Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

When I started doing my in-depth research on this topic, I thought I would find a bunch of pictures of plastic trash floating in the middle of the ocean, kind of like a giant island of soda bottles.  But it turns out that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch doesn't really look like that.  In fact, you can't really even see it because all the plastic breaks down into teeny tiny pieces, and it sinks below the surface of the water, and then you can hardly tell if you are in the garbage patch or not.




There's a place in the Pacific Ocean that is called the North Pacific Gyre.  It's formed by the water currents swirling around in sort of a huge circle, and as the water goes around, it herds all the debris and stuff into the center.  In 1988, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that there would be a Great Garbage Patch, and sure enough, it was discovered in 1997 by a man named Charles J. Moore.  Later on, it turned out that there was also a Great Garbage Patch in the North Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean, and maybe there are some others, too, but none of them are as big as the Pacific Patch.



Some people say the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is as big as the state of Hawaii, and others say that it is twice the size of Texas.  But the fact is that it's very hard to measure the Patch, because it all depends on what your definition is of how much plastic should be in the water in order for you to call it part of the Patch.  Also some people have said you can see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from outer space, but this is a lie, since you can pretty much not even see it from a boat right in the middle of it.



You may be wondering where all this plastic trash comes from, and I will tell you.  About 80% of it comes from trash that started out on the land, such as plastic bags and bottles.  Another 10% is plastic fishing nets, and the rest of it is from recreational boats, oil rigs, and cargo ships.  Every year cargo ships lose about 10,000 shipping containers because they fall off, and there might be something plastic inside, like for example computers or rubber duckies.





Trash that isn't made of plastic is what's called biodegradable, which means that it gets gobbled up by tiny little things called microbes.  But plastic is photodegradable, so the sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller pieces as time goes on, but it never totally goes away.  When it gets to a microscopic size, it may get eaten by tiny little creatures like plankton or by jellyfish, then bigger fish eat the plankton and jellyfish, and after that, people eat the fish.  This is a bad thing to happen because plastic often has toxic stuff in it, and eating toxic stuff can make you sick.





There are other bad things that happen because of plastic trash in the sea.  For example, seals and turtles and other animals can get tangled up in nets or plastic rings, and then sometimes they drown. And if they don't drown, they might starve to death because the plastic keeps them from eating.  Or they might grow up looking really weird, like this turtle.





Another thing that can happen, especially with birds such as the albatross, is that they pick up plastic that is floating on the water, and then they eat it or feed it to their chicks.  Which causes the birds to starve to death or choke to death or get poisoned by the plastic.








Some scientists are trying to figure out how to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but there is no easy way to do it.  If all the plastic was just floating in a big clump on top the water, like I thought it was, you could just scoop it all up.  But since it is broken down into tiny pieces that are below the surface, it's lots harder to figure out what to do about it.








I wish I were really clever and could solve this problem and save all the animals and fish and birds, but I don't know how to do that.  What I do know is that it would help if everybody tried to use more biodegradable stuff and less plastic.  And if you do use plastic, then you should recycle it so it can get made into something friendly like a park bench.

Monday, November 28, 2011

TOTALLY CUTE KITTEN PICTURES

Frankly, I'm tired of writing about kittens, but Mom took some photos of our foster kittens the other day, and now she says I should use them in my blog.  So as usual, I am doing what she wants me to do so that she will keep feeding me!

Anyway, our kittens are always eating and pooping and growing.  Last week they got weighed, and they were all about 1 pound, 6 ounces.  When they get to be 2 pounds, they can be spayed or neutered, and then they can be adopted.

For a while, our kittens were having diarrhea, so Mom took them to the shelter clinic, and their poop got sent off to the lab.  It turned out that they had coccidia and round worms, so they had to get some special medicine to kill all the nasty worms.  Now their poop is in the shape of nice little turds instead of being blobs of diarrhea.  I wish I could eat some stuff out of the kittens' litter box, but Mom doesn't let any of us dogs do that, which hardly seems fair.

But anyway, here are the pictures, so I hope you like them.

Hi!  I'm Hallie!

Yikes!  Not the ear!

My, what long legs you have!

I'm Hazel.  I have never lost my mittens.

Something smells funny here!

Big brother Jacen thinks this is fun,
but I'm not sure why!

I'm Hamlet.  I'm braver than I look.

