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2006-03-15 / Columnists

Pets of the Week

by looking for wear or tartar build-up. This takes an experienced eye because some cats just have better teeth. Certain pure breeds, like Abyssinians and Persians, are predisposed to dental problems, and other strays may have had a better diet or their teeth brushed. Typically, by 2 years, the molars usually have some tartar; by 5, more tartar on the molars and some on the canines as well. Then by middle to older age, the incisors begin to wear down, and eventually, teeth may begin to fall out (like the 10 year old Siamese mix at the shelter that just left for Last Hope). By age 12, some incisors may be missing.

Charmer Charmer In older cats, the lens of the eye begins to show signs of aging. This condition, called lenticular sclerosis, usually begins around age 8-9. As the animal gets older, the nucleus of the lens becomes denser, harder, and somewhat cloudy, often with a blue-green tinge. This becomes more obvious as the cat ages, but should not be confused with cataracts which can cause blindness. Fortunately, vision is not significantly affected by lenticular sclerosis until the last stages of the cat's life.

In 2000 three veterinarians came up with an interesting test for estimating both dog and cat age, within 2 to 3 years, by shining a penlight into the animal's eyes and measuring the size of the reflection. to other free roaming cats.

Missy Missy Outdoor cats, the battle-scarred strays, have a hard life so they look "older" than their pampered, indoor kin. Add this tough life to the cosmetic equation, estimating age gets even harder. Cats are not about to offer up any hints. Senior cats become Norma Desmond. Just like the fading screen legend: "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," (but I won't reveal my age). Staying secretive 'til the end is part of the feline star's mystique.

"Charmer" is a cat case in point. This white declawed Casanova came into Babylon Town Shelter with no age history. We are guessing he's about 3. His snake charming act was so good that he convinced volunteers to take him to the Last Hope Cat Center a few minutes after I took this photo. Call (516)220-6695 to make him your feline leading man. Meanwhile "Missy" is a sweet 1 year Sheltie/ Chow in Cage 85 at Babylon Shelter (643-9270) Lamar St. W.Babylon. She's quite playful, despite her hard life so far.

Females: "Winnie"the Boxer mix in Cage 53; "Shea" the Hound mix in Cage 77; the red Retriever pup in Cage 51; "Queenie"the Husky/Akita in Cage 95.

Males: "A-Rod"the Shepherd mix in Cage 37; a handsome Siberian husky in Cage 11; "Moose"the Dane mix in Cage 45.

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