Why does Fluffy jerk her legs while she’s sleeping? Many an owner has glanced over at their sleeping pet and seen them jerk their legs or twitch their feet. Sometimes this jerking motion is so pronounced that owners become alarmed that their beloved Fluffy is having some sort of seizure. Generally speaking, this “running in her sleep” probably reflects Fluffy’s …
Are you looking for a new companion that suits your retirement lifestyle? We’ve got expert advice on the best choices for pet lovers. The companionship and unconditional love that pets offer can help older adults reduce stress and increase hormones that promote joy, nurturing and relaxation, according to the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri. But …
Your pet may not be human, but he’s not just an animal, either. You can’t expect him to sit around all day alone and then welcome you at the door with your pipe and slippers like a picture perfect pet out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Pets crave attention of any sort, so the more time spent at play or even sitting quietly with the family in the evenings; the better it is for your pets.
The problems begin when the family’s expectations for the pet are unreasonable. There has never been a dog born with batteries or a cat that runs like a computer. Pets make mistakes; just like the rest of us, they’re not perfect. If you can’t stand any kind of mess or disorder in the house, a dog or cat is probably not going to make you happy, because when an owner demands meticulous behavior all of the time, the relationship begins to break down.
When you treat your pet like an animal who must be trained into submission, you are going to have a neurotic dog or cat who never does anything right. On the other hand, when you ignore your pet and don’t treat him like a member of the family, you will have a dog or cat that misbehaves just to get the attention denied him.
1. If it itches, you can reach it. And no matter where it itches, no one will be offended if you scratch it in public.
2. No one notices if you have hair growing in weird places as you get older.
3. Personal hygiene is a blast: No one expects you to take a bath every day, and you don’t even have to comb your own hair.
4. Having a wet nose is considered a sign of good health.
5. No one thinks less of you for passing gas. Some people might actually think you’re cute.
6. Who needs a big home entertainment system? A bone or an old shoe can entertain you for hours.
7. You can spend hours just smelling stuff.
8. No one ever expects you to pay for lunch or dinner. You never have to worry about table manners, and if you gain weight, it’s someone else’s fault.
9. It doesn’t take much to make you happy. You’re always excited to see the same old people. All they have to do is leave the room for five minutes and come back.
10. Every garbage can looks like a cold buffet to you.
CATS: DEVILS OR ANGELS? YOU DECIDE
A PACT WITH THE DEVIL
Cats are nocturnal in their habits– their eyes glow in the dark, and their ability to move swiftly and silently can be unnerving. It was probably for such reasons that the harmless cat became inextricably bound up with witches, demons, and the dark powers of the unseen.
It was believed that cats had a pact with the Devil himself. They were thought to be able to cause storms, or to be witches in disguise.
Hysteria and paranoia were at times so great that anyone who loved a pet cat might be suspected of dabbing in the black arts. The way cats enjoy sleeping upon their owners beds, or curling up on their laps, was seen as evidence of some dark, demonic relationship. Many of these warped beliefs have survived into our own times unfortunately.
THE CAT A SYMBOL OF LUCK
Yet even through these dark times, some people continued to believe that cats were lucky. Buddhists believed that the presence of a dark cat would insure that a household never lacked gold. A pale cat would attract silver to the house.
In France, there was a belief in matagots , or magical cats. These wonderful felines would bring good fortune to their owners as long as they were loved and well looked after.
Through history, some cats have found themselves in illustrious company, The Prophet Mohammed is said to have loved them; one story tells of how he cut off the sleeve of his robe because one of his favorites was sleeping there, and he was loath to disturb her. Popes and Kings have also kept pet cats, artists and writers, all have come to worship the cat as have I.
Try going to a Japanese Restaurant without seeing The MANEKI NEKO — the lucky cat with its paw raised.
How would you feel if one day someone suddenly appeared in your home and didn’t leave? The stranger slept there (in either your own bed or a nice new one) and started eating your food (or a different kind of food that smelled and tasted even better than your own). What if the members of your family started making a big fuss over this newcomer and ignored you? You’d feel pretty badly, wouldn’t you? In fact, there’s a good possibility that you’d start resenting the newcomer. Well, that’s often how an existing pet feels when a new pet suddenly appears on the scene!
