My husband and I have two cats, now two years old. At their next vet visit, we plan to have them microchipped. We live in an urban area with lots of traffic so our cats don’t go outdoors. However, I know that sooner, rather than later, their curiosity about that outside world will entice them to escape the safety of the house for the great outdoors. Microchipping my cats is my insurance against losing them forever.

It’s sad but true that one in three pets goes missing during its lifetime, and getting lost is a pet’s #1 cause of death. Without ID, 90% of pets don’t return home. Those are statistics you’ll find on HomeAgain’s website: public.homeagain.com.  They are one of several pet recovery services that will record your pet’s microchip number acartoon%20dog%20and%20cat%20cropped%20and%20lightened.sig_medium[1]nd your contact information to help locate your lost pet.

Most pet owners don’t realize how easy it is to lose a pet. Digging under fences, running through an electric fence, fleeing from fear during fireworks or a thunderstorm, or accidentally being let out of the house through an open door are common ways pets become lost. Fortunately, microchipping your pets offers a way to permanently ID dogs and cats (or other pocket pets) and give them a chance to be reunited with their family if they are ever lost.

How Microchips Work

  • A microchip is inserted by a veterinary professional at a vet’s office, animal shelter, pet store or humane society. The microchip is the size of a grain of rice and it is injected just under the skin between the pet’s shoulder blades. It serves as a permanent ID that will never fall off or get lost.
  • Pet owners should register the microchip’s unique ID number with a pet recovery data base along with their contact information. Registration is what makes it possible for a pet to be positively identified. Until a pet is registered, it isn’t fully protected.
  • If a pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or clinic, the staff will scan the microchip to read its ID code. Unlike GPS devices, the microchip doesn’t project a pet’s location, take batteries to run, or have any moving parts — so it will never need to be charged or replaced.
  • The staff will then call the appropriate pet registry with the pet’s ID code.
  • As soon as the contact information is retrieved, the pet owner will be contacted and arrangements made for the pet’s reunion with its owner. It’s important to keep the contact information up-to-date, so you, as the owner, can be contacted as soon as the pet is found.

Contrary to what you may think, the microchip insertion doesn’t hurt your pet. It takes only seconds to inject and is about as painless as a vaccination. If you’re adopting a pet from a shelter, your new fur baby may already be microchipped. Check the adoption paperwork or have your vet scan your new pet to detect the presence of a microchip.

The average cost for microchipping is $45 and to register the microchip with a registry about $20. It’s a small price to pay for a lifetime of protection for your furry friends.

Linda 9-6-15 015 Bark Park Expo Logo Whiskers To Tails Petsitting had a booth at the recent Bark Park Dog Expo at the Environmental Nature Area in Brooklyn Park, MN. This was the first annual event at Brooklyn Park’s newest outdoor dog park on West River Road across the street from the Coon Rapids Dam.

The event, held on Saturday, Sept. 12, had perfect weather, and the crowds showed up as a result. We were literally busy interacting with pets and their owners from the start at noon to the very end at 3 p.m. For us it was an amazing turnout!

Other pet-oriented businesses and rescue and adoption organizations had booths there as well.

As an exhibitor, I was struck by the number and variety of dogs that visited the park that day. As I talked with pet owners, I foundOlder dog to adopt that many of these dogs were adopted from shelters and rescue organizations. That’s encouraging as we all know many dogs, cats and other small animals are euthanized when not adopted into forever homes.

The third week of September is designated as Adopt a Less-Adoptable-Pet Week, and there are plenty of animals for pet adoption. There is a website with more information about how to adopt less-than-adoptable pets and where to find them: https://www.petfinder.com/less-adoptable-pet-week/

Less adoptable pets include:

  • Senior pets
  • Adult cats
  • Pets with special needs
  • Less desirable breeds such as Pit Bulls

According to a survey done by Petfinder, these “less-adoptable” pets wait for a home nearly four times longer than the average adoptable pet does — sometimes more than two years!

If your family is looking to add a pet, think first about the “less adoptable pets.” According to Colleen Paige, longtime animal advocate, “In every heart, there is a hole. In every shelter, there is love in which to fill it.”

I’ve been asking myself this same question. My two cats, Mia and Kali, both weighed in over 10 pounds at their last vet visit. According to the vet, they are overweight and, as their owner, I should be doing something to help bring their weight down.

linda 9-6-15 015In my cats’ case, I’ve been feeding them a good quality dry food twice a day and following the manufacturer’s directions for how much to feed them. Once food is in their bowls, however, I don’t have control over who eats it. I suspect my bulkier Mia of eating more than her slimmer sister Kali.

After some research, I found that a dry-food-only diet may not be the best even if it is a high quality brand. Here’s why: cats should eat a diet that is at least 45% protein for optimal health, according to animal specialists. Although some dry cat foods do have 45 percent or more protein, many contain only 35 percent protein.

