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Pets – San Fran http://socialinsanfrancisco.com Join the Fun! Fri, 16 Feb 2018 11:57:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Seahorses and Pipefish: Cousins of the Reef http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/seahorses-and-pipefish-cousins-of-the-reef/ Sat, 13 Sep 2014 04:50:17 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=2923

by Susan Spann

Most people recognize seahorses at once, almost instinctively. Their distinctive bodies and curled-up tails are familiar even to those who have never seen one in an aquarium or the wild.

14F26 Ghillie

Pipefish are more unusual, and far less commonly recognized, even though they’re one of the seahorse’s closest relatives. Most people consider pipefish odd-looking, almost snake-like creatures. Their tiny mouths and slender bodies look alien, and little like a seahorse.

14F24 Red and Pipe

Even so, seahorses and pipefish both belong to the syngnathid family, which also includes the leafy and weedy sea dragons. The family name derives from the Greek words meaning “fused jaw,” and refers to the snout-like mouth and jaw structures unique to these lovely creatures.

Syngnathids are predatory ambush hunters, which means they either sneak up on their prey or wait for it to move within striking reach. When prey enters the strike zone, the seahorse (or pipefish, or dragon) gets it snout up close and strikes at the food by contracting the muscles near their heads, sucking the prey through the snout with an audible SNICK. This distinctive sound has resulted in many seahorse breeders and fanciers referring to the seahorse’s feeding mechanism as the “snick.”

Both seahorses and pipefish can be kept in captivity (though most states make owning sea dragons illegal, due to their threatened status). However, they are among the most difficult aquatic creatures to raise and keep in captivity, and require specialized setups and tank mates to thrive.

Since sygnathids can pass diseases from one species to another, especially when mixing wild-caught specimens with captive-bred ones, it’s recommended to keep a single species seahorses or pipefish, and not mixing species in a single tank. The exception is keeping a single species of pipefish with a single, hardy seahorse species; in that case, a keeper should introduce pipefish first, and keep them alive for at least six months before introducing a single, robust seahorse species. (Hippocampus erectus is a good choice.) Even then, it’s a risk, but it can be done.

14E03 Ghillie

People often try to keep seahorses with more aggressive species, such as tangs, marine angelfish, or triggers. This usually results in an early death for the seahorse, either through harassment or starvation. Kept properly, however, seahorses and pipefish make lovely, relaxing additions to a soft-coral reef, and can live for many years.

Unlike many salt-water fish, seahorses and pipefish actually enjoy interacting with humans and watching the world outside the tank.  They’re active, unusual pets that people rarely see, and though they do require a bit more care and maintenance than other aquarium residents, a dedicated hobbyist may find them more rewarding too.

 ***

Susan Spann writes the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. The second Shinobi Mystery, BLADE OF THE SAMURAI, released on July 15, 2014, from Minotaur Books.

Susan is also a transactional attorney whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. When not writing or practicing law, she raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. You can find her online at her website (http://www.SusanSpann.com), on Facebook, and on Twitter (@SusanSpann).
 

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The Pet of a Lifetime: Have You Had One? http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/the-pet-of-a-lifetime-have-you-had-one/ Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:33:07 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=2887

Since it was National Dog Day this week, I’m celebrating the pet who rocked my lifetime. Have you had one of those? The kind of pet who’s a member of the family, and who is mourned long after they’re gone?

Hoshi was everything a dog should be: loyal, loving, sweet-tempered, funny. She totally laughed at my jokes and she was around for all my big “life milestones.”

And then one day, 17 days after my daughter was born, Hoshi let me know it was time to go.

There are so many up sides to pet ownership, but the biggest downside in my opinion is their short life span.

They will always go before we do. Hoshi lived a stupendously long life for a 90 pound dog; she was fourteen-and-a-half years old when she left to frolic in that Puppy Lake in the Sky. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one, animal or human. The memories, and the lessons you learned from them, are what help you get through it.

Here’s the Top 10 lessons my Hoshi-Moshi taught me. (Now everyone go hug your pets!)

1) 50 New Smells A Day

It’s said that dogs need to get fifty new smells a day to stay psychologically alert and happy. Those daily walks are your dog’s version of reading the paper. I KNOW they’re sniffing every bush, light pole and dog bootie on the block but in reality what they’re doing is “filling the well.” You need to do it too (the well-filling, not the sniffing).

