The Official Houston SPCA Humane Education Blog

Teaching us about our animal friends


Helping Your Fat Cat Slim Down

Everyone loves a fat cat  – they are big, fluffy furballs that steal our hearts. They have even become famous with celebrities such as Garfield and Pusheen.

However, if your cat is overweight, he or she may be at risk for health problems. According to PetMD.com, overweight and obese cats actually outnumber cats that are normal weight. Overweight cats are also being seen more often by veterinarians and are more likely to have cat diabetes, arthritis and liver disease. Click the Hill’s Science Diet Tips & Tools chart below to see if your pet may be overweight.

Hill's Science Diet Tools

Why are we seeing more and more fat cats?

The answer is simple – any animal will gain weight if it consumes more calories than it burns. Many cats have become comfortable with their owners ‘free choice’ feeding (keeping a food bowl full all day) or giving them lots of delicious treats. While this may keep our cats happy and very full, it can be harmful to their health.

As pet owners, we are the solution to the fat cat problem.

Weight loss plans for your cat should be taken seriously and approached carefully. Any and all changes in diet for your pet should be prescribed by your pet’s veterinarian. You want to make sure that your vet finds your cat’s exact weight,  gives a full physical examination, and does blood and urine sample testing. You do not want to start any sort of new food or feeding regimen without your vet’s approval!

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Once your vet has given his or her recommendation for a diet and exercise plan – stick to it!

If your vet has asked that you increase the amount of exercise your cat is getting, the best way to do that is to play with them! You can also add some interactive play toys to your cats environment or even adopt a new friend to play with from your local animal shelter. Getting your cat moving is a great step forward in helping them lose weight.

Your vet may ask you to switch your cat’s food to one with a lower fat content and higher lean protein content. All pet foods have nutrition labels, just like human foods, and you should be paying attention to what is written in the ingredients as well as content percentages.

When we have overweight cats arrive at the Houston SPCA, we feed them Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight to help them shed a few pounds before going home to a new family. We always make sure to feed them the correct amount of food, according to our veterinarians, twice a day to spread out their meals and keep them happy and full all day long. Many of our cats at the shelter love playing with toys and with people which helps them get a bit of exercise as well.

We hope that if you have a fat cat at home that you will help them become slim and trim, with help from your vet, so they can live a long and healthy life!

We would also like to thank Hill’s Science Diet for their amazing contributions to the Houston SPCA which helps keep our animals healthy and happy!

To donate to the Houston SPCA, follow this link: http://hspca.convio.net/site/PageNavigator/donate_main 

 

 

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Are You Ready for the Houston SPCA’s iWalk for Animals 2014?

Fall is on its way to the Houston area which means it is almost time for the Houston SPCA’s iWalk for Animals global event!

2013 iWalk For Animals Banner Ad.jpg

People often ask me, “What is the best way to help the animals that the Houston SPCA rescues?” or “How can I help the Houston SPCA if I don’t live in Houston?”  The best way to give to our animals is to participate in one of our largest events of the year – the Houston SPCA’s iWalk for Animals!

So what is iWalk for Animals?

iWalk for Animals is a lifesaving venture that encourages animal-lovers around the globe to “walk where they are” on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. Gather with friends and family, with or without your pets, at the time and place of your choice and support the life-saving efforts of the Houston SPCA.

The best part about iWalk for Animals is just how little stress it will be for you, your family, friends, neighbors, and pets! Choose where you want to walk or run, pick your time and get to it!

Even he can do it!


How do I sign up?

You can register as an individual or join as a team by clicking here! When you register, you are raising funds for the Houston SPCA. We place 100 percent of our healthy animals into loving, new homes. We encourage you to enlist your friends, family, co-workers and neighbors to step up and support your fundraising efforts.

All iWalkers who raise $100 or more will receive a limited-edition iWalk for Animals T-shirt and be eligible for other great prizes!

What is a good goal for my iWalk for Animals team?

Each animal that comes into the Houston SPCA is given a medical evaluation, vaccinations, spay or neuter surgery, and a microchip. To do all this costs about $400 per animal! Not to mention the life-saving surgeries or treatments some animals need when rescued. Please consider $400 per person as your fundraising goal and remember, every little bit counts!

Last year, nearly 275 iWalkers from coast-to-coast stepped out and raised over $300,000. Join the movement and help the Houston SPCA give orphaned, abused and neglected animals a chance to find their forever families.

I have already joined iWalk for Animals this year – will you join me?


Guest Post – Shelter Pets: They May Be Seconds But Not Irregulars

Hello everyone! Our Summer Critter Camp is officially underway (update with pictures on that to follow soon!) so I thought I would give a chance to some of our amazing Houston SPCA staff to write some guest posts this summer.

Our first guest post is from our Behavior Coordinator Lisa – see her ‘Getting to Know Your Houston SPCA’ post here: https://houstonspca.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/getting-to-know-your-houston-spca-lisa-houston-spca-animal-behavior-coordinator/

Enjoy!

Humane Education Blog

Shelter Pets:  They May Be Seconds But Not Irregulars

Lisa, Houston SPCA Behavior Coordinator

There’s a common belief in today’s society that it’s wiser to purchase a dog from a store or a breeder because you “know what you’re getting”, especially if you meet the puppy’s parents or receive the dog’s breeding papers. Many of my own friends and family hesitate to adopt a dog from a rescue or shelter because they assume the dog is “broken”. After all, that’s why their owners gave them up in the first place, right?

Truth be told, there are myriad reasons for dogs and cats ending up in shelters like the Houston SPCA. And from my point of view most of them aren’t broken, but have simply run into some bad luck. That’s not to say there aren’t animals who have problems, because sadly there are. I tend to see those as the exception rather than the rule.

