Pet Photos: The Ugly Bat Boy Cat

Don’t Let Pets Pass on Bugs
By Laura Herbert -

Owning a pet is one of life’s pleasures and can be good for children and adults.

Pet owners have a reduced risk of heart disease and tend to visit the doctor less often with other illnesses. Stroking a pet can aid stress relief and caring for a pet helps children to learn nurturing skills.

However, people are sometimes worried they may pick up diseases from pets. This does not happen very often, it is more common for illness to be passed on from another human, but keeping your pets healthy is an important precaution.

Washing your hands after handling animals is the most significant safety measure you can take.

Clean hands thoroughly after gardening or playing in sandpits or on ground where animals may have been, to minimise the chance of infection by worm eggs or germs shed in faeces.

Intestinal worms in cats and dogs are easily prevented by regular worming – it is best to consult your veterinary nurse to ensure you choose an effective product.

Fleas are also a nasty parasite affecting both animals and their owners. Again, follow veterinary advice when buying flea products and keep up-to-date with applications.

Do not allow cats or dogs to lick or rub against your face as some causes of colds, flu and conjunctivitis in cats can very occasionally be passed on to people.

A minority of healthy animals do carry some of the common bugs that cause food poisoning and these can be transmitted in the faeces.

Again, it is always sensible to wash hands after picking up after your dog or cleaning litter trays.

Remember, you are much less likely to pick up infection from a healthy pet, so ask your veterinary nurse for advice on preventative healthcare and make sure you pop in for regular check ups.

Tips for Removing Pet Hair from Your Home
By: Deidre Wengen -

When you have a pet living in your home, hair is everywhere. It covers the couch, falls onto the floor, clings to your clothes. At times it feels impossible to avoid it or get rid of it. I know I gave up on a pet-hair free living environment a long time ago.

But there are a few things you can do to keep the hair to a minimum. This blog post from Natural Pet Health offers a few tips on how to clean up after a shedding pet.

Although you will never get rid of the pet hair problem completely, certain items can help you curb the excess. For instance, running a dry kitchen sponge over the furniture will gather the hair into large clumps so it is easier to pick up. Also, dusting some baking soda onto the carpet will help to loosen the hair and make it easier to pick up with a vacuum.

And one of the things I highly recommend is investing in a simple lint roller. You will be surprised how handy it can be for getting pet hair off your clothes or off the seats in your car.

Roll Over Fido, These Vets Cater to Exotic Pets
Columbia News Service

Young Charlie was not doing very well. ''Does he eat?'' the doctor asked, inspecting a lump on Charlie's cheek. ``Has he ever had any other problems?''

Within minutes, the doctor, Alexandra Wilson, diagnosed the problem. Charlie had an ear infection. Her recommended treatment: slice into the lump and drain it.

Cutting open a lump to cure an ear infection may seem rather extreme, but when the patient is a red-eared slider turtle like Charlie, that's the standard remedy, according to Wilson, a veterinarian at the Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine in New York City.

Like Wilson, a growing number of veterinarians are treating reptiles, birds and other ''pocket animals'' -- as rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs are called. The range of procedures they offer include treating constipated frogs, removing tumors from rats and providing dental care to rabbits.

These vets work in offices stocked with specialized equipment: tiny masks and mini-blood pressure bands sized to fit smaller patients and heating pads to keep them from getting cold. Some clinics offer laser surgery to minimize the loss of blood, because losing even a few drops can be fatal to tiny exotic animals. Behavioral advice may also be available.


''Exotic-animal medicine is the most rapidly growing field in veterinary medicine,'' says James Carpenter, professor of zoological medicine at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.

Two decades ago, those interested in taking the exotic-animal path would have had a difficult time. ''Most of the veterinary schools offered little to no training in this specialty,'' Carpenter says. ``Now, however, most of the 28 U.S. veterinary schools offer some training, and some offer extensive opportunities, in exotic-animal medicine.''

Last year, the American Veterinary Medical Association granted provisional recognition to the ''exotic companion mammal practice'' specialty. It accepted its first round of applicants this year. The Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians plans to advocate for the AVMA to add a reptile specialty. An ''avian practice'' specialty already exists.

'We have people out there saying, `OK, who can handle my little exotic companion animal, and who can demonstrate that they know what they're doing?' '' says Michael Dutton, who runs the Exotic & Bird Clinic in Weare, N.H. ``A specialty is one way to demonstrate that they know how to do that.''

