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We've accumulated enough pet care tips to offer you an index. Below, you can scroll through a list of all the tips in our archive. When you see one that interests you, click on the tip's title to go that tip. If you'd prefer to browse the tips themselves, not just the titles, click here.

Acclimating cats to cars

Aloe vera for pet first aid

Arranging for your pet's well-being after you're gone

Arranging pet care when you leave your pet at home

Avoid losing your pet--or find your pet if it is lost

Basics for happy pets

Bath time can be pleasant

Be a good neighbor---and help your pet to be one, too

Be prepared for a pet health emergency

Breath test for pets

Car travel with your pets

Cat gardening

Choose wisely when buying second hand pet equipment

Choosing a new vet

Continuing with Flea Treats in winter

Controlling bad bugs in your yard

Dealing with jumping dogs

Dealing with shedding

Deciding when it's time to euthanize

Disaster preparedness for your pets

Does your pet need a pet?

Dog bite prevention

Electrical safety and pets

Find words besides "no" to train with

Flea collars don't belong in your vacuum cleaner

Fleas and tapeworms

Fostering abandoned kittens

Four tips for changing your pet's diet


Free forms to help you take good care of your pet

Garlic and onions aren't for pets

Get ready for Spring


Grapes and raisins may be dangerous to dogs

Grooming hints when your pet is unwilling

Halloween safety for pets

Hand feeding pets safely

Holiday pet care tips

Homemade pooper scooper

Inexpensive toys and equipment for your pets

Keep pet dishes clean

Keep your pets healthy and safe in cold weather

Keeping kitties where they belong

Keeping your pets cool in summer heat

Keeping your pet's outdoor environment comfortabl

Kids and dogs--a cautionary tale

Litter box changes

Managing the multiple pet household

Murder by dog--what it means for pet owners

Nail and claw care

Organize your pet transportation supplies

A painless way to help homeless pets

Perimeter check

Pet safety in summer heat

Pet therapy

Plan early for holiday travel

Preparing your pet for a new baby

Preparing your pet for a person's departure from the household

Project Happy Birthday

Remember local charities

Sharing music with your pets

Simple suggestions to promote healthy weight in your pets

Skip the bunnies, ducklings and chicks this Easter

Some housebreaking tips

Some suggestions for ID tags

Spay or neuter your pet

Spend a quiet moment with your pets over the holidays

Spring holiday reminder

Stand up for animals in the new year

Teach your cat to walk on a leash

Teaching leash manners

Thoughts about pets as holiday gifts

Top ten reasons to keep your cat indoors

Train your cat

Use care with rodent poisons

Water for pets 101

Water safety

Why every pet should know a trick

Fleas and tapeworms:

Tapeworms are a common internal parasite, but flea-free pets don't get tapeworms. Here's why: when a pet has tapeworms, you'll notice little wriggly things about the size and color of a grain of rice protruding from your pet's rectum or in the stool. What you're seeing is the egg sac that's been shed by the tapeworm in your pet. The egg sac is eaten by a flea larva. After the flea matures, when a pet bites the flea off and swallows it, the egg sac hatches inside the pet and the pet develops a tapeworm.

Besides the egg sacs, which are shed intermittently, symptoms of tapeworm infestation include a poor coat, swollen belly, and big appetite. Flea Treats will not get rid of a tapeworm infestation (consult your vet for that)--but once your pet is flea free, you'll never see another infestation. Return to archive index


Teach your cat to walk on a leash:

If you're committed to keeping your cats healthy, teaching them to walk outdoors on a harness and leash is a great idea. It allows your cat access to fresh air and sunshine without exposing it to all the big scary bad things that can happen to cats in the big outdoors world. Here's how to teach your cat to enjoy this:

  • Get a figure-8 harness that's made for cats.
  • Put the loop that would go over the kitty's head on the floor, in a circle shape. Put a treat or some catnip in the center of the circle. When your cat tips its head down to enjoy the treat, gently pull the loop up and over your cat's head. Secure the strap around kitty's chest.
  • If your cat accepts the harness, just leave it on for 30 minutes or so. Then remove it. Praise your cat. If your cat freaks out, remove the harness. Try again tomorrow.
  • Once the cat accepts the harnessing procedure, repeat it once or twice a day for about a week.
  • Now, attach a short line ( 12 inches or so) of cord of some type to the harness. Let the kitty drag that around the house to get used to the bit of weight. Supervise this activity so your cat doesn't get snagged on something in your home.
  • After a week of this exercise, attach a leash to the harness. Walk with your cat indoors. Let the cat set the course and the pace.
  • Now, you're ready for the great outdoors. Some cats will trot down the sidewalk like a dog would. Others prefer to explore their own yards. Let your cat set the agenda, within reason.
  • If you have a mellow, mellow, cat, you may progress through these steps more quickly. A scaredy cat might take a bit longer. If you pay close attention, your cat will let you know when it's time to move on to the next step.
  • Patience will pay off. Walks with your cat can be enjoyable time together for both of you. And your neighbors will be impressed by your clever kitty.Return to archive index


Water for pets 101:

Access to clean, fresh water is crucial to your pet's good health---especially in summer heat.

  • Provide more than one source of water. Place bowls for indoor pets in a variety of rooms; for pets outside, select multiple locations.
  • Outdoors, locate bowls where they won't be contaminated by falling leaves or bird droppings.
  • Place outside bowls in the shade. Water will stay cooler, and metal bowls won't get hot.
  • You might freeze one bowl overnight. The water will thaw over the course of the day. It's harder to spill while it's still frozen, and the water will remain cooler. You can also add ice cubes to a bowl of water to cool it.
  • If your pets tip over their water bowls, look for weighted bowls. Or, secure the bowl to a fence, then fill it from a pitcher. Or buy a valve that screws into a hose bib and dispenses water when the pet licks at it.
  • Clean water bowls regularly. Return to archive index

Breath test for pets:

All of us who share our homes know that doggie breath or tuna mouth doesn't smell as sweet as our human mouths (at least, not to us). But some breath odors can be a sign of a more serious health problem. Read on:

  • Really rank pet breath can signal a dental problem. Take a look at your pet's teeth and gums. Are the teeth nice and white? Are the gums firm and pink? Dingy teeth or red, swollen, or bloody gums could signal that it's time for some dental care. You can find special flavored toothpastes for pets at any reliable pet store (don't use your own toothpaste--pets may swallow it, which isn't a good idea). Use a child's toothbrush or a piece of gauze on your finger. Brush once a week, at least. If a brushing routine doesn't clear up the problem, you might have your vet take a look.
  • Digestive problems can also cause bad breath. You may suspect this problem if you also notice loose stools or other signs of general poor health.
  • Breath that smells like ammonia, or "chemical-y," signals a serious health problem. Kidney problems often cause this type of breath odor. Consult your veterinarian immediately if you notice this type of odor on your pet's breath. Return to archive index


Water safety:

  • If you have a backyard pool or spa, make sure your pets know how to get out of the water. A dog chasing a cat, or a cat chasing a bird, can land in the water without realizing they were headed that way and panic. Teach them how to get out safely. Better yet, fence off the pool or spa so they can't get to it without your supervision.
  • If you take your pets boating, either keep them tethered on a lead too short to allow them to jump over the side and hang, or fit them with pet life preservers.
  • If you take your dog to the beach or to a lake, limit swim time. Your pet may swim to exhaustion just to please you, and drown. Adjust your water time to suit your pet's fitness level. Return to archive index


Controlling bad bugs in your yard:

If you're using Flea Treats for your pets, you don't need to worry about fleas in your yard. They won't jump on your pets even when your animals are playing outdoors. But if you have children who play on the lawn, the fleas could go after them. Or you may have problems with beetles or other unpleasant creatures invading your garden.

One excellent method of control is the use of beneficial nematodes. These microscopic worms feed on flea larvae and eggs and also eat grubs--which grow up to become beetles.

You can buy beneficial nematodes at any garden center that carries organic gardening supplies or you can order them by mail or over the internet. You spray them onto the lawn with a sprayer attached to your hose. One caveat: They're living beings. You need to keep your landscape watered so they don't dry out and die.

