No need for a scalpel.

So, you are thinking about getting a ball of purrs. And your old thinking is to get him declawed because you supposed that he will automatically destroy your couch. That’s what cats do, right? Destroy? Think again. Cats will claw specific materials to mark their territory but also to keep their claws sharp and groomed and to “take off a layer”. That’s why you regularly find claw layers everywhere they scratched.

Just get a nice cat tree or condo and teach them to use them. Like a dog, when you see the cat wanting to claw your 5000$ leather recliner, just say “no” and show him the right place and praise him for doing good. You can even spray the right places with some catnip spray to attract them there.

If you are a “Febreeze” kind of person, beware! If you spray your couch, do not spray the cat tree, the cat will associate the smell and claw both (Personal experience, hilarious! And I have well trained adult cats!).

Know also that a cat condo is essential as cats needs to be on top of things, observe from up high, have a place to escape. Not having cat furniture and high places for them to crawl on can lead to behavioural problems. See cat behaviour expert Jackson Galaxy for more.

Also be careful on the type of carpet you have on the tree. The soft fur like ones will not make them claw it as the claws have no grip when they scratch it.

Now some will be more “intense” with the clawing. Be patient. Cats don’t learn like dogs. Dogs likes to work and please, cats are free thinkers. If you are not ready to work hard and maybe have some “cat signatures” on your furniture and just want to go straight to declawing. Just don’t get a cat. Leave him to someone who will appreciate every piece of him!

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Cat vs Dog people: A Small Analysis.

We all love our pets: cats, dogs, even birds and rats! The common debate among animal lovers is which is the best: Cats or Dogs?

Let’s start with the CARE needed by each one.

The Cat.

Cats are fairly easy to take care of. The most common cat seen in households is the domestic cat (cats with no breed). The average domestic cat is independent, asking for “love” in his own terms. He is usually solitary and will do his own stuff. They will need a clean litter box, food and fresh water. The litter box, depending on the cat’s use, has to be cleaned at least once or twice per day, and the full litter changed once or twice per month. Again, depending on the cat’s use and type of litter. You can usually leave food “à volonté”, but with others, you need to control food, by giving them a portion in the morning and one in the evening. Do not give exclusively can food, or you will end up with a cat that needs dental surgery, they need solid food to help keep tartar at bay! And of course, daily fresh, clean water. Even if independent, they need distraction and exercise. A few toys for him to play with and a wand with a toy at the end for him to chase and bound with you is a must! Every cat will need a scratch post or cat condo for their claws. (Note: I do not encourage declawing unless it’s a special, extreme situation. Also, for his sake, safety, do not let your cat roam alone and loose outside. NEVER.) Depending on the cat’s coat length, they should be groomed everyday to once a week. Some, despite the scratching post, will need their nails clipped. Baths? It is not a need as they clean themselves, but it’s not bad. But better start when they are young kittens! Then, maybe once a month is enough, unless you have a show Persian!

The Dog.

Dogs, regardless of the breed, all have the same needs. As a social pack mammal, he seeks for his owner/family affection, friendship, companionship. Unlike the cat, you can’t leave a dog alone more than a 8h workday. Dogs, to be calm, obedient, happy and fit, needs daily exercise/walks. If a dog doesn’t drain his energy, he will get frustrated and can develop either aggressive behavior or get into mischief. Unless you are absolutely lazy and own a “teacup poodle”, dogs need to go outside to do his business, picking up his feces at least every two day is a must for your neighbor’s and cleanliness sake! It’s not recommended to leave food with a dog, not only because most can’t stop eating but for his need of some structure. Give him his meal in the morning and evening. Fresh water is a no-brainer! Depending on the coat, dogs need to be groomed everyday to once per week. Some will need to have their coat trimmed. (Note: NEVER shave dogs such as Huskies, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, all dogs with coats that doesn’t grow continuously, unless they have a skin condition requiring it. Their coat are vital to keep their body temperature, protect them from bugs, sun rays and everything that nature can throw at them!) All dogs will need their nails trimmed, some less often like dogs that are active walkers on pavement. Keep an eye on them and if you are unsure, leave the trim to a professional. Nail trims are cheap at a groomer or vet. Also, to prevent dental diseases, brushing their teeth and large smoked bones for them to chew on will help. Dog’s bad breath comes from tartar and bad mouth hygiene.

 

Now, let’s talk about GENERAL CHARACTER TRAITS.

The Cat.

