Canary Companions

Canaries are an extremely popular pet bird. Because they are one of the first companion pet birds, canaries have been admired and loved because of their gorgeous songs and easy care. Canaries are excellent, friendly birds that would be a great addition to any home and a wonderful choice for first time bird owners.

A vibrant yellow Fancy Canary sitting pretty.


Not surprisingly, canaries originated from a Spanish island group called the Canary Islands. What is odd, however, is that the island was named using the Latin word Canis, referring to a species of dog that was bred on these islands. It wasn’t until the Spanish had rule over the islands in the 1400’s that they started to pay attention the islands’ native birds and developed the name, “Canaries”.

The Canary Mastiff (also known as a Perro de Presa Canario) is the namesake for the Canary Islands. Canary Mastiffs were bred to work with livestock.

The original canaries’ plumage was actually a greenish color, but that is not what caused the Spaniards to be enthralled with the bird. These little birds had a gorgeous song and a lovely voice which was the reason why some were captured and taken back to Spain. From there, these little birds were then presented and shared all across Europe and eventually were carried to the United States and other parts of the world.

The Canaries’ popularity in Europe led to breeding the birds for different traits. These traits included the bird’s posture, plumage, and most popularly, their song. Because of these first canary breeders, we now have about 30 recognized breeds of canaries and over hundreds of variations of these birds. The standard pet canary that can be seen in pet stores are the Fancy Canaries who typically display mainly yellow plumage and have an enjoyable song. An average companion canary life span is about ten to fifteen years when the birds are provided with proper care.


When picking out a canary, you will want to observe the birds to find a personality that will be best suited for your home. Speak with the breeders or store associates who have an understanding of the individual bird’s personalities. Before you plan on bringing the bird home, it is important to have the right essentials for your singing friend.

When picking a cage for a canary, select a cage with vertical bars versus the horizontal bars for parrots. The cage they prefer is one that has a square or rectangular shape because canaries typically enjoy flying from perch to perch, and from side to side. A good guide to go by for cage size is 16 inches tall and about 30 inches wide for a single bird. If you’re adding more canaries together, it is wise to expand the cage size. These active little avians like plenty of room to roam and flutter around their cage and two or three softwood perches to land on and maybe one toy to play with.

A rectangular canary cage with a few perches and bird swings. Notice the food and water sources as well as a bird bathing attachment on the far right.

Unlike parrots who prefer to climb, canaries are active fliers and they enjoy room to spread their wings. It is important to avoid any rounded cage because it is harder for the active flying birds to maneuver the rounded sides of the cage. A square shape or rectangular cage is preferred and it must also be functional. A more decorative cage would do fine for your colorful songbird as long as any ornamental pieces will not be in harm’s way of the bird’s daily activities.


Canaries are known as more “bird-oriented” birds, meaning that they, on average, do not crave human interaction and would rather spend their time in the company of other birds or, more commonly, the solitary presence of themselves. Because of this, it makes the care of canaries simpler, especially for first time bird owners. The most important things your sweet singer needs include a daily healthy diet, constant supply of fresh water, and daily cleaning.

The best food to provide canaries with is a base diet of canary seed or a pellet diet, both of which can be found at most pet supply stores. Canaries will also need some fruit and vegetable supplements, minerals, and vitamins. Adding a cuttlebone to the bird’s cage is an excellent calcium supplement that the bird can choose to nibble on throughout the day. Fresh food to offer daily as part of the regular diet or as a treat may include greens such as kale, celery, or dandelions, and fruit like apples, grapes, and bananas. Feeding a vitamin enriched food will keep your bird pleased and healthy. Depending on the type of canary you have, there are different diets to boost their plumage color, or assist in vocal cord health for singing.

Water is one of the most important elements needed for your bird’s care. Canaries need a steady supply of fresh water because they are unable to survive a 24 hour period without water due to dehydration. Canaries would also appreciate some water to use separately for bathing. It can be quite enjoyable and entertaining to watch them splash about.

Bath time is fun and exciting and key to feather health for a canary.


A canary’s health is mainly dependent on its diet and cleanliness. If the diet is poor or if there is a buildup of debris and excrement in the cage or on the bird itself, the bird will begin to become lethargic, molt out of season, and its immune system will begin to falter. Keeping up with the bird’s housekeeping and giving fresh food and care will help your bird to live a long, comfortable life.

Cages generally have an under tray which may be removed daily in order to assist with the disposal of the bird’s excrement. The newspaper or bedding in this tray will need to be replaced with fresh materials at least once or twice each day. This is also a great time to check on the bird’s health. Canaries are excellent at hiding illness until it becomes too serious. Examining subtle clues such as color, amount, and overall texture of their excrement will help to identify a potential health problem with your bird.

As canaries are very independent birds, they don’t require quite the same amount of physical care as other birds, but they do require some extra care. A bird’s nails and beak constantly grow similar to our own finger nails. A canary’s nails will need to be trimmed periodically to prevent them from becoming too long or sharp. Self-injuries may happen if the canary accidentally scratches itself which may later lead to infections.  Speaking to your vet about proper ways to preform nail trimmings is vital. As with other pets, it is very easy to cut to the quick of the nail. This is a very dangerous situation for birds because they can quickly bleed out. Sometimes your bird may also need its beak trimmed. An overgrown beak leads to difficulty eating, thus causing declining health from not receiving enough nutrition. Your vet will also be able to perform this task safely.

A canary safely getting its nails trimmed.

Canaries are extremely popular for their personality and ease of care. Someone once told me that canaries are a bird with the most personality in such a small body. This is indeed true. Who wouldn’t love such an entertaining companion!

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

Holiday Health Hazards for Your Cat

Through the years, for certain holidays such as the Fourth of July, Christmas, New Years, Halloween, and Hanukkah, we use enchanting lights, fireplaces, lanterns, trees, firecrackers, ornaments, bottle rockets, and candles to celebrate with family and friends. Although we may enjoy our festivals with these traditional additions, sometimes they can be terrifying, intriguing, or damaging to our pets. Some dogs are known to be afraid of fireworks and cry while the loud noises fill the air. Cats too can be startled by fireworks and are often a little bit too curious about candles.

While this kitty is behaving now, he could choose to bite those lights at any moment.


