How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home

In honor of National Cat Health Month, FoMA wants to help to shed some light on the sometimes difficult transition cats experience when going from a shelter to a new home.

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home?

There’s no definitive answer on how long your adopted cat will take to adjust to their new home. It depends largely on their temperament. Some rescue cats may feel comfortable very quickly and will learn where their food, water, and litter box are immediately. However, some other cats may take longer to feel safe in their new home. Don’t be discouraged if this happens to you. There are steps you can take to make your new furry companion feel more at home.

How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a New Home - FoMA Pets

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First Steps After Getting Home

Moving can be incredibly stressful for cats. Cats are territorial creatures and become accustomed to their surroundings. When they’re coming into a home from a shelter environment, this can be scary for them as they are suddenly experiencing different conditions and surroundings.

When they arrive in your home, no matter how comfortable it can be, it is still an unfamiliar place with new smells and sounds. So, when you first get your kitty home, be sure to let them set the pace. They may want to sniff around or hide underneath your couch. Just make sure that you’re not forcing them to do anything they’re uncomfortable with, as this could slow down the process.

Introducing Your Pets to Each Other

When you already have a pet at home, this can add an extra element to the process of ensuring your new kitty is comfortable. We hope these tips of familiarizing your new cat to your current pets will be helpful in the transition!

Cat to Resident Cat:

Introducing your new cat to your resident cat will take time. As cliche as it may sound, patience is key in this situation.

Cat To Resident Cat - FoMA Pets

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  1. To start off, do NOT introduce your cats to each other when your rescue immediately gets home. Not only will this add an unnecessary component of stress to your rescue cat, but also to your resident cat and  could negatively impact the relationship they form. Introducing them upon arrival can also lead to fights, litter box problems, and long term aggression towards each other so it’s best to go slow.
  2. Put your rescue kitty in a safe space with a closed door and provide kitty liter box, food and water while your new kitty adjusts. This allows the rescue and resident cat the chance to smell each other’s scent before meeting. You can even exchange their bedding after a few days so they become more accustomed to the new smells. If there are no signs of aggression like hissing or raised hackles, move on to the next step.
  3. After a few days, your cats are ready to see each other. Place your rescue in a carrier and set them down in a room where they would cross paths. If there are any signs of aggression keep the visit short and repeat a few times a day until they seem more comfortable with each other’s presence. 
  4. Once your cats seem comfortable with each other, it’s finally time for them to meet face to face. Don’t force them in the same room, but instead open the door to your designated safe room and allow them to go at their own pace. If there are any signs of aggression separate them immediately and go back to step 3. 
  5. Once your cats are well acquainted, you may still hear the occasional hiss or growl which is normal. Cats are territorial and hierarchical creatures which means they’re establishing a sort of pecking order. With time and patience you’ll be helping create a bond between the two kitties and giving each of them a new furry friend!

Cat to Resident Dog:

  1. Most important is to make sure that your dog is cat friendly and/or NOT cat reactive!
  2. When introducing your rescue cat to your dog, this step is very similar to when you are starting to introduce two cats. This means that you should allow them to smell each other before meeting. Choose your designated safe room and allow them to become used to each other’s scents. 
  3. Once you feel that your pets are comfortable with each other’s scents, switch their places. Your dog will go in the safe room giving your rescue cat the freedom to explore the rest of the household for 1-2 hours a day.
  4. Now it’s time for them to finally meet face to face. Allow your cat out of the safe room while still giving the kitty the chance to move to safety if necessary. Ensure your dog is on a leash and you have high value treats ready and make sure your dog is responding to your commands: If they try to stand up and move towards your cat, bring their attention back to you and give them a treat. This is teaching your dog that they should be relaxed about the presence of your cat. They’re learning that cats are not prey, nor toys.
    Should your dog not respond to you or it seems that either of the animals’ stress levels are elevated, remove both from the room and repeat this process until your dog can focus on you and your kitty feels safe. 
  5. Once your pets are comfortable together, still keep an eye on them until you are positive they built a trusting relationship. You should ensure that your cat always has a designated safe space away from the dog they can retreat to when they’ve had enough of their companion. This safe space could be a room or even a cat tree, as long as it’s a space that is only theirs.

