A Cat's a Cat, Right?

How to Feed a Fat Feline
By Darcy Lockman, KIVITV

Last January, Ingrid Duthie's favorite pants became very uncomfortable. Holiday parties led to extra calories, along with less time at the gym, for the 40-year-old Detroit native. She wasn't surprised she'd put on a few additional pounds, but she was taken aback when she noticed some extra girth on her 6-year-old cat, Felix, too. "I was probably more aware of Felix's belly since I was thinking a lot about my own, but I'd always thought of him as skinny, since he was very thin as a kitten," she remembers.

At Felix's annual checkup the following month, his veterinarian confirmed that Duthie's small-boned feline had added two pounds in the last year -- increasing his weight by more than 20 percent. He prescribed the following treatment: fewer calories, more calorie-burning. Below, veterinarian Trisha Joyce, DVM, of New York City Veterinary Specialists, weighs in on how cats acquire tubby tummies and how you can help to reverse the damage.

Why Cats Get Fat

According to Dr. Joyce, obesity in domestic felines has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. This is accompanied by health problems all too familiar to Americans: diabetes, arthritis and even premature death. But unlike dogs and humans, underlying health issues usually do not cause obesity in cats, according to Dr. Joyce. "In dogs we'll see hypothyroidism, but it almost never happens in cats," she says, explaining that this condition slows down an individual's metabolism. Hyperthyroidism, which causes just the opposite to occur, is far more common among felines.

So what does make Fluffy fat? Lifestyle. "Overweight cats are that way because of overfeeding and lack of exercise," she says. "Some cats are good at regulating their food intake, but others are not. If too much food is made available to them, they will eat it." Indoor cats generally don't have much stimulation in their environment -- they aren't stalking, chasing, jumping. Indoor cats are safe from trauma, which is obviously critical to their well-being, but they also sit a lot.

How Cats Get Thin

"Weight loss diets have the most successful outcomes," says Dr. Joyce. This includes both a commercial weight loss formula and portion control. "I recommend wet food, but only because it seems easier for owners to regulate how much they are feeding. Also, it's eaten in one shot, so if there are two cats in the household, there is less chance for the fatter cat to eat the skinnier cat's portion." Dr. Joyce also recommends strictly limiting treats and eliminating table scraps altogether. A food containing the amino acid L-carnitine may also be beneficial, as it helps to burn fat while maintaining lean muscle mass.

Though a gym membership may not be in your kitty's future, exercise should be on the menu. But be prepared. Getting Fluffy moving may take a dedicated and creative owner. "See what your cat responds to," Dr. Joyce says. "Some enjoy chasing a laser light, which you can operate from the couch. You can put a cat on a harness and an extendable leash and let it run around an enclosed yard with you. Make your cat work for its food -- take the bowl and ask it to follow you around the house to get it." If adopting a kitten is an option, a younger companion's eagerness to play and chase may also get your adult cat off the couch.

Enlisting Professional Help

Unlike dogs and humans, cats cannot tolerate severe calorie restriction. Consult your veterinarian about acceptable portion sizes for weight loss in order to avoid fatty liver syndrome, a serious condition affecting the liver that results when cats do not consume enough calories. Adds Dr. Joyce, "Fatty liver syndrome is also something to be aware of if you introduce a new cat into the home. The first cat may go on a hunger strike, to act out, which can seriously endanger its liver functioning." She suggests monitoring the first cat's food intake closely while the felines become acquainted.

As for Duthie and Felix, both continue to struggle with their weight. "I lost the five pounds I put on last Christmas, but now it's that post-holiday time of year again, so I'm being careful," Duthie says. "I'm careful with Felix, too, but progress is slow. It's been ten months after I started him on a diet, and he's only halfway to his goal weight. He still has another pound to lose!"

About The Author: Darcy Lockman is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in various publications, such as The New York Times and Rolling Stone. She grew up with a feisty tabby cat named Cleopatrick and later roomed with a couple of calicos.

Pet Talk: How to Calm Your Rescue-Group Dog
by Deb Wood - Special to The Oregonian; TaoBowwow@aol.com

Q: We recently agreed to foster a dog through a rescue group. He's 18 months old and has never been socialized. Thus, when he meets people and dogs on the street all he wants to do is to jump on them and start playing. However, if people approach him he seems to feel threatened and will bark and nip.

