Responsible Pet Ownership

Animals Need Special Winter Care
By DENISE M. BARAN-UNLAND Special to The Herald News

The weather outside is frightful, and so is your pet's behavior inside your house.

While having a dog or cat with cabin fever for a few days is better than taking chances with them when the mercury dips, you don't have to grin and bear it while your beloved animal literally climbs the walls.

You should, however, know how to keep them safe in the cold weather, as well as how to provide amusing distractions for them inside the house when the wind chill dips to unbearable levels.

In short, you should "winterize" your pet, a new concept for most people, said Tara Nemeth, director of field development for Petlane products (, in order to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.

"In the early 1900s, dogs always lived outside the house, but they had very warm barns where they could go inside the hay and warm up," Nemeth said. "Basically, the larger guys with the thicker fur -- like the huskies who are very happy that the weather is not so hot -- can usually go outside as long as it's above 20 degrees, although not for three or four hours at a time.

"But the trend today among owners is to have smaller dogs with fur that is not so thick and who do not come from a cold climate. Some of them probably should not go outside until it is 40 degrees or more.

"The easy way to make sure that they're comfortable when they're romping in the snow is to use a sweater or a doggie coat and little booties on their paws."

The very young or very old pets, as well as the sick and debilitated, probably should stay inside during a cold snap.

Precautions and warnings
Cats, Nemeth said, are a completely different story. Most indoor/outdoor cats do not have to be so carefully monitored as long as they may come back inside the house whenever they desire.
"Cats are pretty smart animals and tend to seek out warm places," Nemeth said. "The best thing you can do for them is to provide a safe, warm place, preferably high above ground, for them to snuggle up and hide. If the weather is going to be very, very cold outside, keep the cat inside for short periods of time."

No matter what precautions the owner to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, it is still important to know the symptoms should they occur.

In hypothermia, your pet will shiver violently, breathe shallowly and appear extremely listless. Pupils may be dilated.

Should this occur, warm a pet slowly by wrapping your pet in warm blankets and consult your veterinarian for further advice and treatment.

Frostbite is commonly seen where the skin is thinnest: the groin area, outside edges of ears, tails and footpads, Nemeth said. It may cause the skin to look white, reddish or gray. Again, bring the animal into the house, consult your veterinarian and warm slowly. Rubbing or warming too quickly may result in tissue damage.

Beware of salt
As serious as hypothermia and frostbite can be to your pet, by far, Nemeth said, sidewalks covered in salt may be one of the biggest reasons dogs and cats pay an emergency trip during the veterinarian during the winter months.
"Pets that go outside and eat snow can literally eat mouthfuls of it," Nemeth said. "Even if they don't eat snow, they will walk on it and get pellets between their paws. When they come inside may lick their paws to get rid of it.

"But salt heats up to very, very high temperatures and it can literally burn their stomach and intestines. If they eat it in sufficiently large enough quantities, it can make them very ill, even causing seizures, comas and possibly killing them."

The solution? Buy pet-friendly ice melt, Nemeth said.

When that is not possible, or if your pet has walked in an area where salt is used, be certain to wipe down its paws after it comes back inside the house.

Keeping pets busy
But when weather is so inclement that it is unsuitable for man and beast, take heart. By keeping your pet intellectually stimulated, you stave off boredom and frustration for them and retain peace of mind and sanity for you.
Dogs may be happily occupied for hours by having something on which to gnaw, especially toys that contain "everlasting" treats. Cats may be soothed with climbing toys, especially if the texture resembles tree bark. Both dogs and cats enjoy "hunting" for treats.

"Pets like new things, but you don't have to spend a lot of money on toys," said cat owner Dara Connor of Essex. "Use your imagination and see what you have around the house."

Her indoor/outdoor cat, Kitty, likes to play with empty boxes and a string of rubber bands that Connor will dangle before her. At other times, Connor will let Kitty explore a room that is otherwise off limits.

So far Kitty, who is in kidney failure, hasn't wanted to play outside in the cold weather, but Connor is ready with booties and a sweater should she change her mind. "Wild animals have the instinct to take care of themselves, but pets are domesticated," Connor said. "They rely on their owners to take care of them."

Pet Shop and Breeder Want Ad Warning
by Mary Schwager, Boston News You Can Use Examiner

If you are opening the classified ads to pick out the perfect pet for someone this holiday season, read this before you call.

