Pets Cause 1,000 House Fires Per Year

Believe it or not, some 1,000 of the nation’s 500,000 house fires each year are caused by pets, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association. Since it’s safe to say that most pets are not pyromaniacs at heart, what gives here?

The American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services have joined forces for the third annual National Pet Fire Safety Day to spread awareness about how pets can start home fires but more importantly how to prevent them. Here’s some info they’ve been sharing with the media.

“Not many pet owners realize that their pet can actually be the cause of a devastating fire,” says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson.  “Simple preventative measures, such as flameless candles and stove knob covers, can mean the difference between life and death for your four-legged friends.”

Chris and Kay Wardlow of Oklahoma know that all too well.  Their curious dog Lucy was home alone and spied a cake on the stove top. As Lucy tried to get a taste, her paw accidentally hit the stove knob and turned on the gas burner that was under the cake pan. Within minutes, the house was filled with smoke, triggering the Wardlow’s ADT monitored smoke detector. Firefighters were called to the scene, the house was saved and Lucy was rescued.

“Planning for unexpected emergencies like home fires and taking these precautions are an integral part of responsible pet ownership,” Peterson said.

AKC® and ADT offer the following tips to educate pet owners on how to prevent your beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as how to keep your pets safe.

Prevent your pet from starting fires:

Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.

Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in your pet starting a fire.

Invest in flameless candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.

Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck.  The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

Keep your pets safe:

Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away From Home – Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet.  When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.

· Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.

Consider using monitored smoke detectors — which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.

Affix a Pet Alert Window Cling – Write down the number of pets inside your house and attach the static cling to a front window. This critical information saves rescuers time when locating your pets.  Make sure to update the number of pets listed.

Crate Training Your Cat

Cat training to crate often is neglected, although it gets lots of attention with dog owners. Kittens learn more easily and quickly than adult cats, but even set-in-their-ways felines can accept cat training to crate.

Kittens and cats should always ride in a carrier when traveling in your car to keep them from distracting the driver. Pets become furry projectiles should you be in an accident, but a carrier protects the kitten and also keeps him from running away in fear and pain should he escape.

Cat Training to Crate

Most cats hate the crate simply because it’s used so seldom and associated with scary stuff. How many times have you pulled the kitty carrier out of the closet, only to have the cat disappear? Most felines only see the crate to be taken to the veterinarian or groomer. Kitty is no dummy—it only takes once for her to learn that CRATE means NEEDLES, or a thermometer placed in a rude location. In fact, surveys report that “hates the crate” is a top reason cats don’t visit the veterinarian as often as they should.

Instead, train your kitten to associate the crate/carrier with fun, positive experiences. This allows you to quickly confine and safely transport the cat whenever necessary, rather than play hide-and-seek during emergencies to find the frightened feline. Happy acceptance of the crate also means less stress, and a happier, emotionally healthier cat.

10 Tips for Cat Crate Training

  1. Make the crate part of the furniture—set it on the floor in a corner of the room for Kitty to explore at his leisure. If it’s out all the time, the “strange/scary” factor wears off.
  2. Take the door off so he can come and go.
  3. Toss a soft blanket or towel inside for a bed, especially one that you’ve rubbed over him so it smells like the cat.
  4. Spritzing a bit of Feliway on the inside of the crate can help calm kitty fears. Feliway is an analogue of the cheek pheromone that makes cats feel safe.
  5. If you’ve chosen a hard crate, toss in a ping-pong ball inside to create a kitty playground.
  6. For treat-motivated cats, leave tasty tidbits inside for Kitty to find so he discovers the magical-crate has the most delicious smelly bonuses for going inside. You want to make the crate the most fun place in the house.
  7. Consider using clicker training to inspire your cat to quickly go into the crate. Review how to “load the clicker” and locate the training treats for spur of the moment sessions. Then wait for the opportunity when you see Kitty approach, sniff, or (hallelujia!) enter the crate. Click the clicker to tell the cat THAT (touching/going inside/even approaching) the crate is what you want, and then reward with the treat or favorite toy. The more you practice, the better Kitty will become at hanging out near or even inside the crate.
  8. It may take a week or more for the kitten or cat to feel comfortable around the carrier. Once that happens, put the door back on, and wait until Kitty goes inside. Then shut the door while praising him in a calm, happy voice that’s matter of fact to convince Kitty this is normal and no reason for upset feelings. After a minute or so, let him out and give him a treat or toy reserved only for his best performance. Praise the dickens out of him! He should know that staying calm inside the crate earns him good things.
  9. Repeat training sessions at least once a day over the next two weeks, building up the time until the kitty stays inside three minutes, four, then five minutes and so on.
  10. Once he’s reached ten minutes and remains calm, pick up the carrier while he’s in it and carry him around, and then let him out. Take him in the carrier out to the car, sit there and talk to him, then bring him back into the house and release him–don’t forget to offer the treat.

Soon, you should be able to take him for car rides in his carrier, without him throwing a fit. He’ll learn that most times, the carrier means good things for him–and the vet visit isn’t the only association it has.

US Marines Rescue Kittens in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, in the midst of war, many animals are lost and separated from their family. Many are found later by troops from the US, UK and Canada. Soldiers rescue these animals and get help from rescue groups that help them send these animals out of the country and to a forever loving home that they deserve.

Three US marine soldiers, Brian Chambers, Chris Berry and Aaron Shaw, started a mission to help bring home the kittens they have befriended while serving in Afghanistan . With generous donations from cat lovers and help from Noward Dogs animal rescue, Kiki and Keykey, two lovely ginger kitties, have successfully made it home in the US. Unfortunately 2 other cats, Simba and Ra-Ko, lost the battle against their illnesses a few weeks ago.

