News & Events
 
SNAPtales, the newsletter of the Spay-Neuter Assistance Prog
 
 
In This Issue
 
February 1, 2014
- 56,697 -
 The number of dogs
and cats helped by
your gifts in 2013.
 

SNAP has sterilized over
463,000

dogs and cats since being
founded in 1993.
 
Free Spay-Neuter on World Spay Day
SNAP Commemorates Day with Events in Houston and San Antonio

 
 World Spay Day is Tuesday, February 25, 2014
On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, SNAP will continue its tradition of offering free spay-neuter clinics to commemorate World Spay Day with events in Houston and San Antonio, Texas. These events are open to the general public. No qualifying is required! Regardless of location, there is a strict limit of two animals per household!

These important requirements apply regardless of location: Adult animals should not be fed after 10 p.m. the night before surgery. Animals less than six months of age may be given half their normal amount of food on the morning of surgery. (There is no restriction on water.)

Free Male Cat Neuter Event in Houston

The Houston mobile clinic will offer FREE neutering for 85 male cats at the Harris County PHES Veterinary Public Health facility at 612 Canino Rd., Houston, TX 77076. An appointment is required.

Appointment may be requested by calling Colleen Hodges of HCPHES at 713-418-1804. Please note that all cats must arrive in a carrier.

Please see the Houston mobile clinic webpage for additional information about how the clinic operates, what to expect, and links to pre- and post-surgery instructions. (But remember, no qualifying is required for this event, and it is by appointment only. The lottery system will not be used.)

If your animal does not have a current rabies certificate, he or she will be vaccinated against rabies. Free feline distemper vaccinations will also be available. These vaccines are also FREE thanks to a generous donation by Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

SNAP is grateful to Pam and Jim Harris, who are funding the Houston event, and to William Folger, D.V.M., who has volunteered his professional services. Both the Harrises and Dr. Folger are longtime SNAP supporters who have a long history of generously donating both their time and their dollars. SNAP is also grateful to Harris County PHES and Colleen Hodges for their support of this event.

Free Pit Bull Spay-Neuter Event in San Antonio

The San Antonio Spay-Neuter and Animal Wellness Clinic will be providing FREE spay-neuter surgery for 40 pit bull dogs from San Antonio households. (You must present proof that you live within the city of San Antonio.) An appointment is required. Appointments will be made by phone only. Please call 210-673-7722 to request an appointment. This event is expected to fill up very quickly. The clinic is located at 6758 Ingram Rd., San Antonio, Texas 78238 Please note that all dogs must arrive on a leash or in a carrier.

Your animal will also receive a free rabies vaccination if he or she does not have a current rabies certificate. Take home pain medication will also be provided for free.

Please see the San Antonio Spay-Neuter and Animal Wellness Clinic webpage for additional information about how the clinic operates, what to expect, and links to pre- and post-surgery instructions.

Free Open Spay-Neuter Event in San Antonio

The San Antonio mobile clinic will be at the World Spay Day Pet Fair in San Antonio, Texas, to provide FREE spay-neuter for dogs and cats. There will be a limited number of spaces for smaller dogs and cats. If more animals show up than the mobile clinic can accommodate, a lottery will be held to determine which animals receive surgery. The lottery will take place at 7:00 a.m. Don’t be late! It all takes place on the front lawn on the main campus of Texas A&M University-San Antonio at One University Way, San Antonio, Texas 78224.

Please see the San Antonio mobile clinic webpage for additional information about how the clinic operates, what to expect, and links to pre- and post-surgery instructions.

This event in sponsored by the San Antonio Talk About It campaign and Texas A&M University of San Antonio. Spay-neuter isn’t the only reason to attend. There will also be an adoption event and booths providing furry friend resources and information.

World Spay Day is an annual campaign of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Humane Society International that shines a spotlight on spay-neuter to save the lives of companion animals, feral cats, and street dogs who might otherwise be put down in a shelter or abandoned to fend for themselves.
 
