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How to Have a Fall Staycation with Your Dog

October 12, 2018

fall staycation
After a long, hot summer, you’re ready for an adventure. The moderate temperatures of fall make conditions perfect for outdoor activities, and many can be shared with your dog. You can travel to a cozy cabin in the woods, plan to visit friends or family, or vacation right in your own home. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a getaway. All you need for a fall “staycation” is a little imagination. Here’s how to plan a fun adventure in your own town.

Plan ahead

If you have a place in mind, like a state park, make arrangements today to book a date. You may need tickets (even if your plans are for outdoor activities), so don’t delay. Booking a date can also mean blocking out days on your personal calendar. This simple gesture can turn a wish to a reality.

Assess your dog’s health

If you choose a long hike, make sure your dog is up to the challenge. Even if the dog’s breed is known for activity, your couch potato may need to exercise in moderation. It’s smart to schedule a veterinary examination for older dogs or those with pre-existing conditions. If your dog is in prime health, you can prepare by examining his or her paw pads, ears, and eyes.

Check for wounds on the pads and discharge elsewhere. If all is clear, your dog should be ready to head for the hills. Large dogs, especially breeds known for orthopedic abnormalities, should be checked for genetic diseases at around two years of age to make sure they are fit for challenging activities.

Finding fun

Many dogs enjoy tracking, hiking, herding, and agility activities. Dachshunds and terriers enjoy earthdog tests, while beagles, bassets, and other hounds like scent work. You can also find activities for sporting dogs, such as spaniels and retrievers; dogs in the greyhound family like coursing. You can find canine challenge events on the American Kennel Club (AKC) website, including Companion Events and Performance Events.

If your dog is qualified, be sure to complete the entry application and submit any fees by the closing date. Newbies should attend an event to observe before entering, and specific training may be needed before participating. Check the event rules; intact dogs are usually banned from these events.

Keep it local

Your staycation can remain right in your own neighborhood. Dogs are welcome at most harvest festivals and pumpkin patches. You could enjoy a Halloween parade, a walk to look at beautiful fall foliage, or trick-or-treating. If your dog likes to dress up, picking out a costume can be a lot of fun!

You can also find events connected to local animal groups or communities. Runners often take dogs with them for companionship, boaters share the sea (or lake) with their pets, and family reunions are incomplete without a few dogs at the party.

Make accommodations

If your fall staycation will involve an overnight stay, consider pet-friendly accommodations. Many hotels and campgrounds welcome dogs, but many require security deposits and have daily fees. Check with your reservation agent for details. Families and friends may welcome your dog, but be sure to be a considerate guest. Include a crate with bedding, food, water, dishes, and pickup materials in your dog gear. Don’t forget to pack medications or special toys your dog will want.

If you’re looking for a little R&R, vacationing in your own home might be the best choice—as long as you don’t get caught up in chores or working on the computer. Remember, this is your together time to share with your pup! Enjoy the beautiful fall weather and cherish every moment you get to spend with your four-legged friend.

With the temperature cooling down, you might be wondering if you still need to protect your pooch from fleas and ticks on wooded walks. Read our article on “Does My Pet Need Flea and Tick Prevention in Winter?” for the lowdown.

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Are You Part Cat? Here’s How to Tell!

By Julia Williams

Anyone who is “owned” by a cat already knows all the signs that tell the world how we feel about felines. We pretty much wrote the script for that, right? It’s safe to say we don’t ever wonder “Am I a cat lover?” And neither does anyone who knows us, because signs of our cat adoration are everywhere – copious kitty photos on our phone and Facebook page; cats in our conversations and even our dreams; cat toys, scratching posts and other items of feline enrichment in our home, and so much cat hair on our clothes it’s almost an accessory!

So yeah, we love cats and aren’t afraid to come right out and say it. But haven’t you ever been just a teensy bit envious of your feline friend’s cushy life and wished you could BE a cat, if even just for one day? I know I have, and I’ll bet you have, too. You probably do have some cat-like tendencies, maybe you really are part feline? Let’s buy into the unlikely fantasy for a minute and say “Oh yeah, that could totally happen!” How would you – and others – know that you’re part cat? Let me count the ways.

1. Sleep is Awesome

Whether it’s a catnap in the morning, a lazy Saturday afternoon siesta or your regular 7-8 hours of shut-eye every night, you just freaking love sleep! Cats do too, because I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t spend 15 hours every day doing something they hated.

2. You Like to Call the Shots

Are you a bit of a control freak and you just can’t stand when someone else is in charge of you, your schedule or your life? That’s soooo cat!

