Friendship is priceless, but your next buddy could be free, if you’re planning to adopt an adult shelter cat in the next few days.

In conjunction with Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, our friends at the ASPCA,® along with Fresh Step litter, are encouraging shelters to conduct fee-waived adoptions for adult cats.

“On average, it costs shelters $13 a day to care for a cat," Emily Weiss, a researcher for the ASPCA, said in a recent statement. "Often times, adoption fees don't even offset those costs. By offering fee-waived adoptions for adult cats, shelters can often increase the cost for kittens and direct new cat parents to their gift or retail shop where they can purchase essential supplies for their new family member. Shelters benefit from that revenue, and new cat owners have extra money to spend on their cat. And, ultimately, the cat has a loving home. It’s a win-win for all.”

The promotion comes at a time when shelters are often flooded with kittens. Most kitties are born between March and November.

With so many cats in shelters, your new best friend might already be waiting for you. If you plan on adopting a cat, the ASPCA has tips to ease the transition. Your new cat’s needs include:


The essentials include a litter box, the litter your new cat is used to using, food and water dishes, the food your cat is used to eating, toys and a scratching post. An identification tag or microchip can help your cat return home if he or she is ever lost.

Routine and a space to relax

Give your new friend space to find his or her way in your family. Your new cat may need seven to 14 days before he or she is feeling at home.

Safe surroundings

Cleaning supplies, medications and even plants can be toxic to animals. Check out the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center for a list of some substances to avoid.

Veterinary care

ASPCA Pet Health Insurance can help new pet parents afford wellness visits for their new friends. Explore our coverage or get a free quote!

To find your local shelter, visit the ASPCA’s shelter database. For a list a shelters participating in the fee-waiver program, visit Fresh Step’s Facebook page.



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ASPCA Happenings

The Hartville Group, Inc., and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) have renewed their strategic partnership for pet insurance, continuing the strong collaboration between the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare and one of the largest and oldest pet health insurance providers in the U.S.

Initially established in 2006, the strategic partnership paved the way for Hartville to develop and launch ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, a leading U.S. pet health insurance program. In addition to promoting humane standards set by the ASPCA, ASPCA Pet Health Insurance furthers the ASPCA’s mission by helping pet parents afford quality veterinary care so their pets can live longer, healthier lives. The ASPCA chose Hartville for this partnership because of its commitment to pet health and humane coverage philosophy.

Read the full announcement here.  

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Hartville Group News & Info

Yesterday, we quizzed your knowledge of spaying and neutering benefits.

Here are a few more points to consider:

5. Spaying or neutering affects personality.
False: Spaying or neutering won’t change a pet’s core personality traits like friendliness, playfulness or curiosity. However, it could reduce some unwanted behaviors, like frequent urination in females (to attract males) spraying in male cats (to mark territory).

6. You should spay or neuter your pet earlier rather than later.
True: You should talk to your veterinarian about the best age to spay or neuter your pet, but there are advantages to having it done while your pet is young. Younger pets may be less likely to experience complications from surgery. Shelters often spay or neuter pets as young as 6 weeks to 8 weeks old to help ensure that they don’t contribute to pet homelessness.

7. Pets who get “fixed” get fat.
False: Spaying or neutering does not necessarily mean your pet will pack on the pounds. The major culprits of obesity are inactivity and poor diet. Spayed, neutered or neither, your pet should eat a well-balanced pet food, go easy on the treats and get enough exercise to stay fit and trim. Ask your veterinarian for specific diet and exercise recommendations for your pet.

Want to know more about spaying or neutering? Check out this article in our Pet Health Library or read the Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet at the ASPCA’s website.

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ASPCA Happenings

Spaying and Neutering Benefits That May Surprise You

As a pet parent, you’ve probably heard about the importance of spaying or neutering your pets to avoid unwanted pregnancies and reduce the number of dogs and cats without good homes. The ASPCA® estimates around 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide each year, and about  3 million to 4 million are euthanized. Spaying or neutering also offers health and behavioral benefits for your pet that may surprise you.