 
Spring Art Festival Looms 
Volunteer Today to Help Prevent Needless Suffering and Death of Unwanted Animals
 
Your help is needed at the Bayou City Art Festival!
Giving back doesn't always mean making a donation. Sometimes a little of your time and effort can go a long way towards helping a deserving animal get the surgery needed to avoid becoming part of the animal overpopulation problem. The upcoming Bayou City Art Festival is a perfect example. SNAP needs your help (and that of several hundred other compassionate animal lovers) to staff the beverage booths. There you will serve up tasty frosty beverages to slake the thirst of festival guests. How does this help the animals? It's simple. SNAP gets to keep all of the tips and a percentage of the sales receipts for the beverages sold. These funds are used to support our mobile spay-neuter programs that bring free spay-neuter surgery and rabies vaccinations to animals in low-income communities.

The total raised through volunteer efforts has reached many tens of thousands of dollars at previous festivals, so this event is not small potatoes. We need your continued support to make the spring festival a similarly spectacular success. Each booth requires a number of volunteers and a booth captain for the duration of the three-day festival. We run three shifts each day, so don't worry--you're not signing up for a marathon event. This is why we need so many volunteers. The booth captain is there to help if you’re not sure what to do.

You will be given a festival t-shirt to wear during your shift, and it’s yours to keep afterwards, but that’s not all you get for your trouble. You will also receive free admittance to the festival on the day of your shift. Shifts are about four hours long, so you will have plenty of time before or after your shift to see the festival. Tickets are normally $15 per person. Best of all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your efforts will prevent the suffering and death of animals that would otherwise have been born unwanted. Sweet!

The beverage booths serve alcoholic beverages, so you must be at least 18 years of age to volunteer. Here are the shifts that are available.

Bayou City Art Festival Shifts
(Shifts are the same all three 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.

Note that the sooner you volunteer, the more likely you are to get the shift(s) you want. The best shifts fill up fast, so don't delay.

The spring festival takes place Friday, March 28-Sunday, March 30, 2014, in the picnic area at Houston's Memorial Park. Please volunteer today by contacting our Volunteer Team by email or phone at 713-862-3863 to sign up.
 
 
Join Team SNAP for AIDS Walk Houston
Your Feet Plus a Few Sponsors Equal Help for Animals of Those Affected by HIV/AIDS
 
Sign up for the SNAP Houston AIDS Walk team today!
Imagine learning that you have contracted a life-threatening disease that will cost you vast sums of money to treat. That alone would be a tragic burden, but imagine how much worse it would be if those expenses forced you to decide between your own health and that of a beloved dog or cat. The SNAP Animal Aid Program was started to help people who are affected by HIV/AIDS and find themselves in precisely this situation.

Fortunately SNAP is not alone in this effort. AIDS Foundation Houston has stepped up to work shoulder-to-shoulder with SNAP by making the organization a benefiting agency of AIDS Walk Houston 2014. This means some of the funds raised by the walk may come back to SNAP, but it’s not free money. SNAP must field a team to participate in the walkathon and raise at least $5,000 before we will qualify to share in the larger earnings of the event. (All of the money directly raised by the SNAP team comes back to SNAP either way.) The money we raise will help fund the Animal Aid Program. Can you strap on your walking shoes and sign up a few sponsors? If not, can you sponsor someone who is already walking? The animals served by AAP need you to join the team!

AIDS Walk Houston is a short five kilometer (3.1 mile) stroll through Houston’s scenic streets. It's easy on the feet and good for the heart in more ways than one. The walk takes place on Sunday, March 9, 2014, and starts in Hermann Park Square in front of Houston City Hall in downtown Houston. Check-in begins at 8:00 a.m., the opening ceremonies are at 9:00 a.m., and the step off is at 10:00 a.m.

