Pet News: Cat Survives 26-Story Fall!

Bug Tips for Humans and Their Pets
by WENDY CHRISTENSEN - For the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

This is that glorious time of year when ticks, mosquitoes and blackflies are all hungry and out for blood.

Even if you're the most altruistic blood donor, though, the consequences of providing a meal for these critters can go beyond a few itchy welts and the satisfaction of knowing you've helped save these New Hampshire stalwarts for another generation.

Let's start with ticks, those sneaky, bloodsucking external parasites related to spiders (family Arachnidae). They're marvelously efficient disease carriers, grabbing on tight and feeding so slowly that the host animal never notices. They can take several days to feed; the longer they feed, the greater the chance they'll infect their victims with any disease bacteria they may be carrying.

Ticks lurk in brush or grass from ground level to three feet. Sensing a passing host via carbon dioxide, scent, body heat or movement, the tick grabs hold of the host with its forelegs, attaches its mouthparts, and starts feeding. Ticks can't jump or fly, but they're very determined crawlers. They can crawl right up to the scalp from lower body parts, and some species can crawl several feet to grab onto a particularly appealing host.

Around here, peak tick season is April through September, and the ticks of interest are "hard ticks" (Ixodoidae family). The reddish-brown, small (1/8 inch long) black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis), also called the deer tick (Ixodes dammini) is usually found in grasslands and wooded areas around trails, where it might find a blood meal. It feeds on deer, sheep, horses, rodents, dogs, cats and humans. Deer ticks are the vector for Lyme disease, and possibly erlichiosis.

The reddish-brown, tiny (3/16 inch long) common dog tick, also known as the wood tick (Dermacentor variabilis), feeds on warm-blooded critters like mice, raccoons and dogs. Females can become huge after feeding -- up to 1/2 inch long. Dog ticks can carry tularemia, erlichiosis and other nasty surprises.

Mosquitoes, besides being monstrously annoying, can transmit several diseases, including heartworm (which can seriously affect and kill dogs and cats), Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus.

What about those pesky blackflies? Despite the exasperation provoked by clouds of these tiny biters, there's good news. Members of the Simuliidae family, blackflies need clean, running water to breed and are extremely intolerant of pollution. So those hordes of blackflies are a good thing. (Just keep repeating that to yourself...) Only female blackflies bite. Males, which feed on sap and plant nectar, are important pollinators of many wildflowers and even blueberries. So they're good for something after all. Who knew? But blackflies can transmit nasty stuff, too, including encephalitis and various worms and parasites.

If you get a head start and make a strategic plan, you really can control the populations of these annoying biters in your yard without using a lot of chemicals or electrical contraptions.

First, remember that those glowing blue "zapper" devices do more harm than good. They indiscriminately attract and kill friendlies (bats, dragonflies, moths) as well as biters. Skip the zappers and minimize the amounts of chemicals of all kinds you use in your garden and yard -- and you'll benefit greatly from natural bug-control assistance. Dragonflies, bats, swallows and flycatchers [like Phoebes] eat large quantities of mosquitoes and blackflies.

To control ticks, think dry. Ticks are susceptible to dehydration, so reduce moisture and humidity on your property, especially in areas where pets and children play. Prune trees to let sunshine in, clear brush and pick up litter.

Mosquitoes can breed anywhere there's standing water -- even in such tiny and overlooked spots as saucers beneath potted plants. Do your best to eliminate such mosquito havens as soon as possible, and recheck regularly throughout "skeeter" season. Clearing piles of leaves, brush and other debris will help cut down on both ticks and mosquitoes.

Very few bug repellents are safe for animals, so please don't spray your pets with DEET or any other repellant. Instead, try to minimize your animals' exposure to biting bugs, and arrange their (and your) environment to make it less attractive to ticks and mosquitoes. Sometimes, the best strategy is avoidance. Peak mosquito times are dawn and dusk, so don't walk your dog then, and keep horses and other animals inside.

