Interacting with Cats Benefits Children with Autism

Many studies have been done on the benefits of therapy and emotional support dogs for children with autism.  A group of researchers wondered about the role of pet cats in helping children with autism.  The findings of this study were published recently in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

The results?  Most parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) reported that a cat in the home was beneficial in calming and soothing the child, and even acting as the child’s protector or guardian.  This was especially true for children with mild to moderate ASD.

Some parents reported that their normally non-verbal children would initiate speech when talking to the family cat.  Others reported that kids who had an aversion to touch would feel comfortable when petting or holding the cat.

The researchers also found that the most successful and affectionate cat-child relationships occurred when the cat was adopted as a kitten rather than an adult.

The downside?  Interactions between cats and children with ASD classified as “severe” could be less positive.  Various factors can come into play in this situation, such as a child being fearful of animals or the cat becoming nervous around a child’s problem behaviors.

In most child-animal studies, research has shown that interactions between autistic children and pets such as cats, dogs, and guinea pigs are very beneficial.

In the case of cats, the authors recommend adopting a young kitten, making sure that it is well-socialized from an early age, and looking into cat breeds that have a reputation for being affectionate and outgoing.



New Study Looks at Health Problems of French Bulldogs

The cute little French Bulldog (also called the Frenchie) is experiencing a huge jump in popularity.  According to the American Kennel Club’s list of most popular US dog breeds, the French Bulldog rose from number 11 in 2003 all the way up to 4th most popular breed in 2017.

But if you’re considering getting a French Bulldog as your next pet, you might want to check out this in-depth study of the health disorders found in the UK French Bulldog population.  The authors of the study report that the Frenchie is now the 2nd most commonly registered pedigree in the UK, but they warn that this breed suffers from some serious health conditions, many of them genetic.

The study found that 72.4% of Frenchies in the UK had at least one officially recorded health disorder.  The most common health problems of French Bulldogs are:

  • Ear infections 14%
  • Diarrhea 7.5%
  • Conjunctivitis (eye inflammation) 3.2%
  • Skin problems 17.9%

In addition to these problems, which can occur in many dogs, the French Bulldog as a breed is predisposed to several serious inherited health issues:

  • Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS)
  • Dystocia (difficult birth)
  • Corneal ulceration
  • Patellar luxation
  • Spinal diseases, including intervertebral disc disorder (IVDD) and hemivertebrae (malformed spine)

These health problems are significant enough earn the French Bulldog a “warning” from the UK Kennel Club’s Breed Watch program.

The authors of the study warn that a surge in a breed’s popularity can result in an increase in a breed’s health problems.  This is because disreputable breeding operations (such as puppy mills) are eager to cash in on a status breed’s desirability…at the expense of health.

If you are interested in a French Bulldog or other popular breed, experts recommend that you fully understand the possible health problems your dog is at risk of inheriting (and their associated financial costs) and be sure to choose a reputable breeder who performs genetic health testing on their breeding stock.

Click HERE for a guide to choosing a healthy purebred puppy from a responsible breeder.


May 6-12 is Be Kind to Animals Week!

According to American Humane, Be Kind to Animals Week is the oldest commemorative week in U.S. history!  What better way to celebrate this important humane awareness event than with these easy ways to show your kindness to all animals?

  • Adopt a homeless pet from an animal shelter or rescue group.
  • Volunteer your time and talents at a non-profit animal welfare organization.
  • Report suspected animal abuse to local police or animal welfare organizations.
  • Enjoy wildlife from a distance and avoid touching or picking up wild animals.

  • Create safe and welcoming outdoor spaces for pets and other animals like birds and insects.
  • Remember to take your pet to the vet for regular wellness exams.
  • Consider buying cruelty-free cosmetic brands on your next shopping trip.

  • Donate to a local low-cost spay/neuter organization to reduce the homeless pet population in your area.
  • Clean up plastic litter than can be harmful to birds and animals if eaten.
  • Teach kids how to safely and gently interact with animals.

  • Be aware of wildlife and free-roaming pets while driving.  Report animals hit by cars to local authorities.
  • Put down your phone and spend more quality time interacting with your pets.


Video: Pepper the Cat Safe at Home After a Week in JFK Airport

A tabby cat named Pepper was on her way to China with her owner when she escaped her carrier during check in at JFK Airport in New York.

Unable to catch her, Pepper’s owner took her flight without her beloved cat.  Pepper spent a week loose in JFK, despite the best efforts of some dedicated rescuers.

She was finally caught with the help of her owner’s roommate and her favorite food.  Pepper is safe and sound at the roommate’s apartment, waiting for her owner to fly back from China for a second attempt to fly her to her new home!

Here’s a local news video documenting Pepper’s airport adventure!


(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Meet Beast!

6 month old FACE Success Story Beast needed emergency surgery after ingesting a foreign object…one of our most common veterinary emergencies!

Beast’s family reached out to FACE for financial assistance and we were happy to help this cute little guy get the surgery he so urgently needed!