St. Patricks Day, Cats & Dogs: Playing Green

St Patricks Day Puppies and Kittens

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Even though my pets are not of the Irish purr-suasion, they’ve got into the holiday fun.

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Magic is ROCKIN’ his green tie. Image copr Amy Shojai, CABC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seren’s not interested in green, unless it involves treats. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

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Even Karma’s tag is green! Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

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“Green, schmean, just THROW THE BALL!” Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

How do your pets celebrate the day? Green toys? I think later today the kitties will vote for some extra-green ‘nip!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick 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!

10 Kitten Adoption Do’s & Don’ts

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Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

It’s kitten season! Is a new fur-kid in your future? You’d think kitten care would be easy–just love ‘em and feed ‘em and listen to ‘em purr, right? But more goes into proper care than plopping food in a bowl and setting up a litter box.

Kittens adopted too early often bite and claw more than those who have been kitty-corrected by Mom and siblings. They also may be fearful or less tolerant of other cats, because they don’t understand all the proper feline etiquette of the social structure.

WHAT IS KITTEN SOCIALIZATION?

Dog people know about socialization of puppies, but kittens also benefit from socialization–except it comes WAY EARLIER in cat babies. The prime kitten socialization period falls between 2-7 weeks (yikes!) which means rescuers, shelter personnel and breeders are vital to the future well being of cats and how they look at their world. Socialization teaches kittens that people (and other cats, dogs, VETERINARIANS, carriers, cars, etc) are safe, positive normal parts of their lives, and also teaches what should be feared.

Proper socialization not only includes interaction with other cats, but positive handling by people during this critical period. That ensures the baby is well adjusted, confident, and emotionally healthy. I’ve got all the kitten must-knows in my COMPLETE KITTEN CARE, but you don’t need the book to get started. Before you adopt, review these 10 do’s and don’ts to ensure your kitten love lasts a lifetime.

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Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

10 DO’s & DON’Ts OF KITTEN ADOPTION

1. Don’t adopt too early. Kittens adopted too young bite and claw more than those corrected by Mom and siblings. They also may be fearful or less tolerant of other cats because they don’t understand proper feline etiquette. Cat babies should stay with siblings and Mom for at least 12 to 16 weeks. That’s not always possible, though, and if you find yourself in that situation, it means you must be “cat-mom” and teach Junior claw, potty and other manners. It can help enormously to adopt two kittens at once, so they teach each other bite limits and target each other in play instead of your ankles.

2. Do see a vet ASAP. Kittens seem indestructible but get sick easily. A vet’s early diagnosis improves the chances of a speedy recovery. Screening tests and preventive care — vaccinations, flea prevention, worm medications — save lives and ensure your kitten grows to healthy adulthood.

3. Don’t bathe a kitten until it is at least 4 weeks old (12 to 16 weeks is better). Very young kittens can’t regulate body temperature and can become chilled from a bath. When you do bathe the kitten, use only kitten-safe products — adult cat or dog products can be toxic. Introduce combs and brushes immediately to longhair kittens to prevent grooming problems later on.

4. Do get kittens fixed. Spaying and neutering prevents pregnancy, urine spraying and health issues such as breast cancer. Female kittens can get pregnant as early as 4 months old, so don’t delay. Many shelters and professional breeders spay or neuter kittens at 8 to 12 weeks old (or once they weigh 2 lbs.) because babies recover more quickly than older cats.

5. Don’t rush introductions. Tiny kittens get lost or find trouble if not confined to a kitten-safe room. Let the new baby get used to one room so he knows the location of his litter box, bed, scratch objects, food bowl and toys. When you can’t watch him, confine him in his safe room. Even healthy-looking kittens could be contagious and the vet may recommend quarantine for up to 30 days. Resident pets accept new ones more quickly when only part of the house has been “invaded.” They can meet with sniffs and paw pats under the door until it’s safe for a nose-to-nose greeting.

6. Do kitten-proof the house. Kittens explore with paw pats, licking and biting. Chomping or clawing electrical cords or poisonous plants, swallowing string toys or hiding inside the clothes dryer can be deadly. Invest in knee pads and crawl around on your hands and knees for a kitten’s-eye view of potential dangers.

