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Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

Whether you’re planning a first career or seeking a career change, veterinary nursing may be a wonderful choice if you love animals and people.

Licensed veterinary nurses are in high demand, with the number of openings nationally predicted to swell 16 percent by 2029 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

What is a Veterinary Nurse?

Similar to nurses for human patients, veterinary nurses (formerly called veterinary technicians) are integral members of the veterinary health care team. Educated in the latest medical advances, they are skilled at working alongside veterinarians to diagnose, treat, and care for animals.

Responsibilities of a veterinary nurse are diverse, and may include:

  • Client education
  • Assist in surgery (monitor vital signs or “glove-in” as needed)
  • Administer anesthesia
  • Take patient histories
  • Evaluate and clean teeth (dental prophylaxis)
  • Collect samples
  • Analyze laboratory specimens
  • Wound care and bandaging
  • X-ray imaging
  • Physical therapy
  • Animal nursing care
  • Emergency first aid
  • Preparation and administering of medications and vaccines

Empathetic, compassionate, and hard-working, veterinary nurses enable veterinary hospitals to offer a variety of services.

Licensed Veterinary Nursing: A Recession-Proof Career that Combines a Love of Animals and People

How to Prepare for a Career in Veterinary Nursing

A licensed veterinary nurse is sometimes referred to as a veterinary technician or technologist, depending on the degree.

There are a variety of two-year, three-year, and four-year veterinary nursing degree programs. Upon completion, the student earns an Associate of Applied Science degree (2 or 3-year program) or Bachelor of Science degree (4-year program). Students attending in-person programs can usually work part-time while attending college.

Accredited In-Person Programs in Washington

  • Bellingham Technical College
  • Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom
  • Pima Medical Institute in Renton (and Seattle)
  • Yakima Valley College

Online Programs

In addition to in-person programs, one might consider one of several online veterinary nursing education programs instead. The online programs provide more schedule flexibility and allow students to complete the program at their own pace. Online programs are not for all personal learning styles, but cost approximately half the cost of an in-person program and allow for part-time or full-time employment while attending school.

Accredited Online Programs

Visit the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) for a state-by-state list of accredited online programs.

Obtaining an Entry-Level Position as a Licensed Veterinary Nurse

To obtain an entry-level position as a licensed veterinary nurse in Washington State, candidates need to:

For specific Washington certification and licensing requirements, visit the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors.

11 Ways to Volunteer to Help Shelter Pets

“I wanted to be a vet when I was a kid.”

Not a day goes by when I don’t hear that sentiment. It warms my heart to interact daily with people who love animals, no matter what their role.

But it warms my soul down to my toes when people volunteer their talents purely for the joy of caring for animals in need.

Volunteering to help homeless and abandoned pets is an incredibly rewarding experience. Your commitment also gives these animals a better chance at finding a loving home.

Here are 11 ways to get involved in helping shelter pets

1. Donate Supplies

Shelters always need pet food, bedding, toys, treats, and cleaning supplies. Check with your local shelter to see what they need, and then gather a few items from your local pet store and drop them off.

2. Walk Dogs

Exercise is important for all pets, but especially for dogs in shelters. However, shelters are often short-staffed and need volunteers to take the dogs for a walk. Even if you can’t commit to a regular schedule, a few hours here and there can make a big difference in a shelter pet’s life.

3. Socialize Animals

Socialization is important for shelter animals so they can be adopted into good homes. Spend time with them and help them become more comfortable with people.

4. Help With Administrative Tasks

Shelters always need help with things like paperwork, filing, inputting data, updating websites, or stuffing flyers.

5. Foster a Pet

There are more homeless pets every day. Rescue organizations and shelters need volunteers to take in pets for a few weeks or months at a time, providing them with care and attention until they can be adopted.

6. Educate the Public

Educating others about pet adoption and the importance of spaying and neutering can help reduce the number of homeless animals.

7. Assist at Adoption Events

Shelters often host adoption events or adoption drives to match potential pet owners with an adoptable furry friend. Participating in these events can help spread awareness of the shelter and encourage adoptions.

8. Fundraise

Fundraising is essential for shelters to keep running. You can organize a fundraiser or donate your time and/or money to an existing one.

9. Provide Transportation

Many people need rides to and from the shelter to get their pets to vet appointments or adoption events.

10. Become an Adoption Ambassador

Helping shelter pets doesn’t always require physical labor. You can help find homes for shelter pets by spreading the word about the shelter and its adoptable pets.

Post about the shelter on your social media, encourage your friends to volunteer or donate, or write a review online—all of these actions can make a big difference.