Another possibility is the use of diatomaceous earth. This white powdery substance is actually the fossilized remains of diatoms, tiny little critters. To us it feels like talcum powder, but under a microscope you can see sharp jagged edges. The diatomaceous earth pierces soft bodied bugs (like flea larvae and snails) when they crawl across it, causing them to die. If you decide to use diatomaceous earth, be sure to buy the pure kind that isn't chemically treated. The type sold for use in swimming pool filters is treated with chemicals that you don't want. Sprinkle it on the ground on your lawn and in garden beds. Be sure the area you're treating is dry--wet diatomaceous earth has no effect on the bugs. Fence off the area to keep your pets out--it isn't poisonous, but it isn't wonderful if they inhale the powder. For the same reason, wear a dust mask as you apply it to the ground. After a few days, rake it around and water it in. At this point, the pets can have access to the treated area. We use DE each spring to control snails and other unwanted garden pests. We fence off half the yard, treat it, then move the fence and treat the other side of the yard. Return to archive index


Foxtails are the seeds of a specific grass. Many other grass seeds are also loosely referred to as "foxtails" and plenty of other plants also produce sharp or sticky seeds. These plant parts can harm or even kill your pet.

Foxtails are those little plume-shaped grass seeds that we see everywhere this time of year. They were designed to allow the plant to reseed and reproduce. Thus they have a sharp, pointy end, and some feathery foliage on the other end. In nature, the point falls to the ground, and a breeze catches in the feathery part to help drive the seed into the soil. On your pet, these seeds and others can cause big problems.

Foxtails can burrow into an eye, ear, nose, between the pads of the foot, or any other tender part of your pet. There they can cause abscess, secondary infection and other related miseries. Untreated, the ensuing problems can kill your pet.

If your pet has sniffed up a foxtail, caught one between the pads of a foot, or has one lodged in the ear, you'll likely know about it. The pet will sneeze violently and repeatedly if the foxtail is in the nose. A foxtail in the pad will cause limping and a lump may develop. A foxtail in the ear will cause head shaking, pawing at the ear, and rubbing the ear on the ground. Any of these situations is a potentially life threatening emergency and should be assessed by your vet. These little monsters can migrate into a vital organ if left to their own devices.

Prevention is better than cure, of course. In your own yard, keep the grass mowed and sticker-producing weeds pulled to minimize exposure. Don't walk your dogs through fields of high, dry grasses. Develop the habit of inspecting ears, noses and paws after your pets return from an outdoor adventure. A foxtail can be removed if it's spotted before it burrows into the animal. Some varieties have barbs like a fishhook--if you're not sure whether the foxtail is embedded, play it safe and ask your vet for help. Return to archive index

Be prepared for a pet health emergency:

It can happen at the worst possible time, and usually does: Sparky slips out the gate and is hit by a car. Tiger eats the lily plant that you thought was safely out of reach. What to do? Here are three important suggestions to help you through an emergency:

  • Know your regular vet's emergency protocol. Some vets will refer you to a 24 hour emergency clinic. Others have an answering service or carry a pager. Learn your vet's emergency plan before you have a catastrophe. Locate the emergency clinic, if that is the option offered to you. Have back up plans in mind for after-hours care.
  • Keep first aid supplies on hand. Consult your vet, a good pet first aid book, or take a class in pet first aid from the American Red Cross. Have the essentials on hand.
  • Contact Animal Poison Control. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a fee-basis phone consultation for animal poisoning emergencies. Contact them at 1-888-4ANI HELP (1-888-426-4435) or visit their web site.

With a bit of luck, you'll never have a pet health emergency. But it never hurts to be prepared. Return to archive index

Spay or neuter your pet--it's important:

Why spay or neuter?

  • Overpopulation: According to SpayUSA, 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the United States every day. Many of these newborns will never make their way into loving homes. The lucky ones will be euthanized. Less fortunate ones will starve, be hit by cars, attacked by other animals, contract diseases, or be tortured by humans.
  • Better buddies: Your pets will be calmer and less likely to roam if you've had them surgically altered.
  • Healthier pets: Your pets will not be susceptible to dangerous diseases of the reproductive organs if they're fixed. They're much less likely to get breast cancer, as well. You won't face the additional veterinary expenses of an animal pregnancy (which, like pregnancy in humans, can present life-threatening complications). And you won't be as likely to have wounds from fights with other animals to deal with.

