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How to choose your pet and take care of it
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How to choose your pet and take care of it

Table of contents
1 Cat
2 Dog
3 See also
4 External link

Cat

Caring for Cats

See also Caring for kittens.

Consider getting an adult cat rather than a kitten. Animal shelters often find that many people are keen to adopt kittens, but adult cats are harder to home. Take your new cat to the vet to have it neutered and vaccinated. As well as preventing your cat from adding to the population of unwanted kittens, neutering helps prevent fighting, roaming, and some behavioral problems. Neutered males are much less likely to spray, and spayed females won't yowl when in heat. Spaying also has health benefits; spayed females won't be susceptible to life threatening infections like pyometra and are less likely to get mammary cancer.

Cats are low-maintenance pets compared to dogs, and are quite suitable for households where everyone works full-time, although you might want to get two cats so that they can keep each other company during the day. A cat's psyche develops better if it has lots of attention from humans as a kitten from 6-16 weeks of age. Thus especially younger cats should not be left alone for long time periods. If you want a companionable cat, give your cat a lot of attention.

In the UK, most cats are allowed to go outside, but in the US, more cats are kept indoors. Cats derive much pleasure from exploring outside, and outdoor cats are less prone to obesity because they get more exercise and they are less likely than indoor cats to eat out of boredom--indoor cats need a lot of play and stimulation to prevent them from becoming neurotic or bored. However, cats kept indoors 100% of the time tend to live longer and suffer fewer injuries because they are less exposed to dangers like cars, dogs, parasites, and fighting with other cats. Outdoor cats tend to keep down the rodent population but they also tend to keep down the songbird population. When deciding whether to allow your cat outdoors unsupervised, consider how much of a problem these dangers are in your neighbourhood. Consider also how close your neighbors' gardens are, as outdoor cats enjoy using the soft soil in planters and flower gardens as litterboxes. Also note that cats with health problems such as deafness are less able to take care of themselves, and that declawed cats should never be allowed outdoors because they cannot defend themselves or climb trees to escape a dangerous situation.

Cats usually develop strong affection towards their host family. Some cats are shy and need some time to accept the presence of new people, though cats who have been treated well by humans can be very open minded towards new people. Domestic cats are partially gregarious animals. Some live in groups well and some do not. For domestic cats the group has a purely social function and unlike lions domestic cats do not hunt as a group.

Feeding and Grooming

Feed your cat with good-quality commercial cat food, but do not consider cooking for your cat without veterinary guidance. Remember that cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they require meat protein to survive. They cannot survive on a vegetarian diet. There are cat foods which are formulated for cats with special dietary needs, such as cats with poorly functioning kidneys or the tendency to have urinary problems. Please consult a veterinarian before feeding your cat one of these diets. Cats should also have fresh water available at all times.

Long-haired cats may need to be groomed every day to prevent their fur from getting matted. Short-haired cats can handle most of their own grooming, but should still be brushed occasionally to remove loose hairs.

Litterbox and toilet training

Cats are normally very clean animals and are generally easy to house-train by simply showing them their litterbox. Cats may also be trained to use toilets[1]. Refusal to use a litterbox is the number one problem with cats, however. If your cat stops using the litterbox, a trip to the veterinarian should be the first thing to do to rule out a physical reason. If no physical problem is found, then a good feline behaviorist (find one with a veterinary degree, preferably) can often cure even the most recalcitrant cat.

Problems in Cats

Urination Problems

If a cat suddenly stops using its litterbox, a trip to the vet is in order, because this may be caused by a medical problem--if the cat finds it painful to relieve itself, it may associate the pain with the litterbox. It can also be a behavioural problem; for example, the cat may be resentful over the introduction of a new kitten to the household. The reasons why cats stop using the litterbox for eliminations are large and varied, with too many to go into here. Your veterinarian may have some good suggestions, or you may need to contact a behaviorist.

An entire industry has grown up around getting cats to use the litterbox--different shapes and sizes of boxes with or without lids, a wide array of different litters (including special litter with an attractive smell for cats), even feline pheromones in a bottle (called Feliway).

Some things to try--change the size of the box, change its location (it may be too remote or in too busy an area), change the litter (both the kind and the frequency of dumping and replacing--most cats don't like strong odors associated with the box), add or remove a lid, add to the number of litterboxes (especially in a multicat house), move the box away from its food and water, or even confine the cat into a small area with a clean box for a period of time (usually several weeks) to retrain it to use the box. Which of these solutions will work best for you depends on the individual situation--it frequently takes a bit of detective work.

It is also important to clean up the mess thoroughly, because if the cat can still smell it, it is likely to go there again. Don't use an ammonia-based cleaner, as this smells similar to urine. Citrus smells unpleasant to cats, so using a citrus-scented cleaner may help.

Note that punishing the cat for eliminating in the wrong place will have no effect unless you catch it in the act, as it won't understand that your punishment is connected to something it did hours ago. In particular, rubbing its nose in its mess will only serve to remind it that the spot smells like a litterbox.