In our home he is pretty comfortable when people come in, and we have been able to train him not to jump up or bark at them.

A: There is a small army of heroes like you who are fostering cats and dogs through local rescue groups and shelters. You give them the social skills to fit into the world with their "forever" families.

It sounds like you're doing everything right -- it's just a matter of time and patience. Your foster dog is just learning these new skills, and he has to be able to concentrate to remember them. The dog will do better in an environment that is familiar or has few distractions, and have more trouble in an environment with more distractions.

Practice his basic skills like "sit" and "watch me" at home, reinforcing with lots of treats. Help him learn these skills backward and forward. Then, practice these skills in progressively more challenging places in the coming days and weeks.

When people want to pet your dog, explain he's part of a rescue program and isn't ready for petting. As he develops his confidence, you can have him do a sit-stay and have the stranger give him a cookie.

A good booklet about gradually socializing all dogs (cautious or not) is "The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer Their Fears" by Patricia McConnell (Dog's Best Friend Ltd., $6.95, 30 pages).

I'm sure the rescue group you're working with would be happy to give you more ideas, as well.

Good luck. You're doing the right thing helping this dog learn the skills that will allow him to have a happy life.

Q: We have a sweet, 14-year-old cat who had been an indoor and outdoor cat. She's always used the garden for her litter box. When she was younger we set up a litter box indoors, but since she refused to use it, we stopped and made sure she was able to access the out of doors. The trouble is, now that she is older, she doesn't like the cold and has begun to potty indoors on the carpet in one of the bedrooms. We set up a litter box hoping she would get the idea, but she freaks out when we set her down in it. Can you give us advice on how we can train her to use a litter box?

A: Try putting out two or three different boxes with different kinds of litter. In her case, I'd recommend one that you fill with soil from your garden, since that's what she's used to. If she uses the box with the soil, over time you can gradually add kitty litter to the soil, so it's more pleasant in your home.

Put the boxes in the area she's using and see if she'll use them. Don't force her into a box -- just make it available -- because you don't want negative feelings associated with a box.

The other possibility is that your cat is getting disoriented and is having trouble finding her way outside. Many dogs and cats, like many older people, develop cognitive problems as they age. If you also notice her meowing more or seeming to be lost, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about her in case she has some aging issues.

Q: Do you have some suggestions for chiropractic adjustment, massage or acupuncture for our dog? We have a 6-year-old spayed female yellow lab that has been experiencing a more pronounced limp to her left front shoulder for the past few weeks. She's had X-rays done that appear normal.

A: Good for you for doing everything right with your dog. You've worked with your veterinarian for a diagnosis and made sure she didn't require surgery. Happily, there are several alternatives for dogs and cats in addition to medication or surgery. Check them out and see which seems to make the most sense to you and your veterinarian.

Physical rehabilitation: Two Portland-area veterinarians specialize in physical rehab. Techniques include gentle electrical stimulation, stretching exercises and exercise on treadmills that fill with water (so the dog can get exercise without putting weight on her body). Check out the Back on Track Veterinary Rehabilitation Center (www.backontrack
vetrehab.com) and Canine Peak Performance (www.caninepeakperformance.com).

Acupuncture: Acupuncture can do wonders for pain and other chronic conditions. Your veterinarian may be able to suggest a veterinarian who does acupuncture, or you can check the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association's Web site (www.oregonvma.org). Click on "Find a Vet" and look for acupuncture in the "Service or Specialty" box. Forty-four Oregon veterinarians are listed in this section, so you should be able to find one near you.

Chiropractic: Several chiropractors in the area work on animals, as well as some veterinarians who have learned chiropractic techniques. The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association lists some of the veterinarians in the "Service or Specialty" listings. You might also want to check the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association Web site (www.animalchiropractic.org), then click on "Referrals" and follow the prompts.

Massage: Massage promotes healing and makes humans and animals feel good. To learn more about animal massage, check the Northwest School of Animal Massage (www.nwsam.com). Or you can call it at 425-222-3703 for a referral to a graduate who lives near you.

Q: We have a 7-month-old Labradoodle who endlessly chases our 14-year-old cat. I think they are both playing, but I am afraid Logan (the dog) may hurt the cat (Camille). We have tried everything we can think of, e.g. putting Logan on a leash when Camille is around and telling him "leave it" and giving him a treat when he turns to leave it.

