Monday, October 31, 2011

Cat Galaxy Radio, Programmed by Cats for Cats

By Linda Cole

Sometimes it's hard to figure out what your cat really wants. For some felines it's a fresh batch of catnip or a cozy snooze in the sun. The more sophisticated kitty wants to keep up with what's going on, and listening to tunes or their favorite talk radio program is the cat's meow for them. Cat Galaxy Radio is celebrating their 10 year anniversary and it's the only radio station that's programmed by cats for the enjoyment of their cat listeners.

According to professional pet sitters, our feline friend’s favorite music is classical and country music. And their favorite talk radio station is National Public Radio. Nohl Rosen is a cat lover living in Arizona who was trying to figure out one day what his feline friend wanted. His cat Isis kept meowing insistently. She didn't want food or water, and she didn't want to play. Nohl was beside himself until he put on a CD. As soon as the music started to play, Isis settled down.

When Nohl saw how she reacted to the music, an idea began to grow and out of it came Cat Galaxy Radio. Nohl has his own computer company, which made it easy to set up a radio station specifically for cats. He already had two cats that could help him set up programs for discerning kitties, and it seemed like the obvious thing to do. After all, if music made his cats happy, why not make it accessible for other cats to enjoy?

He put Cat Galaxy Radio on the Internet which gave him a worldwide audience. Nohl handles the DJ duties since cats don't have opposable thumbs. His two cats, Isis and her brother Icarus, are in charge of the musical selections. If they give a musical piece a “paws down” it doesn't make it on the air. Icarus is the assistant station manager and he decides what kind of music is played. Isis is the station owner and her taste in music isn't country or classical; she's into Ozzy Osbourne, smooth jazz, funk and R&B.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Do People Want Pets?

My childhood cat, Pepper
By Julia Williams

There are so many different reasons why people want pets. Like stars in the clear night sky, you can’t count them all, can’t even begin to try. Though many reasons seem to be the same on the surface, when you delve deeper into the “why” you begin to see a million shades of gray. Why do people like any one thing and not another? Why do I, for example, love caramel and the color pink but detest sauerkraut and khaki green? Because I’m me, a wholly unique human that brings a cornucopia of life experiences with me wherever I go. The things that have been written on the slate of our soul can’t be erased, and they change the fabric of our life in ways we can’t always comprehend.

I often wonder why my sister and I developed an intense love of cats despite being raised by a mom who was apathetic about all animals. This love of cats, of wanting to have one so much that to live without would be unthinkable and not worth the trouble it would take to breathe, is certainly not hereditary. In retrospect, I think I now want – no, need – cats in my life because at a very young age one saved my life. Not literally, as though he raced in and dragged me out of a burning building. That would be quite a feat for ANY cat!

No, my childhood cat Pepper was not capable of such a thing. But he was there to pick up the pieces of a young life shattered by unspeakable tragedy. He was there to convince me that despite the horrors of reality, I could still dream. He was there to keep me tethered to life even when everything around me was turning to dust. Little by little, day by day, Pepper helped me climb out of the rubble that had become my life. I’m convinced that my beloved Pepper’s “job” was one of healer, and he was very good at it. He, as well as every wonderful cat in my life since, helped to heal my wounds in a way that no human doctor ever could.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fostering: C’mon, You Know You Want To Try It!

By Sue Hayes

Have you considered it? Fostering makes an incalculable difference not just for the animals you provide with a temporary home thereby freeing up space at the shelter, but to your community at large by helping to decrease the number of unwanted pets through spaying and neutering. And I’ve heard tell that fostered animals make some of the best, well-socialized pets. 

What’s not to like? I mean really. In my case it’s orphaned, underage kittens. What warm-blooded person in their right mind wouldn’t want a continuous loop of the cutest babies ever to cuddle and care for while they grow into adoptable little muffins? And yes, every single one is the cutest one ever. Never fails. You’ll see. 

You might feel a connection with adult cats, puppies, dogs, bunnies, maybe even hamsters or guinea pigs! The need is out there. Go to your local shelter. Go ahead. Tell them you’d like to foster. I’m betting you’ll get a warm, grateful smile along with whatever guidance and training is required to start you on your way. You may never look back.

