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Guest Post: Newborn Babies and Cats Can Live in Harmony

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 Comments

The old wives' tale that cats sometimes maliciously kill newborn babies by sucking out their breath has been around since at least 1607. How is it possible that more than 400 years later, some people still believe the story has merit? It's difficult to fathom, but many people still give up their cats when they find out they have a baby on the way.

This is not only unnecessary, it can cause grief, both for the cat, and the ones who love it. Before you give up your feline friend in favor of your baby, take a look at the myth, the things you really need to be concerned about, and how to keep harmony in your home with both a cat and a newborn baby.

Cats and babies can live in harmony
Photo credit: blisstree.com
The Myth

Think about it for a moment. How could a cat possibly suck the breath out of a baby's lungs? It's physically impossible as any reputable pediatrician or veterinarian will tell you. Not only that, the cat has no motivation to do such a thing, even if it could. While there is a possibility your cat may experience some jealousy when you bring your new baby home, he's unlikely to take it out on the baby in such a violent way.

The Real Risks

More than expressing feelings of jealousy, your cat may feel the need to defend its territory from this little interloper in the crib. The most likely way he's going to do this is by urinating in the crib. It's called "marking," and nearly all cats—both male and female—do it if they feel their turf is being encroached upon. A cat may also urinate someplace besides the litter box if they feel stressed, and bringing a new baby home can certainly be a source of stress for other members of the household, including your pets.

A greater risk is, in fact, suffocation, but it's not intentional. As a cat owner, you know your furry friend likes to cuddle up against you to sleep. Doing this provides both warmth and security. But a cat doesn't know that a baby is vulnerable, and can possibly snuggle up against the baby's face, impeding its breathing. A newborn that can't yet turn its head will have no way defense against a cuddling cat. Remember that this danger is just as prevalent with pillows, or too many blankets or stuffed animals in the crib.

The Better Solutions

You don't have to give your cat away. Behavior issues may occur from time to time. It's all part of owning a pet, and addressing those issues is part of being a responsible pet owner. For some people, the immediate response is to try to give the cat pet meds, like sedatives, to calm the cat and stop the marking behavior. This may be a viable treatment, but it's likely a last resort. Only your vet can determine whether your cat needs any medication. Before you go that route, try a few other solutions.
Properly introducing your cat to the baby is essential
Photo credit: essentialbaby.com.au

Introduce Your Cat to the Baby

When you first get home with the baby, take a few minutes to give your cat some uninterrupted one-on-one time. Play with her, pet her, give her a treat, cuddle her if she tolerates it. Let her know she's important to you.

Your cat will naturally be curious about the newcomer. While you're holding the baby, allow your cat to approach, sniff, and generally check things out. The more you try to keep them apart, the greater lengths your cat will go to in order to get a peek at the weird, noisy thing, including possibly jumping into the crib or onto the changing table, possibly startling or scratching the baby without meaning to. Let her see the baby, and get used to the new scent. Chances are, she'll become bored pretty quickly, and move on to other things.

As your baby grows, remember to keep the kitty safe, too. Babies will be just as curious as cats, and will want to grab and pull at their tails, ears, and fur, or poke their shiny eyes. This can provoke the cat to scratch or bite to defend itself. It's up to you to keep them both safe, and as he grows, teach your child to respect your pet.

Make time to play one-on-one with kitty
Photo credit: rextalkingdog.com
Keep The Cat Out of The Crib

You'll undoubtedly set the crib up well in advance of bringing the baby home. In the meantime, don't let the cat sleep in it. A crib can be a nice hiding place for kitty, but don't let him start thinking it's his territory or you run the risk of him coming in to mark it when he finds a baby in there.

To avoid any mishaps with the baby, like the cat lying too close to the baby's face, keep the nursery door closed when the baby is napping. If you're keeping the crib somewhere that can't be closed off, put up a crib tent to keep the cat from jumping into it.

Make Time For Kitty

A new baby will demand nearly all your attention. But try to make a few minutes every day for your cat. Most cats are very independent, but this doesn't mean they do well being completely ignored. They still need attention and care.

Try not to let your hectic baby-feeding schedule cause you to forget to fill up the cat's food and water dishes. Above all, make sure you're keeping the litter box clean. Letting it get out of hand because you're short on time is a sure way to cause the cat to start urinating in other places, like the sofa or your bed.

With a little planning, some education, and a lot of patience, you can bring your baby home to a loving family that includes your beloved cat.

Jackie is a writer for 1-800-PetMeds and loves to help and support the pet community. You can follow PetMeds on Twitter or connect with PetMeds on Facebook.

Giveaway: Win a hardcover copy of "Following Atticus" by Tom Ryan!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 Comments

by Tom Ryan

"In the mountains Atticus became more of what he’d always been, and I became less—less frantic, less stressed, less worried, and less harried. I felt comfortable letting him lead, and he seemed to know what I needed. He always chose the best route, if ever there was a question, and my only job was to follow.”

Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home. . . .

