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Best Gifts for Cats -- the Easy Way to Pick Them
By Ron King

Do you have a gift list that includes a true cat lover? If so, you're in luck! Buying for a cat owner is more simple than ever, especially with the selection and specialty items available on the web. Before you purchase the first kitty-themed item, stop to consider the following idea. The best gifts for cat lovers are unique and specific to their cat.

Before you buy a present for the cat lover on your list, think about the following:

What type of cat breed does the prospective recipient like or own? Many potential offerings given to cat lovers are also breed specific. If possible, purchase a gift that reminds the recipient of their favorite pussy cat.

If you are buying a gift for someone who currently owns a cat, find out the sex of the cat. Many cat-themed gifts are gender-specific, so you should know what sex your recipient's cat is.

Does your recipient like to dress up your cat? If you are buying a gift for someone who likes to dress their cats in sweaters or other types of apparel, your search for an appropriate gift will be much easier. Don't assume that the receiver dresses their cat, however.

Now that you've taken a few moments to ponder on your recipient's cat, here are the top 6 gifts that any cat lover would be happy to get.

1. A cat-themed picture frame. What better way to show your love for your animal than putting the feline's picture on display? Anyone looking for gifts for cat lovers would be pleased to receive a lovely picture frame to show their pride and joy. You may desire to ensure your intended recipient doesn't already own a lot of cat picture frames. This is a popular gift to give and to receive, so it is not uncommon for avid cat lovers to have more than one cat picture frame.

2. Cat-themed jewelry. It may be common to run across a lovely cat broach, pin, charm bracelet, necklace, or other piece of jewelry. Nothing could be more personal or intimate than a lovely piece of jewelry. If you have a close friend who you think would enjoy this type of present, you will find many online retail websites dedicated to offerings for cat lovers that carry a great selection of cat-related jewelry. For an even more personal touch, you can additionally have these type of gifts inscribed with a message as well.

3. Cat-related stationary, desk calendar, engagement calendar, diary, or books. Every New Year, hundreds of beautifully-designed calendars are put on the market for purchase. The selection can be astounding with hundreds of breeds and cat themes represented. This is a fabulous choice that any cat owner would enjoy receiving, particularly if you can find a calendar that represents the recipient's favorite breed. If you desire to go beyond the ever-popular cat calendar, you can also purchase lovely cat-related stationary for your recipient. Another superior choice is to locate a nice cat-themed diary for your recipient.

Gifts for cat lovers may include a cat calendar, stationary set, or diary that you like. Consider buying the cat lover on your list a beautiful cat-themed coffee table book. Most cat lovers will delight in feasting on the gorgeous photography and text of a good cat coffee table book.

4. Cat themed clothes and coffee mugs. Cat lovers will enjoy receiving cat-themed T-shirts and sweaters. You can frequently find funny cat-themed coffee mugs too.

5. A work of kitty art. Cat lovers abound nowadays, so it easy to find works of art that is cat related. For the true cat lover, a lovely cat sculpture can be a wonderful and whimsical gift. You can easily find all sorts of cat-related ceramic pieces, wooden sculptures, planter, fountain, or other types of cat art. For the truly dedicated cat owner, you can even commission a local artist to do a portrait of your friend's cat!

6. A gift subscription to Cat Fancy magazine! For people looking for gifts for cat lovers, the die-hard cat fanatic will love a subscription to a cat themed magazine. If you can't locate cat-related magazines at your local newsstand, go to your local pet supplies store. You'll see other magazines besides Cat Fancy that your recipient can enjoy to be receiving for many issues to come.

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Cats Rescued After Apparently Starting House Fire
Excite News

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Chattanooga firefighters rescued several cats during a house fire that investigators say was probably caused by the cats themselves.

Fire department spokesman Bruce Garner said firefighters responded to an alarm Thursday morning and found a fire in the kitchen. While no one was home, they found about 10 cats inside.

Some of the cats escaped the house on their own, but some showed signs of smoke inhalation. Firefighters used oxygen bottles and special masks to revive several of the cats. Garner said one cat was not expected to survive.

