A cat can help lower your blood pressStroking or cuddling a cat can have a positive effect on your health. Research shows that felines can relieve stress and lower blood pressure, and studies have found that the hormone oxytocin is released when we're around pets, triggering feelings of happiness.
With results like these, it's no wonder therapy cats are often taken to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and even prisons. But what does it take for a feline to become a certified therapy animal?
There are several organizations that certify pet therapy teams. Pet Partners and Love On A Leash are two of the largest, but some areas also have local organizations. Pet Partners' Therapy Animal Program is one of the largest in the U.S., and the organization been training volunteers nationwide since 1990.
The first step in preparing a cat to be a therapy animal is to make sure the feline meets basic requirements. These can vary by organization, but typically include being comfortable in a harness and up to date with shots.
Blog Posts by Mother Nature Network (mnn.com)
A cat can help lower your blood pressStroking or cuddling a cat can have a positive effect on your health. Research shows that felines can relieve stress and lower blood pressure, and studies have found that the hormone oxytocin is released when we're around pets, triggering feelings of happiness.Read More »from How Cats Can Get Trained as Therapy Animals
Rover is so overTraditional pet names like Fido and Rover have been replaced by popular baby names, according to report by John Lewis Pet Insurance.Read More »from More People Giving Pets Human Names
The study of more than 50,000 pet names found that the top 10 pet names also appear among the 70 most popular baby names in England and Wales.
The most popular name for both cats and dogs was Poppy, which is also the 13th most popular name for baby girls in the United Kingdom. The name is also on the rise in the U.S. - a trend baby name experts attribute to the Duchess of Cambridge's sister.
The decline of traditional pet names is demonstrated by the fate of Rover and Fido, which were both in the top 10 in the 1970s but have dropped to 840 and 1,480 respectively.
Also see: 5 ways communities persuade dog owners to pick up poo
Animal insurance company Petplan says this decrease in popularity suggests that owners regard their children as part of the family.
But those four-legged family members aren't getting just any names - many of them
Is this kid eating healthy?by Jenni Grover MS LD RN, Mother Nature NetworkRead More »from 5 Healthy Habits for Kids Heading Back to School
As summer winds down and you look back on all those ice creams at the beach and grilling out with friends, you may well be turning your attention to your kids' return to school. Alongside all the shopping for supplies and meeting new teachers, it's important to remember that healthy lifestyle choices are a critical part of setting kids up for success.
Here are five ways that you can ensure a healthy, productive and enjoyable return to school.
1. Always eat breakfast
Your mother wasn't kidding when she said that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. From the role that breakfast plays in maintaining a healthy weight to studies showing that kids who eat breakfast perform better at school (and enjoy more success in life!), there's plenty of reason to focus on a healthy breakfast as a way to kick-start your kids' day. But that doesn't mean you have to go making fancy meals from scratch. Healthy, whole grain breakfast cereals;
- Mother Nature Network (mnn.com) | Pets – Tue, Aug 27, 2013 3:21 PM EDT
Homer the blind catAfter being abandoned as a kitten and losing both of his eyes to an infection, Homer didn't have it easy, but his life changed when Gwen Cooper adopted him.Read More »from Homer, the Blind Cat Who Inspired a Bestseller, Has Died
She was impressed by the tiny cat's zest for life despite his hardships, so she took him home and named him after the blind Greek poet who wrote "The Odyssey."
"Fate may have taken Homer's eyes, but he had my heart from the moment I first held him," she wrote on her blog.
The bond between Homer and Cooper inspired a book that topped the New York Times bestseller list and enabled them to save countless other special-needs cats.
But today, those touched by Homer's story are mourning his loss. The famous feline, who just celebrated his 16th birthday, was euthanized last week.
Homer had been ill since last fall. Veterinarians discovered that his liver enzyme levels were off and he was having intestinal problems.
Although doctors said Homer was close to death, the cat seemed to bounce back early this year. However, his health
Why does your head hurt?Pounding, throbbing, stabbing, aching - welcome to the world of headaches, an ailment that affects more than 45 million Americans each year.Read More »from 43 Surprising Headache Triggers
Humans have been suffering from the malady for millennia. Recorded depictions date back to at least 4000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, where it was thought that Tiu, the evil spirit of headaches, was to blame. The shenanigans of evil spirits were assumed to be the cause of headaches throughout many cultures, and gave rise to trephination - a procedure in which a small circular portion of the skull was removed, creating egress for the pain-triggering spirits.
Given how agonizing a headache can be, rowdy evil spirits wreaking havoc doesn't seem all that much of a stretch. Fortunately we know better now, and in most cultures no longer rely on holes drilled in the head for relief. But if not evil sprits, what does cause the pain?
There are many catalysts that can create the ache, and medical literature has complied a lengthy compendium of causes.
