Yearly Archives: 2015

Mason, here!  Talking to you about a very important topic with regard to felines who live outdoors.  We all know the problem with feral cat colonies and cats who live outdoors: a lot of them aren’t spayed/neutered and their population keeps increasing!!  Trap-Neuter-Return (called TNR) is a humane and effective approach for cats living outside.  Scientific studies show that Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of feral cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies over time.
Trap-Neuter-Return is exactly what it sounds like: Cats are humanely trapped and taken to a veterinarian to be neutered and vaccinated, and to have their ears tipped to indicate that they have been neutered and returned to the outdoors.  This practice stops the breeding cycle of cats and improves their lives.   Since most feral cats are not adoptable, they have been trapped by animal control services and subsequently killed in pounds and shelters due to their wild nature and lack of domesticity.  Trap-Neuter-Return helps prevent the need for euthanizing these felines while allowing them to live without adding to the problem of overpopulation.

Our own Dr. Snellgrove and Vet Assistant Elizabeth Board participate in TNR clinics and love talking about their experiences in aiding outdoor felines!

Here, Elizabeth is helping another volunteer to prep cats for surgery. This involves removing hair from the surgical site and scrubbing it clean.

Here, Dr. Snellgrove (in the red top) and another doctor perform neuter and spay surgeries while technicians monitor the patients and stand by to give additional anesthesia if necessary.  The doctors have to work very fast because the felines are anesthetized with injectable medications versus gas anesthesia, to prevent any medical complications.

Don’t worry, this cat is just asleep!  Each cat has an ID number and paperwork that accompanies it, so there’s no worry of getting the animals mixed up.  You may also see animals laid out on trays in preparation for the surgeries – this helps cut down on time that the cats have to stay asleep so the neuter and spay surgeries can be done quickly and efficiently.  

his kitten just had her ear tipped in surgery prep (she’s asleep, too!).  The clamp will stay on through her surgery and be removed in recovery.  Chances are if you see a cat with a clipped ear, it was once an outside cat who has gone through a TNR program and was adopted!

With Trap-Neuter-Return, veterinarian professionals can stabilize the feline outdoor population humanely, improve the cats’ lives, save taxpayer dollars, address neighbors’ concerns, and help the entire community reach a solution that benefits everyone!  If you are interested in helping with Trap-Neuter-Return programs, you can contact Alley Cat Allies or Metro Ferals for more information.  Here at Great Falls Animal Hospital, we work with 4Paws Rescue Team directly to care for their cats and spay and neuter them!

I hope that sheds some light on a very interesting and life-saving practice that we believe in wholeheartedly!  Well, kittens, that’s all for now.  I’m going to snuggle up here and wait for Christmas!

Til next meow,

Hello, All!  Mason here.  I wanted to share a very special project that one of our employees worked on this summer!  Our technician Denise went to Guatemala with her church group to help build brick stoves for one of the villages there. 

Did you know that exposure to cooking fire smoke kills approximately two million people worldwide every year?  In Guatemala, as in many other countries, breathing in the toxic fumes while preparing food puts Mayan women and children at risk for respiratory illnesses, blindness, and burns on a daily basis.  A majority of Guatemalan families use wood as their main fuel source, and many of Guatemala’s forests are lost annually, mainly due to the need for fuel for cooking fires.  Precious family resources and a great deal of time are spent on gathering or purchasing wood.  The cooking fires themselves are open air and not contained, so the smoke fills their huts and causes a buildup of smoke, ash, and noxious fumes with nowhere to go.

Building stoves helps alleviate these problems by building vented stoves that are adapted to Mayan cooking methods.  These stoves are made of cement blocks held together by mortar, and feature a chimney pipe or smoke duct that takes the poisonous smoke out of the house.  The design of the stove reduces wood consumption and pollution greatly.  It is an ‘improved cooking stove’ and while most of us would find it rudimentary, Guatemalans are so very grateful for the vast improvement to their health and lifestyle.  They can now avoid spending the better part of the day gathering wood and cooking, and no longer have to worry about getting burned or developing respiratory problems!

Along with building stoves, the group also helps paint walls and brings materials for education that drastically improves the villagers’ every day lives.  With more time in the day available, education is very important and more attainable.

The villagers are so very grateful for the improvements to their lives.  Denise says the Guatemalans gave lots of beautiful flowers to the group as thanks for their hard work, and you could see the gratitude in their eyes and smiles!  What a wonderful project to be a part of!!