Capt. Lesley Morgan said the cause of the fire appears to be accidental and most likely from a cat knocking over an unattended candle in the kitchen.

With Homeowner in Doghouse, Bobcats Move In
By David Kelly, Los Angeles Times

A family of feline squatters has moved into a foreclosed home in Lake Elsinore. Residents of the Tuscany Hills development first noticed the bobcats about a week ago.

Taking advantage of a slump in local real estate, a family of bobcats has moved into a foreclosed Lake Elsinore home, lolling about on fences and walls and riveting an entire neighborhood.

Neighbors first noticed the feline squatters Aug. 27 hanging out on a side wall of the empty house in the Tuscany Hills development. At first, they thought the animals were mountain lions and someone called 911.

Four police units arrived, ordering everyone off the street and into their homes.

But once the officers realized the animals were bobcats, they -- like many of the neighbors -- started snapping cellphone pictures.

Since then, animal-control officials have been going door to door in the neighborhood, warning residents to keep an eye on their children and pets and not to leave water outside. It is unclear whether they plan to remove the animals.

The foreclosed home is one of several on the block. Its lawn is brown but still being watered by the sprinklers. The house sits right up against barren, chaparral-covered hills.

At least two adult bobcats and perhaps a litter of young ones appear to be occupying the house. Residents have mixed emotions about their new neighbors.

They don't want them hurt. But at the same time, they worry about sharing their block with them.

"We came here to get away from the city and get closer to nature," said Scott Brown, 36, who lives across the street from the foreclosed house. "They are great neighbors, and as long as they don't want to baby-sit my kids, it's not a problem."

L.A. Unleashed

Last week we blogged about Chico, the (only) meerkat in residence at the Los Angeles Zoo, and linked to Times Staff Writer Lynn Smith's story, detailing the concerns of many who believe Chico needs company.

Did we say many? We meant it. L.A. Unleashed received scores of comments, some of which we'd like to share:

Meerkats are not solitary animals and do not do well alone. Therefore if this zoo can not provide him the basic of needs then they don't deserve to have him. --Angie

I have personally interacted with Meerkats and know how gregarious, curious and social they are. Chico does not act like a happily socialized Meerkat. --Christine

Lone meerkats exist in only a few, usually dire, circumstances and their instincts lead them to attempt to re-integrate into existing groups because that is where they know they are safest. How difficult it must be to be alone with no opportunity for companionship or shared responsibilities when you have always had companions or family around you. Human interaction is not a replacement for instinct. --Susan

I only pray that our little Chico will make it to fellow earthlings sanctuary ( that i have made a donation to) for reasons like this. message to Chico..........I love you little dude good luck --Ann-Marie

See a trend here?

Bird-Watching in the Cowlitz Wildlife Area
The Seattle Times

Audubon Washington offers tips on bird-watching on the Cowlitz River.

Location: Off U.S. Highway 12 near Ethel, Lewis County

Habitat: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife site, riparian deciduous forest, along gravel bar of Cowlitz River.

Best seasons for birding: Spring through fall.

Birds commonly seen: Calling adventuresome birders! Ospreys, bald eagles, belted kingfishers — even American kestrels — fly through riparian corridor. On gravel bar, killdeer feign broken wings. Look in scrub trees for red-eyed vireos, common yellowthroats, varied thrushes and American goldfinches spring-summer, plus western scrub jays and Townsend's solitaires spring-fall. Downy woodpeckers and northern flickers favor cottonwoods. Check river and sloughs for common and hooded mergansers, and common and Barrow's goldeneyes spring and fall.

Viewing: Primitive site with no amenities. Walk around metal gate onto gravel bar to view river. Walk up river a half-mile on fishermen's paths or 100 yards down river.

Getting there: From eastbound Highway 12 after Milepost 74.1, turn south. Drive 3 miles. Turn left onto Spencer Road, then right (east) immediately onto unimproved dirt road leading down to small, bumpy parking area.

Source: Audubon Washington, Great Washington State Birding Trail maps. To order maps (Cascade Loop, Coulee Corridor, Olympic Loop or Southwest Loop), go online to Call toll-free, 866-922-4737, for more information.

