furever families!

Burlew  A 9-week old copper-eyed, orange and white tabby named Burlew, and his siblings, were eating from a dumpster in Ciffwood Beach.  They were all captured in humane traps and taken in to one of our foster homes.  After a week or so, it was clear that Burlew had come down with a terrible virus – he stopped eating and would vomit immediately if force fed.  He quickly wasted away to nothing but bones and was extremely dehydrated. A trip to the vet confirmed our suspicions: there was no cure, no panacea for his condition.  His only chance was intense and round-the-clock supportive care to keep his body strong enough to fight this off.  His dedicated (and experienced) foster family gave him subcutaneous fluids three times a day to  stave off dehydration and force fed him in tiny amounts every hour or so to keep him from starving, in addition to administering antibiotics by injection.  Despite all the needles and discomfort, Burlew remained high-spirited and affectionate- a real survivor.  After more than a week of refusing food, he finally took a few tentative licks of wet food.  Everyone was overjoyed; this was the start of his recovery. Strong and healthy for months now, Burlew is still waiting for his forever home and someone to share a pillow with at night. (UPDATE: Burlew was adopted in February!)

Sunfish

This is what a silly, sweet Sunfish looks like!

This is what a silly, sweet Sunfish looks like!

In one of the areas where we do trap-neuter-return (TNR), there was a single elusive kitten that we were unable to catch.  For weeks we tried to trap or net her, but we could never get close enough to her because she had a really good hiding spot: an abandoned sailboat stored upside down  that was too heavy to lift or move by hand, and set on the ground in a way that made it extremely difficult to reach the cavity where she was hiding.  It’s likely that she was born in this very spot.  Finally- when she was old enough to start enjoying wet food, and we were exhausted from failed attempts- we lured her out and into a trap.  Success! And so the kitten was named Sunfish to remind her- and us- of her unique, nautical beginnings.

 

Always has his eyes on the sky!

Always has his eyes on the sky!

Teak  One March night, a Keansburg resident noticed a beautiful tabby cat high up in a tree- who would not (and likely could not) come down on his own.  After being turned down by the local fire department, the woman hired a tree-cutting service to rescue him!  Some PAN volunteers lived in the neighborhood and had gotten involved, and this is how the high-flying cat was brought into foster care with P.A.N that night, and named ‘Teak.’  His new adoptive family, including two sweet children, decided to rename him Tarzan. So appropriate and so adorable for this branch-swinging feline!

Doc & Flashlight 

Getting life-saving fluid therapy, too weak to move.  Then, after a full recovery.

Getting life-saving fluid therapy, too weak to move. Then, after a full recovery.

These two 3-month old tuxedos were found in a cardboard box in Red Bank on the hottest and most humid day of 2013. They were suffering from heat exhaustion, starvation and dehydration. They were lying in their own waste and circled by flies. We rushed them to one of our foster homes and discovered that the female was too weak to even stand, and her body temperature had dropped dangerously low (a sign that she was losing her battle for life). We gradually warmed her and then hooked her up to a bag of fluids. After she was treated, the male got his turn with the lifesaving fluids. Once they were properly hydrated, we offered these weak little souls some puréed food and they ate desperately. It had obviously been a good while since their last meal. It was another 24 hours before the female could get her legs under her, but within a few days the pair had their strength back and were putting on weight and starting to play. In spite of the fact that they were obviously mistreated and abandoned by humans, Doc and Flashlight, now about 8 months old, couldn’t be more cheerful and lovable (not to mention cute). They are both lap cats, and get along great with other cats and dogs, too! They are still waiting for a forever home. They do not need to be placed as a pair, as they will make new friends where ever they go.

Blaine

This past fall, during one of our usual Saturday adoption days, a man stopped in and asked if we would help him find a loving home for the 8-10 week old orange tabby he had been fostering for about two weeks.  Of course we said yes, and then we heard this baby’s incredible rescue: the man and a friend had been driving on route 35 one evening and saw something hovering on the top of the cement median.  They safely pulled over and ran out- it was indeed a kitten, a fiery orange tabby with one of the most boisterous, dare-devilish personalities Brave Blainewe’d ever seen. We thought Blaine, after the stunt artist, would be a fitting name.  What an incredible story! We won’t ever know how or why Blaine got to the median, but we are grateful that everyone worked together to save him.  He found a home the very first day he was shown at Petsmart.

Balthazar  Balthazar (who goes by many names, including Mr. Big and now Charlie) is a big, black, long-haired cat who was found living in a feral colony.  His appearance- ragged, scarred, beat up- had MrBigCollageearned him a reputation in the neighborhood as a tough and mean street-cat, but after he was captured and was recovering from his neutering surgery and his wounds, we discovered he was far from a tough guy.  Instead, he was a sweet and gentle giant who was most likely dumped there and was not fit for living such a tough life.  After some time and lots of TLC, his true look- gorgeous and regal- finally surfaced.  Balthazar had a wise, wizardlike sense about him, like he had seen more things than we could ever know.  Now he is living the luxurious life, one of sunbeams and comforters and windowsills.  His new mommy sends us regular photo updates on Facebook (which makes us happier than you could ever know!).

Merry Catmas, the Best of the Best

Christmas is near and there’s nothing I love more than festive animals that add extra cheer and merriment to the season.  Here is a collection of some of the best Christmas-themed cat videos, pictures, posts, etc.  Enjoy!

Animals of YouTube singing ‘Jingle Bells’

This is my favorite of Klaatu42‘s holiday compilation videos.  He has made newer ones, including ’12 Days of Christmas’ and ‘Jolly Old Saint Nick,’ but this early one is definitely one of the best.

Simon’s Cat

Like Klaatu, Simon’s Cat has multiple Christmas/winter themed video shorts.  This one titled ‘Santa Claws’ is one most cat owners can relate to!

Cats In, On, and Around Christmas TreesIn, On, Around Christmas Trees

Anyone with cats knows that mixing Christmas trees and cats can end in one of two ways: adorablely photogenic, or like the Simon’s Cat video above.  Or, I suppose it most often starts out adorable and then goes terribly wrong.  Here’s a nice assortment of cats in, on, and around Christmas trees- before things get ugly!

Dear Santa… A Cat’s Christmas List

Dear Santa

Okay, we know no matter what we get for our cats at Christmas (or any time of year), they’re going to prefer the box it came in, hands down.  But this post of a cat’s Christmas list is funny and adorable at the same time. 

Cat-friendly DIY Christmas tree

Perhaps your cat has knocked over your tree, chewed the lights wires, or broken ornaments one too many times, and you’re through putting up a decorated tree, then maybe this idea is perfect for you!  This affordable and relatively easy to design cat friendly and climbable Christmas ‘tree’ is rather neat.

Climbable Cat Christmas Tree

Click for more pictures and DIY instructions, via Hauspanther.

I’d like to make it just for fun, even though my cats are pretty well behaved around my tree anyway.

The Alternate ‘Catmas Tree’

In case the DIY one, with all its cutting and measuring, is too much work, this is an easier option. 

Merry Catmas, everyone- tis the season for peace and love!

Hope you had as much fun with this list as I did and that it helps you get into the spirit!  Remember to include your fur-kids in Christmas gifting, and no matter what you do, know that Santa doesn’t support puppy mills or breeders (or buying any animal from a pet store for that matter) so always, always choose rescue and adoption.  Also, please don’t give animals as gifts- they are a lifetime commitment so everyone needs to be involved and dedicated to the adoption- there should be no surprises.