Universal Press Syndicate
Cats like places more than they like people, right?
Wrong. Your cat would rather be with you, no matter where you move to. But if you handle the days before and after moving day improperly, you're at a real risk of losing your cat. That's why it's important to take some time to do it right.
Cats are highly territorial and will seek out familiar places when stressed, which is why they attempt to return to their old homes. While you'll never manage a stress-free move for either you or your cat, you can make the best of the situation by keeping your pet secure before, during and after the move, and then by allowing your pet to gradually adapt to his new surroundings.
The best way to move your cat is to confine him to a "safe room" before and after the move, and to transport him from one house to another in a secure carrier. The ideal safe room is a spare bedroom or bathroom where your cat isn't going to be disturbed, and where he can be outfitted with food and water, a litter box, a scratching post and toys.
Don't feel bad about confining your pet. He'll be more relaxed in a small space where he won't be subjected to the stress of seeing people tromping around his house with the family belongings. Confining your cat also prevents him from slipping outside, which is a danger at both the old and new home. A frightened cat may be hard to locate on the day of the move if you don't make sure he's somewhere you can put your hands on him.
When you get to your new home, leave the carrier, with its door removed, in the safe room. Close the door to the room and leave him be while you unpack. Coaxing him out of the carrier with treats and praise is fine, but let him choose when and how much of the safe room he wants to explore. Never drag him out -- you'll upset your cat, and you might get scratched or bitten.
A couple of days after you've unpacked and things have settled down, open the door to the safe room so your cat can explore the rest of the house. Even if you plan to let him outside, keep him in for a couple of weeks. He needs to stay inside to start forming a bond with his new surroundings. Better still, make the most of the opportunity offered by a move and convert your pet to indoor-only status. Your new neighbors will appreciate it, and your cat will live a longer, safer life.
It's relatively easy to manage a conversion to indoor cat in a new home. He'd carry on like crazy in your old home if locked in, but in new surroundings he'll accept the change with little fuss. Part of the reason cats don't like to convert to indoor-only is because they've marked the outside as part of their territory and have a natural desire to revisit and re-mark it. A newly moved cat will learn to accept the territory he has been offered, and if the outdoors isn't part of it, he won't miss it as much.
Above all, don't rush your cat through a move. Confinement during the transition is also good for avoiding behavior problems that might pop up with the stress of moving. By limiting your cat's options to the litter box and scratching post in his small safe room, he will quickly redevelop the good habits he had in your old home.
Birds can fly -- by plane!
Q: We're moving cross-country. We're trying to figure out if going by air is the best way to move our umbrella cockatoo. I'm not sure I could stand a long drive with him and the dog. Our college-age daughter (it's her bird, really) has volunteered to fly with him. Is that best? Or should we all go by car? -- W.T., via e-mail
A: This question comes up from time to time. Yes, birds can fly commercial. My "Birds for Dummies" co-author, top avian veterinarian Dr. Brian L. Speer, has offered some tips to help.
Speer says whether you're going by car or by plane, the first thing you'll need is a good carrier. He recommends altering a dog carrier for the job. Choose one that's made of high-impact plastic and is designed for air travel. Then make it bird-friendly by fitting it with a perch so your bird is off the floor and able to sit facing the door. For a cockatoo, the size for a small to medium dog -- not a tiny dog -- will do.
Before any trip, you'll need to make sure your bird's wings are clipped and that he's in good health. For air travel, you'll need a health certificate from a veterinarian.
But road trips can be fine, too, says Speer, who used to drive to work every day with his blue-and-gold macaw, Toby. Your bird will need a crate for car travel, too. At rest stops, give your bird a chance to get out and stretch his wings. To keep him well-hydrated, offer him fruits that have a lot of moisture, such as oranges and apples.
If you decide to go by air, your cockatoo will be riding in a pressurized cargo hold. Try to book a direct flight if possible, and try to avoid peak travel times. Your airline will have other requirements, so check well in advance. Plan to get to the airport early to make everything go smoothly.
As with travel by car, make sure your bird has fruit to keep him hydrated on the journey. Because of the value of a large parrot such as yours, Speer recommends wiring the crate doors shut to thwart would-be birdnappers. -- Gina Spadafori
(Do you have a pet question? Send it to email@example.com.)