The common, domestic cat is an independent individual, going about his day without a care in the world. Needing affection on his own terms, he wants a family and a social environment but takes it lightly. Despite this common character in domestic cats, you will find some that are overly affectionate, happy-go-lucky, always on your lap. But this character will be mostly found in purebred cats such as Orientals, Ragdolls and Tonkineses. Some will have dog-like traits in their playing and social needs. Unless you go for a domestic, it’s important that you search before adopting a purebred, they have their own character.

The Dog.

The common trait find in every dog is his affectionate side. All dogs have in their blood the wolf-like need to be part of a pack, a family. They do not do well alone, one of the reasons why it is not recommended to keep a dog leashed to a doghouse, alone, all his life. Some will bark or howl to call their pack and others will develop depression. Some will seem to do well, but they will be unsocialized individuals that will be timing bombs: Biting the neighbor’s kid. Depending on the breed, the work he was bred for, which breeds the “mutt” is mixed with and so on, a dog can be either very energetic or more of a couch potato. Some needs lots of stimulation, others will prefer laying on the floor, near their humans and “guard”. But they all need to walk and socialize to keep their body and mind healthy and fit. Due to their pack instinct, dogs are not for everyone. A dog needs consistent structure and knowing his right place in the family. It will prevent bad behaviors and bites. Not all dogs are happy-go-lucky, some needs it more than others, some breeds need it more than others. Overall, if you are the kind to take them for a fragile baby and let them do whatever they please, don’t have a dog. Go get a plush toy. This human behavior with dogs is the reason we see aggressive nipping Chihuahuas and dominant Pitbulls.

 

Now why people would “dislike” one or the other?

A percentage of people just never had an encounter with one or the other, or a proper experience. Others had one bad experience such as a bite, attack, nipping, and so on, so they have shut down to the specie. Prejudice is the most seen factor. Some see the cat as an too independent, vicious, unpredictable animal. For the dog, a vicious, drooling, unclean, obnoxious dangerous animal. Well, they can be… if left on their own, not properly socialized, such as ferals.

It seems like there is more dog people than cat people. By having debates with “anti-cat” people, you notice by their words and reasons, that in a certain way, they dislike the fact that the cat’s behavior is closer to the average human and it is not what they search in a pet. Like us, cats think by themselves, are independent, don’t need you all the time, and if they are fed up with you and your affection, you’ll know. For some of them, you have to be worthy before they can trust you. Sounds familiar? In dogs, right up front, dog people loves the proactive, always friendly and love craving trait of the dog. Also the fact that it’s easier to do outdoors activities with your pet. But underneath, dog people seem to be attracted and in need of the “I am always worthy and loved” feeling that dogs bring, the comfort, devotion.

But of course, most people just enjoy the animal’s qualities and how they fit in their lifestyles. Whether it’s the purring cat on your lap or the guarding dog at your feet, they all bring love and complete the household. But heaven, is being loved by both.

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** Remember that whatever the breed or species, each individual are different.

The new P42 by-law (QC), responsible dog ownership and what all this means.

I am a former animal control officer. After doing care and counseling, I did 6 years in the law field. Until my non-profit shelter decided to let go 15 of us, very important and qualified personnel for, apparently, money reasons. But that’s another rant.

The province of Quebec has now adopted stronger laws when it comes to animal abuse. This law only applicable by MAPAQ accredited inspectors. I was. I have to say that this is good news. At some extent. Basically the law is the same, but the fines are higher and they can face jail time. The P42 is way better than it was a few years ago, but sadly, all this won’t make a big difference at this moment.

When I went to my training to be an inspector (training as explaining the new law and the paperwork), my team was the only team of actual well organized animal control officers, with experience on the field, laws, justice and intervention in all situations. Other SPCAs/SPAs have sent groomers, receptionists, a director. They absolutely have no clue what they are going to encounter on the field and what are citizens that you approach to apply a law.

When we got back at the shelter and got our files, I was sure it would be a piece of cake dealing with our municipal duties and the P42. We were 6 and at all time you just have to send a team west, a team east and a team on a P42 case (Puppy Mills) and do rotations. I was worried about the others that were with us in the class, but we were going to rock it. Oh! Was I in an illusion. Of course, the province asks for way more bizarre, repetitive paperwork than municipal charges. And of course, I was the one selected to do other’s paperwork. It was okay with me since I prefered applying municipal by-laws as we can apply them without hesitation. The province is more “scared”, for example, they wanted me to advise the owner that I was going to seize his 21 emaciated Huskies, on this date. I gave them the big “fuck you” and we went and seized them with a SQ backup. Advising the defendant is like the police calling a drug dealer to advise him they gonna do an operation tomorrow! The defendant is not stupid, he will disappear with all the proof. Quebec’s pencil pushers doesn’t get that. My operation was still a success.

