Spaying and neutering your animals: Responsible pet care – Part 12

April 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Pet Care

Last Saturday I had just come in from cleaning up the yard after Thursday’s hail storm when the phone rang. It was one of my best friend’s daughter and she was bubbling over with excitement.

“Cookie,” she exclaimed, “you’ll never believe what’s just happened!”

“Tell me,” I said.

“You know that stray cat that comes around our house sometimes,” she asked. “Well, it’s on our back porch in a potted plant and it has a baby! I’m afraid that if I go near her she’ll run off and leave her baby but I want to make sure she’s okay. Can you come over and help?”

Of course I threw off my gardening gloves and went straight over. I checked the cat to make sure there were no more kittens in her and we put her and the baby on a kitty bed with some food and water near by. We talked about spaying the mother and baby and how lucky they were that the cat (now named Muffin) only had one kitten. They are choosing to keep them both, a happy ending all around.

This time of year is known to Animal Control Officers as puppy and kitten season. Every day animal shelters across the country brace themselves for the daily onslaught of unwanted and often sickly litters brought in by the public. At our local shelter they are already receiving up to four litters a day, and that number will only increase through the month of May.

Why so many unwanted litters?

Many pet owners want to breed their purebred dog or cat “just one time” so their children can see the process (and to pay for their vacation to Disney World). What they don’t realize because of their inexperience is that an animal in heat will attract their male counterparts from MILES away. A dog will do most anything to get over a fence to mate with a female and unless a cat in heat is kept inside 24/7 it absolutely will be bred. What a surprise the family will have when their beautiful golden retriever gives birth to a colorful mix of puppies that look nothing like her, but amazingly like their neighbor’s Pit Bull or something they don’t even recognize. Nine times out of ten, that litter ends up at the animal shelter.

Then there are the “professional breeders.” The kind that give reputable, dedicated breeders a bad name. These can consist of back yard breeders or full blown Puppy Mills. Their dogs or cats have litter after litter only to be sold through ads in the paper, the Walmart parking lot or trade day events. The pups and kitties that aren’t sold – for whatever reason – are brought to the shelter.

The risks of spaying your female cat – Part 2

February 10, 2010 by  
Filed under All about Cats

With the number of homeless and unwanted cats on the rise, spaying or neutering cats is the responsible course of action, unless you’re planning to breed them.

If your cat has kittens, you’re responsible for all of the kittens born. As cute as these kittens are, finding good homes for all of them may be a challenge. Too many cats are taken to shelters or abandoned because owners neglected to plan ahead.

Professional breeders typically do not neuter their show quality felines, due to the ineligibility of altered felines to participate in competitions. Recently, however, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) has changed its show rules to allow altered cats to compete. Many breeders have started neutering kittens that are destined to be pets instead of show animals. This helps breeders be certain that their cats will not contribute to the unwanted population of animals that end up in shelters.

Animal shelters require that a pet be neutered before adoption. Some request a neutering deposit, refundable upon confirmation of the operation.

Neutering your cat has many benefits for both you and your feline. These cats usually have a gentle disposition and make excellent companions for the elderly and children.

Behavioral Changes

Neutering your cat makes for a better pet, removing the hormonal factors and associated behavior of a sexually active pet. Owners who have experienced a queen in heat, a frustrated tomcat, or unwanted litters of kittens will not argue against the wisdom of neutering pets. Once neutered, pets are usually very affectionate and more predictable.

Females: A common myth is that female cats need the experience of motherhood and should have at least one litter. This is absolutely false.

Spayed female cats are typically more affectionate, calmer, more social, more predictable and healthier.

The greatest behavioral benefit of spaying is that your female cat will not come into heat and engage in the twice-yearly ritual of seeking a mate.

Spaying also provides some medical benefits to your cat. Spayed cats do not run the risk of uterine infections and ovarian tumors and the many potential complications associated with pregnancy and giving birth. Additionally, spayed females have a lower incidence of mammary tumors.

How to Find Free Pets

October 25, 2009 by  
Filed under Pet Care

Anyone who has ever started looking around for an animal to add to the family knows that getting a new pet can be very expensive, and it seems almost impossible to find a free pet. Many breeders ask for several hundred dollars, even for the smallest dogs or cats. Golden Retrievers are usually $700 to $800, Maine Coon cats can cost up to $900 or $1000, and rare exotic animals run much higher.