To join the team or support another walker, visit the Team SNAP webpage. There you can click on the Join This Team button if you would like to walk or click on the name of someone already on the team if you would like to sponsor his or her participation. Whether you choose to walk or sponsor, you will be helping SNAP reach our goal. If we succeed, the money raised will help SNAP provide free spay-neuter and free and reduced-cost wellness services for the animals of those living with HIV/AIDS through the Animal Aid Program.

The SNAP team needs your support, so please sign up or contribute today! Your gift may make you eligible for a tax-deduction on your 2014 taxes, but the best reason to walk is to help some animals and the people who love them.

SNAP would like to thank AIDS Foundation Houston for once again making SNAP a benefiting agency and for its support of the Animal Aid Program.

 
Paws for Wine… Again!
Sonoma Wine Bar Invites You to Its Second Annual Wine-Tasting Fundraiser for SNAP

  
Join us at Sonoma for Wine for Paws!
SNAP is pleased to announce that Sonoma Wine Bar is holding its second annual Paws for Wine fundraiser benefiting SNAP. The wine tasting event will give you the opportunity to sip and swirl 30 wines and beers with tasty food pairings. This isn’t just a festival for you oenophiles however; a portion of the proceeds will be handed over to SNAP to help fund our ongoing free spay-neuter programs for animals living in low-income households.

Tickets are $50 per person. The folks at Sonoma Wine Bar are handling ticket sales, so call them at 713-864-9463 to order your tickets today! It all takes place from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the Houston Heights location of Sonoma, 801 Studewood St., Houston, Texas 77007.

SNAP is grateful to Sonoma for its ongoing generosity in holding this second annual fundraiser for SNAP. We hope to see you all at Paws for Wine!
 
Guess the Birdies for SNAP
Support SNAP through the Valero Texas Open Golf Tournament Fundraiser
 
Tee up to help the animals with Birdies for Charities®!
Love golf? Love animals? The Valero Texas Open Birdies for Charities® event let's you combine your passions to raise money for spay-neuter!
Whether you are an animal lover with an interest in golf or just love animals, you will be happy to hear that SNAP has been selected as a beneficiary of the Valero Texas Open Birdies for Charity® fundraising program! Birdies for Charity is like a walk-a-thon, but instead of donating per mile, you make a pledge for every birdie made at the Valero Texas Open. If you prefer the certainty of a known amount, you have the option to make a one-time donation instead. Either way, you will be helping an animal that might not otherwise get the chance to have spay-neuter surgery. That’s because Birdies for Charities gives 100% of the monies raised back to the participating organization.

So What Is a Birdie?

If you’re not a golf person and you’re wondering what a birdie is, read on. In golf, “par” is the normal expected score on any given hole. A “birdie” is one stroke under par for a hole. When you pledge, you will be donating a set amount for each birdie that will be made during the tournament week at the Valero Texas Open. The tournament, which is an official PGA TOUR event, takes place the week of March 24-30, 2014, on the AT&T Oaks Course at the PGA Tournament Players Club (TPC) San Antonio. (Birdies count Wednesday, March 26-Sunday, March 30).

How Much to Pledge?

The 2013 Valero Texas Open had 1,640 birdies made, so a pledge of $0.01 yielded a donation of $16.40. Birdies for Charities recommends this amount ($0.01 per birdie) as a good level for individuals and ups the ante to $0.50 per birdie for corporations. A typical year sees 1900 to 2000 birdies which would yield an individual contribution in the neighborhood of $19-$20 or a corporate contribution of $900-$1,000 based on these suggested giving levels.

You can donate using a downloadable pledge form or online on the Texas Valero Open website. You have the option to pay by cash, check, credit card, or the convenience to be billed after the tournament. (Cash and check donations must be accompanied by a donation form.) Donations are accepted from anywhere around the world and may qualify you for a tax deduction. Please consult a qualified tax professional about your own individual tax situation.

The benefiting organizations with the 52 highest pledge/donation amounts as of February 26, 2014, will automatically receive an additional $200 from the tournament and be represented by an amateur team playing in a Pro-Am tournament on Wednesday, March 26. The teams will compete for a $20,000 bonus pool, which will be divided up between the benefiting nonprofits based on their teams’ score.