Spay and neuter resources

  • Contact SpayUSA. They're a national organization, providing referrals for low cost services in your area. Click here to visit their web site, or call them toll-free at 1-800-248-SPAY.
  • Check with your local humane society. They're a great source of referrals and information for spay and neuter services in your town. Check our Project Happy Birthday page or look in your local phone book.
  • Talk to your vet. Many vets offer special prices, as well as "family plans" for folks with many pets. Return to archive index


Organize your pet transportation supplies:

  • Keep leashes on hooks near a door. If you have a large home, you might store two sets of leashes--one near the front door and one near the back door.
  • Hang a supply of plastic bags on a hook with the leashes so they'll be handy for clean up during walks.
  • Don't store crates disassembled. They take up a bit more room "built up," but they're ready when you need them.
  • If you use a ramp to load pets into the car (a good idea for your back and for theirs) try a piece of plywood covered with carpet. You can make it yourself for very little money, and you can store it on its side behind the front seat of your vehicle.

We think these are good ideas for a few reasons. First, if you have an "escape artist" in the house, grab the leash or crate when you're on the way out the door to retrieve the runaway. It'll make it easier to bring your pet safely home. Second, should you ever need to evacuate your home, you'll know exactly where to find the equipment you need to take your pets with you. Return to archive index

A spring holiday plea: Please, remember: Chicks, ducklings, and baby rabbits aren't toys. They're living beings. If you want to give a child a special gift this spring, choose a stuffed animal. Then take the child to the park to feed the ducks. Some fresh air and sunshine are sure to do you both good. Return to archive index

Perimeter check: If you're like many of us, you get up in the morning, feed your critters, and then let them outside to enjoy the sunshine. A secure outdoor area is good for your pet's well-being, if you ensure that your yard is safe. Here's how:

  • Take a walk around the edge of your yard. Is the gate closed? Are any fence boards loose?
  • Check for toadstools. Springtime is toadstool time, and they can be deadly to pets. Remove any that you find. They can sprout up overnight, so be sure to check every morning.
  • Do you see anything unusual in your yard? Has some debris or trash appeared overnight? Worse yet, has some evil person tossed something into your yard that could harm your pets? If you see anything that doesn't belong, remove it.
  • The morning check is a good time to remove any waste from the day before. Sanitation is important to your pet's good health.
  • Is your pet's outdoor water supply fresh and clean?

It only takes a few moments to survey your pet's play area each morning. The morning air is a great invigorator for you. And after a few days, your pet will probably accompany you on your rounds. You'll have extra peace of mind knowing that your pet's environment is safe, and you'll enjoy the morning tonic, as well.  Return to archive index

Pet therapy:

Pet therapy, or pet-assisted therapy, programs provide well-behaved pets (and their humans) to visit hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, schools, and other similar institutes. The premise behind pet therapy is that people benefit by contact with pets.

Is your pet a candidate? Here's a brief list of qualifications:

  • Therapy pets remain calm in new environments and welcome interaction with all kinds of people.
  • Therapy pets are clean and healthy.
  • Therapy pets are well behaved.
  • Therapy pets enjoy being petted and talked to by strangers.
  • Therapy pets are not spooked by wheelchairs, walkers, or other apparatus.
  • Therapy pets belong to people who are willing to spend some time to help others enjoy the benefits of contact with pets.

People who volunteer their pets for therapy work will accompany the pet to the assigned location and visit the people there with the pet. Humans involved in this work report that the rewards are incredible.

To get more information about pet therapy, call your local humane society or search the web under the keyword "pet therapy." You'll find a wealth of information. Return to archive index

Aloe vera for pet first aid:

Aloe vera, also called the medicine plant or the burn plant, has long been recognized for its ability to sooth damaged skin. It makes a good choice for pets because it provides temporary relief on contact for hot spots, bites, clipper burns, and many other skin irritations that our pets may occasionally experience. Aloe vera is also nontoxic, so we needn't worry about our pets ingesting it if they lick their owies.

Which brings us to the second reason why aloe is a good choice: it has a bitter taste. Thus, an application of aloe vera may discourage your pet from licking at the irritated skin. Licking can slow healing, so any easy ways to discourage licking are welcome.

