Feathered Friends Are Welcomed

A brown speckled wren wiggles its way in and out of the screened suet feeder. Every now and then he flies over to the deck railing, shakes his head to remove the fat from his rather long beak and then makes his way back to the suet. Overlooking this wren, are twenty-eight mourning doves perched in a nearby leafless maple tree. There are many daily visitors feeding at the other couple of feeders. These visitors include, gold and purple finches in their winter colors, pine siskins, colorful male and female cardinals, tufted titmouse, black eyed juncos, house sparrows, chickadees, downy woodpecker, blue jays, red bellied woodpecker, and many other types. Most of these birds spend the year here to include winter, nesting and perching in nearby foliage. The foliage provides protection from harsh weather and predators, while the bird feeders provide a source of food, especially during extremely cold temperatures when food sources are limited.

Across the United States there are over 65 million households providing food for wild birds. Is this a good thing? As with most topics, there are always two sides to the conversation. Bird feeders can attract predators, both wild and domesticated. Certainly, hawks or other predatory birds can be drawn to gatherings of song birds. There is a hawk that frequently is spotted around this area of Webster Lake in Massachusetts. He has perched on our deck and feeders occasionally. Other than seeing him, the way we know he is around is everything is quiet and the other birds disappear. Eventually he takes off and seeks dinner elsewhere. Once gone, the birds return. They seem to have an instinct to seek cover when a predator is in the area. The best cover for birds is surrounding vegetation. We can provide protection by planting flowers, scrubs, and trees in the vicinity. These plantings serve multiple purposes for the birds in that they provide food, protection, and a place to nest.

Certain types of birds travel and live in flocks. As with humans, most diseases are spread amongst birds when they are near each other. Various types of finches are known to congregate in large numbers at feeders. In this situation, diseases can be easily spread. The way to reduce this possibility is to keep some distance between feeders. Also, clean the feeders and surroundings on a regular basis. Discard wet and old food. These simple actions will help reduce the risk of spreading disease among your feathered friends.

There are some basic rules to follow for those of us that love to feed our birds. Larger feeders are better than smaller ones. This ensures the birds have a consistent supply of food. Multiple feeders are another solution. Our friends do need to stock up on calories to make it through those long cold winter nights. Nutritious and high energy seeds and suet are great. Suet is considered high energy because it consists of high calorie fat. Same as us, eating fat means more calories. In the case of birds, they burn it off trying to stay warm. Water is critical. Birds still need access to water in the winter and often it is hard to find due to the freezing temperatures. The more water you can provide, the better to keep your visitors from becoming dehydrated.

A lesson learned is that not everyone loves birds as some of us do. I was sitting on our deck one warm spring morning, enjoying the chorus of song birds in the surrounding trees. A visitor of ours commented on how it was never quiet. I understood the point, but my preference is to listen to those beautiful songs. One of my favorite singers is the Baltimore oriole when he drops in for a visit. Last year, they were around for several weeks. Other occasional visitors include blue herons, rose breasted grosbeaks, cow birds, flickers, blue birds, mallards, and others. All of them are welcome in our yard, whether they are here for a quick bite or staying for the long haul.

Summertime Furry Fun

Taking your furry friend camping is so much fun. You can enjoy each other as well as enjoying family and friends. Nature is such a peaceful environment.

We have had a summer campsite for over 20 years. Our first dog got to enjoy the friendships of many other pets as well as lots of human friends for 16 years. He absolutely loved going and come Friday, he knew before I started packing where he was going. Our permanent spot made it much easier to pack since everything was pretty much already there.

He would jump in the vehicle and sit and wait until we were loaded and out the driveway. The trip was around a 45 minute drive and he could not wait till we got there. As we would get closer he would begin looking out the window and getting more and more excited. He could tell how close we were by the landmarks along the way.

Once there he could hardly wait until we were unloaded and away we went. He enjoyed visiting all his friends and family every weekend. Since he was a Mountain Treeing Feist he was always hunting squirrel along with many other wildlife critters. Keeping him on a lease was a struggle but for his safety it was a must.

Here are a few safety suggestions when taking your own dog camping. As I mentioned, always use a leash and watch the surroundings when going into the woods.It is always a good idea to carry a backpack with essential items, such as flea and tick repellent, snacks for training, and extra items in case your hike ends of being longer than planned.