We've put up baby gates, but Logan has figured out how to get by them. We end up having to put Camille outside until things calm down. We walk and chase the ball with Logan three times a day, but he has so much energy.

A: Camille needs your support and protection. You don't want your cat to be hurt. Also, if your cat feels unsafe, she's likely to develop behaviors such as pottying inappropriately or becoming aggressive.

You need to figure out how to create safe places for Camille that Logan can't climb over or crash through. There are baby gates that have small openings for cats that might work. If that doesn't, you could install a cat door in a bedroom door and declare that bedroom off limits to Logan. You can put shelves in a room for Camille where Logan can't reach her.

Be creative. Do whatever it takes to make it work for the kitty.

The Christmas Cat
By Kevin Courtney - Napa Valley Register

Pulling into the garage a few days before Christmas, Cheryl and company were greeted by a strange kitten sitting between the car bays.

A cute fluffball of a cat. Cheryl’s adult daughter, Julia, rushed over and cradled the kitten in her arms.
The gang piled into the house gushing with excitement. You should see what’s camped out in the garage, they said. An adorable kitten in need of a home.

I didn’t like one word of what I was hearing. The last thing we needed was another cat.
I attempted to refocus the kitten fanciers to the reality of the situation. The true owners were probably looking for the lost feline as we spoke. Let’s not do anything to cause alienation of affection. No one touched the kitten, did they?

I’m not sure they were listening. It is the cutest thing, Julia said. Friendly as all get out, Cheryl agreed.
All kittens are cute, but we already have two adult cats on the property, I said. Let’s not turn the garage into a cat circus.

Several days passed. Kitten, determined by Cheryl to be a female, set herself up in the garage amid the big cats, who were totally intimidated by the anarchist in their midst.

The new kitten was first to the kibble bowl each morning, upsetting the normal pecking order. The big cats protested with weird noises, but backed off.

Meanwhile, Julia was giving the kitten surreptitious hugs. I can’t prove it, but I know it.

After Julia departed for her home in New York City, kitten remained. She lurked about the yard, running up and rubbing at every opportunity. She purred if you so much as looked at her.

Yes, she was one friendly cat, but have I mentioned she had only one eye? The right one was a black void.

This should have been off-putting, but Cheryl thought this imperfection made kitten cuter yet.

Seeing where this was going, I plotted an intervention. I would take the kitten to the county animal shelter for a scanning.

The shelter staff scanned kitten for an identification microchip, but no luck. As for the sex, Cheryl’s determination was slightly off the mark. We had a neutered male.

The shelter logged in my report of a found cat. Owners of lost cats call in all the time, they said. A kitten with a bad eye would jump off the page.

On the drive home, I told Cheryl I was satisfied we’d done what we could to find kitten’s true owner. If circumstances had made the kitten ours, so be it.

We toyed around with a name. Since this was a Christmas cat, I proposed Noel. Cheryl suggested a variation, No-lee. No-lee it became.

Kitten promptly disappeared for a day, showed up for an afternoon, then vanished again.

Two days later Nancy, who lives next door, sent out an e-mail. Lost kitten, she said. While her family didn’t particularly want another cat, the foundling was being treated royally.

No-lee had rejected the Courtney garage for a neighbor’s warm home. Smart cat.

I told Nancy of our trip to the shelter. I said we’d be happy to share kitten with her. If No-lee became all hers, that would be fine, too.

Nancy sent us No-lee updates. He pooped on their daughter’s new Christmas clothes. He urinated on their couch. Sniffing an interloper, one of their own cats did the same. Kitten messed up the couch a second time.

Very high maintenance, this cat, but boy is he cute, Nancy said.

By now, even Cheryl was happy that No-lee was living next-door. That could have been our couch, those could have been our clothes.

Some two weeks after No-lee came onto the scene, my cell phone rang at work. You’ve got my cat, a woman’s voice said.

A one-eyed cat? That’s the one, she said.

Kitten’s family, it seems, had gone on vacation before Christmas, leaving him in the care of a neighbor. He wandered off. About 700 yards off.

The family didn’t learn of kitten’s disappearance until their return after New Year’s. More days passed before it occurred to them to check in with the animal shelter.

In less than an hour, No-lee, who had been called Little Kitten by neighbor Nancy, was reunited with his true family, which was ecstatic to have him back.

