News & Events
 
SNAPtales, the newsletter of the Spay-Neuter Assistance Prog
 
In This Issue August 1, 2013
- 28,659 -
The number of dogs
and cats helped by
your gifts between
Jan. 1 and Jun. 30,
2013.
 

SNAP has sterilized over
445,000

dogs and cats since being
founded in 1993.
 
Strut Your Mutt in Just Six Weeks
Dog Walk-a-Thon in Houston’s T.C. Jester Park Benefits Houston's Animals
 
Join the SNAP pack at Strut Your Mutt on Sept. 21, 2013!
If you are a regular SNAPtales reader, you probably already know that we need your participation in the upcoming Strut Your Mutt event, but do you know why? Those who walk with the SNAP pack will raise money for spay-neuter programs that reduce the toll of animal overpopulation in our communities. That oversimplifies things a bit, so allow us to break it down for you.

Dogs and cats that are not spayed or neutered are more likely to develop reproductive system cancers while those that are sterilized live longer on average. Helping animals live longer, healthier lives is a great reason to join the SNAP pack.

The shelters are full of animals that are not spayed or neutered. Out of every 100 dogs that enter U.S. shelters, 44 are not sterilized. The situation is even worse for cats with 47 out of every 100 not sterilized. Every one of these animals was sired by a father and born of a mother that were not sterilized. Many of them have already had litters of their own. It’s a tragic and vicious cycle, but by walking with the SNAP pack, you can help break the cycle.

Dogs and cats that are intact are more likely to engage in territorial and aggressive behaviors. These acts include biting, marking, fighting, and roaming. Join the SNAP pack, and you will help both animals and humans that are the victims of these behaviors.

An animal that bites may be infected with rabies, but every animal SNAP spays or neuters is vaccinated against rabies. When you walk with the SNAP pack, you are making our neighborhoods safer from this deadly disease.

Don’t forget that Best Friends is offering incentives. If SNAP gets more pack members than any other Houston-area organization, Best Friends will donate an additional $1,000. It will also include every pack that has more than 10 members who raise at least $100 each (above and beyond their registration fee) in a drawing for an additional $500 donation. SNAP doesn’t have the most walkers among Houston organizations yet, and we don’t qualify for the drawing yet. You can help change that!

We could go on, but you get the point. Walking with SNAP has direct benefits for you, your community, and the animals we all love. Ready to sign up yet?

After you register, don’t forget to ask your friends and family members to sponsor you. The event takes place at T.C. Jester Park on Saturday, September 21, 2013, and involves a short and pleasant walk through the park. A festival will follow the event with contests, photos, dog treats, refreshments, and more. TC Jester Park is located at 4201 West T.C. Jester Blvd., Houston, TX 77018.

Those of you who don’t live in Houston or can’t make it out can still participate because Strut Your Mutt also includes a virtual walkathon. You still sign up for the SNAP pack, and you still recruit sponsors, but you don’t have to attend the walk itself.

If you’re ready to sign up, just visit the event website, tick the box to "Join a Dog Pack (existing team)," and then select Spay-Neuter Assistance Program from the drop-down menu. (Both of these controls appear after you tick the appropriate box in the "Participant Type" section of the registration page.) SNAP will receive every penny you raise including your registration fee (minus minimal transaction fees). It’s just $30 for adults or $50 for couples. Children 12 and under can participate for free. Virtual walkers pay only $10. Adults who walk will receive a Best Friends Strut Your Mutt t-shirt to commemorate the day. (Children can get a t-shirt for a $20 registration fee.) Virtual walkers are not eligible for a shirt.

Houston is one of 11 cities nationwide where the Strut Your Mutt is being held. SNAP benefits from this event because it is a Best Friends Animal Society No More Homeless Pets Network partner.

Strut Your Mutt will be here before you know it. Please sign up today!
 
