Nocturnal Cat Activity
Cats may be known for their propensity to sleep away a good portion of their lives but when they are awake, cats can be very active. These periods of activity often happen during the night. The cat may want to play, eat, or simply want company. Young cats in particular can drive their owners crazy from sleep deprivation!
Your cat’s ancestor, the African wildcat, is predominantly nocturnal. Domestication has shifted the cat’s activity patterns to be more diurnal (awake during the day), but they still tend to wake at least twice during the night. The good news is that your can retrain your cat to let you sleep in peace.
IMPORTANT: If you own a cat who has traditionally not bothered you, but is now restlessly wandering about the house and crying during the night, there may be an underlying medical problem. If your cat is also eating noticeably more, she may have an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism), which can be easily controlled with medication. To be on the safe side, have the cat checked by your veterinarian.
WHAT TO DO: - Schedule a few play sessions with your cat during the evening. Interactive play is best, using toys that mimic the movement of mice and birds, such as cat dancers and kitty teasers. Games with Ping-Pong balls, soft balls, and furry “mice” toys are great for kitties who like to fetch. Try to play until the cat is tired. - Feed the cat a main meal just before your bedtime. Cats tend to sleep after a big meal. If your cat continues to wake you during the night for food, obtain a timed feeder that you can set to open once or twice, with fresh food, during the night. The cat will learn to wait by the feeder rather than bother you. Make sure you adjust meal sizes so your cat doesn’t gain weight. - Incorporate a variety of enrichment activities to keep your cat busy during the day. The more active your cat is during the day, the more likely she will sleep at night. See our information on enrichment for helpful tips. - If your cat is social with other cats, consider adding a second cat to your family. If the cats are compatible, they will play with each other and be more likely to leave you alone. But be forewarned—conversely, they may both decide to play during the night! - If your cat tries to play with you or wake you while you’re sleeping, you may need to banish the cat from your bedroom. Playful cats have been known to unintentionally injure their sleeping owners—for instance, the cat may notice your eyes moving under your lids and swat at your face in play. If your cat cries and scratches at the door, you can discourage her by placing something she dislikes in front of the door, such as vinyl carpet-runner (placed upside-down to expose the knobby feet), double-sided sticky tape, foil, or a Scat Mat™. Alternatively, you can set up a “booby trap” outside your door. For example, mount your blow dryer or place your vacuum cleaner by the door and plug it into a remote switch, which you can find at Radio Shack. When your cat wakes you, you can hit a button on the remote to turn on the appliance. The startled cat will be unlikely to return to your door after that!
WHAT NOT TO DO: - Do not get up and attend to the cat—unless, of course, you suspect something is wrong. If you rise and feed the cat, play with her, or even interact with her for a few minutes, you are reinforcing the cat for waking you up. She will likely become more persistent each subsequent night. Even scolding the cat is unlikely to work, because negative attention is better than no attention at all for some cats.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Nocturnal Cat Activity
House Soiling by Your Cat
At least ten percent of all cats develop an elimination problem. Some cats stop using the box altogether, while some only use the box for urination, and some cats go both in and out of the box. Most litter box problems stem from a change in the cat’s preferred substrate or location of the box, or when the cat develops an aversion to the box or the area around the box. Sometimes an elimination problem will develop as a result of conflict between cats in the home.
What cats want The majority of cats prefer: - a large box that is easy to enter, with a low to moderate level of litter;- an uncovered box;- either the type of litter on which they were trained on or clumping litter;- unscented litter;- a box that is located in a quiet but not “cornered” location—i.e., the cat likes to be able to see if someone is approaching, and they like to have more than one exit;- above all, cats want a CLEAN box.
WHAT TO DO:1. It is imperative to evaluate and rule out a medical cause for the problem. Have your cat checked thoroughly by your veterinarian first.2. Remove covers from litter boxes.3. Give the cat a choice of litter types. Cats generally prefer unscented clumping litter with a medium to fine texture. 4. Scoop at least once a day. Once a week, clean the entire box with warm water (no soap) and completely replace litter.5. Clean “accidents” thoroughly with an enzymatic cleanser designed to neutralize the odor.6. If the cat is soiling around just a few spots in the home, place litter boxes there. If it is not possible put a box in one of these spots, place the cat’s food bowl, water bowl, bed, and/or toys in the area to discourage elimination.7. Offer different types of litter in boxes placed side-by-side to allow the cat to demonstrate his preferences for litter type.
