Don’t judge a cat by its colour!

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Volunteering for a cat rescue, I see many cats come and go.  Some get adopted quickly, while others wait indefinitely for forever homes.  Kittens don’t stick around long.  People always want what is shiny and new.  Much like our society, favouring the young, no one wants the elderly.  It’s sad but I never expected colour to be an issue in whether a cat gets adopted.  I guess I give people too much credit because sadly it does seem to matter.

Cats are often judged and chosen based on their colour.  People sometimes assume personality traits have a direct correlation with the colour of a cat.  Orange cats are considered friendly, white cats are considered aloof, tortoiseshell cats have attitude, etc.  Black cats are associated with witches and therefore evil.  From my own research and experience black cats have it the worst.  They are the least likely to get adopted and more likely to be euthanized.  Tuxedo and grey cats are a close second!

Why is this?  The colour of their fur has nothing to do with their personalities.  What happens to these cats when they don’t live up to the stereotypes?  This is a real problem that many rescue organizations and shelters face.  That is why it is important to educate people in hopes that certain animals will not be overlooked.  There is no sound research to support any correlation with fur colour and personality traits!

I did find some research discussing the merits of owning a black cat.  Most of it was based on ancient religion, cultural superstitions and folklore.  While I would like to highlight that there is positive findings in regards to black cats (it’s not all witches and Halloween), this is not the kind of thing that should sway a decision.  Deciding which cat to adopt should never be based on these factors.

If you do adopt a pet, keep an open mind.  Give the animal ample time to adjust to their new surroundings and family.  Don’t make assumptions based on stereotypes, they deserve better!

 

 

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Tips for keeping cats & dogs safe this winter!

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Winter is in the air and the days and nights are getting progressively cooler.  Here are a few simple steps we can take to ensure the safety of our pets.

1)    Keep your pet safe and warm inside!  In addition to the potential year round risks of injury, fatality and exposure to infectious diseases, winter brings freezing temperatures.  It is a misconception that animals can withstand exposure to sub-zero temperatures because they have fur.  Animals are at risk of frost bite especially the tips of their ears, their paw pads and tails, as well as hypothermia and freezing to death.

2)    There may be outdoor cats in your neighborhood that are taking refuge under the hood of your car.  Before you start your car this winter bang loudly on the hood.  This will give the cat a chance to escape and avoid being injured or killed.

3)    Avoid letting your dog off leash during snowstorms.  It is possible for dogs to lose their scent and become lost.  Another important reason to have ID tags on your dog’s collar!

4)    Make sure you wipe your pets’ paws after they have been outdoors.  You don’t want them ingesting salt or harmful chemicals like antifreeze when they lick their paws.  Antifreeze is lethal to pets!  Consider putting booties on to protect them when you take them out for walks.

5)    Buy a sweater or coat for short haired dogs to wear during walks and do not shave your pets during the winter.

6)    Just like you should never leave your pet in the car during the summer, the same applies to the winter.  Your car can act like a refrigerator and retain all the cold air.

7)    Pay attention to your pets’ behaviour.  A puppy or an older dog may not be able to handle as much time in the cold.  Watch for signs such as shivering and crying.

8)    Build a shelter in your yard to help homeless or lost cats.  Every cat deserves shelter and they do not have the ability to make their own.  You could save a life!  The video link below has some great tips/pointers on building winter shelters!

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Could your kitty litter be harmful?

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In today’s world there seems to be an increasingly strong shift towards consumer awareness.  People are questioning where their food/products come from, is it ethical, is it organic, does it contain parabens, is it genetically modified, is it made locally, etc.  It is extremely important to be informed and know what products we can trust.   Which is why I decided to take a closer look at some of the products we use for our pets.  After all, they are a part of our family and it is up to us to provide them with the means necessary to live healthy, happy lives!

Being a pet sitter I have seen a wide range of products designed to keep pets happy and healthy.  But what if some of these products were actually harming our beloved pets?  What if something as simple as the type of litter we use is actually detrimental to our cat’s health?

I did a bit of research and found that many common cat litters contain harmful ingredients to both humans and animals alike.  Clumping litter is generally made with super-absorbent sodium bentonite clay.  This is harmful when ingested.  It causes a build-up of insoluble material which can lead to bowel and kidney problems, dehydration, decreases in nutrient absorption, lung cancer, bronchitis, tuberculosis and even death if left untreated.  Sure cats don’t eat their litter but they do spend countless hours grooming their paws and that is how it becomes ingested.  It is also harmful when inhaled, which happens when they dig and bury their waste.  The clay expands in their lungs and can lead to lung problems and cause asthma.  Some kitties even develop sores on their paw pads.

The next harmful ingredient is silica gel, which is great for absorption and deodorizing but is also classified as a human carcinogen.  These gel crystals trap urine and allow the water to evaporate, which is why they are such a common ingredient.  The dust in silica, over time, can pose health risks to us and our pets.  It can damage our mucous membranes in our lungs, upper respiratory tract and even lead to silicosis and lung cancer.

So what should we do?  Opt for something natural?  Even certain litter made from grains like corn and wheat can be susceptible to contamination by aflatoxin producing aspergillus (basically mold).  Warm temperatures and moist environment, like a litter box, make these grains more prone to infection.  Exposure to aflatoxin mainly attacks the liver and causes many illnesses.

It is up to us to protect our pets and ourselves by opting for non-clumping/non-toxic litter.  Look for litter made from recycled newspaper, which is also biodegradable.  Try using sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to control odor.  Or… train your kitty to use the toilet!

I greatly encourage your feedback or advice!  The more we know the better we can protect our kitties!

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