3. Leave Me Alone Already!

You’re not antisocial, exactly. But if you relish your “me time” and sometimes just wish the humans in your life would leave you be to do as you pleased, you’re probably part cat. Ditto if you can spend an entire day with no human interaction and not feel the least bit lonely.

4. You Love a Good Stretch

Ah, doesn’t it feel amazing to arch your back, put your arms up as far as they can go and strrrretch your body? Cats really enjoy a good stretch, too.

5. You Worship the Sun

Does feeling the warm sun on your face feel like heaven on earth? It must feel that good to cats too. They seek out that sliver of sunlight coming in through the window, and it’s like their own personal Recharge Machine!

6. Affection’s OK, But Only When You Say

You’re totally fine with giving and receiving affection, as long as it’s on your terms and only when you’re in the mood. And let’s be honest, there are just some times when you don’t feel like it and then you can be a bit, well, standoffish. Yeah – cats too!

7. You’re Just a Little Too Nosy

Cats like to supervise everything and everybody, and they always need to know what’s going on in their home. If other people regularly call you Nosy Nellie or Curious George, you’re part cat.

8. Bellyrubs are for Dogs!

Is your tummy a no touch zone? Whenever I get a massage, I always tell the masseuse to skip my stomach because I hate being touched there. Many cats are the same way. Ignore their “Don’t rub my stomach” stance and you’ll get a claw in your hand.

9. Crowds Are a Definite No

Is your first thought when someone invites you to Disneyland, Coachella, Burning Man, a ball game, a trendy dance club, Times Square or Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve…Fuhgetaboutit? Most cats hate crowds, too.

10. Mingling and Idle Chit Chat? Also a No

If you’d rather get a root canal than go to a large party where there will be lots of people you don’t know (and don’t really want to know, thank you very much), you’re definitely an introvert, and maybe also part cat.

11. You Dislike Snow and Cold

Is your favorite way to spend a frosty winter day staying indoors and toasty warm in front of a fire? Cats do not enjoy being in that cold, wet white stuff either!

I’m sure these 11 ways to tell if you’re part cat just scratches the surface. What are some other signs that could indicate you have the mind and heart of a divine feline?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The 8 Most Adorable Dachshunds on the Internet

October 11, 2018

Who can resist a dachshund? Lovingly referred to as “wiener dogs” and “hot dogs” for their unique body shape, these extra-long pups are loyal companions and make terrific family pets. At home, dachshunds are clever, playful, and courageous. They tend to bond to one person very closely and can make it hard to get out of bed in the morning. Dachshunds are excellent snuggle partners!

A dachshund’s sweet, small face and long ears make it look like a stuffed animal plucked right off the shelf of a toy store. Whether smooth, wire haired, or longhaired, it’s difficult to deny a dachshund’s soulful eyes and complex facial expressions. In fact, these pups are so adorable many pet parents can’t stop with just one! We’ve done our research and found the eight most adorable dachshunds on the Internet.

“You guys wanna start a kickball league?! We can wear matching bandanas!”


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There’s just so much snuggly cuteness in this photo.


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“Why yes, I did just have a fresh shampoo and blowout. Thanks for noticing!”


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The classic nose lick. So stinkin’ adorable.


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Would you look at those tiny paws?


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This pup is delighted by bubbles.


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Sun’s out, tongue’s out.


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“Please, tell me again how cute I am.”


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Have you ever seen a cuter face? A dachshund has the most expressive eyes and a smile that could melt anyone’s heart. While small, these dogs have large lungs and a mighty bark that sounds more like a Labrador than a pint-sized pooch. If your dachshund gets chatty when the mail truck drives by or a guest arrives at your door, it might become bothersome to nearby neighbors. For tips on keeping your mouthy dachshund quiet, read our article on “4 Ways to Stop Unwanted Barking.”

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Can You Teach Your Dog to Pose for Photos?

Langley Cornwell

So many dogs have accounts on social media these days, and they seem to shine for the camera. In fact, some of these photogenic pups have become full-on celebrities with millions of followers. Is posing pretty for the camera an inherited trait for some animals, or is it something you can actually teach your dog to do? I wanted to know because it’s like a comedy of errors at our house when I try to get my dogs to pose for photos. These cute pups have lived with us for almost ten years and I have maybe two good photos of them together. I do have a handful of good ones of Al by himself; he seems to be more camera-friendly than Frosty, but trying to get a good one of her is nearly impossible.

Turns out, there are some tips and tricks to get your pooch all geared up and ready for his close-up. As long as you are armed with a good camera, plenty of patience, and a stash of CANIDAE dog treats, you’re ready to get started!

