Why Two Pet Stores Made the Change to Rescue Dogs

Michael Gill of We Love Pets in Media and Springfield, with employee Gina Zwucky, calls the switch from commercially bred dogs to rescue animals "a bumpy ride," but "much more rewarding."
Michael Gill of We Love Pets in Media and Springfield, with employee Gina Zwucky, calls the switch from commercially bred dogs to rescue animals "a bumpy ride," but "much more rewarding." (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)

On Christmas, while his 3-year-old daughter opened her presents, pet-shop owner Michael Gill was in his bathroom cradling an English bulldog mix puppy suffering from a lethal canine virus.

The dog had contracted parvo, a deadly and highly contagious intestinal disease. Six puppies in his store that died, along with seven that became sick, were delivered by a Missouri-based dog distributor, he said.

"It was the single worst experience I've had with animals in 20 years," said Gill, owner of We Love Pets in Media.

In February, Gill decided to stop buying dogs from commercial breeders and opted for rescue dogs from shelters, a trend the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said was catching on.

The Missouri distributor says industry critics are uninformed.

Commercial pet stores often buy puppies from dog brokers or distributors, the middlemen between breeders and the retailers. Animal advocates say some of those breeders are puppy mills that raise the dogs in poor conditions.

The ASPCA estimates that there are about 10,000 puppy mills in the country. Of those, 20 percent to 30 percent are U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed breeders licensed to sell to stores.

Missouri is a national leader in puppy mills, along with Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. More than two million dogs from puppy mills are sold each year, according to the humane society.

"It's been a bumpy ride," said Gill of the change in his business model, which also has required renovations at his Media and Springfield stores to accommodate the more mature and larger rescue dogs. "It's much more rewarding. We don't feel comfortable selling [brokered] puppies."

Gill's two locations are not the only area pet stores to make the change.

The owners of the 10 area PetsPlus stores, Mark Arcadia and Bruce Smith, made a similar decision. Two of their locations - in Jenkintown and on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia - are adopting rescue dogs. The other eight expect to convert by the end of the year.

"It is definitely a trend," said Kathleen Summers, the humane society's director of outreach and research.

Saving animals
Two factors driving the change are consumer concerns over puppy mills and complaints about sick dogs purchased from pet stores, Summers said.

New local regulations are also pushing the conversion.

Citing concerns about puppy mills, governments in more than 50 places across the county have passed ordinances that ban the sale of commercially raised puppies in pet stores, Summers said.

The list includes Albuquerque, N.M.; Austin, Texas; Chicago; El Paso, Texas; Toledo, Ohio; San Diego; Los Angeles; and the state of Florida. In New Jersey, Brick, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Point Pleasant Beach, and North Brunswick have banned sale of commercially raised puppies.

Michael Stokley, director of corporate sales for Hunte Corp. in Goodman, Mo., one of the largest distributors of commercial puppies in North America, said lawmakers were uninformed on the issue. He said allegations against commercial distribution of puppies were driven by activists with an agenda.

"We have a totally regulated industry top to bottom," he said. "Yet arbitrarily, people are shutting down taxpaying, regulated businesses within their community."

We Love Pets and PetsPlus alleged that they purchased sick puppies from Hunte.

Stokley said that he was familiar with Gill's complaints, but that the store's "records did not support his allegations." The company meets all federal, state, and local regulations, he said.

The USDA inspection reports from 2011 to January 2014 showed Hunte to be in compliance.

Smith said PetsPlus did business with Hunte for 10 years but dropped it a year ago. He said Hunte had delivered puppies with colds and pneumonia.

Smith said the two PetsPlus stores now draw puppies from a shelter in Bowling Green, Ky., and were contacting with local shelters for adoptions.

"We like saving lives," he said.

PetsPlus still is listed in Hunte's database, although Stokley said he did not know when Hunte had last shipped puppies to the stores.

"If that is the decision they made, that is a business decision," he said.

Gill now works with one of the activists who picketed his store almost every weekend for 21/2 years.

Patricia Biswanger, now board president of the Chester County SPCA, said she did not hesitate when Gill offered the SPCA space for shelter dogs and other animals.

"It is all about saving animals," she said. "I'm delighted to be working with him."



