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Introducing a kitten to a senior cat

Posted on: January 13th, 2011 by

Two cats with cat inurance cuddle under a blanket.
Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

Charlie, my 15-year-old tom cat, thinks he’s king of the house. One day, I brought my neighbor’s dog onto his turf, not thinking much of it because Charlie had lived with plenty of dogs before. Apparently, Charlie knew he had his own pet health insurance policy because he took one look at the dog, marched right up to him, and bopped him on the nose with his paw. The dog, twice the size of Charlie, just cowered.

When I wanted to introduce a second cat into the house, I knew things wouldn’t be easy. I decided to get a kitten, because I figured Charlie would go easier on a baby, as the baby would go easier on Charlie. Although I had wanted an older cat, at least I could get affordable cat insurance and be set with lifelong pet insurance for our new family member. But that brought up another worry: would a kitten and a senior cat be able to live together harmoniously?

Charlie had lived with cats before, so I knew it was possible. According to the Humane Society of the United States, “an 8-year-old cat who has never been around other animals might never learn to share her territory (and her people) with other pets in the household.”

I decided I would adopt a female kitten. According to many sources, including Northern California’s AV Animal Rescue, “If you are in doubt, always choose a cat of the opposite sex from your existing cat. Male and female cats are more likely to view each other as companions rather than competition.”

After a nervous few weeks of careful, slow introductions, my planning paid off. Charlie accepted the new kitten into our family, albeit slowly and on his own terms. Yes, a senior cat and a kitten can coexist peacefully. They aren’t best friends, but they play together and on their own, and when Charlie needs a break from the hyper fluff ball, he takes to higher ground. Usually then, the kitten concedes that yes, Charlie is king of the house.

Cat health insurance: What you need to know

Posted on: January 13th, 2011 by

Two kittens with cat insurance play.

If you have a new born kitten, one of the first things you’ll want to look into will be finding the best cat insurance plan for your kitty.

Cat health insurance not only will give you peace of mind, it will help you avoid costly medical bills. Pet health insurance can help you afford to keep your cat healthy.

Choosing a cat insurance company can seem overwhelming. You can find a number of companies by typing “online pet insurance” into your favorite search engine.

Once you have a list, you’ll want to compare cat insurance companies closely. You want to compare how much they will reimburse you after your deductible is met. It will either be a percentage of the bill or an allotted dollar amount based on the terms of the contract.

The next thing that you will want to look at and compare is the deductible and monthly premium for your pet insurance policy. The deductible is the amount you must pay before the insurance will cover any treatments or services. If you choose to go with a lower deductible, then you will most likely have to pay a higher monthly premium. Higher deductible plans are a good choice if you are looking for coverage in case of a serious illness or injury. This type of coverage can save you from the enormous costs of care for major accidents or illnesses.

Pets as souvenirs: Adopting a foreign cat or dog

Posted on: January 12th, 2011 by

Two cats cuddle.
By: Chryssa Rich
For Pets Best Insurance

If you’re traveling internationally and want to adopt a pet, make sure you do your homework so it all goes smoothly. A little time and effort will help you bring home the best souvenir ever! Here’s my story.

It was September 16th in San Miguel de Allende, and the city was absolutely chaotic with Dia de la Independencia celebrations and preparations for the Running of the Bulls. I walked the decorated cobblestone streets to my job at a New Orleans-style restaurant, but when I got there, realized I had arrived for the wrong shift.

To kill time, I headed to an Internet café two blocks from home. The woman behind the counter had a fluffy white kitten in each hand, and she explained they’d been found on the street and didn’t belong to anyone. Over the next 10 seconds, my thoughts went like this… “I wonder if I’m still allergic to cats? I think white cats are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Delta had pet tickets for $80, funny, but I could take her back to the states with me. She looks part Siamese, so I bet she’s smart.”

I pointed to the kitten that looked female, and asked in Spanish “Can I have it?” She said “sure” and handed it to me. I then asked “Is it a girl?” and she giggled, because in Mexico they have special gender words for animals, macho and hembra, so I had basically asked her if the kitten was a human girl. Either way, she wasn’t sure.

