How to Create A Cat Safe Christmas Tree

Cat safe Christmas tree? Is there any other kind? I post this blog every year and — with Shadow-Pup now in the house, I’ve again decided to forego the Christmas tree this year.

If you plan to have a new pet under the tree, read this post on how to give pets as gifts. And if you have a shy kitty–well any cat for that matter–refer to this post about keeping cats calm during the holidays.

In the past, our old girl, Seren-Kitty, ignored the decorations and so did Magic. We were lucky that way—until Karma-Kat came along. Bravo-Dawg eggs him on, and the last time we put up a tree was quite an experience.

Karma turned the tree into a kitty jungle gym! And Bravo-Boy loved playing “tug” with branches. We’ll play it by ear (furry ones, of course!) with the decorating this year. Meanwhile, here are my annual tips to help with YOUR tree, and you can read more about pet-safe holiday decorations here.

cat safe chrismas tree

Karma-Kat didn’t read the safety manual!

CREATE A CAT SAFE CHRISTMAS TREE

Karma considers the Christmas tree to be an early holiday gift. Many pets can’t resist the urge to sniff, claw, water—and Karma thinks it’s great fun to scale the branches to reach the highest possible perch. I don’t blame him. It’s normal for cats to compete for the top spot (literally and figuratively) to secure their place in kitty society, and dogs may want to “mark” the convenient indoor doggy signpost. He’s so heavy, though, that high treetop shenanigans aren’t in the cards.

Our tree has bunches of red and white silk rosebuds, a string of “pearls” and some cat-safe sparkly but prickly décor that doesn’t appeal to Karma. We also offer him treat-filled puzzle toys placed well away from the tree so other spots in the house are more appealing.

Cat safe Christmas tree

Create a cat safe tree your kittens and cats will leave alone–or can safely play with.

WHY CATS LOVE THE CHRISTMAS TREE

Kitty can’t resist the urge to sniff, cheek rub, claw—and scale the branches to reach the highest possible perch. Don’t blame your cat. It’s normal for cats to compete for the top spot (literally and figuratively) to secure their place in kitty society.

Youngsters won’t care about social standing, but high energy kitten play turns the holiday tree into a jungle gym. Tree encounters of the kitty kind not only risk breaking your heirloom ornaments, your furred family members can be injured by chewing or swallow dangerous items. Read about pet proofing your holidays here. Rather than fight a losing battle to keep cats at bay, create a second cat-safe tree with these 12 tips, so the fur-kids can enjoy the holidays as much as you do.

Keep breakable holiday ornaments out of reach.

Cats turn anything into toys, even Christmas ornaments.

12 TIPS FOR A CAT SAFE CHRISTMAS TREE

  • Put yourself in your cat’s “paws.” Satisfy her desire to claw, lounge on branches, and trust that it won’t tip over under her assault. Match the tree size, sturdiness, base (perhaps add guy-wires for steadiness) to the activity level and number of cats.
  • Ditch the lights, and any “fake-snow” flocking that can be chewed or swallowed. Instead, decorate with cotton balls or pillow-stuffing fleece for that snowy look on branches or around the base. If you’ve chosen a real tree, water with plain water and no additives in case kitty decides to drink.
  • Strings and garland look great on the tree, but prove deadly inside a cat when swallowed. Dried flowers like baby’s breath look lovely and are nontoxic even if clueless kittens nibble.
    If you don’t mind your cats turning the tree into a jungle gym, insert a few sprigs of dried catnip—but be prepared for the cats to dismantle the tree!
  • Catnip toys make great kitty tree decorations and won’t be destroyed during the feline assaults. Use “orphan” socks (singletons without a mate), fill with the ‘nip, and knot the open end.
  • Jingle bells (quarter size or larger) can’t be swallowed and offer movement and sound when hung from ribbon on a branch. Put one inside the sealed catnip sock for more jingly fun.
  • Furry toy mice come in bright colors—or go with a standard white theme—and can be placed in the branches for your mouse-aholic feline.
  • Craft stores offer inexpensive bags filled with soft pompoms in a variety of colors and sizes—even sparkly ones. Cats love to play with these. Pompoms are so cheap you can fill the branches with one color theme, or a rainbow approach.
Holiday lights risk electrical shock

It’s not just the ornaments, but the electrical lights that can cause dangerous burns or death if chomped. Even the pine needles can cause injury if swallowed.

