How to De-Stress Your Pet

Pack Your Doggie Bags

The holidays are coming, which means they’re bringing the busiest travel days of the year with them. As Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s approach, remember these tips so your pets can enjoy them with you:

1. American Airlines and Sherpa Pet Group have introduced the “Guaranteed on Board” program to ensure your buddy’s safety, and Continental Airlines is another pet-friendly airline. But always check with your airline before making reservations — policies vary greatly among them.

2. Check in with your veterinarian before taking a long trip to make sure your pet has had the proper vaccinations and is able to travel. Some dogs may be too old, too young or just not ready. Also, never use sedatives for your pet when flying — ask your veterinarian for the safest way to calm it down in high altitudes.

3. More than ever, your pet needs proper ID when traveling. Make sure your name and contact information is on the collar, the crate and anywhere else.

4. If your pet is traveling in a crate, make sure it feels comfortable and gets used to being inside. Fill it with your pet’s favorite blanket and toys so it feels more like home. Also, make sure your dog can lie down, sit, stand, roll over and fetch. OK, well, not the last one.

– Wendy Diamond is a pet lifestyle expert, author, animal rescue advocate and editorial director of Animal Fair magazine,

Top Tips for Keeping
a Pet on a Budget
By Dog Lover

Living through the financial crisis is difficult enough, but add animals which rely on you for nourishment, a home and veterinary attention, anything that can be done, helps.

It’s a shame that many pets are given up or abandoned every day, as animal lovers struggle to cope with the current economic climate.

This is exceedingly thorny for pet charities who have look after pets when money is scarce, surviving on donations to keep their animals in good wellbeing.

Here are a few points which should help make looking after a animal on a tight budget more manageable:

1. Consider every animal cost? Do you need that specific pet food or product? It is always a good idea to raise pets up with variety, both dry and wet, as well as different brands and flavours. Watch out for promotions. You can stock up. Consider vouchers, search on the net for some good deals. Buy based on price per pound / Kg, as sometimes, principally with special deals, the smaller pack can be more economical.

2. Wherever possible, pet owners can often club together to buy feed and bedding in bulk, reducing the overall price and passing on savings to all.

3. Veterinary bills are unknown but still have to be considered. If cash is a little tight, you may find a lot of Vets will allow you to spread the cost, and reimburse monthly. If you can, afford it – have or keep pet insurance.

4. Most people can make lifestyle changes! It’s not all about finding ways to keep your animal more economically, what about yourself!

5. What about earning some cash? Perhaps find a dog walking job Become a Dog Walker. Good companies will require you do it regularly. Another alternative is to become a pet sitter, though professional businesses such as London Pet Sitter will also require you be a London dog walker.

6. What about your other pets, you may have put your cats in a cattery, what about using a cat sitter? The pet may prefer it and the pet sitters often do other things.

7. Do use external stabling or boarding? Most horses can exist quite cheerfully outside for most of the year, just make sure there’s food, water and shelter available. If this is a suitable option for your horse, it could reduce the cost of stabling considerably.

8. Are you thinking of choosing a pet, certainly consider taking an animal from a charity, they have so many animals looking for a home during this crisis.

Enjoy your animal, they are worth the cost.

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How Do You Teach
Your Dog Not to Chew?
by Terry Zinndell -

The muscles found in the jawbone of a dog are capable of stripping the flesh off a rawhide bone in a few minutes. Even an ordinary Golden retriever can tear that thick bone apart really fast. That is because a dog has some of the strongest jaw muscles among animals. And that is why it can become a problem that they can do the same to the furniture too.

The chewing tendency of a dog is going to depend upon his breed and that is why a knowledgeable owner needs to know about the behavior patterns of his dog. However, chewing every object which is present in the house is a normal tendency in every existing dog breed. That is the reason why one has to focus the dog’s attention on some other object upon which they can chew. But that is quite a difficult thing to do with some dogs.

There are younger dogs (mostly puppies) that will have a greater tendency to chew with less discrimination regarding what they choose. However, even young puppies can be discouraged from grabbing things their owners would prefer the dogs stayed away from.

As a little prevention is always better than the cure, keep laundry, shoes, and other chewable items away from the vicinity of the dog. Keep the toys meant for the dog away from the toys which are used by the children.

One can also keep a large number of attractive toys at different locations, both indoors and outdoors, which can be chewed by the dog. Some of these items may include hard rubber, plastic bones, and rawhide bones according to the breed one has. It is not suggested to give a real bone like a chicken bone to a dog, because it might splinter and cause internal injuries.