11. Adopt a Pet

Visit Petfinder.com to learn about pets available for adoption in your area and to find your best match.

Thank you, fellow animal lovers, for the things you do to help care for our furry friends in need. I know the joy you receive in return makes it all worthwhile and makes this world a better place.

The Perfect Dog Breed for You, Based on Your Enneagram Personality Type

Dog breeds

Are you trying to decide which type of dog would be the best fit for your personality?

With so many breeds out there, it can be hard to narrow down your options. Fortunately, you don’t have to look any further than your Enneagram personality type.

Read on for nine points about breeds of dog that fit each Enneagram personality type.

Disclaimer: This information is not scientifically based – it’s just for fun! And, just as humans fit several Enneagram personality types, so do dogs. You’ll notice that some breeds appear in multiple categories.

Type One: The Reformer

Enneagram Ones are known for their idealism and perfectionism. They are principled, purposeful, and self-controlled.

Type One Enneagram - Samoyed

Breeds that are highly intelligent, loyal, protective, inquisitive, eager to please, and have a strong work ethic are ideal for Ones.

Some self-assured breeds may be challenging to train, but once trained, they are respectful and reliable.

  • Samoyed
  • Australian Shepherd
  • German Shepherd
  • Japanese Chin
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bull Terrier
  • Shih Tzu
  • Poodle

Type Two: The Helper

Enneagram Twos are caring, interpersonal types. Twos are people-pleasing givers who thrive on helping others.

Type Two Enneagram - Labrador Retriever

Breeds known for their gentle, friendly, loving, and loyal personalities make excellent companions for Twos, because they’re affectionate and eager to please.

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Dutch Spaniel
  • Belgian Sheepdog
  • Bichon Frisé
  • Maltese
  • Havanese

Type Three: The Achiever

Enneagram Threes crave high-energy activities and enjoy being in the spotlight. They are success-oriented, driven, and image-conscious.

Type Three Enneagram - Chihuahua

Threes need an energetic, outgoing canine companion who can keep up with their active lifestyle and turn heads when they hit the town together.

  • Chihuahua
  • Pomeranian
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • English Foxhound
  • Brussels Griffon

Type Four: The Individualist

Enneagram Fours are sensitive souls. They have a tendency to be self-absorbed and temperamental and are also expressive, creative, and dramatic.

Type Four Enneagram - Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Fours gravitate towards breeds with sweet, gentle, laid-back personalities who will happily snuggle up during quiet moments at home, and who also know how to mind their own business.

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Havanese
  • French Bulldog
  • Australian Shepherd
  • English Bulldog
  • Akita
  • Border Collie
  • Miniature American Shepherd
  • Dutch Sheepdog

Type Five: The Investigator

Enneagram Fives are intense, perceptive, thoughtful, analytical, and can be secretive and isolated.

Type Five Enneagram - Greyhound

Fives appreciate intelligence, independence, loyalty, and adaptability in their canine companion. They enjoy breeds that are easy to train and can adjust to a variety of lifestyles.

  • Greyhound
  • Beagle
  • Poodle
  • Bloodhound
  • Chow Chow
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Rat Terrier

Type Six: The Loyalist

Enneagram Sixes have an innate need for security and protection. They tend to be anxious and suspicious as well as responsible, engaging, and committed.

Type Six Enneagram - German Shepherd

It makes sense that Sixes would opt for larger, highly intelligent, loyal breeds with a strong independent streak. Sixes prefer good-natured breeds that offer plenty of protection against potential intruders while still providing lots of love and affection when needed.

  • German Shepherd
  • Siberian Husky
  • Boston Terrier
  • Chinook
  • Greyhound
  • Pug

Type Seven: The Enthusiast

Enneagram Sevens are busy, fun-loving, and spontaneous. They’re distractible, scattered, and versatile.

Type Seven Enneagram - Boxer

Sevens need a naturally extroverted dog that is friendly, affectionate, and has a zest for life. Sevens gravitate toward breeds that require plenty of exercise but who also love lounging and watching TV with their owners on lazy days.

  • Boxer
  • Bulldog
  • Beagle
  • Dachshund
  • Pomeranian
  • Corgi
  • Teddy Roosevelt Terrier

Type Eight: The Challenger

Enneagram Eights are self-confident, powerful, dominating, decisive, willful, and confrontational.

Type Eight Enneagram - Doberman Pinscher

Eights might feel overwhelmed by smaller dogs, and often opt for low-maintenance breeds that require minimal grooming but still provide all the love they could want from a canine companion.