Cat To Resident Dog - FoMA Pets

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So, how long does it take for a cat to get used to a new home? While there is no exact answer, we hope these tips were helpful in showing how to make the transition easier on your new furry friend. 

Is it Illegal to Chain Your Dog Outside?

In recognition of Unchain a Dog Month, FoMA has compiled information on the risks of chaining up a dog, as well as some alternative actions you can take so your pet does not live life at the end of a chain. If you find yourself asking, “is it illegal to chain your dog outside?”, we have the answer!

Is it illegal to chain your dog outside?

The short answer: yes.

In Miami Dade County, it is illegal to chain or tether an unattended dog, that means leaving your dog on a chain with no one around to supervise. There are steps you can take if your dog needs to be outside for any reason and you want to keep them safe and not run afoul of the law:

  • If a dog is chained up outside, the owner or responsible party must be outside with the dog at all times, within visual range;
  • The tether must be 5 times as long as the pet, from tip of nose to base of tail. So, if your dog is 2 foot long, this would mean their tether must be no less than 10 feet long and terminate at both ends with a swivel;
  • The tether or chain must  be connected to a collar or harness, not simply wrap around the pet’s neck and should be attached in a manner that prevents risk of injury or  strangulation;
  • The pet must have access to water, shelter and dry ground;
  • The dog is minimum of six months of age and is not sick or injured;

Is it Illegal to Chain Your Dog Outside? - FoMA Pets

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Why is it bad to chain your dog?

Dogs are social creatures that need to regularly interact with people and other animals. Long term restrain can damage their psychological and physical wellbeing and cause long term harm to you pet. A friendly dog who is tethered for a long period of time may become anxious or fearful and sometimes aggressive due to their unforgiving situation. 


A dog that is chained up for too long can suffer from intense physical pain and collars or chains can cut into their neck. A dog who is restless or anxious could easily pull at their tether so hard it causes strangulation. They will also be left to fend for themselves against the elements. Bugs, parasites, and no escape from the heat of Florida weather can all be extremely detrimental to a pet who is left tethered outside for too long. 


Tethering is not only dangerous for the dog, but can also be dangerous for humans who attempt to approach them. The situation can create a high risk for dog attacks or bites. If they have been held in the same spot for an extended period of time, it’s likely that they will become extremely territorial. Nearing an animal in this state could trigger their fight or flight response, but with nowhere to run, their only perceived choice is to fight. Furthermore, if a dog in this situation happens to escape from their tether, they may attack a passerby as a result of severe and long term mental distress

Alternatives to Chaining Your Dog Outside? - FoMA Pets

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What are the alternatives?

Alternatives to chaining up a dog can be as simple as keeping them inside with you, taking daily walks, or installing fencing. An invisible fence will let your dog know where they can roam on your property without straying too far. If the main reason for keeping your dog chained up outside is because they have too much energy to be inside all day, make sure they are being physically and mentally stimulated. Taking walks, playing with them outside, or giving them interactive toys are all great ways of keeping your pet occupied and happy. During Unchain a Dog Month, FoMA encourages you to please consider alternatives and unchain your dog!

Unchain A Dog Month - FoMA Pets

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Bucket List for Your Pet

Bucket lists are always fun to make for ourselves, but shouldn’t your dog have one too? There are so many opportunities to have fun with your pet in Miami-Dade, so FoMA has compiled a beginners list of pet friendly activities for you!

Dog Friendly Beaches

Everyone loves a beach day and your pup will too! There are numerous pet friendly beaches in Miami-Dade County with more to offer than just the sand and sea.  When visiting a dog beach or other recreation area for your pet, be sure to actively supervise your pet and others in the area so you are ready to intervene if your pup starts to get in trouble.  Our pets count on us keeping them safe, even when they’re playing and having fun!

