How important is scent to cats? More than you might think. No one has ever been silly enough to try to put them to work finding people or substances by scent, but cats have a keen sense of smell and rely on it heavily.

Twinks is convinced she can be the next “Grumpy Cat.” Her adorable expression will catch your attention right away. She is about 5 years old and is one of the longtime residents at the Sacramento SPCA.

Taking a pet to the emergency hospital is something none of us wants to do. It’s scary and stressful for you and your dog or cat.

When you come home from work, is it to find that your cat has peed on the bed, yowled so desolately all day that the neighbors inquire a little nervously about her well-being, or scratched to ribbons the chair that you just had reupholstered with that expensive fabric? Don’t chalk it up to spite. Your cat may be suffering from a condition that almost no one associates with the feline species: separation anxiety.

In the span of less than a week, I found two ticks on my dog Harper, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. In 25 years of dog ownership, that was a first. We live in Southern California, so ticks are a fact of life, but Harper doesn’t typically go into areas where ticks are found. We don’t have a yard, and she’s not allowed on local hiking trails. I can only surmise that the ticks hitched a ride on me – ick! – after a hike and made their way onto Harper.

When I started writing about pets for a living almost three decades ago, I had one middle-aged dog and one young one. When I sat down to write this article, my final “Pet Connection,” I again have one middle-aged dog and one young one (as well as three cats, one horse, two goats, two ducks and 23 chickens, but who’s counting?). In the years between that first column and this one, I’ve held many pets in my arms at our veterinarian’s for the final good-bye, most of them dogs.

At only 4 years old, this little Chihuahua has quickly won over the hearts of volunteers and staff members at the Sacramento SPCA.

I’m not sure exactly how it happens, but veterinarians tend to take on “special needs” pets.

Summer is prime time for vacationing with children, but if your family’s “little ones” have four legs and bark, the better time to hit the road is now.

As the days grow shorter and the nights grow cooler, you may observe something that seems rather odd for a body preparing for winter: Your dog is shedding more than usual.

My two cats are both beautiful – I may be a little biased, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. When it comes to temperament, though, their similarities end.

There are few things that make a veterinarian happier than walking into an exam room to see a pet that's squeaky clean and perfectly groomed.

The No. 1 thing that will give your pet a better life while saving you money? Weight loss.

Kittens can be so cute – they make us gasp in delight, and every shelter and rescue group has plenty to choose from at this time of year – colors, coat lengths and markings galore. But how do you know you're picking a healthy baby?

In the couple of weeks on either side of the Fourth of July, I lost one pet and found another. Both stories had happy endings because both the owners and the finders knew what to do. One pet made it home because of a high-tech strategy, the other because of a low-tech one.

Is there anything for which a dog can't use its nose to figure out? Dogs have long been used to sniff out escaped convicts and missing children (think bloodhounds), dinner (think spaniels, retrievers and hounds), and even truffles (think poodles).

I love the Fourth of July. I love the picnics and parades, and especially the fireworks. But I love my pets, too, so I usually stay home.

Tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, floods and earthquakes – there are few places on Earth that are not vulnerable to one or more natural disasters.

In the last year, it seems like I've been doing nothing but raising puppies. First came Ned, a Shetland sheepdog who's bright but a little on the shy side. Then Riley, an outgoing, bouncy retriever puppy I'm raising for friends.

How do you help more cats with less money? Contrary to decades of conventional practice, some in the shelter community are arguing that for municipal shelters the answer is to leave free-roaming cats alone, and to ask communities' nonprofit shelters to do the same.

Sometimes when I talk to a pet owner about her cat's stress, I can almost hear what she's thinking.

If someone else pays the adoption fee when you adopt a pet, does it change how much you "value" the animal as a member of your family? How you answer that question may reveal how you feel about many of the changes now underway in the shelter and rescue community.

Rivers have always been a part of my life. I grew up in Sacramento, a city that began at the spot where two mighty rivers meet. Such placement has always been a risky business, and the levees that hold the waters in place don't seem strong enough many a year.

Our dog will sometimes come into the bedroom and startle at the sight of herself in our mirrored closet doors. Sometimes she'll even bark. Other times she takes no notice of her reflection at all. Does she recognize that it's her? Or think it's another dog?

At this time of year, our windows open up to sweet scents of spring – and the headache-inducing annoyance of the neighborhood nuisance barker.

In the past, I've been less nervous about air travel than I have been about my cats' veterinary appointments.

There's nothing harder for a young puppy to learn than being alone.

In recent years we've seen a shift in attitude when it comes to adopting an adult dog.

I wish you would warn people about tennis balls. Yes, dogs love them, but they're not meant for dogs. I don't think they're safe, and I won't let my dogs have them. Can you spread the word?

When I adopted a second adult cat a few months ago, I knew I was at risk for having one cat or the other – or both – avoiding the litter box.

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