Hazardous Hiding Places for Cats

Wild cats from tigers, leopards, and lions, to lynxes, bobcats, and pumas, are all ambush predators. They find a place to hide and wait for their prey to come into reach. Using their powerful hind legs, they spring into action and are literally on top of their prey before the little critter knows what happened.

Channeling his inner tiger.

Domestic cats, although far removed from their wild cousins, still retain that hiding and ambush trait. You can see it yourself whenever you play with your kitty, how they hunker down behind something such as a pillow, a table leg, or a blanket, and spring out to catch a hand, a play mouse, or a string. It’s the same mechanism going on that can be found in wild cats, and that’s what makes a cat so playful and so much fun to be around.

Hazardous Hiding Places

For every cute little safe sneak attack from under a blanket, there is also a place where a cat may hide that might not be quite so safe. Sure, cats love to find these little nooks and crannies where they think they are safe and ready for anything that comes along, but some of these places can be downright dangerous and life threatening. So, let’s take a look at some of the worst places your cat would love to hide in, and what you can do about it.

Don’t even try to take his blanket!

The Garage

This may not apply to you, but many people that have indoor garages make them an extension of their home. To that end, pets are allowed into the garage, and for a cat, this could be serious trouble. Cats are known for their love of warm places, so a vehicle that has just been parked inside might seem to be a perfect spot for a cat nap. Crawling up into the engine compartment may seem like the best possible spot in a cats judgment, but it’s the most dangerous place they could be. To make it worse, oils and chemicals can frequently spill out onto a garage floor, particularly antifreeze which is known to taste quite sweet. A quick lick of one of these “tasty treats” might send your cat to the vet for a prolonged stay, or worse, be terminal.

Washers and Dryers

This is another nice warm place where kitty would love to hide, but with so many moving parts, it can be a very nasty place. Thankfully, most washers and dryers are pretty well sealed up and they won’t allow a cat to have access inside. You’ll always have to guard against a cat actually crawling into the dryer proper, but a quick check before you close the door is a good practice to get into if you are a cat owner.

Bird hunting from the safety of the bushes.

Under the Sink Cabinet

Here is another warm and dark place that a cat would love to explore and hide in. Unfortunately, this is the place where many household chemicals are kept, and it could be deadly for your cat if they decide to sample some of them. You can always make sure the cabinet door is solidly closed, and if the latch needs repair, get it done before any harm comes to your kitty.

Reclining Chair

If you have a cat but don’t know where they are before you recline on your favorite chair, you might want to find them before you do damage to Fluffy who could be hiding within the chair itself.


Don’t throw out your boxes until you make sure kitty isn’t taking a snooze in one of them. Cats are famously fond of napping in any box they can find!

While boxes are safe to nap in, don’t forget that your cat is in there!

Open Windows or Balconies

If you have a two story home or live in a high-rise apartment, your cat may love to lounge in an open window or out on the balcony. Sure, cats are known for their superb balance, but a feather, an insect, a bird, or anything wafting on the wind, may trigger your cats instinct to go for it, and they could inadvertently leap right off a window ledge or a balcony deck.

By keeping these hazardous places inaccessible, you’ll be keeping your cat safe for a long, long time.

This being said, there are also some safe places your cat can hide!

Cat Tree

Cat trees are an excellent place for your cat to nap! Make sure you purchase (or make) one that is sturdy enough that it won’t topple over while your cat is taking their siesta, and make sure its safe for them to climb, scratch, and dig at!

Happy, healthy, and cozy for years to come.

Behind Curtains

Many cats love the feeling of the dark curtains on one side of their body, and the warm sun on the other. It makes them feel safe while still allowing them to watch what’s going on in the world around them. Just make sure you know right where your kitty is while your cleaning or vacuuming so you don’t scare them too badly.

Inside Closets (Sometimes)

If your cat hides in your closet, make sure you go through everything you store in their to ensure no danger will come to your kitty. If they’re hiding in your clothes closet, make sure there are no sharp hangars, no moth balls, and nothing they may destroy (for your own sanity). Your cat should NEVER go where you store chemicals or cleaning materials of any kind. If your cat manages to get in those chemicals, it could be life threatening. You may need to purchase some “child proof” locking mechanisms for these items if they manage to get in multiple times.

If you’re struggling to find a safe place for your cat to hide, make them one! You can easily find tutorials for cat tents, forts, towers, and houses online! Again, make sure the materials are things that you’re okay with being potentially torn up and make sure each individual material is safe for your cat.

It’s all for the love of your kitty.

Your cat WILL find a place to hide, so its up to you to make sure they’re safe and happy in their hiding spots. They’ll probably find their own places to hide, but you need to be the one who tells the cat if it’s safe or not. This will probably involve some amount of trial and error, but it is important to watch where your cat spends their time when they aren’t by your side.

