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PETS

Q: I would like to add something about neutering. If people are interested in having their kids experience "the miracle of birth" with a mom cat, there are lots of pregnant cats available who need foster homes.

My rescue group has at least 15 moms-to-be in foster care now. Once the kittens are weaned, we have everybody neutered and put up for adoption. We supply the foster parents with all the supplies and advice, plus veterinary help if needed.

What better way to teach kids and adults about responsibility, charity and the wonder of day-old kittens all in the same package?

-- A.J.
A: Thank you for your excellent suggestion. You're right: Fostering is the perfect way to introduce children both to responsible pet stewardship and to the experience of helping to raise baby animals. Having children to help socialize the kittens will make the babies even more adoptable, so there's no downside to such an arrangement.

It's the height of kitten season now, which means every shelter and rescue group has pregnant cats in desperate need of foster families. Please consider helping out, whether you have children or not. And above all, please don't add to the problem: If you have an unaltered pet, call and make that neutering appointment today. You'll be helping to end pet overpopulation, and you'll be giving yourself a healthier, happier pet.

Q: My dog sometimes has a warm, dry nose. He hasn't seemed at all sick, so I haven't taken him to the vet. Should I be worried that he's running a fever?

- K.M., via e-mail
A: An occasional dry nose is nothing to worry about, and is not necessarily a sign of fever, despite what folks have said for years.

The only way to determine if your pet is running a fever is to take his temperature. You can find pet thermometers in almost any pet-supply outlet, either the inexpensive in-the-fanny kind or the pricier ones that slip into the ear canal. (Whichever you choose, I recommend marking the item to be certain everyone in the family knows it's for use on pets only.)

Normal temperature for dogs is around 101 degrees, although a degree in either direction is nothing to worry about.

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