Welcome if you’re new, and I’m happy to have you back if you’ve read before.
Last week we talked about dog body language, and I want to keep up with this topic, just with a little twist. SO, this week on the blog is all about cat body language (we can’t all be dog people, though if you are; check out last week’s post).
In other news- the LSR Blog has moved to a bi-weekly posting schedule, so you can check back here every other week for new posts! If you want to see more of Lee Shore and we're getting up to, check out our social media! Now, on to the good stuff.
Body language is super important in how we communicate as people, but it matters in your animals too. Just as our actions can be telling of our thoughts or feelings, so can your pet’s. That’s why it’s good to cover the basics of cat behavior, so you can better understand your friend.
As weird as it sounds, blinking is a good thing in cat body language. If your cat greets you with a long, slow blink; it’s their way of showing affection towards you. Try to return the favor and blink back at them, that way a feeling of trust and security is formed.
Unlike traditional human characteristics, direct eye contact does not convey tenderness. For most cats, it’s the opposite, actually. Direct eye contact is how cats show that they’re feeling threatened, and especially if you’re continuously making eye contact with your cat, they may become alarmed. Though your intentions may be good, it’s best to not have prolonged eye contact with your pet. I.E. Those staring contests you’ve been trying to have: not exactly a friendly competition.
Typically in cats, dilated pupils show fear: the wider they are, the more anxious your cat is. The reason for this is because dilated pupils are trying to take in all of the surroundings. Cats with an unusual bug-eyed look to them are more than likely scared of something that’s happening around them.
This is rather intuitive, but because dilated pupils represent fear, narrowed eyes showcase anger or alertness in a cat. This should be taken with a grain of salt, though because cats eyes also adjust for lighting. So when looking at narrowed eyes, make sure you’re taking into account the rest of your cat’s posture as well.
Much like dogs, cats ears can also be very telling. If your cat’s ears are raised and erect, this is a sign that they’re alert. Ears that are pointing slightly forward are positive, and mean that your cat is relaxed and happy. Last but not least, if your cat flattens down their ears, they’re probably feeling threatened or afraid (this is not a good time to try and pet their cute little heads, either).
Tails may just seem like endless trouble (I’m talking about glasses knocked off of tables, and of course hair in your mouth), but cats actually have a lot of control over them. Let’s talk about some of the various positions and they’re meanings.
A high, but not stiff, tail is communicating happiness. With its tail up, your cat is content and confident. An upright tail is not the same, though. Think Halloween, the stereotypical black-cat with its tail erect and the bristles sticking out- this is an alarmed, threatened stance. Another sign of irritation is a flicking tail, or an arched back. All of these are signals telling you to give your cat some space. One last means of tail communication: if your cat is tucking its tail around another cat or your legs, it’s a sign of friendliness. This is a prime time to play with or cuddle your cat!
Now that we’ve covered the basics of your cats features, there’s a common stance that is easily readable. Called tummy display- creative, I’m aware- it’s when your absolutely adorable cat rolls on its back with its legs up. I’ll be the first to tell you, this makes me want to bury my face in its stomach and blow raspberries, but that is the last thing you should do (a hard to swallow pill, I know). The truth about this pose is that while sometimes it just means your kitty wants belly rubs, it can also mean your cat is feeling threatened. They chose this as a defensive pose because all of their sharp points are on display, so it’s easy to attack if need be.
All in all, if you’re able to identify even a couple of these cues, I’m willing to bet your relationship with your cat will improve. Cats are friendly and playful, and want to be loved on just as much as you want to love them! Sometimes they just need a little space, and really, who can blame them?
That’s all I’ve got for today folks, now use the rest of your free time to cuddle your pets. If you’re not already doing so, that is…
I post every Tuesday, and once a month I feature a special adoptable pet from our very own Lee Shore Rescue. Have a great week, and I’ll see you back here next time!
Lastly, If you’re interested in the articles I found particularly useful while researching, check out these links:
For those of you who don’t know- I’m a college student, which means travelling a fair amount. For most in my position, summer jobs are a necessary evil- but fortunately for me, I look forward to mine. I can’t wait to be at Lee Shore and spending my day surrounded by cute pups. While I love getting to hang out with all the animals at LSR, it’s not all fun and games. In order to keep yourself and the animals safe, you have to learn to read each other’s reactions. Animals have a wide range of emotions, just like people; fortunately, this week I’m coming at you with a guide to understand dog’s body language! That way you can be sure you know what your pup is trying to tell you.