Despite your best preventive efforts, active outdoor animals are probably going to pick up a few ticks. Don't ignore these. Tick-borne illnesses are nothing to sneeze at. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever [found in all fifty states], erlichiosis and tick paralysis can kill and also cause severe, long-term illness and complications for humans and their animals. There are no specific blood tests or other lab tests for most tick-borne diseases. Worse, ticks can carry more than one pathogen at a time, so a host animal can develop more than one illness simultaneously, complicating diagnosis and treatment tremendously.

Cats often remove ticks from themselves [through self-grooming] before the ticks can pass on whatever disease they're carrying -- but check cats thoroughly after outdoor excursions anyway. Cats infected with Lyme disease often show no signs of illness, but may suffer lameness, fever, appetite loss, fatigue and unusual breathing. Horses with Lyme disease can suffer lameness, loss of appetite, vision loss, aimless wandering and depression.

Dogs are regular tick magnets. After each outing, brush your dog thoroughly and check him -- all over -- for ticks. If you find one, remove it, promptly and properly. In addition to their barbed mouthparts -- perfect for penetrating and holding onto skin -- ticks also secrete a cement-like substance to help them stick to the host until they're done feeding.

To remove a tick, use fine-point tweezers to grip the tick's mouthparts as close to the skin as possible. Slowly and steadily, pull the tick straight out. Immerse it in rubbing alcohol. Apply antiseptic to the bite area, and wash your hands and the tweezers. Never crush, prick or burn a tick, as this may cause release of infective fluids.

Save the tick in a small vial or plastic bag, with the date, pet's name and species, and location. Save it for later testing if your pet shows symptoms consistent with Lyme disease. To be on the safe side, have the tick tested immediately by your veterinarian or local health department so you can begin treatment if your pet has become infected.

Feeling itchy yet?

Wendy Christensen is an award-winning pet writer and illustrator, and a member of both the Cat Writers' Association and the Dog Writers Association of America. She lives in New Ipswich with her husband Jeff MacGillivray and their 10 cats. Her Web site is

Are You Making the Most Common Mistakes Setting Up Your Home Aquarium?

Fish are amazingly beautiful animals. Fish are unlike other pets in that you won’t need a leash or litter box. You don’t have to train them, register them with the City Hall, or vaccinate them. But that is not just a simple task. Although you are not going to do all those mentioned tasks, you still have to work about caring for the fish. Your job is to ensure that you keep the home aquarium clean. Here are some helpful tips in order to avoid the common mistakes in home aquarium.

Mini aquariums are really cute. Fish are not concerned with the way the aquarium looks. Space is more important than the appearance. Aquariums at home should be quite huge. A good size for beginners is a 20 gallon aquarium. Its not wise to use a mall tank since the fish would not have enough space to swim.

Placing your home aguarium in the proper position is really important. Put the aquarium in a place where it is covenient and enjoyable to watch and care for its occupants. The best location will make you see immediately the problems that occur. It will also help you remember to feed the fish and to maintain the cleanliness of the environment. Choose the most steady and sturdy spot because the aquarium is really heavy. The aquarium needs to be in an area which will allow you easy access at cleaning time. Avoid placing another furniture with this one. All those equipments used for the aquarium should be properly placed for it to funtion for a long time.

Never place your home aquarium in a place where sunlight would fall on it. You need to provide shelter from the sun’s direct rays particularly for tropical fish. A lot of light promotes algae proliferation which causes your aquarium to get cloudy. You should not put your fish tank close to noisy stereo gear. Booming bass and trembling treble will scare them.

You might get too excited about the idea of having the aquarium that you place the fish in its home in the very day that you brought the aquarium. Initially you must stabilize the tank’s water for several days prior to placing your fish into it. When clean the possibility of your fish falling sick would be reduced.

It is also important to select fish which are good for each other. You may be wondering why there is a decrease on the numbers of fishes that you have. As everyone know, bully fish eat them. Pick out gentle and tranquil fish specimens for your home aquarium. In addition, it is necessary to inquire about the full-grown size that the fish could ultimately reach when you visit the pet store. For the fish to be compatible with the tank, this is the most important thing. Healthy fish should always be your first choice. Fish with fungus or the one with damaged scales are not good to purchase.

