The Giving Season

Tis-the-SeasonLots of people tend to give more during the holidays than at any other time of year. But both people and pets need your help year round. So this January, when giving tends to be at its lowest, think of donating items you no longer use. If you got lots of clothes during the holidays, clear out a few of your older clothes and donate those. If you got new sheets and bedspread, think of donating the older ones. If you got new pet toys and pet beds, donating those are a great idea. There are so many things we can give to others who need it at a time when a lot of people don’t think of doing so.

fruitcakeSo, where do you take the items you’d like to donate? If you have canned food, maybe that fruit cake no one wants, you can take those items directly to your local food bank. They are always in need of unexpired items. Donating cash to local food banks is always helpful, as well, as is donating items such as toiletries and can openers. And there are lots of people who couldn’t live without the help of food banks who have pets, so donating pet food and supplies can be tremendously helpful (please don’t judge … we don’t know the history of how people ended up needing help, and pets are often invaluable mates to those in need – these pets are also well cared for, and the first to eat, even if that means the human goes without food).

Homeless-ShelterHow about clothes, coats and bedding? You can take all of these to local human shelters, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. You also can find clothes donation bins in some parking lots. These bins usually aren’t associated with thrift stores (there are some exceptions). If the name of the donation bin is not a familiar one to you or if it’s not associated with a thrift shop, then they are often not associated with any type of charity.

old-catsAnd, of course, if you have used pet toys, collars, leashes, beds, pet clothing, etc., you can take these directly to your local animal shelter or rescue. A few notes on a couple of items: please don’t donate used litter boxes (or at least call the rescue first). Litter boxes carry germs. Sometimes kitties can carry germs, like with a cold, and not actually come down with it. Those germs get in the litter box and taken to the shelter. If that litter box gets used in a shelter, even after it’s cleaned, another kitty could loosen debris and germs stuck in the scratches on the bottom of the litter box. And kitties in shelters tend to be stressed out and more susceptible to illness. So voila, kitty in shelter gets a cold and now has a hard time finding a home because people are less likely to adopt a sick kitty. Also, with any items, call your local animal shelter to make sure they can actually use the items. If not, you can try donating these items to thrift stores, at local human shelters, and at a local food bank.

Also, with any donation, if it’s something you wouldn’t use, maybe its not worth donating. By that, I don’t mean that if you got a really ugly blanket for Christmas that you shouldn’t donate it; by all means do. What I mean by that is if that really ugly blanket you got for Christmas was supposed to replace the blanket that’s so worn out, falling apart, that you can’t use it anymore, then maybe it’s time to head to the trash or recycle bin with it instead of to the donation bin.

homeless-390x250Anyway, maybe you could try to donate one thing this January, whether it’s leftover Denny’s you hand to the homeless kid you often see on the street corner asking for money, or a can of beans you take to the local food bank, or a brand new cat bed you take to the local animal shelter. Remember that it’s often the little things that count, that mean the most to those in need. You don’t have to give a dog bed to every dog in the shelter, but if you give one to the dog that’s been there a while or to the senior doggy, they will be truly grateful; you will have made a direct difference in someone else’s life.

 

New Years Eve

CatI know it’s not Christmas quite yet, but since New Year’s Eve isn’t far behind, I thought now might be the time to talk. I myself am a bit of a party cat and would love to entertain at a wondrous New Year’s Eve Party. But let’s face it, even a party cat like me can get overwhelmed with all that champagne and want to just hide away somewhere. Or, better yet, sneak out the front door and take a ride home with someone else for the night. And I’m a bit of an outgoing kind of guy. Just think of all those little kitties who are shy, skittish, and unsure of strangers. Take my little sister, Penny, for example. The most a “stranger” has gotten in is a 15 second pat on her rump as she’s running away … and to her, a stranger is anyone other than me and my mom. I know she’s not the only kitty out there like this. So here are some tips for keeping us kitties safe and happy for New Years.

  • Remember that it’s much easier for us to escape when doors are opening and closing a lot, especially if alcohol is involved in your evening’s celebrations.
  • If you have a room that your kitties enjoy hanging out in, other than the main entertaining area of your home, keeping kitties in that room with a litter box, food and water (please don’t put our food and water near our litter box) can be a great way of keeping us safe, cozy and comfy.
  • Remember that kazoos, champagne corks exploding out of bottles, party poppers, balloons, streamers, fireworks, and any other strange and loud noises can easily frighten us; we don’t really understand what all that stuff is for and it can be really scary.
  • Please don’t feed us party food or alcohol – some of it can be toxic and dangerous to us.
  • Make sure we’re wearing a collar with your contact information just in case we should somehow slip out and get really scared. And if your kitties aren’t microchipped, consider getting it done, because it can be a great way to reconnect you to your kitty should your kitty end up at a veterinarian’s office or shelter.
  • Please have a good time; all I ask is that you keep your pets safe and stay safe yourself!

 

Boarding Facilities Outside the U.S.

Longcroft Hotel Autumn Suite

Longcroft Hotel Autumn Suite

I just ran across three cat boarding facilities … I mean Hotels … that look like great vacation spots. There’s the Longcroft Luxury Cat Hotel in England, Pet inn ROYAL in Japan, and the Cat Utopia in Australia. They look like lovely places to stay! I’m ready to go. Now where’s my passport?

Holiday Travels with Your Cat, Part 4

I'm ready to go!

I’m ready to go!

Here’s the last part of my installment for travelling with cats …. or, in this case, without cats. Sometimes you humans can’t take us cats with you. Sometimes, us cats don’t want to or can’t go. That means leaving us behind. When you can’t take us with you for whatever reason, you have a few options.