Dogs eyes are super important in understanding their body language. A key thing to look for is the size and shape of their pupils, and the whites of their eyes (the sclera). Anxious dogs may have eyes that appear rounder, or the sclera may become bigger/more visible. Dogs eyes may also have a “glassy” appearance when they’re scared or stressed. If you notice these signs, try to identify what’s upsetting your dog, and, if possible, remove the stressor from the area, or make it clear to your dog that they’re safe.
When dogs are relaxed their eyes have a more almond shape, and the sclera is often not visible at all. Happy dog’s eyes can be described as squinty, so not seeing whites is a sign that your dog is comfortable and content.
Scared dog: Relaxed dog:
Tension is pretty clear in the mouth, and if your dog’s mouth is tensed up, more than likely so are they. In their relaxed state, dogs keep their mouths open, and may pant. A dog with its mouth closed, lips pulled back, and/or that is panting rapidly is showing signs of stress. Your dog may also be stressed if it is drooling but not in the presence of food (This is more subjective, though, some dogs are just droolers).
Another thing to look out for is a wrinkled muzzle, and the exposure of a dog’s teeth. While some dogs show their teeth in a happy smile, others may display an “offensive pucker”. This is when dogs wrinkle their muzzles, and the corners of their mouths pull back into a “C” shape. To differentiate between happy and tense smiles, look at the rest of your dog’s body language. Widened eyes and wrinkled foreheads may alert you to the fact your dog is anxious, but relaxed ears and a wagging tail are evidence that your pup is happy as a clam.
Dogs who are becoming stressed may also start yawning or licking excessively. This is a warning sign, and if you notice it by itself, or accompanied with tension in their body, the situation probably needs to be assessed and diffused.
Relaxed Dog Body Language:
Dogs ears are a little bit harder to read, simply because there are so many types of dogs ears (And we love that, personally I’m sucker for floppy ears, but to each their own). There’s a formula to help you understand what your dog’s ears are saying. Generally, content dogs have their ears slightly back or to the side, like this swell fella:
Dogs have the ability to move their ears forward and back at the base, so if your dog’s ears are forward (generally their foreheads wrinkle, too) something has piqued their interest. They may have just seen a squirrel outside that caused them to become alert, but it may also be a sign that they’re frightened.
Alert Dog Body Language:
While our favorite thing to see is a wagging tail on a pup, there areother emotions that the tail can display. The first thing to consider when looking at a dog’s tail is the position of the base of tail.
Relaxed: Tail extending from the base of the spine, neither raised nor lowered.
Fearful: Tucked away between hind legs or, held stiff against the stomach.
Excited: Tail raised higher than normal, above the level of the spine.
Next to consider is the way in which the tail is moving. Not all wagging means that your pup is happy or comfortable, but there are pretty distinct ways to tell different wags apart.
Normal: Sweeping side to side, or in a circular pattern (Happy dogs are dogs who knock things off tables with their tails, which is endearing… sort of).
Excited: Still side-to-side, but now at a faster pace.
Fearful: Stiff, firm wagging (if the tail is not held rigid)
Fearful Dog Body Language:
Important:If a dog becomes aggressive, the best thing to do is to remove yourself and others from the situation. Aggressive behavior should not prompt a dramatic reaction to your pet, disciplining your pet is great sometimes, but preventing bites is always the #1 priority.
Alright, y’all, that’s all I’ve got for today! I hope you enjoyed, and I’ll be covering body language for the next few weeks, so if dogs aren’t your thing- fear not. I hope you guys all have a great week, and I’ll see you back here next Tuesday.
Also: here are some great articles I found while researching, if you want more information on this topic, I highly recommend checking them out :)
Hi guys! Welcome back to the blog!
I hope you’re all well and as excited as I am for a new post. As much as I’ve loved writing about kittens, there’s a special place in my heart for the monthly featured pet. Luckily for us, it’s that time again! Lee Shore takes pride in our adorable rescues, and I try not to play favorites, but today’s guy is a gem.
This beautiful boy is a Staffordshire Terrier, and has a sweet, playful personality. He’s about two-and-a-half years old, and was born on 12/21/16. He’s a medium sized boy, weighing in at approximately 55 pounds. Teddy is muscular, but he’s a medium energy dog, and would love simple activities like cuddling with his person, taking sun-naps, or going on a casual walk.
Teddy has been very friendly towards his foster family and other dogs, but he would do best in a home with other dogs that share his playful energy and are around his size. Teddy loves to make friends, and having siblings to romp around with would make him super happy.