I also found that cats should eat a low-carb diet to stay healthy. Cats lack the enzymes to digest carbohydrates and simple sugars. Any carbs that aren’t needed immediately for energy will be stored away as fat. Experts like Gary Norsworthy, DVM, DABVP, a specialist in feline medicine based in San Antonio, TX, recommend that carbs make up less than 15 percent of your cat’s diet. Many foods, he cautions, have considerably more than 15 percent carbohydrates. Check the label!

My average-sized cats need fewer than 200 calories per day to maintain their weight, according to Norsworthy. That’s far fewer calories than I, as a cat owner, had thought. Add it up: protein malnutrition, plus carbohydrate and calorie overload causes cats to lose lean muscle and gain fat.

Some suggestions if your felines are a bit on the porky side:

  • Make canned food — not dry — the foundation of your cat’s diet. Choose a high-quality, properly balanced, meat-based food containing at least 45 percent protein. A small amount of dry is acceptable as cats enjoy the crunchy sensation.
  • Avoid free feeding dry food. Cats eat several small meals per day so mimic how your cat would eat in the wild by feeding at least two times per day.
  • Measure your cat’s food to ensure the right number of calories per cup or can.
  • Monitor what your cat eats. If you, like me, have more than one cat it may be hard to supervise them both. You might have to separate your cats at mealtime to prevent overeating.

Any change to your cat’s diet needs to be done gradually so they don’t stop eating altogether. Mia and Kali may not like the change in their diets at first, but they’ll thank me later!

 

Cat owners who leave empty boxes lying around know that eventually the box will contain a cat. What makes a simple cardboard box so enticing to your cat? Scientists don’t know exactly why cats are attracted to boxes but have several theories.

Kitties in boxOne is the advantage a box provides to stalk prey – whether it be a fellow cat or human or something else that attracts their attention. Cats are ambush predators and boxes provide great hiding places for stalking prey. In the wild seeking out confined spaces is instinctual behavior for cats and lets them both hide from predators and stalk prey.

There’s also a boatload of behavioral research on cats focused on environmental enrichment. The research has found that cats find both comfort and security from enclosed spaces. Cats that are stressed can be profoundly affected by the security of a box in which to hide.

Those who study animal behavior, such as ethologist Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands, have found that shelter cats in particular that are given hiding boxes while introduced to a shelter suffer less stress than cats without the boxes. The cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster, were far less stressed early on, and were more interested in interacting with humans.

This seems natural considering that cats don’t handle conflict well. Their response is to go hide rather than confront whatever the stressor is. In the wild cats retreat to tree tops, dens, or caves while our pet cats find comfort in a shoe box.

My cat Kali is quite shy so any new or odd noise will send her under her cat stoop, which has a blanket draped over it like a tent.kitty in box There’s just enough of an opening for her to peer out and see what’s going on while feeling safe and secure.

Another possible reason for cats liking boxes is that they’re cold and boxes provide the insulation they need to feel warm.  Corrugated cardboard is a great insulator and confined spaces force cats to curl up which then helps them to preserve body heat.

According to a 2006 study by the National Research Council, the thermoneutral zone for a domestic cat is 86 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s the range of temps in which cats are “comfortable” and don’t have to generate extra heat to keep warm. That range is also 20 degrees higher than ours, which explains why it’s not unusual to see our cat Mia curled up close to the gas fireplace. To us it’s uncomfortably hot to be that close but she loves the heat.

And, finally, those insulated, stress-relieving, comfortable boxes also provide a safe place for cats to nap. Given that felines sleep for up to 20 hours a day, that’s a pretty big deal. Who wants a cranky cat that can’t get enough sleep?

Whiskers To Tails Petsitting Earns Esteemed 2014 Angie’s List Super Service Award

Award reflects company’s consistently high level of customer service


Whiskers To Tails Petsitting has earned the service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award, reflecting an exemplary year Angie's List Super Service Award Logoof service provided to members of the local services marketplace and consumer review site in 2014.

“We’re very proud of this award and feel it reflects the good work our pet sitters provide to all our clients on a daily basis,” says WTTPS owner Linda Deml-Drahota. “We’re also thrilled that our clients felt strongly enough to give us these high evaluations.”

“Only about 5 percent of the Pet and House Sitting companies in the Twin Cities market have performed so consistently well enough to earn our Super Service Award,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “It’s a really high standard.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2014 winners have met strict eligibility requirements which include an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade, and review period grade; the company must be in good standing with Angie’s List, pass a background check and abide by Angie’s List operational guidelines.

Service company ratings are updated daily on Angie’s List. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in areas ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality. Members can find the 2014 Super Service Certification logo next to company names in search results on AngiesList.com.

