Winter Playtime Tips for You and Your Dog

Protect Your Pup from the Winter Weather

Winter is upon us and with it comes snow and freezing weather.  Just as people need to keep active, healthy, and—of course—warm in during these colder months, dogs need extra help as well.

To protect your pup in winter weather….

Keep your dog on leash in the snow and ice.  Dogs can easily lose their scent in the snow, so never let your dog off-leash during a snowstorm, or when there’s ice or snow on the ground.  If you’re walking near “frozen” ponds, lakes, or streams, remember ice is not always uniformly thick or stable, and your pup could fall through into frigid water if he or she is allowed to explore off-leash.

Wipe your dog’s paws AND stomach when he’s been outside in the snow or sleet. Sidewalks are often treated with rock salt, antifreeze, and other dangerous chemicals. Not only are these bad for your pet’s paws, but if ingested these chemicals are often poisonous. Make sure your pet does not lick his paws or stomach before you’ve wiped them down.

Prepare your pup for the elements. If your dog typically has a longer coat, let it grow for the winter. A longer coat provides more warmth and protection from colder temperatures. If your dog has a short coat, make sure to get him a coat or a sweater.  Just like you, he’ll enjoy the outdoors much more if he isn’t shivering.

Don’t leave your pet alone in a car during cold weather. Many dogs love a car ride to their favorite park or play area, just remember the warm temperatures inside your vehicle don’t stick around for very long once the engine is off.  As the thermometer plummets, your car can act like a refrigerator and your dog can freeze to death.

Pay attention to protein.  If your dog spends a lot of time outside, playing, running, or going for long walks, make sure he’s getting enough protein. Among other benefits, protein helps maintain a healthy coat.  And a coat in excellent condition will keep him nice and warm while he frolics in the snow!

While it’s not always easy to get excited about going outside in the freezing cold, nothing beats the winter blues like watching your dog plow through the fluffy stuff.   If your dog likes to play in the snow, go ahead and join him!

There’s probably nothing that he’d like better than to have his best friend (that’s you) play fetch in the snow or just run around with him—it’s great exercise and bonding for you both.

12-31 Wintertime Snow Play Tips_Photo

Photo: The Ski Channel

For more helpful tips about dog and cat health and behavior, visit


Rumble with Squiggle, A Playful Cat

A Cat Who Can Dish it Out as Well as Take It –  Waived Adoption Fee

If you like to rough house a little and don’t mind loving play bites or a playful swat then, Squiggle is the cat for you. She has tons of personality, good energy and she can dish it out as well as take it. But don’t be fooled, she has a sweet side too! She loves being held and petted.

If you were waiting for a home for 3 months, you'd shout about it too!

If you were waiting for a home for 3 months, you’d shout about it too!

Here’s a little more about her:

  • She 2 year old spayed female.
  • She was surrendered because her owner had to travel a lot and couldn’t spend time with her.
  • She’ll never turn down a cheek and chin scratching.
  • Chases toys and chows on treats.
  • Most of all she loves people!

Squiggle’s adoption fee is covered by a generous donor. She’s been at the ARL since June and she’s just waiting for the right person to take her home! If you’re interested in adopting her, call our Boston shelter (617.426.9170) or stop by and ask to meet with Squiggle. She’s hanging out in her own feline suite, so you won’t find her on the adoption floor!

Check out a playful video of Squiggle on Instagram!

Squiggle strikes a pose!

Squiggle strikes a pose!

Feline Focus: Keeping Your Cat Fit & Healthy

Beyla, currently available for adoption, will need to start a weight loss program in her new home.

Beyla, currently available for adoption, will need to start a weight loss program in her new home.

Chubby kitties might look cute, but those extra pounds can be a serious health risk for your cat, putting them at risk for dangers such as diabetes, fur matting, osteoarthritis, and respiratory issues, among others. But don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your cat healthy and active and help them to shed the extra pounds!

1. Don’t Overfeed
Some cats are great grazers, while others don’t have the ability to regulate their own food intake. A cat in the wild would first have to hunt and kill its food, which takes time and energy. But for our spoiled pets, it’s up to us to regulate their diet. You can start by reading the recommended portions from your food brand. Even if your cat grazes throughout the day, you should not put down more than a day’s serving at a time. If you have multiple cats that can’t share, try feeding them in separate rooms with the door closed during designated meal times. Also limit the number of treats you give each day. Save them as a special reward for when your cat does something good (like staying still for nail trimming or after a long snuggle session)!

2. Exercise Your Cat, Physically & Mentally
If your cat is constantly crying for food (and you’re feeding them plenty), then chances are they’re not actually hungry. They might just be bored, and if food time is the most interesting part of their day, that will become their default need. Next time your cat cries and it’s not dinner time, take a ten minute break from whatever you’re doing and start up a game instead!

Don’t know how to engage your cat in play? Every cat likes a different toy and it can be hard to find that one they go crazy for. Some cats might seem like they are stubborn and uninterested in playing at all. Don’t let that fool you! Start by buying a small selection of a variety of toys (fuzzy mice, bell balls, wand toys, etc.) and see which interests them the most. Then, make the game as fun as can be! It’s important that you play to your cat’s hunting instincts. Dangling a feather in their face is more annoying than fun. Instead, show your cat the feather and then slowly drag it behind the corner of a wall or piece of furniture and watch your cat spring into action! Just as they get close, lift the feather up into the air and see if they leap for it.

When you figure out your cat’s favorites, keep them novel. Try rotating toys every few days. Your cat will forget the hidden toys even existed until they magically appear again!

3. Make Food Time Fun
If your cat acts like it hasn’t eaten in days when it’s only be a few hours since their last meal, it’s important to make food time last as long as possible (which will also help their stomachs feel full). A great way to do this is with a food puzzle, which you can buy, make from a yogurt container, or even an egg carton.

You can also use dry food to train your cat. Dinner time is a great time to do this because your cat is more motivated. Take half of your cat’s dry food and make it sit, climb, or touch for a piece of kibble (clickers work great for training cats, but it’s important to learn the proper techniques first!). When everything is gone, you can reward your cat with the other half of its dinner portion. (Remember, any food you use for training should be accounted for in your cat’s daily caloric intake.)

4. When in Doubt, Ask a Vet
If you’re not sure where to begin on your cat’s weight-loss program, or if you need to reduce portions or change brands of food, be sure to consult a vet. If you suddenly cut your cat’s portions dramatically or switch types of food, your cat might stop eating – which is not good either! A veterinarian can help you come up with a systematic program to get your cat back on track to a healthy lifestyle.

Feline Focus: Three Ways to Recycle for Your Cat

Let’s face it: pet products can get expensive. But we sometimes forget that keeping our pets healthy and entertained doesn’t have to put a burden on your wallet. So in honor of keeping things green, here are three easy ways to recycle with your feline in mind:

blog_egg carton1. Food Puzzle Egg Carton

Yes, it’s really that easy. Just take some of your cat’s favorite dry food and sprinkle it into an empty egg carton. It immediately becomes a food puzzle as your cat figures out how to get the food!

Food puzzles are a great way to stimulate your cat’s problem-solving skills while giving it an active way to obtain dinner. Food puzzles are a great way to have your cat burn a few extra calories while slowing down food intake to prevent vomiting.

blog_castle2. Cardboard Castle

Sure, your cat will most likely hop into a cardboard box without any alterations. But why not turn it into a more sophisticated kitty playground? By taping it closed and cutting out a couple doors and windows, it will add fun to playtime as your cat tries to grab at toys through the holes. Put a couple boxes together and you could have your very own cat jungle gym!

And when your cat is no longer interested or you need to clear out some space, it’s easy to recycle and make a new one.blog_scratcher

3. Home-made Scratching Post

Have a lot of leftover cardboard from the holidays? While this project takes a bit of time (several hours for the larger sized scratcher), it costs hardly anything to make and will last! Take a box such as an empty can tray (pictured) or go smaller with an empty tissue box. Carefully cut strips of cardboard (from discarded packaging or clean recycling) and glue them together with any type of non-toxic glue. Then add a dash of catnip and your cat will be happily scratching where its supposed to!

See below for more stories from our Feline Focus series:

Lil’ Nugget: The Story of an ARLB Foster Kitten (Part III)

Lil' Nugget enjoys the sun.Photo: Maria L. Uribe

Lil’ Nugget enjoys the sun.
Photo: Maria L. Uribe

As Lil’ Nugget approaches his third week in foster care it’s clear that this kitten has made some astounding improvements. He is in great health, he is growing fast and has become much more outgoing. His foster mom, Maria, says that “he likes to climb to the couch and snuggle when we are watching TV.”

As for Lil’ Nugget’s introduction to his foster sister (a cat named Dog) –”he tries to interact with Dog, but she is not interested in playing with him (Dog is 12 years old and Lil’ Nugget is just a baby).” Not to worry, Lil’ Nugget has found other ways to occupy his time. He continuously attacks one of Maria’s plants, to the point that she has had to move it out of Lil’ Nugget’s reach and he is becoming a master stair climber! Lil’ Nugget’s appetite is very healthy. He keeps trying to eat his foster sister’s food, so during mealtime his foster mom has to keep a watchful eye on him. Lil’ Nugget will be going to the vet this week for a check-up and some vaccines.

Maria said that one of Lil’ Nugget’s current obsessions is playing in grocery bags! He found a Trader Joe’s bag and played in it all Sunday.