Do we love to play?  Yes, yes, yes!

Black-and-white dogs and cats are the very cutest of all!



Saturday, November 26, 2011

"THREE LITTLE KITTENS"


Ever since we got our three little foster kittens, Mom has been thinking about an old nursery rhyme that her mother read to her when she was a little girl.  This rhyme was about  three kittens who lost their mittens, but Mom couldn't really remember how the poem went because Mom is so incredibly old and forgetful, like I told you before.  But she thought and thought, and after a while, she decided maybe the poem went like this:

Three little kittens lost their mittens
And didn't know where to find them.
Leave them alone, and they will come home,
Wagging their tails behind them!

I told Mom that this was a stupid poem, and it didn't make sense because everyone knows that mittens don't have tails.  Mom had to agree with me on this, and then she said maybe it was meant to be "Wagging their thumbs behind them!"  But this doesn't make much sense either, so Mom admitted that she might be getting the Three Little Kittens poem mixed up with the Little Bo Peep poem, because Little Bo Peep lost her sheep, and sheep really do have tails that wag behind them.  We're not sure why all these people in nursery rhymes keep losing things, but for some reason they do.


Anyway, I finally went and looked up Three Little Kittens on the internet to see how it really goes.  Mom and I were surprised to find out that this poem is much longer than Mom remembered it.  Also it has a melody, so you can sing it, if you want to, but Mom never sang the song when she was a kid, and she didn't know the melody until we played it on Wikipedia and then on YouTube, and now it is stuck in our heads.  But here is the whole story of the three kittens:


Three little kittens they lost their mittens, 
And they began to cry,
"Oh mother dear, we sadly fear 
That we have lost our mittens."
"What! Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie."
"Meeow, meeow, meeow, 
Now we shall have no pie."
The three little kittens they found their mittens,
And they began to cry,
"Oh mother dear, see here, see here
For we have found our mittens."
"Put on your mittens, you silly kittens
And you shall have some pie."
"Meeow, meeow, meeow,
Now let us have some pie."
The three little kittens put on their mittens
And soon ate up the pie,
"Oh mother dear, we greatly fear
That we have soiled our mittens."
"What! soiled your mittens, you naughty kittens!"
Then they began to cry, 
"Meeow, meeow, meeow"
Then they began to sigh.
The three little kittens they washed their mittens
And hung them out to dry,
"Oh mother dear, do you not hear
That we have washed our mittens."
"What! washed your mittens, you are good kittens."
But I smell a rat close by,
"Meeow, meeow, meeow" 
We smell a rat close by.

There are several important literary questions that need to be asked about this poem, and here they are: 

(1)  What kind of pie was the mama cat serving to her kittens?  It must have been a very yummy type of pie because it inspired them to find their mittens, so I think the pie might have been made of mice or tuna or maybe canaries.  Clearly, the pie is a symbol of the mother's love, which she withholds when her babies are naughty.  But since a mother's love is supposed to be unconditional, this cat must be a bad mother!


(2)  Why did the mama cat make the kittens put on their mittens before eating the pie?  This was a dumb thing to do, since it resulted in soiled mittens, which they got scolded about and then had to wash.  Are the kittens symbolically washing the pie (which stand for their mother's love) off of themselves so that they will someday be ready to go out in the world as adult cats?



(3)  Why is "meeow" spelled that way instead of "meow"?  


(4)  What does the rat have to do with anything, and why does this character not come into the story until the last three lines?  When the mother cat says she smells a rat, does she mean this literally?  Like, is she saying to her kittens that they are now responsible enough, after the mitten incident, that they can learn to hunt rats, like an adult cat?  Or does the mother cat mean that she suspects some evil plan is afoot when she says she "smells a rat"?  Another possibility for the late addition of the rat is that the poet needed one more word that rhymes with "cry" and "pie" to finish the poem, and so she came up with this "rat close by" solution, which is sort of lame, if you ask me.


(5)  Why does the mother cat in this picture
have two sets of hind feet? 


Anyway, nobody knows totally for sure where this poem came from, but it was first printed in Only True Mother Goose Melodies in 1843.  Usually, the writer is listed as Eliza Lee Cabot Follen, an American poet who lived from 1787 to 1860.  But what probably happened was that Mrs. Follen took an old English folk verse and made it into a more sophisticated poem, instead of writing the whole thing from scratch.