Time Is of the Essence

The 2014 Pledge Period runs from October 4, 2013 – March 25, 2014, but the sooner you pledge or donate, the more opportunities there are for SNAP to win. This is because Birdies for Charities is entering benefiting agencies that reach $1,000 in total donations in a series of $500 drawings. The agencies that reach $1,000 the soonest will end up in more drawings than those who reach that milestone later on. Valero Texas Open will also match 5 percent of total collected donations for every agency that reaches at least $1,000—up to a maximum of $10,000!
“Guess the Birdies” Contest

To add excitement and encourage you to participate, you can enter the “Guess the Birdies” contest. Simply guess how many birdies will be made Wednesday–Sunday of tournament week. The entrant with the correct guess wins the grand prize: a Stay-and-Play Gift Package, compliment of TPC San Antonio and JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort and Spa. Ties will be resolved through a tiebreaker event. If no one guesses correctly, a computer will randomly select the grand prize winner.
 
Bunnies Blowout Benefits AAP… Again!
Volunteers Needed for Annual LGBT Easter Weekend Fundraiser
 
SNAP Needs Volunteers for Bunnies on the Bayou!
SNAP is thrilled to announce that it has once again been selected as a beneficiary of the annual Bunnies on the Bayou event. This LGBT community fundraiser started in 1979, so this is its 35th Anniversary. The celebration takes place on Easter weekend every year, and it raises a ton of money for charity. This year should be no exception, and SNAP is grateful to Bunnies on the Bayou organization for once again choosing to help the dogs and cats that benefit from the SNAP Animal Aid Program, which provides free spay-neuter, free wellness exams, and reduced-cost wellness services/products for the animals of those living with HIV/AIDS.

We will also need approximately 20 volunteers to help staff the beverage booths at the event, so if you can help, please send email to our Volunteer Coordinator.

What is there to do at Bunnies on the Bayou? The event is billed as the largest annual outdoor cocktail party in Texas, so it’s an adult event where you can enjoy a few drinks, listen to great DJ-curated tunes, and get together with friends. A lot of attendees dress up with the Easter theme in mind, so it can be entertaining as well. It takes place at the Wortham Center Fish Plaza on Sunday, April 20, 2014, from 1-6 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person when purchased in advance and can be bought on the Bunnies on the Bayou website. Tickets will be available at the door for $40 per person.

Bunnies on the Bayou, Inc., is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the raising and distributing of funds for various charitable, educational and cultural programs that seek to improve the quality of life for individuals in the LGBT community and promotes education and awareness of individual human rights within the greater Houston area. SNAP congratulates the organization on its 35th Anniversary celebration!
 
Save (Animals) at Our WebThriftStore
 Donate or Come Shop for Deals at the SNAP Online Thrift Shop
 
Shop or donate or both... It's all for the animals!
So you would like to donate to SNAP, but you have to buy a birthday gift for that rabid Elvis fan in your life. What if you could do both in one fell swoop? Visit the SNAP WebThriftStore and you can be taking care of business on both fronts! Our freshly opened online thrift shop has merchandise from the groovy to the glorious, and when you buy, you help raise funds for spay-neuter! If you’re in more of a spring cleaning mood and want to get rid of your gently used (but perfectly good) items, you can donate them for sale. You will get a tax deduction when your items are bought.

Whether you buy or sell, SNAP will receive the majority of sales proceeds to put towards our spay-neuter programs. Get (or get rid of) some awesome stuff, and you will also get the satisfaction of knowing that you are saving animals in the process!

How much money will really be raised? We’re not talking mere pennies here. If your velvet Elvis painting brings in $100, SNAP will receive enough to spay two cats or a medium-sized hound dog. Don’t think fine art is the only thing we sell either; you can donate electronics, jewelry, even your blue suede shoes—whatever you like. It’s up to you. Donate or shop today. The animals will be glad you did, and we will be sure to say thank you… Thank you very much!
 