Christmas lights are common for people to have inside and outside their homes. And why not? Santa wouldn’t be able to find your house if it’s not lit up! If strings of Christmas lights are hung inside homes, cats can grab for them with their paws and may try to bite the bulbs. If their teeth are on the wires or piercing a bulb while the lights are plugged into an outlet, your cat could be seriously hurt. If you plan to have lights hung up for the holidays, do not put lights on your Christmas tree’s lower branches and keep them high in corners against your walls and along the ceiling so your cat cannot jump onto them.


Christmas trees, whether fake or real, can be hazardous to your cat. Regardless of the type of tree, place your Christmas tree in a corner against two walls and away from ledges. If you have a fake Christmas tree, your cat may be tempted to chew on the plastic branches; make sure to place your fake tree on a block of wood and/or have the branches bent upwards. If this plastic is ingested, it can cause intestinal blockages for your cat. If you have a real Christmas tree, have your branches trimmed at the base so your cat won’t be able to chew on them. Pine trees contain pine oil which can cause gastrointestinal upset, lack of coordination, anemia, and breathing difficulties. The needles are also very sharp and can puncture your cat’s eyes or intestines if swallowed. If your cat tries to chew on the pine needles, you can spray the branches with a mix of water and cayenne pepper. The sharp taste should ward off your cat’s further chewing.

This cat is clearly interested in the beautiful tree.


Fireplaces are wonderful to sit by, particularly if it’s winter and you would like to keep warm with a cup of hot chocolate while the fire roars. Some cats will avoid fires, but others may want to snuggle up near you to also stay warm. Make sure to take safety precautions if your pet might be near the fireplace. Always keep a gate, whether it’s installed around the fireplace or if it’s a fold-able fireplace gate, it will prevent ashes, sparks of fire and embers reaching your cat or the floor nearby. If you have a glass gate in front of your fireplace, do not let your cat come into contact with it; this can result in burns to their face and nose. Always open your damper so your cat and yourself will not be exposed to carbon monoxide which can be deadly. It is also important to keep fireplace tools behind a barrier so your cat will not be hurt by pokers or ingest starter bricks and matches. Most importantly, never let your cat be alone around a fire.


Glass ornaments and tinsel can be very hazardous to your cats. Although tinsel adds a nice spark to your Christmas tree, if they are in your cat’s reach and ingested, the tinsel can potentially block their intestines and this is generally only fixed through surgery. The same thing goes for ornaments. In addition to intestinal blockages, the broken glass can injure your cat’s face, mouth, and throat. Remember that traditional Christmas plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia, and holly are deadly to cats; if you have these plants in your home, make sure to keep them in areas where your cat cannot reach.


They look pretty to us, but they can be terrifying to pets.

Fireworks are beautiful and fun to enjoy with family. Whether they’re sparklers, smoke bombs or bottle rockets, they are pretty and timeless. But when you keep fireworks in your home, it is important to keep them in a container or in a cabinet away from your cat. When unused fireworks are ingested, they are very poisonous to pets. Fireworks have hazardous chemicals such as potassium nitrate, which is an oxidizing agent, sulfur, which works as a coloring agent, and charcoal are dangerous heavy metals. If ingested by your cat, they can develop serious gastrointestinal issues. This will result in abdomen pain, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. If your cat ingests large amounts of these chemicals, they can also suffer from seizures, bone marrow changes, jaundice, tremors, acute kidney failure, and shallow breathing.

Never keep your cat near lit fireworks, under any exception. Exposure to lit fireworks can result in burns, conjunctivitis, and eye irritation. In addition, the loud noises can cause your cat fear, anxiety, and severe stress. Of course, you can’t prevent your neighbors from setting off their fireworks during New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July. But what you can do is stay calm to help your cat feel safe, and make sure that your cat has a safe place to hide. Your cat chooses these places because they feel protected from the sounds of the muffled fireworks.


Luminarias, Jack-O-Lanterns, and the Hanukkah Menorah all use candles to give a soft, beautiful and simplistic glow during Hanukkah, Halloween, and Christmas Eve. One thing they all have in common is their use of candles. It’s not difficult to think about how these can be dangerous for your cat.

The beautiful lights of the menorah are very interesting to this cat.

Luminarias are paper bags filled with a bit of sand and a 3”x3” or 2”x3” pillar candle. These can be kept outside along the sidewalk, on the roofs of houses, and sometimes on the inside of window sills. Your cat will be curious about the shadows projected from the lit candle inside the bag. They could burn the paws by hitting the bag or knock it over, lighting the bag (and anything else the flame touches) on fire. If you plan to keep your Luminarias, you can use flameless tea light candles instead of real ones.

Your cat will also be curious about the tall pillar candles placed on the Hanukkah Menorah, and if the candle isn’t sturdy enough, it could fall over and injure your cat and possibly light something on fire. An alternative can be purchasing a Lustrous Silver LED Lighted Flameless Hanukkah Menorah instead of the traditional stand and candles, or LED pillar candles. A typical candle can be replaced in a Jack-O-Lantern with a battery fueled pillar candles, or purchase flameless Jack-O-Lanterns for your home instead. It may not be traditional, but it is safe for your cat, your children (if you have any), and your home.

Kitties and pumpkins can get along, as long as there’s no fire involved!

Holidays are fun; the food, the music, the gift giving and receiving, and the speicial family moments makes theses days special. Decorations help emphasize and add to the fun of each holiday, and you are still able to enjoy your holidays with pet-safe decorations and alternatives while ensuring that your cats will be happy and healthy. Of course, not everything is a guarantee, but this way you can do your best to ensure it is.

Happy Holidays to you and your pets!

