Monthly Archives: September 2011

All About Polydactyl Cats

By Julia Williams

Polydactyl cats are not a specific breed, but they do have a unique characteristic that is immediately noticeable – extra toes! These extra toes make their paws look gigantic, rather like they are wearing mittens, hence the nicknames “mitten cat” and “mitten foot cat.” Another nickname is “thumb cats,” because some polydactyl cats have separated toe clusters which make them appear to have a thumb on their paw. The term polydactyl is of Greek origin and comes from poly- (many) + daktylos (fingers or toes).

Most domestic cats have 18 toes: five on both front paws and four on each hind paw. Polydactyl cats, however, are born with extra toes as a result of a genetic mutation. Polydactyls typically have one or two extra toes on their front paws. Although a polydactyl cat can have up to seven extra toes on either the front or hind paws, it’s more common for the extra toes to be on the front paws only. It’s rare for a polydactyl cat to have extra toes on their hind paws only, and rarer still to have extra toes on all four paws.

The Polydactyl Gene

The extra toes on a polydactyl cat are the result of a mutant gene (Pd) that is dominant. This means that if one cat parent has extra toes, there’s a high probability that some of the offspring will be polydactyl too. If both parents have extra toes, this further increases the likelihood that they’ll produce polydactyl kittens.

The polydactyl anomaly is found in many other animals besides cats, including humans, dogs, chickens, horses, mice and guinea pigs. Domestic cats of all breeds and colors can have extra toes, though polydactyly is most common in Maine Coon cats. Presently, the standards for all CFA recognized breeds disqualify a pedigreed cat with extra toes, and responsible breeders won’t breed a cat known to carry the Pd gene.

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Daily Acts of Responsible Dog Ownership

By Bear (Canine Guest Blogger)

I am one excited doggie! It is September and for the American Kennel Club (AKC) this is Responsible Dog Ownership Month. My mommy is a responsible dog owner but even she can pick up some tips from the AKC Facebook page. They are posting what they call “Acts of RDO” each day. Here’s one of them: “I recognize that my dog’s welfare is totally dependent on me and I will never overlook my responsibilities for this living being.”  I think that one sentence sums up being a responsible dog owner pretty well.

There’s also a really cool Responsible Dog Ownership petition that all of you loving dog moms and dads should check out and sign! What do you think you need to do to be a responsible dog owner? The basics such as food, water, vet care and a warm place to sleep are simple, but there’s a lot more to caring for one of us than just those things.

The first thing you must know about getting a dog is that it’s not a short term thing. It takes being committed to raising and caring for us throughout our lives. It’s not always convenient to have a dog. There are places we can’t go, and there are things that we need, so not only are you committing to having a companion for several years, you are also committing to the financial needs and the care of your dog for many years as well. I know my mommy sometimes wishes she could go out for the day without worrying about me being stuck at home. Sometimes she does have to leave me for the day and she makes sure that she leaves the television on for me, and that I have plenty of CANIDAE dog food and water. My mommy even puts paper down in the basement for me in case I have to potty before she gets home. All the little things she does let me know how much she loves me and cares for me.

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What to Look for in a Pet Sitter

By Linda Cole

I’m always happy to pet sit for a friend or neighbor, and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously even though I usually do it for free. Finding a good pet sitter should be as important as finding a trustworthy babysitter for your kids. There are some things you need to discuss with a pet sitter whether paid or not, because this person has the keys to your home and the responsibility of caring for your pet while you’re away.

We don’t have professional pet sitting services in my area. People who need to find a pet sitter have to rely on family, friends or neighbors to help them out. Since I’m not a professional service, I rarely charge to watch someone’s pets, especially if they’re good friends. I pet sit because I want to help and because they trust me to do what I promised to do.

Pet sitting is more than just running over to someone’s house and throwing down some food or rushing through a walk with their dog. You want someone who will spend time with your pet, give him attention and play with him along with trying to maintain the regular schedule your pet is used to. Vacations or family emergencies shouldn’t upset your pet with a change in routine just because you’re away from home.

I used to take care of a retired friend’s cats while they took a yearly Florida vacation during the winter months. I did accept pay for this one because it was usually a three month job in winter, and they lived in the country. Two of their cats had medical issues that required daily medication and this was a challenge because they were outside cats. This is a perfect example of why a pet sitter needs to have a good bond with your pets. Knowing where my friend’s cats liked to hang out made it much easier when I had to track them down to give them their medication, and they didn’t freak out and run away when they saw me coming. They were as comfortable with me as they were with their owner.