Mary Nielsen founded FelineLiving.net and is a passionate cat lover, blogger, and part-time music teacher. She founded her blog to share her ups and downs of being a pet parent to a bunch of adorable cats. When she is not playing with them or teaching, you can find her experimenting in the kitchen.

Jessica Smith, Managing Editor, having been raised in a household full of dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and all things furry, Jessica’s love of animals has only grown over the years. She is currently volunteering for Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in her free time when she isn’t out and about with her ridiculous pit bull mix, Annabel Lee, or taking care of her two goldfish, Carrot Cake and Winchester. She is also putting her literature degree to use by working as an editor for a local online magazine, Independent Noise. While she has no plans for the future, she knows that it will be filled with fur and fiction galore. You can e-mail Jessica at managerjessica@yourpetspace.info

Budgie Buddies: The Tales of Budgerigar, the Common Parakeet- Part I

Budgerigars, more commonly known as parakeets or budgies, are very popular and they  are also a highly recommended beginner pet bird. Due to their small size, easy care, and vibrant personalities, these birds have become well-known in many pet stores. Because they are actually very small parrots, budgies have a noticeable intelligence, and they tend to be quite easy and interesting to train.

Budgie spending quality time with his companion.


Many different parrot species were discovered during the era of exploration. In 1770, Captain John Cook ventured into the “Land Down Under”, Australia. He discovered that there was a wide range of strange and unique creatures inhabiting this country. One of these creatures was the species “budgerigars”. The captain saw flocks of very small birds with pointed wings and tails displaying vibrant colors of greens and yellows under magnificent stripes. After discovering so many new species, John Cook became one of the first explorers to bring back budgerigars to Europe where they were further researched. Since his initial discovery of the budgerigars, we have leaned so much about these wild flocks.

Only existing as native wild parrots in Australia, budgies display colorful patterns of stripes over green and yellow feathers that assist these fleeting birds in staying camouflaged among the trees and grasslands that they frequent. Budgies are nomadic birds, which means they do not stay in one area for long. Traveling constantly, budgies are always foraging for food sources such as ripe seeds or grasses. Flocks of budgies will migrate across the Australian country to remain in warm weather. Built well for dry deserts, budgies are able to sustain themselves as long as the temperatures do not reach heights above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. They also do not care for temperatures lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wild flock of Budgerigars in Australia.

In 1838, John Gould and his brother visited Australia and brought back a few budgies to England with the belief that they could be sustained in captivity to be bred and raised. A success in Europe, budgies became the newest, most colorful pets. However, in 1894, Australia created regulation against exporting these unique creatures. Budgies were then only bred across Europe, rather than being imported and exported from Australia. At that time, only budgies that had been bred in captivity in Europe for several generations would be available for adoption. These colorful bird pets were becoming quite popular throughout Europe, and mutations began to arise. A new color variant emerged in Belgium in 1875 of an all yellow plumage mutation. Spurring more curiosity, selective breeding resulted in the blue plumage many of us recognize today.

Budgies were introduced to the United States in the 1920’s where they received the same enthusiasm to be added as a member of the households as they were in Europe. Today, with their popularity being so high, budgies are capable of being bred for different color pallets. The top 3 varieties most easily found from breeders and pet stores are still the original green and yellow, the blue, and color combinations called “fancy”.

An example of a fancy budgie. This one has a yellow face and a turquoise breast.

The wild instinct of the budgerigars can still be expressed in these pet bird companions’ behavior, but by accepting its nature and adjusting their care, people will have a happy and healthy budgie for a family member.

How to pick your budgie

Before coming home with the first budgie you see, you may want to observe a few factors so that you have a better idea about the particular bird(s) that will be joining you at home. Some factors you will want to consider while selecting a pet are the individual’s behavior, health, age, and sex.

Just because you have identified the most vibrant, beautifully feathered bird does not mean that it has a compatible behavior for you or your household. One budgie may be very tenacious, playful, and dominating, while another may be more skittish, secluded and shy. The best way to discover their personality is to observe the birds you are thinking about purchasing several times throughout the day. Like most desert originating species, budgies are most active at dawn and dusk. Take this into consideration when observing them because, if you go to visit the birds at noon, they will be in the middle of their siesta time versus being more playful and animated in the evening. If you are in contact with a budgie breeder, it may be easier to discover these personalities. The breeder has been raising this particular set of birds since birth, and they should be able to tell you which birds get along best together if you are planning on adopting two or more.

Budgies on display at a pet store.

Health is another factor that is very important to consider before adopting. The health of the bird is critical so that you won’t get any other household birds ill nor have to start out with a sick bird. When observing behavior, look for signs of sickness during active hours. These signs include the bird remaining secluded and away from others, the bird’s feathers stay fluffed up (sign of being cold), discharge around the eyes, nose, and vent (a birds bottom), or excess drowsiness. Speaking to the breeder or salesperson will help you to identify healthy and happy birds. A healthy bird will have bright eyes, no discharge anywhere, a clean vent, and they will demonstrate signs of activity.