This vice of mine, this sweet tooth for sweeties was born the moment I decided to bring home my first foster family – a mama kitty with her 3 newborns. I had no earthly idea I’d be r-e-e-led in to the point of it being 5 years and 175+ kitties later with no end in sight. It’s become such a natural part of life for me; I have difficulty remembering life before fostering. As vices go, not a bad one to have, I’m thinkin’.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How Lassie Became One of the World's Most Popular Dogs

By Julia Williams

There’s hardly a man, woman or child alive today who doesn’t know who Lassie is, but do you know how she became one of the world’s most famous and beloved dogs? If you’re like me, you may vividly remember watching Lassie on TV or the big screen but not know a thing about the history of one of our most popular animal stars. I did a little digging on the origins of Lassie, and found it interesting. I hope you do too!

Lassie was the main character in a short story called Lassie Come Home, written by Eric Knight. It was published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1938. The touching tale was reportedly inspired by real life Depression-era events in Yorkshire, England. It told of a collie’s arduous journey to reunite with her family after they were forced to sell her for money. The story was so popular that in 1940 it was expanded and published as a book. The novel immediately became a best seller; the publisher released 5 printings in the first 6 months alone.

Because the book was so well received, MGM Studios released the first Lassie movie in 1943, also titled Lassie Come Home. The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography and featured Roddy McDowall, Elizabeth Taylor and the canine actor Pal in the role of Lassie. The Internet Movie Database (IMDB) reports that Pal earned $250 per week while the young Ms. Taylor – just 11 at the time – was paid $100 per week! After this first Lassie film debuted, scores of people wrote to the studio begging for another Lassie film, and in 1945 they got their wish. Son of Lassie was released, starring Peter Lawford and June Lockhart. To no one’s surprise, this film was also a huge success.

Five more Lassie films were released from 1946 to 1951. One of the more memorable Lassie movies was 1979’s The Magic of Lassie with Jimmy Stewart and a cast of interesting characters including Mickey Rooney. To date, there have been 11 Lassie films. The last one was a remake of the original Lassie movie; released in 2006, it was simply called Lassie and starred Peter O’Toole.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Does Gender Matter When Adopting a Dog?

By Langley Cornwell

There are general differences between male and female dogs, but the honest answer to the question of whether gender matters when adopting a dog is: it depends. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, popular among dog breeders, trainers and veterinarians, which answers the gender question like this - If you want a good dog, get a male. If you want a great dog, get a female and cross your fingers. That common adage is not terribly helpful but completely true.

The Dog Pedigree Database, Your Dog magazine and other resources state that the breed, upbringing, personality, training, handling and parentage are more important considerations when choosing a canine companion than the sex of the dog. You should clearly asses your lifestyle, your current (and future) household conditions and your expectations of a pet before making any decisions. Once you’re sure of your desires, study different breeds to develop a list of appropriate dog types. Remember that shelters are full of dogs that will meet your criteria. Expand your search to include breed specific rescues as well. It’s true that you won’t know a shelter or rescue dog’s parentage, but you will be given an opportunity to assess their personality. The training and handling is completely up to you.

The only thing that dog experts seem to agree on is that personality differences between individual dogs makes a bigger difference than the gender of the dog. Because there are slight agreed upon differences, this overview will be helpful in guiding your final decision. Please remember, however, that these are general terms. While a male or female dog may exhibit a specific trait, this doesn’t mean that all males or all females act that particular way.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Small Ways Kids Can Help Shelter Pets

By Linda Cole

The old saying, “Every little bit helps” is true when it comes to helping pets in shelters. Teaching kids about giving and sharing are lessons that will stay with them for a lifetime. If you have a child who wants to do something to help their local animal shelter, there are small things they can do that will make a big difference in the life of shelter pets, and help the shelter, too.

Working with the animals. Most shelters have a minimum age requirement for working around pets. Many cannot allow children under age 16 to volunteer, because of their insurance. However, some shelters will let children help with feeding and socializing if they are with a parent or guardian who volunteers at the shelter. Ask your shelter what their age restrictions are. If your child is too young to work with animals, they can still help in other areas. Volunteers are always needed to stuff envelopes, unload supplies or help with other chores around the shelter.