WHAT NOT TO DO: - Do not rub the cat’s nose in his elimination.- Do not scold the cat and carry or drag him to the litter box.- Do not use an ammonia-based cleanser. Urine contains ammonia, and cleaning with an ammonia-based formula could attract the cat back to the same spot to urinate again.
Special Tips for Multi-Cat HouseholdsAs a general rule, the number of boxes available should be at least one more than the number of cats in the home (i.e. 3 cats = 4 boxes).
Sometimes an elimination problem develops as a result of conflict between cats in the home. If you have multiple cats and aren’t sure which cat is soiling, speak with your veterinarian about administering fluorescein, a harmless dye, to the cat (either by injection, Fluorescite injection 10 percent, 0.3 ml subcutaneously, or orally, 0.5 mL of the same solution). The dye does not stain carpeting, but causes the urine to fluoresce blue for 24 hours under an ultraviolet light. Alternatively, cats can be confined, one at a time, to determine which cat is soiling.
General Cat Care
What you’ll need to know to keep your companion feline happy and healthy.
BackgroundCats were domesticated sometime between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago, in Africa and the Middle East. Small wild cats started hanging out where humans stored their grain. When humans saw cats up close and personal, they began to admire felines for their beauty and grace.There are many different breeds of cats--from the hairless Sphynx and the fluffy Persian to the silvery spotted Egyptian mau. But the most popular felines of all are non-pedigree—that includes brown tabbies, black-and-orange tortoiseshells, all-black cats with long hair, striped cats with white socks and everything in between.
CostWhen you first get your cat, you’ll need to spend about $25 for a litter box, $10 for a collar, and $30 for a carrier. Food runs about $170 a year, plus $50 annually for toys and treats, $175 annually for litter and an average of $150 for veterinary care every year. The best place to get a cat? Your local shelter! Please visit our shelter directory to find shelters and rescue groups in your area.
Note: Make sure you have all your supplies (see our checklist) before you bring your new pet home.
Feeding - An adult cat should be fed one large or two or three smaller meals each day. - Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks must eat four times a day. - Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day.
You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes, or keep dry food available at all times. We recommend a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food; avoid generic brands. You will need to provide fresh, clean water at all times, and wash and refill water bowls daily.
Although cat owners of old were told to give their pets a saucer of milk, cats do not easily digest cow’s milk, which can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Treats are yummy for cats, but don't go overboard. Most packaged treats contain lots of sugar and fat, which can pack on the pounds. Some cats like fresh fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, corn or cantaloupe. You can offer these once in awhile.
If your kitten is refusing food or isn’t eating enough, try soaking her kitten food in warm water. If that doesn’t work, kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with her regular food.
GroomingMost cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but you should brush or comb your cat regularly. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat's coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs.
HandlingTo pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck or by the front legs.
HousingYour pet should have her own clean, dry place in your home to sleep and rest. Line your cat's bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. Cats who are allowed outdoors can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, or get into fights with other free-roaming cats and dogs. Also, cats may prey on native wildlife.
IdentificationIf allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat must wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. And if your pet is indoors-only, an ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
Litter BoxAll indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat's box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day.
Keep in mind that cats won't use a messy, smelly litter box, so scoop solid wastes out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent and refill at least once a week; you can do this less frequently if using clumping litter. Don't use ammonia, deodorants or scents, especially lemon, when cleaning the litter box.
Behavior InformationPlayCats delight in stalking imaginary prey. The best toys are those that can be made to jump and dance around and look alive. Your cat can safely act out her role as a predator by pouncing on toys instead of people's ankles. Please don't use your hands or fingers as play objects with kittens. This type of rough play may cause biting and scratching behaviors to develop as your kitten matures.
ScratchingCats need to scratch! When a cat scratches, the old outer nail sheath is pulled off and the sharp, smooth claws underneath are exposed. Cutting your cat’s nails every two to three weeks will keep them relatively blunt and less likely to harm the arms of both humans and furniture.
Provide your cat with a sturdy scratching post, at least three feet high, which will allow her to stretch completely when scratching. The post should also be stable enough that it won't wobble during use, and should be covered with rough material such as sisal, burlap or tree bark. Many cats also like scratching pads. A sprinkle of catnip once or twice a month will keep your cat interested in her post or pad.
