Welcome to my first post that introduces a new category on LLApets, an interview with someone who’s fostering and working with rescue animals.

My first guest is Jess Thoren who’s  a foster mom who runs KittenBnb. Hear the story about how she began fostering and her tips for those of you who might be thinking about doing the same. Definitely check out her web site www.kittenBnB.com.  and find her on Instagram for a huge dose of kitten cuteness overload. If you’re looking for a kitten, please consider contacting Jess to give one of these beautiful cats a loving, forever home. And also, consider fostering an animal because it helps shelters free up space, and therefore you could be saving a life.

Jess Thoren

Live, Love Adopt Pets (LLAPETS)-How long have you been fostering kittens?

 Jess Thoren (JT)-I’ve been fostering for almost 3 years and in that time I’ve fostered over 100 kittens!

LLAPets-Can you remember what was going through your mind when the first kittens arrived?

JT-I was so nervous! I grew up with dogs and I never had a cat before so I really didn’t know what I was doing. I went to a foster orientation class but I still felt unprepared for my first kittens.

LLAPETS-How many have you fostered since then?

JT-Over 100! 

LLAPETS-Is there a limit to how many you can foster at one time?

JT-Yes, definitely! I don’t have a hard number limit as it depends on the situation and how needy the specific kittens are but I’m trying not to have more than two litters at a time. I think it’s really important to not have that number too high because you want to give each kitten enough attention. This will help socialize them better and also if there’s a decline in the kitten’s health, you’ll be able to recognize it and take action quicker.

LLAPETS-You mention in your bio that fostering might be a good match for people who aren’t ready for the full pet parent commitment. Any advice for others who might be considering being a foster parent? Anything that you’d wish you’d known from day one?

JT-The best advice I could give is to just start fostering! Each new foster is a new learning experience and you will learn so much just by fostering your first cat or kitten. I also would suggest asking the shelter or rescue to help you find a foster cat/kittens that would fit best with your lifestyle.

LLAPETS-I know everyone’s going to want to know if it’s tough seeing them leave. Does it get any easier over time? Or do you always feel a sense of sadness? Have you had any kittens that you’ve considered adopting yourself? In fact, do you have any pets?

JT-I’m a really emotional person to the point where I cry at movies and TV shows that aren’t even that sad. Because of that, I used to think I could never foster because I couldn’t handle the emotional pain but I was so wrong. My first fosters were by far the hardest to let go and I seriously considered adopting one of them.  The best way to describe how I feel about them leaving me is bittersweet. I still miss them and love them so much but I get so much joy seeing them so loved by their new families. Each foster takes a little piece of my heart with me when they go. I think it’s probably how most parents feel when their children move out of the house. It’s sad but it’s also so happy because they are starting their new life and don’t need me anymore! I remind myself that this also opens up my home for other kittens that are in need and I get new kittens right away to ease the pain. There have been a few kittens that I have thought about adopting but I really am trying not to adopt a kitten that is easily adoptable which most of my kittens are by the time they are ready to leave me. When I adopt, I hope to adopt an older kitten or young cat that might be overlooked. I don’t have any personal pets, just fosters!

LLAPETS-You also run KittenBnB? Do you want to tell us about that and how that got started?

JT-Yes, so Kitten BnB started out as just an Instagram to show off my kittens and find adopters for them. After a while, a lot of people kept asking me if Kitten BnB was a real place and that gave me the idea to make it one! Kitten BnB is place to stay while visiting the NYC area and while you’re there you can cuddle and play with kittens and learn about fostering! My goal for Kitten BnB is to bring more exposure to fostering and to show people how easy and fun it is!

LLAPETS-If anyone wants to donate, adopt or stay at Kittenbnb, what’s the best way to reach you?

JT-If you’d anyone would like to donate to my foster kittens, they can do it through the link here: https://www.kittenbnb.com/donate/

The best way to contact me is emailing jess@kittenbnb.com  

Wildfires, hurricanes…just a few of the natural events that have been in the news lately. It got me thinking about getting prepared if something terrible happened and we had to flee our house (or even the city), because of a dangerous situation or something like a major power outage.

