The Care We Share

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A Dog Parent’s Guide To Safe Summer Travel

Written by Indiana Lee

Summer’s here and it’s time to get out of the house and take those warm-weather vacations that we all love. It’s an opportunity to enjoy time with your family, and that may include your dogs as well. If your pets are partial to traveling, you can take them along for the ride, but caution and proper preparation are necessary. 

If you’re planning to take your pup on your next adventure, then heed these tips to make it a fun and safe experience for everyone.

Plan Accordingly

If you plan to bring your dog on vacation, then you need to start planning ahead of time to ensure all of your pet’s needs are met during the trip. Make sure to pack their identification and documentation so they can be found if they get lost. Also, bring at least one tagged collar and have your pup wear it at all times. If your dog has a microchip, ensure it’s working properly. 

If your travel includes a camping trip or other outside adventures through forests or parks, it’s important to have your pup up-to-date on all of their shots. For travel outside of the country, bring proof of all vaccinations and obtain a medical certificate if you plan to fly. No matter how you plan to travel, you should bring a first aid kit that you can use in case of emergencies.

Be prepared to take care of your dog’s basic needs. Bring their waste bags, toys, and enough treats to keep them happy and healthy. During travel, hydration is especially important for people and pets alike, so bring their water bowl and extra bottles of water if you have the opportunity to do so. 

Keeping your pet comfortable and safe during the hottest weather is also important. Never leave your dog in the car, give them plenty of water, and save your outdoor adventures for the early morning or evening when the temperatures are more bearable.

Practice Car Safety

An epic road trip can create memories that you and your dog will remember forever. It’s important to avoid the most dangerous times to drive, which include the late evening and afternoon, especially if you are in an area where there are a lot of commuters. The more cars that are on the road, the more dangerous it is. Do your best to be off the road and at the hotel or a nearby attraction during those times.

Before you take your dog on a long car trip, you need to verify that your pet is comfortable riding in a vehicle for long periods of time. If you’re unsure, practice before the trip. You can do that by taking your furry friend for a shorter trip around the neighborhood and then taking longer trips every day to see if your dog gets less fidgety. If your dog seems comfortable but gets restless from time to time, you can plan a route that involves plenty of opportunities to stop so you can both get out and stretch your legs. You can also take your pet for a long walk before the trip so they can work out some of their anxiety.

Flying With A Pet

If your vacation requires a flight, you’ll want to take extra precautions with your dog. Firstly, call the airline before you buy your tickets and ask if they have any unique guidelines or paperwork that you need to bring with you during the flight. Just like the car, you need to verify that your dog is comfortable with flying and won’t panic. Visit your vet before you leave and get a check-up, and they will tell you if there are any red flags.

On the day of the flight, you can prepare your pup by feeding them early enough so that they are satisfied but not too much or too close to the flight, or they may get an upset stomach during the trip. Again, let them get plenty of exercise so they are less anxious and more likely to sleep during the flight. Finally, make sure to buy a large enough pet carrier so that your dog is comfortable. Have the pup sit in it before the flight so they can get used to it.

If it looks like your dog will be too stressed to enjoy a trip, you may need to leave them at home in the care of a pet sitter. If you do, provide as much information about your dog as possible, including their medical history and your pet’s recall, so the sitter can easily call them back if your pooch escapes.

It is possible to have a fun and safe trip with your furry friend. Consider the tips mentioned here and create memories that you will treasure forever.

About the writer: Indiana Lee is a freelance writer and journalist with a wealth of experience in blogging, content marketing, and journalism.

Separating Fact from Fiction: Cats, Toxoplasmosis, and Pregnancy

Written by Indiana Lee

Your cat isn’t just a pet. She’s family. Now, however, that family is about to get bigger. You’re having a baby and you would do anything to keep that baby safe, healthy, and strong. 

But what does that mean for you and your fur baby? Chances are, you’ve heard all the horror stories about the risks cats ostensibly pose to pregnant women and their unborn children. 

You may wonder if you have to sacrifice your beloved cat to save yourself and your little one. The good news is that you don’t have to rehome or avoid your feline baby just because you’re growing a tiny human. 

What you do need to do, however, is learn to separate fact from fiction when it comes to toxoplasmosis. That way, you’ll have the information you need to protect yourself, your baby, and your fur child.