Make toys, beds and blankets. Simple homemade dog and cat toys are always welcome. Kids can talk with local vets to see if they would be willing to display the homemade items and sell them. Mom and Pop stores are good places to contact, too. The money from the sales could then be donated to a shelter. Pet beds can be easily made out of foam or bed pillows with a homemade cover. Pet blankets are quick and easy to make. Homemade toys, beds and blankets are simple things kids can do to help out their local shelter.

Bake sales are fun for kids and can bring in much needed cash for shelters. Bake sales can be done with the help of a parent, church group, school or any other organization your child is involved with. Help your child make up posters to advertise with the shelter's name included so people know who the bake sale will benefit. Homemade toys, pet beds and blankets can be included with the baked goods to encourage more sales. If you have a farmer's market or flea market in your area, both are good places to sell the homemade products.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Growing Cat Grass

By Julia Williams

Does your cat like to eat grass? Mine sure do. The minute I let them out for a romp in the morning sunshine, they make a beeline for the lawn. Of course, immediately after this grass gorging, they come back inside to redeposit it on the carpet. When I hear that telltale sound I race over to scoot my cat into the kitchen. The life of my carpet depends on it!

This daily act of carpet preservation was the first thing I thought about when my friend gave me a “cat grass kit” last Christmas. “Are you nuts?” was the second thing I thought about. Like I don’t have enough trouble – now I’m going to grow grass so they can ruin my carpet in the middle of winter, when there isn’t a blade of grass to be found outdoors?

Well, in a moment of weakness (insanity?) I decided to try growing cat grass. The little planter was so cute, and the kit said cat grass was a nutritious snack that provided several health benefits, so it sucked me in. Thankfully, the grass I grew for my cats did not have the same undesirable after-effect. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the type of seed; it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. My cats also took to it immediately. The first time I put the cat grass down, they nearly mowed it into oblivion. I had to put it on top of the fridge so they couldn’t eat every last blade on the first day.

Cat grass is very easy to grow. It sprouts in just a few days and grows quickly – as much as one inch a day! It’s recommended to let the grass get at least four inches high before letting your cat snack on it. The grass will continue to grow for a few weeks. If your cat is like mine and tries to eat too much grass at once, you may want to put it down for just a few minutes and then put it someplace out of reach.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What Our Scent and Voice Mean to Our Pets

By Linda Cole

I saw a news story the other day about a little dog named Mango that had gotten onto a multi-lane highway. Traffic was at a standstill as Mango's dad tried in vain to capture the terrified dog. Mango raced around evading capture and finally ran off into a neighborhood. Animal control arrived to help, and the poor dog was at her wits’ end as strangers closed in on her. Finally, Mango's mom arrived and called to her, and the frightened dog raced into her arms. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how confused and scared Mango was. Pets love the sound of our voice, and our scent is the best perfume in the world to them. Our scent can even help lead a lost dog or cat home.

Why do pets steal our stuff? Because our smell is all over everything we touch. They love to snuggle in our beds and clothes. My dog Riley's favorite place to be while I'm working is on a footstool under my desk. I have a pillow on it for my comfort, but she loves to lay on it and rest her head on my leg. I love it just as much as she does; I know she's doing it because she likes to be next to me and she can snuggle next to my scent which makes her feel safe.

Our voice is a sweet melody to our pets. Their entire body language changes when we talk to them. My cat Jabbers will roll over on his back and stick his front paws in the air as he listens to me. His eyes are fixed on me. Then he sits up and talks to me. Some of my other cats will join in to see what's going on. The dogs gather around me with their tails wagging furiously when I talk to them. Some days I feel like I'm a rock star with adoring fans. But then, in our pet’s eyes we are rock stars!

