Thanksgiving Blessings, the Pet Writer Way

It’s two days before Thanksgiving 2018 and time again to count my furry blessings. This year I’m thankful to be home with my family—furry and human—rather than on the bumpy road and bumpier plane. I’m thankful my human family, though miles away, remain close-knit and loving. And I’m thankful all remain (relatively) healthy.

pets thanksgiving

Counting Thanksgiving Blessings

I’m thankful for veterinarians who make life better for the pets we adore. I’m thankful for researchers who work to find diagnoses, treatments, and cures for our ailments, both for pets and for people. I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world, sharing information about the cats and dogs that have become so important to our emotional and physical health. I’m thankful for publishers, editors, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows, websites, community theaters, bloggers and email lists that share these important resources to benefit cats and dogs and the people who love them. And I’m thankful to writing organizations, teachers, agents and all those who promote the craft of good communication and help others pursue this rewarding craft.

Karma a week after he arrived, at about 8 months of age.

Counting Pet Blessings

I’m thankful that we found a dumped kitten several Februaries ago and brought him into our home. I’m thankful that Karma-Kat dodged coyotes, cars, and who-knows-what to find our patio. I’m thankful that Magical-Dawg heard his meow-SOS, and that the little, dumped kitten trusted me enough to come when I meowed back.

I’m thankful that nobody claimed Karma—although shame on whoever dumped him!—and that he and Magic became best buddies. I’m thankful that Karma turned back the age-clock for both Magic and Seren-kitty in their last few years with us.

baby gates

Magic at about 16 weeks with Seren (age 11) learning to accept each other. Awww….the memories!

I’m thankful that we found Bravo-Dawg the Bullmastiff at just the right time. He helped Karma-Kat (and us) emerge from deep mourning after we lost Magic last September and Seren a year ago in December. I’m thankful Karma and Bravo have become inseparable friends—even though their antics threaten the safety of our fine breakables.

puppy training

Bravo at about 12 weeks of age, his first days with us.

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that we had Magical-dawg for eleven years, and Seren-Kitty for more than 22 years.

I’m still missing them, and always will. But now can smile about the water-hose-tag, Bear-toys, Frisbee-tag, Seren pester-sessions and a Karma-Kat buddy that made their last years bliss.

Magic at 8 weeks old, first days at home with us. Yes, my husband was smitten (and still is!).

Counting Chosen Family Blessings

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my husband loves Bravo and Karma, and mourns our past pets, and was instrumental in finding Bravo. I’m even more thankful they adore him back (that could get awkward!).

I’m thankful for my church family—pet lovers or not—who also support my furry notions. I’m thankful for the gift of music and theatre I get to share with colleagues who have become wonderful friends. I’m thankful for Texas Thespian Festival and the gift of teaching talented young actors. And I’m especially thankful for my partner-in-play-writing-crime who helped make our theatrical dreams come true.

Thankful for YOU!

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this column, the cat book lovers, and the dog book lovers, and folks who have “adopted” my thriller series. And those who offered awesome applause and support any of the other venues mentioned. There are so many to mention, but SHOUT OUT to AdoptAShelter.com that donates to shelters every time you shop one of their 100+ online stores.

Without you, I would not have a career, and my life’s passion would remain unfulfilled. Without you, your pets wouldn’t have the wonderful love and care you provide. Without you, there wouldn’t be any reason for this heartfelt—THANK YOU.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Celebrating Old Dogs: What Is Old?

November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month and I’ve already posted about celebrating old cats. It’s time to give equal time to old dogs. I’ve written about how to care for an elderly dog before, but this post addresses how to know when your canine friends become old dogs. I’ve updated some of the information from when it first published back when my Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty were still around.

old dogs

Magic, my kissing buddy!

Magic was just over eleven years old when he passed away last year, and my first GSD lived to thirteen and a half. One is middle aged and the other considered geriatric, and a lot of it has to do with the size of the pet. When our furry friends reach a “certain age” it becomes much more important to stay on top of changes, and just keep ’em comfy during their golden years.

old dogs

My first GSD launched my writing career and died on Halloween night at home, with us beside him.

How Old are Old Dogs?

