Pet Birth Control

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Happy
While You're Not Home

Some pets are particularly prone to separation anxiety, and when left for long periods of time without suitable, sturdy sources of entertainment, will express their frustration through destruction.

If you're lucky, you come home and find a shredded sock. If you are not so lucky, you may find that your canine friend has done some major structural renovations to your home or that your cat has turned your shoe into an impromptu litter box.

An Enriched Environment

Many of us, while we work, have to be away from home for long stretches of time, leaving our pets alone, with nothing to do.

Here are some ways to keep your pets happy and occupied while you are gone:

Kong Toys Outside: These hollow rubber toys are widely used to keep zoo residents happy, but you can find smaller-sized versions at most pet stores. If you keep your dog outdoors, leave him with a Kong Toy filled with diluted, frozen chicken broth. Just plug one end of the toy, fill it with broth and freeze. Licking the melting broth is a time-consuming activity that can keep your dog occupied for hours and is particularly rewarding during the heat of summer.

Kong Toys Inside: Indoors Kongs can be filled with dry pet food. Make sure that the kibble is large enough and the Kong Toy small enough so that it takes some time and effort for your pet to get the food out. Freezing the mixture within the toy will keep your pet busy even longer.

Multi-Pet Household: If you have the space, get a companion for your companion. A pet is much less likely to dwell on your absence when it has another creature to keep it company.

Install a Pet Door: If you have a fenced-in area for your dog, install a pet door. An animal with some control over its environment and activities is going to be happier.

With just a little time, effort and cash, you can dramatically improve your pet's quality of life, and make those stretches of time that your pet spends without you breeze by, trouble free.

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The Best Tips On How
To Raise A Kitten

It is a good idea to learn how to raise a kitten, before you actually bring your new kitten home. This way you are well prepared and have a better understanding of what is required and what to expect.

Most kittens leave their mothers at the age of 6 weeks, by which time they are weaned, eating well and have learnt not to toilet where they sleep. This is a good age to take your kitten home as it will easily be able to cope on its own. Kittens that are too young may not thrive.

Check that your kitten has received the necessary vaccinations, and find out in advance what local government regulations apply where you live. Take the kitten to your vet as soon as possible to be cleared of any health problems. Ask the vet's advice about spaying and ongoing health needs, like worming and vaccinations.

You need to be properly prepared in advance and have what you need for the kitten. You will need a litter tray and a supply of litter, food and water bowls, kitten food, a bed and some toys. Cats are naturally clean animals, and your kitten should learn to use the litter tray quickly. A cat won't use a dirty tray, so make sure the litter is changed regularly. The litter tray needs to be in a quiet place, out of general traffic areas in the house.

It is a good idea to continue using the same food the kitten is used to, for the first two weeks. This helps to avoid stomach upsets which can be caused by a change of diet, and also limits the number of new things the little kitten has to get used to. Feed your kitten at the same time each day, and keep fresh water available. Don't allow children to interfere with it at feeding times. Wash the kitten's dishes regularly.

You can buy all kinds of cat bedding and while a cat likes sleeping in a basket, a blanket or soft towels will do the job. Take the kitten to its bed after feeding and at night, and it will soon get the idea. Remember that a kitten is still a baby and needs to be able to sleep a lot in the first few weeks in your home.

Toys provide your kitten with exercise and activity to it doesn't get bored; with no toys to play with, kitten may play with the lounge room curtains instead! Have several playtimes together each day, as this tires the kitten and forms a bond between it and its family. Cat toys are available in a fabulous variety, but some paper rolled into a ball or a sock filled with paper are just as effective and as much fun.

A new kitten will generally settle quickly into their new home. Some discipline may be necessary if your kitten decides to sharpen its claws on the furniture or climb your curtains, but a firm "no" should be enough. Invest in a cat scratching post; claw sharpening is a cat's natural instinct.

When you know how to raise a kitten properly, you will enjoy the company and fun that living with a cat represents.

Do you have a new kitten or cat? If you are a beginner to owning a feline, Cat Keepers is your source for helpful advice on how to raise a kitten for the first time. If you arent sure how to raise a cat we have all the information you need to help get you started.

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Dog's Life: A Lasting 17-Year Legacy
of Long Walks and Chicken Treats

Hazel wasn't the city's oldest dog when she died last week at the ripe old age of 17, but she just may have been the happiest.

"People who saw her at the dog run Friday morning could not believe that it was her last day," said Hazel's owner, Amy Kantrowitz.

Early that morning, Hazel made her last journey to the large dog run at Washington Square Park, where she gingerly tooled around the open space, visiting with people she knew and begging for treats and the attention she craved.

