Caring For Stray & Community Cats In Summer

feral save summerIt’s hard to be a feral or community cat. Spring and fall seem to last no time at all compared to cold, wet winters and scorching summers. For caregivers, summer brings a relief from worrying about ice, snow, and below zero temperatures, but has its own set of challenges including summer storms, heat advisories, and parasites. Simple kindnesses like providing shade and cool water and making sure that shelters are tick and flea-free can not only make feral kitties happier, they can save lives.

If you’d like to give your ‘community critters’ a helping hand this summer, here are a few things you can do to help:

Provide Shelter

There’s no better way to beat the heat than a little shade. Offering feral and community cats a way to shelter from the sun is a great way to make their lives easier. Many pet and online stores offer shelters that are both insulated from the cold and reflective of sunlight and heat. But if you’re making your own warm weather shelters, you’ll want to find material that is reflective of sunlight (light colors work best) and weatherproof.

Although you can find ready-made dog and cat houses at your local pet store, it’s easy enough to make them yourself and much cheaper. You might even want to make a day of it with friends or your children. Lots of websites offer great tips on crafting ‘cat houses’ for feral kitties or strays who might need a little TLC this summer. For a few examples check out the Humane Society’s website, as well as Neighborhood Cat’s website and Alley Cat Allies. Although some of these designs are specifically for winter shelters, they can be used in summer as well.

If you do decide to use bedding or straw, you will want to change it every other week to keep the shelter clean and free of parasites. The most important thing is that the bedding be kept dry. So be sure to place your ‘cat house’ in an area sheltered from the wind and rain. Shaded areas will also help keep the heat to a minimum.

cat tryFresh Water & Kibble

Be sure to place fresh water and kibble near (by not right beside) the shelters. Leaving food right beside the shelters will attract predators and make the shelters less attractive (and safe) for their occupants.

Place water bowls in the shade and make sure you choose light colors to reflect heat. You may even want to place a large block of ice in the center of the water dish so it can melt throughout the day and provide your community kitties with a cool treat. I’ve seen a few kitties who enjoy playing with ice chips in water, as well as licking ice.

As for food, dry kibble is the easiest to provide (cost-wise and because it doesn’t attract insects like ‘wet’ food). But if you can afford some canned cat food, it is always a welcome addition to a feral or stray cats’ diet. If you feed your feral community at a set time each day, the cats will quickly adjust to your schedule and show up while the food is still fresh from the can.

As a warning, the strong smell of ‘wet’ food does tend to attract hornets and other stinging insects, as well as flies. So be sure to clean up any food left after your feral kitties have had their fill.

You can find many more tips on feeding and caring for feral and community cats on Alley Cat Allies website: http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=295. They also have a great network for people who care for stray and feral animals in case you’re looking for help or just a sympathetic ear.

feral help3Summer Precautions

There are also some very simple things you can do to protect outside cats, dogs, and other critters year-round like knocking on the hood of your car to warn animals who may’ve taken refuge there that you’re about to start the engine. You may also want to honk your horn once so they can take flight before you do. This is good advice summer and winter. Your car is an attractive patch of shade to critters who are trying to beat the heat.

If you chose to use fertilizers, mulch, or other garden care supplies, look for products that are pet-friendly, as well as plants that both you and your furry friends can enjoy. Many fertilizers, insecticides, and even mulches are toxic to animals and harmful to people. You can find animal-friendly products at most larger garden stores or you might want to consider organic, do-it-yourself options, as well as plants that are pet (and child!) safe.

Summer pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitos are another hazard to consider. You might not have the resources to apply tick/flea repellent to an entire colony of feral cats, but if you can afford Frontline or another similar product and heartworm products that protect against heart worms like Heartgard, they are the best option. In addition to repellents, you can help keep feeding and rest areas free of parasites by encouraging parasite-predators like birds and ‘possums. Consider setting up a bird and/or a bat feeder. Both will help cut down on ticks and mosquitos, as will changing water frequently. Stagnant water attracts lots of unsavory biting creatures including mosquitoes. If you live in an area with ‘possums, they’re going to show up for the kibble you leave out and will probably munch a few ticks while they’re visiting.