KLM Lost & Found Service

KLM’s dedicated Lost & Found team at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is on a mission to reunite lost items as soon as possible with their legitimate owner. From a teddy bear found by the cabin crew to a laptop left in the lounge. Locating the owners can sometimes be a challenge, so special forces have been hired…

Now we surely will. be tempted to leave something behind on the plane! :)

Update at 5.47pm: Mashable reports that the dog featured here is just a marketing stunt. Oh well. maybe airlines will actually hire a search dog.


6 Signs Your Rabbit Is Getting Old

A senior rabbit has slightly different needs than a younger bunny, so learn to recognize the signs that your fluffy pet has reached the golden years.

Rabbits are all different — some may have health problems as they age while others won’t have any. Be prepared, and know which signs are a concern.

1. More napping: Rabbits tend to nap more as they get older. You may notice that your rabbit takes longer naps or naps more often. This is totally normal and just part of getting old. Do make sure, though, that you have a nice soft thick bed or pillow for your rabbit to lie on. It needs a choice of several comfy spots to rest.

2. Not getting around as well: Your rabbit may be a little stiffer when getting up from a nap. Maybe he can’t jump up on to the couch with the same spring in his hop, or he no longer races around and does binkies like usual.
Rabbits do get arthritis. If you suspect your bunny might have it, don’t wait to see what happens. Go to your rabbit veterinarian right away. An X-ray will determine if it is arthritis. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help with the inflammation and pain, and might suggest other treatments.

3. Not using the litter box: Depending on the severity of the arthritis, your rabbit could be too stiff or suffer too much pain to hop into his litter box. Most rabbits really like their litter box, so change things to allow your pet to continue using the box by purchasing litter boxes that have a low lip. Aside from providing a more easily accessible box, everything else remains the same — use a rabbit-safe litter and pile hay on top of it.

4. Not grooming like normal: Sometimes senior rabbits topple over when grooming and have a hard time keeping themselves clean. You may notice white flakes on the skin like dandruff, urine on the fur on the inside of the back legs and poop stuck to their bottom. This occurs because it may be harder for your rabbit to balance, bend, twist around and sit to groom. You can help by brushing your rabbit often to get all the loose hair off. Senior rabbits usually enjoy a soft scratching all over, too, as it is harder for them to do this themselves.

If your rabbit experiences tooth problems, this can also make it difficult for him to groom himself.
Keep your rabbit’s toenails trim to help him get around better. Plus, keep his scent glands cleaned out. Wax may build up in the ears, too. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to gently take out any wax buildup.

A senior rabbit is more prone to get fur mites. If you see white flakes on your rabbit’s skin, take him to a veterinarian to check for mites and get treatment.

5. Weight changes: Older rabbits may gain weight due to eating the same amount of food, but not getting as much exercise. Or, they can lose weight. Stick to offering your rabbit a healthy diet, but you may have to make some changes as he ages. Consult with your rabbit’s veterinarian before making any changes.

If your rabbit is overweight, encourage exercise and cut out any high-sugar treats. Being overweight causes a higher risk of heart disease. Plus, overweight rabbits are more prone to sore hocks.
If you rabbit is underweight, increase your rabbit’s pellet portion a little to help him gain weight. Don’t overdo the pellets, however, because you still want your rabbit eating lots of hay. You may try switching to an alfalfa-based pellet, which contains more calories. If your rabbit is having urinary tract problems, bladder sludge or stones, always check with your veterinarian before switching, because in addition to more calories, alfalfa pellets are higher in calcium, too.

Try new healthy treats, but be careful not to overdo it. Often a rabbit’s likes and dislikes change, and a rabbit can become a picky eater. At the Bunny Bunch Boutique, we offer special blends of hay that include herbs and flowers to encourage more hay eating. We also have a healthy line of treats that help keep rabbits interested in eating.

If your rabbit isn’t gaining weight after making the above changes, try a small amount of plain oats to encourage eating and weight gain. Again, consult with your veterinarian before making a change.

Weigh your rabbit often to track his weight loss or gain. Mark the weights on a calendar, and take this with you to show your veterinarian.

6. Not seeing as well: Rabbits do get cataracts and can go totally blind. In my experience, most rabbits adjust very well to blindness. To assist such rabbits, keep their living quarters set up the same way so that they know where to find everything. This helps them know where everything is and minimizes the chances that they’ll bump into anything.

