The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends


9 Reasons You’ll Love Adopting a Shelter Cat

June is Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, and if there is anything we know better here at the Houston SPCA it’s that adopting a cat or kitten is a life-changing experience.  It’s very easy to assume a shelter cat gets a better life by providing a forever home, but as you’ll soon learn, the benefit is absolutely mutual.

Here’s why:

1. All together now: awwwwwwwwwwwwww!

cat5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Her zero-calorie biscuits will leave you feeling full of love. Not just for breakfast anymore!

cat7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. She does all her own stunts, and if you’re lucky, she’ll amaze you with these feats of daring.

cat2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. She’ll show you all the best hide-and-seek spots.

cat3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. This never gets old. Ever.

giphy

 

 

 

 

 

6. She’s cool and empathetic. When the conversation wanes and dinner party guests overstay their welcome, her glance screams what you’re already thinking: “Get these people out of here!”

 cat1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. She’s not going to judge you if you stay in your pajamas until 4 p.m., and have the laziest day ever.

cat6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. She’ll have your back, through thick and thin.

cat4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. She’ll be your friend ’til the end. XOXO

giphy

 

 

 

 

 

giphy4giphyd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See all the adoptable cats at the Houston SPCA, and come meet them in person Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

Advertisements


Heat Stroke in Pets: Signs and Prevention Tips

heat-safety-weekSummertime is here and so are the scorching hot temperatures that make us all reach for that extra glass of water. Did you know that, like humans, your pets can suffer from heatstroke? In fact, being outside all day or in a warm environment can affect an animal’s health just as much as it can affect ours.

Here are some signs and symptoms of heatstroke in cats and dogs, as well as ways to prevent it happening to your pet.

If your pets have any of the following signs or symptoms, take them to your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately!

Signs of Heat Stroke in Cats and Dogs

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Bright or dark red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Weakness/difficultly moving
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Excessive drooling
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

How to Keep Your Pets Cool this Summer

  • Keep your pets inside the house while you’re away. Your pets love the air conditioning as much as you do.
  • Always find a shaded area for your pet — keeping them out of the sun will help cool their body.
  • Avoid heavy exercise with your pets during the hottest hours of the day. Exercise with your pets outside during the early morning or late evening hours to keep them from overheating.
  • Have fresh water available for your pet at all times.
  • Be sure to use cool water, since ice water may constrict blood vessels and impedes the cooling process.
  • Place cool, wet cloths around your pet’s paws. This helps with the heat that is being released through the pads of their paws.

If you think your pet may be suffering from heatstroke, call your veterinarian immediately. It’s always important to watch your pet for any behaviors that seem abnormal. At the first sign of abnormal behavior, it’s time to act.

Don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated this summer along with your pets!

Houston SPCA Summer Heat Safety Week

Founded in 1924, the Houston SPCA provides the most comprehensive array of animal adoption, shelter, rescue, rehabilitation and other programs and services in the Gulf Coast area. Check out all of our adoptable animals and consider the adoption option this summer.

Thank You for Supporting the Houston SPCA’s Mission – Make a Donation!

The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any ailment or disease, and is provided for reference. Please consult with your veterinarian with questions or concerns related to heat safety.


Animal Behavior: How to Introduce Yourself to a New Cat or Dog

When meeting new people, you probably don’t walk right up and hold their hand or give them the biggest hug you can, right? That could be awkward or uncomfortable depending on the person you are meeting. The same rules apply when meeting new animals.

Learning the cues that animals give us before walking up and petting them is incredibly important and can determine the beginning of your relationship with that animal. Let’s check out some common animal behaviors that you can look for to help with your first interaction with a new dog or cat.

For both cats and dogs we will discuss vocalization and body language.

Why Do Cats Purr? (And Other Cat Sounds)

Cats vocalize in quite a few ways, all of which can give you a clue as to how they are feeling. Here are a few sounds that can help you determine if you can safely pet a new cat friend:

  • Purring is normally a sign that your cat is pretty happy. If your cat is purring, they probably wouldn’t mind some love and attention. For a new cat, you could introduce yourself calmly and start to pet them gently.
  • Chirrups are sounds that a mother cat would typically use towards her kittens. You may hear your cat use a ‘chirp’ to ask you for something or ask you to follow them somewhere. Sometimes it helps when meeting a new cat to practice making a small chirping sound so the cat can be more comfortable around you.
  • Hissing or growling (YES, cats can growl!)indicate a cat who is upset, angry or frightened. Stay away from this cat! They are definitely not safe to pet.