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

‘Twas the Night Before Dog-mas…

‘Twas the night before Dog-mas, when all through Your Pet Space,
Not a doggy was stirring, not one cute squishy face;
Their stockings were hung by the doorway, you see,
In hopes Santa Paws would fill them with treats.
The pups were all cuddled all snug on the couch,
With Uncle Dave in the middle, on that I can vouch.
And London in her ‘kerchief, and Boots in his boots,
They had all settled down, awaiting their loot!
When up on the roof, there came a great noise;
The barking was much!  Dave about lost his poise!
He leapt from the couch to see what he could do,
But right in that moment, he stepped in some poo!
The moon on the breast of the new fallen dust,
Gave the luster of summer to stuff, you can trust.
When what to Dave’s wondering eyes should come forth,
But a miniature sleigh, led by “rein-dogs”, of course!
With a fat little driver who was breaking some laws,
Dave knew in a moment it must be Santa Paws!
More quickly than greyhounds, these “rein-dogs” they flew,
And he whistled, he called out, to his four-legged crew:
“Now Lucy, now Lou-bug,
now Turk and George/Bailey,
On Bogey, on Chloe,
On Gordon and Gracie!
To the top of the roof!
We can’t stop just yet!
These pups deserve presents;
We’ve got the best, you can bet!”
As dry doggy pools before the wild winter lay…
They each looked at “The Paws,” then jumped into the fray!
So up to the rooftop these “rein-dogs,” they flew
With the sleigh full of treats, but not a bit of poo-poo.
And then in a blink, Dave heard overhead,
The tapping and toeing of each doggy’s tread.
As he drew in a breath and was calming his friends,
Through the roof, “The Paws” came! It was such a big wind!
He was certainly furry, of that we are sure,
And his collar was covered in blinged-out grandeur!
A sack full of goodies, he barely could hold,
As he struggled a bit with his “treat-bag of gold.”
His eyes – how they shined!
His whiskers: how “whisky!”
His cheeks wanted kisses,
But no time to be frisky;
His long snout was topped off with a bow,
And the drool from his chin, it hung pretty low.
He smoked a cigar, he took quite a long toke…
Just kidding, my friends! Now that was a joke!
He had a fat face, and a kind of big tummy;
It was sure! He thought treats were a LITTLE too yummy!
He was gleeful, and fun!
A joyous dog elf!
And Dave chuckled and giggled, in spite of himself.
A wag of his tail and a wink of his eye,
Told Dave all he needed about this great guy!
He barked not a once, but went on to decide…
Which stockings to fill?
How much?
And how high?
Then filling them all to the brim, he was spent.
And calling his team, through the ceiling they went.
He jumped in his sleigh, and gave them all treats
And away they all flew…
They had more dogs to meet!
But Dave heard him call out, on their way to the sky,
“Happy Dog-mas to all, and to all a ‘dog’ night!”
Doug White
Doug White, Associate Editor, has worked in customer service for over 24 years, with 13 years of that experience being at Chuck E. Cheese’s. (And, yes, he wore the mouse costume throughout that adventure).  He has four little four-legged munchkins in his family named Peeta, Clyde, Oreo, and Peggy Sue.  After adopting Clyde from Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in 2013, he began volunteering for the organization.  This experience ignited a passion for learning about different dog breeds and individual dogs’ varying personalities.  Doug is a huge country music fan, an avid reader of sci-fi/fantasy/horror, and a (very) amateur gardener and hiker.

Why is Spaying and Neutering Vital for Your Cat?

What is Neutering and Spaying?

Determining to neuter or spay your felines is a huge decision that you are making for your pet’s health, their welfare, and the well-being of your community. Both procedures are sterilization for cats. For both, your cat will be put under general anesthesia before the surgery begins. It is best to have your kittens (female and male) undergo the procedure before they reach sexual maturity. The best ages to have this procedure done are between the ages of six to eight months old, but this can also be done at four to six months old upon advice from your vet.

This little kitty will need to be neutered soon.

Benefits for your Cat

Unless you’re a cat breeder, you’ll want to consider having your cat neutered or spayed. Cats often mate if they are both indoor and outdoor pets, and they will experience behavioral changes due to their hormones. If you have a male kitten and decide that you don’t want the procedure to be done, you and your cat will be at the mercy of raging hormones and you will suffer from increasing frustration on both sides of the relationship. He will spray urine, he will try to expand his territory, he will search for a mate, he will continue to roam or try to escape, and he will likely fight other male cats. If you allow your male cat to be an indoor and outdoor pet, you will be putting your cat’s life at risk if they meet a stronger male. You will also be contributing to the overpopulation of cats if you allow any unfixed cats to roam outside.

When I was four, my parents bought me and my brother cats; I got a black female named Lodica Diamond, and my brother had a male yellow tabby named Yellow Kitty. My parents kept them as outdoor cats and didn’t get the chance to have them neutered and spayed. Because of this, Lodica Diamond had five litters of kittens and Yellow Kitty would often mate with his offspring and other neighborhood females. This resulted in injuries to his face and body. Exactly thirty-eight feral and non-feral cats lived on the property with him.

Can you care for four kittens and a grown cat?

If you neuter your male cat before they reach eight months of age, you will eliminate spraying for territory; remove the risk of testicular cancer; decrease the chances of prostate cancer; lessen his desire to roam which will make fighting between other male cats less likely; reduce the number of kittens; and decrease aggressive behavior. In the case of females, if you spay her before she’s eight months old, you will stop all heat cycles, resulting in male cats not being attracted; reduce her desire to roam; remove the risk of mammary gland tumors and ovarian and uterine cancer; and also reduce the number of kittens.

Pre-Op Care

Make sure to keep your cat indoors the day before their surgery. Keep plenty of water bowls around the home so your cat can stay hydrated. Your cat must fast for the procedure, so they cannot have any food after midnight. This ensures that your cat’s stomach is empty when they are placed under general anesthesia. If you cat eats after midnight, the chances that your cat will vomit or aspirate the vomit into their lungs in amplified.

Make sure kitty stays hydrated before and after their procedure.

The Process of each Procedure

Neutering: after your male cat has been placed under general anesthesia, your veterinarian will make an incision in their scrotum. Then your veterinarian will suture closed the blood vessels of the spermatic cord above the testes, and cut the blood vessels that will allow for the entire removal of the testes through the incision. After this, your veterinarian will check the blood vessels for bleeding, and they will release the knotted end into the incision. Afterward, your veterinarian will close the skin layers with sutures that will dissolve.

Spaying: after your female cat has been placed under general anesthesia, your veterinarian will make an incision, mid-line of your cat’s abdomen below the umbilicus, and will then make another incision into the abdominal wall to gain access into the abdominal cavity. After finding the uterus, your veterinarian will follow it to either ovary; from there, they will suture closed blood vessels above the ovaries and cut the vessels to completely remove the ovaries from the Fallopian tube and uterine horn. After this is done, your veterinarian will check the sutured blood vessels for bleeding and release the sutured end back into the abdomen. Next, they will remove the uterus by gently pulling the two sides of the uterus towards the rear end of your cat. They will suture the uterus and its blood supply, and cut the vessels above the cervix to completely remove the ovaries and uterus. Lastly, your veterinarian will again check the sutured blood vessels for bleeding and release the sutured end back into the abdomen, close the abdominal wall with and the skin layers with sutures that will dissolve.

