TIME animals

Let’s All Stare at These Adorable Purritos

purritos-kittens
Lori Fusaro—Best Friends Animal Society

It's for a good cause

There aren’t many things on this planet we value more than a really, really good burrito.

In fact, there might be only one thing better than cheese/carbs, and that is the fluffier, inedible feline cousin of the burrito: the purrito. No cheese, no carbs – just bundled-up kittens who want to cuddle with you and love you forever and ever.

And this is an especially delightful purrito: Best Friends Animal Society snapped these babies to raise awareness for all the kittens who need homes. “Sometimes you have to go cute to get serious information out there,” says Holly Sizemore, director of national programs, community programs and services.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME animals

This Rescue Cat Officially Has the Loudest Purr In the World

Merlin the cat can out-purr a dishwasher

Can you speak up? I can’t hear you – the cat is purring.

This is a common predicament for Tracy Westwood, the owner of Merlin the cat, who has just been awarded the title of World’s Loudest Purr, reports Guinness World Records.

“Occasionally when he’s really loud I have to repeat myself. When you’re watching films you have to turn the telly up or put him out of the room, if he’s eating he’ll purr loudly. I can hear him when I’m drying my hair,” Westwood told Guinness.

The thirteen-year-old rescue kitty from Devon, England, has a purr that measures 67.8 decibels. This impressive number beats out the previous record of 67.68 decibels set by Smokey the cat in 2011.

With these numbers, Merlin is as loud as an air conditioner and can almost out-purr a dishwasher.

Westwood always knew her pet was louder than others, but didn’t know Merlin was capable of breaking records until learning about Smokey several years ago.

While Merlin’s purr is always loud, it gets even more boisterous when food is placed in front of him, so when Guinness came to record Merlin’s sounds, Westwood made sure to have a bowl of tuna nearby.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

MONEY Pets

5 Ways Fido Is Costing You a Fortune

golden retriever chewing shoe
Vikki Hart—Getty Images

You can't put a price on love -- but you can budget for unexpected pet expenses

A few months ago, I brought home a ridiculously energetic black lab mix from the local humane society. While the other dogs quietly waited by the desk to have their adoption papers stamped, my new doggie friend strained at the end of his leash, barking and howling and jumping as my partner dragged him to the car.

That’s the dog you picked?” an older man asked me with incredulity, as his dog sat stock still, panting at his side. What I’m getting at is that my dog — I call him Peanut — is quite a handful. But the joke’s on you if you pick out a pet and think being its owner will be a piece of cake. If you love your pet, you will rush him to the vet in the middle of the afternoon when he gets a swollen paw. You will make him special food when he has a tummy ache. You will spend countless hours walking and entertaining him. And, when he steals a cinnamon bun off the counter and then — out of fear of being caught — loses all control of his bowels and leaves a smelly mess in the basement, you will clean it up without being too mad. And, finally, when he needs something, you will pay for it with lots and lots of your hard-earned money.

Of course, when you bring a pet home, you probably assume that you’ll have to buy it a few basic things. Food. Some toys. Treats. A bed. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent more than $55 billion on their pets in 2013. But for many pet owners, that’s just the beginning. Here are a few unexpected expenses to budget for.

1. Stuff You Said You’d Never Buy

I always assumed I’d be one of those pet owners with a stiff upper lip. I wouldn’t be spoiling my dog. Oh no. Not me. But suddenly, when you love your pet, you’ll probably find yourself rationalizing all kinds of (highly overpriced) pet paraphernalia. If you’re able to steer clear of the temptation while you’re picking up your standard pet food, more power to you. The line at my local pet shop (and my own experience) suggests that most people cave.

2. Less Dirty/Damaged Versions of Things You Already Have

Whether you have a cat or a goldfish, pets have a way of making a terrible mess of your house. So far, Peanut has destroyed: one running shoe, a picnic chair, a garden hose, a sprinkler, a dog bed, and a Persian rug. And, while replacing those things posed a significant expense, I actually think I’ve gotten off quite lucky. I mean, have you ever seen dog shaming? Or cat shaming? When you get a pet, expect to replace a few things. It’s a given.

3. Vet Bills — Big Ones

Perhaps before you had a pet, you thought you had limits. You thought if your pet required medical care to the tune of thousands of dollars, you’d decline. After all, it’s just a pet, right? And then you met Mr. Fluffypants, the pet extraordinaire who kept you company when you were sick. Or made you laugh. Or helped you through tough times. Chances are when it’s your pet, you’ll be willing to shell out just about anything to save its life. If that means emergency care, medication, or surgery, that can get very, very expensive. According to the American Pet Products Association, surgical vet visits cost dog owners $621 and cat owners $382 on average in 2013. If you have an accident-prone pet or are really worried about unexpected pet expenses, consider getting pet insurance.