In 2000, Dutton founded the Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians, which has grown from 20 initial members to more than 700 from the United States, Canada and other countries.

What attracts vets like Dutton to treat animals that many people would sooner ignore than have as pets? ''Variety,'' says Simon Starkey, a veterinarian who is board-certified in avian medicine. ``You never get bored.''

And because research on these animals is still limited, there's room for practitioners to make new discoveries. Specializing can also give young vets an edge when they're job hunting.

The rising number of exotic-pet veterinarians reflects the increased demand for care from owners of nontraditional pets. The number of U.S. households with exotic animals has grown from nearly 14 million in 2001 to around 18 million in 2007, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Many of these owners want quality care for their pets -- even if the treatment costs more than they paid for the animal. Neutering a rabbit at Wilson's New York clinic, for instance, costs around $250. Removing a rat's tumor can range from $250 to $400. The fee for Charlie's office visit, which included draining the lump and other procedures, totaled $250. A typical turtle of his variety rarely costs more than $20.

Charlie's owner, Savitri Sukhu, agreed to have his lump drained because she couldn't bear to know her pet was sick and do nothing about it. She did, however, decline an expensive follow-up test the doctor recommended.

Many animal owners believe that the specialized training of exotic-pet vets is worth the cost.


Laura Budean, a native of Romania who now lives in New York, says she lost a guinea pig because of the inadequate care of a vet who didn't have experience treating pocket animals. She believes that seeing a specialist is cheaper than having her 14 guinea pigs get sick frequently.

Three of Budean's guinea pigs have had major surgeries to remove tumors or abscesses. In years past, guinea pigs rarely came in contact with a surgical knife unless it was part of some experiment. Budean says she understands why some of her friends think she's crazy for taking her rodents for treatment. But for her, caring for the pets is not optional.

''I really think that the moment you assume responsibility for a pet, you assume responsibility when they get sick as well,'' Budean says. ``You get a pet when you know you can provide for that pet.''

Four Months Sounds Early to Neuter a Pet
By DR. PATTY KHULY - Miami Herald

Q:I've just heard about a new law that would require all Floridians to spay and neuter our pets when they're 4 months old. I think it's a good thing to require spaying and neutering but isn't 4 months too early? I've always heard that it should be done at 6 months.

A: Your question opens up a whole world of worms faced by the veterinary profession. As more states and municipalities propose mandatory spay/neuter laws to cut down on the teeming populations of unwanted cats and dogs, we veterinarians are increasingly called in to arbitrate the dispute.

Florida's proposed HB 451 is one such law. If it passes, all cats and dogs will be required to be spayed or neutered within 30 days of their 4-month birthday.

Some exceptions do apply, as in the case of pets who are ill, in which case veterinarians may grant them a ''reprieve'' until they are well enough to undergo surgery. There are also exceptions for registered breeding pets, pets who compete in shows or athletic events, police dogs and assistance dogs. Otherwise, the law proposes all pets submit to the knife.

You are right to question the 4-month time frame. Most veterinarians are uneasy about this stipulation, given that the 6-month mark is still the most popularly recommended date for spaying and neutering -- and some studies question whether 6 months might be too early.

In fact, vets are generally uneasy about the entire concept of mandatory spay and neuter legislation. Not only do most of us question the timing of these procedures under this new law, we wonder whether our profession will be forced to take on the role of enforcing its provisions. If so, will fewer pet owners seek medical attention for their cats and dogs because they fear the veterinary police?

Don't get me wrong, veterinarians typically advocate the spaying and neutering of all pets. We understand the need for pet sterilization. But the timing is an issue. And so is the issue of this legislation's enforceability -- not to mention its unintended consequences.

That's why the ASPCA and the veterinary organizations specializing in reproductive issues have openly opposed these mandatory spay/neuter laws.

For more information on this legislation:

Dr. Patty Khuly practices in South Miami and blogs at Send questions to, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132.

Save 5% on Pet Supplies Orders Over $75

Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

More Hints on Vet Visits

Dear Readers: Here is the second installment of a VET'S PET POINTERS on how to be a good pet owner during your veterinary-hospital visit. -- Heloise

The veterinarian's office is not a place for a field trip or a time for your children to ask questions -- it is a place of business, and more importantly, it is a hospital.

Sit at least five feet away from entrances and exits unless your pet is in a carrier. You never know what is coming in the door next.

