Thursday, October 29, 2009

Prosthetics Keep Animals Active, Even When Injured

This great story in USA Today profiles OrthoPets, which produces custom prosthetics and braces for animals. There is a wonderful picture of a golden retriever running on all fours for the first time -- brought tears to my eyes!

Enjoy the article here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Larry the Lobster will go free

A New York City restaurant has agreed to release an 11-pound lobster that is probably 70 years old back into the ocean in Maine after a reporter wrote about the lobster and readers protested to its capture. Go Larry!

Read more at PawNation.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Guide for building inexpensive shelters and feeding stations available on web site

BETHESDA – Alley Cat Allies, the national advocate for feral and stray cats, this week launched an online guide offering tips to feral cat caregivers and concerned individuals who want to help feral and stray cats this winter, including simple instructions for building inexpensive feeding stations and shelters to keep cats safe from the winter elements. The online guide is available at be

“We know that millions of people already help to care for the cats in their communities each day,” said Becky Robinson, president of Alley Cat Allies. “While most feral cats are skilled at finding their own food and place to sleep, providing specially-built shelters and dedicated feeding sites guarantee the cats a warm spot to escape the harsh winter weather and deter them from places they aren’t wanted.”

Feral cats spend their whole lives outdoors, and can be found all over the country, from the largest cities to the most rural landscapes. They are not socialized to humans and can’t be adopted into homes. Feral cats live amongst their own in family groups called “colonies,” and studies show they are just as healthy as pet cats.

To help the feral and stray cats in your community this winter, Alley Cat Allies suggests the following simple steps:

Build an outdoor shelter and a feeding station.

Shelters are easy and inexpensive to build. You can use the plans available at, or modify a pre-built dog house. Some manufacturers also sell pre-built cat shelters.

The shelter should be elevated off the ground and sited in a quiet, unobtrusive area with a minimal amount of traffic. A good-sized shelter offers a space just big enough for three to five cats to huddle. The door should be no more than six to eight inches wide to keep out wildlife and bigger predators. Install a flap on the door to keep out snow, rain and wind.

In addition to a shelter, you can build a simple feeding station with a roof and sides to protect cats from the elements while they eat.

Insulate the shelter against moisture as well as cold.

Straw resists the wet and keeps a shelter warm, and is the best choice for insulation and bedding. Blankets are not a good idea, as they absorb moisture like a sponge.

Keep food and drinking water from freezing.

Wet food in insulated containers is most ideal for winter time feeding, as it takes less energy for cats to digest than dry food – and cats can use all that extra energy to keep warm.
Preventing liquids from freezing can be a challenge during the winter and can lead to a risk for dehydration. Keep water drinkable by using bowls that are deep rather than wide, and place them in a sunny spot. If possible, refill the bowls with warm water. A pinch of sugar in the water also keeps it from freezing as quickly, and provides an added energy boost for the cats. Alternatives include the heated electric bowls found in many pet shops.

The cats will come to expect you if you keep a regular feeding schedule, and the food and water will spend less time in the cold before it is consumed.

Get educated about cats, and stop the breeding cycle with Trap-Neuter-Return.

Make sure to educate yourself, your family and your neighbors about the habits of outdoor cats during the winter time. For example, know to check under the car or give the hood a tap before starting the engine, as cats will sometimes crawl into car engines or hide under them for warmth.

Prevent another “kitten season” next year by getting the outdoor cats in your neighborhood spayed or neutered now. Cats have a 63-day gestation period and usually mate in winter.

End the cycle of breeding and help the cats lead better lives by humanely trapping them and having them spayed or neutered by a veterinarian as part of a Trap-Neuter-Return program. Make sure the trapped cats are quickly moved to a warm vehicle for transportation to a veterinary clinic. A local volunteer group that practices Trap-Neuter-Return may be able to help.

Visit Alley Cat Allies’ web site,, for more information about connecting to local resources and starting a Trap-Neuter-Return program in your community.

More information about winter safety for outdoor cats can be found at

# # #

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meriweather got his miracle!

Paws reader Marisa reports that miracle stray Meriweather, who she flew to Massachusetts after finding him abandoned in Tennessee, will soon have a happy home in the Berkshires with a family that is delighted to have him and lives just down the street from a store full of organic dog treats! She thanks Paws for all our help spreading the word!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nora the Piano-Playing Cat Honored by ASPCA

The ASPCA will be handing out 10 Humane Awards on October 29, reports USA Today. Among the recipients is Nora the Piano-Playing Cat, the ASPCA's 2009 Cat of the Year. The famous feline is being rewarded for raising the profile of shelter pets. Yay, Nora!

Read more at Paw Nation.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Be a part of Meriweather's Miracle!

Marisa, an Our Place to Paws Reader, is trying to find a home for a very special dog. Read Marisa's story below:

Every October for the past 4 years I have volunteered at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN. On Friday, 10/16, I was in Hohenwald and decided to visit the grave site of Meriweather Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame). Its on the Natchez Trace, very secluded, heavily wooded. A dog rushed out to meet us, clearly in
bad shape, drenched and shivering.....I never did get to pay my respects to Mr. Lewis...

So, the vet in Hohenwald saw him amd gave us the choice of keeping him, putting him down, or having the pound put him down. Rural TN has a 27% unemployment rate, there are few shelters and those that exist are overflowing far worse than ours. Its common for unwanted dogs to be shot- considered a kindness.

So, the newly dubbed Meriweather was neutered, microchipped, given a rabies vaccine, etc., and booked on the flight home to Boston.

He is between 2-3 yrs old, very healthy (we had blood work done), weighs 39.5 lbs, but should be 45 or so lbs per the vet. He is curious about cats, but I am not comfortable stating he's cat-proofed. He loves adult men and women, but is very drawn to children around age 10-12. We think his original family must have
had children in that age group. He is a very active guy and will need a home where he gets lots of love. He loves being petted and gives licks freely. I'll pass along a photo tomorrow.