ARMA Delivers for Spay-Neuter
Record Keeping Society Donation Drive Brings in $570 Worth of Cash and Supplies
 
The spectacular results of the ARMA donation drive!
This mountain of products represents just part of what was delivered to SNAP by representatives of ARMA after their recent donation drive. There was cash too!
You might remember that in October we told you about the “Shop for SNAP” donation drive being conducted for SNAP by ARMA Houston, a nonprofit professional association for the information and records management industry. Well, the drive is over, and boy was it successful! Representatives of the organization’s Community Outreach Committee recently delivered approximately $570 worth of cash and supplies to the Houston Spay-Neuter and Animal Wellness Clinic on Durham Dr. The donations were comprised of items from the clinic’s wish list and included such things as cleaning supplies, anti-bacterial soap, disinfecting wipes, and paper towels.

These items will go a long way towards helping the mobile clinic continue its mission to bring free spay-neuter and rabies vaccinations to dogs and cats living in low-income households. SNAP is deeply grateful to ARMA Houston and its members for making this donation drive such a huge success.

Shop for SNAP was a project of ARMA Houston’s Community Outreach Initiative, which is dedicated to providing assistance to deserving regional charitable aid organizations. ARMA Houston is a nonprofit professional association for the information and records management industry and is a member chapter of ARMA International. The local chapter has more than 400 members!
 
Upcoming SNAP Events
Saturday, February 22, 2014 - Houston, TX
  Bayou City Art Festival Puppy Painting Class
Learn to paint at Hyde Park Gallery at Pictures Plus. Watch our Facebook page for details!
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - Houston and San Antonio, TX
  FREE Spay-Neuter on World Spay Day
SNAP commemorates World Spay Day with spay-neuter events in Houston and San Antonio.
Sunday, March 2, 2014 - Houston, TX
  Dogs & Divas Brunch
Join Houston's Fabulous Divas at Berryhill to raise funds for the SNAP AIDS Walk Team.
Sunday, March 9, 2014 - Houston, TX
  AIDS Walk Houston
Join the SNAP team for a 5K walkathon that benefits the Animal Aid Program..
Saturday, March 15, 2014 - San Antonio, TX
  Wine Tasting at Deco's Pizzeria
Eight wines for $20 with proceeds to SNAP mobile spay-neuter programs. Details to come!
Saturday, March 20, 2014 - San Antonio, TX
  San Antonio Pet Expo
Stop by our booth for information on spay-neuter and animal wellness or just to say hello!
March 24-30, 2014 – San Antonio, TX
  Birdies for Charities
Sign up online or via a pledge form to donate for each birdie during the Texas Valero Open.
Friday, March 28-Sunday, March 30, 2014 – Houston, TX
  2014 Spring Bayou City Art Festival
We need hundreds of helpful hands to make our bi-annual volunteer fundraiser a success.

Hedda HoundHedda Hound Banner

 
Hello Darlings!

What do you think of all this cold weather we’ve been having? While those who live in Alaska may consider our cold weather pretty insignificant, it can still be cold enough to create problems for the four footed community. Take the poor pup described in this month’s letter from Sampson, a Saint Bernard from San Antonio.

Dear Hedda,

I’m a Saint Bernard, and I’ve got a great big old layer of fat and fur that keeps me warm in the winter. Still, my human family brings me inside when it gets really cold out, and I do appreciate that. The reason I am writing is that there is a dog living next door that never gets to come inside—even when the temperature drops into the 20s! He has a house with a bed in it, but he tells me it gets really cold in there some nights—especially if it’s raining and the wind is howling. He’s not a big burly guy like me either. He’s a greyhound, and he’s hardly got fur to speak of. How can humans be so thoughtless, Hedda? Don’t they realize how cruel it is to leave their animals out in the bitter cold of winter?