Finally, avoid letting your home aquarium become too full of fish. An ecological balance is important to achieve in the home aquarium. Every fish will need nearly a gallon of water. The more fish you want the bigger the aquarium you will need to have.

Fido or Tabby Got Your Sleep?
Dr. Michael Breus, aka The Sleep Doctor - The Huffington Post

If you're still scratching your head wondering why you're not feeling as refreshed as you should in the morning, you may have overlooked a little furry sleep thief: your pet.

I get asked about pets in the bedroom pretty frequently, and it can be a hard to hear that pets in the bedroom can be problematic for sleep. Pets are like family members, and we don't like to exclude them from snuggling with us when they show so much affection and beg to be with us at night. But they can be a major cause of poor and disrupted sleep.

Studies have demonstrated that a reasonable percentage of pet owners who allow their pets in bed have sleep problems. And if you think a cat is harmless, then look no further than a home video of what goes on in night when you think your furry friend acts like a stuffed animal. If only...

For starters, cats are nocturnal by nature. They typically won't snooze with you for 7 or 8 hours straight.

Dogs aren't quite so nocturnal, but because of their size, every time they move or begin to scratch and groom themselves they can wake the soundest sleeper. They can also snore as badly as a human -- ever listen to an Old English Bulldog?

How about a cat or dog bed? If you've already introduced your pet to your own bed, then it's going to be pretty hard to get it to use its own special bed -- no matter what the person at the pet store said or how fancy, fluffy, and "pet-friendly" the bed is. Fido and Tabby may turn their noses up at that and be in your bed faster than you can snap your fingers. To this end, let me offer some tips:

•Everyone has a different tolerance level for pets in the bedroom, so both bed partners must agree on who gets to sleep where. If pets don't disturb anyone's sleep, then there's usually no harm.

•Understand that once you allow pets to share your bed, it becomes difficult to curb or stop the habit. To stop the habit, you'll have to endure some heart-wrenching complaints from Fido or Fluffy until they learn that your bedroom is off limits.

•Make sure that your intimacy needs do not suffer from sharing your bed with pets. Remember the bed is for both sleep and sex; do not trade one for the other.

•Have your allergies checked. Over time it's quite easy to develop allergies to pets and not realize it. If you wake with a stuffy nose every day, it could be time to find Fido or Fluffy its own space.

•Review the habits of your beloved pet to make sure they're compatible with yours: a snoring bulldog can be a bigger problem than you might think.

The good news is pets can't hold grudges the way humans can. So even though you may have to practice some tough love for a while, you won't risk losing your best friend.

Sweet Dreams,
Michael J. Breus, PhD, FAASM
The Sleep Doctor

This article about sleep is also available at Dr. Breus's official blog, The Insomnia Blog.

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1 Rescued Dog Helps Another Lost Dog
By The Associated Press - Seattle Times

WENATCHEE — Blewett the black Labrador retriever, a dog rescued from the the woods himself, knows what it's like to need a little help so it probably was no surprise when he rescued another dog Monday.

Blewett the black Labrador retriever knows what it's like to need a little help.

For nearly a week last March, the lost dog barked for attention on Washington's Blewett Pass, capturing the hearts of dozens of travelers who fed him and tried unsuccessfully to catch him.

After he was finally captured, Jay and Janie Smith of Plain, Wash., gave him a home.

On Monday, Jay Smith says his wife was walking Blewett on a trail above the Wenatchee River when the dog started barking and raced down the steep bank to sniff an animal near the river's edge. Janie Smith thought it was a dead bear, but it was an old, arthritic black dog — and it was alive.

The dog's tags showed it to be Pepper, an 11-year-old dog lost since Saturday.

Carol Hurt, who lives nearby, had been baby-sitting Pepper for the weekend. She thinks the old dog was swept away by the river while taking a drink. She calls the rescue "pretty heartwarming."

Cat Falls 26 Stories, Lives to Purr Again

Cat survives 26-story fall from New York City high-rise building.

Do cats always land on their feet?

The unbelievable tale of a cat named Lucky -- who fell 26 stories and survived -- doesn't quite prove the myth but it comes pretty close.