His real name, we learned, was Isabella.

All ends well, although I suspect there is a girl next-door who would have been quite happy if Little Kitten could have remained hers.

Nancy was OK with having Little Kitten move on. “He is sweet,” she said, “but boy did he do a number on my couch.”

Kevin can be reached at 256-2217 or Napa Valley Register, P.O. Box 150, Napa 94559 or kcourtney@napanews.com

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Pet Emergency Guide Makes Care Easy

New home reference makes caring for pets easy, with guidelines on daily care, first aid, travel advice, emergency planning, and how to respond to a pet injury, illness, or emergency, its publisher has said.

Informed Publishing of Tigard, Ore., has introduced the Pet Emergency Pocket Guide, a tool that provides quick access to information that makes caring for pets easy.

This compact 3-by-5-inch guide delivers step-by-step guidelines to help pet owners care for pets daily, and be prepared so they can respond quickly and confidently in the event of a pet injury, illness or emergency, the publisher said in a press release.

Easy-to-follow tabbed, color-coded, and illustrated sections both show and tell you how to best care for your pet on a daily basis, as well as what to do before, during, and after an incident. It also includes first aid, emergency assessment with a glossary of signs and conditions, pet safety and preparation in the event of a natural disaster or evacuation, and a complete section on traveling safely with pets, including a "pet travel kit" checklist.

"Pets are an important part of the family," says Chris Barnes, CEO of Informed Publishing. "To be able to care for our pets in an emergency we need to prepare, just as we prepare our homes and families. Our new guide is a simple and affordable tool that will keep you confident, and your pets safe."

The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide is endorsed by A.M.E.R.S. Animal Ambulance, a company that provides free 24-hour national animal ambulance and veterinary referral services. "Our medical staff as well as our clients have found this guide to be an essential tool for the care of their pets" says David Watts, CEO of A.M.E.R.S.

The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide covers topics including:

--"How-to" first aid, including CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for pets.

--Contact information for important emergency references.

--General care, including handling, grooming, muzzling, and transporting.

--Glossary of signs and conditions in dogs and cats.

--List of the most common poisonous and toxic foods.

--Taking care of a sick dog or cat, and more serious conditions.

--How to create pet emergency and shelter/evacuation kits.

--Traveling with your pet, including preparing a travel kit.

--Pet preparedness, including planning for natural disasters.

--Current information on sheltering, since many shelters do not accept pets.

--Pet record pages to help document information such as allergies, vaccinations, and surgeries.

The Pet Emergency Pocket Guide (ISBN 978-1-890495-40-4) is sold at $16.95 retail, and is available in Informed's new Mobile Edition format for $9.95: downloadable PDFs optimized for viewing on any PDF-capable computer, phone or hand-held device. The print/mobile package is available for $19.95.

To learn more about the Pet Emergency Pocket Guide, call toll free 888-624-8014 or visit informedguides.com.

Barking Dog Advice for Neighbors
by Jack Pointer - DiscoveryHealthCares

If you are live near a barking dog, there are some things you can do to keep your neighborhood quiet.

First, try contacting the barking dog’s owner and ask them to do something about the noise. On some occasions the pet owner may not be conscious of the problem and hopefully take steps to stop the barking right away.

If this plan fails you can call your local humane society. The humane society will need the name and address of the dog owner and your name and address as well. They will also want to know at what time the dog is disturbing the area.

In general a letter from the humane society is sent to the dog owner, usually this letter solves the barking problem.

In spite of this, if the dog continues to bark, a call will have to be made to the humane society again. A complaint will most likely be issued with an officer delivering it to the dog owner.

A complaint must be signed by persons representing households within a reasonable distance of the animal owner. If the owner still does not do something to stop the barking, he may have to appear in court.

Remember, if your dog is doing the barking; avoid unpleasantness for yourself and for your neighbors with some sensible training for your dog.

Also, if you are the neighbor of a barking dog, don’t forget that you can do something about it. There should to be a law, and there is!

About the Author:
For more pet health info click the Pet health blog. Part of the Circle City Network

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7 Ways To Help Stop Your Dog From Digging Up Your Garden
By Michael Webber - FinePetCare.com

Dogs love to dig, let’s face it, it is a very natural and instinctual part of their makeup, and “it is a very enjoyable behavior for them” says Deborah L. Forthman, Ph.D. digging is something that dogs have been doing from the beginning, but there are ways to reduce the amount your dog digs.

