10 People Foods for Cats

Banquet for the animalsMy Seren-Kitty never met a meal she didn’t like—including my own. Once she even decided to taste the hot mustard dip from my plate. Have you ever seen a cat LEVITATE?! Kitty foaming at the mouth is no laughing matter <snort> except the little squirt came back for seconds!

In the past year, I’ve created a monster because at age 18, I figure Seren should get to eat ANYTHING she wants. So now she believes it’s cool to graze from my plate. And then Karma-Kat thinks HE should do the same. Yikes! (BAD Amy…)

The first week we had Karma, he conducted a snatch-and-grab, swiped a kabob from my husband’s plate and took off with it. (10 second rule…hubby chased him down and “rescued” the kabob.) These days, the fur-kids aren’t allowed in the kitchen until AFTER we’ve finished our meal. And yes…they still get the occasional healthy treat from the table.

The key, of course, is that word “healthy.”

CatShrimp_1300524_originalWe love to indulge our kitties but people food can carry risks. Fortunately our cats appear less likely than dogs to taste-test toxic treats like chocolate, macadamia nuts, avocados, or raisons/grapes. Artificial sweeteners keep owners lean but any goodies sweetened with Xylitol could cause kitty liver failure. Thank goodness cats don’t easily detect or care about sweet flavors. Instead, their kitty taste buds are attuned to “meaty” flavors. Makes sense, knowing they’re carnivores. But that doesn’t mean they don’t at times want to nosh non-meat treats.

Sphinx cat eating chickenSeren manages to keep her svelt 6-pound figure even when the aroma of baking and roasting turns her purrs to begging. Responsible pet parents can offer healthy choices from the table. In fact, many holistic veterinarians recommend these foods as a natural way to treat your feline friend.

Cat licked over the fish. In the kitchen.

Treats typically shouldn’t make up more than about 10 percent of the pet’s total diet. So if you plan to offer table food, reduce the cat’s regular ration. Tiny amounts offered very gradually work best to avoid upset tummies. Here’s my go-to list of people foods for cats.

  1. Lean Meats. Lean chicken is a feline favorite. A hunk of firm beef means your cat must chew rather than gulp, which can scrub teeth for dental health. Turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sleep aid that works to calm excited pets during holiday visits.
  2. Fish. Many cats adore fish. Salmon, shrimp and oysters may be a holiday favorite for both humans and pets. Seren has never liked shrimp–that’s more for me! But both Karma and Seren can’t get enough of fish, especially salmon. Be careful of tuna (offer only the water-packed variety) because the strong flavor can almost be addictive.
  3. Organ meats. Don’t toss out the giblets when you roast your holiday bird. Heart, liver and gizzards are power-packed with vitamins and minerals that cats relish.
  4. Green garnish. Cats are carnivores but often enjoy grazing on such things as fresh wheat grass and catnip. A few enjoy green beans—but hold the too-rich mushroom sauce. Serving olives? Your cat may not eat them, but many felines react to olives like catnip. Offer some parsley for greens munching felines—it will also freshen kitty breath. Seren loves wheat grass.
  5. Stew. Leftover turkey soup cooked with spinach, green beans, mushrooms and slivers of beets (for liver health) makes a great treat and top dressing for regular food. A bit of garlic for flavor is fine, too, as it contains vitamin B—just don’t overdo as too much of onion or garlic can cause anemia. At our house, we eat a lot of stew-type dishes as a side to Iranian rice, and all the fur-kids love a spoonful of the broth.
  6. Sweet potatoes. High fiber sweet potato soothes upset tummies, and can be a tasty treat for cats. Cats don’t have much of a sweet tooth, though, so hold the sugary marshmallow—that’s not healthy for them.
  7. Canned pumpkin. Cats seem to love pumpkin. The high fiber also works as a great natural remedy for hairballs, diarrhea or constipation. Use the canned (plain nonflavored) version, divide servings into ice cube trays and freeze—and thaw only the amount needed.
  8. Yogurt. You’d think milk would be on the treat list, but many cats develop diarrhea from more than a tiny taste. A better milk-based treat is plain unflavored yogurt. Yogurt also helps maintain the beneficial bacteria in the stomach that keeps digestion healthy. Karma could care less but Seren ADORES plain yogurt. Whisker-licking good!
  9. Fruit. Not all cats like fruit but those that do can benefit from the vitamins. Kitties often enjoy cantaloupe and strawberries or bananas. Most cats HATE the smell of citrus and you’ll risk hissing the cat off by offering such things.
  10. Ginger. Ginger is a natural remedy that counters nausea, in case Kitty has car sick problems from the trip to Grandma’s house. But most cats won’t be interested in gingerbread or ginger cookies. Try offering a tiny taste of no-sugar whipped cream mixed with ginger as a special treat that soothes the tummy troubles. Every time I fix whipped cream, both cats (and the Magical-Dawg) line up to lick any errant splatters.