The Sit/Stay Commands

If you want to move from candid action shots and “lucky break” shots to real, posing-for-the-camera photos, your dog must first master the sit and stay commands. Your dog should know how to sit and stay until you release him from that position.

As a funny aside, my brother’s dog is very well trained, and my parents were pet-sitting one weekend. Mom told Coco to stay and the dog complied, as usual. My mother did not know there was a release word, so Coco stayed put. Once mom realized what was happening, she tried to call the dog. She told Coco it was okay to move now. She tried to coax the dog with treats and toys. Nothing worked. The dog was doing what she was taught to do. Mom finally got my brother on the phone and he told her the release word. With the correct utterance from my mother, the dog jumped up and was happily back to hanging out and doing her regular dog stuff. As you may imagine, there are gorgeous photos of sweet Coco in some very interesting locations.

Like Coco, you want your dog to stay for as long as you say so. And you do not want her to react to distractions. As with all canine obedience training, when teaching your dog new skills, only use positive reinforcement, make each session short and fun, and always end on a high note.

Look at the Camera

Sitting and staying are absolutely necessary to get a good snap, but sometimes you want your dog to cast those soulful eyes right into the camera lens. This isn’t easy, and if you’re using a real camera instead of a cellphone it’s even harder. Typically, when a dog looks straight into another dog’s eyes it’s perceived as a challenge, and that big lens on a camera can instill that same sense of unease in more sensitive dogs.

To overcome this, establish a word or phrase that means look at the camera. Some people simply use the word look. Others use pay attention or over here. Regardless of the command you use, be consistent. State the word and if your pup turns his head towards you in the slightest, reward him with a treat.

You will have an easier time teaching this command if you start out in a place where your dog is familiar and there are limited distractions. Once your dog has made the connection and has this one mastered, move on to places where there will be other things that pull his attention away. Keep at it until you both get the timing down pat. Pretty soon, you’ll have glorious photos of your pup in all kinds of cool settings!

Does your dog pose for the camera? Did you teach him or her specifically how to do that, or is it something that just developed naturally?

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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In Africa, Bloodhounds Help Rangers Catch Elephant Poachers

October 10, 2018

Elephants are among the most magnificent animals on earth. Their sheer size and unusual silhouettes make them special attractions, and their beautiful tusks complete a powerful picture. Elephants are revered for the ability to give off good luck and for their wisdom, strength, and longevity. Many organizations in South Africa honor elephants with depictions on their official coats of arms, and the Ivory Coast holds special symbolic importance for elephants.

Unfortunately, these gentle giants are at risk for extinction due to poaching activities on African savannas. Bloodhounds, revered for their exceptional sense of smell and tracking abilities, are helping to catch these individuals and save this exotic species.

The Ivory War

Elephant tusks were once used to make piano keys and jewelry, and travelers and artists treasured ornately carved elephant tusks. But today, informed people understand the fragile situation with elephants as they reach the vulnerable and endangered species status. Scientists estimate that African forest elephants and African savanna elephants could be extinct in ten years, if poaching continues.

Hunting elephants is banned in Africa, and trophy hunters are despised worldwide. Still, some Chinese traders covet elephant tusks for their perceived medicinal value. Despite Kenya’s 40-year-old bans, poaching continues. Even with the protection of national parks and reserves, the high black market value of elephant tusks motivates poverty-stricken natives to kill the beasts for their ivory. The practice endures because of corruption and officials who collect “fees” from poachers.

Elephant’s Best Friend

While animal lovers couldn’t imagine harming elephants, poachers hunt these and other “protected” animals in African reserves. Poachers stalk gazelles, impalas, giraffes, and buffalo to sell as bushmeat. They also catch elephants, lions, and other endangered species in their wire snares. The challenge of spotting and catching the poachers was overwhelming in Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve, an ecosystem in the southern part of the country that merges into Tanzania’s Serengeti, but rangers came up with a unique plan.

Known for their incredible noses, bloodhound puppies were selected to track poachers through the long, tall savanna grasses. American dog trainers helped design a program to introduce a group of puppies to work the land. The poacher-seeking dogs were taught to follow scents and find humans hiding in the area. Rangers played poachers to train the dogs. These smart pups’ keen sense of smell turned to drive when directed to track a human scent, and they were soon put to work. The dogs are very effective during daylight hours, and their efforts are complemented with thermal imaging cameras at night.

A Swahili-speaking veterinarian from Japan, Asuka Takita, is credited for playing a role in starting this program. Although there’s still a lot of work to be done training new dogs and handlers to fill the need, the program is responsible for apprehending more than 4,000 poachers since 2009. The program also includes specially trained dogs to sniff out ivory and guns at park entrances—like TSA agents at any airport.

