Meet Francis! – Betta Care Tips

You guys!

I’m so excited to introduce to you the newest member of our family: Francis!

Francis in his Tree House holding glass, waiting for his home to be cleaned.

Francis in his Tree House holding glass, waiting for his home to be cleaned.

Francis is my new crown tail betta friend. In addition to presenting him, I wanted to share with you some important information about bettas and their care.

Now, MomFOD wasn’t looking for a betta but, as she puts it, their eyes met and she knew Francis had to come home with her. She went home and left him at the store so she could have a night to prepare and make sure it was the right choice – bettas require a lot of care – and, after sleeping on it, decided it was.

If you want to have a betta friend, here are some things you should know:

  • Bettas can breathe air. This is good and bad. It’s good because it allows them to be adaptable – for instance, if they hop out of their tank, they’ll be ok as long as they don’t dry out. The bad is that people think that means they can live in dirty water. This is not so, which brings me to my next point.
  • Bettas need clean water, regardless of what marketing campaigns want us to believe. Fish waste creates ammonia and ammonia is poisonous to fish. Your betta’s water should be cleaned out frequently, depending on the size of the tank.
  • Tank size is important. Would you want to live in a glass? Unlikely. Please don’t put your betta in anything less than one gallon. More swimming surface equals a happier betta. Hidey holes, soft plants, and a place to nap are essentials.
  • Bettas are carnivores. They do not eat plant roots. Have you heard of betta lilies? They are a gimmick. You must feed your betta and change his water. Please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Many bettas have died because of this silly “novelty.”
  • Bettas are jumpers by nature. Make sure your tank has a cover that allows air flow. We are presently using a stocking.
  • Bettas can learn tricks! They recognize faces, will follow your finger, will jump for food, and will even swim through hoops. Spend time with your betta to see his personality really come out.
  • You cannot house more than one betta together. They will kill each other. You can, however, use secure dividers to keep multiple bettas together, but remember that that will stress them out eventually because they will constantly be flaring.
  • Bettas “flare” to show dominance, but it’s also good for them! It gives them exercise. Use a small hand mirror for a few minutes a day to get your betta to flare.
  • Bettas do NOT make good wedding centerpieces. Please don’t treat them like decorations.
  • Male bettas care for the eggs and the young. That’s why they build bubble nests!
  • Bettas can live several years with the right care.

Bettas are really awesome, smart little fish.  Here are a few more photos of Francis:

Francis in his little home. He has a two gallon all to himself with a little house, tree, and hammock.

Francis in his little home. He has a two gallon all to himself with a little house, tree, and hammock.

Francis napping in his little hammock.

Francis napping in his little hammock.

We are on the lookout for something a little more spacious for Francis, but for now he’s happy! We carry him from room to room to change his view so he doesn’t get bored. Please join us in welcoming him to our home!

Did you like this post? Let us know if you’d like more information on bettas! MomFOD’s really into them.

For more information, you can check out: Betta Care 101   Betta Fish Forum   or Betta Talk

Love,

Crepes.

PS. Please remember to vote for the Inheritance. Rocky doesn’t want his 80’s portraits to have been in vain.

Adopting A Blind Dog: What You Need To Know

You guys!

If you recall, I recently did an article with Tree House on what it’s like to adopt a blind kitty. Well, we couldn’t leave out our doggie friends! Today, we have with us Karen Belfi of Blind Dog Rescue Alliance to answer some of our questions about adopting and living with dogs who are vision impaired.

