Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

Visual Beast

Museums around the world curate collections focusing on dogs, cats and other animals

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

Art, sculpture and other depictions of animals show us how they have changed over the centuries and celebrate their role as family members. That’s right -- we tend to think of pets being part of the family as a relatively new concept, but art tells us that the human-animal bond is as old as time. Museums featuring animal art are found around the world. Here are some to consider visiting if you’ll be in the area.

The American Museum of the House Cat in Sylva, North Carolina, holds an astounding collection of cat-centric items, including carousel animals, clocks, fine art, folk art, jewelry and pottery. You won’t find any live cats prowling the premises, but owner Harold Sims is happy to direct you to his cat shelter -- supported by the museum’s admission fees -- or to local businesses with in-house cats.

The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog relocated to New York City last year from St. Louis. The vast collection comprises paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics, bronzes, trophies, collars and other pupaphernalia. The current special exhibit, through Sept. 29, focuses on 20th century women artists, including Maud Earl and Marguerite Kirmse, who specialized in depicting dogs.

In Alliance, Ohio, the Feline Historical Museum crouches on the first floor of the Cat Fanciers Association headquarters. Prized display items include the silver medal and collar awarded in 1895 to Cosey, a brown tabby Maine coon, at the National Cat Show in Madison Square Garden. Visitors can also see paintings, porcelain and jewelry, or browse the small library of some 700 cat-related books. Occasionally, live cats make appearances at special events, so check the calendar.

The San Diego Museum of Man has exhibits and programs devoted to living with animals. And why wouldn’t it? After all, beginning with dogs, animals have been sharing our lives for more than 15,000 years. The interactive programs range from K9 unit demonstrations to opportunities to hold reptiles and are free to museum members or with museum admission.

Cat- and literature-loving visitors to Key West, Florida, won’t want to miss the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, which not only features the writer’s typewriters, but also more than 40 descendants of his polydactyl (many-toed) cats. Guided tours and unguided visits are available daily from 9 to 5.

If you’re passing through Tupelo, Mississippi, don’t miss the opening of Museum of Dog. Besides paintings, sculptures, photographs and antique dog collars, you can enjoy a collection devoted to Elvis and his dogs (fitting for the birthplace of the King). There’s also a coffee bar and “barkery,” so you and your dog can treat yourselves.

The KattenKabinet in Amsterdam is a museum devoted entirely to artworks featuring cats. As you tour the stately home-turned-display space, you may notice a couple of live cats napping on chairs or strolling through rooms.

Other museums devoted to cats are found in Kuching, Malaysia; Siauliai, Lithuania; Ludvigshafen, Germany; Kotor, Montenegro; Teramo, Italy (which has two cat museums); Cincinnati; Seto, Japan; and Okayama, Japan. The latter three museums focus on maneki neko, the beckoning “lucky cat” figurines so popular in Japan.

Globe-trotting dog lovers have a number of choices as well. The ancient and picturesque town of Passau, Germany, is home to the Dackelmuseum, founded by two dachshund devotees. The collection includes more than 4,500 dachshund-themed paintings, puppets, figurines, stamps and more. If you’re traveling with your own dog, he can visit the museum, too. The Akita Dog Museum in Odate, Japan, is dedicated to the breed designated as a Japanese Natural Treasure. In Martigny, Switzerland, is Barryland, a Saint Bernard museum with kennels so visitors can experience the giant-breed dogs in person. And in Mondragone, Italy, Foof, a museum dedicated to dogs, features exhibits that include dog collars, sculptures and photographs. Bonus: It doubles as a shelter.


Blood draws

made easy

Q: My dog hates having blood drawn, but he has a health condition that means it must be done on a regular basis. Is there any way to help him become less fearful about it?

A: Believe it or not, there is. If zoo animals can learn to voluntarily offer a limb for a blood draw -- and they do -- so can your dog. Here are some tips.

First, teach your dog to offer his paw or leg. If he already knows “shake” or “high five,” this will be easy to do.

Ask the veterinary technician or veterinarian to show you how and where to hold your dog’s leg as if he were going to receive a blood draw, as well as where the blood will be drawn. At home, practice holding the leg in position. Moisten the area where the vein is with water or alcohol to prepare him for the sensation and scent of the alcohol rubdown. To simulate the feel of the needle, gently tap the area where the vein is using a toothpick or paper clip. All the while, give your dog high-level treats: cheese, warm deli turkey, hotdogs, whatever he delights in.

Do this daily for a month to help him become accustomed to being handled that way. Let him walk away if he wants, but stop the treats if he does so. Perform the training in a specific place each time so that he knows what’s going to happen there. If he goes to that place on his own, reward him for it and do a quick practice.

Do everything slowly, step by step, until your dog is comfortable with it. The next time you are at the veterinary clinic, continue to provide your dog with high-value treats during the procedure. See for more tips. -- Dr. Marty Becker

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Put on the dog

for Dog Day

-- It’s National Dog Day! Celebrate on Aug. 26 (or any day, for that matter) by giving your dog a special treat or toy, going for a “dog’s choice” walk (he gets to stop and sniff whenever he wants), taking a selfie with your dog, or making banana-peanut butter “pupsicles” by blending two ripe bananas and two tablespoons of peanut butter (make sure it isn’t sweetened with xylitol) and freezing the mix in an ice cube tray or popsicle mold. You may also want to make a donation to one of the many groups working to improve dogs’ lives and health. Some to consider are Morris Animal Foundation, the Grey Muzzle Organization, Waggle Foundation or your local shelter or breed rescue group.

-- Some people look for the perfect retirement town, others for a location with an active outdoor lifestyle. Dog owners want a welcoming attitude toward their pets. This year, Scottsdale, Arizona, is top dog when it comes to pet friendliness. The city was named most pet friendly by WalletHub after comparing 24 metrics, such as number of veterinarians and pet businesses, cost of pet care, amount of pet-friendly parkland and trails, and strength of animal protection laws. Following Scottsdale are Orlando, Florida; Tampa, Florida; Austin, Texas; Phoenix; Las Vegas; Atlanta; St. Louis; Seattle; and Portland, Oregon.

-- Does your pet fish need a visit to the veterinarian? Signs that a fish is feeling under the, er, water, include discoloration, spots, a bloated appearance, inability to rise to the water’s surface, poor appetite or ragged fins. They may be suffering from a parasitic, bacterial or fungal infection, especially if new fish have recently been added to the tank. Find a veterinarian who’s knowledgeable about fish before you need one so you can seek treatment quickly if needed. See for more information. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet care experts headed by “The Dr. Oz Show” veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, founder of the Fear Free organization and author of many best-selling pet care books, and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. Joining them is behavior consultant and lead animal trainer for Fear Free Pets Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.