Know more, do better. 

by Rochelle Guardado, CCBC, CPDT-KA
pronouns: she | her | hers
Animal Training Manager | Pasadena Humane

When I was a kid, we let our pets wander outside, and so did all my neighbors.

Our friends next door had a surprise litter of puppies, and my cat used to visit them all in the backyard to play.

Sometimes my cat would bring the puppies a “gift.” I remember finding the remains of lizards and birds often.

All of our pets were loved very dearly, and we were doing the best we could with the knowledge that we had at the time. Most of our pets lived happy, albeit short lives. There were fleas, disease, and many trips to the vet to treat injuries.

Fast forward a decade; my family and I became spay and neuter advocates and we strictly kept our cats indoors and our dogs on leashes. No more finding lizard tails hidden in the couch!

In the years that followed, my interest in pets became more than a hobby. I now work at an animal shelter and am a certified cat behavior consultant as well as a certified dog trainer. 

When I first started in this industry, the importance of keeping pets safe and sound indoors was beginning to become the norm. Like probably many of you, my family and friends have kitties and pups that are safely confined indoors while we work. The time we spend with our pets is precious, and it’s probably the highlight of your pet’s day.

Our expectations of how pets should behave in our presence have become very high considering that we no longer allow them free access to perform natural behaviors outside while we are away. Since pets are mostly kept indoors and restricted from performing essential behaviors such as chewing, digging, hunting, and scratching, it is our duty as their guardians to provide ways to entertain our cats and dogs.

As much as I would love to just cuddle on the couch all day with my pets, I know that providing mental stimulation and species-specific activities is what makes their lives more enjoyable. This is why I promote and recommend the use of Catios and harness training for canines and felines.

If your cat’s daily routine consists of merely finding places to rest, meowing for mealtimes, and batting at the occasional mouse toy, a catio or window perch may be just what you both need.

Catios not only protect wildlife, but they also provide a safe way for your pet to experience sights, sounds, scents and textures of the outdoors. Keeping pets safe from predators, cars, and other dangers is important, but keeping your pets mentally enriched may prevent behavior challenges which is one of the #1 reasons pets are surrendered to shelters these days. 

Rochelle Guardado, CCBC, CPDT-KA
Animal Training Manager
Pasadena Humane

Providing safety is only one component of pet guardianship. That is why today I teach pet parents to be respectful of local wildlife and to be thoughtful about our pet’s daily activities. Pets provide us with so much joy, and they deserve to be provided with an equal amount of safe, daily joy in return. We should all strive to meet the needs of our pets while also protecting our local environment and its inhabitants.