Pet News and Advice

Outdoor Cat Enclosure

Even indoor cats like to get out and explore outside once in a while, but it may not be the safest idea to let your inside cat roam around outside. There are just so many variables and potential hazards and dangers that it's not the best idea.

What you may want to consider is an outdoor enclosure that will let your cat get the fresh air from the outside world, natural sunshine, and all the outdoor sounds He can easily experience the outdoor world from a safe, enclosed area.

There are different brands or outside cat tunnels and enclosures that you can consider. I prefer the KittyWalk brand because you can purchase tons of attachments so that your cat doesn't have just one little tunnel or climbing area; you can add hammocks, ledges, and so much more.

But there are cheaper brands that you can consider that just include a tunnel or box. Depending on how much you want to spend and what exactly, you're looking for, will determine which product you will want. Most of the outdoor cat enclosures will be made of a mesh material and will include stakes that you can post in the ground for security and optimum stability.

Check out and compare the different products that you can purchase, before you make your purchase and end up unhappy with the product that you've bought.

Expert Tips for Creating a Backyard Habitat for Colorful Summer Birds
By (ARA) -

(ARA) - Whether city or country, bird watching is fun and you can create an environment for it in your own backyard in less time than you think.

Summer is a great time to get started because the most colorful birds with beautiful songs are around to enhance your outdoor environment.

"Late May, June and July are great times to bird watch because lots of birds are nesting," says John Robinson, chief ornithologist and manager of Scotts Birding Center of Excellence. He goes on to explain that the colorful males are displaying their plumage to attract the females so you can see plenty of beautiful species. In addition, once the baby birds are old enough to leave the nest, the mother will show them where food is, making your backyard feeder a much-appreciated resource.

Robinson says there are three components to making your backyard an oasis for feathered friends:

1. Vegetation provides shelter
Having a variety of shrubs and trees in your yard makes it bird friendly. Birds use trees, shrubs and plants to hide from both the elements and their natural predators, as well as to roost or nest in. Additionally, the right types of vegetation also provide fruit or seeds for the birds to eat.

White pine, arborvitae, spruce, juniper, cedar, holly and other broadleaf and needle evergreens provide essential protection all year as well as food. Hedges of serviceberry or viburnum provide food, shelter and nesting spots. Flowers like columbine and trumpet vine attract hummingbirds with their sweet nectar.

2. Quality food nourishes
Not all bird food is created equal. Look for blends that were researched in the field and created to attract the types of birds you want to see in your backyard. Avoid filler material like milo, wheat or cracked corn.

To attract colorful birds, Robinson recommends Scotts Songbird Selections Colorful Bird Blend, which was developed by ornithologists. This mix is made from 10 high-quality ingredients that are blended in a specific ratio designed to attract more colorful birds. Results may vary by region and/or season, but Colorful Bird Blend has been proven to attract up to twice as many than with ordinary wild bird food. The mix is also less attractive to blackbirds, grackles and cowbirds, which are often considered a nuisance.

Another good option is Scotts Songbird Selections Wild Finch & Small Songbird Blend, which was scientifically mixed to attract goldfinches. Field research done across the country by Robinson, his team, and university partners, shows that while results may vary by region and/or season, this mix can attract up to two times the amount of finches as other types of ordinary wild bird food. Additionally, it also attracts other interesting small birds such as nuthatches, chickadees and native sparrows.

3. Water quenches thirst
Putting out a birdbath, especially one with a trickle or fountain, makes your garden a very popular spot. Whether you put a decorative birdbath in your backyard or simply place a large clay saucer on the ground or on top of a tree stump, make sure it has a rough surface and a shallow bowl. If you have a pond or stream, place flat rocks in them for bird perches.

Birds require fresh water, so clean birdbaths often and replace water every couple of days.

For more information and additional ideas on how to create a bird habitat in your own backyard, visit

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Advice On Avoiding Aggression In The Aquarium
by Suzanne Bennett -

It is lovely and relaxing to have a peaceful, well-balanced aquarium. When your fish are well-matched and get along, it is a delight to sit and watch them peacefully interact.

