Tips for Grooming Your Cat at Home

Cats are known for being low maintenance and pretty self-sufficient in a lot of ways – grooming included! A lot of feline owners love the fact that they don’t usually have to groom cats as often as dogs. But, that doesn’t mean that every now and again you won’t have to give your cat a little extra TLC, especially if they’re of the long-haired variety. Just like dogs, making sure her coat is cared for keeps her fur and skin nice and healthy. Grooming also helps reduce hairballs and overall shedding around your house. Here are a few tips for keeping your cat looking and feeling like a million bucks.

It’s always a good idea to start as early as you can. If you have a kitten, it’s the perfect time to begin getting him or her accustomed to being brushed regularly. But even if you adopt your kitty as an adult, it’s still okay to work with them to get them used to being brushed. Start off slow, and don’t rush. Give them a little brush every now and then and soon they’ll start getting used to the sensation. Hopefully, it’ll become a bonding experience between you!

The type of brush you’ll need depends on how long kitty’s fur is. A short haired cat could use just about any pet brush or a rubber grooming mitt. Brushing can be done 1-2 times per week. Not only does it help remove dirt and debris from her fur, but it also helps stimulate blood flow to the skin, encourages a healthy coat, and minimizes shedding. If your cat has a longer coat, multiple brushings per week may be necessary to keep their fur free from tangles and debris that gets stuck in it. Find a wide tooth comb that’s made for long cat hair. The longer you wait between brushings, the more tangled, dirty, and matted their fur is likely to be, so try to do it regularly.

Nails and paws are also an important part of the grooming process. This step might be a little more tricky as most cats do not enjoy getting their nails clipped, but with most cats, it is possible to do this at home. A good way to get started is to get your cat used to having his feet touched. Gently play with your kitty’s toes as much as possible during times when the two of you are just hanging out together. If he’s taking a nap on your lap, touch his feet. Get him used to that so that he doesn’t automatically associate it with something unpleasant. When you’re ready to try clipping his nails, try holding him on your lap, keeping your arm wrapped around his middle, and be confident and sure in your movements to make him feel more at ease. If your cat is just not having it, try wrapping a big towel around him with only his head sticking out, keeping only one paw at a time exposed during the clipping process. This will not only restrict his movements but will also help with anxiety by keeping him more secure. Of course, there are some cats that just simply will not allow their owners to clip their nails. If you feel this is your cat, you can always take them to a professional groomer or your vet to have them do it for you.

Finally, don’t forget the ears! Every time you groom your cat, take a few extra minutes to examine their ears to make sure they look healthy and free of redness or excess wax build up. Regularly grooming your cat will not only help keep his skin and coat healthy but will also reinforce the bond between the two of you!

Should You Make Your Own Cat Food?

There are actually a lot of great reasons to make your cat’s food at home! A lot of us have had that unsettling moment in the middle of the cat food aisle, reading label after label, trying to decipher what’s on the ingredient list and deciding whether you want to feed it to Socks or not. It can be confusing and sometimes you just can’t be certain which brands truly have the best ingredients. Taking the guesswork out by creating the meals at home is an excellent way to ensure that your kitty is getting all the essential nutrients and the best quality possible.

There is a debate amongst cat foodies about whether or not you should cook the food. Many people believe that cats are designed, of course, for consuming raw meat and that cooking it, will hinder the essential nutrients. But, if your cat has been accustomed to eating kibble her whole life, it wouldn’t hurt to slowly transition her to raw meat, if that’s your goal – that way it gives her tummy a little time to get used to the new kind of food. Still, some people still prefer to slightly heat the food, just enough to kill off bacteria, yet not thoroughly cook it through. Either way you go, your kitty is sure to love you for it.

The cost of making cat food at home can vary significantly depending on the foods you choose. If you’re choosing expensive meats like filet mignon or lamb, the costs might be quite a bit more than if you went with chicken. However, variety is always a great choice and you’ll likely be able to keep the costs down by purchasing certain meats when they’re on sale.