Sign me,
Not a Saint, Just Sampson

Dear Saint,

I think you are a saint because you are helping bring attention to something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand. Dogs (and cats) are just as susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite as humans. A thick coat of fur may mean we may be able to endure somewhat colder temperatures, but we’re not popsicles, and we do need protection when the mercury drops towards freezing. It’s one thing to go out for some exercise on a chilly day and quite another to have to spend the night in a freezing cold dog house.

You also rightly point out that some dogs do not have naturally thick coats and may feel the cold sooner than others. Dogs are descended from wolves, but we do not all have the same survival mechanisms, and some breeds have been bred specifically for warmer climates. Most importantly, this isn’t just about comfort. Exposed skin anywhere on a dog’s (or cat’s) body can freeze, resulting in permanent and potentially life-threatening damage, and if it gets cold enough, your beloved canine and feline friends can literally freeze to death.

So have a heart and bring your furry friends inside when it gets chilly. Be sure they have a warm place to shelter outdoors on those nights that aren’t so cold but aren’t exactly warm either. The Humane Society of the United States has a guide to protecting your animals from the chill of winter. Check it out and learn how to make sure your babies stay warm. It’s the loving thing to do. 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:
 
  The Brown Foundation, $50,000
  Keith and Mattie Stevenson Foundation, $6,000
  George and Mary Josephine Hamman Foundation, $5,000
  Betty Stieren Kelso Foundation, $5,000
  Ray Rowe Trusts for Animals, $5,000
  Barrio Dogs Houston, $4,893.75
  Best Friends Animal Society, $10,030
  Huffington Foundation, $2,500
  Laredo Animal Protective Society, $2,500
  Dr. Scholl Foundation, $2,500
  Wharton County Stray Pet Outreach Team, $2500
  Thorton S. Glide, Jr. and Katrina D. Glide Foundation, $2,000
  Bob and Vivian Smith Foundation, $1,393

  Stray Cat Adoptions of Texas, $1,350
  On Shore Foundation, $1,000
  Robertson-Finley Foundation, $1,000
  Hillcrest Foundation, $842
  J. Harry Tappan and Winnie C. Tappan Charitable Trust, $500
  BP Fabric of America, $300

 
Woodland Heights Animals Get a Lifeline
Community Animal Hero Tonya Daily and Her Volunteers Help Neglected Dogs and Cats
  
Volunteer with a dog in makeshift shelter at Woodland Height
A volunteer (right) delivers some love to one of the needy pooches in Woodland Heights. They are seen in a makeshift shelter created to help shield the animal from cold weather.
When Woodland Heights resident Tonya Daily discovered a large number of neglected dogs and cats living in and around a home in her neighborhood, she made it her goal to help them. She started by posting messages on the Nextdoor.com network site for the neighborhood in hopes of raising several hundred dollars to help the most needy animals in the group. She worked with SNAP to set up a fund to receive donations with the money to be used to provide spay-neuter surgery, vaccinations, heartworm preventative, and other wellness services for the animals. In return for her efforts, Ms. Daily's fund quickly exceeded her target and has now surpassed $3,000. She was also joined by a number of volunteers who shared in her desire to help these animals. The success of her efforts caused Ms. Daily to expand her goals to help all of the animals living in the home--not only with sterilization and disease prevention--but with warm bedding to help them survive the chilly winter. She and her volunteers then expanded their efforts to help other neglected animals in the area. They have also addressed the sources of neglect by taking it upon themselves to educate those keeping the animals on how to provide more humane conditions for them. If you would like to donate to help these animals, visit our Woodland Heights Animal Fund donation page.

Many Woodland Heights area animals are now on their way to being sterilized and protected from common disease threats. They also have warm beds they can retreat to when chilly winds blow. The animals' guardians are also more aware of how to take care of their four-footed charges. All of this is a testament to what one person can accomplish when she decides to act. Ms. Daily is to be commended for her initiative and her compassion for the animals in her community. Her cadre of volunteers deserve our respect and appreciation as well. Thanks to Ms. Daily and her volunteers, these animals will no longer be producing unwanted offspring or falling victim to easily preventable diseases.
 