HealthYour cat should see the veterinarian at least once a year for an examination and annual shots, and immediately if she is sick or injured.
Ear MitesThese tiny parasites are a common problem that can be transmitted from cat to cat. If your cat is constantly scratching at his ears or shaking his head, he may be infested with ear mites. You will need to call your vet, as your cat's ears will need to be thoroughly cleaned before medication is dispensed.
Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS)Both males and females can develop this lower urinary inflammation, also called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Signs of FUS include frequent trips to the litter box, blood in the urine and crying out or straining when urinating. If your male cat looks "constipated," he may have a urethral obstruction and can’t urinate. This can be fatal if not treated quickly. Urethral blockages are rare in females. About five percent of cats are affected with FUS. Special diets may help prevent this condition.
Fleas and TicksFlea infestation should be taken seriously. These tiny parasites feed off of your pet, transmit tapeworms and irritate the skin. Carefully check your cat once a week for fleas and ticks. If there are fleas on your cat, there will be fleas in your house. You may need to use flea bombs or premise-control sprays, and be sure to treat all animals in your house. Take care that any sprays, powders or shampoos you use are safe for cats, and that all products are compatible when used together. Cats die every year from improper treatment with flea and tick control products. Please contact your veterinarian for the most effective flea control program for your pet.
Medicines and PoisonsNever give your cat medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. For example, did you know that acetominophin and aspirin can be FATAL to a cat?! Keep rat poison or other rodenticides away from your cat. If you suspect that your animal has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for 24-hour animal poison information at (888) 426- 4435.
Spaying and NeuteringFemale cats should be spayed and male cats neutered by six months of age. Neutering a male (removing the testicles) can prevent urine spraying, decrease the urge to escape outside and look for a mate, and reduce fighting between males. Spaying a female (removing the ovaries and uterus) helps prevent breast cancer, which is usually fatal, and pyometra (uterus infection), a very serious problem in older females that must be treated with surgery and intensive medical care. Since cats can breed up to three times per year, it is vital that your female feline be spayed to prevent her from having unwanted litters.
Vaccinations* Kittens should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a “3 in 1”) at 2, 3 and 4 months of age, and then annually. This vaccine protects cats from panleukopenia (also called feline distemper), calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. If you have an unvaccinated cat older than four months of age, he will need a series of two vaccinations given 2 to 3 weeks apart, followed by yearly vaccinations.
* There is a vaccine available for feline leukemia virus (FeLV). This is one of the two immune system viruses (retroviruses) that infect cats. The other is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). There is no vaccine available for FIV. Cats can be infected with either virus for months, even years, without any indication that they are carrying a fatal virus. All cats should be tested for these viruses.
FeLV and FIV can be transmitted at birth from the mother or through the bite of an infected cat. Neither virus can infect humans. Many outdoor and stray cats and kittens carry this infection. Because of the fatal nature of these diseases, you should not expose cats already living in your home by taking in untested cats or kittens. To be safe, keep your cat indoors—but if your cat does go outside, he should be vaccinated against the feline leukemia virus. Remember, no vaccine is 100-percent effective.Rabies vaccination is required by law in most areas of the country. Ask your veterinarian if you are unsure of the laws in your area.
Please note, if your companion cat gets sick because he is not properly vaccinated, the vaccinations should be given after your pet has recovered.
WormsKittens and cats can be infected with several types of worms. The key to treatment is correct diagnosis. This will ensure that the medication is effective against the parasite your pet has. A dewormer that eliminates roundworms, for example, will not kill tapeworms. Your veterinarian can best determine the culprit—and prescribe the appropriate medication.
Cat Supply Checklist - Premium-brand cat food- Food dish- Water bowl- Interactive toys- Brush- Comb- Safety cat collar with ID tag- Scratching post or scratching pad- Litter box- Litter- Cat carrier - Cat bed or box with warm blanket or towel
At What Age Should I Spay
Or Neuter My Dog or Cat?
Ron Hines DVM PhD
There are allot of conflicting recommendations as to the best age to spay or neuter your pet. Traditionally, veterinarians suggested that dogs be neutered at six months of age. In the majority of dogs, this precedes the first heat cycle in females and the onset of male dog behavior ( lifting their leg to pee, showing of sexual interest, roaming, aggression). Smaller breeds of dogs tend to mature a bit faster than larger breeds so many toy and miniature breeds were spayed at five months of age.