  • Many cats adore feathers but remember they can chew and swallow these. As long as supervised, a few feathers placed in the tree can be a fun accent as well. How about a bright feather boa instead of garland?
  • Small stuffed toys—kitty theme or otherwise—appeal to many cats. Place around the base of the tree. Feline puzzle toys filled with special treats also are fun.
  • Don’t forget the “cheap thrills.” Empty boxes, wads of holiday paper, and even paper shopping bags thrill cats. Remove bag handles so the cat won’t get hung around her neck.
    Toss a few special kitty treats in the boxes or bags. The smellier the treat, the better cats like them.

Be prepared to re-decorate the tree after the cats have fun. But a “Cat-mas” tree not only answers your kitty’s Santa Paws prayers, it means she’ll be more likely to leave your formal tree and decorations alone. That promotes a merry Christmas for the whole family, furry and otherwise.

Here’s Karma-Kat’s first tree experience…hoo boy!

What have I missed? How do you keep the holidays safe for your cats? Teaching kittens the ropes may be easier than dealing with an adult cat. Have you ever had a cat-astrophe with your tree? Do tell!

You may also enjoy my annual Christmas story (also in the COMPLETE KITTNE CARE BOOK), Why Tabby Wears an “M.”

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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 recommend nothing 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

10 People Foods for Cats

I’ve written about safe people food for dogs, but it’s important to address the cats’ needs, too. We want to spoil our cats, but don’t want to cause harm. At our house, if Bravo-Dawg gets something yummy from the table, then Karma-Kat thinks he should, too.

For those who prefer audio/video, I’ve even posted this on my YouTube channel (you have subscribed, right?). So here’s the quick takeaway:

Of course, what’s safe for dogs may not be good for cats–and vice versa. How do you know what’s safe and what’s not? Learn about these 10 people foods for cats.
people food for cats

Healthy People Food For Cats

My Seren-Kitty never met a meal she didn’t like—including my own. Once she even tasted 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 her last year, I created a monster because at age 21, I figured Seren should get to eat ANYTHING she wanted. And then Karma-Kat thought 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, Karma-Kat and Shadow-Pup still get the occasional healthy treat from the table.

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

people food and cats

People Food Dangers

We 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 raisins/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 want to nosh non-meat treats.

Sphinx cat eating chickenSeren kept her svelte 6-pound figure even when the aroma of baking and roasting turned her purrs to begging. Karma-Kat puts on table muscle, though, and his pudgy physic requires monitoring. 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.

Healthy People Food For Cats

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 never liked shrimp–that’s more for me! But both Karma can’t get enough 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 wheatgrass 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 wheatgrass.
  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 it as too much 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 keep digestion healthy. Karma 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, Karma and Shadow-Pup 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 only 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!

If you have questions about grain free cat foods, check out this updated post.

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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!

Safe People Foods for Dogs: 10 Treats Dogs Can Eat

Happy Thanksgiving! It doesn’t have to be a holiday for us to want to give treats to our dogs. Our cats love people food, too. We love to indulge ourselves—and them—with safe people food and holiday dog treats. For those who prefer audio/video, here’s a new YouTube post (be sure to subscribe!)

These days, we’re not going out to eat so much but are cooking at home more, so there are additional yummies available. Bravo just had his annual wellness check, and had gained weight–126 pounds!–and we’ve been advised he should lose a bit of poundage.

Pet poisons can make our dogs and cats sick and we need to know what to do. Learn more about first aid for common pet poisons here. In fact, there are many high-risk foods for our pets. You probably know about chocolate, but did you know that macadamia nuts, avocados, or raisins/grapes can cause toxicity? Artificial sweeteners keep owners lean but any goodies sweetened with Xylitol could cause canine liver failure. You’ll want to know tips for how to deal with vomiting if your pooch gets into any of these.

table food for dogs

Safe People Food for Dog Treats

So when the aroma of baking and roasting turns on the doggy drool, what human foods are safe for King to snag a taste? Actually, dogs have been eating the same foods people do for centuries and not only live to tell about it, but they also thrive. And holistic vets often recommend some of these foods for a more natural way to treat your doggy best friend.

Meaty Treats

Lean Meats. Chicken is a favorite but dogs will relish nearly any type of meat. A hunk of firm beef also can scrub teeth for dental health then your dog must chew. Turkey contains tryptophan, a natural sleep aid that works to calm excited pooches during holiday visits.

Organ meats. Don’t toss out the giblets when you roast your holiday bird. Tongue, heart, liver, and gizzards are power-packed with vitamins and minerals that help support the dog’s own organs—so even if you don’t care for liver, your dog will thank you for this healthy treat.

Stew. Chicken soup cooked with spinach, green beans, mushrooms, and beets 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 it as too much onion or garlic can cause anemia in some dogs.