Some background on Teddy: He came to us from our local shelter with an injured shoulder. Teddy was most likely the victim of a car accident, but we’re happy to report that he has made a full recovery. Though he has a (barely noticeable) limp, he has no physical limitations and is in no pain. We love stories with happy endings, and Teddy is definitely the hero in his!
Not only is Teddy cheerful and sweet natured, he’s also house trained, crate trained, and leash trained! He’s started obedience training, and is progressing very well, this definitely makes him a great pet to bring home. Continuing Teddy’s list of accomplishments (not trying to brag, but…) he is also neutered, microchipped, and up to date on his vaccinations, de-wormings, heartworm prevention and flea-tick medications!
Teddy’s adoption fee is $225, and he is currently with his foster parents in WNC. He is available to be picked up, or we have options for transport at an additional fee.
If you think Teddy is your forever-friend, fill out an application here: https://www.leeshorerescue.com/adopt-now.html
Hey y’all! Happy June! I don’t know about you, but it’s been a pretty hectic time (hence the Wednesday post- sorry guys). I wrapped up my freshman year at ASU last month, and now I'm busy spending my summer playing with cute rescue pets. That’s beside the point though, we’re all here to talk about kittens, so let’s get into it!
People talk a big game about how hard raising kittens is, and tell horror stories of destroyed furniture. To be honest though, that’s mostly talk. Raising a kitten isn’t as hard as it sounds, and they’re definitely not malicious creatures set on scratching up your curtains. With kittens, fostering good behavior really just comes down to providing an enriching environment.
Although kittens are domesticated, there’s still an innate need for them to feel fulfilled in terms of hunting. Cats whose needs aren’t met often times become stressed, which may be expressed through behavioral problems. Kittens are also full of energy, so they need proper outlets to prevent them from playing in inappropriate ways. The best way to avoid this is to promote acceptable play for your kitten. To do so, start with supervised play- the most effective means of keeping your kitten out of trouble is to make sure they know what they areallowed to do. A great toy for cats, kittens especially because of their high energy, is a feather toy like this:
This is a good option because it will help your kitten get out some excess energy, and it will satisfy your kitten’s urge to hunt. An added bonus is that toys that are interactive for you and your kitten will help to increase your bond.
Take note though, you should let your kitten decide when and how much they want to play. Don’t force interactions, and make sure they have plenty of time to recuperate between games.
Protip: Make time to play with your kitten just before bed. The goal here is to tire them out so they’re not bothering you throughout the night, and it will help your new friend become assimilated to your schedule.
Don’t worry about spending all day everyday playing with your kitten, that’s exhausting, and impossible. At times when you’re not around, try giving your kitten a puzzle toy. This could be something with a hidden treat, or ball set in a track that your kitten can bat around without losing. It’s also recommended that you allow your kitten a rotation of toys. This will stop them from getting bored, which in turn helps prevent them from getting into things they shouldn’t. Not to say that you need to have a thousand different, costly toys for your kitten. You can easily get a cardboard box (great for scratching and keeping claws from getting too long!), a sock, or the cardboard roll from paper towels or toilet paper. If you’re interested in DIY cat toys, check out this article:
I will say that I’ve heard warnings against giving cats yarn or string to play with. Though they’ll enjoy it, these materials can be harmful to your cats digestive system.
(Links for similar puzzle toy options here:
Cats are territorial, and can also be moody if they don’t get enough down time- me too, for that matter. The best way to ensure your kitten is getting enough rest is to provide a safe place for them to relax. I mentioned in my last post these cuddle cups (Link here:
that my boyfriend’s cats adore. Again though, you don’t necessarily need to buy an extravagant bed for your cat. I’ve had major success with a simple cardboard box stuffed with an old towel/blanket before. Another great option is to patrol places like Facebook market place or Craigslist to find them at a cheaper price- or even free if you’re lucky.
Last but not least, cats love to perch. Love it. Having something like a cat tree not only fulfills your kittens need to explore and be stimulated, but also gives them a great place to observe what’s going on around them. Cat trees are also a great idea if you have other animals in the house, so that if your kitten needs a break they have a nice little escape, and don’t have to climb your cabinets. Most cat trees/perches are also made out of scratch proof materials, and this is wonderful as cats need things to scratch to keep their claws from getting out of hand.
Links for perches and trees:
While researching for this post, I found this article super helpful:
Be sure to check it out for more information on kittens and advice for interacting with and raising them.
Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you all back here next Tuesday!
