Dear Heloise: In response to the advice recently given by the avian specialist to the woman who wanted a neat aviary, I just wanted to pass on the caution seen in many avian journals.
When corncob litter gets wet (from a bird splashing its bath water or water dish), it gets moldy quickly and easily, potentially causing respiratory problems.
As noted, wood shavings can be dangerous due to the possibility of ingestion, but they have a second danger in the form of strong aromatic oils, which also can cause respiratory problems after long-term exposure.
Many people feel that although newspaper is not the most attractive, it is still one of the healthiest options for bird cages, as it is safe and allows for one to notice abnormal changes in droppings a possible indicator of health problems.
Additionally, litter of any kind simply hides waste, giving the illusion that the bird cage is cleaner than it really is, which creates another health issue. Hopefully these tips will help all pet birds remain safe.
Wade Kammin, Springfield, Ill.
Wade, thank you for writing with this potentially lifesaving advice! It is very important to check the corncob litter and sweep up any that is wet or soiled.
And as you said, you might want to check it occasionally for any difference in bird droppings to make sure there are no changes in your bird's health. They can't tell you when they are sick!
Dear Heloise: I wanted to share a safety tidbit about toy baskets for dogs. We have one for our miniature pinscher. Our dog's collar had one of those metal, bone-shaped ID tags on it with our phone number.
The basket we had was a metal one with wide spaces, and the tag got caught in one of the squares as she was leaning in to get a toy out. Thankfully, we were home to get her out of her predicament, but I shudder to think of the danger she would have been in if we hadn't been there. We quickly changed basket styles.
Sally, via e-mail
Cats versus plants
Dear Heloise: I have a helpful hint that I use to keep my busy cat from playing in my potted plants.
I put clear, wide packaging tape around the top edge of my pots. I keep enough open in the center so I can still water them. It has worked really well no more dirt on my carpet.
Denise, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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