It was the same routine she had followed at least twice a day since 1995, when she and her mistress moved from Providence, R.I., to the West Village.

Even when they moved down to Mott St. in Chinatown three years ago, the then-14-year-old dog insisted on making the mile-long trek to the back to Washington Square.

Along the way, Hazel would stop for treats at her favorite SoHo and Nolita boutiques and bookstores, and visit her friends at the BRC Shelter on Bowery.

She often ran into people on the streets who had become her friend - and carried chicken treats just for her.

For the last year, what had been a 20-minute walk began taking more than an hour. Still, twice a day, Kantrowitz patiently ambled alongside her beloved companion - a blue harness strapped around Hazel's torso to help hoist the increasingly fragile dog down the steps from their second-floor apartment - to the dog run.

"It was almost like walking a soap bubble, and she would deflate if I took her any other place than where she wanted to go," Kantrowitz said.

"If I tried to take her home before we got to the run, she would either resist or sit down."

In the evenings, Hazel liked to walk through the park - not around it - where she basked in the adoration of tourists and let out a howl when anyone snapped her photo.

Losing an animal companion of any age can be agonizing.

For Kantrowitz, a consultant for nonprofit organizations, the loss her 17-year companion is surreal.

After all, they met when Hazel was just days old, born soon after her mom was adopted from a Boston shelter where workers did not know she was pregnant. The tiny pup was so small, she slept in a Frisbee, with room to spare.

To help work through her grief, Kantrowitz turned to Facebook to pay homage to Hazel.

She was inspired by "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney," a book written by Judith Viorst that tells the story of a young boy after the death of his cat Barney.

He could only think of nine good things to say about the cat until the day after the funeral, when he was sitting in a garden and realized the 10th good thing about Barney was that he was now helping the flowers grow.

Among the 10 best things she loved about Hazel, Kantrowitz wrote, "Hazel brought out the best in everyone, including me. Her sweet, gentle spirit made painfully anxious people calm down, shy kids open up and with her delight in receiving whatever was offered, she inspired a generosity that was contagious."

It didn't take long to realize the 10th good thing about her best friend.

"Hazel gave me many of you as friends. Between you and the people I have met through you, I have found a city of extraordinary people from all walks of life."

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Cathy M. Rosenthal:
Pet Contraceptives Still Studied
Cathy Rosenthal - My San Antonio

Dear Cathy, In February 2008, Texas A&M announced the university would do a study on birth control for wild animals and eventually cats and dogs. Have you heard any updates? This would be a transformational event in the battle against animal population control.

— Mary

Dear Mary, I spoke with Dwayne Kraemer at Texas A&M, who said that "preliminary studies were not panning out the way they hoped."

But don't despair. Many researchers are exploring avenues to make pet contraception a reality, according to Joyce Briggs, president of the Alliance for Contraceptives for Cats and Dogs, thanks to a monetary incentive.

Back in the fall of 2008, the Found Animals Foundation and its partner, ACCD, announced the launch of the Michelson Prize in reproductive biology to encourage researchers to take on the challenge of developing a nonsurgical pet sterilant to address pet overpopulation problems. The Found Animals Foundation is offering $50 million in grants for researchers and a $25 million prize for the researchers who develop a marketable nonsurgical sterilant. Keep your fingers crossed.

Dear Cathy, We moved into a new subdivision and right away noticed a little dog who hung around the builder's Dumpsters. My husband started leaving her food by the Dumpster, and eventually she watched our house from across the street, waiting for one of us to come out and feed her. This poor little dog is very skittish about noises and avoids all direct human contact. But she at least now comes into our yard to eat, only to disappear into the woods afterward.

We want to do what is best for this little dog, but have no idea what to do for her. Can you please advise us as to the best course of action to help her, or an organization we could contact that would be able to come and get her and give her the care and services she needs?

— Susan and Rick

Dear Susan and Rick, Sadly, no groups in town, with the exception of Animal Care Services, will pick her up. And, if ACS comes out, there is no guarantee she will be put up for adoption.

If you could get her into the Humane Society or the Animal Defense League, they would likely help get her socialized and adopted into a good home. The problem is catching her on the day you have the appointment: ADL has a waiting list and the Humane Society is on a space available basis and can't tell you whether they have space until the morning you call.

My suggestion is to continue socializing her by feeding her in your yard. Then call a local shelter and ask to speak to the shelter manager to see what can be arranged. I would hope one of them would work with you to allow you to bring her in when you are able to catch her. Let me know what happens.

Send your pet stories and questions to Cathy M. Rosenthal, c/o Features Department, San Antonio Express-News, P.O. Box 2171, San Antonio, TX 78297-2171, or Cathy's advice column runs every Sunday. You can read her blog, Animals Matter, at

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