Friday, May 31, 2013

PRICELESS Cat Adoptions at Animal Friends! June 1-30



Animal Friends is celebrating Adopt a Cat Month with priceless cat adoptions and more!

Look for feline festivities such as:
  • Priceless cat adoptions! From June 1-30, cat adoption is priceless! Animal Friends will waive the $75 adoption donation for all cats age 1 and up!

  • We're crawling with kittens! Join us on June 7 from 11-1 for a Kitten Shower (a kitten-themed baby shower!) when adoptable kittens come back from foster care!

  • Thanks to funding from PetSmart Charities Animal Friends will provide spay/neuter surgeries for kittens for $20 in June. Please call 1.800.SPAY.PGH for more information or to schedule an appointment.

  • Animal Friends’ pet supply shop and boutique is offering specials on cat treats, toys, and other supplies plus raffles for cat lovers.

As Animal Friends knows all too well, times are tough for cats. Every spring, shelters are inundated with homeless cats and litters of abandoned kittens. As a result, wonderful, lovable feline companions like Ten, a confident 2-year-old Tabby who loves to play, sit and wait.

Cat adoptions include a feline companion, neuter or spay surgery, a microchip and vaccines. As always, all adoptions will be screened to ensure loving, lifelong matches.

We must place our current residents into permanent homes, so that even more cats can have a chance. Please consider cat adoption this June!

Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Call 412.847.7000 for more details or visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

Meet Animal Friends’ adoptable cats by logging on to www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/cats.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Animal Friends presents: Transitioning an Outdoor Cat to Indoor Life




Mother Nature created the great outdoors specifically to satisfy a cat’s natural instincts…at least that’s what the cats would like us to believe!  Trees to climb, prey to chase and capture, patches of warm sun in which to lie, the freedom to choose any of the above opportunities, or nap on his own schedule. Ahhh, livin’ the dream!

But the great outdoors is also fraught with risks that include predators, both two- and four-legged, diseases, parasites, moving vehicles, lack of food and water, and a myriad of other hazards that can turn the good life into one of peril for even the most outdoor-savvy feline.

Transitioning an outdoor cat into an indoor cat requires patience and a good understanding of the needs and desires of your feline friend.  Let’s face it, our homes are designed around human comfort, not necessarily creature comforts.  So let’s look at our home through a cat’s eyes and devise ways of satisfying those natural feline instincts.

Climbing Trees:  Cats love heights!  Observing the world from a predator-free pinnacle provides kitty with a feeling of security and confidence.  There is a fantastic variety of kitty furniture available that fits in with any d├ęcor and provides kitty with a high place to perch as well as enclosed places to hide and retreat from frightening activities.  These items also provide irresistible scratching surfaces (like trees!) that satisfy the kitty’s natural scratching instincts.

Multiple Vertical Levels
Nature also provides a myriad of activity-inducing obstacles for our vertical-loving felines.  Outside, cats will jump from stumps to branches to fences to walls to mounds of dirt and back, and love every minute of it!  Look at your living areas and see if that opportunity abounds.  If not, check out that empty vertical space and fill it with multi-level opportunities for cat activity.  Window perches, tables in front of a window, cat tunnels (very much fun!!), different sized cardboard boxes—providing this sort of variety doesn’t have to cost a lot, and in many cases rearranging your furniture just a little can satisfy your cat’s need for multi-level vertical space.

Chasing, Hunting, Capturing Prey:  Hunting is one of the strongest feline instincts, and one that has endured throughout centuries of domestication.  Luckily for us, the availability of prey-like toys is endless, from inexpensive, tiny stuffed mice to interactive battery-operated toys like the Undercover Mouse.  Interactive play with humans (and/or other pets) is essential for a cat transitioning to an indoor life.  The Cat Catcher, Cat Dancer, and other wand-type interactive toys are fun for both human and feline.  Not many kitties can resist those laser lights, either!  Interactive play for twenty minutes or more a day is a great way to bond with your cat, give him the exercise he needs, and make him forget about those pesky outdoor creatures he used to chase.

Nighttime Naughties
Although cats gradually adapt to human schedules, many cats transitioning to indoor life initially maintain a nocturnal schedule.  To avoid sleep deprivation, providing a portion of your kitty’s dinner right before bedtime will encourage a long nap.  A rousing game of chase-the-laser right before lights-out will also lead to sweet dreams for kitty.  If his predator instincts are well-honed, “hiding” his prey-like toys on windowsills, between couch cushions, on his cat furniture, and in other creative nooks and crannies will give him nocturnal excitement that does not include pouncing on your toes at 3 AM.