Have you thought about preparations for your pet? While my first instant would be to get mine out of danger as soon as I could, I’d never given much thought to where we’d go and what supplies we’d need if we had to be gone more than a few days.

Here are a few things I’ve made sure I’ve got ready-

Copy of a health and vaccination certificate and rabies tag. Some shelters won’t take in animals without it so you need proof your pet is up to date. Also, crossing some state lines require proof too.

Something showing where to contact you in case you and your pet get separated. Also, their microchip number and their vet’s contact information too.

A list of local hotel/motels that take pets. I checked recently and found one that while they will accept pets, they only have a limited number of pet assigned rooms. If an emergency happens they could fill up quickly so have an alternative one ready. I also found that some take dogs but not cats, some have a pet limit of 2, while others a weight limit, so ask around and have that information handy.

If hotels aren’t an option, where would you go? Check on emergency shelters and if they accept pets, some don’t and you might have to go farther afield.

Make sure you have a bag ready packed with toys, and something familiar like a blanket they’ve used before so they don’t get stressed out.

A collapsible bowl is another great addition to a emergency pack along with food and a bottle of water you can give to them until you can find something more permanent. Also, if you’re the pet parent of a cat, make sure you have one of those disposable cat litter pans on hand.

One last thing, your pet’s scent. Get a cloth and rub it on them and then place it inside a sealed bag just in case they get lost or flee in fright…some places have rescue dogs that look for lost pets and this might help find them quickly.

Holistic pet care products may be very good for your pet, or they might not be.

What Are “Holistic” Pet Care Products?
First we need to backtrack and talk about how commercial pet food was invented.
Grain mills needed to find a way to use up the waste from the process, and someone came up with the idea of using it in pet food since the rules for making pet food were very lax.
Pet owners are a lot savvier today and felt kind of cheated when they learned how pet food was made commercially. So smart entrepreneurs decided that it was time to create a better version of pet food using a different process without using waste, and a lot of grains in pet food and other pet products soon followed.

They decided to call these “holistic” products because they’re made differently. However, therein lies the problem. There are no rules in place for what can be called holistic and what cannot be called holistic. So you could still end up buying waste from grain mills even if the product says “holistic”. In terms of the words holistic, it means absolutely nothing and is only a marketing ploy to get loving pet owners to purchase.

Claims Made by Holistic Pet Care Companies
Many holistic pet care companies make a lot of claims about their products that sound good but may really mean nothing. For example, the word “natural” can be used to describe the food as if that means something good. But natural can be waste products, bone mill, or all sorts of additives that may or may not be healthy for your pet.

What to Do about It
Instead of falling for advertising and marketing hype, the best thing you can do to ensure that your pet gets the right food is to feed them the correct food according to their breed upon your veterinarian’s recommendation, and also to read the ingredients.
If the ingredients are what you want to feed your animal based on your research, then it’s fine to purchase. If the ingredients aren’t what you expected, then buy something else.

Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Your Budget
There is generally no reason, outside of bad allergies, that you need to be that picky about your pet’s food or their other care products. Read the ingredients, ensure that it has enough nutrients in it, and ask your vet if you’re not sure. Most vets, unless they sell pet food as an added income, will let you know what you can buy at any department store for your pet that is healthy for them.
Whether it says holistic or not won’t really matter since, like the word natural, it has no real legal meaning in terms of the products you’re buying. It’s only a word to use to imply that it’s better than something else.

Dog grooming is an art that goes from basic pet care to almost spa-like pampering.

Long hair dogs that shed need more frequent grooming than short hair dogs or those who only shed seasonally. Dogs with curly or frizzy hair need daily care to detangle the hair and remove debris or foliage that gets caught in the coat while the dog is outdoors.

Sending your dog to a groomer each week gets time consuming but these days you can e hire mobile dog groomers who have a full grooming station in their vans.

The groomer parks in your driveway and does the complete grooming onsite. This is a great convenience and avoids the “wet dog” smell lingering in your bathroom.

To save even more money, you can also learn to do many of the basic grooming techniques yourself.

Dog grooming isn’t just a luxury – it’s a necessity. A dog that doesn’t get proper grooming in a timely manner is at risk for illness, gingivitis, parasites and damage to both their fur and skin.