4. Vacation Costs

While a winter vacation in Hawaii might be really relaxing for you, most pets don’t travel especially well. Airline travel is expensive for pets and can be very traumatizing and stressful. Plus, many hotels prefer that you leave your fluffy family members at home. When you get a pet, consider who will take care of it when you’re away — and how much that’ll cost you.

5. Your Time and Energy

If you have never owned a pet, you will drastically underestimate the amount of time caring for it will take out of your day. No matter what kind of pet you have, it’ll need some combination of exercise, training, entertainment, care, and clean-up. If you have a dog, you will (or should) invest plenty of time in working on obedience. (Otherwise, you’ll spend lots more time chasing after your dog and posting photos of half-eaten couches on dog-shaming sites.) And, just when you think you have things under control, your adorable fluffy will remind you just who exactly is in charge.

You can reduce some of the potential expenses you might incur by ensuring that your pet is vaccinated, gets all the required preventative care, and is well cared for on a daily basis. But no matter how healthy your pet appears to be, you should always be prepared for the unexpected. Animals are full of surprises. Fortunately, many of them are the kind that make your day, rather than empty your bank account.

More from Wise Bread:

TIME Healthcare

What You Should Know About Medical Marijuana for Pets

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Getty Images

Be sure to consult your veterinarian first

Now that 23 states have given medical marijuana the green light (with even recreational use now allowed in another four states and Washington D.C.), growing weed has become a growing business. The newest frontier: getting Fido and Fluffy on board with the cannabis revolution.

Relax. We’re not talking about rolling doobies with your dog, or seeing “pretty colors” with your cat. Nope, these are cannabis-containing edible treats and capsules that are meant for sick or aging pets.

“The cannabis plant has many compounds in it,” Matthew J. Cote, brand manager at Auntie Dolores, a San Francisco Bay Area-based edibles manufacturer, told ABC News. Auntie Dolores launched its pet line Treatibles last year. “Most people grow cannabis for the euphoric experience of THC. But they’ve been overlooking cannabidiol—commonly known as CBD—which is non-psychoactive,” he said.

CBD, in fact, does not produce a high, and it’s true that it’s been studied as a potential treatment for epileptic seizures and pain relief for cancer patients.

So, as Cote explained to ABC News, the theory is that since aging canines share a lot of the same health problems as humans, there must be a market for pot-laced dog “medicine.” Sold online ($22 per bag of 40 treats, treatibles.com), Treatibles contain 40 milligrams of CBD per treat and makers advise giving one per 20 pounds of your pet’s weight.

“What we’ve seen is that some of these dogs respond very rapidly,” Cote told ABC News. “One woman from Fort Bragg was ready to put down her dog due to how sick and in pain he was, but the day before he was scheduled to go under, she administered our treats and just like that the dog was up, walking around, and acting normally again.”

Canna Companion, another pot-for-pets proprietor based in Sultan, Washington, also boasts of amazing results for customers. One such testimonial posted on their website reads: “It seems as though [Canna Companion] is the best kept secret in the animal world for pain management and anxiety issues. I originally ordered it for my cat Robbie for anxiety/inflamed bladder issues and it works! Robbie has had issues for the past year or so, and now they are all but gone.”

High (ahem) praise, indeed.

Even so, the American Veterinary Medical Association hasn’t taken an official stance, and even in states where marijuana is legal, veterinarians are not allowed to prescribe cannabis products to their patients. (Though that may change: In Nevada, where medical use for humans is legal, the legislature is currently debating a bill that would allow vets to prescribe it to pets.)

Producers of these treats and capsules also have to be careful about any claims they make about their products. According to ABC News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent Canna Companion’s co-owner (and a veterinarian) Sarah Brandon a notice, stating that the capsules were an “unapproved new animal drug and your marketing of it violates the [Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic] Act.”

That kind of cautionary approach makes sense, say some experts, who point out that since these products aren’t regulated by the FDA, there’s no real way of knowing what you’re getting—or what the potential side effects might be. Says Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, in an interview with Health: “These products show potential, but there’s not a lot of research at this point. No one is even sure what the correct therapeutic dosage is. For example, in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section on one of the websites, a customer asks, ‘How much should I give my pet?’ And they answer—I’m paraphrasing here: ‘Whatever you think would help.’ Well, that’s extremely vague.”