Before the time when the Three Little Kittens nursery rhyme was published, poetry for children was all about teaching moral lessons, but this poem is mostly just fun because it makes the kittens seem like children, and when you read the poem, you get to say "meeow" a whole bunch of times.  And if you don't think about all the symbolic meanings of the poem, and about how sadistic the mother cat is, you can probably enjoy reading or singing it.


So now that I found out what all the words and music for Three Little Kittens are, maybe I will tell Jacen to sing the song to our foster kitties.  I think he should be the one to do it because I have much more important things to do myself!



Thursday, November 24, 2011

TURKEYS

Turkeys are kind of big and ugly, if you ask me, but I can totally forgive how they look because they are so yummy to eat!  The scientific name for turkeys is Meleagris gallopavo, and they are native to North America.  It's very easy to tell a male turkey from a female turkey, just by looking at them.  The boy turkeys are called toms or gobblers, and the girls are called hens.













Tom turkeys have big heads with no feathers on them.  Usually the head is a reddish color, but if the turkey is excited, his head turns blue.  His throat is also red, and he has a flappy sort of thing called a wattle on the throat and neck.  The head has growths that are called caruncles, and over the beak, there is a long, fleshy snood.

If a tom turkey is ready to fight, his head turns red.  Turkeys are good fighters, and they defend their territory fiercely.  Toms have sharp beaks, talons, and spurs, and they know how to use these weapons.  Turkeys will even attack humans if they feel threatened by them.  But mostly turkeys stay undercover and blend in with the trees and stuff.  They are very wary of the smallest sound or movement, and they will fly away if they think something is wrong.  So for this reason it is very hard to find a turkey to shoot, if you are hunting.  Which may be why most people just go to the grocery store to find one.




How is a girl to choose?
Anyway, getting back to what turkeys look like, everybody knows that the gobblers spread out their tail feathers when they want to make a statement or attract a female.  The hens have more boring feather colors, like mostly brown and gray, and they can't spread out their tails.  Most toms also have a "beard," which is a clump of coarse feathers that look like hair.  This beard is about 9" long and grows out of the middle of their chests, which seems like a strange place to have a beard.   Sometimes females also have beards, but theirs are usually shorter and thinner.  All together, a turkey has between 5000 and 6000 feathers.


Turkey hens
Tom turkeys weigh between 11 and 24 pounds, and hens weigh 5.5 pounds to 12 pounds.  The National Wild Turkey Federation says that the biggest wild turkey ever on record weighed 38 pounds.  Just think!  A turkey of this size would feed a whole village full of basenjis, with maybe a little left over for the village people, too!

Turkeys like to live in an open woodland or savannah, and then they fly up to perches in the trees.  They fly much better than you might think, but they usually fly close to the ground, and they don't fly for more than about a quarter of a mile.  Turkeys eat stuff like acorns, nuts, seeds, berries, roots, and insects.  Sometimes they will also eat amphibians, lizards, and small snakes.


Turkeys are very talkative, and they say things like "gobble," "cluck," "putt," "purr," "yelp," "cackle," and "kee-kee."  When toms are courting, in the spring, they do a lot of gobbling.  Their gobble sound can be heard almost a mile away.  They can also make a drumming sound with an air sac in their chests. The hens yelp to let the gobblers know where they are.

March and April are the months when the turkeys start their courtship.  Besides gobbling and making other sexy sounds, the toms also puff out their feathers and spread their tails and drag their wings.  This is called "strutting."  As they get more and more excited, their heads change color from red to blue to white.


After a tom and hen have mated, the female looks for a nice place to make a nest, while the tom goes looking for another female to mate with.  The nest is made in a shallow hole with lots of brush and shrubs around.  There are 10 to 14 eggs, and the hen sits on them for 28 days.  The baby turkeys, which are called poults, can already leave the nest in just 12 to 24 hours.

Lots of animals like to eat turkey eggs and poults, including raccoons, opossums, skunks, gray foxes, groundhogs, and snakes.  The adults might get eaten by coyotes, bobcats, cougars, golden eagles, great horned owls, dogs, and red foxes.  But the biggest predator of all is humans.