2) Pay Attention

Take notice of the people, places and things in your life that fill your well. With the plethora of daily tasks on all our to-do lists, it’s easy to let the small simple gifts in our world pass through unnoticed.

3) Treats Help Everything

I’m not suggesting that you allow either you or your pet to get too fluffy in the backside but the world is better with steady rewards of coffee, chocolate, wine, cake or whatever treat that says, “Well done!” to you.

4) Smile and Wag

What happens when your dog bounds across the room with a smile and a wag of his or her tail and slides under your hand? You pet them, and coo over them, AND YOU SMILE. It’s hard to resist your pet when they’re sweet. You’ll know when you need to apply this lesson by the way your family rolls their eyes.

5) Find the best professionals (and trust them)

When Hoshi turned eight, she began to get creaky with arthritis. Akita lifespans average about 10 years so I started getting mentally prepared (though, let’s face it, you never are). My girlfriend, who’s a dog trainer, heard my concerns and sent me to Dr. Voll. A few visits with this wonderful vet and Hoshi was a whole new girl. Certainly, we did our part, but Dr. Voll took care of Hoshi for almost seven years and went well above the call of duty.

Whenever the inevitable ups and downs of a senior dog would occur, I’d worry that it might be time to let my sweet baby dog go. On one of those bad days, Dr. Voll looked me in the eye and said, “Stop crying! I’ll tell you when it’s time.” And she did.

6) Love Without Conditions

I don’t have to explain this one to any pet owners. Dogs don’t see disabilities, disfigurement, neuroses or any of the other things that tend to squeeze the human brain down the narrow path of judgment. Animals manage to see inside your heart and make their decisions from there.

You’ve heard the saying, “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am,” right? Enough said.

7) Bring Your “A” Game

It’s not in a dog’s nature to give 50%, at least it wasn’t in Hoshi’s. She traveled the entire West Coast, San Diego to Seattle, and explored every dog beach and mountain range with the same focused zeal.

In 2002, if I wanted work, the dog and I had to hit the road. We traveled throughout the state, stopping at every available doggie day care along the way. Whether it was Elaine’s Pet Resorts in Fresno or Fog City Doggie Day Care in San Francisco, that dog brought her A-Game. In turn, these places delighted in her visits and always made room for her even when they were full.

8) Invest In Training

One of my ex-boyfriends owned Hoshi’s parents – she and her four litter mates were literally born into my hands. Unfortunately, this guy went to the “Well, they mind ME” school of training. This wasn’t so bad with Hoshi’s sire, who had an even temperament, but her mother was a really bad dog and it became a dicey business to have anyone in our house. I began training all five puppies, almost before their eyes opened, in an attempt to counteract the unruly bitchiness of their mother. This kind of rigorous training opened a lot of doors for Hoshi.

The money and time you put into learning will always be worth it.

9) Service Makes You Feel Good

One of the happiest dogs I know is a Corgi named Boris. His owner is extremely disabled and gets around mostly by scooter. The dog trainer (from #5 above) has taught Boris to fetch Monique’s keys, her shoes, the paper, and a myriad of other items. Like every pet, Boris thinks his owner is a rock star – he lives to serve his human and nothing makes him happier than making her happy.

I’m not suggesting that you throw yourself on the altar of someone else’s happiness but I am recommending that you give back. You’ll know your service opportunity when you see it if you’re on the lookout.

10) Leave People Smiling

Like I said, during my second week home after having my daughter, Hoshi let me know it was her time to go. Dr. Voll came when I called her and agreed that it was “time,” though she said I could take a few days.

I contacted all of Hoshi’s friends and opened the house for anyone who wanted to visit. We gave her every treat we had, plus people brought her scads of contraband food. Things like McDonald’s cheeseburgers that give a dog pancreatitis were on the menu that week (though I definitely got the “where has this been all my life” look).

On the big day, Dr. Voll came to the door and we sent our daughter out with a friend for a long walk so we could focus on Hoshi. That dog polished off the rest of a cheeseburger and moved on to the Honeybaked ham, smiling and wagging all the way. When the medicine was administered, she never knew it.