Source: Caroline Charland for SmallAnimalChannel
Excerpt from the annual magazine Rabbits USA, 2011 issue


#SPCASelangor World Animal Day 2014, 21 September 2014

Tue, 9th Sep 2014, 05:08pm
This year we celebrate happy, healthy pets!

Meet our Mutley Crew & SPCA Ambassador K9 Good Citizens!

• Games
• Demonstrations
• Doggy Adventure Walk 
• Pet-related vendors & booths 

Bring along your pets to the SPCA Selangor World Animal Day event and let them mingle with some new friends! While you, the pet owner can support the charity drive! With every purchase of Heartgard Plus/Frontline Combo at the event, RM 5 from the proceeds will be donated to SPCA Selangor! Please visit http://goo.gl/mnGLDe (T&C Apply)


Would you like to be a sponsor? Interested in setting up a booth? Media enquiries? Would you like to volunteer to help out? Drop our officer Liew a line at liewsc.spca@gmail.com, or call 42565312! :)


Venue Sponsor:
The WaterFront @ ParkCity & Desa ParkCity

Stay tuned for more updates!


Rabbit Spaying And Neutering Facts

For years, veterinarians have strongly urged owners of dogs and cats to spay and neuter their pets. This recommendation also holds true for exotic pets. The most common elective surgery by far that we perform at our clinic is to spay/neuter rabbits. These procedures are strongly encouraged by most veterinarians for a variety of reasons.

First, spaying and neutering animals helps to prevent pet overpopulation. The sad truth is that more pets need loving homes than the homes that are currently available. Many exotic mammals breed at an alarming rate, which is best summed up by the saying: They breed like rabbits! It has been reported that rabbits are the third most commonly euthanized animals at pet shelters. While some animals are euthanized due to serious health problems, many animals are simply unwanted and pet shelters are just unable to house and feed them.
Rabbits left intact are at risk for the development of diseases of the reproductive tract. Studies suggest that, depending on the breed, the risk of an intact female rabbit over the age of 4 developing cancer of the uterus can be as high as 80 percent! Owners may not even be aware of any trouble until their pet starts passing bloody discharge or showing other signs of illness, such as lethargy, lack of appetite or difficulty breathing (this occurs if the cancer has spread to the lungs). Another common problem reported in older, intact does is the development of aneurysms in the uterus. An aneurysm is a large balloon-like dilation of a vein that fills with blood. Should a large aneurysm burst, a chance exists that the doe could pass away from fatal blood loss.

rabbit with nose down
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
Both female and male rabbits can avoid some health and behavior problems if spayed or neutered.

Even male rabbits that are left intact can develop serious health problems. I have seen several older bucks develop testicular cancer. In my experience, these males tend to be very advanced in years, thus making surgery and anesthesia a much more risky procedure than in younger, healthier bucks.
Finally, rabbits that are not spayed or neutered can develop a number of problem behaviors. Female rabbits often become very aggressive. They often lunge, grunt or even nip at owners. Male rabbits become overly "loving” toward objects and spray urine to mark territory. Spaying and neutering can often reduce the frequency of these unwanted behaviors.

Spaying or neutering your rabbit is incredibly important and the cost of the procedure should be factored into your budget when you consider obtaining this kind of pet. But there are many other factors to consider when researching clinics to perform this procedure. Be sure to ask your veterinarian a lot of questions, including: How many rabbit surgeries do you perform a week? How will my pet be monitored during anesthesia? How familiar are the technicians with handling rabbits? How do I take care of my rabbit at home after surgery? I appreciate these types of questions from my clients, because it allows me a chance to alleviate many fears that they may have.

Just like dogs and cats, exotic pets also benefit from being spayed and neutered. In many cases, their life may be longer due to the procedure. Ask your veterinarian for more information about spaying or neutering your pet.
Note: This article is meant for educational purposes only and in no way represents any particular individual or case. It is not for diagnostic purposes. If your pet is sick, please take him or her to a veterinarian.

Source: Leticia Materi, PhD, DVM


Allergic to Cats?

Photo: http://camanju.hubpages.com/

This post is by Dr. Jean Hofve, DVM, holistic veterinarian and original founder of Spirit Essences holistic remedies for animals.