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Crepes: Welcome, Karen! Please tell me a bit about BlindDogRescue.org.  It seems that you don’t have a specific physical location, but that you are a network across the US and Canada. Is that correct?
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Karen Belfi: Yes. We have a series of foster homes throughout the US and Canada. Since we formed in August 2009, we have rescued over 300 blind and visually impaired dogs.
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C: Excellent! Some of the dogs that you have rescued aren’t completely blind but have impaired night vision or other difficulties. What are some of the other forms of blindness that one might encounter?
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KB: There are many causes of blindness. Cataracts and glaucoma are two common causes. PRA, or progressive retinal atrophy, starts off with night blindness, then the dog eventually loses all vision. Diabetes can cause blindness. Some dogs are born without eyes, or very small, malformed eyes. Injury can cause blindness as well.
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C: What is it like to care for a blind dog?
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KB: Really, they are like any other dog. They react differently to situations, depending on the individual dog. I have a dog with no eyes, Pete, whom I fostered for BDRA, and ended up adopting. He can adapt to anything! We moved a couple of weeks ago, and he learned the layout of the new house (and big yard) in a few hours. You can see him just walk the perimeter figuring things out. My other blind dog, Mabel, took longer to figure things out. It’s very individual. Most dogs adapt to blindness very well.
Blind dog "Malcolm" having a meet and greet.

Blind dog “Malcolm” having a meet and greet.

C: Are there any particular household dangers that someone caring for a blind dog should look out for, such as dangerous furniture, stairs, etc.?
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KB: Stairs, of course, are a concern until the dog learns where they are. Anything that can puncture the eye, like branches, are a concern, if the dog still has eyes. This is why ophthalmologists will sometimes recommend removing a dog’s eye(s) if they are blind.
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C: What is it like to take a blind dog out for a walk? Do you always need to take the same route?
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KB: Pete pulls like any other dog! He just plows right along as if he could see. We try to get our blind dogs and fosters used to different situations. We take them everywhere – into pet stores, into the city, to the park – to get them used to noises, smells, etc. We try to make them as independent and confident as possible.
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C: Do blind dogs like to explore their environments?
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KB: They do. Their noses tend to work VERY well, so they use them to explore and figure out where they are. We teach a couple basic commands to them. “Watch” is for when something is in their way. They learn to slow down and feel for what’s there. “Step” is for when there are stairs, a curb, etc. They start to slow down and feel for the step.
This doggie's rolling in the grass so far he's blurry!

This doggie’s rolling in the grass so fast he’s blurry! No camera could catch his awesome!

C: Can you teach a blind dog to play fetch using a sound toy, or is that not something you’d want to have a blind dog performing?
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KB: I have a rubber ball that has a bell in it. Pete loves to play fetch with it. We have also gotten some tennis balls with bells in them that the dogs love to play with. There are other noisy balls and toys they can use.
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C: Can you leave a blind dog unattended in the same way you would a sighted dog?
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KB: This would also depend on the individual dog. Does the dog know the area well? Is the dog a chewer? Will the dog get into things in your absence? Are stairs blocked off? Our dogs do fine left alone. They know exactly where the stairs are, and do not tend to get into things.
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C: Please walk us through how you would teach a blind dog to perform the basic command “sit.”
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KB: It’s really the same as any other dog. Tap their bottom, or hold the biscuit high above their nose to position them to sit, then treat.
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C: How can our readers assist BlindDogRescue.org if they’re interested in helping further? What do you need the most?
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KB: We ALWAYS need volunteers. Of course we always want foster homes, but if you can’t foster, we definitely need your help!
We need people to do lots of things-organize transports for fosters (you don’t have to drive to do this!), check adoption applications, contact shelters with blind dogs, attend local events, check volunteer applications, etc. Lots of things. If anyone wants to help, they can fill out the volunteer app on our website.
FACT: Children love blind dogs.

FACT: Children love blind dogs.

C: Is there anything you’d like to mention that I’ve forgotten?
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KB: I think the main thing to know about blind dogs is that they are all individual. Many people tend to assign character traits to a blind dog. “He’s scared of other dogs, because he is blind.” “He should have another dog with him, because he is blind.” Really, that depends on the dog. Some blind dogs are scared of other dogs. But, some sighted dogs are too. Ditto having another dog in the house. Some do better, some do better as an only dog. Each dog is so individual. They’re dogs first, blind second!
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That’s it, everyone! A wonderful thanks to Karen Belfi for her help with this piece. I hope this article opens your eyes to the awesomeness of blind dogs. If you’re considering adopting one, here are some more resources for you to look at:
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You see those photos above? That’s Malcolm. Tomorrow, we meet Malcolm, who just so happens to be looking for a home, no pun intended.
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Love,
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Crepes.
**photos provided by Margaret D. of BDRA – Thank you! **
PS. Last chance to enter The Honest Kitchen Quickies Valentine’s giveaway! Just leave a comment and let me know you want an entry! (and make sure I have your email there in case you win!)