A pet shop owner confirmed kitty was hembra, and the next day I flipped though a Spanish magazine and found the name “Luisa”. I was so afraid I’d be allergic, I tried to make her sleep in a small box at the foot of my bed. But every night she’d dig into the bed covers with her little nails and climb up to curl up behind my knees, where she still sleeps today.

Almost a year went by, and I wasn’t able to get Luisa spayed because it was too expensive. Even though I earned pesos, I was American and therefore presumed wealthy. Vets wanted to charge me US$300 – $500. Luisa was an indoor cat and in heat for the third time. Her caterwauling was so bad, I had to sleep at friend’s houses. Despite feeling guilty about adding more cats to this world, I figured the only solution was to let her get pregnant. One night I waited for her boyfriend to appear – a giant orange tomcat with no tail – and let her out to play. Luisa ate an entire bowl of food the next morning and slept for 12 hours.

A few weeks later I decided it was time to head back to the United States. Luisa needed proof of rabies vaccination, a bill of good health from a vet and one of those $80 airline tickets to return home with me. The well-cat checkup only took a few minutes – the vet simply checked for signs of illness or infection.

I had a special harness so Luisa could walk around in the airport (and pee in the fake soil of a decorative plant) and we got through Customs no problem. One security guard was supposed to remove her from her airline-approved pet carrier and check the lining of the bag, but didn’t because “Last time I tried that, I got scratched.” They didn’t notice she was pregnant, and I’m not sure if that would have affected anything. There is some evidence that stress can trigger pre-term labor in pets, but I preferred to take that risk over leaving my beautiful kitty with strangers in Mexico.

Luisa’s five kittens were born in Boise, Idaho the morning of her due date, September 23rd, 2003. Two kittens didn’t survive, but I was happy to keep one myself and adopted the others out. I had both cats spayed as soon as possible.

Today, Luisa and her daughter Monica are 8 and 7 years old. They have moved with me countless times, including cross-country twice. I’ve never been allergic to either of them; interestingly, I was allergic to the black calico kitten. Luisa still plays with her stuffed hippo, and Monica is a spitting image of her father, except that ironically, she has an extra-long tail.

Advantages of puppy training classes

Posted on: January 12th, 2011 by

A puppy with pet insurance learns to shake.

Once you have welcomed your new puppy home, you should begin investigating pet insurance and look into signing your pet up for behavior training. Enrolling your puppy in a dog obedience training class will help make them well rounded and adaptable.

Puppy obedience classes are an ideal opportunity for you and your dog to bond. Creating a strong bond between you and your new puppy will help build a stronger relationship in which you are the the leader. Being the leader in your puppy’s life will help to ensure they follow the rules your have established.

Another advantage to enrolling your puppy in puppy obedience training classes is socialization. Your puppy will get a chance to socialize with a variety of other breeds. Exposing puppies to other dogs early in their life is crucial for future experiences with dogs. Puppies need to learn how to play and get along with other dogs. In addition to socializing with other dogs, puppy obedience classes allow your puppy to socialize with other people.

It is important to take advantage of any instance where you can socialize your puppy and introduce them to different settings and situations. Experiences that puppies have when they are young help shape them into the type of dog they will be when they are adults.

Other benefits of puppy classes include learning commands such as sit and stay. Puppies also learn how to walk properly on a leash. The trainers will also offer dog training tips to help make training your puppy easier.

Q&A with pet expert “Ask Tracie”

Posted on: January 12th, 2011 by

Two pets make their owners laugh.

Posted by: H.R.
For Pets Best Insurance

You asked, she answered! Pets Best Insurance solicited questions from our Facebook page friends relating to baffling pet behavior. Pet expert and author of The Dog Bible and the Cat Bible, Tracie Hotchner, weighs in! Read on to see if your question was answered:

Question by Kathleen: How to keep Curious Kitty off of the kitchen counters!! I’ve tried every suggestion I can find, and he still jumps up there regularly.

Tracie: Hi Kathleen- I’ve selected your question to answer on the episode of my radio show DOG TALK® which will be podcast on January 14th so be sure to sign up at www.DogTalkTheRadioShow.com to hear the answer. My guest on the show is cat behavior consultant Jackson Galaxy, who also owns Spirit Essences. The short answer is that you need a way to send your Curious Kitty a reminder 24/7 that getting on the counter is a No-No.