Extras
Bird feeders outside of sunny windows will keep kitty entertained for hours!  Cat grass (available in seed kits or already growing) will give him a taste of the outdoors.  A Catnip Party every few days will liven up his life.  A soft and cushy bed near a sunny window will be irresistible.

During this transition you may run into a few issues.  Two of the most common are:

Meowing, Howling, Scratching at the Door
First, you need to make sure you have satisfied your cat’s instinctive needs (see above).  If kitty still insists that she cannot live without being outside, you need to ignore the yowling, scratching, and howling.  “Whaaaat?  She’s driving me crazy,” you say!  Remedying this sort of behavior requires a “distraction plan” that redirects the behavior before it begins.

Cats are creatures of habit, and their behaviors can be observed and modified.  What does kitty do BEFORE the meowing, howling, scratching begins.  She sees you, she walks towards the door, and begins to vocalize.  The distraction needs to happen in the “sees you, walks toward the door” phase of the behavior so as not to reward the undesirable yowling and scratching.

You can create the scenario for this to happen, but you need your distraction plan in mind.  Have your kitty’s favorite toy, or favorite treat in hand.  As kitty walks toward the door, sees you, but before the vocalizing begins, toss the treat or toy away from the door for her to chase.  To make this more fun for kitty, have a large paper shopping bag (sans handles) on its side or a cardboard box in the area, and toss the treat/toy into the bag/box.  This redirection from her initial purpose into a fun game generally takes her mind off of the door.  The more this is practiced, the sooner the behavior will change.

Door Darting
This behavior is annoying (and very scary) for humans and self-rewarding for kitty.  Each time she is successful, the behavior is reinforced.  There are a couple of ways to inhibit door darting.

Provide kitty with a pleasurable reason NOT to dash out the door.  Remember, cats are pleasure-seekers, and she has learned that she gets pleasure from darting out the door.  Establish a place away from the door to reward good behavior when you leave or enter your home.  Before you leave, call kitty to that particular place (a couch, a chair, an end table, a perch on her cat tree) and give her lots of love and her favorite treats.  While she is indulging in the treats, proceed out the door without looking back.  When you return home and open the door, if kitty is right by the door ignore her (don’t let her out, of course!).  Close the door, walk over to your special hello/goodbye place, give her lots of love and her favorite treats.  Make this a habit, and ask other members of the household to do the same.  Kitty will learn that it is more fun to be away from the door than to try to dash out, and will routinely go to that special “place” for her pleasurable reward.

Placing a tall cat tree or scratching post with a perch by the door will also provide an opportunity to make staying inside more pleasurable than dashing out.  When you prepare to leave and kitty is by the door, lure her to the perch with treats or her favorite toy, and while she is enjoying the treats, leave the house.  When you return, again lure kitty to the perch and reward with treats.  In no time she will choose to jump up on the perch for rewards and forget all about the rewards of outdoor life!

A passive deterrent in front of the door can also be used in addition to behavioral modification.  A clear vinyl carpet runner flipped nubby-side-up will encourage the cat to avoid walking near the door.  Cats do not like to walk on nubbies!

Satisfying your newly-indoor cat’s natural feline needs and instincts will lead to a happy and content couch-potato-kitty in no time at all!  A feline friend to curl up with is an added bonus.  Lots of love, attention, readily available food and water is a double bonus, as these are things that were lacking in kitty’s previous life.  Patience is essential, as each cat is an individual.  The reward for both human and cat is an indoor lifetime of security, love and entertainment without any of the perils of an outdoor existence.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Declawing: Smokey Joe's Story






Guest Blogger: Danielle Brendel, Volunteer Adoption Counselor

I had been volunteering as an Adoption Counselor at Animal Friends’ satellite adoption center in Petco for nearly 2 years before I met Smokey Joe, a declawed cat.

I already knew of the dangers of declawing cats and routinely told customers about the negative effects from the surgery.  I was not prepared for what I encountered that day. 

Smokey Joe was brought in with his two sisters. They were frightened so we kept them in a cage together. They seemed to find comfort in each other's company.

