Pets play an important role in our sense of community. Research shows pet ownership delivers mental and physical health benefits as well as contributing to ‘social capital’ – that sense of belonging and friendliness that makes us value our neighbourhood. Pets are wonderful at bringing people together and there is so much we can do to help our friends, relatives, and neighbours enjoy the benefits of their companion animals.
For some people living alone, their cat (or dog) is truly their best friend and may even be their only companion. Helping them stay together healthily and happily is vitally important. Here are just a few easy ways you can provide support:
Offering to pick up pet supplies when you’re out shopping. Tins of pet food and bags of kitty litter are heavy and can be a struggle to manage. While many pet stores now offer home delivery, some pet-lovers may not have the space to store big, bulky items or their pet may be a fussy eater who prefers fresh meals. Adding a little extra to your trolley is easy to do and takes a load off for the pet owner.
Lending a hand to administer flea-and-worm treatments. This can be quite difficult at the best of times; cats are especially great at wriggling their way out of one’s grasp. By providing an extra pair of hands to help hold a pet, you can help make the experience less stressful for both the pet-owner and their furry friend. Look out for an all-in-one flea-and-worm spot-on treatments; these single-dose tubes are applied to the back of the cat or dog’s neck and usually provide one month of coverage for the pet, making life even easier for everyone involved.
Making a list of important contacts and pet details. It is always a good idea to have a list of emergency contacts saved to one’s mobile phone, including the vet’s number and that of a local after-hours vet in case of emergencies. Offer to help compile a printed copy of this contacts list and don’t forget to add in any pet sitters or other vets providing specialist care. Assist in creating files for each pet so all the important details (e.g. microchip number, special diet, any medications etc.) along with the list of contact numbers are easily accessible if you, or anyone else, ever need to provide temporary care for these precious pets.
Sometimes we can feel shy talking to strangers but if we don’t, we isolate ourselves and others. A simple offer to pick up some pet treats for a neighbour could be the beginning of a life-long friendship and also help a person and their beloved companion animal stay together.
For more information on Assisting with pet care see Cat Protection Society’s factsheet or visit their website www.catprotection.org.au For general advice on cat care and everything feline, call the Cat Protection Society of NSW on 02 9519 7201.