Dear Christopher Cat:
I have indoor pet cats, but I feel sorry for the feral cats outside that don't have such comfortable lodgings. Many of them live in the woods around my home, and I worry about them during the cold winter months.
I'm thinking about building or buying them a shelter. Can you recommend some options?Christopher responds:
Let me introduce you to Alley Cat Allies, a one-stop resource for all things related to feral cats.
View photos of feral cat shelters you can build or buy at the organization's website by visiting bit.ly/FeralCatShelters
. You'll find building instructions for all skill levels and links to finished shelters available for purchase.
Position your shelter on a wooden pallet, not on damp ground, and line it with straw, rather than hay or blankets, which hold moisture.
Situate the door away from the prevailing winds, and cover it with a flap.
Camouflage the shelter with paint or leafy branches so it blends in with the environment.
Check your shelter regularly to be sure it's in good condition.
If the cats in your area haven't been sterilized, work with your local humane society or feral cat group to trap them and have them spayed and neutered. Then return them to their environment.
Most veterinarians, when they sterilize feral cats, remove the tip of one ear to make the sterilized cats easy to identify. If your local feral cats have intact ear tips, have them sterilized before breeding season begins in late winter, unless you yearn for even more cats to shelter.
°°°Dear Tommy Turtle:
Our son wants to adopt a turtle from his friend, who has become bored with his pet. Is there any reason not to say OK?
Tommy responds: Many pet turtles carry Salmonella bacteria, which can cause bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain in humans. Youngsters are most often affected. So take into account your son's age and level of responsibility as you make a decision.
Between 2006 and 2014, turtle Salmonella sickened 921 Americans, 156 of whom required hospitalization. One infant died.
The Salmonella bacteria commonly carried by clean, apparently healthy turtles will contaminate turtle habitats, water and food. Therefore, if your son adopts a turtle, he must refrain from kissing or snuggling it, and he must wash his hands immediately after touching the turtle or its habitat.
The turtle's habitat must be washed somewhere other than the kitchen, preferably outdoors, to prevent Salmonella contamination of food preparation areas and bathroom sinks.
People with weak immune systems, children under 5 years of age and the elderly should not touch turtles or their habitats. Turtles with shells less than 4 inches long are most associated with infection, so they may not be sold.Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com.