Another topic would be to always clean up after your dog no matter if you are hiking or just relaxing at your campsite. Carrying doggie bags should become a habit.

Another topic would be getting a lease that is long enough to stretch from one area to another. like from tree to tree. That way your doggie can run and get exercise, however, do not leave him unattended as the leash could get tangled and cause him harm.

And lastly I leave you with one of my favorite topics and that is the enjoyable campfire. Please make sure your furry friend is safe and not too close to cause harm. My doggie loved the campfires and would just sit on my lap and enjoy the moment.

Now, take your furry friend camping and ENJOY what nature has provided for us. Relax and enjoy this special time with your doggy or doggies. They will love you for it.

Black Cat Facts and Folklore

There are many superstitions and tales surrounding black cats. Some people see them as bad luck while others feel their an omen of good luck. While most people focus on the folklore, there are also some interesting characteristics of black cats. Here are some facts and folklore that you may find intriguing.

Black cats eyes are usually golden or yellow. This is due to an over-production of melanin that gives their fur its deep black color. It often causes the cat’s irises to reflect the melanism in the pigment of their eyes creating the golden or yellow color.

High exposure to sunlight can make their fur temporarily appear rusty reddish-brown. This is common when the cat has is missing an enzyme called tyrosine.

In parts of Ireland and England, if a black cat crosses your path, its considered good luck.

Its considered a sign of prosperity in Scotland if a strange black cat arrives at your home.

Ancient Egyptians felt that cats were sacred and lucky. They were considered a symbol of the goddess of protection, Bastet, who has the head of a cat.

Black cats were associated with witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Any single elderly women that cared for cats were considered witches and the cats their accomplices.

Studies indicate that black cats may be more resistant to some diseases like Feline HIV. It also shows their immune system may benefit from their genetic makeup.

It is considered good luck to give a bride a cat in the English Midlands of Great Britain.

Single Japanese women look at black cats as good luck. They feel this makes them more attractive to prospective suitors.

Black Cat Appreciation Day is held on August 17th.

Its considered bad luck if a black cat passes under a ladder.

Pirates consider a black cat approaching as bad luck. If the feline walks up to the ship then stops and decides to leave, it is considered an omen that the ship is going to sink.

Fisherman look on black cats as good luck. They let them stay on their ships or live in their homes to keep luck on their side.

There are more than 19 different breeds of cat that have black as a color. This is recorded in the Cat Fanciers Association directory. The only all black cat is the Bombay cat. They are often called miniature panthers.

In Russia, any cat is considered a sign of good luck.

Those in Germany, claim it is good luck if a cat crosses your path walking left to right. They also claim, it is bad luck if they cross from right to left.

True black cats were born to parents with the black color gene. This gene is actually a recessive gene, so not considered common. Most cats have a tabby gene, which is suppressed by the black gene in true black cats. If the gene is not fully suppressed, you will be able to see faint striping on their legs or tails.

Whether you believe in all the folklore or not, these are beautiful felines. Growing appreciation of them has lead to more adoptions of black cats. Remember there is work when you get any cat, but the rewards far out weigh the work.

Understanding Your Cats Communication

Cats have always been considered rather mysterious creatures. While cats have a universal way to communicate with each other, they have different ways of communicating with us. Every cat has a different personality but loving owners come to recognize their unique traits. Here are some ways they express themselves.

Body Language

Cats are quick, active and muscular felines. They have athletic bodies and move gracefully. Their lean bodies can be very expressive. When your cat sprawls out in front of you, he is feeling confident and relaxed. If he rolls onto his back showing his belly, he is feeling lazy and in good spirits. This is considered a sign that he feels loved and protected. If his paws are curved under him, he is feeling secure.

Eye Contact

Your cats eyes are very expressive. When your cat stares into your eyes, it’s considered a gesture of affection. Researchers claim, if your cat stares into your eyes than blinks, opens its eyes wide, stares and blinks again, that this is like your cat giving you a kiss. A sure sign that he trusts and loves you. If his eyes are dilated, this is a sign of fear. Watch your cats eyes, dilated pupils mean something has caused fear in him. When they become aggressive, their eyes may turn into narrow slits.