Eights respond well to charismatic, strong-willed dogs known for being loyal and protective, yet still loving and affectionate.

  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Chihuahua
  • Bulldog
  • Tibetan Mastiff
  • Tibetan Terrier
  • Tibetan Spaniel
  • Maltese
  • Labrador Retriever

Type Nine: The Peacemaker

Enneagram Nines are easygoing, self-effacing, agreeable, complacent, and non-confrontational.

Type Nine Enneagram - Border Collie

Nines respond well to gentle, affectionate, laid-back dogs that are loving and loyal. Often, Nines like medium-sized breeds that offer all the attention a Nine could want without taking up too much space in the home.

  • Border Collie
  • Australian Cattle Dog
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Golden Retriever
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
Dog breeds large to small

No matter what your Enneagram personality type is, there’s sure to be a breed out there perfect just for you.

In the comments, let us know which breed(s) you feel the most affinity for. Does your favorite breed march your Enneagram personality type?

More info about the Enneagram

The Enneagram Institute

5 Reasons Your Pet Must Receive the Rabies Vaccine

One of my neighbors was going for a walk last week when a large, scruffy, very pregnant dog came out of nowhere and bit her leg.

She reported the incident to Animal Control and warned her neighbors, who compared notes to see if they could determine where the dog lived.

There were conflicting reports:

“She belongs to the people who live three houses down and they let her roam.”

“She’s a stray who’s been wandering the neighborhood.”

The inability to pinpoint whether the dog belongs to someone or is a stray raised the question:

Has the dog been vaccinated for rabies?

It’s a valid question, since dogs and cats are especially vulnerable to rabies – a deadly virus that can also be passed to humans.

Vaccination against the virus is the best way to protect your pet and those around them from this potentially fatal disease.

5 Reasons Your Pet Should Receive a Rabies Vaccine

1. Rabies is Serious and Potentially Fatal

Rabies is one of the deadliest viruses known to humankind. A single bite or scratch from an infected animal can cause severe neurological symptoms that can be fatal if left untreated.

In Washington State, 400-to-600 animals per year are tested for rabies, mostly bats. “Bats are the only animal in Washington known to carry rabies,” according to the Washington State Department of Health website.  “We find rabid bats in Washington every year.”

Related article on our blog: Why Indoor Pets Should Be Vaccinated for Rabies

Why Indoor Pets Should Be Vaccinated for Rabies

Vaccinating your pet helps protect them from the virus, and, if your pet is exposed, it can help reduce the severity of the disease.

2. It’s the Law

In most states, including Washington, it is illegal to own a pet without a current rabies vaccination.

In Washington, WAC 246-100-197 was put into place to help protect both pets and people from the dangerous virus. Failure to vaccinate your pet could result in fines or other legal repercussions.

We typically recommend puppies and kittens receive their first rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age.

A booster vaccine should be administered one year later, and then every 3 years for dogs and annually for cats (who receive the gentler modified live rabies vaccine).

3. It’s Affordable

Rabies vaccines are typically available at low cost through your veterinarian or through local health departments, making it easy to keep your pet up to date.

The cost of the vaccine is far less than the costs you would be faced with if your pet were to contract the disease.

4. It’s Easy

Rabies vaccines can be administered by your veterinarian or other qualified health professional – typically through a single injection. The entire process is quick, easy, and relatively painless for your pet.

5. It Prevents the Spread of the Virus

Vaccinating your cat or dog not only helps protect them from the virus if they are exposed, but it also helps prevent the spread of the virus to other animals and humans. This is especially important if you live in an area where rabies is more common.

Visit the Washington State Department of Health for the latest information on rabies activity in Washington.

Be sure to keep your pet up to date on their rabies vaccine to ensure their safety and the safety of those around them.

Related article:

Bat Positive for Rabies Found in King County,” Public Health Insider

9 Human Medications Dangerous to Dogs

When your dog is feeling uncomfortable and is obviously in pain, it’s tempting to give her an over-the-counter human medication. But instead of helping her feel better, human meds can cause a great deal of harm to your pup, and may even result in a fatal reaction.

Rule of thumb: Never give your dog human medications unless your veterinarian specifically instructs you to.

Here are 9 household medications you must keep out of your dog’s reach:

1. Multivitamins

Human vitamins commonly contain four ingredients toxic to dogs: xylitol (can cause low blood sugar and liver failure), vitamin D (can cause secondary kidney failure), iron (can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and organ damage or failure), and calcium (can cause mild stomach upset to kidney failure).