November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month.” Older pets are often at a disadvantage at shelters as potential owners find cute puppies and kittens more attractive to adopt.However, pet adoption — senior or otherwise — is actually good for you. Here are some scientifically-proven ways pet ownership improves the lives of human companions:

  • Pets can boost self-esteem. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology demonstrates that pet owners have stronger self-esteem than non-pet-owners. Research also indicated that pet owners are more extroverted and less fearful than people without pets.
  • Allergy risk is reduced. While it may seem counter-intuitive, owning a pet doesn’t make you more susceptible tosenior dog allergies. Studies suggest being exposed to a pet early in life may decrease your risk of animal allergies later on.
  • Pets keep us positive. Researchers say that thinking about your pet after a negative experience helps you feel less negative.
  • You feel less lonely with pets. One study found that people with pet dogs indicated their social needs were fulfilled just as effectively by their pets as by their friends. Dogs, they said, provided them with a strong sense of self-esteem, belonging and meaning.
  • Pets offer a sense of support. Studies revealed that pet owners feel they get just as much support from their pets as they do from family members.
  • Pets incent us to stay healthy. It’s hard to sit on the couch all day and watch TV if your dog or cat is begging for attention. Whether you’re tossing balls with Rover or dangling wand toys for kitty to chase, you’re substantiating studies showing pet owners are healthier and more active than non-pet-owners.
  • We feel less stress. There is evidence from animal experts that simply petting your dog or cat can help reduce your stress. Their unconditional love and the fact that they don’t judge us are other factors that make pets the best support system during stressful times.
  • We attract other people. Studies find that owning a pet can improve our human relationships and attract others to us. Pets are natural conversation starters, which can draw other pet lovers to us.
  • Pets can help stabilize our blood pressure. A study of stressed out stockbrokers revealed that a group given pets for the course of the study had significantly more stable blood pressure than brokers without pets.  After the study, many from the control group of stockbrokers without pets went on to get a loving pet to help them manage their stress.

 

Ask your local shelter about adopting a senior pet. Because senior pets are usually the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized in a shelter, you can feel good knowing that you have very likely saved a life. Senior pets offer all the advantages above and, thanks to you, have the chance to live out their lives in a loving home.

If you’re planning a Thanksgiving dinner with pets present, here are some tips to make it a special time for you, your family, and your pets.I’ll never forget a client relating how her beagle  climbed up onto their Thanksgiving table once everyone had retired to an adjoining room for dessert, and gobbled down a huge portion of leftover turkey! No one noticed the deed until much later. Fortunately, the dog was O.K. but was obviously feeling left out of all the feasting happening that day.

There are lots of ways to include your pets in Thanksgiving celebrating without having your dinner spoiled by an overzealous pet. ASPCA experts offer these tips:

  • If you decide to give your pets a bit of turkey, make sure it’s boneless, skinless and well-cooked. Raw or undercooked turkey, as well as turkey left setting out for more than two hours, may contain salmonella bacteria. Mix the turkey in with your dog’s regular food for a treat. Puree turkey with sweet potatoes or pumpkin and add to your cat’s regular food.

 

  • Sage is a great ingredient in Thanksgiving stuffing but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

 

  • Keep raw bread dough away from pets. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is eaten. an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in its stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency.

 

  • If you’re baking Thanksgiving treats, be sure your pets stay out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs. The eggs could contain salmonella bacteria that may cause food poisoning.

 

  • Pets that overindulge in Thanksgiving food could wind up with stomach upset, diarrhea or — more seriously — an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. It’s best for pets to stay on their regular diets during holidays.

 

  • Some safe foods for pets from the Thanksgiving table include cooked vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans and peas. Pet birds also love fresh veggies and fruits, including cooked sweet potatoes and cranberries. Even small pocket pets like gerbils can enjoy raw vegetables like carrots and broccoli if given sparingly.

 

  • While your guests are enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables like sweet potato or green beans, and dribbles of gravy into a Kong toy. This will keep them distracted and working hard to get at their dinner from the toy.

 

Make your pet thankful to you by supplying them with safe and healthy Thanksgiving treats. Everyone will have a better holiday experience when you do.

When ghosts and goblins come knocking on your door this Halloween, be ready to make it a good experience for trick-or-treaters as well as your pets. Americans spend an astounding $7 billiion on Halloween costumes, candy and decorations annually. Here are some tips to keep your pets out of harm’s way on this spooky holiday:

cat in Halloween costume– Candy, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be highly toxic to dogs and cats. Same goes for candy made with the artificial sweetener xylitol. For example, xylitol, found in gum and candy, can cause dangerously low blood sugar or liver disease in dogs. Chocolate can create a range of symptoms, from vomiting to abnormal heart rhythm to death. Even snacks that are healthy for humans, such as raisins, can cause a toxic reaction. Keep candy where it’s out of reach for pets.

