Monday, December 22, 2014

The BEST Holiday Gift for Your Cat

If you're reading this, then you, like me, include your cat in every celebration. In December, whatever you celebrate it's a pretty safe bet that you cat will be getting presents. Only you know what you have planned. A new bed? A new scratching post or cat tree? A new toy or two? Some special kitty treats? Some sort of goody is on your gift list but do you know what your cat really needs? The best thing you can give your cat? It's a visit to his or her veterinarian. Really.

There are some interesting facts that lead me to this conclusion and I'm happy to share them with you.
In the United States there are 86 million owned cats and 78 million owned dogs yet nearly twice as many cats than dogs never visit the veterinarian. Think about that for a minute. What's wrong with this picture?

41% of cats only go to the veterinarian for vaccinations and 39% of cat owners say that they would only take their cat to the veterinarian if it was sick. 83% of cats are taken to the veterinarian within the first year that they're owned but over half of them do not return. That's a sad fact. 

"Little One," photo by Gary Rhode, finds a shoebox comfy. 

Why? 60% of cat owners say their cat hates to go to the veterinarian, 39% only take the cat to the veterinarian if the cat is sick and 38% report that the thought of taking their cat to the veterinarian stresses them out.

This really is an issue that's easily resolved but it seems that few people have sought help, or even information that could help them. Yet a full 56% of owners say they would bring their cat to the veterinarian more often if they knew it could prevent problems.

Wellness started in human medicine but moved to veterinarian medicine. Preventive care is as important for our pets as it is for us. That yearly visit to the veterinarian can help prevent disease, or catch it early before it becomes advanced and more difficult to treat.  Your veterinarian can also teach you to brush your cat's teeth. Healthy teeth and gums are as important for our pets as they are for us. All sorts of germs can leech down from dirty teeth and cause a wide range of health problems.

My cat, Aimee, is now 15 years old. When she was about 12  I took her for her first Senior Wellness Exam. It included a full range of blood work and tests to see what her baseline is so that her veterinarian can tell if something is changing and catch it early. Senior cats should visit their veterinarian twice a year.  Putting off veterinary visits is a case of pennywise and pound foolish. If kitty really gets sick it will cost you more in the end to try to fix the problem, and it will be harder on both you and your kitty.

"Velvet" photo by Sue Janson

Cats are experts at hiding illness and Feline Practitioners are experts in feline health.  Please don't wait until kitty is really ill.

The sad thing is that only 18% of cat owners report that they have received instruction teaching them how to transport their cat. Transporting a cat isn't all that difficult. Cats are extremely intelligent and they only need to learn that their carrier is a wonderful place to be.  Bring the carrier out, leave it open and put a soft towel, or pad or snuggly blanket in there. You might want to add a toy. Let kitty get used to going in an out. There is a product called Feliway that will help calm the cat.  You may have heard of it as a plug-in room spray, or as a spray can but it also comes in the form of wipes. You can wipe the inside of the carrier, especially before the trip to the veterinarian, to help calm kitty.

When you arrive at the veterinary hospital, hopefully there will be a separate waiting room for cats but whether there is or not, keep kitty's carrier on a chair next to you so it's elevated. Cats like higher places. Turn the carrier toward you so she's not making eye contact with other cats or curious dogs. You may opt to put a towel on top of the carrier and drop it down over the door for privacy which can make kitty feel more secure.

My veterinarian sees all manner of pets in her practice but she's also a Feline Practitioner. The American Association of Feline Practitioners is an organization of veterinarians who are dedicated to cats and their health. Their website has a special section for pets owners with  downloadable brochures to help you and your kitty as well as a listing of members so you can locate a Feline Practitioner near you. You can find them at:

Photo by Darlene Arden

Here are some helpful links:

Getting your cat to the veterinarian:

Signs and Symptoms of illness:

Getting Your Cat to the Veterinarian Brochure:

More educational brochures are available on the website. Spend some time looking around.  It's a great resource for cat owners, whether new or experienced.

Aimee and I wish you a your special cat(s) a wonderful holiday season! Call and make that veterinary appointment now, while you're thinking about it, and give kitty the gift of good health every year! 

And to All A Goodnight!