Your dog may not be thrilled about getting a bath, but it’s something that has to be done. Bathing is a health issue for dogs just as it is for people.

If you aren’t sure about the right techniques for bathing, brushing and detangling your dog’s fur, find a good online resource or ask if you can watch the dog groomer work.

You might also be able to take class from a pet store or vet’s office to learn the correct procedures along with some expert tips on how to deal with your dog’s anxiety or fears during grooming.

The skin under the dog’s fur can be highly sensitive. Avoid aggressive scrubbing while bathing your dog or you can remove too much of the natural oils that protect both skin and hair follicles.

Adding powder or scents that aren’t formulated for use with dogs adds the potential for skin irritation or infection. If a product isn’t made for dogs or the type of fur on your dog breed, then make it a rule never to use it.

Be patient when grooming. It’s a good time to talk gently to your pet, rub his head or tummy and lend a playful quality to the grooming session. If you’re rushed or impatient, then don’t even start the grooming. Your dog will pick up on your attitude and be fearful or difficult to manage.

Even if your dog spends most of his time outdoors, you still need to do basic grooming. Without regular bathing, your dog is at the mercy of fleas and parasites that thrive on his lack of cleanliness.

Use the right tools. Don’t use your old hairbrush on your dog. Get special brushes and combs that are made for your dog’s fur.

You might save some money by bringing the dog to a groomer monthly or alternate weeks, while you handle the bath and simple hair brushing on the other weeks. Dog grooming is an essential part of maintaining your dog’s health – as well as his good lo

Some dog owners claim that males are typically more aggressive and destructive, particularly in small spaces. Female dogs are said to be easier to train and more affectionate.

Depending on the dog breed, these stereotypes may be true or not.

Male dogs insist on marking their territory, whether it’s around your house or in the yard. They do this by urinating on their “spot” so they can find it again. You can try to train a dog not to mark his territory, but you’re asking him to go against his instincts.

If you have another male dog in the house, expect a battle for who rules the house, particularly if both want to be alpha dogs. Even a smaller male dog will challenge or irritate the larger male – just to prove who was in the house first.

Dogs of opposite genders tend to get along better than dogs of the same gender. While female dogs are not as vicious toward each other as male dogs, some females don’t want to share their space with another dog.

Female dogs are generally easier to house train than male dogs, although that can vary by breed and by the skill of the dog trainer. Male dogs are seen as more lively and active, but certain breeds are “high strung” in both males and females.

Ask the average person looking for a dog and you’ll find many are looking for a female dog. They probably believe the notion that female dogs are easier to train, but gender isn’t the only predictor (or even a good predictor) of how a dog will behave.

Breeds that are known to be calm and tolerant tend to be that way whether male or female. Other breeds that are feisty, nippy and difficult to handle are that way for males and females.

Since there’s no scientific evidence that predicts the characteristics of males compare with females, then the decision about dog gender is essentially subjective. Chances are your memories of a childhood pet or a friend’s pet that you wish you had is what’s influencing your choice now.

Maybe you recall the gentle female Collie who lovingly cared for litter after litter of puppies as the ideal dog. Or you think about the rough and tumble large male dog that could run hard, play tirelessly and keep up with the most inquisitive children. If that’s what leads you to decide whether a male or female is the best dog to have, then go with your feelings. For you, that will be the right choice.

If you’re a dog owner, chances are you really don’t think much about your daily walks but with the recent spell of hot weather that’s been gripping most of the country, heat poses extra risks. Here are some tips for taking your dog walking when the temperature rises-

1. Customized Walk
Every dog is different. Experts suggest customizing your walk to suit your dog’s physical type and endurance level. If your dog is slightly overweight and you’re starting an exercise program, then three or four short, 10-minute walks might work better than one long one. For a more energetic, younger or thinner dog, a longer walk might work fine, but a brief rest and drink every 10 minutes helps keep your dog cool and hydrated.

Small dogs have to work harder to cover the same distance that might be a mere hop and a skip for a larger dog. Remember your dog’s size as you customize your walk. And dogs with snub-noses are more prone to respiratory distress in hot weather. It’s a little harder for them to cool themselves effectively, so walking in the morning or evening may be better.