An example of a healthy Budgie versus a sickly budgie with discharge around cere (nose) and remaining fluffed up.

The age of the bird is good to consider as well. Discuss the maturity of the bird you wish to bring home before completing your purchase. The majority of pet stores only sell young birds that are about one month old. Younger birds have yet to fully develop their own personalities and do not yet have their genders identified. Young birds will have completely black iris and they will be smaller than 7 inches (a mature budgie height). The lifespan of a normal, healthy budgie averages between 5 to 8 years, but with good care some are able to live past 10 years.

A side by side comparison of the colored cere identifying the differences between male and female budgie.

A budgie’s gender can be determined in a mature bird due to a sexual dimorphism trait. The color of the male’s cere (the protruding nostrils located above the beak) will display a vibrant blue or even a purplish color, while a mature female’s cere will remain a light pink. There can sometimes be mutations were the sex cannot be determined by the cere, but when in doubt, speak to your avian vet. It is important to know the gender before housing birds together, because this may result in accidental chicks.

There is more to learn about your budgie buddies! Stay tuned for Part II coming out soon!

Ashley Gurnea, our Avian Editor, is a certified bird feeding specialist at Wild Birds Unlimited. A graduate from New Mexico State University, Ashley earned her bachelor degree in the field of Animal Science. She completed an internship at an exotic animal park, working with animals ranging from camels to porcupines and a variety of birds such as parrots and cockatoos. This love and curiosity of aviary has led her to her current position at Wild Birds Unlimited in Las Cruces where she remains up to date with local wild feeder birds. Growing up in a home where animals have always been present, Ashley is now a self-proclaimed “Corgi Countess” due to her love and adoration for her tricolor Pembroke welsh corgi, Colin.  Bring up anything corgi or bird related in a conversation and Ashley will be happy to share her many photos. Feel free to ask her about pet birds, and visit Wild Birds Unlimited for questions on wild birds! Ashley can be reached at ashleygurnea@gmail.com.

When A Wild Cat Becomes an Indoor Cat

Many people go about their days and some notice the number of wild cats living in their neighborhoods, on college campuses, in gardens, or even in the alleys of cities. Out of sympathy, some people bring these stray cats into their homes as a new pet without considering how this change of environment will affect the cat or themselves. This is not to discourage folks from taking in homeless cats or kittens; those who do are animal saviors. But let’s go over a few questions that you should ask yourself:

If I take in a feral cat, can they become a happy, welcoming, domestic pet?

  • Many cats can transition from feral to domestic behavior. Adult cats have a more difficult time with this change then kittens do. Wild kittens are still in the state of needing to be nursed, nurtured, and needing food to be brought to them. With you as their caregiver, they will be more open and accepting to care and developing trust with their new humans. Kittens will also be able to socialize with other humans and other kittens within some time.

This dirty little baby really needs a loving home.

  • Adult cats can change too, but that process will take longer and will require a large amount of patience from their new humans. Keep in mind that adult feral cats were either misplaced, abandoned, or raised in the wild. Developing trust with humans will be hard for such self-reliant and estranged cats.

Should I take my new cat straight home? How do I start training them?

  • Once you have a feral cat in your arms, the smartest thing to do is to take them straight to a veterinarian; this is especially true if you have other cats or children in your home. You need to know about past or present injuries and parasites, how the cat behaves with the veterinarian, getting vaccines, and other medical matters before you start the move-in process.
  • Once your cat has been cleared by the veterinarian to be taken home, remember to remain patient and to give your new cat plenty of space and alone time to settle into their new environment. Don’t force attention, over stimulation, or snuggling on your new cat. Remember that they need to develop trust with you and that only happens when they can feel safe exploring their new home and when they can take the time to watch and get to know you. Provide your new cat with a quiet and peaceful home as they adjust.

This cat is very curious about what is going on, but he’s not ready to get involved yet.

  • In terms of training, I suggest that you show them three areas that will more than likely become safe places for them: where the litter box is, their water and food dishes, and a scratching post. A steady routine of when your cat is being fed will help them figure out when and where they can use the restroom and when they can start playing.

How can I tell is trust is building?

  • When your new cat begins to trust you, they will be willing to come near you and may become more loving, too. Remember what I said before: do not force yourself on your new cat. They need to set the pace of interaction with you, they need to observe you from a distance that feels safe for them. They will be close enough to be able to smell, see, and hear you 24/7. When you decide to start playing with them, I suggest a cat pole with feathers or a fake mouse tied to the end.
  • Safe places to pet your new cat are the top of their head and their neck when they’re willing to accept your touch. Use treats as rewards and positive reinforcement for their behavior. Remember not to have high expectations, some feral cats will become your best friends where others may not be able to become lap cats. Every cat has a different personality and has had different experiences that will affect the way they integrate into their new life.

