Posts

Adopting an Older Pet

There’s no mistaking it, kittens are adorable and many grow up to become magnificent companions. Unfortunately pet owners often forget the trouble involved with raising a pet from infancy, and overlook the countless mature cats awaiting adoption from shelters and rescue organizations. This article from Modern Cat can give some tips when it comes to adopting an older pet.

“Consider adopting an older pet if you want to skip the house-training and want an animal that may already be obedience trained,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, Clinical Associate Professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Science (CVM). “Another benefit with older pets is that their personality is set when you meet them, and any health issues or special care needs may already be evident.”

Within the first week of bringing home an older pet, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to identify any health concerns and to update vaccinations, heartworm prevention and parasite prevention.

“When selecting a pet to bring home make sure their behavior and activity level will fit into your lifestyle, which is much easier to determine when you meet an older pet,” said Stickney. “For example, a pet that is calm and relaxed for a smaller house versus super-active pets that need room to move around and a large yard. You should also have it meet all of the family to make sure the pet will get along with the children, males, and females living in your home.”

It is also important to ask the shelter or rescue organization about any known health or behavior issues, or if the pet has been around other pets before or not.

Preparing your home for an older pet is not that much different than a younger one, with a few exceptions that many find easier. “When bringing home any pet, it is important to have things such as the appropriate food, bedding, bowls, and the appropriate toys like chew objects for dogs or a scratching tree for cats,” said Stickney. “It is also essential to have a carpet cleaner around for a few accidents until the pet understands your house’s routine, and to make sure your yard is fenced with no breaks where the pet could escape and get lost. If your pet has arthritis and has trouble moving and jumping, you may need a ramp to help it maneuver steps.”

Older pets can also be easier to train because they do not get distracted as easily as puppies. However, if they have already learned certain commands you will need to stick with the same command words and gestures instead of trying to use new commands for the same trick.

To view adoption services and to adopt an older pet of your own, check out services such as our Resources page for local shelters!

What’s Up With All Those Cat Naps?

Ever wondered why your cat sleeps most of the day? Modern Cat gives some insight as to why they do.

If you are a cat owner, you’ve probably gazed at Whiskers on the couch and asked, “Why does he sleep so much?” The answer is very simple, says a noted Texas A&M University animal behaviorist: It’s in their DNA.

Bonnie Beaver, a veterinarian at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and a former president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, says cats are natural sleepers – and they are very good at it.

When it comes to sleep, the news about cats is hardly out of the bag. Many cats sleep 16-20 hours a day, more than any other animal, and they are not picky about choosing a place for their cat nap – on top of a car or a roof, in a tree, their favorite chair or just about anywhere they can curl up for 40 winks or more.

“Let sleeping cats lie,” goes a French proverb, and it’s advice cats have taken to heart.

“Over the thousands of years that cats have evolved, so have their sleeping habits,” Beaver explains.

“Early on, they had to hunt for food to stay alive, and that desire for food can require a lot of energy. So sleeping helped cats conserve their energy, and even though the common housecat does not have to hunt for its next meal, a cat is still conditioned for sleep.

“House cats sleep a lot more than feral cats do because they don’t have to spend a lot of time searching for food.”

That’s not to say all of that sleep is purr-fect sleep, either.  A lot of that time – maybe as much as 40 percent – is spent resting and not in deep sleep, Beaver adds.

So with all of that sleeping, do cats dream like we do?

“We know that dreaming occurs in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, and cats very much have an REM phase of sleep,” she notes.

“They also exhibit movements during REM sleep, so it is possible they can dream.  What are they dreaming about?  Since we can’t ask them, we really don’t know.” She adds that if a cat’s whiskers or paws twitch during sleep, it’s very possible it is dreaming.

And while dogs are known to snore almost as loud as your Uncle Fred, cats tend to be quiet sleepers, Beaver points out.  “Most cats don’t snore because they don’t have a loose, soft palate like many breeds of dogs do,” she says.

There’s also the flip side – if Fluffy appears to sleep very little, it may not be a true cat-astrophe, but it could be a sign that something is wrong.

“Cats are like people – each one is different,” Beaver adds.

“Each cat is unique, so if it does not seem to sleep much, it may be its normal routine.  It is more important to note changes in behavior. If it seems like the cat is not sleeping as much as it used to, it could meaning something is wrong; perhaps it’s suffering from hyperthyroidism. If that is the case, the cat needs to see a veterinarian.”

Your cat will thank you – once it is fully awake, of course. Or then again since it’s a cat, maybe not.