Where wild turkeys lived back in 1758
Back in the early part of the 20th century, the number of wild turkeys got all the way down to 30,000 because of hunting and loss of habitat.  But then a lot of conservationists worked to breed more turkeys and make their population bigger.  Also, it was illegal to hunt turkeys for many years.  But the number of turkeys grew and grew, until hunting was made legal again in every state except Alaska.  By 1973 there were 1.3 million turkeys, and now the estimate is that there are 7 million.  Which is why you might be driving down the road someday, especially in the country, and you will suddenly see a bunch of turkeys grazing out in the field near the road.




Most people have heard that Benjamin Franklin thought the turkey would be a better national bird than the bald eagle.  He wrote a letter to his daughter Sarah in 1784 and said that the eagle was a bird of "bad moral character" who "does not get his Living honestly."  Mr. Franklin thought this because the eagle would just perch on a dead tree and watch the fishing hawk catch a fish, and then the eagle would swoop in and steal the fish away from the hawk.  Meanwhile, the turkey was "a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America."  Mr. Franklin also said that the turkey is, "though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."

It is possible that Mr. Franklin was just pretending to be offended that the eagle was chosen and not the turkey.  There is no record that he ever actually told Congress that he thought the turkey should be the symbol of America, so maybe he was just making a joke to amuse his daughter.


The kind of turkey that most people eat for Thanksgiving is the domestic turkey, and this turkey is white instead of brown and gray.  The best guess about how the domestic turkey got started is that the Spaniards who conquered Mexico took a subspecies of turkey (which is now extinct) back to Europe, and it was inbred a whole bunch there.

Most domestic turkeys can't fly because they have been bred to have big breast muscles.  They are not as smart as their wild cousins, but they are not totally stupid either.


Anyway, now that you know all about turkeys, you should go and eat your Thanksgiving dinner.  Mom is going out for dinner, but I told her to be sure to bring home a big doggy bag full of turkey for us dogs!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DOG FIGHTS AND DOG BITES!

I think our lives have gotten a little TOO exciting lately, and that isn't the kind of thing I say very often.  In fact, I don't think I've ever said it before!

Anyway, it all started when Nicky got really grouchy about letting me snuggle up to him at night.  He used to always be fine about this, and even though he's kind of bony, sleeping next to him is warmer than sleeping alone.  But about a week or so ago, Nicky started growling and snarking at me whenever I tried to sleep with him.  So Mom said I could sleep on her bed with her, and I did, and she didn't growl at me even once.


Mom thought maybe Nicky wasn't feeling good, and that's why he was being such a growly-puss.  He was having some diarrhea for a while, and he had to take pills.  Also his teeth are dirty again, and they need to be cleaned.  Plus he keeps digging holes in the yard and eating dirt, and one day his gums were all bloody because he somehow hurt himself while he was chewing on the dirt.  My own opinion is that Nicky was just being a bad brother to his sweet basenji sister.

So everything was kind of going along okay, except for Nicky's being grumpy at bedtime.  And Mom was worrying about all of us dogs and cats and kittens, and she had to feed everybody and clean out the kitten cage and do all sorts of stuff like that every day.  So one thing she did to make life easier (for her) was she started leaving the doors open to the room where Nicky was eating, because she thought Nicky would defend his food dish, unlike Mel, who will let Barry eat his food if Mom does not stand guard over Mel's dish.

Well, this open-door plan was working pretty well, since Barry didn't try to eat Nicky's food because I guess he remembered that time when Nicky bit a chunk out of his ear.  But I thought that I should get some special privileges, as Nicky's favorite sister, so I kept trying to sneak in and grab a bite or two out of Nicky's dish.  It just seemed to me that since Nicky gets four or five times as much food as I do, he ought to be willing to share a little.

Nicky would always growl and tell me to stay away from his dish, but I didn't really take him seriously, and I kept trying to creep in there and get a little food.  So on Friday at suppertime, I was doing this, and Nicky suddenly lunged at me and chased me away from his dish.  But that left his dish unguarded, so Barry rushed in and started eating out of it.  Then Mom grabbed Barry by the collar and yanked him away from the dish, and then I ran up to it and gobbled a little bit.  Mom tried to push me away, and Barry tried to bite me, but he bit Mom instead, right on the finger.  Meanwhile, Nicky got spooked and ran out of the room.  Finally, Mom got hold of Nicky's dish and took it away and dumped the rest of the food down the garbage disposal, which was a terrible waste, if you ask me.

