Archive for the ‘Therapy Cats’ Category

Positive Effects Animals Have on Kids….

Posted on March 24th, 2013

For a kid, there can be a big difference between coming home to an empty house after school and coming home to a four-legged friend every day.

While the role of pets in the home has not always drawn support from doctors and clinicians, studies in recent decades have done much to support the positive aspects of having pets in the home. There are a variety of benefits to owning pets with children in the family, from social development to better physical fitness.

You’ve got a Friend in Me

There’s a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend:” they love unconditionally and are naturally great listeners. These qualities lead to perhaps the most important benefits pets can have in the home, which are lessons in social development and interaction.

For quiet or shy children, these characteristics in pets (even animals other than dogs) can help bring out feelings or thoughts that the kids may not have communicated to adults.

Animals can be easier for children to establish relationships with than other people because of their calming influence and the lack of pressure in communicating with pets.

Basic communication—both verbal and nonverbal—has been shown to improve with pets present, as has empathy.

The general theory is that pets give children an easy-going friend that will always be dependable for an open ear. Young children who have not had much contact with people outside of the family, which may only be parents and a few other relatives, can improve their social skills by spending time with another living thing that they care about.

For autistic children or children in particularly difficult situations—such as coping with divorcing parents or a medical condition—pets can be especially helpful. Hospitals, courtrooms, and specialty clinics have begun to use pets to help children feel more comfortable and communicate better. Of course, these benefits are not limited to the hospital ward: Families can help children deal with difficult times by bringing a pet into the home and giving the child a constant friend.

Extra Benefits

In the past, pets were viewed as detrimental to young children’s health. Some doctors asserted than having pets around young children led to a higher likelihood of infection or future health problems.

On the contrary, recent studies have shown that having pets around newborn babies and toddlers can help increase the children’s resistance to allergies later in life.

Owning dogs can also help encourage children to do more physical activity. Instead of viewing it as a responsibility, many children see walking their dog as a chance to have fun and explore with their pet.

Dog ownership has been shown to decrease rates of obesity in adults, and it can also help children who may not be getting enough exercise otherwise.

Pets can be especially fun and beneficial for kids, but studies have shown that those benefits can spread to the whole family. Because pets are typically such calm, stress-free members of the family, they can improve family dynamics and make families feel closer and more relaxed with each other.

Despite the high rate of dogs reportedly eating homework, pets have actually been shown to improve children’s performance in class. Children coming from households with pets tend to miss fewer days of school, and they generally feel more confident about their schoolwork. Studies on the numerical improvement of students’ work due to pet ownership have are forthcoming, but the benefits that pet-owning children feel may be due to the effect pets have on the development of social behavior.

While dogs are the most popular pets in the US, a variety of animals can be helpful at home.

 

 

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

 

Purina is Searching for America’s Most Pet-Friendly Companies!

Posted on December 9th, 2012

Actor John O’Hurley to Visit Top Business, Present $10,000 Donation to Local Pet Organization; Studies Show Bringing Pets to Work Can Reduce Stress, Increase Productivity

Fifteen years ago, Nestlé Purina PetCare recognized the benefits of allowing employees to bring their pets to work and started a “Pets at Work” program. For a company whose motto is “Your Pet, Our Passion,” it seems natural that every week hundreds of dogs and cats are brought to Purina’s St. Louis campus, and associates and their furry friends enjoy each other’s company every day.

Purina is now conducting a nationwide search to identify America’s most pet-friendly workplaces with the “Purina Pets At Work Contest.” 

Pet lovers can submit a story and photos about how their company is pet friendly, and Purina will help one winning business become even more pet friendly and donate $10,000 to a local pet welfare organization!

WOW – how sweet is that? 

Award-winning actor John O’Hurley, well known for his role as J. Peterman on the television show “Seinfield,” will help pick the winning company and will visit their office next spring to present the Grand Prize – a makeover to outfit the business with pet-friendly materials (valued at $5,000), and a $10,000 donation to a local pet shelter.  O’Hurley also appeared in a video that aired during the National Dog Show Presented by Purina on NBC on Thanksgiving Day to discuss the benefits of bringing pets to work.