Haulover Beach Park offers a beautiful beach as well as a “bark park” (an enclosure for small and large dogs). Dogs are allowed off leash from 8:00am to 3:00pm so your pooch will get the chance to play in the sand, meet other dogs, and maybe even learn how to swim!

North Beach Oceanside Park offers a dog park and a dog friendly beach, the “Bark Beach.” There are jogging/walking trails, shady spots, and picnic areas to relax in. While the entire park is dog friendly for leashed dogs, there are enclosed spaces where you can take your dog off leash to roam.

Hobie Island Beach Park is another dog friendly beach which is most popular for different beach activities like windsurfing, kayaking and paddle boarding. It’s also a completely dog-friendly beach. Play in the sand and let your furry friend socialize with the other dogs in the area!

Bucket List for Your Pet - Digging for Treasure

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Go Shopping

The Doggie Bag Cafe & Pet Boutique is an adorable shop with awesome supplies for your pup. They carry organic treats, pup-cakes, grass fed beef sliders, chicken or beef dinners, and even doggie beer – but make sure your doggie is old enough for this, too! Have a pet birthday or adoption anniversary coming up? The Doggie Bag Cafe is the perfect place to get them a cake! 

Brickell City Center allows leashed dogs to roam and window shop with you (Just make sure to ask the stores if your pooch is allowed inside with you). Brickell City Centre is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00am to 9:30pm and Sunday from 12:00pm to 7:00pm.

Taking your leashed pet to a local pet store to choose a toy is always a great option, too. There is no better way to ensure you are getting the perfect toy than letting them pick it out themselves!

Bucket List for Your Pet - Shopping with company

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Hiking and Walking Trails

A day outside may be exactly what your dog needs for a classic bucket list experience.

The Virginia Key Outdoor Center is pet-friendly: Everything you expect from the Florida Keys but only minutes from anywhere in Miami. Enjoy white sand beaches, nature trails and mountain trails with your pooch. The Virginia Key Outdoor Center is open Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 7:00pm and Saturday to Sunday from 8:00am to 7:00pm.

Oleta River State Park, Florida’s largest urban park, has trails for mountain biking and water sections swimmers. You can bring your pooch for a picnic at Biscayne Bay or for a quick swim and a walk along the trail. Oleta River State Park is open every day of the week from 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Throw A Birthday or Adoption Party

If you’re housebound due to COVID-19, don’t fret! Celebrate an adoption anniversary or birthday at home to show them how much you love and appreciate them. There are numerous barkeries in Miami-Dade County where you can buy a doggy-safe cake or treat to celebrate. 

Places like The Woof Gang Bakery, Doggie Bag Cafe, and The Waggin Barkery are all home to delicious dog friendly and approved treats. These barkeries will have your pup remembering their party for years to come!

Bucket List for Your Pet - Sweet Treats

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How to Crate Train Your Dog

Crate training is an important, safe, and easy way to provide your pup with a safe and comfortable place to relax. Many people feel guilty for crate training their pooch, however dogs can actually seek out enclosed spaces when they’re anxious or looking for a place to relax.   Crate training is helpful so that if your dog has to be contained due to visitors or other circumstances, it’s a place of comfort and security – not punishment.

Benefits of Crate Training

No. 1 Housetraining: Crate training prompts your dog to hold their bladder when you’re out of the house.

No. 2 Chew-training: Nobody wants their dog chewing on the furniture! Crate training will help prevent your pooch from chewing your furniture, your walls, or anything else you don’t want chewed up. Good habits will automatically form. 

No. 3 Settling Down: Your dog will learn that their crate is a place for relaxation and comfort. 

No. 4 Close Confinement Comfortability: When a dog becomes comfortable with a crate, they are less likely to experience stress when they need to be caged for travel, doctor’s visits, etc.


How to Crate Train Your Dog - Benefits of Crates

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The Rules

No. 1 The crate should not be used as a form of punishment.

No. 2 Always remove your dog’s collar when leaving them in a crate unattended.

No. 3 Make the crate a fun and safe space. Your dog should have treats, toys, and bedding that he only gets while he’s in his crate. 