Help, My Cat Won’t Eat!
Posted by catlady - Atlanta Pets

First, allow me to introduce myself and provide my cat credentials. While I started off 11 years ago with just a single abandoned black kitten named Michigan, thanks to my partner, I am now the proud servant to two other cats, Elle and Mookie. I also tolerate one hapless canine, Chloe. (She wishes she were a cat.)

Most cats scarf down their pricey feline cuisine, and then try to nibble on their owner’s food as well. Cats will sit on your chest in the middle of the night and yowl for treats. But when a cat stops eating, it can quickly lead to fatty liver disease, a serious and potentially deadly condition. And once cats stop eating, getting them back in the habit of chowing down can be a very difficult chore, usually involving force-feeding with a tube.

Elle, my female flame point Siamese cat, normally a hearty eater, has barely been touching her food lately. I’ve tried a variety of foods and treats, even coaxing her with “kitty crack” (a.k.a. Fancy Feast), and she still only eats a few bites before losing interest. She had a dental cleaning last year, but Siamese are known for teeth and gum issues. I am going to have her checked again for any dental problems. A few years ago, Elle also stopped eating temporarily, and no cause was ever determined before her appetite returned to normal.

I’m concerned she is feeling stress because one of the other cats in the household, her closest buddy, is dying of cancer. There’s no scientific proof that pets can sense these things, but I’ve seen this cat react to human stress. Have you ever had a cat that stopped eating? How did you jump-start their appetite?

P.S. This is my family:

28 Horses Returned to Rancher Accused of Neglecting Them
By Bill Scanlon, Rocky Mountain News

The 28 horses allegedly neglected by a Jefferson County rancher have been returned to him, but he still faces charges at a trial to begin September 25.

John McCulley faces 27 counts of animal cruelty arising from allegations that he neglected, but did not physically abuse, the horses on his property northwest of Arvada.

The horses were returned last week after the Jefferson County District Attorney's office lost its appeals of a judge's decision that sheriff's deputies illegally entered a door to remove the horses.

County Court Judge Charles Hoppin "found that it had been an unlawful search and seizure," said Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the DA's office. "We were on the property legally, but it was illegal to go past the door to take the animals."

Meanwhile, Hildy Armour of Colorado Horse Rescue applauded McCulley for recently agreeing to let someone adopt one of the horses. "We're pleased," she said. "He did a very nice thing."

McCulley did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Russell said that if an owner can't keep care of his horses, adoption is a good option.

She said when deputies arrived at the ranch about a year ago, they found that there was no food for the horses. A veterinarian at a hearing testified that the horses all were thin and that they'd developed problems on their coats because they hadn't been brushed. "You have to do maintenance on these animals."

The trial before Judge Hoppin is expected to last about four days.

To Open Pet Resort, D/FW Airport Must Loosen Leash on Rules

Dallas/Fort Worth AIRPORT — Apparently, opening an airport pet resort isn’t as easy as laying a piece of newspaper on the floor and saying, "Sit!"

First off, there are the rules.

Until now, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s regulations banned animals at the airport unless they were service animals, were used for law enforcement or were properly confined for shipment. Today, airport staff will ask the D/FW Airport Board to add to the list of exceptions "animals in the care of, or in transit to or from, an airport-operated or tenant-operated pet-care facility."

The change will also require approval from the Fort Worth and Dallas city councils, airport legal counsel Paul Tomme said.

D/FW is looking at a site on the Grapevine side of the airport to build the upscale pet resort, including boarding and grooming, day care, recreational areas, a wading pool and a retail shop.

It would complement nearby development, which includes extending Mustang Drive to the east. The pet resort would be off Main Street, across from the Stacy furniture store.

The airport wants to break ground on the project in April or May.

'Pets Destroyed Over Vet's Costs'
The Press Association

Around 1.6 million pet owners have had their cat or dog put down during the past five years because they could not afford to pay for their medical treatment, a survey has showed.

Around 6% of owners said they had their pet put to sleep during the period because they could not afford the vet's fees, while 10% had declined the recommended treatment for a condition for the same reason, according to Sainsbury's Finance.