Consider a Donation

cat fosterSummer is kitten season. So it’s not only a hard time of year for outdoor animals, but also for those who care for them. You might want to consider donating your time or extra cash to a local organization that cares of stray and community animals or volunteer to become a kitten foster. At this time of year, volunteers are always needed to help socialize and feed kittens and pregnant cats, clean and clear out bedding, and provide food and water to the feral communities that sometimes double in size as kittens are born into the colony. Even donations of old (but clean) bedding, cleaning supplies, and wet and dry food are welcome.

Summer can be a beautiful time of year. Let’s make sure that it’s a safe and happy one for feral communities too.

P.S. If you’re a little confused about the difference between a feral and a stray cat, here’s a quick primer. But, in general, a stray cat is an animal who has had a home at some point and who is socialized. A feral cat is a wild creature who may or may not seek human attention.

Feral cats often live in colonies with other cats. These colonies, if given a little help, can be safe and stable places for the cats to live out their lives. TNR (trap-neuter-release) helps control the colony population and cut down on disease. Some feral cats may choose to become socialized and may find homes. Others prefer to live their lives ‘wild’ accepting help only when they need it.

Best Friends Animal Society maintains a very happy and successful feral colony in addition to providing support for other animal care networks and adoptions. To learn more about how you can help stray and feral animals near you, you can visit their website.

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June Is Adopt A Shelter Cat Month

 

kitten smileIf you’re planning on adding a pet to your family, we hope you’ll consider adopting a shelter cat. As an added incentive, June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month and many shelters are running specials on adoption rates, vaccinations, and spay/neutering.

Over two million (you read that right) adoptable cats and dogs are killed each year because there aren’t enough people willing to offer them homes. By adopting a cat this June, you’ll be saving two lives. The life of the cat you rescue and the cat who will have a chance to be adopted from the shelter who might not have been given a space at the rescue or animal control center.

cat fosterAlthough many rescue agencies rely on fosters and maintain a no-kill sanctuary, there are still many animal control centers that do kill healthy, adoptable pets. So even if you can’t adopt this June, consider becoming a foster or donating to your local animal shelters so that they can provide sanctuary for animals until they can be adopted.

You can also support Adopt a Shelter Cat Month by spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and Tumblr and so many other sites). Stories that once would’ve only reached a few people locally are now being read by animal-lovers around the world. You can use the hashtag #AdoptACat and a simple message like: “June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month. Save a life: Adopt a cat! https://www.petfinder.com” to help cats find their fur-ever homes this June.

cat changeAs Margaret Mead wrote many years ago, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” So get out there and do some good this June whether means bringing home a kitty (or two or three,) volunteering as a foster or donating to a local cat protection or adoption group, or simply spreading the word in your community about animals in need.

For a few more ideas on how you can make a difference this June, visit Petfinder.com or the American Humane Association.


Ten Ways You Can Make the World Brighter For Animals

sleepysweetiesWhen it comes to making the world a better place for animals (and humans) the task can seem overwhelming. Everywhere you look, there’s a sad story. Although it might not seem like it, many of those stories are a chance for a happy ending.

Thanks for Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and Tumblr and so many other sites,) stories that once would’ve only reached a few people locally are now being read by animal-lovers around the world. And because of it, lost dogs and cats (and even teddy bears) are finding their way home, programs like Pup My Ride are able to organize volunteers nationwide to transport  homeless pets to their forever homes, and people around the world are able to reach out to support the animals and people affected by global disasters.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Whether that kindness is volunteering locally in a very hands-on way, donating to a charity that can help animals nationally or even globally, or simply spreading the word in your community about animals in need, your act of kindness is literally only a click, call, or perhaps a short drive away. The most important thing is that we all get out there and do something. Every act of kindness counts, no matter the size, and, together, the amount of good we can do for animals (and for each other) is limitless.

If you’d like a few ideas on how you can make the world a little brighter for animals, here’s a short list:

  1. Volunteer at a local rescue or sanctuary: Your community shelters and sanctuaries need you! Sign up to walk the dogs, pet the cats, or get really hands-on and clean animal living areas monthly, weekly, or daily. Most non-profits rely on volunteers so that they can use the money that would be spent on employee labor to help the animals. If you’d like to help out but you don’t feel like you work well with animals, you can always offer to work in the front office or at animal fairs. There are probably more opportunities than you realize. Just give your favorite shelter a call or shoot them an email or message on Facebook to see how you can help.
  1. Volunteer your talents: Even if you can’t volunteer your time or money to a local shelter, you can still support them by offering to donate your skills. Photography, marketing, writing, accounting, and even office skills like filing are needed. Groups like VolunteerMatch connect charities with the volunteers who need them. Volunteer a few hours a week, a month, or a day. You can also find volunteer wish lists posted on some larger organization’s websites that allow you to volunteer from home or from your neighborhood.
  1. Donate: Don’t knock monetary donations. Sometimes your time is at a premium. Donating a few dollars when you are able can make a big difference. You may even want to set up a monthly donation, and be sure to check with your employer to see if they match charitable contributions. You may be able to double the amount of your donation. 

trioMany animal groups also have wish lists that range from pet food and toys to cleaning supplies to gently-used towels and carriers. These items are huge help to animal aid organizations.

  1. Spread the word: It might seem like a small thing, but a like or a share can save an animal’s life. Consider devoting a few posts or tweets each week to messages of hope. Share that pic of a cute pup looking for a home on Facebook. Retweet your favorite animal charities’ fundraising messages. And ask your friends to do the same!
  1. Volun-cation: Consider using your vacation time as a way to help animals. Many larger sanctuaries like Best Friends Animal Society welcome visitors who are willing to volunteer. You can stay on site and offer to help out for a few days, a week, or more. Or you can stay closer to home and simply volunteer a day or a week during your time off to your local shelter. Kitten season and winter are always a busy time at shelters and sanctuaries.
  1. Start your own shelter/sanctuary: Look for opportunities to help the feral and community critters near you. Stray animals are everywhere once you take the time to look – including unsupported feral cat colonies. Providing food and water and shelter (especially in winter,) can be the difference between life and death for some animals. And access to neutering and health care can change a struggling colony into a safe space for animals. You may even be able to find homes for some feral kitties as barn cats – or as pets. Your local pet community center will be able to provide you with more information on how you can help – and let you know about local laws. And there are national organizations that also offer help like Alley Cat Allies.
  1. Make caring a community project: If you do find a feral colony in need, consider enlisting likeminded co-workers or neighbors to help. Taking care of a colony is very hard work and it helps to have support – even if that’s just others donating food, transportation for animals that need neutering or health care, or repairing shelters seasonally. You can bond over your love of animals and your commitment to caring for others. Community projects that embrace kindness are a great way for children to learn to respect animals and work with others.
  1. Wild critters need love too: Most people think first of domestic animals like dogs and cats when they think about helping animals. But your local “critters,” including birds and bees, could use a helping hand too. There are simple ways you can support local wildlife like planting for bees and birds (and raccoons and ‘possums,) offering water with a bird bath or water basin, and choosing native plants that support local creatures.

happy_mouse_flowers1You can turn your yard and garden into a sanctuary by providing nesting places for birds, partially burying terracotta pots for toads who need a little shade, and planting berry and seed-bearing plants. You’ll be helping yourself, as well as the critters. Birds and ‘possums decrease dangerous pest populations like ticks.  Creating a thriving eco-system in your yard and garden, is helpful to everyone involved, as well as being a beautiful addition to your community.

  1. Shop kind: Even if you aren’t ready to become a vegan or even a vegetarian, consider skipping meat for a single meal or for one day a week. By doing so you’ll be reducing the number of animals who suffer as part of the meat and dairy industry. You can also support local farms that you know allow their animals a free-range lifestyle and companies who promote ethical treatment of animals and their employees. Steer away from companies who aren’t upfront about how they treat animals or people. Companies with a commitment to ethics usually include it on their website and are more than willing to tell consumers about their practices.
  1. Know that even small acts of kindness do change the world. It may seem, sometimes, that small acts of kindness don’t make much of a dent, but they really, really do. Every act of kindness counts – no matter the size. As Margaret Mead wrote many years ago, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Have An Emergency Plan For Your Pet

pet emergencySpring is a stormy season. Here in Tennessee, flash floods, thunderstorms, and tornados are all too common. So having an emergency plan for your family, including your pets, is important. Just like Daylight Saving Time is a good reminder to change the batteries in your fire alarms, the start of spring is a great time to update your emergency plans.

