Get Creative with Your Canines this Halloween with Walmart’s Big Heart Pet Brands

Premier Pet Brands Offer Fun Variety of Seasonal Ideas for Treat-Gifting Plus Howlin’ Halloween Instagram Photo Contest

 #TreatThePups

Disclosure: Post sponsored by Lunchbox, but all opinions herein are those of the Administrator of this blog, JL Smith. ThoughtsFurPaws.com never publishes dishonest, distorted or distended reviews.

Are you one of those dedicated dog-lovers who spend time making homemade puppy freezer pops to give to family and neighborhood dogs? Do you make your own dog food? Do you keep a dog treat bag in your car or purse just in case…? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then Walmart’s Big Heart Brands have a real treat in store for you – and the pooches in your life — this howlin’ Halloween season!

Halloween Treat- and Gift-Giving for Dogs: Make the Ultimate Treat Basket

Gift-giving is always enjoyable; the feeling of watching someone’s face as they open your gift is priceless. Well it’s the same sentimentality with gift-giving for dogs! Right? They hop up and down, smile, and get all animated when they know they’re getting something… So why not make up some Halloween doggie gift bags for the whimsical waggily-tails in your life?

With Big Heart Pet Brands, like Milk-Bone™, Pup-Peroni® and Milo’s Kitchen®, it’s really quite simple – and it’s a fun, creative way to show your love, appreciation and friendship. (Bonus:  being the random treat-giver in the neighborhood gets you in any dog’s good graces, too!) There are so many choices at Walmart.com; you can mix and match to make your Halloween doggie goodie bags more varietal!

Tips and Tricks for a Safe Halloween with Dogs

Everyone knows that dogs are part of the family. Walmart and Big Heart Pet Brands feel the same way as we do! This is particularly true on the famous All-Hallows Eve; after all, in years past, how many dogs have you seen romping around the neighborhood with the kids, dressed to the nines, politely protecting their people? But as much as our canine companions love to shadow us in costume and get goodies, there are dangers lurking that all dog-owners should be aware of. So let’s discuss this imperative part of the fall holiday: dog safety on Halloween.

  1. Tricks, But No Treats : Yes, we all love our dogs and their tricks, but they absolutely cannot have any human Halloween treats. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is extremely dangerous for dogs. Candy or sweets with xylitol, the artificial sweetener, also can cause serious issues for Fido.
  2. Doggie Dress-Up: Dog Halloween costumes are not recommended unless you know that your dog likes to wear them. For pets that prefer to go au naturale, suiting them up may cause undue stress. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, move or bark.
  3. Pumpkin Fun: Of course it’s great to carve and showcase pumpkins, but be extra careful with those candles that go inside to light them. Dogs can easily knock them over and cause a fire, or they can drag a costume piece near it, or even get burned or singed from sniffing it.

Instagram Halloween Dog Photo Contest!

Treat The Pups Banner 7

Who doesn’t love doggie dress-up? Well it’s time to show off your most delightful doggie Halloween pictures and enter for a chance to win a $5,000 prize! Big Heart Pet Brands is having a one-of-a-kind dog costume contest on Instagram, and I highly encourage you to enter, and to browse the hilarious photos already in the running! Simply use the hashtag #TreatThePups to enter the Tricked Out Costume Contest!

For more howlin’ good fun this Halloween, and to see an awesome video on making Halloween treat bags/gifts for pooches, check out the Big Heart Pet Brands dog treat bags video!

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Temptations Tumblers™ are Tastily Tantalizing, Sponsored by Temptations

Pun intended. Yes. These meaty, moist , and macho cat treats are the best Temptations yet according to Maxwell Anderson Smith and Tater Tot Turnbull. Two of the most reliable cats around the beat, Maxxy and Tatey had a grand old time batting these spherical, smelly-good treats around the hardwood kitchen floor before ultimately engorging. Designed to make snack time into play time, Temptations Tumblers™ were created to be round so when you toss them into the air, they spin away and give your cat-treat-crazy-cats a chance to hunt ‘em down, pounce, leap, turn, twist, dash and chase. And of course spy for a minute (if you’re Maxwell)…

Here, I’ll show you – watch this sweet-ass funny cat video; it accompanies the release of Tumblers™, which are now on store shelves for MSRP $1.50. The funny cat video will definitely give you a giggle – it’s like a show commercial featuring some seriously flexible felines! I know the first 20 seconds might seem confusing (the first 20 seconds don’t involve animals but I believe it’s meant to be that way), so don’t jump ship-stick with it if you want to see some outrageously awesome slow-motion cat antics!