The group estimates that 927,000 dogs and 822,000 cats have been put down for this reason during the past five years.

The findings are supported by research carried out among vets, with 51% saying they had been asked to put down a cat or dog during the period because their owner could not afford to treat them.

Around 80% of vets also said they had seen owners decline a course of treatment for their pet because of the cost involved.

The group said one of the main reasons for the problem was that advances in veterinary medicine meant the cost of vets' fees were rising by around 12% a year.

At the same time around 55% of cats and dogs are not insured, leaving their owners to pick up the full bill for the cost of their treatment.

Neal Devine, Sainsbury's pet insurance manager, said: "Our findings are very disturbing but also frustrating because in many cases if the owners had taken out good quality pet insurance they would have been able to treat their pet without any problems.

"The current credit crunch could compound this situation even further, with as many as one million pet owners looking to reduce their pet insurance cover or do away with it all together."

Forget the Gators: Exotic Pets Run Wild in Florida
By ABBY GOODNOUGH - The New York Times

Burmese pythons are wrestling alligators in the Everglades. African monitor lizards, ill tempered and up to seven feet long, are splashing through canals in Cape Coral. Vervet monkeys hang around a car rental lot near Fort Lauderdale; South American monk parakeets wreak havoc on power lines; Cuban tree frogs have colonized everywhere, gobbling native frogs as they go.

The southern end of Florida, the most tropical state outside Hawaii, is teeming with exotic beasts. As if alligators, panthers and other native creatures were not enough, the steamy swamps, murky waterways and lush tree canopies here are a paradise for furry, scaly, clawed, fanged and otherwise off-putting things that have no business roaming this side of the equator.

''This stuff doesn't happen in New Jersey, it doesn't happen in Ohio, but in South Florida it happens constantly,'' said Todd Hardwick, whose trapping business, Pesky Critters, gets 60 calls a day from people with peacocks on their roofs, caimans in their driveways and iguanas in their tool sheds. ''Miami-Dade County is probably ground zero for exotic animals that are on the loose and doing very well.''

More imported animals are flown to Miami than any other American city but New York and Los Angeles. Breeders, dealers and owners of exotic pets abound. And when pet lovers find their boa constrictor or spinytail iguana has outgrown its cage, or they move or meet a mate who will not abide anteaters, piranhas or prairie dogs, South Florida presents the perfect dumping ground.

''Any place the public perceives as a large, wild, junglelike environment, that's where you'll see them,'' said Mr. Hardwick, who said he once caught a 22-foot reticulated python under a house in Fort Lauderdale, where it had retreated after swallowing a raccoon. ''Miami is a fast, disposable society, which means whatever is the hot pet today will be my catch of the day next week.''

Witness the Nile monitor lizard, dagger-clawed, blue-tongued and voracious. Monitors have multiplied so quickly in the maze of man-made canals around Cape Coral, a fast-growing city on the southwest coast, that a scientist at the University of Tampa won grants last year to study their ecological impact. Thirty-nine monitors have been caught and killed in the region since summer, said Kenneth Krysko, a University of Florida herpetologist assisting with the project.

''There's no question they are expanding their range,'' Dr. Krysko said. ''They are scaring the heck out of residents, there's no question about that.'' He said the lizards end up abandoned because many pet dealers do not warn buyers how big and difficult they get.

''Any child can go to a pet store and buy a hatchling for $10,'' Dr. Krysko said. ''It's really sad, because this is such a beautiful lizard, just a magnificent species. But no one realizes the ability this animal has to tear off your cat's head with one twist.''

Scientists say the lizards do not pose a danger to humans unless they are cornered.

Cape Coral residents also worry that monitors are eating the eggs of burrowing owls, an endangered species that nests in the ground and is abundant, and beloved, in the area. But Dr. Krysko said it was too early to tell, since scientists have not yet examined monitors' stomach contents (the captured lizards are in deep freeze for now).

While Florida has become hypervigilant about the spread of invasive plants and trees like Brazilian pepper and Australian pine, it has been slower to address the problem of non-native animals, said Skip Snow, a wildlife biologist at Everglades National Park.