What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance. Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of her life. However, we can’t accurately predict what an individual pet’s lifespan will be, so pinpointing when old age begins is tough. Ask the breeder about the lifespan of your pet’s parents and grandparents. That’s a good predictor of how long you could expect your cat or dog to live. Mixed-ancestry pets are more difficult to predict, but you can make a few generalities.

old dog

As a rule of paw, the smaller the pet, the greater the longevity. So this Maltese can be expected to live longer than a Great Dane.

How to Predict Old Dogs Lifespan

In the past fifty years, the average lifespan of small dogs has tripled. They used to live to be only six or seven years old, but today it’s not unusual for your Chihuahua to live into late teens or early twenties. With an average potential lifespan of fifteen to seventeen years, the onset of old age—when a little dog becomes “senior”—would be about age eleven to thirteen.

Even large-breed dogs, which age more quickly, commonly reach ten to thirteen years of age—double the lifespan of the past few decades. They would, therefore, be considered old starting at about seven years.

Giant breed dogs (those weighing over eighty pounds or so) tend to age more quickly than smaller pets. Great Danes, for example, are considered “senior” at age five, and typically live only seven to nine years. There are exceptions, of course, with some very large dogs living healthy, happy lives well into their teens.

bullmastiff puppy

Though he’s still a puppy, now at 10 months old Bravo weighs 95 pounds. As a “giant” breed, we’re hoping to keep him happy and healthy as long as possible.

Old Dogs & Youthful Doggedness?

So you have an old fogey doggy–how do you keep him youthful? What happens when that go-go-go puppy attitude turns into a yen for snoozing the day away? Dogs can become frustrated when their youthful abilities fade away and they’re no longer able to leap tall buildings–or onto sofas–with a single bound, or chase the Frisbee and catch it without effort.

old dogsI have one word for you: ACCOMMODATION.

Enrich the dog’s environment and make accommodations for his new skill set. Agility dogs can still perform all those tricks of fetch and vault, just lower the bar a bit. For blind dogs, put a bell inside the ball or scent with liverwurst so his nose knows where to find it. For deaf dogs, you can use hand signals and replace the clicker with a flashlight beam flicking on and off.

I have a boatload of more tips and advice in the book Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.

What about your old dogs–what games do they love? Have you made accommodations for their aging abilities? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

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!

FAKING IT: Scammers Hurt Legit Service Dog & Emotional Support Animal Partnerships

UPDATE: I continue to get “pitches” from scammers wanting me to promote their fake credential services especially for Emotional Support Animals. Interesting that they often say they “love my blog” (thanks!) but that they can add even more value if I’ll just publish something they provide. So…I’m updating and reposting this blog since they probably missed seeing it or might not have sent me that email.

Online companies are getting very good at meeting the letter of the law, if not the intent. They promote themselves as a way to relieve pet owners of unfair expenses (pet deposits, airline fees, no-pets-allowed housing or other services)–oh, and sometimes as an afterthought, they add in the emotional aspect, too (insert #sarcasm).

Are They Legit? Maybe . . .

These services typically pre-qualify applicants based on answers to online questionnaires that are easy to fake. I answered truthfully and was turned down. Then I created a fake identity, chose the obvious “right answers” on the emotional questionnaire scale, and pre-qualified with my nonexistent ASA-wannabe ferret.

In this latest pitch, the company charges $150-200 for your choice of three versions of an ASA letter. That includes a $35 phone consultation by one of their “qualified professionals.” You pay up front, and if turned down, they promise to refund all but that $35 consult fee. I sent an email with these questions:

Thanks for reaching out. I also like to educate my readers so your information interests me. Can you tell me how your mental health professionals qualify potential candidates for ESA credentials? I see there is an online questionnaire/survey. How do you get around the “fake” folks who just want to take pets everywhere with them (heck, I’d love to take my 95-pound puppy everywhere, too!) Is there a further step to the evaluation?

Also, I know the ESA letter must be generated from a mental health professional who has diagnosed and offering active treatment of the person in question. So how is that possible with an online service?

The Company Answers

Hi Amy!

It is lovely to hear from you! I would be happy to answer any and all questions that you have and feel quite qualified to do so because I not only work for REDACTED, but used REDACTED to register my dog as ESA during a time where I didn’t have access to a therapist due to overbooking (for 6 months..,yikes!).