Crunchy on the outside with a soft meaty center, and containing 30% protein, Temptations Tumblers™ will have your kitties chasing their tails for some more fun – and for some more meaty treaties…  The brand scored a four-paws-up with Maxxy and Tatey, and must be intent on shaking up everykitty’s favorite time of day! #TimetoPlayBall

Available in Tasty Chicken & Turkey and Savory Salmon & Tuna flavors, these new cat treats will surely have your cats “tumbling” all over the place like Max and Tate! Go check out Temptations Tumblers™  cat treats on Facebook!

#BestCatTreatEver

This post has been sponsored by the Temptations brand, but concerns the opinion of the Administrator of this blog. ThoughtsFurPaws.com never publishes dishonest, distorted or distended reviews. All opinions are of the blog owner, JL Smith.

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The Best Pet Snakes for Kids and Beginners

Okay so we’re going to try taking a new route today – a fun one, an interesting one, a reptilian one. I realize my blog is mostly about dogs, cats, animal welfare and all that four-legged jazz, but I thought you all might want to take a walk on the wild side with me and learn something new from “Jim the Reptile Guy.” Jim has raised snakes for practically his whole life and is also a great writer. He’s very passionate about all kinds of snakes, not just his own, as well as geckos, lizards, turtles, and other reptiles.

So we all know that there are tons of guys and gals and kids just like Jim all over the world. I mean, there are literally hundreds of thousands of young boys out there begging Mom for a snake or lizard right this very minute, right? So Jim has kindly put together a very detailed and informative article on the best snakes for beginners and kids. You’ll hear from Jim the Reptile Guy again in a about a month!

Who knows, maybe BlogPaws Nashville will see an appearance of a snake… or gecko…? (After all, we did have a Capybara this year!) (+ I would have to borrow one, lol!)

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Are you a budding reptile enthusiast or a parent to one? Do things with scales and shells appeal to you more than those with fur or feathers? Perhaps you’re a lover of all animals and are simply looking to add a cold-blooded critter to your family? No matter the reason, the rhyme, or the season, anyone interested in learning more about reptiles is welcome company in my book.

Today I’m going to be sharing some basic information on my favorite member of the reptile family – the snake. More specifically, I’m going to be talking about which snakes make the best pets, especially for your little people (children.)

I’m an animal enthusiast, but there’s just something about snakes that I’ve always loved. While many in our culture see them as the villains of the animal kingdom (thanks a lot, Bible), or the stuff of nightmares, there’s no denying that snakes are one of the most unique animals on the planet. They can perfectly adapt to a variety of environments and, while not all snakes would be happy living with humans, there are a handful that, when cared for properly, do make wonderful pets.

First things first, though. Before we talk about which snakes may be a good fit for your home, there are some things you’ll need to understand:

– Snakes are NOT domesticated like dogs and cats. While most snakes in the pet trade have been born into captivity, that doesn’t mean they’re domesticated. They’ve evolved over thousands of years to eat, breed, and survive. It’s our job as their caregivers to understand this first and foremost. If you start treating a snake like a cat or dog, letting them roam free, bringing them out for every guest to greet, and not considering their needs first, accidents can and will happen.

– Snakes are reptiles, and reptiles are cold-blooded animals. Snakes use thermoregulation to manage body temperature, thus, you’ll need a hot side and a cool side for your tank or terrarium.

– Snakes and reptiles kept as pets will likely require veterinary care at some point in their lives. Before you add a reptile to your family, please be sure to have access to a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles.

– A snake is a long-term commitment – many live 20 years or longer.

– Snakes eat rodents. While frozen/thawed rodents are best, some snakes (like Ball Pythons,) can be finicky eaters and may eat only live rodents. Make sure you have access to these should the need arise.

– Snakes are known in the reptile community as master escape artists, so be sure to have an escape-proof tank.

– When considering a snake as a pet for your child, consider the size and temperament of the snake and always supervise children when handling. I’d recommend six as the minimum age at which you’d acquire a snake as a pet for a child.

Now that we have the prerequisites out of the way, let’s look at some great options for you or your child’s first pet snake! I’m going to list the top five breeds I’d recommend for a novice snake owner, five being the one I’d recommend least and one being the best.

5. Boa Constrictor

Boas make the list at number 5 because they’re commonly found in pet stores and are a favorite in the pet trade. I do NOT, however, recommend a Boa for a first snake, especially

Boa Constrictor

Adult Boa Constrictor

for a child. I own a Boa. I’ve owned many Boas and love them. They are absolutely my favorite snake, but I’m an experienced guy who’s been keeping snakes for years (I’ve even bred them). So why don’t I recommend them for a beginner or a child? Because Boas get BIG!