Do not let your dog sniff a cat in a carrier or on someone's lap. Your dog, no matter how much it likes cats, will cause an unfamiliar cat's adrenaline level to spike. And guess who gets to deal with that cat next -- the doctor!

Do not let your pet sniff or socialize with other animals in the waiting room. Most pets are already stressed, and many may be contagious.

Do not make a call or answer your cell phone while in the veterinary hospital. Clients who do so at their appointment time in my hospital are asked to go to the waiting room, and the next person is taken ahead of them. You cannot listen to the doctor when you are on the phone.

Call ahead for medication and food while you are at work. You can even prepay with a credit card. This is especially great when you are picking up items after work during busy times. Many veterinary hospitals offer online and e-mail communication to pre-order products.

Bring records from your previous veterinarian if it is your first visit. Having them faxed ahead of time is even better. Don't expect the staff to rush around and get the information immediately if you don't bring it.

Keep an emergency fund of $500 for your pet's medical needs if you don't have pet health insurance. If you have a hard time saving for this, ask your veterinarian if you can put a set dollar amount on your pet's account every month in order to build a cash reserve. It's better than putting it on a credit card.

-- A Vet, via e-mail


Dear Readers: Jane Mitchell of Waterville, Maine, sent a photo of her 2-year-old white cat, Toby Tyler Mitchell, lying back with his mouth all the way open and a little black toy mouse on his tummy. Jane says, "It looks like Toby Tyler is laughing, as if to say, 'Boy, that was a hot one!"'

To see funny Toby Tyler, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: I have seen several times that people find that birdseed they have stored in their house becomes infested with bugs, and they throw it in the trash. Why not throw it in the yard near the bird feeder? If the birds come across an occasional bug, they will think they are getting a special treat. -- Edna Carter, Simsbury, Conn.

(c)2009 by King Features Syndicate Inc.

A Cure for Dogs Pooping in the House
By Steve Dale - Tribune Media Services

Q My 3-year-old Havanese is basically house-trained, except occasionally he'll poop in the house. Twice a year, while we're away, he spends a week with friends. He also poops in their homes and urinates there, too. I'm running out of friends to watch him. Any suggestions?

L.W., Tarrytown, N.Y.

A "I wonder how happy your dog is to be dropped off at these homes," asks Dr. Brenda Griffin, assistant professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, N.Y. "For some dogs, there's tremendous anxiety being left in an unfamiliar place, even if the people are familiar. And it's unclear if the people are familiar. If there are other animals in these homes, that makes matters more complex. Also, the dog has learned to pee and poo in other people's homes. Now, we have to prevent that cycle from continuing."

Griffin suggests crate-training your little guy. Restricting him inside a crate when you can't supervise will prevent accidents because dogs don't like to foul their sleeping area. (Only one caveat: If your dog is having accidents only when people aren't home, the problem is likely separation anxiety, and professional assistance is recommended). Ask your pet-sitting friends to take the dog out on a leash and reward him for going potty with praise and a special treat, as if he were a puppy. If he doesn't do his business, back into the crate he goes.

Meanwhile, it can't hurt to plug in a diffuser called Dog Appeasing Pheromone (a kind of relaxing aromatherapy for dogs). Play (Havanese generally love to play) is also a great antidote for stress.

Good Advice On Setting Up Your Garden Koi Pond

There are various garden pond types that the home owner might delight to have in the household. Some man made ponds are raised with a barrier that prevents the water from spilling out while others are dug into the land and fit with the structure of the land. A garden pool is commonly made as natural as possible which means that the whole pond may be dug into the earth. Some other water structures such as fountains and waterfalls may be contributed to the garden pond depending on the tastes of the home owner.

First Things First

An initial survey must be finished to ascertain just how suitable a garden pool might be in the garden. There are many sites that a garden pool may be discouraged due to too much exposure to the sunlight or too close to sizeable tree roots. Tree roots can be cumbersome for the pool bottom as these may grow and crack the bottom stimulating a leak or rent the liner.

The depth of the garden pond should also be considered especially if the home owner wishes to put fish in it. A small garden pond may be required to be deeper if there are supposed to be Koi in it. Sunlight exposure can heat up the water supply and kill the fish if left unattended.

Several garden ponds may need an aerator to allow the needed air for the fish in them. An aerator is an complete must if there are little or no plants at all in the garden pool with fish in it. The aerator will provide the essential air for the fish as well as facilitate to move the water to keep it from getting stagnant. An aerator can also be part of a filtration system that helps to forbid the accumulation of too much dirt and bacteria in the pool. A filtration arrangement helps the fish have better water as well as prevents the quick development of moss.