You probably figure the dogs or cats listed come from a cute family with 2.5 kids whose Golden Retriever got over the fence and came home with a "surprise". Or maybe it appears they just have a love for Labs or Siamese cats, and that may be the case with many ads. But if you take a close look at some--work your way down from the "B’s for Beagles to the "W’s" for Weimaraners you may notice a few phone numbers are the same. That’s red flag number one it could be a pet shop-advertising trick.

If you show up at what appears to be a house or a breeder listed in an ad and you notice more than one litter of pups and more than one breed--that should be waving red flag number two that you may be in a pet shop, which could be selling animals from anywhere, including puppy mills. It doesn't’t look at all like the stereotypical mall store with the doggie pressing its nose against the window and that’s what they are relying on.

We’ve gotten hundreds of complaints from people who thought they bought a pet from a local breeder. They get home and the pet gets ill. They call back the "breeder" who tells them their grim choice: bring the pet back for a refund or replacement, but they don’t pay for vet bills. We found that's legal.

There’s no puppy lemon law in Massachusetts. Families are forced to make a tough choice, shell out possibly thousands for medical bills for that fluff ball you fell in love with or bring the pet back for a refund or replacement. Some say it’s pretty heartless and for years have pushed lawmakers to change the rules.

This doesn't mean every pet you get from a legitimate breeder or rescue organization will be free of health problems. But at least educate yourself on where Fido or Friskies really comes from before your open your heart and wallet to heartbreak.

The Mass Department of Agriculture regulates pet shops. You can file a complaint and get more information on what to look for if you want to buy a pet on their website. You can also contact the MSPCA or Animal Rescue League to report conditions that are questionable or should be investigated. Outside of Massachusetts contact your state society for the prevention of cruelty to animals.

Car Travel With Your Pet
by Casey Cavalier, Dallas Pet Health Examiner

Traveling with pets can be a trying experience, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are three important tips.

Microchip & ID – Having a chip implanted between your dog’s shoulder blades is the best way to protect him in the event he is lost while traveling. Services like HomeAgain will dispatch information about your lost pet up to 25-miles from the location he or she was lost. Nearby shelters and vets will be notified promptly. Though less high-tech, a good old fashioned collar and name tag with your cell phone number on it might also help reunite you with your pet if it is lost during a car trip.

Food and Water – If your dog is prone to carsickness, feed him a few hours before embarking on your journey. Then feed him only small amounts at a time while you are traveling. Give your dog a little bit of water as often as he likes, but don’t allow him to get parched and then drink a lot of water at once. If your trip lasts for more than one day, maintain your dog’s regular feeding time and give him the same food he receives at home. If possible, also bring a gallon of water from your home tap and use it for your pet’s watering. Eliminating water and dietary changes stems the possibility of sickness.

Comfort and Restraints – You may choose to restrain your dog while traveling. You can do this using a carrier, crate or actual restraints available at your local pet store. Ask for assistance when choosing the best-sized restraint. Also, don’t wait until your departure to introduce these items to your dog. Begin using the carrier, crate or restraints on short trips before your departure date.With luck, your dog will become used to the setup before it is time for your big trip.

Cats in the car - There isn't a good reason to travel with your cat roaming free in the car. Put your cat in a carrier and make sure the carrier is secured by a seat belt.


For the Birds...Really!
by Nelson Greene III, D.C. Pet Store Examiner

A long, long time ago. In a galaxy far, far away. Okay fine, it was about 30 years ago and in Rockville, Maryland. Anyway, there was a woman named Ruth Hanessian. Ruth had a dream and in that dream there were animals. Animals of all kinds, big dogs, small hamsters, slimy newts and most importantly...birds. Ruth opened a pet store, she named it the Animal Exchange, and it was good. People came from far and wide to drink deeply of Ruth's wisdom and to make a happier and healthier world for them and their animal friends.

Flash forward to today. The Animal Exchange has changed quite a bit. It's moved, now located at 605 Hungerford Dr. in Rockville and it's inventory has become a bit more streamlined. You can still get food and toys for just about any type of pet you've got but if you're looking for pets you'll only find a few reptiles, a fantastic selection of small mammals and birds. Lots of birds.

The first thing you hear when you step into the Animal Exchange is the sound of hundreds of birds. But it's not what you think. There is none of the discordant screeching, screaming and squawking. Instead there are light tweets, lilting trills and sweet songs. It really is bird paradise. Ruth and her family love birds and it shows. Upon entering you are immediately surrounded by cages, swings, ladders and you will never find more things affixed with small bells than you will here.