My Siberian Husky Cheyenne was an escape artist. She found ways out of the dog pen or raced past visitors at the front door. She learned how to quickly slip out of her collar on walks. I had to watch her like a hawk. If she got away despite my best efforts, she'd be gone for about an hour before I'd see her slowly making her way out of the woods nearby. When she was running away, my calls fell on deaf ears but coming back, she was worn out from her run. As soon as she heard my voice, her beautiful blue eyes would light up and she'd walk over to me with the most innocent look.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Secrets of a Working Dog

By Julia Williams

When you think about the term “working dog,” this usually brings to mind one or more of the various jobs that dogs do, such as herding, search & rescue, police work, assisting the disabled, sniffing out explosives, or offering a therapeutic paw to hospital patients and others who need one. Those are just some of the ways dogs help humans. Bella the Boxer is a different breed of working dog, but her help is just as invaluable!

Bella is a self-described “dogpreneur,” and she’s written a very insightful book called Secrets of a Working Dog: Unleash Your Potential and Create Success. I’ve just finished reading it, and I highly recommend it. This great book is for anyone who wants to be successful in business as well as in life – and doesn’t that pretty much describe all of us?

It’s a fun read for dog lovers too, because Bella presents ideas that show how we can incorporate desirable traits canines have to make our own lives better. Such as, “Dogs follow their own instincts. We don’t worry about being judged or criticized by others…be your own dog and don’t let what other people think keep you from taking risks and pursuing your dreams.”

I hesitate to call Secrets of a Working Dog a self-help book, because that genre tends to have negative connotations. It was very helpful, though. It’s filled with pearls of doggie wisdom, bite-sized juicy tidbits and chunks of food-for-thought on how to create success and live a meaningful life – no matter who you are, where you’re at now on your life journey, or where you want to be in the future!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Intro to Weight Pulling, a Fun Sport for Dogs

By Jen Lupo, CANIDAE Special Achiever

There are many dog lovers out there competing in various different events. Back in 2009, I found one that sparked my interest: weight pulling. This dog sport has been around for a while, although it's not as popular as conformation, agility, obedience and dock jumping. Weight pulling involves strength and endurance, but it also creates an amazing bond between an owner and their pet!


Most dog owners are unaware of this interesting sport. Any breed of dog can compete or just have a good time with it. From the smallest toy poodle to the biggest Great Dane, each dog has fun and gains confidence and athleticism. It usually involves a dog in a specially designed harness, hooked up to a sled, cart or rail type system. The dog is then given a command that the owner chooses to get the dog to pull forward. Typically, the object being pulled has to be accomplished 16 ft in 60 seconds or less. 

The Beginning

When I start training my dogs for this sport, they just wear a harness around. This helps them get accustomed to wearing the harness and the noise of it clinking around. From there, I have attached a milk jug to the D ring on the back with rocks inside. That’s a great way to get noise going on back there, while walking them around on leash. A buckle collar is the only one I train with. It is the only collar approved for competition, and it’s safe. Chokers and other types of training collars to me get in the way or cause too much correction. Remember, it should be something happy for the dog. Any negative feedback will cause a dog to not want to pull.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Protect Your Pet from the Ghosts of Halloween

By Linda Cole

Halloween is a holiday many people plan for long before the leaves begin to fall. Spooky costumes, eerie sounds, and a house full of masked intruders invade our lives, which can terrify some pets. Halloween is a time for human fun, but it's also a time to remember your pet to help make their holiday as stress free as possible. It's a reminder that's given each year, but it's important because we need to keep our pets safe during this holiday.

Many people decorate their homes with scary ghosts and goblins, and play creepy sounds on the CD player for Halloween. A pet's home is suddenly overrun with two legged creatures that may sound like humans, but they don't look normal and that can confuse and frighten some pets. We don't always notice how our pets react to things we find enjoyable. Scary music and loud noises can be stressful. It's enough to send a frightened dog or cat racing out the front door when it's opened to trick-or-treaters or guests arriving for a party.