We grow aloe vera in our yard and cut a leaf open to use the gel inside when any of the family members (two- or four-legged) has a skin problem. The plants are easy to grow and hardy. If you live in an area where the plant won't thrive, or if you're not a gardener, you can buy pure aloe vera gel at most any health food store. Return to archive index

Be a good neighbor---and help your pet to be one, too:

  • People who don't own pets (and many of us who do) get really annoyed by folks who don't clean up after their pets. If your dog does her business on the neighbor's lawn, or on public property, pick it up.
  • Double ditto for roaming cats. The big complaints here are dug-up gardens, urine smells from cats spraying doors or exterior walls, and footprints on cars (in about that order, according to our not very scientific survey). Help your cat to be a better neighbor by restricting his access to other people's property.
  • Our dogs' happy voices may be music to our ears, but our neighbors, apparently, don't appreciate the sound as we do. If you have a barker, figure out the problem. Is the dog bored? Lonely? Then fix it. Your neighbors will thank you. By the way, people mention daytime barking as often as they do nighttime barking. Many people work nights or have toddlers who nap.
  • Is your pet a neighborhood celebrity? Along with the complaints we hear from households without pets, we have a surprising number of people who stop by to tell us about the neighborhood dog that stops on her daily walk to greet them, and how it makes their day to visit with the pooch. Or they'll tell us about the neighborhood cat who's added their home to his evening "buffet line" and how much they look forward to his visits. Your pet could be doing therapy work right on your own street!

It's worth paying attention to our neighbors' complaints. People who've had an unsatisfactory relationship with a neighbor's pets are most likely to argue against public dog parks and push for limits on numbers and kinds of pets that we may keep. The truly sick amongst them may harm or even kill your pet. Help your pet to be a model neighbor. The rewards may surprise you. Return to archive index

Homemade and very efficient pooper-scooper:

  • Acquire (buy, barter, search the garage sales) a metal dustpan with a hollow, round, metal handle.
  • Bend the hollow round handle up so it's at nearly a 90 degree angle to the dustpan itself.
  • Insert an old broomstick in the handle.
  • Use an old hoe to scoop the poops from the yard into the dustpan. Then you can easily deposit them in a trash receptacle.

We've used lots of different products designed to make yard clean up easier. In our humble opinion, this homemade jobbie (we actually bought ours at a swap meet, all put together, for a dollar) is easier to use than any of the fancy gadgets we've tried. Return to archive index


Managing the multiple pet household:

  • Respect their hierarchy. At our house, Gracie is top dog. Ti'i is top cat. But Ti'i can still boss Gracie around. Animals work out their pack structure, sometimes even across species. Don't try to alter it.
  • Don't intervene in minor squabbles. Let the pets establish their social order. Do be prepared to step in if a squabble turns into a real fight with threat of injury.
  • Develop routines with each animal. Make special time for every one. Ti'i and Opie like to share morning newspaper time with their mom. Glory looks forward to an evening snuggle on the couch. Hina looks forward to her humans' bedtime as a special quiet time with her people.
  • Routines that involve more than one of your pets at a time can also help them bond. Gracie, Glory, and Opie line up for "fruit time with dad" most every evening. They look forward to a piece of apple or a grape and they're learning that everyone gets a treat with a bit of patience. This ritual works only with close human supervision. Don't set up a situation where your pets compete for food. In our home, the dogs eat on the front porch, the cats eat on the kitchen counter, the pig eats in his little sleeping pen, and the tortoise eats in her terrarium. If the dogs or cats weren't good "sharers," we'd provide each dog or cat with a "dining room" separate from the other.
  • Provide enough bedding for each pet to have its own favorite sleeping place.
  • If you have cats, make sure they have some privacy at the litter box. We use baby gates (the cats jump over them) to keep the dogs and pig out of the cats' "bathroom." This approach also prevents dogs from snacking out of the litter box, which can pose a health hazard. You may need more than one box if you have a two story home or more than one cat.
  • Alter your pets. They'll get along better. If you have more than one of the same species, have them altered at the same time so they're both "recuperating" and one isn't being disturbed by the other's attempts to play.
  • Although each of your pets will win a special place in your heart, and you may have a secret favorite, try to be evenhanded in doling out walks, affection, play time, and all the other goodies that our pets crave from us.
  • If you scold as a form of discipline, make it clear that you're scolding only one individual so the others aren't confused as to your expectations.
  • One of the real joys of opening your home and heart to more than one animal, or to more than one species, is that we gain a greater appreciation of their individuality. Don't expect them all to be the same.
  • Be extra vigilant about sanitation. Wash your hands often, and keep your pets' living spaces clean. Otherwise you may spread internal parasites or other bad things between the animals. Return to archive index