So we have a basic short survey that people can take to see if they would be a good candidate for an ESA. This is not what the Licensed Mental Health Professionals see – it’s more just for the candidate to understand if they might qualify. Once that short survey is taken and the candidate feels like they should move forward, they can choose if they want a housing letter, travel letter or both. They are brought to a checkout where they purchase the letter(s) – but technically are sessions with a LMHP. The candidate is then prompted to complete a lengthy questionnaire that can take up to a few hours to complete depending on the individual. The questions go extremely deep and personal just as if you had many sessions with a LMHP face to face. Once you submit the questionnaire, you are assigned to a LMHP in your state. The LMHP will then read over the entire questionnaire and schedule a time slot to have a session over the phone. After the session is over the LMHP write s a plan of action (for example, I suffer from flying anxiety and GAD so my therapist sent me an email with a plan of action to use music therapy). It is only after all of these steps that the LMPH determines if an ESA would benefit the candidate. After the letter(s) are received by the patient, the LMHP continues to check in and provide care if requested by the patient. I actually talk to my LMHP I got matched with through CertaPet all of the time!

So fakers will be fakers whether they are getting in-person therapy or online therapy, unfortunately. Having an ESA does not serve the individual the same rights as having a service animal. So ESAs can’t go everywhere with the individual. The ESA letter was put in place for housing and travel ONLY.

Wow! A 95-pound PUPPY?! What kind of pup do you have? I have an 8lb Italian Greyhound. He is the perfect travel companion and sits on my lap the majority of the day!

Please let me know if you have any more questions or if something is unclear. I know I just threw a lot at you.

Name Removed Per Request

FURTHER NOTE: The original email I received said they wanted to contribute information about ESAs to my blog after finding it (and I assume doing research/reading my blog). When I received the above answers to my questions, I replied that I would add that info to this post, whereupon I was asked to remove the person’s first name (I have done so) and add a live-link and name of the company (I will not). I’m posting for informational purposes only, not advertising one service over another. If readers like what this company provides, now you know what to look for when vetting them.

Skirting the Law?

I’m grateful for the company rep’s cordial reply and glad the company helped her with certifying her dog for her needs. From her description, it sounds like the company goes far beyond what a majority of these services do.

That said, I’m still not convinced that the system satisfies the requirement to “be under active treatment for your disorder by this same mental health professional.” Because once you qualify, your ASA letter is generated by that mental health pro on his/her letterhead with his/her license number and sent to you within 48 hours.

You’re considered “under active treatment for your disorder” after completing an online survey and speaking on the phone. As promised, I’m sharing this information and look forward to any further comments or feedback from folks. What do you think? As the representative notes, an ASA and service dog are quite different.

I have friends and colleagues who train and/or partner with service dogs, including ESA — Emotional Support Animals. I’ve also been aware for some time that unscrupulous folks fake service dog credentials to take advantage of what they consider to be furry perks, like taking their dog with them into businesses and restaurants, or (a biggie!) getting pets into no-pets-allowed housing or on planes for free.

BUT MY DOG IS DIFFERENT…

Sure, we all love our dogs (cats, rats, mini-pigs, horses…). But the folks who RELY on their animal partners are being damaged by the disregard of clueless (or mean-spirited) individuals who think they’re better than the law–and taking animal companions everywhere. Here’s the problem–if YOUR sweet-as-punch pet acts inappropriately, that makes the next for-real ASA or service dog and human partnership suspect. It’s the law that service dogs be allowed in businesses, and there are rules that businesses must follow. When non-service/ASA animals don’t follow the rules, it puts businesses in a bad position, too. Read on.

service dog

All images courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

FAKE SERVICE DOG CREDENTIALS

Scammers offer fake service dog credentials supposedly out of the goodness of their heart–but of course, for a fee. Both the fake-paper-pushers and the service-animal-fakers argue, “Who does it hurt? It’s a victimless crime.”

It hurts the business, the reputation of legitimate handlers and dogs, and even the animal and his owner-faker. Read about just a few of the issues here. The only entities that make out like a bandit are organizations supplying fake paper and lining their pockets.

Reality Imitates Art–Or Vice Versa?

Actually, I researched this a bit for background in one of my thrillers, since the main character September Day has a service dog Shadow, who helps mitigate issues with her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For instance, Shadow alerts in advance of panic attacks, and helps anchor September to the present during flashbacks, among other things. PTSD, debilitating migraines, seizures, diabetes, IBD and other health concerns can be helped enormously by trained service dogs. But these “hidden” issues open the door to abuse in a way that service dogs partnered with visible/physical challenges may not face.