Rather than giving your dog human multivitamins, feed your dog a balanced diet and ask your veterinarian to recommend vitamins or supplements specially formulated for dogs.

2. Topical Creams and Ointments

When you apply lotions, oils, creams, or ointments to your own skin, don’t allow your dog to lick your skin. Some of the ingredients found in these products can cause serious or life-threatening gastrointestinal problems in dogs.

Read the label and be especially wary of products that include:

  • baclofen
  • calcipotriene
  • dibucaine
  • diclofenac
  • 5-fluorouracil
  • flurbiprofen
  • ketamine
  • lidocaine

3. Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol®, Percocet®, aspirin-free Excedrin®, and other sinus, cold, and flu medications. Acetaminophen helps reduce fever and general aches and pains in humans.

However, when a dog eats acetaminophen tablets, the results can be catastrophic. Acetaminophen poisoning can cause permanent liver damage or liver failure, abnormal red blood cells, lack of oxygen, and dry eye.

If you believe your dog ingested acetaminophen, seek emergency veterinary attention immediately.

4. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

In the same way that acetaminophen can wreak havoc on your dog’s system, human NSAIDs such as Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers, as well as potential kidney failure.

Even veterinary NSAIDs, when ingested in large amounts, can cause similar problems. Keep chewable veterinary NSAIDs and human NSAIDs out of your dog’s reach.

5. Nasal Decongestants

If your dog ingests a nasal/sinus decongestant containing pseudoephedrine, it stimulates the nervous system and cardiovascular systems.

Symptoms may include restlessness, agitation, hyperactivity, tremors, tachycardia, hypertension, hyperthermia, panting, and mydriasis.

6. Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol

If your dog has an upset tummy, do not treat her with Kaopectate, Pepto Bismol, or any product that contains salicylates.

Large doses of bismuth salicylate could cause gastric irritation or ulceration, bleeding problems, seizures, and liver damage.

7. ADD/ADHD Drugs and Amphetamines

Common prescription ADD drugs such as Adderall contain amphetamines, which stimulate the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. If enough amphetamines are ingested, they can cause hyperactivity, tremors and seizures, fever, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, coma, and even death.

Consult your veterinarian immediately if your pet has ingested a medication containing amphetamines.

8. Cardiac Medications

Human cardiac drugs are commonly used for hypertension and to prevent heart failure. These medications are also used in veterinary medicine, but the human variety can be dangerous to dogs when ingested in small amounts. Signs of poisoning include a very abnormal heart rate, collapse, low blood pressure, excessive thirst and urination, and even organ failure.

9. Antidepressants

Antidepressants are one of the top medications prescribed by doctors, and some of these medications are also used in veterinary medicine to treat behavior problems and anxiety.

When a dog accidentally ingests human antidepressants, signs of poisoning may include hyperactivity, a racing heart rate, hypertension, dilated pupils, tremors, and even seizures.

What to do if you think your dog was poisoned

Your best line of defense is to dog-proof your home, keeping ALL medications (human and pet) out of reach. If you take multivitamins or other tablets daily, be careful not to drop tablets on the floor or to leave open bottles around.

If you suspect your dog ingested a poison, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline: (888) 426-4435. For more info, visit  their website.

Or call the Pet Poison Helpline (fee-based). For info, visit their website.

Learn more about dog hazards and toxins

Animal Poison Control Center Podcast

Download a free mobile app from the Animal Poison Control Center that will:

  • help you identify over 300 potential hazards and toxins found in and around the home
  • provide crucial information about the severity of the problem
  • suggest critical next steps


4 Important New Year’s Eve Safety Tips for Pets

There are two days each year when the most U.S. pets get lost: The 4th of July and New Year’s Eve.

The explosive noise and flashes of light from fireworks scare the “pants” off many dogs and cats.

Of course, Seattleites don’t wait until midnight on New Year’s Eve to shoot off fireworks. You’ll hear a smattering of booms throughout the day, with neighborhood fireworks starting in earnest at 9pm (to coincide with the Time Square Ball Drop) and continuing past midnight.

Some pet owners unwisely bring their dogs with them to New Year’s Eve celebrations, where the combination of unfamiliar surroundings, crowds, loud music, alcohol, and fireworks creates a potent cocktail practically guaranteed to send panicked pets running for cover (not to mention getting “the runs,” and you don’t want that, either).

By planning ahead, you can help calm your pets’ nerves and keep them safe on New Year’s Eve.

Protect your Pet with a Collar, ID tag, and Microchip

You don’t want your pet to be one of the 7.6 million pets who are lost each year.