Owning a pet is hard work. Right from the start there has to be a bond between human and animal, or else all the effort might not feel worth it. And what does that effort involve? There’s the monetary aspect. Animals cost money, there’s no way around it. While shelter dogs might not be as expensive as dogs from a breeder, they still require the same lifelong care. Food, equipment (leashes, collars etc.) and regular vet visits can really add up over the course of a year. And dogs can live for many years! Cats may seem relatively self-sufficient, but they need regular vet visits too, as well as scratching posts, cat trees, litter boxes and as many toys as possible. My family’s cat lived to be 21 years old, how’s that for longevity?

Beyond the financial commitment, dogs and cats require us to be active. Dogs need walks several times a day, and cats need to be entertained, too. When I used to pet sit for people in New York City, I would walk their dogs five times a day for 15 to 30 minutes each time. We’d throw in a visit to the dog park every now and again, but only if the dogs themselves enjoyed it. At the end of the day, the dogs would be tired, and so would I!

So what does this have to do with “broken” shelter pets? Well, as the Behavior Coordinator here at the Houston SPCA, it’s generally my responsibility to evaluate the adoptability of the dogs and cats who come through our doors. Thankfully, most of the animals I meet are lovely. They’re social, friendly, happy critters who ended up here because their owners were moving or couldn’t afford them anymore or fell ill, or any number of reasons beyond their control.

Sometimes, though, I come across pets who have the potential to be social, friendly and happy, but never got the opportunity to blossom. They are usually under-socialized, meaning they startle easily and are overwhelmed by novel situations. The dogs have little to no obedience training and walk like maniacs on the leash. The cats are often skittish and shy away from contact. And both frequently have more energy than they know what to do with, and no productive way to expend that energy. So now they’re sitting (or jumping) here in a kennel, waiting for the right person to come along and give them the chance to be the dog or cat they were meant to be.

I know that if some of these animals had been given the option to be good right from the start, they would never have ended up in our care, needing a second chance. I’m just so thankful that there are organizations like ours who are willing to give them that opportunity, and people like you who are willing to try.

If you are looking for a new furry family member come down to the Houston SPCA where you can find the perfect pet for you family!

You can view all of our adoptable  animals online by clicking here: www.HoustonSPCA.org.


Please Avoid Giving Baby Chicks and Rabbits for Easter

Spring has sprung here in Houston and it is just about that time to load up the Easter baskets and decorate some eggs!

Spring is the best – gotta love those Texas Bluebonnets!

When it comes to Easter, most children start thinking about baby bunnies – I know I do! Peter Cottontail, Bugs Bunny and Thumper are fictional bunny rabbits adored by children.

 

However,  real-life baby bunnies (chicks and ducklings) are not able to bounce back from the antics you see in cartoons. Baby rabbits, chicks and ducklings are absolutely adorable but are also very fragile.  They can be easily injured or killed by a child who may over-handle them or handle them incorrectly.  In addition, they have special dietary and housing needs in order for them to thrive.

You may think that getting your child a baby bunny or baby chick is a great addition to their Easter basket. Please avoid doing this!

In the weeks following Easter, the Houston SPCA and its subsidiary, The Wildlife Center of Texas, may receive countless unwanted Easter bunnies, chicks and ducklings.  The Houston SPCA strongly urges you, the parent, to avoid putting a live animal in your child’s Easter basket. You do not want a tragedy to occur on a happy occasion.

Instead, consider putting a cute, cuddly stuffed toy animal in your child’s Easter basket this year.  They don’t eat much, require no training or grooming, and there’s no mess to clean up.  You can also be a part of the solution by making a donation in your child’s name to the Houston SPCA and the Wildlife Center of Texas which provide care for unwanted Easter animals who become orphaned, abused or neglected.

Do your part to save rabbits, chicks, and ducklings this Easter by not giving them as a present to your child on Easter. Getting a rabbit should be a family decision after doing research on how much love and care a rabbit takes.

To donate to the Houston SPCA and help give orphaned, abused and neglected animals a second chance at life follow this link:  http://www.houstonspca.org/site/PageNavigator/donate_main

And if you were looking for adorable photos of wild baby bunnies rescued by the Wildlife Center of Texas – here they are!!

bunnies

bunnies2

To help The Wildlife Center of Texas rescue, rehabilitate and release animals back into the wild, click here: http://www.wildlifecenteroftexas.org/donate/


Animals adopted from the Houston SPCA helping students!

We just received an update from the KIPP Houston High School Art School about their recently added staff member to their faculty – an adorable bunny rabbit named Mr. Adams!

Mr. Adams was adopted from the Houston SPCA about a year ago to help the students learn about caring for animals responsibly and to have a fun friend in the classroom.

mr adams team captain

Here is an update from their art school teacher, Rebekah Tee:

“Mr. Adams has become a leader at school. He was captain of Onyx (because he has black spots) to earn points at the pumpkin carving contest for his team. Although, some teams were suspicious of his intentions (he started the “carving” early this morning while the pumpkins were on the floor).  As you can see, this bunny is beyond spoiled. He gets fresh veggies every day from staff and students and tons of freedom and love. Now, several students want to adopt a bunny and avoid breeders because there are so many unwanted animals at SPCA.

Seriously, your adopted bunny is quite famous. Thank you!!!”

Team captain supervising

We absolutely love that this classroom has decided to choose the adoption option for a class pet. Having a class pet can help students focus on their studies, open up to someone about issues they may not be comfortable talking about with teachers or friends, and just be there to be a friend when you need it. If you or a teacher you know wants to adopt a pet for their classroom, you can always check out the Houston SPCA to see if we have a furry friend for your students!

Thank you KIPP Houston High School for choosing the Houston SPCA!