Tail Movement

A cats’ tail will give you insight into your cats mind. When they hold their tail straight up, they are demonstrating confidence and pride. They move with a pompous regal stride. If your cat has its tail upright with a slight curve at the top, this is considered a sign of happiness and warmth. Watch for the fluffy bottle brush tail. This is an indication of fear and false courage. Your cat may greet you with quick swings of its tail which means he’s happy to see you.

Purring

Purring is probably the most known form of communication owners recognize. While there are many mysteries behind purring, most owners feel it means their cat is happy. Many times cats purr when you scratch that special spot or rub against their head while relaxing. It means your living with your kitty in harmony. This is, no doubt, the best sound cats make. However, your cat may purr if it’s in pain as well.

Vocal Sounds

Cats can very vocal when they want. When dinner time is approaching, your cat may follow you around meowing for his food. Other times, he may meow to try to locate you in the house. When he’s playful, he may “talk” to encourage you to play. Of course, we all know of the high-pitched screech a cat can make when frightened.

Following You

Your cat truly enjoys your company when he follows you around. He may jump from surface to surface just to be close to you. This is thought to be a very loving gesture and says he wants to spend time with you.

Every cat has a different way to communicate with us. They show their feelings in ways we don’t always recognize. Watch for some of these common signs to see how your cat is feeling.

Choosing the Best Food for Your Cat

Everyone deciding to bring home a cat or kitten needs to decide what cat food is best. What most people don’t realize is that cats have specific needs to be met just like humans. Let’s look at what your cat needs to stay healthy.

Cats are naturally carnivores. This means they are geared to consume mostly protein in their diet. When a cat hunts, it will get protein from the muscle meat of the animals it eats. This meat also provides them with taurine, an important nutrient needed to maintain good health.

A cat also needs to be well hydrated just like we do. They do not naturally drink lots of water. Outdoor cats usually get most of the moisture they need from the prey they consume. Inside cats need our help to make sure they get all the fluids they need. Always leave a fresh bowl of water out for them to drink from but remember this may not give them enough fluids through out the day. A good cat food will help with this.

A good combination of wet and dry foods is best. Canned cat food typically has a high moisture content, between 75% and 78%. This is a great way for them to get the moisture they need to stay well hydrated. Serving about 3/4th of their diet in canned food will help maintain their good health. Giving the additional 1/4th of their food as a dry food will help keep their teeth cleaned and in good shape.

Choosing the right food is very important. Not all canned foods have the nutrients needed to keep your kitty healthy. Check the label for the main ingredients. Chicken, beef or fish should be listed as the main ingredient. Check for a good concentration of the meal in the product. Many manufacturers use smaller amounts so read the label well to make sure the protein is the main ingredient. If the label lists “formula” or “dinner” it will usually have a lower concentration of the main ingredient. Likewise, reading the label on dry food is just as important. Many dry foods have high plant-based proteins. A cats digestive system is not designed to digest the cellulose found in plants. Look for the same main ingredients as in canned food for high quality dry foods.

Proteins should make up approximately 40% of your cats diet. Fats should be around 1/3rd of it. This is why it is so important to choose food with high protein and also the right amount of fat. It is also important to check the carbohydrate level and source. Look for the carbohydrate level to be less than 50%. The main source of carbs should come from vegetables and rice not corn meal. You also want the food to have good amounts of vitamins and minerals like omega-3, taurine and fiber. Look for foods that use natural preservatives rather than artificial ones. Vitamin C and vitamin E are good preservatives and are good for your cat’s health.

If your cat is used to eating dry food now, introducing wet food can be a challenge. Never make drastic changes to your pets diet. Introduce new foods gradually. There are several types of wet foods available such as pate, flakes and chunks. Texture is important to cats so finding one they like make be tricky. Experiment with the different varieties to find the one they like best. While adjusting to wet foods, try adding small amounts of water to their dry food to increase moisture consumed as well as reduce the crunch.

Just remember, the health of your cat is dependent on their diet. Providing a good combination of dry and wet food will help maintain your cats good health. This will give you many happy healthy years with your beloved furry friend.