Between 5 and 10% of the human population has at least some sensitivity to cats.  When people come into contact with a cat to which they are sensitive, they may experience a wide range of symptoms, from eye irritation and swelling, or minor sniffling and sneezing, to potentially life-threatening asthma attacks.

Although allergic reactions to cats tend to appear in early adulthood, one can develop the allergy at any time in life.  In some cat-allergic people, the reaction happens almost instantaneously.  Others may experience an extended delay (between 4-8 hours) between exposure and reaction.  The duration of symptoms may be anywhere from a few minutes to persistence of much longer periods.

Recent studies indicate that childhood exposure to cats may actually reduce the risk of allergic disease such as asthma.  So does breast-feeding of infants.

There are seven known cat allergens.  They are shed in saliva, skin secretions, and, to some extent, in urine.  The major cat allergen is a protein called “Fel d 1” that is secreted primarily in the cat’s saliva and skin, and transmitted throughout the coat during grooming.  Dried skin particles (commonly referred to as dander) may contain the offending protein, although it is important to remember that the allergen is not an integral part of dander or the coat itself.

A major obstacle in helping cat guardians is that the protein particles in question are so small that they can hang suspended in the air and are thus easily inhaled.  Another hurdle is that the particles are sticky and will cling or settle on any porous surface, including draperies, upholstered furniture and bedding, even walls and ceilings.  Because cat allergen is so tiny and light, it lingers in the home for long periods and has even been discovered in homes up to six months after the offending cat has been removed (as well as in homes where a cat had never even lived!)

Are some breeds “safe” for allergy sufferers?
Actually, the amount of allergen present does not differ from breed to breed.  Shorthaired cats appear to produce similar amounts of allergen as their longhaired cousins.  One study did suggest that light-colored cats may be somewhat less allergenic than dark-colored cats.  Others claim no difference.  Unfortunately, besides trial and error, there is no positive way of identifying a cat that will set off symptoms.

Each cat is an individual as to how much allergen they produce.  That’s why an allergy sufferer may have widely differing reactions from one cat to another.  Just because one might have had a good, low reaction experience with one Siamese cat does not mean that all Siamese can be tolerated.

Are hairless cats hypoallergenic?
Sorry, no.  Even the Sphinx, a “hairless” breed, has a fine downy coat, and since these cats still groom themselves, as all cats do, the suspect protein is still on their skin, and thus in the air.  If there is an advantage to a hairless cat, it is only that fewer additional allergens like pollen or dust mites can cling to the hair and also get released into the air during grooming.

There have been attempts to breed or clone a truly “non-allergenic” cat, but they have not been successful.

Cat hair or dander itself is not allergenic, so shaving the cat will not lessen the reaction.

However, there are several effective ways to deal with the unpleasant effects of a cat allergy.

The Big 3 Strategies for Coping with Cat Allergies:
According to one clinical study, spray-on anti-allergy substances, or specially designed shampoos or cream rinses have negligible effect on allergic reactions.  Immersion bathing works well temporarily, but allergens return within days.

At the same time, stories abound about the above products working very well, even lowering reactions to the point of complete tolerance.  It’s a matter of trial and error with each individual cat.  Bear in mind that bathing the cat every week will dry out the skin, and may actually increase protein secretions.

One common sense treatment to help lower the allergen output in the house is daily brushing or combing, thus removing much of the hair and dander that may contain the allergenic protein.  It also makes sense not to have the allergy sufferer do the brushing, and doing it in a room the allergic person can avoid (or outside in a confined, safe area) will ensure that no additional protein is released into the home.

Manage any pre-existing conditions the cat may have which could cause excessive scaly, dry skin and exacerbate the guardian’s problem.

Bathing the cat weekly with a cat-safe, anti-allergen shampoo can be helpful, if the cat is amenable.

The oral tranquilizer Acepromazine can be given at ultra-low doses in the cat’s food and provides relief for a great many allergy sufferers.  While a single small study on the use of Acepromazine did not find statistically significant results, in practice, about 50% of people report a complete cessation of symptoms, 25% report that symptoms are improved, and 25% report no change.  It takes 2-4 weeks to see results.

