Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why You Should Adopt a Senior Dog!

I'm a huge proponent of adopting Senior Pets. Everyone deserves a second chance at life and seniors have so much love to give and so much life to share. After loving unconditionally, they often lose their home through no fault of their own. They are usually overlooked and are the first to be killed in a shelter. That's a huge price to pay for being a loving companion. 

Many times they are the victims of the death of their owner, or their owner having to go into a nursing home. Family members will often swoop in, take whatever "possessions" they want and throw the beloved pet out of the house or into a shelter. It's horrible enough that they have lost their human but they lose their home. I've written about this before and discussed preventing this from happening but too many people don't make provisions for the companion in their will and arrange a new home well in advance "just in case..."

Why should you adopt a Senior Dog? This video from HooplaHa will show and tell you why...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Playtime for Kitty!

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll remember that I posted about Morris the Cat's new website, Live Well and Prospurr.  9 Lives Cat Food has done a good job of engaging owners to make life even better for their feline friends. 

One of the things that concerns Morris is something that concerns me as well: playtime. As a behavior consultant I've found that not enough owners spend time playing with their cats. People assume only dogs like to play. Nothing could be further from the truth - cats love interactive play. Yes, they will play on their own but that's no substitute for playing with your cat. 

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives

Too many cats are bored. Why? Their owners believe the old wives' tale that cats are independent. I will repeat what I've said so often here, in articles and books and in person: cats are independent hunters, not independent creatures. Yes, they enjoy looking out the window at birds and squirrels, bunnies and whatever else passes by but that's no substitute for two or three play sessions with you each day. 

When your cat sits on your book or newspaper while you're reading, or walks on top of your computer while you're there, he's soliciting attention, your attention. He's not always asking for food. Fat cats, like fat people, aren't really healthy. When you play with your cat, you're not only giving him attention but exercise as well.

Cats love fishing pole toys with a feather on the end. Take the fishing pole toy out for playtime and put it away after play so kitty will know that this is your special playtime together. It also means he won't get into trouble with the wire holding the feather. Some cats really like the pole that has a long, slim cloth attached. Playing with your cat will tell you whether he prefers to have the feather or cloth move across the floor like a snake or fly through the air like a bird. Let him win once in awhile but don't let him swallow the feather! 

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives

The time you spend playing together will help solidify your bond. 

Dogs aren't the only ones who like to play fetch. Many cats enjoy this activity, too. You don't need a special toy for this game - many cats enjoy fetching a rolled-up pieces of paper.

Your cat is less likely to get into trouble if his mind and his body are engaged.

Operant Conditioning (clicker training) works for all species and, between us, I find that cats can train much faster than dogs. The difference is that if you train the wrong thing you can retrain a dog but cats, like elephants, never forget.  Be sure the behavior is one you want. Sit, Stay, Come, High Five, Jump Through a Hoop are just the beginning. Think of the fun you'll have showing your friends what your cat can do!

If you have special games that you and your cat enjoy playing, I hope you'll share them here.

Photo Courtesy 9 Lives
NOTE: I received no compensation from 9 Lives Cat Food, however, they did send a box of their day and canned food which I have donated to a local Humane Society. Thanks to 9 Lives, some kitties awaiting new homes will be eating like Morris as long as the food lasts.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Last Doggy Pool Parties of Summer

As we watch Summer fade into Fall this week, at least on the calendar, it's fun to remember how much dogs enjoy some of the things that we love.  It's nice to cool off in a swimming pool if one is available.

Remember, that not all dogs know how to swim so don't just throw hm in and don't leave him unattended by the pool. 

Our friends at HooplaHa have shared yet another wonderful video. This one is chock full of doggy antics, fun in the sun, and swimming pools.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Taking It To the Streets

How often have you seen homeless people and their pets? Have you ever wondered what could be done to help them? Here's some inspiration for you.

Lori and Shira Rich have made it their mission to spread kindness to the homeless and their pets. The desire to devote their time and resources to those who are less fortunate than they began in March 2012 with Shira's concern for the homeless pets and the people that care for them. The unconditional love is a two-way street, and so is the loyalty. For many of them it's the only unconditional love and loyalty they receive. The homeless people gain companionship and help them learn about responsibility.

Lori and Shira, true to their grassroots effort, started their nonprofit, Taking It To the Streets. Mother and daughter travel around Riverside, CA giving love, attention and dog treats to the stray dogs in their community. They also raise money to spay, neuter, vaccinate, microchip and provide stray dogs with the care and concern they need in order to enrich the lives of those in need while reducing the street dog population. According to the nice people at HooplaHa, who shared this video, sometimes the best solution to a problem isn't change, but to accept and care for the less fortunate, and the ones they love.

For more information on this non-profit, you can visit their website: 


Saturday, September 5, 2015

About That Published Paper Stating Cats are More Independent Than Dogs & Contest Winner

Photo Courtesy: Gordon Brice
There was a flurry of publicity surrounding an article about cats and attachment to owners published this week in Plos One, a Journal of published "research" that states on their website: There's no stress waiting to find out if your article meets subjective acceptance criteria. Read that again. Carefully. When research is published in a Peer Reviewed Journal it takes a long time and passes through the hands of several researchers in your field. From what I read, that's apparently not so with Plos One. They go on to assure that Every article published by PLOS ONE is thoroughly assessed by an Academic Editor and an average of 2 reviewers drawn from an expert global network.  Then they brag about an academic network and go on to say how much publicity they can crank out for your paper.  You can find links for Publication Fees, Media, well, you get the idea. Those fees, by the way, can range from just over thirteen hundred dollars to nearly three thousand dollars. Check it out for yourself. They also have some support for those who cannot afford to pay the fees. I had seen articles from this publication which does show that they get a lot of publicity. I will admit that I have never read anything in this Journal when researching an article for publication.
Photo Courtesy: Frank Incremona

This takes us to the aforementioned Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris cats) Do Not Show Signs of Secure Attachment to Their Owners by Alice Potter and Daniel Simon Mills Animal Behavior Cognition and Welfare Group, School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom. It was received on June 5, 2013, Accepted on June 18, 2015, and published on September 2, 2015. It was not externally funded, but was undertaken in partial fulfillment of the MSc of Alice Potter.