I went about wrangling the other cats who were awake and ready to play so I could socialize them and help them burn off some energy outside of their cages. When I got to Smokey Joe, he was asleep on his bed and showed no interest in me.  Smokey Joe and his sisters were all declawed.  Their owner had passed away, and while the family wanted to keep them they were unable to.  I bent down to get on his level and slowly began petting him and trying to coax him out of his cage.  He immediately responded with head butts, sweetly rubbing his face all over my hand.  This was clearly a cat who had been cherished by someone and was used to a home filled with love and attention.

I watched as Smokey struggled to get up from his bed. He seemed reluctant to stand at first. When he finally did I saw that his paws were so maimed from his declawing surgery that he would not walk on his feet. He had resorted to walking on his forearms. 





Unfortunately, most people don't know of the dangers of declawing their cats.  The general public thinks it is an easy procedure just like trimming a person's fingernails.  The truth is that it is a painful and aggressive surgery in which a cats’ bones are amputated.  It is the equivalent of cutting a person's finger off at the last knuckle.  This is very detrimental to a cat's health and well-being, as you can imagine. 




Cats love to be clean and tidy.  They groom themselves and want to use a litter box to bury their waste. It is their instinct. Unfortunately, after declawing, cats can develop what's known as litter box aversion.  Their human family is giving them a rough gravel to dig into, but the litter injures their sensitive feet which have just undergone an amputation. Their natural reaction is to not dig in that litter.  One of the main reasons that cats are turned into shelters in the US is due to defecating outside of the litterbox.  Sadly, these cats are the hardest to find homes for. Sadly, many other shelters are forced to euthanize them.

Cats that undergo this procedure oftentimes develop arthritis prematurely. They are forced to adjust their gait and it effects their hips, spine and legs. 

Another unintended side effect is the tendency to bite.  Cats rely on their claws as a natural defense and when they are removed they tend to rely on teeth instead. 

There are so many alternatives available so that your cat can keep its claws and still live in your home without scratching. Cats like to scratch when they are happy and it is also a  form of exercise for them.  There are many varieties of scratching posts and cardboard scratchers.  Some are vertical and some horizontal.  It helps if you sprinkle a little catnip on them to get your cat into play-mode.

Regular nail trimming is key!  A cat's nails should be trimmed every 2 to 3 weeks. Some cats may not like this at first, but with time and lots of treats most will grow accustomed to the routine.  If they are still difficult to trim, consider visiting an experienced groomer or your vet. 

If a cat keeps going after a particular area, put something on that spot that they will not want to scratch.  You can use double sided tape, or tape a piece of aluminum foil there. After a short time your cat will not like the feel of that surface and will not continue to scratch there and eventually it can be removed.

I consider it an incredible stroke of luck that Smokey Joe and his siblings made it to Animal Friends and that I  am able to share his story to let people know about the dangers of declawing.  I am sure that these cats had been well loved by their previous owner, but that that person had no idea what they were doing to their beloved pets when opting for such a surgery.

That night I got everyone settled into their cages and I did my usual routine of saying goodbye to them and telling the cats one by one that I hoped I never saw them again. I learned this ritual from another volunteer: never seeing them again means that they were adopted and had found their forever home.  




I didn't know that this really would be the last time I saw Smokey Joe, as he was adopted two days later.  I made a promise to him that I would educate people about declawing and its alternatives so that a cat like him would not have to suffer again because their owner did not know of any alternatives to such an unnecessary procedure. 



Learn more about alternatives to declawing with this printable, sharable poster. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Real Men Love Cats: Priceless Adoption Week May 28-31



Animal Friends knows that Real Men Love Cats! So we’re enticing men to adopt feline friends between May 28-31.

Silver screen legends including tough guy Marlon Brando and superspy Sean Connery had cats. The Godfather of punk rock, Joey Ramone, was often photographed with his black cat. And Glen Danzig, the iconic dark singer of horror-gothic-metal music, was photographed by the Paparazzi buying cat litter. Ernest Hemingway, the globetrotting writer/reporter who dodged bullets in war-torn countries, adored and admired cats. During World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would bring his cat to war-time cabinet meetings.

And recently, Animal Friends’ Facebook page (Facebook.com/AnimalFriends) exploded when the public was asked to submit photos of “real men” who love cats. Photo after photo of rugged, studly feline fanciers flooded our inbox.

