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The veterinarians and staff at Cats & Critters are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

Microchipped Pets Are More Likely To Be Returned Home

Lost pets that have microchips are more likely to be reunited with their owners. This is according to a recent study published by a leading veterinary journal.

Animal shelters in twenty three states participated in this study. It was revealed that shelter officials were able to find the owners of microchipped pets 4 out of 5 times.

“This is the first time there has been good data about the success of shelters finding the owners of pets with microchips,” says Dr. Linda Lord, lead author of the study and professor Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

According to shelter statistics, lost microchipped cats were twenty times more likely to be returned to owners than non-microchipped cats. Microchipped dogs were 2.5 times more likely to be returned to their owners than non-microchipped dogs.

The major reason why pet owners could not be located was due to incorrect or disconnected phone numbers in the registration database. “The chip is only as good as the information that the owner provides. The pet owner needs to make sure that their information is always up-to-date.” Lord says.

Owners’ not returning calls or answering letters, unregistered microchips and microchips registered to a database that differed from the manufacturer were other reasons owners were not found, according to the study.

The results of this study clearly indicate the advantage of microchipping your pet. However, even though microchipping is essential, nothing replaces the need for a collar and tag with your pet’s name and your phone number, Lord says.

Oregon Supreme Court Rules That Animals Can Be Treated As Victims

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled the animals can be treated as victims in legal cases, effectively affording animals the same protections humans have in abuse cases. The ruling stems from a 2009 court case in which the defendant was convicted of starving 20 horses and goats on his property. The defendant argued that because the law defines animals as property, he should not have been charged with separate counts of neglect for each animal. The judge disagreed, arguing that each animal was a separate victim.

The ruling is expected to result in longer sentences for those convicted of animal abuse. According to Lora Dunn, staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund in Portland, the ruling may also change how law enforcement responds to animal abuse calls, as it may eliminate the need for law enforcement to obtain a warrant in certain circumstances to investigate claims of neglect or abuse. “To acknowledge that animals are victims of crime, that’s really common sense to us,” said Dunn.

Origin of the Domestic Cat

Scientists believe that the predecessor to the first land carnivores was most likely an animal called Miacis. Miacis lived about 55 million years ago and fossils show that the animal looked somewhat like a weasel.

Drawing of a Miacis Skeleton

Drawing of a Miacis Skeleton

The cat family split from other mammals about 40 million years ago, making them one of the oldest mammalian families. The best-known cats of pre-history were probably the saber-toothed cats (Smilodon) that lived during the late Pleistocene era (1.8 million to 10,000 years ago). Saber-toothed tigers, forerunners of the modern cat, were named for their sharp dagger-like canines. Able to kill full-grown elephants, these animals were plentiful in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Their small brain, large body and cumbersome teeth led to their extinction about 10,000 years ago.

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Although the saber-toothed cat has no close living relatives, paleontologists reconstruct how Smilodon looked by comparing its bones with those of large cats living today. Often called a saber-tooth tiger, Smilodon was not actually related to the tiger, although it may have behaved a bit like one. Scientists have determined that the saber tooth's skeleton was not built for speed. Very powerful front legs and a short tail indicate that it probably ambushed its prey, goring it with those fearsome canine teeth and leaving the victim to bleed to death.

Wild cats are believed to have evolved in Africa, and due to continental drift, eventually arrived in South America. About 2 million years ago, when North America and South America joined together, the cat made it's migration northward.

Evolutionary biologists agree that the domestic cat is a cross between Felis sylvestris (European wildcat) and Felis lybica (African wildcat). Of all the cats in existence, the domestic cat is the only one that has agreed to live with humans. Due to this fact, the domestic cat has been given the name "Felis domestica."

Cats were first domesticated by the Egyptians around 3000 BC in order to control the rodent problem in their cities. Since the Egyptians stored grain in woven reed baskets, rodents were able to chew through these baskets and eat the grain. With no devices, poisons or traps to fight the increasing rodent population, rats and mice swarmed through the cities. During this period, a small yellow cat with black stripes (the predecessor of today's domestic cat) began coming into the cities in order to feast on the rodents. The Egyptians welcomed these visitors and encouraged them to stay. The Egyptians named their new domestic animal "mau."

After realizing that cats had helped them solve their rodent problem, the Egyptians began holding them in high regard. Not only did the cat gradually take up residence in Egyptian households, but came to be revered and worshiped as being godlike. Bast, the Egyptian goddess of fecundity and beauty was depicted with the head of a cat. This beautiful goddess was the symbol of light, heat and solar energy. It was believed that she controlled fertility, cured illnesses and took care of the dead souls. According to Egyptian history, cats were held in such high regard that their export was forbidden, and the penalty for killing a cat was immediate death.