Thankfully, there are a great many special toys that can be used instead. Many will even have hollow interiors designed to hold treats. Often, the dog will need to struggle a little in order to get to the treat at the center which is the whole idea. This will keep the dog occupied and presents your pet with a solid mental and physical workout which keeps them striving to reach their reward.

One can also admonished the dog firmly especially when it decides to chew upon unsuitable objects. However, yelling or sharp physical punishment is not desirable. So instead of yelling at one’s dog, one needs to vent that anger and frustration somewhere else. That is not easily done, but has to be followed, for a harmonious relationship between the pet and the master.

The development of specific habits can be done by leashing the dog. Then an unsuitable object has to be placed near the dog. The moment, the dog approaches it, the leash should be jerked sideways, and No said very firmly.

Always be sure to jerk sideways and never back. A dog’s neck muscles are very strong, but the dog’s throat can be easily bruised. Remember, the pulling movement is to inform and definitely not to punish.

A Dog might have a tendency to chew upon every exterior item outside like fences and plants. Use home recipes like cayenne pepper to coat the areas which the dog likes to chew. One may also use harmless commercial mixtures, which consist of bitter apple, a product definitely not liked by dogs.

As with all dog training, patience, persistence and consistency will be the primary factors which contribute to success. To suppress chewing, one must be up to the complex challenge since you are training the dog to not perform a behavioral pattern as opposed to learning a new one.

The easiest way to do this is to keep vigilant and calm and redirect the dog’s attention to objects which it can chew, so that it can follow its instincts. The purpose of the exercise is to keep your relationship with your pet happy, instead of losing your temper.

Choosing a Pet –
Finding a Friend That
Fits Your Lifestyle
By: Jill Pertler, Living North Magazine

Pet ownership is a big step. It is exciting and fun. It can also be a lot of work. Before you make the leap and bring that adorable, wide-eyed, fluffy little kitten home, take some time to assess your personal situation and how it might impact your choice of pet.

Two decades ago, when my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, we decided we were ready for the next step in our responsible, married lives: pet ownership. We purchased a book that gave all sorts of information on different breeds of dogs, grooming needs, exercise requirements, cost, temperament, size and lifespan. It was very useful in helping us know what to choose.

We got a kitten.

The book made it clear that we weren’t ready for dog ownership. We lived in a small apartment, both of us worked full-time and had no extra moments in the day for things like dog walking or grooming. It wasn’t the right environment for a pooch.

A cat, on the other hand, was more suited to our circumstance. He could stay at home for hours at a time without chewing up our sneakers or furniture. His litter box was available, he didn’t need to go outside or be taken for walks. He could keep himself clean. We named him Bogart.

Because we made a careful and thoughtful choice, Bogart was a cherished member of our family for many years. He was a good fit, thanks to the book (about dogs).

Pet ownership is a big step. It is exciting and fun. It can also be a lot of work. Before you make the leap and bring that adorable, wide-eyed,

fluffy little kitten home, take some time to assess your personal situation and how it might impact your choice of pet. Some options, along with their upsides and downsides, are listed here. We’ll start with the simpler pets and work our way up from there.

Fish: Upsides

Fish don’t require much of your attention. They don’t need to be groomed or played with. As long as you remember to feed them, they just about take care of themselves.

They can be pretty to look at, fun to watch and, depending on what breed you choose, you may get to see them have babies.

Unless you go for the fancy saltwater varieties, fish can be fairly inexpensive to maintain. They don’t go to the vet. They don’t chew on furniture.


Their tank needs to be clean; that means you’ll need to clean it. Depending on the tank, this might be a weekly or monthly chore.

Fish don’t give much back. They don’t purr or roll over to have their tummies scratched. They are basically non-interactive.

Gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters and other rodents: Upsides

These pocket pets are cute and fluffy. While they don’t require your attention, you can hold them in your hand or on your lap and they are fun to watch when playing in their cage.

They are fairly easy to maintain. Like fish, they need to be fed and their habitat needs regular cleaning.


These little critters are rodents; they have sharp teeth and can bite if threatened. They are good at escaping from their cages and will chew on things.

They reproduce easily, so if you have more than one, you’ll want to make sure they are the same sex. Unless you want babies, of course.

Birds: Upsides

Birds come in different shapes and colors. They are pretty pets. Some birds can be trained to talk.