2. Puddles
In the summer, you aren’t as likely to run into antifreeze in water on the street. Nonetheless, puddles should not be water sources for your dog during your walk. They can harbor parasites and other road chemicals such as motor oil.

3. What to Bring
For a safe walk in summer, here is a checklist of things you might want to bring along to make your dog’s walk successful, healthy, and safe.

-Cool water should be taken along (for you, too!). Consider a backpack with an ice pack (a slim gel pack from your freezer will do fine and won’t add too much weight). Put bottles of water for both of you in the pack.

-A collapsible water bowl can be slipped into your backpack too.

-Treats are good to bring along for reward and to sustain your dog.

-Tweezers can be handy for removing ticks.

-Flea and tick repellent should be applied before your walk.

4. Go for Grass
Whenever possible, try to get your dog to grass or vegetation during the walk. Hot concrete can burn his paws. If you can, a walk in the woods or park with shade is a good choice.

5. Know the Signs

Watch your dog for signs of discomfort and agitation. Excessive panting is also a sign that your dog is getting overheated. If you see signs of heat exhaustion, get your dog to an air conditioned car or building as soon as possible, and call your vet.

Housebreaking a puppy starts with the wrong premise – breaking. It’s as if you want to make the puppy stop being a puppy and function like a perfect little toy. That’s neither fair nor realistic.

A pet owner who wants to establish a positive relationship with the pet is focused on housetraining. This approach shows the puppy how to live comfortably in your environment.

Forget the old school methods that teach you to start paper training and swatting a puppy the first day it’s home. Whether you bring home a puppy or an adult dog, you’re taking this animal from the environment it knows and going into an environment that’s totally foreign to it.

The dog has no idea what room is okay to go in and what room is off limits. A shelter dog is usually so excited to have space to walk and freedom to roam that your home is a virtual theme park of wonders. Add to that the presence of maybe other pets or children, and the excitement is almost too much to contain.

Housetraining takes a lot of your time. You need to work with your dog in every room. If the living room is off limits and you notice him sniffing for a place ready to relieve himself, then gently pick him up, say “No” firmly without shouting, and then place him on the floor of the kitchen or the place you want him to go or take him outside.

You may have to do that dozens of times until he gets the message, but it will happen. Make sure you balance the “no-no” spaces with the “yes” spaces. Once your dog has learned the essential house rules for potty zones, you still have to allow for the unexpected.

A dog, particularly a puppy, who is alone and frightened by a thunderstorm or other loud noises may have a potty accident. Or there may be a medical issue that requires you attention. Like humans, dogs can get urinary tract infections that make bladder control difficult.

A sudden change in potty training levels can be a cue that your dog’s behavior change is from a physical problem, not defiance. As your dog ages, bladder control will fail just as it does for many aging humans.

Any drastic change in routine can get your dog off his potty training path to success, too. Visiting relatives, home remodeling or emotional distress are all factors that can cause a dog to be lax in housetraining.

Think about what’s going on around the home as possible reasons why the dog is feeling confused about what’s happening around him and responding erratically. Restore order as you patiently go back and reinforce housetraining in positive ways.

Have you ever thought of natural remedies for your pets? Just like human medicine, we want to minimize the side effects while they recover from an illness. One way to do that is to opt for natural remedies and here are some guidelines but please check with your veterinarian first before using any non-medicinal treatment.

* Skunk smell – Pets like cats and dogs can get into a lot of trouble while exploring in the woods. When your pet gets sprayed they will be stinky. One way to help get rid of the smell is vinegar and water. Combine vinegar and water together and rub it all over your pet. Continue to pour it on and rub in until the odor is gone. Wear gloves to keep the skunk smell off of you.

* Ear mites – It is important to keep the ears of pets clean. If you do notice mites in their ears, apply a mixture of Vitamin E and almond oil. Squeeze a few drops into their ear and massage it in. To be sure you have covered the entire ear, use cotton tip applicators to clean all areas of mites. Applying mineral oil can help keep mites away.

* Bad breath – Yes, pets can have bad breath. To stop the odor, brush their teeth. Also feed them carrots (if carrots are part of their normal diet) to help clean their teeth.

