Happy Holidays!

In this issue:

1. News Bites

  • Little Big Cat is “best cat website” of 2011!
  • Israel bans cat declawing
  • Pet theft on the rise
  • FDA looking for Salmonella
  • Jack the JFK Cat is gone
  • Texas court rules in favor of sentimental value for dog
  • Pet food causing feline dental disease?
  • Do animals know right from wrong?
  • Miami area cats poisoned by antifreeze
  • November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month
  • Holiday Reminders

2. Dr. Jean Takes on More Absurd Experts!

a. “Is Natural Pet Food Better?”

b. “I Found the Best Food to Feed Your Dog or Cat!”

3. What is Man Without the Beasts? 7 Gifts From Our Animals Hearts To Ours, by Guest Author Val Heart

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1. News Bites

Little Big Cat is “best cat website” of 2011! Little Big Cat is the big winner of the coveted 2011 Muse Medallion award for “best website” from the Cat Writers Association. We couldn’t be prouder!

Israel bans cat declawing. On November 28, 2011, Israel’s legislative body, the Knesset, formally banned cat declawing throughout the entire nation. There was no opposition to the proposed ban. Declawing a cat for non-medical reasons is now punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine up to 75,000 shekels.

Pet theft on the rise. According to the American Kennel Club, pet theft is up 32% in 2011. Ines de Pablo, founder of the pet safety company Wag’N Enterprises, says, “This is a multimillion-dollar industry…a quick and easy way to make a buck.” De Pablo states that thefts are being reported from shelters and adoption events–a first. Whether sold to a laboratory for vivisection and experimentation, or as bait to train fighting dogs, cats and dogs of all breeds and ages are easy money for opportunistic thieves. Click here to read the full article, including tips for keeping your pet safe from thieves.

FDA looking for Salmonella. (We don’t expect them to have any trouble finding it!) In October, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun a year-long nationwide effort to test pet food for Salmonella contamination. Not that FDA cares about your pet consuming Salmonella–after all, more than 30% of dogs and nearly 20% of cats are already carriers–but so many people have become ill from handling pet food and treats that the government is feeling the pressure. Dry dog and cat food are commonly contaminated with any number of disease-causing bacteria, including Campylobacter, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella, because they are sprayed with contaminated slaughterhouse wastes to make them taste appealing to cats and dogs. The FDA is collecting samples of dry pet food, pet treats and diet supplements from distributors, wholesalers and retailers like PetSmart, PetCo, WalMart, Costco, Sam’s Club and Target. Hmm. Does that tell you anything about the expected quality of pet products from those sources? Click here to read the article in the International Business Times.

Jack the Cat is gone. Jack, the cat who was lost at JFK airport by American Airlines and not found for 2 months, was euthanized November 6, due to his severely debilitated condition and multiple injuries. The airline did little or nothing to find the cat, even hindered others’ efforts to find him, and otherwise made a bad situation worse. Shame on them! Click here to read the report on Jack’s Facebook Page. Click here to read Dr. Jean’s article on air travel with pets.

Texas court rules in favor of sentimental value for dog. When their 8-year old Lab mix, Avery, was accidentally euthanized at a local shelter, the Medlen family sued, asking for “sentimental” value–a concept that has been repeatedly rejected by courts around the U.S. But a panel of the 2nd Second Court of Appeals ruled for the Medlens this month, saying the “special value” of pets should be preserved. According to the Medlens’ attorney, “This is a huge deal for pet owners. …[Until now] no matter how attached they were to their pet, and no matter how devastated they were by its death, … they [had been] only entitled to the ‘market value’ of the animal.”  Naturally, veterinarians are up in arms, because, while they depend on the human-animal bond to make their living, actually acknowledging the true value of a pet will raise their malpractice insurance premiums. Click here to read the full article in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The decision is being appealed, and amicus briefs are being filed by the American Veterinary Medical Association and others, trying to get it reversed.

Pet food causing feline dental disease? An article in DVM Newsmagazine cites research showing that cats that develop painful “neck lesions” (dental cavities at the gum line; also called Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions, or FORLs) have significantly higher blood levels of Vitamin D than cats who don’t. Researchers also found that 41% of canned foods contained up to 30 times the feline requirement of Vitamin D. Huh? Well, it’s cheaper for pet food makers to add large excesses of many nutrients–including iodine and some minerals–to ensure that (once processing has destroyed so many nutrients) there are enough left to meet requirements. Too bad for cats that excess iodine, Vitamin D, iron, and other nutrients are toxic when fed in excess! Hard to see how reasonable homemade diets could go that far wrong!

Do animals know right from wrong? This intriguing topic was recently sparked by the YouTube video of Tank the English Mastiff, who certainly looks guilty about having gotten into the trash. Dr. Marc Bekoff –professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-founder (with primatologist Jane Goodall) of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals–argues that the same brain mechanisms that control moral behavior in humans also control such behavior in other mammals. (Click here to read the article at LiveScience.com) However, whether animals like Tank know that what they are about to do is wrong is a pretty thin line. In most such cases, the immediate rewards (yum!) of any behavior are more likely the overriding considerations. This also makes punishment an utterly wrong response! For more on animal “crime and punishment,” check our article on Squirt Bottles, Punishment, and Cat Behavior.