Animal shelters are very busy right after Halloween with lost pets that are found and turned over to them. Even a friendly and happy dog can become stressed or aggressive by seeing creatures instead of people standing at the front door. Not all pets are happy when company comes, and dogs or cats that normally go crazy every time the doorbell rings can become agitated with the constant interruptions. The safest thing you can do to protect your pet and your guests is to secure your pet in a room away from the ghosts of Halloween. If your pet doesn't have a microchip, make sure they wear an ID tag just in case they slip out the door. That way, if someone finds your pet they know who to call. If you walk your dog on Halloween, keep him on a short leash to control him better. Using reflective tape on his collar and leash can help drivers see him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Bizarre Behaviors of Cats

By Julia Williams

Cats are such strange creatures. Not strange in a bad way, just prone to bizarre behavior that can leave you wondering what exactly is going on in that pretty little head of theirs.  I suppose there are cat critics who’d argue that nothing is going on in their heads and that’s why they act so peculiar. However, I’m convinced that cats know exactly why they do the things they do! And I think they might even do some things precisely because it keeps us guessing. I think they don’t want us to “figure them out” because being decoded would go against their feline nature, i.e., pretending to be independent and oblivious to us.

After decades of living with cats, I’ve concluded that it’s pointless to try to understand why they do such strange things. Most if not all of the funny things cats do will never be understood. Knowing the crafty feline mind like I do, I wouldn’t put it past them to pretend to be asleep when they’re actually lying there concocting yet another kooky behavior to confuse their gullible human.

A cat’s fascination with boxes is high on my list of the behaviors I find perplexing. What’s up with that? I saw a photo cartoon that had a bunch of boxes on a deserted road, and each box had a cat sitting in it. The caption said, “The cat traps are working.” Funny, but so true! I daresay there isn’t a cat alive that doesn’t love boxes. They sleep in them, play in them, slide through them (Maru!) and wedge themselves into the teensiest box like feline contortionists. Why? And how can that even be comfortable?

Moreover, why would they prefer sleeping in that hard box or on the cold floor instead of their cozy cat bed? Who sleeps on the floor, anyway? I was so excited when I got my cats a multi-level scratching post/cat condo with three places that looked (to my dumb eye) like great places to sleep. They took one look at this thing and bolted off to find their favorite box. It’s become a lovely piece of “corner art” now.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

5 Celebrity Pet Lovers

By Langley Cornwell

Pets love you no matter who you are or what you do for a living. In fact, one of the beautiful things about animals is their loyalty and devotion. It’s always fun to read about celebrities and their pets, and how they interact with one another.

It’s not so different from how I interact with my pets – aside from the lavish meals, fancy beds and matching clothes. Sure, our pets get good nutrition from CANIDAE Natural Pet Food and they have comfortable beds. And even though we’re not big on matching clothes, I’m pretty sure my dog thinks I’m a celebrity, too. 

Adam Sandler

As you might expect, Adam Sandler made an unconventional choice for the best man at his 2003 wedding: Meatball, his English bulldog. Meatball dressed the part, sporting an appropriate tuxedo and yarmulke. Sadly, Meatball is no longer with the Sandlers; at age four he died of a heart attack. They still have fun with their other English bulldog, Matzoball, who is alive and well, and enjoying the good life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Symptoms, Causes and Treatment for a Pet with a Fever

By Linda Cole

It's not always easy to determine if a pet has a fever or not. The general way many pet owners decide if their dog or cat is running a temperature is by feeling their nose. If it's wet and cool, that's a good sign the pet is healthy, but if it's dry and hot that could mean the pet has a fever. However, there are better signs of fever in pets. Pet parents can tell right away when a pet isn't feeling well, especially when they pass up their favorite CANIDAE or FELIDAE meal. We can also tell if they're warm by touching them. If your pet is running a fever, you need to know for sure, otherwise you may miss the reason for their fever. The best way to know for certain is to actually take their temperature using a rectal thermometer.

Symptoms and Causes of Fever in Dogs and Cats

The first thing to remember is that our pet's body temperature is higher than ours. We have a normal body temperature at 97.6 up to 99.6. A dog's normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The normal temperature for cats is 100.4 to 102.5 degrees. Indications of a fever include loss of appetite, lack of energy, depression, shivering, a runny nose, coughing, dehydration, lack of grooming or vomiting.

