You’re invited… to #GivingTuesdayNow!

You’re invited to two special virtual celebrations TODAY through Tuesday, May 5, 2020, for #GivingTuesdayNow!

#GivingTuesdayNow is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by the coronavirus.

You have a chance to join your fellow animal lovers and show that compassion can’t be quarantined – and that you are there for vulnerable animals when they need it most.

kitten shower button
Pet prom button

Let’s harness the power of hope during this uncertain time to make a difference for the animals who love us unconditionally and bring us comfort.

kitten shower

Quarantine won’t stop kitten season, and vulnerable animals need you now more than ever!

These tiny creatures, born outside and at the mercy of the elements, are at risk of injury, disease, or worse.

Although safety precautions have meant that Trap-Neuter-Return services have been paused for now – you have the opportunity to intervene and help kittens get the chance they deserve at a safe and healthy life in a home.

Your support today means that fragile kittens can count on medical care, special food, round-the-clock care in a foster home, and the promise of a brighter future.

How you can make a difference on #GivingTuesdayNow:

  1. Make a gift to give kittens the care they need now. Gifts of $100 or more made by Tuesday, May 5, 2020, will be recognized on the Kitten Kuddler Wall of Honor!
Symbolic Gifts - Kitten Shower

2. Send critically needed supplies from our Kitten Shower Registry

3. Set up a Facebook Fundraiser and help even more kittens

4. RSVP to our Facebook Event to get exclusive first look kitten photos and your chance to win the “Cutest Cat” photo contest!

5. Have you found kittens outside and don’t know what to do? Resist the temptation to interact or touch them, and call ARL right away by dialing (617) 426-9170, then press “1” and “1” again. Click here to read more and download our flyer.

Pet Prom invite

Compassion can’t be quarantined. One thing remains certain and that is animals are still in need – and they need you now more than ever!

Your support today ensures that animals in Massachusetts can get the care they count on including food, sanctuary, medical care, love, and emergency rescue if they are in danger.


How you can make a difference on #GivingTuesdayNow:

  1. Make a gift to give animals the care and love they deserve. Gifts of $100 or more made by Tuesday, May 5, 2020, will be recognized on the Prom Court Wall of Honor
Symbolic gifts

2. Send critically needed supplies to our Animal Care & Adoption Centers

3. Set up a Facebook Fundraiser and help even more animals

4. RSVP to our Facebook Event to get exclusive behavior tips and your chance to win the “Prom King/Queen/Royalty” photo contest

Thank you for being an unwavering champion for animals in need.

We hope you, your loved ones, and furry or feathered friends, remain healthy and safe!

4 Facts About Captive Big Cats

We know that big cats, most notably tigers, have come up as a fresh topic of conversation.

Sensational stories may be entertaining, but the animals at the center of these stories are often subjects of misinformation that further endangers them.

Here are 4 facts about captive big cats that you should know:

  1. Big cats are wild animals, not pets.

Baby tiger and lion cubs can look a lot like their domestic feline friends. However, this is short lived. Tigers can weigh 100lbs by the time they are six months old, and adults weigh 300-600lbs depending on the subspecies.

Adult tigers eat an all meat diet averaging from 13-15lbs of meat a day, although in the wild tigers are more likely to eat a larger kill every few days.

Tigers are hunters and can seriously injure untrained (and even trained) humans. Often times, private ownership results in these animals having to be surrendered to capable facilities when care of the animal becomes dangerous.

  1. More tigers live in captivity in the United States than live in the wild.

Tigers are an endangered species. It is estimated that only 3,900 of these majestic animals live in wild habitats in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, anywhere from 5,000-10,000 tigers live in captivity in the US. Much of the increase in captive population comes from intentional breeding, meant for monetary gain.

Cubs are often taken from their mothers immediately, limiting socialization and development that would naturally happen in the wild.

These tigers are unsuitable to be released into a wild habitat, and must spend their lives in captivity.

  1. Not all habitats are created equal.

Cat owners understand that although cats may like small spaces, such as boxes, they need adequate space and enrichment.

Big cats, like tigers, are no different.

Tigers need adequate space, shelter, and food.

Tigers in the wild often have home territories of hundreds to thousands of square miles.

Tigers in roadside zoos may have small enclosures, while tigers in other zoological parks or sanctuaries may have large habitats with enrichment.

