Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cats Help Hearts

For years we've known that having a pet helps to lower blood pressure. Drs. Alan Beck and Aaron Katcher did that research long ago when both were in Pennsylvania. Now, along comes new research showing that cats can reduce your risk of having a heart attack. Yes, you read that correctly. The study report was announced recently at The American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference. The study lasted for ten years and included more than four thousand Americans which is pretty impressive. It was carried out by researchers in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota's Stroke Institute. The Institute's Executive Director, Dr. Adnan Qureshi is the senior author of the study. Those participating in the study were between the ages of 30 and 75.

I look at my cat and realize that I didn't need a formal study to tell me this. But I do realize the importance of scientific data to back up what pet owners have known in our hearts to be true.

I acquired Aimee as an adult. She was a gift to my mother but I would be responsible for feeding, scooping the litterbox, etc. I saw the difference that sweet, gentle soul made in my mother's life.

I also see what she has done for me. Cats purr for a number of reasons and one of them is to calm themselves or others. When I have a migraine, her gentle purring helps to ease my breathing into rhythm with her purring. It's not a cure but it certainly helps.

More than just having a cat in the room (I don't know if that helps by itself since that wasn't part of the study), having my hands on Aimee is very calming. I have no problem understanding how cats relieve stress just as dogs relieve stress. They're different species but both are incredible companions.

Yes, we needed a formal study so the medical profession would take us seriously when we said that our cats and dogs make us feel better. For those willing to take on the responsibility of a pet for life, they may just have acquired a lifesaver.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Re: The Media and The Story

Several days ago a couple was found with a trailer filled with a huge number of small dogs in deplorable conditions. Some of the dogs were missing feet. There were, reportedly, some 800 dogs there. The media missed the story. Oh, they reported on the dogs that were rescued, the elderly couple who were sorry and said they were in need of help and the media let stand the statement from someone at the shelter where the dogs were taken who said that the couple meant well. What the media neglected to report or even comment upon beyond the statement of fact, is that the couple was selling puppies over the internet. Yes, selling them over the internet. These were backyard breeders carried to the worst possible extreme.

It's no secret that I believe that all people should not be painted with the same brush. A backyard breeder, a commercial breeder, a puppymill, none of those is the same as an ethical, responsible breeder. Those are merely puppy producers. The same goes for the kitten producers. They are in no way ethical breeders. Ethical, responsible breeders show their potential breeding stock to be sure their dogs or cats meet the Standard for their breed, getting objective opinions. They sell only healthy puppies or kittens and they socialize them properly. They do not sell them too young to leave mother and littermates. They are not set-up to become a behavior problem waiting to happen because of lack of socialization.

You should be able to go to the breeder's home and see health clearances for the parents and at least one parent on the premeses. You should see a clean home. The breeder should be screening you carefully to be sure that you are ready for the lifetime commitment to the dog or cat. While you are passing inspection, so should they. And they should be asking for references.

If someone doesn't care enough to properly breed and socialize, to keep their animals under clean conditions, to breed with health in mind and care offer to take back that puppy or kitten at any time during the animal's lifetime, that speaks volumes. And ethical hobby breeders do not take credit cards. Breeding to improve their breed is an expensive hobby, not a business.

Why didn't the media pick up on any of this? Perhaps some did. But during the airing of that same news story I'm afraid that most missed a great opportunity to make a point, to educate their viewers. To be sure there is very little air time available but someone could have made an effort with an editorial at the end of the broadcast. Whatever happened to editorials from local television stations? Is anyone doing them anymore?

It was an opportunity lost.

Ethical breeders lose money on each litter. They plan breedings well in advance, breed to the written Standard to improve their breed. Please remember that and don't paint everyone with that same tarnished brush.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I can't imagine how the world existed before the internet. Well, yes, I can. I remember it only too well. I'm not sure I'd want to return to those days. I've met so many wonderful people in cyberspace.
A little about me...
I'm an author/speaker/journalist and a certified animal behavior consultant. You can learn more about me at my website:
My books are available wherever books are sold and there are articles posted that you can read at my website as well as those that appear in a wide range of magazines.
I love dogs and cats and my main goal is to enhance the lives of pets. I'll be here at least once a week and I hope that you will find something in my thoughts, musings, etc. that strikes a chord.