What is Your Cat’s Body Telling You?

A cat’s body language is incredibly indicative of how they are feeling at that moment in time. You have to keep a cat’s eyes, tail, ears and overall body posture in mind when determining if you can pet them or not.

The chart below (from artist Lili Chin -DoggieDrawings.net) is a great resource for visualizing what we are talking about:

NEW: Cat Language!A big thank you to the Training and Behavior Dept of Oregon Humane Society for their help with cat body language information. I have been a cat-less dog person for many many years, so some of this stuff was new to me! For example, I didn’t know that cats also emoted with their WHISKERS (relaxed = fanned out and horizontal; anxious = pulled backwards) Pupils, ear positions, body weight, and tails are the other indicators of how a cat is feeling. *As with dog body language, we look at the whole body and context *. And yes, cats feel and express DISGUST. I didn’t make this up. :)I will be selling 11″ x 17″ and 11″ x 14″ Cat Language prints at CatConLA this weekend, along with other cat-related stuff! I hope to see you there! Booth #333.If you cannot attend CatConLA, a print-resolution version of Cat Language will soon be available as a FREE DOWNLOAD from my website at www.doggiedrawings.net/freeposters   [Please feel free to share, download, print, distribute! As per the Creative Commons License terms on my website: please don’t crop, modify, or use these images commercially.]Donations are always welcome and appreciated. :)- Lili x

The best way to say “hi” to a cat you do not know is to turn your face or body sideways,  then hold out one finger, at right about the height of her head, so she can come up and give you a good sniff. You only want to do this if the cat looks relaxed and calm. You definitely don’t want to offer your finger towards a cat who is hissing at you.

Once the cat has sniffed you and possibly rubbed her head on your hand, you can go ahead and pet her gently behind the ears or on their back. You do not want to put your face near hers— she may like being pet, but you do not know if she will want to be that close to you.

To meet a cat who may be shy, remember to be calm and patient. Never try to force interaction with a cat. Oftentimes a cat will approach someone who is not paying attention to them at all because they feel less threatened. You can try to use toys or small cat treats as ice breakers for a shy cat. It may just take a bit of time for the cat to warm up to you.

Why Do Dogs Bark? What Are They Saying?

Dog vocalization is also diverse, just like cats, and can include barks, whines and growls.

A dog’s bark can actually mean quite a few things and learning to tell between the different types of barks can help make your first introduction to a new dog a bit smoother.

If the dog you want to pet has a high-pitched bark, that may indicate excitement and happiness. They may want to play with you or want you to give them a treat. Dogs also have a low-pitched bark that may be indicating or alerting you to something going on that you do not know about yet. They may or may not want to be pet if they are vocalizing with a low-pitched bark.

If the dog you want to pet is whining, they might be frustrated or want something they cannot get to. Whining may also sound very close to whimpering, which can indicate that the dog does not feel well. Definitely pay attention to the dog’s body language. He may be frustrated he is not being pet enough or might not be feeling up to being pet by a stranger.

And as you already know, dogs can growl. Growling is the way a dog tells people and other animals to back off and give him space.  Never pet a dog that is growling at you or any animals near you. And be sure not to punish a dog for growling- it’s actually a very important form of communication that dogs use, and punishing them for growling means they might not warn you before they bite in the future.

Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

When looking at a dog you want to pet, always be aware of their ears, tail, hairs on their back (hackles) and overall body posture. The chart below gives great examples of what a dog may be feeling based on their body language.

So how do we introduce ourselves to a new dog? First,  you do not want to stand directly over the dog. He probably doesn’t want to feel overwhelmed by having someone stand over him. Stand or sit next to the new dog and offer him your hand, palm down. Let the dog sniff your hand and if they look like they are comfortable, give them a gentle pet behind the ears or under their chin. Don’t go straight for the top of the head- this makes dogs very uncomfortable!

You always want to avoid the dog’s mouth on your first pet. That’s where the teeth are. If the dog you are meeting looks a little nervous, give him time. Some dogs do warm up to people really quickly, others may take some time and patience for them to give you a good sniff and feel comfortable with you.