Here are 7 different methods to help train your dog not to dig.

1.Before you begin with your dog obedience training on how to stop him from digging, try to figure out exactly what is causing your dog to behave that way. If he is very persistent into digging in one area, you may use the dog training command “leave” while using treats to distract him. You can also distract him by using a particular smell that excites him. These dog behavior modification methods typically work very well.

2. Try not to do any type of gardening and digging when your dog is around because remember that your dog looks up to you and wants to obey you, that being the case when your dog sees you digging and playing in the yard of course he will also think that is what he should be doing.

3. Exercise is a very important aspect of your dog’s health, and not only that, the more exercise your dog gets, and the more energy the expends, the less likely that your dog will be able to muster up the energy, or the desire to go digging up your yard. If you find that your dog tends to like to dig at particular times of the day, then make sure you give him plenty of exercise around those times if possible so that he just can’t be bothered digging.

4. Make sure that you are more understanding and less scolding with your dogs digging habit, particularly during the winter months. Often during the winter months dogs will dig more than the rest of the year the reasons that these years that your dog has a natural instinct for finding warmer places and dogs sense that by digging, they will get into a warmer area and this is certainly correct. If and when you do notice that your dog is digging more frequently when the temperature is cooler outside, then it is very important to be understanding and not to scold your dog for doing that, but relieve the situation by providing the right environment for him.

5. There are some dogs that absolutely positively can’t resist digging, so rather than trying to go against nature and stop them altogether, let’s take a different approach and create a special spot for your dog to dig in. Most dog experts agree that for some breeds it is almost impossible to prevent them from digging 100% of the time, and because your dog enjoys digging so much, train him to only dig in his special spot. The area you provide for him to did in doesn’t need to be that big, something around three or four foot by six-foot should do the trick nicely.

6. Having your dog neutered or spade is one sure way to reduce their desire to dig because their drive to mate is drastically reduced, and without your dog having a strong desire to mate you almost certainly have a lot less holes in your yard.

7. Be very careful that if you do correct your dog when you catch him digging in the yard that you only do it with warmth and compassion, and that you absolutely must do it at the moment in time that he is digging and that you don’t wait for him to stop and then correct him. This will reinforce whatever he is doing with your response, if you wait until he is finished and you scold him then he will get the wrong message.

Instead when you catch him digging try to immediately replace one activity with another, so therefore distract him from his digging and replace it with an enjoyable activity for him to do. If you continually do this it will help modify his behavior and reduce your dogs digging adventures.

About The Author
Michael Weber is a passionate dog owner who studies the psychology of dogs, Michael helps people communicate properly with their dogs and to fix dog behavior problems fast. Visit here for Your Free Multi Media Mini Course: http://www.doginfoworld.com.

Bark Busters Offers Tips for Responsible Dog Ownership

Steve Dell, Tucson-based master dog behavioral therapist of Bark Busters USA, offers guidelines for the estimated 44.8 million U.S. dog owners in support of 'Responsible Pet Ownership Month' in February.

'A dog needs order and leadership from its pack leader, which means that good canine manners start with its owner. Making the decision to become a dog owner comes with responsibility,' said Dell. 'Following these basic but important tips will help your canine companion live a long, healthy and happy life.'

• Get your dog spayed or neutered. Spayed/neutered pets
not only live longer and healthier lives, but they also make better companions. The best age to spay/neuter a dog is around five to six months old, at the beginning of puberty. Talk to your vet about the right time for your dog.

• Provide proper identification. Your dog should always wear an I.D. tag with your name, address and phone number. Getting your dog micro-chipped gives an added layer of protection and increases the chances that he will return to you if he is lost or runs away.

• Get training to help you understand your dog. Knowing your dog's unique temperament and tendencies will help you to better control how he behaves. A well-behaved dog is less likely to upset people and other pets in public places, will be more welcome at gatherings, and will enjoy a better relationship with everyone he meets.

• Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian. Choose a veterinarian who shares your medical philosophies and beliefs; then follow his/her recommendations for vaccinations, diet, spaying/neutering, annual check-ups, and other care.

