Pet Advice: 10 Cat Care Tips

Finding the Purr-fect Cat
by Christine Church, Hartford Cats Examiner

I once knew a woman who wanted to adopt a white cat with a bad personality. Why? Because her previous cat, who had passed on, was a white cat with a bad personality. There are as many different types of cats out there as there are different types of people and apparently not everyone wants a “cute little lap cat” that will greet you at the door.

So, are you in the market for a new member of the family? A feline member of the family? One that will suit your personality and needs? Ok, then there are some things you should consider. First of all, don’t grab the first puss that you come across, unless he or she shows up at your door and that’s the cat you want! (I am all for taking in strays that need a good home). In any event, consider what you want in a cat.

I love all cats, but I do have my own personal aesthetic preferences. For instance, I tend to fancy two types of cats; the soft bunny plush Ragdoll types with adorable faces you just want to kiss! And the sleek and exotic Bengal types that are breathtakingly gorgeous! And, though looks shouldn’t matter as much in feline-finding as other factors, it is a place to start when searching to scratch the itch of your feline fancy.

Now, just because I like these two types doesn’t mean I need to run out and spend thousands on a purebred puss with a pedigree as long as my street! If that’s your preference, be my guest. You will make some breeder very happy. But you might also be able to find your type simply by visiting the local shelter. And, who knows, you might go home with a cat that doesn’t look anything like that purrfect puss you had in mind.

Your next consideration needs to be budget. How much can you spend on a cat initially as well as throughout the cat’s life. Indoor cats can live upwards of 15 to 20 years, sometimes more if you are lucky. I once had a cat that lived to be 21. And I think the oldest cat in recorded history lived to be in its 30s. That’s a lot of Kitty Kibble. Don’t forget to factor in vet bills; yearly visits, shots and emergencies.

Next, factor in your lifestyle. Is your fancy feline going to live it up indoors eating Fancy Feast out of a crystal goblet? Or will he be a rough and tumble barn cat who lives on mice and supermarket specials? Don’t go for a delicate purebred if you have the latter in mind.

Last, but not least, who will Kitty live with? Yes, I know the answer is you…But who else? Do you have small children? Dogs? Snakes? Dragons? Ok, I don’t recommend a cat as a pet if you have a dragon, but the other members of your family, be they human or otherwise, need to be considered.

So, do your research. Find a cat that suits you, your family and your lifestyle. If you think only dogs play fetch, think again. I have seen more than one cat that brings the ball back to you.

Communicate With Animals - Beyond a Whisper - Part I - The Basics
By Jenny Key

We all know that feeling- something is not quite right with our four-legged friend. Things feel "off" and we just want to know what's going on inside their mind. "My dog is trying to tell me something, can you help?" is a common plea from my clients upon first contacting me.

There are many reasons that prompt pet owners to seek out an animal communicator for support: Behavioral problems the trainer has not been able to correct; medical issues that veterinary care has not resolved; incompatibility among household pets; or, sadly, it's getting near their "time" to cross over-- to name a few. No matter what the cause, it's difficult for things to feel right in the world unless all's well with our furry companions.

In my work with animals over the past twenty-three years, I have discovered that these highly tuned creatures speak a language that is innate in all of us. Some of us may be lucky enough to be born a Mozart, sitting down at the piano and creating brilliance at a young age. However, most of us, much to our parents' chagrin, are born having to practice Chopsticks over and over. The good news is that animal communication is an accessible skill for you. Like I tell my students, "All it takes is desire and dedication."

Here are the essentials in communicating with your animal partner. You may not actually feel, hear, or see anything at first, but be patient, you will over time.

Let's decipher how you most readily receive intuitive messages. There are four basic types of intuitive communication:

1. Clairaudience or Clear Hearing--Hearing words, phrases, or a voice from your pet
2. Clairsentience or Clear Feeling-- Psychically or physically feeling sensations coming from your pet felt in your own body or energy
3. Clairvoyance or Clear Seeing-- Seeing visions in your mind's eye sent from your pet
4. Claircognizance or Clear Knowing-- Simply "knowing" what your pet is thinking

Keep a record for two weeks of any experience you feel may be intuitive or psychic. Did you hear a voice in your head or did you see a vision? After the two weeks, look back and see which method occurred most. When first communicating with animals, I experienced clairsentience more often than any of the others. Once I learned to be comfortable with this feeling, I then started receiving more auditory and visual messages. We will explore these concepts more in the upcoming articles.