  1. The laws relating to ownership and sale of big cats vary by state.

While some states prohibit ownership of big cats, others require a license or even have no prohibitions.

Current federal law only prohibits selling these animals across state or national lines, allowing individuals to sell or transfer within state lines as long as it is legal.

Even across state lines, those with specific federal licenses can transfer animals.

There are federal proposals, including the Big Cat Safety Act, that would close existing loopholes and create nationwide standards for big cat ownership.

This pending legislation would prohibit all public contact with big cats, and require local animal control and law enforcement to be notified of all owned big cats.

Public safety is at risk when there are big cats in unsuitable facilities, both to those visiting the facility and the surrounding areas.

Know before you go…

Before planning a family trip to see big cats in a facility, do your research.

Humane practices will not allow for the public to interact with big cats, and will not force the animals to engage in shows for public entertainment.

The USDA conducts inspections of facilities that exhibit to the public, and these inspection records are public.

ARL has advocated for these records to be kept public so consumers can research those that claim to provide services to animals.

We Love our Volunteers!

National Volunteer Appreciation Week

Not that we need a reason to celebrate our amazing volunteers, but this week marks National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 19-25).

Normally ARL would commemorate this week with celebratory events at our Boston, Dedham and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers – however we are not living in normal times.

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, these events have been postponed, but we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight something that’s at the center of every volunteer – the compassion to join a cause that’s close to their heart.

Volunteers are mission critical for ARL, whether serving as ambassadors for the organization, working with behaviorally-challenged animals, comforting a frightened cat or dog, mucking horse stalls, changing litter boxes, or performing a myriad of other tasks – volunteers achieve countless selfless acts of kindness everyday and ARL is grateful.

In 2019, ARL’s 763 volunteers donated more than 38,000 hours of their time to help animals in need – that’s the equivalent of 18 full-time staff members!

Below are pictures of ARL’s 2019 Volunteer Appreciation Events.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, ARL has limited volunteer access to our Boston, Dedham and Brewster Animal Care and Adoption Centers, but volunteers are still having a tremendous impact on ARL’s ability to weather this storm.

Approximately 160 shelter animals have been placed into ARL’s foster care network since the outbreak of COVID-19, and this act of kindness has multiple benefits.

Animals in foster care receive a respite from the shelter environment, and can benefit from one-on-one interaction to help overcome any behavioral challenges. Additionally, animals in foster care give ARL’s animal care associates a better idea of how the animals behave and act in a home setting.

Additionally, placing these animals into foster care has allowed ARL to free-up kennel space, in the event that animals need to be surrendered or temporarily housed by those affected by COVID-19.

Why Volunteer?

First and foremost, nonprofit organizations like ARL simply could not have such a wide reach to help animals in need without volunteers. Volunteers are integral members of the ARL family.

But volunteering has benefits beyond caring and participating in such a worthwhile cause.

About 63 million people, or 25% of the U.S. population, donate their time and talents to worthy causes.

In addition to making a difference in the community, volunteering has been shown to improve a person’s health by increasing physical activity, enhancing your mood and decreasing stress.

Another bonus?  The majority of hiring managers nationally see volunteerism as an asset in candidates seeking employment.

Thank You

ARL looks forward to its annual volunteer appreciation events later this year, but in the meantime we are so grateful to each and every volunteer who helps ARL fulfill its mission to be a Champion for Animals.

If you are interested in volunteering at ARL, please click here for more information and THANK YOU!

Animals and COVID-19

CDC, USDA Release New Report

Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories announced that two pet cats in New York have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).

According to the CDC and USDA, the cases occurred in two separate areas of New York State and are the first pets in the United States to test positive.

The cats, who have mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery, appeared to have contracted the illness from their owners who were sick with COVID-19.

To read the report in its entirety, click here.

Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, and the fact is, while cats and dogs are susceptible to coronavirus, there remains no evidence that pets can pass the virus onto others. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected by COVID-19.

Given this news and with many unknowns about the virus, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) concurs with, and recommends that pet owners heed the following CDC recommendations:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the home
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people
  • Walk dogs on leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people or animals
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where people with animals may gather

For those who are suspected to carry the illness or have already tested positive, the CDC recommends:

  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick
  • Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them

ARL reiterates that while cats and dogs may be susceptible to coronavirus, if you are practicing good hygiene, social distancing and other precautions, you, along with your pets, will have a lower risk of infection.