However, the formula is simple, inexpensive, and easy to try.  The medication changes the chemical composition of the cat’s saliva, reducing the amount of allergenic protein secreted.  It must be given every day to maintain the effect.  Because the dose is so tiny, it has no effect on the cat’s behavior and can be given for life.  You can give the recipe for “Ace Allergy Drops” to your vet: To a one-ounce dropper bottle containing 30 ml spring water, add 5 mg Acepromazine (1/2 ml of injectable 10 mg/ml, or one 5 mg tablet crushed, or half of a 10 mg tablet crushed).  Instructions: Shake well before using.  For an adult cat, add 5-6 drops of mixture to cat’s wet food daily.  For smaller kittens, use 1-2 drops.  Because there is no preservative, store the bottle in the refrigerator.

A change in the cat’s diet can do wonders.  In particular, the addition of Omega-3 fatty acids to the diet will keep the skin supple and healthy.

Moreover, many people who have put their cats on homemade or raw diets report that their allergies have diminished or even vanished.  It only makes sense to avoid processed foods with all their additives and dyes.  At the very least, get rid of the dry food—that’s where the most questionable ingredients and stray chemicals are found.

There is no value in declawing a cat due to allergies; in fact, there’s no value (and much detriment) in declawing a cat for any reason.

Since allergens are cumulative, using several moderately effective methods together is the best approach.

Daily vacuuming is commonly recommended, but vacuuming can backfire!  Many allergy sufferers over-vacuum.  An ordinary vacuum cleaner’s powerful motor simply stirs up and blows the tiny allergen proteins around the room along with dust and other potential allergens.  A better option is a vacuum with a micro-filtration device (like a HEPA filter), which can actually stop something as small as feline allergens.  The pesky proteins can settle not only in drapes and furniture, but also on shelving and walls – so make sure that the vacuum has an assortment of hand attachments and get into all the corners.  Obviously, the allergy sufferer should never be the one vacuuming (but there’s no reason why he can’t do the dishes)!

When dusting, using spray furniture polish dramatically limits allergen particles from becoming airborne.  Spray directly onto the surface, rather than onto the dustcloth; it’s more effective.  Judicious dusting can reduce airborne cat allergens by 95%.

Limit fabrics in the home: all porous materials are allergen friendly.  Carpet accumulates 100 times more cat allergen than a hard floor.  Blinds are better than drapes (although you do have to keep them clean).  Use hypoallergenic pillows instead of feather ones. Anything you can do to make the environment “harder” will result in as much allergen resistance as possible.  Soft surfaces in the home are invitations to catnaps as well as allergy attacks.

Specifically keeping the cat out of the bedroom will give the guardian an “allergen free zone,” which can bring psychological as well as physiologic relief.  (However, suddenly locking the cat out could trigger behavioral issues.)

An effective tool for clearing cat allergens is a freestanding air purifier with a HEPA filter.  These filters can remove nearly 100% of the allergens from the room in which they are placed.  Ideally, there should be one in every room with fabrics, but at least put one in the bedroom.  Fortunately, the price of HEPA purifiers has come way down in recent years.  Do check a consumer guide to make sure the chosen model can handle at least twice the square footage of the room.  Ionic air filtration devices have also shown much promise in trapping small protein particles.  However, while filtration and cat exclusion do reduce allergen levels, it may take quite a while to get a substantial reduction of symptoms.

227 - ATMOSPHERE™ Air Purifier
Air Purifier RM5,160
3110 - Sunshinne Water Filtration Vacuum Cleaner
Sunshinne Water Filtration Vacuum Cleaner RM990

Wash those hands!  Every time the guardian pets the cat, has a snuggle session, etc., immediately wash the hands with soap and warm water.  This must become an iron-clad habit.

Keep up with the laundry.  Resist the temptation to wear the same clothes between laundering cycles, even if they’re “not that dirty” – really, they are!  Washing machines are capable of removing most cat allergens.

Wool and polyester clothing retain more cat allergen than cotton, although fabric in general is a haven for allergenic particles.  Dry cleaning is reasonably effective at removing cat allergen from non-washable fabrics.
No No Kitty!  If the guardian suffers from a contact allergy like rashes or hives, the sad truth is that he/she must curtail any efforts from the cat to show affection by licking or giving ‘love bites’ – a primary source of the allergenic protein is the cat’s saliva.