In addition to keeping a journal, use this two-week primer period to also get your body and mind in a position to start communicating with your pet. Who better to model our lifestyles after than animals that are in their most natural habitat? These highly sensitive and in-tune creatures get plenty of fresh air, sunshine, rest, meditation time, and exercise. All of these ingredients are essential to your ability to stay in a healthy psychic frame of mind.

Meditation, although I went into it kicking and screaming, really does work! Start by sitting quietly for just five minutes a day. The idea is not to have a blank mind, but rather to be at peace with all the thoughts swirling around in there. When you get comfortable with your own thoughts, you will better be able to pick up on the thoughts and feelings of your animal friend. You will also be more relaxed and trusting of the messages you receive.

"I just don't know if I'm really getting any intuitions," is the most common sentiment my students report back when attempting the two-week primer period. Most of you will be very unsure of the information you receive. But have faith! You can do it! It is, however, vitally important to take two weeks and get cozy with your mind's inner workings.

Just as if you were starting a new form of exercise, you must be fully prepared, in body and mind, before going on to read the next two articles about sending and receiving messages. Also, if you just can't resist diving right in, try writing a letter to your pet telling them what you would like to know. This helps you and your four-legged teacher to be clear about why this information is important to you.

With practice and patience, communicating with your animal will become second nature. You will feel more certain when making key life changes with them and feel assured that you're providing your pet with the safest, happiest home.

Be sure to read, Learn to Communicate with Your Animals: Beyond a Whisper, Parts II and III.

Jenny Key has practiced in animal services for twenty years. Her expertise as a licensed therapist and animal communicator affords her clients vital support and practical solutions. She gently guides you toward better understanding of your animal and yourself. For more information on her services or to schedule a session

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Communicate With Animals - Beyond a Whisper Part II - Sending Messages
By Jenny Key

Hopefully you have settled into your mediation and exercise routine and are feeling excited about talking to your pet. Congratulations! By carving out a few minutes in your schedule each day for meditation, you are well on your way to successfully communicating with your four-legged friends. In addition, you have started the process of opening up your intuitive channel by being in a frame of mind that is similar to the natural state of your animal.

Now, let's concentrate on sending messages. Is that letter written to your pet telling him what you would like to know? Go back and prioritize what is most important for you to talk about. Then, when you feel clear that you have a question for her, find a quiet time in the day to tell her what you want to know. This should only take a few minutes, so try not to stress over finding the perfect time.

Before asking your animal companion the question, you do, however, want to become as peaceful as possible. If you are in the middle of making breakfast for your family or are stressed out at work, for example, these are not good times to send messages to your furry friend. Animals are extremely sensitive to the energy that accompanies the message that you're sending, so they will pick up on any angst or stress, etc. You don't want any interference to clutter up the communication channels.

Start by taking several slow, deep breaths. Particularly concentrate on slowing your exhale or out-breath, because it is most effective in calming yourself. Taking a moment to do this has often meant the difference between knowing whether or not to take my animal to the vet. When I'm upset and worried, I can't hear my cat Zoe telling me how she feels. This is because she has difficulty understanding what I want to know. But after taking a short minute or two to center myself, I send her a clear message to which she promptly responds!

Once you feel peaceful, as if you have just finished meditation, then bring your breath and attention to your heart space. Imagine the breath circulating through your heart, cleansing it with each exhale. The idea behind this part of the exercise is to put you more in a heart space, where your animal resides, and get you out of the head space where your thoughts run rampant.
Your pet is actually highly emotionally intelligent. Scientists have discovered that when communicating with each other, animals give off measurable neuropeptides from the organs that contain smooth muscle tissue: heart, stomach, and intestines. This is where the term "gut feeling" originated. Your gut and your heart actually do more communicating than your brain! Needless to say, consciously centering yourself in your heart space will open up the emotional pathways between you and your pet.