However, if you have one or more aggressive fish, you may end up witnessing more mayhem than peace. Aggressive fish can be very mean and destructive and can really ruin your enjoyment of your tank, not to mention making life miserable (or non-existent) for the other fish in the tank.

The first rule to follow to avoid aggression in your tank is to do your homework. Take a trip to your local fish store and look at the various types of fish, but don't buy any yet. Take a notebook with you, and write down the names of the types you like. Talk with the staff about which fish go well together and how they behave, but take their advice with a grain of salt! Many times, the young folks who work in pet shops don't actually know what they are talking about. They are well-intentioned, but they may very well send you home with a terrible, incompatible mix of fish that will end up killing each other in fairly short order.

If you must buy something at the pet store, buy a good book on different types of fish and fish care. Or take your list of fish that you like to the library or do your research online. Check into eating and sleeping habits, level of aggression, and speed and extent of growth. A few guppies may be alright with a baby Pacu, for example, temporarily, but it won't be long until that Pacu is the size of a dinner plate, and your guppies will be no more. Additionally, you will probably be looking for a newer and bigger aquarium or someone who is willing to take on a very big, aggressive fish.

When selecting fish to avoid aggression, it is helpful to group by type. For example, you could have an all cold-water tank with goldfish and corydoras (small cold-water catfish). Even then, you will want to have similar types of goldfish. Comets can wreak havoc with moors, fancy bubble-eyed and lion head types because they like to pick on their bizarre physical features. So if you are going to have plain comet goldfish, stick to that. If you are going to have fancy goldfish, stick to that. Don't mix tropicals with cold water fish. Tropicals tend to be more aggressive and will probably end up picking on your goldfish, no matter what kind they are. Additionally, you will run into problems with temperature, salt levels, and so on.

With tropicals, selecting fish of a type will help prevent aggression.

Select all live-bearers: guppies, platys and mollies. Be careful not to select mollies or platys that are going to get huge, if you want to have guppies. All tetras is also a good choice. They are similar in needs but vary in color and appearance to make a nice, interesting tank. Keep your fish all of a size. Almost any kind of small bottom feeder will do well with live bearers or tetras, but understand that loaches will gobble up your babies pretty quickly.

Select all barbs if you want to have a tank of semi-aggressive fish. They come in a variety of colors and types, but they all get along with each other pretty well (but with other fish, not at all!) They are schooling fish, like to be in big groups, and are all pretty fast . If you have all barbs and a Chinese algae eater or a loach as your bottom feeder, you should have a fairly well balanced tank.

Don't get too many bottom feeders. They tend to be territorial. Don't mix loaches. They will kill each other. One loach to a tank is plenty!

Groups of goldfish, live-bearers, or barbs are good choices for beginning aquarists who want a community tank. Not all fish are schooling fish. Some fish, like Gouramis, Betas, fresh water puffers, and some of the larger, challenging fish like Oscars are simply better off alone. A single Gourami, Beta, or Puffer in a small (at least three gallon) desktop tank makes a nice pet for a beginner. I don't recommend mixing them with any other fish, or you are likely to have problems. Save the challenging fish for when you have gotten a lot of experience under your belt. Once you have learned what is really involved in aquarium care, you may decide against very challenging fish altogether.

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Tips On Cat Health

(NAPSI)-Whether your cat enjoys the outdoors or prefers the inside, it's important to protect her from what may be a surprising risk.

A number of fragrant flowers can be deadly for cats. "Certain types of lily are extremely poisonous to cats if eaten or if the pollen is ingested," said Dr. Michele Gaspar, DVM, DABVP, veterinarian and feline specialist for Feline Pine. "The first signs of poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to two hours of ingestion and include vomiting, loss of appetite, blindness, paralysis or kidney [renal] failure."

Common lily types that grow in yards and are sent in bouquets include tiger lilies, stargazer lilies, Easter lilies and daylilies. If you suspect your cat has come in contact with one, seek medical care immediately. Dr. Gaspar offers these additional health tips for cats:

Great Getaways

If you're planning to take your cat in the car-even if you're only heading across town-be certain to use a sturdy, reliable carrier that closes completely. A soft, thick towel or rug placed inside the carrier will provide additional comfort and help prevent your cat from feeling stressed. If you're going on a long trip, bring veterinary records-including vaccination records-and medications. Also, familiar foods and water from home will help avoid stomach upset.

