The Joys of Adopting an Older Animal

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Woman holding older cat in her lap

In recognition of Adopt a Senior Pet Month, we want to take this opportunity to talk about the benefits of bringing an older animal into your life.  There are plenty of good reasons to do so, and a few considerations as well.

One important fact that may color your decision is the sad truth that older animals truly need our compassion, as they are much less likely to be adopted (it’s hard to compete with the adorableness of kittens and puppies!) and therefore much more likely to be put down when shelters become overcrowded.  Knowing you are actually saving an animal’s life is a wonderful thing!  And they are grateful, because they really can appreciate the difference between confinement in a shelter and the comfort and security of a loving home.

   Young man sharing affection with his older cat             Woman receiving kisses from her older dog

One of the reasons puppies and kittens are so darn cute is to balance out their often incorrigible behavior.  If you’ve ever experienced their mischief directly, you’ll know what we’re referring to here.  Just like young children, it’s all part of their learning and growing process, but it can be very trying, right?  Also like young children, they require a great deal of time and attention to make sure they grow up right – while a mature animal usually only requires more of your time initially, until they get acclimated to their new homes.

Kitten tears up the toilet paper

A related consideration is the toll that can be taken on your environment and possessions by the young ones who haven’t learned their manners yet.  Senior pets don’t require housebreaking or litter box training, and are far less likely to wreak havoc on your furniture, shoes, flower beds, etc.  Most adult dogs have already been leash-trained as well – a definite benefit!

Young woman walking puppy on a leash

When visiting adoptable animals, you’ll notice that the seniors already have a mature personality, and while behaviors can change somewhat given a stable, loving environment, you will at least be able to tell if you’re dealing with a wild child, a playful goofball, or a consummate cuddler.  With very young animals, you often don’t yet know what the adult’s temperament will be.

Aside from the increased time and attention young animals require, there’s the amount of sheer energy they need to burn off – again, a necessary component of healthy growth.  But that’s not a good fit for everyone’s lifestyle, so a senior animal is often an easier fit for those with a more sedentary life.  Older pets generally require less exercise and are mellower than a youngster, although many middle-aged dogs and cats still have plenty of energy for that hike, or for batting around that catnip mouse, and can be healthy and active well into their senior years.  That being said, older animals are much more likely to be a settled companion who would rather spend time with you and your family than anything else.

Woman holding her senior poodle

Most older animals have already been spayed or neutered, and have often been vaccinated as well (although most shelters vaccinate all pets to the best of their ability before adopting them out, the young ones can only get so many at one time and some vacs need to be given when they’re older.)  Keep in mind some vaccinations, especially for dogs, should be renewed, so be sure to ask your veterinarian about this (rabies for instance is required for licensing your dogs.)

It’s not as much of a long-term commitment and may be a better choice for your first pet, to see if pet ownership works with your lifestyle.  Cats can live more than 20 years, and a dog’s lifespan varies more depending on the breed, but in general, the younger the animal you adopt, the longer the commitment.  For this same reason it can also be less of a financial outlay when one considers average annual expenses over the life of a pet – although this can vary widely, depending on the animal’s needs.

So now that you’ve given some thought to the above and weighed the pros and cons, we’re hoping you’ll give serious consideration to passing up those super-cute, super-adoptable kittens and puppies and seek out an older animal to bring into your life when the time comes (and there’s no time like the present, someone smart once said!)  And when you’re ready, here are some tips to facilitate the adoption and provide the best experience for your new family member(s).

See if the shelter has any background information on the animal’s previous home life.  You might ask the following questions:

  1. Was the former owner a man, a woman, or both?
  2. Is the animal familiar with and comfortable around children?
  3. What were the circumstances surrounding the animal’s surrender to the shelter?
  4. Does the animal have a name they know, or did the shelter just recently name them?
  5. Was the animal primarily an indoor or outdoor pet?
  6. Did they live with other pets?
  7. Was their former environment an urban/suburban/rural area?
  8. Does the shelter have any of the animal’s vet records?
  9. Are there any known food preferences and/or allergies?

The shelter may know the answers to some of these questions – or they may not, depending on how they received the animal, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and could be very helpful to know.

Most shelters offer free wellness exams with an adoption – be sure to use it, even if it’s not with your own veterinarian.  Usually the vets that work with animal shelters in this way are familiar with any special needs the animals may have.