Even if your pet wears a collar and ID tag, those can fall off. A collar, ID tag, and properly-registered microchip will increase the chances of your pet being reunited with you if it runs away.

What is a Microchip?

Microchips are implantable computer chips no bigger than a grain of rice. The microchip is placed under your pet’s skin by your veterinarian with a needle and syringe.

The chip receives a radio signal from a scanner and transmits a unique encoded identification number back to the scanner, to help reunite you with your pet.

Register the Microchip

It is important to register your pet’s microchip, to maintain updated contact information, and to provide multiple emergency contacts in case your pet gets lost while you’re out of town.

Give your pet the best chance of being reunited with you. Call us today at 206.323.4433 to schedule an appointment to have your pet microchipped.

Create a Safe Place for Your Pet

Whether you’re hosting a get-together or spending a quiet evening at home, you’ll want to keep your pet indoors on New Year’s Eve.

  • Close pet doors, windows, and curtains.
  • Set up a comfortable pet bed in the most sound-proofed space in your home, as far away as possible from noisemakers, poppers, fireworks, loud music, and conversations. A good location might be a closet or the basement.
  • If you have a cat, provide access to as many hiding places as possible.
  • Dim the lights and turn on soothing white noise such as a fan, air conditioner, radio, or television.
  • If you have a white noise machine, try playing the sound of a gentle rainfall. Every Seattle pet is accustomed to that particular sound, and it’s likely to calm them.
  • Provide toys and treats to distract your pet.

If you’re hosting a party, consider temporarily disabling your doorbell, particularly if you have a dog who barks like crazy whenever it rings. If a lot of people will be coming and going, your curious pup will want to meet them, but your dog may also freak out and make a break for it out the front door.

Your dog is not the host of your party – you are.

Keep your dog safe, in a room away from the door.

If you’re planning to go out on New Year’s Eve, recruit a family member, friend, or neighbor to pet-sit. Be sure to supply your sitter with your pet’s water bowl, bed, and their favorite food, treats, and toys.

If your pet experiences severe noise anxiety, we can recommend medications that may help decrease anxiety and relax your pet.

Give Your Pet Plenty of Physical Activity

When their normal routine gets disrupted, pets often get frightened and anxious. They’ll likely sense that there’s something different about this day, so make an effort to spend extra time with your pet throughout the day. Buy a new toy for your pet and actively play with them throughout the day.

Earlier in the day (when it’s still relatively quiet), take your pet for a longer-than-usual walk, which will tire them out and help them relax and sleep more soundly. During your walk, be prepared for people to unexpectedly set off fireworks. Make sure your pet’s collar ID tag, GPS tracker, and leash are properly attached.

If you’re home with your pet during the evening, be extra attentive to them. If your stressed pet pees or defecates on the floor, don’t yell at them. Instead, attempt to make your presence a comforting one. Distract your pet by calmly playing together or listening to soothing music.

Keep Your Pet Away From Toxic Substances

Alcohol. Marijuana. Salty snacks. Liqueur-filled chocolates. Balloons. Streamers. Party Poppers.

New Year’s Eve is a veritable feast of items that can cause digestive issues, poisoning, and other health issues.


Copious amounts of alcohol are often within easy reach of curious pets on New Year’s Eve, so it’s not surprising that a lot of opportunistic pets get alcohol poisoning.

Sadly, some people think it’s funny or cute to get a pet tipsy.

Please, PLEASE don’t serve a dog or cat alcohol!

One teaspoon of grain alcohol (hard liquor) is enough to cause severe alcohol toxicity symptoms in cats and dogs. One tablespoon is enough to put a healthy cat or small dog into a coma, and can even be fatal.

Pets who consume even a small amount of alcohol have a similar, yet more severe reaction to alcohol than their human counterparts: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, lethargy, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, drops in body temperature and blood pressure, loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, acute kidney failure, and even death.

(Yes, we know we sound like a TV commercial that ominously intones a long list of potential side-effects of a prescription drug, but we want you to be aware of the dangers of alcohol poisoning!)


The same goes for marijuana. Pets who inhale secondhand marijuana smoke or eat edibles that contain caffeine, chocolate, garlic, grapes, raisins, or Xylitol often require emergency treatment.

According to the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), “Marijuana can cause your pet to become unsteady, sleepy and sensitive to touch, and can cause a decrease in their heart rate and body temperature. In rare cases, seizures and death may be possible.”

Other Items Toxic to Pets

  • Salty snack foods
  • Chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Raw and under-cooked meat
  • Poultry, beef, and pork bones
  • Pie crust
  • Decorations (streamers, balloons, ribbons, twinkly lights)

For more information, read these articles on our blog:

The last thing you want is to ring in the New Year with an emergency visit to the vet.