Fredrick Douglass and His Story

The brilliantly handsome Fredrick Douglass!

About a year and a half ago, I came home from my boyfriend’s (now husband) fraternity house. I was exhausted and on my way to the restroom to brush my teeth. When I walked in, I heard very loud meowing coming from the room. I couldn’t figure out where the meowing was coming from! It wasn’t until I crouched near the bathtub and I realized there was a cat stuck underneath it! I immediately called my boyfriend and said, “Honey, there’s a kitty inside the bathtub!” Kyle drove over as soon as he could, went to the back of the house, pulled the panels apart and a little blonde cat crawled from under the house and into Kyle’s arms.

After we pulled the burrs and thorns from his coat and paws, we brought him inside and continued cleaning him up. This little cat has become an addition to my household as he and Kyle had imprinted on each other. Kyle had been reading former slave and abolitionist Fredrick Douglass’s autobiography My Bondage and My Freedom before he rescued this cat from the bathtub. Out of inspiration from such a strong man and great author, Kyle named his new cat Fredrick Douglass; Fred or Mr. Douglass for short.

We took him to our veterinarian a few days later and learned that Fred was about eight months old, didn’t have a microchip, and wasn’t neutered. After getting him his needed vaccines and scheduling his neutering appointment, Kyle and I brought him back to my home and began introducing him to my other cats; Missues and Baby Kitty. Fred didn’t have the easiest time adjusting to the other cats at first. He and Baby Kitty fought frequently for dominance and territory. Missues would avoid Fred as much as she could, but would be cornered by him sometimes when he wanted to try to mate.

Baby Kitty watches his new brother Fred with curiosity.

Fred was hesitant to letting me touch him and only accepted pets and snuggles from Kyle. He began spraying in the other cats hiding places to assert his dominance, and even on Kyle’s shoes and dirty clothing. And when it came to feeding, Fred would become aggressive with whoever was eating; growling became the norm when we placed food in front of him, and we had to be fed separately from Baby Kitty and Missues. To say the least, it was a struggle in the beginning.

Kyle was a previous dog owner and, with Fred as his first cat, he was confused with Fred’s behavior. When he picked up Fred, loud grumbles and growls always came, and when we walked past him sometimes Fred would crouch and hiss at us. So, we practiced leaving Fred alone and letting him discover the house, us, and the other cats at his own stride. Of course, when Fred would attack Mr. Baby Kitty or Missues we would put him in a kennel, but other than that we let him do his own thing. Eventually, Fred started sleeping with us. He wouldn’t come close to our faces, but we would curl in a ball at our feet or between our legs. He also started letting me touch him, brush him, and bathe him when was he was dirty.

Baby Kitty and Fred comfortably lounging on their parent’s bed.

After Fred was neutered, he became less hostile and more curious about the other cats and what Kyle and I were doing. He began sitting on the arm of the couches while Kyle read and he laid on my yoga mat, staring into my eyes while I was in downward-facing dog. Fred was staring becoming kinder with Missues, and he  would lay next to her while she slept. He became more affectionate with Baby Kitty, too! Fred isn’t much of a lap cat like his brother is, and he isn’t as introverted as Missues, but he’s adapted well to living in a house with other cats and he loves being able to spend one-on-one time with his Dad and myself when he wants to.

A very happy Fred cuddling with his loving Dad.

If you find a feral cat and they aren’t comfortable with your home or your lifestyle, you can always foster them until you find an appropriate home for them. No-kill shelters and sanctuaries are also a great way to save a life without sacrificing your time, home, or the happiness of the cat you thoughtfully rescued. They may not be the right fit for your home, but you can still help find them their purr-fect forever family.

Elanda-Isabella Atencio, our Feline Editor, is on her road to being a “crazy” cat lady. She has three cats; a moody Missus, a wild Baby Kitty, and notorious Fredrick Douglass. She was raised with cats, chickens, dogs, and geese. From cleaning coops, morning dog runs, picking eggs, to growing catnip, Elanda enjoys pampering her pets. Elanda is a student at New Mexico State University, earning her BA in Creative Writing and is Editor-in-Chief of the online arts journal, Independent Noise and reader for Puerto del Sol. She plans to move to Oregon, where she hopes to take her cats on daily walks when it’s overcast and cool. If you’d like to contact Elanda, email her at eincatencio@gmail.com.

Sleepy Head: Understanding Your Horse’s Sleeping Patterns

There can’t be many owners who haven’t gone into a state of panic when seeing their beloved horse lying on its side with his eyes closed. Nervously, they call their horse’s name and run anxiously towards him, fearing the worst. The horse lifts his head and reluctantly gets up, looking annoyed at this crazy human being who has disturbed him for no apparent reason! Sound familiar?

It is most likely there was absolutely nothing wrong with the horse, and he was just fast asleep, enjoying a lovely dream!

Many people believe that horses sleep standing up. Although this is partially true, much of an equine’s most important sleep is acquired when lying down.

