Tags Posts tagged with "Kittens"


Kitten season is in full swing and the Smithtown Animal Shelter has several kittens available ranging from 10 to 16 weeks old. All kittens adopted from the shelter are spayed/neutered, parasite tested, microchipped, tested for Feline Leukemia and FIV and started on their kitten vaccine series. 

If you are interested in meeting a kitten, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with him or her in a domestic setting, which includes a Meet and Greet Room.  

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Shelter operating hours are currently Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Sundays and Wednesday evenings by appointment only). For more information, call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

Photo from Pixabay

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

It’s wonderful to see so many puppies and kittens that were purchased or adopted during COVID. Sometimes they come with some unwanted traveling companions like intestinal parasites. Diagnosis and treatment of intestinal parasites is important because some carry zoonotic potential (potential to be passed from animals to humans). Here is a short list of intestinal parasites carried by puppies and kittens. 

Roundworms: Roundworms are very common. They are transmitted from mother to offspring either in the womb, or shortly after birth through the milk. Signs of roundworm infestation are chronic intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, lack of weight gain, a pot belly, anemia and intermittent passage of worms. The risk of zoonosis is low because all one has to do is wash one’s hands but for very young children hand to mouth is very common. The main complication in humans is called larval migrans, referring to the parasite migrating from the intestines into other organs such as the eyeball, central nervous system, lungs, liver, etc.  

Hookworms: This parasite is less common than roundworms and also causes an upset stomach (symptoms similar to roundworm) and anemia. The zoonotic concern associated with hookworm is called cutaneous larval migrans. Hookworm can actually penetrate the skin and lead to painful rashes. 

Tapeworms: This parasite can lead to severe diarrhea and poor weight gain in puppies and kittens. With tapeworm in adult dogs and cats most times one will only see tapeworm segments passed. Segments appear to look like small rice segments and sometimes move around. Zoonotic concern of tapeworms will usually cause chronic diarrhea and abdominal pain but rarely these worms can migrate to the liver or lungs with serious complications.  

Whipworms: This parasite is not one that is zoonotic but can cause significant disease in dogs (cats are not affected). Adult whipworm lives in the large intestine and symptoms include diarrhea (many times bloody), cramping, lethargy, and straining to defecate. Whipworm eggs can survive for years in the environment under extreme conditions. This means that even after treatment your property is permanently contaminated and you should monitor your dog for repeat infections.  

Coccidiosis: This parasite is also one that is not zoonotic but can lead to significant disease in puppies and kittens such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, poor weight gain, and dull, crusty coat.  

Protozoal: The two most common protozoal infections seen in dogs and cats are Giardiasis and Toxoplasmosis which are both zoonotic. Giardia will lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain. Toxoplasmosis is more common in cats and can lead to diarrhea, vomiting but also central nervous system problems. Toxoplasmosis is zoonotic and has been linked to birth defects in pregnant woman but there are some simple precautions to avoid exposure. Talk to your veterinarian, as well as your physician before you make any drastic decisions.  

Although most shelters, animal rescues, and breeders/pet shops routinely treat for parasites, it is always a good idea to have a stool sample checked through your regular veterinarian at the first checkup (for their well-being and ours).  

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. 

Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter
Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter

This week’s featured shelter pets of the week are … kittens, kittens and more kittens!

Kitten season is in full swing and the Smithtown Animal Shelter has several adorable little ones to add to any family. Most kittens are between 10 to 16 weeks old and are spayed/neutered, tested and microchipped!  Come fall in love!

If you are interested in meeting the many kittens waiting at the shelter, please fill out an adoption application online at www.townofsmithtownanimalshelter.com. The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information, call 631-360-7575.

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

The weather is warming up and the days are getting longer. This can only mean one thing: kittens, kittens, kittens and more kittens! All these kittens need homes, but care should be taken in introducing them to your home if you have other cats. The two most common diseases that we worry about before introducing cats to our households are the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Just to be clear: These viruses are no risk to humans — these viruses are species specific, cat to cat only (even dogs are safe). However, healthy looking kittens could be carrying (and potentially infecting other cats) with these viruses. Also, the prevalence of these viruses is low (both less than 10 percent in multiple studies) in kittens adopted from shelters and rescues.