Female cats reach sexual mature more rapidly than most dogs. I have found that once a female cat weighs 4.5 pounds, it is often fertile; and it usually becomes pregnant on its first estrus (heat) cycle. Males cats mature more slowly and when they do breed, it is usually someone else's pet that becomes pregnant. If your male cat has begun to spray urine in the house, it is time to get him fixed. However, many male cats never spray. Un-neutered male cats should never be allowed out-of-doors unsupervised. If they are simply shown the door, they will invariably get into fights with more dominant Tomcats and become injured.
American Heartland families would often allow their new pet to have one litter so the pet or the family's children could experience the "miracle of birth".
As humane organizations and animal shelters became more common and powerful, popular recommendations changed. Shelters and animal rights advocates are opposed to the indiscriminate breeding of pets. They have good reason for this - the more unwanted puppies and kittens that are born, the more difficulty these groups have in finding homes for them and the more likely it is that these youngsters must be "put down"(killed). Many shelters are so adamantly opposed to this, that they have strict bylaws or rules that no un-neutered pets can be adopted. That is why they favor early spaying. They also know that if a pet they have adopted out is not neutered in it's first 8 months, it is unlikely to ever be neutered. So, for them, this is a social, not a medical, issue. I know of no medical or behavioral reason to neuter a pet before its estrogen or testosterone levels begin to rise. By definition,this does not occur, in immature animals.
Some veterinarians prefer to neuter very young pets because their ovaries or testes (testicles) are still quite small. In this condition, there are less blood vessels that need to be tied off (ligated, sutured) so the risk of bleeding is much less. On rare occasions, female pets have died do to loss of blood when surgery did not go as planned. In very infantile (young) puppies and kitten, no suture need be used internally, instead all internal incisions are made with an electric knife called a cautery.
Veterinarians also appreciate that healthy, immature animals heal and rebound sorapidly after surgery. There are also economic incentives to neutering pets at a very young age.
Neutering pets was never part of God's design or Plan. We do it to ameliorate problems that we and these animals experience as humans adapt Nature to their own desires.
It is my personal opinion that estrogen, testosterone and other chemicals, secreted or influenced by the ovaries and testes (testicles), are quite important in the normal, healthy, development of dogs and cats. These hormones affect everything from brain and bone development to the percentage of fat in the body. There are likely many other lingering hormonal influences on the body that we do not yet understand. Because of this, I do not suggest that dogs or cats be spay at a very young age.
I have examined a great many puppies and kittens. I have never seen an instance where I felt that a puppy or kitten needed to be neutered before sexual maturity was imminent. I developed a way to decide the best time to neuter pets - I am sure many veterinarians made the same observations. Just before a pet reaches sexual maturity, permanent, upper canine teeth (fangs) replaced the ones they had as puppies or kittens. When these permanent teeth first erupt, every pet I have ever examined was still immature and showed no sexual traits. But very soon after these new teeth reached their final length, sex hormones begin to rise. That is when I set an upcoming appointment to spay the pet within 14 days. If, for some reason, you can not have the surgery in female pets, securely confine your pet and allow it to complete it's first heat cycle before scheduling the surgery. This surgery can be done during estrus (their period) but it becomes a much more serious operation and the crash in hormones must be quite uncomfortable.
Decisions based on hormonal analysis of the blood of your pet might be more scientific. But I have observed through many years of practice that examination of the canine teeth is quite accurate and effective.
Waiting too long to spay your pet is also not a good idea. After dogs mature, they often deposit abdominal fat that increases the difficulty of the surgery. Waiting too long can also lead to your veterinarian into having to spay a pregnant pet. Also, the tendency of older female dogs to develop breast tumors increase a function of age at spaying. (Please see Threads below)
Source: All Creature Care
What Should I Feed My Cat ?
Ron Hines DVM PhD
Good nutrition and a balanced diet are essential for health. People often ask me what they should feed their cats. Over the years, I have made some observations on the health of cats fed an enormous variety of diets. Here are some of my conclusions.
In the last few years, raw meat diets have become popular. I am hesitant to recommend them because I have seen several catteries contaminated with Salmonella infection which I believe was caused by feeding raw meat. All of the known vitamins, present in raw meat, have been supplemented in name-brand diets.