Adopting A Blind Cat: What You Need To Know

We here at CITF feature a lot of blind kitties in our Bachelor/ette of the Week posts, but some of you may need more information on what it’s like to adopt a blind cat before you consider it. I have partnered with my trusty friends at Tree House Humane to bring you the answers you need to decide if you’d like to make a blind kitty part of your family.

Doc Watson of Tabby's Place

Doc Watson of Tabby’s Place (photo courtesy of Tabby’s Place)

Crepes: What’s the most important thing to know about adopting a blind cat?

Tree House: They can’t see, but blind cats use their other senses (and most importantly their whiskers!) to compensate and can get around fine once they know the floor plan of their home. They can do just about anything a seeing cat can do. Don’t think a blind cat is a good choice because they won’t jump on your kitchen counters, not true! They can jump and climb just fine!

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C: What’s the acclimation to a new home like?  Are there any special precautions that someone would need to take to keep the kitty safe?
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TH: They will get to know their environment using cues like  the texture of the floor, etc. Some people say you can’t ever move your furniture. That isn’t true. The cat will learn to adjust to those kinds of changes although it is nice to leave their food bowls, litterboxes, etc. in the same place if possible.
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Kady from Tree House had this to say about acclimating her own blind cat:
“When I first acclimated my blind cat to my house, I showed her where everything in her acclimation room was first. I didn’t have to do this with every room in the house, because as she got more confident she started to explore things on her own. At first, I had pet stairs leading up to bed for her and she used them, but I quickly found out that she absolutely didn’t need them! She gets around just as well as all my other cats do. In fact, lots of people ask me if she is really 100% blind! She is.”
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 C: Does the acclimation process differ for a cat versus a kitten?
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TH: I don’t think it does. I would say a kitten born blind will have an easier time adjusting than an adult cat who becomes blind later in life, but the acclimation process is the same.
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C: Can a blind cat be left home alone in the same manner as a sighted cat?
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TH:  Yes!
Chief Big Tree of Tree House

Chief Big Tree of Tree House

C: Are there any specific health problems that blind cats are more prone to?
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TH: It depends on the condition that left them blind in the first place. Cats can become blind due to common health issues that are left untreated like: hypertension, diabetes, hyperthyroid, upper respiratory infections, and internal parasites. The good news is that all of these are treatable conditions and many of them can be avoided in part with a good diet. Regular check ups, watching for signs of illness, like changes in eating, drinking or litter box habits, and a good diet are all good ways to keep your blind cat (and any cat) healthy.
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C: Are there any other things you’d like to add about living with a blind cat?
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TH: I think that living with an animal with any kind of disability can be awe-inspiring. Cats are especially resilient creatures and to see them go about their day as if nothing is wrong is wonderful to experience. Blind cats can be especially interesting to watch as they navigate with grace and ease without the use of their eyes. Since most humans rely so heavily on their eyes to get around, it is something most of us can’t readily relate to, making it quite amazing to watch them.
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And don’t think that blind cats don’t play with toys! Kady’s kitty loves them!

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My blind girl is older and not quite as playful as my some of my younger cats, but she does love catnip! She can find it anywhere it lurks. She does play with toys as long as you can make them audible. She also loves to sit in windows when they are open, listening to and smelling everything that is happening outside.
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There you have it! We hope that that takes away some of the mystery and apprehension you may have had about adopting a blind cat. When you’re next looking to adopt, please consider these wonderful animals! Even though they’re blind, they’re likely going to open your eyes to a whole new world of love.
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Special thanks to Jenny, Kady, and Sydney at Tree House!
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Love,
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Crepes.
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Some of our recent blind bachelor/ettes:
ChiefBigTree_full bachelor
Also, please vote for the Inheritance, because we really want to win this year. -Crepes.