SNAP Pivotal in BARC Spay-Neuter Project

Houston Animal Control Authority and Friends for Life Fund Near North Side Spay-Neuter
 
Residents of the target zone wait to have their dog neutered
Residents of the target area wait to have their dachshund taken aboard the SNAP mobile clinic for sterilization surgery. Fifty-two animals were spayed and neutered on the first day of the event, and dozens more have been done since.
BARC, the city of Houston’s animal control agency, recently called on SNAP to bring its expertise in high-volume, high-quality, low-cost spay-neuter to bear on a project they have dubbed the Beachhead Initiative. It involves holding spay-neuter events focused on small neighborhoods with out-of-control animal populations. The intent is to reach out to the residents in a selected target area to make them aware of the events and the value of having their animals sterilized. Dogs are being spayed and neutered on-site aboard the SNAP mobile clinic while cats are being transported to the SNAP Pasadena clinic for surgery. Each animal also receives a rabies vaccination, a microchip to help them get returned should they become lost, flea and tick preventative, and a city of Houston license.

The first area targeted by the city is a neighborhood on the near north side of downtown Houston, and the first event for that area took place on Saturday, July 13. Fifty-two animals received surgery that day--25 on the new SNAP mobile clinic and 27 at the clinic in Pasadena. Houston Mayor Annise Parker and City Councilman Ed Gonzalez were there and held a press conference attended by many local news outlets.

A follow-up event took place on July 17 during which 27 animals were transported to the Pasadena clinic. The mobile clinic returned to the neighborhood on July 25 for another follow up visit. A number of residents from just outside the target area showed up for the events and were directed to other SNAP mobile clinic locations scheduled at nearby locations.

Once the city believes that the great majority of the animals in the target area have been sterilized, the project will then be repeated in other parts of the city where animal overpopulation is a particular problem.

BARC is funding the canine surgeries, and Friends For Life--a local shelter--is funding the feline surgeries. Both entities are providing vehicles to transport animals to and from the Pasadena clinic.
 
Helping the Animals of Panama
Erica Johnson, D.V.M. Conducts Spay-Neuter Events with Spay Panama Organization
 
Patricia Chan and Dr. Ernesto Gail González with pulse oxime
Temporary surgical facility set up at La Casa de la Cultura.
TOP: Dr. Ernesto Gail González, resident veterinarian at Spay Panama, and Patricia Chan, founder of the organization, examine pulse oximeter donated by SNAP. BOTTOM: Temporary spay-neuter surgical suite set up at La Casa de la Cultura in rural Panama.
Erica Johnson, D.V.M., recently visited the nation of Panama to conduct a SNAP spay-neuter project in cooperation with Spay Panama, a local spay-neuter organization. Dr. Johnson was in the country June 23-28, 2013, and performed surgery on more than 50 of the 203 animals that were sterilized as part of the project.

The first two clinic days of the project were held at the Spay Panama clinic in Panama City. The organization scheduled the surgery appointments in advance and performed intake during the event. Dr. Johnson later traveled with the Spay Panama team to San Jose, Panama, for the final two days of the trip to help the animals of indigent residents living in the rural area. There they performed surgery at an outdoor pavilion, La Casa de la Cultura. The pavilion is normally used for picnics and family gatherings, but the team transformed it into an outdoor surgical suite with eight operating tables in a matter of 2-3 hours. Surgery began immediately afterwards and continued through the next day.  Clients lined up, and animals were taken in on a first-come, first-served basis. Trained volunteers administered de-wormer and flea preventative and monitored the animals after surgery.  Guardians remained at the pavilion for the duration of the surgery and were allowed to sit with their animals while they recovered. The Spay Panama team promoted the event throughout the San Jose community prior to the event.

Panama City struggles with throngs of street dogs and cats in varying stages of poor health and nutrition. Many of these animals live in lower economic communities, supported by families who themselves struggle to survive. While the people in these communities can sometimes manage to help an animal fend off starvation with dinner scraps, they cannot afford more expensive veterinary care.  Unfortunately, this means that many animals don’t get sterilized.

Better known international animal welfare organizations are largely absent from the country. To fill the gap, Patricia Chan, a tireless advocate for animal welfare in Panama, started Spay Panama. The organization operates an established high-volume spay neuter clinic utilizing the highest quality and standards for that area, including individually autoclaved spay packs, sterile gloves, gauze, and surgical drapes. The only thing lacking was a table pulse oximeter, which is used to monitor oxygen saturation in an animal’s blood. SNAP solved that problem by donating one of the units to Spay Panama.
Spay Panama focuses on spay-neuter and, like SNAP, operates on donations. The organization targets communities where the residents cannot afford to have their animals sterilized. It strives not to turn away any animal presented for surgery, regardless of the client’s ability to pay. The organization has taken huge steps in helping control the animal population in Panama. As of July, 2013, it has performed 56,109 sterilizations to date. The organization is staffed by expatriate and Panamanian volunteers. Ms. Chan is a retired chief financial planning officer for the Panama Canal.