What Is Toxoplasmosis and What Are the Risks?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a common single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. It’s estimated that more than 40 million people in the United States alone may carry the parasite, but most will go through life without experiencing any symptoms at all.

However, persons with severely compromised immune systems and pregnant women are at increased risk for developing severe toxoplasmosis. Pregnant women may also pass the infection to their unborn children. A prenatal toxoplasmosis infection may, in rare cases, lead to significant disabilities, including congenital eye diseases.

Humans can be exposed to and infected by the Toxoplasma parasite in a myriad of ways. The parasite may be unwittingly ingested by eating raw or undercooked meat or seafood, through utensils that have been cross-contaminated by raw meat or unwashed fruits and vegetables, or by contact with contaminated soils.

Cats, Toxoplasmosis, and Pregnancy

One common misconception about toxoplasmosis is that all exposure to cats carries a risk of toxoplasmosis infection for pregnant women.

This is patently false. You can still hug your cat, pet and play with your cat, and brush and snuggle your cat as usual when you are pregnant.

Where you need to be cautious, in other words, isn’t with your cat at all. It’s with their litter box. The toxoplasma parasite may be shed in the feces of infected cats. However, the parasite shed in cat feces does not actually become infectious to humans for one to five days. Thus, changing or scooping the litter box daily can significantly reduce your risk of exposure to the parasite.

By far one of the best ways to prevent toxoplasmosis is to ensure that your cat doesn’t become infected in the first place. 

Since cats generally acquire the parasite by killing and eating infected rodents, keeping your cat indoors can help prevent their exposure in the first place. You can create an indoor haven for your cat so that they’ll never miss the outdoors by providing lots of interactive toys as well as plenty of vertical space to keep them interested and occupied.

For an added layer of protection, if you are pregnant, you may ask another family member to take charge of scooping and changing the litter box. Clearing away the feces every day will get rid of the source of the parasite before it can become a threat to humans.

If you can’t find anyone to do the scooping and cleaning for you, then just make sure that you wear gloves while handling the litter box and also that you thoroughly wash your hands with hot water and soap immediately after you come into contact with the cat box. 

Healthy Habits

As noted above, contaminated cat litter is by no means the only way for humans to become infected with the toxoplasma parasite. So, if you are pregnant, you should be proactive in guarding against the infection, even if you don’t have a feline friend in your home.

This means that you should always use gardening gloves and wash your hands after working in the soil. Handwashing is also crucial when you’re handling raw meat and seafood or unwashed fruits and vegetables. Utensils and surfaces that may have come into contact with these items also need to be immediately wiped down with antimicrobial soap.

Above all, you will want to follow all the standard measures for ensuring a healthy pregnancy. Eating a nutritious diet rich in essential vitamins and minerals, getting consistent, high-quality sleep, and taking prenatal vitamins can help boost your immune system. This, in turn, will decrease the likelihood of an active infection, even if you were to become exposed to this common parasite.

The Takeaway

Misconceptions surrounding toxoplasmosis have separated far too many cats from the pet parents who love them. The good news is that understanding what toxoplasmosis is, how it is contracted, and how it can be prevented will empower expectant mothers with the information they need to protect themselves, their babies, and their felines.

Image Source: Pixabay (https://pixabay.com/photos/kitten-white-cat-cute-domestic-1285341/)

About the writer: Indiana Lee is a freelance writer and journalist with a wealth of experience in blogging, content marketing, and journalism.

How to Set Up a Cat-Friendly Home

Before happily welcoming a new feline addition into your home, there are a few necessary tasks to address. Creating a space for them to feel comfortable and secure is essential because cats spend most of their time indoors. There are a lot of things to take into consideration beforehand, such as living space and possibly the pets already living with you.

It is exciting to bring home a fresh addition to the family, so here are a few things to take into consideration when getting ready for your fur baby:

Adequate space

  • Take into consideration the size of your home. Is it large enough for your pet? Will they have adequate territory to do what they want or not? Do you have other pets in the house, and will that create a problem? Think things through first before getting a new addition. Cats need their space to roam around, play and establish a territory, especially if they are among other cats.