“I’ve visited the Purina offices and they clearly believe that spending time with pets can help make life better – for pets and pet owners,” said O’Hurley, who serves as co-host of the National Dog Show Presented by Purina.  “As a lifelong dog owner and someone who shares Purina’s passion for pets, I’m thrilled to celebrate other companies that see the benefits of encouraging pets in the workplace.”

Pet lovers can log on to www.purina.com/contest and tell how pets have made a positive impact on their workplace and why their workday is better – for them and their pet – because their office is pet friendly.  Entrants must describe their employer’s “Pets at Work” program, answer both of the following questions, and provide 3-5 photos that show pets in their workplace:

  • How do pets truly have a positive impact in your workplace?
  • How is having a pet-friendly office mutually beneficial for employees and pets?

The nominations will be judged by three criteria:

  • Does the nomination demonstrate how pets make life at work better for both the employees and the pets?
  • Will the nomination inspire other businesses to integrate pets into their own office environments?
  • Does the nomination include a description of the nominee’s “Pets at Work” program?

Nominations will be accepted until January 15, 2013. The winner will be announced in the spring of 2013.

A recent study* has shown that employees who bring their pets to work tend to have a lower stress level by the end of the day.  Stress in the workplace has been associated with negative physical and psychological outcomes, including a general decline in physical health.  The study found that interacting with their pets lowered the levels of cortisol in the employees’ bodies, a stress-related hormone that can lead to high cholesterol levels, hypertension and depression.

The Center for Disease Control** says that having pets can help reduce blood pressure, in addition to decreasing loneliness, helping to lower cholesterol levels and encouraging physical activity.  The better an employee feels on a regular basis, the more they are able to stay focused and produce quality work.

In addition to these health benefits, pets in the office can:

  • Increase productivity and provide inspiration:  Having pets nearby can help keep an employee relaxed and happy – making work more enjoyable.
  • Improve job satisfaction: At Purina, employee surveys show Pets@Work is a big benefit, and the company also believes it helps with employee retention.
  • Encourage co-worker interaction: Pets add another layer of interaction between co-workers, and otherwise quiet employees can become more engaged when talking to a co-worker about their pets.
  • Promote healthy break time: Dog owners tend to spend their breaks walking and caring for their dogs, getting them on their feet.  Even just taking a few minutes to play with a pet can help provide a mental break and lower stress.
  • Project healthy work-life balance: For many people, pets are a huge part of their lives.  Companies that encourage pets in the workplace show that they care about their employees and the balance between work and home.

Purina provides five simple steps for pet owners to help create a welcoming, pet-friendly program at their workplace. For more information, visit www.purina.com.

No purchase necessary to participate or win. For complete contest information, visit www.purina.com/contest for the official rules, nomination requirements and eligibility details.  Valid in the 50 United States and D.C. Void where prohibited.

*Los Angeles Times: “Bringing Your Dog to Work Can Ease Stress, Study Finds,” March 30, 2012;

**Center for Disease Control website (http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health_benefits.htm)  “Health Benefits of Pets;”

PetsAddLife.Org Shows Me How Multiple Cats Add Silliness, Joie de Verve and Love to my Life

Posted on June 28th, 2012

Pets Add Life’s Message Rings Loud and Clear With This Blogger

I want to share with my readers how Pets Add Life to my household and to my life, courtesy the Pets Add Life Facebook and PAL Twitter accounts that so brilliantly put into words how our precious, precocious animals add so much to our lives. PAL says that pets increase happiness, and I whole-heartedly agree. They say therapeutic (and happiness!) benefits have been proven by doctors and scientists, another point we agree on, and I have so taken the time to talk about this.

And of course I want to take any chance I have at bragging about my therapy cat, and complaining about my overweight, over-stimulated Max the terrorist cat and underweight, underwhelmed Tate the lightweight. JK –

Plus I like showing off my photos of their cuteness – I’m like my own personal paw-parazzi sometimes I think…!

My rescue cats, Sasha the Persian mix (12), Maxwell the orange tabby (2.5) and Tater Tot the Abyssinian mix (2.5) do more for me and my well-being than I could ever put into words.

They are powerful little creatures, these pint-size purring furballs, I tell you. They really are. With their four furry paws, forbearing and forgiving hearts, endless love for us, and lion-sized hearts, these cats could outlive most humans I know simply based on good graces and paying it forward.