Every cat has different tastes—and nutritional needs. Be sure to ask your veterinarian before “treating” your fur-kids. Some cats doing extraordinarily well with home prepared foods or even “raw” rations, but any change requires knowledge and a slow transition. Remember you wouldn’t allow your human kid to munch exclusively on rich desserts or gravy, so balance your table-love with healthy moderation.

What table foods do your cats love? Do they counter-surf and serve themselves from the human smorgasbord? How do you foil the refrigerator raiders? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Name That Dog & Name That Cat: WINNERS!

Show_Tell(1)I am absolutely blown away both by the wonderful name suggestions and the enthusiastic voting for the pet stars of SHOW AND TELL. Arrrooo!!! and meee-WOW! Some names were hotly contested, with y’all rallying the troupes to vote.

SHOW AND TELL:  An animal behaviorist and her service dog race a deadly storm to expose a treacherous secret others will kill to protect. The story once again takes place in the fictional town of Heartland, Texas. When September Day figures out missing pets aren’t lost, but instead stolen to be training bait for dog fights linked to a drug distribution ring, she has 24 hours to save the victims (furry and human). For those who have read the first two books, you’ll be pleased that SHOW AND TELL brings the story full circle. (Okay, that’s enough of a hint!).

The winning names not only will be included in the book, but your name and real pet’s description will be added to the “fact or fiction” acknowledgements in the book, and I’ll send you a paw-tographed copy of the book as soon as it comes out. I would also like the WINNERS named below to please email me (amy@shojai.com) 1-3 photos of your named pet for possible use in future blogs/publicity about the book.

Because of the incredible interest, and I wanted to acknowledge your effort, I’ve included the names of the runners-up in the contest, too. BRAVO! And…here’s a teaser. All the runners-up will get a prize, too–not sure what just yet, but because it’s still percolating, but will have something to do with the book promo so you can share bragging rights with your peeps. Stay tuned!

The Name That Dog/Cat: VOTE post garnered a total of 7456 pages views. The combined votes of the 6 polls totaled 16,930 votes.

. . . AND THE RESULTS ARE IN! . . .

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Dog and cat images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

NAME THAT “DROOLER” MASTIFF, total of 987 votes

WINNER: HERCULES (419 votes) Nominated by Patricia H.

Runners-Up: Thor, nominated by Vicki in honor of her Bouvier

kitten jumping isolated on white background

NAME THAT SMALL CAT, total of 1494 votes

WINNER: WAFFLES (510 votes) Nominated by Debbie Glovatsky

Runners-Up: Lucy, nominated by Robbi Hess; and Truffle, nominated by Paula/Sweet Purrfections

LadderCatKitten_42359535_l-2015NAME THAT TARZAN CAT, total of 2192 votes

WINNER: BORIS KITTY (763 votes) nominated by his-own-self (with help from Kelly)

Runners-Up: Caster, nominated by Emily Hall/Kitty Cat Chronicles

Playful little kitty isolated over white

NAME THAT KITTEN, total of 2,954 votes

WINNER: FUZZIT, aka Anubis (1688 votes) nominated by Karyl Cunningham

Runners-Up: Einstein, nominated by Elaine Dalke

Yorkshire terrierNAME THAT DIGGIDY-DOG, total of 4,111 votes

WINNER: KINSLER (2,134 votes) nominated by Theresa Littlefield

Runners-Up: Freckles, nominated by Karyl Cunningham

Brown and white Pit Bull dog sitting and looking at the camera with a happy expressionA friendly and obedient black and white Pit Bull breed dog laying down

NAME THAT HAWG DAWG, total of 4,592 votes

WINNER: TEDDY nominated by Lynette George, and DOT nominated by Kristi Brashier (1,850 votes)

Runners-Up: Buster & Bo, nominated by Una Bell Townsend

Thank you so much for lending your pet’s name to the contest–and congratulations! I can’t wait to add in these great names and descriptions and personalities into the storyline.