Get rid of hazards

  • Cats are known for their curiosity and persistence; They tend to play with anything they could find. From cords, long drapes, tassels, and even rubber bands, they can be hazardous to felines of any size and age. Make sure to put small objects in containers and chemical substances in areas that are hidden or out of reach. Cut the cords to a shorter length or undo the knots at the end.
  • Several household plants are toxic to cats, such as aloe, irises, ivy, and lilies. If you own house plants, it is best to research which ones you need to keep away from your pet. Move them outdoors or into another room away from anything harmful.

Arrange a safe room

  • Creating a safe sanctuary for the new furry addition to your family will help them integrate better into your home. It is a fact that cats are territorial– moving into a new home will make them feel uneasy and scared. Provide a small area for them to live in for a few days or weeks, a bathroom or laundry room works very well. Keep other pets, family members, and guests out in the meantime.
  • If you do not have a separate room to use, create a private section in a secluded or vacant corner using one or two tall screens.
  • Fill it with cat amenities and ensure that there is plenty of space for you to sit as well. Place their food and water bowls in a separate area from their litter box. Spend time with them frequently, but keep them short. Your goal is for them to get used to your scent and build a bond.

Get everything your cat will need

  • A carrier to bring your pet home in. Make sure that the crate is not too small for the cat you intend to adopt.
  • A collar with an identification tag. Getting them microchipped is also an option. These are necessary in case they might get lost or escape the house.
  • Food, water, and cat litter with containers and scooper. A rule of thumb is to provide one litter box for each cat and add one to the total.
  • Cat bed or cocoon to sleep and rest in.
  • Create vertical space for them to jump onto. Getting a cat tree and shelves would give them enough space to go around.
  • Toys that will keep your cat entertained and a scratching post to lessen the chances of them destroying furniture.
  • Grooming tools such as brush and claw trimmers.
Comfy Cat

Be ready to transition them beyond their safe room

  • Once you have established a trusting relationship with your feline companion, they are ready to start exploring the rest of the house under supervision. Close the doors to rooms for the meantime; this will begin their orientation in stages. It can get overwhelming for them if introduced to too many new spaces all at once. 

Introducing them to existing pets in your household

  • Avoid immediately introducing your new cat to your other pets upon arrival. Doing this might damage new relationships and trigger fear, anger, aggression, and additional problems between the latest feline addition to your resident cats and other pets. Successful introductions take a lot of time and patience.
  • Let them sniff out the situation first. Let your pets sniff each other under the door for the next few days to help them familiarize each other’s scents. Move onto placing your new cat in a carrier and put them outside of the safe room, do so 2 to 3 times daily– if possible. Once you’ve seen that they’re comfortable with each other, introduce them to your other pets face to face.

Photo by Monica Silvestre from Pexels

Q&A: Is a Raw Cat Food Diet Safe and Healthy?

There are so many questions on pet diet. Add to that, there are so many options for pet owners to feed their pets. Traditional pet food manufacturers, artisan/independent companies, all the way to the local butcher, pet owner have a lot options. Here’s an article from our friends at Healthcare for Pets, on whether a raw food diet is good for your cat.

EDIT: We recently received an article about cat food from our friends at Consumers Advocate.

They made thorough reviews of:

Best Wet Cat Food

Best Dry Cat Food

Best Food for Kittens

Best Wet & Dry Foods for Seniors.

Best Food for Diabetic Cats

Best Food for Urinary Tracts

and Best Delivery Service.

Link: https://www.consumersadvocate.org/cat-food

Original Question: What are your thoughts on raw food for cats? – Winnie

Hi Winnie,

It’s very difficult to recommend the best diet for your pet. In fact, I think it is near impossible because you really need to know how a dog responds to a food to know if it is good for them or not. I have always maintained that a food is good if your dog eats it, has good solid stools, does not become itchy, doesn’t vomit, and maintains an ideal body condition. Any food you select has to have a trial period before knowing whether it is ideal or not. So I feel the same about a raw cat food diet. I have seen many pets do very well on raw food. It’s important to manage it properly since it will increase the bacterial contamination in the kitchen. You have to store it properly and keep in mind that it commonly has high levels of fat and protein in it that can increase the risk of causing pancreatitis. To avoid this risk, I would recommend that you introduce any new food very slowly over the course of 3 weeks. Monitor your cat’s response to it very closely as you switch over to the new diet. If diarrhea or vomiting develops, I would stop it immediately and seek medical attention if it does not resolve right away.