That Nose!

The bloodhound has a long reputation for helping people fight crime. It’s estimated that their sense of smell is 1,000 times better than humans, and those long ears help isolate smells on the ground for the bloodhound to process. Police departments and rescue squads have used the dogs’ special powers to find criminals and lost children for years. Now, the dogs are an important tool for apprehending elephant poachers on African savannas and helping save this amazing species from extinction.

Want to learn more about how bloodhounds track down poachers and missing children? Read our article on “How Do Bloodhounds Find People?” for a look at these dogs’ amazing abilities.

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Is It Cruel to Keep Your Cat Indoors?

By Julia Williams

When it comes to the decisions each of us makes for our beloved feline friends, none is more contentious than whether to allow them outdoors or keep them inside. I’ve witnessed many a heated debate about that very thing over the years, and from these exchanges I’ve concluded two things. The first is that cat lovers have very clear-cut opinions about this. The second thing is that regardless of which camp they’re firmly entrenched in, many cat owners are determined to convince the other side to “change their evil ways.”

The point I think these people are missing is that everyone already knows the pros and cons of keeping a cat indoors versus letting it go outside, and they’ve made their choice with full awareness of the facts. Whether we like it or not, it’s an individual (or family) decision. Where I think it can go wrong is when people begin berating others for their choice.

What brought this to mind was a recent post in one of my cat Facebook groups. It began with someone asking for advice on how to get her outdoor cat to stop killing critters and leaving them at her door, but devolved into an ugly scene complete with name calling and bullying. My first reaction to the original poster was similar to what many others said, which was simply “you can’t change your cat’s natural behavior, keep him indoors.”

Now granted, this doesn’t really answer the person’s question, but in reality there is no easy answer. Cats allowed outside will hunt, and there isn’t much you can do about that. You can, as some suggested, put a bell on their collar which “might” be marginally useful, but that comes with its own risk to the cat. So the logical answer to their dilemma was to bring the cat indoors. And that’s where it all went south.

The Cats Belong Outdoors camp launched into a litany of unfounded allegations about how miserable every indoor cat is, how this “imprisonment” results in the cat becoming “nothing more than a zoo animal that exists for your own enjoyment” and that it’s mean to deny cats the joy of laying in the sun and other simple pleasures. One even said “If you’re going to keep a cat indoors, you don’t deserve to have one.” But the comment that rankled me the most was “Keeping cats indoors their whole lives is the cruelest thing you can do to them.”

Hmmm. Was I being cruel to keep my two cats indoors? Did they feel unjustly imprisoned? Were they unhappy? I looked at them sound asleep in their comfy cat beds; shortly before that were stealthily stalking a catnip mouse and raucously bunny-kicking a stuffed toy, and before that lounging on the cat tree watching the Bird TV show out the window. They cuddle with me on the couch whenever I read or watch TV, sleep with me in my bed every night, and are doted upon as much as any kitty could ever be. I know without a doubt that if these cats could talk, they’d tell you how very much they love their life.

It’s never cruel to keep your cat companion safe and healthy indoors, as long as you provide them with the things they need to live a happy life. In addition to the basics – copious amounts of petting, playtime, brushing, treats and love – there are countless ways to enrich their indoor life.

What is cruel, is coming home from a weekend getaway to discover your cat laying in the bushes with her leg so badly mangled it has to be amputated. What is cruel, is subjecting your cat to emergency surgery to stitch up his entire face after another cat viciously attacked him. What is cruel, is finding your cat deceased in the road after getting run over by a car. What is cruel, is seeing your cat with a barbed foxtail sticker painfully stuck in his nose and you’re unable to pull it out. What is cruel, is watching your cat take his last breath at the vet’s because another foxtail sticker created a urinary blockage. What is cruel, is the years of emotional pain you endure when your roaming cat doesn’t come home one day and you never find out why or what became of her.

All of those things happened to me and to cats I loved dearly, and the memories are what convinced me to keep my current two indoors. But as I said, it’s a personal choice. If you’re comfortable with the risks of allowing a cat outdoors unsupervised, so be it. Just don’t ever call me cruel for keeping my cats safe indoors, because I know better.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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These 9 Lovable Pit Bulls Destroy Breed Stereotypes

October 9, 2018

It’s one of the first questions you’re asked when applying for an apartment or taking your pet on an airplane: is your dog an aggressive breed? The roster of “excluded” or “prohibited” breeds varies depending on the property manager, insurance company, and airline, but one breed all lists have in common is the pit bull. Unfortunately, the pit bull earned a reputation for being dangerous because some have been bred for dog fighting. In reality, every dog is different, and pit bulls are no more of a risk than other breeds. In fact, pit bulls can be downright lovable and sweet.