Check your spaying and neutering smarts with this true or false quiz. Ask your veterinarian for advice about your pet.

1. Spaying or neutering is risky and painful.
False: Like any surgery, spaying or neutering can have complications, but it’s a routine procedure and the risks are relatively low for healthy pets. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia, so there shouldn’t be any pain during the operation. Your veterinarian can tell you more about the procedure and give you specific instructions for post-surgery care.

2. It can help prevent cancer.
True: Spaying a female pet prevents ovarian and uterine cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer. Neutering will keep a male from getting testicular cancer and decrease his risks of developing prostate cancer. Spaying or neutering can also help your pet’s health in other ways by reducing the urge to roam and fight with animals that could pass on contagious diseases.

3. Spaying or neutering is expensive.
False: Spaying or neutering doesn’t have to be costly, and the significant health and behavior benefits can outweigh the expense. Plus, it’s an important step in reducing pet overpopulation and homelessness. Both Level 3 and Level 4 cover spay or neuter surgery. The ASPCA has a searchable database that can help you locate a low-cost spay/neuter program in your community.

Stay tuned for more spaying and neutering truths and myths over the next few days!

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ASPCA Happenings

Hartville Group Celebrates Go Orange Month

Last Friday, employees dressed up in orange to support the ASPCA®’s “Go Orange for Animals” month, which builds awareness for the ASPCA’s mission of preventing animal cruelty. This year also marks a special milestone as the ASPCA celebrates 145 years of being the nation’s leading voice for animal welfare. Stay tuned for ideas later this month about how you can join in on the fun with our friends at the ASPCA!

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Hartville Group News & Info

Here is some great news for individuals looking to adopt: Our friends at the ASPCA® recently expanded their online adoption database nationwide! Now would-be pet parents across the country can easily find adoptable shelter dogs and cats through the ASPCA, which will also continue to feature adoptable dogs and cats in the its New York City shelter.

To begin a search, animal lovers simply enter their zip code into the database to receive a list of dogs and cats that are ready for a forever home in their area.

This new offering is made possible though the ASPCA’s partnership with DogTime’s “Save a Dog” and “Save a Cat” pet-finder applications.

Do you live in New York City? Don’t forget to check out the dogs available at the ASPCA Adoption Center! 

Visit the ASPCA online adoption center to learn more about their expanded database.

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ASPCA Happenings

Human medications rank No. 1 among pet toxins as the most common cause for calls to the ASPCA®’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) for the third consecutive year, according to a list published by the ASPCA.

The APCC received more than 167,000 calls in 2010 concerning pets exposed to potentially hazardous substances. About 25% of those calls were for pets who accidentally consumed human medications. The biggest culprits in this category include ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, antidepressants and ADHD medications. Often, mishaps like this occur when pets grab an interesting looking bottle off a counter or eat pills dropped on the floor.

Insecticides, rodenticides, people food that’s unsafe for pets and veterinary medications were also top causes for calls to the APCC last year. For the complete list of top pet toxins, visit the ASPCA website.

Remember, if your pet ingests something hazardous, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center can help at 1-888-426-4435. A $65 consultation fee may apply, 80% of which is covered by ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. If you have any questions about your coverage, you can view your plan at the Member Center or call 1-866-204-6764.

Later this month, we’ll share tips to keep your pets safe in honor of National Poison Prevention Week, March 20 to 26.

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ASPCA Happenings

Pet Blog - Pet's Teeth Tips

Our friends at the ASPCA® recommend you brush your pet’s teeth ideally once a day or at least several times a week. These pointers can help you get started.

1. Introduce your pet to the idea slowly. Start by simply massaging the gums gently with your finger or a cotton swab.

2. After a few massages, let your pet taste the toothpaste by dabbing it on the lips. Use toothpaste made for cats or dogs, since people paste can be harmful to pets.

3. Next, get your pet used to the toothbrush. Choose a toothbrush designed for pets, or buy one you can wear on your finger, if you prefer.

