How To Give Pets As Gifts

puppy with ribbon

Pictures courtesy of Deposit Photos

The professionals used to say that the holidays were a TERRIBLE time to get a new pet–that impulse adoptions could leave the cat or dog without a home after the cute-holiday-thrills wore off. More recently, though, the ASPCA conducted some surveys and discovered that when done properly, these adoptions can be lasting, loving adoptions. So I had to re-think my advice.

Holidays tend to be hectic times when normal routines go out the window. Whether a baby, adult or senior rescue cat or dog, new animals need the stability of knowing what to expect. In fact, some holiday schedules may allow you to be home more during this time to help the new kitty or pooch adjust.

Holiday pets take more work, true. But just think: you’re not only giving the pet to a person—you’re giving a special human to a waiting cat or dog, a fur-kid hungry for a loving, permanent home. Happy holidays, indeed!

Everyone who adores puppies and kittens wants to share the furry love affair but not everyone is ready to receive puppies as gifts. Maybe the recipient will appreciate your thoughtfulness. But don’t gamble with a pet’s life.

Sure, Grandma is lonely and needs a wagging lap-warmer to keep her company. But she may have other plans, such as visits to the grandkids. A puppy that eats Aunt Ethel’s hat collection will cost you favorite nephew status. A busy new parent may want a pup or kitten for their kids, but have other demands that take priority.

small cute kittenGiving Puppies and Kittens As Gifts

Before you put a bow around his neck, ask yourself these questions. Will the new owner have the time, ability, and funds to care for the dog or cat over the next 10 to 20 years? Is their space better suited for a Chihuahua, Persian or Great Dane? Do they already have a fenced yard? Will Uncle Jim’s knees keep up when hunting with that Pointer pup? Does your mom really want to chase Junior Cat off the mantel every day?

Children delight in pets as gifts but living things can’t be shoved under the bed and forgotten when the latest must-have-kid-gadget has more appeal. Remember—even if Fluffy is for the kids, the ADULT ultimately holds responsibility for the well-being of the pet. Will the child’s parents have the time to spend on one-on-one attention a new pet needs, and deserves? Be sure that the recipient truly wants and is ready for a puppy or kitten.

pet proof holidays to keep pets safe

Be sure to PET PROOF your decorations for the new baby!

I Want A Puppy/Kitten!

What if the kids, your spouse, Aunt Ethel, or a best friend have made it clear they want a furry wonder, are prepared for the responsibility, and feel ready RIGHT NOW for a furry loved one in their life? You’re sure, and so are they. What can you do?

The time, the place, the person, and the pet must be right for love to bloom into a lifetime commitment. The selection should be made by the person who will live with, care for, and hopefully fall in love with the baby for the next decade or more. You still want the recipient to make this important choice, so give them that gift. Here’s X tips for giving pets as gifts.

4 Steps for Giving Pets As Gifts

  • Plot With Professionals. Contact the professional breeder, shelter, and/or rescue organization and explain the situation. Ask them to conspire with you—arrange to pay a deposit, or fund the purchase FOR the recipient, with the puppy or kitten to be chosen later. Perhaps also pre-pay puppy clicker training classes for the new family member, or fund the cost of the kitten’s first veterinary visit.
  • Go Shopping. Create a “puppy or kitty care package” for the big day. Fill a puppy bed with treats, food, training and grooming equipment, and lots—lots!—of appropriate toys. Don’t forget to include a book or two about the pet’s breed, training or behavior tips, or other fun information.
  • Get Creative. Why not make a “gift certificate” that details this special surprise, and have that ready to present on the big day. Perhaps it could be packaged inside a pet carrier, or in an envelope attached to the collar of a stuffed St. Bernard or Siamese Cat toy.
  • Take Your Time. Holidays can be hectic when normal routines go out the window. New puppies and kittens–even newbie adult pets–need the stability of knowing what to expect. But you can “gift” with the certificate on the special day, and the recipient can choose the best time to bring the pet home. Hopefully you also have the fun of accompanying the person later, when they choose their own furry wonder.

When you do it right, gifting with a pet can be magic. You’re not only giving the pet to a person—you’re giving a special human to a waiting fur-kid.