• Make time for your dog. Owning a dog is a big responsibility that takes time and discipline. Pet, play with, take on walks, or do other activities with your dog that are fun for both of you.

Bark Busters Home Dog Training offers these tips as a public service. They come from the experience and expertise of Bark Busters' worldwide network of dog behavioral therapists that are renowned authorities in understanding, correcting and managing dog behavior.

About Bark Busters
Bark Busters, the world's largest, most trusted dog training company, started in Australia in 1989 and came to the United States in 2000. Since inception, over 500,000 dogs have been trained worldwide using its dog-friendly, natural methods. With 250+ franchised offices in 42 states and more than 400 offices in 10 countries, Bark Busters is continuing its mission to build a global network of dog behavioral therapists to enhance responsible dog ownership and reduce the possibility of maltreatment, abandonment and euthanasia of companion dogs. Bark Busters is the only international dog training company that offers guaranteed lifetime support. SPCA International selected Bark Busters dog behavioral training services as the 'Best of the Best' in its category. No other training company or dog trainer received such a distinction. To fetch a trainer in your area, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com, where dog owners can complete a Dog Behavioral Quiz to rate their dogs' behavior.

Lizard-in-Broccoli Taken as Pet

A four-inch lizard found in some broccoli from a supermarket has now become a family pet.

Paula Walsh and her partner Jez Allen, of Meole Brace, near Shrewsbury, found Tenko the gecko inside the vegetables from Tesco.

The family said they had become very attached to him after getting over the initial shock.

Tesco said its suppliers had rigorous and thorough checking processes but was glad Tenko had found a good home.

Ms Walsh said: "My daughter had been cutting the broccoli for lunch when she screamed, 'Mum come quick, come quick - there's something crawling in the broccoli'.

"I pulled gently and out he came."

'Rigorous processes'

The family then took the creature to a local vet, who told them what it was.

A spokesman for Tesco said: "We are glad that Tenko has found a loving home after what must have been quite a journey and something of an ordeal.

"Our suppliers of course have rigorous and thorough processes, both in the country of origin and again once the goods have arrived here in the UK.

"This truly goes to show that even with all the expertise, checks and will in the world it is not always possible to completely legislate for the natural world."

Salwan: Be Careful With Pet Trusts
By Raj Salwan - The Argus - InsideBayArea.com

As a reward for being our constant companions, in sickness and heath, many pets are now included in their owners' wills.

Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Betty White, along with millions of other pet owners, plan to leave money for their pets. But, without proper planning, the courts could take that money away.

Clients frequently ask me, "What will happen to my pet when I die?" Others say, "I know my pet will outlive me. How will I make sure that he is provided for after I die?"

Unfortunately, the underlying concern I hear is that others may not provide for the pet as well as the owner.

Strange requests in wills are nothing new.

People have asked for their ashes to be spread in space or for their bodies to be displayed in a theater. Recently, billionaire Leona Helmsley made news after her death by bequeathing $12 million for the care and upkeep of her dog, Trouble.

Opinions varied from outrage to amusement, and a legal battle was narrowly averted when a New York court reduced that amount to a mere $2 million.

It is only natural for pet owners to be concerned about the well-being of their four-legged companions, especially if the owners happen to die first.

But the unfortunate truth is that many pet owners attempt to leave an inheritance to their pets instead of money for their pets. This error could lead to your request not being met by the probate court.

Wanting to leave money for the care of your pets is not a new concept. English common law began to recognize pet trusts as far back as 1842.

But pets cannot receive an outright bequest of property (money, house, etc.) from a will because animals are considered property themselves. So leaving money directly to one or all of your pets is not permissible.

Some legal experts argue that the primary problem to setting up a trust for your pet is the fact that no human beneficiary enforces the terms. Simply put, who will go to court to make sure that your pet is getting the right food and that the trustee has not bought a new car with your money?

Sadly, there is always the possibility that the probate court, when reviewing your will, could find that your generousness is "capricious" or "frivolous."

Fortunately, there is good news for pet owners who are concerned about caring for the pets that survive them.

Following are a few guidelines that will allow your attorney and the courts to carry out any wishes for your pets.

First, create and carry an "animal card" so that if you are injured or die unexpectedly, emergency personnel will know that somewhere a beloved pet is waiting and relying on your return. This card should list the pet's name, type of pet, location, and any special care instructions. Having your veterinarian listed is also highly recommended. Similarly, create an "animal document" to place with your will or estate documents.