FeLV and FIV are in a family of viruses called Retroviridae, or retroviruses. All retroviruses have the unique ability to incorporate themselves into the DNA of normal cells. This means once infected, always infected, and the diseases these viruses cause in cats are always fatal. FeLV causes leukemia and other forms of cancer (e.g., lymphoma) as well as suppresses the immune system.

FIV is similar to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in that the virus over time destroys the immune system and the most benign infections eventually become lethal. To compound the problem a kitten or cat may be positive for infection and negative for any symptoms for months or even years.

The nice thing about the tests that are available are that they are point of care tests, or tests that can be run at the shelter/rescue/animal hospital and have results within less than 15 minutes, as well as these tests also rely on antibodies against these viruses.

Kittens that are infected with FeLV or FIV will produce antibodies and test positive long before they start showing signs of disease. The flip side of this equation is there is a lag time between when the kitten was infected and when they produce enough antibodies to produce a positive on the test.

It takes about four weeks after infection to test positive on the test for FeLV and could take three to four months to test positive after infection for FIV. Most kittens are adopted between eight to 10 weeks of age so there is a window where a healthy-looking kitten could be carrying the virus.

Someday we will have effective medications to cure these diseases but, for now, we don’t. The best thing we have is testing and, if positive, isolating the kittens that are positive to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Make sure that before introducing a new kitten to your household, there is proof that he has been tested. If testing was not done (even if the mother or littermates tested negative), I recommend testing each individual kitten through your own veterinarian before introducing the kitten to your other cats.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine.

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A PRAAT dog serves as a reading assistant at a local library. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

By Lisa Steuer

It is quite obvious that people love their pets. In fact, 62 percent of U.S. households contain a pet, and about $45 billion is spent on pets annually, according to Pamela Linden LMSW, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor in the Occupational Therapy program at Stony Brook University.

But what many people may not realize is that these animals could be positively impacting the pet owner’s health, and that emerging research shows that therapy and comfort animals could have a place in therapeutic and trauma settings. Currently, a lot of the research on the health benefits of pet ownership has to do with the bond between the animal and its owner, Linden said.

“There’s a book by Meg Daley Olmert called ‘Made for Each Other’ and the whole book is about oxytocin — and that’s why we bond with others, including other mammals, like dogs,” said Linden. “A lot of it has to do with the gazing and the staring, so studies have been done, especially one interesting study that measured oxytocin levels in both the human and the dog after gazing— oxytocin levels raised for both of them,” resulting in good feelings not only for human, but for the dog, too.

Pella, of PRAAT, visits the children cancer ward at Stony Brook Hospital. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden
Pella, of PRAAT, visits the children cancer ward at Stony Brook Hospital. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

Linden’s hope is that more people will be motivated to understand the role of pets in our lives. She developed the first social work internship with Patchogue Rotary Animal Assisted Therapy, a not-for-profit organization in Patchogue that screens, trains and supports human-dog teams that visit individuals in schools, hospitals and hospice facilities. Linden hopes to work with PRAAT to research the effect that comfort animals have on people who are already sick.

In addition, Linden is the faculty advisor for Stony Brook University’s first Animal Assisted Activity student club anticipated to begin in spring 2016. So far, more than 150 students have signed up for the club, which has goals to help provide education about animal -assisted therapy while partnering students with organizations like PRAAT and local shelters to help prepare dogs to become adoption-ready.

Linden pointed out that people often get confused between service animals, therapy dogs and comfort animals. Service dogs are protected by law, are allowed anywhere animals typically aren’t allowed and have been trained to perform special functions, like open doors, push buttons and retrieve objects for people with visual impairments, for instance. A comfort dog has been trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes and similar places to provide comfort to patients, and a therapy dog is an animal used by a licensed health professional to achieve a therapeutic outcome.

“I’ll give you an example [of a therapy dog],” said Linden. “As a social worker, I’m working with someone who is grieving. And they’re either too numb or too emotional to process the grief. I might bring in a dog with a therapeutic goal of bridging between the client and the therapist by doing those behaviors that we do— you can snuggle up to a dog, pet it, stare into the eyes and have your oxytocin kick in and relax.”

Physical, Psychological and Emotional Benefits

Although the research is limited, studies have demonstrated the healthy benefits of pet ownership and companionship. Linden shared the physical, psychological, and emotional benefits:

Hans, of PRAAT, provides comfort to students during college exams. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden
Hans, of PRAAT, provides comfort to students during college exams. Photo from Dr. David Roy Hensen and Dr. Pamela Linden

• Physical: Pet owners have fewer minor health complaints and have greater levels of exercises and physical fitness. Studies have found that pet owners had reductions in some common risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as lower systolic blood pressures, plasma cholesterol and triglyceride values.