This large, stocky dog makes a smart and loyal companion. Plus, pit bulls have hilarious personalities. In the early 20th century, pit bulls were considered family dogs. They’re ultra sweet and absolutely adore people. Despite the misconception that pit bulls are vicious, they actually rank as one of the most affectionate breeds in an annual test by the American Temperament Test Society.

If we haven’t already convinced you, these nine lovable pit bulls destroy breed stereotypes:

Would you look at the smile on this sweetie?


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The side-eye look is priceless.


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This gorgeous girl is here to set the record straight.


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Pit bulls are extra polite when a potential food drop is in their future.


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“I am SO sorry, human. You can take it out of my treat allowance!”


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Is there anything sweeter than a pit bull in a pineapple costume?


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10/10! We would snuggle with this pup and never get out of bed.


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Spring flowers are almost as beautiful as this pit bull’s sweet face.


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“PLEASE human, can I jump in that pile of leaves?”


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This pup looks positively hyped to be outside.


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“Nothing to see here. I’m just a dog in a flannel waiting for a pumpkin spiced treat.”


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As you can see, pit bulls love their humans and are super affectionate. They’re smart, determined, and make great service dogs. Unfortunately, nearly half a million pit bulls and pit bull mixes are killed in shelters each year. If you’re looking for a sweet family dog, consider save a life by rescuing a pit bull. Read our article on “5 Reasons You Should Adopt a Pit Bull” to learn how this breed would make a fabulous addition to your family.

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Why is My Pet Suddenly So Clingy?

By Linda Cole

As pet owners, we learn what our dog or cat wants primarily by paying attention to how they act. However, it’s not always easy to understand what’s going on when a change in behavior happens. Sometimes a normally independent pet can suddenly become clingy for no apparent reason, and it’s our job to figure out why. Here are some possible reasons.

Undiagnosed Medical Issue

Anytime there’s a change in how your dog or cat interacts with you, that’s a red flag. Pay attention if your pet suddenly becomes clingy because it might be an indication of a medical issue. Not feeling well is confusing to your pet, and some feel more secure being close to someone they trust. Some pets may become clingy just before they have a seizure. Epilepsy is more common in dogs than cats, but felines can have seizures, too. A seizure can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or parasite infections, feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), exposure to toxins or other medical issues.

The Aging Process

Your dog or cat may experience a deterioration in hearing or vision as they age, but even younger pets can sometimes have issues. Not being able to hear or see as well as they used to can cause a pet to be clingy and stay close to his owner so he’s more aware of what’s going on. Clingy behavior can also be a sign that a senior pet is in the early stages of cognitive dysfunction. If you notice your pet bumping into furniture or seems to be confused, a vet checkup is recommended.

Changes in Routine

Pets want and need a routine. They like to know what to expect. Changes can be upsetting to our furry friends. Some of the things that can cause an independent dog or cat to feel insecure and become clingy are: a new baby, a child leaving for college or moving out of the home, the death of a human or animal family member, bringing another pet into the home, a change in their feeding or walking schedule, a change in your work schedule or moving to a new home.

Fear, Stress, Anxiety

Security and feeling safe in the home is as important to dogs and cats as it is to us. A normally outgoing pet can show signs of stress and may become clingy if he feels uncertain for some reason. It could be he’s being bullied by another pet in the home or mistreated by a family member, friend or neighborhood children. If your pet acts differently when certain people or pets are around, this could indicate that the person or pet makes him feel uncomfortable or fearful of them.

If your pet runs to you during a thunderstorm or when fireworks are going off in the neighborhood, that’s an in-your-face clue that he’s afraid. Christmas, Thanksgiving and other holidays with lots of family and friends in the home can also be stressful and cause anxiety in some pets.

Adopted From a Shelter

Like us, pets have life experiences that shape their outlook on life. Many pets adopted from the shelter have an unknown history. A pet may have been adopted multiple times and returned to a shelter before finding his forever home with you. You can’t know what he’s been through in another home or as a stray. A pet who seems outgoing at the shelter may become clingy once in a new home. A sudden desire to be close to you could be his way of reassuring himself that this new home isn’t just temporary.

It can take some time for an adopted pet to feel safe and secure. You can help them adjust with a set routine along with playtime and training. Earning your pet’s trust and establishing a bond will reduce his stress and anxiety. Be patient, calm and positive, and reward good behavior with lots of praise and CANIDAE treats.

