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Norwich Bulletin - 12/26/2004

A New Year – Again!

2005 is right around the corner and I can hardly believe it. It seems the older I get the faster time passes and the harder it is to keep a New Year's resolution. I always like to offer suggestions to my readers, as well as put my own resolution down on paper, but this year I am just going to get on my soapbox and preach.

I have a lot of acquaintances that still smoke. I happen to be one of those reformed smokers (that everyone hates) who cannot stand to be anywhere around the smell of cigarettes and, of course, there is no smoking allowed in our home. With all the knowledge out there about the health hazards of smoking and the studies on the evils of second hand smoke on your children, I decided to go on line and see if there are any studies about pets and smoking.

I was surprised to learn that the most common cancer in cats is lymphoma and that it is linked to second hand smoke. Even more concerning though, was learning that a cat does not just breathe in your cigarette smoke, but actually ends up ingesting it as well! We all know that smoke collects on everything in your house. It gets into your walls, your clothes, your bedding, your drapes and yes, even your pet's fur!

Cats are fastidious groomers, which results in toxic smoke particles being ingested during the course of everyday grooming, day after day. So while your dog may be at risk from inhaling second hand smoke, your cat's risk doubles, and after five years, even triples!

So those of you who adore your cats and dogs may want to think about at least limiting where you smoke. I know how hard it is to quit smoking (I did it 12 years ago) and if you haven't already done it for yourself or your children, chances are you won't do it for your pets. However, if you make a conscious effort to not smoke in your home, your children and pets will benefit and you will probably end up either smoking less, or doing lots of yard work which will result in a beautiful yard! Either way, everyone wins!

Now for those of us who have already quit smoking or have never smoked, we need a resolution that will help both ourselves and our pets. Mine has to be weight loss - mine, and a couple of my "fat" cats. And this is something that could also benefit everyone in my household. All I have to do is commit to healthy choices for myself, my family and my pets. I wonder if I could bring Milo (the cat) with me to Weight Watchers?

Seriously, my plan is to start eating healthier and to play interactional games with my cats so they get some exercise. Even the fattest of cats enjoy chasing a teaser for a short amount of time. And if you have a fat dog, you can go for walks and play Frisbee or ball - giving both of you exercise. Humans and pets will live longer if they are not overweight. Most of my cats, my two dogs, as well as my husband and my children, are at their proper weight. So that leaves me and the few "bigger than life" cats that need the resolution.

So think about what will make you and your favorite dog or cat live a healthier, longer life and decide today to make a commitment to change something about yourself in the year 2005. Of course, if you do not smoke, already exercise, and neither you nor your pet is overweight then I am really envious because you don't need a New Year's resolution!

And if you feel any of these above suggestions are just too hard and not at all interesting, consider giving a new lease on life to an older animal that has been left at a city shelter. Older cats and dogs are oftentimes left in kill shelters and they have a very small chance of being adopted. If you already have one or two or three (or more) cats or dogs, what would it hurt to have one more? Giving the gift of life is very satisfying.

Whatever resolution you choose to do or not do, we wish you a Happy New Year from all the humans and furry creatures in my home to yours!

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