ARL Response

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, ARL has taken a number of steps to ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, clients, and the animals we serve.

At this time ARL has not altered programs, services or protocols to support animals in need, or the people who care for them during this time of uncertainty. ARL remains committed to serving our communities and to take every measure to keep pets and families together.

For more information on ARL’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.

Resources and Answers to your FAQs

For more information on animals and COVID-19, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

For more information about testing in animals, see: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/one_health/downloads/faq-public-on-companion-animal-testing.pdf

ARL’s Response to COVID-19

Your Social Media Questions Answered

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has received a lot of questions on our social media channels over the last couple of weeks about how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting ARL and how you can support our organization during this time.

Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services and incoming President recently took a moment to respond to some of your most frequently asked questions.

Thank you so much for submitting all of your questions and for all your support during this very difficult time.

Animals need you now more than ever, so please consider making a donation – every little bit helps.

To learn more about any of the information or programs mentioned, and for the most current ARL updates, please continue to visit arlboston.org regularly.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and thank you for being an unwavering champion for animals in need!

Responding During a Time of Crisis

ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E Program

In an effort to support animals in need and to keep people and pets together during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) has launched the Keep Pets S.A.F.E. (Supporting Animals Facing Emergencies) Program.

The program, initially funded by a grant through PetSmart Charities®, will allow ARL to support community partners Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and Boston Senior Home Care (BSHC), by providing their clients with pet food and supplies and other urgent assistance.

Clients of ARL’s Wellness Waggin’ are also eligible for assistance.

ARL will offer help during this crisis by providing the following services to clients who qualify for the program:

  • Deliver pet food and other essential pet supplies to clients’ homes and partner-supported community housing;
  • Pick up pets to provide critical veterinary care and return them to their owner;
  • Provide temporary emergency shelter for pets and offer pick up and return of the pet to their owner or a designated caregiver;
  • Arrange for emergency and essential surrender of pets with pick up service.

As of today, ARL is limiting these services to clients of the Wellness Waggin’, ABCD, and BSHC who reside in the following zip codes:

  • 02119 – Roxbury
  • 02120 – Roxbury
  • 02121 – Dorchester
  • 02122 – Dorchester
  • 02124 – Dorchester
  • 02125 – Dorchester
  • 02126 – Mattapan

“The COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, and ARL is committed to keeping pets and their families together during this difficult time,” stated Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL’s Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services. “If you find yourself in an extreme situation where you have to decide whether your pet can remain in the home due to emergency medical, financial, or personal reasons, you are encouraged to contact the Animal Rescue League of Boston.”

“As a senior citizen, who is unable to visit the grocery store right now, I’m so grateful ARL was able to deliver cat food straight to my door,” said one Boston-based client.

Clients in the aforementioned zip codes who qualify for these services can call ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. hotline at (857) 350-8730. The hotline will be available Monday-Saturday from 9AM to 5PM.

We Are All in This Together

ARL wishes to thank PetSmart Charities, Action for Boston Community Development, and Boston Senior Home Care for their support and assistance. Additionally, ARL would like to thank Hill’s Food, Shelter & Love® Disaster Relief Network for generously supplying wet and dry dog and cat food for ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. Program.

For more information on ARL’s Keep Pets S.A.F.E. Program, and to see if you qualify, log onto arlboston.org/safe.

For information on ARL’s protective measures regarding COVID-19, go to arlboston.org/covid-19/.

ARL Conducts National Animal Cruelty Conversation

Dr. Edward Schettino Presents During AAWA Webinar

While many things in our daily lives have been altered, suspended, or cancelled, the battle to end animal cruelty, neglect, and abuse continues unabated.

This past week, Dr. Edward Schettino, ARL Vice President of Animal Welfare and Veterinary Services, presented a webinar hosted by The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement (AAWA) to discuss the importance of professionals having the tools to not only recognize animal abuse, but who to report it to.

The webinar was attended by more than 100 animal welfare and veterinary professionals from across the country.

Currently, only 16 states, including Massachusetts, categorize veterinarians as mandated reporters of animal cruelty and abuse, while just six states mandate non-veterinarians (typically Animal Control Officers) to report – again, Massachusetts is one of these states.

