Blog Posts by Sarah D. Bunting

  • Fashion icon's cat has two maids, keeps a diary

    Choupette warily regards the bathtub in January. Photo via V Magazine's Twitter, already knew a handful of things about fashion titan Karl Lagerfeld's white Siamese kitten, Choupette. ("Choupette" is a pet name in French that refers to a retro curly-forelock hairstyle for boys.) Choupette, whom the world first saw sitting near a marble bathtub in a January photo (compliments of V Magazine, at left), enjoys lounging in bed and playing with an iPad, for instance, and while she dislikes TV, Choupette does enjoy books – specifically, eating them (Lagerfeld told WWD in January that Choupette likes to eat paper).

    But a more recent chat between Lagerfeld and WWD, highlighted by Styleite, revealed even more details about Choupette's Lifestyles of the Rich and Fur-mous daily routine, including her dining habits, her servants (…!), and her future publishing career. Five things to know about fashion's "very famous" kitten:

    Lagerfeld basically stole her from model Baptiste Giabiconi. Giabiconi, often described as Lagerfeld's muse and possibly the highest-paid male model in

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  • What will your pet cost you lifetime?

    Especially with puppies, the costs add up fast.We have joked many many times, while checking out at the veterinarian's office, that our cats should get paper routes or jobs at Starbucks to help defray the costs of their care. Two out of three of the felines at Pets HQ are old, and between the senior-wellness checkups ($175 a pop), the specialty food they need for their "dietary issues" ($85 a case), the professional claw-clipper I hire to catch and manicure a surprisingly spry 17-year-old orange tabby…it adds up. And that's not counting all the Fresh Step, paper towels to handle cat vomit, catnip, sisal mice, pet-sitters, emergency surgeries because someone thought he was a dog and chewed on a table leg, and so on and so forth. We've never considered sitting down with a pencil and paper and adding up the total cost of the cats over a lifetime, though, because we don't particularly enjoy crying hysterically.

    Fortunately, saved us – and you – the trouble. Alex Lieber has an interesting piece up about how much it costs Read More »from What will your pet cost you lifetime?
  • Pet safety during cookout season

    He won't like it, but staying inside might be a dog's best summertime party trickSummer is officially underway – and for many of us, that means barbecues, cookouts, beach bonfires, and other outdoor affairs. But what's a lot of fun for humans can present dangers to our pets, so before your next big backyard bash, add these pet-safety pointers to your pre-party checklist – it just might save you a trip to the vet. (Or to the grocery store to replace the platter of hot dogs Gracie just wolfed down.)

    The summer-party staples your pets should avoid:

    The picnic/barbecue spread. Human food isn't indicated for pets the rest of the year either, but it's especially important to keep little snouts out of the potato salad at this time of year. Dr. Louis Murray, interim director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in NYC, explained to Petside's Talia Argondezzi that "Pets are very sensitive to changes in their diets" – and the upset stomach caused by a "middle-aged" potato salad in a heat wave will hit small pets even harder. 

    Murray added that pancreatitis, a

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  • Beluga baby born at Georgia Aquarium

    Animal care and training specialist Mackenzie Mueller hangs out with Maris on April 11, 2012.[Update, Wed. May 23: According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the baby passed away from unknown causes Wednesday morning while swimming. She stopped suddenly, and was brought to the surface, but vets' efforts to revive her failed. Our condolences to Maris, Beethoven, and the Aquarium staff who worked tirelessly to give the calf a chance.]

    At 10:32 PM last Friday, May 18, proud parental beluga whales Maris and Beethoven welcomed Maris's first calf at the Georgia Aquarium. The baby beluga, a female, is a first for the Aquarium too – and staff and animal-care experts went to some lengths to prepare for the blessed event beforehand.

    Planning for the little Whale Jr.
    began months ago. (Beluga gestation periods typically last 14-16 months, and calves usually arrive between May and July, so the Aquarium had plenty of time to feather the nest, so to speak.) Smaller additions included a curtain rod along the beluga exhibit's ceiling; if Maris went into labor during public hours, staff Read More »from Beluga baby born at Georgia Aquarium
  • When your dog hates the car

    We'd hate it too if you never let us drive.We tend to assume that dogs love to ride in the car – that every canine can't wait to hop in the back and stick his head out the window.

    And lots of dogs do love the car, wagging and leaping around when they realize they get to go on a driving adventure with their humans. But others haaaaate car trips, whimpering and hiding under the bed (or requiring three full-size people to push them into the crate in the "way back" of the station wagon). Why is that, and what can dog owners who want to travel with their dogs – or just get them to the vet without a huge drama every time – do about it?