I’ve repeatedly thought ‘we should all be so lucky.’

Hoshi was my first “baby girl” and I feel blessed to have learned from her.

Bonus: International Business Times shows their picks for “the Top 5 Dog Stories of the Year.”

Now it’s your turn to celebrate your fur babies.

Do you have pets? What lessons have they taught you? Continue the discussion at the #SocialIn hashtag on Twitter or SocialInDC on Facebook!

~ Jenny
@JennyHansenCA

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm.

© 2014 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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Bumblebees of the Sea http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/bumblebees-of-the-sea/ Sat, 16 Aug 2014 07:14:34 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=2851

by Susan Spann

I’m not only a mystery writer and ninja enthusiast–I’m also an avid aquarium keeper. As such, I often have the chance to share some things most people never see. In the coming weeks, my Saturday posts will sometimes share a glimpse into my watery world.

Today, we’re taking a look at a creature most people have never heard of: the bumblebee snail (Pusiostoma mendicaria).

14H15 Bumblebee Snails

In most places, snails are considered pests. Gardeners salt them, freshwater fish-keepers pluck them from plants, and people often step on them in the street. But in the marine aquarium, snails take on an entirely different perspective: they’re an important part of the “clean-up crew.” On the reef (both captive and in the wild) snails eat algae, detritus, leftover food and … poop. Yep, I said it: snails will even eat poop.

Bumblebee snails are native to the shallow, reef-filled waters of Fiji and other tropical islands. They’re small (about the size of a jelly belly jellybean) and considered “reef safe” for home aquariums because they don’t eat living corals or fish. Instead, these opportunistic omnivores feed mostly on detritus and “leftovers” ( uneaten fish food … and the aforementioned poop).

If you have a reef aquarium, and want to purchase bumblebee snails, you can find them at almost any reputable fish store. Like most invertebrates, they will need a 45-minute acclimatization drip before you put them in the tank. Acclimatization is an important part of the acquisition process, because it ensures that the snails’ bodies have time to adjust to any differences in temperature and salinity. If you dump them straight into the tank, they will often die from shock. (This is true of almost all fish and invertebrates, incidentally — running a long enough acclimatization drip will dramatically increase the survival rate of new specimens in your aquarium.)

14H15 Bumblebees acclimatizing

You can see an acclimatization drip in action in the photo. The flexible tubing connects to my tank, and the little blue head on the end allows me to set and adjust the rate of flow.

(The larger shell at the center is a halloween hermit I brought home the same day as these bumblebee snails.)

After the drip comes the drop – right into the reef, where bumblebee snails will quickly make themselves at home. When roaming around the rocks, you’ll often see them “sniffing” the water with little snorkel-like proboscises that they use to detect their food.

14H15 Bumblebee on RockBumblebee snails are more difficult to see in the wild, because they hide in caves and under overhangs during the daylight hours. Their yellow and black striped shells are too easy for predators to see in daylight.  On wild reefs, and in home aquariums, bumblebee snails  venture out mostly at feeding time and at night.

As snails go, bumblebees are one of the few that meet with nearly universal approval, even from people who usually don’t like snails. Most people don’t consider snails “cute” under normal circumstances – but in the case of bumblebees, I think we can make an exception.

***

Susan Spann writes the Shinobi Mysteries, featuring ninja detective Hiro Hattori and his Portuguese Jesuit sidekick, Father Mateo. Her debut novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT (Minotaur Books, 2013), was a Library Journal Mystery Debut of the Month. The second Shinobi Mystery, BLADE OF THE SAMURAI, released on July 15, 2014, from Minotaur Books.

Susan is also a transactional attorney whose practice focuses on publishing law and business. When not writing or practicing law, she raises seahorses and rare corals in her marine aquarium. You can find her online at her website (http://www.SusanSpann.com), on Facebook, and on Twitter (@SusanSpann).

* All images copyright Susan Spann (2013).
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Easter Lilies Are Poison to Pets! http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/easter-lilies-are-poison-to-pets/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/easter-lilies-are-poison-to-pets/#respond Mon, 25 Feb 2013 08:00:38 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=515

Copr. Home-and-garden.webshots.com

The gorgeous lily makes its appearance each year, decorating church, home, and garden. I can’t have them in my house, though. I won’t to risk having an Easter lily anywhere near my cat Seren. For cats, the fragrant blooms can mean death.