Vegetable Treats

Green veggies, fresh or cooked. Dogs are omnivores and often relish vegetable treats. Some favorites include broccoli, asparagus, spinach and green beans. Does your doggy graze on grass? Offer him parsley—it will also freshen his breath.

Beets. Holistic veterinarians say raw beets pack a powerful punch for cleansing the liver. Dogs may relish small amounts of cooked beets as a treat.

dogs begging for treats

Sweet potatoes. Dogs have a sweet tooth and relish a dollop of sweet potatoes. The high fiber also proves soothing for upset tummies or diarrhea. Hold the marshmallow—the dog may like the sugary topping but marshmallow isn’t particularly healthy for him.

Canned pumpkin. Dogs often love the taste of pumpkin. It also works great as a natural remedy for either diarrhea or constipation. Offer the nonflavored canned pumpkin as the pie filling has added sugar and spices that may not appeal to your dog.

More People Food Dog Treats

Yogurt. While many dogs have problems digesting milk and develop diarrhea, small amounts as a treat usually work fine. A better milk-based treat is plain unflavored yogurt. Yogurt also helps maintain the beneficial bacteria in the stomach that keep digestion healthy.

Fruits. These may be an acquired taste for people and dogs. Many dogs enjoy berries, oranges, apples, and bananas (remember, grapes and raisins are toxic!). Cranberry promotes urinary tract health, although your pooch would need to drink a lot of the juice to see a benefit.

Ginger. Gingerbread and gingersnap cookies make great treats for dogs, especially if they suffer from car sickness during travel to Grandma’s house. Ginger is a natural remedy that counters nausea. You’ll want to limit the sugar and carbs, though, to prevent that “table muscle” from becoming too pudgy.

treats

What Table Food Treats Do Your Pets Love?

Every dog is unique and has different tastes—and nutritional needs. Some may fight obesity or have food allergies or require a therapeutic diet to counter a health condition, so be sure to clear any table treats with your veterinarian. Remember you wouldn’t allow your human kid to munch exclusively on rich desserts or gravy, so balance your table-love with healthy moderation.

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 dog treats, first reduce his regular ration. Tiny amounts offered very gradually work best to avoid upset tummies. You can use home remedies to treat mild diarrhea. Besides, your dog enjoys the attention almost as much as the treats!

So…please share what your dogs’ favs might be. Anything I missed? Let’s add to the list!

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

Dogs Swallowed Objects: Symptoms & First Aid for Dogs Eating Objects

Swallowed objects kill pets every day. With Thanksgiving around the corner, think about potential hazards to avoid. Eating foreign objects often causes only minor problems in dogs and cats. In the best cases, the swallowed cat toy or sock (yes, Bravo did that more than once!) gets vomited up or passes in the stool. However, it’s important to recognize swallowed objects’ symptoms, and how you can save your pet. Refer to this article on why dogs suck objects.

For those who prefer audio or video, here’s my YouTube contribution on the topic.

Stick Danger

We had a scare last summer when the new pup, Shadow, became enamored of sticks. He enticed his big buddy Bravo (100+ pounds at the time) to play tug. While the little twigs Shadow tooth-pruned weren’t any problem, Bravo chomped a 1/2-inch stick, and got the piece lodged between his teeth across the roof of his mouth! Thankfully, he came to me and allowed me to open his mouth and pry it out. Ouch! and dangerous!

swallowed objects

Anything is fair game to puppies. These Dalmatian pups could chew off and swallow pieces of the shoes or (worse!) swallow the string!

Dogs explore their world by mouthing, tasting, and chewing, and as a result, swallowed objects get them into trouble. Puppies may gulp some things accidentally when a piece of a toy breaks off. Other dangerous objects prove too tempting–used tampons, and even grease-smeared foil prove irresistible to puppies who troll the wastebaskets for scraps. Foreign body obstruction in puppies can be a medical emergency that costs you money and could cost your puppy his life.

Common Swallowed Objects

Veterinary pet insurance claims adjusters ranked the top ten most common items surgically removed from pets’ gastrointestinal tracts. The most common item is socks, followed by underwear, pantyhose, rocks, balls, chew toys, corn cobs, bones, hair ties/ribbons, and sticks. Most items tend to be owner-scented objects, but the list doesn’t stop there.

Whole toys or parts of toys, jewelry, coins, pins, erasers, and paper clips are often swallowed. String, thread (with or without the needle), fishing hooks and lines, Christmas tree tinsel, and yarn are extremely dangerous. String from turkey roasts is appealing so watch out for those holiday food hazards. And for puppies able to crunch up the object, pieces of wood or bone prove hazardous. Even too much of a rawhide chew can stop up his innards. Puppies may even eat rocks.