If you’re a tough guy who doesn’t have a cat yet, don’t worry. Just come to Animal Friends during the Real Men Love Cats adopt-a-thon from May 28-31. We’re waiving our requested adoption donation ($75) when men (and their families) adopt a cat age 1-year-old or older. Additional surprises and incentives are in the works, too! 

All adoptions are “priceless” and include spay or neuter surgery, vaccines, microchip, and lifelong companionship. Adoptions are thoroughly screened to ensure loving, responsible matches. All household members must be present at the time of adoption.

Calling all men for the Real Men Love Cats priceless adopt-a-thon,  May 28-31.

Animal Friends is located at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Call 412.847.7000 for more details or visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

Animal Friends' Adoption Counselors present: Chloe!



Guest Blogger: Cortney Ressler

My name is Cortney, and I'm an Adoption Counselor for Animal Friends. When you visit Animal Friends in search of your new best feline friend, there's one girl that you may overlook.  Not because she's an unattractive cat--she's quite stunning with big green eyes! But unlike our bouncy kittens, she may be nestled up in her cubby napping with her head tucked into her tail or she may be calmly peeking out of her kennel window watching the hustle and bustle of the shelter go by. You might even overlook her because of her choppy haircut that leaves her looking like she's wearing furry little boots (we had to shave her down for her own comfort). Or maybe her age may cause you to think twice about this sweet girl.

As Adoption Counselors, we see those bouncy kittens come and go and as the older cats stick around patiently waiting we have a chance to get to know their wonderful personalities and the love our older residents have to give.

The first time I said hello to Chloe, she perked her ears up and slowly stretched out of her nap and made her way to the front of her kennel where she leaned her head into my hand and graciously accepted the chin scratches I had to offer. She has a cute curiosity to her that makes her personality shine through. Her soft, mature demeanor is perfect for someone looking for a calm companion. More particularly, Chloe is looking for an extra special home that can accommodate her fixed schedule of receiving insulin twice a day. She happens to be one of our very lovable diabetic residents.  Animals Friends will provide her new adopter with the supplies they need to easily manage her diabetes at cost. 

Within the first few minutes of meeting her, Chloe will surely capture your heart, as she has with so many staff and volunteers!


Check out Chloe's bio here: http://www.petharbor.com/pet.asp?uaid=ANIF.A040692 and then come meet her at Animal Friends!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Foster Fur Mom: Losing Kittens

Guest Blogger: Susan Gottfried

After two years of fostering, it happened this morning.

I lost a kitten.

Now, I've lost kittens before. They have an uncanny habit of running under beds or tucking themselves into spaces that I never knew existed. My favorite might have been the cat who jumped up on the built-in shelves in my office and hid behind the TV that hasn't worked – or been noticed – for years.

That's the right way to lose a cat or a kitten.

This wasn't.

I walked into the foster room this morning with three bowls and an unopened can of wet food, expecting absolutely nothing, and ... wound up running out with a little black kitten held carefully in the Animal Friends cat bed he'd been laying in front of.

Big Bad Pete, his name was. Six weeks old when he came to me, he only weighed a pound. He was all black, with a little white star on his chest, and a tail that had clearly been truncated at some point. He came in a box with two others, a week older, obvious littermates.

"He's your challenge," Foster Coordinator Megan Schmitt said to me.

I like challenges.

But little Pete had the cards stacked against him. "Remember," the awesome medical staff on call this morning said, "cats have litters for a reason. Nature doesn't expect them all to make it."

And I knew. I'd done all I could for little Petey. I'd fed him and held him and petted him and put him in his pan and helped him dig and I'd even given him a bath when he'd been coated in his own droppings and was stinking up the joint.

Still, I tried to save him this morning. My daughter, still in her pajamas, jumped into the car and I handed her the cat bed and the kitten. We flew down 79. It wasn't enough.

My daughter cried. I tried not to.

Could I have done more? Of course. I could have set up my office as a foster room and brought him down here with me during the days so I could hold him. I could have been faster to notice he wasn't eating properly. I could have done this, that, or the other thing. We are human, and hindsight always tells us we could have.

But in the end, nature gives cats litters for a reason. Nature knows... not every one of them will survive, and in the end, I have to take solace in the fact that I did my best by Petey. It wasn't meant to be.