Thanks for your question and good luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

5 Things Every New Cat Adopter Must Do

When you adopt a cat, you’re giving him/her a new life. There are many things you should consider before introducing new changes to their lifestyle so it doesn’t cause any psychological damage. Think about the ambiance they used to be in, whether they lived alone or with other cats, did they get enough food and water, and so on.

Being a new cat adopter can be intimidating, but when given proper attention, it’s a blissful experience. Here are some things every new cat adopter should do and remember:

  • Visit the Vet

As soon as you adopt your cat, take it to the veterinarian to see if their physical health is good and if there are any immunizations they might need. Regular checkups greatly help adopted cats regardless of their life before adoption. Make sure to carry the adoption medical papers with you. Also keep your vet’s work and after-work hour’s contact number nearby in case you need them for an emergency. 

  • Make the Environment Safe

Make your home a safe environment for your new cat. Don’t keep any plants that could be harmful for them, and always store away toxic medicines and cleaning supplies. Keep the toilet lid closed and make sure all the cords are out of their way. The window screen should be locked up and any breakable items should be way of their reach.

  • Get Insurance

Once you get pet insurance, you can not only choose your own vet, but also be assured of the health of your adopted cat. It gives you a certain peace of mind and also prevents you from having to reach for your emergency funds in case your cat needs some serious medical care. One of the positives is that you can formulate a budget to dedicate to the healthcare costs of your beloved new cat.

  • Build a Separate Space

Adopted pets can take some time to open up. So, during those first few days, let your cat take his/her time to understand that you only mean to take care of them. Once they trust you enough, build a separate corner for them in the house. This is a space they can come to when they want to eat, sleep, or get some rest. Cats often like to be on their own, so, a separate space serves great for them.

  • Help Them Make New Friends

Give your pets time with making new friends. Try to introduce them to the pets and animals around. If your cat is comfortable and mixes up with them soon, that’s obviously ideal; but even if they’re reluctant, let them take their own time to make new fellow animal friends. 

Summing Up

Bringing home a new cat is a matter of great responsibility, especially if it’s an adopted cat. The environment they came from previously could be severely torturous and abusive. Therefore, they need to know that their new home is warm and loving.

Make your home as stress-free an ambiance for them as possible. Whatever you do, remember to keep their health in check and see to it that the transition from their past life to the new one is smooth and organic.

7 Common Cat Behavior Problems and How to Fix Them

Here’s another article from our friends at Healthcare for Pets, a blog dedicated to your pet’s health. It covers seven bad habits cats have and how to deal with them. It could be said that bad cats existsbecause they were bad kittens. But there are behaviors that can developed in the best of conditions.

Original article: https://www.healthcareforpets.com/article/7-common-cat-behavior-problems-and-how-to-fix-them/

Does your cat have some bad habits, such as destroying the furniture or meowing at all hours of the night? Have you tried the usual “cat deterrents” such as messy essential oils, sprinkling cayenne pepper or outright yelling at your cat to no avail? Don’t despair: a combination of accommodating your cat’s natural instincts and changing the environment can help with common cat behavior problems and restore peace in your household.

stray cats sitting on street near house
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com


What Doesn’t Work: Punishment

Confrontations with your cat will never end well. Even when you win, the negative feelings generated can come back to bite you even if your cat doesn’t. The problem with punishment is that unless you get the timing exactly right (during the unwanted behavior), your cat will associate the punishment with you. This is almost impossible to get right, so most of the time, punishment is a lost cause. You may have some success with clapping your hands loudly the instant you catch them doing something wrong, but unless you manage to catch them 90% of the time, the association will still be weak.

1. Litter Box Issues

Has your cat suddenly started having litter box accidents — outside the litter box — after years of being tidy and fastidious? They could be experiencing pain while relieving themselves, and avoiding the litter box as a result. Cat logic: it hurts to pee here, so I’m going to pee somewhere else! Make sure what you’re dealing with is not bladders stones, crystals in the urine or a UTI. Your vet can handle these.

Perhaps your cat is letting you know that the litter box needs a cleaning, or if you have more than one cat sharing a box, maybe it’s time to think about individual boxes. Somebody could be feeling crowded and wanting some personal space.