Keeping your pet's outdoor environment comfortable:

  • Clean up the poop. This simple step provides an environment that's healthier for your pet and more pleasant for everyone.
  • Keep clean water available at all times (this goes for outside cats, too).
  • Make sure your pet has a warm dry place to relax.
  • Include a soft place for your pet to lie down. Lying on concrete or other hard surfaces is hard on a dog's joints. An old blanket, sleeping bag, or extra dog bed helps to keep your dog comfortable and healthy. Even if the dog is free to come in and out and has a bed indoors, provide one outdoors too.
  • Make sure that fences and gates are secure so that your pet is safe in your yard.
  • Remember that dogs are social and need to be with their people. Please don't leave your pet outside all the time. Return to archive index



Giardia lamblia or Giardia intestinalis are two names for the same critter. Both people and pets can be infected with giardiasis if the protozoan is consumed. People usually catch giardiasis by drinking stream water (backpackers and hikers are at special risk). Dogs and cats tend to pick it up from the environment. One to two percent of pets shed the cysts that carry the protozoan without any sign of infection themselves. In many-animal environments, like shelters and kennels, the rate increases to about 10 percent. Pets pick up the cysts that other animals have passed in their feces and may become infected as a result.

The signs of giardiasis in pets are a pale, soft, foul-smelling, greasy-looking stools, weight loss, and loss of appetite. A specific diagnosis can be difficult, because the cysts are shed in the stool intermittently. Some vets will treat for the disease if they suspect it--improvement of symptoms following treatment is seen as a validation of the diagnosis.

A vaccine is available against giardiasis in dogs. If your dog spends a lot of time in an environment where the risk of infection is increased (dog parks, kennels, on hikes with you) you may discuss this option with your vet. Return to archive index

Keep pet dishes clean:

A quick little tip to promote good health: when you do dishes, don't forget your pet's dishes. Bacteria can grow in bits of food left behind, creating an unhealthy dining experience for your buddy. Wash food and water dishes often--bowls used for wet food should be washed between each meal. Use hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly. This task is easier if you have a good supply of dishes on hand. Look for them on sale or order in quantity, so you have enough to keep clean bowls handy for your pet.

While you're at it, be sure to disinfect the cat's litter box each time you change it. A weak bleach solution in water does a great job. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with plain water after each cleaning. Return to archive index

Simple suggestions to promote healthy weight in your pets:

  • Measure your pet's daily food ration. Don't just "eyeball" it. It's easy to overfeed when we estimate the daily amount we're feeding. Keep a measuring cup with your pet's food supply for convenience.
  • Make a walk or a play session part of your daily routine. Your pet will enjoy the attention, and you'll both be healthier for it.
  • Eliminate "people food" from your pet's diet.
  • Make sure the food you're offering is appropriate to your pet's age and activity level.
  • Read labels. Know what's in your pet's food.
  • Check with your vet before making any drastic changes in your pet's diet or routine. Return to archive index

Inexpensive toys and equipment for your pets:

Many of these things are either already around your house or easy to find for next to nothing at a thrift shop or tag sale. Take a look at our list--you're sure to find something your pet will enjoy.

  • Bean bag chairs--we have a few of these around the house and the office. The dogs and cats love to sleep on them; Opie the piglet likes to burrow beneath them. They're covered in vinyl, so they're easy to clean. Our dogs especially like to turn around in them a few times to make a comfy nest for a nap.
  • Paper bags and cardboard boxes--universal favorites of cats. Sprinkle a little catnip inside for a special treat.
  • Treat balls--start with a clean, empty plastic gallon milk carton. Punch a few holes through the plastic. Toss some kibble or treats inside and replace the cap. Dogs will push this toy around and around, waiting for a morsel to fall out. Check to see that the holes will permit the treats to pass through them.
  • Frozen wash cloths--these make a nice teething toy for puppies (or piglets) and adult pets often enjoy them too. Just wet an old washcloth, roll it up, and put it in the freezer. When it's frozen, offer it to the pet.
  • Ice cubes in the water bowl--Our cats will play for hours with ice cubes floating in their bowl.
  • If you have a bird feeder, place it outside within view of your housecat's favorite window. It's like theater for cats.