Can any body type do yoga?by Lauren Walker, Mother Nature NetworkRead More »from Do You Have to Be Skinny to Do Yoga?
You look at all the yoga magazines and all the women are skinny. Not just thin but skinny. There are lots of women who are naturally thin, who are healthy and strong and eat real food. But if those magazines are the guidelines for doing yoga, women who are not naturally thin feel a stab of insecurity and the thought of entering a yoga studio seems an insurmountable challenge. So what's a woman to do, a woman with breasts, a belly, thighs made for climbing mountains, hips made for birthing babies, arms made for carrying the weight of a family?
Many of the women I know have these kind of curvy bodies. And most of the women I know, even the slim ones, suffer from some sort of body dysmorphia, which is preoccupation or excessive worry about a minor or imagined physical imperfection.
It is nearly impossible to be unaffected by the culture in which we live. Even if you're a forward-thinking free spirit, free in your mind, you are steeped in the
You may be doing some things that cause more harm than goodby Starre Vartan, Mother Nature NetworkRead More »from 5 Surprising Ways to Get Great Skin
There's so much misinformation out there regarding skin care, not to mention plenty of old-wives' tales (some of which are actually right) and lots of well-intentioned bad advice. That's because skin care is tricky, and depends on your skin type. However, there are some tried and true rules - most of which violate at least a rule or two you may have heard elsewhere - that really do work for all skin types.
How have I learned the information below? From speaking with skin experts, makeup artists (natural and conventional) and testing out literally thousands of products over the last 10 years that I've been reviewing natural beauty products.
1. You don't need to wash your face with hot water to get it clean: In fact, hot water can cause redness and irritation in people with sensitive skin, and for those with normal skin, it can still dry out delicate facial skin, leaving it more susceptible to all kinds of issues, from red, flaky dermis to acne.
- Mother Nature Network (mnn.com) | Pets – Thu, Aug 22, 2013 7:50 AM EDT
Does this dog need plastic surgery?While controversial - and often illegal - procedures like ear cropping, tail docking and declawing are nothing new in the world of pet modification, a new breed of surgeries that you'd normally associate with your drastically nipped and tucked Aunt Beryl from Atlantic City have become increasingly popular among pet owners in recent years.Read More »from 5 Unusual Pet Procedures that Improve Quality of Life
Most of these procedures won't require you to fly Princess Chubby Cheeks to Sao Paulo for a facelift or tummy tuck as many established veterinarians specialize in plastic surgery for pets. And although these procedures - we've listed five notable ones below - do enhance the physical appearance of your four-legged amigo, most pet-owners consider them not for reasons of vanity. Instead, pets undergo these surgeries to correct discomforting - and often fatal - health conditions (The Humane Society opposes "cosmetic and other forms of surgery on animals when done solely for the convenience or pleasure of the owner and without appropriate benefit to the
Hot chocolate may be good for youIn one of the tragic twists of modern eating, it seems that the foods most likely to bring us pleasure are also most likely to bring us poor health. Our lust for fat, salt and sugar was once necessary to boost our ancestors' chance of survival; but the first-world abundance of foods rife with such ingredients seems to be having a counter-effect thanks to food-related heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer.Read More »from 8 Surprisingly Healthy Foods
But sometimes research proves that it's not all gloom and doom when it comes to eating delicious foods with a bad reputation. The following foods defy conventional wisdom about healthy choices.
1. Hot chocolate
Hot chocolate as health food? We kid you not. As dark chocolate continues its rise as a health food star, its cousin, hot chocolate, gets a boost too. In fact, researchers have found that it may even exceed plain old chocolate in terms of the health benefits it has to offer. Just avoid the chemical-laden instant mixes and opt for a natural one, or make one of these
This Shar-Pei is finally a mom -- to a kittenBa Boo, a 3-year-old Chinese Shar-Pei, has never had puppies, but she recently adopted a kitten - much to the surprise of her owner, who says Ba Boo often chases cats from the yard.Read More »from Cat-chasing Dog Adopts a Kitten
Sherry Brandt, of Kodak, Tenn., says her daughter rescued the kitten from a grocery store parking lot and decided to keep it, but they weren't sure how Ba Boo would react to the new addition.
But the Shar-Pei took to Ally the kitten immediately, and began playing with her and even giving her tongue baths.
Also see: 6 animals with pets of their own
After the unlikely pair had been together for a few weeks, Brandt noticed that Ba Boo looked swollen.
"I thought she couldn't have milk because she's never had puppies. She's never been bred," she told WBIR.
But Ba Boo had begun lactating in response to the kitten's kneading, and now she's nursing Ally as if she were her own.
Brandt says that Ba Boo cleans the kitten, carries her around and disciplines her with a bark when she gets out of line.