What really stands out to me about the place is the attitude of Ruth and her staff. I spent about thirty minutes today just talking with her and her son Pat, trading stories about the pets we have and those we've parted with (I miss you Watson), swapping trade secrets and generally being made to feel like I was a person, an asset, a kindred spirit if you will, not just another sale. I asked Pat for toy recommendations for my pet Nanday Conure, Head. Not only did he come up with two that Head isn't likely to get bored with for awhile, but he didn't go immediately to the highest priced toy on the shelf, he found two that he honestly felt the bird would enjoy. And he was right.

Like I said it's mostly birds and small mammals these days but OH! What a selection they have! The bunnies are fluffy and bright eyed with their noses just a-wigglin'. The hamsters are healthy and fat and doing all the things that hamsters should, running on a wheel here, chewing on a nut there or snoozing in a big, fuzzy pile in the corner! Yeah so I'm a little jealous of a hamster's life...don't judge me. And the birds are phenomenal, finches, canaries, parakeets and cockatiels and each and every animal in the store is homegrown from a local breeder. Let me say that again because it's important...LOCAL BREEDER. That's important not only for quality but for accountability and, in these tough economic times, keeping our dollars here at home supporting each other.

If all of these things aren't enough to get you to go check them out I've got two words for you. Artie and Andy. No not the radio show that's Amos and Andy (or Opie and Anthony if you like talk radio). Artie is a beautiful, big Black Palm Cockatoo and Andy is a Hyacinth Macaw (note: in this author's opinion, Hyacinth Macaws are the most awesomest pet bird you could ever have!) who is lively and attentive and one of the most amazing sights you'll ever get to see up close.

So if you're like me and love a pet store with a friendly touch, where the staff knows you, your pets and gives advice that you can count on, or if you just think birds are really cool and you want to see some great ones up close, go out to the Animal Exchange and say hi to Ruth and Pat. They won't let you down.


Save Money and Help Your Pet
By Jura Koncius - The Washington Post

Sure, you could cut down on the number of pet toys you buy, but there are many other practical ways to cut the cost of pet care in these challenging economic times.

We called California pet expert Warren Eckstein, who has a new Saturday radio show on Sirius, to get some ideas:

• If your vet prescribes medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs that are used for humans as well as animals, don’t always fill the prescription at the vet’s office. Try going to a low cost pharmacy such as Costco or Wal-Mart.

• Don’t forgo taking your pet for annual check-ups. Early diagnosis of a condition or serious disease is so important for your pet’s well being and it can also save you big money.

• Consider feeding your dogs or cats a nationally advertised brand of dog food available in supermarkets or pet super stores instead of the more expensive or designer varieties. Check with your vet first, of course, before making any changes in your pet’s diet and get their advice. Look for the AAFCO label (Association of American Feed Control Officials) on the pet food packaging; they test the nutritional value of pet foods.

• Fresh air and exercise go a long way in saving money because your pet will be a whole lot healthier in general. Eckstein also likes to give dogs a daily massage.

Your pet deserves as nice a bed as you have.

Today, stores are filled with dog and cat beds made of trendy fabrics with cushy fillings. But what is really the most comfortable sleeping spot for your pet that is easy for you to keep clean?

A new book “Clean Home, Green Home” by Kimberly Delaney (Morris Book Publishing/Globe Pequot Press; $20) has some great common sense ideas for pet beds that also make good eco-sense.

• The most important consideration in choosing a bed is washability. Beds can harbor pets, but also fleas and dust mites, so washing the covers frequently is important. Between washings, shake the bed outdoors on a regular basis. This can keep dander and dirt from spreading around the house.

• Try to find bedding that is filled with natural materials and covered with natural fibers. She suggests hemp, wool and organic cotton for exteriors. Natural fillings include kapok, buckwheat and recycled soda bottles. Avoid beds filled with petroleum based polyurethane foam — it is flammable and might contain formaldehyde.

• Cedar chips are a good choice for a filling because they deter fleas and naturally absorb odors.

More than 6 million American households have birds as pets. In fact, there are more than 16 million pet birds out there, according to the American Pet Products Association.

If you are considering buying a bird, here are some things to consider:

• Study the different characteristics of each breed and make sure the bird you choose will fit in with your lifestyle. Some birds like a lot of attention, and need toys and interaction to prevent from becoming bored. Some love to chatter and others love to scream, so decide whether you and your family (and neighbors) are comfortable with that if you choose something like a noisy macaw.

• Buy only from a specialized breeder or a reputable pet store.