They are fairly easy to maintain; give them a clean cage and a regular feeding of bird food. Some varieties also like fresh fruits and veggies.

They are naturally inquisitive and like attention.


Some birds can be expensive; larger birds require more of your time and can live for 50 years or more. They like to vocalize (scream), which can be unnerving at six in the morning.

While they are easy to maintain, they are messy and their cage needs to be cleaned frequently.

Birds have sharp beaks and can bite. Larger birds have larger beaks.

Cats: Upsides

Cats are cute and cuddly (when they want to be). They can sit in your lap and purr. They like to play and pounce. Cats have unique personalities.

Cats groom themselves and need only minimal help with keeping clean. They are easy to train (litter box) and feed (cat food).


If your cat uses a litter box, you will have to change the litter.

Cats shed. You may find cat hair on your carpet and furniture. Some people are allergic to cats. If you are one of them, you don’t want a cat living in your house.

Cats require regular care from a veterinarian. You’ll want to have your cat spayed or neutered, and keep up with regular shots for things like rabies and distemper. This adds to the cost of maintenance.

Dogs: Upsides

Dogs are highly interactive pets. They seek out human attention and will love their owner unconditionally. They want to please you.

Dogs come in many shapes, sizes and personalities. You can pick the breed that you like best — from a small lap dog to a large guard dog, and everything in between. Dogs are smart. You can teach your dog tricks like roll over, shake hands and play dead.


Dogs can act out in negative ways if they are left alone for too long. They can chew (and destroy) everything from slippers to couches.

Many dogs shed. All need regular grooming – brushing, haircuts or both.

Dogs need exercise, hence the phrase, “walk the dog.”

There can be a number of costs associated with dog ownership. They need regular vet checks and should be spayed or neutered. Some breeds require the skills of a professional dog groomer. You may elect to put your dog through obedience training or puppy school. And, of course there’s dog food and the occasional Scooby snack.

Which pet is right for you?

A just-for-fun quiz

Choose the answer that best fits your situation.

Why I want a pet…

A. I want a friend to love me and play with me.

B. I want a pet to sit on my lap and pounce on my head when I am sleeping.

C. I want a conversation piece. Something to keep me entertained.

D. I want something cute and fuzzy that my kids will enjoy, without the upkeep of a real pet like a dog.

E. I really don’t want a pet. I’m just doing this to appease my spouse and/or kids.

I would give my pet attention…

A. Lots of times each day.

B. Once or twice every day.

C. Maybe every other day.

D. Once or twice a week.

E. I don’t want to play with my pet.

Space for my pet…

A. I have a big yard or play area for my pet.

B. I have a small outdoor area for my pet.

C. My pet would have to stay indoors.

D. My pet would stay in its cage unless I was holding it.

E. My pet would stay in its aquarium.

Holding my pet…

A. I want a pet that is too big for my lap.

B. I want a pet that can sit on my lap.

C. I’d like a pet that can perch on my finger.

D. I want a pet that is soft and fluffy and can fit in my pocket.

E. I don’t need to hold my pet.

Where my pet sleeps…

A. My pet will sleep next to my bed.

B. My pet will sleep wherever he pleases.

C. My pet will sleep with his cage covered at night.

D. My pet will sleep in his cage, but mostly during the day.

E. My pet will sleep when I turn the aquarium lights off.


A. My pet will want and need exercise every day.

B. My pet will pounce and jump. That’s exercise enough.

C. My pet will exercise by flying across the room.

D. My pet will run on a treadmill.

E. My pet will swim for hours and hours each day.

Loving my pet…

A. I want a pet that loves me back every minute of every day.

B. I want a pet that loves me, but only when he is ready.

C. I want a pet that loves looking at himself in the mirror.

D. I want a pet that loves squeezing through tight spaces.

E. I want a pet that loves swimming.


If you answered mostly A’s

You are ready for the big plunge into pet ownership. You are prepared to spend the time and energy on a pet that barks and wags its tail. A dog is the right choice for you.

If you answered mostly B’s

You understand the temperament of a feline and are ready to live with the attitude that makes this animal special. A cat will be purrfect for you.

If you answered mostly C’s

Tweet. Tweet. You want a pet that is colorful, loud, fun to look at and talk to. You don’t mind a winged creature flying across your living room. Go for the bird.