Love your Dog by Keeping Them Safe by Sue Moore

You, as an owner of a dog must keep control at all times.It is extremely important when visiting public places, such as public parks and when traveling short or long distances.

Several laws have been put in place on the township, county, state, and country levels regarding dogs and leashes.Many people enjoy allowing their dog to run free for their enjoyment. This is definitely not a good choice unless you live in a rural area without the risk of danger.Leashes are to protect your dog and other animals as well as people in the area.

We have listed 5 examples below that will explain why this rule is so important. You will find it enjoyable choosing different collars and leashes for your furry friends.

1. Public safety

This rule was created to provide your community with peace of mind and protection against their personal belongings. It not only provides the safety of your home and lawn, it also decreases the chances of injury to the your animal and the community.This is why the leash rule is so important.

2. Companionship

A dog that is using a leash can show how much the pet owner loves their dog and does not want to cause harm to him or anyone that comes in contact with them.It also shows that the owner has spent time training the dog to be comfortable wearing it. You also get to have fun choosing a collar to match. There are many options in collars and leashes.

3. Dog health and safety

There are times when a dog can run out in the street and possibly get hit by a motor vehicle. This is another great reason for leashes.This can be very sad for the dog, owner, and the person driving the vehicle. This is something we all want to avoid. Another reason that the leash is important and necessary.Without the leash, dogs tend to actively run and love to find new experiences.They are likely to come across things that can be hazardous, sometimes deadly.Another issue to avoid.

4. Gifting a Pet

When the decision is made to buy a puppy for a friend or family member, there are a lot of factors should be considered. While it is a nice gesture, not all people are pet people. Many dog breeds require a lot of attention and caring, as well as the proper home to raise their new furry friend.It needs to be a safe environment for all.It is best to discuss this option with the person first.Research on the breed prior to choosing is a must.

5. Identification device

A sturdy collar is a must for your puppy.You will need to have contact information in case you and your pet get separated at any time. It also provides a place to attach their rabies tag and county license tag.Let’s not forget it is also the place to attach a leash for their safety and protection.

I will leave you with a few thoughts regarding the importance of using a leash for your pet. It is the least costly item you can purchase to keep your pet safe. It is also probably the one item that has been around for many years.

Top 5 Best Hunting Dog Breeds

When it comes to finding your four legged hunting partner, it can be hard at times cause there are so many different breeds of dogs out there. There are dog breeds that can just hunt one animal or others that can hunt multiple animals. Here is a list of the top dog breeds to help you find the right one for you.

1. Labrador Retriever

Most retriever breeds make a wonderful hunting dog and the Labrador might just be the ultimate hunting dog. They have bundles of energy, a nice cold-weather coat meant for the long days outdoors and they will go to great lengths to retrieve your kill. They are known to be the best duck hunting dog and they can also be used for any type of small game. Labs come in all different colors, black, yellow, chocolate, white, red and silver. People say that one color of labs is better for certain kind of hunting but if you train them well enough they are going to perform just the way you like. Labs also make great family pets as well.

2. Pointer

The Pointer is known as the Cadillac of bird dogs, prized for it’s speed, ability to go all day in the field, stand steady to wing and shot, which means the pointer holds it’s position as birds rise into the sky and guns go off and their personable nature. They are very easy to train, along with their intelligence and prey driven. The Pointer also makes for a loving family pet as their energy lets them play with the children all day and alert nature makes them excellent watchdogs.

3. Coonhound

If you are looking for a hunting dog that will go with you through all conditions and terrain types, this might be the companion for you. Their noses are always to the ground sniffing out their primarily prey, which is the raccoon but also the mountain lions, bears, deer and other game. The Coonhound will bark up when his quarry is treed. They have the ability to pick up and follow an old trail, no matter how faint. They have a lot of energy, prey driven, intelligent, tendency to bark or howl a lot and general are healthy.

4. Chesapeake Bay Retriever (nicknamed the Chessie)

They were originated as a water dog used to hunt and retrieve ducks in the chilly chop of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. It’s sturdy build, dense coat, stamina and strength made them ideal. They have excellent noses but can have stubborn streaks. Chessies are friendly, outgoing and obedient, although they have a mind of their own. Between the Chessie’s strength and smarts, they can easily overpower an unprepared owner. Chessies often has an excellent rapport with children, but they don’t tolerate abuse from the children and will likely get up and leave the situation if possible.