Well, kids, that’s all for now.  This is Mason, signing out until next time!

Til next meow,

Mason, here – It has been a while!  I was trying to hibernate through the fall and winter, but these pesky humans who work at the hospital won’t let me sleep; they are continually making noise and looking at other cats and dogs (and let me tell you, I’m not very keen on sharing my space).  So, since it’s now the New Year and my beauty sleep is on forced hiatus, I figured I would share more of my knowledge with you!

Let’s talk about winter, or more specifically, being shut indoors all winter.  It can be very, VERY boring to stay inside all the time with nothing new to do (which is why I was trying to hibernate).  But there are ways you can keep you indoor-bound companions in tip-top shape and their minds sharp as a tack.  I learned long ago that mental exercise can be satisfying to bored, bounce-off-the-wall pups and cats.  Most breeds of dogs were developed to work (like Corgis, Sheepdogs, German Shepherds, and Terriers to name a few), and many dogs today are not expected to fulfill that inherent trait. Giving dogs a job to do is good for them, and they like it! (much unlike cats such as I, who prefer to sleep a lot and keep to themselves).

There are many tricks that you can teach your dog to help them work for their treats, and it also reinforces discipline and good behavior.  I know someone who taught their dog to balance a biscuit on his nose, then flip it into the air and catch it on command. Now that’s a heck of a parlor trick!  He also knows to bark on request, shake hands and even find his plush toys and put them away.  Try starting with a simple game and build on it.  If your dog likes to retrieve, begin with simple in-sight fetching and then slowly make things harder.  Add a “stay.”  Then “hide” the toy in an easy-to-find spot, making the game a little trickier as your pet learns you want him to “find,” instead of merely “fetch.”

Every trick, whether useful or just plain fun, was born on a gloomy winter afternoon.  You can also use search games, where you can hide a toy and ask your dog to find it.  For even more mental stimulation, see if your dog can find the right object by name – Kong, frog, football, and so on.  Such games are to dogs what the daily crossword puzzle or the latest computer game is to us.  Dogs have to think, they have to learn, and when they get it right, their sense of accomplishment and joy is palpable and contagious.  And as fun as these games are, with plenty of praise for a job done right, they also reinforce a dog’s place in the pack structure we humans call “family.”

If bored and lonely, many animals will develop any number of bad habits. They dig holes in the yard or carpeting, bark or cry endlessly day and night, and become chewers of  furniture, shoes, or pillows.  And sometimes, without the socialization all pets need, they become aggressive and moody, ready to bite or snarl at anyone who comes into their territory.  So it’s important to keep up with your pet’s personal growth and socialization in winter time!  Just don’t let them sit around doing nothing.  You’ll all enjoy a bitter winter day better if you find your dogs something useful to do! 

 Now, this isn’t just a matter for the dogs in your life – birds need exercise, too!  From the smallest budgie to the largest macaw, parrots are highly intelligent, active birds who need to stay mentally and physically active to stay healthy.  Anything a parrot can dig into, from a toy to a challenging food that requires effort to eat, is good.  One toy in particular is good for burning the calories consumed by a sedentary bird: the coiled-rope perch.  This springy invention requires effort to stay on, and some birds become so enamored of it that they’ll spend hours bouncing up and down.  Human interaction is a huge part of animals companions’ well being and growth, so take those birds out and let them stretch their wings, meet your visitors, watch some TV with you, or run little obstacle courses in the open!

Another thing to remember with birds is that many of the birds kept as pets are of species most comfortable in places that we would find intolerable: the steamy, hot rain forests of Central and South America.  The dry air of human homes – especially in winter – is thought to be a contributing factor to feather-picking, a frustrating syndrome that can drive birds to pluck themselves bald.  Many birds enjoy being dampened by water from a spray bottle or being offered the chance to take a bath in a shallow dish of clean water.  How often should birds get a bath? There are no firm guidelines, but daily would be fine with many of our feathery friends.

No stimulation is “technically” necessary, though we do like a fun game of “Catch the Laser Dot” or playing with feathered devices and whatnot to keep ourselves looking svelt.

So, remember, while the winter is woeful with all its bitter cold and nasty weather, you can still enjoy the indoors with your pets and give them something fun to do to keep them healthy and social!  After all, your pal Mason here would never steer your wrong…right?

Til next meow,