Cats have not evolved from strict meat eaters in the way dogs have. In their nutritional needs, cats are much the same as their wild ancestors. They are particularly well suited to digesting animal protein but unable to utilize dietary fiber. Cats do best on a diet, which is twenty percent protein, nine percent fat thirty-five percent carbohydrates and a maximum of ten percent fiber.
Cats are not big drinkers. They drink less than dogs do – possibly because they descend from desert sand cats. This may also be the cause of their susceptibility to urine crystals and subsequent lower urinary tract disease.
Canned vs. Dry Cat Foods
Given their choice, most cats prefer canned diets. The aroma, flavor and palatability of dry diets do not match that of canned. Cats are creatures of habit and quickly get accustomed to a flavor and consistency of diet to the exclusion of all others. Which ever you buy, be sure the label says that the diet meets the National Research Council’s guidelines on feline nutrition and is certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Over the years I have found that cats fed dry diets have less tartar build up on their teeth and less gum disease surrounding the teeth. With time, gum inflammation associated with canned diets causes the tissues surrounding the teeth to recede and the teeth to loosen. With time, bacteria moving through the blood stream from infected gums cause damage to the kidneys and liver. Dry cat foods have greater caloric density – that is they are richer. This is because canned food contains about 75% water. I do not suggest semi-moist diets because of the large amount of preservatives they contain.
How Much To Feed Your Cat
Cats vary greatly in the amount of food necessary for optimal weight and health. Most adult cats I see are overweight. Overweight cats store their fat on their tummies so they may not appear fat to their owners. Growing cats and kittens require considerably more food per pound body weight to thrive than adults or senior cats do. The following table is an estimate of how much your cat should eat. It is not precise because the compositions of various brands differ
Ounces of Dry Food
Ounces of Canned Food
Nutrient Requirements of Cats
Cats are natural meat eaters and cannot be maintained on vegetarian diets or diets that rely heavily on grains. Such diets are deficient in essential amino acids, fatty acids and vitamins. Cats are finicky eaters who choose their foods on the basis of taste, aroma, texture and moisture content rather than meeting their nutritional needs. Cats are unusual in that they cannot convert the carotenes found in leafy plants into vitamin A as humans can. Their natural source of vitamin A is liver. Vitamin A is necessary for membrane health. Cats deficient in vitamin A are more susceptible to respiratory tract infections, eye and skin disease. Niacin or nicotinic acid is also essential to your cat’s health. A lack of niacin causes inflammation of the intestines, rough skin and hair coat, oral ulcers and increased susceptibility to infection. Most mammals can synthesize niacin from the amino acid, triptophan. Cats have lost that ability and must obtain all their niacin from their diet. Cats must obtain the fatty acid, arachidonic acid from their diets. Animal fats are a good source of arachidonic acid. Unlike most mammals, cats cannot synthesize taurine from cysteine and methionine. They must receive all of it through the muscle meats in their diet. Lack of sufficient taurine causes blindness and heart enlargement. In addition to these special nutrients, cats have a higher protein and fat requirement than dogs and many other mammals.Although high fiber diets are not natural for cats, some dietary fiber is important for gastrointestinal motility. Dietary fiber also seems to aid in preventing hyperglycemia and diabetes that are common in older cats. Too much fiber can prevent the absorption of vitamins and minerals and lead to diarrhea.
There are twelve minerals that are essential for cats. One of these, calcium, is essential for the formation of bone and teeth and as a signal between cells. Kittens that do not receive sufficient calcium have pinkish, translucent teeth a bowlegged stance and knobby painful joints. Partial bone fractures in these kittens are common. Most of the kittens I see with this condition were the offspring of nutritionally deprived feral (wild) cats. Others received a diet that was primarily meat or fish. Meat is low in calcium and high in phosphorus. High phosphorus interferes with the absorption of the little calcium that meat contains. Older cats on low calcium high phosphorus meat diets suffer from tooth and bone problems.
An average sized adult cat weighing nine pounds should consume about 240 kilocalories a day. Neutered cats need less than intact animals. Cats like to munch on and off throughout the day so I suggest dry foods be available at all times. When food is available at all times, cats will eat ten to twenty small meals a day. Younger cats tent to self-regulate their caloric intake and stay lean. But twenty to forty percent of cats become overweight when feed free choice. As cats age, feed them a diet that is less caloric. One needs to consider at cats age and body condition when planning a diet. Problems occur in multi-cat households because it seems that there is always one cat that needs to eat more and another that needs to eat less. The only way I have found to solve this problem is to feed different cats in different closed rooms of the house several times a day. Give them about twenty minutes at a feeding. Thin cats should be encouraged to eat one-and-a-half times a normal ration. This can be done with treats or pungent flavors. Feed chubby cats foods that are advertised as lower caloric or just feed them less. Chubby cats are more susceptible to diabetes and liver disease. If these cats are fed only two thirds of the food they presently consume, weight loss will be gradual and gentle. One can also feed a lower caloric cat chow to accomplish the same thing.