    According to Steve Dale's recent piece on the topic, the first step is figuring out what's going on with Max. Why isn't he grabbing his tennis ball and gluing himself to your heels? Chances are he's associating the car with something negative: that trip to the vet, for one, or motion sickness he got from a car trip in the past. Dogs can get carsick just like humans can (we've heard a story about a

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  • Pepsi pulls sponsorship of horse show after controversial footage airs

    Trainer Ray Gilmer rides Tennessee Walking Horse "Cash For Keeps" in 2000. AP ImagesSoft-drink giant Pepsi announced Thursday that it would no longer sponsor a national horse show, thanks to startling footage aired by ABC News of a horse in training. The video showed the horse undergoing an abusive practice known as "soring." (Warning: Video may be upsetting to some viewers.)

    Pepsi had sponsored the Walking Horse National Celebration since 2010, said the horse show, which is the nation's leading competition for Tennessee Walking Horses – a breed whose best-known attribute is its unique high-stepping gait. Pepsi spokesman Vincent Bozek confirmed, without elaborating, that the company has "ended our sponsorship of the event." Nor would horse-show officials explain the specific reason for the end of the relationship.

    But according to Reuters, a Walking Horse showing insider, who chose to remain anonymous, thinks it's thanks to the ABC News footage of "soring," filmed by a Humane Society of the United States undercover operative and given to ABC News for broadcast. Keith

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  • Should you have The Sex Talk with your pets?

    An animal-welfare group wants to keep your puppies off of 16 And PregnantA new set of ads produced by the Best Friends Animal Society is educating the public on when to spay and neuter their pets – by comparing puppies and kittens to human teenagers.

    Sponsored by the BFAS and featuring voice-over work by actors Linda Hunt ("NCIS: LA") and Eric Stonestreet ("Modern Family"), the public-service announcements hope to grab attention for the new campaign, "Prevent more. Fix at month four." One of the ads, narrated by Stonestreet, is a fairly straightforward cute-fest in which puppies and kittens frolic around animated words while Stonestreet explains the perils of waiting too long to fix a young dog or cat.

    But the attention-grabber is the ad titled "Afternoon Stroll." A dad and his (human) daughter go for a walk in their suburban neighborhood while teen boys rush up to the windows and fences nearby in a dog-like fashion, eagerly greeting the girl and "panting" things like, "Hey! Hi! Live around here? You're pretty. Where you guys going?" The dad looks

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  • "Enviropigs" barred from pet-hood

    Can 16 pigs from the Univ. of Guelph find a Shady Acres to call their own?More than a dozen genetically modified pigs, part of a series of experiments at an Ontario, Canada university, will not get adopted out to "loving homes." Despite a plea from an animal-rights group for the University of Guelph to release the pigs to civilian pet owners, Professor Rich Moccia, an associate vice president at the institution, claimed on Tuesday that "there is absolutely no opportunity for this to occur for many reasons."

    Although Moccia didn't get into specifics, one of the reasons seems to be that the so-called "enviropigs" could represent a danger if they aren't supervised in the strict manner they are currently. Moccia acknowledged the "many generous and well intentioned offers" the university has received from both animal-protection groups and individuals interested in adopting the porcine subjects. But it seems that the risk of an enviropig either getting loose and interbreeding with "standard" local pigs, or making its way onto a dinner table, isn't one the U of G is

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  • Perplexing Pet Products: CatGenie 120

    Who needs cable when you've got a CatGenie! (...?)Dwelling as we do in the impossibly glamorous environs of a three-cat household, we don't find the concept of the CatGenie 120 perplexing. We find it awesome, actually, the kind of Jetsons-y applied-science advance in pet maintenance we've dreamed of. After all, we spend a lot of time on litter – scooping, airing out, changing, raving angrily at split trash bags, worrying that guests can smell cat tinkle – and the CatGenie isn't baffling. It's brilliant. Self-cleaning, self-washing, and self-recycling (among other things, the system features washable granules that get reused over and over), the CatGenie 120 would seem to solve all of a cat-owner's problems.

    That's what gets us, though: it just seems too good to be true.

    Here's how the CatGenie works, from what we can tell (we've never actually tried one). Your cat does his thing in the litter area, or the "bowl" part of the CG, which is shaped more or less like a "people toilet." After the cat exits the bowl, either the human can hit

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  • Kidney disease in cats: hard, but not hopeless

    Sue Manning's article on feline kidney disease in the Miami Herald last week contained a number of sobering facts about the illness, starting with the fact that we don't know what causes it, or how to cure it. And one in every 12 senior felines has chronic kidney disease, according to a recently-released report from the Banfield Pet Hospital chain whose data set included nearly 430,000 cats seen by Banfield veterinarians – so it's not an uncommon problem, either.

    Manning quotes Dr. Nina Nardi, who's chief of staff at a Banfield facility near L.A., on the subject of acute kidney disease, which often proceeds from a cat ingesting antifreeze, grapes, toxic plants, or other poisons. Nardi is encouraging about a cat's prospects under those circumstances, especially if the problem is identified quickly: "If you can catch it, you can treat it."

    Shine Green: Work native plants into your garden

    But chronic kidney disease is a different story; it's more widespread, and incurable. Treatments focus

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