We hope our little list has you thinking of fun things for your pets that won't cost you a bundle. Send us your suggestions and we'll post them here. Return to archive index

Spend a quiet moment with your pets over the holidays:

This week's tip is short and simple: Remember to stop amidst the holiday buzz and give your best buddy a little extra love. It'll do you both good. And keep your furry friends inside on New Year's Eve, as fireworks could frighten them (and "celebratory" gunfire could kill them). Best wishes for a healthy and happy 2001 from the FTI critters and their humans. Return to archive index

Cat gardening:

Many cats enjoy a bit of "salad" now and then. For your house cat (or your cat who goes out but whose green buffet line is buried under snow) you can grow greens for your cat. It's easy!

  • Start with raw, whole grain as your "seed." We've had good luck with barley, wheat, and rye. You can buy these in bulk (you only need a little bit) at a health food store if your local nursery doesn't carry these types of seed.
  • Select a pot and fill it with sterile potting soil. Don't use soil with chemical fertilizer additives.
  • Sprinkle the seed thickly over the top of the soil.
  • Moisten the soil, cover with clear plastic wrap and place in a sunny window.
  • As soon as the seeds sprout, remove the plastic wrap. Keep the soil moist.
  • In just a few weeks, you'll have a stand of "greens" for your cat. Just set the pot down where your cat can get to it.
  • Start pots at two week intervals if you want a steady supply.
  • Catnip can be difficult to start from seed, but most nurseries carry it in the herb department. A small pot should only cost about $1.39.
  • Keep this one where your cat can't disturb it!
  • Harvest leaves, spread them to dry, and offer them to your cat.
  • If you never take more than 1/3 of the leaves at a time, the plant should live a long time. Catnip is a perennial.
  • Repot your catnip plant if it becomes rootbound. Return to archive index

Some suggestions for ID tags:

  • If your pet wears two ID tags, such as a license and a tag with personal information, attach them to the collar with separate d-rings or s-hooks. Our Gracie's d-ring broke not long ago. She was at home at the time, so we were able to retrieve both tags, but the hunt through the yard would have been shorter if we'd only been looking for one tag. And of course, if she had been lost, losing both tags in one swoop would have been a disaster.
  • No matter if it's one tag or more, make sure that d-ring or s-hook is sturdy. You can bet we replaced Gracie's tags on separate, more durable d-rings.
  • If the noise of tags jingling disturbs you, tape them together (information side out) to quiet them.
  • If you have a pager or a cell phone, list that number on your pet's personal identification. That way, if the worst should happen and your pet becomes lost, you can be out looking and still receive calls from people who've seen or found your pet. Return to archive index

Thoughts about pets as holiday gifts:

  • If you're thinking of a new pet for your own family, good for you! They're a wonderful addition to family life. Maybe the children have been begging for a puppy, or your spouse has grown wistful over memories of a childhood feline friend. But unless you're a hermit, please wait until after the new year to bring the new pet home. Holidays are busy, stressful times. Puppies and kittens need constant supervision and you'll be up in the night to provide proper care. Is this a burden you can meet during this hectic time of year? If you're planning to adopt an adult pet, bravo. But even grown up dogs and cats need extra TLC while they adjust to a new home. Both babies and adults need special training to learn the rules at your house, and if you wait to begin training until after the holidays, the animal has had a week or so to learn habits that you may not like. This makes the pet's job of learning the ropes at your home much more difficult. Do everyone a favor and add the new fur-face after the holiday season is over.
  • If you're considering giving a gift of a live animal to a friend or family member, be absolutely certain that the recipient would welcome the specific animal you have in mind. Are you willing to keep and care for the pet for its lifetime if the recipient doesn't want it? If you're not, better to choose another gift. Even if you're certain the pet will be welcomed, you'll want to wait until after the holiday to offer it to your intended recipient for all the reasons listed above.

So what's the solution? Present your kids, spouse, partner, or friend with a stuffed animal representing the gift and a "gift certificate" for an outing to your local shelter (or other source of pets--but we hope you'll start at the shelter) to choose the new animal after the holiday is over. This way, you can present your gift on the holiday, but the wonderful task of integrating a new pet into the family is delayed until life at home has returned to its routine. Return to archive index

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FTI Pet Products
P.O. Box 969
Oceanside, California 92049-0969
760.433.3888 or toll free: 1.888.FLEA TREat (888.353.2873)

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