National Pet Week – The Love and Commitment to a Pet is for a Lifetime

National Pet Week – the bond with a pet is a life-long commitment of love and responsibility.

May 7 -13 is National Pet Week and while it’s fun to reflect on all the joy our pets bring into our lives and we would all agree that every week should be pet week, it’s also a time to reflect on the seriousness of responsibility we have to our pets. It’s a lifetime commitment – from the happy to the sad, to the easy to the hard. National Pet week was created 35 years ago by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to help pet guardians manage that responsibility and this year they are highlighting a specific need each day of the week to remind us what every pet owner should consider to ensure that their pet lives the longest, healthiest life possible.

Sunday. Chose well, commit for life. When you decide to bring a pet into your life, make sure you do your homework. Select the pet that’s right for your living dynamic and if you already have pets, ease the introductions so that everyone can get along. I remember when we brought rescues Kizmet and Jazmine into our household – I committed to the adoptions (Kizmet in 2012 and Jazmine in 2014) because I felt they had the personalities to fit into a home with existing feline residents and I took my time letting everyone get to know one another (see my post here on how to keep the peace in a multi-cat household).

It starts with a safe room for the newcomer cat, away from the resident cats, and before you know it, you can ease a new cat into the family dynamic with very little problem at all (seen here are Kizmet and Jazmine).

Monday. Socialize now. New doesn’t have to be scary. Whether a new pet, or one that’s been with you a while, it’s important to prepare your pet to be comfortable with a variety of interactions with other animals, people, places and activities. For example, in my household, we like to have family drop by as much as we can. More times than not, that includes my oldest son, who typically brings his dog, Rick. In the beginning my feline gang wasn’t too thrilled with Rick’s company, but with positive association done through yummy treats, Rick now represents something good and isn’t a big deal at all!

See – no big deal at all. Rick is sitting on my lap while Rolz looks on, completely at ease. All it took was a few treats and it was as if Rick had been living with us for years!

Tuesday. Exercise body. Exercise mind. The AVMA estimates 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% cats in the United States to be overweight or obese. We might think it’s cute to give our pets food whenever they “ask” for it with a sweet meow or furry paw pat to the cheek, but the price to pay is their health. Not only is regular exercise important for weight control, it improves cardiovascular health and supports good mental health for your pet. I make it a habit to play with my cats every day – I love the bonding experience and it makes me feel good knowing how much they enjoy it, while being healthy at the same time!

A variety of toys for kitty to play with is a must to keep their minds sharp and their bodies fit.

Wednesday. Love your pet? See your vet! While we all love our pets, the AVMA indicates that 53.9% of cat owners and 48.6% of dog owners do not take their pet to the veterinarian unless it is visibly sick or injured. Pets often hide signs of illness, especially cats, so regular check-ups are vital to catching health problems early. I know this can be easier said than done – vet visits can be stressful for both the pet and the pet guardian and it can also be very expensive. I do my best to make it manageable – I take a couple cats at a time and stagger the visits. And in the long run, not only can early treatment mean better health for your pet, it can also save money.

When we made the decision to adopt Kizmet, I took him to the vet before introducing him to the rest of my cats – not only to check up on his health but to make sure he didn’t have any infections that could be potentially contagious to my other cats.

Thursday. Pet population control: Know your role. Pet overpopulation is an epidemic problem, especially with cats. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), indicates each year approximately 3.4 million cats enter shelters nationwide—add to that all the homeless cats living on the streets—and it’s a collective total of nearly 70 million cats without a home, because the staggering numbers of available cats far exceed willing adopters. Spay/neuter is not only a safe and humane means of reducing cat overpopulation, it’s a procedure that helps to ensure your cat live a longer, happier, and healthy life (to learn more about the importance of spay/neuter, please visit an article I wrote a couple years ago on the subject).

Many years ago my Zoey had a litter of kittens (we kept three and gave one to a friend). This was long before I knew about the importance of spay/neuter. All my cats have been spayed or neutered since then and I’ve become an educated advocate on the subject.

Friday. Emergencies happen. Be prepared. We live in a crazy world now. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, floods, tornadoes and more seem to make the news every day. It’s vital you include your pets in your family’s emergency plan. To learn what you should do to always be prepared, the AVMA has put together a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to assembling emergency kits and plans for a variety of pets and animals.