Now go tell all your friends and thank ’em for their votes! Hope this news gave your JULY 4th an extra SPARKLER-Y reason to celebrate!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

11 Ways to Fix Fireworks Fears & Thunder Phobias

Scared cats and dogs lose their homes each year due to fireworks fears. Images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

I’ve written about dogs fireworks fears and thunder phobias before, but cats are not immune. Felines also may turn into scaredy cats especially during 4th of July celebrations. If we’re lucky, the shakes and trembles only last a short time, but all too often these terrified pets lose their homes.

Up to 20 percent of dogs suffer from noise phobias like unexpected storms, but with 4th of July fireworks celebrations, owners can predict events and take steps to sooth upset doggy feelings. According to PetHub, July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters across the US because dogs and cats become terrified and run away–and very few find their way home.

The ASPCA offers a free mobile ap to help find lost pets, check it out here. It includes a digital lost pet kit that walks you through finding your missing fur kid. They also provided this neato infographic to help us keep in mind some of the major summer pet dangers, including pet heat stroke and car dangers.

5-Summer-Dangers-ASPCAI’ve got my furry wonders microchipped, and they wear tags on their collars. But in order to be found, the pet has to be willing to come to a stranger–Magic wouldn’t do it. Karma-Kat might, but Seren would rather eat dirt.

Terrified pets don’t think. That part of the brain shuts off during panic, and cats may dash through doors or scale fences. Frantic pups pull down window blinds, collide with screen doors or crash through windows, while others simply shiver and moan.

nice outdoor dog is resting at his place

Dogs frightened may not know how to find their way home.

Solving Thunder and Fireworks Fears

Behaviorists recommend dogs be counter-conditioned to the scary noises like thunder by exposing the fearful dog to recorded sounds of the scary noise played at a very low volume, and rewarding him for staying calm. Gradually, you increase the noise level, to help the pup “get used” to the noise–desensitize him–so he can learn to tolerate it.

Densitization programs are not particularly realistic for most pet people, though, because desensitization programs can take weeks and sometimes months to work. Pets suffering from storm phobias also may react to the sounds of rain. Even the sensation of humidity or barometric pressure can trigger behavior problems, and you can’t do much to control humidity or barometric pressure. Use these 11 tips to dial down the noisy fear factor.

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11 Tips for Soothing Scary Noises

