Archive for December, 2012

For all you dog lovers out there who know a cat lover, or if you ARE a cat-lover, today’s guest post is from one of my favorite pet article writers–Elissa Wolfson, author of 101 Cool Games for Cool Cats! I’ve gotten this book for many pet guardians who needed fresh, innovative ideas for playing with their animals! Elissa’s articles have won awards at the Cat Writer’s Association’s 2006, 2007, and 2009 conferences. Elissa lives in Ithaca, NY with her two cats, Stretch and Fuzzy, her husband Steve Kress, and daughter Liliana. –Hilary

Author Elissa Wolfson and Stretch

The act of playing is hard-wired into both dogs and cats alike. But these days, with pet owners working long hours, teenagers away at college, and kids off at soccer practice or the mall, many pets are left to their own devices for extended periods of time.  Pet behaviorists describe dogs or cats left alone in the house all day as “latchkey pets.”

What happens when animals can’t satisfy their innate need to play? Veterinarian Ilana Reisner says, “We don’t really have a way to measure depression in animals. But we do know that they sometimes behave in depressed ways.” Such behaviors may include lethargy, lack of grooming, excessive sleeping, loss or gain of appetite and weight, aggression, and destructive behavior.

The latter may be the beginning of a downward spiral, where a displeased human caretaker becomes even less likely to play with his or her pet, and the pet becomes even more bored and destructive as a result. Once the pet-caretaker bond begins to dissolve, the outcome is not likely to be a happy one.

Contrast this to a caretaker who provides “preventative stimulation”—an enriched environment and quality playtime each day. Can this be you? If you are willing, the rewards are great. Enlivening your pet’s life will result in a contented, healthier, and better behaved pet—and lower veterinary bills for you. Playing with your pet also provides exercise opportunities that keep your pet’s weight under control, and helps develop muscle tone, agility, and stamina. And regular play helps guard against your pet’s most dangerous enemy: boredom. As an additional perk, you get exercise too! But perhaps the greatest reward is the deep bond that will develop between you and your pet, and the enjoyment you’ll find in each others’ company.

So, if you suspect your pet may currently be lonely or under-stimulated, start putting a little zip into his or her life. Hide food treats around the house. Take your dog on a different route for a walk. Consider adopting another cat or dog for them to speak “pet” with. And be sure to spend some high-quality play time together every day. This will goes a long way toward providing our sensitive, intelligent companions with the stimulation and variety they need to be physically and mentally healthy. And where behavior problems already exist, enriching your pet’s environment is an important part of the solution.

Caring for your pet is good. But having an amazing interactive relationship is so much better. An abundance of affection, grooming, and daily play sessions will perk up your furry pals. They in turn will be there to cheer you up when you need it!


101 Cool Games for Cool Cats! makes a perfect holiday gift! Special $12 holiday rates (includes postage) for Fang Shui Canines fans! Contact Elissa ASAP to ensure delivery by Christmas. Visit Elissa’s website for ordering information.


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