However, considering all of the pets in the world who are currently homeless, and are living in animal shelters without a loving family, it seems unreasonable and nonsensical to spend hundreds of dollars for a pet when there are so many who need to be saved.

While there are a number of animal rescue organizations and pet shelters around the country, there is only one resource which you should always start with, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Healthy Pets Aren’t Always Free

Before we examine why it’s best to start with the ASPCA, which does charge some fees for adopting and rescuing pets, it’s important to note that it is possible to find a free pet, if you are careful and follow a few important guidelines.

Searching through the classified ads in the newspaper or online classified ads like PetsAds or, you can locate listings for free pets that people are giving away. It’s critical to understand that most free pet ads are from people who are giving away their pets for the following reasons:

  • They are moving to a place that doesn’t take pets.
  • They can no longer afford to have a pet.
  • They found a stray, but can’t keep it.

These are usually well-meaning people, but keep in mind that if they have a pet that they can no longer afford to keep, the pet may not be 100% healthy. If you do decide to take the classified ad route, just remember that most of the things that the fees pay for at the ASPCA, you will have to pay for anyway – including all shots, medical checkups and neutering.

It is perfectly okay to find free pets on your own, just remember that pets are never “free”. You will need to pay for the up-front (and continuing) health care for the rest of it’s life.

ASPCA and Pet Adoption

The ASPCA is a wonderful organization that helps to promote animal shelters and rescue organizations that take excellent care of animals across the country. At the ASPCA Website, you can adopt and save homeless animals in the following ways:

Find a Shelter

By clicking on the “Find a Shelter” link, you are taken to a search page where you can search for local animal shelters by city and state. The ASPCA doesn’t technically endorse the shelters listed by this utility, but it provides the search function to animal lovers who need a resource to find local shelters.

This is a very comprehensive National Shelter Directory, and it is a service to help families with lots of love to offer to connect with animals that need the love. Buying a pet from a local shelter is essentially like getting a free pet, because the fees to adopt a pet cover many of the upfront medical costs you were incur if you’d picked up the animal as a stray or free from a classified ad. Animal shelters take care of the upfront health concerns, so that when you adopt a pet from a shelter, you can be certain that the animal is healthy and well cared for.

In addition, many shelters offer a unique incentive for people to have their pets properly neutered by offering a discount or refund for the procedure with local vets.

ASPCA Adoption Center

The ASPCA Adoption Center provides listings of hundreds of cats and dogs who need a home. The main page of the adoption center explains everything you will need in order to adopt a pet. This is good to read even if you aren’t going to the ASPCA, because most shelters require the same information. Things you will need if planning to adopt a pet:

· Two forms of identification with your address on it (at least one picture ID)

· Two personal references who can be reached by phone

· Proof of vaccination for the pets that you already own.

· Proof of income

While this may seem excessive to some people, it’s important to understand that there are a lot of people out there who would not think twice about harming or being cruel to animals. The job of the ASPCA and all animal shelters across the country, is to protect animals from cruelty, and to make sure that animals are placed in homes where they have the best chances of being as loved and cared for as they deserve to be.

The benefits of adopting through the ASPCA (many animal shelters offer these same benefits):

  • 14 days of free follow-up vet care
  • A leash, collar, and pet carrier to help bring the animal home
  • Educational literature about pet behavior and pet care
  • Free spay/neutering, vaccinations, microchipping and registration, all provided as part of the adoption fee.


Obviously, the only good option for finding a free pet is going through the ASPCA, or through a local animal shelter. This will ensure that you are getting a healthy pet, and you can feel good about doing your part to save an animal from a live without a home, and without love.

Support Animal Rescue Efforts With a Portrait

When you adopt your new pet, show people how much you love your new furry friend by having a pet portrait done by professional artist Nikky Hughes of Los Angeles. Nikky was classically trained at the Mission Renaissance art school, and she focuses on capturing not only the beauty, but the unique character of each animal. She will accept photos through the mail of pets, and then create stunning portraits from those pictures. Pet portraits are ideal because they can be done from a photo (as apposed to getting the pet to “pose” at a studio.)

The great thing about Nikky is that she’s a pet lover herself, and this is reflected in how she runs her business. Nikki donates 5% of every commission to an animal rescue foundation. This is a wonderful way that you can help to support the cause of animal rescue – and receiving a stunning portrait of your new pet in the process.

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