This little foal is simply enjoying a good old nap.

Horse sleeping patterns are typical of a prey animal. Compared to human beings, equines do not need very much actual sleeping time and usually sleep for short periods throughout the day and night. The reason for this is that they are extremely vulnerable to predators and they must be ready to flee at any moment.

Types of Sleep

Equine sleep is something that people do not tend to think about, especially as there are very few studies regarding this subject. However, it is vital that we understand our horse’s sleeping patterns, as any changes in their usual behaviour could be early indications of health problems.

Equine sleeping habits largely depend on whether they are wild, stabled, or living out at pasture.

This gorgeous horse is relaxing while out at pasture.

There are four stages of the wake/sleep cycle in horses:

  1. Wakefulness – During this stage, the horse is completely conscious, spending much of its day eating. In the wild, they go in search of food, often travelling great distances, whereas domestic horses are typically ridden or at pasture.
  2. Drowsiness (DR) – Most domesticated horses are stabled inside for long periods, so they relieve their boredom by dozing. The sight is familiar to owners; drooping head and neck, floppy lips, relaxed ears, eyes closed and often standing on three legs, with one hind leg resting. The horse remains in this position because of his ability to lock his knees and stifles, known as “stay apparatus.” The resting hind leg enables him to kick out at any potential predators instantly.
  3. Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) – In this stage, the brain is not at its most functioning level and is effectively “sleeping.” The horse must go through Slow Wave Sleep before reaching the deeper REM sleep. The horse can stay standing or rest in sternal recumbency, whereby he lays down with his legs tucked under and the head and neck remaining upright.
  4. Rapid Eye Movement (REM) – As the name suggests, REM sleep consists of rapid eye movement and is also known as ‘paradoxical sleep.’ The mind is almost as active as it is during wakefulness and usually dreaming occurs. To achieve this type of sleep, the horse must be lying down, due to the loss of muscle tone at this stage, and preferably flat out if there is sufficient space.

The benefits of quality sleep

Good sleeping patterns allow the horse to function and perform properly. During Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) the brain is resting and in REM sleep the muscles rest.

Equines that are fed regularly throughout the day are more likely to enjoy quality sleep compared to those that only receive their feeds twice a day.

REM sleep affects the horse’s attention during wakefulness. Lack of REM causes the horse to either overreact to situations, becoming extremely alert and difficult to handle or appears lethargic and lazy.

Waking up from a quality nap!

How long do horses sleep?

Where humans typically sleep for about eight hours in one long, uninterrupted stretch, horse’s sleeping habits are polyphasic, meaning they sleep multiple times throughout the day and night.

The average equine usually sleeps from two to four hours over a 24-hour period. Much of that time is spent dozing and approximately two hours are in Slow Wave Sleep (SWS), split into four or five sessions, with wakefulness and REM happening in-between stages. Foals, like any young human or animal, will sleep longer than an adult.

An adult horse spends 45 minutes in REM sleep, occurring in short bursts of up to twenty minutes at a time. To engage in REM, a horse must feel safe in his environment and have a suitable place to lie down.

Equines are unable to lie down for very long as they risk suffering from reperfusion injury. Because horses are such large animals, when they do lie down, blood flow is restricted to certain areas, causing problems as they attempt to stand up again.

The herd instinct

In the wild, a group of horses will use the buddy system where one is on lookout duty, known as the sentinel, while the others sleep. All members of the herd take turns, and this method is also adapted to suit the domesticated, stabled horse and his neighbours.

Sleep disorders in horses

Sleep deprivation

Horses can go several days without REM sleep before you start to notice the effects. There are a variety of reasons why your horse is not sleeping:

Change in environment – Moving to a new barn or sleeping overnight at a showground for a competition can have a profound effect on horses. Many will have little or no sleep until they settle into their new surroundings.

Physical – Often if a horse is in pain, especially in the limbs, they may be physically unable to lie down. Older horses, especially, may find it difficult due to conditions such as osteoarthritis.

This horse does not appear to be sleep deprived!

Isolation – A horse kept alone is likely to be stressed and would have no sentinel to keep guard making him feel vulnerable.

An unsuitable place to lay – Reasons maybe a lack of bedding, too small an area in the stable or wet and muddy conditions if kept out at pasture.

Noisy location – If your barn is located near to a busy road or there is another noisy activity going on, it may cause disturbance to your horse

Feeling unsafe in outdoor environment – There may be wild animals around that make your horse feel insecure and exposed to danger.

Social situation – If your horse is new to a herd or there is an aggressive horse, he may be reluctant to lie down.


If you think your horse is suffering from sleep deprivation, he may display the following symptoms:

  • Your horse may not be lying down at all. Tell-tale signs are if you never see bits of bedding or dirt on the body or mane and tail, or your horse doesn’t appear to roll.
  • Performance is affected.
  • The horse seems drowsy.
  • Drifts off into a deep sleep while standing, causing the horse to buckle at the knees due to the muscles relaxing. Usually, they will wake up abruptly as they start to fall. Signs this may have occurred are bruises and grazes on his knees.