“People experience a decrease of blood pressure talking to pets. Blood pressure decreases for people with normal pressures and those with hypertension when watching fish in a standard aquarium,” said Linden.

• Psychological: Studies have found that pet owners enjoy better well-being than non-owners, and that pet owners have greater self-esteem and tend to be less lonely.

“People find comfort in talking to their animals. People walking with their dog experience more social contact and longer conversations than when walking alone — pets stimulate conversations between people,” Linden said. “Companion animals can help people to laugh and maintain a sense of humor.”

She added that Children with ADHD and defiant disorders exhibit significantly less antisocial and violent behavior than a matched group that did not involve animals.

• Emotional: Companion animals have been shown to alleviate anxiety. Stony Brook brings dogs in during exam time to help relax the undergraduate students.

“Any discussion regarding pets should include the notion of responsible pet ownership — ensuring that their physical, medical and emotional needs are met. This requires adequate financial resources and time to devote to caring for the pet,” added Linden.

Figgy is one of the dogs up for adoption at the animal shelter. Photo from Brookhaven Town

Residents who visit the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter on Oct. 17 can adopt a dog or a cat for free, as part of a Halloween-themed “Barktoberfest” event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The family-friendly event also includes music, games and face painting.

While dog adoptions at the shelter typically cost $137 and cat adoptions cost $125, those fees will be waived. All animals have been spayed or neutered and microchipped, and received their vaccinations and licenses. They have also been tested for heartworm and fleas.

The shelter is located at 300 Horseblock Road in Brookhaven. For more information, call 631-451-6950 or visit www.brookhaven.org/animalshelter.

Penny just recently got adopted after more than a year at Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington. Photo from Arleen Leone

Huntington residents will have spaying, neutering, and adoption fees for pit bulls waived from Oct. 1 until Oct. 31 in recognition of National Pit Bull Awareness month.

Arleen Leone, the special programs manager of Little Shelter Animal Rescue & Adoption Center in Huntington, believes that every day should be pit bull awareness day.

“They are gentle, sweet loving dogs,” Leone said in a phone interview. “There is a huge need for education, and on a daily basis we try to bring awareness to these dogs.”

Leone said that Little Shelter has many different education programs. In one program, Leone said the shelter staff travel to approximately 100 schools a year and try to educate kids on how to handle themselves around different dogs. They also discuss the importance of spaying and neutering.

“They think they are pocket poodles,” Leone said of pit bulls. “All they want is love and affection.”

According to Leone, pit bulls were originally bred to be family dogs, however over the course of time, people began to breed them as fighting dogs. This “ruined the breed” and it’s why there is a need for much education about the animals. The shelter said they had a pit bull named Penny who took more than a year to get adopted because “she looked like something she was not.”

Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) offered town board resolutions at the Sept. 16 Huntington Town Board meeting to waive the fees at the town animal shelter on Deposit Road in recognition of the month.

“Anytime we can help lower the amount of animals we have housed in shelter, regardless of the breed, is a good thing,” Berland said in a phone interview. 

Berland said that it is important to be smart about what kind of animal you chose to adopt and what type of household you’re bringing it into.

Although Berland does not own any pit bulls, some of her friends do, and she said they are “totally friendly and adorable.”

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A Boy Scout says hi to a puppy at the fourth annual Sound Beach Civic Association Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The Hartlin Inn parking lot was full of furry friends from puppies to older dogs and kittens for the Sound Beach Civic Association’s fourth annual Pet Adopt-A-Thon in Sound Beach, Saturday.

Tanner is a 10-month-old hound that was up for adoption at the fourth annual Sound Beach Civic Association Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Photo by Giselle Barkley
Tanner is a 10-month-old hound that was up for adoption at the fourth annual Sound Beach Civic Association Pet Adopt-A-Thon. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Shelter’s and organizations like Save-A-Pet, the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, Grateful Greyhounds, Last Chance Animal Rescue, Long Island Bulldog Rescue and other organizations showed their many pets that are up for adoption. Organizations like the Regina Quinn Legacy Fund, which helps provide funds for animals in need, was also in attendance.