Consider microchipping if they don’t already have one (and if they do make sure you contact the company to register new ownership!)  If they get loose, especially during the first weeks or months in their new home, they could try to return to familiar territory, so extra care must be taken to make sure they are always secure.

Choose your time carefully – don’t adopt when you have a trip planned, or company/family coming for the holidays.  You want as much calm and quiet as possible while your new baby adjusts to his or her surroundings and family.  You may even want to consider taking a week’s vacation so you can bond with the animal before assuming your normal routine.

Feed as clean and healthy a diet as possible, as the stress of a radical change in their lives (leaving their home, however long they were in a shelter before adoption) can have an adverse effect on their immune system.  Often shelters will send you home with a bag of the same food the animal has received while in their care, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for them – it’s usually donated by one of the larger pet food companies.

Make sure all residents of the home meet and interact with the animal before you adopt.  Puppies and kittens are pretty much blank slates, but an older animal may need a little more time to get used to everyone, and you want to make sure everyone gets along well.  They may not bond instantly, but all should be able to approach and pet the animal comfortably.

If you have other pets, most shelters can make arrangements for a brief introduction to the new addition, to make sure there are no adverse reactions to one another.  Those relationships can take time to develop, and while they may not be best buddies right out of the gate, there should be no extreme negative reactions.  At-home assimilations should be planned as well, making sure each animal has their own “safe space” where they can feel protected and comfortable if they need to get away from the action.

Allow plenty of time for the animal to adjust to its new surroundings and family.  Be patient – as they may be fearful at first, having to accept so much change.  But one of the magical things about cats & dogs is their ability to forgive and forget, once they find themselves in a secure and stable environment.  Just know that for every ounce of love you give them, it will be returned a hundred times over.

Cat Grass Savvy

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Cat Grass Savvy

 

Why Do Cats Eat Grass?  There are so many excellent reasons for providing fresh, organic cat grass for your cats, but let’s just start with the fact that while all felines are well-known obligate carnivores, that doesn’t mean their diets consist of 100% meat.  All cats that live in the wild hunt for a living, and a large percentage of their prey are herbivorous animals whose stomachs therefore contain grass and similar greens.  Aside from this indirect source of green nutrition, most cats – even the big boys and girls – will seek out greens to satisfy a variety of nutritional needs.

                           

Rescued Siberian Lynx                    Tiger in the wild

Most cat owners already know how effective Cat Grass can be at helping cats deal with hairballs – whether as a beneficial emetic, or to act as roughage to aid the passage of fur and other indigestible matter through the digestive tract.  But there are many other nutritional benefits as well, because cereal grasses (mainly wheat, oat, barley and rye) contain a long list of vitamins and minerals that contribute to overall health and bolster the immune system.  A lesser-known fact is the high protein content of these grasses:  whole-leaf wheat grass powder, for example, contains 25% protein – far more than the equivalent amount of spinach or broccoli (about 3%), eggs (12.5%) or chicken (17.5%).

Bring the Outdoors, Indoors!  Aside from the physical health benefits, many indoor cats love having their own personal garden…it enriches their environment in a unique way by adding an element of nature that is fun, safe, fresh – and that they won’t get yelled at for munching on!

How to Feed Cat Grass  There are several methods for introducing Cat Grass to your cat for the first time, and because cats are such dedicated nonconformists (why we love them!) you may have to try more than one approach before they take to it.  That being said, your cat may surprise you and dive right in the very first time you present them with a pot of cat grass – especially those younger, curious types.

However, if that adorable nose turns up and away after one quick sniff, here are a few other things to try:

Tip the container of cat grass on its side, at least initially. The blades of grass, while tender to the mouth, can be a bit off-putting if the tips poke kitty’s nose when she approaches for the inevitable sniff-fest of this intriguing new object.  As we all know, cats can really hold a grudge about such effronteries, and starting off on the wrong foot can really put the kibosh on the whole venture.

Spritz the blades lightly with water. Many cats will lick at the water droplets, then decide to try a nibble of the sweet-smelling blades and realize how much they like it.

Pick a couple of blades and offer them to your cat by hand. While the container of grass may look enticing, your cat may not at first realize it is something good to eat.  But if extended by the hand that feeds them they will probably make the connection more easily.