Once you work out the cause of your horse’s sleep deprivation, you can take measures to treat it and get your horse some much-needed shut-eye.

Moving your horse away from an aggressive equine or noisy environment, or keeping him with others if he is isolated, will help matters. Make sure his stable is big enough for him to lie down in with good bedding.

If he is living out at pasture, ensure there is somewhere dry for him to rest or bring him inside when the weather is bad.

If it is a physical pain or another medical issue that is making him reluctant to lie down, then your veterinary should be consulted.

Your horse may find it stressful travelling to shows and staying overnight, which will affect the quality of his sleep. It may be worth going on the actual day of the competition, so he has benefited from sleeping at home.

Make sure you pay attention to how much sleep your horse is actually getting.

Hypersomnia (Sleeping excessively)

As horses only sleep for a few hours, any horse that wants to sleep continuously is a significant cause for concern.

Reasons could be that your horse is depressed, lacks stimulation, is isolated or suffering from a neurological or infectious disease.

If your horse is sleeping excessively, you should consult your veterinarian.

Final thoughts

It is vital that your horse has the amount of sleep he requires to repair and restore his mental and physical systems. Having good, quality sleep will ensure a good performance from your horse, and he will be much happier and easier to handle as a result.

Alison O’Callaghan, our Equine Editor, is a professional horse riding instructor and has owned many types of pets. When she is not riding horses or walking her dog, she loves to write about animals. If you’d like to contact Alison, you can email her at ocallaghan462@gmail.com.

So You Want A Goldfish Part II: Moving In

Hydra enjoys interacting with the plants around the air stone in their tank.

In part one of this series, I spent a lot of time focusing on the size of tank that is considered appropriate for a goldfish home. Now we are going to get that new tank set up so that your fish can move in without too much stress. Getting things ready takes more time than you think, but isn’t necessarily a hassle. Most importantly, if you go through the process carefully, the transition from starter tank to permanent home should be smooth flowing for your finned friends.

One of the most important things about new tank setup from your goldfish’s perspective is the type of habitat you create for them. You are going to need gravel, plants, some kind of air supply, a net, at least one filter, tank cleaning tools, and some decorative objects that are more interactive, which I tend to refer to as “toys.” I could go on for days about brands and styles, but I’d rather let you do your own research on equipment and pick what is right for you. However, I will be giving some very necessary tips for decoration and installation that are important to the health and well-being of your fish.


Let’s start with what most people choose to begin with: gravel. Whatever you put in the bottom of the new tank for your goldfish should be 1/8 of an inch or larger. Gravel size is important because your fish can swallow smaller stones or even get them stuck in their mouths. I use pebble sized rocks because Nix and Hydra are big enough now that anything else can easily be swallowed. If it ever looks like your fish could be swallowing gravel, change it out for something larger. Better yet, start with larger gravel and there will be no need to deal with the hassle later on.

This image shows an inappropriate setup for goldfish. The gravel is much too small and there is inadequate plant arrangement to provide them with proper shelter.


Fish owners usually go for the plants next. Goldfish need multiple plants to feel secure, not just one little thing that they can swim circles around. A variety of different sizes and shapes are necessary to give them proper hiding places and shelter. Goldfish don’t have eyelids, which means that when you suddenly flick a light on, it is startlingly bright and there is nothing they can do about it but dash around in the tank, unless they have plants to provide shadow and a place to hide that lessens the sudden light intensity. They also need to feel a sense of security and too little foliage leaves them feeling constantly vulnerable, which elevates their stress level, lowering their health drastically over time.

You can choose live or fake plants for your new tank, but keep in mind that plants are a part of the natural diet of goldfish, so live ones will most likely be replaced often. Live plants help with the biological balance of the tank, but you can meet these needs with pumps and filters, in which case plastic or silk plants will do just fine. If you decide on live plants, make sure to research which plants are the best match. Never use a plant that has opposite requirements to your fish. You need a live plant that has similar pH, temperature, and light requirements to your goldfish, otherwise you will find yourself unable to make both your fish and your plants happy at the same time. Plants that need artificial light should mostly be avoided because the artificial lights can heat the water, making it too warm and uncomfortable for goldfish. When purchasing fake plants, keep the “stocking test” in mind. If you run pantyhose over the plants and they snag, they are going to be too harsh on your fish when they swim around them.

The plastic plants included in this shot passed the pantyhose test, though they look as if they would not. Always watch your fish for signs of injury and replace plants if torn fins or missing scales are noticed.