Post-Op Care

After the procedure, your cat will be in pain and discomfort. Your veterinarian should provide you with an Elizabethan cone and give you directions for how to care for your cat. Overall, rules are: do not let your cat jump or run for the first week after surgery because your cat may tear the sutures; do not bathe your cat for at least two weeks after their surgery; make sure your home is peaceful and quiet so your cat can recover comfortably.

This cat is rocking her “E” cone in style

Place the cone around your cat’s neck; the cone is meant to prevent your cat from licking the sutures. If your cat does lick their incision site, this can lead to an infection. Check the sutures daily to ensure proper healing. When Mr. Baby Kitty was neutered at seven months old, he would not sit down for a few days after his surgery; this is normal, as some cats don’t want pressure against their suture sites. And when Fredrick Douglass had his surgery at nine months old and had already gotten into the habit of spraying, he was very quiet for a few days, but he stopped being aggressive with the other cats due to the lack of testosterone. If you notice lethargy, diarrhea, a decreased appetite, or vomiting, call your veterinarian and they will probably have you come back to the office with your cat. If there is redness, discharge or swelling at the incision site or if the incision opens, take your cat to your veterinarian or an animal hospital immediately.

Benefits for our Communities

We have an overpopulation issue when it comes to cats, and many people tend to ignore this problem or act as if the situation will resolve itself. Well, overpopulation of cats will not resolve itself. Some cat owners let their cats breed and are able to find a good home for the kittens, but not very many people are dedicated to helping their cat’s spawn find new homes. Most of the time, once a female cat has a large litter, she will become an outdoor cat and will continue to mate with male cats in the area, leading to more litters and contributing to the feral cat population. The ASPCA claims that the estimated number of feral cats is up to 70 million in the United States alone. Sometimes kittens and adult cats are abandoned or just dropped off at local animal shelters. People are more likely to adopt kittens than adult cats that were once feral, leaving them at the shelter for months until they have to be put down to make room for new cats to take their place.

This gorgeous feral cat deserves a real home.

If you plan to be a pet owner, responsibility comes with that and one must accept that amount of responsibility – there is no excuse for not neutering or spaying your cats. If money is a concern, most towns and cities offer low-cost or free clinics, and if you adopt a cat from a shelter, they may have already had the surgery. Let’s help decrease the population of wild kittens and cats, stop the production of litter after litter after litter, and put an end to the euthanization of cats that people can’t have or do not want.

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

Holiday Donations for Shelters and Sanctuaries

Happy Christmas in July!

Celebrate Christmas in July by donating to your favorite charities in the middle of the year! It appears that many people are often the most charitable during “holiday season”: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years being the top time where most donations are given. While this is a wonderful thing to do, it is important to remember that charities need donations all year long, not just during the holidays. Animal shelters and sanctuaries often struggle during the summer months because they receive far fewer donations than in winter. Many other notable organizations require year-round fundraising and charity events because they simply do not have the funds to function how they would like to in the summer. Here are a few things you can do to help your favorite charities all year long!

Monthly Donations

In your monthly budget, set aside a small amount, even just $10, to donate to your favorite shelter or sanctuary at the end of each month. You can do this as a cash donation, or you can purchase products that your charity might need. Real Simple explains, “As you consider how much to give, the first thing to remember is that everyone’s financial situation is personal. For most people, donations don’t exceed 2 percent of their total annual income, but decide for yourself whether this works for you. Those who tithe often donate 10 percent or more, but this is best planned and saved up for during the year.” You have to make sure you can afford to donate as much as you want to. Some people have a naturally generous spirit, but they may not have as much money in the bank as their donating desires require.

Network for Good also advises that you should, “Give generously when you can, but if you’re unsure or feel uncomfortable…ask for more information and take more time to think before making your decision. Be a proactive giver! You don’t have to wait to be asked. Plan a giving strategy in advance. Contact the charitable organizations of your choice to discuss how your gifts can be most effectively used and help make a difference in your community.” Do your research, math, and budget before you make a change in how much money is going out of your account.

Budgeting is so important!

Charity Wish Lists

You can also donate purchased products to certain charities and shelters. For example, one of our favorite sanctuaries, Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, has a list of products that they require all year round. These products include:

  • Walmart/Sam’s Gift Cards
  • Friskies Canned Cat Food
  • Meow Mix Original Dry Cat Food
  • Alpo or Purina Canned Dog Food
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Cat Clumping Litter
  • Rawhide Chew (not from China)
  • Milk Bones
  • Unscented Bleach
  • Windex
  • Paper Towels & Plates
  • Toilet Paper
  • Bottled Water
  • Lawn & Leaf Bags
  • Quart & Gallon Ziplock Bags
  • Magic Eraser
  • Packing & Scotch Tape
  • Zip Ties

These can be dropped off at their Thrift Store located at 840-D El Paseo Road in Las Cruces. They also accept cash donations, and they have little donation banks at a few locations around town. We even have one available at Your Pet Space! If you set aside this money to either donate a small amount or purchase a few supplies for every month, you will be a huge asset to the sanctuary or organization of your choice and to the lives of dozens of animals.

This little kitty wouldn’t have this cozy bed without your help.

The Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley has a wish list, as well! This list includes:

  • Small breed doggie treats- dye free
  • Small breed dog leashes (not retractable)
  • Small breed dog crates
  • Small breed dog carriers (sturdy, hard shell)
  • Cat treats- dye free
  • Cat toys- new
  • Cat carriers (hard shell, sturdy)
  • Cat litter
  • Large breed dog treats- dye free
  • Large breed dog collars
  • Large breed dog leashes
  • Large breed dog outside igloo’s
  • Large breed dog carriers
  • Large breed dog wire crates
  • Sharpies
  • Latex gloves
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Writing pens- black or blue ink
  • Volunteer board décor-seasonal
  • Pop up canopy
  • Small battery operated heater
  • Water mister for summer outside events
  • Bungee cords- various lengths/sizes
  • Puppy pens
  • Puppy training pads

These donations can be taken to the ASCMV location at 3551 Bataan Memorial West between operating hours 8am-6pm, Monday through Friday, and 8am-5pm, Saturday and Sunday. If you have an organization that you would like to donate to, I would recommend looking for a wish list before you begin your donations. This way, the charity gets exactly what they need and you can help them achieve their goals.

“Can you help me?”