Kiki and his sister Bones were found by Brian Chambers, a US marine. “At only 3 weeks old, their mother had disappeared and they were left alone to live rough and fend for themselves like the other cats in this area. We looked after them both and they lived in a box in the office, after a week they were allowed to roam around during the day and sleep with us in the hooch at night.”

Unfortunately Bones vanished a week after along with Kiki, but Kiki eventually returned.

Kiki was injured badly on Monday 8th of March. Brian found him in horrible condition. “He was too frightened to approach me, I ran to find some wipes to clean him and I then realised how bad this wounds really were…”

A vet came the next day and put Kiki on a course of antibiotics. Today Kiki has fully recovered.

“Kiki is a very playful adventurous cat, he loves to explore and is very curious, he enjoys sitting on my shoulder, chewing on my hand and running up my legs. He hasn’t been put off by what has happened to him.”

Keykey was found by another US marine named Chris Berry.

“I found Keykey tangled up in c-wire one day in the beginning of the deployment, I took him in and fixed his wounds. He was also extremely malnourished so I constantly kept an eye on him and fed him until he got back to good health and he has been by my side ever since.”

Both Keykey and Kiki have arrived in the US. Kiki is currently living with Brian’s parents in Houston, Texas until he leaves the Marines and moves home. Keykey is living with Chris’ parents in Detroit, Michigan and enjoying his new family.

For soldiers who are on duty overseas, often time the only chance they get to cuddle is when they meet these stray animals. These soldiers are lonely and longing for love from their family and friends. The kitties are abandoned, lost and have nowhere to call home. When they find each other, they become best friends.

LA SPCA Helps Gulf Coast Pets

The Gulf oil spill has been the biggest man-made environmental disaster in years. We have all been sickened by stories and photos of pelicans, turtles, and other sea life blackened by the crude oil in the gulf coast. Larry West, About.com expert on environment, believes that the environmental damage will be long-lasting. He says, “In addition to the thousands of fish, reptiles, birds and marine mammals that will die as a direct result of the oil spill, the long-term damage to marine species in the Gulf is what really has scientists and environmentalists worried.”

The oil spill disaster has also exacerbated the economic crisis, for those people who work in the fishing industry in the gulf coast. As with most economic downturns, pets often are the first to suffer, and more and more families impacted by the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill are relinquishing their cats and dogs to shelters. The Louisiana SPCA, in partnership with the ASPCA, Best Friends, and several other charitable groups is stepping in to provide veterinary care for pet owners economically impacted by the oil spill. Learn more about this humane program from the Louisiana SPCA announcement.

Is Your Cat is a Purebred?

Some cat lovers seem to overly focus on breeds, and are not happy until their cat is classified neatly within a certain breed. For years I have received emailed photos with the question “what breed is my cat?” I finally published Feline Breeds, Domestic Cats, and Color Patterns, to provide a handy reference guide to help readers recognize the difference.

What is a Purebred Cat?

The Cat Fanciers Glossary defines purebred as, “purebred: A cat whose ancestors are all of the same breed, or whose ancestry includes crossbreeding that is allowed in the breed standard. For example, a purebred Bombay may also have Burmese cats in its background.” Generally a cat’s pedigree (list of ancestry) must be certified by the registry, before it can rightfully be called a “purebred.”

“If it Walks Like a Maine Coon…”

“Purebred” is sort of a lazy lay term used by those of us outside the cat fancy to describe a cat of a given breed. More commonly however, people will subscribe to the “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it must be a duck” theory. A very common example is the Maine Coon cat, with its distinctive ear tufts, ruff, bushy tail, and sweet voice. I’ve received many photos over the years for my Maine Coon gallery, of beautiful Maine Coon look-alikes. Then, upon reading the story behind the cat, we find that the cat was adopted from a shelter, or found wandering on the street. It rightfully could be claimed as a Maine Coon mix since it lacks the necessary documentation for a full-fledged Maine Coon. The first two photos illustrating this article show a registered, pedigreed Maine Coon, and my Billy, a possible Maine Coon mix, but more properly known as a DLH (Domestic Longhair cat).

The same goes for the American Shorthair breed, which, like the Maine Coon, is indigenous to North America. Virtually every DSH (Domestic Shorthair cat) tabby cat could be called an “American Shorthair,” were it not for that important documentation. I’m sure ASH breeders could readily tell the difference, but most of us lay people could not.

Breed Rescue Groups

Most of the major cat breeds have breed rescue groups, dedicated to saving and protecting their breeds. They generally have two methods of rescuing cats:

  • From Shelters
    Most of the cats breed rescue groups take in are breed “look-alikes,” and will be subsequently be offered for adoption as mixed-breed cats, e.g. “Maine Coon mix.” Occasionally they will be called in when animal control has shut down a breeder for overcrowding, unhealthy conditions, or upon the death of a breeder with no known family.
  • Directly From Breeders
    At times a reputable breeder may contact a breed rescue group because of illness, to ensure that good homes will be found for his or her cats. The same will also apply upon the death of a breeder, whose heirs have either no means or intentions or carrying on with the cattery.

Breed rescue groups provide a valuable service to the breeds they represent, and are an integral part of the cat fancy.

So — What Breed is my Cat?

Do your homework. Familiarize yourself with the various cat breeds. Then ask yourself two questions:

  1. What breed does he most resemble?
  2. Do I have a registry and pedigree for this cat?

If your answer to question number 2 is “no,” then you can only legitimately call him a “mixed (choose your breed)” Or, you could save yourself a lot of time and trouble by calling him your domestic cat.

The most important thing, of course, that no matter what you call him, you love him unconditionally, regardless of his breed or heritage.