4. Finally, put some of the paste on the toothbrush, and brush using a circular motion at a 45 degree angle to the gum line.
5. Your pet may not be the best patient at first, but he or she will probably get used to the idea over time, and maybe even enjoy it! Try to make teeth cleaning a fun activity with lots of praise, attention, and affection.

Visit the ASPCA’s website to read more about dog dental care or cat dental care.

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ASPCA Happenings

Pet Blog - Brush Up on Dental Care for National Pet Dental Month

February is National Pet Dental Month, which makes it a great time to check up on your pet’s teeth, especially if it’s been awhile or you haven’t done it in the past. Problems in your dog or cat’s mouth can lead to serious health problems in the future. Fortunately, these can be prevented with some good old-fashioned dental care, like regular dental exams and tooth brushing.

The Ins and Outs of Dental Health
Food and plaque can build up on your pet’s teeth, much like your own. If it lingers there, it can cause bad breath, gingivitis, receding gums, loss of teeth, damage to the tongue and palate, and oral infections. Some of these problems can make it hard for your pet to chew and eat, and they can cause more complications down the road.

To help avoid these issues, bring your pet to the veterinarian at least once a year for a dental exam. The veterinarian will examine your pet’s mouth inside and out, and perform a professional cleaning. This can include anesthesia, X-rays, and ultrasonic teeth scaling. The cost of the exam can vary depending on the health of your pet’s teeth and gums. Our Level 4 coverage includes a yearly dental exam and cleaning.

5 Tips to Keep Your Pet Smiling
Here are some at-home suggestions for monitoring your pet’s dental health in between veterinary visits from our friends at the ASPCA. ®

1. The sniff test. Take a whiff of your cat’s or dog’s breath. It probably won’t smell fresh and lovely, but it shouldn’t smell foul or offensive, either. If you cringe at the scent, you should visit your veterinarian to make sure your pet isn’t suffering from digestive issues or gum disease.

2. Get a good look. Your pet may hide pain and discomfort, so it’s important to check his or her mouth regularly. Face your pet towards you, and gently lift his or her lips. Look around for inflammation, discoloration, ulcers, or loose teeth. If you see something that doesn’t look right, contact your veterinarian.

3. Brush regularly. Brushing your pet’s teeth on an ongoing basis may sound like a daunting task, but it’s an inexpensive way to avoid potentially serious health problems in the future.

4. Check your pet’s diet. The food your pet eats can impact dental health. Crunchy pet food or a combination of dry and wet food can keep your dog or cat’s mouth cleaner than soft food, which tends to stick more. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a pet food that’s good for teeth.

5. Offer chew toys. Pet toys made for chewing can perform double duty by satisfying your pet’s natural urge to chomp and by promoting dental health. Chewing massages the gums and can remove soft tartar. But be careful not to let your pet gnaw on hard toys that can injure his or her mouth or fracture teeth.

Later this month, we’ll share tips on how to brush your pet’s teeth!

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ASPCA Happenings

Pet Blog - Meet Your Match with the ASPCA

Valentine’s Day brings thoughts of true love, which is what our friends at the ASPCA® would like to help find between pets and potential adopters. To that end, they’ve developed a unique research-based program called Meet Your Match.®

With Meet Your Match, shelters evaluate pets for distinct “canine-alities” or “feline-alities” and assign them one of nine fun and descriptive labels. For instance, cats might be “Private Investigators,” “Sidekicks,” or “Party Animals.” Dogs can be “Couch Potatoes,” “Goofballs,” or “Go-Getters.” Adopters are given a survey to identify their own personalities and lifestyles. Then matches can be made.

Adopters who use Meet Your Match are less likely to return their new housemates to the shelter, while the pets are more likely to adjust easily to their new homes. The program is a great way to promote successful adoptions and, in some cases, find true furry love.

If you’re looking to adopt, ask your local shelters if they use Meet Your Match. If not, you can suggest it to them or read up on the pet personalities online and consider them as you look for your soul mate.

Learn more about Meet Your Match on the ASPCA’s website.

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ASPCA Happenings


As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.