Hey everyone!I hope this week finds you well, I really don’t have any big updates for this week, so who am I kitten? Let’s just get into it! (Since starting this blog I’ve adopted the humor of a middle-age Golf dad, and for that I won’t apologize.)
This week’s topic is kitten behavior, so this is for everyone getting ready to adopt, or those who want to learn more about their furry friends- and what their norm is.
Kittens develop much in the same way human babies do! This means that there are sequential stages of play that define how kittens are building physical and cognitive skills. Let’s break these down, but dokeep in mind that everything develops at its own pace, and these are just outlines, not strict timetables for development and play.
First comes what’s called social play. This is typical for kittens, because up until they are weened, most of kittens interactions have been with their mother and/or siblings. These interactions are playful, and they essential teach kittens what is socially acceptable when playing with other animals.
After weening, kittens typically start showing more interest in the objects around them: probably because they’re no longer fixated on their mother as a primary source of life. This is so creatively named object play. In this stage, kittens will usually start figuring out the patterns of hunting. A lot of their play will involve chasing and stalking, and they’ll be very interested in moving objects or things they can bat around. I once dropped an onion on the floor in the kitchen and had a heck of a time trying to get it away from my dear, crazy cat.
This stage of play is associated with the development of eye-paw coordination, as well as their hunting skills. Though I can say as a long-time cat owner, most of mine have been entirely useless. I once witnessed a near 20-minute battle between my cat and a bug. The bug won.
Last comes the stage of locomotor play, and this is very influential for the development of balance and agility. This stage is typically fully developed by 10-12 weeks.
Keeping your kitten stimulated is highly encouraged to promote their development! Kittens frequently prefer smaller toys, as well as things they can roll around such as a small ball. Play with string or warn, while movie-quality cute, is not recommended. This is because if your cat manages to swallow a piece of it (And if they can, they will), it can cause damage to their intestines. That’s something we definitely want to avoid, for the sake of your fur-baby and your wallet. If you’re not sure what toys are best, ask your vet or take a look at these:
Another tip for playing with your kitten- don’t encourage them to play with your hands. While this seems cute when they’re young, it’ll lose its charm when they start using claws and teeth. If your sweet kitten starts thinking that your hand is an acceptable toy, it’ll be hard to break the habit. The easiest way to avoid a kitten that goes after hands, even just in play, is to discourage the habit from the start.
We always encourage that you play with your kitten, in fact it’s recommended that kittens be handled anywhere from 15-40 minutes a day! However, just like people, kittens need downtime too. If it seems like your little friend is getting agitated or overtired, give them some time to recuperate. The best way to interact with your kitten is too play until they get too tired or seem overexcited. Make sure they know what boundaries are set up by putting them to bed if they start getting nippy or play with their claws out. Cats have to be trained just like dogs, and everyone will be happy if there are clear rules in your relationship, as well as if they have quiet time to themselves.
Spaying and neutering always remains relevant. It’s one of the most important ways to keep pets healthy and happy, and to avoid any unexpected surprises. With dogs, we recommend spaying/neutering be done anywhere between 6 months - 1 year, and the longer you’re able to wait the better. This isn’t the case with cats, though. As crazy as it sounds, cats can go into heat starting at just four months old. F o u r months! That’s why we suggest having spay/neuter procedures done between 3-4 months of age. Here at Lee Shore, it’s built into our policy that spay/neuter procedure costs are included in the adoption fee. If your pet isn’t old enough to have the surgery done while in our care pre-adoption, we’ll reimburse you for up to fifty dollars to cover the cost!
If this article peaked your interest in adoption a lovely kitten- you may just want to click this link: https://www.leeshorerescue.com/cats.html
But more on our special girl, Nova, later… We still have a featured pet article for this month, after all!
Wishing you the best, I’ll see you all next week for another surprise kitten-topic. Make sure you check back on Tuesdays for new blog posts!
As always, while researching I found a wonderful article! If you’re interested, check it out here:
Hello all, and welcome back to the blog!
Last week’s post was our first installation in our featured pet series- so if you want to read about an adorable dog currently up for adoption- go check it out!
Now let’s talk about our topics for the next few weeks… I guess that the cat’s out of the bag, because we're all about kittens!
We all want our pets to feel at home, so it’s natural to want them to have run of the space. Cats are territorial though, so moving to a new home can be overwhelming. We recommend limiting them to a room or two for the first couple of days or weeks. This will help them better adjust, and give you a little more time to kitten proof!