Many lilies are lethal to cats. Easter lilies, stargazer lilies, and Asiatic lilies are the most dangerous, and different cats react in various ways. The plants contain a chemical that can damage the kidneys, and kill your cat. Just biting a leaf or petal, or licking up the water from the vase can be enough to cause serious kidney disease.

Spring kitten

Artificial flowers may be just the ticket, as in this posed shot.

Dogs often gnaw leaves, dig up the plant, or eat the whole thing. Cats aren’t as likely to eat plants, but just biting a lily leaf or petal can kill kitty. Felines more often paw-pat and shred leaves and stems during play, and may be poisoned when they later lick and clean their paws and claws.

Cats poisoned by lily toxin typically suffer kidney failure within 36 to 72 hours. Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy or loss of appetite. Some cats suffer permanent kidney damage and lose their lives, while others can recover if treated in time with dialysis that gives the organs enough time to heal.

Seren eating yellow roses

Roses can injure cats if they bite thorns, but aren’t toxic and actually are edible…according to Seren!

The easiest way to protect your cats is to keep toxic plants out of reach—or out of your house altogether. Besides lilies, other potential harmful plants include rhododendron, sago palm, kalanchoe and schefflera. Azalea can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma and death. Eating or chewing caladium, dieffenbachia or philodendron makes the tongue and throat swell up so breathing is difficult. Mother-in-law’s tongue (snake plant) causes everything from mouth irritation to collapse. Crown of thorns and English ivy will prompt thirst, vomiting and diarrhea, stomach pain, and death in one to two days. Holly also causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Peace Lily

You can keep your pet family members safe and sound by choosing only pet-friendly safe varieties for your garden and home. Calla Lilies (below) and peace lilies (above), which don’t belong to the Lilium genus, are harmless to cats.

Calla Lily

There are many other plants that prompt mild problems, such as excess salivation or mouth discomfort. Keeping these out of reach of curious paws may be sufficient to protect your animals. But pet lovers should steer clear of the worst plant offenders, both inside and out. If you see your pet with one or more of these signs, particularly if a suspect plant is within reach, get help immediately! First aid can save the cat or dog’s life. Then take the pet to see the veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Different poisons require very specific first aid. Usually that will be either 1) induce vomiting, (cats do this on their own very well–but never when you want them to!) or 2) give milk or water to wash out the mouth and dilute the poison. Making the pet vomit the wrong poisonous plant, though, could make a serious situation even more deadly, so you MUST know what to do for each type of plant.

first-aid

Detailed advice for dealing with the most common plant poisoning is available in the book The First-Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats. The ASPCA Animal Poison-Control Center is available for telephone consultations (1-888-426-4435) in case of poisoning emergency.

What cat-safe plants do you have in your home? How do you keep the cat from destroying/eating them? Have you ever had a kitty-plant encounter of the dangerous kind?

Amy&Seren&Magic
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credite

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How to Brush Dogs Teeth http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/how-to-brush-dogs-teeth/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/how-to-brush-dogs-teeth/#respond Mon, 18 Feb 2013 08:00:47 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=512
Chewing is my passion

Special dental chews can help with tooth care.

Do you brush your dog’s teeth? Does he have breath that’d knock over a moose? How do you manage Poochie’s dental care?

Pungent pet breath goes beyond offending house guests; it signals the beginning of dental disease that’s not only painful, but can cut short your pet’s life. February is National Pet Dental Health Month so it’s the perfect time to “brush up” on recognizing and preventing tooth trouble.

Eighty percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats develop dental problems (periodontal disease) by the age of three. Pets don’t brush their teeth, so bacteria grow in left-behind food, mineralize, and forms plaque. The bacteria also release enzymes that cause receding gums that loosen teeth, and redness and swelling (gingivitis). If that’s not enough, chewing pumps bacteria into the bloodstream through the raw gums. That damages your pet’s heart, liver and kidney, all common problems of aging dogs. You can learn more about how to care for you “golden oldie” pooch in the book.
new-old-dog-lores

There are many products out there for dogs to help keep those teeth pearly white. But the absolutely best way to prevent dental issues is to GASP! brush your dog’s teeth.