5. American Foxhound

The American Foxhound was bred with the purpose of hunting foxes and are still very much up to that task. They will pretty much chase down anything you tell them to. They like the company of other dogs but can be a single companion dog if you’re committed to giving them the exercise they need. The Foxhound is musical and they are described as having a bell-like voices and their baying can carry for miles. So if you don’t like a barking dog, Foxhounds are probably not going to work for you.

Depending on what you are going to be hunting, all these dogs are perfect for the hunt. Just remember you need to put in the training to make them what you need them to be. Without the training they are just another dog living with you.

Quick Facts About Siamese Cats

Siamese cats are very regal, smart and playful felines. They can communicate with their companions and love spending time with them. They can be easily recognized by their distinct body type and fun personalities. Siamese cats have a wide range of skin colors and markings. Lets look at some more cool facts about them.

The Siamese cat is originally from Thailand, formerly known as Siam. They are one of the oldest domestic cat breeds. In Siam, they were considered a member of the royal family. You can find them depicted in ancient manuscripts dating back to 1350. They were so well liked that, in 1871, this blue-eyed cat was on display in the Crystal Palace of London. There was so much interest created by this display, the Siamese cat increased in popularity.

These kitties can create a wide range of vocal noises. This helps them to express what they want to their owners. The Siamese are not known to be very affectionate but love people. They are very smart cats and can be taught simple tricks such as fetch.

Siamese kittens are born white. They develop their markings at about four weeks. Their coloring will appear on the cooler parts of their body. This is a result of a partial albinism gene in their body that is sensitive to heat. As they age, their coloring will get darker.

Siamese cats have the longest lives of domestic cats. They call live up to 20 years. The Siamese is a relatively healthy cat with few problems. These cats tend to have some gum problems, so you will need to brush their teeth weekly. A veterinary visit may be needed if their mouth becomes irritated.

These cats have beautiful blue eyes, creamy colored coats and dark markings on the coats, referred to as points. There are a wide range of color markings in this family. The Seal Points have dark brown marks while others may have blue points with grayish marks. They can also vary from chocolate points to red points and even lilac points.

There are also different body types of these classy cats. The traditional Applehead has a round head similar to an apple and is the largest breed. The smaller cats with a triangular face are part of the Classic breed. The Wedgehead, or Modern breed, have a look that is a combination of the Classic and Traditional looks. All of the breeds have long noses, pointed ears and sleek bodies.

Siamese cats love companionship. They become very attached to their owners and don’t do well if left alone for long hours. Having a playmate or cat sitter available for those extra long days will help keep your kitty happy.

The Siamese cat is a popular breed for many reasons. Their highly social behavior helps make them sought after for many families. Bringing one into your home will certainly bring added joy to your family.

Choosing a Cat Breed to Fit Your Family

It’s an exciting time when you decide to add a cat to the family. There are many things to look at when choosing the best breed for your family and life style. Some are affectionate while others can be more independent. Some breeds require daily grooming and others need minimal extra care. No matter the breed you choose, adding that special kitty to the family is a big time for everyone. Here are some breeds to consider.

Persian

This beautiful longhaired feline is perhaps the calmest breed in general. They have a wide range of colors, cute facial features and resemble a big fluff ball. While they do require daily grooming and frequent bathing, these graceful cats tend to be low energy and loving creatures. Persians are good additions to households with children and other animals. They need lots of love and affection. Persians will often choose one person as their favorite but will be loving to the rest of the family as well.

Exotic Shorthair

The Exotic Shorthair is a short haired cousin of the Persian. They have all the best characteristics of that breed, including the squashed facial features, but don’t require the intensive amount of grooming. These are very affectionate and gentle creatures. While they are still a calm and quiet cat, they do enjoy showing off their athletic nature. Providing a cat tree and climbing space will keep them happy.

Himalayan

The Himalayan is a cross between a Persian and a Siamese. They have the beautiful longhaired coat of the Persian with the Siamese markings. Himalayans’ enjoy playing but are not high energy. They are usually well behaved and calm. They make a good choice for families with children and other pets.