Next, using the communication method that you discovered in your two-week primer period, send a message to your animal. If you are most comfortable with visualizations, send your pets pictures of what you are asking. I often send a picture of an either/or scenario, like a picture of my dog and I walking around the neighborhood or hanging out in the park. Then I wait to see which picture she sends me back to know what option she would prefer in that moment. If I'm going away on vacation and want my pets to know that I will return home to them soon, I send them a picture of me happily walking in the door with my suitcases. Pet psychics or animal communicators commonly teach that animals think in pictures. Although this is true, if you are not at ease with how to visualize a question or statement in your mind, then you will not be successful. You must use the method that feels comfortable for you! So if you prefer talking out loud to your pet, then try that first.

If you choose to simply talk to your pet, then make the question short and sweet. This can be done either silently or out loud. I encourage my students to say things out loud, especially at first, so that they can be sure to be as clear as possible.

You can also send messages through feelings or using clairsentience. If I want to know if my horse's stomach hurts, I will often accompany my question while concentrating on his stomach area. Using the same exercise as when you breathed into your heart, breathe into the body part that you want to know about.

There are times when you are going to be extremely upset and cannot reach a peaceful state before sending your pet a message. If you are worried your animal is in serious danger or that it may be their "time," for example, then of course you will be distraught. I always reassure my clients that animals are capable of understanding your deep emotions-as long as you are honest! Animals are living, breathing lie detector tests. If you try to pretend that you feel calm when you are quite literally about to lose it, then just tell them that. I often say, "I don't want to scare you with what I'm feeling, but I am very worried about you. If you tell me what is wrong, then perhaps I can help. I promise to honor whatever it is that you need. I don't expect you to take care of my emotions, but I would like to help you." Although this statement seems long and complicated, by telling your animal friend how you feel before asking them what you want to know, it will help take the pressure off.

Sending your pet messages can greatly improve your relationship. If the vet is coming to your farm and your horse gets nervous, start telling him days in advance. If you are out of town and your dog is worried or not eating, send her a picture of her eating while telling her you will be reunited soon. Clients report that taking these few simple steps to talk to their pet have made miraculous changes in their animal's behavior and overall well-being. One of my interns, Lauren, tested out her skills by sending her cat a message to please come into the living room with her. Two minutes later, her sleepy cat sauntered in to join her on the couch. Lauren practiced until she got a response, and so can you. Remember, above all else, BELIEVE that you can do it! Trust that your animal hears you and is happy to be getting your messages. And soon you will confidently be receiving their messages, too!

Be sure to read, Communicate with Animals: Beyond a Whisper Part III, Receiving Messages.

Jenny Key has practiced in animal services for twenty years. Her expertise as a licensed therapist and animal communicator affords her clients vital support and practical solutions. She gently guides you toward better understanding of your animal and yourself. For more information on her services or to schedule a session

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The Impact of Diet on Oral Health
By Tana Rigets

Dental tarter is a common problem in most domestic cats and dogs resulting from a build-up of dental plaque; which is primarily made of food particles and bacteria. Studies have reported that existence of dental tarter is in 86% of cats between the ages of 1-4 years and in all cats 5 years and older.

A number of options are available to the pet owner to control and maintain the long term oral health of their pets. Oral hygiene practice on a regular basis is most effective approach. However, pets need to be conditioned to such procedures on a long term basis. As a result, most owners look to diet or chew treats as a simpler, more convenient, however less effective, way of achieving this goal.

Numerous studies have shown that feeding a regular dry diet alone, when compared to a canned diet will reduce the rate of plaque and tarter formation. Studies have also shown that feeding a dry diet coated with sodium hexametaphosphate (a component of some pet toothpaste) reduced tarter formation by 50-80 percent in dogs. A similar preventive effect was also shown in cats. Medical Dental formula is an example of a food containing hexametaphosphate.