''When you're talking about things that move around, it's harder to detect them and harder to do something about it,'' he said. ''There has not been an organized campaign to remind people it's not just against the law but terrible for the environment to release these things.''

Nor is the pet industry a reliable partner in controlling exotic animals, because many dealers are not knowledgeable, said Jim Stinebaugh, a federal wildlife inspector at Miami International Airport.

''Some of these folks were a manager down at Eckerd's and decided they could make a little more money selling exotic animals,'' said Mr. Stinebaugh, one of nine federal inspectors in Miami supervising up to 70 foreign shipments a day, some with thousands of animals. They turn back endangered species and other animals not allowed into the country -- if they spot them.

But they cannot keep out monitor lizards and other species known to make bad, though perfectly legal, pets. Mr. Stinebaugh sees monitors arrive almost weekly, and he said it was not uncommon to get shipments of 1,000 baby boas from Colombia or pythons from Indonesia.

Everglades National Park -- 1.5 million acres of saw grass prairie, mangrove swamp and jungle -- has become a haven for Burmese pythons, which scientists believe are reproducing there. Other kinds of pythons, including the reticulated, ball and albino, have turned up there, too. So have boas.

The park has a python hot line, and it will soon distribute informational fliers about the snakes to visitors. Mr. Snow said people there had found all sizes of pythons in recent years, typically along roadsides but sometimes in the water. A tip last month led to the capture of six pythons sunning themselves along a levee, he said, though he added that park visitors need not be afraid of the snakes, which are not venomous.

''The concept people have of snakes hanging from trees and dropping into your boat to attack you, that's just not realistic,'' he said.

It is more likely that pythons could eventually displace native snakes. Mr. Snow said he had been heartened by reports that an alligator recently swallowed a python in the park -- a bone-chilling battle captured on film by stunned retirees from Wisconsin -- because it suggested that pythons, which have few predators, could perhaps be controlled.

Some of the exotic animals here were released or escaped from roadside attractions years ago, like the troupe of vervet monkeys that roams Dania Beach, near Fort Lauderdale. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew destroyed a number of research and breeding centers and a good portion of the Miami zoo, setting loose 5,000 animals, from baboons and orangutans to wallabies and capybaras, known to some as hog-sized rats.

Those still at large include macaque and capuchin monkeys, parrots and cockatiels, and lizards galore, said John West, a lieutenant in the wildlife investigations division of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

''We had one dealer lose almost 10,000 geckos,'' Lieutenant West said. ''You could look out across a tomato field and there would be a line of 100 macaques walking nomadically across the field, picking up fruits and vegetables.''

Mr. Stinebaugh, the airport wildlife inspector, is in a prime position to monitor exotic pet trends, and thus to predict which species will be turning up in the wild. Tarantulas are hot, he said, as are horned lizards from Vietnam.

It is harder to predict how exotic animals will affect the ecosystem. That can take decades to determine. Mr. Hardwick, the trapper, said it was clear that pythons and boas were displacing indigo snakes, and that parrots were competing with native owls and woodpeckers for tree cavities.

''Some of these battles we've already lost,'' Mr. Hardwick said. Green iguanas are now so common in South Florida that he has given up answering calls about them.

His favored solution? A good hard freeze, which many of the ''alien invader species,'' as he calls them, would be unlikely to survive.

But the last time that the mercury dropped below 25 in Miami was, well, never.

''Maybe in 200 years,'' Mr. Hardwick said with a sigh, ''we're going to be calling a lot more things native.''


4 Books Every Dog Lover Should Read - Part I
By Cattie Coyle

Whether you're a dog owner, work with dogs, or just enjoy spending time with them (maybe you're volunteering at your local shelter or dog sit for traveling friends), these books are must-reads. They will, in various ways, help you understand dogs (and other animals) better, by teaching you how they think, move, and why they behave the way they do. Even the tiniest gesture means something when it comes to dogs, and by paying closer attention to your own reactions and gestures, you can improve your communication and relationship with the dogs in your life.