An infection or inflammation can produce a fever in pets. Anytime their body temperature is over 103 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern. A temperature of 106 degrees or higher can damage a pet’s internal organs and can be fatal. High fever in cats isn't as harmful for them as it is for dogs, but it's always best to get a high fever down as quickly as possible. If you can't bring it down on your own within a day or two, a trip to the vet is recommended for specialized care and to determine why they have a fever.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How to Choose a Healthy Pet Treat

By Julia Williams

When I give my kitties their nightly snack of TidNips treats, I feel like the best Cat Mom in the world. It’s not because they love these treats (well, of course they do!) or that they all prance around the kitchen doing the feline version of Dancing with the Stars (it’s quite the lavish production!). It’s not because their exuberant meows and purrs let me know they think these things are the best invention since catnip. It’s because I know I’m giving them a treat that not only tastes good to them and makes them unabashedly happy, but they’re healthy for them too. June Cleaver would approve of TidNips, I’m sure of it!

As we all know, our pets –though most are highly intelligent creatures capable of doing amazing things – can’t as yet read nutrition labels. I wouldn’t put it past them to learn how to do that one day, but right now their only criteria for food and treats is that they taste good. Smart humans that we are, we know there are lots of things that taste good but aren’t necessarily good for us. Sure, sometimes we eat them anyway simply because we like the taste. And while I suppose you could do that with pet treats too, there is no reason to – because good, healthy treats exist, and your pet will love them just as much as any treat that has icky ingredients they shouldn’t be eating.

If a responsible pet owner goes to the trouble of feeding a high quality food because they want their four-legged friend to be in good health, why wouldn’t their standards be just as high for their pet’s treats? One reason is that while many pet owners will take the time to carefully research a particular brand of pet food before deciding to buy it, they don’t always do the same thing for treats. Pet treats are sometimes viewed as the potato chip or candy equivalent, i.e. a “treat” so it doesn’t have to be healthy. Personally, I view treats as an important part of a healthy diet, and I wouldn’t buy my cats “junk” treats even if they meowed for them by name.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

By Linda Cole

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month is a nationwide campaign sponsored by the ASPCA to promote and encourage people to visit their local animal shelter if they are considering adopting a dog. October is the month designated for shelter dogs, and June is the purrfect month for cats. Every month of the year is a great time to adopt a shelter pet, but since it's October, dogs are in the spotlight for this month.

Throughout the month of October, many shelters waive or have reduced adoption fees to encourage people to adopt a shelter dog. If you've been thinking about adding a new puppy or adult dog to your family, now is the time to get out there and start your search for the perfect shelter pet. Even if your shelter isn't offering reduced adoption fees, please don't let that stop you from adopting. There's a very good reason why shelters have an adoption fee and don't give a pet to anyone who walks through their door. They want to make sure the person adopting a pet is willing to make a commitment to the pet, and paying an adoption fee shows that a potential pet owner is serious about this promise.

Giving a pet away is never a good idea for shelters or anyone who is trying to find their pet a new home. There are people who look for free dogs from “free to good home” ads or shelters and they are not adopting the dog as a family pet. Adoption fees, whether by a shelter or a family re-homing their pet, are more likely to find real dog lovers looking for a pet rather than selling the dog for a profit to someone else. Adoption fees help offset shelter expenses, although most fees don't come close to what it actually costs to feed and provide medical care for the pet.

Every pet deserves a home with a family who loves them. Millions of dogs and cats are surrendered to shelters every year for of a variety of reasons. Some reasons are valid, but many dogs end up in shelters because of behavioral issues that could have been corrected if their owner had only taken the time to seek out help for them. Too many pets are turned into shelters because their owner didn't understand the importance of picking a pet that would fit into their lifestyle. Pets are sometimes surrendered because they got old or developed an illness their owner couldn't or wouldn't pay for. There are things to consider before adopting a pet, and every potential pet owner needs to think carefully about their lifestyle and their ability to make a lifetime commitment to a pet. Adopting a pet should never be a spur of the moment decision.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Accidental Invention of “Kitty Litter”

By Julia Williams

Kitty litter is essential for anyone with an indoor cat. But other than deciding what kind to buy and cleaning the litter box regularly, most cat owners probably don’t give it a lot of thought. I’m not like most people, though (a fact I’m well aware of and wouldn’t change if I could!) so I recently decided to find out how this useful invention came about. I was surprised to discover that the first product marketed as “Kitty Litter” was an accidental invention.