Other studies have shown the regular use of rawhide chew strips resulted in a modest reduction of tarter formation,but when these treats were coated with sodium hexametaphosphate, again the results showed a significant tarter reduction. This research reinforces the opinion that the build-up plaque and the impacton oral health can be affected by the use of certain diets and chew treats alone.

To obtain long term oral health, oral bacteria must be controlled by minimizing plaque build-up. This is best achieved by practicing oral home care on our pets from an early age.

Tana Rigets

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Helpful Dog Supplements
By Nancy Cope

For the most part, if you are feeding your dog a quality food he is getting more than enough vitamins and minerals. And in truth, supplementing with some vitamins and minerals can be downright dangerous. Too much calcium for example can lead to stunted growth and enlarged joints, and too much phosphorus can leech calcium out of the body. If you supplement with these minerals you are playing with a very delicate balance that is easily destroyed. Are there vitamins your dog can use? Actually, if you are looking to give your dog a supplement a good place to start is with vitamin E. This natural anti-oxidant can also help with healing and with osteoarthritis pain as well.

Herbal Supplements
Of course, there are also herbal supplements that your dog can benefit from. Some of the most common include garlic, glucosamine, brewer's yeast, and flax seed oil. Garlic is a wonderful supplement that can help with heart health and is also a natural antibiotic and anti-oxidant. Be careful not to give your dog too much garlic though, as it can kill red blood cells when taken in excess. Glucosamine is wonderful for dogs with joint problems, and is often used with anti-inflammatory like MSM. Brewer's yeast is a wonderful dog supplement that can improve mental health and the dog's skin, but it must not be given to animals with kidney problems. Also, flax seed oil is a superb source of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for brain health. If you want to give your dog a supplement that will really help you try yucca shidigera, it works in the intestines to make your dog's feces less smelly!

As you can see there are a plethora of helpful dog supplements. Try focusing on a few key areas where your dog needs help, this way you won't be overwhelmed by pills. May you and your dog enjoy many happy years together!

Article by Nancy Cope of Pampered Dog Gifts - the place to shop for dog gift baskets and designer dog beds.

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How to Protect Your Pets From Bird Flu, and Protect Yourself From Bird Flu From Your Pets
Author: rickstooker

Several months ago, a cat in Germany caught bird flu -- and pet owners throughout Europe dumped their poor dogs and cats.

I trust you have more concern for the animals under your care than that, and there are ways to reduce the risk that they catch bird flu even during a serious pandemic.

The current A/H5N1 bird flu virus is unprecedented in the way it's proven it can infect not only birds and pigs (which can normally catch the flu from both chickens and people), but in how it's infected other mammals.

The cat in Germany. Allegedly lions and tigers in the Bangkok Zoo, and so on.

You must also remember this -- YOU can catch bird flu from your pets.

And your pets can catch bird flu from other animals and from other people.

So protecting them from bird flu is one way you must also protect yourself and your family.

I'm writing this article before bird flu has become contagious between people. There is no pandemic yet, but you should be concerned about transmission of A/H5N1 between animals. The virus has been found in Europe, though it's not yet in North America.

You should keep all your pet birds such as parakeets and canaries inside. That should shelter them from the virus.

If you're in Europe, Asia or Africa, I must say that it's risky to let your dogs and cats run free, especially if you're in a rural or wooded area frequented by wild birds. If you're in North or South America, this is not yet a problem.

Once a contagious bird flu pandemic starts, your options are more limited.

Pets should NOT leave your house or yard. I realize that dogs and cats used to running around free will not like being confined to home. They should remain on a leash or behind a fence that holds them in.

By the way, electronic fences don't count, because during the pandenic you cannot depend on electricity. I have a friend who delivers pizza. One night after an electrical storm, she had to stop her car in a very wealthy area to chase a bunch of peacocks off the road. I'm sure that they had been confined to the yard of one of the surrounding mansions behind an electrical fence -- until the power outage turned that fence off.

If you let your pets escape you will have to make a difficult decision -- because during a bird flu pandemic dogs and cats that have been running around loose should NOT be allowed back into your house or yard. I realize some of you will ignore this advice, but you'll be taking a big risk.