7. Don’t feed kittens milk, as it can cause diarrhea. Queen-replacement milk is available, but most babies eat solid food by 4 weeks old. Tiny tummies can’t eat enough to sustain in one meal, so feed three or four small meals daily until the kitten is 6 months old and twice daily thereafter. Monitor your kitten for a healthy appetite.

8. Do train your kitten. Routinely handle her ears, paws and mouth so she learns it’s not scary from you or the veterinarian. Make carriers fun playpens by tossing toys inside or turn them into napping spots so she’ll accept being in the carrier for visits to the vet or grandma’s.

9. Don’t declaw. Instead, train from the beginning with lots of legal scratch objects. Catch her in the act of scratching the right objects and reward with praise, treats or toys. Start trimming claws when you first get your kitten — one nail a day with your own clippers is fine — so she knows this is normal. That way if she forgets claw-training, she won’t damage property or skin with blunt claws.

10. Don’t let kittens outside until they’ve received all preventive vaccinations, microchip identification and parasite treatments — and you have a safe outdoor sanctuary. It’s nearly impossible to kitten-proof the great outdoors. Instead, leash-train your kitten to keep her safe and/or make the indoors so interesting with toys, cat trees and your love that the kitten never misses going out.

(Bonus) 11. Do let the kitten pick YOU! My Facebook friend Eliyahu offered this great comment and gave me permission to add to the list: “Don’t pick out the kitten. Let it pick you. It’s easy to be attracted to the one you think is the cutest or the prettiest, but that may not be the right one for you. I’ve always gone to the shelter with a couple hours free time when getting a kitten or cat. Our shelter back in Washington had a big cat room with all the cats together. I’d sit in a chair and let the kittens come to me, then see how each interacted with me and which one wanted the most to be with me. Here, there isn’t a cat room, so I had the worker bring kittens one at a time and played with them. The prettiest one turned out to be skittish around people, another just sat in the corner and stared. Finally, about eight kittens later, she brought one in that walked up, sniffed at me, climbed up on my lap and made it clear to us that she’d chosen me to be her human. A year later, Cenerentola still spends much of her time climbing on my lap and shoulders or sleeping by my feet when she’s not playing with the other cat.

What else have I missed? Are there other DO’s and DON’Ts that are important to include when planning your new kitten’s gotcha day? Please share!

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All the Kitten Must-Knows!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick 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!

Won Ton & Chopstick–A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku

WonTonI rarely write book reviews on my blog, and even more rarely mention children’s books (so no…please don’t ask :) ). But today I must make an exception for a colleague and friend, because the books are just THAT GOOD!

A couple of years ago, I was sent a review copy of WON TON: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku when the book first launched in 2011. I don’t have kids (other than furry ones with four paws), but was so impressed I wrote a glowing 5-star review for cats.about.com–at the time I was the contributing writer for cat behavior topics. This book is a moving, powerful story of one cat’s adoption, told through the “voice” of a shelter cat. The gorgeous illustrations by Eugene Yelchin perfectly capture the cat’s perspective of shelter life, car ride to new home, and experiences adjusting to his adoptive family:

Nice place they got here.
Bed. Bowl. Blankie.
Just like home!
Or so I’ve been told.

Lee Wardlaw writes the text in senryu, a form of Japanese poetry similar to Haiku, which gives the cat’s tale a playful, poignant or humorous tone. The cat pretends not to care about being adopted, yet of course yearns for a forever home. Please, Boy, pick me. And once chosen and named Won Ton, the cautious cat must learn to trust enough to share his real name, and heart.

WonTonChopstickNow the SEQUEL will be published on sale March 17, 2015. I have been waiting for this–it’s a subject very close to my heart, and addresses introducing new pets to resident ones–in this case a new puppy to the cat. Y’all know that my own book ComPETability: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Cat-Dog Household offers some prescriptive advice to prevent or solve issues.

But this new delightful book is perfect for parents and kids. WON TON and CHOPSTICK, A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku offers the cat’s perspective when faced with a (hiss!) interloper.

