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Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Boogie Christmas

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Cat Month 2011

I was hoping to get this post written earlier in the month to help kick off Happy Cat Month, but as usual the days have gotten away from me so I'm determined to get it in today before the month is behind us.  For me and likely others who are cat people, we consider every month Happy Cat Month.  We understand the importance of keeping our cats happy. Cats have a way of making you very aware when they are unhappy and they are usually not shy about sharing their true feelings!  On a more serious note though, Happy Cat Month is more than just keeping a smile on your cat's face. 

Happy Cat Month is a movement "dedicated to finding ways to keep our feline friends happy, healthy and purring all year long."  It is supported by CATalyst Council, which is a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations and corporations to champion the cat. Recent statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) show an increase in the cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary visits for cats which is quite disheartening.

Despite the popularity of cats as household companions, they don't seem to get the same respect that dogs do when it comes to healthcare.  I saw it time and again when I was in practice, the cat that had lived in the household as a loved pet but had not been to the vet for any healthcare since it was a kitten.  Sadly, the cat was now a geriatric with multiple, serious health issues. I heard countless reasons from owners why this occured including everything from "I didn't want to stress him out" to "he's never been sick before so why take him."  Anyway, like their counterpart the dog, cats require annual care too.  The most important reason is to have the annual exam.  This gives the veterinarian an opportunity to look at the teeth, listen to the heart and assess for any other significant health problems.  This may also include vaccines, blood work, or a fecal exam  all of which are usually tailored to the cats lifestyle and age.  Cats do develop dental disease (sometimes requiring tooth extraction), heart disease, and arthritis.  Cats are also experts at hiding when they are sick which can lead to life threatening illness if not caught right away.  Conditions identified early can often be treated with a good outcome and significant improvement to the cat's welfare.  There are several other factors that play a part in a cat's happiness as well. The environment, enrichment, stress, etc. can all have an affect on the daily life of a cat.  As a cat owner, it is important to understand the multifaceted approach to keeping a cat happy throughout it's life. 

The AVMA and CATalyst put together a great video discussing important tips on keeping your cat healthy and happy. 

In addition to offering tips about cat health and advice to keep them happy, the Council is encouraging anyone without a cat to adopt from a local shelter.  Celebrate Happy Cat Month by saving a life and enriching yours!
Additional Happy Cat Month resources:
10 Tips on Making Cats Happy
Cats & Carriers: Friends not Foes
Cats Enrich Our Lives
Adopt Cats in Pairs

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Rescuer

I suppose it's not a big surprise that my life and career has revolved around animals.  I am pretty sure the "animal crazy" gene is embedded deep in our family DNA somewhere.  Although I am the only one who has taken on a career caring for animals, the rest of my family are all long time animal lovers and  have had pets most of their lives.  But there is one family member in particular I would like to pay tribute to here. My Aunt Patty has rescued and cared for orphaned animals needing TLC and often times signficant medical care and expense to keep them going. She goes above and beyond and is selfless when it comes to caring for the creatures in need.  In addition to rescue and care, these lucky animals usually land a forever home with her.   

I know there are countless animals she has saved over the years.  I'm certain  that I don't hear about most of them but there are a few that are top of mind for me. Her rescues are not limited to dogs and cats; if an animal needs help, she is committed. They all have a story that lead to their resuce.  Living in a rural area, most are stray animals that are hungry needing food and a warm place to sleep while some are babies or have found themselves in harm's way needing more extensive care.  Fencer is the first animal I remember her saving.  She was a young dog they found hung up in a fence with a severely injured rear leg.  Ultimately, the leg needed amputation due to the severity of the injury.  Patty nursed her back to health and Fencer then lived out the rest of her life as the family pet.  She was a lucky dog who despite her rough beginning, lived a long, happy life well into her teens.  Others rescues of interest are the baby crow "Buzz" that she fed into adulthood who would sit on the back porch with them during the summer, the baby raccoon who's mother was killed on the road,  and the dairy calf who was born blind with a severe infection and not fit for life on a dairy farm. They are not all happy endings but there is no doubt that during their time with her, they are loved and well cared for. 

When I graduated from vet school, I took a job nearly 3 hours away from my family.  Unfortunately this distance does not allow me to help much with veterinary care for the family pets or the rescued animals that Patty takes on.  I did have the opportunity to visit a couple weeks ago and see her most recent rescues and examine a couple of them.  She has an area in the basement that she calls the "hospital".  It is a dedicated area where she nurses the sick ones back to health and closely monitors her geriatric pets.  Her most recent cat rescue was a kitten "that blew in with the last storm".  He showed up starving and flea infested at the back door during a thunder storm.  I'm happy to report he is making a speedy recovery and counting his lucky stars he found her back door.  I don't want to forget her husband Duane.  Duane is a long time animal lover as well and shares in the care of the creatures great and small that they bring into their lives. 

There are thousands and thousands of selfless people who participate in animal rescue every day.  They are all heroes and should be recognized as such.  This is my way of recognizing a true hero in my family who continues to open her doors to helpless beasts needing  her loving care.