Your Pet is About to Give Birth

Some dogs and cats become very clingy just before they give birth or during the birth. Take it as a compliment and a sign of how comfortable your pet is with you. Giving birth is stressful and exhausting for the mother; she wants to be close to the person she loves and trusts during this time.

A normally independent dog or cat that suddenly becomes clingy is a warning that should not be ignored. Conversely, a pet that is usually clingy and suddenly becomes withdrawn is also a sign that something is amiss. Never hesitate to seek medical advice from your veterinarian for any sudden change in your pet’s behavior.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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5 Ways to Socialize a New Kitten

October 8, 2018

socialize a new kitten
Leaving the litter can be traumatic for a young kitten. Even when a kitten is over eight weeks and fully weaned, a new environment can still be a little overwhelming. Before you bring home your kitty, prepare to make the transition smooth. This includes introductions to all of your family members—human, feline, canine, and others. Here are five ways to socialize a new kitten.

1. Rather than overwhelm a kitten with a large group of welcomers, plan to introduce the new “siblings” one at a time. Choose a quiet place and start with people. Let each person cuddle the kitten and have some personal time. Add a few kitty treats to the formula, and great relationships will form.

2. Next, have a trusted person hold onto the kitty as another person brings in a feline or canine family member. Allow the pets to see one another from a distance and offer treats. Gradually decrease the distance from the pets, and try to keep them engaged in other activities as they approach one another. Feed treats, give obedience commands, brush, or nuzzle with your pets so that they form positive associations with being near one another. Repeat for each pet, one at a time.

3. Allow your pets the freedom to approach one another when you know it is safe. Hold onto your kitty and allow a cat or dog to approach on the floor. Use a leash if you think you may need to restrain your existing pets. Give treats for good behavior.

4. When you can’t supervise, confine your kitten to a large crate. Supply a litter box, food and water, a toy, and bedding (a folded towel is fine). Place the crate in an area of your home that is busy, and allow the other pets to get to know the kitten while he or she is in a safe place. Occasionally bring the kitten out for visits, but supervise interaction with of all your pets. When they seem comfortable together, you can remove the crate, but keep an individual litter box for the newbie—many cats don’t like to share.

5. Many people adore kittens, so take advantage of your kitty’s cuteness to socialize him or her with humans. Choose cat-friendly visitors to help. While your kitten is young, have friends hold, pet, feed treats, and talk to him or her. As various people come to your home, ask them to play along. If possible, include a variety of men and women, young and old, and outgoing and quiet personalities. If your kitten forms positive associations with people while he or she is young, it’s more likely that those impressions will stick.

Socializing a kitten takes a little effort, but the benefits last a lifetime. A socialized cat is not only friendly, but also self-assured. In addition to socializing with pets and people, introduce your cat to activities it will face throughout its life. Bathing, grooming, car travel, and veterinary examinations should be part of your kitten’s socialization. Make a point to handle your kitten several times a day, and play with its toes, ears, and tail. Later, you’ll need to cut its nails, clean its ears, and brush its teeth. Starting early will make these jobs easier.

Understand that cats may react to socializing differently. Some personalities are outgoing by nature, while others need time. Factors in developing personalities include genetics and past experiences, including mothering in the litter. Some cat breeds are known as outgoing, such as Siamese; while others are aloof. Welcome your new kitten with love and patience, and you are sure to enjoy companionship for many years to come.

You’ve probably heard of obedience school for dogs, but what about classes for kittens? “Kitten kindergarten” offers an opportunity to help your kitten learn how to be a socialized and well-behaved cat. Get the details in our article, “Does Your Kitten Need Obedience School?

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The Best Cozy Mysteries Featuring Cats

By Melissa Lapierre

Cats and books go together just like mac and cheese or peanut butter and jelly. As a little girl in my playpen I had a cat in one corner and a stack of books in another, and to this day those are still the two things I am always surrounded by…my bliss. Every night before bed you’ll find me curled up on the couch with a book (most often a book about cats), my precious tortie Mudpie, and a mug of hot chocolate.

Cats are a central theme of my favorite genre, traditional mysteries also affectionately known as cozy mysteries. Fall is here, and when the temperature drops there’s nothing better than getting lost in a great book. Here are just a few of my all-time favorite cozy mystery series that revolve around cats.

Hettie Bagshot Mystery Series by Mandy Morton

While it goes without saying that my favorite mysteries are cat cozies, this series goes a step beyond that with the entire cast of characters comprised solely of cats. That’s right…in this little world there are no people, just cats. Book me a one way flight, please! Hettie Bagshot and her sidekick Tilly open up the No. 2 Feline Detective Agency and take on puzzling cases in order to help pay the rent on their back room apartment in a bakery. While reading these brilliant little stories, I find myself completely absorbed in Hettie and Tilly’s cozy world; I only wish I could grab a mug of cocoa and join them in purrson. Each kitty has their own unique cat-like personality, and the humor is delightfully irreverent.

