About two weeks ago, Maria Assunta, the wealthy widow of an Italian property tycoon, died at the age of 94, leaving her cat Tomasso a fortune worth about $13 million. Now, I am all for keeping your animals safe, happy, and healthy throughout their lives, but no single cat could ever need millions of dollars or properties in Rome, Milan and land in Calabria. This story disappoints me because I know that a fortunate woman like Maria could have made a big difference in the animal world with her money, yet she left it solely to her cat. She could have liquidated her assets, set aside money to cover her cat's every possible expense, and had millions left over to donate to helpless animals, ones like Tomasso that she found wandering the streets of Rome just four years earlier. 

If at any point in your life you have some money to donate, please consider charities like:
The Humane Society
Best Friends Animal Society
World Wildlife Fund
or even your local no-kill animal shelter. You alone can make a difference in so many hearts and lives.

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ABC News
Starting Sunday December 11th at 8pm, National Geographic will begin their Big Cat Week, full of episodes about Lions, Tigers, Leopards, Cheetahs, and Jaguars. Their Episode Guide details when these shows will be airing and what they're all about. Capturing the triumphs and plights of these cats in their natural environment, they aim to bring awareness to these majestic animals' declining numbers in the wild, with Cause an Uproar--National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative. They prompt animal lovers to Take Action by Donating to the initiative to raise money for research, wearing gear from their online store, uploading your kitty's picture, and sharing their initiative on Facebook. What will you do to help save these big cats from extinction?
Animal At Heart has gathered 9 simple tips for keeping your pet happy, safe, and healthy during the Winter months.

Tip 1: Keep your pet indoors as much as possible.
When the temperature drops, both dogs and cats are safer indoors, except when taken out for supervised exercise. All cats should be kept inside during the winter, because they can freeze, become lost or stolen, injured, or killed. However, all cats and shorthaired, very young, or old dogs should not be left outside regardless of the season.

Tip 2: Keep your pet on a leash and give him/her an ID tag.
This may seem instinctive, but there are many dangers that can be avoided by using a leash. With snow or ice, and especially during a snowstorm, dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.  In addition, a leash becomes very crucial when walking them near suspected frozen bodies of water. The ice may not be sturdy enough to support your pet and he/she could fall through. If a pet breaks through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet yourself; call 9-1-1 or go for help.

Tip 3: Be mindful of your pet’s feet.
If your pet walks on salted or chemically treated areas, be sure to wash its paws after your walk. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Gently rub the bottom of the feet to remove these irritants as soon as your dog is off the road. This may be surprising but many dogs need boots in cold weather, regardless of its coat length. A way to tell that your dog’s feet are uncomfortably cold is by watching to see if your dog frequently lifts up his paws, whines or stops during walks. Also, snow can get stuck between dogs' toes and freeze, causing pain and discomfort. A way to prevent this is to trim the hair between the toes and keep the nails cut short to make it easier for them to walk in icy areas and to prevent accidents. You can visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for more information. 

Tip 4: Consider clothing for your pet.
When taking your dog for a walk, some dogs, especially short-coated breeds may feel more comfortable wearing some form of protective and insulated clothing or boots. I know many of you may feel opposed or think it is ridiculous, but adding a layer can actually be very beneficial for them to stay healthy.

Tip 5: Pay attention to your pet’s food and water supply.
Keeping warm in the winter will exhaust their energy levels, which is why it is important to make sure they have access to enough food and water. You should also routinely check your pet's water dish to make sure that the water is fresh and unfrozen. Also, when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal bowls, so try using plastic instead to help them avoid that painful experience.

Tip 6: Be aware of dangerous resting or hiding places.
Outdoor cats, and other wild animals, sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars and when the motor is started, they can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If outdoor cats live in your area, please bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to vacate the area.

Tip 7: Do not leave your pet in the car.
During the cold winter months, a car can act as a refrigerator, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death. 

Tip 8: Give your pet a warm and comfortable place to rest.
Find a cozy place for your companion to rest, preferably off of the floor and away from any drafty areas, to ensure their well being.

Tip 9: Be aware that existing pet ailments can be intensified.
Cold or damp weather aggravates existing conditions in pets, such as arthritis, especially in older or overweight animals. Pet stores and veterinarians can provide natural and medicinal treatments for a number of conditions.


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