First, there’s boarding facilities. You can find all sorts of different kind of boarding facilities from those that use cages, those that don’t use cages, those that house both dogs and cats, and those at Veterinary Hospitals. The good part about using a veterinary hospital is that if we should get sick, they’re more likely to spot it sooner and react quicker. The down side is that Veterinary Hospitals tend to be short on space, short on time, and tend to use cages. What’s wrong with cages, you ask? Just think of what it would be like for you to go to jail for the holidays. Not exactly you’re idea of a merry time!!! However, not all Veterinary Hospitals use cages, and there are more of them trying to make cat boarding as comfortable as possible for us cats. The Purr-fect Hotel at the Highland Veterinary Hospital in Highland, MD is a great example of a hospital that has some great space for boarding cats. I’d be pretty comfy there!

Standard Cat Boarding Cages

Standard Cat Boarding Cages

Additionally, for some interesting, strange, unidentifiable reason, most boarding facilities that use cages tend to have the cages facing each other (Veterinary Hospitals are typically the exception to this rule, but not always). So, what’s wrong with this, you ask? Well, I’m a social guy; I like other kitties. But if there’s a cat on the other side of the room staring me down because he hates other cats, it doesn’t exactly make my stay very comfortable. In fact, it stresses me out big time. And for that cat who doesn’t like other cats, being at a boarding facility that uses cages will be incredibly miserable for him, incredibly stressful, and make him more susceptible to illness (travel, which stresses us out, will always make us more susceptible to illness, but we’re talking about the difference between possibly getting a little cough to coming down with a full-blown cold). So, in your search for boarding facilities, try not to choose one that has cages …  and try not to pick that one that says it houses cats in cages in a cozy laundry room (I kid you not!). You may pay a little bit more for a cageless boarding facility, but generally the difference in cost is minor.

A view of Camp Kitty

A view of Camp Kitty

So what else should you look for? Try to stay away from boarding facilities that house both dogs and cats. There are cat-only boarding facilities out there. But if you can’t find one near you, try to choose a facility where the dog noise is comfortably muffled. Note: if there are dogs housed at the boarding facility, you won’t be able to get away from dog noise. Also ask to go on a tour of the facility. If they won’t let you, don’t board your cat there. And if there is more than a minimal smell of litter or food (similar to what you’d smell at home), don’t use that facility, either (do keep in mind that if they’ve just cleaned, which is typically done during the morning hours, there may be a stronger odor than if they’d cleaned hours ago). Also ask what veterinarian they use (if you’re not boarding at a Veterinary Hospital). If they don’t freely give you that information, go away. Also, if they don’t allow you to bring bedding, toys and food from home, they probably don’t understand how to make a cat as comfortable as possible (would you want to go somewhere that you weren’t allowed to bring your own clothes and had to wear someone else’s?). And do be sure to bring some comforts from home; it makes us feel a lot better! Know that most, if not all, boarding facilities require that your cat is current on vaccines. If your vet has recommended not giving anymore vaccines (which can happen, especially if the cat is older), talk with them about doing so for boarding purposes or if there are any other alternatives.

A really good example of a cat boarding facility is called Evergreen Cat Lodge in Evergreen, CO. You can house up to 3 cats in one suite for no extra charge (a lot of places do charge extra for more than one cat). The rooms look like little homes. And they don’t charge for little add-on services like nail clippings, administering medications, and ATTENTION!!! The only extra service charges, which is optional, that they appear to have are webcams that you can gain access to for $5 per day. And, let’s face it, that’s a really minimal charge for the pleasure of watching your cats nap all day!!! There’s also the Cat Taxi in the off-chance you can’t bring us yourself. The price of the cat taxi is similar to how an actual taxi works (they charge by mile with a $20 minimum charge).

Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams

Some other good examples of cat boarding facilities are Feline Wishes and Caviar Dreams in San Francisco, CA  and Camp Kitty in Scottsdale, GA. Please be aware that I’ve never been to a boarding facility, so I am not advertising for nor vouching for any of these places. I’m calling them good solely from what information I find online. It’s up to you to choose what you’re comfortable with.

However, in most cases, when you have to leave your kitty behind, using a pet sitter is typically the best option. We’ll be at home where we can hide in our usual spots, smell the usual smells, and not have to worry about going anywhere. How do you find a petsitter? First, find one who specializes in cats. It doesn’t have to be a cat-only pet sitter, but s/he should know cats well, appear comfortable around your cats, and have some good knowledge of cat behavior. Some pet sitters are insured, some are not. Which do you choose? Well, pet sitters that are insured are typically insured to cover mishaps, such as damage to the home (whether the sitter is in the home at the time or not) and sudden illnesses of your cats. What does this mean for you? A pet sitter who’s insured is covered during mishaps while an uninsured pet sitter must pay for mishaps out of their own pocket (and aren’t protected in case the client – you – decides to sue for a mishap). It’s up to you whether you choose an insured or uninsured pet sitter. In most cases, it doesn’t make much of a difference.

How do you get recommendations for pet sitters? You can ask your veterinarian, employees of an animal shelter, friends who have cats, or you can do a search online, like through Yelp or Craigslist. Make sure that you’re comfortable with whoever you choose … you are entrusting them with the keys to your home and your cats. Ask questions that are important to you. Maybe you want to know what kind of experience they have with cats, if they’ve ever medicated a cat, if they know how to work with shy cats, what to look for in sick cats, etc.

So, remember that we cats generally prefer to stay at home.

If we can’t stay at home (like we’re old or sick or….), take us to a good boarding facility like this:

Good Cat Boarding

Good Cat Boarding at Evergreen Cat Lodge

Lastly, remember that this is bad:

Bad Cat Boarding

Bad Cat Boarding

And this is even worse:

Not an actual boarding facility photo.

Not an actual boarding facility photo.