  1. Fearful cats and dogs may instinctively look for tight-fitting cave-like places to hide. They often squeeze between furniture and the wall, and dogs try to hide their eyes in your armpit. This applies a comfortable “hug” pressure sensation that seems to calm them, so let your pet seek his own shelter. If kitty dives under the bed, leave her alone. Shut the door and be grateful she’s not outside running for the next county!
  2. Avoid offering sympathy. Coddling your pup when he’s fearful can reward the behavior. Instead of saying, “poor baby are you scared?” use a matter of fact tone, “wow, that was a loud noise and made me jump, too–but we aren’t scared.”
  3. Dress ’em up. Some puppies benefit from the Storm Defender Capereduces static electricity that prompts some behavior problems. Another option is the The Anxiety Wrapthat applies even pressure to the dog’s body and helps him better manage his stress. A similar product for both cats and dogs that applies pressure is the Thundershirt Jacket for Anxiety. In addition, the Calming Capseems to help some pups through stressful, anxious situations by hiding their eyes. A new product called The Rein Coatcombines a harness, rain-shedding properties and calming relief for anxiety, fear and aggression and fits dogs (and cats) from 5 pounds to 250 pounds. Because each Rein Coat is custom fitted, it’s a bit pricier than other options. (Note: links go to amazon affiliate products.)
  4. Avoid giving your dog or cat a sedative, because it won’t reduce his fear. He just won’t be able to do anything about it, which can make his anxiety even worse. Your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication based on your individual pup’s needs.
  5. Ear plugs that mask the sound may also help. My veterinarian Dr. John Brakebill once told me that when a client’s dog went crazy after they moved near a gun range, the phobia calmed during treatment for an ear infection because the thick ointment muffled the sound. He suggests cotton balls or ear plugs as a temporary solution to help muffle the noise. Ask your vet to show you how to safely place anything in the dog’s ears, though, so you don’t damage the pup’s hearing and plugs are easily removed after the upsetting sounds subside. I wouldn’t attempt this with cats, though.
  6. A natural supplement of melatonin may help–a substance similar to a chemical produced in the brain that helps regulate sleep. Melatonin helps reduce the panic attacks in noise-phobic dogs, but it won’t sedate the pup. Melatonin lasts several hours and may be cumulative over several days so you can plan ahead for known scary events like 4th of July. Melatonin can be found in health food stores, pharmacies, and some supermarkets. Always check with your veterinarian for the proper dosage for your size and breed of dog.
  7. Another option includes Comfort Zone with DAP (dog appeasing pheromone). The product is an analogue of the pheromone mom-dogs produce to calm nursing puppies that signal him “don’t worry, there’s nothing to fear.” Pheromones are chemical substances made by the animal’s body that act as a form of communication that, when inhaled by your dog, talks directly to his brain. It calms the fears of dogs of any age. D.A.P. plug-in, sprays, and infused collars are available at pet products stores. It helps a dog put a damper on fear long enough to “think” so that your behavior modification/training techniques can work. You’ll need to have the D.A.P. plugged in for several days in advance for it to offer your dog the best benefits. So when the weather report indicates storms or fireworks displays are in the offing, be prepared. The infused collar works more immediately. The spray can be used every one to two hours on bedding or a bandanna the dog wears.
  8. Dogs can’t panic when using their brain for something else such as “work” so give your dog a job to do just before and during the thunder and lightning display. Drill him on obedience commands and special tricks, or ask him to play fetch and carry around a favorite toy. That engages his brain into productive activity rather than thinking about the scary noises.
  9. Try offering your cats some catnip to help take their mind off the scary noises.
  10. Giving your pet treats and positive rewards for remaining calm also reinforces the benefits of controlling his emotions. Each time the wind blows, or thunder booms, try saying, “Wow, what fun!” to jolly him along and show there’s no reason to fear, and then give a treat. When Magic was a baby, I threw him a party with each thunder BOOM! so he began to associate the sound with good stuff.
  11. Turn a radio to static to create white noise that muffles scary noises. Certain types of music can prove calming, too, by “entraining” the pet’s heart, respiration and brain waves to slow down and match the soothing rhythm. Harp music can be especially calming.

Do your dogs — or cats — become terrified over fireworks or storms? How do you manage the problem? What has worked for your pets? I hope you’ve never lost a dog or cat but if you have, what steps did you use to be reunited? Please share–it could save somebody else heartache.

NAME THAT DOG/NAME THAT CAT

POLLS CLOSE AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT!

VOTE HERE!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Heatstroke, Hot Dogs & Cool Cats: How to Keep Pets Safe with First Aid

A funny image of a thirsty Boxer crossbreed with a very long tongue sticking out

Dogs pant to cool off. All images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Fun in the sun can quickly turn to tragedy if pet owners don’t take precautions to prevent cat and dog heatstroke. Pet heatstroke is common because cats and dogs can’t effectively keep cool in hot summer weather.

Cats and dogs can’t sweat to cool off. For hot dogs, normal panting provides a rapid exchange of cool outside air, and evaporation off the tongue keeps dog temperature normal.

Cats typically don’t pant–they lick and groom themselves and the evaporation off of their fur helps keep them cool. If you see your kitty panting in hot weather, that’s a danger sign that your cool cat is too darn hot!

Beautiful Persian cat with white fur and gree-blue eyes

Brachycephalic breeds like Persians and Pugs have a harder time cooling off because of shortened airways that interfere with effective panting.

Some breeds are more at risk. Dogs and cats with smooshed in faces like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Persians have a harder time cooling off even with panting. And when the outside air is the same or greater than pet’s normal body temperature  of 101 to 102.5 degrees, deadly heat stroke develops.

Cars and Heat Stroke

Cars become deathtraps in even relatively mild temperatures. On a 78-degree day, a shaded car reaches temperatures of 90 degrees but if parked in the sun, it will reach 160 degrees in minutes.

Leaving the car and air conditioning running is no guarantee of safety. Even extra protection can fail. On July 16, 2003, a Kansas City paper reported that K-9 Officer “Hondo,” a German shepherd dog, died of heatstroke after being left in the still-running air-conditioned police cruiser. The safety system, called a “Hotdog System” designed to protect K-9 officers failed to turn on the sirens, open the windows and turn on the fan when temperatures inside the cruiser reached dangerous levels.