The information discussed during the webinar will hopefully bring new ideas and action to regions of the country that do not mandate reporting of suspected animal cruelty.

Cruelty Manual

In 2018, a collaborative effort between ARL, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and Animal Folks (MN) resulted in the creation of Reporting Animal Cruelty the Role of the Veterinarian: Establishing Protocols to Identify and Report Suspected Animal Cruelty in Massachusetts.

This manual was at the center of Dr. Schettino’s presentation.

“The manual provides guidance for veterinarians to establish protocols at clinics and practices, and help them really understand why it’s so important to report animal cruelty – even though it’s already mandated in Massachusetts,” said Dr. Schettino during the webinar presentation.

Veterinarians are at the forefront of every day animal care, and the manual covers all aspects of animal cruelty including: veterinarian’s roles and responsibilities and documentation and reporting procedures; overviews of the “link” between animal abuse and human abuse, and current Massachusetts law.

In 2019, ARL also partnered with the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) Division of Professional Licensure, to include the information during the mandated annual license renewal process for every veterinarian in the Commonwealth.

A Leader in Training

Dr. Schettino’s webinar is just the latest in ARL’s efforts to train those who are in the greatest position to identify and take proper actions to ensure both the safety of the animal and perhaps other members of the household who may also be subjected to violence and abuse.

Over the past year, ARL has conducted training sessions with the Massachusetts State Police, Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, dozens of local Animal Control Officers, and the Massachusetts Disabilities Commission.

ARL is often the first to respond in instances of animal cruelty or abuse, but we cannot do it alone. Ongoing training for those in law enforcement and other disciplines are vital to combat abuse and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves.

Investigating Animal “Blood Sports”

Recognizing National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

The ASPCA designated April 8 as National Dog Fighting Awareness Day  to increase understanding and awareness about dog fighting. We encourage animal-lovers to take action against all blood sports, an extremely brutal form of cruelty.

What are “blood sports”? Blood sports are defined as an illegal sport or contest involving the bloodshed of animals for the purpose of gambling or entertainment, and include:

        • Dog fighting is a brutal sport or contest in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—are placed in a pit/ring to fight one another for the purposes of entertainment and gambling. The fight ends when one dog can’t continue due to exhaustion, injury, or death. Each year in the US, an estimated 140,000 people and 250,000 dogs are involved in dog fighting despite the fact that it is prosecuted as a felony crime in all 50 states.
        • Street fighting is an impromptu altercation between two dogs instigated by their respective owners or gangs in either a private location or common public gathering area, such as school yards, parks, or abandoned buildings. In some cases, the owner encourages their dog to attack a stray.
        • Cockfighting is a sport in which two gamecocks (roosters), specifically bred for aggressiveness, are placed in a small ring and encouraged to fight to the death. Owners often will inject doses of stimulant drugs, hormones, or vitamins to increase endurance and attach knives to the gamecocks’ legs.
        • Finch fighting is a sport between two male and one female perched birds that has become increasingly popular due to the birds’ small size, docile nature, and ease of transport. Owners typically attach blades to the males’ feet and sharpen their beaks to ensure the female finch’s demise.

Our Law Enforcement team works with animal control officers to identify signs of blood sports. Here are 3 common warning signs:

        1. Dogs kept on short heavy chains or tethered to makeshift dog houses
        2. Several crates, tethering devices, and specialized aerobic training equipment such as treadmills kept in basements and sheds
        3. Dogs with lots of scaring around the face, neck, front legs and chest

Whether you live in a rural, suburban, or urban neighborhood, animal “blood sports” happens in all types of areas across the country, including Massachusetts.

Blood sports are a major concern for public safety as it’s often linked with gang activity and other serious crimes such as human assault, homicide, drug possession/distribution, and illegal gambling.

Based on the ARL Law Enforcement team’s experience, building an effective legal case against this type of crime is complicated, due to the multitude of individuals, groups, and gangs that can be involved. Fighting animals – especially dogs – are bred in Massachusetts and transported to other states to fight, making it very difficult to track the activity.

Read Turtle’s Story: From Bait Dog to Therapy Dog and Lobbyist

How can communities prevent blood sports from happening?

        1. Animal control officers and humane investigators focus on breaking up an animal fighting enterprise and immediately remove animals from the situation.
        2. You can help raise awareness and encourage intervention; both are critical to preventing this type of crime before it occurs

We ALL have a role to play in prevention. Report suspicions of animal cruelty and learn more about what you can do at arlboston.org/take-action.