Cats are carnivores. This means that they need meat to survive. One problem with store-bought cat food is that some companies will fudge by saying they’re “high in protein” but their protein sources are from things like legumes. This simply isn’t sufficient or right for a cat. They absolutely require meat in their diet to be healthy. Meat contains specific nutrients like the amino acid taurine that must come from her diet, as her body cannot produce it on its own. In the wild, cats would also gnaw or even consume bone material as well which provides calcium, magnesium, and other minerals. Animal fat is another crucial nutrient that is derived from animal products. Omega 6 is essential for cats and will be used for energy; Omega 3 is an important fat that is found in foods like salmon and sardines. Beef and pork also contain fat so a variety of foods will give her everything she needs.

Recipes don’t have to be complicated. A lot of times you can probably just wing it, see what’s available and throw whatever you have together. But we’ve compiled a few example recipes just to get you started on the right track. And remember, it’s always a good idea to talk with your vet before feeding your cat new food or giving her any supplements.

Easy Raw Chicken Meal

3 lbs. raw chicken – includes meat, organs, skin, and bones.

2 whole eggs (or just the yolks is preferred)

1 cooked carrot

1 cup water

Put everything in a blender powerful enough to deal with the bones or a meat grinder. Grind it all up until it’s nice and smooth. Be sure to freeze any extra you have that won’t be consumed within a couple days so that it will stay fresh.

Seafood Delight

1 can salmon or sardines or mackerel

⅓ cup cooked old fashioned oatmeal

1 tablespoon cooked peas

Mix it all together and store in an airtight container.

Hope this helps get you started on your journey to homemade cat food! Enjoy!

 

 

Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

Many of us have experienced the financial burden and sometimes even hardships associated with the medical care of our pets – especially after they get sick or injured. Medical procedures and surgeries for your pet can easily cost thousands of dollars. So, it’s no surprise that the popularity of pet insurance has skyrocketed in recent years. With the promise of more affordable lifetime care for your pet, it’s pretty much irresistible. I mean, if humans need health insurance, then why not your pet? It’s just the responsible thing to do, right?

But is pet insurance actually worth it? Just like people health insurance, pet insurance premiums will likely fluctuate throughout your pet’s life. Starting off less expensive when they’re young and healthy, and then increase as your pet ages. Depending on the breed of your dog and the plan you’re signed up with, monthly premiums could start at under $50 a month, and by the time your dog is 12, the cost might jump to upwards of $150 a month. That’s a pretty significant increase. For a lot of people, the cost just doesn’t seem justified. Especially for those who are lucky enough to have pets who are overall in good health, the cost of the pet insurance will likely outweigh the actual medical costs. But then again, when something catastrophic does happen to your pet, it is typically unforeseen, and you may be very glad that you had signed up for health insurance. If you’re facing a ten thousand dollar back surgery for your dog, a thousand dollar yearly premium may not seem so bad after all.

For many of us, if you add up your typical yearly vet bills, it’s well under $100 dollars. And if your monthly pet insurance premium is $50 per month, that adds up to $600 per year. For many, insurance just doesn’t seem worth having just for the possibility of an unfortunate incident occurring. However, for someone who owns a breed of dog that tends to have a lot of health complications as they go throughout life, having an insurance policy may be a smart investment.

If you do choose to look into pet insurance, make sure you shop around and do your research. Get quotes from multiple companies and ask how the premiums will change as your pet ages. Also, get a detailed report on what exactly is covered under the plan and what is not. It would be a terrible waste to purchase a plan only to find out what you really needed covered is not. Also, if your pet is currently sick or being treated for an illness, the policy is likely not to cover any of that care, so double check. Likewise, if your pet does suffer from a preexisting condition, check to see whether or not it will be covered as many companies will reject these claims.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of pet insurance, so make sure to weigh all your options and do all your homework to find out what’s best for your family.

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

Why You Should Consider Adopting a Senior Pet

When people think about adopting a new pet for their family, kittens and puppies often come to mind, not seniors. Older dogs and cats often take the longest to be adopted and are more likely to face being euthanized than younger adoptable pets. But that’s not because they’re not a great choice for adoption – but perhaps simply because they lack the “newness” of a puppy or kitten.

People also sometimes feel unsure about adopting an older canine or feline because of their shorter lifespan, or the possibilities of them needing extra veterinary care that will add more expense. Sometimes people assume that older pets were put up for adoption because there was something wrong with them or they might have a bad temperament, but that simply isn’t true in most cases. Older dogs and cats are often put up for adoption due to changes in financial or home situations. This regularly happens when seniors have to move into a retirement home or pass away, and their beloved pets are left without an owner and must be placed in a shelter.