Moreover, this invention dramatically changed the nature of the relationship many people had with their cats. How so? Before the original clay litter, people who wanted to keep their cats indoors had some pretty inadequate options for litter box filler. They used sand, sawdust, wood shavings, shredded newspapers or even plain ol’ dirt. Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how all of those options could be considered a giant FAIL in terms of performance, odor and cleanliness.

When an entrepreneurial man named Edward Lowe began marketing oil-absorbing clay as Kitty Litter in 1947, more people began opening their homes and hearts to felines. Although there have been vast improvements in kitty litter in the last few decades, this original clay litter was a huge step up from the options people had at the time. Hence, a better litter box filler meant that it was more convenient – and less messy and odorous – to keep a cat indoors.

The Accidental Invention

After serving in the Navy, 27-year old Ed Lowe returned to Cassopolis, Michigan and began working for his father's company. The Lowe’s sold ice and coal to the residents of Michigan; they also sold sawdust to neighboring industries, and had recently begun offering oil-absorbent kiln-dried clay as a fireproof alternative to sawdust for sopping up grease spills.

Ed was approached by a neighbor named Mrs. Draper, who wanted some sawdust for her litter box. On a whim, Ed suggested she try a bag of the kiln-dried clay he happened to have in his car. The mineral was highly absorbent after all, and Ed thought it might work just as well for the cat box as it did for the factories. It turns out that Ed’s hunch was correct. Mrs. Draper raved about the clay and wanted to buy more. Because she was so enthusiastic about using the clay in her litter box, Ed wondered if other cat owners might like it too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Feeding Pets of the Homeless

By Langley Cornwell

Have you heard of them? How about Pets of the Homeless? This outstanding national nonprofit organization—known by both names—is a volunteer-based group intent on providing pet food and veterinary care to the homeless, transitional and less fortunate on a local level. 

It all started when animal lover Genevieve Frederick noticed a homeless man with a dog. She wondered what the man fed the dog and whether it was nutritious. She wondered how the animal stayed healthy and what the man would do if the dog needed medical attention. After her initial research, Frederick decided to act on her findings. She turned her simple questions into a national organization with over 290 collection sites in the United States, several in Canada and one in Australia. Since 2008, Pets of the Homeless has collected over 76 tons of pet food and provided more than 2,500 animals with vaccinations and medical care.

While the number is a moving target, the Pets of the Homeless website reports that approximately 3.5 million Americans are homeless. Of that 3.5 million, between five and ten percent have pets. That’s a lot of hungry dogs and cats! Moreover, studies show that many homeless people are in a transitional stage and are without a place to live for only a short period of time. Finding temporary housing or a rent subsidy is difficult for those with pets.

Pets of the Homeless wants to help underprivileged people keep their pets with them, well-fed and cared for. They believe in the healing power of companion animals and of the strength of the human/animal bond. Another important consideration is that they want to keep homeless people’s pets out of overcrowded animal shelters. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Canine Behavior Studies of Dr. Udell

By Linda Cole

I'm always interested in reading new studies done about dogs that help us better understand our relationship with them. Dr. Monique Udell is someone who has her name attached to many of these studies. One recent study conducted by Dr. Udell and her research team explores whether dogs can read our minds. I may not always agree with her findings, but she is an important researcher who is unlocking our dogs mind so we can properly care for them by understanding how they think, their amazing ability to understand us, and why they do the things they do.

Dr. Monique Udell is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. In 2006, she helped set up the Canine Cognition and Behavior Lab at the college to primarily study the social behavior of dogs and the human/dog bond. Her research deals with the social behavior of dogs and how they understand us through observation, reasoning and instinct. The studies ascertain that dogs show remarkable awareness in decision making when interacting with us, and explore how well dogs can understand our gestures, facial expression and body language. Shelter dogs that have never been in a home environment or have been in a shelter for a long time don't respond to humans as well as a dog living in a home or wolves that have daily interactions with their caretakers. Pet dogs and wolves both show they have us figured out and can read us pretty well.

