Climate Change and Your Cat – How Can You Help?

Climate Change and Your Cat

Photo credit: Lil BUB

On Earth Day 2018, Lil Bub thanked Halo “for exclusively using humanely sourced protein from free-range sustainable farms,” adding, “It’s good for our pets and great for our planet.” Halo was proud to read Lil Bub’s kind words. As a mission-driven brand, Halo works hard to do what’s best for pets, people, and the planet. We’re no stranger to accolades for that work. In 2016 our Spot’s Stew won in the Best Pet Products, Food category of the Natural Child World Eco Excellence Awards. We were also finalists in the supplements and treats categories!

The accolades aren’t why we do it though. As Dave Carter, our Director of Sourcing, says in a Facebook video, “Nature’s kind of messy. Nature creates things that…are unique and individual and the more we learn to work within that system, those animals are helping to restore the soil. They’re helping to build a grassland that captures carbon and makes for a healthy ecosystem.” He added, “We just think that when you go back to that natural, that OrigiNative source, you’re getting a whole protein that’s healthier for us and healthier for our companion animals.”

Carbon capture is important. Jerry Melillo is an ecologist and a member of NOAA’s Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. Jerry told Energy News Network, “It’s pretty clear that climate change is not going to stop and it will be accelerating if we don’t move to a reduced carbon economy,” Jerry told Midwest Energy News, when he spoke at last year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists (AAAS).

We’ve seen some crazy weather over the past few years. As climate change continues, scientists say different types of extreme weather will become even more common. For example, some parts of the United States will see stronger and more frequent storms. Some areas will have more droughts and wildfires. Heat waves are also likely to become more common. How will all this crazy weather affect our beloved cats, and what can we do to help them – and ourselves?

Thankfully, Dr. Jason Nicholas, the Chief Medical Officer at Preventive Vet, took the time to talk with us about how these crazy weather patterns might affect our pets’ health. Dr. J, as he’s generally known, is passionate about pet health and helping pet parents better understand their furry friends.

We started by discussing the record-warm winter seasons that have been occurring, despite the late snowfalls that much of the United States has seen this spring. With warmer winters “the parasite seasons many people are used to or think exist are likely to change,” Dr. J explained. “So, ‘flea season’ is likely to start earlier and end later, and there may also be ‘unseasonal flares’ due to changing weather patterns. The same is likely for ‘tick season’ and even ‘intestinal worm season.’”

But seasons outside aren’t the only thing to think about, Dr. J said. Many of these parasites can thrive indoors and become hypobiotic — “sort of like a dormant/arrested stage.” As a result these parasites can be a problem for more of the year and make things worse.

Climae change could also lead to more infectious disease and mosquito-borne parasites. Mosquitos can easily spread diseases to cats. “From a mosquito standpoint, changing weather patterns isn’t just likely to mean longer and more erratic mosquito seasons, but it’ll also mean that places that haven’t historically had problems with disease-spreading mosquito populations are more likely to start having them.”

“Don’t forget, cats can also become infected by heartworms. They’re not just a dog problem,” Dr. J added. “In fact, it can take far fewer heartworms to cause significant disease in cats than it takes in dogs, and there’s no safe and effective treatment for heartworms in cats.” Fortunately, there are safe and effective steps to prevent heartworm infections.

In fact, in 2017 Dr. J wrote a blog post about mosquitos, heartworm disease, and cats. In it he warned that a single mosquito carrying a single worm is all that it takes to give a cat heartworm disease. Obviously keeping your cat indoors helps minimize the risk, but mosquitos can still get inside. He encourages people to do all they can to minimize mosquitos around their home. He also strongly recommends talking with your local veterinarian about the best heartworm prevention option for your individual cat based on where you live and any other parasites from which your cat or other pets may need protection.

In fact, Dr. J says talking with your veterinarian is the “biggest step” any pet parent should take in the face of these changing weather and parasite patterns. He suggests you ask about “the safest, most effective, and most comprehensive parasite prevention and treatment plan for all of the pets in [your] home,” including indoor-only cats.