Cats were mummified after death and buried in sanctified plots, often with supplies of mummified mice for the afterlife. In 1890, one such plot was found to contain the remains of 300,000 cat mummies. The mummies were wrapped in expensive colorful cloth and enclosed in engraved wooden cases. Many of these mummies were distributed to museums around the world.

Since they reproduced prolifically and lived long and healthy lives, the Egyptian cat population began to swell. For a long time, Egypt had held a strict rule that cats could not leave the country. Despite this rule, the Egyptians began selling cats to the Greeks. After several years of breeding, the Greeks started selling cats to the Romans, the Gaels, the Celts and later to the Europeans. Resulting from trade relationships between Asia and Europe, cats were being exchanged for silk. The Asians loved their cats and began breeding them right away. Several distinct breeds of cats were produced in Asia, such as the Siamese, the Balinese, and the Himalayan.

Previous to the introduction of the domestic cat, the only mouse hunters in ancient Europe were semi-domesticated weasels and skunks. The Romans, and to a certain extent, the Greeks, introduced the domestic cat to the rest of Europe. In European countries, the cat was not worshipped but kept as a companion as well as a rodent hunter. However, by the time the Black Death appeared in the 11th century, cats were once again held in high esteem for their rodent killing abilities.

The Middle Ages in Europe were the worst times for cats. Cats were believed to be agents of the devil, and thought to possess magical powers. Pope Gregory IX declared the cat to be a "diabolical creature" and authorized a total persecution. Persons who kept cats were suspected of being witches, and were put to death along with their feline companions. With rat extermination becoming urgently necessary, cats were beaten, killed and driven away from towns and villages.

In Tudor England, cats were burned as a sign of both Protestant and Catholic heresy. During the inquisition, the burning of heretics, Jews, witches and cats were just some of the atrocities that were committed. By the 15th century, the European cat was on the verge of extinction, thus allowing the population of rats to increase. For lack of cats, more than two thirds of Europe died from the Bubonic plague.

Eventually the witch-hunts ceased and cats once again became highly prized and beloved household pets.

Cats were first domesticated over 5000 years ago and have since become one of the most popular pets in the world. The first record of domestic cats in Great Britain dates back to 936 AD. By the mid 18th century, cats were fairly abundant in the United States. By the late 1800s distinctive breeds were being established and cat shows held, with the long-haired breeds being especially popular.

Although the North American continent had many varieties of wild cats, there had been no history of domestic cats preceding the arrival of the Europeans. The first domestic cats were imported in order to control the rodent population in the settlements. Eventually, cats became quite popular and the first American breed, the Maine Coon Cat, was established.

The Maine Coon Cat

The Maine Coon Cat

Domestic cats now live on every continent except Antarctica and have been bred into more than fifty distinct breeds.

What's Your Dog Saying?

1. You catch your dog doing something you don't want him to do and you yell at him. Your dog is not making eye contact with you. His lips are pulled back and his ears are flat against his head. He turns his head away from you and licks his lips when you approach. What is your dog expressing?

  1. Submission
  2. Guilt
  3. Stubbornness
  4. Fear

2. You meet a strange dog. He snarls at you with his hackles (the hair on his back) raised. His tail is held low and stiff and his ears are laid back. What is this dog saying?

  1. I am afraid and may bite or run.
  2. I am the boss and I am going to bite you.
  3. I am afraid and will run away.
  4. I am angry.

3. Your dog is chattering his teeth. What is he saying?

  1. I smell a female dog in heat.
  2. I am hungry.
  3. I am cold.
  4. I am feeling car sick.

4. Your male dog mounts another male. Why?

  1. Because he likes other male dogs.
  2. Because he wants to mate and is frustrated.
  3. Because he likes the other dog.
  4. To show that he is the boss.

5. A dog is approaching you slowly. He is looking directly into your eyes and seems to be walking on his tiptoes. His ears are up and his tail is also up and wagging slowly. What is he saying?

  1. I am curious.
  2. I am friendly.
  3. I may bite you.
  4. I am scared.

6. Your dog faces you and is panting. He bows down on his front legs with his tail wagging quickly. He barks in a high-pitched voice. What is he saying?