At the heart of this remarkable journey is an extraordinary relationship that blurs the line between man and dog, an indelible bond that began when Tom, following the advice of Atticus’s breeder, carried the pup wherever he went for the first month of their life together. Following Atticus is ultimately a story of transformation: how a five-pound puppy pierced the heart of a tough-as-nails newspaperman, opening his eyes to the world’s beauty and its possibilities. It was a change that led to a new life among the mountains; an unforgettable saga of adventure, friendship, and the unlikeliest of family; and an inspiring tale of finding love and discovering your true self."


“Lyrical. . . . rivetingly portrayed . . . [a] touching chronicle.” (Kirkus Reviews )

“Exceptionally evocative writing and [an] engaging story . . . this is a book that can be read more than once. Inspirational and heart-warming.” (Library Journal )

“Heartwarming, surprisingly suspenseful. . . . Part adventure story, part memoir, but most important, a love story . . . [an] entertaining and joyous book.” (Publishers Weekly )

Want to win a copy?

Mad About Pets is giving away (1) hardcover copy of "Following Atticus" by Tom Ryan to a lucky reader. Enter using the form below; enter as many different way as you'd like!:

The winner will be randomly drawn. GOOD LUCK!

Burracho's Fiesta Night: Oct. 4, 2011. Help Dane County K9 Unit!

Monday, September 19, 2011 Comments

Help Support the Dane County Sheriff’s K9 Unit!

Fiesta Night
October 4, 2011

2691 Windsor St. – Sun Prairie

20% of sales will be donated to Dane County K9, Inc. which is a non-profit group who raises funds to support the Dane County K9 Unit. Funds are used to purchase dogs, equipment and training.

Come and meet the K9 Teams and browse their selection of new 2011 apparel.

Check us out online and Facebook!

Guest Post: Caring for Pets When You Travel

Friday, September 16, 2011 Comments

Pets are more than precious possessions; they are our companions in life, and as such must be given all the consideration we would accords to human friends. When we travel, the dilemma of whether to take our pets or leave them in someone else's care can be a difficult one. But with a little planning, we can make our journey a good experience for our animals as well as ourselves.

Photo Credit: Rates to Go
Given the choice, it is always preferable to take our pets with us, so this option should be explored thoroughly. Having a pet along for the ride and during the vacation almost certainly means extra work and some change of schedule, but the benefits often greatly outweigh the drawbacks. When our pets are with us, we know that they are safe and happy, and we can keep an eye on them. Many pets love to travel and enjoy their "car time" as much as the vacation destination!
Before embarking on any long trip with your pets, make sure their veterinarian confirms that they are healthy and fit to travel. Be sure to pack any medications for your pets where it is close at hand, and tuck in some extra toys, treats, and other diversions. Familiar objects can mean a lot to a pet away from home, so take care to bring your animals' favorite toys for playing, chewing, and napping.

If your pets do not already have them, purchase or make identification tags for their collars. The tag should include the pet's name and a contact number -- preferably a cell phone, since you will be away from your landline during your travels. This simple precaution can prevent tragedy, and contributes greatly to your peace of mind, too!

Carrying a first-aid kit along on the trip is a sensible measure. Be sure that it contains bandages, antiseptic lotion, tweezers, and scissors for pet injuries. Always carry plenty of water for your pet, and pack it in such a way that it is easily available in case you make an unscheduled stop. And if your pet is traveling in a carrier or crate, take extra time to make his environment homey and comfortable with soft blankets and his favorite toys. For car travel, make sure that the crate is not in direct sunshine, and that your pet has enough room to stretch out and turn around comfortably.
Most important of all, schedule extra time with your pets. During a vacation we can be so caught up in the excitement of our new surroundings that we forget the loneliness or uncertainty our pets may be feeling in a strange environment. Make time to toss a ball, stroke, or scratch your pet every day, speaking to him in a cheerful, soothing voice. Pets rely on you to set the mood, and they will feel much less anxious if you are upbeat and calm.

Photo Credit: Casa Canine
Of course, it is not always possible to take our pets with us on vacation, and with a little effort we can make their time away from us easy and pleasant. If you must leave your pets behind, see if you can find a trustworthy person to stay with them in your home. Pets are always happier and more secure in their own environment, and remaining at home while you are gone is the best option for most dogs and cats. If this isn't possible, investigate the background of the kennel or other boarding situation thoroughly before you place your pet. Personal recommendations from people you can talk to are the most reassuring "background checks" of all, but take the time to tour the kennel and observe the pets being boarded. Do they look calm, well-fed, and content? Are the pet minders friendly and competent, and do they seem to be enjoying their job? Your instincts are your best guide to the quality of any kennel, but back them up with research.

Whether you bring your pets along on vacation or leave them in care until you return, their safety and happiness are essential to everyone having a great trip. Plan ahead, and the entire family will have a wonderful vacation!

Mike Hill works in the vacation rentals industry and run his own blog, Pet Friendly Vacation . His blog will provide useful tips on pet friendly vacation rentals and make your travel with pets easier.

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