To do this you might try a product like SSScat, which is a compressed air device with an electric eye. Be sure to turn it on whenever you are not in the kitchen and the harmless blast of air will convince your kitty to stay off the counter.

There are other products like this – Critter Gitter is another – but you basically want to throw away that squirt bottle if you have been following the mistaken advice to spray your cat, which only teaches your cat to hate the water bottle and fear you! Good luck

Question by Rajnish: Does my cat understand what I speak to him or he picks on my tone and gestures? I ask him to “come sit here” and 90% of time he does. At other times he goes like humans “hmmmnn” as if he contemplates on what I said. Of course then there are times when I talk to him he will just keep looking at me and then fall asleep in my lap. I wish I could understand his language but sometimes I am totally baffled as to what he wants.

Tracie: Hi Rajnish – Like all cats, yours wants to keep you wrapped around his little paw! Of course he can understand what you are saying – cats are very clever at hearing a tone of voice and body language or signals. As you describe yourself, it’s not a question of comprehension, it’s a matter of willingness. The fact that you are not sure what he wants means that you have made his day! Keeping you guessing and off-balance means you are eating out of his little paw, which is just how he likes it.

Question by Dawn: How did get my 70lb 1 yr old puppy to stop play biting? She doesn’t seem to get I am not her 80lb. litter mate!

Tracie: Hi Dawn- I think you have a misconception that many people have which is that there is ever a time or age when it is okay for a dog to put her teeth on you: WRONG! There is no such thing as “play biting” except between dogs, who have an even advantage as they each have a very big set of teeth!

Your year old dog is not technically a puppy anymore, but starting when she was an 8 week old puppy she should have been taught that placing her teeth on human flesh was off limits. You needed to do what another dog – starting with her mother and litter mates – would have done: squealed or yelped when they were bitten and then stopped playing immediately. This is exactly what you need to do now: make a loud startled noise when she puts her teeth on you and stand up and walk away. Ignore her completely.

The message is that when her mouth touches your skin, all fun stops immediately. At this point when you have let this go on for so long, you need to be 100% consistent in never accepting teeth on your skin again. In addition, I would get a lot of stuffed dog toys (the fuzzy bones are a good size and shape) and keep them all over the house. When she starts to bite you, put the soft toy in her mouth instead and praise her for taking the toy, giving her a way to safely express her mouthiness.

Question by Andy: Heres one for ya. I have a 15 month old American Bulldog. He gets uneasy around new people. He has never bitten anybody but comes real close. He can’t be trusted when my young sons has friends around. It seems to be more of a fear thing than an aggresive thing. We have had him since he was 3 months old and have done nothing to harm him. I almost think he is being over protective of me. He seems to only act this way when I’m around
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Tracie: Andy- You have a very very serious problem and need to get professional help ASAP. The signals you are picking up of the dog’s discomfort – and overt signs of aggression like “coming real close” to biting – are HUGE flashing danger signs. No dog should ever display his teeth or any “pre biting” behavior. You can be certain that this dog is at a tipping point and somebody is going to get bitten – you must protect yourselves and everyone who comes in contact with the dog from this possibility.

You need to find an experienced trainer – who uses positive methods, not any fear-based or force-based styles of management – and have the dog evaluated by a professional. Please take a look at THE DOG BIBLE so you can better understand what is going on with your dog’s behavior – and how easily things can go out of control and end with a tragedy. Your suggestion that this is “fear” not “aggression” tells me that you need to learn some more about dog behavior (my book condenses many topics into easy to follow ideas).

A large amount of aggression and attacks by dogs are fear-based – from dogs who have not been exposed to enough different people and situations and bite out of fear and feeling overwhelmed. If what you have is a purebred American Bulldog that you got from a breeder(?) then you should have been told or researched that this breed has an especially strong need to be socialized to all sorts of people and situations from a very early age.

This breed also needs to be trained with a firm attitude, you need to set and maintain boundaries for the dog. The fact that the dog behaves like this only when you are around is something a good trainer can observe and reach conclusions about – if the aggression is about being protective, then the dog needs to be immediately re-educated about what his “job” is and taught that no aggressive controlling behavior will be tolerated.

For more information about Tracie, visit http://www.traciehotchner.com.