While working in Panama, Dr. Johnson mingled with local veterinarians and veterinary students in a free exchange of knowledge and information. She provided helpful information on the proper layout for a mobile spay-neuter unit. This was especially useful to Spay Panama since the government recently donated an old public bus to the organization, which it plans to convert into a mobile spay-neuter clinic. Spay Panama told Dr. Johnson that she is welcome to come back to help them at any time. SNAP is deeply grateful to Dr. Johnson for representing the organization in this important project. She is a long-term SNAP relief surgeon and currently the executive director of Animal Alliance of Galveston County.
 
Above and Beyond for Animals, Scout’s Honor!
Houston Area Rescue Group Funds Ongoing Mobile Clinic Spay-Neuter Events
 
 Scout's Honor Rescue Logo
Scout's Honor Rescue is teaming up with SNAP for the second time in less than three months to fund a spay-neuter event aboard the Houston mobile clinic. The event will provide free spay-neuter surgery and a rabies vaccination to animals living in qualifying low-income households. Please see the mobile clinic’s webpage for complete information on qualifying for free services. The event will be held on Monday, August 5, 2013, at the Spring Branch Family Development Center at 8575 Pitner Rd.

Funding this event will remove 22 or more animals from the breeding population in the neighborhood where the mobile clinic will be stationed. Scout’s Honor Rescue said about the event, "We are very excited to be a part of this endeavor and hope to continue to be able to sponsor the mobile clinic so that SNAP may continue its efforts in neighborhoods that need help financially and want to do the right thing for their cat or dog--SPAY & NEUTER!" The group went on to say that it was "thrilled to support SNAP in its ongoing efforts to help control the pet population and to provide this wonderful service to low-income areas."

Clearly the people at Scout’s Honor Rescue "get it" when SNAP says: "No Birth Is the First Step to No Kill." We are immensely grateful to the organization for its generous ongoing support.
 
 
Click here to enroll in the Kroger Community Rewards program
 
San Antonio Award Program Honors SNAP
Agency Awarded 2013 Best of San Antonio Award in Veterinarians Category
 
 
San Antonio Award Program recognizes SNAP San Antonio!
SNAP is pleased to announce that SNAP San Antonio has been selected for the 2013 Best of San Antonio Award in the Veterinarians category by the San Antonio Award Program.

Each year the program recognizes companies it believes have achieved "exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category." A press release issued announcing the award offers the following kind praise: "These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the San Antonio area a great place to live, work and play." The release goes on to explain that the honor is based on their analysis of data gathered from both internal and third party sources and "focuses on quality, not quantity."
 
The San Antonio Award Program describes itself as "an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the San Antonio area." It reports that "recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value." The organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, and other business advertising and marketing groups. Their mission is to recognize the small business community's contributions to the U.S. economy.

SNAP San Antonio is greatly honored to have been chosen for this award by the San Antonio Award Program.
 
Autumn and Art Beckon SNAP Volunteers
Your Help Is Critical to SNAP Fundraising Efforts at Bayou City Art Festival
 
 
Uncle SNAP wants YOU for the Bayou City Art Festival!
Uncle SNAP is calling! Please volunteer for the fall 2013 Bayou City Art Festival. SNAP depends on you for the success of this event!
Autumn approaches, and if you are a SNAP volunteer, you know what that means. The Bayou City Art Festival--our largest volunteer fundraising event--is approaching as well! The fall event takes place in downtown Houston on Saturday, October 12, and Sunday, October 13, 2013. It takes hundreds of you to make it a success, and we are deeply grateful that you have stepped up to the challenge twice a year for years on end. Please let the tradition continue because it means an awful lot to the dogs and cats that depend on you.

If you haven't volunteered for the art festival before, why not lend a hand? The work is easy. You simply serve icy beverages to thirsty festival goers. In return for your hard work, the festival allows SNAP to keep all of the tips, and it hands over a generous percentage of the sales receipts. The two festivals (one in spring, one in fall) typically raise somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 thanks to your helpful hands!