2. Let’s get down and dirty: litter boxes.
Litter boxes are great. No, I mean it. Litter boxes are great, and I love cats for using them, because it simplifies things for everyone. Logistically speaking, litterboxes are pretty self-explanatory, but we’ll go over a couple key things:
Litter boxes should have 1-2 inches of litter, and to help make your kitty comfortable, we suggest putting it somewhere semi-private. Because, you know, that’s a private matter!
If you’re not sure what litter to go for, check out this article: https://www.petfinder.com/cats/bringing-a-cat-home/choose-cat-litter/
3. Nutrition: This is pretty simple, but make sure your new friend has food and water bowls, preferably located away from the litter. Most cats I know can drink out of basically anything (Mine share my dog’s giant water bowl!), but they are small creatures. Especially if adopting a kitten, double check and make sure the dishes you’re using are an appropriate size.
Okay guys, here’s the big one: meeting the family
If there are multiple people in your house or apartment, it’s crucial to go over rules for interacting with your pet. Some topics to keep in mind are: Letting the pet come to you; not chasing them, avoiding getting in their face (this would be overwhelming for anyone- let alone an animal in a new situation!), and being gentle when petting/picking up your new pet- especially relevant if there are younger members of your household.
If there are some youngin’s who will be around your new pet, you may want to consider monitoring the beginning interactions.
5. Kitty Claws: We all face the fear that a new pet could be detrimental to furniture- this doesn’t have to be the case though! Cat’s claws need to worn down, otherwise they can get uncomfortably long and your friend may start using your favorite chair as a scratching post. There’s a simple fix to this though, get an approved scratching place! This could be as simple as some fun cardboard, or you could go all the way with a cat tree with a scratching post. Here’s a fun one with catnip: https://www.amazon.com/Catit-Scratcher-Catnip-Jungle-Stripe-Lounge/dp/B0032G6VVQ/ref=zg_bs_2975247011_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=B0GTGDZ519YPWKEHKGZ6
Or a super fun post with a toy: https://www.amazon.com/Paws-Stuff-Tall-Scratching-Interactive/dp/B07BY385RX/ref=zg_bs_2975247011_9?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=B0GTGDZ519YPWKEHKGZ6
6. Sibling Rivalries? We went over introducing family members, but now let’s talk about other pets. We all want our pets to get along, and though it’s a delicate process, it ispossible. And you can do it! Delicate doesn’t necessarily mean hard. First thing’s first: Let your new pet get comfortable in your home. Moving in is overwhelming, so introducing other pets to an already stressful situation is not ideal. Give your new pet a chance to look around and get used to things. This will also give your pet time to get used to the scent of any other animals you may have in your house.
Like with kids (fur-babies, amirite?), introduce them under supervision, and keep them in a controlled environment. If you have a dog, it’s probably ideal that it stays on a leash during the first few meetings. I also recommend keeping feedings separate. Again, cats are territorial, so immediately putting them with another animal may cause feeding anxiety, which we definitely want to avoid.
Make sure you praise good behavior! This isn’t hard because… I mean, we all praise our pets. They’re just too cute not to. However, it is important that they know when they’re doing something right, and praise will reinforce the behaviors you want them to keep up.
7. Safe Spaces: we’ve all seen how much cats love boxes.
Need I say more?
Seriously though, cats love to cozy up, especially in semi-enclosed spaces. Cat carriers are great choices, especially if they’re familiar with one in particularly. Other good options include cat trees with little nooks, or, as shown above, a good ol’ box.
Personally, my boyfriend’s six (6!) cats all love these: https://www.amazon.com/Best-Friends-Sheri-Small-Cuddle/dp/B01FOB5I3I/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?hvadid=243374397992&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=1021017&hvnetw=g&hvpos=1t1&hvqmt=e&hvrand=7940568717547789009&hvtargid=kwd-410350724080&keywords=cuddle+cup+cat+bed&qid=1554149185&s=gateway&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1
Alright Folks, that’s all for this week. Thanks for tuning in! Come back next week for more tips on Cat Care (I’m going to have to trademark this), and comment any questions!
PS, these are articles I found super helpful while writing this week’s feature:
Although I’m a little sad to transition out of bunny articles (a good way to look at cute pics all day while calling it research), I’m super excited to say that today’s post is our first Featured Pet!
Featured Pet posts will be a monthly installation here on the blog, and just as it sounds, are meant to showcase an adoptable pet that we think deserves your attention. Searching for the Perfect Pet can be overwhelming, especially when there are so many good options, so maybe this will lighten your load… Or at least brighten up your feed!
Look at that face!