And if I've been fostering for two years and this is the first fragile kitten I've had slip away, I'm doing more than okay.

So I'll cry at some point soon. And I'll go up to that foster room and cuddle the remaining two kittens. And I'll try to do more by them, so that they are soon ready for their own forever home.

And I'll think about Big Bad Pete, who in the end was neither big nor bad. He was one little kitten out of hundreds who will come through Animal Friends' welcoming doors. One kitten who probably got an extra two weeks of life, thanks to me and the Animal Friends staff.  

Sometimes, that's all you can do.

Sometimes, even the best of us lose a kitten.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Shop at WearWoof! Be Gorgeous and Help Animals!

By Jolene, Suaz and Katie, Animal Friends' Communications Team

When the ladies of Animal Friends’ Communications department learned that WearWoof, a new clothing resale shop that benefits local animal organizations, was open for business, we couldn’t wait to hit the racks!

Today was the big day--field trip! WearWoof is located just 2 miles from Animal Friends, at 1105 Rochester Rd, Suite 103. Hungry for a lunch break and a little adventure, we headed out.
 
Here are Katie and Suaz, ready to donate a bag of clothes to the cause. When you make a donation of gently used women’s clothing or pet clothing and accessories to the WearWoof Shop, you support activities such as low-cost spay/neuter programs, Trap-Neuter-Release/Community Cat initiatives, the care and medical support of shelter animals, adoption events, education and community outreach and more.

Animal Friends is proud to be one of WearWoof's beneficiaries!





The store was perfect for animal-lovers like us. It's bright, inviting and adorable. While we browsed the shoes, dresses, party clothes, sweaters, jewelry and handbags, we admired the beautiful pet portraits on the walls.








Our favorite picks of the day were:



Katie: My choice was a very pretty, light blue wristlet.  (Matching nail polish was not planned but a happy coincidence). While every purchase at WearWoof benefits some local animal charity, my wristlet was donated by someone who wanted their proceeds donated to Animal Friends.  Double happy coincidences!

Lots of things caught my eye while at WearWoof, including an adorable Coach brand turtle keychain and a sky high pair of blue heels that were oh so chic.  I wasn’t sure if the keychain would fit on my key ring so I passed.  I was sure that I’d kill myself in the heels, so those were a pass as well.  “Rehoming Fashion” is a clever tag line and certainly rings true with the charities and shelters WearWoof donates to.  I was glad to give my little wristlet a new home and I look forward to using it this summer.  Who wants to carry around a heavy purse everywhere?  (Although if that heavy purse happens to be that Prada bag Jolene got…I might reconsider.)




Jolene: I was drawn like a magnet to this amazing Prada handbag! It retails new for $795 but was marked at $125 at WearWoof. Hmm...it suddenly seemed like a very, very nice way to help animals. I learned that the store frequently has items by Kate Spade and other designers. I can't wait to check back!




Suaz:  I love sparkles! I picked a set of bracelets and two iridescent necklaces!


Tell us what you find at WearWoof! Post a photo on our Facebook wall so we can see!

Visit WearWoof's website at www.wearwoof.org or Facebook at www.facebook.com/wearwoofshop. Better yet, visit their shop:

    WearWoof, Inc.
    1105 Rochester Rd, Suite 103
    Pittsburgh, PA 15237

    412-956-1788 ph.
    412-291-1850 fax

    info@wearwoof.org

"PetSmart Charities’ Did You Know? Campaign offers $20 spay/neuter surgeries for puppies and kittens under 6 months old



Did you know that kittens can go into heat and get pregnant as early as 4 months old and puppies around 5 months old?  If not sterilized, puppies and kittens can get pregnant and have a litter of their own just two months later. And it’s these accidental litters that end up in animal shelters with no place to call home.

To reduce these accidental births, Animal Friends, with funding provided by PetSmart Charities, is introducing the Did You Know? Campaign, featuring a special $20 spay or neuter surgery for puppies and kittens under six months of age during the month of June.

While some pet parents may worry that their pet is too young for this procedure, spaying and neutering is safe and easy for kittens and puppies as young as eight to 10 weeks old, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

“Many owners put off the procedure and wait until the puppy or kitten is six to eight months old,” says Carol Whaley, Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Coordinator for Animal Friends. “But by then, it can be too late. By then, a litter of puppies or kittens can be born.”

This special rate is even less than the organization’s normal low-cost priced and is available to any pet owner.