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Rocky and Annabelle’s “Gotcha Day” Tale

By Julia Williams
I follow a lot of other pet bloggers, and have read so many touching stories of a beloved pet’s adoption day. I didn’t think to tell my own Gotcha Day tales, primarily because I don’t know the actual date. The three cats I have now were all what I call “accidentally adopted,” i.e. I didn’t set out to find a cat to adopt but rather, they found me. And even then, I had no intention of keeping them. Ha ha! The wily felines had other plans, and worked their magic so completely that turning them away just wasn’t an option. I now realize I don’t need an actual date to celebrate the time these beautiful souls found their way into my home and heart. This is Rocky and Annabelle’s Gotcha Day tale.

It was August of 2003. I was renting an office for my freelance writing business, and the woman in the adjoining suite asked me to water her garden during her vacation. I went to her house and as she showed me her garden, she casually mentioned she had a momma cat and two kittens living in a shed. When I asked who would be taking care of them, she said they were leaving some dry food and water for the mom, and the kittens were still nursing. I still can’t fathom the mindset of asking someone to care for plants but leaving four-week-old kittens and their mom to fend for themselves!

She also said they initially had four kittens but two recently died, and she didn’t know why. I asked her to show me where the cats were, because I intended to look after them whether she thought they needed it or not. I noticed the kittens had fleas, but didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until I came back the next day. These poor kittens were being eaten alive by fleas! I suspected the other kittens had died from flea anemia, and these two looked so weak I worried they’d suffer the same fate. I took them straight to my vet, who agreed with my assessment and said they probably would’ve died in a day or two.

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CANIDAE Sponsored Dogs Make a Splash at “Paws in the Pool”

By Linda Cole

Dock diving is a popular and inexpensive sport you can enjoy with your dog. The competition is friendly but competitive, and the dogs love every minute of it! At the recent Splash Dogs competition held in Lancaster, OH on August 20 and 21, Team CANIDAE was well represented with talented canine athletes ready to show why they’re top dogs. Tony Reed of Splash Dogs and Terry Cook of Aqua Dogs hosted the event that had handlers and dogs from all over the country eager to hit the dock to show how far their dogs can fly.

The Paws in the Pool competition wasn’t just about having a great time with your dog. The event also raised money to help support local animal shelters and rescue groups in the Fairfield County and surrounding area in Ohio. Animal shelters across the country are having record number of pets surrendered to them with fewer donations to help keep shelters operating. Events like Paws in the Pool help to raise much needed funds for rescue groups and shelters. Dog teams from around the country gathered in Lancaster to give their support to a good cause, have fun and find out who has the top dock diving dog, at least for this competition.

The Paws in the Pool competition was open to all interested dock diving clubs. Several CANIDAE Team members participated and made a great showing. A big congratulations to Dan Jacobs and his Labrador Retriever Kody who placed 2nd in the Pro Division Finals with a score of 20.01 ft. and Brian Johnson and his Chocolate Lab Gunner who placed 3rd with a score of 20.00 ft. Dan and his Labrador Retriever Kasey took top honors in the Senior Division placing 1st with a winning jump of 18.06 ft. Lynn Taylor worked three dogs through the Junior Division placing 3rd, 4th and 6th. Riot, a German Shorthaired Pointer, took 3rd with a score of 12.09 ft.; Champ, a German Shorthaired Pointer, finished 4th with a score of 12.07 ft.; Cajun, a Labrador Retriever, took 6th with a score of 10.06 ft. Way to go Team CANIDAE!

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How to Make Vet Visits Less Stressful

By Julia Williams

As responsible pet owners, we know how important veterinary exams are for keeping our dogs and cats healthy. However, just because we know it’s for their own good doesn’t mean our pets will enjoy the vet visit. In fact, most pets don’t like going to the vet, which makes sense when you consider how stressful it must be for them. Aside from the fear of being in an unfamiliar environment, they encounter peculiar smells and sounds, other animals, and strangers in white coats touching, prodding and poking them. What’s to like about that? Nevertheless, there are things you can do to help your pet tolerate vet visits and keep their stress level down, which will help you stay calm too.

Car Rides

If the only time your pet rides in a car is on the way to the vet, it’s only natural they’ll become agitated. For dog owners, the solution is to bring them along when you run short errands (just don’t leave them in the car in the summer!), take them to a dog park often or to places that allow dogs such as pet stores. This can help curb their anxiety on trips to the vet. I’m not sure the same holds true for cats, aka notorious haters of cars in motion. I haven’t tried “practice rides” with my cats, mostly because subjecting myself to more of the heart-wrenching wails they make in the car doesn’t seem wise. 

Keep Your Emotions in Check

As you’ve probably noticed, our pets are very much in tune with our emotions. If you are stressed and anxious about going to the vet, your pet will pick up on that – so try to stay as calm as you can before you set off, during the car ride and while you’re waiting to see the vet. Speaking words of encouragement in a soothing voice can help your pet to relax in the strange environment. 

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