Euthanasia Is a Drag!
LGBT Community Divas to Host Drag Brunch for SNAP AIDS Walk Team
  
Berryhill is donating 10 percent!
Euthanasia is a drag, but drag is coming to the rescue! SNAP is excited to announce that some of the most glamourous divas in the LGBT community have scheduled a drag brunch fundraiser to raise money for the SNAP AIDS Walk team. You are invited to come along for what promises to be a wild and wooly time!  Berryhill Baja Grill is getting in on the giving too. It is donating 10 percent of event's proceeds from the event. (See related story in this issue--and join the team if you like!)

The event takes place on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Montrose location of Berryhill Baja Grill at 3407 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas 77006. Brunch starts at 2 p.m. and the show starts at 3 p.m.

SNAP is deeply grateful to Berryhill Baja Grill and to the wonderful divas who will bring their considerable talents to bear for Team SNAP--and the dogs and cats served by the Animal Aid Program--which will benefit from the funds raised by our AIDS Walk team.
 
 
Madame AstroCat[object Object]
 
Dear Readers,

Sometimes we must be serious, and February is about the most serious month on the calendar, which is good considering it is also the shortest month on the calendar. I am therefore dispensing with frivolity this month and concentrating on educating you regarding the most common and (mostly) preventable feline diseases and parasites. Is this an exhaustive list that covers every disease your cat may ever face? Unfortunately it is not. There are, alas, too many to cover in a top ten list. Take urinary tract infections… please! Nonetheless, knowledge is power, and after you have reviewed this month’s top ten list of the most common infectious threats to felines, you will be better able to protect your beloved kitties:

10. Fleas and Ticks - Ticks can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to your cat. Both are potentially deadly (the latter more so than the former, but Lyme disease is still no picnic). And sure, ticks are dangerous, but fleas are just itchy and annoying, right? WRONG! They carry tapeworms which can find their way into your kitty’s digestive system. They’re straight up nasty boys and girls! We will discuss them in more depth shortly. Just know this for the moment: fleas and ticks can be held at bay with the regular use of preventatives.

9. Tapeworms - How would you like your cat to have a worm living of inside her that is several feet long and has burrowed into the digestive tract? Meet the tapeworm! Fleas carry tapeworm larvae. When they bite your cat (or dog), the animal’s natural response is to bite at the site of the irritation. Frequently the offending flea gets ingested (eaten) as a result. This is all according to the tapeworm’s nefarious plan, because once inside your animal, it’s dinner time! The worm consumes the nutrients from your kitty’s food, so guess who doesn’t get it? Tapeworms literally suck the life (and joy) out of your cat! The good news is that deworming medication can kill tapeworms. The better news is that you can prevent them altogether through the regular use of flea and tick preventative.

8. Roundworms - Roundworms affect both dogs and cats. Those that prey on cats can grow up to five inches in length. (Those affecting dogs are much shorter.) These cruel critters are transmitted through contact with the feces of an infected animal. They may also be acquired by ingesting contaminated soil or eating infected insects or animals. Kittens (and puppies) can also become infected while nursing. Symptoms include a bloated belly, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloody stools. The worms attach themselves to the intestinal wall and drink the animal's blood. During the larval stage, they may pass through the lungs. This can cause coughing or gagging, especially among kittens and puppies. A severe infestation can be deadly for a kitten or puppy. Fortunately there are deworming medications that can kill them.

7. Hookworms - Hey, all that stuff I just told you about roundworms? It’s all true for hookworms too. Here is an added tidbit to know about both of these vampiric fiends: they are zoonotic. This means they can be transmitted between cats and humans (or dogs and humans, for that matter). Heck, you can even get them all on your own by going barefoot outdoors or sitting on contaminated earth. So don’t go blaming the cat unless you’re sure you didn’t get them elsewhere. Oh, and see your doctor right away.