The truth is, older pets can make a delightful addition to any family! In fact, there are many benefits to adopting a senior dog or cat over a younger one:

What You See is What You Get

Older pets often have calmer dispositions and their personalities are already formed. You’ll know if you’re adopting a dog that loves to lay on the couch and snuggle, or if they’re more of the loner type. You’ll also know if they’re good with kids and other pets, or if they prefer to be a solo fur baby. You’ll be able to find the perfect family member to fit into your home and lifestyle situation.

You Get to Skip the “Puppy” Phase

If you’ve ever owned a puppy or a kitten, you know just how daunting it can be for the first few months or even the first couple of years. Senior dogs tend to be more relaxed and less energetic than puppies, and an older cat will often be more socialized and less temperamental than kittens. Another great bonus is that the pet will most likely already be house or litter trained. Older dogs can also still be taught new tricks and will most likely come along with some training already!

Help a Senior Pet Find Their Forever Home Today

Senior pets face a much harder journey to get adopted than younger one. In many shelters and rescues, the senior pets are the most difficult ones to get adopted and take the longest. Many unfortunately never find their forever home and end up living out their days at a shelter. But you can be that loving home they’ve been waiting for. Senior canines and felines are hoping for just one thing; loving companionship. So, when you’re ready to open your home and welcome a new family member, we urge you to consider adopting a senior pet. We think they will make a wonderful addition to your family, and you’ll make their whole life wonderful.

Consider Adopting a Less Adoptable Pet

According to the ASPCA, 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters in the US every year. Shelter and rescue resources are stretched thin as they try to find homes for these pets, and sadly, only 50%, on average, will be adopted – and we know the sad end to the story for many of the other 50%.

In 2009, Petfinder.com, an online searchable database that partners with shelters and rescues to help connect homeless pets with adopters, founded “Adopt a Less Adoptable Pet Week” (the third week in September) to highlight the struggle of finding homes for pets who, statistically, have a harder time finding a home. In a recent survey, Petfinder revealed that 95% of responding rescues have pets that they define as being “hard to adopt.” While an average pet spends about 12 weeks on the site before adoption, pets that have special needs, black coats or senior pets may take four times that long to find a home.

While pets with health problems and disabilities, such as cats with FIV, or dogs with diabetes, can live relatively normal lives with average lifespans, the fact that they require a little extra care, and perhaps medication, makes a pet with special needs less likely to be adopted. Even disabilities as simple as a missing eye or leg, that requires no extra care, can cause a pet to be passed over. This tragic fact is made even more so when you consider how rewarding it can be to bring a pet like this into your family, and how manageable many disabilities and illnesses can become with a little education and support from a great veterinarian.

It may seem like an old wives’ tale, but many shelters and rescues still report that animals with a black coat are less likely to be adopted than pets of any other color. There are varying views on why this is true, from the lingering stigma of black cats (and even dogs) of old being associated with witchcraft and bad luck, to the belief that they are harder to photograph. Some sources state that it’s simply the fact that there are more black cats and dogs than other colors, and so people will pass them by in favor of a less common color. Whatever the reason, we hope our readers realize what great pets black cats and dogs make (I mean, black cats look like tiny panthers – what could be better?).

And when it comes to senior pets, this may be the saddest less-adoptable category of them all. Many times, senior pets have been given up because their older owners have died or had to move into assisted living, or their owners may have decided that they couldn’t deal with senior-related changes or expenses. These kinds of surrenders are so sad, because senior pets have likely been with their owners for many years, and don’t understand why they have been left in this situation. And, just as a side effect of not being a cute and cuddly little puppy or kitten any longer, these older pets may never find a new home. How sad, considering that senior pets can be the perfect pets – mellow, low demands for energy, they just need a loving place to lay their heads, and kind pat on the head, and a good meal.

When you next find yourself in the position of opening your home to a new pet, we hope that you keep these “less-adoptable” pets in mind. You could even consider covering all of the bases, and adopt a senior, special needs pet who happens to have a black coat – you could save a life and make a new best friend.