Lee asked her publisher to send me an advanced reader’s edition and I will treasure this–it is everything I hoped and more. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book! Won Ton has a happy life with his boy, until. . .

Ears perk. Fur prickles.
Belly low, I creep . . . peek . . . FREEZE!
My eyes full of Doom.

Both of these lovely books belong in every cat lover’s library, especially when you have children. The first book WON TON humorously educates children to basic cat behaviors and emotions, teaches empathy, and celebrates the gift of saving a life, while offering a snapshot of a shelter cat’s journey from a cage to finally embracing his new life and family with trust and love.

The second book WON TON and CHOPSTICK continues the “tail” with glee, humor and gentle insight of how resident pets feel about new pets puthimoutputhimoutputhimout but how with care all can be respected and learn to accept each other….

I shall call you…Friend.

I would love to send these books home with every new pet adoption. I cannot recommend these books highly enough.

 

 


 

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–lick 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!

How to Crate Train Puppies & Kittens to Create #CrateHappyPets

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Find your crate expectations on sale in March at PetSmart! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

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Hard crate, wire crate, soft carrier…see the selection on sale in March at PetSmart! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

 

PETSMART-logoThis post is sponsored by PetSmart, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Containment Products and Education for your pet, but BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD BLOG only shares information I feel is relevant to my readers. PetSmart® is not responsible for the content of this article.

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Magic at 8 weeks old and 11 pounds. Can you see the “divider” in this crate making it puppy-size? Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

SQUEEE! It’s puppy & kitten season, and just in time for YOUR big adoption gotcha-day celebration, during March local PetSmart® stores will have crate, kennels, carriers, and accessories on sale. There are many kinds of crates and carriers, from soft sided to hard plastic to wire, and in a variety of shapes and sizes.

IS CRATE TRAINING CRUEL?

Why would you want to “cage” that new baby? The way Junior-Dawg howls and Kitty-Kins yowls you’d think they’re being hung up by their furry toes!

Actually, it’s not cruel, but without proper introduction, it can be a wee bit scary. In my Complete Kitten Care and Complete Puppy Care books, I call this LIBERATION TRAINING. Teaching your new pet to accept the kitty carrier or puppy crate is a pet safety issue, but also means they get a ticket to ride…and travel beyond the confines of your house and yard.

That doesn’t mean your new puppy or kitten automatically understands the concept, though, so this blog post not only explains the benefits of crate training to YOU, it also helps you purr-suade your kitten and convince your canine that the notion is a CRATE IDEA. (sorry, couldn’t resist…)

BENEFITS OF CARRIERS & CRATES

Most puppies and kittens–and even their adult counterparts–feel more secure in a small, enclosed den-like area. That’s not to say your new baby should be in the crate for outrageous lengths of time. A youngster should be gradually introduced to the crate or carrier and never left unattended longer than he’s able to “hold it” for potty training.

Prime Nap Spot. A crate works well as a bed. And when a pet claims the spot for naps, it’s no longer scary, but becomes a happy, familiar place he feels secure.

Private Retreat. Because it’s enclosed, the puppy crate or kitty carrier also serves as a safe retreat to get away from other pets or pestering children. Don’t you want a private place of your own where you won’t be bothered? Pets are no different.

Safe Confinement. A crate also can be the safest place to confine that rambunctious baby to keep him from pottying in the wrong spot or cat-climbing to dangerous heights when you can’t watch him.

Ideal Travel Buddy. All pets need to travel by car to the veterinarian from time to time. That’s a STRANGER DANGER moment especially for cats, so already feeling safe and comfy in a familiar carrier puts your kitten or puppy at ease at the vet.

Potty Training Tool. For pups, it’s one of the best tools available for potty training. They don’t want to mess where they sleep, so just turning it into a bed prompts Junior-Dawg to let you know when he needs a potty break. Here are more tips on puppy potty training.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CRATE

The perfect crate or carrier should be just large enough for a pet to go inside, turn around, and lie down to sleep. It can be a solid hard plastic container, wire mesh cage or soft-sided duffle-type carrier (for cats). While soft-sided pet carriers work great for transport, they may be too small and prove too tempting for chew-aholic pups to work well for safe confinement.