In early May, Keri Hostetler was readying her lower Manhattan apartment for guests who were coming to visit. She cracked the window of her home office a few inches -- something she "never, ever did" -- just to air the place out. She left the door to the room ajar and got to work on her laundry.

Her beloved cat Lucky, a 3-year-old gray-and-black striped male who Hostetler describes as "a lover and a hugger" was wandering around the apartment. Or so Hostetler thought.

"I came back up from doing laundry and saw that the room where the window was open -- the door was open," she told "Good Morning America Weekend Edition." "I rushed in to the window and saw the window washers kind of waving for me."

WATCH: Lucky Cat Survives 26-Story Fall

Meanwhile, across the street, two men were on scaffolding, caulking windows more than 30 stories up, when one of them spotted Lucky on a narrow ledge just across the way.

"The cat was on the ledge and we saw it trying to turn a corner. But there was no ledge for him to step on," said John Hayes, the eagle-eyed worker. "My partner told me to get my camera, so I did."

Lucky fell 26 stories before landing on a cement balcony below. Hayes was able to snap three photos: Lucky on the ledge, Lucky in midair, and Lucky's landing.

Back in the apartment, Keri noticed the door was open and the cat was missing.

"I ran around the apartment screaming for him," she said. "And then I saw the window and I knew what had happened."

When she went to the window, she saw Hayes signaling her, letting her know that the cat had indeed taken a great fall.

"I didn't know if it was dead or alive," Hayes said. "I found him curled up in a grill cover on the sixth floor."

For Hostetler, who has had Lucky from the time he was a kitten, it was an emotional day.

"It was the worst day," she said. "If you have children, I imagine that that relationship is somewhat similar for mine for a pet since I don't have kids yet. He's awesome. And he's been with us. He goes with us on trips. He flies to see our families, so it was devastating, at first."

Southwest Airlines to Allow Small Pets Aboard
Houston Chronicle

Southwest Airlines, the largest carrier at Houston’s Hobby Airport, said today customers will be allowed to bring small dogs and cats in the cabin for a $75 fare each way as part of a series of new fee changes.

Starting Monday, Southwest will allow passengers to transport pets as long as they’re in carriers and fit under the seat. The carrier will count as the customer’s carry-on bag.

Other fare changes announced today by the Dallas-based carrier include a $25 charge each way in addition to fare prices for unaccompanied minors, and it is doubling the fee for third bags for overweight luggage weighing 51 to 70 pounds, to $50 per bag. The fee currently is $25 per overweight or excess bag.

Southwest still does not charge for the first two pieces of luggage weighing 50 pounds or less. Both new fees take effect June 17.

“We are proud to offer an outstanding service for our young customers traveling alone but realize that the extra service does come at a cost to the company,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive, said in a statement.

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5 Tips for Taking Great Pet Photos

Pet owners love to show their pets around. And in this age where you could set up a blog in a matter of seconds, many pet lovers have taken to the Internet to show their beloved pets’ photos.

Photographs of your pet not only shows how much you love them, but also preserve their moments for a long time. What is more, if you have a friend who is a pet lover, then you can take pictures of his or her pets, frame it and then give it as a gift.

However, not everyone will get to appreciate a bad and candid shot of your dog. Here are some ways to make your pet photos stand out.

1. Look at what others have done. Take time to browse other people’s blogs and view photos on sites like Flickr. This will give you an idea on what makes a good photograph, or where the best location should be, or what is cute and beautiful. Try to replicate the best shots you see.

2. Consider your pet’s personality. If you have a lazy dog who always sleeps, then it would probably make more sense to set up your camera near or around its bed. If it loves food, then consider taking a snap shot of it while it is feeding. If you have an active and sporty cat, then maybe it is best to take it outside and capture some moments of it chasing a squirrel or undoing a ball of yarn.

3. Remember comfortable locations, plain backgrounds and high contrasts work best. If you have a cat with white fur, then perhaps you could use a red background so that your pet will not blend in. If you have a special place, like the sofa where you and your pet spend a lot of time together, then use it as your location. This will give you the chance to get photos that you can look back on in the future, while also giving your pet a comfortable location to be photographed in. The result? A more natural setting for your photographs.