Have you ever given–or received–a pet as a gift? How did you prepare? What was the result? Please share! I’d love to hear your experiences.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Why Tabby Wears An M–A Christmas #Cats Story

complete kitten careIt’s become a tradition on the blog (and in my PETiQuette newspaper column) to share my favorite Christmas cat story this time of the year. This touching legend, included in Complete Kitten Care book, tells the story of a simple Tabby cat, and her gift on the very first Christmas day to a special mother and child. My own special tabby boy honors this page–notice the “M” on Karma’s brow…Enjoy!

Please be safe if you’re traveling. May your holidays be blessed.

KarmaFace-M-Tabby

Why Tabby Wears An M: A Christmas Cat Story

There was no snow that night in Bethlehem. Instead, the small cat watched a star-spangled sky from her perch in the window of a stable. She liked the stable, for it was a warm safe place to raise her furry babies, and the innkeeper sometimes left scraps out for her to nibble. Tabby wasn’t particularly distinctive, and most humans didn’t look at her twice. After all, her short gray/black fur was quite common. But Tabby’s striped coat hid a heart bigger than cats twice her size.

This night, though, Tabby was out of sorts, for she’d not been able to hunt and catch dinner. Travelers had poured into town for days, so noisy they disturbed decent cat-folks’ rest. Why, they’d even invaded Tabby‟s quiet stable, a place she had before shared only with other furry creatures. Tabby hadn’t minded the human couple—they were calmer than most. She’d left that morning for her usual rounds, but when she returned, the stable was packed with people.

From her perch on the window, Tabby watched the last of the strangers leave. She slipped from the window, and padded silently inside—and froze!

“Meewwww, meewww, meewww,” cried a tiny voice.

A kitten? Tabby’s ears turn this way and that to find the sound of the kitten’s voice. It came from the manger, the very place Tabby often made her own bed. A woman knelt beside the manger, intent on the small mewling that arose from within. Tabby was drawn by the kittenish sound, though she knew her own furry babies were grown to cat-hood. She tiptoed forward very slowly, and passed by a wooly burro, a warm cow, and all the other animals.

The woman looked up, and saw the striped cat. “Oh, little cat,” she murmured, “my baby cannot sleep, and nothing calms him this night.” She sighed, and turned back to the manger. “How grateful would I be to anyone able to bring him sweet dreams.”

And, as Tabby watched, each stable animal stepped forward in turn and tried to soothe the woman’s baby. But the kittenish sounds continued, and finally Tabby could contain herself no longer.

Quickly, she washed herself—paws, face, behind the ears, to the very tip of her tail (so as not to offend the child’s mother)—and then shyly stepped forward. She leaped gracefully to the manger, and stared into the face of the most beautiful baby (human or kitten!) she’d ever seen. He cooed and smiled, waving his tiny hands at Tabby, and she very carefully drew in her claws and settled beside him. Forgotten was her empty tummy; she could only hear her heart calling out to this sweet human-kitten.

And Tabby began to purr.

The wondrous cat-song filled the stable with overwhelming emotion. The animals listened with awe, and the child’s mother smiled as her baby quietly went to sleep.

The child’s mother placed her hand gently on the purring Tabby’s forehead. “Blessings upon you, Tabby-cat, for this sweet gift given to me and my child,” she said. And where she’d touched Tabby’s brow, there appeared an M—the sign of the Madonna’s benediction.

From that day forward, all proper tabby cats are honored with an M on their brow for the great service they performed that first Christmas night. And Christmas nights often find Tabby cats staring into the night, purring as they recall a very special child their ancestor once sang to sleep.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Liver Disease In Cats: Know The Signs

Has your cat ever snubbed the food bowl? Neither of mine has, although Karma is a bit picky–but I’m very watchful because loss of appetite could mean cat liver disease.
cat liver disease

CAT FACTS, THE SERIES

I’m sharing this information from my CAT LIVER DISEASE entry from Cat Facts, The Series 12 (L): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Laser Technology, Lice, Litter, Litter Box, Liver Disease, Lower Urinary Tract Disease (LUTD), and Lungworms.

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

WHAT IS CAT LIVER DISEASE?

Liver disease is any condition which impairs that organ’s normal function. The liver is the body’s metabolic headquarters. It serves a dual role both as a kind of factory, and as a filter.