Cat foods differ primarily in their source of protein. Generic cat foods use less expensive sources of protein. Because of this, the quality of protein in generic and house brand cat foods is poorer. Do not be led astray by considering only the percent protein. Percent protein tells nothing about the quality and digestibility of the product. Excluding premium, niche and specialty brands sold through pet shops, the quality of cat diets is reflected directly in the price you pay for the food. Cats love the taste of fish. However, an overactive thyroid gland or hyperthyroidism as well as premature aging have been associated with feeding fish-flavored cat foods. It is not clear if the problem is that poor quality, rancid fish are used in animal foods or if there are constituents in fish themselves that cause the problem. Some nutritionists theorize that the high level of unsaturated fatty acids in fish lend themselves to the formation of free radical groups upon spoiling. If you must feed fish-flavored cat foods, supplement your cat with 25-50 units of vitamin E per day and one milligram of thiamine. Please see Threads:
Source: All Creature Care
Ten Rules For Choosing The Right Pet
Ron Hines DVM PhD
Personal life in 2006 is quite different from what it was when Ozzie & Harriet kept house. In those days, most families had larger dogs like collies and boxers and sometimes a shorthaired cat or two that went in and out of doors as it pleased. The nuclear family consisted of a husband and a stay-at-home wife and two and one half children. I do not know if today’s life is better or worse but it is certainly different.
We have a lot more choices now in pets and our pet often becomes our best friend and companion. Here are a few things to do and not to do when choosing a pet:
1) No Impulse Shopping
Try not to adopt or purchase a pet on a whim or inspiration. Make it a deliberate, thought-out action. Buying a pet at a pet shop because it looks so, so adorable is not a good way to add another long-term member to your family. Sometimes we are not the best judges of our needs and sometimes our desires don’t really fit our needs. You might ask a close relative what kind of pet might fit your life style. Don’t be impulsive.
2) Shop Around
Take the time to learn all about the kind of pet you are considering buying. Pet stores have a built-in bias to sell the animals so they are often not the best places to learn about pets. Books are somewhat better but no one has written an animal book who wasn’t head over heals in love with that type of animal. Often the negative aspects of a species are glossed over. Remember that a new pet can change the structure of a family and needs to be acceptable to all family members. If you are considering purchasing a dog, learn about the special attributes of many breeds. Dog breeds are as different in their personalities, abilities and needs as people are.
3) Visit The Humane Society And Animal Rescue Organizations
Pay a few walk-through trips to your local humane society or ferret, guinea pig and rabbit rescue organizations and interact with some of the animals there in a quiet one-on-one basis. Don’t pay too much attention to the chatter regarding specific pets. Just observe the pet when it is alone with you and try to make a mental list of its positive and negative points.
4) Match Your Pet To Your Life Style
Are you a night owl or a day person? Some pets, like sugar gliders and ferrets spend much of the day asleep and are most active at night. Do you work long hours? Some pets get very lonely by themselves while others are not bothered by solitude. Do you have children? Are they mature enough not to be a threat to the pet you choose? If you travel a lot who will care for the pet while you are away?
5) Match Your Pet To Your Home Environment
How much free space is there? Is there a back yard? Is it fenced? How will your neighbors feel about this new pet? If you rent, what will your landlord think about this pet?
6) Decide Why You Want A Pet
Is this pet going to be a child substitute? There is nothing wrong with that. But then you may want a dog or possibly an unusually affectionate cat. One of the toy breeds may be ideal for you. Your personality traits are very important. Do you want a pet that is independent and requires little contact or are you looking for an energetic companion with whom you can jog or play Frisbee? Cat people tend to have different traits than dog people. If you give either of them the wrong species, they often have trouble bonding with the pet. Have you ever noticed that with time, pets and their owners tend to resemble each other? Consider the reasons you want a new pet. Do you want to play with it and caress it? If so a newt or turtle may not be the right pet for you. Do you want to teach it tricks and interact with it? Then an intelligent pet like a dog, cat or ferret might be the right choice. Many families purchase a pet to be their children' companion. This is an excellent idea. However, do not purchase a pet to instill responsibility in an immature child.. Owning a pet and being forced to care for it does not instill responsibility in a child. If you are uncertain, be prepared to do most of the care yourself.