Today, one of the most modern available for police dog safety is the computerized Hot-N-Pop system able to sense when the interior of the vehicle has become too hot for the K9 officer. When that happens, the system automatically rolls down the rear windows (windows have metal screens to prevent the dog from jumping out) and activates large window fans that bring in fresh air to help cool the dog. The Hot-N-Pop also activates the car’s emergency lights and horn, as well as sending a signal to a pager worn by the canine handler.

Dog sticking his head out of a car window

Open windows probably won’t significantly reduce the heat for your dog–it can still be a deathtrap!

Of course, most pet parents don’t have a Hot-N-Pop system. So what do you do if you see a pet closed up in a car? I know the first impulse is to break the glass yourself, but you may not have the ability or resources to do that. Use your phone–call animal control or dial 911. These folks have the authority not only to enter someone’s car, but also offer life saving first aid. Also, go inside the nearest business–often a post office or grocery–and get the folks there to announce over the intercom for the pet’s person to get back to the car ASAP. Then stay with the care until you confirm that help has arrived.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Symptoms of mild heatstroke are body temperature of 104 to 106 degrees, bright red tongue and gums, thick sticky saliva, and rapid panting. When body temperatures go above 106 degrees, the pet’s gums become pale, he acts dizzy, bleeds from the nose or has bloody vomiting and diarrhea, and ultimately becomes comatose. These pets can develop disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) where the red blood cells blow up and can’t carry oxygen.

DogIceBagThermometerHot_41710243_originalPet First Aid for Heat Stroke

Getting the temperature down to 104 degrees or less is more important than rushing the pet to the emergency clinic—but severe cases DO need veterinary attention once you give first-aid. Rectal thermometers usually only register as high as 108 degrees and pets with severe heatstroke may have a body temperature that goes off the end and reaches 110 or higher.

For mild heatstroke, bring your puppy into an air-conditioned space and turn on a fan, so the outside temperature is lower than his body temperature and panting can work. Offer ice cubes to lick, or cold Gatorade or Pedialyte or water to drink, and wrap him in cold wet towels.

For severe heatstroke, soak the pet with cold water from the hose, or in the tub or sink. Place ice packs (bags of frozen peas work well) in his “armpit” and groin region where there are major blood vessels. The cold will chill the blood, and as it circulates, will cool the whole body from the inside.

Pets with temperatures at or above 107 degrees need a cold-water enema for even quicker cooling. Use a turkey baster or a contact lens solution bottle filled with ice water if you don’t have an enema bag. Grease the tip with petroleum jelly, K-Y or vegetable oil and insert the tip into the rectum and squeeze gently to fill the cavity with fluid. Once his temperature drops to 104, wrap him up in a towel and get him to the emergency room.

It’s even better to prevent heatstroke in pets by providing shade and lots of cool water, or simply keeping pets inside. NEVER leave pets unattended in cars—that’s just asking for disaster. The ASPCA urges everyone to take the PLEDGE to Save Pet Lives this summer.

Have you ever seen dogs or cats left in hot cars? What did you do? How do you keep your fur-kids cool and safe during summer? Are there fav hot-weather-games they enjoy? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–click the banner, above. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!

#FoodShelterLove Celebrates Adopt A Shelter Cat Month

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“Please take meowwweeeeee HOME!” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program, but BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Spring has sprung, and the birds and bees (and other critters) celebrate this time of year in typical creative fashion, with a bumper crop in animal shelters of needy adult cats and adoptable kittens. June is the purr-fect time to celebrate national Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, and Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program helps shelters give these furry waifs a great start in life.

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Image courtesy of Hill’s Pet Care

Since 2002, the Hill’s® Food, Shelter & Love® program has donated over $280 million worth of Science Diet brand foods to nearly 1,000 animal shelters, helping over 8 million pets find a new home…and counting. Healthy pets are more adoptable pets and all pets deserve proper, balanced nutrition. The Program also provides a free bag of Science Diet® pet food or a $5 off coupon to the pet parent for each adoption to further ensure a smooth and easy transition for pets to their new
home.

Kitten & Cat Adoption–How to Choose?

Boy or girl? Fluffy longhaired or short-and-svelte coat? Does color matter? What about age? Today there are cats available to suit every taste and circumstance. For a lifetime of love, use both your head and your heart to do some kitty match-making so your lifestyle fits the cat of your dreams, and vice versa.