The final item you are going to need for your new tank is some form of decorative object for landscaping. Sure, you can go without these, but who wants to see an unhappy fish that is losing color and sulking around their tank because they have nothing to explore? Adding some kind of interactive decoration provides the security and mental stimulation that your fish needs to be happy. The most important thing to remember about goldfish is to NEVER (let me say this again: NEVER!) use seashells in your goldfish aquarium! Seashells and pieces of coral are sharp and porous, meaning they could hurt your fish and will collect food and other debris, upsetting the cleanliness of your water. These items also break down naturally, making the water alkaline, which is not healthy for your fish.

It is always best to buy your decorations from a store that sells aquarium equipment, since they should only be selling items made of safe substances. If you chose to put something natural in your aquarium, look for rocks like slate, hard sandstone, and red shale, making certain they are smooth. When placing your landscaping rocks, be careful that you do not set larger stones in such a way that they could topple over and trap your fish or that the gaps could catch their delicate fins. You can also use petrified wood in your landscape design, but the same rules about sharp edges and toppling apply. Any decoration that has an entrance, such as a cave or building, should be chosen carefully. You need to be sure that your fish can not swim into the opening only to become trapped inside. After a while it is very hard to find objects large enough for growing goldfish to fit through, so don’t be afraid to arrange your tank so that they have a natural cave of sorts in a place between a decorative object and a plant. If they can’t have a real cave, that is the closest thing.

Nix and Hydra used to swim inside this house, now they are as big as it is. They became stressed when I removed this favorite object, so I use plants to create shelter around it. (Some were moved to better display the house for this image.)


Now before you put any of these items into your new tank, you need to clean everything, even if items claim they have already been cleaned. There is no way to know what these items have come in contact with between distribution and the time you picked them up in the store and you don’t want these things getting into the water of your newly created habitat. When it comes to gravel, the stones in those bags are always rubbing against each other, creating dust or breaking rocks, and as I have said before, any particles that are small or sharp could harm your fish.

The most important thing about cleaning items is that you NEVER use soaps and NEVER clean your tank or the items in it with hot water. Hot water will change the bacteria necessary in your tank and while there aren’t any on first set up, there will be some good, helpful bacteria in subsequent tank changes, which the hot water will kill. Soaps and other cleaners should be avoided for the same reasons and because of the chemicals they can introduce into your water. The same rule goes for items that you use to scrub or wipe with. If you decide to use a sponge to clean your tank, make certain you use one that is from the pet store. Any sponge or cleaning tool not made for fish could contain chemicals or glues that should never be placed in your fish tank.

Soaps, sponges, and cloth towels should never be used on your fish tank.

If you want to sterilize something in your tank, use an aquarium salt solution of 6 tablespoons per gallon of water and soak your items in this solution for one hour, then rinse them all THOROUGHLY. Anything you want to dry should be dried with paper towels only, since fibers from cloth become trapped on items and are transferred into your tank. One of the most overlooked items that needs consistent cleaning is the fish net. Don’t forget to clean this EVERY time before you use it. You can also use the net to help you rinse out gravel. If you don’t want to use a net for gravel cleaning, a bucket will do. Just be sure to use a NEW bucket that has NEVER come into contact with soaps or cleaners of any kind, and designate that bucket as the only one to use for tank cleaning.

While all of these steps are extremely important, there is more to come! Keep an eye out for part three which will be out soon!

Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade. Since that time she has owned, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them. She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@yourpetspace.info

Preparing for the Passing of your Cat

Your feline once had you running around the house with feathers in your hands and throwing mouse toys across the room. They might have run around corners and chased you when they were kittens, or crawled up your pant legs all the way to your shoulder! You used to pick out new cat beds and scratching posts for them, and the two of you might have walked through parks, or even gone shopping together. The early years were full of excitement, and the last ones calmed down a bit. Throughout the years, you might have noticed that your cat sleeps more during the day and they may be eating less food, too. They may be less social and cry out loud at night. Less energy, fast weight loss, losing control of bowels, or urination problems are signs that your beloved pet may be getting ready to move on. This might be a painful time for you; your best friend, your long-time companion, will be passing on soon. You may be feeling intense grief and possibly denial, but this is an important time to put your cat first. There are ways to help your pet become more comfortable before they pass on, ways you can be there for them when their time comes, and many ways to celebrate their life and remember them afterwards.

Elanda, her brother Will, and their precious Yellow Kitty.

 Keeping your Cat Comfortable

It’s important to keep your elderly cat happy and to give them the most peaceful environment you can provide. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind and activities you can implement for your cat.

Be gentle with your cat; in the past, they may not have had injuries if you shoo-ed them off the refrigerator and they jumped off, but now your cat could become injured and be in pain if you make them jump from high areas. Pick up your cat from tall areas and gently place him or her on the floor. Make sure to also pick him or her up and place them onto their favorite spots, like a cat tree. Your aging cat isn’t as agile as he or she used to be, so remember to carry him or her and purchase steps and ramps for your cat to get to their favorite high places.

Every kitty deserves to be THIS cozy in their senior years.