"Alana" photo by Claire Clayton

American Association of Feline Practitioners:

Ownership Statistics in the U.S.:

Statistics Simplified:

Petxpert Podcast with Dr, .Jane Brunt of The Catalyst Council:

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Little Bit of Holiday Fun!

The Holiday Season is here and for those of you, like me, who are celebrating The Festival Of Light, my warmest wishes for a very Happy Chanukah!

Most of you are probably celebrating Christmas in just a few days.  To you, my warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas!  

Needless to say, if you're reading my blog your pets are family members and will be celebrating with you.  I know you'll choose gifts for them wisely because there is no organization that oversees pet toy safety. Look out for loose parts, anything sharp that can injure your pet, or something that is so hard to chew that your pet could fracture a tooth. Just say No to teaser toys made with mylar strips - they can cause the equivalent of a paper cut, especially near the mouth.

I've decided to use today's post to bring you a little bit of levity from  Pets opening their holiday gifts.  Enjoy!

Aimee and I wish you all the joys of the holiday season!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Purina Pro Plan's Incredible Dog Challenge Sweepstakes - You Could Win!!

If you know me then you know how I feel about sports - a "sport" is any guy who'll go to the ballet with me. The exception to my rule?  Dog Sports!  (Full Disclosure: I love Cat Agility - but I digress.) Those of you who know me well know that I am World Canine Freestyle Organization's Judge #002, the first judge's number awarded by the Board. #001 went to Caroline Hudnall who created the judging system based on her experience as a figure skating judge. Yes, a real one. 

I love to watch all dog sports. You'll never see me running Agility but don't be surprised to see me ringside cheering everyone on. You name the dog sport and I'm there.  I think it's wonderful for dogs and their people. Everyone gets exercise, has fun and makes new friends. What's not to like?  Every dog should be doing something

If you like to take pictures of dogs who are doing what they love to do (every dog and owner has accomplished something) have I got a contest for you!

The Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge Sweepstakes. Take a picture of your dog doing something incredible and then showcase what your dog has done in 2014.  Has you puppy learned to climb the stairs? Has your dog decided that the cat is really a great friend? Has your dog finally run through a tunnel? Jumped through a hoop? Learned to say his prayers? Tag your submissions on social media using the hashtag #GreatDog2014

The Grand Prize includes 2 Round Trip Plane Tickets to Huntington Beach, CA for The Incredible Dog Challenge Western Regionals, a 3-Day, 2-Night Hotel Stay, Ground Transportation and Spending Money and a $500. PetSmart Gift Card.  

That's quite a haul!

For even more details go to:

No purchase is necessary!

More Info:


This looks like GREAT fun! Breed doesn't matter, your dog or puppy can be of mixed heritage. AKC events are for Purebred dogs. 

To this I would like to add that I love all dogs, pedigree or no pedigree. However, while I support rescue, I also support Legacy Breeders. These are not puppy millers, or commercial breeders, nor backyard breeders. Legacy Breeders maintain their chosen breed, improving on it so that it meets its Breed Standard, is healthy both physically and mentally, they carefully screen potential owners and puppies are sold with a contract that includes taking back the puppy or dog at any time in the dog's life if the owner(s) can't keep him. They take full responsibility for dogs of their breeding. I am supportive of Susi Szeremy's National Purebred Dog Day which started as a page on Facebook and she is now fundraising to create a website. Please go here for more information:

NOTE:  I wanted to bring The Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge to my readers because I believe in dog sports. The request to blog about the Sweepstakes came with a PetSmart gift certificate for my 4-legged kid. Because of my ethics, a comparable donation will be made to a local shelter. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mark Barone's An Act of Love

Night light Playful Nehama

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing artist, Mark Barone, about his very special project, a Museum of Compassion. What follows is my Question and Answer interview so you can read about it in his own words.


A: Upon seeing the chilling numbers of shelter animals being killed every day and the archaic shelter system we're operating with people's tax dollars, (when successful and compassionate alternatives are available), and the lack of education on animal parenting and solutions for being a lifetime guardian, there was no way we could turn away and do nothing, so we decided to paint the approximate number of dogs being killed everyday and use the power of art to illustrate where we are at as a nation, with regards to our compassion for animals, and let the power of art, with the science of compassion, and the heart of philanthropy,  be the catalyst for change.