6. Ringworm - There is but one ringworm in the entire world. That is why this item is titled “Ringworm” instead of “Ringworms.” Okay, that’s a lie. The truth is that ringworm is not even a worm. (No, really!) It is actually a fungus that is very similar to the athlete’s foot fungus. The hitch is that it doesn’t confine itself to the feet. It can spring up almost anywhere on an animal’s body, giving your sweet kitty an itchy rash and causing his or her fur to fall out in the process. Here’s the best part: It’s zoonotic and highly contagious! Ringworm can be contracted from other infected animals but it can also be found living in soil or on plants. It has about a 10-day incubation period, so it is entirely possible to discover your cat has ringworm on the same day you discover that you have ringworm. It can be cured, but the process is tedious and can take months. It cannot be prevented except by keeping your cat indoors all the time. That’s not a bad option when you think about it.

5. Heartworms - You are probably aware that mosquitoes can carry West Nile fever, malaria, and other diseases dangerous to humans, but did you know they also carry a parasite that is potentially deadly to dogs and cats? The microscopic larvae or microfilaria of the heartworm lives in mosquitoes, and when a mosquito bites your kitty these microfilaria can be injected into his or her bloodstream. They migrate from there to your cat’s lungs where they gradually grow to be quite large—up to several feet long. (They mainly target the heart in dogs but can affect the lungs as well.) The larger they get, the more damage they do to the tissues where they have taken up residence. Cats may survive without treatment, which is good since there currently is no treatment for cats. Dogs are unlikely to survive at all unless the infection is caught and treated early. Put your animal(s) on heartworm preventative and save them the heartache (and lung ache) of heartworms.

4. Feline Leukemia - If you’re familiar with human leukemia, you can probably imagine that the feline version is not a lot better. It is, in fact, a little better but not much. The infection is not cancerous—at least in the beginning. It is caused by a retrovirus that attacks a cat's white blood cells. The retrovirus is transmitted through saliva and nasal secretions. Cats allowed to roam outdoors are at risk for the disease when they come into contact with other cats. Luckily the disease is not believed to be transmissible to humans. A cat infected with the virus may survive it and have immunity to it, or the disease may progress leading to a form of cancer similar to human leukemia. A cat may also become a carrier--able to infect other cats but showing no outward symptoms. There is a vaccine that can save your cat from feline leukemia. I don’t have to talk you into taking your cat in to get it, right.

3. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - This is one disease you really don’t want your cat to get, mainly because it is incurable. It is similar to the HIV virus in humans, and it gradually depletes your animal’s immune system, leaving him open to other opportunistic infections. A test can tell you whether your cat is infected, but once infected you are left with trying to give your baby the best quality of life possible while the disease slowly does its deadly work. This is another disease that is contracted from other infected cats, so once again the best prevention is to make your cat a full-time indoor cat. Not all cats will be happy about this, but they might just live to resent it for longer than they would have otherwise.

2. Distemper - What we call distemper in cats is actually panleukopenia and is a form of the parvovirus that infects dogs, but your cat cannot get it from a dog. She or he can get it from almost anywhere else though. Not only is the virus transmitted by other infected cats, it can live in the environment under extremely harsh conditions. There your cat can contract it without ever seeing another cat. There is a vaccine, so doesn’t it make sense to keep your cat protected?

1. Rabies - We talk a lot about rabies and for good reason. It is an incredibly dangerous and deadly disease—not just for your cats (and dogs) but for you and your family as well. It is transmitted through contact with the bodily fluids of animals that are already infected. One of the more dreadful symptoms of the disease is that it makes the infected host more aggressive and therefore more likely to bite. Every bite spreads the disease. There is no cure for dogs or cats, so infection means the animal must be euthanized immediately. If your animal is not currently vaccinated against rabies, why in heaven’s name is she not? It’s not just a good idea incidentally. It’s the law. Texas state law requires that all dogs and cats be kept vaccinated against this terrible disease.
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