If you answered mostly D’s

You are looking for cute and cuddly without the time and expense of a cat or dog. Choose a gerbil, hamster or other fuzzy rodent friend. Just make sure the cage latch is tight.

If you answered mostly E’s

You really don’t want a pet, do you? You think fish are the answer because they take little or none of your time or effort. That’s okay. At least you’re honest. Go fish.

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The Right Fishes
For Your Aquarium
By : David H. -

Saltwater aquariums are great for people who love the ocean and the creatures that live underneath it. It is best to orient yourself and choose the right fish carefully.

If you want to have the most wonderful marine aquarium in your own home, you have to first choose what kind of fishes you will put in it. More over, you have to be able to maintain your aquarium. This requires patience and motivation. Having a salt water aquarium is not that hard after all.

Choosing the Right Fish for Your Saltwater Aquarium

The first step is to decide on the number of fish you want to house in your aquarium. Make a rough estimate on how many fish will fit spaciously in your aquarium. As a rule, you have to allow two inches of fish with every gallon of water in the tank.

Buy all the fish you need from a licensed pet shop or a reputable dealer. Buying from a good source will save you all the hassle and troubles. You will clearly buy the best and healthy fishes rather than the ones who are sick and may be more likely to die after a few days. The credibility of the seller is determined in his showcase aquarium. The look of the seller’s tank may become a motivational source for you.

Research and read more about the type of fish you want. Some fishes require particular needs such as diet, compatibility, temperature, and chemicals.

Buy a school of fish for there are only minimal compatibility problems. In addition, it will be easy to determine if any fishes are indicating an illness or whatsoever. Try the cardinal tetras or neons, loaches or pearl, Corydoras catfish, zebra danios and any of all the barbs.

Do not risk buying one of anything you like. Just stick to the school of fish rather than get different kinds of fish. The aquarium will be difficult to manage and maintain when there are different species of fish.

Try to get a clown plecostomus or bristle nose. You may also want to get two otocinclus catfish to control the algae in the tank.

You may also want to raise a killifish. This kind of fish is easy to maintain and perfect for beginners though the killifish is very difficult to find.

Always ask you dealer about the fish compatibility in your aquarium. Take good caution of the cichlids for some of them can grow large. In addition, the angelfish need aquariums more than ten gallons. A type of fish called Oscars is quite messy and not preferable for your tank. Oscars tend to eat fish and can be particularly messy.

Keep away from buying piranhas. Piranhas are impressive creatures but they tend to eat a lot of goldfish as well as other fishes in your aquarium. In addition, mixing piranhas with other fishes may cause issues on parasites and diseases. If you really want to buy piranhas, you must watch their diet and quarantine them in a different aquarium. Piranhas are considered a school fish but they tend to eat one another if they are not fed properly.

You may want to get bala sharks. This type of fish looks fierce and wonderful plus it is not really a shark. It grows over twelve inches. This is recommended to those who want to grow large fishes.

In general, avoid buying a catfish. This fish can be nasty predators. Catfish tend to grow bigger and bigger over time. So, if you rally want a catfish, be prepared for the problems that may arise.
Author Resource:- For more information on About Saltwater Aquariums and The Proper Salinity - Please visit our website. &

Article From Pet Health Articles

How to Pick the Perfect Pooch
By Molly Snyder Edler - Staff Writer

If you don't have a lot of time or patience, consider adopting an older dog.

All too often, people adopt a dog because they like the animal's appearance, but the pet's personality is not a good fit for the family. Unfortunately, this makes the training process very difficult and can lead to the caregiver feeling like his or her only option is to relinquish the dog to the humane society or another organization.

So, how can you guarantee you're picking the right pooch? asked a couple of dog experts to weigh in with adoption tips.

Stacy LaPoint is the owner of Companion Natural Pet Food, a Riverwest-based company that has been in existence for almost a decade, and Jill Albers is a long-time Wisconsin Humane Society volunteer. Both of these women own dogs and work with them on a regular basis, so if you're considering adding a four-legged creature to your family, take this advice to heart and keep it in mind while gazing at a box filled with adorable puppies. How much should a person research before adopting a dog?

Jill Albers: Definitely do your research first, but keep an open mind. Most people think they should get a puppy, but they don't realize the time, training and patience it takes to raise a puppy. Consider adopting an older dog -- by older I mean 1-5 years. Chances are, the dog will already be potty trained and well socialized.

Think about your lifestyle and how a pet will fit in with your family and your schedule. If you have children, make sure you involve them not only in the process of adopting the dog, but also caring for the dog.