Not to mention, potentially dangerous: A 2012 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care found that the number of dogs treated for marijuana overdoses at two Colorado veterinary hospitals quadrupled in five years following the legalization of medical marijuana in the state.

Sometimes it’s a case of owners deliberately administering cannabis products (hash-laced brownies, for example) to their pets, experts note. Other times, ingestion happens by accident—say, animals inhaling second-hand pot smoke or getting into their owner’s unattended stash. Wismer, who hasn’t heard of any problems with Treatibles or Canna Companion specifically, says she has fielded more than a few panicked calls at poison control about accidental exposures to pot in general—with sometimes scary results.

“You would think they’d become sedated and wobbly, but almost a quarter of them become quite agitated,” says Wismer. “They’re trying to pace. They’re panting. You reach out to pet them and they jerk their heads away.” In fact, Wismer adds, dogs that ingest large amounts of THC sometimes need to be put on fluids and have their heart rate monitored. Scary, right? (Although the commercial dog treats contain little or no THC, according the manufacturers.)

The bottom line here: You probably shouldn’t feed your pet cannabis—in any form—without talking to your vet.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

More from Health.com:

TIME animals

Sprinkles the 33-Pound Cat Is Looking to Slim Down

Sprinkles the cat is pictured at The Crooked Tail in Sea Isle City, N.J. on April 23, 2015.
Michael Ein—AP Sprinkles the cat is pictured at The Crooked Tail in Sea Isle City, N.J. on April 23, 2015.

"Whatever position she's in, she's stuck. She can barely move"

Sprinkles may have had too many kitty cupcakes in her life.

The people taking care of this sweet 33-lb. cat aren’t sure how she got so big, but they are looking to help her slim down, according to PressofAtlanticCity.com.

Sprinkles was discovered in a foreclosed home with ear mites, a flea infestation and an infection. She is now under the loving care of S.O.S. Sea Isle City Cats in New Jersey and is feeling better, but she still has some hurdles to overcome.

“Whatever position she’s in, she’s stuck. She can barely move,” said Stacy Jones Olandt, a volunteer at S.O.S. Sea Isle City Cats.

“We’ve seen fat cats at 20 to 25 lbs., but this is just obscene. Cats, by and large, don’t overfeed themselves. This is similar to a 600- or 700-lb. human that should weigh 180 lbs.,” she continued.

The 4-year-old kitty has trouble rolling over and grooming due to her extra weight, but the staff at shelter hope to get Sprinkles moving again soon. For the next several months, the kitty will be put on a closely monitored diet so she can lose weight at a healthy rate.

While there is a lot of Sprinkles to love, she also has a lot of love to give.

“She’s sweet, sweet, sweet,” said Olandt.

The staff at the shelter hope the feline’s affectionate personality will land her a forever home with an owner who’s willing to help the cat continue to slim down. If you’re interested in becoming that person, contact S.O.S. Sea Isle City Cats.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME animals

This Doggie Photo Booth Is the Cutest Thing You’ll See Today

But it also has a serious job: helping animals find homes

With the help of some professional quality photos, an adorable marketing strategy and social media, the Humane Society of Utah is making sure every dog has its day.

Instead of taking the usual mournful pictures of dogs in their pens, social-media coordinator Guinnevere Shuster, who took the photos, thought about how to make the animals more appealing to potential adopters.

“I was hoping that it would help change people’s options and perceptions of shelter dogs. Showing off the individual personalities of the dogs, instead of the sad ‘behind bars’ images that have become associated with shelter animals,” she tells TIME.

The pictures are posted on the organization’s Facebook and Instagram pages and have been wildly successful, but according to special-event manager Rachel Kelly, they have had a more important impact.

“Since we have started utilizing social media, we had a record-breaking number of adoptions, placing over 10,000 animals into homes in 2014. We are already set to break that record this year … We definitely attribute this photo campaign as a large part of this success, as they capture the unique personality of each animal,” she tells TIME.

Cats have predictably proved to be more difficult, but Shuster says she has an “arsenal of treats and bribes” to give it another go.

TIME Research

Your Pet Food Probably Isn’t Made of What You Think

Cat paws with kibble
Getty Images

Bad news for pets with refined palates

A new study published Tuesday night shows many pet food brands contain unspecified animal parts that aren’t listed on labels.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham and published in the journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, looked at 17 popular wet pet foods for both dogs and cats in U.K. supermarkets. They found that 14 of those brands contained cow, chicken and pig DNA—but none of the brands listed the animals explicitly on the label.

Of the seven products that displayed the phrase “with beef,” only two had more cow DNA in them than combined DNA of chicken and pigs.