No. 4 Unless you are certain your dog needs to use the bathroom, don’t open the crate door for crying!

Making the Crate a Fun and Safe Space!

You want the crate to be a space where your dog feels comfortable and at home, so ensure that it is filled with a blanket or bed and favorite toys. Your pup will learn this is a place where they can come to relax and feel safe, making it easier for them to go in the crate when necessary. It is not meant to be a form of punishment and should not be used as one!

How to Crate Train Your Dog - A home, not a prison.

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How to Crate Train

When it comes to crate training your dog, slow and steady wins the race. Start by feeding your pup in their crate, with the door open, saying “Crate” each time. Your dog will then begin to associate food with their crate. A few times throughout the day, say “Crate” but give treats instead of their meals.

After your pup becomes comfortable with the crate, you can take it a step further. Give your dog a treat that takes more work to eat (like a Kong filled with peanut butter). Say “Crate” as they go inside and shut the door for a short period of time (just about a minute). Repeat this for a few days until your dog is comfortable with the door closed, then gradually increase the period of time with the door shut. The goal is that eventually they won’t mind the closed door and they will be comfortable for longer periods of time.

Slow and consistent crate training is extremely important so your dog’s first experience alone in a crate in a good one. Before leaving them alone for a long period of time, practice short times away: For example, go away for a snack or drink. Try watching a movie. When you’ve decided time is up, and if the dog is quiet and settled, simply open the door and let them out. Ignore any barking or agitation (remember Rule No. 4) but ensure your pup is safe! This could teach them that if they bark enough, you will let them out. 

When they are clearly comfortable in the crate, try leaving the house with the same gradual method in mind. Leave first for a minute, then 5 minutes, then 15, 30, an hour. The dog must be gradually conditioned so they do not associate the crate with punishment or being alone and instead a place of quiet time and yummy treats. 

How to Crate Train Your Dog - Happy Dog

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Is a pet on your Christmas List? Ask yourself these 4 questions first.

With the holiday season coming up, many people may consider getting or gifting a pet.  After the holidays, the numbers of animals returned or abandoned at shelters increases at an alarming rate so make sure that you, your friend, or family member is prepared and committed before bringing home a pet or giving one to a loved one.


As a starting point, read on and make sure you can check off these boxes before you go down the road of adopting a new furry family member.

1. Are you ready to make a  lifetime commitment?

Dogs typically live for 10-13 years, and cats live for up to 16 years, so this long-term commitment should be taken into consideration. Over that time period, you may move, change jobs, even get married or have a child.  None of these are reasons to get rid of a pet, so make sure that you are willing to do what it takes to be dedicated to the animal you adopt for the rest of its life.

Is a pet on your Christmas List? - Time Management

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2. Are you or the potential owner ready for the financial responsibility?

On average, you can expect to spend somewhere around $1000 in the first year of owning a pet, if they are in good health & need only routine care.  This accounts for veterinary expenses, vaccinations, food & toys, collars and leashes, adoption fees, crates, and other incidentals.   If you travel frequently you may need to invest in a good pet sitter or safe boarding facility, and if your pet has a medical condition or needs training you’ll want to make sure you can provide that as well.  You should consider the cost of any pet rent or additional fees you may have to pay to your landlord if you are a renter.  If you can’t commit to the financial aspect of pet ownership right now, fostering can be a great alternative until you’re ready for a pet of your own.   Rescues will typically provide the medical care and supplies your foster pet needs while you provide  a  loving home and shelters often need fosters to provide temporary homes to young or recovering pets.  While the value and joy pets bring to our lives can’t be measured, financial considerations are necessary before adopting a pet.

Is a pet on your Christmas List? - Safety Concerns

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3. Has there been a long term interest or experience in owning a pet?