Big snakes need big enclosures. Big snakes also need bigger food. Lastly, bigger snakes are harder to handle. They are heavy and while most experts will tell you that any snake over nine feet will require at least two adults present when handling, I say seven feet. A female Boa can easily reach the 8-13 foot range while males will usually reach between 6-8 feet. Your child may be very happy with a baby or juvenile Boa, but once that cute little baby reaches adulthood, your eight or nine-year-old won’t even be able to handle it. The snake will simply be too big, and at that size, could overpower a child.

A Boa is a terrific intermediate snake for those who’ve gained the experience and have the desire to add a larger snake to their home. Captive Boas come in a wide variety of beautiful color patterns. They are often a favorite among teenage boys.

Appearance: “The coloring of boa constrictors can vary greatly depending on the locality. However, they are generally a brown, grey or cream base color, patterned with brown or reddish brown “saddles” that become more pronounced towards the tail. It is this coloring that gives Boa constrictor constrictor the common name of “red-tailed boa” (per Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boa_constrictor)

Size: Typically, they range in length from 20 inches as neonates to 13 feet as adults.

Life span: Captive life expectancy is 20 to 30 years.

Food: Baby Boas will eat pinky rats and mice. Juvenile boas will eat small rats and graduate up to medium, large, XL, and big adults can eat Guinea pigs and rabbits.

Jim's Daughter with Bianca, his Boa.

Jim’s Daughter with Bianca, his Boa.

Here’s a picture of my six-year-old daughter, Mena, with our Sharp Sunglow female Boa, Bianca. Bianca is a little over one-year-old in this picture and is still growing like a weed. Bianca has been handled regularly since she was a baby and Mena has also been well versed (by me) as to the proper

Jim's Daughter with His Boa, Bianca.

Jim’s Daughter with His Boa, Bianca.

handling and care of our pet. Because of my love for the snake, Mena has been raised not to fear them. She simply sees a beautiful animal that she loves. Over time, though, Bianca will get much bigger (see the adult female pictured above.)

 

4. Milk Snakes

Milk Snakes are generally very docile, hardy and are good snakes for beginners and children. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is black/red/yellow.

Size: Hatchling milk snakes range in size from 12-15 inches in length. Adult milk snakes reach anywhere from 3 to 5 feet depending on the locality from which they originated.

Life span: Usually 12 – 15 years, though they can live as long as 20 years.

Milk Snake

Milk Snake

Food: Baby milk snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.

Fun Fact: The common milk snake is often confused with the deadly coral snake because of the similar colors and pattern. A milk snake has yellow bands with black bordered on either side. A coral snake has black bands bordered by yellow bands on either side. Here’s a handy rhyme I learned as a boy that will help you differentiate between the two:

“Yellow then black, venom they lack. Black then yellow will kill a fellow.”

Coral Snake

Coral Snake

Milk Snakes are a good beginner snake for kids because they’re easily handled, and are pretty active in their cages. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be paramount. Also, because of their colors, kids really seem to like them. Please note, however, that baby snakes (no matter the breed) can be a little nippier. They are tiny and vulnerable, so until they get bigger and are used to being handled, they may bite if they feel threatened. No worries, though, the bites are painless.

 

3. King Snakes

King Snakes, like Milk Snakes, are generally very docile, hardy and good snakes for beginners. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is the California King Snake which is black/white.

Size: Hatchling King Snakes range in size from 12-15 inches in length; adult King Snakes reach anywhere from 3 to 6 feet.

Life span: Usually 12 – 15 years, though they can live 20 years or longer.

King Snake

King Snake

Food: Baby king snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.

King Snakes are a good beginner snake for kids because they are easily handled, and are pretty active in their cages just like Milk Snakes. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be paramount. While their colors aren’t as varied as Milk Snakes, they’re still quite beautiful. As with Milk Snakes, baby King Snakes may be a little nippier at times.

Fun Fact:

King snakes will eat other snakes as well as lizards, fish, and rodents. Because of their willingness to eat other snakes, they should always be kept alone. King snakes are also immune to the venom of rattle snakes and will eat them in the wild!

A beautiful subspecies of King Snake is the Grey Banded King Snake.

Grey Banded King Snake

Grey Banded King Snake

 

2. Ball Python

The Ball Python is my personal favorite as far as a beginner snake. They grow to a maximum size of only 3-5 feet. They’re also docile and easy to handle. Their name comes from the fact that, when threatened, they roll themselves into a ball, using their big bodies to protect their small heads. Were it not for the fact that they can sometimes be very finicky eaters, they would have been #1 on my list.