According to Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach civic, four dogs and one cat were adopted several hours into the adopt-a-thon, and three more dogs were adopted by the end of the event. In addition to adopting pets, people could also get their face painted, enter a raffle to win a basket of pet-related prizes and donate money to organizations to help their cause.

All proceeds went to the animal organizations in attendance.

The Sound Beach Civic Association hosted its first Pet Adopt-A-Thon in 2012, and the association intends on continuing its efforts to find loving homes for local pets in need.

Councilwoman Lynne Nowick, second from left, sits at the table with advisory board members pictured left to right, Lucille DeFina, Diane Madden and Elizabeth Stein. File photo

The Smithtown Animal Shelter’s inaugural advisory council has called it quits.

It has been about eight months since Councilwoman Lynne Nowick (R) rolled out the panel of animal welfare experts, geared toward moving the town’s shelter forward, but those same experts spoke before the Smithtown Town Board last Thursday night, accusing Nowick of failing them as the shelter’s government liaison. Animal welfare attorney Elizabeth Stein read a letter she had sent to the board on Sept. 15, calling out Nowick for failing to serve as a bridge between the animal experts and elected town officials concerning one of the advisory group’s biggest points: hiring an animal behaviorist at an annual salary of $45,000 to train the eight dogs being housed there.

“We reassured the public, on countless occasions, that we were not on the advisory council as window dressing and that we would never compromise what we felt was necessary to protect the animals,” Stein said. “We were told the town council was supportive of our efforts, and were promised the council’s full cooperation. These promises were empty and the cooperation was never forthcoming.”

Stein said the experts were adamant about having an animal behaviorist working with the shelter dogs on a regular basis to address behavioral issues so they can find homes, but were stonewalled due to fiscal constraints.

In response, Nowick said she had brought the recommendation to the town attorney and comptroller, but had put it on hold when Susan Hansen took over for the retired George Beatty as shelter director in August.

“I did start the process of trying to get a behaviorist. We tried almost everything,” Nowick said in response to the advisory council resignations. “We talked item-for-item and decided to wait and see what the new director of the shelter wanted for the position.”

Stein and her former panel members, animal welfare experts Lucille DeFina and Diane Madden, said they had brought a potential candidate forward who was willing to take on the behaviorist role on a full-time basis. Nowick said she could not yet iron out a full-time contract due to fiscal constraints, but reiterated her commitment to the position by exploring if it could be done on a volunteer basis instead.

“A behaviorist is necessary to make the shelter a progressive, no-kill shelter,” Madden said to the board last Thursday night. “When you have a 2016 budget that has cuts and making do with what you have, you’re not going in the right direction.”

Councilman Ed Wehrheim (R) told the animal experts that it was the first he had heard of their recommendation to install a behaviorist. In his remarks, the councilman said he felt it was unfair for the panel to place blame on the town board as a whole if Nowick was not communicating their concerns to her colleagues.

“I object to the finger being pointed at me,” he said. “There has never been a discussion by this board involving these recommendations at any time that I’m aware of. Perhaps this board should cease-and-desist doing business like that.”

That news left DeFina stunned.

“I cannot believe my ears, because Lynne Nowick was supposed to be the liaison, and she put together this committee and I watched her for months and months on the video tape at home, bragging about how great we were and all the wonderful things we did,” she said. “To find out that the board knows nothing about our requests for a trainer, which we were all asking for from day one — it’s hard to accept.”

At the end of the meeting, Hansen mentioned some of the improvements at the shelter she and her staff were ushering in, including a new dog-walking plan and training program for volunteers, while acknowledging that it was only the beginning of progress.

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Save-A-Pet kittens are up for adoption at the annual Kitten Shower. Photo by Giselle Barkley

Save-A-Pet Animal Rescue and Adoption Center is hosting its annual Kitten Shower on Saturday, Oct. 3, offering felines for adoption.

The event, at the shelter on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station, will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when kittens can be adopted for $50. The furry friends are all spayed or neutered, are up-to-date with their vaccines and have had flea prevention treatment applied.

Refreshments will be served.

The shelter is also requesting donations of much-needed supplies, like canned kitten food, Purina Kitten Chow, and kitten milk replacement, for kittens in local foster homes.

For more information or to learn how to volunteer for the nonprofit organization, call Save-A-Pet at 631-473-6333.