We ask that you commit to work one or more shifts of four to six hours. No mixing of drinks is required.
You are free to spend the rest of your day roaming the festival because free admission is included on the day you volunteer. The cost of an adult ticket is normally $15, so volunteering is not without its perks! You will also receive a free t-shirt, which we ask that you wear during your shift(s). Please volunteer as soon as possible so we can be sure to have your size available.

  BAYOU CITY ART FESTIVAL
AVAILABLE SHIFTS
(Hours are the same both days)
 
  10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
 

To volunteer, send an email message to volunteer@snapus.org or call 713-862-3863 x210 Monday through Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Be ready to tell us which day(s) and shift(s) you would be willing to work and your t-shirt size. Because alcoholic beverages are served, all volunteers must be at least 18.

Once again, SNAP is deeply grateful to all of you who have given of your time and energy over the years to help prevent the needless suffering and death of dogs and cats due to overpopulation and preventable diseases, especially in low-income areas. We hope to see you all again in October and to meet some new volunteers as well. Please volunteer today!
 
Fifty-Two Sterilized Thanks to Lost Pawses
Spay-Neuter Event Honored Former SNAP Executive Director James R. Weedon, D.V.M.
 
Pasadena clinic surgical staff hard at work helping animals.
The Pasadena clinic surgical staff hard at work sterilizing a dog. The Lost Pawses Foundation recently funded a spay-neuter day that saw 52 dogs and cats sterilized.
Fifty-two dogs and cats were removed from the breeding population at a special spay-neuter event held at the SNAP Pasadena Spay-Neuter and Animal Wellness Clinic on Friday, June 28. The event was made possible by generous funding from Lost Pawses and honored former SNAP Executive Director James R. Weedon, D.V.M. Lost Pawses provided $3,500.00 to cover the cost of spay-neuter surgery and a rabies vaccination for each animal. There were 16 female cats and 12 male cats for a total of 28 felines, and there were 12 female dogs and 12 male dogs for a total of 24 canines. Some of the animals presented for surgery had proof of a current rabies vaccination, so only 38 needed to be vaccinated during the event. Despite the large number of animals sterilized, the day went very smoothly. Many of the clients expressed their appreciation for the free services.

Lost Pawses is a Houston-based organization whose mission is "to be the donor of last resort for animal based charities around the Houston area." It is known for providing emergency funds to charitable organizations in times of need. The group is not without a sense of humor, and has adopted the motto, "If it’s not fun, we’re not doing it." SNAP would like to express its gratitude to the wonderful people at Lost Pawses for their generosity in funding this event and for their long-standing support of the SNAP mission.
 
Join SNAP San Antonio at Hoops & Hounds
Silver Spurs Women’s Basketball Team Hosts Fan Day for Dog Lovers
 
Join SNAP San Antonio at Hoops & Hounds 2013!
SNAP is joining the San Antonio Silver Spurs WNBA Basketball Team for its annual Hoops & Hounds event on Sunday, August 4, 2013. You are welcome to bring your canine friends along to enjoy some great women’s basketball as the team goes up against the Tulsa Shock. SNAP will be one of many organizations with tables set up in the AT&T Center Concourse. Come by to meet us and pick up some information about spay-neuter and animal wellness. We will even have a raffle for some canine-related goodies.

The game starts at 2 p.m., but the concourse will open at 12:30 p.m., so come early and buy your tickets today and join in the fun. This is the 4th year for this annual event, but you don’t have to wait for Hoops & Hounds to bring your dog(s) to a Silver Spurs game. The team regularly allows dogs to attend its games throughout the season. That’s animal friendly!
 
Upcoming SNAP Events
 
Sunday, August 4, 2013 - San Antonio, TX
  Hoops & Hounds
Join us at this annual dog day event by the San Antonio Silver Stars WNBA basketball team.
Saturday, September 21, 2013 - Houston, TX
  Strut Your Mutt
Strut Your Mutt at T.C. Jester Park to help bring spay-neuter to animals in low-income areas!
Saturday, October 12, and Sunday, October 13, 2013 - Houston, TX
  Bayou City Art Festival
You are the key to the success of our biggest volunteer fundraiser of the year. Sign up today!