With their sometimes weird, sometimes whacky and sometimes wild ways, I can’t help but to love, cherish and adore each and every one for his/her individuality, verve, love of life, sense of humor, and dedication to ME – their luckiest of lucky owners, aka Mom or Mommy Jaime – special note: I co-own the aforementioned two with my mother as I live at home – which brings me to one of my main points and pets adding life and why I cannot live without them…*

Sasha is a therapy cat for a neighbor down the street with cancer. (Link is to original story from 2009 – updated story link is next one down.) She happily trots down there every morning to check in on her Laura to see how she is progressing, which isn’t well at this point I’m heart-broken to report L

Sasha will sit at the end of the bed and size her up; if Laura seems well in the morning and is sitting up, or more active, Sasha will politely excuse herself to go outside and enjoy the summer months, chasing chipmunks, harnessing baby hares or pouncing on dragonflies and butterflies (she doesn’t kill anything, just teases the poor things). She’ll come in and go out a million times to make sure

Sasha Outside Lounging

her precious Laura is still all right – in fact, I’ve just recently written about this in further depth. If she sees that she isn’t, Sasha will cuddle in right next to or directly on top of Laura, earning pets and purring away, helping to decrease Laura’s blood pressure and heart rate, and helping to melt some of the stress away of the evil C-monster away.

If Sasha goes in to see Laura in the morning and she is NOT okay, Sasha will, no matter how impolite, wedge herself between Laura and her husband Dave to lay right next to Laura’s within arm’s reach and start to purr loudly. In fact, on one very recent occasion, Laura wasn’t doing well… she was asleep in bed and Dave was next to her holding her hand. Little sweet Sasha came up and laid down in the middle like she had done so many times before, only this time, SHE PUT HER FRONT PAW ON TOP OF THEIR HELD HANDS AND THEN PUT HER HEAD DOWN TO TAKE A NAP. How sweet is that?

Sasha sleeps next to my head every night and often helps me melt the stress of the day away as well; rubbing her teeny ears and head (she weighs only about 9 pounds but its ALL fur as you can see from her picture). She is a good girl about getting her eye boogers removed, although we still have a ways to go when it comes to getting mattes cut off of her rear end!

*Sasha is also helpful to me with a disease… (and this explains my above point about the co-parenting).

In April of 2011, just about six months after we rescued Max and Tate, I was diagnosed with a life-altering and dangerous disease: Multiple Sclerosis. I have had to learn its ups and downs, get used to my relapses or outbreaks, and adjust to doing a daily injection (which I constantly bitch about to my doctor or anyone who will listen). I am not permitted to live alone so, although I would rather not, I live with my Mom and stepdad.

Sasha frequently takes to laying in my lap – and it’s ALWAYS on my bad days. She rarely just lays there for no reason, it’s always the MS relapse days that she does it. She also tends to stay near the house when I have a migraine, going in and out as she pleases but checking on me in the process.

Sasha is like the Little Engine That Could and is as healthy as a horse at almost 12 years of age (in December). Her biggest problem is her finicky feline eating habits and keeping her coat clear of pine sap at this point in time. And she has one AWFUL habit that drives us all right up the wall  – she me-yells…. No, not “me-ow,” “me-yell.” It’s so loud that we call it me-yelling instead of meowing.

She does this at night when she wants to go back out but her curfew is 10 in the summer. Many nights I have to take her to my room and we lay together while I read or watch my shows and she’ll calm down. I recently also found that PetSmart’s Sentry Pheromone Spray works wonders on the me-yelling habit… Thank you once again for an amazing product PetSmart!

On another note, Maxwell and Tater Tot are our precious “Autumn of 2010 rescues.” They came to us less than a month apart, and originally it was thought that Tater would be mine and Maxwell would be my mother’s. She rescued Max, after all, and I rescued Tater.

Maxwell is a constant source of entertainment whereas Tater is a consistent source of contentment with life. Max is always batting toys around, getting into mischief and doing things he shouldn’t be doing where Tate is the “good cat.”