It’s clear that owning a pet comes with responsibilities, so it’s important you ensure this is a well-thought-out decision. If someone you know has only recently developed an interest in owning a pet, take everything into consideration. Ask them, or ask yourself, the hard questions:   Could this just be short term interest from a cute video or photo? Have they thought about the responsibilities of  bringing a pet into their family? Has this person owned a pet before?  Is everyone in the household committed to taking a pet into the home? You want to help make sure they’ve considered all the aspects of pet ownership to ensure they don’t find themselves dropping the animal off at a shelter if they decide it’s “not for them.” 


Dogs especially need training and socialization so they can feel comfortable in their new home, with strangers and with other animals. People with no experience owning a dog may need to invest in training and learn about caring for a pet.

4. Do you or the potential pet owner have the time to give to a pet’s care?

Pets require and deserve our time and care. While everyone may want to have a furry friend, it’s important to consider the time and energy needed for an animal’s health and happiness. Ask yourself or the potential pet owner: Do you have the time and resources to take them out for walks, spend time playing with them, to feeding them on a schedule and to give them the love and attention they need?


If you’re considering getting a dog but you work long hours, make sure you’re paying attention to their energy level to ensure you’re meeting their need to be active. If you’re unable to spend time with them outside for exercise and fun, you should probably wait to get a pet until you can commit to the time necessary to have a healthy, happy pet.

Is a pet on your Christmas List? - Which pet is right for you

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Anyone can be a good pet owner, whether or not they have previous experience. But, it’s important to seriously consider all aspects of owning a pet before moving forward to get a pet — during the holidays or any other time.

If you’ve checked all these boxes and you feel ready to own a pet, remember to adopt, don’t shop!  You can fall in love with your perfect holiday pal – dog or cat – during our Facebook Live Adoption events with Miami-Dade Animal Services, every Thursday at 11 a.m.! Click here to RSVP.

Shelter Wish Lists for the Holidays

Are you in the giving spirit for the holiday season? Consider donating to our shelter pets! Shelters  provide care to animals daily and with so many animals coming in to shelters, they are always in need of supplies. We created this Shelter Wish List of items so that you can be a part of FoMA’s mission of saving and improving the lives of homeless pets in Miami-Dade County by making their lives a little better while they wait for forever homes!


Keep reading to the end of the article for a link to our wishlist on Amazon where you can easily select any items on this list and directly benefit shelter pets.

Shelter Wish Lists for the Holidays - FoMA Pets

Enrichment Toys

Our County’s only open-intake shelter in Doral can be caring for as many as 400 pets at any one time so it can be hard for them to get extended time outside or to have human interaction through playtime. Enrichment items such as durable toys, feeding toys and comfort items can help with an animals’ mental stimulation and overall well-being. Dogs and cats can use the toys in their kennel while they wait for their forever families to adopt them!

Enrichment Items - FoMA Pets

Bedding and Blankets

Since the animals can be in their kennels for long periods of time, we want to make sure they have comfy bedding. These items can help pets be adopted faster – According to Operation Blankets of Love, shelter pets that appear in more home-like settings have higher rates of adoption!

Bedding and Blankets - FoMA Pets

Snacks and Treats

With the number of animals in their care, shelters are always in need for snacks and treats for both dogs and cats. These come in handy as volunteers use the treats in working with and training as well.

Snacks and Treats - FoMA Pets

Kitten Cuddlers Supplies

Kitten Cuddlers care for neonate kittens around the clock, ensuring their survival during their most vulnerable period. With donations of kitty formula and supplies you are truly helping save the lives of neonate kittens!

Kitten Cuddlers Supplies - FoMA Pets

Collars and Leashes

According to PetMD, dogs need to be walked from 30 minutes to 2 hours each day, depending on the breed and need for exercise! Volunteer walkers use donated leashes to walk dogs while fosters receive all the items necessary to take a shelter into their home.  So collars, leashes and harnesses are vital for our shelter pets.

Collars and Leashes - FoMA Pets

And Lots of Other Items!

Our Wish List has so many items to choose from and items in every price point.  For as little as a few dollars you can make a pet’s holiday by sending them a gift and helping make their lives better.  It’s so easy to do through our Amazon Wish List. Just click the link below and select the holiday gifts you want to send our shelter pets.