With an increased risk of severe or more frequent storms, pets and their pet parents also face more risks for floods, fires, or other natural disasters. As with many parts of being a good pet parent, being prepared ahead of time is key. If you need ideas, Halo had a blog post about 7 Ways to Protect Your Pets in an Emergency just a few months ago. Dr. J also provides advice on putting together an emergency kit. People can download Preventive Vet’s Emergency and Disaster Prep eBook for free to get more ideas.

In addition to these specific steps to help your pet, you can also think about doing more to slow climate change. If greenhouse gas emissions can be significantly reduced, some of the worst impacts of climate change could be avoided. Toward that end, scientists are studying a wide range of plans for countries and different sectors of industry to take.

People can also do a lot to deal with their own greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. Scientist Dr. Frank O’Sullivan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also spoke at the annual meeting of AAAS, “We don’t need one solution. We need a portfolio of solutions” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing Halo for your pets can be part of that portfolio of solutions.

One way that many people, including Sir Paul McCartney and Oprah, enjoy reducing their carbon footprint through Meatless Mondays. Although cats are obligate carnivores who cannot eat a vegan diet, wholesome vegan food prepared especially for dogs can allow dogs to safely join in a family-wide Meatless Monday with Halo Holistic Garden of Vegan Dog Food kibbles or cans!

In fact, Halo, GreaterGood.org, and Freekibble.com are even working with select shelters to help reduce their carbon paw print through Meatless Mondays for the shelter dogs! They’re supplying both Halo Vegan and Halo Whole Meat food for the dogs in the care of Second Chance Animal Shelter in Massachusetts, Humane Society of Tampa Bay in Florida, and Dutchess County SPCA in New York. Since it’s not good for animals to have one day with a completely different diet, the dogs are achieving their Meatless Monday by having 1/7th of their food each day be Halo Garden of Vegan dog food.

All three shelters have reported that the process is simple and making the dogs very happy. Sheryl Blancato, executive director for Second Chance Animal Shelter said, “We are excited about being part of Meatless Monday and the Halo food donation has helped save the lives of many animals. Since foregoing meat even one day per week has an impact on the environment, imagine the difference with can make with all of the dogs at an animal shelter going meatless on Monday!”

Together we can make a difference for our planet so that cats and other animals can live their very best lives now and in the future. Halo is here to do our part to make that as easy as possible.

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Woman Adopts Her Childhood Best Friend

Nicole and Chloe

Nicole Renae is married with one child. She and her husband wanted to adopt a dog to make their family complete. Nicole had loved a dog named Chloe when she was a child, but the family had been forced by her father’s job to give Chloe up when she was still young. This time, Nicole was going to keep her adopted dog for good.

Halo loves helping shelter animals find their best chance at a forever home. Through #HaloFeedItForward, and our partnership with Freekibble.com, for every purchase made we donate a bowl of dog food or cat food to shelters to help shelter pets have their best chance at finding forever best friends. For one senior dog, she managed to catch the eye of the woman who had been her best friend when they were merely a puppy and a child.

Nicole meant to adopt a puppy, but a Facebook post showing a senior dog who needed a home changed her plans. The dog was gray and looked like an older version of the Chloe she remembered. What sealed the deal? The dog’s name was already Chloe! Nicole told The Dodo, “I thought that was such a coincidence,” and she decided to adopt the dog and give her a forever home.

When the two met, the coincidences piled up. When Nicole was a child, her Chloe loved to run up to her and lick her face in greeting. The moment that Nicole met this Chloe was magical. “She just ran up to me and started licking my face,” she said. That wasn’t all. “As the day went on, all these characteristics just reminded me of my old dog,” Nicole added. Soon, “I just knew in my heart that it was her,” Nicole told reporters. Even though it seemed impossible, this dog she was adopting as an adult was the childhood dog she had been forced to say goodbye to all those years ago.