We call Maxwell the terrorist because of things like this:

-          He steals raw chicken legs (yes he actually dragged it into the other room)

-          He beats up Tate sometimes (gently – not hard — but we do have to stop it every once in a while)

Max in a famous stretch

-          He harasses Sasha

-          He steals things that aren’t cat toys and makes them cat toys, i.e., pen caps, milk carton rings, flower stems, vegetables

-          He eats my Mom’s flowers and plants inside the house

-          He wakes everyone up at 1 am meowing loudly for someone to play with him

-          He wakes only me or stepdad up at 5 am purring and walking on your chest because he wants to cuddle

-          He sleeps all day and wants to play all night

-          He harasses Tater

-          He harasses insects in the garage, pawing them until death takes over

-          He steals raw broccoli

-          He steals chicken wings

-          He tried to steal a whole Thanksgiving turkey! (He sufficed with just licking it from head to toe before we caught him…)

Anyways, we love our “Mad Max,” which is what I call his alternate personality since he has two – the sweet one at 5 am and the silly, annoying, LOUD one at 1 am. Really, Maxxy is a big old love baby.

Max with the Christmas Turkey! Wishing….

We call him the “snake-charmer-bee-charmer” because when you talk to him he rolls over like a dog onto his back to show his belly and gives you a blinky face like “pet me please and I love you.”

It’s A-D-O-R-A-B-L-E and has even gotten my stepdad enamored; he is NOT a cat person by any means yet even he has fallen in love with Maxwell. Mad Max, despite being mad as a hatter, is, as such, a snake-charmer as he could easily charm any person, animal or other thing and persuade it to do whatever he wishes. Give him treats, go to sleep, pet him, give him treats…

Tater Tot is the opposite of Max. Don’t get me wrong – he initiates as much of the play-fighting and pounces on Max just as much, but he is this demure, sweet-mannered kitty who seemingly weighs six ounces. (He really weighs about six pounds.)

Tater takes to lounging in the sunshine ALL DAY LONG. He has a favorite windowsill (pictured) and he loves to watch the chippies, birds and bugs take to their feeding here. (We throw food out there for them to keep Tate entertained while he naps on and off!) Tater Tot is called our teeny-tiny mini-Abyssinian because he is so itty-bitty (read my poem about him here).

Tater in his fave windowsill

I’ll be back with more adorable PAL cat stories lickety-split, but in the mean time, you guys really oughtta’ check out Pets Add Life on their website, and on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

They really are an amazing organization and that’s why I’m sharing this. They are “dedicated to pets – from spreading the joys and benefits they give us to increasing adoptions to responsible ownership.”

They’re a genuine, good-hearted, non-profit organization that deserves more attention and more clout and that’s reason #2 I’m sharing this.

They simply want people to share in their joy of having pets and of pet ownership in general – things which could help save more animals nationwide if you ask me – hence, reason #3.

Head on over to their Facebook page and put your funny story or cute pet photo on their wall to brag about your pets! And be sure you check their Twitter feed!

Back soon, JL

This post is sponsored by the Pets Add Life campaign and the American Pet Products Association. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the benefits and joys of pet ownership.

10 Colleges With Renowned Pet Therapy Programs

Posted on April 23rd, 2012

Recently, an article was published called, “10 Colleges with Successful Pet Therapy Programs.”

I think it dovetails well with you guys- my audience – and thought you might want to check it out. It was written by the staff at Best Colleges Online and is pretty darn good. I think a lot of people want to get involved in helping animals or helping animals help people, but don’t know how.

This is a good road map to start with.

Pet therapy programs sound like such a great idea, and they certainly are. In nursing homes, hospitals, and yes, even schools, people can find love, comfort, and relaxation with the help of a furry friend. With the help of a trained therapy dog, it’s possible to find increased happiness, lowered blood pressure, and an improvement in overall well-being. Students in college find that pet therapy programs are especially helpful when it comes to busting the stress of finals, and several schools have begun to bring in dogs during these times on an occasional, and sometimes even permanent, basis. If only for a day, these dogs turn into the stars of the college, attracting hundreds of students at a time to give them love and attention, while giving them a bright spot amid the drudgery of finals week. Here, we’ll take a look at 10 of the very best pet therapy programs available in schools today, and learn what makes them work so well for the students and animals that benefit from them.

