Monthly Archives: March 2009

Spaying and Neutering: Not Just for Dogs and Cats

Ranee recovers Excaliber as he recovers from his neuter surgery.

The risk of reproductive cancers (ovarian, uterine, mammarian) for an unspayed female rabbit stands at is virtually eliminated by spaying your female rabbit. Your neutered male rabbit will live longer as well, given that he won’t be tempted to fight with other animals (rabbits, cats, etc.) due to his sexual aggression. Altered rabbits are healthier and live longer than unaltered rabbits.

They are calmer, more loving, and dependable once the undeniable urge to mate has been removed. In addition, rabbits are less prone to destructive (chewing, digging) and aggressive (biting, lunging, circling, growling) behavior after surgery.

Unneutered male rabbits spray, and both males and females are much easier to litter train, and much more reliably trained, after they have been altered.

A knowledgeable rabbit veterinarian can spay or neuter your rabbit with very little risk to a healthy rabbit.

More Cat Facts

The only domestic animal not mentioned in the Bible is the cat.

The penalty for killing a cat, 4,000 years ago in Egypt, was death.

The Persian cat has the longest and thickest fur of all domestic cats. The topcoat may be up to 5 inches long.

The phenomenon of cats finding their owners in a place where they have never been before is scientifically known as Psi-trailing. Many well-documented stories tell of cats that have walked hundreds, even thousands of miles to find their owners.

The phrase “raining cats and dogs” originated in 17th Century England. During heavy downpours of rain, many of these poor animals unfortunately drowned and their bodies would be seen floating in the rain torrents that raced through the streets. The situation gave the appearance that it had literally rained “cats and dogs” and led to the current expression.

The red tabby cat is a Sarman.

The silver tabby cat is a Teku.

The Turkish Van, a very old rare breed that originated in Turkey, is quite different from other breeds because of its unusual love of water. Known as “the swimming cat,” the Van is strong, quick and agile. He makes a devoted and loyal companion–on land or at sea.

There are more than 100 million dogs and cats in the United States.

There are more than 500 million domestic cats, with either 35 different breeds (according to The Cat Fanciers Association, the world’s largest cat registry), or 38 breeds (as recognized by The International Cat Association, the second largest registry).

There is a species of cat smaller than the average housecat. It is native to Africa and it is the Black-footed cat (Felis nigripes). Its top weight is 5.5 pounds.

Those dark lines connecting to a cat’s eyes are called mascara lines.

Though rare, cats can contract canine heart worms.

To drink, a cat laps liquid from the underside of its tongue, rather than the top.

When you find your cat glued to the window intently watching a bird, making a strange chattering noise and clicking his or her jaws oddly, your cat is merely acting on instinct. What your cat is doing is directly related to the killing bite that all cats (both domestic and wild cats) use to dispatch their prey.

When your cats rubs up against you, she is actually marking you as “hers” with her scent. If your cat pushes his face against your head, it is a sign of acceptance and affection.

Winston Churchill, adored cats. Churchill used to refer to his cat, “Jock”, as his special assistant. “Jock” was reported to be on the bed with his master on the day the great British statesman died.

You can tell a cat’s mood by looking into its eyes. A frightened or excited cat will have large, round pupils. An angry cat will have narrow pupils. The pupil size is related as much to the cat’s emotions as to the degree of light.

You check your cats pulse on the inside of the back thigh, where the leg joins to the body. Normal for cats: 110-170 beats per minute.

Young cats can distinguish between two identical sounds that are just 18 inches apart at a distance of up to 60 feet.

More Dog Facts

The smallest of the recognized dog breeds, the Chihuahua, is also the one that usually lives the longest. Named for the region of Mexico where they were first discovered in the mid-19th century, the Chihuahua can live anywhere between 11-18 years.

The term “dog days” has nothing to do with dogs. It dates back to Roman times, when it was believed that Sirius, the Dog Star, added its heat to that of the sun from July3 to August 11, creating exceptionally high temperatures. The Romans called the period dies caniculares, or “days of the dog.”

The theobromine in chocolate that stimulates the cardiac and nervous systems is too much for dogs, especially smaller pups. A chocolate bar is poisonous to dogs and can even be lethal.

There are 701 types of pure breed dogs.

There are more than 100 million dogs and cats in the United States. Americans spend more than 5.4 billion dollars on their pets each year.

Though human noses have an impressive 5 million olfactory cells with which to smell, sheepdogs have 220 million, enabling them to smell 44 times better than man.

Using their swiveling ears like radar dishes, experiments have shown that dogs can locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second.