Sometimes cats are drawn to mark certain objects with their scent by spraying: the bed, shoes, and laundry are common targets. Wash these items with an enzyme cleaner and remove your cat’s access to these items.

2. Scratching

There are a few possible reasons for this behavior. She may be sharpening her claws, playing or working off some excess energy. Just buying the first scratching post you see at the store is unlikely to solve this problem.

Wondering how to stop cats from scratching? Start with spraying the scratched areas thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner to remove the scent that encourages your cat to keep scratching the area. Once dry, take steps to protect the area from your cat. A spray of cat deterrent or a little bit of sticky paper is unlikely to do the trick. A quick method to stop cats from scratching the furniture would be to cover it entirely in a throw blanket or if it’s possible, moving it to a room your cat cannot get into. For carpeted stairs, clear packing tape regularly reapplied to the edges can help.

Keep your cat’s claws trimmed. If you’re hesitant to trim them yourself, you can ask your vet.

Provide a stable scratching post covered in a texture you know your cat will enjoy, in an area of the house they prefer, and with enough height for them to fully stretch while scratching. Entice them with catnip and praise to reinforce the new behavior of using the post.

3. Aggression

Wondering how to calm an aggressive cat? Is this a new behavior? The first step is to check for any physical causes. If you get a clean bill of health from the vet, think about other possibilities.

Aggression can result for a number of different reasons. Maybe your cat is sick or feeling crowded by other pets in the house. Perhaps your mama cat feels like she must protect her kittens from real or imagined dangers.

An unneutered male can get pretty aggressive. The solution here is simple: get him fixed.

Make sure your cat’s needs are being met. If you have multiple pets, make sure everyone has enough space, enough food, comfortable sleeping spots.

To break up a cat attack, use a spray bottle to squirt them both with, or make a loud sudden noise. Don’t get physically involved.

4. Interrupting Your Sleep

Is your cat meowing at night? If you can tire your cat out before bedtime this might help. Often, your cat is just plain bored and looking for stimulation. Providing them with an enriched environment and taking time to play with them before bedtime can go a long way to curbing this behavior. It might sound strange, but cats are reassured by routine. Playing with them at the same time each evening (perhaps after dinner) will help soothe a demanding cat.

A timed feeder will also help to keep your cat’s attention on the food bowl and away from you during the night. Many couples report that their cats will only bother one of them to be fed in the morning, and leave the heavier sleeper alone because they know their efforts won’t work. Once your cat figures out that the food comes from the feeder and not from you, they will stop bothering you for food.

5. Cat Playing Rough

This is almost always caused by how the cat was raised as a kitten. Kittens need to be taught that human hands are not playthings, but older cats can also learn this as well. When playing with your cat, use a toy as an intermediary: wiggle a stick, not your finger, under a crinkle mat, or dangle a feather toy from a string rather than holding it. When your cat attacks, scratches or bites you, playtime is immediately over. Withdrawing attention will teach your cat the rules for keeping the fun going longer.

6. Caterwauling Kitty

Is your cat noisier than usual?

If she’s in heat, there are only two ways of stopping the noise. One is another cat, and the other is a trip for spaying at the vet’s office.

Other reasons for a cat to be complaining a lot include problems/unmet needs such as flea bites, empty food/water bowls or dirty litter boxes.

Is your cat howling at night? Elderly cats may begin to cry at night as they become confused and their senses decline. Other cats may yowl to express loneliness or anxiety. They often respond well to a Feliway diffuser which you plug into an electrical socket and it has a pheromone that it heats up and aerosolizes in your home. It has a calming effect on cats. If the behavior is well ingrained and they don’t respond to this, your vet may suggest a trial of anti-anxiety medication.

7. Destroying Houseplants

Interested in how to stop a cat from eating plants? Everyone will have their own suggestions: citrus peels on the soil, cayenne pepper, or bitter apple sprays from the pet store. The real bitter truth is, many cats will barely take notice of these so-called deterrents and happily continue to chew on your plants or dig through the soil. The only effective solutions are to put appealing plants out of reach, to select plants that are unappealing to chew on, and to cover the exposed soil if they like to dig. Your mileage may vary, but plants with leathery leaves such as mother in law’s tongue, succulents or cacti are the least likely to attract your cat’s attention.