  1. Yale Law

Students at Yale Law Library can check out books, newspapers, and a sweet little border terrier mix, Monty. A certified library therapy dog, Monty is available for 30-minute sessions of puppy stress relief. “General Montgomery” is even listed in the law library catalog, including a humorous description. Professors like Rajita Sinha appreciate the effort, pointing out that “it’s really great that the Yale Law School is recognizing the need for addressing stress in the students, because students … need to learn ways of handling it and need help at different points in the semester.” Interest has been high, and the free visits with Monty are popular among students. Sebastian Swett, a law student at Yale, checked out Monty to escape the daily grind at Yale and shared his insight about the experience: “I went with a couple of friends, and we could just enjoy sitting around with a dog, not thinking about classes or jobs or any of the other crazy aspects of law school. Dogs, at least the dogs I’ve known, love people regardless of who they are, and there is something comforting about that.”

  1. UConn

At the University of Connecticut Homer Babbidge Library, the school shares a variety of animal activities to help students relax. Students in the library can visit with therapy dogs to de-stress and deal with anxiety. The program was called “Paws to Relax” and available during the super-stressful finals week on campus. The program has reportedly been expanded to include cats as well, for the ultimate in lazy relaxation. In addition to finals week, UConn brings in therapy pets after particularly stressful situations, including suicides and deadly automobile accidents.

  1. Occidental College

Occidental College shares a variety of free stress relievers with students during finals week, including Zumba classes and massage. But perhaps the most fun and calming stress-busting activity available to Oxy students is a visit from Therapy Dogs International. During finals week, the organization brought in 20 dogs trained in stress relief for two hours, a short but fun escape from the drudge of finals work and stress. Photos from the scene full of smiles and laughter make it obvious that the students (and dogs) really enjoyed the experience.

  1. Fordham University

The pet therapy program at Fordham University has proven to be wildly popular. During one visit, 25 students were expected to attend, but 200 showed up, and all were happy to wait patiently for their turn to cuddle with one of the six dogs visiting that day. Fordham freshman Christina Sliwak enjoyed the therapy day, and it came just at the right time for her: “My midterms just ended, but I’m just really stressed out about school and work 24/7. So this is very relaxing.”

  1. Rochester Institute of Technology

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf offers “Ruff Relief” for students, a quick visit from therapy dogs specially trained to help kids relax. Right before finals started, they were a welcome distraction from school stress, and students commented that it reminded them of home. The dogs enjoyed it as well: NTID director of financial planning and budgeting Michael Servé says that his own therapy dogs “really enjoy going to colleges and meeting the students.” Servé shared that the faculty and staff enjoyed the relaxation as well. After a successful initial visit, the institute has plans to make pet therapy a regular thing, bringing them in during Friday Pulse Happy Hours.

  1. Tufts

In between cram sessions, Tufts students can sneak out to have some fun with dogs brought in to residential halls. During their first visit, more than 100 people came in just to see six or eight dogs, enjoying the opportunity to pet them and even take pictures while hanging out with friends. Resident director Michael Bliss says it works because “there’s just something about the inherent happiness of dogs. I think students can tap into that and feel that energy.” Tufts has had several visits from therapy dogs in the past few years, usually around stressful times like midterms and finals. The events are fun stress-busters and great entertainment as students tested their response to commands like “high five” and “sleep.” Freshman Jonathan Paradise’s sentiment best expresses the moment for students: “This event absolutely made my day.”

  1. UC Riverside

At UC Riverside, dog therapy comes in the Therapy Fluffies group, specially trained dogs who can hand out licks and wagging tails to stressed-out students. The dogs are offered as part of UCR’s finals stress-relief program. Just in 2010, almost 1,000 students enjoyed a visit with a therapy dog during finals week, and a drop in stress right along with it. Of course, the dogs have a great time too, soaking up loads of attention from students who are starved for puppy love. UCR mental health educator Stacey Grady says, “For the sake of your mental health, come and pet a puppy!”

  1. Caldwell College

Now in its second year, the Caldwell College Counseling Center offers a pet therapy program for students during the week of finals. With dogs from Therapy Dogs International and Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, students at Caldwell are able to visit with dogs on campus, one of them even dressed as Santa. Lots of smiles, laughs, and hugs went on as nearly 20 dogs visited the campus this year. Students enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the dogs, as so many of them had to leave dogs at home when they went off to college. The dog visit was a welcome break for sophomore Sarah Sledgeski: “I’m so busy with finals, but to be able to do this means the world to me. I’m very grateful.”