After that, Mom let us go out in the yard, and Nicky attacked me.  Mom ran out there and started yelling at him and pushing him away from me with her foot because she was afraid he might almost kill me, the way those two greyhound foster dogs almost killed Gabe that time.  So I guess you could say that Mom saved my life!  But Mom told me that if Nicky wanted to kill me, he would have already done it before she could even get there to save me.  Anway, the surprising thing was that I didn't have any wounds or blood on me.  Some joint or something inside me hurt when I moved, though, and I had to yelp a little, but that was just for an hour or so, and then I didn't need to yelp anymore.

So that was one dogfight that we had here, and after it happened, Mom decided that maybe the reason Nicky was so growly about letting me share his bed was because I had been trying to share his food for several days, too.  So he started being possessive about both his food and his bed.  This doesn't seem very nice of him, but Mom thinks it might be what is going on.  Which means that she has started closing the doors again when Nicky is eating, so I can't go in there and ask him to share his food.  And now Nicky is somewhat better about letting me snuggle with him, except for last night, when he wouldn't let me near him at all, and I had to sleep on Mom's feet.

Anyway, Sunday night there was another dogfight, but Mom didn't know about it because it happened in the yard when she was busy cleaning out the kitten cage and doing stuff like that.  After we all went to bed, Barry snuggled up next to Mom's shoulder in bed, which he doesn't usually do.  Usually, he sleeps on the floor in his own bed, or sometimes he gets on the foot of Mom's bed and sleeps there.  So Mom thought it was a little odd that Barry wanted to sleep with her, but she didn't mind it.


Then when we all got up yesterday morning, Mom was petting Barry, and she discovered a bunch of dried blood on his back, and it turned out that he had a nasty bite wound there.  Mom figured that Nicky must have given it to Barry out in the yard.  Barry wouldn't let Mom clean the wound or even look at it very good because it hurt too much.  So Mom took Barry to see Dr. Griswald, and she shaved the hair off around the wound and cleaned it out.  And it turned out to be a big, ugly wound.  So now Barry has to take anibiotics, and also he has to wear a Bite-Not collar so that he won't lick the wound and make it infected.

In this picture, Barry is checking out the kitchen floor to see if there is anything there
that he can eat.  I am checking out Barry's butt, just because it seemed like
a good thing to do.  And Chloe is hanging out, waiting for supper.

Oh, and after all of that, when Mom was at the shelter yesterday, she got bit by a dog there, on another finger of the same hand where Barry already bit her.  The dog that bit her is a little shiba inu named Honey Bear.  He has some kind of problem with his nerves, so when he walks, his back end does really funny things.  Mom was petting him in his run, which he seemed to like a lot, and she asked if she could take him outside, and Aunt Tania, who takes care of the run in the cat room where Honey Bear lives, said it was fine.  But Honey Bear is afraid to walk on a slick floor, so Mom carried him outside to the concrete.  Then he tottered around in the yard a whole bunch, but he didn't want to come back in.  So Mom picked him up to carry him back in, and that's when he bit her finger, and Mom said it really hurt and it bled a lot.

That bite on the middle finger is the one Barry did,
and Honey Bear made a bunch of wounds on Mom's first finger.

So now Mom has two sore fingers, but she doesn't have to wear a Bite-Not collar, like Barry does, because Mom doesn't usually lick her wounds.  I don't have any bites on me, and neither does Nicky, and neither does Mel, so at least some of us are still in good shape.

Well, except for our little foster kittens, because we just found out yesterday that they have roundworms and coccidia, but that's a story for another day.

Monday, November 21, 2011

WEIMARANERS

The Weimaraner breed was invented in Germany back in the early 19th century. These dogs are probably descendants of the bloodhound.  Weimaraners were bred to hunt big animals such as boars, bears, and deer.  But only members of the royalty were allowed to have a fancy hunting dog like a Weimaraner.  This doesn't seem fair, but that's the way it was.  The name of the breed came from Karl August, who was the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach.  His court was located in the German city of Weimar, and he really liked to go hunting.