The liver processes sugars and fats, stores vitamins and minerals, and makes necessary proteins and enzymes. The liver also manufactures hormones and important blood-clotting substances, as well as the bile that’s necessary for absorption of fats. The processed material is either stored or delivered throughout the body as needed by the blood.

Blood is also filtered as it passes through the liver. Substances like drugs that are carried by the blood are metabolized, or altered, into other forms. Bacteria, toxins, even viruses are shifted out of the blood system by the liver. Liver disease is serious and often life-threatening to the cat, and is estimated to affect about three to five percent of sick cats seen by veterinarians.

SIGNS OF CAT LIVER DISEASE

Liver disease mimics other illnesses, and often the sick cat has problems in other body systems at the same time with symptoms that overlap. Cats that have liver disease can also suffer from diseases of their intestinal tract and pancreas, a triaditis where all three are inflamed at once. The signs of various kinds of liver diseases are remarkably similar, and typically include:

  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • jaundice (yellow tinge to skin)

Because signs are so vague and resemble other feline health problems, the cat owner may not realize the cat’s in trouble until the disease is quite advanced.

DIAGNOSING CAT LIVER DISEASE

A profile of the blood is the first step toward diagnosis. Liver enzymes may be elevated for a number of reasons, though, and elevated enzyme values does not automatically mean the cat has liver disease. Blood tests, imaging techniques and symptoms can point to liver disease.

A definitive diagnosis can only be made examining tissue beneath the microscope. An ultrasound-guided needle allows cells to be collected through the abdominal wall, often without invasive surgery. This biopsy generally is done by anesthetizing the cat. Cells may be collected using a fine needle inserted into the liver through the abdominal wall, or the procedure may require surgery.

Treatment depends on the cause of the problem and how early it’s caught. Once the liver scars from the inflammation, the damage is hard to reverse. Inflammation of the liver—the various hepatitis diseases—is treated with drugs to suppress the inflammation. Veterinarians try to select drugs that rely primarily on the kidneys to process.

fat cat liver disease

Overweight cats that stop eating are at higher risk for fatty liver disease.

KINDS OF CAT LIVER DISEASE

Fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) is the most common. Overweight cats are at highest risk for this condition, and the definitive sign is when an obese cat suddenly stops eating. For reasons not completely understood, fat is moved into the liver and becomes trapped, resulting in compromised function. A feeding tube may be placed to allow the cat to be fed a soft diet, either while in the hospital or after going home. It may take weeks of tube feeding before the cat’s appetite returns to normal.

Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) usually is the result of exposure to a toxin like chemical insecticides, or drugs like aspirin or Tylenol. Treatment consists primarily of supportive care, and removal of the poison. In certain toxicity cases, early intervention allows the liver to recover with little or no damage to the organ. Prednisone isn’t a cure but reduces inflammation in some kinds of liver diseases and cats improve without many side effects.

Cholangiohepatitis is an inflammatory condition of the bile tract that interferes with the excretion of bile, and is considered the second most common feline liver disease. Cure is rare; therapy is designed to control the disease. When caused by bacteria, long term antibacterial therapy is prescribed. Conditions that result from over-reaction of the immune system require immune suppressing drugs.

HOLISTIC LIVER TREATMENTS

Holistic veterinarians recommend a number of herbs and supplements to help cleanse and support the liver. Dandelion helps remove toxins, and milk thistle has been shown to help the liver generate new cells and protect it from toxins. Nutritional supplements such as raw beets contain natural chemicals that also work very well to support the liver.

Some holistic vets recommend creating a raw liver formula by combining raw egg yolk, raw sheep or beef liver, a teaspoon of honey, two tablespoons of plain yogurt and a cup of water in a blender. The nutraceutical SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) increases antioxidant levels in liver cells to protect them from toxins and death and often is used to treat liver ailments.

Fortunately, the liver has quite a bit of built-in redundancy, and only a small portion of the organ needs to function to maintain the cat’s health. After some insults, it’s fully capable of regenerating to its original size.

Do you have a fat cat, or ever struggled to keep your cat eating? I hope you’ll never be challenged with cat liver disease! Please share your experiences, though, to help other readers.