Creating (Or Updating) Your Emergency Travel Kit

Having an emergency travel kit is important for everyone – whether you’re on your own with a single cat or dog or a family of four with pets in tow. The kit should be kept up-to-date and in a place that you can easily access it – whether that’s in a hall closet or in your go-to vehicle. What it contains is really up to you since everyone’s needs are a little different, but here are a few ideas:

  • A sturdy carrier that can double as a bed – one for each pet
  • Blanket and/or Evacsak
  • A week’s worth of canned or dry food (Be sure to check the expiration dates yearly for canned food and monthly for dry food.)
  • Bottled water for you and your pet (Replace every month.)
  • Food and water dishes (Some carriers and crates have built-in spaces for these.)
  • Your pet’s vaccination records and contact information for your veterinarian in a waterproof container
  • A pet first-aid kit (You can buy these at any pet store or make your own.)
  • A pet first-aid book (Even if you are a vet tech or have experience with pet emergency care, they’re always good to have in a pinch.)
  • Collar with contact information and leash
  • Toys
  • Disposable litter trays (like Nature’s Miracle and Kitty’s Wonderbox)
  • Baby wipes and pet-friendly cleaner
  • Flashlights – at least two – and batteries
  • Emergency radio
  • Mobile Hotspot
  • Extra cash
  • First Aid kit (Some of the items in your pet’s kit can do double duty like gauze, hydro-peroxide, and rubbing alcohol.)
  • Multi-tool or small tool kit
  • Duct-tape (in a fluorescent color if possible)
  • Waterproof boots, raincoat, and/or poncho
  • Tarp (just in case) with rope
  • Medical and insurance information
  • Spare glasses, contacts (if you wear them)
  • Medications (if you need them)

 

Have a Plan

Think about where you and your pets would go in case of emergency. Many shelters do not accept pets. So be sure to do a little pre-emergency research. Make a list of hotels that allow pets in your area and that are likely to remain open in an emergency situation. If you have multiple pets, this is especially important since some establishments only allow a single pet or pets up to a certain weight limit.

Some animal shelters also provide emergency shelter for pets, but they tend to fill up very quickly. Likewise, kennels that may shelter pets may not have emergency staff on hand – so plan on keeping your pets with you. If you are evacuating to a friend or neighbors’ home, be sure to let them know that you’ll have your pets in tow.

MicrochipYour Pets

If you haven’t already, please microchip your pets. Collars with ID and up-to-date contact information are important, but it’s easy for a pet and its collar to become separated in an emergency situation. GPS collars for pets are great – but only as long as they are on your pet.

Most microchip companies include a pet profile that will allow you to list your pet’s medical conditions, and, since all microchips now use the same frequency, any veterinarian will be able to identify your pet’s chip and contact you. If you do microchip, have the chip tested yearly during your pet’s annual check-up to make sure it is working correctly.

Have a Safe Haven In Your Home

Even if you aren’t evacuating, you may need to take shelter in your home during extreme storms. Be sure to move your pets into the “safety zone” well ahead of time – preferably during a storm watch instead of a storm warning. You’ll need to move your emergency kit, including food and water into that area, just in case you need it. Make sure you have at least seven days’ worth of water stored for you and your pets.

Basements, utility rooms, and bathrooms are good choices as safe havens. You want to choose a window-less room, below ground if possible in case of a tornado or other storm. In the case of flooding, choose the highest point in your home.

Since fresh water may be an issue, consider filling sinks and bathtubs with water before you move into your safety zone.

If your pets are frightened, you may want to keep them in their carriers/crates for the duration of the storm.

Stay Calm

During an emergency, your pet will be taking his or her cues from you. Having a plan and sticking to it will help you master the situation or at least roll with the punches. Hopefully, you’ll never need your emergency plan. But having one will give you and your pet peace of mind as we roll into the stormy season. Stay safe and have a great spring!


Open Your Heart To A Pet

OldfashionheartkittyValentine’s Day is right around the corner and many people are thinking about love or the ones they love. As a pet lover, I’m sure you include Fluffy or Fido on that list. Having a pet or pets in your life is not only fulfilling, but it’s actually good for you in so many ways. So if you were thinking about adding another pet to your family or adopting your first pet, here are a few incentives:

Pet-Owners Live Longer, Healthier Lives. There’s actual scientific evidence that having pets lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol and leads to a longer and happier life. In addition, cat owners specifically have a lower chance of strokes than non-cat owners. Having a pet in your home also increases an infant’s immunity and makes them less likely to develop asthma.