4. Close ups. When framing your shot, remember that pets are smaller than humans, and being around humans, they tend to be lost in the frame. So you should always get in closer. This also means that you should also get on the floor, so that you could shoot them at eye level. This way, you shoot pictures from your pet’s perspective not yours.

5. Dress them up! If you have a great dog jacket, then by all means, have your dog wear it. Nothing is cuter than a cat with great baby tees and elegant cat bells posing for a photograph!

There you go. As with anything, do not be discouraged when your pets’ photos do not come out the way you wanted it. Practice makes perfect and with today’s digital cameras it is not only easy to practice, but shooting can be economical as well. Take lots and lots of photos and choose the best ones to share on Flickr or perhaps to print out and frame.

Road to Recovery: Saving Your Pets During Tough Times

When times get tight, it might be difficult to keep in mind needs of your pets.
And now economic woes have forced more and more people to give up their pets, causing overcrowding in shelters.

At Lee County Domestic Animal Services, which took in 400 owner-surrendered pets in the past six months, people have always handed over their pets because of reasons such as allergies or divorce in the family, said spokeswoman Ria Brown.
Now, "we're seeing that plus additional people who can no longer afford to keep their pets," Brown said.

But if finances have gotten so bad you're considering getting rid of your pup or kitty, Brown said take heart. There are ways to obtain food and medical care that will keep your bank account intact.
Finfing food

- Food is the most constant expenditure of pet owners. If you are in need of food for your pet, the Save Our Pets Alliance can help. Founded earlier this year, the alliance is made up of several shelters: the Caloosa Veterinary Society, PetCo and the Harry Chapin Food Bank. It hopes it can keep pets in homes by offering locations where you can pick up pet food free of charge.
- Lee County Domestic Animal Services also offers free food and medical care to pet owners on government assistance. To receive help, you must have proof you are receiving government assistance.
Other options

- If you must give up your pet, contact family, friends or co-workers to see if your pets could share their home.
- You can also contact a shelter to see if they can accept your pet, though it may be unlikely as many shelters are overcrowded. Lee County Domestic Animal Services has a waiting list for owner-surrendered pets.
A list of shelters is available on the Animal Services Web site.
Where to get help

- To get food for your pet, visit to find a list of distribution centers.
- To get free food and medical care, call Lee County Domestic Animal Services at 432-2118. You can also visit its Web site at

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Mysterious Rise in Pet Sicknesses from Flea Products
By Herb Weisbaum -

SEATTLE -- If you have a dog or cat, you've had to deal with ticks and fleas

You expect the products you use to kill ticks and fleas to kill the pests -- not to hurt your pet. Vets say, when applied properly, these products are generally safe. But many are wondering why many animals are getting sick, or worse, dying?

A lot of people use a liquid "spot on" product, which you can now get at supermarkets and pet stores. Forrest Desmond put a store-bought flea product on all five of his dogs.

"Within a half hour, all 5 of them were sick, agitated, throwing up, coughing," Desmond said.

Desmond was lucky, his dogs survived. Government figures show store-bought flea treatments caused 44,000 severe reactions in 2008, and there were 1,200 deaths reported.

That's a 50 percent increase from the year before.

So what's going on here? The Environmental Protection Agency says it's "intensifying" its effort to figure out what's causing the uptick in these severe reactions.

"This is a market that literally has dozens of products, so it's possible that there are just a handful of products that are associated with the increase," said Jim Jones with the EPA Pesticides Programs.

Emergency vets in the Seattle area say a lot of the problems they see are caused by misuse -- such as people who use flea and tick products for dogs on their cats.

Dr. Patrick Miles, a vet at Animal Critical Care and Emergency Services in Seattle, says a cat is not a small dog. They cannot handle the flea treatments made for dogs.

"Well, typically the symptoms we see are neurological," Miles said. 'It's a wobbly, drunken gait, tremors, seizure-like symptoms. Those sorts of symptoms. Typically they respond with supportive care."

Again, no one really knows what's going on here. But until we know more, you might want to get your flea and tick products from your vet -- even if they cost more there.