The Cattarina Mysteries by Monica Shaughnessy

 While Edgar Allan Poe is famous for writing The Black Cat, did you know that he was owned by a tortoiseshell cat named Cattarina? As the star of her very own historical mystery series, she is the epitome of “tortitude” and uses it to solve local crimes against both humans and animals, while in the process continuing to be her beloved master’s muse.

Koko and Yum Yum in The Cat Who…Series by Lilian Jackson Braun

One of the most famous long-running cozy mystery series starring cats (and likely the first, beginning in 1966), The Cat Who… is a series of twenty-nine mystery novels and three related collections. They feature a former crime reporter named Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Kao K’o-Kung (Koko for short) and Yum Yum. Koko has a “sixth sense” which enables him to assist Qwill in solving mysteries.

Miss Cuddlywumps Investigates by Roby Sweet

 As I get to meet so many fictional felines it’s hard not to fall in love with each and every one of them, yet none has stolen my heart the way Miss Cuddlywumps has. She’s adorable, she’s hysterical, and she’s brilliant. “Miss C” moves in with editor Rory Roberts following the death of her previous owner, Professor Eleanor, who she’d lived with since kittenhood. They were constant companions, spending their time together grading papers and reading mysteries late into the night. With Rory she fears her brain will soon turn into mush, but thankfully Rory is a magnet for murder and Miss C is able to use her keen insight and observations about the world around her (not to mention her knowledge of classical mythology) to help solve the crimes they keep managing to get tangled up in.

The Mysteries of Max by Nic Saint

 Max, Harriet and Dooley, a feline version of the Three Musketeers, have pretty sweet lives with their humans (a grandmother, mother and daughter who can all communicate with them). No one understands how local reporter Odelia Poole gets the scoop on local happenings long before anyone else, not knowing that her sources have fur and four legs. Then a controversial cop moves to town and with him comes Brutus, a black cat in need of an attitude adjustment. Brutus causes trouble wherever he goes and steals Persian Harriet’s heart in the process. Their little worlds are turned upside down, plus there’s murder around every turn. What ensues is a mini soap opera starring cats!

A Cat in the Stacks Mystery Series by Miranda James

 This long-running series features librarian Charlie Harris and his Maine Coon cat Diesel. Unlike many cat cozies, Charlie and Diesel aren’t a crime-solving team. Diesel has no special powers that enable him to help solve the mystery. He’s simply Charlie’s best friend and companion with kitty quirks that we all witness in our own beloved pets…and that’s exactly what makes their relationship (and this series) so special.

This list is just a small sampling of all the amazing cat cozies on bookshelves today. Other favorites of mine include the Bookmobile Cat series by Laurie Cass, the Cat Café series by Liz Mugavero, the Sunny & Shadow mysteries by Claire Donally, the Second Chance Cat series by Sofie Ryan, and the Magical Cats series by Sofie Kelly.

A quick Amazon search will uncover not only enough books to curl up with this fall, but throughout the long winter ahead as well!

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These 8 Cats Have a Nicer Bed Than You

October 5, 2018

For us humans, a great bed can be hard to find. It’s a giant hassle to shop for a mattress, drop hundreds of dollars, haul the thing up your stairs, and sleep on it only to toss and turn all night. The idea of trading it in for a better model seems like more trouble than it’s worth, so we stick with our pokey, squishy, or rock hard beds for longer than we should. Our cats, on the other hand, have the best sleeping quarters money can buy.

Cat beds come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and comfort levels. Some models even have flaps for our fluffy friends to hide beneath. Other beds are designed to look like sharks or tree stumps. Of course, we can’t forget cat teepees. A teepee adds a beautiful visual element to your kitty’s sleeping area and helps her feel extra secure while she snoozes the night (and day) away. We can’t forget to mention cat beds that hang from the window. They can be perfectly positioned so your kitty can watch the birds in premium comfort.

There’s no doubt about it, these eight cats have nicer beds than you.

Does your bed have an unobstructed view of the backyard? Didn’t think so.


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This lucky feline has his own mid-century MEOWdern home.


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Would you choose top bunk or bottom bunk?


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You might get to eat fruit tarts, but this kitty gets to sleep in one.


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This cat bed looks like the coziest and safest place to nap.


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That’s memory foam, isn’t it?


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Haven’t you always dreamed of sleeping in a hamburger bun?