Pet parents who wish to take advantage of this offer must mention the “Did You Know?” promotion when they call to schedule their appointment.

Thanks to the PetSmart Charities grant, Animal Friends will provide puppy and kitten sterilizations for $20 during June. Please visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org or call 1.800.SPAY.PGH for more information or to schedule an appointment.

                                                                    

About Animal Friends
Animal Friends is a non-profit companion animal resource center serving the needs of pets and people since 1943.  Our progressive programs have been nationally recognized and include humane rescue, shelter and adoption services for homeless pets, humane education, pet behavior classes, pet-assisted therapy, wellness programs and more. In addition, Animal Friends is leading the way towards ending pet overpopulation in western Pennsylvania through comprehensive, community-wide spay/neuter programming. Animal Friends is supported by donors, 700 volunteers and a staff dedicated to ensuring the well being of companion animals, while ending overpopulation, abuse and unwarranted euthanasia. For more information, visit http://www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/

About PetSmart Charities

PetSmart Charities, Inc.  is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that saves the lives of homeless pets. More than 400,000 dogs and cats find homes each year through our adoption program in all PetSmart stores and our signature adoption events. PetSmart Charities grants more money to directly help pets in need than any other animal welfare group in North America, with a focus on funding spay/neuter programs that help communities solve pet overpopulation. PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization, legally independent from PetSmart, Inc.

                                                                    

Real Men Love Cats Part II: Navy Veteran and State Parole Agent Jack


By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

If you think only wimpy men love cats, then we triple-dog-dare you to say that to Jack Leonard!

This highly-devoted Volunteer Cat Handler for Animal Friends served in the Navy and worked as a state parole agent for 20 years. He was the lawman who tracked down the nasty convicts and crooks who broke parole.

He’s retired from chasing bandits, but is still active with law enforcement. He trains Allegheny County Police Cadets defense tactics and subject control. In other words, he teaches the cops how to overpower the bad guys.

And when he’s not teaching heroes how to handcuff hooligans, you’ll find him waving a feather toy in front of our fluffy feline residents.

“I’ve had enough of dealing with people and problems,” the strapping gentleman said through his deep voice.

When he’s not here at Animal Friends, you’ll probably find him with his cat Remy - named after Remy McSwain, the fictional detective from the tv show The Big Easy.

Jack Leonard, the self-described “Man with Two First Names,” still serves and protects our community, but you might find a kitty treat or squeaky toy in his arsenal.

Jack and shelter resident Chloe

If you're a macho man but you don't have a cat yet, what are you waiting for? Click here to meet adoptable cats: http://www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/cats

Monday, May 6, 2013

Real Men Love Cats!



By Jeff Geissler, Communications Assistant

Real men love cats!

Now I could explain what a "real man" is, but writers have spent millions of words trying to define men. (Just ask my boss Jolene) So I’m just going to stick with the stereotypical "rough and tough" image. It's more fun that way.

Silver screen legends including tough guy Marlon Brando and superspy Sean Connery had cats. The Godfather of punk rock, Joey Ramone, was often photographed with his black cat. And Glen Danzig, the iconic dark singer of horror-gothic-metal music, was photographed by the Paparazzi buying cat litter.



Ernest Hemingway, the globetrotting writer/reporter who dodged bullets in war torn countries, adored and admired cats.

During World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, whose face was often compared to a bulldog, would bring his cat to war-time cabinet meetings.

And now there’s me. Not only do I have four cats, but I photograph, play, converse and write about our feline friends here at Animal Friends. I’m pretty much an arms length away from a cat at both work and home – and I love it.



Now am I a real man? I drink pale ale, wear kinda/sorta motorcycle boots, and I once played bass in a thrash metal band called LIVID. (On the flip side, I hate watching sports, I love the smell of lavender, and I did cry at the end of Titanic.)

Also, I love science fiction. That’s why I named one of my cats (pictured above) after Spock from Star Trek. By the way, Spock was played by Lenard Nimoy, another fellow cat lover.

Are you a man with a cat? If so, please write to us and send us a photo! Send your manliest shot to jmiklas@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.

If you don't have a cat yet, what are you waiting for? Click here to meet Animal Friends' adoptable cats!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Urgent! Animal Friends Needs Donations of Cat Canned Food





Animal Friends urgently needs donations of canned cat food for their shelter residents.