In my opinion, understanding and being able to read dogs' body language is invaluable to anyone spending time with them. You can put that knowledge to good use every day, for everything from initiating play to stopping an accident before it happens. The two books that I refer to again and again in regards to this are The Other End Of The Leash by Patricia McConnell and On Talking Terms With Dogs by Turid Rugaas.

The Other End Of The Leash
Patricia McConnell is a well-known animal behaviorist and professor in Zoology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she teaches The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships. She has spent many years studying canine behavior, is a sought-after speaker who has held (and continues to hold) many seminars all over the US, Canada, Europe and Australia, has her own radio show, "Calling All Pets", and has written several books and booklets. My favorite is the captivating The Other End of The Leash, in which she explores and explains the human-dog relationship. McConnell is a wonderful writer who really brings the many stories and case studies in the book to life. Her low-key humor will make you smile, some of the stories will bring tears to your eyes, you'll nod in recognition when she talks about certain behaviors, and in the end, you'll have a much better understanding of why your dog does certain things, and how you can help him or her be a better behaved and happier dog.

On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals
Turid Rugaas is a Norwegian dog trainer who has gained international recognition for her groundbreaking research in canid communication. This easy read talks about canid body language, and how dogs (and wolves) almost always try to stop a fight or conflict before it begins by sending "calming signals" to each other (and to us humans as well). On Talking Terms... teaches you how you can adapt your own body language and how to use the calming signals when communicating with dogs. Notice how two dogs rarely approach each other head on. One of them usually makes a little circle to the side before coming over to say hello. This move tells the other dog that the first is friendly and means no harm - an easy technique you can use as well when saying hello to an unknown dog.

These two books are a great beginning for those who want to better understand dogs. In my next article, I will add two more, with slightly different subject matters, but still in reference to dogs.

Cattie writes about animal massage and other holistic health care options for your pet.
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Pets for Kids
by Lesley Munnings

Pets for kids 10 IMPORTANT Reality Checks!
Check out these 10 Essential Reality Checks for YOU to think about when deciding upon a pet for kids

First of all remember the old saying A pet is not just for Christmas. Someone will have to clear the pooh up at the end of it .. all.

So your kids want a pet, well there is nothing unnatural about that, the whole idea will sound great..but wait a minute, stop and think. there are some great positives about this idea...there are also some essential reality checks that need thinking about..a quick read through these checklists will help you make a realistic decision.

Essential Reality Check No. 1

The Type of Pet for kids

The type of pet you can take into your household will depend on a whole host of things such as follows:

How much will the pet costs be - not just to buy - but to care for on a daily basis?

The ages of your kids - a two year old child will probably not be able to handle a pet gently and certainly won't be able to care for the pet..

What size of pet does your child want? - What space will be needed? A hamster does not take up much space but guinea pigs, ferrets and rats need much larger cages.

How much time do your kids and you as a family have to give to the pet?

Will your family be safe with the pet? Will the pet be safe with your family?

If you have a larger pet such as a dog, cat, or goat what effects will it have on your family, friends and neighbours?

How will your pet be cared for during your holidays.

Will your family be able to cope with the eventual death of a pet?

Some pets will sleep most of the day and be awake at night. Hamsters can be very noisy at night!

If your child wants a dog you will need to look into the breed, size and exercise needs of the dog.

Do you already have another pet, what effect will it have on that pet. For instance will your dog be ok with a cat or rabbit or bird?

Essential Reality Check No. 2

True Costs of Pets for Kids

Some pets are very cheap to buy for instance hamsters, guinea pigs, goldfish. gerbils, fancy rats, fancy mice and rabbits and even ferrets. You will still need to consider: The cage set up ( this can be very expensive when looking at the cage sizes that most pets need) in fact they need the largest cage you can manage Food costs per week Bedding Vets bills if your pets become ill. e.g. Ferrets need a yearly injection against canine distemper. Holiday care - you will need to pay for this of course if you cannot rely on friends and family.