Healthier Cats

"The right food and the right cat box filler are two of the most important choices you can make in your cat's life," said Dr. Gaspar. "If your cat doesn't find the cat box filler acceptable, there can be problems with inappropriate urination and defecation." You might protect kitty from carcinogens with an all-natural litter, such as Feline Pine. It's made from 100 percent natural, biodegradable pine and is silica dust free. It's also proven to produce less dust in general than other litters.

Healthful Diets

Fat cats are susceptible to a number of health problems. If your pet is overweight, he's being fed too much. Kittens between the ages of 6 and 12 weeks should be fed kitten food four times daily. Ages 3 months to 6 months should be fed three times daily. Adult cats should be fed twice a day. Also, choosing moist canned food could help cats avoid feline urologic syndrome (FUS)-a term used to describe lower urinary tract disorders, including kidney and bladder stones. Finally, avoid feeding your cat any human or dog food and always keep fresh water out for her.

For more information on how to better care for your cat, visit

According to veterinarians, the right litter and diet can help keep felines feeling fine.

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Dealing With the Loss of a Pet and Grief Recovery
By Duane Cooper

As a society we know that death is a certainty. When the death that occurs is a spouse, family member or close friend it is very natural to feel sorrow, express grief, and then expect family and friends to provide comfort. The same does not always hold true if the death that has occurred is that of a beloved pet. The pet owner may experience the same feelings of loss, but in turn encounter much less support. People love their pets and some of them consider them an immediate family member.

We know that pets provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love during the years they share with you. If you understand and accept the bond, you can take the first steps toward coping with the loss by knowing it is okay to grieve the loss. The next step is to understand how the grieving process works and then find ways to cope with the loss so it can bring you closer to the day when the memories bring happy thoughts instead of tears and sorrow.

The grief process is different for everyone and can last for days, months or even years, and again, is perfectly normal. It sometimes begins with denial or anger and may be directed at anyone involved, including family, friends, or veterinarians. You may also feel a sense of guilt about what you did or did not do, which can and will delay coming to terms with the loss.

When these first stages end, you may even become withdrawn or depressed, but true healing begins when you accept the loss and remember your pet with less sadness. It has also has been shown that when grief is outwardly expressed, the time needed for healing is far less lengthy.

When the loss of a family pet occurs and children are involved, it is important to remember that they can be far more sensitive than an adult. They may blame themselves or parents for not saving the pet. They may feel guilt, depression or even frightened that others they love may be taken from them, so it is best to console first, find out what the are thinking and feeling and then alleviate their concerns.

Never try to protect a child by saying the pet ran away. This causes your child to expect the pet to return, or even wonder what they did to make it leave. This will extend the grief period for them and make it impossible to accept a new pet in the future, because they may believe that loving a new pet would be a betrayal to their old pet or that their old pet may one day return.

If you had to put the pet to sleep, make sure your child understands the difference between ordinary sleep and death, or you risk the child themselves being fearful of going to sleep and not waking up. Make it clear that the pet will not wake up, but that they are happy and free of any pain.

Expressing your own grief with your child during this difficult time will not only reassure them that feeling sad is okay but also help them work through their personal feelings.

It is also extremely important during the grieving process to find a way to say goodbye and remember your pet. There are a number of things you can do including writing about your memories and shared experiences, or even putting together an album of memories which allow everyone in the family to remember the happy memories spent with your pet.

Providing a special place for your pet's ashes has also been shown to help those with trouble saying goodbye which will speed up the recovery process for both children and adults.

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4 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Horse
By Hilary Walker

There is often a discrepancy between what we horse buyers think we need in a horse and what we actually need. This muddled thinking has landed me in trouble many times, and plenty of other people I know!

Here are four common mistakes made when buying a horse.

Number One: He's beautiful - I must have him

My first pony was the ugliest thing you ever saw, but a kind and wonderful friend.