Hedda HoundHedda Hound Banner

 
Hello Darlings!

It is said that knowledge is power. Nowhere is this adage more apropos than when knowledge is used to dispel myths or mistaken notions that keep us from doing what is best for ourselves and our animals. Take the question raised in this month’s letter by Clover, a collie mix from Clear Lake:

Dear Hedda,

I know you always urge humans to have their dogs (and cats) spayed or neutered, but it might not be a good idea. Janet, my human friend, had just made an appointment to have me sterilized when her friend Rob told her about studies that suggest the surgery makes dogs more susceptible to certain cancers. Janet told Rob that SNAP says it reduces the likelihood of reproductive system cancers, but Rob pointed out that it isn’t worth it if it causes the animal to come down with a different cancer instead. After thinking about it, Janet agreed and decided to call and cancel my appointment. I am sure glad she found out in time. I thought you would want to know about these studies so you could tell people about it.

Sign me,
Lucky as a Four-leaf Clover

Dear Lucky,

Luck and logic are funny things. Just because something seems lucky--or logical--doesn’t mean that it is. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation, as logicians like to point out. That means that just because dogs that are sterilized suffer a higher incidence of particular cancers does not necessarily mean that the surgery caused the cancer to occur. You also have to consider the fact that dogs that are spayed or neutered live longer than dogs that are not. How much longer? According to a recent study, neutered male dogs live an average of 13.8 percent longer than intact male dogs, and spayed female dogs live an average of 26.8 percent longer that intact female dogs. Let’s put that in terms of years. An unneutered male dog that might die at the age of 10 years from a reproductive system cancer would instead die at the age of 11 years and 4.5 months from a different form of cancer. An unspayed female dog that might die at the age of 10 years from a reproductive system cancer would instead die at the age of 12 years and 8.2 months from a different form of cancer.

These other cancers may be equally likely among all dogs that reach a more advanced age, but dogs that aren’t sterilized are statistically much less likely to reach those ages because they die from reproductive system cancers first. Even if spay-neuter surgery does turn out to be a risk factor for certain cancers, would you rather die earlier of a reproductive system cancer or much later of another cancer? Cancer is never fun, but if I had to die from it, I would rather put it off as long as possible. How about you?

If you want a more professional opinion than mine, as well as the source for the life-span statistics cited above, check out the article "Just Ask the Expert: Are intact dogs less likely to get cancer?" by Timothy M. Fan, DVM., PhD, DACVIM (internal medicine, oncology), on the dvm360.com website.  Once you know the facts, the real question becomes: how long do you want to live? Tell ‘em Hedda said so!

 
New SNAP Grants
A Monthly Review of New SNAP Grants

 

SNAP would like to express its appreciation to the following foundations, charitable trusts, and corporations for their recent grant awards to SNAP:
 
    Houston PetSet, $4,000
    Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, $2,500

 
Community Day with Girl Zone
San Antonio Girls Group Donates $112 at Community Event Attended by SNAP
  
Madaisha Robertson with SNAP staffers at Girl Zone event.
Girl Zone member Madaisha Robertson (center) with SNAP San Antonio Clinic/Office Manager Molly Phillips (left) and SNAP intern Sarah Davilla. It was Robertson's idea to make SNAP a part of the organization's community event.
The SNAP San Antonio street team recently attended Community Day with Girl Zone where it received a donation of $112 from the group that sponsored the event. The sponsor was a group called Girl Zone, which is a summer activity and service program for elementary and middle school girls. The girls planned the event for their community as part of a service learning project. The event was open to the public, and admission was free. It took place on Saturday, July 20, at the Martinez Street Women’s Center.

There were several other tables set up providing live entertainment, a clothing swap, a community weaving project, plant sales, an animal food drive, and much more. The money donated to SNAP was raised by the girls through a bake sale held at the event.

Girl Zone is competing in the San Antonio Spurs "Team Up Challenge" and is a semifinalist in the competitive scholarship/grant program. A Girl Zone member named Madaisha Robertson was the bright mind behind inviting SNAP to the event as part of a service learning project to help Girl Zone reach the finals of the challenge.

SNAP is grateful to Girl Zone, Madaisha, and the Martinez Street Women's Center for inviting us to participate in the event and for their generous donation in support of SNAP spay-neuter programs. We would also like to wish them success in their bid to win the Team Up Challenge!
 