Bigger pets such as goats, and dogs and pedigree cats are far more expensive to buy initially, some costing hundreds of pounds. You will need to consider: Bedding and a cage (if buying one for your dog or cat) Leads and collars for dogs. Food bills Vets bills (dogs should have yearly check ups with a vets) Toys Holiday care (kennels can be very expensive) Flea treatment Ongoing veterinary costs if your pets becomes chronically ill.

Essential Reality Check No. 3

Ages of your Kids

As the parent or carer you will need to decide if your child is old enough to handle and care for a pet. How often have parents heard the cry oh but we promise we will take it for walks everyday Or we will clean it out mum, we promise├»¿½. How will you feel in a years time when you find yourself caring for the pets because the kids are busy with friends or away on a school trip or inundated with homework or just plain bored with the poor thing

You will need to decide on a pet that is suitable for the age of your kids.

For instance in most cases it would not be wise to buy a hamster for a two year old child who is still adapting to the world around them and may not know or be able to handle the hamster gently.

Do you want to give your kids some responsibility in caring for an animal. Some kids are very responsible and will be able to manage this. Other kids, well the sight of a baby animal is just too appealing, after all who can resist a cute puppy or kitten or baby hamster?

At first you may need to help your kids, as caring for a pet is a very responsible job. As a parent or carer you will always need to oversee a pets care.

Essential Reality Check No.4

The Space Required

Even small pets for kids such as guinea pigs, fancy rats and ferrets need a lot of cage space for a happy life. They will need the biggest cages you can find space for. These pets also need space to exercise out of the cage.

Cats take up very little space, as do small breeds of dogs. Dogs will need a decent sized garden as well as walks to keep them well exercised.

Essential Reality Check No. 5

Time for your Pets

Do you and the family have time for a pet.

For smaller pets for kids you will need to have them out of the cage and being handled daily for at least 2 hours a day.

Do you have time to clean out your pet at least once or twice a week, or even daily?

Some pets will certainly need the toilet corner of their cage cleaned more often to avoid a foul smelling cage and pet.

Water bottles and food bowls will need cleaning and refilling every day.

Will you be able to walk your dog at least once a day? - dependent on the breed some need more!

Are you willing to look after your pets for the many years some can live? (From 18 months to 2 years for a mouse up to 15 years for a dog)

If you are out at work all day and the kids are at school all day your pets will need and will demand attention when you return home

Essential Reality Check No. 6

Your Pet and Family Safety

You will always need to ensure your kids safety when they are spending time with any pets for kids. Even little pets can bite and leave a wound.

Dogs should not be left unattended with your kids as they are unpredictable. Even a faithful dog will bite and even attack a child if they are in pain or afraid. It happens rarely - but it does happen.

You will also need to ensure your pets safety: Is your child able to handle a pet safely without hurting it.

Is your pet safe with any other pets in the home? - if you have young children and a dog you will need to make sure the dog cannot escape because a door is accidentally left open.

If you have a dog you need to ensure visitors safety as you can be sued if your dog bites someone on your property (or even off your property)

Make sure that when pets are having free time out of cages that: Other pets cannot hurt them They cannot chew electrical leads They cannot fall into toilets or baths of water. They cannot escape through gaps in walls or floors They cannot get outside without supervision

Essential Reality Check No. 7

Effects on Family and Neighbours

The whole family needs to be in agreement if you are getting pets for kids. Pets can be noisy and messy having an effect on family living.

What effect will a pet such as a dog have on Granny who suffers with an allergy - will that mean she cannot come to visit anymore?

If you get a dog will it bark and howl when you leave them for any length of time and will this annoy your neighbours. Will the dog bark when your neighbours are in their own garden. How will your neighbours take to having your pet cat mess in their garden?

You will need to keep your yard free of dog mess to ensure it does not smell -particularly in summer months.

Essential Reality Check No. 8

Holidays and Care for Pets

If you have pets for kids what will happen to them during your holiday times.

Do you have family or friends who can care for your pets while you are away.

If not you will have to pay for your pets care.

This will be expensive for dogs, cats and larger animals.

Even for little pets, holiday care can be expensive.

Essential Reality Check No. 9

Loss of a Pet and Grief

Some children are really sensitive and will be distraught when their beloved pet eventually passes away, or is lost in some way.