Next, if you plan on providing for your pets after your death, name a human beneficiary who will receive funds to cover the pet's expenses and be your pet's caretaker.

Obviously, discuss this possibility with the potential caretaker ahead of time to ensure he or she is willing to care for your pet. Naming alternate caretakers is recommended by some legal experts.

Although painful to deliberate, your will should provide some instructions and resources for the final resting place of your pet at the conclusion of its life.

Many courts are reluctant to enforce a "euthanasia order" for the pet in your will. You might believe that your pet will grieve inconsolably at your death, but courts have determined that this type of provision is an act of cruelty, and public outrage is often very strong.

More practically, an owner cannot willfully order the destruction of property at the time of his or her death.

As with all legal matters, you should discuss your wishes with an attorney who knows your state's laws for pet trusts. Some states have allowed owners to leave money for pets in an honorary trust, but these types of trusts are unenforceable. Legal experts caution that your wishes could go unsatisfied.

Identifying your pet in your will also is vital.

Some cases have come to light in which trusts were abused by the beneficiary who used a succession of similar animals ("black cats") as a means to procuring more money.

Your veterinarian can help you positively identify your pet by implanting a microchip or guide you to one of the DNA identification services.

As more people keep pets later in life and veterinary medicine continues to advance our pets' life spans, there is a real possibility that your pet could outlive you. Proactive measures can ensure that your pet is not left unattended in the event of your death or disability.

Raj Salwan, a second-generation veterinarian, has been around veterinary medicine for more than 21 years. He can be reached at drsalwan@aol.com or www.americananimalcare.com.

A Cat is a Cat, Right?
by Kathy Covey - OregonLive.com

I mean, there are really no breed groups for cats like there are for dogs.

Adopt a dog from the sporting group and you know you'll get a dog who is active and needs regular exercise (dogs like Spaniels, Pointers, and Setters). There are eight breed groups for dogs and dogs who fall into those groups generally have similar characteristics. These characteristics make it so easy for a family to find a good canine match.

There are no breed groups like that for cats - other than to divide them perhaps by long or short-haired, Asian, exotic, etc. All appearance-based. However, in general most cats will be cats regardless of their pedigree.
That being said, there are some interesting traits that may be more common with certain breeds. For example:

--Ragdolls: more interested in their human companion; will tend to follow their owner around the house

--Persians: creatures of habit who need security and serenity

--Abyssinians: very people oriented; not lap cats; highly trainable

--Manx: playful and can jump higher than ever expected (duh - have you seen their back legs!)

--Siamese: talkers (I am sure this is no surprise to anyone)

Now when you look at these traits, I am sure you find your cat may have some of them and not even be a Persian. From what I've read and seen at the shelters I've worked at, many of the quantifiable differences with cats are appearance-based.

Many folks come to shelters to adopt a cat based on their long-ago experiences with a particular look of cat. Wanting a huge orange cat because the Morris cat they had 30 years ago was so great may not be the best way to select a pet.

Oh sure, tortoiseshell cats can be grouchy more often than not. But you really can't say all black cats will be timid, like Clio.

Recently, I was playing with two long-haired tabbies in one of the free roam rooms. They were siblings, looked very much a like, yet had very different personalities. One was very gregarious and outgoing; the other friendly yet hesitant until he felt comfortable.

That is why the Cat Adoption Team started using the Meet Your Match program for adopters - to help demystify cat personalities when looks won't do it.

So when it comes to cats, that old adage of don't judge a book by its cover is very true.

The Star Press

Dear Heloise: When refilling your pet bird's seed dish, don't throw out the seeds -- put them into your outside feeder. Gently blow on the seed to remove empty hulls, mix it up and blow again. Your outdoor feathered friends will appreciate the variety you add to their regular feed. -- Anita in Montana

Dear Heloise: For your readers who might be thinking about getting a snake as a pet, snakes can be long-lived! Many will continue to grow throughout their lives. Certain species of pythons and boa constrictors can grow to over 20 feet and live more than 30 years. Zoos and reptile houses don't always have the room or means to take in any more snakes that have outgrown their owners. Be sure you are prepared to take on the responsibility of these special exotic pets for the long haul before committing to one. -- A.B. in New Jersey

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