Another excellent way to donate without spending a penny is by donating your time. By volunteering, you will provide much-needed support and assistance to the charity of your choice. If you pick something that you are truly passionate about (such as helping dogs) you will enjoy your time volunteering. By giving a few extra hours on your day off to those who could really use your help, you are providing relief for the other employees and volunteers who have to do more than they can handle. You can help at adoption events, thrift stores, create clubs and fundraisers, and help encourage those with a few extra dollars to donate to a worthwhile cause.

You can help walk this gorgeous mama and get to feel the love of charity without losing a penny.

Tax Deductions

While it shouldn’t be your prime purpose for donating, tax deductions are also a benefit to donating year-round. In order to take advantage of tax deductions, you must itemize your taxes. They need to see exactly where the money went, and what it was for. RealSimple also explains, “If you itemize your deductions, you’ll be able to deduct the full amount of your donation, whereas, if you were to attend a gala, you wouldn’t get to write off the full amount of your ticket, because the costs associated with the gala ticket (dinner, alcohol, etc.) are not counted as part of your donation.” You must donate by December 31 if you want to take advantage of a tax deduction for that year. Because of this, it would be easier to donate throughout the year, rather than trying to donate once at the end of the year, just in time to get your tax benefit.

Animal Charities

With all of these tips in mind, here are two great lists of animal charities that Your Pet Space supports and admires! We like to encourage local charities and sanctuaries first, but there are organizations across the country that could benefit greatly from your donations.

Ultimate Guide to Animal Charities Part 1

Ultimate Guide to Animal Charities Part 2

I hope that this has encouraged your giving spirit, and please consider donating to our local shelters, sanctuaries, and charities year-round. We all truly appreciate your kindness and generosity!

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

Keep Your Dog Happy and Safe This Summer

The summer months can be the most fun time of year for your canine pal, as they get to spend more time outdoors, playing and soaking up the sun. Unfortunately, summer can also be dangerous for dogs if basic precautions aren’t taken. As a good pet parent, you should know how to make sure your dog has a safe and enjoyable summer. Here are some tips to consider.

This gorgeous golden is ready for an adventurous summer! Are you?

Be Careful When Taking Walks

There’s a good chance that you’ll walk your dog more in the summer than during any other season. For starters, the weather is nice. You’ll also probably have just a little more free time, and even if you don’t, there are simply more daytime hours during the summer. All of this extra dog walking is great – but the summer months pose some specific risks.

You should try to walk your dog in the mornings or at dusk on especially hot days. Dogs can suffer from heat stroke just like humans. If it’s too hot and muggy outside for you, it’s likely to be too hot and muggy for your dog. You should always carry a water container with you on walks – especially for the longer ones. Be mindful of the temperature of the ground as well. Feel it with your hand. If it’s too hot for you to touch, it is probably hot enough to burn your pup’s paws.

Some dogs are okay with wearing booties in the winter and summer, which enables them to enjoy a walk on a hot day more easily, but there’s no need to push for this. If you can make a morning or evening walk work, it will be better for you both.

This damp earth seems to be the perfect temperature for a playful pup!

Think About the Sun

Did you know that dogs can get sunburned too? Dogs with thinner coats and light complexions are the most at risk, but hot days can be a problem for almost any breed. If you are going to be in the direct sunlight for a while, strongly consider applying a sunscreen on your dog (there are ones made for dogs, but ones for children will do in a pinch). As Cesar’s Way reminds us, be sure you cover their ears, nose, tail, and around their mouths. And don’t forget to reapply if you’re going to be outside for an extended period of time.

Be Extra Mindful of Pests

We all know that summer is the buggiest of seasons. It’s vital that you are extra mindful of pests during the warmer months. Not only should you make sure you keep up to date with your dog’s flea and tick medications, but you should invest in some extra protection (maybe some anti-pest shampoo). If your dog spends a lot of time outdoors in a wooded area, be sure to check their body for ticks just as you would for yourself.

In addition to avoiding pests, you want to make sure that your dog is protected against mosquito bites. Mosquitoes often carry the heartworm parasite, which can be deadly for your dog. Your best bet is to talk to your vet about a year-round medication that helps prevent heartworms.

“Heartworm?! That doesn’t sound good…”

Keep Your Dog Away From Poisonous Plants

Some of those beautiful summer blossoms in your backyard garden can do real harm to your dog, and you should be aware of what’s in your yard and what to do if your dog eats a poisonous plant. Plants like lily of the valley and foxglove are highly toxic to dogs, and there are many more common annuals and perennials that can make your dog sick, including rose of sharon, azalea, iris, bleeding heart and wisteria. Check this list of plants to see what may be toxic to your dog (or cat!).

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant, immediately call your vet to determine next best steps.

Family BBQ Dangers

Summertime usually means firing up the grill for a cookout. Be sure to keep your dog far away from your grill when you are cooking and for quite a while after you are done. Grills can stay hot to the touch for hours after use and this could pose risk of serious burn injuries.

It’s also not unusual for whatever has been cooked to accidentally fall on the ground. Ideally, you want to avoid feeding your dog “human” food. Anything with a bone, particularly a cooked bone, can be especially dangerous for your dog and can cause choking or internal damage. Make sure that if any meat with bones falls on the ground that it’s disposed of right away.

Outdoor Playtime

If your dog is going to be spending a large portion of its day outside, it’s imperative that you have a shaded spot for them in addition to plenty of water. Make it a point to provide clean, fresh water every day, and never chain your dog when you are away from home. In New Mexico, there are actually laws that prohibit tying out your dog, so make sure you are aware of these laws before leaving your dog outside.

Outdoor playtime is a great idea, but make sure to limit their exposure to heat and plants.

A dog door is a great option for animals that are at home by themselves during the day. If you have a fenced yard and the option to install a dog door, you”ll be offering your pooch the ultimate convenience when it comes to potty breaks and the ability to go in and out as they wish. Just be sure to close the door at night to avoid any unwanted critters venturing into your house.

Watch Out For Hidden Pool Dangers

Even if your dog is a great swimmer, pools can be dangerous in certain circumstances. Always make sure your dog knows how to get out on their own. Practice getting out using the steps until they get the hang of it. Of course, it’s best to always supervise your dog around the pool. And don’t forget to rinse your dog off with the hose after they leave the pool too. Chlorine can be especially irritating to their skin.

Hitting the Road

Summertime usually means vacation for most people, and it’s not unusual for many owners to take their dogs wherever they go. If you decide to let your pooch tag along on your trip, make sure you plan ahead accordingly. Look for hotels/motels that are pet-friendly. If you’re driving, be sure to make frequent stops and to set up your dog safely in the car. Wherever you go you’ll want to have food and water bowls, a pillow or blanket, dog toys, and copies of your dog’s vaccinations.

Looks like this guy is enjoying a nice trip to the river!

It should go without saying, but if you take a road trip with your dog, never leave your pet enclosed in a hot car. Just as with children, dogs are susceptible to overheating and death if locked in a hot car.

If you leave your dog behind when you travel, consider hiring a dog sitter or board your dog while you are on vacation. This will ensure that your dog is checked on regularly and has someone who will be walking them and playing with them. Not only will this help keep your dog entertained, but you can rest easy while you’re away and your dog can have a pleasant vacation of their own!

A fun and adventurous summer is made even more so if you have a dog by your side. But it’s your responsibility to read up on potential summer dangers and make sure your dog stays happy and safe.

Jessica Brody is a dog lover and creator of

Exotic and Intelligent Lap Cats

Egyptian Mau

Most assume that the Egyptian Mau has its given name due to the cat’s origins, initially believed to be found in Egypt. However, through DNA tests, it was discovered this breed originated in Europe. Due to the fact that sailing through the North, Atlantic, Tyrrhenian, Black, Mediterranean, and the Red Seas became frequent during that era, many cat breeds traveled by ship to new destinations all over Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. This breed was given their name because they were largely celebrated and worshiped by the Ancient Egyptian kings and pharaohs. “Mau” means “cat”, and it also means “sun” in Ancient Egyptian. These cats were typically viewed as gods and judges to their royal families.

This beautiful Mau is displaying her subtle “M” on her forehead.

These cats came to the United States in 1956 when the Russian Princess, Nathalie Troubetskoy imported her three famous Maus from Italy; a bronze male and two silver females named JoJo, Liza, and Baba. The breed achieved “champion” status with the International Cat Association in 1979. Some British cat breeders tried to create Maus by cross-breeding Tabbies, Abyssinians and Siamese cats, but this proved to be unsuccessful because they lacked the Egyptian Mau’s discrete physical attribute; an ‘M’ or “Scarab Beetle” on their foreheads. The cats from the failed breeding attempts were given the name Ocicat in the mid-1960s.

Maus are known for many characteristics; agility, gentility, livelihood, loyalty, playfulness, and of course, their intelligence. Their intelligence is responsible for their indisputable loyalty to their humans, also making them serine and irresistible to be around. Maus will pick their special human with whom they express their utmost devotion and affection to. But fret not, if you have a Mau, they will also be loving to the rest of the household; one person will just be showered with a little extra attention. The breed also proves to be highly intelligent due to their curiosity and friendly attitude towards strangers. They enjoy being in high places, claiming their territory and watching their house-mates wander among their home. Maus can often be found on top of refrigerators, cat trees, or cupboards, and they spend much of the time riding on their owner’s shoulders.

An adorable Mau kitten.

Nicknamed the “Pharaoh Cat” Maus have silky short coats with a color range from Smoky, Black, Silver, and Blue. The word “Mau” also means natural, as this breed is the only naturally spotted domestic cat. This breed has a maximum life expectancy of twenty years, and minimum of eighteen. Male Maus should weigh between ten to fifteen pounds, and females should weigh between six to ten pounds. This breed is very vocal, highly active and playful. An average cost for an Egyptian Mau kitten can range from $500 to $800 US dollars.


The LaPerm cat was given its name for having a tight, curly coat, emerging in the 1980’s from a unprompted mutation of cats bred for nuisance control (mouse hunters). Breeders Richard and Linda Koehl from Oregon had a cat that gave birth to a curly-coated kitten, who they then named Curly. Curly then bred with Manx and Siamese cats, and her litter of kittens all shared the dominant mutation of the curly coat, making Curly the ancestor of all LaPerm cats. The breeders let their curly cats continue to breed freely over ten years before they contacted the breeding programs and making them official with The International Cat Association in 1995, and eventually Championship status in February 2003.

A gorgeous example of a LaPerm cat.

Nearly all LaPerm kittens are born bald with tabby-like patterns on their skin, with a curly coat beginning to develop within three to four months. Despite the curls ranging from corkscrew to ringlet curls, the coat has a very uncommon texture. Often described as soft, there is no thick undercoat and the curls are typically loose. These cats will need more grooming than straight haired cats. LaPerms also have their curls inside and behind their ears, with long, curled whiskers on their face with coat colors varying from red, black, lilac and chocolate.

Known for being very cleaver, LaPerm cats can be funny and mischievous critters. They use their paws to swipe for food, open doors, and tap their owners for attention. They are moderately active and are typically very good at playing fetch. LaPerms won’t follow your every step, but they might sit on the top of your desktop, lap, or shoulders. Rarely using their voice, they are very quiet, patient, and gentle with all people. LaPerms are happy lap cats that are naturally inquisitive and curious to know what happens in their surroundings. Owners of this breed report that their LaPerm cats are empathic to their needs and emotions. Because they are tuned to their owner’s senses, owners form deep bonds with their LaPerm cats.

This LaPerm is posing perfectly for her picture.

This breed has a maximum life expectancy of fourteen years, and a minimum of ten years. Male LaPerm’s maximum weight should be at ten pounds and a minimum of eight, and females max weight is at eight pounds while their minimum is five. These kittens can cost between $400 to $600 US dollars if purchased directly from breeders.

Maine Coon

The Maine Coon cat is one of the oldest breeds from North America and there have been many speculations about how this cat came to be. To raccoons and feral cats mating, an attempted escape by Marie Antoinette with her six Turkish Angora cats, from English captains having long haired cats that would land in New England, these cat’s origins have remained a mystery. The breed emerged in popularity in the early 1860’s, and in 1895 twelve Maine Coons were entered into a cat competition, and a female brown tabby Maine Coon named Cosey won the silver collar and was named the Best Cat in the Show. After a cat show in 1911, the breed was rarely seen in competitions. They were originally denied provisional breed status by the Cat Fanciers’ Association in the early 1970’s, but five years later, the breed was finally given the status and the State of Maine declared the Maine Coon as their Official State Cat.

This Maine Coon really looks like a cat you’d find in the wild.

As either a long or medium haired cat, their coats are silky soft but have different textures depending on the color of their coat. Maine Coons can have any color of coats that other cats have. Although the tabby pattern is quite common among this breed, they can also have a solid colors ranging from bi-colored coats to solid white, cinnamon, or black. These breeds are the largest breed of domestic cats; in 2010 a Maine Coon named Stewie made the record as longest cat, measuring at 48.5 in (about 4 feet long) from his nose to his tail. Their bodies are muscular and their bone structure is solid to support their weight. They continue going through puberty until they are about five years old, their body constantly growing, while other breeds usually take about a year or two to reach their maximum weight.

Owners of Maine Coons report that their cats are so intelligent that they’re easily trainable like dogs. Not only are they loyal to their families, but they have no problem with giving their owners hours of their time; they tend to enjoy being a part of everything that their family is doing. They are human oriented cats and they often approach strangers in a friendly manner. It should be easily to train these cats to walk on leashes and harnesses, and to teach them to play fetch. Maine Coons are one of the few breeds that remain kitten-like for most of their lives, making them good-natured, and they are only vocal when they are hungry, or when that desire attention from their humans. Unlike some cats, Maine Coons adore water; they love to be in it, wash their food in water, watch it, or play in it

This Maine Coon is presenting his beautiful long coat.

Maine Coons have a maximum life expectancy of thirteen years and a minimum of eleven. It is important to make sure these breeds don’t become overweight; males have a maximum weight of fifteen pounds, a minimum of twelve, and females have a maximum weight of twelve pounds and a minimum of nine. The cost of Maine Coons kittens can vary depending on the area, making them more expensive if they are purchased from the West and East Coast, ranging from $400 to $1,000 US dollars.

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

The Importance of High-Quality Dog Food

Since most dogs seem to enjoy eating just about anything they can get their mouths on, some people think all dog food equal. As long as they’re being fed enough food and getting some exercise, they should be fine! After all, stray dogs survive on nothing but scraps and trash, right? Unfortunately, this is far from true. Feeding your dog the cheaper, low-quality brands such a Beneful and Kibbles n’ Bits is basically the equivalent of feeding your child candy and chips for every meal of the day. Sure, it will make them full and happy for a few minutes, but they will be lacking major nutrients which will cause severe health issues in the long run. That dog eating McDonalds leftovers on the street might be surviving, but they won’t be happy and healthy for long. So, before you go out and buy your next bag of Science Diet, read up on the following tips and concerns.

This sad dog is not happy with his cheap bowl of food.

Foods to Avoid

The ingredients of your dog’s food are the main thing you should be looking at while purchasing a new bag. In their post entitled  Best Dog Food Reviews, notes that some ingredients in cheap, low quality dog food provide little to no nutrients, and they can even make the food “unsafe and unhealthy.” Some of the worst ingredients include the terms “meat” or “meat-meal”. also explains that “in California, manufacturers have given them the appetizing name of ‘dry rendered tankage.’ So why avoid them? It’s almost impossible to tell what’s being rendered: It can be roadkill, zoo animals, and sometimes even spoiled meat from the grocery store that’s still wrapped in plastic.”

If your dog’s food is full of artificial colors like this, that is yet another sign of danger.

Other ingredients can also be hazardous to your dog’s health. Ingredients like corn, wheat, onions, and garlic should be avoided at all costs. provided a handy little infographic explaining some ingredients that should be avoided, and their healthier alternatives.

Finally, also explains that, “Digestive problems, including bloat and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are symptomatic of poor ingredients that don’t contain enough whole, unprocessed foods. Food allergies can also lead to digestive issues — many of the experts we reached out to have seen evidence that dogs are sensitive to wheat and corn, both popular fillers.” While not every dog will have these issues with low quality dog food, all of the combined possible side effects should be enough to cause any dog owner to reconsider their choices.

Healthier Options

First, you must decide what type of food you’d like to feed your dog. While dry dog food is typically considered the best option all the way around, some dogs require a different option such as wet food, dehydrated food, raw food, or homemade food. If you have a senior dog, they will probably require a softer food than a younger dog because they may have more sensitive teeth, or they may have lost teeth or chewing power throughout the years.

This older gal might need a little bit of help with some softer food options.

If you have a relatively healthy, young to middle aged dog, they will probably be okay with dry food, perhaps topped with some canned food as an extra treat. Always keep an eye out for any signs of allergies that your dog could be having toward the food, especially if you make a change in their diet. For example, my Staffordshire Terrier mix is extremely allergic to any type of grain and potatoes. She also has many environmental allergies, but changing her food to a high-quality, grain-free and potato-free diet made a huge change. For more information about dog allergies, read my article My Dog Has Allergies: Now What?

In order to find the very best foods, used a “funnel” to sort out the brands that don’t pass their test. They started by removing the products that don’t have any kind of meat listed as the first ingredient. Then they removed products that contain grain, wheat, or flour, then they removed the ones with beet pulp or sugar. They also removed products that contained “by-products or sauces.” Finally, they “reviewed brands for recalls, ingredient sources, history, and customer satisfaction” and they “reviewed the remaining formulas based on the best ratio of protein, fat, and carbs, as well as the source of protein.”

“I smell good food!”

After going through this rigorous process, they found a total of 29 brands that fit their strict protocols. The top 13 brands are Orijen, ACANA, Earthborn, Ziwipeak, Eagle Peak, Fromm, Addiction New Zealand, The Honest Kitchen, AvoDerm, Horizon Legacy, and Pinnacle. Of these brands, our local pet food store, Better Life Natural Pet Foods carries Earthborn, Fromm, The Honest Kitchen, AvoDerm, and Pinnacle along with a variety of other high quality dry, canned, dehydrated, and raw dog food brands.

The Right Option for You

Because there are still a large number of brands that you can choose from, you’ll get to have the chance to pick the right brand for you and your dog. Price is of course one of the first things you’ll have to consider when looking at a higher quality dog food brand. explains, “We understand that the price points of our top-rated choices may be higher than the average unit price in the industry, and might be simply too costly for many consumers. Still, our goal was to surface other key considerations — like ingredients and history of handling recalls — when deciding which formula is best for your dog. Moving forward, we also hope to provide more clarity around affordability, as well.” If you feed your dog good food from the start, the price of your vet bills will go down drastically throughout the years. Paying more for good food now means a healthier, happier life for your pup down the line.

If these pups start eating good food now, they’ll live long, happy lives.