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline Part II

Your Top 10 Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic — Part II

 The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is committed to keeping animals safe and healthy in their homes, and offers a free service to ensure that owners are providing the best care possible for the pets we love.

 ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a convenient and reliable resource for behavioral and health-related questions you may have regarding your pet.

 We’re all spending more time at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, and over the past several weeks ARL has received a number of questions from concerned prospective or current pet owners.

 We have answers from ARL’s Animal Behavior Manager Laney Nee for the top 10 questions, here’s the top 5!

 Click here for the first half of the list!

Q: “Do dogs have a sense of time?” 

A: Another great question!

Dogs do have a general sense of time based on the routine that you set forth in their life.

For example, my dachshund mix Maria knows when the clock is making its way towards 6 p.m. so between 5-6 p.m. she starts whining and is clingier towards myself or my husband. 

We look at each other and say, ‘oh – it must be that time!’

This does not mean she looked at the clock and saw the exact time but she does knows that we both tend to be home during that time. She also knows our typical routine is that we feed her shortly after we come home from work each day. 

Dogs also get a sense of time when we go through our typical daily routine as well. 

They are constantly watching what we do when they’re with us so they know when it’s relaxation time, feeding time, time to play or go to bed!

Q: “Any suggestions for online puppy training?” 

A: Our Free Pet Behavior Helpline is a great resource available and for the COVID-19 crisis we have three certified professional dog trainers available to speak with as well. 

To find other resources online be sure to always look for resources promoting the use of positive reinforcement reward-based training methods. 

Ensure that they do not utilize any correction training equipment such as choke chain, prong, vibration or electronic type collars for training. 

Q: “How do I make sure my puppy who is not yet crate trained is safe at home while I’m working?” 

A: Contact our Free Pet Behavior Helpline and set up an appointment with one of our three certified professional dog trainers to review how to properly crate train your puppy.

Use this social distancing time to practice training so that by the time you return back to your daily routine, your dog will more comfortable spending time alone in his crate.

Q: “How can I make bath time more tolerable for my pup?”

A: In one word — food!

Always pair delicious treats when your pup is experiencing something new, like a bath.

If you have two people available to help during bath time, bring out your training treats, and have one person feed your dog while the other continues with bathing.

If your dog stops eating, then bring out higher-value food such as cheese or boiled chicken. Continue to offer your dog food throughout the entire bath.

If you’re giving the bath solo, you can smear peanut butter or cream cheese on a suction feeding mat toy and as your dog is happily licking, bathe away!

Q: “Do you offer dog socialize classes? I recently adopted a 1-and-a-half-year-old and want her to socialize.” 

A: We offer group dog training classes that include 5-8 dogs with their pet parents.

We also offer on-site private lessons where we will work on any and all training and behavioral issues. 

Please note: ARL’s dog training courses are currently suspended until after May 1.

Socializing your new dog will also happen organically as you start bringing your pup through their daily routine of walks and playtime.

Because your dog is new to you and your environment, it’s important to expose your dog to new things slowly and at your dog’s own pace. Pair new experiences with delicious treats to help build a positive association to the new experience. 

If your adopted dog came up from a southern state, Puerto Rico, or another Caribbean island, it is important to remember the environment that your dog spent the first year of his life in. Your dog likely spent most of his time off leash and free to come and go as he pleased, especially if he was found as a stray. He most likely was able to run from things he was afraid of and had limited interaction with people. 

As your dog transitions to a life in New England, it’s important to maintain patience as your dog acclimates to his new environment and routine.

Walking on a leash means that your dog no longer has the option to flee from unwanted situations and can result in your dog exhibiting fearful behavior towards new things. It’s important to get him acclimated to his leash and collar before you head outdoors, start with short walks and don’t forget to bring treats!

Simply adding high value treats to the equation can completely change the experience for your dog and eventually he will acclimate to his new life.

ARL FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a FREE service, and can answer basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, or if you are looking for ways to stave off your pet’s boredom.

If you have questions, please call the Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or via email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline

Your Top 10 Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is committed to keeping animals safe and healthy in their homes, and offers a free service to ensure that owners are providing the best care possible for the pets we love.

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a convenient and reliable resource for behavioral and health-related questions you may have regarding your pet.