Size: Hatchling Ball Pythons range in size from 12-15 inches in length. Adult Ball Pythons reach anywhere from 3 to 5 feet. Females grow larger than males.

Life span: 20 years or longer.

Food: Baby Ball Pythons will eat mice and weanling rats. Adults will typically eat small rats.

Ball Pythons are a great beginner snake for kids because they are so docile and so easy to handle. They aren’t active until nighttime, though, so if your child is looking for a snake that will be active during the day, a Milk, King, or Corn Snake would be a better choice. As with Milk Snakes and King Snakes, baby Ball Pythons may be a little nippier at times, especially near feeding time. On the opposite end of the scale, they may be so shy that they don’t eat at all. While docile and lovely, Ball Pythons require a lot of patience. Making them feel comfortable means maybe not picking them up for a week or more. Excited kids wanting to interact with their pet may find this a difficult task.

Fun Fact:

Because of their popularity in the pet trade, Ball Python breeders have selectively bred animals over the last 20 years or so for a wide variety of color and pattern mutations. We refer to them as “morphs,” as they are genetic mutations. Here are a few examples:

Normal Ball Python as they’d be found in the wild (and in most pet stores)

Normal Ball Python as they’d be found in the wild (and in most pet stores)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a dominant mutation known as a Pinstripe:

Pinstripe Ball Python Picture 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a co-dominant mutation called a Pastel:

Pastel Ball Python Picture 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a recessive mutation called an Albino

Here’s a recessive mutation called an Albino

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Corn Snakes

Normal Corn Snake

Normal Corn Snake

Corn Snakes are #1 on most “best pet snakes” lists and they clinched the #1 spot on my Best Snakes for Children/Beginners list as well. They are very docile, hardy and great snakes for beginners. They come in a wide variety of color combinations, but the most common is red/orange.

As a pre-teen, I owned several corn (and rat) snakes. They are easily kept, handled, fed, and they seem to have a very outgoing personality. Yes, snakes have personalities. I’ve met Corn Snakes who were jerks and ones that seemed sweeter than many dogs I’d known.

Size: Hatchling Corn Snakes range from 12-15 inches in length. Adult corn snakes will reach anywhere from 4 to 6 feet.

Life span: 15-20 years or longer.

Abbott Oakeetee Corn Snake

Abbott Oakeetee Corn Snake

Food: Baby Corn Snakes will eat pinky mice and graduate up to hopper mice. Adults will typically eat a large mouse or weanling rat.

Corn Snakes are the best beginner snake for kids because they are easily handled, reluctant to bite, active, colorful, and big enough to be cool but not so big that you’d worry about your child handling his or her pet. Ensuring you have an escape-proof enclosure will be key as Corn Snakes are pretty active. They come in a variety of colors and there are now even scaleless Corn Snakes! As with Milk Snakes, baby Corn Snakes may be a little nippier, especially near feeding time, but with regular handling and a full belly, this will quickly fade.

Albino Corn Snake

Albino Corn Snake

Fun Fact:

Like Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes are extremely popular as pets. Also just like Ball Pythons, Corn Snakes are available in a wide variety of color and pattern mutations. Here are a few examples:

Snow Corn Snake

Snow Corn Snake

 

 

 

 

Scaleless Corn Snake

Scaleless Corn Snake

 

So there you have it, my top five. Now you’re probably wondering where to potentially acquire one of these awesome critters. Well, believe it or not, all of the varieties I’ve talked about can probably be found in a local pet store, especially one that specializes in reptiles, but they won’t have all the color and pattern mutations. If you’re interested in acquiring a morph, my two favorite sites are http://www.kingsnake.com and http://www.faunaclassifieds.com. The former has a classifieds section and the breeder should be able to ship your new pet priority overnight right to your door.

*Habitat setup is the most important thing you can do as the owner of a new pet snake, but we’ll talk about that in another article!

Jim Moorman is an author, father, and reptile-lover; you can learn more about him on his websiteJim has been keeping reptiles for over 20 years and has learned through hands-on experience, through research, and from being an active part of the reptile community how to best care for and keep many types of reptiles as pets.

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#AdoptACatMonth Encourages Nationwide Shelter Cat Adoption; Easy Ways to Do Your Part

So you want to help a shelter cat, or maybe assist a few fabulous foster felines, is that right? You’re probably racking your brain trying to understand the most effective route to take for our fantastical furry four-leggers. You may be continuously asking yourself questions as to what you can do to help Fluffy or Fee-Fee get adopted. Perhaps you’ve even called the shelter to see how you can be of service.save a life

Well I’m here, and speaking from experience, to tell you some easy ways to help shelter cats. In no particular order, here are five ways to help shelter cats get adopted into fur-ever homes.