This is especially distressing if the pet has died as a result of an accident or illness.

How will you manage this?

The kids will need to grieve, grieving is a healthy part of a loss reaction. We can suffer losses every day in a small way such as not getting something we want, this causes a loss reaction and part of the healing for this is grief. If your child or other family member struggles with the grieving then look at the following and see if it applies. The grieving process has seven stepping stones through which people move. Your family member may not go through them in order or spend long on any one. The stepping stones are: Shock, Denial, Guilt, ,Anger, Depression Bargaining, Acceptance Your child may want another pet this is called bargaining and is one of the stepping stones through the grief process. If your child cannot have another pet, break down the hidden losses that the death of their pet has caused. Could there be a loss of your childs self worth or self esteem. Have they lost their only companion. Has your child lost the only one who listened to them. By chatting try to find out how your child is feeling and help them to work out their losses and then work through to acceptance by doing some healthy bargaining. Would your child be able to regain their sense of worth or self esteem another way? Perhaps helping out with a friends pet for instance.

For some children it may be helpful to have a burial service, so they can say goodbye properly.

(My son kept some hair from his beloved dog)

Our kids have managed the deaths of their pets really well and have gone on to have other pets, for other kids though it has more of an effect so you will need to decide when or if to replace your childs pet.

Essential Reality Check No. 10

Pets for Kids are GOOD FUN!!!

Pets for kids are for the most part a great addition to the family.. They are often good company for your kids especially if the kids are lonely.

Kids can learn a lot from caring for pets and by having pets even when they are lost naturally.

Dogs can encourage the family out to get exercise as they walk the dog.

All our kids love their pets and they are an important part of the family.

So whatever pet you decide upon have fun and enjoy

About the Author
Lesley and her husband are co authors of To find out more about the best pets for kids visit

How to Buy a Healthy Hamster - 7 Steps Guide
by Diana Tudor

Heading for the store to buy a hamster? That's great! But did you do your homework? Here is 7 Steps Guide on how to choose a healthy hamster.
Check the fur: Look for parasites, bald patches, sticky areas and make sure the fur looks normal, shinny and equal. The hamster grooms himself many times during the day so any abnormalities in the coat are because of the poor health condition.

Look at his eyes, nose and ears: Eyes should be clear and lively, the nose dry and free of discharge and the ears soft. Any abnormality in these is a sign of a disease and improper care, so be very careful. Bites signs mean that the hamsters has some altercations because they were kept in a small cage or just cause one hamster is more aggressive.

Look at his cage mates: If the other hamsters show signs of sickness or are aggressive, go to the next pet shop on your list because it's most likely that the hamster you liked has the same problems.

Check his behind: A wet and messy behind probably indicates that the hamster has Wet tail, a common disease among hamsters. If the pet shop assistant tells you that this is due to the bedding and to the fact that the hamster didn't groomed himself well, leave the pet shop because this is a big sign of ignorance from them. They are only interested in selling their pets, unfortunately.

Look for bumps or lumps: These clearly indicate health problems, most often an abscess.

Ask about his age: 4-5 weeks it's the best age because they are smaller and easier to tame.

After you make sure that the hamster you intend to buy has no health problems, pick him up, put it on a table and see how he reacts. Does he come to you, smelling you or he runs in the opposite direction, quite scared? If he came to you, great! You just found yourself a great hamster. If not, do not worry. It's quite normal for him to react that way. Maybe you woke him up or interrupted his meal and he is upset. If he doesn't bite you, this is a good sign and you can take the hamster home.


* Go hamster shopping late in the evening to see the little hamster in action! He is crepuscular so he kind of works in night shifts!

* If you can do this, buy from a breeder to avoid any problems with your hamster's health.

* Buy from a pet shop where pets are well treated.

About the Author
Didn't you know that man's best friend is a hamster? Hi, my name is Diana Tudor and I'm a huge hamster lover. If you want to know more about hamsters, how to buy a healthy hamster and almost everything you can think off, relating to these little creatures, Snooky, Goofy and myself await you at

EZ Shop Quick Links!

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