HELOISE What you don't know can harm family pet

Dear Heloise: We noticed that our cat was lethargic, would go to her food dish but wouldn't eat, and was pawing at her mouth. My hubby picked her up, tipped her head back and got her to open her mouth. He was shocked to see one of those small plastic tabs with the notched hole (used on bread wrappers) stuck to the roof of her mouth. It was wedged between her teeth.
We immediately took her to our veterinarian, who was able to flip it loose. The frightening thing was, she could have swallowed it. We've been very careful ever since to never again allow one of those tabs to lie on the floor. I pick them up off tables and counters to prevent their getting brushed off onto the floor accidentally. Bobbie Benjamin, Kent, Wash.
It's frightening how common household objects can become potentially life-threatening to pets and humans. Glad your kitty is OK. Heloise
Dear Readers: Taylor Bearden of San Antonio sent a photo of her dachshund, Sophie, lying on a pillow in her blue-and-white sleeping bag and wearing a matching headband. Sophie is the little princess of the house, and Taylor enjoys spoiling her.
Visit my Web site, www.heloise.com, and click on This Week's Pet to see Sophie ready for bed. Heloise
Dear Heloise: We recently found a black cat and decided to adopt him, so we had him neutered and got all his shots. Shadow is getting quite friendly, but he will not come into the house.
I made him a warm shelter using a clear-plastic storage box, big enough for him to lie down, stand up and turn around in. The box is placed sideways with the open end against the house, with enough room for him to walk in. An old blanket is put on the bottom. It keeps him warm and out of the wind, so I guess it will do. Hopefully, he will come in eventually. Sarah A., Seattle
Are you thinking of getting a pet bird for the first time? Here is some important information you should know:
Make sure to check the birdseed cup every day when filling it. Take the cup outside or place it in a paper bag and blow on it -- you'll see the seed shells fly away. The cup usually looks full, but it could be filled only with shells. We've received letters about parakeets and canaries starving because their owners thought they had plenty of seed left. It only takes a minute to check. Heloise
Dear Heloise: When we took our dog on vacation with us, we packed a copy of his health records. They really came in handy, because we had to leave him in a kennel for a couple of days. The kennel required his shot and health records, so it was a relief that I had them with me. Sally B., via e-mail
XSend a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) HELOISE or e-mail to heloise@heloise.com.
King Features Syndicate

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