Stacy LaPoint: Yes, definitely research breeds first, and consider breed temperaments, common breed-specific health conditions and how that will fit into your family and finances. Also, research where your pet is coming from if it's not a well-known establishment like the humane society.

OMC: Where should a person go to adopt a pet?

SL: I never purchase dogs / cats from private breeders because I follow the old adage "don't breed or buy while those in rescue die." I only adopt from rescue / shelters as a personal conviction.

JA: I would encourage everyone to check with your local animal shelters and rescue groups. There are plenty of animals out there who need good homes. There is no need to spend excessive amounts of money on a pure bred dog unless you want the dog for specific reasons ie: allergies, hunting dogs, show dogs, etc.

OMC: What should a person look for when picking from a litter?

SL: If picking from a litter one should visit the litter several times between the ages of 4-7 weeks of age. Consider the puppy not based on markings or color, but instead, the one that isn't easily frustrated by the other puppies or being picked up while sleeping and doesn't struggle to get away while held or restricted. They change a lot between four to seven weeks so one puppy may act a certain way at four weeks and then completely different at seven weeks. It helps to know and understand this by the seventh week so you can pick the right puppy for your family.

OMC: What about food?

SL: You should be able to afford human-quality food for your new family member. If you want a big dog but can only afford cheap food from a box store / grocery store, then consider a smaller dog and better food. You'll save money in vet bills later by feeding quality nutrition that can't be found at the chain stores.

OMC: If someone is wavering about pet ownership, what do you recommend?

JA: Consider fostering a dog. The Wisconsin Humane Society has a wonderful foster program. Or consider volunteering at a shelter. I volunteer at the Wisconsin Humane Society once a week. I have learned so much about dogs and I love that I get to interact with all kinds of dogs.

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A Scent to De-Stress Pets

If Fido is stressed out, maybe he just needs a whiff of pheromones. A growing array of animal pheromone products —which contain substances the animal perceives as calming—can improve pet behavior, say the companies that sell them. Veterinarians say one company's products is backed by extensive scientific evidence, but other brands need more research.

Pheromones are chemical compounds sensed in cats and dogs by the vomeronasal organ in the back of the nose. Animals use pheromones for communication. Now a growing number of companies are seeking to harness pheromones' power to help humans curb behavior problems in pets.

You can buy calming animal pheromones in spray form, intended to be used on problem areas such as sofas where a cat is marking its territory, or as diffusers, which are plugged into an electrical socket to cover a wide area. In recent years, collars that release pheromones over a monthlong period have become available.

Veterinarians say that pheromones do work—but not all the time. "They work on some animals, and not others," says veterinarian Bonnie Beaver, executive director of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists in College Station, Texas. "They work in some situations but not in others."

In cats, pheromones work well to calm the animals on trips and when introducing them to a new environment, as well as reducing scratching of furniture, says animal behaviorist Gary Landsberg, of Thornhill, Ontario. In many cats, pheromone therapy can reduce, or even eliminate, territorial urine marking on vertical surfaces. But it is generally ineffective in combatting urination on beds and other horizontal surfaces, which is most often caused not by overall stress, but by a cat's unhappiness with the location or size of its litter box or the litter used, hesays.

Overall, pheromone therapy appears to be less effective than drug therapies, such as antidepressants, typically used on pets with behavior problems, Dr. Landsberg says. But he recommends trying pheromones first, since they are easier to administer and have no side effects.

The most-studied cat product is Feliway, a synthetic F3 facial pheromone, which cats deposit on surfaces when they rub them with their cheeks. To the cat, it signifies a location is safe and known, according to Libourne, France, manufacturer Ceva Santé Animale.

Feliway—backed by 13 studies published in scientific journals or presented at meetings—is available through veterinarians, or through pet stores under the Comfort Zone brand. A 75-milliliter spray bottle (good for about 500 sprays) has a suggested retail price of $38. Diffusers with enough pheromone product to last a month sell for a suggested price of about $50, with refills for $28.

For dogs, the most-researched product is DAP, or Dog Appeasing Pheromone, a synthetic version of a substance made by mother dogs to calm puppies. Also from Ceva and sold in stores as Comfort Zone, the product is backed by 16 published or presented studies. It's available as a spray, diffuser or, from your vet as a collar for $33 to $37, depending on the size.