  1. Spread the Word: Whether you take to Facebook and re-post your shelters needy kitties, Retweet another shelter’s cat in need or even take to your blog or website to show your support, it’s easy to do and it’s free. You can feature either pictures or write up some tantalizing tidbits about each kitty. And don’t for one second think that it doesn’t make a difference… I have seen plenty of shelter cats get adopted through social media. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #AdoptaCatMonth!
  2. Volunteer: Volunteers are imperative to a shelter’s operations and to adoptions as well. They not only keep cages and kitties looking fresh and clean, but they give the needed attention to the cats in the shelter. Volunteering doesn’t just mean going and cleaning cages and feeding cats however; many people use a skill set to lend a hand – this is called “in-kind donating,” i.e., the donating of services. For example, I am a writer and blogger with ties to pet care companies. I spend most of my volunteer time nailing down food and supply donations and writing about what’s happening at the shelter for the organization’s Facebook page and web page. Still others have come in and used their photography savvy to help capture better images of the cats for the websites and cage-cards. We all know how important those pictures are!

    A young male cat up for adoption through Love-A-Stray in Avon, Ohio.

    A young male cat up for adoption through Love-A-Stray in Avon, Ohio.

  3. Donate: Donating to a given local rescue or shelter will help them get the supplies that they need to keep the kitties fed and healthy and vivacious. A full, vibrant kitty is a happy kitty. A happy kitty has a much higher chance of being adopted when the time comes around. Donating also helps the shelter offset costs for vaccinations, spay/neuter surgeries, and medications for kitties with infections or Diabetes, FLV, FIV, Herpes, etc.  
  4. Get More Involved: Contact your local shelter or rescue group (you can search for groups near you here) and ask if they have a wish list or another type of flyer that you can post around town – hit up grocery stores, mom-n-pop style shops, pet stores, your office and your neighborhood. Certain local rescues/shelters may be having special events for Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month which you can help promote. Another great way to get involved in the Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat cause is by writing an op-ed about the importance of pet adoption to your local paper (even the smaller newspapers will publish it!).
  5. Foster: Sign up as a kitty-cat foster parent then have the time of your life caring for the little guys. Be sure you record your adventures on Twitter and Facebook or a blog using the hashtag #AdoptaCatMonth. Then you can spread the word and tell all your friends how rewarding and wonderful the experiences are.  Contact your local shelter or rescue group, or register in Petfinder’s volunteer database.

 

 

 This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Adopt-a-Cat Month, but ThoughtsFurPaws only shares information it feels to be relevant to readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.

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Help Me Find “A Home for Hines:” the Heart-Wrenching Story of Hines the Rescue Cat

Although I first met Hines only a few months ago, I can tell you that this wonderful creature will always have a place in my heart. Unfortunately, due to situational circumstances he cannot have a place in my home as well (we already have three rescue cats and it’s a delicate balance as you all know).  So here I go… I’m going to tell you his story in hopes that it will be shared, talked about, Liked, re-posted, commented on, etc. etc. I will do everything in my power to find this cat a new fur-ever home. (My goal is to have him in a new home by the end of August.)

This all starts with you…

So please, I beg of you, for this sweet senior cat, do take a moment out of your busy day to leave a comment, post this on Facebook or your favorite social media site, re-post it on your own site, Tweet the cat’s photo, or anything else that will help Hines get adopted.

If we work together, we can make miracles happen and find A Home for Hines!

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I guess I should start at the very beginning so you have all the details of how exactly Hines came to be known as my “rescue Hines.” And also so you can understand the struggle he’s been through.

About six or so weeks ago, a high school friend, Angela, contacted me (somewhat freaking out) because her “sister’s friends” had a 12-year-old cat they were about to go gas because “they didn’t feel like giving him his insulin anymore or doing the work it takes to care for him anymore.” They were also moving into a new place that didn’t allow pets. (WTH right? I mean, who does that?) She further explained that this kitty, a 12-year-old DMH mix named Hines, was not only a senior (obviously), but was severely diabetic. He required insulin injections every 12 hours. He is overweight (but adorably so), and has a diet regimen that non pet-devotees may find frustrating (he simply can’t eat dry food or treats).

I immediately, especially upon hearing of the cat’s illustrious personality, said that I would take him and had a place for him to go. Really I hadn’t even called the shelter I work with yet – LoveAStray Cat Rescue in Avon, Ohio. The owner, Ellen, is a good friend, but this, bringing a new cat in, was one I had never approached her with.