ABOUT PET CONNECTION
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "Good Morning America" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of several best-selling pet-care books.
On PetConnection.com there's more information on pets and their care, reviews of products, books and "dog cars," and a weekly drawing for pet-care prizes. Contact Pet Connection in care of this newspaper by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting PetConnection.com.
Drugs in the litter box? Yes!
-- The war on drugs ends in the cat box. Mixing cough syrup, Vicodin, Lipitor and other leftover medications with cat litter, preferably used cat litter, is the new recommendation from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This method is better for the environment than flushing old drugs down the toilet, and it renders the medication too yucky for consumption by drug abusers.
-- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has formally declared that canine rabies has been eliminated from the United States.
-- Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common hormonal diseases of dogs. It's twice as common in females as in males, and the peak age at onset is 7 to 9 years old. The breeds most at risk include schnauzers, the bichon frise, Cairn terrier, Keeshond, fox terrier and poodles.
-- Experts at a symposium on canine vector-borne diseases -- illnesses that can be transmitted by dogs, in other words -- said that the numbers of blood-feeding parasites such as ticks are growing at an epidemic rate. Because ticks thrive in humid, brushy areas, global warming has contributed to the increased numbers of ticks and tick-borne diseases. -- Dr. Marty Becker
Some cats are big by nature
The average weight for a healthy adult cat is between 8 and 10 pounds, although among purebreds, what's normal can vary dramatically by breed. The Singapura, a rare breed whose lines trace to the feral cats of Singapore, is perhaps the smallest breed of cat, with some animals weighing in at less than half the weight of an average cat.
The Siberian, another rare breed, is said to be the biggest cat, with some animals topping the 20-pound mark. Other breeds that aren't quite as large but still qualify for big-cat status include the ragdoll, Turkish van, Maine coon, Norwegian forest and British shorthair. -- Gina Spadafori
Neutering necessary for bunnies, too
Unwanted offspring aren't the only reason why it's important to neuter pet rabbits. Just as with altering dogs and cats, altering rabbits eliminates many health and behavior problems.
Female rabbits, for example, are at a high risk for uterine cancer, a leading killer of these pets over the age of 2. Spaying also removes the potential for common and potentially lethal reproductive-system infections.
Besides extending your pet's life span, neutering eliminates sex-related behavior problems. Sexually mature rabbits can be territorial or even aggressive, and may spray urine.
Neutering is riskier for rabbits than it is for dogs and cats because the anesthesia is a little trickier. In recent years, however, advances in anesthesia have tipped the scales in favor of neutering as a preventive health measure.
Work with a veterinarian who is experienced with rabbits -- not all are. The final safety precaution is yours: Follow your veterinarian's pre- and post-operative directions precisely.
Neutered rabbits make for better pets -- and fewer rabbits. With rabbits now adding to the strain on shelters and neutering being safer than ever, there's no reason not to have your bun fixed. -- Dr. Marty Becker
PETS BY THE NUMBERS
Who trains the dog?
According the American Kennel Club's survey, the vast majority of dog owners train their own dogs. Here are the responses to the "Who'll train your dog?" query, with multiple answers allowed:
Train own dog 86 percent
Use books/videos 26 percent
Use private trainer 20 percent
Attend training club 8 percent
Attend pet store training 7 percent
Other training 4 percent
ON GOOD BEHAVIOR
Don't give in to naughty pup
Your puppy grabs your shoe and bounds away with a playful wiggle in his prance and a "you can't catch me" glint in his eyes. At that moment, resist calling your puppy unless you feel certain he will zoom to your side.
Instead, ignore him and get your hands on one of his toys. Then, with toy in hand, toss and catch it with all your attention on his toy. Do not even look at your puppy. Chances are your puppy will drop the shoe and will come over to play.
When your puppy knows the words "off" and "leave it" and will sit reliably upon request, you can approach the issue more directly. In the meantime, avoid losing the chase game and your temper.
(Animal behavior experts Susan and Dr. Rolan Tripp are the authors of "On Good Behavior." For more information, visit their Web site at AnimalBehavior.net.)
Pet Connection is produced by a team of team of pet-care experts headed by "Good Morning America" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Gina Spadafori. The two are also the authors of several best-selling pet-care books. Contact Pet Connection in care of this newspaper, by sending e-mail to email@example.com or by visiting PetConnection.com.
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