Cinnamon is a beautiful girl, born on approximately 03/20/18 – A lovely spring baby. She is currently one, and she’s an American Staffordshire terrier/American pit bull mix. This sweet girl weighs in at about seventy-five pounds, but don’t let that fool you, she loves to snuggle! Cinnamon would be happy to double as lap dog and cuddle up with her person on the couch.
Some other important things to about our VIP (Very Important Pet):
Cinnamon is spayed! We’re firm believers in spaying and neutering pets, so much so that when you adopt from Lee Shore, the cost is on us up to $50 for a spay or neuter surgery. In Cinnamon’s case though, she’s old enough that we were able to handle the procedure as well. She’s also current on vaccinations. Which is one less thing for you to think about!
Packing up a car to do anything - anything - can be a hassle. I mean, not speaking from experience or anything, but it’s pretty embarrassing to drive all the way to the grocery store and then realize you forgot your wallet… That being said though, Cinnamon rides well in car. She’d be a great buddy to have tag along!
This spicy girl (see what I did there?) is also crate-trained, leash-trained, and house-trained. Talk about a triple threat.
Even with her growing list of accomplishments, Cinnamon has been a very low-key pet. She’s friendly and loves to cuddle. She likes to play with other dogs, and is well socialized. Cinnamon has also been good with most children and adults in the past. Cinnamon makes friends best when given a monitored introduction, so she can get to know them before they start playing. Cinnamon has also done very well with children she has met. Check her out with here our resident professional pet cuddler, Ella!
If you think Cinnamon is the girl for you- let’s talk about getting her to a forever home!
The adoption fee is $225.00 and includes veterinary check-up, deworming, vaccinations, flea and tick treatment and spay. Currently, Cinnamon lives in a foster home in Polk County, NC. Pick up is always available. If desired, at an additional cost, transportation to more distant adopters may be arranged, from upstate South Carolina as far as New Hampshire and Vermont. Contact Lee Shore Rescue via message for transportation/delivery options. To adopt go to LeeShoreRescue.com, click on the Adopt Now page and fill out an application to adopt a puppy.
Happy Tuesday everybody, tune in next week for a new blog post, and follow us on Facebook or Instagram to keep in touch with all our pets and stay in the know!
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m over this whole winter thing. As the official start of spring grows nearer, I’m getting more anxious for warm weather. Now that that’s been said, let’s get down to the important stuff: Rabbits.
Rabbits are a great pet, but it can seem overwhelming to try and care for them with mixed information online. Last week I touched on this with an overview of my tips and tricks for rabbits- but I want to narrow it down even further. So without further ado, let’s talk nutrition!
Rabbit’s diet should primarily consist of pellets and hay, and should be supplemented with snacks like fruits or veggies.
From 0-6 months, your bunny should have unlimited access to pellets (i.e. free-feeding), after that point you should consult with your vet about an appropriate daily allotment for your bun. Keep in mind- bunnies come in a range of sizes, so there’s no one portion size that works for every rabbit. ALSO, rabbits need a diet high in fiber and pellets are their main source of this key nutrient. It’s recommended that pellets should always have a minimum of 18% fiber to maintain your bunny’s health.
* Try not to buy more than 6 weeks supply of pellets at a time, because they can go stale or become spoiled.
Hay is super important for rabbits, as it provides roughage. Roughage helps to stop blockages from occurring and reduces the chances of hairballs.
As bunnies grow older, hay should make up a majority of their diet, as pellets are slowly limited. The variety of hay to lookout for is grass hay, as this is what is recommended for rabbits. This is because its high in vitamins such as A and D, hay also provides nutrients like protein. It also supports healthy teeth (rabbit’s teeth will grow continuously and become uncomfortable if they don’t have enough things to chew on to wear them down), as well as aids digestion.
Your bunny should always have access to hay!
From birth to 6 months, bunnies can have alfalfa hay. However, alfalfa has a high caloric value, and more protein that most bunnies need, so after 6 months they should be transitioned off of it. Afterwards, you can feed your bunny timothy hay, which should be widely available in most pet stores. Mixing grass hays is also recommended, there are several varieties such as orchard, oat hay, brome, etc.
Apart from hay and pellets, leafy greens are great additions to your rabbit’s diet. Dark leafy greens are the best choice, as more watery greens such as iceberg lettuce can cause diarrhea. Other safe greens include things like kale, and arugula.