Walt Disney’s family dog was named Lady. She was a poodle.

While small dogs are gaining in popularity, the top dogs are still the big ones. The Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and German Shepherd Dog are first, second, and third on list of the American Kennel Club’s most popular breeds.

Who first thought of using dogs to guide blind people? At the end of World War I, the German government trained the first guide dogs to assist blind war veterans.

Tidbits: Factual, Funny, Fascinating

* The latest weapons in the war against bedbugs, which have become an epidemic in New York City are Mardi Gras, Jada, and Taz. Canine teams from Advanced Canine Dectives from Connecticut can search a 200 room hotel for the bloodsucking pests in just 8 hours, accurately pinpointing sources of infestation.

*The largest animal eye belongs to Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni, the colossal squid. A specimen caught in April in New Zealand had eyes measuring 11 inches across. 5/5/08

* Veterinary Pet Insurance polled more than 3000 of its policyholders and found that 42% involved or planned to include a pet in their nuptials. According to popular wedding Web site The Knot, the trend is tres’ bon. “It’s actually a great way for you to personalize your wedding.”,

* An extensive genetic study suggests that severe droughts occuring between 90,000 and 135,000 years ago reduced the number of early humans to as low as 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau calculated our number at 6,671,275,141 as of June 1. 4/24/08

* It’s more fun than hard science, but Pooch IQ promises to objectively rate a dog’s reasoning, memory, persistence, and problem-solving skills using toys and games. The Pooch IQ scale, which runs from 55 to 150, includes labels such as dased and confused, not so bright, pretty clever, smarty pants, and absolute genius.

National Poison Prevention Week

With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons for our pets. In 2008, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL, handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Don’t leave it up to Fido or Fluffy to keep themselves safe. Below is a list of the top ten pet poisons that affected our furry friends in 2008.

Human Medications
For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCA’s list of common hazards, and 2008 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed more than 50,000 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs, such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so it’s essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

In our effort to battle home invasions of unwelcome pests, we often unwittingly put our pets at risk. In 2008, our toxicologists fielded more than 31,000 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, it’s always important to talk to your pet’s veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

People Food
People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and certain citrus fruit can seriously harm our furry friends, and accounted for more than 15,000 cases in 2008. One of the worst offenders—chocolate—contains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.

Last year, the ASPCA received approximately 8,000 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets, including bleeding, seizures and kidney damage.

Veterinary Medications
Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, they’re often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2008, the ASPCA managed nearly 8,000 cases involving animal-related preparations such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de-wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.

Common houseplants were the subject of nearly 8,000 calls to the Animal Poison Control Center in 2008. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Chemical Hazards
In 2008, the Animal Poison Control Center handled approximately 5,500 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazards—found in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicals—form a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

Household Cleaners
Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received more than 3,200 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

Heavy Metals
It’s not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison offender. Instead, it’s heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, which accounted for more than 3,000 cases of pet poisonings in 2008. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.

It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded more than 2,000 calls related to fertilizer exposure. Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something lawn-side, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Interesting Rabbit Facts

A male rabbit is called a buck and a female rabbit is called a doe.

A rabbit can see behind himself, without turning his head, but has a blind spot in front of his face.

A rabbit sweats through the pads on its feet.

Domestic rabbits cannot breed with wild rabbits.

Rabbits are the most active at dawn and dusk.

Rabbits can jump to a height of more than 36 inches.

Rabbits can purr, just like a cat.

Rabbits cannot vomit.

Rabbits do not like loud noises and sudden movements.

Rabbits eat their own night droppings, known as cecotropes.

Rabbits need to eat hay, in order to assist their digestive system and prevent fur balls in their stomach.

The droppings of a rabbit make an excellent garden fertilizer.

The largest litter of baby rabbits was 24 and it has been witnessed twice.

The record for the longest living rabbit is that of 19 years, while that of heaviest rabbit is 26 lbs.

The teeth of a rabbit never stop growing.

There are over 150 different colors of a rabbit’s coat, but only 5 eye colors (brown, blue-grey, blue, marbled, and pink).

There are over 50 established breeds of domestic rabbit.

When rabbits are happy, they jump and twist.

Cat Facts

95% of cat owners admit they talk to their cats.

A cat can be either right-pawed or left-pawed.

A cat can jump as much as seven times its height.

A cat can spend five or more hours a day grooming himself.

A cat can sprint at about thirty-one miles per hour.

A cat cannot see directly under its nose. This is why the cat cannot seem to find tidbits on the floor.

