Experience Better Health When You Adopt A Shelter Cat

FOCUS ON PETS

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June is Adopt-A-Cat Month, sponsored by American Humane and 9Lives Morris Million Cat Rescue Campaign.

Every June, shelters are inundated with litters of kittens (and puppies). The goal of the program is to have one million cats adopted from shelters across the country during this month.

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There are approximately 70 million homeless cats in the United States. Unless we neuter our cats and help with the feral cat-neutering program, these numbers will continue to grow. Help is available for those feeding and caring for feral cats. Call the Payson Humane Society at (928) 474-5590 for information.

According to the Berlin Longevity Institute, "Cats can add as much as 10 years to their owners' lives. Picking up a cat has a nearly instantaneous calming effect on humans, causing blood pressure to drop and the heart rate to slow."

The estimated population of homeless cats in the United States, 70 million, is almost equal to the number of owned cats, 75 million.

Of the litters of kittens dropped off at shelters, about 71 percent will be euthanized, because there are not enough homes for them, according to the American Humane Association Web site.

In order to prevent all these homeless and unwanted kittens and puppies, the Payson Humane Society is sponsoring a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. The Arizona Humane Society Mobile Spay/Neuter and Animal Wellness Center will be in the Bashas' parking lot Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, June 19, 20 and 21. Surgeries will be performed on a first-come, first-served basis. Check-in begins at 7 a.m.

Requirements for surgery: Dogs must be on leash and cats in carriers or pillowcases. No food for 12 hours prior to surgery. All pets must be at least two months old, under 5 years of age and weigh a minimum of 2.5 pounds. No more than two pets per household per day unless time allows. Pets will go home the same day as the surgery, so owners should be prepared to pick up their pets at the designated time. Pets must be kept indoors after the surgery. Vaccinations and other services will be available to surgery patients at a reduced cost.

Spaying and neutering now will prevent the euthanizing of unwanted puppies and kittens next spring. We all need to be responsible pet owners and do our part to eliminate the tragedy of pet overpopulation.

Pet food recall update

Here is a quick update of the pet food recall dilemma, according to the Whole Dog Journal, June 2007. The pet food industry is reeling from tainted products and un-trusting consumers. The suspect product is melamine, a chemical used in plastic and banned in the United States. It was added to wheat, corn and rice gluten to increase the protein level. All pet food products claim certain protein levels in order to achieve the recommendations required for certain age and activity level of pets. In China, small quantities of melamine are added to most all pet foods to falsely increase protein levels. Unfortunately, many American pet food companies were buying their gluten from China.

According to the Whole Dog Journal article, "Currently, there are thousands of recalled products. Web sites which offer the latest news of expanded recalls include petfoodtracker.com, petconnection.com, and itchmo.com. If you do not have access to the Internet, contact the manufacturer of any pet food and treats you buy. The phone numbers should be on the label."

What we have learned through this scare is that most pet food products are produced in a few huge factories. Menu Foods, where the recalls began, is one of these. They make food for many pet food companies from the higher quality to the mediocre. Each is supposedly made according to the strict formula provided by the company, but, too often, ingredients are added that are not in the formula and, also, cross-contamination occurs.

The pet food companies are losing millions of dollars. They are eager to win back your confidence. In order to do so, the more conscientious companies are putting more rigorous quality-control practices into use. Some are trying to set up their own manufacturing facilities and many are saying they will only use U.S.-sourced ingredients. All pet food companies have improved their procedures for testing ingredients.

Personally, I am an advocate of premium pet foods. These higher quality, more expensive foods have not been free of contamination. However, their reputation for high quality dictates that they will be the first ones to clear out the problems. Knowing what ingredients are used in the cheaper pet foods is very frightening.

Eventually, this problem with contaminated pet food will pass, but, in the meantime, we hopefully have become more aware of the need to know what we are feeding our pets. Wheat gluten is least expensive and of lesser quality, followed by corn gluten and then rice gluten. Animal protein is the best source of protein for our pets, but it is more expensive. Chicken is an excellent protein source. Meat should be the number one ingredient in any pet food, except for certain prescription diets. Read the label carefully.

We are in the final stages of planning our dog training sessions. We will be working on all sorts of activities with our dogs and will put together a marching team. Obedience work should qualify all dogs for the Canine Good Citizen certification. If you are interested and have not signed up recently, please call me at (928) 476-2239. Let's get out there and have some fun with our dogs.

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