Snip some small pieces of cat grass and use as a food topper at mealtimes. A light sprinkling of tasty greens atop your cat’s favorite wet food is an easy way to add these nutritious greens to their diet, even if they haven’t quite gotten the hang of eating it directly from the container yet.

Where to Purchase Cat Grass  A number of options  are open to you here, as Cat Grass is available “live” (pre-grown in small pots) and in self-grow kits in a variety of sizes.

Pet Greens offers two options in pre-grown Cat Grass:  100% Wheatgrass or a blend of Oat, Rye & Barley grasses – both varieties are 100% Certified Organic.  They can be found in pet specialty stores nationwide:  Petco, PetSmart, Pet Supplies Plus and Pet Valu  stores all receive fresh shipments on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, as do more than 500 independent and smaller chain stores.

Pet Greens also has two sizes of self-grow Cat Grass to choose from:  Garden (100% Wheatgrass) and Medley (Oat, Rye and Barley grass blend) can be grown right from the bag, and Meadow is a larger size self-grow tub of 100% Wheatgrass that is perfect for multi-pet households.  While these are widely available in stores, many customers prefer the convenience of shopping for these items online: Chewy and Amazon are just a few of the more popular online sources for these convenient kits.

If all else fails and your cat looks at your offering of fresh greens as “just another crazy idea my human had,” but you want to make sure the little darling is benefiting from the nutritional properties of cereal grasses, Pet Greens also makes a line of yummy soft-chew treats containing wheatgrass, called Cat Craves.

July is Lost Pet Prevention Month

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Q: Who doesn’t just LOVE fireworks?! 

A:  Most pets.

 July is National Lost Pet Prevention month, which is very fitting since more pets flood into animal shelters following the 4th of July than at any other time of the year.  Often people don’t realize the impact the sound and fury of fireworks can have on dogs, cats and other pets, but anyone who works at an animal shelter can attest to the fact that our furry friends will go to almost any lengths to alleviate their terror and confusion.

Dogs and cats alike will scale tall fences (or burrow under them), chew through leashes, break metal chains or even crash through doors and just head for the hills, running until they’re exhausted or hiding in the smallest space they can wedge themselves into.  Pet birds are also affected, and will sometimes break out of their cages or injure themselves trying to do so.

Pets lost in these circumstances can be very difficult to find, as they may travel far from home, or be too scared to respond to your calls in a search.  That’s why preventing their escape is key, and we have a few suggestions to offer, along with links to some helpful resources in the event your pet does go missing.

1. Bring all of your pets indoors

Celebrating our Independence Day with a backyard barbecue has become a popular tradition, so if you are planning one we recommended that pets be placed in a room inside the house, with the door securely closed.  Make sure they have everything they will need for the duration (water, food, toys, piddle pads or a litter box, and their favorite bed) so you don’t have to go in and out of the room – you may even want to lock the door or tape a “Keep Door Closed” sign on the outside should you have friends over, as visiting kids are especially apt to go looking for that dog they hear barking or your cat scratching to get out.

Another tradition is the 4th of July picnic in the park, which is great fun for everyone except your pets.  While going to the park without your best buddy may just feel wrong, everyone will be much safer and happier if you leave him or her at home on this one day.  The random firecracker can scare even the calmest dog into a breakaway run.

 2. Consider administering a calmative

For pets who have more severe reactions (trembling, constant barking or crying, uncontrollable release of bowels or bladder, etc.) you may want to talk to your vet ahead of time about sedatives made specifically for pets (note: never give human medicines to your pets unless specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian!)  There are a variety of choices here, including most recently a number of natural CBD oil products that can be very effective in helping your pet weather the storm with a minimum of trauma.  It’s best to visit your veterinarian well ahead of time for these – you may even want to do a trial run on a day that’s not a national holiday (when most vet offices are closed), in case you have questions about dosages, or your pets’ reaction, etc.