I hadn’t planned to blog about this, at least immediately. Then on January 1, 2015 I received an email interview/story “pitch” that purported to offer reputable, legal help for those seeking ESA credentials. Frankly, the message raised alarm bells, and when I got sick with the “crud” I delayed doing anything about it. I wasn’t sure how to handle it.

Man holding tabby cat with big green eyes

Real & Fake Service Dog Credentials, Conflicts & Confusion

Heck, I’d love to take Magical-Dawg with me more places, and he’d love that, too, especially if they served bacon! Karma-Kat certainly offers me lavish emotional support, as does any animal friend with whom we share a bond. Besides, who would know–According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a business owner is only allowed to ask two questions:

  1. Does the dog provide a service?
  2. What has the dog been trained to do?

Under ADA guidelines, only DOGS qualify as service animals (sometimes miniature horses serving as guides for the blind also qualify), and PETS are not considered service animals. The dog must be trained to provide a SPECIFIC SERVICE for SPECIFIC DISABILITIES.

Sadly, this is easy to fake. Dogs are not required to wear any kind of identification like a vest. Heck, you can order a FAKE vest for your animal, too! In reality, a real service dog/human partnership isn’t required to show documentation for training. There is no single over-arching government-endorsed training agency for service dogs.

But it’s not just the ADA that offers guidelines and regulations. The Fair Housing Act, and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA, administered through the Department of Transportation) also provide what can be confusing or even conflicting regulations.

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act follows the ADA definition of service animal (dogs only,) and EXCLUDES those designated as emotional support animals. However, it does state that reasonable accommodations should be made for any service animal including ESAs. To qualify, the person is evaluated by the housing provider based on answers to the following questions:

  1. Does the person seeking to use and live with the animal have a disability —i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities?
  2. Does the person making the request have a disability-related need for an assistance animal? In other words, does the animal work, provide assistance, perform tasks or services for the benefit of a person with a disability, or provide emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of a person’s existing disability?

Portrait of the girl with the iguana Air Carrier Access Act: Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

ACAA doesn’t restrict Emotional Support Animals to dogs–they can be cats, birds, hamsters, lizards, goldfish–anything at all. Most airlines do require the animal to fit under the seat as “carry on” luggage, though. Rather than a case-by-case evaluation, airlines typically require a signed letter from a “licensed mental health professional” (not just your general practitioner). The letter must include:

  • The professional’s address and phone number
  • State that you have a disorder listed in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.
  • You also must be under active treatment for your disorder by this “mental health professional.”

Ditch the Pitch? or a Big Reveal?

Remember that email pitch mentioned in the opening paragraph? Yesterday I got a LinkedIn request for a connection from a person with the same name. So I decided to reply with some pointed questions, indicating I’d like to include them in a possible future blog. Most of my questions arose from the lack of detailed information posted on the website. There were no names, no credentials listed, just a lot of generalities and promises.

The website offers an online evaluation of your completed questionnaire by an (unnamed) board-certified psychiatrist. When that evaluation confirms your qualifications, the expert then generates a letter that qualifies your ESA and thus allows plane or housing privileges afforded to service animals. For a fee, of course. If your answers to the questionnaire fail to qualify you, the fee is promised to be reimbursed.

I figured a “no response” would be telling. So I was happily surprised to receive a prompt response with detailed answers, which I’ve cut-and-pasted below. I will leave it to readers to make judgments about this particular service.

Q & A with National Center for Emotional-Support Animals

Hello Amy!

Thank you very much for your interest. Please see my responses to your questions below.

Who are you? What is YOUR background in pets? Is this you? (NOTE November 2018: the profile has now been hidden)

Yes, that’s me. I’ve had a dog for the past 10 years and a cat for the past 16.

Who is your “board certified psychiatrist” ?

My husband, Jamie Feusner. He is the co-founder of National Center for Emotional-Support Animals. (Amy’s note: I googled the name and found more about Dr. Feusner here)

What board certifies a psychiatrist to diagnose a patient over the Internet?

Our letter does not constitute a diagnosis. It recommends an ESA to help treat the problems that you are currently experiencing.