A cat has 230 bones in its body. A human only has 206 bones.

A cat has four rows of whiskers.

A cat in a hurry can sprint at about thirty-one miles per hour.

A cat is pregnant for about 58-65 days.

A cat sees about six times better than a human at night because of the tapetum lucidum , a layer of extra reflecting cells which absorb light.

A cat that bites you for rubbing his stomach is often biting from pleasure, not anger.

A cat uses its whiskers to determine if a space is too small to squeeze through. The whiskers act as feelers or antennae, helping the animal to judge the precise width of any passage.

A cat will almost never meow at another cat. Cats use this sound for humans.

A cat will clean itself with paw and tongue after a dangerous experience or when it has fought with another cat. This is believed to be an attempt by the animal to soothe its nerves by doing something natural and instinctive.

A cat will never break a sweat because it has no sweat glands.

A cat will spend nearly 30% of its life grooming itself.

A cat will tremble or shiver when it is extreme pain.

Dog Facts

A dog’s whiskers are touch-sensitive hairs called vibrissae. They are found on the muzzle, above the eyes and below the jaws, and can actually sense tiny changes in airflow.

According to a recent survey, the most popular name for a dog is Max. Other popular names include Molly, Sam, Zach, and Maggie.

According to ancient Greek literature, when Odysseus arrived home after an absence of 20 years, disguised as a beggar, the only one to recognize him was his aged dog Argos, who wagged his tail at his master, and then died.

An American Animal Hospital Association poll showed that 33 percent of dog owners admit that they talk to their dogs on the phone or leave messages on an answering machine while away.
An estimated 1 million dogs in the United States have been named the primary beneficiary in their owner’s will.

At the end of the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life”, an ultrasonic whistle, audible only to dogs, was recorded by Paul McCartney for his Shetland sheepdog.

Barbara Bush’s book about her English Springer Spaniel, Millie’s book, was on the bestseller list for 29 weeks. Millie was the most popular “First Dog” in history.

Before the enactment of the 1978 law that made it mandatory for dog owners in New York City to clean up after their pets, approximately 40 million pounds of dog excrement were deposited on the streets every year.

Cats have better memories than dogs. Tests conducted by the University of Michigan concluded that while a dogs memory lasts no more than 5 minutes, a cat’s can last as long as 16 hours – exceeding even that of monkeys and orangutans.

Cats have more than one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.

Cats, not dogs, are the most common pets in America. There are approximately 66 million cats to 58 million dogs, with Parakeets a distant third at 14 million.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs do not sweat by salivating. They sweat through the pads of their feet.

Tidbits: Factual, Funny, Facinating

* The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act became law in May. The act prohibits insurance companies from using genetic information to deny, cancel, or charge more for coverage; it also prohibits discrimination based on an individual’s DNA. (

* Disinfectant wipes may spread drug-resistant bacteria rather than kill them. A study of 2 hospitals in Wales showed wipes could transfer “superbugs” such as methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) if a single wipe was used on multiple surfaces. (Reuters 6/4/08)

* A recent poll found that pet owners, especially dog owners, favor John McCain over Barack Obama in the U.S. precidential race. The McCains own more than a dozen dogs, while the Obama household is sans pets. (Associated Press 7/8/08)

* George Washington’s dog was named Drunkard. (

* K9 Water Company of Valencia, California markets “vitamin fortified bottled water” in varities to tempt the canine palate: toilet water, puddle water, hose water, and gutter water. (

Contaminated Kisses?

We do it too. We let our pups lick our faces, sleep in our beds, sometimes even share our snacks. Surveys show nearly half of all dog owners share food with their dogs, and more than half allow their dog to sleep in their bed and lick them on the face. But can doggie germs really make us sick? According to a recent study by the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine, we’re in the clear as long as we wash our hands after petting our pups.

The research showed that bonding behaviors like sharing bedding and letting our dogs lick our faces had no association to an increase in shared E. coli bacteria, upon which the study centered on and can sometimes make both people and dogs sick. “People have it, dogs have it, and it normally doesn’t cause any problems,” said Dr. Kate Stenke, the K-State Clinical professor who supervised the study. “But it can acquire genes to make it antibiotic resistant.” That’s why hand washing is especially important for keeping everybody healthy. The research showed a link between antibiotic-resistant E. coli and owners who didn’t wash their hands after petting their pups and handling food.

So go ahead, snuggle up, get doggie kisses, now you’ve got proof – these behaviors aren’t more likely to spread your dog’s germs after all.