San Antonio Children Save Homeless Dog
Threesome Raises $170+ to Give Stray Pup a New Lease on Life
 
 
Sam, Genna, and Carson with Griffon at their Kool Paws stand
Sam, Gena, and Carson with Griffon at their "Kool Paws" stand. The children operated the stand to raise money to provide care for the dog so it could more easily find a home.
A scruffy and flea-infested stray dog recently got a chance at a happy life thanks to three resourceful children in San Antonio. The dog showed up in their neighborhood and was temporarily taken in by a resident named Debbie, who bathed him and treated him for fleas. She already had three dogs however, and couldn’t give him a permanent home. Lisa Shade, who lives across the street from Debbie, reports that when her son Carson saw the dog, he fell in love with him. The animal was soon dubbed "Griffon."

Carson lobbied for his family to adopt the animal, but his parents could not be persuaded. They explained to their son the expense involved in having the dog neutered, getting him vaccinated, and protecting him against heartworms and other parasites, as well as feeding and caring for him for years to come. (We at SNAP commend them for considering these issues with the gravity they deserve and educating their son about them.) The family decided that while they could not keep Griffon, they could foster him until someone could be found to adopt him. Carson then made it his task to do everything he could to help the animal, thereby improving his chances of getting adopted.

It wasn’t long before Carson was joined in this quest by two neighbor girls, Sam and Gena. Together the three set up a Kool Aid stand to raise money to pay for whatever care they might end up being able to afford. Initially sales were modest, but when Carson’s mom posted photos of the Kool Aid booth (which the kids had named "Kool Paws") on the neighborhood’s Facebook page, interest went through the roof. Soon they had raised $35--enough to pay for a round of vaccinations for Griffon. The money kept streaming in, however, and soon they had raised more than $170! They brought the dog into SNAP, and as a direct result of their efforts, were able to have him vaccinated, neutered, tested for heartworms, and put on heartworm preventative.

An interview with the three revealed that both their hearts and their heads were in the right place. When asked why they raised money for a dog they wouldn’t be keeping, they answered, "We wanted to help him find a good home. Sometimes you have to wait to get into a no-kill shelter, and we did not want him to be killed." Their advice to other kids who find stray animals was thoughtful and mature: "Check to see if [the animal] has tags so you can call the owner. If it doesn't have tags, take it to a vet to get scanned for a microchip...it's free. If it doesn't have a chip, take it to a no-kill shelter or consider fostering until you find a forever home. Try not to get too attached. Remember you’re just helping him adjust and get ready to go to a forever home." When asked if neutering was important, they responded, "Yes, so the population doesn't go up." The trio plans to continue raising money so they can help more dogs in the future.

Thanks to these caring and intelligent kids, Griffon now has a great chance of finding that forever home. SNAP commends Carson, Sam, and Gena for caring enough about Griffon to put in the hard work and dedication necessary to help him have a chance at a better life.

UPDATE: SNAP learned just before press time that this story has had the happiest of all possible endings. Griffon has been adopted by another family in the Shade's neighborhood who have renamed him "Rusty." Congratulations again to Carson, Gena, and Sam for their outstanding success in rescuing this animal!
 
Madame AstroCat[object Object]
 
Dear Readers,

There are many threats to cats, and if you love your feline friends, you probably take steps to protect them. Every cat should be vaccinated against rabies, heartworms, feline immunodeficiency virus, and feline leukemia, for example, but what about less critical ills? I’m talking about those conditions that are usually not life threatening but that can definitely make life a little less pleasant. A number of the most common such maladies--and what to do about them--comprise my top ten list of Crabby Cat Conditions:

10. Dandruff -
What? Cats cat get dandruff? Yes, cats can get dandruff. It’s usually a temporary thing, and it isn’t anything to worry about unless it’s particularly severe. It usually indicates that the cat is not producing as much oil as usual. This can happen when a cat is shedding. It is also a natural effect of aging. Older cats are thus more likely to have dandruff--especially when they are shedding. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend a dietary supplement that will help.