First Aid for Swallowed Objects: Within Two Hours

swallowed objects first aid

Find life-saving help in this book that I pray you’ll never need!

  • If they swallowed the item within two hours, it’s probably still in the stomach. If the object isn’t sharp, feed your pet a small meal first, and then induce vomiting. The food helps cushion the object and protect the tummy. Also, pets vomit more easily if the stomach is full. If he doesn’t vomit, you’ll need to see a veterinarian.
  • For sharp objects go to the vet immediately. It could cause as much damage coming back up if the puppy vomits.

AFTER Two Hours

  • After two hours, the object will have passed into the intestines and vomiting won’t help. Most objects small enough to move through the digestive system pass with the feces and cause no problems. Feed a bulky meal of dry food to cushion stones or other heavy objects and help them move on out. Food also turns on the digestive juices, which can help soften wads of rawhide treats, so they pass more readily. As long as it is small enough, objects pass harmlessly through the body and end up on the lawn. Monitor your puppy’s productivity. Use a disposable popsicle stick or plastic knife to chop up and search through the puppy droppings for the object.
  • The exception to allowing small objects to pass are swallowed metal objects like coins or batteries. DON’T WAIT, get your puppy seen immediately. Stomach acids interact with these metal objects and cause zinc or lead poisoning. String is another dangerous object that frequently affects cats and kittens, and when swallowed it requires you to seek professional help.
  • If you’ve seen the pet swallow something he shouldn’t but it doesn’t pass, or the puppy begins vomiting, retching without result, won’t eat, looks or behaves distressed, or repeatedly coughs, seek help immediately. Any object, even tiny ones, potentially may lodge in and block the intestinal tract.

Symptoms Of Swallowed Objects

Diagnosis can be based on seeing the pet swallow something or based on symptoms. It’s confirmed by X-rays or other diagnostics like an endoscope to determine the exact location and size of the blockage, and sometimes to identify the object itself. Specific signs depend on where the blockage is located and the type of object.

  • An object caught in the stomach or intestines causes vomiting, which may come and go for days or weeks if the blockage is not complete and food can pass around it.
  • A complete blockage is a medical emergency that results in a bloated, painful stomach with sudden, constant vomiting. The dog refuses food and immediately throws up anything she drinks.
  • Signs of zinc toxicity (from coins) include pale gums, bloody urine, jaundice—a yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes or inside the ears—along with vomitingdiarrhea, and refusal to eat.
  • Lead poisoning from batteries can also cause teeth grinding, seizures and hyperactivity, loss of appetite and vomiting.
  • Copper poisoning has similar signs plus a swollen tummy.
  • String-type articles often catch between the teeth or wrap around the base of the tongue in the mouth, with the rest swallowed.

WARNING ABOUT SWALLOWED STRING!

Cats often become victims of swallowed string or thread after playing with it. Once they start swallowing, they can’t stop. Never pull on the visible end of the string–either out the mouth or hanging out the puppy’s rectum. String and thread are often attached to a needle or fishhook that’s embedded in tissue further down the digestive tract. Pulling the string at your end could further injure the intestines, and kill the cat or dog.

Intestines propel food using muscle contractions called peristalsis that move through the entire length of the intestine (kind of like an earthworm) to help push the contents through.

But when a foreign object like a string catches at one end, the intestine literally “gathers” itself like fabric on a thread, resulting in a kind of accordion formation. The result is sudden severe vomiting and diarrhea, and rapid dehydration. Your veterinarian should evaluate any blockage situation to determine the best course of treatment. Surgery is often necessary to remove the obstruction.

Veterinary Treatment for Swallowed Objects

The blockage results in irreparable damage if not quickly addressed. Sharp objects may slice or puncture the bowel. Obstruction may interfere with blood flow to the organs and cause bowel tissue to die. Peritonitis is the result in either case and usually kills the victim.

The doctor removes the object once located with an endoscope down the puppy’s throat or the other direction up through his rectum, or with surgery. Any internal damage is repaired. If surgery can correct the problem before peritonitis sets in, most puppies fully recover. Should tissue die, the damaged sections of the intestine may be removed, and the living portions of the bowel reattached; these puppies typically have a good prognosis.

Preventing Problems

Most puppies outgrow indiscriminate munching, but dogs and cats of all ages may be affected. The best course is preventing your dog from swallowing dangerous items. Choose pet-safe toys that can’t be chewed into tiny pieces and supervise object play. Anything a child would put in his mouth is fair game for puppies. Puppy-proof your home by thinking like your dog, so that you won’t be caught off guard when your dog eats the rubber bumpers off the door stops.