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Even siblings can look very different, and include longhair, shorthair, and a variety of color coats and patterns. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

It’s kitten season, and nothing beats a kitten for cute-icity! There’s no doubt you’ll find your pick of the kitty litters right now. These pictures were taken at a local kitten adoption event, and there were FIVE TIMES the number of furry waifs you see here.

Kittens and cats often choose us. Rather than picking the “prettiest” baby, try this: Sit on the floor quietly in the adoption room, and let the kittens come to you. Roll a wad of paper to see which one pounces (or hides). You want the Christopher Columbus Kitten eager to explore new things–s/he will be healthier and less prone to stress compared to a Shrinking Violet kitten. And of course, get a vet check asap–you want to see bright clean eyes, clean fur, ears and bottom, and playful energy.

While kittens can be non-stop fun, they’re also works-in-progress–and you cannot accurately predict adult temperament. Most kittens love to lap-sit, but many outgrow this behavior. So if you want a lifelong feline lap-snuggler, choose an adult cat with an established personality so you know what you’re getting. You’ll already know that the cat likes or dislikes dogs, other cats, children, lap-sitting, and playing.

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Many shelters offer a discount for adopting pairs of kittens. Instant friendship! and they’ll target each other instead of your ankles, win-win for everyone! Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Short fur sheds just as much as the long fluffy kind, but won’t tangle or require as much care on your part. Those longhaired beauties like Persians need combing every single day.

All kinds of speculation abounds regarding behaviors associated with coat color or pattern. None of it has been proven one way or another. However, it is a cat “rule” that dark fur lands on light-colored clothing while light fur magnetically attaches to dark trousers. When a cat has both light and dark fur, like my Seren, owners learn to live with hair and consider it a condiment.

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Be prepared for cats to act different once you bring them home. Give shy kitties time to adjust. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Boy cats tend to grow bigger than girl cats, but as long as they’re spayed or neutered (you’ll want to do this!), the behaviors tend to be similar. Intact males want to baptize everything with sprays of urine, and intact girl cats bring more furry babies into this world after yowling and pestering owners to death.

KarmaHome

Sure, the youngest kittens may have cute-appeal, but don’t overlook older kittens or even adults. This is Karma, a few days after he arrived–at 8 months old, he probably wouldn’t have been chosen if at a shelter, since he was “so old.” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Age matters. While space concerns force shelters to adopt out kittens as early as possible, a cat will have far fewer behavior problems if he stays with mom-cat and siblings until at least twelve weeks old. If you adopt a kitten younger than this, you should either have a friendly adult cat in the house prepared to teach Junior how to be a proper cat–or you yourself must attempt to give these lessons. Cats learn from watching other cats how to groom themselves, use the litter box, scratch the right object, and inhibit clawing and biting during play. Humans fall short as teachers.

Lovely adult cats often get overlooked, but they’ve already learned these basic lessons and make outstanding pets. Due to the overload of animals, too many shelters have arbitrary age limits for euthanasia. Cats aged five and above may be euthanized automatically, even though they could be expected to provide a decade or more of companionship to a loving human owner.

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Seren was non-stop fun when she arrived at 4 months old. I never would have imagined we’d still have her–now at age 18! and these last 10 years have been the sweetest of all. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Older cats tend to be more sedate than kittens, and less inclined to climb curtains, attack toes, or conduct gravity experiments by knocking breakables off high spots. At the shelter, don’t expect adult cats to “sell themselves” the way a kitten would. Remember that they’ve likely just lost their home, are scared and sad, and wondering what they did to make a beloved human go away. They need people to take a second look.

Every Christmas, I received emails and phone cals from folks looking for holiday kittens–at a time of year when furry babies are scarce. Now’s the time to look since a bumper crop abounds and you’ll be saving a life by adopting a cat.

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“Happily ever after….” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

You don’t need to wait for Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month. Wonderful candidates of all shapes, ages, and sizes wait for you at area shelters all year long. Nineteen years ago, my cat Seren showed up on a friend’s back porch, and purred her way into my heart. And a year ago, Karma-Kat decided to adopt our Magical-Dawg when he tried to dig his way through the patio window. May you be as lucky as my family to find the cat (or three) of your dreams!

FoodShelterLover

Image courtesy of Hill’s Pet Care

Does your shelter work with the Food, Shelter & Love Program? Use this link to find a shelter partner in your area!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me onFacebook, and get a FREE BOOK when you sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!