  1. I am frustrated.
  2. I need to go outside!
  3. I want some food.
  4. Play with me!

7. Your dog yawns. What is he saying?

  1. I am bored.
  2. I need a walk.
  3. I am tired.
  4. I am nervous.

8. A dog you don't know comes up to you and takes your hand in his mouth without biting it. What is he saying?

  1. I want some food.
  2. Hello!
  3. If you move, I'll bite you.
  4. I am worried.

9. You approach a puppy whom you just caught urinating on the floor. He rolls over on his back and urinates again. What is he saying?

  1. I am submissive.
  2. I am spiteful. I urinate on the floor on purpose.
  3. I am not housebroken.
  4. I will urinate where I please.

10. You are teaching your dog something new. After a bit of work, he scratches at his neck. You are sure he doesn't have any fleas. Why is he scratching?

  1. He needs a break.
  2. He is being stubborn.
  3. He is itchy.
  4. He wants to pull his collar off.

Answer Key

  1. A
  2. A
  3. A
  4. D
  5. C
  6. D
  7. D
  8. A
  9. A
  10. A
VIDEO: What's Wrong With My Cat's Mouth?

Many cat owners look at the grace, athleticism and beauty of their pets and think that they have the “perfect” animal. Unfortunately, many of these same cats will have a very “imperfect” mouth, due to a serious and very painful condition that causes teeth to resorb, dissolve and even break! Here’s what we know about Tooth Resorption in cats.

To enjoy the videos on our site please download the latest flash plugin.
Do Dogs Mourn the Death of Another Pet?

When a dog dies, owners will often notice some changes in the pets that are left behind. They may become aloof or lethargic. Some may stop eating or become clingy. Based on these outward signs, it appears that dogs grieve when their canine companion dies.

Because our pets cannot speak, we don't really know what is going through their minds. We must base our interpretations of their emotional state on their behavior—what they do in certain situations and under specific circumstances.

Some animals can become depressed when they lose a loved one.

When a person experiences the death of a human loved one, we may know how he feels grief based on what he says. Very often, however, it is how he reacts or what he does that tells us he is suffering. He loses focus, becomes listless and disoriented, doesn't eat and becomes disinterested in what is happening around him. The person may cry, go without sleep or sleep more than usual.

An animal that is experiencing the loss of another animal companion may react similarly. Some animals can actually become depressed when they lose a loved one. They show symptoms similar to humans, such as loss of interest in their favorite activities and sleeping more than usual. However, dogs may sometimes distance themselves from the family and sleep more than usual when they are ill, so you should consult with your veterinarian before seeing a behaviorist if your dog exhibits such symptoms.

Your dog may lose her appetite, become disoriented or become more clingy. If the deceased dog was taken to a veterinarian to be euthanized, the grieving dog may sit at the window for days, watching for her return. Animal behaviorists commonly call this emotional state "separation anxiety". On the surface, the pet's behavior is similar to that of a person experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one.

If your dog shows signs of grieving, give him or her more attention and affection

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a "Companion Animal Mourning Project" in 1996. The study found that 36 percent of dogs ate less than usual after the death of another canine companion, while about 11 percent stopped eating completely. About 63 percent of dogs vocalized more than normal or became quieter. Study respondents also indicated that surviving dogs changed the quantity and location of sleep. More than half the surviving pets became more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers. Overall, the study revealed that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion.

If your dog shows signs that she is grieving the loss of an animal or human family member, provide her with more attention and affection. Take her mind off the loss by engaging in a favorite activity. If she enjoys human company, invite friends she likes over to spend time with her. Use environmental enrichment techniques like toys to help keep her busy. Hide toys or treats at her favorite spots for her to find during the day.

If your dog is very depressed over the loss, she may not respond to extra activity right away. The old saying "time heals all wounds" has meaning for your dog, too. Time is one thing that may help. Based on the results of the ASPCA study, most dogs returned to normal after about two weeks, but some dogs took up to six months to fully recover.

If your dog is vocalizing more or howling, don't give her treats to distract her This might unintentionally reinforce the howling. Giving attention during any behavior will reinforce it, so be sure you are not reinforcing a behavior you don't like. Give attention at a time when your dog is engaging in behaviors that you do like, such as when she is resting quietly or watching the squirrels. As the pain of the loss begins to subside, so should the vocalizing, if it is related to the grieving process.

You may also want to consult with your veterinarian about drug therapy to help decrease your dog's anxiety.

If you are thinking about adding another dog to your home, wait until you and your surviving dog have adjusted to the loss. Forcing your dog to get to know a newcomer will only add stress to her already anxiety-ridden emotional state. And be patient. Your dog may miss her canine companion as much as you do.