All this being said, I find it important to note that, even though I feed my dog a very high-quality dog food called Zignature, it is not mentioned among the list of top brands. It may not have met some of’s strict standards, or it simply may not have been among the 115 brands they looked at. This leads me to believe that, even though this is a very well-comprised and highly detailed list, there might be some exceptions. I do still believe that Zignature is a very good brand, so if you would like information about a particular dog food, I would suggest talking to our local professionals at Better Life Natural Pet Foods. provided an excellent starting point for those who are reconsidering their dog food brand, but there is always more to learn. Feeding your dog a high-quality, healthy food should be as important as feeding your kids fruits and veggies, so I believe that thirty minutes of research to find the best food brand available for your pal is worth its weight in gold.

For additional insight into healthier food options for your dog, check out my previous article, Feeding Dogs Human Food: How to Change Your Ways.

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

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

Re-Cap of Part I

Budgerigars, more commonly known as parakeets or budgies, are very popular and 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. As a very small parrot, budgies have a noticeable intelligence as well as being interesting and easy to train. We went over the origins, how to pick your new budgie, the colors available, health, age, and gender in Part I of this series. In Part II we will discuss essentials, diet, cleaning, and toys! Read Part I before reading this segment to gain the most knowledge possible!

An example of a “fancy budgie” from Part I!


Budgies need an area that can be described as “theirs.” A horizontally barred cage with different levels of perches is the number one item you will absolutely need. Investing early in a large, decent cage will definitely be worth it in the long run. The cage and perches will most likely be the most expensive items in the beginning, but it is better to purchase one nice cage early on as a bird owner instead of continually purchasing lower quality cages every few years.

The appropriate cage size for a budgie should be considered to be about 24 inches long by 24 inches wide and a minimum of 24 inches high. This size is adequate for two budgies and can be expanded if more birds will be sharing the space. The most important feature in the cage are the horizontal bars. The maximum space between bars that is safe for budgies is 1/2 an inch apart. Any more space than this and the birds would possibly be able to escape or manage to become stuck between the bars which will definitely cause great trauma, stress, and harm to the bird.

An example of a fully assembled budgie habitat.

Budgies often love to climb up the sides of the cage, and they would love plenty of smooth or natural perches (not made of sand paper or similar coarse textures which may injure their feet) to climb and explore vertically. Because of the exploratory curiosity of these birds, it is best to avoid cages with a lot of decoration and architectural variation because a little bird toe may easily become caught in places one does not expect. Keep it basic and the birds will become the happiest and most beautiful feature in their cage!

Price ranges for the birds themselves run from $15 to $25 per bird from pet stores, and breeders may establish various prices depending on each bird’s unique characteristics. There are some varieties of budgie such as the crested budgerigars, a popular variant breed that may change the actual price of the bird. Crested budgies are often seen at bird shows along with other breeds.

A crested budgie with its unique crown of feathers.


The best way to keep your bird healthy is to feed them a diet similar to what they would find in the wild and to mimic some of their natural foraging habits. Components to a Budgerigar diet include seed, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, and occasional treats. The seed can be a store bought pre-made blend made specifically for budgies or small parrots. It is best to look for blends that contain canary seed (this is the actual name of a seed, not specifically related to the bird of the same name), millet, and just a small amount of oats. It is very important to keep an eye on the fat content of your bird’s overall diet. Foods such as oats and sunflower seeds have a certain percentile of fat which, depending on the birds exercise levels, can lead to pudgy budgie buddies. These fattier foods can be given as occasional treats.

There are also a wide variety of fresh food items that are safe and fun to offer to your budgies as a major portion of their diets, or as treats. Some favorites that I personally find fascinating are broccoli, zucchini, fennel seed, hard-boiled eggs, apples, and even lemons. Budgies can be a little hesitant when trying new foods, but when offered consistently and mixed with some known foods, your bird will have a variety of treats to enjoy. When offering food, don’t always place it in a food bowl. Provide food in a way to promote activity and encourage mental exercise. A good example is to place spray millet in the top or side of the cage to promote acrobatic acts of the bird while they stretch, hang, and cling in order to reach and enjoy the food.

Enjoying a healthy treat in a fun way.


As with most pets, aspects of maintenance need to become routine. Some items, like food dishes and water bowls, need to be cleaned and sanitized daily while others, such as the entire cage and perches may only need monthly or weekly cleaning depending on how many birds share the space. Items that should be cleaned daily include dishes, cage liners, bird baths, and areas surrounding the cage (birds like to be messy and throw seed hulls and other debris outside the cage area). When doing these daily cleaning tasks, it is best to look to see if there are any changes in the bird’s habits such as normal waste, amount of food eaten, and the condition and cleanliness of toys. Things that need to be cleaned weekly or monthly include the cage and the perches themselves. Allow a few hours for this task because you will need to disassemble the cage and remove all toys and accessories in order to do a thorough scrubbing of bars and perches with animal friendly disinfectants that are still strong enough to prevent bacteria.

During that intensive cleaning process, it is a good time to allow your budgie to have its daily out-of-cage exercise. Budgies are nomadic birds and need time outside of their confined space. Whether you choose to let your budgie’s wings stay long or would prefer to have their wings clipped (consult and discuss with your vet about wing clipping procedures), budgies will need time outside to explore and play in a safe environment where you can easily supervise them. Constructing a fun enrichment area (which can include a jungle gym with lots of toys that are easy to interchange) provides a stimulating out-of-cage experience for your bird.

A fun play area constructed for time outside the cage and easy to adapt and interchange.


When picking out toys for your budgie, a variety will keep your bird physically and mentally active. Changing the toys around often also prevents birds from becoming bored. Factors to consider when picking out toys are color, texture, safe material, interactivity, and how exciting they are. As you get to know your bird(s), you will find out what types of toys are their favorites. Warning: some toys may cause noise and may want to be limited to daytime play only. For example, your budgie may really love ringing and jingling bells. Noises appropriate during the day may be disturbing to the rest of the household at night! It is also possible to incorporate treats with their toys, like a challenge or a test, to stimulate foraging habits and exercise.

A budgie with a Ferris wheel toy that is colorful, spins, dangles, and jingles.


Budgerigars are amazing and fun little avian buddies filled with just as much personality as the colors of their feathers indicate. Very intelligent and fun to be with, budgies are excellent little parrots to have as a companion either as a first-time bird owner or a veteran bird lover.

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