Don’t forget to provide your cat with regular visits to the veterinarian; it’s important to know that one year for a cat equals about four human years. Frequent visits to the veterinarian can keep you informed of your aging cat’s health, and it can give you an opportunity to ask a professional for further advice. Your cat may cry in the middle of the night, seek extra attention, or they may sleep for long periods of time. Be kind to your aging cat, try not to let the small annoyances get to you. He or she is scared about the change in their body and mind and they need your comfort and love during this transition.

He may have become a grumpy old man, but he’s still your baby.

Your cat may start using the bathroom outside of the litter box. Make sure to watch your aging cat as much as you can while they use the restroom. If they’re having problem squatting, purchase a cat box with a lower entrance and high walls for support. If you would rather deal without litter, you can always purchase puppy pads for your cat to use the restroom. Don’t forget to provide your cat with comfy spots around the house with pillows and blankets for them to relax and sleep on. And remember to keep your cat hydrated by placing plenty of water bowls around the house, particularly near their favorite spots.

When Their Time Comes

You know your cat the best, and you will know when their time is coming to leave this earth. Putting your cat to sleep is a personal and intense choice that only you can make for them. Your veterinarian might suggest that your cat should be put down because of their quality of life, but ultimately it is your decision to make for your beloved cat. Having an understanding of the symptoms of old age will help you make the choice decision for your cat.

One early symptom you may see in your aging cat when they are ready to move on is, when your cat uses the restroom, there may be a foul odor after their bathroom time. This happens when toxins begin building up in your cat’s body. This smell may also occur in their breath, and eventually will emit from their body. Later symptoms will be a loss of appetite, and your cat may stop eating and drinking all together. Towards the time of their departure, your cat will also have lower respiration. They will take fewer breaths, and there will be more time between breaths than before. You might also notice a lower body temperature due to their dropping heart rate as well. When your cat’s body temperature drops to 98 fahrenheit or lower, their body will feel cool to your touch.

Always take your cat to the vet upon any sign of trouble.

When your cat is showing these signs, you should take them to the veterinarian. If you do so, you have the option to put your cat to sleep. If you choose this option, your veterinarian will administer an injection that will slow your cat’s heart – this is not a painful procedure at all. You will be able to stay with your cat through the process, and when you do say goodbye, hold your cat, give him or her kisses, and tell them that you love them. Sing to your cat, pet him or her, and do everything you can to make them feel loved and safe on this day.


Once you have put your cat to peace and relieved them of their pain, learn to understand your own feelings about the loss of your beloved cat. It is normal for you to feel anger or deep sadness, these feelings are a part of the framework that helps us learn to live without the loved ones we have lost. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and make sure not to repress them. Cry and mourn your cat, but always remember the wonderful moments you two shared. To honor your cat, you have a few options of what you can do after putting them to sleep.

You can provide a proper burial for your cat. Pick a site where you would like to have your cat placed. Maybe in your backyard, or at your cat’s favorite park. Wherever you decide, pick a special or symbolic place where it can be decorated with photos of your cat or where you can place their favorite toys. You can also order a grave marker for your cat, with their name and an etching. Don’t forget to pick a container for your cat’s body; there are Paw Pet Burial Pods and Pet Caskets available to purchase online for your cat. But if you prefer no box that is perfectly fine too. Some honor their cat by placing flower seeds or a small tree over their burial site.

Paw Pods could be a good choice for your beloved kitty.

Of course you always have the option to cremate your cat and you can order vases online. You can place the vase in their favorite window sill or above your fireplace. Some owners have a difficult time with the idea of parting with their pet and decide to have their cat cremated and turned into jewels. Heart in Diamond will “immortalize your pet’s beautiful life with a Heart in Diamond that will allow you to feel like your best fur friend is with you every day”. If you decide this is your option you can select a portion of your cat’s remains to create the jewel that represents them, or the love you feel for them.

You can keep your pet in a necklace next to your heart forever.

In the end, always remember your cat for who he or she was to you, and remember the life you gave them. When my old cat Yellow Kitty passed away, I wasn’t able to be there for him in his last days. Thankfully he lived a long life; one of freedom and strength. I miss and love him, and hold his memory in my heart daily. Remember to give your cats love, and be devoted to them. After all, they are your furry babies.

Elanda-Isabella Atencio, our Feline Editor, is on her road to being a “crazy” cat lady. She has three cats; a moody Missus, a wild Baby Kitty, and notorious Fredrick Douglass. She was raised with cats, chickens, dogs, and geese. From cleaning coops, morning dog runs, picking eggs, to growing catnip, Elanda enjoys pampering her pets. Elanda is a student at New Mexico State University, earning her BA in Creative Writing and is Editor-in-Chief of the online arts journal, Independent Noise and reader for Puerto del Sol. She plans to move to Oregon, where she hopes to take her cats on daily walks when it’s overcast and cool. If you’d like to contact Elanda, email her at eincatencio@gmail.com.