Declawing a cat

Some people feel that they must declaw a cat in order to save their furniture, rugs and curtains. However, they fail to realize that declawing a cat is not the same a trimming their nails. It involves removing the end bone and claw on each of the cat’s toes. This is a painful procedure and the cat will need care and pain medications to recover. Many veterinarians will not declaw a cat.


Declawing a cat will also take away the cat’s main defense mechanism. While you may feel that your cat will be an indoor cat, during the cat’s lifetime, he may accidently get outside and will be almost defenseless.

Scratching is a normal behavior for a cat. They mark their territory and sharpen their nails by scratching. It seems that they also enjoy the activity.

Rather than declaw a cat, you can teach a cat to use a scratching post. Provide a scratching post in the places the cat likes to scratch. If the cat starts to scratch furniture, simply say no and move the cat to a scratching post. They are capable of learning where to scratch. Clicker training can help a cat learn to use a scratching post.

There are different types of scratching posts for cats. Experiment with them to see which one appeals to your cat. Some of the types of scratching posts are ones made from rug, natural wood and cardboard like substance.

It is easier to train a young cat than an older cat, but the main thing is to not give up. With the right scratching post and encouragement, your cat will learn.

If you do consider declawing, consult with your veterinarian first to see what is involved in the procedure as well as the care that the cat will need after. It is always easier to declaw a young cat. Declawing an older cat or one that has medical issues can be riskier and cause health problems.


You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or can you?

Lisa Wallis and Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna have designed tests to study the effect of aging on cognitive processes such as learning, memory and logical reasoning in dogs. Something that has not be explored previously.


The researchers tested 95 Border Collies that ranged in age from 5 months to 13 years. They picked this breed because of their reputation as fast learners and because as a popular pet, there were enough dogs available for testing.

The dogs were divided into five age groups and tested for learning, logical reasoning and memory. The test involved a touchscreen with images on it. What the researchers found was that older dogs learned more slowly with less flexibility in their thinking. However, logical reasoning increased with age. Also, long-term memory was not affected by age, all of the dogs were retested six months later and all had no problem recalling the positive images.

So, you can teach an old dog new tricks, although it may take longer. As a certified animal behavior consultant, I find that older dogs are more likely to have formed habits that are harder for them to break. If the new trick, or task requires them to change a habit, it may be hard for them to accomplish that, the same as it is for people.

Tough love moms in dogs

Studies have been done about “tough love” moms and children and how letting children face minor adversities gives them the ability to cope better when they are adults. But now for the first time a study has been done to determine if the same applies to dogs.


Emily Bray, a postdoctoral researcher in the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology studied litters of puppies at the Seeing Eye, the guide dog organization in Morristown, New Jersey, and published her report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

What she found is very interesting. After tracking the litters into adulthood, they found that the puppies with mothers who were more attentive were more likely to fail as guide dogs for the visually impaired.

Bray did stress that although her study highlights the connection between a mother’s behavior and puppies, she feels that more research is needed to see if genetics plays a part in the results of her study. It never ceases to amaze me how similar dog behavior is to human behavior in many ways.

Dogs help children in many ways

In two independent studies, it was found that pet dogs help give children social support and that a family dog can help a child with disabilities become more active and improve the child’s life.

Scout & Tom

Darlene Kertes and her colleagues from the University of Florida have documented how dogs can help reduce stress in children. Although many dog owners knew this, Kertes’ report was the first to scientifically show the stress reducing nature of dog ownership for children.

In another study Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, studied how a family dog helped a ten-year-old child who suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Because of the dog, the child increased his physical activity, improved motor skills, and developed a better human-animal bond. These studies may pave the way for more research which will help both children and their families for the long term.

Brominated flame retardants found in cats

This is a short article but important. A recent study found that indoor cats have a high level of brominated flame retardants in their blood as a result of inhaling the dust in homes. Previous studies found that cats who developed Feline Hyperthyroidism had high levels of flame retardants, but now researchers have found it in healthy cats as well.


As the flame retardant materials age the particles that come from them become part of the dust in a home. What is especially important to be aware of is that other pets, humans, and especially small children also breathe in the dust.

The flame retardants make up part of furniture, electronics, and even various fabrics. So what can we do about it? I have found an air cleaner that can help reduce the dust in a home. I personally have used the Fresh Air Surround air purifier for years and find it helps keep my home allergy free. I picked that model because it kills germs as well, an added benefit, and does a great job of killing household odors, including litter box odor.