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Today, Magical-Dawg has grown into his jumbo-size wire crate. The door is always open…except when it’s not! Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Of course, puppies and kittens grow, so especially for larger dog breeds, take into account your pup’s future adult size before investing in a pricy dog crate. Large crates are available with partitions for you to “shrink” to puppy size, and then enlarge the area as your puppy matures. You can also purchase an adult-size crate, and insert a barrier like a plastic storage box that shrinks the space to puppy proportions until your pet grows to full size. That’s what I did with Magical-Dawg. He arrived at our house weighing about 11 pounds, and 8 years later he’s nearly 90 pounds. Today he doesn’t mind the crate at all, because it doubles as an enormous doggy toy box!

5 Tips to Crate Train Pets

The key to training pets to accept the carrier or crate is creating familiarity. You do that by introducing him to this new situation in a series of non-threatening, gradual steps.

Make It Familiar. While well-adjusted puppies and kittens tend to be curious, some tend toward shyness. Anything new prompts suspicion. So make the crate or carrier “part of the furniture” and set it out in the family room for your new pet to explore. Leave the door open or take it off, and let him sniff it inside and out. Don’t make a big deal out of it.

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Karma Kat decided on his own that sleeping among soft toys that smell like his best buddy Magic is a VERY-GOOD-THING! He also likes playing with lure-toys while inside. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

 

Make It A Happy Place. Place a snuggly kitty blanket or dog bed inside. Or you can toss a toy inside, to create positive experiences with the crate. For kittens, Ping Pong balls are great fun inside the hard crates. Karma actually LOVES hanging out inside Magic’s crate because of all the fuzzy toys. Both Karma-Kat and Seren-Kitty have smaller duffle-style carriers (set on top of Magic’s crate), and take turns sleeping in them–they’re out all the time, with doors open.

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Karma looks surprised but not too bothered by the door being shut. When he travels to the vet, we use a soft sided carrier. Image copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

Offer A Treat. For puppies, find a puzzle toy that can be stuffed with a smelly, tasty treat. This should be a treat your puppy loves, but he ONLY gets the treat when inside the crate. Show it to him, let him smell and taste the treat, and then toss it inside the crate and shut the door—with the puppy outside the crate and the treat on the inside. And after he’s begged to get inside, open the door and allow him to chew and enjoy it for five minutes but only with the door shut. Catnip can work well with cats, but youngsters won’t react until they’re 6 months old, so getting kitty tipsy only works for more mature cats.

Teach Him Tolerance. If your puppy fusses let him out—but lock the treat back inside. You’re teaching him that wonderful things can be found inside the crate. Most pups learn to tolerate the door shut at least as long as they have something to munch. Praise the dickens out of him! He should know that staying calmly inside the crate earns him good things. Do the same with your kitten, using healthy treats or fun toys like chase-the-flashlight beam, but only inside the crate. Repeat several times over the next few days, each time letting the kitten out after five minutes.

Extend Crate Time. By the end of the week, you can begin increasing the time the pet spends in the crate. For small pups and kittens, pick up the carrier while he’s in it and carry him around, and then let him out. Take him in the carrier out to the car, sit there and talk to him, then bring him back into the house and release him—don’t forget to offer the treat. Soon, you should be able to take him for car rides in his carrier, without him throwing a fit. He’ll learn that most times, the carrier means good things for him—and the vet visit isn’t the only association it has.

For older cats, it can take several weeks to teach crate acceptance. Check out this PAW-some video from Catalyst Council on how to help your cats accept carriers. You–and your cats–will be glad you did.

So now it’s your turn. How are you teaching Junior Dog and Killer-Diller-Kitten to accept their carriers or crates? What about older pets–are they already crate trained? What worked best for your furry wonders? Please share tips to help out other pet lovers in the comments section!


 

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 on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

BlogPaws Contest Nose-to-Nose Nominee for Best Written Blog!

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WOW! That’s all I can say at the moment. My blog FAKING IT: about scammers hurting legit service and emotional support animal services, has been nominated for a BlogPaws NOSE-TO-NOSE AWARD.

The other nominees are fantastic and include:

You can see a list of all the nominees here.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. 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 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!