Monday, January 29, 2007

Animal Book Spotlight

The following book review is featured in this week's issue of "Our Place to Paws." If you'd like to subscribe and read more book reviews, informative and fun animal stories, and words from our "columnists," please email: and put Subscribe: Our Place to Paws in the subject line. Thanks, and enjoy!

Did you know that Manx cats are named for the Isle of Man, where they are mainly found? Or that some cats—like the Oriental Lilac Cat—actually have pink fur?

Usborne’s new CATS STICKER BOOK (ISBN 0 7945 1584 3) by Sophy Tahta, features 24 pages of cats, grouped together by features/and or heritage. These groupings help young cat lovers to learn to distinguish, for instance, the markings that designate a Tabby cat from the those that designate a Tortoiseshell cat. Curly-coated cats, Tailless cats, Abyssinian cats, and Siamese cats, and lots of others, are all accounted for.

Along with a faded image of each cat (onto which the user will place the appropriate vividly-colored sticker) there is a paragraph further identifying each feline, and providing little-known facts like those mentioned above. There is also a place for cat watchers to record when and where they actually catch their first glimpse of a particular feline in real life. The stock of the pages in this book, therefore, is worth mentioning. These are heavy semi-glossy pages that should hold up just fine not only through the stickering process but also through all the years it can take to actually identify each cat, and then all the years beyond that that a cat lover might want to keep such a record.

The cat stickers (six artists created the 90 cat images) are not only expressive and well-illustrated but also easy to peel and easy to place. They are located in the middle of the book. A back-of-the-book check list provides page numbers for each sticker placement, ensuring that young cat lovers don’t succumb to frustration before they are able to place all the cats.

CAT STICKERS BOOK is a must for anyone who loves cats. It’s fun, it’s informative, and it gives young readers growing up in this age of ‘sound-bites” an opportunity to work on a rewarding long-term project. Priced at $8.99, it’s irresistible. (Other animal books by this publisher can be found at

CATS STICKER BOOK is reviewed by Joan Schweighardt, the author of GUDRUN’S TAPESTRY and other novels. Over the years Joan has counted among her closest friends Zelma, Cleo, and Speedy-Clark (all felines) and Heidi, Barnaby, Dirty Ben, Auggie Doggie and Smart Sartre (all canines). Currently Joan counts herself lucky to share her life and home with Nikki, a Belgian Shepherd who survived a near-death experience more than a year ago. Having been nursed back to life with drops of water from a turkey-baster and thereafter minuscule pieces of prime rib, Nikki is now the most spoiled 14-year-old dog on the planet.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rescue Alert!

Part of the mission of Our Place to Paws is to help abandoned animals. We just received this note from Peggy Dey of Dey by Dey Studio in New Hill, North Carolina:

"A VERY prenant Rat Terrier found her way to us the week before Christmas, and within a day of her arrival we were blessed with 7 mixed-breed puppies. It was a bit too quiet around here I guess, adding a few extra fur balls to play around our feet seemed necessary. For now we aren't going to try to place them with the rescues; they have their hands full already and we would like to place as many as possible through people we know. These puppies are not going to be big dogs, since their mom is only 15 lbs. As for dad, who knows...a German Shepard or Husky mix(!)? They might get to 40lbs but are likely to be much smaller than that from what everyone here can guess. These sweethearts will have had their first rounds of shots and all dewormings and even be chipped in case they get lost." For information on adopting a pup, email

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Origami is the traditional Japanese art or technique of folding paper into a variety of decorative or representational forms, such as animals or flowers.

Well, if it has to do with animals, we're going to look into it at Our Place to Paws, of course!

Have you ever made an origami puppy? Whether you're a child or an adult child, download this simple, one-page art project and have some fun.

Just keep the paper you're working with away from the goat, because he might be hungry for breakfast.