At first, Nicole’s family didn’t take her seriously. “My whole family thought I was nuts,” as Nicole bluntly put it. However, it was Nicole’s mom who came up with a way to prove that Chloe was in fact, the original Chloe. Nicole’s childhood dog had been microchipped and their old veterinarian still had the ID number. When Chloe’s microchip was scanned, the numbers were a match. It was the same microchip in the same dog.

“I literally felt like I’d won the lottery. It was just the best feeling,” Nicole said about learning that her adult adoption was actually her childhood dog.

After leaving Nicole’s family eight years ago, Chloe was quickly adopted by an older couple and lived a happy life with them until they passed away. Then she was adopted by another family, but that family had to make the same call as Nicole’s parents and surrender Chloe to a shelter. It turned out to be for the best – otherwise Chloe would never have found her way back to Nicole. “Chloe is happy,” said Nicole. “I think she knows now that she’ll be with me forever.” Now that’s a true best friendship to celebrate!

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Music Specially for Kitty Cats

Music Specially for Kitty Cats

A few years ago, scientists from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of Maryland, wanted to study whether cats could respond to music. And so they created some music especially for feline sensibilities, as described in THIS ARTICLE outlining the whole study.  It describes how Charles Snowdon and the other researchers looked at the natural vocalisations of cats and matched music to that frequency range, which is about an octave or more higher than human voices. Upon learning that cats use sliding frequencies in their calls to each other, the team incorporated more sliding notes in the cat music composition than you’d find in human music.

In the cat music, the team replicated the tempo of things that would attract a cat’s attention – one song featured a purring tempo, and another featured a suckling tempo. You can hear a sample of one of their songs, Cozmo’s Air, which does sound like a pretty cool Hep Cats kind of tune. In the study, the cat songs were played back to 47 domestic cats. The researchers watched how the felines reacted to this music, compared to their response when they listened to two classical human songs – Johann Sebastian Bach’s Air on a G String and Gabriel Fauré’s Elegie. Publishing in the journal Applied Animal Behavioural Science, the team reported that the cats didn’t respond at all to the human music. However, when the cat music started up, the kitties became aroused and approached the speakers, often rubbing their cheek scent glands on the speakers.

It was actually several years before this university study was done that the composing team of Joshua Leeds and Lisa Spector pioneered the development of species-specific calming music. First they designed their “Through a Dog’s Ear” music series, and then followed it with their “Through a Cat’s Ear,” which was designed to have a positive calming effect for cats suffering from stress, fear. howling, loneliness and sleep disturbance.  Apparently other “animal composers” have sprung up on the internet as well, selling their feline tunes online. There are many practical applications of music composed specifically for cats, one use being to play it at home for cats left alone all day. The most compelling benefit would be to play it in the cat area of a shelter, to lower the stress that cats naturally suffer there.

And thinking about the welfare of kitties in shelters, keep in mind that for every purchase you make, Halo donates a bowl of food to a shelter to help nourish and transform shelter pets with good nutrition, giving them their very best chance at a forever home. #HaloFeedItForward.

While there’s now music that helps pets when they listen to it,  there’s also music that helps animals in a different way. Check out Halo’s jingle to benefit animal rescue (consider yourself warned, it’s very hard to stop singing it!).  

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

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This Tiny Homeless Kitten Helped Seniors While Finding Her

Tiki the Kitten at The Humane Society of Central Oregon

It’s not uncommon for animal-loving individuals and families to move to Bend, Oregon — nicknamed Dog Town USA. However, one individual who came to Bend not only found a wonderful family and life for herself, but managed to help a lot of people along the way. That individual was a tiny kitten named Tiki.

Tiki came to the Humane Society of Central Oregon (HSCO) from the Haven Humane Society in northern California. According to Lynne Ouchida, the Community Outreach Manager for HSCO, Tiki was only 1.5 pounds and had fleas when she arrived at HSCO with a group of cats hoping to find homes in Oregon. “Tiki is one of my favorite stories in my over 20 years at HSCO,” shared Lynne. According to Lynne, six-week-old Tiki was “a bit timid and nervous around people” when she met her. Thankfully, a new program at the shelter was perfect for Tiki.

A volunteer at HSCO was the Life Enrichment Manager for Aspen Ridge Memory Care at that time. Lynne told us that the volunteer “wanted to see if fostering kittens would have a positive impact on the memory care residents.” Because Lynne used to be the foster program coordinator at HSCO, the foster coordinator at the time “bounced the idea off of” Lynne, as she put it. HSCO decided to do it. Lynne shared that having a vested program coordinator in place at the facility was key to making the program a success. Because the coordinator at Aspen Ridge already had a relationship with HSCO through her volunteering, that made it easier. HSCO still had all of their specific foster policies, procedures, and guidelines along with medical and behavior checks to make sure the kitten would do well at the center.

A volunteer at HSCO was the Life Enrichment Manager for Aspen Ridge Memory Care

Lynne told us that because of Tiki’s timidity and size, the team at HSCO wanted Tiki to go into foster care so that she could “mature a bit before returning to the shelter.” She “also needed to have positive experiences with people to learn to trust and love them,” continued Lynne. The team decided that Tiki would be the first kitten to head to Aspen Ridge.

At Aspen Ridge, residents cared for and played with Tiki. She, in turn, visited the residents in their rooms and even had “a social hour with residents and their guests,” Lynne said. Tiki was fantastic for the residents. Lynne explained that although “the residents struggled with short-term memory,” staff and families observed that the seniors’ emotional bond with Tiki seemed to prompt their short-term memory! “They asked where Tiki was when not in the room, they remembered to feed and play with her, and most of all they knew they needed to snuggle and love on the kitten,” said Lynne. Tiki was even featured in a video by Central Oregon Daily. Joan Wray, a resident who cared for Tiki, told Central Oregon Daily that raising Tiki “was absolutely fabulous.”

The program has indeed been fabulous for both the kittens of HSCO and the residents at Aspen Ridge Memory Care. “The families of the Aspen Ridge residents loved the program and could immediately see the positive impact it had on their loved ones,” said Lynne, noting that Aspen Ridge has fostered 14 kittens so far, including Tiki. Lynne revealed that the“HSCO would love to see the program continue.” The staff and residents at Aspen Ridge “exceeded all expectations by providing excellent care to the kittens. Best of all,” Lynne told us, “the kittens loved people and were always very playful!”

Kittens with seniors - Humane Society of Central Oregon

When Tiki had grown to become “a strong, loving, 2.5 pound kitten,” she returned to the HSCO where she was soon adopted. The young woman who adopted Tiki “was excited to adopt her own kitten” and then came back to adopt a second kitten a month later to be Tiki’s playmate and buddy! Lynne told us that some of the residents from Aspen Ridge have come to the shelter to bid farewell to their foster kittens. Although it can be “difficult for them to say goodbye,” they look “forward to the next kitten” that they get to foster, she said.

Part of what enabled HSCO to care for Tiki’s fleas, spay surgery, and other medical costs was a donation of Halo pet food made possible through your clicks at Freekibble.com and Freekibblekat.com. HSCO was the very first shelter to receive a donation of food from Freekibble.com when the site launched 10 years ago! Lynne explained that not only did the food provide great nutrition, but also that “the consistent, super premium diet for our shelter animals provide[d] benefits beyond the palatability of the food. Our veterinarian and staff know that if there are symptoms of illness, it is not due to a change in diet,” explained Lynne. Plus, she told us, it “not only saved money on [the] cost of the food, but also enabled our staff to dedicate time to saving lives instead of purchasing and delivering” pet food. In addition to all that, the money saved means that HSCO can spend money on “diagnostic medical tests, dental work, surgeries, and time in our foster care or behavior programs.” Halo is proud to have helped Tiki and the other animals at HSCO. We love that Tiki reminds us that when humans help animals in need, we not only make their lives better, but we also help ourselves in the process.

Kittens at The Humane Society of Central Oregon

At Halo, we believe that each and every animal impacts our lives and plays a role in improving our collective well-being. We don’t think that animals only help us though. We think that we all need to take care of each other – people, animals, and planet. The partnership between HSCO and Aspen Ridge Memory Care is a great example of people helping animals while those animals help right back.

Through #HaloFeedItForward, we donate a bowl of food to shelters every time you buy Halo. That’s more than 1.5 million bowls of nutritious, easily-digestible Halo cat food and dog food that help nourish and transform shelter pets like Tiki to help them get their best shot at finding a forever home. We’re excited to have helped HSCO and Tiki. We believe that every animal carries a halo above it and strive to earn ours every single day. It’s obvious that HSCO, Tiki, and everyone at Aspen Ridge Memory Care have more than earned theirs in an amazing partnership of people and pets!

Posted in #HaloFeeditForward, Bethany Meissner, Bloggers, Cat Food, Digestibility, Dog Food, Donations, Holistic Cat Food, Holistic Dog Food, Holistic Pet Food, Natural Cat Food, Natural Dog Food, Natural Pet Food | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good Deeds at Cat Camp (NYC, MAY 5th & 6th)

Jackson Galaxy's Cat Camp

Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Camp is a two-day event in NYC that will bring together “regular” cat lovers to mingle with and hear from leaders in the field — cat experts, rescuers, and advocates — who will speak on a range of topics such as fostering kittens, behavioral issues, social media and cats, and special needs animals. There is going to be a lot of “cat merch” for sale, and while nobody is allowed to bring their own cat to Cat Camp, they are encouraged to dress up like felines themselves, to wave the flag.

Cat Camp takes place this coming Saturday and Sunday, May 5th and 6th, at the Penn Pavilion in New York City. There are a number of ticket options to get into Cat Camp each day (you can buy tickets at the door, or HERE), with separate tickets needed to attend some presentations.

Besides the entrance ticket, there are also options to buy a special ticket to have a Meet & Greet photo taken with three of the celebrity participants —  the Cat Daddy himself, Jackson Galaxy (plus you get a copy of his book, Total Cat Mojo, which you can hear him talk to me about on this episode of my NPR show DOG TALK (and Kitties, Too!), Lil BUB, and Hannah Shaw aka Kitten Lady.

I’m happy to report that Lil BUB, the famous special-needs kitty, is aligned with my sponsor Halo, who are underwriting her celebrity Meet & Greet photo op (it’s a separate ticket for $100 plus dollars) so that 100% of the cost to get a photo with this adorable little feline will be donated to animal charities.

Halo is actually working with Jackson on two mission-focused themes. One is that positive training can save shelter cats: Halo’s High Five / Cat Pawsitive Program trains cats to do high fives, helping them get adopted, and teaching shelters (and pet parents) that they can train their cats to do positive behaviors, helping to decrease shelter returns. The second mission is that feral cats deserve great food: Halo donated to a Jackson-inspired feral cat program in Philly (which is appearing on his TV show), and they are donating to help feral cats with Cat Camp for NYC.

Christina Ha from Meow Parlour in NYC created this event last year, and then Jackson Galaxy came on board to bring his crowd-pleasing name [and actual self!] to the event. The cherry on top is that the always beneficent Petco Foundation (I should know — they are the Presenting Sponsor of the NY Dog Film Festival which is traveling the country alongside the NY Cat Film Festival, sponsored by Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat and benefiting the WINN Feline Foundation) has come on board Cat Camp as the Presenting Sponsor of this year’s event,

The PETCO Foundation’s sponsorship has allowed for a separate adoption area, which is entirely free for the weekend for anyone to visit the kitties looking for homes — which aligns with the PETCO Foundation’s main mission, to unite pets in shelters with people eager to give them a new home.

If you’re a cat lover — and want to hang out with other feline aficionados, and rub shoulders with the Big Names in the cat advocacy world, and visit with all the cats and kittens who need new homes — you really cannot miss this extravaganza!

Tracie HotchnerTracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

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