My second equine was the most beautiful horse that walked this earth and the first one I looked at. In love, I failed to understand that the stunning Hanoverian was far too strong for me and needed a competent, confident rider. I was neither. He had also been ruined by previous owners, which is why he was going so cheaply. After I got him home, my gorgeous gray bucked and reared, refused jumps, bolted and generally made my life miserable.

Instead of being smart and trying out different horses - beautiful or otherwise - plus taking my time over the whole process, I had leapt into a purchase simply because he looked the part and I swiftly regretted it.

Number Two: He's young - we'll grow old together.

This is a very understandable reason for acquiring a youngster. After all, we want to keep our horses for many years. We invest much emotion in our equine friends and the pain of losing them is hard to bear.

But if you are an inexperienced rider the worst thing you can do is buy an inexperienced young horse. At least one member of the equine/human partnership has to know what they're doing. Otherwise the relationship will fail. A young horse will feel insecure around an owner who isn't confident, and if not given leadership will quickly assume it himself. He'll take advantage of his owner, learn bad habits and become a dangerous bully.

Far from wanting to keep such a horse into old age, the intimidated owner will want to get rid of him as fast as possible. But by then the horse will be hard to sell.

If you are an inexperienced rider, you need a schoolmaster. This is an older horse who has 'been there, done that' and can give his owner confidence while teaching him or her the ins and outs of horsemanship. With proper care schoolmasters can live long, useful lives and are worth their weight in gold. My eventer is such a horse. A healthy twenty-year-old, he's still taking care of nervous riders.

Number Three: He's talented - we'll win everything together.

The dealer who sold me the beautiful gray kept telling me the horse would 'make an international showjumper.' I was thrilled at the prospect of owning such a fantastic athlete!

Did I once consider whether I myself had the potential to compete at that level? I was currently jumping three feet high on a good day. Did I need a horse capable of jumping five feet six or more? (Assuming he really could.)

It's no use buying a horse that can compete in Grand Prix dressage, four star three day events or puissance jumping - not to mention paying a hefty price for such an animal - if you're not even remotely close to his standard.

While you're trying to catch up, he'll be unlearning his skills. You'll need someone to maintain the horse's training, which usually means you don't get to ride him any more. Because, you'll be firmly told -- as I was -- you are ruining him. You'll end up paying a professional to work with your talented horse while you watch miserably from the sidelines. It's expensive and no fun!

Far better to be truthful about your current level of riding. Be humble enough to go for a less trained horse. Don't buy a Ferrari when you've just started to drive -- it's a waste of money. There'll still be top level horses out there when you've become a top level rider.

Number Four: He's a stallion - I'll be able to breed from him as well as ride him.

We've all seen the romantic movies about gorgeous stallions with flowing manes and tails, galloping with carefree abandon. How wonderful to possess one of those shiny, muscular steeds!

I can tell you from first-hand experience: it isn't. Not if you don't know how to handle him. I fell in love with a stunning stallion at an auction and just 'had' to have him.

A stallion has to be told all the time that you are boss. He has to be turned out alone. If used for breeding as well as riding, he needs to be taught that mares are not fair game while he's under saddle.

My stud enjoyed rearing and hopping on his hind legs and was nicknamed 'Hormones R Us' by my instructor. He was six years old before I finally admitted he was too much for me and had him gelded. By then it was too late to make any real difference.

Unless you are a professional with the know-how and ability to take care of stallions, let them remain at a safe, romantic distance!

I often think that buying a horse is similar to getting married after one date. Reduce the risk of making a bad decision by frankly assessing your own riding ability and taking good advice from a trusted instructor or other horse person. By adopting that method I now have three horses with whom I have forged a fulfilling relationship over the past eleven years.

Hilary Walker is English, living in Maryland with her three horses, four dogs, schizophrenic cat, perfectly normal American husband and teenage son. She loves teaching people to ride, taking them to shows and watching them win ribbons. She also enjoys training her young horse and is winning ribbons with him at First Level dressage. Her other love is writing, and she has just released a humorous non-fiction book "The Horse Bumbler: Getting It Right By Mistake" (available on describing the times when things haven't gone quite so smoothly in her horse life. Like every self-respecting horse-woman, she loathes and abhors housework.

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