DEAR JOAN: There's a squirrel that recently decided our backyard is a good place to hang out.
My cat and I enjoy watching out the back door as he scampers around.
I bought a bag of peanuts in the shell for our little friend -- unsalted, of course -- and I set out a few several times a day. I am wondering if there is anything else I can put out for him. It would be nice to know if there is something I could provide for him that he would enjoy and would be good for him.
DEAR SANDY: Let me first put on my animal police hat and say that, with the exception of birds, it is against the law to feed wild animals. The law is to protect the animals. If they become too used to humans, it can put them in danger if they encounter folks who are not friendly to them.
The reality is, however, that if we have bird feeders, trees and gardens, we already are feeding the squirrels. Putting out a few raw, unsalted peanuts, almonds or filberts will make the squirrel, you and your cat pretty happy.
A more healthful choice would be raw vegetables and a saucer of water.
DEAR JOAN: I keep 14 pet rescued birds and spend a great amount of time caring for them.
Recently when I went in to one of the several pet stores in my Antioch-Brentwood area, I noted in one of the stores -- one that is part of a well-known chain with many locations -- 15 colorful little parakeets in a large, clean cage with one unexciting old toy that the birds had no interest in any more. They were all just sitting on the perches, bored and with little zest for life.
I belong to an avian bird organization so I keep up on the care -- and lack of care -- for the birds for sale in the bird shops. I feel very depressed when I see these little creatures not receiving the attention they deserve. I wish something could be done to make these bird sellers more aware about keeping them, sometimes for very long periods.
DEAR BETH: I suspect that if you speak to the managers and tell them your concerns they would do something about the unhappy birds. You note that the cage was clean, so that shows they do care.
It is to their advantage to provide amusement for the birds -- happy, healthy birds sell better than glum ones.
DEAR JOAN: I had to comment on your column about older pets.
Pets of any age that have wandered into my life have been welcomed additions to my household. About 7 years ago, when their owner died, I took in a 14-year-old cat and her 10-year-old feline buddy, knowing they would be hard to place due to age and health issues.
Patches and Chowder were wonderful, fitting in with my three cats and two dogs. While I only had them for 10 and 13 months, they were delightful, loving cats. I have fond memories of their playful antics and distinct personalities.
I hope they know they were much loved in my home. My current household has canine and feline family members adopted nearly at birth, 7 years old and ages unknown. I don't regret taking in older pets and urge others to consider doing so.
DEAR CHRISTINE: Love knows no age, thank goodness.
Contact Joan Morris at email@example.com.