Pets make you more active. There’s nothing that gets you on your feet and moving (regardless of the weather) quicker than a dog begging to be taken on a walk. If you need an exercise partner, there’s none better than one with four paws whether that’s a dog or an adventurous kitty. So grab a lease and hit the jogging lane or opt for a hike. 

Pets make you happy. Literally. Being around your pet causes your body to release seratonin which, well, makes you happy. It’s the same hormone released when you’re in love (or when you eat chocolate). Spending time with your pet also reduces your levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. 

Pets make you more responsible. Knowing that another being is relying on you for its care gives you purpose and a sense of responsibility. Pets are also proven to help their owners cope with depression. Helping others, whether that’s another person or animal, just makes you happy. And, as an added bonus, living with and caring for a pet can help children become more responsible and self-sufficient.

We could all stand to be a little more like our pets. Animals are amazing creatures. They don’t hold grudges, they find joy in the smallest things, and they let us know the wonder of truly unconditional love. As John Grogan said: “Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”

If you have a pet or pets already, then this is old news. But if you don’t, then this is a perfect opportunity for you to adopt one. Just drop by your local shelter or Humane Association, fill out some paperwork, and, for a small fee, you could be enjoying the friendship of a cat or dog. Many shelters even have Valentine’s Day specials. So instead of buying a heart-shaped box of chocolates this holiday, why not open your heart to a pet? You’ll be glad you did.


Caring For Stray & Feral Cats In Winter

cold nightWinter has always made me sad. Not because I dislike the cold or snow, but because if you care for stray and feral critters, you are keenly aware of just how difficult the colder months can be for them. But there are a few things you can do to make their lives a little easier this winter. Simple kindnesses like shelter and extra food and water can save lives, as can things like knocking on the hood of your car before you turn on your engine to make sure that no outdoors cats (or squirrels or even raccoons) have taken shelter there.

If you’d like to give your ‘community critters’ a helping hand this winter, here are a few things you can do to help:

Provide Shelter

Although you can find ready-made dog and cat houses at your local pet store, it’s easy enough to make them yourself and much cheaper. You might even want to make a day of it with friends or your children. Lots of website’s offer great tips on crafting ‘cat houses’ for feral kitties or strays who might need a little TLC this winter. For a few examples check out the Humane Society’s website, as well as Neighborhood Cat’s website and Alley Cat Allies.

The shelter should be small and cozy to trap in body heat and filled with a material that traps heat like straw, newspaper, or rags. You will want to change out the bedding at least monthly to keep the shelter clean and free of parasites. The most important thing is that the bedding be kept dry. So be sure to place your ‘cat house’ in an area sheltered from the wind and rain.

Fresh Water & Kibble

Be sure to place fresh water and kibble near (by not right beside) the shelters. Leaving food right beside the shelters will attract predators and make the shelters less attractive (and safe) for their occupants.

You can find heated water dishes at most pet supply stores. If they’re out of your budget, then you’ll need to change the water frequently to prevent freezing. Place the bowls in the sun and make sure you choose darker colors that absorb more heat. This will help (but not fully prevent) the water from freezing.

As for food, dry kibble is the easiest to provide (cost-wise and because it doesn’t freeze like ‘wet’ food). But if you can afford some canned cat food, it is always a welcome addition to a feral or stray cats’ diet. If you feed your feral community at a set time each day, the cats will quickly adjust to your schedule and show up while the food is still warm.

You can find many more tips on feeding and caring for feral and community cats on Alley Cat Allies website: http://www.alleycat.org/page.aspx?pid=295. They also have a great network for people who care for stray and feral animals in case you’re looking for help or just a sympathetic ear.

Winter Precautions

There are also some very simple things you can do to protect outside cats, dogs, and other critters during the winter like knocking on the hood of your car to warn animals who may’ve taken refuge there that you’re about to start the engine. You may also want to honk your horn once so they can take flight before you do.

If you chose to ‘salt’ your drive, be sure to use a pet-friendly agent and not a toxic one. Many de-icers are toxic to animals and harmful to people. You can find animal-friendly de-icers at most larger convenience stores or you can use good old-fashioned salt to clear your walkway.