Miami area cats poisoned with antifreeze. More than a dozen cats have died from ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning in the Southwest Miami-Dade area. It is unknown whether the poisoning is accidental or deliberate. Most of the cats were strays, or had been abandoned by their “owners” after Hurricane Andrew, and were being cared for by a neighborhood resident. To have so many cats die suddenly at the same time certainly suggests deliberate poisoning, but the police have no leads. (Click here to read the full article at CBS Miami.) Several states require antifreeze manufacturers to add a bittering agent to discourage pets from drinking the fluid. However, just the amount of antifreeze a cat would pick up on her paws walking through a puddle of antifreeze, and would subsequently ingest while cleaning herself, is enough to kill. I know we keep saying it, but they keep mounting up: more good reasons to keep *your* cat indoors!

November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month. In honor of this important occasion, Dr. Jean has updated her ebook, Feline Diabetes: The Comprehensive Guide from a Holistic Veterinarian, and better still, it’s on sale through the end of the year for just $7.97! Get your copy in our Bookstore, or for Amazon Kindle.

Holiday Reminders: Please take extra-good care of your pets during the hazardous holiday season, and please, never give a pet as a gift!

2. Dr. Jean Takes on More Absurd Experts!

Pet food. The truth about it is often hard to come by, especially because all the money and power are concentrated on making you, the consumer, believe that pet food companies know exactly how to make perfect food and are all about your pet’s health and well-being. Of course, we know that corporations are, by law, responsible first and only to their stockholders, and profit is their only goal. Pet food is just a means to this end.

However, there are a few folks out there trying to educate people about the nutrition pets really need to be healthy. Some do a lot of research and are careful to never make claims without fact-checking first. And….some don’t! Read more….

Dr. Jean’s most popular e-books are on sale through the end of the year! Get “What Cats Should Eat: How to Keep Your Cat Healthy with Good Food,” and “Feline Diabetes: The Comprehensive Guide from a Holistic Veterinarian,” at special discount prices! Great for holiday gifts! These and more are available in our Bookstore and for Kindle on Amazon.com.

3. What is Man Without the Beasts? 7 Gifts From Our Animals Hearts To Ours


Presented by Little Big Cat in honor of the holiday season, from Guest Author Val Heart

Can you imagine life without animals in it?


No furry or feathered face waiting to greet you when you get home?


No one to share affection, comfort and the kind of connection that only animals do so well…


No animal games to make you laugh, or excuses to get out and get some exercise.No soft fur to stroke, or beautiful feathers to admire. No inquisitive face listening attentively to your problems without judging you.


No unconditional love regardless of how bad a hair day it is or what you’re wearing.


Don’t forget to notice all the many gifts your animals give you every day.


“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.” – Chief Seattle


They help you in every way they know how. And sharing life experiences with animals creates a better quality of life.


To improve your relationships with your animals, you can start by counting the many blessings they share every day.


Consider these 7 remarkable gifts:.


1. Help with Illness: Do you get sick frequently? Studies have shown that pet owners make fewer doctor visits, have shorter hospital stays and take less medication than folks who don’t have pets! Pet interaction also helps reduce the pain of arthritis, minimize the side effects of cancer, and even helps with Alzheimer’s Disease!!


2. Help with Heart Attacks: Want to get well faster after a heart attack? Dog owners are 8 times more likely to survive for more than 1 year after a heart attack than those who don’t have dogs! Increased survival rates are based on owning a dog, not on any other physical, psychological or social factor!


3. Help with Blood Pressure: Want to bring your blood pressure down? Before taking another pill, reach for your pet. Interacting with animals helps lower and balance blood pressure problems. Petting an animal is soothing to mind, body and spirit. We become more focused on loving and being loved which increases mood improving brain chemicals like serotonin and oxytocin.


4. Help with Weight Problems: Are you constantly on a diet? When you get hungry, play a game or going for a walk with your pet. Dozens of studies link higher levels of oxytocin with lower blood pressure, lower cortisol (the hormone associated with stress and weight gain), more positive social interactions, increased pain tolerance and faster wound healing.


5. Help to Live Longer: Animals can even help lengthen life, and they certainly add to the quality of that life. In a study of nursing homes, when pets were included as part of the program, mortality rates were 25% lower than at facilities that didn’t include pets!


6. Help with Self Improvement: Do you need a master teacher, love guru or role model? Your animal companions know a lot about health and healing, loving and living life well. They are not bashful about asking directly for what they need or want. They take naps when they’re tired. And they know how to discharge energy through exercise and play.


7. Help with Fatigue and Depression: Are you isolated or feeling depressed, fatigued or sad? Studies have shown that the more true friends and companions we spend quality time with, the less ill, depressed and fatigued we are. If you have a minimum of 10 in your circle of friends, then statistics show that you won’t get fatigued or depressed nearly as much.


Notice how much you care for and love your pet. Love and care for yourself at least that much.


Also notice if you’re in some way neglecting your animals. This is also instructive and shows you ways you may be neglecting or mistreating yourself…


Many ancient tribal societies believed that animals could carry the illnesses of their owners. Today animal health care providers see a significant correlation between stressed owners and their sick animals.


In order to stay healthy personally and within our community, we must stay connected with the animals, treating them with respect and honor, listening and learning from them on many levels.


We rediscover our connection with the planet and our own Divine nature when we connect with other beings.


Other Beings in our lives sometimes serve us by reflecting back to us the lessons we are here to learn. Many companion animals choose to spend their lives attempting to break through our barriers, help us heal and become reconnected with all Life.


They touch our hearts, make us better humans, and for that we are forever grateful.



Val Heart is called The Real Dr Doolittle™, and teaches animal lovers how to connect and communicate from the heart. She specializes in resolving behavior, training, performance, health problems, euthanasia decisions. Free AnimalTalk QuickStart Course (value $79), The Real Dr Doolittle™ (podcast) Show now on iTunes! (210) 863-7928, email: contactval@valheart.com visit http://www.valheart.com