I can see y’all quivering in your socks at the thought. But it really isn’t all that difficult. Here’s a step-by-step how to brush puppy teeth (it works for adult dogs, too).

Amy&Seren&Magic
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.

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How Cats Read http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/how-cats-read/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/how-cats-read/#respond Mon, 11 Feb 2013 08:00:08 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=509

Cats always seem drawn to sit on top of books.

I have a new project. In an effort to streamline my work schedule and give myself more leisure time, I’ve decided to capitalize on Seren-Kitty’s ability to read and write.

All cats know how to read. They simply sit on the page (or the E-reader), and absorb the text through their (ahem) nether regions. Just check out Wall-E, in the picture “reading” my first-aid book. Kitties want to be prepared. *s* What do YOUR cat’s read?

For years, I’ve explained to those who asked that Seren “edit” everything that leaves the house. Seren used to grab paper as it came out of the fax machine, and she answered my phone (but rarely took a message and left the receiver off the hook). Aside from simply channeling my inner cat (or dog, in the case of the forthcoming thriller), Seren takes it further. She types.

Purr-haps the next book will be mewsings straight from the Seren-kitty’s tail–er, tale. (Okay, I can hear the groans, so I’ll stop. For now.)

This is new for her. Oh, I’ve joked about Seren having a “paw-top computer” where she actually writes all of my books and articles, and allows me to take credit. After all, I have the thumbs and a wallet to open for all the kitty must-haves. But she’s never before bothered the computer keyboard, maybe because most of my work has been composed on an ergonomic keyboard.

Lately, though, I’ve worked quite a bit on my laptop. If I leave the thing open and unsupervised, she takes advantage to SIT on the keyboard–reading, I suppose, unless she’s type-composing with her ass-ets. Heck, some of my work may resemble that but I assure you, the typing does take place.

If you’re a writer who often angsts over composing just the RIGHT phraseology, having it wiped out by kitty butt-inskies can make blood pressure soar. Those innocent cat-less souls out there who think this might be an aberration, just check out the comments (I’m sure there will be several!) because cat butt-and-paw computer interference is a common problem. There are some products designed specifically to foil kitty computer damage, too, from keyboard “shields” that keep paws at bay, to software called PawSense that “detects cat typing” and catproofs the writing with a save function before too much damage is done.

. . . Kitty Keyboard Kover, comfort for the cat and typing room for you!

Why do cats find computers so attractive? I suspect there are a couple of reasons. First, that lovely appliance gets WARM as it sits and runs. I’ve started shutting the laptop when I must leave it unattended, and still find Seren lounging on top of the closed lid, probably drawn to the heat.

It’s also an elevated perch. Yes, it IS! I mean, when a cat considers sitting on a flat piece of paper to be the epitome of luxury, the inch or two boost from perching atop your keyboard must make him feel like a king.

Finally, cats recognize that their humans spend lots of time (hours, days, weeks…) sitting and staring and doing finger-clacking noises on the laptop. It smells like their favorite person, AND if they sit on the keyboard they get in between the screen and your face–in your line of vision. I can just hear Seren thinking, “Why stare at that when you can be gazing with adoration at ME?…oh, and scratch that spot, you know the one. . .”

Do your cats sit on the keyboard? How do you manage the problem? What about following the mouse on the screen? Have you had any computer cat-tastrophes?

Amy&Seren&Magic
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.

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Valentines Day For Pets http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/valentines-day-for-pets/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/valentines-day-for-pets/#respond Mon, 04 Feb 2013 08:00:36 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=506
.

Puppy Love…it’s ALL it’s cracked up to be!

Magic runs to me with his ears down and tail a-wag, wanting attention. He rolls on his back for a tummy rub or brings me a treasured toy to share. How do your dogs show love…or do they?

Dogs have well-known reputations as loyal, loving companions—the quintessential “man’s best friend” and deservedly so. Dogs thrive on social interaction. Heck, Magical-Dawg even enjoys the cat’s company (he won’t admit it!). With Valentine’s Day in the offing, I’d love to hear from y’all the various ways YOUR furry wonder’s show love.