Whether you’re entertaining at home or you’re at a party away from home, assume that dangerous items will be within your pets’ reach. Keep a close eye on your furbabies, and do your best to keep them away from toxic substances.

10 Reasons Your Cat Cries or Meows at Night (and what to do about it)

There’s a reason we call that shrill howling or wailing “caterwauling.”

Caterwauling is the incessant meowing or yowling sound some cats make all night, when you’re trying to sleep.

Why is this happening?

First, we need to talk about feline sleep patterns.

Cats are a crepuscular species, meaning they are naturally most active at dawn and dusk and they sleep in the middle of the day and night.

Younger cats, in particular, tend to be more active at night because their feline instincts alert them that the darkest hours are the perfect time to go hunting.

Humans, on the other hand, are diurnal. We do most of our activities during daylight hours and sleep at night.

Mix crepusculars with diurnals and you have a mismatch of sleep patterns. At the exact time you’re ready to nod off, your kitty is feeling wide awake and eager to “talk.”

In this article, we’ll look at ten common causes of nighttime meowing, and suggest what you can do to reduce the racket.

10 causes of kitty insomnia

1. Boredom. Excessive nighttime vocalizing is often a sign of a bored cat. If you’re away from home all day, your indoor cat(s) may lounge and nap most of the day, decreasing their need for sleep at night. Lack of exercise and play makes them more likely to engage in attention-seeking behavior when you’re trying to sleep.

One way to counter this is to increase kitty’s exercise and mental stimulation during the day, and to spend quality one-on-one time together in the evening.

This article on our blog suggests five fun (and funny) ways to help your senior cat exercise.

2. Hunger or Thirst. Remember the “Dagwood sandwich?” The comic strip character, Dagwood Bumstead, is famous for sneaking out of bed in the middle of the night to whip up enormous, multi-layered sandwiches.

Nocturnal meowing may be a sign that your cat is ravenous and wants you to create the kitty version of a Dagwood sandwich to satisfy their craving.

One way around this is to feed your cat later in the evening, just before bedtime. Be sure to fill kitty’s water bowl then, too.

3. Anxiety. If you welcome a new kitten, dog, or baby into your family, your cat may be confused about what’s happening, making them more prone to nighttime noise-making.

This article on our blog includes five helpful tips for introducing a new kitten to your resident cat.

4. Desire to mate. Cats become sexually mature around 4 months of age. Cats in heat have a distinctive mating call, which cat parents often mistake for a cry of pain.

If kitty hasn’t been spayed or neutered, they may yowl or cry in an attempt to warn competitors away from their chosen mate.

5. Aging. Many humans age 60 and up complain they have trouble sleeping. That’s because melatonin (aka, the “sleep hormone”) production declines over time, by as much as 80% by age 60.

As cats age, they, too, experience health issues that can cause insomnia.

Those may include:

6. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) which revs a cat’s metabolism, making them anxious and ravenous.

This article on our blog overviews the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for hyperthyroidism.

7. Hypertension (high blood pressure).

This article on our blog will acquaint you with some of the symptoms of high blood pressure.

8. Kidney disease – Cats who are unable to filter waste from their body may experience painful conditions that cause them to cry.

9. Pain. In addition to kidney disease, other pain-related causes of nighttime crying include  arthritis, dental disease, or headaches caused by high blood pressure.

10. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) – As cats age, their cognitive function and night vision can deteriorate, causing feelings of insecurity, confusion, vulnerability, and disorientation. One way to help your cat feel less fearful and more confident is to place nightlights around your home.

How to improve your cat’s sleep habits

If nighttime yowling persists, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. We will conduct a thorough physical exam, blood pressure screening, and routine lab tests, which will help us diagnose the underlying cause.

Fortunately, we can often improve a kitty’s sleep habits by addressing the condition that’s causing the problem and suggesting simple lifestyle changes that will allow everyone to get a better night’s sleep.

Related articles on our blog:

Creative Ways to Protect Your Outdoor Cat

Should you allow your cat to roam outdoors?

It’s a decision that requires careful consideration, particularly since cats aren’t native to North America, and it can be dangerous out there.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of allowing your kitty outdoor access, and we’ll introduce you to an excellent compromise that works well for many cats and their human parents.

Recent research has shown owned cats roam an average territory of 5 acres, considerably larger than most people’s backyards (feral cats have even larger territories).