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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!

Pet Veteran Love: 8 Reasons to Adopt Senior Cats & Dogs

Yes, I’ve got a whole series of blogs about the benefits of senior citizen pets. After all, November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month. If you’ve never considered an old dog or old cat to adopt, read on! Some of the benefits may surprise you.

Dog thinking outside the box

(All images this post from DepositPhotos.com, used with permission)

Adopting Old Dogs and Rescuing Old Cats

This time of year, the holidays can prompt yearnings to adopt a new furry wonder. Nothing beats puppies and kittens for fun. But senior citizen pets offer many advantages. Remember that small dogs and cats often live into their mid- to late-teens or early twenties, while larger dogs remain happy and vital at least a decade. Old fogey pets often have lots of love to share, so think about it.

I even wrote my two “aging dog” and “aging cat” care books (now also in hardcover formats!) in honor of senior citizen pets with detailed health and nursing care information. You can also learn about DIY tips for aging pets. Here are 8 benefits I hope will convince you to take a chance on a golden oldie.

Less Initial Cost. A mature dog or cat has already been spayed or neutered, and had routine vaccinations. Puppies and kittens are magnets for trouble, and suffer more injuries through nonstop play and exploration than sedate older pets.

Predictable Health. By the time a dog or cat reaches mature status, health or behavior problems will be apparent. That helps adopters plan and provide ways to keep seniors happy and comfortable rather than being surprised by an unexpected issue. For instance, a Dachshund with a history of back problems can be offered steps and ramps to reach the sofa and a beloved owner’s lap. Even with a health challenge, old fogey pets make wonderful companions.

CatDogOnBack_40214727_originalKnown Personality. Puppies and kittens are works-in-progress and hard to predict adult personality. For instance, lap-snugglers as babies may snub cuddles once they grow up. But what you see is what you get with an adult pet. The senior dog or cat personality has been established, making it easier to match your perfect pet requirements. You can choose a dog-loving feline, an active, rugged dog, or a pet willing to lap sit.

Already Trained. Older dogs often have already been trained basic obedience. They know how to “sit” and walk nicely on leash, for example.

More Polite. The mature dog has fewer urges to act like a juvenile delinquent. They may still have bursts of energy and enjoy playtime. But older dogs won’t be as likely to jump up, “hump” your leg, or knock down the kids trying to race them out the door. Mature felines won’t be as interested in using your head as a launch pad, or your pant leg as a moveable scratch post.

Fewer Behavior Problems. Puppies and kittens only learn by making mistakes. But a mature pet already knows the rules of the house. An older dog knows not to chew the TV remote or your shoes. She’s been house trained and tells you when she needs to “go.” The mature kitty understands litter box etiquette, no longer climbs the Christmas tree, or swings from the drapes. He knows not to excavate the potted palm or play ping-pong with the parakeet.

boy with white catKid Friendly. Older pets that have been around babies, toddlers and young children already know how to interact. They can be a wonderful choice for a child’s first pet. Dogs especially may “adopt” your human baby, and shower the infant with attention, gentle play, and protective care. They put up with toddler tail tugs with a patient purr or doggy grin. Countless children have learned to walk while grasping the furry shoulder of a canine friend, or reaching out for that tempting feline tail. A mature pet can offer the child a special friend who listens but never tells secrets, a sympathetic purring or wagging presence that acts as a stabilizing influence. Older pets are less fragile than puppies and kittens and can teach responsibility and empathy for other living creatures.

senior woman and dogSenior Citizen Friendly. Many older people have loved and lived with pets all their lives. But they may worry what might happen should they outlive a newly adopted puppy or kitten. A mature dog or cat offers just as much love but a more manageable number of years that can be more attractive to older owners. Mature cats and dogs have fewer energy needs—they won’t need owners to take them jogging when rolling a ball down the hallway will suffice. Older owners who have fragile skin can also choose mature pets already trained to be careful with claws and play bites. And the older dog—even if not leash trained—isn’t as able to drag the owner around.

Dogs and cats don’t know they’re old. They only know they are loved. There are many advantages to adopting an “old fogey pet” and these special animal companions return your love in unexpected and glorious ways.

Do you have a “golden oldie?” Did you adopt them when they were seniors, or did they grow up and grow old in your home? Magical-Dawg is now 8 year’s young and Seren-Kitty is 17. Even my thrillers include older pets–there’s something extra special about these lovely old timers. Why did you choose a mature dog or cat? Do tell!

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.

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