We’re all spending more time at home during the COVID-19 outbreak, and over the past several weeks ARL has received a number of questions from concerned prospective or current pet owners.

We have answers from ARL’s Animal Behavior Manager Laney Nee for the top 10 questions, and here are the first five!

Q: “We don’t have a pet, but my kids want one. Does ARL have any resources for kids that I can refer to on pet ownership and responsibilities of owning a pet? Since they are home, I would like to take the time to teach them.” 

A: It’s important to set yourself up for success when choosing the right pet for your family, do your research and be sure to welcome a pet that fits easily into your daily routine.

Assess your daily life (outside of COVID-19 restrictions) and decide what type of pet would be the best fit for you and your family’s scheduleincluding a plan for summer travel and holiday gatherings. 

In addition, though this is a way to show responsibility to a child, it is also important to be realistic about that expectation as wellbe sure to choose a pet that the entire family can care for in case that particular child is not able to continue basic care.

Q: “How do I get two cats to get along?! We’ve contemplated getting our gal a friend.” 

A: A great question. When adopting a second cat, it is crucial to consider what your cat at home enjoys doing and what their personality is like.

You want it to be a good match for your cat from the start. For example, if your cat loves to play, you’ll probably want to consider a cat who will want to play with them. Once you find the right match, it is important to do a slow introduction when your new kitty gets home. Often times, having the two cats meet right away can cause issues between them from the start.

Remember, your cat at home needs time to adjust to having a new sibling, and your new kitty will be stressed moving into a new home that is unfamiliar to them, so baby steps are the key to success!

Baby steps include:

  • Keeping cats separate for a few days at least
  • Keep food for both cats at door separating them – this shows the cats that coming together is a happy experience i.e. food!
  • Switch the cat’s locations after a few days so they can investigate the scent of the other
  • Play with the cats near the door separating them – they may play paws under the door with one another (adorable)
  • If these measures don’t induce hissing or growling, slowly take the next step to introduce the cats by sight
  • Take it slow!!

Q: “Why is my cat biting all the time? Even when she comes to cuddle?” 

A: Cats can bite for a number of different reasons, but regardless of what that reason is, it is an attempt to communicate something to you.

Please reach out to us through our Free Pet Behavior Helpline with additional details for us to help explain what she might be trying to communicate specifically to you.

Q: “When I am walking my new puppy, people tend to want to approach us to say hi and pet her. What is the best way to social distance myself from the public when I am out walking?”

A: What you can do is simply say that ‘we are practicing social distancing’ and continue walking.

Right after you say that phrase, immediately offer your puppy a high-value treat to redirect her attention to you.

In terms of decreased socialization during social distancing, my advice is to really stick with the basics at home, develop a schedule to help create a solid foundation for your puppy including practicing basic cues.  

Q: “Will my dog get overly comfortable with me being home/no separation? What are some tips to help them through this?” 

A: Though your pet is very happy to have you home every day, you may start to see some anxiety and stress develop in them during these times of having the entire family home. These signs of anxiety or stress are likely caused by a change in their everyday routine.

Routine is key for any petincluding cats and dogsso there may be some adjustments necessary on both ends of this crisis, meaning an adjustment period when you are ‘all of a sudden’ home every day and another adjustment period when you go back to your daily routine again (leaving the house to go to work).

One great thing to do for dogs is to develop some new skills while you’re home, for example, if your dog has never adjusted to a crate, consider crate training to give them some time separated from you while he enjoys a delicious bone or stuffed Kong®.

If your dog is used to relaxing wherever they want, consider teaching them a ‘place’ cue to help them stay on their bed or mat for an extended period of time.

For cats, you can create playtime and feeding routines to help them get acquainted with a schedule that can be transitioned to when you go back to your daily routine again.

Thank you once again to ARL’s Animal Behavior Manager Laney Nee for providing her expertise on these questions, click here to read PART II. 

ARL FREE Pet Behavior Helpline

ARL’s Pet Behavior Helpline is a FREE service, and can answer basic behavioral questions about your pet, such as excessive barking, crate training, house soiling, or if you are looking for ways to stave off your pet’s boredom.

If you have questions, please call the Pet Behavior Helpline at (617) 226-5666 or via email behaviorhelpline@arlboston.org and an ARL representative will get back to you within 48 hours.