British Shorthair

The British Shorthair is playful and smart. They have a shorthaired coat and are compact in nature. They enjoy playing but can spend just as much time cuddling. The Shorthair is especially good with children and other pets. They make great family additions.

Ragdoll

The Ragdoll is a quiet and very affectionate breed. They enjoy playing and being around people most of the time. With that in mind, they do not do well when left alone for long periods of time. They are not well suited for outdoors so keeping them inside is recommended. This breed gets its name from the way it behaves when picked up. It will go limp in your arms like a ragdoll. They are also very intelligent and will learn tricks similar to a dog. This cat is a larger but gentle breed. They make an excellent choice if someone in the family is normally wary of cats.

Abyssinian

The Abyssinian has a wonderful unique ticked tabby coat. With their graceful sleek bodies, they are often called the supermodel of cats. They are an outgoing and friendly breed that loves to play. The Abyssinian enjoys swimming and are very accepting of the people they meet. They are very loyal and will lavish their owners with affection.

Somali

The Somali love to be the center of attention. They are very playful most of their lives but would rather curl up in your lap and cuddle first. They are very affectionate and enjoy showing their owners their love.

Whatever the breed you choose, consider the cats characteristics as well as your home life. Many cats are true cuddlers’ and need that time with family. Remember, a cats average lifespan is 15-20 years. This is a big commitment for any family so look for a cat that will be happy in your home and make your family happy too.

Things You Didn’t Know About Cats

Cats are unique creatures. Some of their habits may seem unusual to many but serve a cat well. The following are some interesting facts about cats.

⦁ Cats can be either right pawed or left pawed. Similar to humans, they show a preference to use one paw over the other. However most cats are left pawed.

⦁ A cat uses it whiskers to detect nearby movement. Just like a set of antennas. They move forward when they hunt, providing information on their prey.

⦁ An average cat has 60 vertebrae and 244 bones. Most of the cat’s bones are found in their tail which gives it flexibility.

⦁ Cats have 517 muscles which allow their back and front to move in opposite directions.

⦁ A cats taste buds are found on the tip of their tongue. They only have 473 compared to humans which have 9,000.

⦁ A cats heart beats 2 to 3 times faster than a humans at 150 to 210 times per minute. A human heart beats 60 to 80 times per minute.

⦁ Cats have a course sandpaper like tongue. This texture is created by a thin covering of tiny thorn like barbs. These barbs face backwards on the tongue and help guide food to the back of their mouths as well as help them to take in water quicker.

⦁ Cat ears have 32 muscles unlike human ears with only 6. They can also turn 180 degrees. This gives them excellent hearing while hunting prey.

⦁ Kittens have 26 milk teeth which will be replaced by 30 permanent teeth when they are 12 to 18 weeks old.

⦁ A Tom Cat will mark a 3 to 5 mile stretch of track as its territory. It will then go over this stretch daily to keep it well scented.

⦁ A layer of tissue in the cat’s eye reflects and magnifies light allowing a cat to see six times better than a human in less light.

⦁ Scent glands are found in a cats cheeks and paws. They pass the scent on when they rub against you while communicating.

⦁ Domestic cats are the only cats able to keep their tails vertical while walking. A wild cat will keep it tucked between their legs or horizontally.

⦁ Cats sleep 13 to 16 hours a day. This is about 70% of the time.

⦁ A normal domestic cat weighs between 8 and 12 pounds. The heaviest domestic cat on record weighed in at 46 pounds and 15.2 ounces.

⦁ Kittens are born with blue eyes but the shade normally changes after 12 weeks.

⦁ Cats cannot see right below their nose so they will usually leave tiny pieces of food behind.

⦁ A group of cats is called a clowder while a male cat is called a tom and a female is a queen.

⦁ Cats don’t have sweat glands. They release sweat through their paws.

⦁ Cats whiskers serve a very important function. They grow as long as a cat’s width and let them know if they can fit through small openings. If they bend, the cat knows it won’t fit.

⦁ Cats usually have four toes and five pads on their back paws and five toes and seven pads on their front paws. These pads normally are the same color as a cats fur.

⦁ A cat can only retract the claws on its front paws.