Scratching Problems

Another problem some people have with cats is that some cats sharpen their claws on the furniture. Often it is the owner's favourite chair that is clawed most, because the cat is responding to its owner's scent. Cats which are allowed to go outside are less likely to have this problem because they can sharpen their claws on trees. Try giving the cat a scratching post; you may have to try several to find one your cat likes, and a log of wood with the bark still on may work better than a commercial scratching post. Putting an owner's smell or cat mint on the scratching post may improve cats affection towards the post. Covering the furniture with aluminium foil may help discourage the cat. When the cat starts scratching furniture, shooting the cat with a small pressure water pistol is a very effective way to embarrass the cat and teach it to leave the furniture alone. The water pistol should only be used when the cat is doing something bad.

Some cat owners declaw their cats. However, if the cats ever find themselves on their own again, their ability to defend themselves and hunt for food becomes much more limited if they have been declawed. Some owners will have only the cats' front claws removed, so that the back claws remain available for defense in such a situation. Still, declawing cats is considered by many to be cruel. The Humane Society of the U.S. opposes declawing "when done solely for the convenience of the owner and without benefit to the animal." [1] Claws and front paws are very important tools for cats. The front claws are as important for cats as fingers are for humans. Compared to human anatomy, declawing is the amputation of all fingers and toes past the last knuckle. In addition to being less able to defend itself, the declawed cat frequently experiences trouble walking. Declawing cats is illegal in the United Kingdom. If the cat's claws cause much trouble, an alternative is to glue nail caps known as "SoftPaws" onto the cat's claws. These also interfere with the cat's ability to defend itself, but will fall off after a few weeks (along with the outer sheath of the claws).

Dog

Breeds

For average owners, the importance of the
breed is in understanding for what purpose the dog was bred and how that purpose relates to its life as a pet. Herding dogs often get a reputation for nipping, because that is the way they control animals they are herding. Retrievers require lots of regular active running and chasing. Lap dogs love to be in your lap. Dalmatians are coach dogs. As decorative as they are, if they will not have an opportunity for regular exercise, you should choose some other dog.

Acquiring a pet dog

You can buy a dog from a reputable dog breeder, if you are motivated to adopt by the desire for a specific type of dog or you wish to minimize the uncertainty that often accompanies a shelter dog. You will also pay significantly more for the privilege, but welcoming a well-bred and trained dog into your home is quite a privilege, indeed!

Buying a dog from a pet store is not recommended, as these dogs are often poorly socialized, receive no training, and are commonly weaned from their mothers and siblings too early. If you ever see a dog in a pet store, and want to take them home and care for them, consider the following:

Many animal welfare charities recommend adopting a dog from an animal shelter, rather than buying one at a store or from a breeder.

Keeping your dog healthy

The best way to keep a dog healthy is to let him have plenty of exercise, and not to overfeed him. You should be able to feel only a slight padding of flesh over the dog's ribs and the "waist", just in front of the hind legs, should curve up noticeably from the chest.

Let them have at all times a plentiful supply of clean water. When giving baths, use shampoo made for dogs; human shampoos can strip protective oils from hair and irritate skin. Breeds of dogs with long hair need regular combing out and may need a professional groomer.

Feed your dog a complete and balanced dog food. Dogs have different nutritional needs than people and some common human foods can kill dogs through poisoning (chocolate) or intestinal blockage (bones, corn on the cob).

Canine distemper is liable to attack dogs from four months to four years old. It prevails most in spring and autumn. The disease generally manifests itself by a dullness of the eye, husky cough, shivering, loss of appetite and energy, and occasional fits. Because distemper is infectious and incurable, affected dogs should be isolated from healthy dogs. Fortunately, an effective vaccine exists and should be administered to all puppies.

Dogs can get worms from eating wild animals, living or dead, and from eating the droppings of other dogs. Watch the stool for signs of worms and bring a stool sample whenever you take the dog to the veterinarian or if you suspect a problem.

To administer medicine to a dog, try wrapping a pill in bacon, cheese or some other treat. Give the dog a treat or two without the pill first and the dog will be more likely to swallow it quickly. Or, if you and the dog trust each other, simply push the pill down the throat past the tongue, clamp the dog's jaws shut, and blow at the dog's nose. It will usually swallow the pill.

Naming your new dog

With so many possible names, people find it difficult to decide on a single name for their pet. They are not restricted by concerns that the dog's classmates would tease it about its name, which would be an issue with children, so any name is possible. For dog names, people have used the names of pop-culture icons; the names of countries, states, regions, or mountains; the names of movie stars and cartoon characters; old classic dog names such as Rex, Spot, or Fido; and modern classics such as Benji and Scooby-Doo, among many other sources. Some people enjoy inventing clever word-play names.

In general, there are no rules about dog names, although there are practical considerations. If a dog has a commonly used name, calling its name in a public place with other dogs present can cause multiple dogs to come running. For calling a dog at any time or giving commands, a short name is easier to use, although most owners whose dogs have long names end up giving them shorter nicknames anyway (for example, Scooby-Doo might be called Scooby, Scoo, or Doo on a regular basis).

For an overview of how pedigreed dogs are sometimes named, see "Championship titles and registered names" in Dog show.

See also

External link