The problems that may result from such an intrusion can range from depression on the existing pet’s part, to occasional growling and hissing, to outright hostility replete with flying fur and bloodshed! In other cases, the original pet may become disobedient and even start having “accidents” in the house.
Regardless of whether the original pet (pet #1) is a dog and the new pet (pet #2) is a cat, or pet #1 is an adult cat and pet #2 is a kitten … or a rabbit, or a bird … there are steps you can take to ease the transition. By taking a little time before your new pet arrives, you’ll be able to prevent the most common problems from arising.
BEFORE THE INTRODUCTION
1) Always take pet #1 and pet #2 to the vet for a check up. Be sure all their vaccinations are up to date.
2) If at all possible, familiarize pet #1 with the scent of the newcomer days or even weeks prior to pet #2’s arrival. This can be accomplished by taking a towel to where the new pet is being kept (i.e. the breeder, the shelter) and gently rubbing the animal with it. Once the towel has the scent of pet #2, bring it home and leave it where pet #1 can examine it.
3) Play a recording of the types of sounds that will be made by the newcomer . You can record the sounds of a friend’s talkative dog or vocal cat or purchase a sound effects record. Start out by playing it for pet #1 at a low volume, . gradually increasing the level over a period of days or weeks. Your goal is reach a full volume without any reaction from pet #1. This is particularly helpful if you are introducing pet #1 to a pet of another species.
4) If you are particularly concerned about your pet’s reaction (i.e. possible jealousy or aggression) to the new arrival, bring home a stuffed animal that closely resembles your newcomer. Ideally it should carry the scent of pet #2 (see step 2). The point here is to simulate the new arrival as much as possible without overwhelming pet #1 with the real thing. If your pet shows any negative reactions to your “simulated” newcomer, it’s important to turn the negative into a positive. Give your pet extra hugs, kisses, attention and even treats. Let your pet feel that whenever the “simulated” newcomer is around, good things happen – the idea is a positive association.
1) If at all possible, introduce pet #1 to pet #2 on what I refer to as “neutral turf.” In other words, in an area to which neither animal has a claim – such as a park or a neighbor’s yard. Doing so will prevent pet #1 from feeling that his territory (his home) is being threatened.
2) Always be sure that both animals are introduced under controlled circumstances. In other words, both pets should be properly restrained – collars and leashes on dogs and harnesses and leashes on cats and rabbits. It may be necessary to enlist the aid of a family member or friend to assist during the introduction.
THE HOME COMING
1) In the beginning, be sure to supervise pet #1 and pet #2 when they are together. It’s prudent not to leave them together unattended in the beginning – even if they seem to be getting along well. This is particularly true if pet #2 is a younger or smaller animal. Pet #1 may want to be playful but may not realize his or her own strength.
2) Supply both of your pets with lots and lots of toys. By doing so, you’ll lessen the chance of a fight occurring over a specific item.
3) The same thing goes for feeding time. Pet #1 should not have to feel as if he’s competing for food. Instead of feeding him more, you may want to divide pet #1 ‘s regular amount of food into several dishes to give him a sense that there’s plenty available.
4) It’s only natural for friends and family (and even you) to want to make a big fuss over the new arrival – especially if it’s a puppy or kitten. It’s up to you to make sure that pet #1 receives as much positive attention as pet #2. Here, again, that means extra hugs, kisses, attention, toys and treats for pet #1. If you insist on making a fuss over the newcomer, do it privately – out of the sight of pet #1.
5) Finally, if you sense that pet #1 is less than thrilled with pet #2, give them a chance to work it out. While our pets are learning to adjust to each other it sometimes sounds like a nuclear explosion! I know that the sounds of such a confrontation can be horrendous, but often what looks and sounds serious is simply your pets getting to know each other. One of the biggest mistakes owners make is jumping in too soon to break it up. Sometimes it’s best to just let them work it out. When to jump in is one of the toughest judgment calls an owner has to make. Of course, we don’t want harm to come to either pet. So supervise them carefully but remember that it may sound a lot worse than it is.