June is Adopt-A-Shelter Cat Month – My Stories

Every June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month. It seems like every day is a “holiday” now and every month is some “special” month as well. It can get overwhelming. So instead of another article about how you should adopt a cat and save a life and how many cats get euthanized (between 860,000 and 1.4 million) every year, I thought I would share a more personal side to the story.

My family has had pets as long as I can remember. I vaguely remember when my dad brought home our first cat. Some neighbors of our friends had moved and left it locked in their house. Our friends rescued her and we ended up with “Snowball” a beautiful white longhair cat that was particularly fond of my dad. We had other cats come to us through the years through friends and acquaintances and a couple of rescues from the humane society. Our first dog was also “rescued” from friends who were moving back to Greece and were going to give the dog to the shelter. So we got “Sugar” a hugely overweight dachshund that didn’t know what dog food was. He had only eaten Greek people food his whole life. Needless to say, a diet and a lot of walks were in order.

But I have two special stories when they were “my” cats which “I” adopted from the humane society. They weren’t just family pets; we belonged to each other and we knew it. I feel like I was actually adopted by each one of them.

Dusty – “my” first cat

The first cat which was mine was “Dusty”. I don’t remember how old I was but I think it was in my early teens. Our humane society has two rows of cat cages and he was in the middle of the top row. I was going along playing with each cat, taking them out of their cages one at a time to see who I wanted to adopt. When I got to the cage next to his, he reached his paw out of his cage and tapped my arm wanting attention. When I got to him he was so full of love. I put him back and went on to the next cage and he again reached out of his cage and tapped my other arm. When I was going along the bottom row, he reached out with both paws and was tapping my head and playing with my hair. That was that. I knew I had been adopted. He came home with me that day.

Dusty and I had almost 20 happy years together (although I had to leave him with my parents for a few years when I moved to NYC) and he taught me a lot about responsibility and love. My favorite memory of Dusty is “chinnin’s”. He would rub his face and body back and forth against my chin purring the whole time. I was the only person he would do that with and I felt like he was saying “you’re mine!”.

My very first picture with Tica.  She was so tiny and already a snuggle bug.

Several years (and several family pets later) my husband and I adopted “Tica”. We had to put our previous cat to sleep (she was almost 25 years old) a couple of years earlier and we just hadn’t gotten another pet. My husband knew I was missing having one so unbeknownst to me he had gone to the humane society the day before and scouted out the cats ahead of time. The next day he took me with him so we could look together. There were several we were thinking about and he noticed this one in the big display window that hadn’t been out the day before. He said “what about this one?” but I immediately said no because she looked quite a bit like Dusty had and I wanted something different this time. A couple of other cats I didn’t pick because they were too young. (I always try to adopt cats that are a little bit older because kittens have a better chance at getting adopted. I like helping those who might be less fortunate.) We took a couple of cats into the get acquainted room but nothing clicked. Then we were going to take another one but it swatted and hissed at my husband so no go there. Finally there was only one other cat we were considering and the one in the window. I relented and we took them both into the get acquainted room. The other cat started roaming around, sniffing and exploring, but the cat in the window came right over to me. I sat down in the middle of the floor and she curled right up in my lap and started purring. When the other cat finally came around, she hissed and swatted at it to keep it away from me. That was it again. I had been adopted again.

The humane society said she was about two years old but she was so tiny. Our humane society has a deal with a local vet that all the animals who are adopted have to be spayed or neutered before you can take them home so you actually pick up your animal at the vet the next day. After work when I went to pick her up, the vet told me she was only about 9 months old. If I had known that the day before I would have been more hesitant to adopt her since I usually adopt older cats but we decided that was just another sign that it was meant to be.

So she had also picked me and she is the most unique cat I’ve ever know. My husband and I say that she got in the wrong line the day they were telling them they were cats because she acts like a dog a lot of times. She follows us around and greets us at the door. When my husband comes home from work, we have to go out on the front porch and wait for him. She does tricks for treats and she just loves being with her people. But she’s also all cat with her antics and humor and personality and we wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world. She can get her way with just about anything but she also fills our life with so much love and laughter and comfort. My husband calls her my “feline Zoloft”. We just think we own them. It is definitely the other way around.

I could fill pages and pages with stories about the cats in my life and the joys they have brought over the years. But hopefully these two adoption stories will encourage you to think about adding a new feline “bundle of joy” to your home during this special cat adoption month. Check out your local humane society or a cat rescue group to meet your newest family member.