Download origami puppy instructions here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Featured article in "Our Place to Paws"

The following article is featured in the inaugural issue of a new e-"mewsletter" titled Our Place to Paws. For more information, to view a sample issue or to subscribe, email:

Lost Your Cat? Get ‘em Back!

by Kimber Wukitsch

Anyone who’s ever owned an animal knows that losing one is like losing a good friend. In cases of illness or death, the only cure is to let time heal the wounds, but when a pet runs away the heartache is mixed with the hope of recovery. I experienced this firsthand when my usually laid-back indoor cat Jaden ran away the day I moved into a new apartment. It was only a little over a year since my last cat had died of a sudden, tragic heart condition, and although I was completely distraught I was also determined not to lose another animal if I could help it. A little online research specifically geared toward lost cat recovery gave me both the tools and resolve to embark on an effective and ultimately successful search. Thanks to advice from the Missing Pet Partnership, a grassroots national nonprofit organization, I miraculously got my cat back only six days after he ran away.

While not everyone will be this successful in quickly finding their animal, there is actually somewhat of a science to recovering a lost cat; the key is to realize that your cat’s temperament holds the answer to your search methods. Missing Pet Partnership identifies four primary personality types and suggests recovery strategies for each:

1. Curious/Clown Cat: These are gregarious cats that run to the door to greet strangers, get into trouble easily and are not readily afraid of anything. If they get out, they might initially hide but will then travel further away from their home.
Recovery strategy: Place fluorescent posters within at least a 5-block radius of your house, interview neighbors door-to-door, and thoroughly search possible hiding places in yards of houses near yours. Do NOT assume your cat will come when called.

2. Care-less Cat: These cats tend to be aloof and don’t seem to care much about people; they will stand back and watch when a stranger is around. When displaced they will usually hide initially but then may come back to the door and meow, or possibly travel.

Recovery Strategy: Search hiding places nearby including neighbors’ yards, and interview neighbors door-to-door. If these tactics don’t work, consider setting a baited humane trap.*

3. Cautious Cats: Such cats are generally stable but show occasional shyness. They like people but will initially dart and hide from strangers, although they may come out later to investigate. When displaced they are likely to immediately hide in fear. If not scared off from their hiding place, they will generally come back to wherever they escaped from or meow when their owner comes looking. However—this can take up to 7-10 days, when their hunger and thirst has reached a point where they will respond.

Recovery Strategy: Conduct a tightly-focused search in neighbors’ yards and set baited humane traps.

4. Catatonic/Xenophobic Cats: Alright, admittedly this category title is a bit humorous, but holds true nonetheless! These cats are afraid of everything that is new and unfamiliar, and will typically hide when a stranger comes into the home and not come out until that person has left. They do not enjoy being held and are easily disturbed by any change to their environment. When displaced, they bolt and then hide in silence—they tend to remain in the same hiding place and become almost catatonic, immobilized with fear. If someone other than their owners finds them, they are typically mistaken as untamed or “feral.”

Recovery strategy: Set baited humane traps. Xenophobic cats that become “lost” are routinely absorbed into the feral cat population.

Once you identify your cat’s temperament type, it’s necessary to thoroughly and aggressively pursue the recovery strategies immediately following its absence. The longer you wait, the more likely they are to get into trouble or travel further away. In the case of Jaden, I immediately began conducting regular searches through the woods behind my new apartment, hung posters throughout my neighborhood and talked to my neighbors in person (this proved to be a great way to meet my new people!), and received several calls from neighbors who thought they had seen him. However, he was too skittish to allow anyone near him, which is why Missing Pet Partnership’s advice was so useful: I realized my only chance was to set a couple of humane traps in the areas he had been spotted and cross my fingers.

I was incredibly lucky to catch Jaden the first night I set a trap six days following his disappearance, when his hunger was likely working in my favor. This is highly unusual; I read stories online of people setting traps for weeks to months before catching their cat. But it speaks to probably the most important point: don’t give up or lose hope. It’s easy to feel rebuked by others who might tell you, “it’s just a cat” or, “you’ll never find your cat!” Sure, it’s possible you won’t get your cat back, but if you don’t try you’ll never know—only persistence can bring your cat back to you, and believe me it’s worth every effort.

*Humane traps are wire cages with a trip mechanism that, when triggered by an animal, will shut the door and contain it inside. They are usually available for loan at your local Humane Society. Some good tips are available at

For more information on how to recover a lost cat or dog, visit or contact