Plus, if you start your shopping via don’t forget to select “Friends of Miami Animals Foundation Inc.” as your charity of choice.  You’ll be helping shelter pets and will be giving back to FoMA with every purchase, too, at no extra cost to you.  

Get started HERE:

Other Items for Your Pet - FoMA Pets

We hope you can be a part of bringing happiness to a pet in need and help make their holidays brighter!

Guest Post: What to do if You Lose Your Pet

One of the things that we hear much too often is when pet owners contact us and are heartbroken because their pet is lost, often through no fault of their own.  Our friend and canine investigator, Jamie Katz, provides some ideas and ways that you can use if your best friend is lost.

When Your Pet is Lost

My name is Jamie Katz; I am a licensed Private Investigator/ K9 handler in the state of Florida and I specialize in lost & stolen pets. I also have a team of scent specific tracking dogs that can follow the scent of the missing pet.  Losing a pet is one of the most frantic situations to go through and having a solid plan and a professional to guide you through each step, can sometimes make all the difference.  What do I do first?  Who do I call? Was my pet stolen?  Is he/she alive?  These are all the questions that run through the mind of an owner when their pet suddenly disappears. I am going to take you through a step by step process of what to do the second you realize your pet is missing.


  1. If your pet is microchipped, call the microchip company immediately and make sure the chip is registered under your current address and phone number.  If you don’t know your pet’s chip #, try calling all the vets you have taken your pet to and ask if they have ever scanned your pet ‘s microchip and wrote it down in your file.
  1. Create a flyer and post to all social media platforms, (Facebook, Instagram, Craigslist,, etc.). The flyer should have the date your pet when missing, the city, your phone number, breed, colors, male or female, a clear photo of your pet standing on all fours and the reward at the top.  Do not post your pets microchip number and make sure your post is made public so anyone can see and share the post.


  1. Print out 60, colored, laminated signs to start posting immediately to gain awareness within a couple miles of where your pet went missing from.  Best way to do this, is to look at a map of the address your pet went missing from, make a list of all the intersections where the flyers should be posted so that it is impossible for anyone to come in or out of the couple mile radius without having to see a sign.
  1. Check the shelters every other day, (inquire about the animals that are in the clinic and quarantine room), post flyers inside of the shelters on the lost pet bulletin boards.  Ask the shelter if they have a logbook so you can check if any deceased animals were picked with the locations, date and time.

Watch out for Scams

Remember there are people who look to make money off owners with lost pets by pretending they have the animal in order to get the reward, as well as to hack into your email accounts in order to get all your private information (bank, credit cards, etc.).  If you get a text or phone call of someone saying they found your pet, ask them to send you a photo.  If they do not send you a photo, then they do not have your pet.  If you receive a message asking for you to prove that you are the owner of the lost pet and ask you to send them a google code, do NOT respond, this is a scam. If you send back a google code, then the person will be able to hack into your email and get all of your personal information.

What to do if You Lose Your Pet - That's not mine

Professional Help

If You have not found your missing pet within a day or two, you may want to call myself and see what services I can offer to you.  I will profile your case, (the who, what, when, where, how questions) and I will recommend which service would be of most help to you based upon your individual situation. My number is 844-411-5289 and my website is

Jamie Katz

Private Investigator

License # C1500105                                                        

Agency # A1500178

844-411-KATZ (5289)

What to do if You Lose Your Pet - Pet Detective

Pet Obesity

Pet obesity is a prevalent threat to many animals’ good health. According to the Association for Pet Obesity, it is estimated that 60% of cats and 56% of dogs were overweight or obese in the United States in 2018. That’s more than one-in-two! While it may seem harmless or even “cute” if your pet has a few extra pounds, excess weight can pose serious threats to pets’ health in the short and long-term.

Below, we’ve mapped out how to tell if your pet is overweight, the dangers of pet obesity, and what to do if your pet is obese, in order to help you keep your pet healthy and happy.


