Dear Readers: Believe it or not, the slipping economy is affecting household pets! How, you ask? Well, with home foreclosures on the rise and people moving because of job loss, household pets are being left or surrendered to shelters. Many times, they are taken to shelters because families cannot afford to pay deposits for pets at new housing, or for other financial reasons.

This is extremely sad and no fault of the pet. So please keep in mind, if you are looking for a pet for your household, check the shelters in your area. You just might save a life and add someone special to your home. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I thought I'd share a hint that I learned at a county fair. I recycle 2-liter soda bottles by filling them with water, freezing them and putting them in my outdoor rabbit hutches to keep the bunnies cool. I keep extra bottles frozen, so I always have a supply during the heat of the day. We also have the hutches under shade trees to keep them cooler. — Gail M., Jackson, N.J.

Dear Heloise: Because we already had two cats, we had no intention of keeping the tiny, abandoned kitten that my husband brought home three years ago. We called him the itty-bitty kitty to distinguish him from the other two. As I write, a really large and lanky gray tiger cat is stretched out on the coffee table. He answers to the name Itty-Bit. — Marge in Iowa

A rescue or "found" cat can make your life interesting! — Heloise

Dear Heloise: I read some hints about getting a pet back in shape from being overweight. I have another hint to share. Be sure the neighbors know the pet is on a diet also. Years ago, a neighborhood dog would always be at our door at dinnertime, so we shared our scraps with him.

One day, the neighbors were telling us that they just couldn't understand why the dog was not losing weight. Obviously, it was because we had still been feeding him! — Nadina Prince, Angola, Ind.

Dear Heloise: We live in Florida and enjoy the weather. When we walk our dog and pick up his "business," we used to throw it in the trash in the garage. To correct the odor problem, we bought a diaper disposer, and there is no smell now. — Camille Dean, The Villages, Fla.

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