To catch up on Lil’ Nugget’s story see below:

Lil’ Nugget: The Story of an ARLB Foster Kitten (Part I)

Lil’ Nugget: The Story of an ARLB Foster Kitten (Part II)


This is Stella. How can you resist those eyes?

This is Stella. How can you resist those eyes?

Please help us find a home for Stella. She’s been patiently waiting for her forever home since October of 2012.

Stella is a 5 year old Golden Retriever mix. She loves to play with toys and does well with some of our dogs here at the shelter. While she enjoys the company of people, it takes her some time to warm up to them and get comfortable. Going out for a good walk, petting her and giving her attention are great ways to form a lasting companionship.

Stella and Aimee

Stella and Aimee

Stella loves her food and does not like to share it with anyone, so a home without small children would be ideal for her. If this sweet, energetic, 5-year old dog sounds like the perfect addition to your home, come and meet her at our Boston location! When you visit her, don’t let her bark fool you. She’s a little uncomfortable in her kennel, so she barks when she’s in it, but meet her one-on-one and she’ll steal your heart!

For more information on STELLA, please contact us at 617-226-5602. The Animal Rescue League of Boston is open Tuesday through Thursday 1- 7pm & Friday through Sunday 1-4pm.


Help Bambi Find A Home By Christmas

BambiBlogWith Christmas just around the corner, the League would like to take this week to focus on several of our shelter animals who have been with us for a long time and who are most deserving of a loving home for the holidays. These are amazing animals who for some reason have been at our shelter for much longer than the average stay. We think it’s about time that the fabulous animals we’re going to feature this week found their forever homes. Today we’re introducing you to Bambi.

Bambi is a friendly, playful, and absolutely gorgeous 3 year-old spayed female cat who was brought to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, because she had too much energy for her previous owners. If you’re looking for a beautiful, social cat, who plays like a kitten, then Bambi is the girl for you! This week we need your help to find her a home before Christmas. Please share her adoption profile with everyone you know.

Here is a little bit more information about Bambi:

  • What a face! While Bambi is listed as a Domestic Shorthair, she has a face that strongly resembles a Red Abyssinian. Although we don’t do DNA testing here at the shelter, it’s possible she could be mixed!
  • Bambi is playful and particularly enjoys feather toys and things she can jump up and catch.
  • She enjoys the company of her human friends and loves being petted on her head and along her back.
  • Because of her playfulness and desire to explore, she would probably do best in a home without very young children.

If you are interested in meeting Bambi stop by our Boston Adoption Center (we’re open Tuesday-Sunday) and ask to meet her. She has her own room in our Feline Suite, so you won’t find her on the adoption floor!


Feline Focus Sneak Peek: Mondays at the League

As some of you may know, the League is closed on Mondays, but have you ever wondered why? Today’s Feline Focus is going to give you a sneak peak into Mondays at the our Boston Adoption Center.

Mondays go to the cats!

The playgroup starts at 1pm and goes until 3pm. The group is organized by several volunteers and the cats the idea behind it is to allow cats some out-of-the-cage time. Cats are permitted to explore our adoption center reception area at their leisure. 

One of our devoted cat volunteers, Liz, shared that a cat is qualified to participate in feline playgroup when:

  1. “They’ve been fully health-checked by the vet and have no signs of an upper respiratory infection (URI) or other disease.
  2. There are no signs of stress-related behavior (for instance, cats that have not been eating consistently).
  3. They are comfortable in their cages. Super shy cats aren’t going to benefit from being thrown into a new environment. Even cats that have been improving in behavior in their cages are sometimes not allowed out so that they don’t regress.
  4. They haven’t had a recent surgery. Neutered cats have to wait 2 days and spayed cats have to wait 7 days before being able to join or re-join playgroup.
  5. Any cat that is adopted or on hold for someone is not allowed unless the new owner has specifically requested they be tried in playgroup (for liability reasons).
  6. Cats that we know for a fact hate other cats. If that information is unavailable, we use playgroup to test and find out.”

This was a relatively new concept when we first implemented almost two years ago and its popularity has not waned, feline playgroup is loved by both humans and cats alike. The size of the playgroup can range from 2 to 10 cats. Once the cats start to become acclimated to the the freedom of the playgroup their true colors start to come out! Many cats take this opportunity to play and mingle with other cats, others observe from a distance and others relish in the attention that they receive from their human friends. You might see a cat sitting next to an Adoption Agent’s computer watching the mouse on the screen, hiding in a tunnel and surprising another cat, leaping for a toy or sitting on the windowsill and looking out to the world beyond.

This playgroup is an excellent opportunity for us to get to know each cat’s individual personality, which helps us find a better fit when adopting out the cat.

To read the full story about our feline play group please visit our original post from 2011.