Thanks for any help, Marisa


Everyone who helps get Meriweather a home is a sweet soul!

Update: he slept well in his new temporary home, high pitch bark means bathroom, and he did go outside. He is strongly attracted to outdoor life- will bolt after anything, including a, a fenced in yard or leash at all times. He did lead me into the middle of the street last night while having his 1st MA walk- didn't even look.

I should tell you he is a chow/collie mix as best as anyone can tell. Light red hair mixed with black, whoite front paws, partially blind left eye from a previous wound. The wound has healed completely and is without infection, but it does look like he has a cataract there. One ear is pointy upward, and the other
droops down. He really is a sight.

We need to get his story out there. Thanks for being part of Meriweather's miracle!

BTW, when I say sit or heel boy, or day walk and point, he does what I ask. I'm sure he's somewhat confused over the name Meriweather. (I didn't name him...) He clearly knows a few commands.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Celebrate Today and Make a Difference in Cats' Lives: From Alley Cat Allies

Today marks the ninth annual National Feral Cat Day, an event we founded years ago on the date of our incorporation to honor our nation's feral cats.

We hope you will be taking part in one of the over 100 events going on in 33 states across the country. View Alley Cat Allies' list of events online. Some celebrations are taking place this coming weekend—so there is still time to attend.

Can’t make it to an event at all? Don’t worry. There are things you can do today and every day to support Alley Cat Allies and raise awareness about feral cats and Trap-Neuter-Return.

Whether you hang a poster in your town, take part in the “I’m an Alley Cat Ally” photo pledge, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, or make a donation to Alley Cat Allies, we’re happy to have you on our side as we work to protect and improve the lives of cats across the nation.

Check out our list of events.
Hang a poster in your neighborhood and all around town.
Show the world you're an "Alley Cat Ally."
Write a letter to the editor using these samples as your guide.
Donate today to help make a difference in cats' lives.
All of us here at Alley Cat Allies wish you a very happy National Feral Cat Day!


Becky Robinson

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cold Weather Tips for Your Pet

Winter is coming and in many areas of the country it's getting cold outside. Here in New England some areas are starting to see their first frosts. Cold weather is a special challenge for many animals and for pets. The ASPCA posts special tips for pets in cold weather, including:

# Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.

# During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.

# Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.

# Thoroughly wipe off your dog's legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.

# Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.

The ASPCA posts many more tips like these on their Web site, HERE.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Get Smart about Feral Cats

On National Feral Cat Day—and All Year Round

By Becky Robinson, President, Alley Cat Allies

This October 16, 2009 marks the ninth annual National Feral Cat Day—an opportunity for people everywhere to help protect and improve the lives of cats.

Americans care about cats—in fact, over 40% have fed a stray cat. National Feral Cat Day is the perfect occasion to jumpstart American’s admiration of cats by helping communities across the country learn more about feral cats and Trap-Neuter-Return. Many celebrate National Feral Cat Day by educating others and hosting special events, including workshops, fundraisers, and neuter clinic days.

Get started by understanding some basic facts about feral cats:

Feral cats aren’t snugglers. Though feral cats are members of the domestic cat species just like pet cats, they are fearful of humans. Since feral cats are not socialized to humans, they cannot be adopted. They live healthy, happy lives in their outdoor homes.

Traditional approaches for feral cats—such as catch and kill or attempts to relocate—do not work. They are costly, inhumane, and endless. Removing cats from an area creates a vacuum, which more cats move into and breed to fill. Decades of these failed practices prove their futility.

Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of cats. Cats are humanely trapped, brought to a veterinarian to be evaluated, neutered, vaccinated, and eartipped. Cats friendly to humans and kittens are adopted into homes, while healthy adult feral cats are returned to their outdoor home. No more kittens. The population stabilizes and their lives are improved. The behaviors associated with mating, like yowling and fighting, stop. Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane approach for feral cats.

Your community wants compassionate solutions. An overwhelming majority of Americans—81%—believe it is more humane to leave a stray cat outside to live out her life than have her caught and killed, according to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive for Alley Cat Allies. Your community can be a safer place for feral cats if it embraces Trap-Neuter-Return.

Show your support for stray and feral cats on National Feral Cat Day—and all year round—by educating and informing your friends, neighbors, and veterinarian about these feral cat facts. Write a letter to the editor of your town’s paper, hand out information at special events (like a fair) and public places (like a shopping mall), or place an ad in your community newsletter. Samples for all of these materials are available to download online at

Here are three more things you can do:

1. Direct your veterinarian to our special web center dedicated to feral cat veterinary care at What better way to reach out to fellow cat lovers? Put our expert advice in the hands of the professionals people turn to for help.

2. Confirm your ally status. Commit to protecting cats along with Alley Cat Allies on National Feral Cat Day and all year round. Sign the “I’m an Alley Cat Ally” photo pledge and submit your photo online of you and your pets holding the signed pledge. Ask your friends and family to do it too! Find more information online at

3. Host an event. Your efforts help us achieve our goals of protecting and improving the lives of cats. Invite your friends and family and other people who care about cats, and be sure to tell us and others in your local community about it by registering your event online at

With your help, we can truly make a difference in cats’ lives by simply sharing with others the fact that feral cats require a different kind of care. Education is an important first step in protecting cats in towns all across the country—you can be their voice.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another entry for our November contest -- what cuties!

Sent in by Carol Olah, who wrote: "This is a picture of two of my babies, Bailey, she is a Yorkie/Dachshund mix and Little Bit, a Shih Tzu. They love spending time outside in the yard."