In order to provide a consistent diet (and prevent upset stomachs) Animal Friends requests donations of ground or pate chicken or turkey cat food. All brands will be gratefully accepted.

Animal Friends is facing a canned cat food shortage for several reasons.
Kitten season has hit area shelters and Animal Friends is experiencing an influx of homeless cats and kittens. Additionally, in-kind donations tend to dip each year as summertime approaches. 

Please help feed Animal Friends' homeless cats. Please bring donations of ground or pate chicken or turkey cat food to Animal Friends' lobby at 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. You can also make a financial gift to Animal Friends by mailing a check or calling 412.847.7051.

All donations are tax-deductible. 

Meet Animal Friends' adoptable cats by logging on to www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/cats.

Ask an Expert: Kitten Milk Replacement



Q: A friend of mine who is working in Uganda for the summer is looking for some reliable info online about taking care of 4 week old kittens. For instance - she can't get packaged kitten milk there, so what should she feed them? Are there any websites with this info that you trust?

Answered by: Chris Whyle, Behavior Wellness Coordinator

A: Following is a link to a very good site on kitten care, which includes “homemade” recipes for kitten milk replacement.

http://www.kittenrescue.org/pages.php?pageid=15

I’m giving the following suggestions based on the information that the kittens are four weeks of age.  At four weeks of age, mother cats begin to introduce dead prey to their kittens, as they’ve developed small teeth and their digestive systems are developed enough to handle this sort of food.  Mom cats generally allow kittens at this age to continue nursing for a week or so, but the weaning process starts at four weeks.  So introducing canned kitten or adult cat food (unsure if this would be available where your friend is living in Uganda?) would be appropriate, as well as dry kitten food soaked in water until soft, with supplemental feedings of homemade kitten milk replacement (none of the homemade kitten milk replacements are nutritionally complete for long-term feeding, unfortunately).

Cats do not have the enzyme to digest cow’s milk, so feeding this would cause digestive upset, diarrhea, and possible dehydration.  Goat’s milk is preferable to cow’s milk, but the best thing, until the kittens are reliably eating canned cat food, would be KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer).  KMR and bottle-feeding supplies are available online from Amazon and other sources, and the powder would be the best bet, as it does not need refrigeration until it is opened.  I don’t know if your friend would be able to have KMR shipped to her, but if so that would be an option for supplemental feeding until the kittens reach five weeks of age.


Keeping kittens warm is crucial to their survival, as their little bodies are not able to regulate temperature well.  At four weeks old they are still developing this ability.  Monitoring food intake and elimination is also very important, but at four weeks of age the kittens should be able to pee and poop on their own.  Kittens vocalize when they are hungry, and should be fed every time they vocalize.




Wednesday, May 1, 2013

It's All in How You Look At It: Adoption Stories



Guest Blogger: Beth Mauder, Adoption Counselor


Monday was dreary and rainy. As a matter of fact, the day before that was also dreary and rainy. The clouds were low and full of rain and they completely overshadowed the flowers that were struggling to bloom. Sometimes coming to work feels like that, until suddenly something happens to make you remember why you get up in the morning.

Monday was one of those days.

It started with the usual craziness—lots of people in a hurry, or not knowing what they want. It came to a halt when a young man came in looking for a kitten for his son. I told him it was still early in the season. We only had 2 kittens to choose from at this time, but I told him that we will have plenty to choose from later on.


He took a deep breath and said. “I don’t know if we have that kind of time. My son has brain cancer and we are not sure how much time he has left. All he wants is a kitten. I really need to find him a kitten.”

He was a single dad struggling to make the time his son had left a good time. At that point, I would have stood on my head to find this boy a kitten (and I am not very athletic.)

We contacted his landlord, who graciously offered to pay for the adoption, and I placed a little grey kitten in the boy’s lap. The kitten promptly went to sleep. The boy had come looking for a male but instantly fell in love with this little girl.

He is the sweetest little boy and was beaming from ear to ear as he held his treasure. Needless to say, there was a happy ending to this story. When I left work that night the sky was still dark and grey and it was still rainy, but somehow the flowers seemed to be a bit brighter. I guess it’s all in how you look at it.



We'd like to extend best wishes from everyone at Animal Friends to this very special adopter and his father.  Visit www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Cats to find your new best friend (or friends!).