Since dogs and cats can catch bird flu, it's likely that some bird flu patients will transmit the virus to their pets. Who will then escape or be homeless because their owner died from that bird flu.

You don't want your pets exposed to those dogs and animals that'll be running loose through the streets.

You don't want your dogs and cats sniffing or eating dead birds.

You don't want your dogs and cats petted by strangers who may not even know they have bird flu.

If you let them out of your house or yard, they may well do some or all of those things before returning home to you -- bringing bird flu with them.

Therefore, the best way to protect your pets during a bird flu pandemic is to keep them away from everybody outside your family. Keep them inside your house as much as possible or at least in your yard.

They must stay isolated -- just as you should.

The best way to beat the bird flu is to avoid the virus.

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Letting Your Dog Choose His Own Food
By: Ethan K. Roberts

Spend time at any pet store and the choice of dog foods to feed your dog is in abundance. How do you know which to choose and which is good for your dog? The answer to that is simply, you do not, let your dog choose. Although there are some basics that are recommended.

If you have purchased your dog from a breeder, ask the breeder what they recommend to feed your new pet. A good breeder should be able to tell you what has worked best for their dogs. This is a good place to start. However, if you have adopted your new dog, then it will be up to you to figure out what is good for your dog and what is not. The dog will certainly help you in determining the right food for him.

Always read the labels on a dog food package. What you want to look at is the first ingredient. You do not want to see meat meal, this can be anything within the food including road kill. Chicken Meal or Lamb Meal is a good start. You also always want to see the word meal; whole meat without the Meal is mostly water. Most nutritionists prefer chicken based dog foods as they are easier to digest.

You may see corn or a type of corn product in the dog food. Corn is a protein source the dog food makers use to keep the price reasonable. Some dogs like corn and others do not. If you see your dog start itching, licking his feet, scooting his butt, or getting frequent ear infections, this could indicate a lack of tolerance for corn. Beware of wheat in a food. Wheat tends to be more of an irritant in dogs than corn is.

You need to inspect the label for the sentence "AAFCO feeding trials confirm that (dog food brand) is complete and balanced for adult dogs or all life stages". This sentence alone will tell you that the dog food was fed to any number of dogs and was determined to meet the nutritional needs for all life stages of a dog.

When it comes to feeding your dog there are certain guidelines that should be followed depending on the age of your dog. For instance, puppies should be fed more regularly than adult dogs. Puppies should be fed as often as four times per day and with a quality dog food geared towards puppies specifically. Adult dogs should be fed twice a day.

In general, feed puppies and adult dogs separately so you can be sure the amount they are eating each time and to prevent fighting. Set a feeding schedule for your dog, but not one to where they become anxious if you happen to be late. It is a good idea to teach your dog to sit before placing the dog food in the bowl; this will prevent them from jumping to get the food.

Nutritionists suggest only allowing your dog 15 to 20 minutes to eat then removing and disposing of the remainder.

Author Bio

Ethan K. Roberts writes about several different subjects not limited to wellness dog foods.

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10 Cat Care Guidelines
By: Dave Markel

There area many common sense rules to follow when caring for your cat. These rules are simple and will ensure your cat will be healthy and happy.

When your cat arrives at home:
Bringing your new cat home can be frightening for it. Be prepared by having a food and water spot already set up. Also have a litter box setup in a quite spot away from the food. Your new cat should be transported in a cat carrier. When you bring the cat inside set the carrier down and open the door. Let the cat come out and explore on its own. Confining the cat to a quiet room for a day or two will make the experience less overwhelming.

Going Outside:
Before letting your cat outside for the first time be sure it is comfortable with you and its indoor surroundings. There are many dangers outside so let your cat have an escape route in case it needs it. My cat uses a cat door and it has save him a few times.
Judge the risk to letting your cat outdoors. If you live close to lots of traffic having an outdoor cat may not be a good idea.

Litter Boxes:
If you are using a cat box it should be cleaned daily. Clumping cat litter makes this easy. Simply scoop out the clumps and you're done. Put the litter box in a place where the cat will not be disturbed.