Always follow the directions. There are products for cats, small dogs and large dogs. Don't mix them up.

Never use these products on a young, old, or sick animal unless you talk to your vet first.

If you use a flea/tick treatment and your pet has a negative reaction, get medication attention right away.

How to Choose a Dog Bed Pet Bed
by Jonathan Livingston -

When people are looking for a dog bed pet bed, they may want to make sure that they are purchasing the best beds possible. If you know what to do, however, it can be simple to find the best dog bed pet bed possible

Research the Bed Companies

The first step to choosing a bed is to research the companies that create dog bed products. The companies in the dog bed world will all have a reputation online, and knowing this reputation can help you to determine the best company.

Find the Product In an Actual Store

While you are there, it is important to find the prices for the dog bed or pet beds, as you need to be able to price compare later on.

The purpose of looking for pet beds online is simply for price comparison purposes. Getting prices from multiple places is important so that you have the prices from all different angles. Also, there may be price discounts available through online codes that can be used to cut the price.

Bed Pet: Sleeping in Comfort

Executive Summary about bed pet by Allan Wilson

For the pets store specially has these beds designed for their fullest comfort. This type of beds mainly includes the outdoors beds, luxury beds, and puppy beds. For the various types of
dogs there are various types of beds like the large dog beds and the small dog beds. Some of the pet beds are made up of the micro velvet nylon. Bed Pet is available in various colors.

Material used for the bed pet:

There are various types and sizes of these pet beds. Some of the pet beds are rectangular in shape. The material used for the pet bed is polyfiber, which is washable and removable. Some pet beds are round in shape for the protection of the animal. Other varieties of pet beds:

Bed for dogs:

To make the dogs more comfortable the beds have a system of heating. This controls the temperature of the bed and the dogs are protected from cold.

Hints From Heloise
Washington Post

Birds in a Basket

Dear Heloise: Hopefully you can come to my rescue. I have a very nice front porch and have FERN HANGING BASKETS along the front. Birds build nests in the baskets, and I cannot water the ferns for fear that I will drown the babies. Is there anything I can put in the baskets to discourage the birds from building nests and hatching babies in the baskets? I love the birds, but they are ruining my hanging baskets. -- Shirley Heist, Nashville, Tenn.

Shirley, I know what you mean! Some people have had good results from putting a ceramic or fake owl close to the baskets. Light catchers also work.

Dorothy Jones of Youngstown, Ohio, may just have the answer to your problem. She had a similar situation and solved it by hanging wind chimes close to the baskets. Birds don't like them, and most of us do! You can make a free one from old knives and forks, using fishing line to tie them up hanging at different lengths. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Laura Cote of Manchester, N.H., sent a photo of Leadbelly, her beautiful pewter-colored cat with yellow eyes. Laura says: "When I adopted my wonderful cat from our local shelter, he had had his belly shaved to be surgically altered. His tummy was the softest thing I'd ever felt. It took several days for me to find an appropriate name for him. I finally chose Leadbelly (after an old blues singer). This name fits him to a 'T' and brings many smiles to people hearing of him. He is a truly personable boy who brings much joy to my husband and me."

To see the photo of Leadbelly, visit -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: My husband and I both enjoy watching the birds at the feeder, so we have extra birdseed available. We normally keep it in the garage. In order to keep any little critters from helping themselves to the food, we now keep it in an ice chest, and haven't had any mess to clean up. This works for us. We enjoy your column. -- L.M. Schmidt, Kane, Pa.

Thanks for the hint! A sturdy ice chest is perfect to store birdseed. Any container that is waterproof and has a tightfitting lid works, too. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: Hairballs can be such a problem for cats and kittens! The fur that is ingested as the cats are grooming themselves usually just passes through, but in some cases, if there is a lot of hair, the cat gags and throws it up.

You can put just a small dab of plain petroleum jelly under the cat's nose or on the paws once a day for three to four days. As the cat licks it off, the petroleum jelly will soften the hairball, making elimination easier. There also are commercial products available that your veterinarian can suggest. -- Heloise

Thanks to Shannon S of BHC, AZ

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