  1. Oberlin College

Oberlin College students can take advantage of “Puppy Therapy,” an event started to cut down on the cloud of stress on campus during finals time. Junior Corey Spiro, a peer health advocate with the Center for Leadership in Health Promotion, coordinated the event. He says it’s a great program because “therapy dogs have been scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, and help alleviate depression, ADHD, and a host of other health issues.” Paws to Pet staff brought their dogs to campus, allowing students to relax while doting and “loving on” dogs. The response was great, with more than 500 people RSVPing for the event to enjoy their time with the four-legged therapists on campus.

10. Mercy College

Each day at Mercy College, students have the opportunity to spend time with a therapy dog, a black Labrador retriever named Tuesday. She works in the office with the school’s director of counseling and comes to the office daily. She’s available for walks, playtime, and visits, and all students have to do is stop by the office. Additionally, Tuesday is available for counseling sessions and comfort during difficult discussions, making her an amazing resource for Mercy College to have on hand all the time

 

6 Ways to Keep Your Cat Healthy in 2012

Posted on March 22nd, 2012

 

6 Ways to Keep Your Cat Healthy in 2012

By Elijah Merrill for The Daily Cat

With the turn of every year, countless people resolve to improve their health by losing weight, exercising and more. The vast majority breaks those promises and ends up disappointed. So rather than subject yourself to another year of self-defeat, why not resolve to improve the health of your cat instead? Below are a handful of both timely and timeless ideas to choose from.

1. Assess your choice of cat food. As your cat ages, its nutritional needs will change. “Aging brings with it physiological changes. Some are obvious, others are not,” says Dr. Amy Dicke, a technical services veterinarian for Iams. “Skin and hair coat changes may be obvious, while lean muscle mass loss and digestive or immune system failure may be less evident or hidden.” The science behind today’s cat food has gotten specific enough that there are different blends for almost any situation. Talk to your vet about whether your cat is due for a change.

2. Upgrade your cat’s ID tag. The classic heart-shaped metal collar charm may help your cat get returned if it wanders away, but technology allows for so much more. Dr. Patricia Joyce of New York City Veterinary Specialists says, if possible, to use a GPS tracker that allows you to find your cat wherever it is. Another option is a QR code tag, like those offered by PetQRTag. The tags are the same size as a regular ID tag but are not as constrained by space. They point a person to a Web page that can hold as much information as you’d like to give, from contact info to special medical issues your cat has. As your cat ages and your contact information changes, the tag never needs to be replaced.

3. Hop on the social media bandwagon. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can help you diagnose and work through potential health problems. A standout is PetPop.com, where pet owners create profiles and link up. In the PetPop Healthy section, a panel of veterinary experts fields questions from site members and provides advice.

4. Enrich your cat’s environment. Scientific evidence continues to show that when a cat is stressed, it can get sick. The good news is that the same scientific data has now shown that an enriched environment can help prevent illness. “Happy cats are healthy cats, and their environment plays a role in that,” says Dr. Tony Buffington, a professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University. “There’s now good evidence for this.”

5. Don’t ignore dental health. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, periodontal disease is the most diagnosed problem in cats. But it doesn’t have to be that way. “Dental disease is one of the most preventable conditions in veterinary medicine,” says Dr. Katy Johnson Nelson, a veterinarian in Arlington, Va., who is a member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council. Schedule an appointment with your cat’s doctor for a teeth cleaning, and start doing brushing on your own as well.

6. Get pet health insurance. Sometimes even the best prevention can’t stop disease or an accident, and veterinary bills can add up quickly. It can put pet owners in the most difficult of positions: You either set yourself up for extreme financial hardship, or consent to putting your cat down. Health insurance allows an alternative. Thanks to more modest monthly premium payments, decisions to undergo costly procedures are easier to make.

So this New Year’s, let yourself off the hook and make a resolution for your cat. Whether you opt for the tried-and-true or the timely and trendy, following through with just a few of these tips can make a world of difference.

Elijah Merrill is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Daily Cat. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Discover.