This quick introduction guide is a great start for meeting new cats and dogs. If you are looking to adopt a new cat or dog into your family, this guide will help you when interacting with new animals at the Houston SPCA! Before taking an animal to your home to join your family, spend a good 10 to 15 minutes with them in our Meet and Greet rooms so you can see if the dog or cat’s personality matches that of your family.

To see all of our amazing adoptable animals, visit www.HoustonSPCA.org today!

Sources:
http://www.cathealth.com/how-and-why/greeting-a-cat
http://www.dogster.com/dog-training/dog-body-language
Humane Society of the United States


Summer’s here and so is the Houston SPCA’s Critter Camp!

Right about now the temperatures in Houston are rising and you know what that means – it’s time for Summer Critter Camp!

As the first week of Critter Camp comes to an end we thought we would take a look at all of the fun we had – check out all of the amazing activities we did below!

This session of Summer Critter Camp was in partnership with Easter Seals of Greater Houston – an organization that works with mentally and physically disabled children. Our partnership gives Easter Seals campers an opportunity to attend local summer camps that their parents might not feel comfortable sending them to without someone to help their camper out with all of the camp activities. During this special session of Critter Camp, Easter Seals volunteers, known as ‘buddies,’ are assigned to each Easter Seals camper to help them have the best experience at our Critter Camp.

All of our Critter Campers learned so much about animals this week and got to play with lots of adorable, adoptable pets from the Houston SPCA!

We have many different sessions of Critter Camp still available for your campers – see more info below:

2015 Camp Schedule 2015 Description Picture

 

To register, head over to www.HoustonSPCA.org today!


Extra! Extra! Read all about these fantastic fifth-graders!

Group

The fifth grade class at River Oaks Baptist School has made headlines in our hearts. At the beginning of the year, for the past several school years, the fifth grade class has been challenged to collect as much newspaper as they can to donate to the Houston SPCA. Their yearly service project yields stacks of paper to help keep the animals’ kennels comfortable and clean. This year these spectacular students collected SIXTY-SIX BOXES full of newspaper! These eight amazing representatives of the class had the opportunity to visit the shelter and even get a tour as a token of our gratitude.

Bus

And that’s not all! After learning about child labor laws of the early 1900s, all of the students in the class work with their parents to come up with house chores for which they’ll get paid, and then they donate their earned wages to the Houston SPCA. We applaud River Oaks Baptist School for teaching their students to be responsible and humane young citizens and we’re honored to be on the receiving end of their continued generosity.

Way to go, kids!

Boxes

donate button  adopt button  volunteer button  report abuse button


Looking for some Summer FUN? How about the Houston SPCA Critter Camp!

camp button

 

Never heard of Critter Camp? 

Critter Camp is the Houston SPCA’s day camp available during summer, winter and spring break. Each day from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, campers ages 8-15 can come to the Houston SPCA to learn all about animals, hear from the Houston SPCA’s amazing staff, play fun animal games, create arts and crafts, and, last but not least, spend time playing with our adoptable shelter pets!

Let’s jump in and see what a typical Critter Camp day looks like!

9:00 am – Campers arrive at the Houston SPCA and begin meeting new friends, playing fun games and learning about animals.

Foster ProgramFoster care coordinator shows campers a foster kitten

9:30 am – Our first guest speaker session! Our guest speakers are staff that work in a variety of departments at the Houston SPCA. Some of our amazing guest speakers include our animal behavior specialists, animal cruelty investigators, rescue ambulance team members, foster care coordinators, and veterinarians. Each guest talks about what they do for the Houston SPCA, the educational background needed to obtain their position, stories about their favorite animal experiences, and why they love to help animals every day.

10:00 am – Lesson about animals. We have a variety of themes for our camps that include lessons about many topics relating to animals. These topics include animal behavior, basic animal care, anatomy and physiology of pets, Texas wildlife, and much more. These lessons include fun games or activities to keep our campers interacting and engaged.

Easter Seals Petting HorseTommy the Llama 110:30 am – Barn Visit! Did you know that the Houston SPCA has its very own barn where we house many equines and farm animals? Our campers get to visit the barn and meet some of our horses, pigs, goats and any other animals that might be residing there at the time. Many of these animals have been rescued from cruel situations and campers learn about the rehabilitation process the animals will go through before they can be adopted into a new family.