There’s no doubt we love our pets — but do our cats and dogs love us back? The answer is yes. But pets show affections in ways that aren’t always what humans expect. In fact, a pet’s Valentine wishes might instead puzzle, aggravate or even offend some people. Here are 7 ways cats show love. (scroll down for the puppy version!)

1. Cats (sometimes) scratch and pee to show affection. Cats seek out items that smell most like their beloved human — and they find scratching and peeing calming. So marking up your favorite chair or baptizing your bed with urine actually is not only a backhanded kitty compliment but a stress reliever. Providing legal scratch and potty opportunities encourages kitty to love you in more appropriate ways.

2. Cats put their rear ends in your face. This is a friendly gesture we swear! The cat is offering you an invitation to sniff — and to the feline way of thinking, that’s a very loving thing to do. But as you will not want to indulge, respond by scratching the base of her tail instead.

3. Kitties rub against you. This leaves the cat’s scent — marking you as “owned” by them. Cats repeatedly head bump their most favorite people. Bumping your face is the ultimate show of trust, since it leaves eyes vulnerable.

4. Cats knead your thighs. Honestly, we’re not sure why they do this. We know that kittens do it to prompt mom-cat’s milk to release and we suspect this instinctive behavior hearkens back to that feeling of comfort and joy. So a cat kneading her human certainly can be a kitty valentine.

5. Cats purr. Now these noises can mean different things, including delight or concern, but a cat that purrs while snuggled in your lap expresses deep trust and love for you. Return the favor and talk back in a warm, caring voice. Say “I love you.” She’ll understand the emotion, if not the exact words.

6. Cats will groom you. Licking your skin or hair, or even nibbling or sucking on your clothing spreads “family” scent and is an expression of feline love. Return the favor — petting your cat is the kitty equivalent of a love fest of mutual grooming.

7. Kittens curve their tails. When a kitten greets her mom-cat, she holds her tail straight up with the end tipped over. If your kitty directs this tippy tail at you, she is, in effect, calling you “mom.”

These are just some of the ways your pet may be expressing his love. And they certainly don’t apply to all animals, as some cats become very creative and keep us guessing! But there’s no doubt that pets appreciate our love and love us back. The best Valentine’s gift we can give them is learning to understand them, foibles and all. Of course you can learn lots more about kitty behavior in this book.

CompetCat

What about dogs? Here’s what I’ve come up with — 12 ways puppies show love. And on a related note, here’s a fun article on a GREAT way for you to offer the ideal Valentine’s gift to your pet-loving significant other.


Amy&Seren&Magic
Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.

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Curing Kitty Colds http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/curing-kitty-colds/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/curing-kitty-colds/#respond Mon, 28 Jan 2013 08:00:25 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=369
.

Crowded conditions such as shelters and rescues increase stress and potential for catching “kitty colds.”

Has the recent outbreak of flu, sinus infections and general creeping-crud attacked you this season? When I visited family over Christmas, one person was just getting over the flu, and two more came down with it while there, and a fourth got the bug a week later.

I’m washing my hands constantly and staying home with the fur-kids. That’s one more positive about working alone at home as a self employed author–less contact with contagious folks. I’ve been told that the flu vaccination (always a good thing!) isn’t necessarily working well against the current illness, either. *sigh*

A stopped up nose and crusty eyes are not only miserable for humans, it can be a sign of a wide range of health problems in your cats. Discharge that’s runny and clear usually goes away in a couple of days by itself. But any time it continues longer than that, or the discharge is cloudy or thick and clogs up the eyes or nose, a virus could be the culprit.

Cats have more problems with congestion than dogs. The bugs that cause kitty congestion usually aren’t lethal in adult cats. But cats won’t eat unless they can smell their food, so they starve if they get a stopped up nose. Kittens are at higher risk. You can find all the must-know kitten care information in Complete Kitten Care, but your veterinarian is the best purr-son (sorry, couldn’t resist!) to provide proper care. Home care not only keeps pets more comfortable, it often decides whether they recover or not.