November is Adopt a Senior Dog Month

13982957_lLet’s help the rescues and shelters to adopt all their senior dogs this month (and every month). Now we know those puppies are awfully cute and cuddly and so irresistible – but so are the senior dogs. There are many pluses to getting a senior dog. And many times a senior dog is a perfect match for a senior person.

  • Most senior dogs are already housetrained, saving you time and stress training a new puppy where to do his business. Puppies need lots of patience, energy and consistent training; so they become a well behaved dog.
  • Older dogs won’t need the constant monitoring that their younger counterparts need for house training, chewing or other mischief.
  • Older dogs are typically calmer and less energetic than puppies; they are easier to teach new tricks. In fact, many already know basic commands. Because they are calmer and have longer attention spans they learn new things easier and quicker.
  • Senior dog’s personalities are already developed and they are full grown. So you know from the start if the two of you will be a good match. For instance if they’re a snuggle-bunny, ready for naptime or one that likes hikes, car rides or walks in the great outdoors.
  • And the love and gratitude that they give you is unfathomable. They will be a loyal, grateful new member of your family.

Rescue groups and shelters are able to assess the dogs and match you with the best dog based on their personality and your lifestyle. Because they assess the dogs they can give you information about the dog’s health, training, grooming requirements, etc.

It’s sad that dogs, sometimes only as old as 5 years, are often the last and most difficult group to be adopted. Senior dogs tend to spend the longest amount of time in rescues or shelters before finding their “furever” home.

Many senior pets are at a rescue or shelter because their lives have been uprooted either due to a death or tragedy of their former owner. Most are exceptionally affectionate and attentive pets, wanting nothing more than to please their new owner – YOU.

Check with your local shelter or a rescue group to see if they have any specials on adopting a senior pet. And don’t forget as with any pet rescue, if you adopt a senior pet, Hale Pet Door will give you 10% off the price of your pet door and donate an additional 10% to the rescue or humane society where you adopted your pet.

Get an Energy Efficient Pet Door for Your New Senior Pet

Mature dogs often make the best pets

Mature dogs often make the best pets

November is Adopt-A-Senior Pet Month. It’s a great time to find your new best friend and save a life. Many shelters and rescues run “specials” on adoption fees for senior pets during November, so you’ll have more to spend on beds, toys, treats and a pet door.

In the world of pets, “senior” is not really “old”.  Very large dogs (over 90 pounds) are considered senior at age 6. Large dogs (51 – 90 pounds) become senior citizens at age 7. Medium dogs (21 – 50 pounds) are senior at age 8, and small dogs (up to 20 pounds) reach senior status at 9 years. Cats are considered senior citizens when they reach 9 years.

While puppies and kittens are cute, senior pets are a lot less work because they assimilate quickly, are not as destructive – no teething to deal with, are more laid back and really appreciate the care you give them.

As with pets of all ages, they require good food, fresh water and appropriate exercise. Most of all they flourish on love and attention.

When dogs can answer ‘nature’s call’ right away, they are healthier and less prone to develop urinary or digestive tract problems. Since it’s difficult for you to be home all the time, a high quality pet door can let the dog out and let him back in the house to rest.

No matter what size senior pet you adopt, you can have a dog door that’s the right size for your pet because Hale Pet Door makes 11 sizes of pet doors. If you want to replace your existing dog door with an energy efficient and durable Hale Pet Door, you can have a pet door made to fit the hole you already have in your door or wall. Just call 800-646-4773 with your rough opening – you might be surprised at how affordable a custom size dog door can be.

Because you want to keep the new addition to your family safe for years to come, the soft heavy vinyl flaps of the Hale Pet Door provide the best protection against outside air while staying safe for your pets. These flaps are crystal clear with stainless steel strikes that hold firm to 5 times stronger Alnico magnets while allowing your pet to come and go as he pleases.

Help the shelters and rescues find forever homes for their senior pets and save a life. Just let us know that you rescued your pet, and you’ll save 10% on your Hale Pet Door with our Rescue Rewards Program. We’ll donate that same 10% to the shelter or rescue where you adopted your pet.

Do you have a senior pet? What’s the best thing about your older pet? Please share in the comments below.