SPCA TShirt Toy

11:00 am – DIY craft time. At Critter Camp we love to teach our campers how to create items that can help animals. Every day we create items that can be donated to our animals (or taken home for their family pet) or that teaches them more about animals. Some of my favorites include T-Shirt Tug Toys for dogs, birdseed feeders for our native wildlife and decorated savings banks for campers to save money to donate to their favorite charity.

11:30 am – Lunch time. During lunch we put on fun animal-related movies for our campers to watch. This gives everyone a chance to relax as the day goes by so fast!

Camper getting kissesCritter Camp Chronicle Pic

12:00 pm – SHELTER VISIT!!  This is our campers favorite part of the day. Everyone in camp goes over to the Houston SPCA animal shelter and gets to play with our large dogs, small dogs and cats. Our animal interactions are in a group setting so that each animal we play with gets lots of campers to love on.

Metro K-9 visit 1

METRO Houston Police Canine Program visits Critter Camp

1:30 pm – Second guest speaker session. We have another guest speaker join us in the afternoon. They will either be another Houston SPCA staff member or a very special visitor! We work with local service animal organizations who love visiting our camps to show our campers how amazing animals can be.

Oil Spill Art

Campers create ‘oil paint art’ while learning about oil spill clean-up 

2:15 pm – More DIY crafts or game time. Our campers can decide if they would like to learn how to create new DIY crafts or if they would like to play games, play with puzzles, visit our arts stations they can do so.

2:45 pm – Snack time and parent pick-up. Campers are given a bottle of water and a healthy snack in the afternoon. Campers can choose if they would like to watch an animal video or play games / do craft activities while waiting for their parents to come.

3:00 pm – End of our busy Critter Camp day!

Sign up today for our Summer Critter Camp!

Register here: http://www.houstonspca.org/site/PageNavigator/humane_education_critter_camp

Looking for our Summer Critter Camp schedule? Look no further: http://www.houstonspca.org/site/DocServer/2015_Camp_Flyer__schedule_and_registration_info_.pdf?docID=3961 

Have questions about Critter Camp? Check out our FAQ’s: http://www.houstonspca.org/site/DocServer/Critter_Camp_Frequently_Asked_Questions_Updated.pdf?docID=3701 

Summer Critter Camp registration begins March 25, 2015!

 


World Wildlife Day. Help protect our planet.

donate button  adopt button  volunteer button  report abuse button

rhino2616-wildlife1rzebra

Today is World Wildlife Day, and it’s an important time to discuss the fate of wildlife, both native and exotic, in the state of Texas.

This year, World Wildlife Day is focusing on the seriousness of wildlife crime- the illegal trade of wild animals. Endangered animals all over the world are captured and sold as pets through the exotic animal trade, and entire families of animals are killed just so the babies can be obtained. Still more animals are trapped and killed for their horns, pelts or meat. It is a lucrative and shameful business that needs to end before we lose these beautiful and important species forever.

What does this mean for Texans? Almost half of the states in the US allow some form of ownership of wild animals. Texas specifically allows for the ownership of dangerous wild animals (such as lions, tigers and bears) as long as the owner has a permit and adheres to certain regulations. However, these laws are not always followed, and then these wild animals must be relocated. The Houston SPCA is equipped to temporarily house these animals in our exotic pens until a more suitable environment can be found for them. Unfortunately, once a wild animal has been raised in captivity, they cannot be released. Help stop the import of these wild animals by avoiding roadside zoos and exotic animal shows.

Sharon SignalTake Flight

When we talk about wild animals, we aren’t just referring to the exotic ones we see in zoos and circuses. Wild animals also include ducks, squirrels, possums and birds. Native Texas wildlife is protected under state law, and migratory species that pass through Texas are federally protected. That’s why you can’t have a possum or an eagle as a pet. Our subsidiary, The Wildlife Center of Texas, is licensed to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured, sick or displaced wild animals. Visit their website to learn more about how you can peacefully coexist with the wild animals in your backyard.

We only have this one planet and it is vital that we protect the animals with whom we share it. That includes the tiny field mice and the mighty lions, the box turtles and the endangered white rhinos, the house cats and the shelter dogs. Educate yourself and your family on how to be responsible members of this delicate ecosystem we call Earth.

donate button  adopt button  volunteer button  report abuse button