In dogs, pheromones seem to work best when used in conjunction with training, scientists say. In a study of 45 puppies in two-month training classes, the animals wearing the collars were "better socialized and adapted faster" to new situations, according to a Ceva-funded study published in December, in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. DAP is recommended to help dogs adjust to strangers and new environments, and to reduce fear from noises, such as thunderstorms.

This spring and summer, Sergeant's Pet Care Products Inc., of Omaha, Neb., came out with Good Behavior collars for cats and dogs, which sell for $14.99 and last a month. The product packaging says the collars are "calming" and include "pheromones." But while Ceva describes in detail the pheromones in its products, Sergeant won't say exactly what its products contain. That information is "proprietary," a spokeswoman says. The company has three studies, so far unpublished, which it says confirm the products' efficacy.

Beware of products labeled "calming spray" and containing aromas, such as lavender, which may be soothing but are backed by scant research.

Tips to Help a Geriatric Pet

Dear UrbanAnimal,
I have an 18-year-old cat named, Norman. I've had him since he was a kitten and I think I've heard him meow just once or twice in all these years. Lately he's become very vocal. At first, I thought it was cute he'd found his voice after all these years, but I think he's trying to tell me something. He doesn't look ill. He's eating and drinking and using his litter box. He's also sleeping well, but as soon as he gets up, he starts meowing. Have you ever heard of this before?


Dear Jocelyn,

First, congratulations on helping Norman live such a long, healthy life.

It sounds as if he's feeling well, but I understand your concern he's begun "talking" to you after 18 years of silence.

Cats share a talent for hiding symptoms of illness and this is why my first suggestion is to book a veterinary appointment for a checkup if you haven't done so in the recent past.

Animals aren't able to tell us when something is wrong and, depending on how observant you are, symptoms of illness can sometimes be easily overlooked. You wrote Norman is eating and drinking as usual, but sometimes when we live with an animal year after year, we fail to see subtle changes. I'm not suggesting you aren't aware of your cat's normal behaviours, but we humans can miss small cues, especially when they arrive slowly. This is the reason why it's a good idea to have a veterinary checkup to rule out medical reasons for Norman's vocalizations.

The examination will include a physical check and your vet may suggest further tests to uncover problems such as arthritis, renal failure, deafness, blindness, dental problems, diabetes, thyroid issues and a number of other maladies commonly seen in elderly animals.

Many health problems in pets, considered insurmountable in the recent past, have now become possible to treat. When caught in the early stages, these issues can be addressed with medication, change of diet or other options recommended by your veterinarian. Veterinary science has evolved in leaps and bounds over the past few years and you may be surprised at the options available nowadays.

Since you wrote Norman is otherwise healthy, I'm thinking his vision and hearing may be weakening. Cats depend on their eyes and ears to help them navigate through life and, just like people, these senses can deteriorate with age.

Yes, it's an age thing.

You may not have noticed the signs because they can decline slowly over months or even years. If this is Norman's problem, he may be feeling insecure and has suddenly found he needs his voice to communicate with you. He's saying: "I'm having trouble hearing and seeing you. So I'm using my voice. Will this work?"

It's not uncommon for cats to live into their 20s and Norman may indeed be one of those cats.

Dealing with a geriatric animal has its challenges, but to many owners of elderly felines, these can be the best years of a cat's life. They've "been there, done that" and their idea of a great time is a long snooze.

Here are a few suggestions to help ease a cat through his geriatric years:

* Elderly animals aren't quite the adaptable creatures they were in their youth. Keep litter box, food bowls and beds in the same locations.

* An adjustment in diet may be necessary. All that extra sleeping can pack on the pounds, which can be detrimental at any age, but more so in the elderly. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate diet geared to a senior cat's needs.

* Groom kitty often. Like people, cats lose their flexibility and are unable to groom themselves as adequately as they'd like. Brush gently, keeping away from any protruding bones and stop when kitty has had enough. Consult your veterinarian if you feel any lumps or bumps while grooming.

* An older cat still wants to play. Calm, friendly games will stimulate your cat's mind and provide physical exercise.

* Cats that live with other pets or rambunctious children may need their own special place to enjoy peace and quiet. Many owners notice their cat has chosen a warm, safe place in a closet or cubbyhole in the house as their private retreat. Add a comfy bed to that place and encourage your cat to use it when there's too much action elsewhere in the house.

Thank you for writing, Jocelyn, and please keep me posted on Norman's progress.

E-mail with a question, comment or suggestion.

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