Heartland Virus, A New Tick-Born Disease


(image via Tm at Wikimedia)

I freakin’ hate parasites.  They completely skeeve me out and now I have even more reason to detest them.  Scientists have found a virus, previously unknown, found in the nymph form of Lone Star Ticks called the Heartland Virus.  (Heartland Virus study report in New England Journal of Medicine.)

The virus causes fever, headaches, low white blood cell counts (leukopenia), low platelet counts (thrombocytopenia), and possibly diarrhea & loss of appetite.  So far, 2 men in northwest Missouri have caught it after being bitten by ticks.  No word yet if cats and dogs can get it.

Take steps to protect yourself from ticks.  And remember to protect your pets from ticks.  If either of you become ill after a tick bite, seek medical help.

Ticks carry a ton of other disease that affect cats, dogs, rabbits, other companion animals, and, of course humans.  The mere presence of ticks on your pet can cause tick paralysis.

Ticks carry a number of diseases including:

Be sure to check out:

Post on the EPA evaluation of topical flea & tick treatments that includes super important safety tips on their use.

How To Be A Good Vet Client

vetcaduceusxoJane has practical advice on how to How Not To Be A Dick At The Vet Hospital.  Both of Claire Lower’s parents are vets and she’s heard lots of stories about difficult owners.  Her father says, “Not all pet owners are crazy, but all crazy people have pets.”  Your pets will be better off if you’re not one of those crazy people!

Claire’s mom has also written a piece on her own blog on being a good vet client.  I was really struck by this piece of advice:

Be upfront with the doctor.  If you only have $250 to spend let them know.   The worst feeling is running blood tests and X-rays then finding out there is no more money to treat the pet.  I have a saying.. “X-rays are not therapeutic”

Don’t let your embarrassment hurt your pet.  Speak up and tell your vet what’s going on.  Your pets are counting on you!

DIY: Jack-O-Lantern Designs—Cats, Rabbits, Dogs, Ferrets, Rats, Mice, Fish & Reptiles

I’m a big dork about Halloween.  I really love it!  Here’s a repost of a big collections of patterns you can use to make a jack-o-lantern for almost any pet.

I love carving something different each year on our pumpkins and, though I’m very fond of cats, I thought other pets should be represented too.  Here are a variety of patterns for a bunch of different animals that should make some pretty nifty jack-o-lanterns.  And, yes there are more cats.  Just click on an image for a larger version to print or download.

And don’t miss these cat stencils and these dog breed stencils. Or you can make a stencil from your own photos of your pets.

Have a fun Halloween and keep your furred & feathered friends safe!
















DIY: Rat Condos From Ikea Furniture

People are so clever!  Today I bring you 4 easy DIY rat condos,cages or hutches from modified Ikea furniture.  You can, of course, use other furniture too and these homes will also work for other small pets with some possible adjustments.

If you don’t already own something that would work for these condos, you still may not have to pay full price.  Ikea furniture is often found at thrift stores and garage sales.  I bet there’s also a lot of Ikea furniture thrown out by collee students at the of the school year.  Don’t forget to check the Returns section at Ikea before paying full price.

First up is a rat cage made from Billy shelves.  They left it divided into 3 sections—storage, younger rats, and adult rats.  You could also cut holes in the shelves if you wanted to connect the different levels.  They add a lip to each shelf which will help keep anything falling out of the cage like bedding or food.


The rat condo made from Gorm shelving looks good and has room for some storage.  I like that they added wheels to make it easier to move and clean around.  It looks like they made the doors themselves, but that’s pretty easy.  Home Depot and Lowes will cut your wood for you for free if you don’t have too many cuts to make.  The “L” brackets at the corners are a good idea for strength and durability.  You don’t want your condo doors to fall apart!


This elaborate rat condo made from an Ikea Kullen wardrobe uses other Ikea products as components for the interior, like the tunnels, litter boxes, and houses.  This condo has lots of connected level and is flexible, so you can move things around as needed.


Another rat condo from a different Ikea wardrobe, the Aneboda.  The shelves aren’t permanently fixed so you can change things around for different configurations.  I love the flexibility, so you can keep things interesting for your animals.


Finally, check out these ideas for repurposing other inexpensive Ikea products for your rats or other small animals.  This post gives numerous product suggestions for bedding, litter boxes, play, and infrastructure.  The ubiquitous plastic bag holder also works as a bed or lounging platform.  Great ideas!  I’m going to look at Ikea a little differently next time I’m there.

Don’t miss these other nifty Ikea based DIY pet projects:

(Please note: I am in no way connected to Ikea.  Other than I shop there and like all their pretty paper napkins.)

DIY: Make A Pumpkin Stencil Of Your Pet

Use photos of your own pets to make a nifty stencil for your jack-o-lanterns this year.  These three tutorials show you how to do it.

If that’s too fiddly, there’s a program called Pumpkinshop you can buy that converts your photos into stencils.

If you don’t want to make your own patterns check out these cat stencils and these dog breed stencils.