• Make sure the bird looks healthy; check out if its eyes are clear.

• Take your bird for a check-up at your vet as soon after you get it as possible.

For more information, contact your local veterinarian and local clubs of bird fanciers.

Ask Dog Lady: Some ‘Plane’ Advice about Dog Travels
dogladylogo2007.jpg - GateHouse News Service

Cambridge —
Dear Dog Lady,
I am looking for helpful advice on taking my dog on an airplane for the first time. Simon is a rescue dog that I got last August. I am planning to take him to on an airplane in December. He is about 4 years old and weighs approximately 8 pounds, so he can fit under the seat. I have purchased a carrier for him to travel in and have been “travel training” with him a little each day around the house. Do you have any advice/tips that can make this as uneventful as possible?


Pat, you’re very smart to work with Simon beforehand. The hardest part of taking a dog along for the ride often involves coaxing the beast into a container. Dog Lady didn’t rehearse the way you are doing and she paid for it. On the morning we were rushing to leave, with a taxi waiting, darling suddenly decided he didn’t want to go into the bag. He went rigid and resisted with all his might. An assertive neighbor finally had to help.

Once bagged, he did just fine under the seat. Dog Lady followed the airline’s direction by not calling attention to the terrier. As the plane was landing, however, she couldn’t resist murmuring to the silent bag at her feet: “It’s OK, sweetheart, you’ll be out soon.” The woman squashed beside her turned pale and looked aghast before Dog Lady explained she was merely talking to a dog.

You should schedule a quick visit to your veterinarian and inquire whether a tiny touch of a sedative would speed Simon’s travel. Also, hold back on his water before the flight so he doesn’t have an urge to pee en route. The minute you disembark, take him outside for a potty break and give him water (carry a portable bowl in your purse as well as a bag of treats because you never know when you will have to bribe).

Dear Dog Lady,
My Shitzu rubs his nose all over the carpet after I give him a bath. Could you please explain to me why he does this?


Olivia, back in your Shih Tzu’s ancestral home, ancient Tibet, your wet dog rolled on the ground outside the temple to towel off (and to pick up smells). In your modern house, he has the same basic need to dry himself. He uses the carpet as you might use a fluffy bath sheet after you step out of the shower. Keep a towel handy when your Shih Tzu emerges from his bath. Place it on the floor so he has a thirstier carpet for nose mopping.

Dear Dog Lady,
What do you suggest for my two Lhasa Apso puppies who won’t eat? We have tried several different dog foods, including Pedigree Puppy, Kibbles and Bits, Caesar Wet Food and Puppy Chow, with no results. When we first got them, they ate the Pedigree Puppy Chicken and Rice wet food with a scoop of Puppy Chow twice a day, but got sick of it. We have tried doing different combinations of each of the above brands, but to no avail. We have heard from the vet that sometimes they just don’t want to eat. Should we try yet another dog food and risk wasting money if they don’t eat? Should we feed them once a day?


Tiffany, your Lhasa Apsos will never go hungry — not when they have Tiffany burning up the pet food aisle in the local supermarket. Choose one food and stick with it. Always feed less than the bag advises because you want your dogs on the lean and hungry side rather than overstuffed and picky. Feed them twice a day at the same time. Take up the bowls if they choose not to chow down at the appointed hour — even if they leave some bits behind.

Measure the kibble. For your small dogs, never feed more than a quarter-cup to each in the morning and at night — a total of one half-cup per dog per day. Festoon the dry food with a teaspoon of canned “wet” food. Dog Lady recommends Evanger’s canned meats (and she doesn’t get one thin dime for recommending the brand apart from the joy of feeding this to her own healthy 10-year-old darling). Evanger’s, a sturdy Midwestern company, makes great dog grub. Locally, Evanger’s is available at the Polka Dog Bakery, 256 Shawmut Avenue in the South End. Call 617-338-5155 for directions, if you’re not already a regular.

Dear Readers,
Dog Lady wants to remind all dog devotees to attend the Bay Colony Dog Show on Dec. 4 to 7 at the Bayside Expo in South Boston. If you love a dog — or want to become a dog keeper — this is a great place to indulge your woofer wanderlust. Meet Dog Lady on Saturday, Dec. 6, at noon when she hosts the parade of rescue dogs.

Guide to Responsible Pet Ownership
by Jay Gaulard

From insects to alpacas, pets come in all shapes and sizes. Many families feel that they are not complete without some little (or large) critter to love. In fact, more than 60% of all American households have pets, and many of those have more than one. If you are considering buying or adopting a new pet, you need to make sure that you are already to take on the demands of a furry (or scaly) companion.