9. Acne -
Seriously? Yes, cats really can get acne. Kitty zits usually appear on the chin or around the mouth. They can be a reaction to a plastic feeding or water dish, so switching your cat to ceramic bowls may help. Blemishes may also be caused by food sticking to your animal’s fur. The solution here is equally simple. Purchase a gentle (preferably hypoallergenic) soap at your local pet supply store, and use it to wash around your cat’s chin and mouth about once a week. Be sure to dry the fur--again, gently--to remove excess moisture.

8. Allergies -
If you are beginning to get the picture that cats suffer from a lot of the same pesky discomforts as humans, you’re right. Cats can be allergic to all the same things you are--even other cats! They can also be allergic to specific medications--just like some people are. Feline allergies can manifest in all the same ways as human allergies as well. They may cause respiratory distress, sneezing, itching, or watery eyes. If you suspect your cat is suffering from an allergy, pay attention to when the symptoms occur and try to figure out what is causing them. Your veterinarian may be able to offer medications to help control the problem.

7. Ringworm -
No one likes worms, but guess what? Ringworm isn’t a worm. It’s a fungus. It’s called ringworm because it manifests itself as a raised ring of irritated skin. Humans can get it too, as you may already know, and it can be passed back and forth between cats, humans, and even dogs. Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to get it under control, but you should also vacuum up shed fur where your cat sleeps and lounges because it can harbor the fungus. Happily, some cats become immune to ringworm. Let’s hope your cat is one of these!

6. Stud Tail -
This is a little less common--especially among sterilized animals. It mostly affects intact males and is the result of oil secretions on the top of the cat’s tail near where the tail joins the body. It can cause skin irritation and loss of hair, but it is dead simple to prevent. Just wash and dry your cat’s tail regularly. You can decrease the likelihood that your cat will be troubled with it at all by having him (or her) sterilized. SNAP would be happy to help!

5. Hairballs -
Cats groom their coats by licking them. Cats that have fur--and most do--shed their coats a couple of times a year. Licking plus shedding equals hairballs. Hair does not dissolve inside the digestive tract, so it is normal for cats to regurgitate hairballs. They may instinctively eat plants to help this process along. This is why it is so important to make sure that there are no plants in your home that are toxic to cats. Don’t like seeing urped-up hairballs on grandma’s hand-hooked rug? There are a number of products you can buy at pet supply stores that can help dissolve them while they are still inside your kitty, thus reversing the direction from which they exit said kitty’s body.

4. Vomiting -
We just talked about hairballs, but they are not the only reason a cat might throw up. Serious illnesses may cause vomiting to be sure, but it may also mean that your cat has a sensitive stomach and is reacting to something in his or her food. If there are no other symptoms that might indicate a more serious illness, try changing your cat’s food. That might be all it takes. Of course, if vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms or yowls of pain, take kitty to the vet.

3. Ear Mites - These infinitesimally small and infernally irritating beasts can make your cat absolutely miserable, so be sure to check for them and, if necessary deal with them, regularly. How can you tell if your cat has them? Look at those ears! If you see a grainy brown coating in them, your cat likely has ear mites. Afflicted cats may also rub the sides of their paws against their ears frequently in an attempt to relieve the itching. Your veterinarian can provide medication to help eradicate the pesky critters.

2. Toothaches - Cats have dental issues too! You should get your cat’s teeth cleaned annually. If you do not, she or he may suffer from decay and abscesses just like a human. Medical science has recently discovered that humans with bad dental hygiene are more susceptible to heart disease and other disorders. Cats are no different in this respect. Studies have implicated bad teeth with an increased risk for urological disorders for cats. There may be other risks as yet unknown.

1. Tapeworms - Ah, tapeworms. They’re easy to get but fortunately easy to get rid of as well. Where do they come from? Fleas carry them and infect your cat with them when they bite. How can you tell if your cat has them? Get ready for an "Ew!" You will see segments of them--sometimes still moving--around your cat’s anus or in the litter box. The segments are usually white and about the size of a grain of rice. Here again, a trip to the vet is in order, and the cure is far less disgusting than the symptoms.

Some of the information for this month’s list comes from "The Little Guides: CATS" published by Fog City Press, San Francisco, copyright 1999.

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"I have felt cats rubbing their faces against mine and touching my cheek with claws carefully sheathed. These things, to me, are expressions of love.” ~ James Herriot
 
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