The benefits of outdoor roaming

A stimulated mind is a healthier mind. Kitties allowed outdoor access tend to exhibit fewer behaviors humans find objectionable, such as destructive clawing and urine marking.

Cats allowed outdoors are more likely to maintain their body weight in a healthy range and refrain from excessive grooming because they get more exercise and don’t eat out of boredom.

The drawbacks

On the other hand, cats allowed outdoors face considerable danger—including death—from cars, coyotes, raccoons, eagles, dogs, parasites, and poisons.

Because of these dangers, they tend to die at an earlier age.

The average lifespan for a cat allowed outdoors is 3-to-5 years.

Indoor cats live 13-to-17 years, on average, but face more issues with boredom and obesity, which can lead to behavioral and medical issues.

Cats that roam outdoors often get into fights with other cats over territory boundaries, risking dangers ranging from bite wounds and abscesses to life-threatening viral infections like feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline infectious viremia (FIV).

They frequently are exposed to internal and external parasites (intestinal worms, fleas, mites, ticks), which they can pass to their human families.

Ornithologists blame outdoor cats for dramatic declines in wild bird populations; it’s estimated that outdoor cats kill from 1.4-to-3.7 billion birds in the continental U.S. each year.

And some cats just plain get lost and never find their way back home.

Beyond neutering, vaccinations, parasite prevention medications, a microchip, safety collar, and ID tag, what can be done to keep outdoor felines safe and healthy?

A compromise: Cat yards

If your cat wants to go outdoors but you want to keep kitty safe, consider an outdoor cat yard, often referred to as a catio.

In the 15+ years of providing house calls for cats throughout the Seattle area, our doctors have seen an amazing variety of DIY cat yards that exhibit cat families’ creativity and love for their furry friend(s).

Using a wide variety of configurations and materials, folks have constructed outdoor spaces for their cats to play, lounge, and explore. Catios keep cats (and birds, for the most part) safe while providing exercise, mental stimulation, fresh air, and a place to catch a sunbeam in warmer weather.

Some catios resemble three-season porches; others enclose a portion of the backyard, keeping kitty contained and other animals out; still others are attached to the side of a house with a cat door in a window, providing easy access.

We’re feeling the vibes of this Seahawks-themed cat cave (or is it a man cave?), by Catio Spaces.

Ideas for configuring an outdoor cat space

Cynthia Chomos, founder of Seattle-based Catio Spaces, combines her expertise as a Feng Shui consultant and designer to create outdoor havens for felines and their humans.

Purrfect Fence is a company that specializes in helping cat people configure their outdoor space into a pleasing (from both the humans’ and cats’ perspectives) outdoor play space.

Re-purposing household items into cat yards

While custom-made and kit-based catios are fantastic, our doctors have noticed that more than half the cat yards we’ve seen were constructed from scratch with re-purposed materials by ingenious owners who didn’t have a large budgets.

One owner created a Japanese-themed garden in his side yard with cat fencing hidden in a non-invasive bamboo hedge.

Another created what she called an underground “chunnel” connecting the only space available for a cat yard located 10 feet away from the side of her house.

Others were built underneath a back deck or overhang using deer fencing purchased at a hardware store, providing access through a sliding glass door beneath the deck.

Some used aviary netting on an existing cedar fence to enclose the entire backyard.

Each of these enclosures featured with homemade climbing things, scratchable surfaces, and shelves for lounging.

If you’re interested in outdoor enclosures for your kitty, do an image search for “cat yards,” “cat enclosures,” “cat spaces,” or “catio.”

And please remember: cats in outdoor enclosures still need parasite prevention.

Related articles on our blog:

10 Family-Friendly Christmas Movies Featuring Dogs and Cats

The holiday season is a great time to watch heartwarming Christmas movies. It’s especially fun when the flicks feature our favorite furry friends.

Get out the popcorn and your pets’ favorite treats, cuddle up and watch these Christmas classics.



The Dog Who Saved Christmas (2009)

The Bannister family’s newly adopted and crafty canine, Zeus, saves its home from two bumbling thieves while the family is away at Christmas.

Full movie:

A Dog Named Christmas (2009)

A developmentally challenged young man with a penchant for caring for animals in need sets out to convince his family – and their whole rural community – to participate in a local shelter’s inaugural “Adopt A Dog for Christmas Program.”


Full movie:

Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure (2011)

When Henry the elf flees the North Pole with Santa’s sleigh and his magical bag of toys, he crash-lands the precious cargo in a suburban neighborhood tree. But when the bag ends up in the wrong hands, it’s up to heroic St. Bernard, Beethoven, and his teenage pal, Mason, to rescue Henry, fetch Santa’s toys and save Christmas for children everywhere.