Something to watch out for are alkaloids, which are common toxins in plants. Though they don’t affect humans or animals in small doses, they can damage the kidneys and cause the tingling of skin and mouth in large doses. The most prevalent alkaloid is oxalic acid. Again, in most plants there are low levels of oxalic acid, but some notable plants with levels include parsley, spinach, and mustard greens. Reminder: this isn’t so say your rabbit can’t have those greens- but they should be given in small quantities, and greens should be given throughout the day, not all at once. Greens should also be mixed, rabbits need some variety in their diet; just like us!
Rabbits can also have other varieties of vegetables, like roots vegetables or “flowers”. Think broccoli and cauliflower. These foods are higher in starch than leafy greens though, and should be fed in lesser quantities.
*Avoid foods in the onion family
Last but not least, rabbits l o v e fruits. I had a rabbit growing up who would do just about anything for a strawberry. Fruit is a great treat to give to your bunny- but like everything else on this list, only in moderation. Bunnies are small little friends, so they can only handle so much at a time. Some great fruits for your bunny are apples (sans core and seeds), peaches (with the pit removed), and banana- no peel though! These are just a few in a broad list, but feel free to search up more. I’ll also include a list of links I found helpful!
Links to pages I loved on this topic:
As soon as March rolls around I’m ready for spring and all that comes with it. Budding flowers, warmer temperatures, and Easter (IF you celebrate it, if not just enjoy a little extra chocolate and the previously mentioned benefits)! This holiday brings up the next topic of our blog: bunnies!
My family has had pet rabbits on and off throughout my entire childhood, so to me rabbits are no more daunting than a pet hamster- but I understand how even these little guys could seem a little daunting. Bunnies aren’t as hard as people say though, and there are actually some benefits to having these fluff balls around. I wanted to compile a list of tips and tricks to hopefully make you guys feel more comfortable as rabbit owners, or just to aid in your caretaking.
1. Rabbits are social!
Many buns will bond to other rabbits in duos or trios- or even with cats. Rabbits have super individualized personalities, so they’re great friends to have around.
Note: Bunnies are not known to be BFFs with dogs.
2. Find the right bunny for you
There are 40-50 breeds of rabbits. Smaller Netherland Dwarfs range in size from 2-3 lbs, all the way to Flemish Giants who top out around 20! Just like with dogs, decide some characteristics you’re looking for in a bunny, and ask the foster parent what the rabbit’s temperament is like. I’ve had shy, quiet rabbits, and rabbits that spent all day mischievously playing flip-cup with their food bowl. Both were delightful- but one may be more suited to you and your lifestyle than the other.
3. Spay/Neuter your new friend!
Bunnies are prone to reproductive cancers when not properly taken care of so it’s important to spay and neuter them. Male buns are likely to develop prostate cancer when left un-neutered, and females have a 60-80% chance of getting ovarian or uterine cancers. If proper precautions are taken, your bun should stay healthy and happy!
4. Let’s talk housing!
Domesticated rabbits should have a spot indoors, in a semi-controlled climate as they can’t tolerate super-hot or very cold temperatures. That being said, in more neutral weather, my bunnies have always loved having the opportunity to hop around outdoors. Rabbits love to exercise so having a home-base shelter and then a larger place for them to explore is ideal. Previously we’ve used chain-link dog-runs to give our bunnies a place outside – just be careful because bunnies love to dig, and some bunnies are tiny enough to slip through some fencing!
5. Pamper your pet.
Rabbits are excitable little creatures, so ideally their cage will be stimulating. Aim to find something with multiple levels, and make sure you have water bottles designed for rabbits. Another note: avoid wire flooring! Rabbits don’t have the same padding on their feet that cats and dogs do, and wire can hurt them. Rabbits love to explore, so having a cage with an interesting layout is perfect them. You can also buy toys and beds for your little guy.
6. Potty-train your bun!
That’s right, you heard me. Rabbits can be housebroken! Just like cats, rabbits can be trained to use a litterbox, which will definitely simplify cage cleanings and managing any smell. It should take about two months to fully litterbox train your bunny. BUT certain types of litter aren’t good for their digestive system. Avoid brands that advertise clumping, and stay away from pine and cedar chips. If you’re worried about finding the right kind, consult your vet!
7. Sadly, rabbits are the 3rd most surrendered animal.
You know what that means… ADOPT, don’t shop. There are plenty of cuddly guys waiting to find forever homes, and they don’t have to come from a breeder. Keep in mind that a pet rabbit is a five- to ten-year commitment, so never bring home a pet unless you’re 100% committed to care for it for its entire life.
