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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Creative Ways to Entertain Your Cat

Originally posted on
August 14th, 2013

When most people think of entertaining their dogs they can come up with a host of possibilities. Walks, new toys, swimming, jogging, doggie play dates – but if you ask those same people how they entertain their cats they end up drawing a blank. Here are a few creative ways to get your cat to act like that fun playful kitten again:

Invest in good scratching posts and cat houses

This one goes without saying, but a cat tree is a much nicer place for your feline to climb than your couch or heaven forbid, your curtains! A cat tree or even a simple cardboard scratching post can make all the difference to a bored cat. Plus it gives them the opportunity to use their natural climbing instincts and to roost up high where they can sit and watch all the household activities.

Supply a variety of treats

Rather than the typical dried catnip (which to be honest, the cat has no complaints with), add a little variety to your cats diet and try something new such as wheat grass, a catnip plant, cat treats, or even canned tuna. Find what makes your cat come running when you open the bag and you will have one happy kitty.
Once you know what they like you can turn it into a game of hide and seek and hide treats in their beds or by their toys, or you can throw them and have the cat “fetch” them. Just don’t expect a return!

Switch up the toys

You should switch up the toys every now and again to create more of a natural environment for your cat. They are habitually predatory animals and love having something to chase, paw at, and bite. This is especially important for kittens as they develop. The more you play with your kitten, the less likely it is to get into something it shouldn’t in your house.

Get them a friend

If your cat seems sulky and lonely, it could be worth trying to add a new feline to the mix. While they may hiss at each other momentarily, chances are they will wind up being very close and keep each other company while you are away.

Create an outdoorsy experience

Cats are endlessly fascinated with the outdoors, and who can blame them? Birds, insects, leaves, and new noises are all big stimuli for them. If you’re able to build an outdoor cat enclosure to keep them safe they may enjoy some time outside. If that’s not a possibility simply try opening the window or building them a spot to sit by a window ledge.
Brett Packer owns and operates At Home Veterinary Care since 1997. He is an avid dog lover and enjoys helping other people's pets achieve the best health possible.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Conquering an Illegitimate Fear of Large Birds

by Claire H. Originally posted on January 22, 2014
Cabela and meCabela and me
Working here I have had the chance to see a lot of things, but this morning I had a new first, which was actually a big deal for me. I just happened to have stepped into the photo studio when I saw Jeff with a carrier containing something. “Oh, I want to see whatcha got,” I told him. “Well, which something are you wanting to see,” was his response. That’s when I realized there was quite a few different containers in the studio. A lady followed behind with one last carrier and the fun began… and my fear kicked in a little.

There was birds; nine of them total! I almost died laughing when Gayle, their mom, went to open one of the carriers and the Blue-and-Gold Macaw inside sounded like a growling dog. Once all the birds were out of their carriers I was in awe at the beauty before me. There was a variety of birds, and they were all doing their own thing. I was looking at the Blue-and-Gold Macaws while kneeling down, resting one hand on a tote with a Military Macaw (Cabela) perched at the other end. I turned to see her headed my way but assumed since I was a stranger she would probably have no interest in coming right up to me, let alone ON me. Boy was I wrong.

A few of Gayle's birds
A few of Gayle's birds

Cabela walked right up to me, got onto my hand, and then proceeded to walk up my sleeve onto my shoulder. I was paralyzed in fear. I’m not proud to admit it, but it’s the truth. I have never handled a bird larger than a Cockatiel and didn’t know what to do. I’m sure to those around me my face was priceless, since they started talking about how you can tell when a person has never held a larger bird before. Cabela spent a few minutes on my shoulder, and then Gayle came and took her, placing her with the Blue-and-Gold Macaws.

I came back to my desk to grab my phone for a few photos, and when I got back Cabela climbed down to the floor and walked over to me, stepping on the foot of my boot. Candi, our animal charmer, has told me many times that birds choose their people, so I knew I was in the clear to not be so afraid. I also felt honored that Cabela picked me to befriend on such short notice. After she was back by the Blue-and-Gold Macaws and I had taken a few photos, she kept scooting across the edge towards me. I said, “I think this is your way of telling me that you would like to come back up.” Her mom told me that it was so I offered my hand to Cabela to climb on and she climbed up to my shoulder no problem. We took a few photos with my phone, and she was definitely posing for the pictures and moving to make sure she could see herself in the frame.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Brace Yourselves (and your pets) for Record-Breaking Low Temperatures!

Brace yourself… Winter is coming!

Winter Tips for PetsI heard on the news this morning that by tonight, here in Central PA, we’ll be experiencing record-breaking low temperatures well below zero. The wind chill will be below 20 degrees fahrenheit! Brrr!
It seems like an opportune time to go over some basic safety tips for pets when we’re dealing with drastic temperatures. Pets, even those bred for winter weather (like Huskies) are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia if not given adequate shelter in frigid temperatures.

My Top 10 Tips for Pets During Cold Weather

  1. Bring Pets Inside: It’s a common belief that dogs and cats are resistant than people to cold weather because of their fur, but it’s untrue. No pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather.
  2. Provide Choices: If you’re able to, provide different choices in shelters so that pets can move if they’re too cold or too warm.
  3. Make NOISE before starting that car: Many feral and stray cats will make temporary homes under the hood of your car when it is cold outside. Bang on the hood, honk the horn, make some NOISE before you start that car to try to get those furry hitchhikers outta there before the road trip turns deadly.
  4. Provide Shelter for outdoor pets: We wish you’d bring all your pets inside, but sometimes that isn’t possible. When it isn’t, be sure to provide warm, dry, protected shelters for your pets. The floors should be raised off the ground and the bedding should be thick and cozy. Make sure that the bedding stays dry, too. Wet dogs are even colder than dry dogs.
  5. Play Dress Up: Coats aren’t just for fashionistas. A pet coat or blanket protects cold-sensitive, short-haired breeds, or older pets from the bitter temperatures when they have to go outside to do their business.
  6. Be Prepared: Bitter cold temperatures often mean blizzards, ice storms, and power outages. Get yourself and your family prepared, but don’t leave out the pets! Keep enough supplies to last at least 5 days on hand. See our post on creating a pet emergency kit for a comprehensive list of what to include.
  7. Cold Cars Pose Risks Too: Hot cars get all the attention in the summer, but cold temperatures can act like a refrigerator in winter. Never, ever, ever leave your pet unattended in a car for long periods of time, especially in extreme temperatures.
  8. Puppies Need More Warmth: Puppies don’t tolerate the cold as well as adults. Keep snowy playtimes short and warm that baby up with some snuggles once you get inside!
  9. Fatten them up: I’m usually a big proponent of slimming DOWN your pets, however feeding some extra calories during the winter, especially in the form of protein, can help keep your pet warmer by helping fur growth and providing extra energy to burn for heat.
  10. Lock up that Antifreeze: Antifreeze is lethal to pets. Many places now only offer pet-safe varieties, but better safe than sorry! Keep it out of reach, out of sight and don’t let your pet lick up any unidentified puddles in the driveway or street. Contact a vet immediately if you think your pet has ingested anti-freeze. It is a matter of life and death.
I hope you’re all able to stay warm and snuggled up with those dogs and cats while we weather this artic blast. Who else is looking forward to spring? I know I am!

Be sure to share this post with your friends and families so that everyone’s pets are safe, sound and most of all WARM this winter.

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Currently an owner of 3 dogs and 2 cats, I’ve gained a plethora of pet-related experience over the years. I strive to provide the best home I can for my little terrors, and you’ll read all about our trials and tribulations as I continue down the rewarding yet rocky road of pet parenthood.