  1. Use a vaporizer to help unclog the nose. Put your cat in a fairly small room with a cool mist humidifier and use it just the same as you would for a child a couple of times a day. That not only helps break up the congestion, it can moisten inflamed or tender eyes and nostrils and make them feel better.
  2. If you don’t have a vaporizer or humidifier, a hot shower can work. Take the pet into the bathroom with you and run the hot shower so that the air becomes filled with steam. A 10-minute session several times a day works great. Don’t go for longer than that, though, because heated air for too long can be hard for some pets to breathe, especially short-faced Persians.
  3. If the nose is crusting over, or the eyes are sealing shut, use warm wet cloths or cotton balls to soak and soften the secretions and clean them off. Don’t peel dried matter off, because that can hurt or even form scabs.
  4. To soothe sore tissue after you’ve cleaned off the mucus, dab on a bit of plain saline solution, or some baby oil. That can also make it easier to clean away any more crusts that might form. I’ve also used Udderbalm (for cows) and a new product I’m trying out on Magic’s chapped nose called Musher’s Secrete also works well for dogs.
  5. When thick secretions fill up the lungs it can be hard for pets to breathe even when their nostrils are clear. A technique called coupage helps break up the clogged matter so the pet can clear his lungs. It’s a French word meaning “thumping on the chest” and is often used to help children with Cystic Fibrosis breath more easily. Hold your hand in a cupped position, and gently thump on either side of the cat or dog’s rib cage to break loose the mucus. Use coupage two or three times a day along with humidified air to ease the pet’s congestion.

FOLLOW-UP CARE

Refusing to eat can make cats sicker or even threaten their life. Wiping away the crusts and mucus to keep the nasal passages open helps, but offering pungent and more tempting foods can cut through congestion and spark the sick cat’s appetite. Warm the food for five seconds in the microwave to just below cat body temperature—about 95 to 98 degrees. That not only makes the treat more alluring, it also unlocks the aroma so the food smells more pungent and penetrates even a stopped up kitty nose. Moisture also helps enhance aroma, so try adding a bit of warm water, chicken broth, or tuna juice from the can to the cat’s regular food. Run it through the blender to make a mush, and there’s a good chance that will tempt his appetite.

Have your cats suffered from upper respiratory issues? How did you manage them? When vaccinated early as a baby, some of these bugs can be prevented but once they’re in the cat’s system, stress can cause an outbreak. Cats also are tough customers when it comes to “pilling” and medicating (although compounded medicine can help with that). What are your tips for nursing a sick cat? Please share!

Kittencovernewlores

Amy&Seren&Magic

 

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.

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Newborn Puppy Development http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/newborn-puppy-development/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/newborn-puppy-development/#respond Mon, 21 Jan 2013 08:00:02 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=366
Colten

Colton is 10 days old here–SQUEEE! He’s still in the “neonatal” period of puppy-hood which is birth to two weeks. Image Copr. Sapphire Dream Photography via Flickr

What better time to revisit new puppy care and info (not to mention SQUEEE! cute pix!) than the New Year. Some of y’all know that I also write lots of puppy-licious content as the Puppies Guide site owner, and so I wanted to share some of the most popular articles.

Not surprisingly, puppy development information is very popular. What can you expect when you adopted a new baby dog, especially if you must hand-raise the puppy orphan? At what age does the little guy’s eyes open? It’s sooooo cute to see those pictures of “puppy piles” when the whole litter lounges atop each other–but did you realize they HAVE to do that or could die of hypothermia? That’s because a newborn puppy has no internal body temperature control, so the mass warmth of siblings (and mom-dog) keeps him warm.

Stacks on!

Image Copr. K. Ruttiman via Flickr

If he’s blind and deaf at birth, how does the baby find his way around? The nose knows! In fact, puppies tend to return time after time to the same nipple at the “milk bar” drawn back by scent. 🙂

What’s the best age to adopt the new puppy? Well there’s some argument about that between dog breeders and behavior consultants. Some breeders want the pup to go as soon as possible–once the little guy can eat solid food–to help promote bonding between the puppy and new owners. Others (myself included) recommend rehoming a bit later so the puppy has a chance to learn important dog manners from siblings and mom-dog. Learn more about newborn puppy development in the first three months in this article.

How hold was your dog when you adopted him? Have you ever needed to hand-raise a puppy? What do you think is the best age to adopt–and why? Please share!

COVER NEW-DOG

Amy&Seren&Magic

 

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.