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Panera Bread Book Signing: Paw-tographs for Gifts

Panera Bread book signing

Amy Shojai, Dusty Rainbolt and Lois Richardson will have these (and maybe other!) books at the event. Get a book signed (or PAW-tographed) for holiday gifts!

What do authors, books and Panera Bread have in common? Read on!

For the past several years, I’ve not done many local book signing events. Part of that has to do with the change in books and taking control back of my own publishing. While all of my books are available through online bookstores, the physical brick-and-mortar stores may be able to order the books but aren’t able to stock them. Consequently, bookstores that used to host my signing events (and those of my colleagues) now are not allowed to do so.

*sad face*

AUTHOR BOOK SIGNINGS A NEW WAY!

In a way, though, that forces author-preneurs like myself to think outside of the box(store) and find innovative and fun ways to connect with readers. Independent book stores ROCK and are still very supportive of all authors. Libraries also celebrate writers and authors in our vast and myriad forms of publication (I’ll be signing/speaking at a Bristol Public Library Dec. 19 in Bristol, Indiana).

And now…one of my favorite go-to local eateries, Panera Bread — one that has saved me countless times by offering free wifi when my Internet went ker-flooey — has gone above and beyond.

BREAKFAST & BOOKS @ PANERA BREAD!

Next Saturday, December 10 from 9-11:00 a.m., the Sherman Texas Panera Bread at the Town Center will host a book signing for myself and two other local authors, Dusty Rainbolt and Lois Richardson. YEE-HAW! Come grab breakfast and shop for Christmas, for the book lovers (and pet lovers) in your life!

You can let me know you’re coming on the Facebook Event Page here. Please invite your N. Texas Friends.

MYSTERIES & PETS

MagicBooks

Magical-Dawg inspires my thrillers! Well…so do the cats (but don’t tell them or they’ll get big heads!).

Rainbolt, a past president of the Cat Writers Association, is a cat behavior consultant from Flower Mound. She is an award winning author of cat care books and mysteries. She’ll sign her newest book Cat Scene Investigator: Solve Your Cat’s Litter Box Mystery as well as Cat Wrangling Made Easy and Kittens for Dummies. She also will have on “paw” her ghostly historical mystery, Death Under the Crescent Moon.

Richardson, an accomplished artist living in Whitesboro, is a longtime member of Oklahoma Writers Federation. She writes both nonfiction and young adult mysteries. She will sign the first book in her young adult mystery series, The Forbidden Room.

As for me, I’m a certified animal behavior consultant, a nationally known author of 30 pet care and suspense books, and past president of both Cat Writers Association and Oklahoma Writers Federation. I’ll sign copies of my dog-viewpoint September Day thrillers, and my three most recent nonfiction titles: Dog Facts, Cat Facts and New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats.

PUBLISHING Q & A

All of us are eager to answer questions about our writing and publishing journeys and let y’all know more about our books. Dusty and I are also happy to entertain pet questions.

Can’t make it to the event in person? All books mentioned are also available to be ordered from amazon and other fine online retailers. Contact the individual authors through their websites and I’m sure they’ll be happy to send a personalized autographed bookplate to the gift recipient (or in honor of a pet?).

So…are books on your holiday gift giving list? Do you even care if there’s a purr-sonal inscription from the author? And authors, what unique outside-the-box venues have you appeared? Do tell!


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Note: Upon occasion, affiliate links to books or other products may be included in posts, from which I earn a small amount with each purchase from the blog. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? 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 September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

CALLING ALL THESPIANS! Win a Script or FREE PLAY LICENSE!

texas-thespians-headerI’m HOME from Texas Thespian Festival and SHOJAI & STEELE PLAYS met with some amazing talents during our 30 teaching sessions.

To continue the celebration, we’re opening up the drawing to those unable to attend (or too busy to sign up!) at Festival. Here’s your chance to sign up to win a free copy of our STRAYS THE MUSICAL script.

thespian2016We’re also offering DIRECTORS the chance to win a $1500 free license to produce STRAYS at a future time/date (before January 2019). Since not all of our Thespian buddies have a chance to do this, I’m posting the entry info below for the next few days.

ENTER if you wish, and SHARE with those who might have interest, too. This is a limited time entry offer so don’t delay. And…if y’all are at the Festival, stop by our booth and say “howdy.”