After a while, people stopped hunting big game and started hunting smaller animals such as birds, rabbits, and foxes.  Weimaraners were good at this kind of hunting, too.  And since the dogs were so valuable, they got to live indoors with their families, instead of outside in kennels, which is where most types of hunting dogs lived.  Nowadays, Weimaraners are still used by some people to hunt birds and as water retrievers.  But lots of Weimaraners are just happy being family dogs.








The official colors for Weimaraners range from charcoal-blue to silver-gray.  Their eyes can be amber, gray, or blue-gray.  Usually the tails are docked to one-third the natural length.  The AKC standard requires this, but in Europe, tail docking is illegal.  There is also a long-haired type of Weimaraner, and it is shown with a full-length tail, but the AKC doesn't recognize the long-haired variety of the breed.




Male Weimaraners are 26 to 27 inches tall and weigh between 70 and 80 pounds.  Females are 23 to 25 inches tall and weigh 55 to 70 pounds.  Because these dogs were bred to be hunting dogs, they are very strong and muscular.  Also they have a whole bunch of energy, and they can be high-strung.  They need lots of exercise, especially when they are young.  Otherwise, they might find some way to entertain themselves in the house, like maybe by chewing up the furniture or barking.

Weimaraners are good with children, but they are so rambunctious that they might knock small children down.  Also they have a prey drive that makes them want to chase small, furry things such as cats and hamsters and squirrels.  Weimaraners who live in the country might discover they can have fun chasing deer or sheep.


It's easy to train Weimaraners because they are very smart.  They also like to play, and they especially like fetching balls.  They are cheerful and affectionate, but they can be stubborn and hard to control, especially if they don't get enough exercise.  Besides hunting, Weimaraners are also good at tracking, retrieving, pointing, guarding, police work, search-and-rescue, agility, and being service dogs.










There's a famous photographer named William Wegman who likes to put clothes on his Weimaraners and then take pictures of them.  Also he has them pose in all sorts of places and positions that you would not think dogs would allow themselves to be put into.  You've probably seen some of Mr. Wegman's photos.  I'm just going to put one of them here on my blog, and I hope I don't get sent to jail for doing it, but if I do, maybe you can come visit me there!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

ENTROPION

Entropion is when your eyelids get turned in, and your eyelashes rub against your eyeballs all the time, which hurts a lot.  It can happen to dogs and cats and people.  Maybe it can happen to some other animals, too, but I don't have time to research whether it does or not.  So mostly I am going to talk about entropion in dogs.


Some dog breeds are more likely to get entropion than others, like for example shar peis, chow-chows, and bulldogs. Other breeds that get entropion fairly often are bloodhounds, Irish setters, Labrador retrievers, St. Bernards, cocker spaniels, boxers, springer spaniels, golden retrievers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Neapolitan mastiffs, bull mastiffs, shiba inus, rottweilers, poodles, Great Danes, and Chesapeake Bay retrievers.


Entropion may show up in puppies when they are only a few weeks old.  In this case, it is often treated by tacking the puppy's eyelids so that the corneas are not damaged as the puppy grows.  After 3 or 4 weeks, the stitches can be removed, and the eyelids may grow normally.  This technique is mostly used on very young puppies.


Dogs that are older than 6 months will probably have surgery to take out some of the eyelid skin.  There are several ways to do this, and the method used depends on how bad the entropion is.  When this surgery heals up, the eyelid should be in a more normal position so that the eyelashes don't rub on the eye.  If the correction is done too much, the dog will end up with ectropion, which is the opposite of entropion.  In ectropion, the eyelid turns out instead of in, and this lets the inside of the eyelid hang out, which it is not supposed to do.



Usually it is the lower eyelid that turns in and rubs on the cornea, but sometimes it is the upper one.  A dog can have entropion in one eye or in both eyes.  One way to get entropion is to inherit it, but you can also get it because of having an eye disease, infection, or injury.



When cats get entropion, it is usually because of an injury or infection that causes a change in the eyelid.  But sometimes those breeds with smooshy faces are born with the condition.


If entropion is not fixed, the animal will keep getting its cornea damaged by having hair rubbing over it.  Then after a while, the cornea will get so wounded and scarred that the animal will go blind.  So if you have a dog or cat with entropion, you need to get it taken care of right away.



Mom has known some dogs at the shelter who had entropion, but the nice vets there did surgery and made those dogs' eyelids all better.  Usually the dogs who had it were some kind of shar pei mix, but not always.  Anyway, I have never heard of a basenji getting it, but I suppose it's possible.  At least I'm glad that I don't have it.  I have enough other health problems to worry about!

