Naughty at Nighttime

FirecrackerHiRes WEBCats sleep about 18 hours a day and take multiple cat naps to accomplish this feat. They’re also nocturnal, which means they’re up and about when most of us are trying to sleep. Single kittens and feline adolescents tend to be the most active at night. Here’s what to know to try to keep a cat’s nature from interfering with your sleep:

  • Try to combat overactivity by wearing the felines out. Engage them in interactive play an hour or so before bedtime.(Find appropriate toys at Tri-County Humane Society's store. All proceeds go back to the animals.)
  • Give them a late-night snack.
  • Make the bedroom as dark as possible. Cats can’t see in total darkness. They can get around in low light very well, though.
  • If cats are just too playful, they might need their own playroom at the end of the home. This nighttime isolation is typically only needed until the cat is older.
  • Sometimes two is better than one. A second young cat with a similar activity level will give the first one an exercise partner.
  • If the cat starts tapping you, wanting food before your wake-up time, ignore him or her. If you give in, that just teaches them that they can get their way by harassing you. Roll over, pull the covers over you – do whatever you can to give them the message that this behavior will not be rewarded.
  • To keep a hormonally charged female from making night noise, spay her!
  • If it’s an older cat that’s being restless, consider taking him or her to the vet. A health issue may be behind the ruckus.

Source: Adapted from information by Jacque Lynn Schultz, CPDT

Select the Right Pet for Your Kids

boston1 WEBRemember, a pet isn’t a temporary playmate but a multi-year commitment - as well as a new family member.

How old should my child be before we get a pet?

Some experts recommend a child be at least 6 years old, but you are the best judge of your child’s maturity. At the very least, your child should exhibit self-control and understand and obey the word “no.” If you think your child is ready for a pet, introduce him or her to friends’ well-behaved pets to see how your child does.

Should we get a young animal or an older one?

Puppies and kittens are fragile, require extra time and care, and are prone to play-related scratching and biting. They might not be the most appropriate pet for a young child. Adopting a friendly, calm adult animal who has a known history of getting along with young children might be best. Talk to Tri-County Humane Society staff members for insights into an animal’s behavior with children.

What kind of dog is best with kids?

All dogs have the potential to bite, and a dog’s breed is only one of many factors that affect temperament and behavior. The best dogs for kids are those who receive proper socialization, humane training, exercise and attention, who are given adequate food, water, shelter and veterinary care, who are sterilized and who are safely confined.

How should my child interact with pets?

To protect both your child and your pet, it’s critical that you supervise all child-pet interactions. It’s also important to help your child see the world through your pet’s eyes: How would he or she feel if someone poked them or pulled at his/her ears? Explain that even the most docile of pets has limits, and all animals must be treated with caution and respect.

Pets might be upset by too much petting or stimulation. Teach your child to heed warning signs (hissing, lip curling, retreating and growling) that indicate the animal would rather be left alone.

Other people’s pets may feel and display discomfort if your child touches or even approaches them. Tell your child to get permission from an adult before touching another pet. Check out the instructions on how to avoid dog bites.

Animals in pain may lash out or bite anyone who tries to touch them. Teach your child to leave an injured pet alone and to notify an adult immediately.

Teach your kids not to scream and run around dogs. It may make them overly excited and even dangerous.

Dogs contained in yards or cars may try to protect their territory if approached. Teach your child not to tease or get close to them.

How can I help my pet feel safe?

Pets, like children, need time to adjust to new surroundings and circumstances. Provide pets with a place of their own where they can be away from the children. (Be careful about putting them in a yard unattended; they can be teased by neighborhood children.)

How can my kid help care for a pet?

Choose tasks appropriate for the age of the child. Even young children can be involved in some aspect of caring for an animal friend, such as selecting a new toy or color or carrying a food can.

How can I teach my kids to take good care of pets?

The best way to teach your children how to be responsible pet caregivers is to be one yourself. Start even before you get a pet – make sure you have realistic expectations about pet ownership. Take the right steps to select the right animal for your family at the right time. As soon as you bring a pet into your family, set up and enforce rules regarding proper pet care. (“Don’t pull the dog’s ears, tail, or other body parts.”) Insist they never tease, hit, or chase the pet. Teach children how to properly pick up, hold, and pet the animal. Ultimately, your children will learn how to treat animals – and people by watching how you treat the family pet.

Source: Pets for Life Behavior Series, adapted from Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado, and the Humane Society of the United States.

Nail Trimming

For a dog that enjoys regular outdoor activity, nail trimming may not be needed. In many cases, walking on pavement maintains a dog’s nails at an acceptable length. However, there are steps to take to ensure nail trimming isn’t an unpleasant experience for your dog:

  • Before you ever attempt to trim its nails, begin by touching its legs, feet and toes, and associate this with an activity it enjoys. When it is resting, begin petting it, gently passing your hands over its back and legs. If this is well tolerated, you may wish to give it a small food treat. Do not try to do too much the first time.
  • Gradually manipulate your pet’s foot more each time. Eventually you should be able to slip your fingers in between each toe, gently squeezing each one to flex the nail, putting gentle pressure as you hold each foot and manipulate the leg. Do not attempt this when your pet is feeling agitated or playful.
  • Once your pet tolerates having its feet touched during quiet times, you may begin to incorporate this into elements of play time. Train your dog to assume a “down/stay” position when it retrieves a ball, for example, and “shake” its paw before continuing the game.
  • Make sure not to cut into the quick, or the living portion of the nail bed that contains sensitive nerves and blood vessels. That is a painful experience for the dog, and he’ll begin to associate the trimming with bad things. If you are unsure how to trim your dog’s toenails, ask your veterinarian or technician to show you how. The nail bed is seen as a pinkish triangle at the base of a nail; however it may not be obvious in dark-colored nails.
  • There is more variety between the shape of toe nails in dogs than in cats. Some pets’ nails grow in a more curved shape as compared with those growing more parallel to the ground. This may determine how short they may be trimmed. Even a skilled professional can misjudge the depth to which a nail may be trimmed.
  • It is better to cut less than to cut more than necessary. Trim off small sections at a time and stop well short of the sensitive portion of the nail. Cut your pet’s nails frequently, a little at a time, rather than occasionally when toe nails are uncomfortable to both your pet and to you.

Source: "Canine and Feline Behavior Problems," Stefanie Schwartz

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