Consult an allergist.  It is rare for someone to be allergic to only one protein.  It’s very possible that pre-existing allergies weren’t as noticeable until the new cat became “the last straw” and triggered more violent reactions.  If allergies are bad enough, keeping epinephrine handy may be necessary.
Medication.  Both over the counter and prescription medication have had wonderful results for some, and done absolutely nothing for others.  Don’t forget to tell your physician or allergist what you are using, who can properly monitor results.  Taking antihistamines or histamine blockers on a daily basis as a prophylactic for as long as one lives with a cat is a controversial subject. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) is considered very safe even long-term, but the side effects can be unpleasant; and it’s good to keep around for those really bad days.

Immunotherapy.  The principle behind this technique is hyposensitization therapy (also called “allergen immuno-therapy”).  This technique helps the allergic person build up a tolerance for the cat allergen by taking small doses of the protein, orally or by injection, increasing the amount gradually.  This treatment requires patience; it is a slow process, taking anywhere from two months to a year to take hold, and sometimes several years to achieve maximum benefit.  However, its success in retraining the body’s immune system not to overreact has been shown clinically as well as anecdotally from many sufferers.  In the U.S., injectable hyposensitization is still popular, but the oral method (used in the U.K.) may be safer, not to mention less hassle.

Holistic Allergy Remedies.  These are legion.  The most promising ones include:
• Use a Neti pot once or twice a day to keep sinuses clear; or use a plain saline nasal spray
• Omega-3 fatty acids (yes, for you, too!)
• Quercitin (a member of the Vitamin C family) and/or other antioxidants
• Stinging Nettle (a natural antihistamine)
• Butterbur (may block histamine and other inflammatory messengers)
• Homeopathy
• Acupuncture
• Nutrition (simplifying your diet, especially eliminating wheat and corn, can go a long way toward making your immune system much less reactive)
• Stress management (stress does your immune system no favors; use flower essences, exercise, meditation – but heck, you know all that stuff already!)

The Bottom Line
It may take time and some trial-and-error with different combinations of solutions to hit upon the right regimen.  Convincing one’s significant other may prove more difficult.  But people manage to live with allergies to thousands of airborne particles every day.  And aren’t those big eyes and all that unconditional love worth it?


Cat Houses -Outdoor Enclosures

I've mentioned before that when I had cats while living in my family's house, my family never really worried if our cats didn't come home for the night. They would say something like "They're cats. They'll know how to come home." Unfortunately, over time about 6 of our cats never found their way home. I'd cry buckets for weeks then slowly get over the loss.

To avoid the pain and anxiety of missing cats, especially at night and especially if you live on a busy street or in a neighbourhood where dogs are let loose, you can build outdoor enclosures so that your cats don't feel stifled and still "prowl" the grounds while we sleep blissfully.

In Malaysia, I've not come across portable outdoor enclosures but these should be a breeze for your local carpenter to build. Just make sure to choose material that is easy to clean, won't harvest bacteria and is waterproof. Also study the type of wood to ensure that it's scratch worthy and won't fall apart after months of rain and shine. Also, take into the consideration that if your cats like to hangout in their outdoor enclosures during the day, there should be sufficient shady areas, and clean water sources.

Here are some pointers courtesy of Pets Weekly.

Cat Enclosure Options
If you want to offer your own cat a secure place to experience the great outdoors, you have a number of options. You can purchase a pre-built cat enclosure, assemble a structure from a kit or plans, or you can come up with your own design. Kristine Kischer, owner of Toronto-based Habitat Haven, says most of her customers start with modest enclosures, then remodel and build up. "It doesn't have to be this humongous expense right off the get-go," she says. "I've had one lady add on five times in the last six years."

Habitat Haven, which ships throughout North America, offers a selection of kits. The company also allows you to plan an enclosure by choosing different elements. A "starter" enclosure runs from $500 to $1,000. The kit arrives with instructions and all necessary hardware.

Cost-effective Solutions

You needn't worry about spending a fortune. Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, thinks an outdoor enclosure is such a great idea, she installed one herself. "I love outdoor enclosures for cats! I built one off a window in our hospital with lumber and fencing wire to prove to people that you don't have to spend millions to get a safe, fun enclosure," says Dr. Colleran, who practices in Chico, Calif., and Portland, Ore.