Food and water:
Your cat should always have a supply of fresh food and water. I prefer to use a heavy ceramic bowl to prevent the cat from pushing it or tipping them over.

The water bowl should be changed daily and food should be added to maintain a good supply.

My cat is now on a high quality dry food. I found feeding him can food was a waste. He generally left some behind at each meal regardless of the portion. At 15 I weaned him onto dry food only.

Scratching Posts:
Any cat is going to have the urge to scratch. The question is where is it going to do it? Best to have a scratching post that is safe and secure. Play with your cat on the post so it gets used to being allowed to scratch there. Rubbing a bit of cat nip on the scratching post will encourage your cat to scratch.

Cat Toys:
There are so many different cat toys on the market these days it is hard to choose a toy your cat will like. After much trial and error I determined my cat likes the string attached to the toy much better then the toy. Whenever I want to play I get a string, or better yet, my gold necklace (his favorite).

Sleeping Places:
A cat always needs a quiet, out of the way place to sleep the day away. A bed near a heater or furnace vent is ideal. In the winter most of the vents in my house have a cat bed near them. If you have small children make sure they can't disturb your cat when it sleeps

Care for eyes and ears:
When cats get a build up of discharge around the eye simply clean it with a damp cloth. A small amount of discharge is normal for a healthy cat but if there are excessive amount then consult a vet.

Regularly check your cats ears for dirt or ear mites. Any dirt can be removed with a damp Q-tip. If you spot small brown clumps of discharge you should consult your vet. This is a sign of ear mites.

Care for the claws:
If you have an outside cat, claw care is less important. Climbing trees, and other outdoor stuff helps to keep claws well maintained.

An inside cat has far less need for its claws. There is really no environment where your cat needs to use its claws. You should trim your cats claws once or twice a year. Clip the very tip of each claw. Taking any more then just the tip can hurt your cat. It is recommended that you have a vet show you how to clip their claws properly.

Care of the mouth and teeth:
As cats age their teeth start to get calcium build up which can cause gum inflammation. Check your cats mouth every 6 or 8 weeks. Find and remove and calcium build up before deposits get too large.

Caring for a cat is quite simple, common sense really. I believe that good food, fresh water, lots of love and exercise is best for a cat. By following these 10 simple guidelines your cat can live a long and healthy life.

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Salt Water 101 - Buying The Correct Equipment
By Bill Swiderski

Last month, we briefly touched on the differences between a reef system and a fish-only system. I mentioned the major decision to make between the two different systems "is it more about the fish or more about building a living reef"? You may wonder why I continually ask this question. It has been my experience when dealing with end users, that when they are ready to cycle the tank, they want to purchase fish that are not reef-safe and they become discouraged and frustrated. I ask you to please research this issue before you begin so you truly understand the question.

This month we will further discuss a reef system and the joys of building a beautiful reef tank. Lighting was briefly discussed last month and is very important to both a reef tank and a fish only system. Lighting becomes extremely important in a reef-tank and you will be faced with many choices as well as a significant rang in the cost for the lighting system. Some of the lighting options available (listed in order of best to adequate) are metal halide, T-5 fluorescent, power compact fluorescent, and VHO fluorescent. An important consideration when preparing a budge for your system.... Don't skimp on your lighting system.

A hazard to be aware of when purchasing the best lighting system is that it will generate heat, which your corals will not tolerate. To overcome this problem (rather than purchasing a lesser lighting system, add a "chiller" to your list of equipment needed. A chiller is basically a small refrigerator for your reef system and will consistently keep your ref temperature appropriate for your inhabitants to live in and thrive.

Invertebrates (inverts) need to be present in your system to combat the algae that will grow due to the high output lighting in your system. The basic rule of thumb with inverts is 1 to 2 inverts per gallon of tank water. The reef tank hobbyist as the "janitor crew" refers to inverts. The janitors consist of snails, crabs, urchins, shrimps, starfish, and many others that will constantly be foraging among the rock and sand bed, keeping it clean of algae and detritus.

As we venture further into reef keeping, we look at other important pieces of equipment needed to be successful in this beautiful and fulfilling hobby.

For more information about salt water aquariums please visit

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