Essentially I said I’d take Hines without even asking Ellen if she had room for him; I simply wanted Hines out of that hellhole with those assholes who “didn’t want to take care of him anymore,” please pardon my French. I called Ellen that same day and we played phone tag a few times. I was getting nervous. I kept racking my brain trying to think of someone who could take Hines. After exhausting a comprehensive list of friends and relatives, I thought more seriously about taking him myself. Then, a couple days later, after confirming with Ellen, I was able to tell Angela that the shelter could take Hines after all, but not for about 8 days as we needed a cage to open up.

Angela, who doesn’t even own or know Hines, proceeded to lay out a pretty penny to assist me in his rescue at this point. We needed him to be put up in a medical kennel for those 8 days because the stupid heartless owners couldn’t even be bothered to hold on to him for another week. They were ready to just kill him and be done with it… hands clean – end of story. (Don’t get me started on them.)

So after the long 8 days passed, I went to get Hines. I would be not only his official transport to the shelter, but his one-night-wonder-foster-Mommy! I was stoked! It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I was in a great mood. It took FOREVER to get to the kennel but I didn’t mind. I DID mind when I got inside and saw that this “medical kennel” was feeding Hines dry food and not wet. I mean, COME ON. Most people who have ever owned a pet even once in their lives know you don’t give a severely diabetic cat anything but wet food – no treats, nothing. It’s too dangerous. The “vet techs” or whatever they were, were nice enough despite that fault. I also noticed that Hines could use a grooming, or even just a good brushing. His prior parents obviously didn’t care that this senior sweetie had let his grooming habits fall by the wayside. I made a mental note.  And then I did something that made me swell with pride…

Sweet Hines, the Senior Wonder Kitty

Sweet Hines, the Senior Wonder Kitty

I am severely trypanophobic – I’m absolutely terrified of needles and everything involved with them (I can barely get an IV put in without fainting). So this was going to be interesting…The techs, who couldn’t even brush him while he was there for 8 days, needed to show me how to give him his insulin. I would be required to administer it that night and the next morning in an exact 12-hour increment. Now I have plenty of experience giving dogs and cats medications and fixing injuries, etc. As a pet parent, you learn all those things. But insulin injections are a different story – at least for me they were.

*It is here that I want to insert how you can overcome anything in order to help someone (or something) else. Hines was important enough to me for me to grab that syringe, take the cap off, and then grab his skin and inject the insulin – flawless on the first try (which was using only saline). I was shocked at myself! I did it!!! I mean, I knew going in this was going to be an issue, but I totally overcame it because I knew this cat needed me to be able to do it for him! And I did! And Hinesy is so good about getting his meds – he barely budges, even when you have to pinch up his skin and even when you inject the needle (ew). It was great! Hines will just lie there, especially if you feed him while you give the insulin. He is just so happy to be touched and petted and loved that he doesn’t care if you’re sticking a needle in him!

Anyhow, it took us over an hour-and-a-half in traffic to get back to our side of town. Hines was a gem in the car – he didn’t meow once; he didn’t make a peep. He simply sat in his carrier like a pro and enjoyed the sunshine coming in through the windows. Of course I was baby-talking to him the whole time to comfort him so I’m sure that helped.  (I hope it did…) I had started noticing by now how chilled out this cat was, how friendly without warrant, how amazingly calm and cool he was. It’s rare I tell you…

Upon arrival at home, I immediately took Hines up to my room and rushed him (in carrier) past our three cats. We didn’t want to stress him out even more than he may have already been – so we figured keeping him in my room for the night with me would be the best idea. After all, he already was responding to my voice. Additionally, this way our 4-year-old males wouldn’t get in his eye or bother him and my senior girl wouldn’t feel jealous. I have a large room with a connecting bathroom and huge walk-in closet so it’s not like Hines was confined to a teeny space; trust me, he had plenty of things to do in my room. He had his very own scratching post and toys, tons of nip, his own toys that the asshole-owners left him with, plus a litter box in the bathroom, a huge bed to snoop around under (and to sleep on I found out later), plenty of fresh water, boxes to play in and open windows to sit in. I also laid blankets and towels around in different places for him to lie down on.

I noticed at first that Hinesy was quite reticent – he didn’t want to give up the cuddles and love, he didn’t want to give up the emotions that he had been feeling having been abandoned by his family of 12 years. He was also too interested in sniffing out the other cats and all the good stuff in my room.

Yeah, that lasted about 10 minutes.

After that he was all over me. I sat on the floor with him for hours upon hours – that whole night – reading and writing and watching TV. He would play with my cat’s nip toys for a while, and then he’d come over and throw himself at me (it’s hilarious to see a 16-lb cat throw himself belly-up for love! MOL!).