Why does the pop-up invite someone to get a FREE “ESA Letter” but then require a credit card to submit the questionnaire for $150?

The offer is buy an ESA letter for housing for $149 and as an added bonus, we provide a letter covering air travel, worth $149, free. Other services charge to each letter separately.

If, indeed, someone qualifies for an ESA, why would they need an annual letter for another $150 each time?

The letter itself never expires. It’s dated the day that it’s mailed out. The issue is that airlines and landlords do not accept letters that are dated more than a year old. In addition, people have to retake the questionnaire because their symptoms and health problems can change. What they said a year ago may not be the case today. No doctor can write a recommendation or prescription for someone in perpetuity. They have to be re-examined at least once a year.

What percentage of your applicants do you turn down as “not qualified” for an ESA and actually refund the fee?

None. Everyone who has come to us have [sic] met the medical qualifcations [sic] to get an ESA letter.

Are you not concerned that unscrupulous individuals would manipulate the questionnaire/answers to get an ESA letter for which they do not qualify?

The medical questionnaire is the same one a psychiatrist would give during an in-office visit. Mental health treatment for the most part is provided based on self-reported symptoms — unlike other health conditions that can be physically measured with tests. If people lie on the medical questionnaire, they could also lie during an in office visit. Psychiatrists have to take people at their word. You may deem someone as “unscrupulous” or that “they do not qualify” but that’s just YOUR opinion and judgement of them. It doesn’t make it true. Mental illnesses are invisible. A person may look and act completely normal yet still suffer from a mental illness.

Your Turn…

Okay, gang, what do you think? How would you characterize such a service? I did fail to ask one question–does a questionnaire answered by a mental health practitioner constitute “being under active treatment for your disorder,” as required by the ACAA?

What about you? Do you think “fake” service animal credentials is a victimless crime? Are you, or do you know someone partnered with an amazing service animal? How could the “rules” be changed to improve the situation you?

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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? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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!

Celebrating Old Cats: What Is Old?

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet month. I have to admit, there’s something special about old cats. This post first appeared in 2012, and has been updated several times. But this is the first time I’ve updated the post since Seren-Kitty went to Rainbow Bridge. So this post is in Seren’s honor and for all the golden oldie senior cats that rule our hearts (whether here or waiting for us at the Bridge.)

SerenChair

The Queen continued to rule her house and command the highest perch, until she was nearly 22 years old! She’s about 16 years old in this picture. Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

SEREN & OLD CATS

Seren went to the Bridge in December 2017, and would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on February 1st. I wanted to celebrate old cats and talk a bit about what is old age for cats. Some cats age more gracefully than others, and despite her longtime senior status, Seren continued to act like a youngster and keep Magical-Dawg and Karma-Kat in line, up nearly to the last week of her life.

Siamese as a breed tend to be longer lived, and it’s not unusual for healthy cats to live into their late teens or even early twenties. Of course, Seren was a found kitten, and we’re not sure what her heritage was, but she continued to maintain clean teeth, good appetite, normal litter-ary habits, sound heart and no lumps or bumps. After her bout with the schneezles, and losing one canine (fang) tooth, she continued rockin’ and rollin’ like nothing could stop her. I thought she’d live forever. *sigh

Anyway, I thought this was a good time to share a bit from the book COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT.

old catsWHAT IS OLD FOR SENIOR CATS?

What is considered “old” for a cat? The question of what is old is complicated by the impact of genetics, environment, and individual characteristics. Consider human beings: one person may act, look and feel “old” at 65 while another 65-year-old remains an active athlete with a youthful attitude and appearance. The same is true for our cats.

“I think that actually varies a lot, and it’s getting older every year,” says Rhonda Schulman, DVM, an internist at the University of Illinois. “It used to be that eight was the major cutoff for the cat that was geriatric. Now we’re moving to the point that’s a prolonged middle age.” According to Guinness World Records, the oldest cat on record was Creme Puff owned by Jake Perry of Austin, Texas. Cream Puff was born August 3, 1967 and died August 6, 2005 at the age of 38 years and 3 days.

A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of their lifespan, says Sarah K. Abood, DVM a clinical nutritionist at Michigan State University. However, since we can’t predict what an individual cat’s lifespan will be, the beginning of old age is a bit arbitrary. Certain families of cats may be longer lived than others, in the same way that some human families enjoy a much greater longevity than others. The lifespan of your cat’s parents and grandparents is a good predictor of how long you can expect your cat to live. People who share their lives with pedigreed cats may be able to access this information through the cat’s breeder.