A:   Imagine walking the "Wall of Compassion" and feeling the impact of 5500 portraits  of shelter         dogs, spanning 2 football fields long and 10 ft high!
       Education is the bridge to compassion, and if we are to help our children navigate    the world        outside with tolerance, compassion and acceptance, then we must   educate their hearts and minds to produce socially and emotionally aware adults, who understand that compassion is not a luxury, but a necessity for our survival.

 The "Museum of Compassion" is being designed to illuminate, educate and lift our animal welfare consciousness to new heights.

Night light Handsome Pete

       This poignant exhibit and educational platform (that's larger than the Sistine Chapel) will be a   powerful bridge to compassion, inspiring nationwide transformation and the salvation of our animals. The main wall will consist of 5500, 12"x12" portraits and referred to as the "Wall of Compassion." Even though they are individual portraits, they are considered one body of work and one main statement, telling of their collective fate and our state of consciousness.  In addition, there will be an educational wall of 10, 8x8ft portraits, that will represent other areas of companion animal abuse and shelter excuses, such as: dog fighting, puppy mills, animal abuse, cats, temperament testing, breed specific legislation, killing for space, legislation for rescue's to have access and prevent needless deaths, shelter negligence, and animal testing, and the pro-active solutions.

The museum will educate children in how to use art for social change and get them engaged in helping to cultivate a more compassionate generation. There will be speakers from around the world, sharing insights and strategies for compassion, and beautiful products to generate a forever fund for the animals.


A:   We spoke with the filmmakers at Sagacity productions, specifically Bonnie Silva, and she really connected to our own personal story and what it took to give up everything to do this, and she shared it with PBS, and they loved the idea and wanted to partner with her immediately to create a documentary about our journey and the project itself.

Night light Loyal Bubba


A:  The extraordinary level of compassion and commitment that we have witnessed from the thousands of rescue groups, fosters, volunteers and transporters, has blown us away!  These people have no real support, yet they stay on the frontlines everyday, saving animals lives. They are the only life line for these animals, and we are looking forward to being in a position to help provide all the resources they need to continue their great work and eliminate the additional stress that is created by having to raise the money to do it.

Never be silent in the face of suffering. We are all part of the problem, if we are not actively engaged in being part of the solution. Do something, because you care and because you can.

An Act of Dog

Please visit Mark Barone's website:

Watch the trailer for the PBS Special here:

Mark in front of Big Paintings
I'm very grateful to Mark Barone for this interview and for everything his is doing to shine a very special light on the fate of too many shelter dogs.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

BlogPaws Survey of Members' HolidayPet Pampering

The infographic below is the result of a poll of the members of BlogPaws' Influencer Group. BlogPaws brings together people who blog about pets. Experience, ability, etc. have no influence on membership approval. It's a community by and for pet bloggers with an annual conference. Yes, I participated in this survey. I have only attended one conference and found the emphasis seemed to be on the technical aspects of blogging with speakers covering such topics as monetizing your blog and SEO. For those of you who are about as tech savvy as I am (I should hire a 7-year-old since they are raised with the internet), I did find out before attending the conference that SEO means Search Engine Optimization. 

For the record: I don't monetize my blog. I come from a journalism background. In the print media there is paid advertising and then there are articles that feature a product. Those are not articles in the usual sense.  They are called Advertorials and are paid for by the company whose product is featured in the "article." Is it biased? You decide. I receive no monetary compensation for my reviews of books or pet products.  I'm quite certain other bloggers think I'm at best, foolish, and at worst, an idiot. For me it's a matter of maintaining journalistic ethics. The "compensation" is the book or product being reviewed. I don't currently have a dog so those products go off to trusted people to test with their dog(s). 

Here's the infographic.  I should note that APPMA (American Pet Products Manufacturing Association) puts out an annual list with almost all of the same questions.

BlogPaws Holiday Pet Blogger Influence and Christmas Gift Spending

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Brain Food for Pets? Yes!

Sage a sweet senior Poodle
Photo by Susan Makin

Dogs and cats, like people, develop problems of aging, not just arthritis, loss or lessening of sight and hearing. They also develop cognitive dysfunction – a cat or dog version of Alzheimer’s or dementia. There is medication available but what if there were another way helping our pets without medication? 