Choosing the Right Pet

When most people think of family pets they think of furry one like dogs, cats, and a variety of domestic rodents. While these are common pets, they are far from the only options out there. Fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and even insects can all be great pets for a loving family. Choosing the right pet starts with a close look at your current lifestyle.

One of the most important considerations to make is the amount of time you have free to devote to your pet. Dogs, for instance, need daily exercise and grooming. Are you going to be able to provide that? If you have a very busy lifestyle, choose a pet that requires less work to care for. There are many options that fit well into a busy life, including pet insects and reptiles. Some small rodents, like mice or guinea pigs, fit well into busy families.

Keep in mind that your child's pet will be your pet. Sure, your child will promise that he will walk, feed, and pick up after the dog, but these are ultimately your responsibility. If they do not get done, you will have to step in and do them for your child. Do not pick a pet that you are not willing to care for and assume that your child will.

You also want to consider the financial responsibility of owning a pet. Some pets require much more of a financial investment than others. A few crickets each week to feed a lizard will not cost much, but bag after bag of dog or cat food does add up. Before you choose a pet, find out all of the gear the pet will need, and decide if you can afford it. Also, make sure you consider the cost of vet bills. Failure to take an injured or sick pet to the vet is considered animal cruelty, no matter what your income situation may be.

Finally, consider any allergies in the home and extended family. Your immediate family may be fine owning a rabbit, but if grandma is allergic to the bunny's fur, you will be sentencing your children to never enjoying a visit from grandma. If someone you care about is allergic to a particular animal, choose something else.

Make a Lifetime Commitment

The animal shelters are full of animals whose families simply decided they did not want to be pet owners anymore. Before you adopt or buy an animal, make sure you realize that you are making a lifetime commitment to your new pet. Take into consideration the expected lifespan of the animal you are choosing.

This is not something to take lightly. Some animals, such as parrots, can live as long as 70 years. Take the time to research the lifespan of the pet you have chosen. Also, if the lifespan is relatively short, such as for some fish and rodent species, you will want to prepare any children in the family for the eventual demise of their beloved pet.

Protect from Unwanted Reproduction

If you purchase a pet, such as a dog or cat, that can be spayed or neutered, have it done. Unless you are planning to breed the animal to sell the babies, there is no reason to keep it intact. Unwanted reproduction will only put more animals in the shelters.

You can also protect yourself from unwanted reproduction in small rodents. Be sure you know the sex of the pet before you buy it. Separate males from females in order to avoid an eventual litter of new critters.

Prepare Your Home for Your New Pet

Once you have chosen the type of pet you want and have decided to make a lifetime commitment to that new family member, you need to prepare your home for its new addition. If the pet will be one that can roam through the house, make sure it is safe. Put away medications and cleaners in a place where the pet cannot access them. Find out if your houseplants are ones that are poisonous to animals, and put them out of reach if they are.

Provide a place for your pet to have as his own. If your pet is kept in a cage or tank, this is easy enough to do. Put a shelter of some sort in the habitat that the pet can go to when he wants some privacy. If your pet is going to have free reign in your house, give him a bed in a designated area where he will not be disturbed. Sometimes a crate works well. Every animal needs a place to go where other family members or pets will not intrude.

Where to Find Pets

The most obvious place to find pets available for sale is a pet store. If you are purchasing a small pet, such as a fish or hamster, this may be a good option. Larger pets, such as dogs, are often kept in poor conditions in a pet store, and they are also usually overpriced.

Adopting a pet that is in an animal shelter is always a good choice, if it works for you. Contact your local animal shelter to find out what types of animals they currently have available. Keep in mind that you may have a difficult time finding a young animal, like a kitten or puppy, because these are very popular and tend to get adopted quickly.

You can also find pets through animal classifieds, either online or through your local paper. This can be a great way to find an affordable animal or to purchase directly from a breeder. By shopping online animal classifieds, you will have a better chance of finding up to date information about available animals. This is also a great resource for those shopping for a more exotic pet that is not likely to be found in a pet store or animal shelter.

Jay Gaulard writes for a wide selection of websites on various topics. He is a veteran of the internet and has come to be respected in his many areas of expertise. This article was written on behalf of PetLeeg, a popular pets for sale website.