The paper goes on to detail how they devised research done on a small number of cats based on research that is done with dogs to determine their attachment to their owners. Cats and Dogs are two entirely different species with very different norms of behavior. One thing that you do not do is remove cats from their home environment and expect them to behave as they normally would when plunked down in an entirely new place. They need as much time as it takes to adjust to a new place, a new home. They prefer to watch from a place of safety where they can observe but not be seen, emerging when they are comfortable. This was not provided for them. Dogs are completely different and unless the dog has a behavior issue with shyness or fear, they don't care where they are. One place is as good as the next. 
Photo Courtesy: Lisette Brodey

Dogs tend to view a room as a human does, on one level. Cats view a room on many levels. The floor is the first, the chair is on the second level, with levels increasing as higher places are found in the room. 

These "researchers," using this design, then brought in cats to see if they were attached to their owners and how they responded to strangers in the room. How were the people standing or moving? Why were the cats observed in a strange place and expected to behave the way another species would? Few of the footnotes mentioning other research concerned cats. One was about Monkeys, far more were about dogs.

I don't mind saying this: I'm not impressed. 

The truth about cats, which any behaviorist or behavior consultant can tell you, is that cats are Independent Hunters but they are not Independent Animals. They seek out affection and attention. This is why a cat is often on the book you are reading or your keyboard while you are at the computer. He is soliciting attention. Cats often greet their owners at the door when they come home and some are quite vocal, using a number of sounds as they "talk" to their owners. Many cats will follow their people from room to room, engage them in play and behave as one would expect a loving companion to behave. They headbutt and give slow eye blinks as a display of affection, rub up against their owners, some kiss and snuggle in for a cuddle. If that isn't attachment then someone is going to have to come up with a different definition of the word.
Photo Courtesy: Jayne Lewis

Sadly, the pseudo-science is confirming Old Wives' Tales about cats that many of us have been working to dispel and replace with the truth. Comments to articles based upon this paper range from clear descriptions of cats who do not behave that way at home but are, indeed, attached to their owners, to those saying it confirmed how awful cats are!  

Frankly, I'm disgusted. I would welcome real, peer-reviewed research. If I'm wrong then I want peer-reviewed research by experts in the field to prove it.

What's your opinion?

Now, to announce the winner of this past week's contest. The lucky winner of a copy of The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie, published by Hay House, is Sue Werkheiser! Congratulations! Please contact me through my website: www.darlenearden.com, with your mailing address which will be sent along to the publisher so you can receive the book.  Thanks to everyone who entered.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Review: The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Power of Meow & A Contest

If you're a regular reader of this blog you know that I do very few book reviews and that I'm a huge fan of David Michie's The Dalai Lama's Cat books. Newly released is the third book in the series, The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Power of Meow. 

We return to the Dalai Lama's Monastery in the Himalayas, and pick up with the same cast of characters, led by the narrator, The Dalai Lama's Cat, otherwise known as HHC (His Holiness' Cat), although she is sometimes called by other names including Rinpoche. The Dalai Lama calls her his Little Snow Lion. We return to all of the familiar places, including the Himalaya Book Cafe where she is a regular and has her own special place. This time around a new public health inspector wants to have HHC banned from the Cafe. The nerve!  

It's truly hard to stop turning pages in each of the books and this is no exception. We are once again drawn into the world surrounding The Dalai Lama as seen through the eyes and experiences of his exquisite cat. A Himalayan, of course.
Author David Michie and Princess Wussik, his muse for the book

While we learn more about each of the characters we've come to know so well, this book offers something more. Through HHC we learn how to meditate. Meditation has been medically proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress. You don't have to be a Buddhist to practice mindful meditation.  As someone who can't seem to turn her mind off and thought she'd never be able to meditate, it was comforting to discover the ways in which to clear one's mind. Yes, you might say that a little cat taught me. Suddenly, the books I'd read on the topic seemed irrelevant. This book made it seem so much easier and more logical. A nice bonus for the reader.

Michie is definitely a pet lover whose was raised with a Siamese cat, purchased by his parents as a present for his older brother when David was born to avoid sibling rivalry. He has had animals of all kinds. That affinity for animals shines through in his writing.

I highly recommend The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Power of Meow. It could be read alone but you will truly enjoy the full experience if you read The Dalai Lama's Cat, and The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Art of Purring first. 

I'm happy to say that The Dalai Lama's Cat has been optioned for a movie. Will there be a fourth book? Only time will tell. Personally, I'll be meditating about it.
Author David Michie

The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Power of Meow by David Michie is published by Hay House for $15.99 wherever books are sold.

I have a surprise for you. Hay House will send a copy of the The Dalai Lama's Cat and The Power of Meow to one lucky winner. You must be a resident of the U.S. To enter, just leave a message.  You have until this Friday at noon EDT when the winner will be drawn and notified. The winner will be named in a subsequent blog post.

NOTE: I received no compensation for this review, only a review copy of the book. I can assure you that I've read every word and the opinions expressed in this review are mine.