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Newborn Kitten Development http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/newborn-kitten-development/ http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/newborn-kitten-development/#respond Mon, 14 Jan 2013 08:00:09 +0000 http://socialinsanfrancisco.com/?p=363
Kisulóra

Kittens begin self-grooming as early as 3 weeks of age. Image Copr. Maria Magnus via Flickr

Did you get a kitten over the holidays? Or maybe you rescued a bottle-baby orphan or are fostering a kitten for your local pet rescue. Here are a few things to keep in mind, but you’ll find a lot more detail in the kitten book, of course.

When your kitten was born, he measured four to six inches long and weighed only two to four ounces. He was blind, deaf, toothless, and just like baby dogs, unable to regulate his own body temperature to stay warm. At this age, kittens depend on touch, sense of smell, and thermal sensation to find Mom and food, and they move by wriggling their bodies from side to side.

Week old kittens spend four hours a day suckling, and more than 16 hours sleeping. They begin to move more easily, and look like swimmers paddling across the bedding. By this age, the body’s shiver reflex develops, and that means they are better able to regulate temperature and keep themselves warm.

Their eyes begin to open between nine to 12 days of age, and babies learn to recognize Mom and others as friends or foe. Ears begin to unseal about this same time and the first baby teeth appear.

By age three week kittens start to clumsily play with each other, follow Mom around, learn about the litter box, and are now able to retract their claws. They start to watch Mom and mimic her by self-grooming themselves. Hey, there’s a reason they call it “copy cat behavior.”

What kittens experience beginning at this age will have a huge impact on how well-adjusted (or not) they become as adults. Kittens handled a few minutes daily by people during their first month of life have an improved learning ability.

By week four, Mom’s milk production starts to decrease just as the kitten’s energy needs grow. Curiosity and hunger spur the babies to sample Mom’s solid food.

By this age, kittens understand the concept of the litter box from watching Mom. However, they still have a limited capacity for “holding it” and may have accidents when the box isn’t close enough to accommodate their needs. They continue to develop physically. The rest of the baby teeth come in, including needle sharp canine teeth.

Roar

“I said STOP IT ALREADY!” Image Copr. Florence Ivy via Flickr

Social play with Mom and siblings begins now, and includes running, rolling, biting, wrestling, climbing, and jumping. Mom-cat and siblings let the baby know if he bites or claws too hard and they’ll hiss at him or put an end to the game. If you are the “mother figure” it’s up to you to teach Baby about the litter box, playing “nice” and eating grown-up food.

Kittens gain two to four ounces a week from birth to five to six months of age. The kitten immune system is also fully developed by six to eight weeks of age, while the immune protection he gained from Mom begins to fade.

Play and interaction with others takes over during weeks five to seven. Good experiences with people and other pets during this time ensure they’ll be well-adjusted adult cats. It’s ideal for kittens to stay with their littermates and mother until twelve weeks of age so they learn best how to get along with other cats, and learn all the important “cat rules” of the world. But very often, shelters need the space and adopt out babies earlier–or the kitten is alone in the world anyway, and benefits from being adopted earlier.

When you adopt a kitten at this age, it’s up to you to expose him to a wide range of situations so he’ll be willing to accept them as he ages. That’s called “socialization” and can mean the difference between a loving pet and a scaredy cat.

He should learn to accept being handled and groomed by you and strangers, so the veterinarian won’t have to fight him for an examination. This is the best age to train him to accept the cat carrier and leash. That allows him to travel with you when necessary, either to the vet or groomers, or across town to visit Grandma. And if you think another pet (dog or cat), or a child might be in your future, introduce him to positive experiences at this age. That way, he’ll accept them as a normal part of his world and you’ll prevent behavior problems down the road.

How hold was your cat when you adopted him? Have you ever needed to hand-raise a kitten? What do you think is the best age to adopt–and why? Please share!

Kittencovernewlores

Amy&Seren&Magic

 

Amy Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant, vet tech and author of dozens of pet care books. She blogs about cats, dogs, THRILLERS WITH BITE and shiny objects at her BLING, BITCHES & BLOOD blog. You can find out more about her 26 award-winning pet care books at www.SHOJAI.com where you can subscribe to her quarterly Pet Peeves newsletter to stay up to date on pet-centric information. For a daily dose of Amy, follow her on twitter and connect on FaceBook Author Page.

All content © 2013 Amy Shojai unless otherwise credited.

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