At dinnertime I gave Hines his insulin like a pro! I was so proud – and he didn’t fidget at all! Hines plowed through an entire can of Friskies and then came and rested by me. He was tentative at first when eating – God only knows what kind of diet he had been on since he was diagnosed as diabetic a year ago… I mean, even the kennel was giving him dry food. Anyways, dinner and dinnertime insulin went very well. The problem was that Hines still hadn’t used the litter box and I was afraid he may try to “mark” my room or me as his new territory since there are two other male cats in the house… I kept picking up his furry and soft big body and putting him in the box. After the fourth attempt, I finally resigned myself to bed.

Hinesy lying down... his coloring is beautiful!

Hinesy lying down… his coloring is beautiful!

Hines wanted to stay on the carpet and lay down so I let him. I wasn’t about to force him to sleep with me or cuddle (and honestly it would have been easier on my heart if he didn’t as well…). I woke up about 2 a.m. to use the bathroom and low and behold the litter box had been used! I was so happy and so proud of Hines for not marking in this strange, new place!

I went out and petted him for a while (yes it was 2 a.m. but I wanted to check on his emotional state) and finally decided to lift him up onto the bed with me. That’s the last thing I remember until I woke up the next morning. I had to set my alarm so that his insulin could be given at an exact 12-hour interval so it was super early when I awoke again. It may have been dark out still…. Regardless, when I did wake up, you will never guess where Hines was. He had inserted himself into the crux of my chest and stomach area (I was lying on my side) and had completely leaned his whole huge body into me. It was like having a 16-pound furry heating blanket on my chest and tummy.

Of course, when I awoke and discovered this, that was it for me. I lost it. I started crying after I got out of bed (I didn’t want to cry in front of him). I wanted so badly to keep this cat, I wanted so badly for him to just be happy all the time, I wanted so badly for him to be going to a home instead of a cage. I started to feel like I had failed him. I tried SO hard to find him a home, but it’s just not as easy as it sounds, as most of you involved with rescue may know. Suddenly, it occurred to me that Hines might be seriously affected by being put in a cage for an endless amount of time after he had been a free-roaming cat his whole life. Had I not done enough? Was there something more I could do?

I pondered these things while giving him his morning insulin and his breakfast, another can of Friskies, which he inhaled again, albeit a bit slower. The insulin went in perfectly on the first try again, thank God. Hines is such a lover that he was pretty much thanking me for the delicious foodies – he’d take a few bites then stop and come over for some rubbie-dubbies on me. Then he’d go back to plow through a few more bites and saunter back over to me and give me head-butts. (You have no idea how frickin’ adorable it is when a senior cat gives you head-butts for attention.)

Hines and I watched TV and played and cuddled a little bit more. About 11 a.m. we got him in his carrier (which he is an angel about) and headed for LoveAStray. I was getting nervous… My palms were sweating and a million thoughts were running through my head as we pulled up. “What if Hinesy can’t find a family?” “What if his meds get messed up or something?” And then someone (a volunteer) at the shelter interrupted my worrisome thoughts and said something not so nice to me…

“You do know Jaime that most senior cats who come in here will stop eating on their own accord and eventually die, right?”

Well thanks for that. Thanks a lot. At least I am prepared now.

I quietly walked outside the barn to my car for a second, my heart pounding so hard I felt it was coming up through my esophagus. I could feel the singeing hot tears approaching my eyes from behind…. I honestly wanted to go punch that person in the face. I couldn’t believe the audacity of this person. I couldn’t believe how seemingly careless this comment was. And I couldn’t believe that it was coming from a rescue volunteer. (A bitter one obviously.) Now I have never been one to cry or lose my emotions over sad dog videos, or heart-breaking rescue stories. I’ve never been one who can’t walk into a shelter. I’ve never been one who can’t see an animal suffering. WHY? Because I KNOW that what I do as a volunteer is HELPING them suffer no longer. Yes I may cry later about these things, but never while I’m there or in the moment…

But in this moment, I went completely weak. This was when my six/seven weeks of emotions over this sweet kitty finally came to a head. I lost it; I was hysterical. I was crying and carrying on like a child for a few minutes there, yelling and screaming. I was mad at the former owners for doing this to Hinesy, mad at the shelter worker for saying that to me and dashing my hopes, and mad at society for creating a world where it’s seemingly permissible to treat pets as expendable. Most of all I was mad at me. I was mad at myself for not being able to find a home to take him to. I was mad at myself because a giant cage in a wonderful shelter was the best I could do for him… but it’s still a cage. Had I failed him?