This is the challenge that Nestlé Purina’s veterinary nutritionists have taken on. I had the opportunity to interview two of their researchers to find out exactly what was being done. Drs. Janet Jackson and Gary Pan were generous with their time, information and expertise. 

I'm intrigued by Nestlé Purina's newest product that can make such a difference for our companions. Basically, brain food for our pets.

Glucose is the main energy source for the brain, but the brain’s ability to utilize glucose declines in middle aged and old people and pets,” says Jackson. In women, for example, estrogen is lost after menopause and glucose usage declines in the brain," according to Pan.

“MCTs, Medium Chain Triglycerides, provide an additional source of energy to brain cells,” Jackson says. 

Purina has created an additive for its Pro Plan Dog Food to reduce damage to the brain from stress, as well as other losses from aging, such as estrogen in females.

      MCTs are medium chain triglycerides, and are found in botanical oils such as coconut oil.      MCTs will be included in the new Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formulas, which will be available at retail starting in January;


Dr. Janet Jackson
“MCTs add energy for the brain. Older pets sleep more, they don’t want to play as much. There’s a decrease in activity and mobility.” Cognitive health is impaired and even some veterinarians don’t recognize the signs, according to Dr. Jackson. I would venture to guess that most owners and many veterinarians would assume this is tied in with arthritis, which, of course, needs attention.

The dogs fed this new food in trials have shown improvement within 30 days. “They (owners) will see a difference,” says Jackson. “There is a visible difference in the dogs’ lives.”

Dr. Pan, who has had articles on Cognitive Dysfunction published in the British Journal of Nutrition, points out that as in humans, it is associated with the “gradual and irreversible loss of brain cells and synapses,” which we know can lead to dementia in people, a heartbreaking condition for the entire family. 
Dr. Gary Pan

Purina also has created a unique nutrient blend, called the Brain Protection Blend™ that can help reduce damage to the brain from stress, as well as other losses from aging, and help maintain energy metabolism, blood supply, and the structural integrity and functions of the brain.    

The MCT technology targeting the brain energy supply will be available for dogs starting in January 2015 in the new Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind formulas. It is taking longer to develop an MCT formula for cats, but they hope it will be in the food sometime in the near future. The Brain Protected Blend™ food is targeting risk factors of brain aging and is planned to be available for both dogs and cats in next 18 to 24 months.

Cats tend to vocalize more and show similar signs as dogs and people. Perhaps cats and dogs wouldn’t sleep so much if they were more interested in play and hadn’t forgotten about that and so much more. Is it worth a try? When you love your four-legged companion and do not want to see this sort of decline, my personal opinion is yes.

 I’ve been to Purina several times in the past. I was one of the first 6 dog writers invited when they opened to the press. (There were no “official” cat writers at that time.)  I’ve met with their Research and Development people over the years and attended their Nutrition Forums before Nestlé bought Purina. Much of their staff remains in place except for those who retired. They are dedicated to promoting lifelong health in pets with foods developed for weight, development, and dental health.  They want to keep their customers happy and healthy. I can state that not from reading something written by an amateur, or listening to gossip.  I can state it because I’ve toured their research and development facilities, I’ve talked with their researchers who leave no stone unturned in looking for more ways to help our companions.
The Fabulous Aimee

For a little more information on Drs. Jackson and Pan: Dr. Janet Jackson is the Vice President & Director of Nestlé Purina PetCare Nutrition Research. She has been collaborating with NRC scientists in Lausanne, Switzerland to work together and share knowledge to help improve products for pets and people. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.  Yuanlong (Gary) Pan is a senior research scientist in the Nestlé Purina PetCare Nutrition Group. His interests are nutrition, weight management and healthy aging. Raised in China where he always had a cat while growing up. His research into the healthy aging of dog and cat brains via nutrition, have proved that a special botanic oil can be used as an alternative energy source for the brains of middle-aged and senior dogs, as well as nutritional advances in weight loss in dogs. His work with cats includes developing a special blend of nutrients that can improve memory and learning functions in middle-aged and senior cats. Dr. Pan graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Gansu University of Agriculture, P.R. China where he also earned a Master’s degree in comparative anatomy. He earned his Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition from Virginia Tech where he was a Pratt Fellow. He then earned a Ph.D. in human nutrition from UNC-Greensboro. He worked as a research associate, then instructor, at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Here are two interesting infographics from Nestlé Purina.