Friday, November 18, 2011

IT'S "ADOPT A SENIOR CAT MONTH," by Charlie

You may not be aware of this, but November is an extremely important month.  It's important because everybody eats turkey for Thanksgiving, and it's also important because it's a time to tell people all about the benefits of adopting an older cat.  When I say "older," I just mean "no longer a kitten."  I'm not quite sure what is meant by a "senior" cat.  I'm 7 years old, and maybe some folks would call that "senior," but I certainly don't think of myself as old and decrepit!  In fact, I'm just barely middle-aged, since cats often live to be 18 or 20 or even older.

Anyway, here are some excellent reasons why you should think seriously about adopting a cat who is no longer a kitten.

1.  An older cat does not bounce off the walls and act all hyper, like Jacen does, for example.
2.  An older cat does not think your arm is a chewable object.
3.  Older cats are good at sitting in laps and purring and just being calm and peaceful.
4.  An older cat won't pounce on you and want to play when you're trying to sleep, like Jacen does.
5.  Older cats are already the size they're going to be "when they grow up."
6.  Older cats know how to use the litter box reliably.  Usually.
7.  An older cat doesn't knock over plants all the time while playing hide-and-seek, like our crazy foster kittens do.
8.  Older cats are just sweet and mellow and wonderful, and it's not fair if they never get adopted because people keep adopting kittens instead.


Okay, now that you know why it's such a great idea to adopt a cat who's a little older, here are a few fabulous kitties who are available for adoption at the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City.


CLEMENTINE AND HEATHER

These two girls are sisters, and they are 7 years old, just like me.  They have always lived together, so they would like to be adopted together.  They first came to the Humane Society when they were kittens, and they had a nasty respiratory virus and an eye infection.  Clementine's eyes were saved, but Heather lost one of hers.

The two kitties were adopted together, but the family returned them to the shelter recently because they had a baby, and they no longer had time for Clementine and Heather.  I can't believe people would give up their pets for such a dumb reason, but Mom says it happens all the time.  And another popular reason for giving up cats or dogs is that the family is moving and can't take the animals along.  Or so they say.

Okay, don't get me started on this.  It makes me want to go out and claw somebody!  Just think about adopting Heather and Clementine.  They are friendly, playful, get along with other cats, and they would really like to have a new home!












ISIS

Isis is another 7-year-old, and I am here to tell you that 7 is a wonderful age to be.  This pretty girl loves to sit in any lap she can find.  She's a talker, and if a lap is already occupied, she will let you know that she should be the occupier, rather than whatever cat is already there.  When Isis first came to the shelter, she was very sick because someone had used a flea preventive meant for dogs on her.  But now she is all well and happy and is just waiting for somebody to take her home.




VAN

This was the oldest male cat I could find on the Humane Society site.  Maybe this means that boys are more popular with adopters than girls are, or maybe it means nothing at all.  Anyway, Van is a very handsome tuxedo cat, just like myself.  He is 3 years old, and he was injured before he arrived at the shelter -- probably because he was hit by a car.  He had a broken pelvis, and part of his tail had to be amputated, but he's all healed up now.  Van loves to play, and he gets along fine with other cats.










GIGI

Gigi is 7 years old.  She started life as a feral kitten, and then she was fostered for a while by a member of the shelter staff.  She's still kind of shy until she gets to know you, so she needs a home where the people will be patient and let her settle in at her own pace.  Gigi loves other cats, so she should probably have some kitty companions in her forever home.






DOTTY

This beautiful girl is 3 years old.  She's playful, and she likes other cats.  Dotty came to the shelter as a kitten with her two sisters.  The other two were adopted together, but poor Dotty got left behind.











MERCURY

This guy isn't technically a kitten anymore because he's over a year old, but he's certainly not a "senior" cat.  Unfortunately, since he's a black kitty, his chances of getting adopted aren't as good as they might be if he were a different color.  Mercury was abandoned in the lobby of the shelter, and he was very sick.  Since he had a high temperature, he was named Mercury.  Of course, he's totally well now, and he would be a great addition to any home.





Okay, so here are my recommendations for November:  adopt a nice older cat or two from your local shelter, and eat lots of turkey for Thanksgiving!