We set everything up with Hines and got him in his cage, toys and water/food bowls laid out with more and more blankies for him. I couldn’t stay to watch them put him in the cage and if I did I honestly don’t remember it – I must have blocked it out. Imagine how Hines feels….

Hines in his cage. "Help me spring outta here please!"

Hines in his cage. “Help me spring outta here please!”

I spoke with the shelter owner several days later and she informed me that Hines was not eating. I was crushed. Beyond crushed. I was ripped in two… I couldn’t help but think of that volunteer’s warning to me earlier. It haunts me still…

My immediate reaction was to gather up some wet food from my house and my kitties’ stockpile to take in. After all, he ate twice for me. So I would simply go in there and feed him every night if I had to. I don’t care – whatever gets him to eat. The first time I went in with wet food, I brought his favorite toy from my house for him to have. I came walking around the corner and called out “Hinesy, what are you doing baby-cat?” He almost immediately jumped down in the cage from the upper perch and starting pawing at the cage lock. I, of course, upon seeing this, immediately opened up the cage and soon enough Hinesy was in my arms again, purring and giving me head-butts to the head! It was awesome! He remembered me – and he loved me still! A few minutes later, I was thrilled to hear that he had actually just started eating his wet food a day or two before (I had been out of town). So I didn’t really need to bring the wet food but left it there anyways.

That visit had Hinesy in my arms for about 40+ minutes; I held him while the volunteers cleaned his cage. (I must tell you – I’m not in thee best shape, but if you ever want to work out your arms and shoulders, simply hold up a 16-pound cat for 40-45 minutes straight. It works wonders – I was sore for two days. My muscles were shaking, MOL!)

This was when I started getting some feedback from the shelter workers and volunteers about Hines…

From a 16-year-old volunteer: “Hines is one of the sweetest and most loving cats that I’ve seen in the barn ever.”

From a 55-year-old, 15-year veteran shelter worker: “Hines is seriously one of the sweetest cats we’ve ever had; everyone just loves him and in fact, argues over who cleans his cage because they all want to hold him.”

From a 34-year-old veteran shelter volunteer: “Everyone wants to hold Hines all the time because he is so nice and pleasant. And he is soooo good about getting his insulin. It’s also really funny to see him so playful since he is so old!”

Hinesy was so happy to see me that day, it made my heart hurt, but it made it happy, too. When I went to put him back in his cage, he clung to me like a small child, with one arm around each side of my neck. L It killed me, but at the same time made me realize that Hinesy was holding his own in that cage; he was doing what he needed to do in that shelter to get by and he still is a very happy cat. I felt a huge wave of relief slowly calm me down.

After another week or so, I went back to see Hinesy again. He was just as sweet, he was still eating, and I got the same awesome feedback from the new shelter vet tech and some different volunteers.

I’m happy to report that Hinesy survived his journey through abandonment and eventual rescue in the best of spirits. He is happy, he is eating, he is (for a diabetic overweight cat) otherwise healthy, and he has a great attitude.

HOWEVER… Hines went through something that no cat (or dog or ferret or home-based animal) should have to go through… Hinesy lost his family of 12 years. That right there is sad enough.

I swear some people think that animals don’t have feelings. Well I’m here to tell you that they DO. Some people think cats and dogs are disposable. They’re NOT. Cats and dogs are some of the most intuitive, emotional beings on this planet. They sense what we feel – they pick up on the emotions we put out. And after all this time in a home where he wasn’t wanted, Hinesy STILL has a great attitude and a loving demeanor. This is all despite the fact that he was totally abandoned by poor excuses for human beings. Hinesy still shows compassion, love, happiness, silliness, and more. He is, hands-down, the sweetest most loving, affectionate and tender cat I’ve ever known. EVER. And he’s not even mine.

And this is why I need to find this cat a home. Like, now….

A sleeping Hinesy is so adorable... what a delightful cat!
A sleeping Hinesy is so adorable… what a delightful cat!

This is why I will not stop pestering people, flyering, emailing, and putting him on every social media outlet I can. I don’t care if I have to drive him to California to be in a new adoptive home, I will do it.

PLEASE HELP ME HELP HINES. Please help me help him defy the odds and find a magical, loving fur-ever home.

Please share this post, for the love of God, if you have ever shared one thing in your life, PLEASE let it be this post, I beg of you. Put it on Facebook, send it to a family member, email the link to friends, post about it on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or wherever else you like to post. Or leave me a comment telling me how you feel about what Hines’ former owners did to him.

Please, please, please, I beg of you, help me find “A Home for Hines.”

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