Major pet organizations generally are in favor of outdoor enclosures for cats too. The Humane Society of the United States sells portable enclosures on its Web site. There, you'll also find information about a number of businesses that sell plans, kits and pre-built structuresm

A Cat Enclosure Checklist

As you plan an enclosure, Dr. Colleran and other experts list several important considerations:

Access: How will your kitty move from your house to the enclosure? Will you allow free access, letting your cat come and go at will? "One of the most important considerations for me was that I only had to prop open a window to allow the cats access to the cat run," Moore says. Access should be energy-efficient, safe and easy, advises Dr. Colleran. "A covered cat door is a good choice if it is insulated," she says.

Security and protection: Test every seam to make sure your enclosure is secured to the ground so that your cat can't dig its way out, Dr. Colleran cautions. You'll also want to ensure that your cat has a shady, fully covered space that can offer relief from the sun and weather. Your enclosure should be large enough to accommodate the family cats without overcrowding, which can lead to behavior problems. Each cat should have enough room to claim its own space and walk comfortably in and out of the enclosure.

Cleanliness: Use materials that you can easily clean, and practice flea control in areas that contact the soil. Regular cleaning will help protect your kitty's health and avoid the buildup of unpleasant odors.

Enrichment: Vertical climbing and perches make an enclosure more interesting for your cat, says Dr. Colleran. Moore suggests providing separate areas for watching backyard activity and quietly snoozing.

Neighborliness: Consider both what you want to view in your backyard and what others may be able to see, says Kischer. Put your enclosure in a place where it isn't publicly visible -- that's a plus for your cats and your neighbors.

Once you build an enclosure, you'll need to introduce kitty to its new space. Let your cat investigate at its own pace, advises Kischer. Soon enough, she says, you'll have peace of mind while your cat enjoys a bit of risk-free fresh air and stimulation.

Here are some cool outdoor enclosures PetsInBlack found to inspire you to build your own:

DIY outdoor cat enclosures
DIY outdoor cat enclosures
cat enjoying outdoor cat enclosures
Source: Cuckoo4design

Source: YourHomeOptions

Cat Room Decorating Ideas In Outdoor Space
Source: LatestHouseDesign

Mini catio - A great outdoor haven for your cat (same idea could also be used for other pets too)  in your Tiny House...  -  To connect with us, and our community of people from Australia and around the world, learning how to live large in small places, visit us at www.Facebook.com/TinyHousesAustralia
Source: ChinaCat

This creative homeowner built walkways around the house so the cat could get some fresh air without ever really leaving the house. Check with your homeowners association before adding these types of enclosures to your house.
This structure begins at the house and spans across the yard. What cat wouldn't be happy keeping an eye on things from this high perch.
Source: MySanAntonio

Pet Accessories -- Outdoor Cat Enclosure -- This is the ultimate in an outside cat run complete with pond, waterfall, tunnel and fountain.   Absolute luxury living for the cats with fish to watch and tunnels to explore.
cat enclosure bridge
Source: Cats Of Australia

Agent L and S would be soooo jealous if they saw these!

Would you like to share your cat house photos? Please email to petsinblackblog{at}gmail.com. We would love to hear your ideas and read your comments below. Share the love!


A Joyful Reunion: Cat Lost for 16 Months Reunites with Family

A Joyful Reunion: Cat Lost for 16 Months Reunites with Family

Anyone who has ever lost a pet knows the joy one family in Oregon must be feeling after having their cat returned to them after she was lost 16 months ago.

Cissy and Ken Myers always took their two cats and dog camping with them due to their pet's separation anxiety. However, on a family trip to Silver Creek Falls near Silverton in July 2012 things went horribly wrong when their cat, Mazy May, escaped from their tent-trailer.

The couple says the zipper wasn’t secured and Mazy May must have slipped out unnoticed. When the couple packed up to go home, their beloved feline was nowhere to be found.

The Myers put up flyers and searched for a month to no avail. They thought their cat was lost forever until they received a call from Silver Creek Falls Park Ranger Martha Duckworth on Thanksgiving. She was able to track down, Cissy, through an old park log.

"When they called, I was just shaking. I called my husband and said, 'This can't be!" Myers told KGW.com.

The cat must have some good instincts that protected her from predators. Duckworth thinks Mazy May must've lived off of mice and bugs to stay alive.

The Myers say it's surreal that they are holding their feline in their arms after losing all hope of her safe return.

-Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for www.pet360.com

What do you think of all these tales of lost and found cats? Do you have a similar story, if so, share it below!