If Dogs Are Man's Best Friend, Then Cats Are This Woman's Best Teacher
By Cate Milne

It was only seven short years ago, I would have told you I was not really a cat person. It was not because I did not like cats. They are one of God's most elegant creatures. When I grew up, our family had a fluffy purr ball Persian, named Muffy. She was an octogenarian, living to a ripe old age of 18. But she was kinda aloof, and like so many of her feline counterparts, mostly slept and bathed, allowing us a few minutes a day to stroke her luscious fur. I know she thought of herself as a princess and she graced our lives with her majestic presence. I learned about the birds and the bees from Muffy. All of us watched the wonders of kitten birth, as Muffy produced many cute little heirs to her throne.

Then my preconceived thoughts about cats all changed.

It was all Julie's fault. Julie has always loved animals. I swear the first word out of her mouth was horse. As she grew up, she did not play with dolls, but any kind of animal, stuffed, plastic or real. Even critters, I would not get within a 10 foot pole of. She even liked real snakes, lizards, rats, everything except any spider. So on one bright and glorious day, Julie calls me. "Auntie Cathie, will you take me down to the animal shelter, I want to volunteer to be a cat socializer and I am underage and need a chaperon." Well, I am a sucker for my nieces and so this became a Wednesday afternoon ritual for us. At first I mostly watched and interacted with her cats and admired their beauty from afar. Then it happened. I saw "THE CAT" I later named Slate. And then my life changed in so many ways that I now think of as magical. Since then, I also adopted a small riot of a cat I call Pate and of course, the absolute love of my life, Slate.

My cats have made me a far better person and they did not teach me these extremely valuable life lessons by lecturing me or scolding me. My treasured cats taught me mostly by example and a cat's admiral reward system. It is very hard for me to explain how even my very thoughts, life philosophy and of course attitudes and actions have been changed by just observing these regal, ethereal beings that have blessed my life just by living with me.

I have learned to become a gentler, kinder person, loving without any expectations. Because that is when my sweet babies will jump into my lap and show me all their wonderful affection. Just show a little anger, loud noise or disrespect, cats flee and will not favor you with their magnificent presence.

I have had to learn to accept my quirky cats for all their unique and varied individuality. There is no way of changing the distinct personality of any cat. And who would want to make them into a one size fits all kind of cat? I get such a kick watching them flaunt their personality with such abandon. "To thine own self be true" is definitely every cat's motto.

I have grown to appreciate how cats do not pull any punches about their true feelings on any subject that affects them. It is always communicated and written all over their furry little bodies. Tails, ears, growls and hisses convey all manner of disapproval. There leaves no doubt in your mind, that you crossed some cat boundary that is completely unacceptable to them. But if you should be lucky enough to get a lap full of Slate and you stroke him with love, he will reward you with the sweetest cat countenance and endless purrs of appreciation.

Cats are perpetually curious about all their surroundings. It always seems to me that they are experiencing everything anew, as if for the first time. Fearless exploration and their thirst for knowledge is in of utmost importance to them as they smell, bat, jump and play with everything they can get their paws on.

Trust is earned with cats. They are naturally cautious when anything or anyone is introduced into their home. They get to know any other creature or human with their cat guard up. They just need a little bit of time and space till they see that they will be treated with courtesy and respect.

We all can learn a lot from our fanciful, furry little friends. So, in honor of our devoted and dedicated cats, I propose a catter's pledge of allegiance.

"Along with my beloved cat(s), I pledge to always be naturally curious, but cautious, when meeting others, gently treating them with respect for their special contribution they make to my life by accepting their unique individuality, while communicating and reflecting all my true feelings, so that our honest mutual trust and affection can grow into earned appreciation and playfulness over time."

Now that would be purr-fect, a little bit of cat heaven on earth!

And all this I learned just by my cat-full observation, of what for cats is just second nature. How did cats get to be so evolved? It seems to me that God could have given to each one of us a little more cattiness. Well, I guess He did, He gave us cats, with their precious, immensely interesting, and diverse little souls. I am thankful to God, Julie and my two delightful cats. I would not have wanted to learn these priceless life lessons in any other way, than with a Slate or Pate purring on my ever grateful lap. Cat life lessons are best experienced, so I welcome you to join the cat lovers society and adopt a cat teacher of your own. It will give you a whole new life perspective, one you can never learn through school or books, a dog or another person.

My highly cherished cats have honed and trained me on my bumpy road to becoming a "cat worthy" person. Cats truly are this woman's best life teachers. And there is absolutely no use catting around about that.

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