3. Take pictures of your pets

If you don’t already have multiple photos of your beautiful fur babies, do be sure to snap a few pics to have available in case the worst happens and your pet does get lost.  Not only will they be needed for Lost Pet flyers, but you’ll want to take them around to your local shelters, too.  They will have so many pets coming in over the several days (and sometimes weeks) following the 4th of July that they will appreciate having a photo on hand, and many shelters have volunteers who do nothing but tour the facilities on a regular basis, photos in hand, trying to match up lost pets with their owners.  These wonderful people need all the help they can get, and nothing works better than an actual photo.  Here is a link that will help you find the shelters in your area:  https://www.petfinder.com/animal-shelters-and-rescues/search/

 4. Consider microchipping

There are a number of national pet registries offering these services, and your veterinarian can implant the microchip.  There is no faster way of locating a lost pet, especially when there is such a large influx of them into your local shelters. Here is a link to more information about microchipping your pets: https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/lost-and-found-dogs/microchip-faqs/

Of course, our favorite option is to take advantage of HDTV and live-stream spectacular fireworks from across the country.  Without the audible aspect of fireworks, many pets enjoy the bright lights and trailing embers (especially kitties, as you might imagine.)  And what could be more fun than a snuggle on the couch with your cats, dogs, bunnies – basically whichever of your pets might need some reassurance that the sky is not, in fact, falling.

Zoey Finds Comfort During The Sonoma Fires

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Meet Miss Zoey, she is an 18 years young cat. During the Recent Sonoma fires her and her family were forced to evacuate from their home. Thankfully Zoey and her family were able to safely escape in time, but she became ill from all the stress. Her parents were looking for a way to comfort her and keep her distracted. On their way out of town they stopped off at a Pet Store and discovered Cat Craves. According to her Mom Pamela, Cat Craves turned out to be just the thing to perk up Miss Zoey and keep her busy. It was going to be a long drive and Zoey was in desperate need of some comfort.

 

Her mom wrote, “Zoey is a very picky eater and only has a very defined palate, for only the best food. I have never seen her so invested in a food before. After being evacuated from the Sonoma fires in October, for over two weeks, we found our little girl so stressed. We stopped in to our neighborhood Pet Store in Sonoma to get some food because there wasn’t any time to grab anything, but her. They said to try your treats… Remarkable!! They were such a distraction and seemed to get her mind off what was going around her. She begged for more. This is a must for our pantry now!!! She will search out that packet of Cat Craves Chicken treats and try to open it up herself! After being stressed out from the evacuation of the fires, it was a real treat to see that your product made her so happy and distracted from what was going on. Zoey Thanks You too!”

 

Pamela shared that since Zoey has discovered her love for Cat Craves, she has an extra spring in her step. She has been acting more like a playful, frisky kitten these days and her coat is extra glossy and healthy too.

 

 

Cat Craves treats are crafted with love and care, with your cat’s health in mind. We source only the finest nutritionally dense greens and proteins. Pet Greens treats are unique, in that they contain the power of organic wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is an essential green full of vitamins, minerals, protein, amino acids and many other nutrients to support your cats health.

 

“This is what we find Miss Zoey doing to her treat bag. She will find it hidden away and drag it out to open it herself!”

 

Pamela also commented that Zoey is always looking for her Cat Craves, jumping up on counters and trying to get into her favorite bag of yummy treats. At her most recent checkup, the vet remarked on how well she is doing and how great she is looking for her age. We love hearing fuzzy, feel good, heartwarming stories, like Zoey’s!

Have a Pet Greens story, we’d love to hear from you!

 

party cat

Holding a Catnip Celebration

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Par-ty. Everyone loves a good party. And cats are no exception.  These little soirees can be more than just a frat cat playtime. You can use catnip parties because they’re fun, they relieve feline stress and to help retrain kitties who spray or pee in a specific area. Read More

jumping dog

The Importance of Greens for Canine Health

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Why does my dog eat grass?

Dogs are technically classified as carnivores; but in practice they are what is called “facultative omnivores,” meaning that they can and do derive nutrition from non-animal sources, such as fruits, herbs, and grasses. All of our dogs’ wild cousins eat plants; but among the many canine species, foxes are the biggest fans of green foods, and love to eat fruits and veggies whenever they’re available. Read More

cat eating grass

The Importance of Greens for Feline Health

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Cats are carnivores; every bit of their anatomy and physiology screams out, “I am a meat-eater!” But it turns out that, in nature, cats don’t only eat meat. Virtually every cat species studied normally eats some green plants and grasses—and, of course, they get the benefit of the vegetable matter their prey has eaten. Read More