How to Tell if Your Pet is Obese or Overweight

While we recommend taking your pet to the vet at least twice a year to get a professional’s opinion on their weight, here are some ways to check on your pet’s weight at home.

Pet Obesity - Body Mass Index

To see if your cat is overweight, there are 4 areas you should look out for: their ribs, stomach, spine, and waist. When checking your cat’s ribs, run your hands along your cat’s side. If you can easily feel their ribs along with a little covering of fat, your cat is most likely a healthy weight. If you can’t easily feel the ribs, it’s possible your cat is overweight. Checking the abdomen is a visual test. If you look at your cat from the side and notice a layer of low-hanging fat, that could be a sign that your cat is overweight. When checking the spine, run your hands across your cat’s back. If you can’t easily feel the bones, your cat may be overweight. Finally, look at your cat from above. If you can’t clearly see their waist, and they’re more oval than hourglass shaped, your cat may be overweight.

Pet Obesity - Physical Evaluation

When checking to see if your dog is overweight, you will be looking for many of the same things. If it’s difficult to feel your dog’s ribs because they are covered in a thick layer of fat, then it’s likely that your dog is overweight. When looking at your dog from the side, their stomach should appear to be tucked in right before the hind legs rather than hanging down. Some overweight dogs will also have fat deposits that hang between their front legs.

Pet Obesity

Why Your Pet’s Weight is Important to Their Health

Just like in humans, obesity in pets may shorten their lifespan, and can lead to other life threatening diseases or ailments. For instance, obesity commonly leads to many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension in dogs. Obese cats are no exception. They are at a higher risk for many diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, arthritis, urinary problems, and skin problems. Like obese dogs, overweight cats also experience a decreased quality of life and an increased likelihood of cancer. Being overweight will shorten your pet’s life, likely by years, and dramatically decrease their quality of life. Clearly, for both you and your pet,  it’s not worth it if your pet is overweight to let them continue on that way.


How to Help Your Pet Lose Weight

Also like humans, there are two key factors to look at when helping your pet lose weight: exercise, and diet. Exercise or play can help your pet lose weight by burning extra calories. Take walks with your dog once or twice a day, play fetch, take them to the dog park, or go for a run in your neighborhood. For cats, a great way to help them stay active is with a simple laser pointer or other toy. You’ll have them running around the house to pounce in no time! However, it’s important to consult your veterinarian before starting any type of exercise regimen for your pet. If your pet is “out of shape” (literally!), then it is important to ease them back into an exercise routine so they don’t overexert themselves.

Secondly, your pet’s diet plays a huge role in their weight. Consider buying food and treats with a lower concentration of fat, as this will essentially act the same way as a diet does and should help your pet lose weight. Yes, you can find these foods at any major pet food store or at or! Remember that if you shop on Amazon, shop at Smile.Amazon.Com and make Friends of Miami Animals Foundation your charity of choice to support homeless pets in Miami-Dade County with every purchase. Also, no matter what type of food you are giving your pet, it’s better not to free feed. “Free feeding” is when you leave a bowl of food out all day for your pet, filling it at random times. Keep your pet’s feeding schedule to specific times of the day, twice a day.

Finally – you know what we’re about to say –do not give human food to pets, except for very rare and special occasions, even if your pet is already a healthy weight. Not only does feeding your pet human food greatly increase their chances of becoming obese, it can present serious health issues and also teaches them behaviors such as begging and stealing food, which of course you do not want to see in your pet.  If you absolutely cannot resist treating your pet, instead of fatty or carb-heavy food such as bread, cheese, or peanut butter, try feeding your dog one of these healthy fruits or veggies instead: apples, carrots, peas, green beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, or oranges.

Dogs and Kids: How to Take Action and Ensure Their Safety

Did you know that 77% of dog bites come from a family or friend’s dog? When most people think about dog bites, they imagine the bites are from a stray or a vicious dog, while this is not at all the reality. While proper training is highly important for dogs of all ages and sizes, and owners must be aware of their own dog’s vulnerabilities, triggers, and behavioral issues, good behavior goes both ways, especially when children are involved


Even the most docile of pets will bite if provoked in the wrong way by a child.