* Itchy skin – Stop the urge to itch by giving your pet a bath in cool water. Add Epsom salt to the water to further help your pet find relief.

* Insect bites – Pet skin can become red and inflamed from insect bites. To stop them from scratching, make a paste of baking soda and water. Apply that to the affected areas.

* Urinary infection – Any infection like this is caused by bacteria. One way to kill off some of the bacteria is to increase the acidity in the urine. Feed your pet citrus juices like orange and cranberry (good for humans too) to help reduce their discomfort and the infection.

* Car sickness – Don’t feed your pet before travel. Food in the belly and motion can make them sick. Also, try putting your pet in the front seat. When they can see where they are going they can orient better. Crack the window to let in fresh air as well.

After using your remedies, always visit the veterinarian for follow up to see if your methods are working.

Medications have instructions regarding when to give them to your pet, but vitamins sometimes don’t offer much guidance. Here are some tips on how to give vitamins and supplements to your pets.

Read the Label
The label will have a lot of information about when and how to give the vitamins to your pet. Some will say with food, some will say between meals, and some will say how many hours before or after meals to give it to them. Make sure they have fresh water too.

Ditch the People Food
Some people like to put pills in hot dogs for their dog. The problem is, hot dogs are highly processed with lots of salt and other ingredients that your dog does not need. In fact, your dog only needs to eat the food that is designed for them each day and no more.
Therefore, if you want to give your dog their vitamin with their food, put it inside real dog food. You can use liquid vitamins to mix it undetected in their meal.

Get the Right Form
Every animal is different. Some will respond to vitamins and some will not. But one thing is for sure; each animal has a preference of how they will ingest the vitamins and supplements you want to give them.
There are supplements in chew (treats), pill, and liquid form. You may have to try more than one type before you find a way to get your pet to take it. It depends on how picky your animal is.

It Depends
If your pet has a very easily disturbed digestive tract, then giving your pet vitamins with food will usually help, but in some cases, it can cause more problems so you’ll need to test it. If the supplement label says with food or water, try both to find out which works best for your pet. If it says absolutely with food, then you’ll need to follow the label and serve it with their meal.
It’s important to discuss with your vet which vitamins you’ll be giving your pet so that you can discuss how and when the vitamin will be given. In fact, as a safe guide, always consult your vet before giving your pet any supplement.

Dogs are active by nature, but if they live with a couch potato then this mismatch can make for a strained relationship and a really miserable dog.

When bringing a dog into your home consider the activity level that the dog needs to be physically and emotionally healthy. Some people actually get a pet thinking if they only had a dog to walk then they would get the exercise they need.

These are the same people who are not likely to change their habits enough to make a good fit between them and active dogs. It’s the dog that will suffer as the lazy owner slacks off on walking and the dog fails to get what he needs in regular outdoor time.

The amount of daily activity that a dog needs is not the same as exercise. Every dog needs time each day to walk, run, jump and unwind. That may come with a walk on the leash to the park or around the block.

A dog that lives in a home with a fenced yard can enjoy free running and playing without the constraints of a leash. Older adults who have their own problems with mobility limitations need to choose a dog that requires less daily activity.

People who enjoy spending time outdoors for recreation or to unwind after a day at work are ideal owners for active dogs. Both owner and dog look forward to the end of the day, when they can play chase in the park or go for a run together.

Larger dogs tend to be more physically active. Among those are dogs whose heritage includes being working or hunting dogs. They have an innate desire to be busy and work off energy. Dogs such as Irish Setter, Doberman, Beagle, German Shepherd and Greyhound are built for movement and agility, so they naturally desire daily exercise.

Size can fool you as the extremely large dogs like the St. Bernard and Bull Mastiff, who can easily outweigh their owners, are low activity dogs. Small dogs like Poodles, Pekinese and Chihuahuas can live in small spaces and forego the daily long walk in the park, but their high-strung temperaments cause them to be high in activity around the house.

There may seem like so much to know before adopting a dog – and there is but by taking time to make a profile of the dog that best fits your living space, personality, and personal activity level, you’ll have a better match for a lasting relationship.