Underwater pond floras are crucial to have in a garden pond. These supply nutrient, shelter and air for the live things in the pond. Plants can also be located beside the pond in an attempt to make the pool look more natural and in keeping with the scenery. There are many different species of underwater and semi aquatic plants that are crucial additions to the garden pond.

A garden pond can in reality make a garden look better and also contribute to the general air of the garden

It's for the Birds, So a Nice Feeder is OK

Over the years I've learned a thing or five about what to look for in a bird feeder. Most of what I know I've learned from Tim Joyce, manager of Wild Birds Unlimited in Glenview, Ill. (

1. You know how some folks like to shovel in the gruel while standing at the counter, and others might prefer to take a seat and be so polite as to dab at lips with linen napkin? Birds aren't so different. Cardinals like a lot of room while pecking at seed. And they're a bit too big to have to squat on a perch and turn their head into a little bitty hole. They'd much prefer to lean elegantly forward, the cardinal ergonomics of choice, Joyce says. A hopper feeder or tray feeder is best if it's the cardinal you seek.

Birds, especially cardinals, are skittish in winter when there's less foliage to hide in, and they like to be able to keep an eye on their surroundings, lest they become someone else's lunch while sidled up to seed. Finches like to cling to a tube - wire mesh or hole-punched plastic (Joyce once counted 23 finches on a single wire-mesh tube). When it comes to menu, cardinals gobble sunflower seed, finches like nyjer or thistle seed and blue jays will take peanuts, in or out of the shell.

2. Fill 'er up. You might not think about this when standing in the comfy confines of your friendly feeder shop, but remember that cutesy feeder will be hanging outside where it can be cold, and to get there you might have to throw a parka over your jammies to fill it when it's empty. So pay attention to the size of the gizmo where the seed gets dumped. If it's a skinny little tube or a teeny tiny trough, it might only hold half a pound of seed, "and the birds will mow through that in a day," Joyce says. Look for a feeder that might hold up to 12 or 14 pounds of seed, he advises, and you'll spend more time on the side of the window where the winds don't blow.

3. No squirrels allowed. Believe it or not, there are some folks who throw all caution (and a ton of bird seed) to the wind, and say, "Oh, let nature do its thing," eschewing squirrel-proof feeders, Joyce says. Won't be long, he says, till they're back with heavy-duty doses of buyer's remorse. Here's the brutal truth: Squirrels are voracious little critters. You'll save yourself a trip back to the feeder store if you start out with one that's billed as squirrel-proof. We've tried the Squirrel Buster Plus feeder that really, truly gets the job done.

4. Feeding till the end of time. As in so much of life, you get what you pay for. It might not sting so much to drop a mere 15 bucks for a feeder at the hardware store. But feeders put up with plenty - freeze and thaw, unrelenting sun and rain, pesky squirrels and raccoons. You'd be wise to spend a bit more upfront and get a lifetime-guaranteed feeder. In the tube-feeder department, check out Droll Yankees (drollyankees. com) or Aspects (aspectsinc. com), two of the most respected of a flock of top-flight Rhode Island-based feeder makers.

5. Housekeeping not included. You didn't think those little birdies would keep it clean, did you? "Birds don't have much of a sense of sanitation," Joyce says. So at least once a month you'll want to haul in the feeder and give it a good wash. Some feeders make that a little bit less of a headache. Plastic is far easier to keep germfree than wood because wood is absorbent and tough to sanitize. Some feeders can get plopped right in the dishwasher. If not, here's how to keep 'em clean: Haul the feeders into a slop sink, filled with hot water. Add a couple of cups of vinegar or rubbing alcohol. Soak for 15 minutes. Scrub with a bottle brush. Lay out in the sun to dry, as ultraviolet light is "a phenomenal natural disinfectant," says the bird man.

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The Ugly Bat Boy Cat

Bat Boy was part of a litter that all looked like him, the Adams family of cats perhaps. But he loves the attention. Bat boy sits so still for fans that they think it’s not a live animal.