7) Decide If This Is The Right Time In Your Life To Get A Pet
Frankly consider if this is really the right time in your life to own a (another) pet. If you already have other pets how will they get along with the new one? How stable are your human relationships? How good is your health?
8) Decide How Long You Want Your Pet To Live
How long do you expect your pet to live? Average dogs and cats live 12-16 years – some longer. Tortoises and goldfish have indeterminate life spans that approximate our own. Small parrots live 8-14 years; larger ones 35-60 years. Mice, however, are old at two years.
9) Decide If You Are Able To Meet This Pet’s Specific Needs
It is a good idea to do some research online or at the library as to how much care your pet will need. Try to find some locate owners you can visit with. Do you have enough time to properly feed and clean for it? Many pets get bored if they do not have enough one-on-one contact. This boredom can lead to a host of undesirable behaviors.
Besides the initial cost of the pet, you will incur considerable expense in purchasing the pet a suitable home or cage. Over time, the cost of a good diet will far exceed whatever you paid for the animal. It may need expensive veterinary care, grooming and pet sitters as well.
What types of pets should I consider?
Dogs are still my favorite pets. I love them. Most are intelligent, loyal, happy and obedient. They bond closely with their owner (s). But they do require a lot of your time if they are to remain healthy and happy.
Cats have been desirable pets since the days of the Egyptians. They are more independent than dogs and may thrive better if they must endure long periods of the day alone.
Guinea pigs are gentle affectionate pets. They can live in small quarters. They are economical to feed and, when well maintained, have little odor and produce very little dander. Unfortunately they only live for 5-8 years. They almost never bite. They do not make good pets for children. If you live in a cool environment and want a longer living rodent, purchase a chinchilla.
Ferrets are very desirable pets. They are about as intelligent as a cat. They are nearly noiseless and do well on a commercial diet of ferret or kitten chow. Ferrets are curious and affectionate. They have short attention spans. They generally live 8-10 years. Some people find their odor undesirable. Most of the day they will be found asleep but they don't appear to mind being woken up and cuddled. .
Rabbits are often sold as pets. They are adorable when they are babies. But as they mature their needs increase and they may become aggressive. Read my article on rabbits as pets before choosing one. Some owners just love their pet rabbits and they do well in households with cats.
Rats, Mice, Gerbils and Hamsters all make good pets if they are handled from the time they open their eyes. Rats live 4-6 years; mice 2-3 years. They are economical to buy and maintain and can be quite affectionate. They do have a rather strong odor –especially if their cages are not cleaned frequently enough. The most odiferous of this group are hamsters; the least are gerbils.
Turtles, Tortoises Lizards And Snakes are all basically “observational” pets. That is, you can watch them, handle them and pet them but they do not generally return affection. The most affectionate of the group are tortoises. All have very long lives, which can pose a problem as our life situations change.
Parrots and Cockatoos, parakeets and cockatiels are the most affectionate of all birds that are commonly kept as pets. They usually bond to only one member of the family – which can be a problem. Generally, the larger the bird species, the longer they live. They can be quite noisy and cockatoos in particular produce large amounts of dust (powder down)
Exotic pets such as monkeys sugar gliders, opossums and hedgehogs really do not make good pets for average “normal” people. There are occasional people and families who swear by them as pets. Some of us enjoy creating our own private zoos and keep these animals in superb conditions. But most of us would find them messy and demanding with needs that are rarely met in captivity. Although some become very tame most are rarely affectionate.
Fish have qualities in common with plants. They are both beautiful to look at and add an air of comfort to any home. As with plants, some of us have a “green thumb” with fish as with plants. They need regular, methodical continuous care in order to thrive. It is hard to develop a one-on-one relationship with a fish but they will come and become “happily” agitated when you feed them.
Farm Animals can make very good pets. Often zoning codes do not allow them in residential neighborhoods. Unlike exotic animals, farm animals are domesticated and affectionate and food sources are readily available at the feed store. Some require more space that the average tract home supplies.
Source: All Creature Care