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This leopard print cat teepee is ultra chic and we’re very jealous.


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If your cat is like most, she sleeps wherever seems most comfortable in the moment. Usually, that’s not the place you’ve designated her to sleep, regardless of how luscious and comfortable her cat bed is. So the question begs, does your feline friend even need a bed? For one, cat beds help keep cat fur off your furniture. Plus, it’s totally heartwarming to see your pet curled up in her own special snoozing spot. For tips on selecting the right cat bed, read our article on “Does Your Kitty Need a Cat Bed?

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Can My Pet Breathe Under the Covers?

By Julia Williams

I can always tell when autumn has officially arrived, not by looking at my calendar or the colorful tree leaves, nor by the distinct chill in the air that has me searching for my favorite fleece hoodie. My foolproof method for concluding that fall is here involves simply noticing the changing behaviors of my two cats.

My boy cat, Rocky, rediscovers his cat bed that sits forlorn and lonely all summer long. He doesn’t give that cat bed a second glance in warmer weather, but when autumn rolls around it’s suddenly his new favorite place for a nap.

My girl cat, Annabelle, also lets me know fall is here by beginning to burrow under the bedcovers. As with Rocky and his cat bed aversion, Annabelle doesn’t get under the covers when the weather is warm. This behavior is strictly a fall and winter thing.

It cracks me up to walk into the bedroom and see this small, round cat-shaped “lump” at the foot of the bed under the covers. She will be under there for hours! Likewise, when I go to bed she comes in shortly after and meows until I lift the covers for her to crawl under them. (Now, she obviously can get under the covers by herself because she does it all the time, so why she needs me to lift them for her at night is anybody’s guess).

Although I find Annabelle’s under the cover antics endearing, I would have to give up my World’s Best Cat Mom mug if I didn’t wonder if it was safe for her. Could she suffocate under there? Or is there some other potential health risk? I didn’t know, so I did what any good pet parent would do – first I asked my vet for her opinion, and then I trolled Google to see what others had to say about it.

As it happens, I’m not the only one whose cat or dog likes to burrow under the bedcovers, nor am I the only one who was concerned about the safety of this behavior. Here’s what I found out.

Why Do They Do It?

Pets are individuals with unique quirks. Some cats and dogs love to burrow under the covers, and some don’t. Some might do it once in awhile on particularly chilly nights when they’re just seeking a little extra warmth, and some will be under there all the time no matter what the weather is like. Sometimes a pet will get under the covers because they want to sleep someplace where will be undisturbed – it’s warm and dark there, and the covers help to muffle noise.

Some pets might burrow because being under the covers gives them a feeling of safety and security, akin to retreating to the inner sanctum of their den. The pressure and being surrounded by the blanket might also calm a nervous dog or cat, much like those Thundershirts do.

Smaller dog breeds tend to burrow under the covers more than larger breeds, as do Dachshunds and terriers who were bred to “go to ground” after burrowing prey. Huskies may also like to sleep under the covers since instinct tells them to burrow under snow to stay warm. Hairless cat breeds such as the Sphynx might get cold sleeping out in the open. That being said, virtually any breed of dog or cat might take a liking to sleeping under the covers.

But Is It Safe?

Ah…so now we come to the $64,000 question! I say that because the answer really depends upon who you ask. When I asked my vet if I needed to worry about Annabelle sleeping under the covers, she didn’t feel it was a problem. She said if my cat was under the covers and felt that it was too restrictive or that she couldn’t breathe, she would just get out. She said it was unlikely that an adult cat or dog could experience oxygen deprivation or suffocate, but that owners should be cautious about letting a young puppy or tiny kitten sleep under the covers because they might not have the strength to get out if they became trapped.

The general consensus among pet owners online was that it was safe, and many stated that their cat or dog had been sleeping under the covers for years with no ill effects. They reasoned that it’s not really an airtight environment under the covers and there is still some airflow and oxygen even if it’s less than being out in the open. I tend to agree, and my cat has also slept under the covers for at least a decade. She seems to be able to breathe just fine under there, and I trust my vet’s opinion that if she couldn’t breathe or was uncomfortable, then she would just get out, or not get under the covers in the first place.

However…I read another article that was written by a supposed vet (I say supposed because when it comes to the internet, people can call themselves anything they like but it may not necessarily be the truth) and they felt that it was “unhealthy for an animal to keep breathing the same air in a limited space for any length of time.”

I think the bottom line is this – each of us is responsible for the health and safety of our own pets, and anyone who is concerned that their cat or dog will suffocate or suffer ill effects from sleeping under the covers, should do what needs to be done to prevent them from engaging in this behavior.

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