Be Sure to Get Your Pets Vaccinated for Rabies
Ask Dr. Watts - Dr. Michael Watts, Vet Care

Today is the beginning of Rabies Awareness Month. Rabies is an untreatable disease of the nervous system that leads to death. From 1990-2000 there were thirty-two human deaths from rabies in the United States. Nationally, each year 7,000-9,000 animals are detected with rabies, 500-600 in Virginia alone. The most common animals infected with rabies are raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, cats, dogs, and some farm animals. In Virginia, the most common human exposure is through cats, followed closely by bats.

Most human deaths from rabies in recent years have come through bat bites. People generally know when they have been bitten, but according to the Virginia Department of Heath (VDH), there are situations in which you should seek medical advice even in the absence of an obvious bite wound. If you awaken and find a bat in your room, see a bat in the room of an unattended child, or see a bat near a mentally impaired or intoxicated person, you should contact the local health department.

The VDH also strongly advises people to follow these guidelines to prevent families and pets from being exposed to rabies:

-Vaccinate all cats, dogs, ferrets, and selected livestock against rabies and keep them up to date

-Avoid contact with wild animals or stray cats and dogs.

-Report stray animals to your local animal control agency.

-Eliminate outdoor food sources around the home.

-Keep pets confined to your property or walk them on a leash.

If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, promptly report it to your veterinarian and the local health department or animal control authorities. If your pet bites someone, the person should seek medical attention and the local health department should be contacted. Even if your pet is current on rabies vaccine, there are guidelines that should be followed for the following ten days. If the pet does not have a current rabies vaccine, there are much more serious ramifications.

If you have been bitten by an animal, immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and copious amounts of water. This step will significantly reduce your risk of infection. It is extremely important to promptly report the bite would to your doctor and the local health department. The VDH advises, “if possible, capture the animal under a large box or can, or at least identify it before it runs away. Don’t try to pick the animal up. If it’s a wild animal that must be killed, don’t damage the head. Call an animal control or law enforcement officer to come get it.”

In observance of Rabies Awareness Month and in order to contribute to public health, Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care will be hosting a rabies vaccine clinic on Saturday, March 21 from 1pm until 4pm. Vaccines will be administered to dogs, cats, or ferrets for a fee of $20 each. Three year vaccines will be administered with proof of prior rabies vaccination. No appointments are necessary. For directions to our practice, please visit or call 428-1000.

Rabies vaccine clinics are designed to reach pets that would otherwise not visit a veterinarian. It is important to note that no examinations or medical treatments are provided. Regular readers of this column know the importance of regular physical examinations and preventive care. For owners who wish to schedule their pet’s check-up during the month of March, our practice will gladly administer a free rabies vaccine.

Rabies is a serious public health issue. By taking the simple precautions discussed in this column, you will be able to protect yourself, your family, and your pets from this deadly disease.

Dr. Watts is a companion animal general practitioner and owner of Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care. He can be reached through or by calling 428-1000.

5 Tips for a Harmonious Car Ride with the Dog

Since today is a beautiful, sunny day in Southern California, I've decided to take Angel the dog on a fun trip up the coast. Since I've noted before in previous articles that Amtrak does not permit dogs on the train, our only available means of transportation is to take the car. (see:

Angel is really well behaved in the car on short rides to the office, the grocery store, and the dog park, but a lengthy car trip requires more preparation. Some dogs have a hard time with car trips. Does your dog rejoice on a car ride, or pout? Here are a few tips to enjoy a more harmonious trip in the car:

1) Try to associate a ride in the car with a good experience, like going to the dog park or to visit friends. If the only time the dog is in the car is a trip to the vet, obviously the dog is going to be horrified the entire trip.

2) Don't feed your dog immediately before a car trip. A full stomach is a recipe for disaster.

3) Bring along some of the dog's favorite toys and place them in the seat with the dog. My dog rides in the backseat, like Driving Miss Daisy, so she's got chew toys and stuffed animals in the seat with her so she knows she's in a safe place.

4) Always keep the car windows open so the dog can see outside and enjoy the sights and smells. Dogs seems to enjoy the wind in their face - it aids their heightened sense of smell and gives them a storybook of where they are going and what's outside. If it's too hot for this, keep the air conditioning on high so the dog gets some air blowing in their face, creating a sense of the wind blowing in their face.

5) Make it fun! Don't be tense about the car ride, or your dog will sense your tension. Relax. Sing along with the radio. Praise your dog's good behavior. Have fun with it, and your dog will pick up on your enthusiasm.

Hope these tips help you and your pet to enjoy the drive to wherever your travels may take you. Enjoy your weekend!

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