But the general work we needed to do, the files that needed an update urgent or not, slept on the desk most of the time. My lazy coworkers and supervisor stating that they didn’t have the time, mostly because of the municipal contracts. LOADS OF BULLSHIT. I would have a lot to say about their laziness and lack of work etiquette, efforts and so on, but this is enough to say that probably many dogs are now dead or extremely in distress because of them. And then I think about that groomer and director that most, for real, not have much time to get through files. For me, the MAPAQ’s project was a disaster despite the good intentions. So for years, this was going forward as slow as a snail. And defendant that received accusations won’t pass in court until maybe 2 years and meanwhile, they can continue their activities. Everything and everyone is lacking in something. The last that I’ve known, my team is not better if not worst and the MAPAQ got for themselves inspectors that will be only doing this. The second one is good news.

Having a by-law like the P42 is not enough though. I’ve always that, for once, we should take example on some of our American neighbors to give some good hits to puppy mills and closet breeders. To start, a law should be adopted so that ALL petshop can only get their cats and dogs from shelters and rescues. Also, unless you are a Reg’ or PermReg’ in either The AKC or CKC and inspected, ALL dogs should be spayed/neutered. Same with cats. This would not only prevent backyard breeding, but accident breeding, behavior problems, health, etc.

But now, these measures doesn’t stop bad ownership. (Oh! And now pets are now considered as living being toward the law and not an object anymore! YAY!) Bad breeding is a part of bad irresponsible ownership, of course. But most people that gets a dog, have no clue how to educate one. First timers should be obligated with an ownership class and a puppy class. Not all dogs are for everyone and everyone is not for all dogs. Whether they are mixed or purebred, all breeds have their own character, level of energy, grooming needs, etc. But sadly, 98% of the population will get a dog for their looks or because they feel badass with this breed. These poor choices ends up with aggression, abandonment, and even cruelty due to lack of patience. The first mistake when a human brings home a dog, is to think that the dog is “human” and therefore, they will treat him like a baby human. Canines have their own way, their own hierarchy, their own view on life. To have the summum relationship with your dog, you have to think like a dog, you have to realize they need exercise and structure. Losing patience and use violence will only aggravate things. Massive seances of information should rain down the population to prevent all that we see and hear about biting, bad care, and mistreatment.

Dog trainers, the majority of them, never had any experiences in canine behavior. Worst, when I tried to find a “school” to become a dog handler, to perfect my experience, and I was baffled to learn that there is NO program, school or whatever (QC). This means that just anyone can claim to be a dog handler and make money on your back. So how can I prove my worth? I have been helping former neighbors with their dogs issues, and now, it goes smoothly, they told me how happy they were and thank me. So should I start my own  dog information, behaviour help “company”? It would be a sideline most probably but… I don’t want to be labeled as a fraud, despite my officer, care and so on, experience. Who could counsel me on this project?… Oh! dear.

Meanwhile, inform yourselves if the breed(s) fits you, get counseling on raising a dog, spay-neuter the dog, give them GOOD food, exercise, grooming, and enjoy the cuddles!

 

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Service Animals.

We all know about service dogs: For the blinds, deaf, disable/handicaps, epileptics, autistics, etc.  The ones that are less known are the cats and dogs that give emotional support; Animals helping those afflicted with PTSD, severe depression, severe anxiety disorder, and so on. Cats, dogs, animals are known to calm, to lower blood pressure, bring some happiness in one’s life. We can only think of zootherapy and how sick kids and the elderly suddenly smiles and interacts when that furry therapist enters the room!

There’s also a programs for veterans using horses and have shown great success. Emotional support dogs can prevent crisis, bring comfort and courage to those afflicted with a mental illness… But here’s the problem… THEY ARE NOT RECOGNIZED. Meaning, a person like me, that have severe depression and anxiety disorder, could use one… BUT would not be allowed to bring my dog everywhere I go since they are not recognized as an actual service dog, even though I had crisis at work, and public places such as malls and restaurants. And I think it’s not only in Canada. But they do exist and they do help! But as they are not recognized, not only they are not allowed in public places, but you could get in trouble with landlords that hate animals.

I think that organizations like MIRA and the Canadian Service Dog Foundation, should push to make them service animals like the one’s for the blinds. And know what? They should also do like Courageous Companions, and use shelter dogs….

 

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