This was last year when we were concerned Hurricane Matthew was going to hit us. Jazmine wasn’t worried at all – she knew we had all our emergency supplies and plans in place.

Saturday. Give them a lifetime of love. This might seem like the easiest thing to do, but it’s also the most complicated. A lifetime of love means everything. From sharing those wonderful times, like when kitty contentedly purrs, snuggling into your lap for a sweet nap, to the painful times when you could be faced with the difficult decision of having to help let her go. Every responsibility is yours to ensure your pet lives a healthy and happy life – food, water, shelter, bedding, toys, giving your pet attention, grooming, veterinarian visits, clean litter and scratching posts for the cats, exercise and more – your pet can’t do it alone and they count on you to take the best care of them you possibly can. And as our pets age, the responsibilities can change, too. For example, a dog may need help going outside to go to the bathroom; a cat may need medication which could be difficult to administer.

This is my beautiful Zee. He’s getting older now – he’ll be 11 in September so it’s very important he get regular veterinarian checkups to ensure all is being done to keep him happy and healthy as he enters his senior years.

But it’s all worth it. The love, joy, and companionship our pets bring to our lives are priceless. When it comes to my cats, I wouldn’t want to imagine a world where they didn’t exist. Even my angel pets – having to say goodbye to them is always painful – but the memories I have of them are dear to my heart and the time we shared together is forever precious. I would rather have the memories than to never have had the experience at all.

For detailed information from the AVMA on each of these subjects shared above, please stop by to read the article in full here. And for those who love cats as much as I do, please consider adding my latest book, Makin’ Biscuits – Weird Cat Habits and the Even Weirder Habits of the Humans Who Love Them to your library. While it’s an entertaining read, it’s also a book filled with practical advice, tips, and solutions to help your cat live an optimally happy and healthy life befitting his true feline nature – from diet suggestions, foods to stay away from, litter box etiquette, and everything in-between – if it’s about cat health and behavior, it’s in the book!

Here’s what one reader had to say:

“If you are a cat lover, this is the book for you. I laughed out loud at times and found myself brought to tears at others. This book should be in every cat lovers home, as well as veterinary offices and animal rescue shelters.”

Got a cat behavior question? Chances are pretty good you’ll find the answer in Makin’ Biscuits!

Loved this article? Share it with your friends!
spread the love!

Click to join the conversation

  1. Brian frum says:

    Those were all terrific Deb and I love that big Zee smile in the last photo!

  2. Bj Bangs says:

    You are so very right. Adopting a cat is for a lifetime. I’ve had my Pink Collar for 17 years, and I hope she’s with me for many more. Great photos, as always. Many purrs!

  3. jmuhj says:

    In my family, cats have always been FAMILY, not “pets” — and our commitment to them has always been for life. Thank you for the wonderful article — and the beautiful pictures!

  4. Having a pet means taking responsibility for them…and making sure they are well taken care of. After all, they are family too! Great post!

  5. mariodacat says:

    Excellent post. I wish more newbe pet owners would stop and think, research, and really check into what kind of pet they are getting. That’s why the shelters are too full. But I guess right now we’re preaching to the choir as most of us regular bloggers already know this stuff. Thanks for reinforcing, and when I run into someone who is thinking of getting a new pet, I’ll refer them to your site as it’s veyr helpful. Always love seeing pictures of your kitties and woofie!

  6. You do the “two at a time” thing too? Yeah, that’s what my peeps do. This year I went for my check-up with Mason. purrs

  7. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    dood….seer ee uz lee…..ELEVEN ??? we thinkz mom better chex yur drivin licenze again
    coz ewe canna bee ELEVEN all reddy ~~~~~ ♥♥☺☺

  8. Congrats on your new book Deb and thanks for sharing your informative article! 🙂

  9. You’re so true, pets are family ! If you have a pet, you have to take well care of them. Purrs

  10. Such great information. I have to do better about the regular vet visits myself, especially with everyone growing older. I’m thinking through who needs to go first (i.e., who hasn’t been for awhile) and ensuring that I’m keeping better notes on everyone! Thanks for the reminders. They are so helpful!