Your aim is to make pet #1 feel that pet #2 is the best thing that has ever happened to him. By doing a little pre-planning and following the above steps, you’ll come home one day to find your pets sleeping nose to nose!
There is hardly a cat or dog who isn’t afraid of something. Phobias develop early in life, and although some appear to stem from perfectly logical sources, such as loud noises or unfamiliar settings, others seem completely inexplicable. Just as people develop phobias arising from bad experiences or irrational panic, so do pets. In today’s chaotic world, we are all …
There are situations in the wild where there is an Alpha, the dog who leads the pack and dominates all the others. However, once the dog is out of his natural environment and is in a comfortable home, his instinctive needs begin to change. He no longer has to chase a squirrel for dinner or challenge a larger animal for a place to sleep. His survival is assured, so he loses the need to fight for it. And he no longer has the consistency of the pack. In the wild, the animals develop a pecking order that hardly varies from day to day. In a family, however, you don’t have that rigid role-playing. If you take a stray off the streets after he has been living in a pack, and let him adjust to normal family life, within a short period of time, he will become less and less of the pack member and more and more a family member.
Those dog owners who persist in believing that they can force the pack situation on their pet also believe that in order to maintain control, they must become the Alpha, the one to whom the dog looks up to slavishly and the one the dog obeys without question. These owners tend to be very physical in their style of training—they will push the dog over and make him submit, hit him on the nose or use electronic or prong collars for the least infraction, when the dog disobeys.
I cannot stress strongly enough how much I oppose this kind of thinking and behaving. There’s almost no way not to make a pet neurotic when he’s bullied and bossed into submission. In a family where there is one dominant personality, it’s neither good for the dog’s psyche—not to mention the family dynamic in general.
When one person acts as boss and the others in the family react to him as though he is the chief drill sergeant and they had better obey or else, the pet understands soon enough that the working principle here is psychological survival of the fittest. This means that, as soon as the boss is gone, the door is open for the pet to challenge any of the other weak people who obey the boss. This includes strangers who enter the home as well as other family members. A dog that is always testing the power structure around him can easily become passive aggressive animal, one who is submissive to the master but aggressive to everyone else. Passive aggression can be very dangerous, because the animal may appear to be perfectly normal one moment, and then may begin to growl and snap for no particular reason. The pet may try to take advantage of the smaller members of the household, and, unless therapy is instituted very quickly, generally will succeed.
Are dominance problems more evident in strays than in animals that come from other backgrounds? Many people say to me, “Well, our dog lived on the streets most of his young life, and he’ll never stop being a pack animal. Every time we’re in the park, he eats every bit of discarded food on the ground or begs scraps from people eating their lunch. He always acts very aggressive with the other dogs he sees there.”
It is true that animals do have a kind of remembrance of things past. If your stray was fending for himself for months and did have to scrounge for every morsel, he may keep doing it even when he is getting two square meals a day at your house. This does not mean he’s reacting like the pack animal he use to be, but ,rather, that he’s responding to some scent or awareness of the park as the hunting ground he use to frequent. His aggressive reaction to other dogs is part of the past. The other possibility is that he has a very keen sense of smell and can spot food or another animal a mile away—or that he’s unusually inquisitive and just wants to meet those other pets to see whether he likes them or not.
The issue of dominance is such a complicated and subtle one that I feel it must be broken up into various components to be understood fully. Only when each facet of the problem makes sense can we do anything about regulating it and establishing the kind of consistency in a family that will solve it once and for all.
The easiest way to create a confident cat that behaves well is to spend more than equal time on the things the cat does right. Sure Kitty gets plenty of corrections when he does caca, doo doo, pooh pooh where he’s not supposed to—but do you spend the same or, better yet, more time kissing, hugging, and loving him when …
I am a pensioner and live alone with my two lovely dogs. Recently I fell ill, which gave me quite a scare. What would happen to my dogs if anything happened to me and I was no longer able to look after them? How can I make sure they would be looked after? Linda McKay of This is Money replies: …