Rabbits love it. There are two types, alfalfa and timothy (also good rabbit names!) From birth to 6 months, rabbits can have alfalfa, but after that you should switch over to timothy. Both varieties should be available at your local pet store!
9. Fiber isn’t just a people thing!
Bunnies need fiber too. Luckily, there’s plenty of fiber in standard rabbit food (i.e. pellets). Following the same timeline as with hay, from 0-6 months your bun can have unlimited pellets, but after that consult with your vet about an appropriate amount to feed daily.
Leafy greens are great for bunnies. Think kale, arugula, parsley, etc. Be careful though, because watery things like iceberg lettuce can cause diarrhea, which can be dangerous for buns.
Fruit and vegetables can be great snacks as well (if only we could get kids to eat them this easily. Sigh.) Things like carrots, broccoli, celery, and banana slices will make for a very happy bun. Just keep the portions small – they’re little and don’t need much to perk them up.
Overall, bunnies are super fun pets to have around! I hope this helps you gain the confidence to adopt one, or just helps you better understand the tiny friend you have already.
This list was compiled with help from this website: https://www.care.com/c/stories/6110/so-you-want-to-adopt-a-rabbit/
Definitely check them out for other helpful resources and more information about bunnies.
Have a hoppy day!
Guest post by Jessica Brody
After months of deliberation, you’ve made a decision: You’re finally ready to add a pet to the family. Before you head out to adopt your first pet, you have a lot of important details to consider. Here are three things you need to think about before bringing a furry bundle of joy into your home.
1. Your Lifestyle
Pet ownership is full of Kodak moments, like your kitten curled up on a sunny windowsill or your kids teaching the puppy new tricks. But pet ownership is also full of work. You’ll have to change your schedule, your budget, and your home to accommodate your new pet. If you choose the wrong pet for your lifestyle, you might end up feeling like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Think carefully about your lifestyle and how a pet fits into it. Do you have the time and space to entertain a rambunctious pup, or is your busy schedule or small home more suited to a laid-back cat? Are you ready to care for a pet through big life changes like having kids or moving to a new house, or does pet ownership conflict with your long-term goals? Owners who relocate or no longer have time for their pet are two of the biggest reasons that animals are surrendered to shelters, according to Petfinder, so it’s important to think about these tough questions ahead of time.
The lifestyle question goes deeper than dogs versus cats. You also need to consider your new pet’s personality. Many first-time pet owners think that breed is the best indicator of personality, but breed generalizations are a false comfort. Research shows that while breed influences a dog’s natural tendencies, nurture has the biggest impact on a pet’s behavior. If you really want to know what your new pet’s personality is like, adopt from an animal rescue that has spent a lot of time getting to know your pet and its unique personality.
2. Your Home
Don’t be fooled by photos of perfectly groomed pets lounging in spotless homes. Those moments do happen, but in between are many hours of keeping up with your pet’s messes. Some pets are cleaner than others, like cats and low-shedding dog breeds, but every pet comes with some mess.
If you’re prepared to clean up after your new pet, your home will run much more smoothly. Make sure you have a vacuum cleaner designed for pet hair, a pet-specific stain remover, and grooming tools to keep up with brushing and nail trims. If anyone in the family has allergies (or just a sensitive nose), an air purifier can control pet dander around the house. Not all air purifiers are suited to pet dander, so do some research to find models capable of filtering dander.
3. Your Finances
Adopting a pet is a big financial commitment. Bringing a new dog or cat home might only cost a couple hundred dollars, but after that, you have to pay for food, supplies, and wellness visits for the rest of your pet’s life — and that’s just the beginning! If your pet isn’t spayed or neutered and up to date on vaccines, you’ll need to schedule these ASAP. Don’t delay, because an unexpected illness or pregnancy costs a lot more!
You’ll also want to start a pet emergency fund in case your pet gets seriously sick or injured and needs emergency veterinary care. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than being unable to afford life-saving vet care, but it’s a very real situation you could find yourself in if you don’t prepare. Pet insurance can also help you afford big vet bills, but pet insurance usually requires owners to pay up front and file for reimbursement, so it’s not a replacement for an emergency fund. The Simple Dollar explains more about how pet insurance works.
These tips aren’t meant to dissuade you from adopting a pet, although we know it might seem like it! Rather, our goal is to help you enter pet ownership with your eyes and heart open so you can provide your pet a loving home for years to come. When you make a well-informed decision in pet adoption, everyone benefits!
Joy Shanahan is a student at Appalachian State University with a passion for community service. She can be found in the dance studios at ASU or researching helpful animal tips for Lee Shore.