SerenBed

Seren spends a lot more time sleeping these days. Image Copr. Amy Shojai.

PREDICTING LONGEVITY IN OLD CATS

Longevity of unknown heritage cats are much more difficult to predict. Even when felines are “part” Siamese or Persian, for example, these felines may inherit the very worst, or the very best, from the parents. The majority of pet cats are domestic shorthair or domestic longhair kitties of mixed ancestry, and the products of unplanned breeding. That by itself points to a poorer-than-average level of health for the parents, which in turn would be passed on to the kittens. Siblings within the same litter may have different fathers, and can vary greatly in looks, behavior, and health. When all is said and done, one should expect the random-bred cat-next-door kitty to be neither more nor less healthy than their pedigreed ancestors—as long as they all receive the same level of care and attention.

“If you get a kitten, it is very likely you will have this cat for the next 15 to 20 years,” says Dr. Abood. That means the last 25 percent would be 12 to 15 years. To simplify matters, most veterinarians consider cats to be “senior citizens” starting at about seven to eight years old, and geriatric at 14 to 15.

Here’s some perspective comparing cat age to human age. “The World Health Organization says that middle-aged folks are 45 to 59 years of age and elderly is 60 to 74. They considered aged as being over 75,” says Debbie Davenport, DVM, an internist with Hill’s Pet Foods. “If you look at cats of seven years of age as being senior, a parallel in human years would be about 51 years,” she says. A geriatric cat at 10 to 12 years of age would be equivalent to a 70-year-old human.

CHERISHING OLD SENIOR CATS

Veterinarians used to concentrate their efforts on caring for young animals. When pets began to develop age-related problems, the tendency among American owners was to just get another pet. That has changed, and today people cherish their aged furry companions and want to help them live as long as possible. Now there are many things you can do for common cat aging conditions.

Modern cats age seven and older can still live full, happy and healthy lives. Age is not a disease. Age is just age, says Sheila McCullough, DVM, an internist at University of Illinois. “There are a lot of things that come with age that can be managed successfully, or the progression delayed. Renal failure cats are classic examples.” It’s not unusual for cats suffering kidney failure to be diagnosed in their late teens or even early twenties.

“I had a woman with a 23-year-old cat who asked should she change the diet. I said, don’t mess with success!” says Dr. McCullough. These days veterinarians often see still-healthy and vital cats of a great age.

“I think if the cat lives to 25 years, I shouldn’t be doing anything but saying hello,” says Steven L. Marks, BVSc, an internist and surgeon at Louisiana State University (now at North Carolina State University). “If you’ve ever had a pet live that long, you want them all to live that long.”

 Excerpt from COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT, revised and updated Kindle Edition by Amy D. Shojai, CABC. 

seren-karma

She complained a lot, but having Karma-Kat around has turned back the clock for Seren-Kitty. Image Copr. Amy Shojai

DO YOU HAVE OLD CATS?

What about your senior cats? Does he or she act like a senior? What age did you notice a change, if any?

Seren’s aging changes meant her dark Siamese mask turned gray, with white hairs surrounding her eyes. Arthritis made it hard for her to leap as before. Her claws thickened so she could no longer retract them, and she “clicked” while she walked on hard surfaces–I kept them trimmed for her. In her last four months, she needed extra potty spots as she couldn’t quite anticipate getting to the right place on time. But I’ll forever be grateful for the nearly 22 years we shared together.

What about your furry wonders? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. NOTE: Bling, Bitches & Blood sometimes shares affiliate links to products that may help you with your pets, but we only share what we feel is appropriate.

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!

Get Your !#$%^y! Print Book Published! Your Next Write Schtuff Coaching Call

The next coaching call in my WRITE SCHTUFF series on PUBLISHING PRINT BOOKS launches Thursday November 8 at 11:00 a.m. (CST). If you can’t attend LIVE, please still register so you can get the replay to watch at your leisure.

WRITE SCHTUFF: PUBLISHING PRINT BOOKS

Write Schtuff Print Books PublishingGet all the details — formating your interiors, covers, photos and more without pricy or fancy software.

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