Her work involves canines with different life experiences, like shelter dogs versus family dogs, and compares them with tame wolves, foxes and coyotes to see how they respond to our gestures and body language. She studies the adaptability of the canine social behavior and how it corresponds to living with humans. We have the ability to influence dogs through training and reinforcement. The research done by Dr. Udell and her team is a new way of trying to understand the importance of our interactions with dogs and other canids in the Canidae family. This new way of thinking about our relationship with dogs came after she had visited the Wolf Park in Battle Ground, Indiana and studied how wolves raised by humans and dogs interacted with each other and with their humans. The studies done at the Wolf Park help researchers learn how they read and respond to us, and what kind of signals they show to us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Questions You Might be Asked by Your Vet

By Julia Williams

When our four legged friends get sick or injured, we rely on the expertise of our veterinarian to help them get well, and most do an excellent job. However, there are times when we, as the pet’s guardian, can either help or hinder the vet’s ability to do their job and make an accurate diagnosis. Of course we want to help them because we want a healthy pet, but we might unknowingly hinder them by not being as prepared as we possibly can.

Many times, in order to know what’s wrong with our pet, the vet will need to ask us a lot of questions. How we answer – or don’t answer – can make all the difference. When it comes to my pet’s health, I like to think of that well known saying, “There is no such thing as being too prepared.”

Before your pet needs to see the vet, it’s a good idea to write down the answers to possible questions they might ask. You may know some of the answers by heart, but writing them down makes the vet visit less stressful because you know there’s no chance you’ll forget. And it allows you to review them before the vet visit so you can be prepared.

Questions You Might Be Asked

How old is your pet? (Write down their exact birth date if you know it).

How long have you had your pet, and where did you get them?

Have there been any recent changes in your pet’s diet and/or eating habits?

Has your pet been vaccinated? If so, which vaccines and when did they receive them?

Does your pet receive flea treatment? What kind, and how often?

Has your pet ever experienced an illness/injury similar to this one?

Is your pet currently under treatment for an illness or injury?

Are they on any medication? What are they taking, and what is it for?

What brand of pet food are you feeding them? How much, and how many meals per day?

How much water does your pet typically drink every day? Have there been any recent changes in that amount?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dogs Rule…and Cats Just Sleep!

By Keikei Cole (Canine Guest Blogger)

Recently, Julia Williams – aka the Crazy Cat Lady – wrote an article that posed a question, “Which one makes the best pet, cats or dogs?” Well, when I was reading that one over the boss's shoulder, I almost choked on my CANIDAE TidNips™! As I licked the chewed up pieces of my treat off the boss's computer and desk, it was obvious a rebuttal article was necessary.

When I adopted the boss, I didn't realize there would be fleabags (oops, I mean cats) in the deal. Don't get me wrong, cats are fun to chase, but they sleep most of the time. What fun is that? The boss plays with them wiggling some stupid string on a pole they like to chase. Watching them jump around like their tails are on fire is so funny to watch! Oh, sorry, I was munching on something I found in that sandbox thing and forgot what I was doing. Woof!

About Cleanliness

I enjoy a relaxing bath, especially when it's hot outside. The boss scratches my back all over and never gets mad when I get her wet. It's her fault for getting water in my face. In between baths, I get combed, get my nails done and my ears cleaned out. It makes me feel close to my favorite human and I smell good. None of that wet doggie smell here. Think about it for a minute. How clean can a cat be? Come on, they wash themselves with cat spit! Hey, I'm just telling it like it is.

Physical Activity

OK, you don't have to walk a cat, and I'm sure cold walks on a dark and snowy night may not be as much fun for humans as it is for us dogs, but it keeps the humans healthy and fit. (Although the boss could use a few more walks, if you know what I mean). Dogs get their human out of the house which helps stimulate their senses. We hardly ever pay attention to the, “Hurry up, it's cold out here” because we know how important exercise is for them and us. We get humans to join dog clubs, we teach them how to run agility, show them off at dog shows and get them involved in other fun activities that we love to do.

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