– Make sure your pet has an I.D. — microchip, collar or ID tag — in case it escapes through an open door while you’re distracted with trick-or-treaters.

– We spend nearly $300 million on pet costumes, but we need to get it right for our pet’s safety. If you decide to dress up your pet in a costume, make sure it doesn’t mind. Some pets are o.k. with it, others are definitely not. If wearing a costume upsets your pet, then skip it.

– Pet costumes should fit properly, be comfortable, and not have any pieces that could be easily chewed off. Your pet’s costume should not impede their breathing, movement, hearing or vision. If possible, let your pet get used to a costume before Halloween by letting it wear the costume for short practice periods. Never leave your pet unsupervised while it’s wearing a costume.

– If you’ve decorated for Halloween, keep in mind that some pets may try to eat decorations, such as pumpkins or objects that include actual corn. These can cause upset stomachs or even more serious digestive blockage, so hang decorations up high and/or out of reach. Be especially careful with lit candles and jack-o-lanterns as pets can easily tip these over and cause fires.

– Kids ringing doorbells all evening can drive dogs and cats a little crazy. Dogs may bark excessively and cats may run and hide — and any pet could dart out an open door. Put your pets in a quiet room far from your front door; put up a baby gate or close the door; or turn on your TV or music to disguise doorbell ringing.

– Kids in costumes can be frightening to many dogs. Only very calm, unflappable dogs should be outside with you on Halloween and only on a leash. Calm, well-trained dogs can be asked to “sit” and “stay” to greet trick-or-treaters and then given treats to reward their good behavior.

– Unfortunately, Halloween can be a time for pranksters, especially those who get kicks out of being cruel to animals. Any pet can
be at risk, but especially black cats. Don’t let your pet out alone in the yard during the Halloween season. Outdoor cats should be kept indoors for the week leading up to and following Halloween.

– For families that want to include their pets in the Halloween festivities, there are Halloween-themed events scheduled in the Minneapolis metro area. Here are a few links to check out for pet-friendly Halloween events:

https://www.sidewalkdog.com/events/
https://woofntreat.com
https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-pet-friendly-halloween-events-in-minn/

If your pet is still highly stressed by Halloween in spite of all your precautions, ask your vet for suggestions on herbal calming remedies or mild tranquilizers.

Your dog will love you for including him or her in this fun event.The city of Brooklyn Park is hosting its annual party for pooches on Saturday, September 13, from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Brookdale Dog ParkYour dogs will have a chance to pick out the ultimate treat in the bone yard or win a prize playing musical sit. And, if you have a fun dog trick you’d like to share, you can register to compete in the dog tricks contest.

Humans will also have fun. Lots of food is promised, and dog owners will be able to connect with local vets, pet-related businesses and animal rescue organizations. Whiskers To Tails Petsitting will be one of the vendors. The event will be held at Brookdale Dog Park, 7650 June Avenue in Brooklyn Park.

We hope to see you and your canines there. We’ll have coloring pages for kids and other giveaways for adults. Maybe some treats for your best friend, too.

The city welcomes all leashed and vaccinated dogs to this event. For more information contact the city at 763-493-8003 or email Mary Tan at mary.tan@brooklynpark.org.

We realize in the world of pet sitting that not all our pet sitters will stay with us for the long haul. It’s a rewarding job but doesn’t always satisfy a person’s higher calling.

Our pet sitter Kathryn Krause has a strong passion to serve people. That’s why she’s been pet sitting for us for several months. She also has a degree in horticulture landscape design and came to us to fill in the gap during fall and winter when landscaping jobs grow scarce.

“Pet sitting was one of the first jobs I ever had as a kid and have always loved it,” she wrote in her job application. And she has been a reliable sitter while working for several of our clients in the south Minneapolis area. However, she recently made a decision that involves risking her future carreer, financial security, personal comfort and safety.

According to Kathryn’s account in a recent letter, she will participate in a year-long missions trip called The World Race and will travel to and live in 11 different Central and South American countries. That will involve living with what she can carry on her back and traveling with 6-7 others to serve people.

Some of what she may be doing: building homes, leading church services, visiting orphanages, talking with sex-trafficking victims, teaching English and other community services. “I am most looking forward to living in a very authentic and real way and sharing my life and the love given to me with other people,” she says.

Until her assignment starts at the end of this year, she will continue to pet sit for us. I know her clients and their pets will miss her, but this appears to be Kathryn’s way of answering that inner voice telling her to do more.

We wish her luck and safe going. To learn more about Kathryn’s story and The World Race, visit her blog: kathrynkrause.theworldrace.org.