So, how can we ensure this is not an issue and keep our kids and pets safe? Here are a few ways you can help keep both your kids and your dog safe and make animal-child relationships and interactions more positive.


How Bites Occur

Most people believe that dog bites happen out of nowhere. However, this has been proven by scientists and researchers to be a rare exception. The way these pet interactions occur –in this case, with a child–can play a critical role in keeping everyone safe.  Even if your family does not have a dog, chances are your child will come into contact with a dog and having a basic understanding of why dog bites occur is crucial to preventing them from happening. 


What dog bites typically boil down to is simple:  Bites usually happen when there is a miscommunication between the child and the dog.

Ready to Attack - FoMA Pets

The Dog’s Mind

Dogs, like all pets, are animals. Although they may look cute and cuddly on the outside, they are still primal creatures when put in situations they are not comfortable in. Children often run up to a dog because of its inviting nature, but many are not yet able to read dog body language properly and there’s miscommunication. For example, dogs baring their teeth, lowering their growl, and showing a stiff posture can equal trouble for an unknowing, friendly and enthusiastic toddler. 


Active supervision is always required when pets and children are together, and we should never leave children alone and unsupervised with a dog or any other animal. 


Second, it is imperative to educate children about interacting with pets and making sure that they are respectful, gentle, and know the rules of engagement.


Preventing a Disaster by Teaching Children

If you are a new dog owner or parent and don’t know where to start when it comes to teaching your children about interacting with dogs, here are 10 rules that can lower the risk of bites when encountering a dog:


  1. Always ask the owner first if it is OK to approach and/or pet the dog
  2. Let the dog see and sniff your child before allowing your child to pet it, so that the dog can establish that the child is not a threat
  3. Never let your child run away from the dog–this invites the dog to chase after the child and may also ignite a dog’s prey drive
  4. If an unfamiliar dog approaches your child, teach them to stand still or back away slowly, without making eye contact
  5. Never let your child squeeze a dog, jump on a dog, or try to climb on top of them
  6. Never let your child pull a dog’s ears, tail, or scream or make loud noises at them
  7. Don’t let your child bother dogs when they’re eating or sleeping
  8. Don’t let your child take toys  or treats away from dogs, or play tug of war with them
  9. Don’t let your child feed dogs treats with their fingers; teach them to put the treat in the palm of your hand and offer the treat to the dog with an open palm
  10. Lastly, never let your child approach a dog so as to  back the pet into a corner or crowd it against a wall

When to Get a Trainer for Your Dog

If you are a dog owner, and realize that your dog is showing anxious or aggressive behaviors towards your child or other children, it’s time to get professional help.   A certified dog trainer can assess what behaviors your pet is exhibiting and how the child or children interact with the dog and help address these issues  to correct the behaviors before they escalate to a bite.


Don’t know where to start? If you’re unsure of where to take your dog for training, you can always ask your dog’s veterinarian and make sure the trainer has the professional qualifications  required to do their job.   You can also take the opportunity to have your pet checked by your vet for any underlying medical issues that might be causing your pet to behave with anxiety or aggression.  Even if training seems expensive, being a responsible dog owner will save you in the long run.  Some dog bite incidents can be serious, not to mention expensive if there is a lawsuit involved. It is so much better to be safe than sorry!

Trained Dog - FoMA Pets

Spread the Word

Overall, dog bites in children rarely occur out of the blue. Teaching your child how to properly approach a dog and how to communicate with the dog throughout the entire interaction is imperative for their safety and that of the animal. By following the 10 preventive rules correctly, you can eliminate or reduce the risk of having a bite incident.  The goal is to ensure your dog always feels safe around your kids, and that your kids are always safe around all dogs.


It’s so important to spread the word about keeping kids and pets safe and we can all do our part.   Too often dogs are put at risk for bites that were unnecessarily provoked and which can end up costing them their lives. Share the knowledge and educate others about how they can help protect their children and prevent dog bites. Everyone will be happier for it!