I strongly urge everyone to consider this air purifier. You can get more information from David Scharikin, at or call him at 570-325-2433. There are a number of models to choose from. And no, I do not make a commission for passing this information along. As a pet owner, dogs, cats and birds, and allergic to many indoor and outdoor irritants, it has made my life much better.


Wild bee population dying in 139 U.S. Crop Producing Counties

Until you realize how many crops depend on wild bees for pollination, most people underestimate their importance. Crops such as fruits, berries and nut trees require bees for pollination. Other food crops also require bees for successful production. This is why it is alarming that wild bees are disappearing in 139 key agricultural counties in the United States.


The loss of wild bees makes the death of commercially raised honeybee colony populations even more critical. Honeybee keepers cannot keep up with the demand for commercial pollination services. If the production of food drops due to the lack of pollinators, then the cost of food will rise, affecting everyone.

Most people do not realize that there are over 4000 species of bees in the United States. Each of us can help by developing or preserving habitat that supports bees. Wild bees are essential, even when commercial pollination services are being used by complementing commercial pollination, increasing crop production.


Each of us can help by planting spring to fall plants for bees, even a small garden can help or a container garden. Of course it goes without saying that you should not use pesticides.


Here are some plants that help bees. Many of these plants also attract butterflies and hummingbirds.


Spring: Crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac.

Summer: Bee balm, cosmos, Echinacea, snapdragons foxglove, and hosta.

Fall: zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod.

These are just a few plants. Check with your local nursery or your local bee keeping society to learn more about helping wild bees. If everyone contributes we can save the bees.

Studies offer new hope for diagnosis of Chiari-malformation in toy dog breeds


The public demand for certain toy dogs to have rounded head shapes and short muzzles have caused them to suffer from Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia disorder.

Chiari malformation is when the bones in the skull fuse too soon and causes fluid pockets in the spinal cord. The fluid pockets which are called Syringomyelia can cause permanent damage to the spinal cord and pain for the dogs. The most common breed that is affected by this is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua and the Affenpinscher.


A new study using an MRI mapping technique has allowed scientists to study how this happens and hopefully will help them develop ways to correct this painful condition.

It goes without saying that breeders can help by carefully breeding dogs who do not suffer from this condition and not breed for a style or look but rather for the dog’s health and opportunity for a pain free life.

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Alaska, The First State to Treat Pets Like Children in Divorce Situations

Divorce is traumatic in of itself. Settling who gets what, custody of the children and the financial aspect is difficult and often causes a lot of stress for people. In the past, pets were considered property and not given much thought.

In a first ever, Alaska has passed a law that now considers pets more like children. The law allows judges to take into consideration the well-being of the pet and even to rule that couples can have joint custody of the pet.

While this is a good law, and long overdue, it will pose some difficult problems when determining what is best for the pet. It will have to take into account the pet’s physical and mental health as well as the affect it will have on the family who is getting the divorce. It remains to be seen how this will all play out. But there is no question that it is a step in the right direction.


Are Chickens Really “Dumb Clucks?” New research says No.

Recent tests have shown that chickens have individual personalities, can function in a group, can reason by deduction and understand their place in the flock.  Not only that, but chickens have a sense of numbers and self-awareness.

It turns out that chicken communication is also much more complex than previously thought, including visual and auditory forms of communication. They are able to make decisions based on what they determine is best for themselves.

The study also showed that chickens experience both negative and positive emotions. Mother hens display maternal feelings for their chicks and influence how the chick behaves.

How interesting chickens are. Many people keep chickens for pets so this study should be of special interest to them. Chickens have been used for years to hone clicker skills for dog trainers and potential dog trainers.



My son Tom and my araucana chickens (many years ago)

Scientists Discover that there may be double the number of bird species than originally estimated

Bird watching is a fun hobby no matter what season it is. Winter bird watching has its advantages since more birds are attracted to feeders. It is also easier to spot them without leaves on trees if you live in an area where the seasons change.


There is a new challenge for bird watchers according to a recent study by the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Ornithology. They have reported that there are many more species of birds then originally determined.

In the past studies showed that there were about 10,000 species of birds, however a new study determined that there could be almost double the number of bird species. Previously birds were typed according to how they looked and if they were able to interbreed. But when scientists studied them according to their physical characteristics such as plumage pattern and color, they discovered that there were more species than previously thought, up to double the number of species.

This gives bird watchers a lot more to look for and possibly scientists the fun of coming up with new names for the new species. Life is always full of surprises!–+ScienceDaily%29