Thanksgiving Tips for Pets

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends and indulge (and, sometimes, over-indulge) in delicious holiday treats. You can be sure that if your cat or dog is around for the festivities, they'll want to share some of the goodies, too. But no matter how much your pets purr, plead, whine or whimper, owners should remember that holiday treats that are tasty for people can be potentially harmful for pets.

Thanksgiving foods may look tasty to your pet, but they could be harmful.

The typical Thanksgiving spread is flush with a variety of foods, from savory fare like turkey and stuffing to sweet foods like yams and cream pies. Your pet's diet is much blander and boring, and for good reason—foods with lots of fat, dairy and spices can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. For this reason, it's best to avoid letting Rover dine on the usual turkey day leftovers. If you must give your pet some holiday foods, stick to dishes like boiled potatoes or rice, which will not upset your pet's stomach.

Some holiday foods, however, can cause much more than an upset stomach in your pet. Garlic and onions are members of the allium family and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause hemolytic anemia, a blood disorder that causes red blood cells to burst. Raisins and grapes are also toxic to pets and have been linked to kidney failure.

Chocolate is one of the most dangerous foods that pets can eat—it's also one of the most prevalent holiday foods. Whether chocolate is found in cookies, cakes, truffles or baking squares, any amount can be dangerous. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines that can cause stimulation of the nervous system, increased heart rate and tremors. Signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity and increased thirst, urination and heart rate.

Chocolate is dangerous for pets

Other sweet treats, like gum and hard candies, can also make your pet ill. Sugar-free candies and gum are made with xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause a drop in blood sugar, depression, loss of coordination and seizures in your pet. Xylitol is also linked to liver failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all candies, chocolate and other sweets out of your pet's reach. If you believe your pet may have ingested chocolate or candy, call your veterinarian immediately.

You may also be tempted to give your dog a leftover turkey bone or two once the table is cleared. However, poultry bones are small and easily breakable and can easily shatter and get caught in your pet's throat. These bones can cause damage to your pet's throat or lead to choking.

Holidays can also be as stressful for your pet as they are for you. Large gatherings of unfamiliar people may cause your dog or cat unnecessary stress and worry. If your pet does not interact well with strangers, keeping him or her in a separate room during the festivities may help keep your pet relaxed and worry-free.

During holiday gatherings, it's a good idea to keep your veterinarian's phone number handy. If your pet does get a hold of some Thanksgiving food and experiences mild vomiting or diarrhea, you can help settle their stomach by withholding food for a few hours then feeding small amounts of boiled rice and cooked hamburger. If the symptoms persist, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Veterans and Dogs: Companions of Hope

With Veteran's Day quickly approaching, it is an opportune time to commemorate not only our soldiers and veterans- but those important canine friends that help our servicemen and servicewomen’s reentry to American life.

Engaging in military battles or conflict can create anxiety in even the hardiest of soldiers. Unfortunately, sometimes that anxiety permeates their emotional state in such a way so as to disrupt their attempts at a "normal" life once they return home.

Oftentimes, returned soldiers can suffer not only from anxiety but also from depression, fear and substance abuse. Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that can include reliving the experience through memories, nightmares or flashbacks. PTSD can also cause a victim to avoid situations that remind him/her of the event, create negative feelings, and initiate hyperarousal (living with a chronic state of fight or flight). These hard-to-overcome emotions can paralyze veterans, dismantle family life, and prevent an individual’s chance at happiness.

PTSD Therapy Dog

Pawsible Help

A specially trained PTSD dog can give its owner a sense of comfort, security, calm. Like all service dogs, a psychiatric service dog is individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate the owner’s disability. With PTSD, some of these mitigating tasks may involve:

  • Providing environmental assessments (entering a room prior to the owner and making sure “the coast is clear”)
  • Interrupting an owner’s repetitive or injurious behavior
  • Reminding the owner to take medication
  • Guiding the handler away from stressful situations.

PTSD Therapy Dog

Creature Comforts

Much research has been performed that demonstrates dogs’ ability to serve as good companions, elicit feelings of love and affection, and reduce stress in humans. These and other natural canine virtues make dogs the perfect therapist for a PTSD survivor. These well-trained service dogs draw individuals out of their shells and help them overcome their emotional numbness or fear. Researchers have also concluded that human-dog bonding has biological effects such as adjusting serotonin levels, lowering blood pressure and overcoming depression.

If you or someone you care about has been affected by PTSD and could benefit from special canine companionship, contact either of the following organizations for more information: