An increasing number of pet owners are taking measures to ensure that their beloved pets are cared for not only in life, but after the owner’s death as well.
Famed American businesswoman Leona Helmsley died in 2007 at the age of 87, she left a $12 million dollar trust fund to care for her Maltese, named Trouble (although the amount was later deemed ‘excessive’ and a judge allowed re-appropriation of the funds, leaving a mere $2 million to care for Trouble). Helmsley also left a general trust fund to benefit dogs in need. That trust fund now has a value of up to $8 billion USD.
Every year, millions of companion animals are euthanized worldwide due to shelter overcrowding and limited animal shelter funding. Pets who are middle aged or seniors are often most prone to euthanasia, as it’s harder to find homes for these animals. It’s difficult to think about your beloved pet being euthanized because you’re no longer alive to care for him.
But that no longer needs to be the case, as many pet owners are now setting up trusts and other funding sources to help ensure that their pets are well-cared for, right up until the end. This is especially important for horses, birds and exotics with a long life expectancy, as many can live for decades after their owner dies.
The web is home to a wide range of different resources for pet owners who wish to ensure their pets are well-cared for after they pass away. But it’s important to speak with an estate planner in your region, as each country’s estate planning requirements are unique.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals offers a number of resources for pet owners who need more information as they consider how to ensure their dogs, cats, birds, horses and other animals are cared for after the owner’s death.
Adopting a cat or dog is a big decision and it’s a serious commitment — one that should last for the pet’s life, so 10 to 15 years or more, depending upon the breed.
But how do you know if you’re ready to adopt a pet?
The first consideration is your child’s age and his/her maturity level. It’s important that the child understands how to treat the pet properly, as an inability to understand that ‘action X will cause harm to the pet’ can result in an injured pet and/or child. In addition to an ability to behave properly around the pet, your child must be generally comfortable around animals. A fearful child can hurt a pet or trigger undesirable behaviors (for instance, if your child runs, this will activate the dog’s prey drive, causing the dog to give chase.)
While it’s nice if your child helps with the pet’s care, many kids will drop the ball in this regard so it’s important that the parent understands this and is willing to take over all required care.
It’s also important to take the pet into consideration in terms of your lifestyle. For instance, if you work long days or travel frequently, you’ll need to arrange for pet care services on a regular basis; otherwise, it can result in a situation where the pet is neglected. This can result in some significant behavioral problems.
If you’re unsure of whether a pet is right for your family, you can always speak with a representative from your local humane society or animal shelter. They’ll help you find a pet that’s right for your family.
Many animal lovers talk to their pets without even realizing it (until, that is, another person points it out. Only then do you realize that you’re engaged in a near-constant stream of dialogue as you perform those household chores!).
A majority of pet owners — more than 9 out of 10 — say they talk to their pets on a daily basis. But is it healthy?
Well, according to psychologists and researchers, there’s nothing wrong with speaking to your pet! Many pet owners tend to ‘humanize’ pets, believing that they feel, emote, think and experience the world in a manner that’s similar to humans. In many homes, the pet is viewed is a furry member of the family and therefore, it’s not unnatural that we would be inclined to speak to that family member!
Researchers have discovered that talking to a pet can actually be very therapeutic, providing a sense of relief as you get those thoughts off your chest.
Many pets are very well-connected with their owners and many dogs and cats will change their behavior in response to your emotions (e.g. sitting on your lap and offering to cuddle when you’re feeling a bit blue.) This can also be very therapeutic, as the owner gets a sense that the pet understands.
These findings are actually one reason why pet therapy and pet ownership is recommended for many veterans and others who suffer from depression, PTSD and other psychological disorders.
You’ve adopted an adorable little kitten and he has the most beautiful blue eyes! But your kitty’s eyes may not always stay like this. Most kitten’s eyes will actually change color as he/she ages.
Cats are born with their eyes closed. But their eyes open at the age of approximately 2 weeks to reveal some incredible baby blues!
Only a small percentage of cats keep this beautiful blue eye color. Most cats’ eyes gradually change color, with the most common colors being green, yellow, hazel and golden brown. So why does this eye color change occur?
The iris — the colored portion of the eye — is colored by a pigment called melanin, which also colors skin, fur and, in the case of humans, hair. Melanin pigment only comes in one color: a yellowish brown tone. An individual’s eye color (along with skin, hair and fur color) isn’t determined by the color of melanin, but rather, by the amount of melanin that’s present.
Blue eyes have virtually no melanin present, as young kittens don’t produce a lot of melanin. But as they grow and age, the kitten’s body produces more melanin, triggering the eye color change, which occurs around 4 weeks of age and progresses until about 10 weeks of age. If your kitten still has blue eyes at 8 weeks of age, the chances are good that her eyes will remain blue into adulthood.
Some common blue-eyed cat breeds are Siamese, Himalayans, Ragdolls, Bengals, the Cornish Rex, the Tonkinese, the Javanese and color point Persians. Among domestic long hair and domestic short hair cats, those with white hair tend to be most apt to have blue eyes.
A dog’s tail is an important indicator of canine mindset, so it’s an extremely effective way to read your dog’s mood!
Canine behaviorists have discovered that a dog who wags his tail more to the right is happier and more content than a dog who tends to wag more to the left.
A slow, almost hesitant wag can indicate nervousness or apprehension. This is often seen when the dog is meeting another dog or person whom he’s uncertain about.
A tail held straight out behind the dog can be a sign of alertness; it’s a tail posture that’s common in hunting dog breeds when they’ve just caught an interesting smell or they’re hearing an interesting sound.
A tail held out and slightly down and still is a sign that the dog feels threatened; it often preempts an act of aggression or a perceived act of self-defense.
And finally, there’s the tail that’s tucked between the dog’s legs. This dog feels vulnerable and frightened. Some dogs also exhibit this behavior when they’re cold.
A dog’s tail can reveal a lot about his personality and mood, as long as you know how to translate this tail-speak.
Dogs communicate primarily through body language in the wild; vocalizations comprise a relatively small percentage of a dog’s communication toolbox. Understanding canine body language will provide you with lots of useful insight into the dog’s world; it could even prevent you from getting bitten!
Today, we’ll explore what it means when a dog rolls over and shows her belly.
Most people believe that when a dog shows her belly, it’s an act of submission; others even believe it’s an invitation for a belly rub. But this isn’t always the case.
When it’s your own dog who rolls over to show you her belly, then it is, in fact, an act of submission and/or an invitation for a belly rub. It shows that your dog views you as the alpha, the pack leader.
But when an unknown dog shows you her belly, it’s not an invitation for a belly rub. This too is an act of submission, but often, it’s because the dog feels threatened. So it’s best to back off a bit; give the dog a bit of space. An attempt to rub the dog’s belly can result in a nip!
How well do you understand your cat’s meows?
A study performed by Dr. Nicholas Nicastro, Ph.D., revealed that cat owners could successfully identify the meaning of a cat’s meow 4 times out of 10. The study participants were asked to identify the meaning of the meow in a more general sense (e.g., is the cat happy, discontent, etc.) and they were also asked to translate the cat’s meow in a more specific sense (e.g., Is the cat asking for food? Is the cat injured? Annoyed? Content?)
Dr. Nicastro did his doctoral thesis on humans’ ability to understand meows. The study participants were asked to identify the meaning of the cat’s meow only; they were not provided with any visual cues or context. When provided with visual context, the meow translations are even more accurate. The individuals who didn’t own cats scored much lower on the tests.
Notably, cats who are born and live in the wild — feral cats — do not use meowing to communicate with humans (though some individuals may develop this habit later in life if the feral is successfully tamed and domesticated.) This fact, in addition to many others discovered through research studies, has led many scientists to believe that cats have specifically developed a language intended for exclusive use with humans.
Meowing as a form of communication is an interesting topic, as it’s a behavior that’s reserved primarily for humans.
Mother cats — called queens — will make soft vocalizations that are a sweet blend purring and meowing to communicate with their kittens, but once the kittens are grown, the meowing stops. As adults, cats communicate with other felines using a blend of body language and scent-based communication. Meowing is used with kittens because they lack the ability to read body language (remember, their eyes are closed for the first two weeks of life) and until about four weeks of age, they lack the coordination to communicate using their body language. Quite simply, meowing is a last resort form of communication; one that works when the cat’s traditional approach isn’t practical.
But many cats do meow to communicate with their humans. The reason? Domesticated cats quickly realize that humans don’t pick up on their subtle body language cues and scent cues, so they quickly realize that meowing is an effective way to get your attention.
In fact, meowing at humans is a behavior that’s only present in cats who have been raised around humans. Feral cats do not meow at humans as a form of communication (though some may develop this habit if they’re successfully tamed and domesticated.) The act of meowing at a human is an easy way to determine whether a stray has been owned at some point in time or if they’re a true feral, who has lived his or her entire life in the wild.