That might come as a shock to consumers, the researchers say, but by leaving certain animal parts off the label, the products weren’t breaking any U.K. rules.

“Besides the customer not being able readily make an informed choice on the pet food product due to incomplete disclosure of ingredients (allowed by legislation), there could be the added complication of pet food allergies where a dog or cat could have adverse reactions to certain undeclared animal proteins in a product,” says study author Kin-Chow Chang, a professor of veterinary molecular medicine at University of Nottingham.

Since the items in the study were purchased in the U.K., the findings don’t necessarily apply directly to American pet food. But the pet foods studied are international brands, and by looking through regulation and labeling requirements for pet food by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), what consumers may think is a full beef product, for example, could also have meat from other animals and still be abiding by proper U.S. regulation.

The FDA does not require pet food to have pre-market approval, but says pet food should be safe to eat, have no harmful substances and be “truthfully” labeled.

According to an FDA spokesperson, the FDA has its own pet food regulation, but individual states can also enforce their own labeling guidelines and may have adopted regulations suggested by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Under these regulations, “meat” that comes from cows, pigs, sheep, goats or any combination of these species can simply be called “meat” on pet food labels. Meat from horses or other species of mammals must be labeled to indicate the species of animal from which the meat comes (e.g. horsemeat or kangaroo meat). The term “poultry” can mean any mixture of species like chicken or duck.

You can determine a lot about what might be in pet food by how it is labeled. For instance, if a pet food product is called “Beef for Dogs,” then 95% of the product must be beef. However, if a pet food product names an ingredient (like beef) in it’s title, but the ingredient makes up less than 95% of the product (but at least 25%), then the name of the product must have a qualifying descriptive term added to it, such as “Dinner,” “Platter,” “Entree,” “Nuggets” or “Formula.”

The FDA gives the following example: “In the example “Beef Dinner for Dogs” only one-quarter of the product must be beef, and beef would most likely be the third or fourth ingredient on the ingredient list.”

The researchers say their findings underline the need for better transparency among the pet food industry in order to help consumers make more informed choices about what they are buying for their pets.

TIME animals

Science Has Found Out What Music Your Cat Should Be Chilling to While Being Neutered

156347182
Getty Images

Unsurprisingly, AC/DC is not it

During surgical operations, cats aren’t huge fans of adult contemporary ballads or fist-pumping rocks anthems. In fact, research has found that felines much prefer the lush sound of classical music when going under the knife.

In an experiment detailed this week in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, veterinary clinicians at the University of Lisbon studied how 12 female pet cats responded to different genres of music, while undergoing neutering.

To gauge the animals’ responses, the clinicians recorded their respiratory rates and pupil diameters, which are an indication of their depth of anesthesia.

During the experiment, the cats were fitted with headphones and then exposed to two minutes of silence — as a control — before listening to portions of Barber’s “Adagio for Strings (Opus 11),” Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

“The results showed that the cats were in a more relaxed state (as determined by their lower values for respiratory rate and pupil diameter) under the influence of classical music, with the pop music producing intermediate values,” reports Science Daily.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, listening to AC/DC while being spayed induced “a more stressful situation.”

[Science Daily]

TIME animals

See Firefighters Resuscitate Unconscious Cats

Clackamas Fire District 1

After a blaze, they saved two cats with feline-fitted oxygen masks

These firefighters are rescuing cats—not from trees, but from smoke inhalation.

After extinguishing a blaze in Oregon City, Ore. on Monday, rescue workers discovered two unconscious cats on the second floor of the house, Clackamas Fire District 1 says in a press release.

The firefighters brought the cats outside and treated them with special pet resuscitation equipment—plastic, cone-shaped oxygen masks fitted to the animals’ size that funnel air to their lungs.

Both cats revived and were taken to the vet by the homeowner’s son.

The fire department carries its pet equipment on all calls, and stocks masks for cats and dogs, officials say. And this isn’t the first time the department’s machines have added to a feline’s nine lives: it’s the second time in two months that the equipment has helped revive cats.

TIME animals

Quiz: Is Your Dog Crazy?

Take this quiz and find out

A dog’s brain and your brain have very similar chemistry and many similar structures. It stands to reason they work in more or less the same way—and break down the same way too. More and more, behavioral veterinarians are diagnosing problems as diverse as depression, anger, dementia and post-traumatic stress disorder in dogs. As with humans, treatment involves behavioral therapy and sometimes even drugs. But first you have to know if a problem exists at all. Here are some of the symptoms veterinarians consider in making a diagnosis.

 

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