If you have an indoor dog, always be sure to clean his or her paws after walks in winter. Even if you do choose a ‘safe’ de-icer, your neighbors may not and dogs may pick up residue on their paws. As a rule, it’s always best to clean your dog’s paws after a walk and before they enter the house – or you may want to invest in a good sturdy pair of dog ‘boots.’ You can find them at most pet stores and they’ll keep your dog’s paws dry and clean year-round.

Anti-freeze is another winter danger for pets and stray/feral animals alike. Be sure to keep anti-freeze and all other toxic and poison cleaning agents and car supplies out of the reach of your furry friends. Anti-freeze is yet another good reason to clean your dog’s paws after a walk. No matter how careful you are with your pets, you can’t guarantee that others will be as conscientious.

Consider a Donation

Winter is not only a hard time of year for outdoor animals, but also for those who care for them. You might want to consider donating your time or extra cash to a local organization that cares of stray and community animals. At this time of year, volunteers are always needed to help winter-ize shelters, clean and clear out bedding, and provide food and water to the feral communities that sometimes double in size during the cold months as new animals seek shelter. Even donations of old (but clean) bedding, cleaning supplies, and wet and dry food are welcome.

Winter can be a beautiful time of year. Let’s make sure that it’s a safe and happy one for feral communities too.

P.S. If you’re a little confused about the difference between a feral and a stray cat, here’s a quick primer. But, in general, a stray cat is an animal who has had a home at some point and who is socialized. A feral cat is a wild creature who may or may not seek human attention.

Feral cats often live in colonies with other cats. These colonies, if given a little help, can be safe and stable places for the cats to live out their lives. TNR (trap-neuter-release) helps control the colony population and cut down on disease. Some feral cats may choose to become socialized and may find homes. Others prefer to live their lives ‘wild’ accepting help only when they need it.

Best Friends Animal Society maintains a very happy and successful feral colony in addition to providing support for other animal care networks and adoptions. To learn more about how you can help stray and feral animals near you, you can visit their website.


A Few Ways To Celebrate Your Pets This Holiday Season

winter catThe holiday season is about celebrating those you love including your furry, feathered, and even fishy friends. So why not do something kind for animals this December?

There are lots of ways you can show your pet today (and every day) just how much he or she means to you. After all, our pets fill our days with unconditional love, reduce stress and lead to longer and happier lifespans, and generally just make every day a little brighter. Here are just a few ways to make the season a little more festive and fun for you and your pets.

  1. Take time to make them a meal or treat: Even if you only crack out the cookie sheets or baking pans a few times each year, it doesn’t take a lot of kitchen mojo to create a delicious treat (or an entire meal) for your cat or dog (or bird for that matter). There are many great pet cookbooks available – just search pet cookbooks on com or any other online bookstore. And if you do choose to order from Amazon, check out AmazonSmile. A percentage of every purchase goes to a charity of your choice – including groups like Best Friends Animal Society and the Humane Association.
  2. Safety first: Many holiday decorations and treats are dangerous for animals. Be sure that everything is pet safe when you ‘deck the halls’ and remind visitors and guests to keep alcohol, chocolate, and other dangerous treats away from your furry friends. For a longer list of holiday hazards, check out: http://www.barkleyandpaws.com/featured/beverly-forehand/making-sure-your-pet-has-a-happy-holiday.
  3. Consider them when you celebrate: Often the holidays include visits to or from family and friends. This could be a great time for your pet to socialize – if they happen to enjoy meeting new (or old) friends. But many pets are upset by strangers, bright lights, and loud noises. So you might want to consider making sure that Fluffy or Fido has a ‘safe space’ when you’re planning your party. Create a safe room and make sure that guests know (by adding a sign and reminding them gently) that the party doesn’t extend into that area. Your pets (and your guests) will be thankful.
  4. Love is the best gift of all: The holidays can be a hectic time. Juggling work, social obligations, and holiday fun can leave you with little time to spend with your pet. Be sure to schedule an hour or two each day or even work a day or two into your December that can be spent showing your pet that they are a big part of what you’re thankful for this year.
  5. One size fits all and no need to gift wrap: Consider asking friends and family to forgo a traditional gift this year and instead donate to your favorite animal charity in your name. Local shelters are always glad for donations and many national charities offer gifting options during the holidays (and year-round) which include the option of sending a gift card to the recipient. For children, it’s a great opportunity to learn that it’s not what’s under the tree that matters, but who’s around it.