A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  -Linus

When Charlie Brown complains about the overwhelming materialism of the Christmas season, Lucy suggests that he become director of the school Christmas pageant. Charlie Brown attempts to restore the true meaning of Christmas by buying a neglected Christmas tree. Snoopy, his faithful sidekick, definitely knows how to decorate a dog house.


Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)

In the town of Whoville, the Whos are filled with excitement about celebrating Christmas. The only one who is not amused is the grumpy, cantankerous and green-furred Grinch, born with a heart “two-sizes too small.” He lives in his cave with trusty sidekick, Max, the dog. This computer-animated fantasy/comedy is based on Dr. Suess’s 1957 book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

Though Rudolph is undoubtedly the hero of this story, Yukon Cornelius and his loveable team of sled dogs steal the show. With timeless Christmas songs and a heartwarming lesson about accepting the differences of others, this Christmas classic is one you and your kids can watch again and again.

Clip of Yukon Cornelius and the sled dogs:



The Nine Lives of Christmas (2016)

With Christmas approaching, a handsome fireman afraid of commitment adopts a stray cat and meets a beautiful veterinary student who challenges his decision to remain a confirmed bachelor.


The Nine Kittens of Christmas (2022)

In this sequel to The Nine Lives of Christmas, Zachary and Marilee are thrown back together at Christmas when they’re tasked with finding homes for a litter of adorable kittens.


Full movie:

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever


Grumpy Cat is a lonely cat living in a mall pet shop. Because she always gets passed over and never gets chosen by customers, this kitty develops a sour outlook on life until… one day during the holidays, a very special 12-year-old girl enters the pet store and falls in love with Grumpy Cat.

Santa Claws (2014)

Santa is allergic to cats, so he has a policy against delivering them as gifts. But little Tommy has been SO good, and all he wants is one kitty. Instead of one, the whole litter climbs into Santa’s sack. When Santa has an allergic reaction, the kitties have to take over and deliver the presents on time.


4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Away from Your Cat

Gingerbread houses. Turkey and ham. Glittery tree ornaments. These holiday delights can be irresistible to your cat, but they can also be dangerous.

Here are 4 quick tips to keep your kitty safe and healthy during the holidays.

1. Don’t feed your cat leftovers or table scraps.

Fat-laden holiday foods can contribute to inflammation of the pancreas, causing discomfort and digestive trouble.

2. Don’t give the cat a bone, especially a poultry bone!

Cats love to jump on tables and steal things the second your back is turned. Keep cooked turkey bones out of your cat’s reach. These sharp bones can splinter and get stuck in your cat’s throat or digestive tract or cut into intestinal tissues.

3. Don’t feed your cat raw turkey giblets, kidneys, liver, or necks.

Since we’re talking turkey, when you’re prepping your turkey, double-bag the “innards” that are included inside the raw turkey and dispose of them. Raw meats are often contaminated with bacteria that can cause diarrhea, cramps, and upset tummies… or worse.

4. Keep kitty away from the Christmas tree.

This is a tough challenge, because cats love to play with the shiny, dangling ornaments and tinsel. They also enjoy drinking the toxic water at the base of the tree, climbing the tree, knocking over the tree, sharpening their claws on the trunk… you name it!

Both  artificial and live trees pose risks to your cat.

  • If they eat the needles off a live tree, it can puncture their intestines. If they eat the needles off an artificial tree (which is usually sprayed with fire retardant), they can experience intestinal blockage or thyroid disease.
  • If they swallow tinsel or ornaments, they can experience internal cuts and intestinal blockage.
  • If they chew dangling tree lights or extension cords, they can penetrate the insulation around the cords and get a severe tongue burn or electric shock.

5 Tips for Cat-Proofing Your Tree

4 Holiday Hazards to Keep Your Cat Away From | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

To deter your curious kitty from exploring or chewing on the tree, try spritzing a bitter apple spray, Citronella oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon or orange scent around the tree. Cats don’t like citrus scent, so you could also scatter orange peels under the tree.

To keep your cat from drinking chemically-treated tree water (which can be highly toxic), wrap aluminum foil over the base filled with water.

To stop kitty from chewing the bottom branches, spray the bottom limbs with tabasco sauce.

When hanging ornaments, tie them on with string or twine, rather than metal hooks (but be vigilant, as cats like to eat string, too!). Hang your most delicate decorations near the top of the tree.

Most importantly, keep your cat out of the room where the tree is located unless you are carefully supervising your cat!

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.