Tax Time Deductions for Fostering Cats!

While we cannot claim our cats for a tax deduction the Tax Men will allow expenditures for fostering cats. This will be great news for many of you for this year, and something to consider for next year.


Newton’s Purrspective – Tax Time

Yes, my friends – once again it is that time of year. Spring is in the air, but now people are stressed out over tax time. If only they could relax with some Cat Faeries toys and chill out in a Cat Faeries bed. Perhaps there is a human equivalent for “Calm and Serene Flower Essence”?

I know many wonder (only half in jest) if they can use Fluffy as a deduction. After all, you provide food, housing, and medical care (though there is little need for clothing or a college fund). And cats are family! Sadly, the IRS only accepts humans as deductions.




Isaac Newton

However, there is good news for cat foster parents. http://catingtonpost.com/if-you-foster-a-cat-you-can-claim-it-on-your-taxes/ You may be able to deduct expenses incurred fostering cats. Of course, there are a few rules you must follow.

Here are the two most important ones.

  • First, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions.
  • Second, the organization you foster for must be recognized by the IRS 501(c)(3) designation as a Not-for-Profit organization.

You may already know that you can deduct contributions to a qualified not-for-profit if you receive no services or merchandise in return. For example, donating money or a bag of cat food can be deducted. But, if you donate the same things and receive a t shirt in return you can no longer use the deduction. You bought the t shirt so it has become a business transaction.

You will need to keep your receipts and have documentation from the not-for-profit if your contribution is greater than $250.00. To avoid misunderstandings and other problems I recommend checking the IRS rules https://www.irs.gov/uac/top-eight-tax-tips-about-deducting-charitable-contributions and consulting with a tax expert. Sure, you can tell them (the tax experts, not the IRS) that a cat sent you.

Here is the basic situation. Let’s say you are fostering kittens for a properly registered not-for-profit shelter. Let’s also assume they do not provide any money or supplies.

You may be able to deduct the cost of carriers, food, kitty litter, veterinary bills etc. If you have a special area of your house used only for foster kittens you might even be able to deduct a portion of utilities. I know there are many good hearted people spending their own money to take care of kittens and cats in a home environment. Kittens, especially, are vulnerable to life threatening diseases when in stressful environments like shelters. As a former shelter kitten I want to thank all the foster parents out there. Your foster felines appreciate your efforts and we all hope you can get a little credit from the IRS.

 
 
 

Is that cute cat food bowl really lead safe? (maybe not!)

Recently Madam Cat Faerie began to see a Naturopathic doctor who ordered all kinds of detailed tests to delve very deeply for root causes of various conditions that regular doctors either don’t know about, or don’t put much thought into, or even think are not needed. One test panel was for heavy metals which revealed that my blood has a high level of lead, in fact, the highest level this doctor has seen in any of her patients. How on green-earth did this happen to someone who’s been obsessively organic, and really careful about everything, and for decades? I asked Dr. Diane Angela Fong what she thought the top culprits might be and she narrowed her eyes at me and said “red lipstick is notorious.” GASP! I’m notorious for wearing it and thought I was buying the lead free brands! But more on that later in this article. Let’s talk about ceramics.

I spent the entire drive home thinking about possible lead exposures. Topping my list of potential trouble was my collection of vintage restaurant ware dishes. I wondered about my “good china” which was made years after it was mandated the glazes be lead free.

Well guess what dear readers; what we learned about “lead free glazes” will have your head spinning.

3M makes a kit called LeadCheck which is an accurate way to test for lead at home; in fact it’s actually a product that professionals use. Each package contains special “swabs.” They come 2 to a package or 8 to a package. They are expensive ranging from $4 to $6 per swab, but are easy to find in paint stores and hardware stores. There’s another brand called First Alert but we didn’t use those. We bought 3 packages of 8 swabs giving me 24 swabs to test with. Party time – nothing was safe for my test swabs! On a rainy Saturday afternoon of lead testing I was both relieved and horrified by the results.

What failed my swab tests:

A cute new lead-free tea cup

A new casserole (it has the bare clay areas where the lid meets the pot which were tainted during firing in an old kiln)

My French made enamel Dutch oven

“The good china” which was made 5 years after laws for lead free glazes went into effect

A cute new treat dish for the furry ones

Lead free glazes – why you can’t assume it’s all ok.

I called one of the largest glaze companies in the US the one that most potters and ceramists buy from. They gave me the usual song and dance that the glazes come to them with a guarantee. When I asked if they randomly check just to make sure about the lead, they got hissy and said “No, not anymore, we used to test but stopped, we trust our supplier.” I didn’t like that answer and they didn’t like that I pressed harder and that I wanted to know why they just accepted what they were told without randomly testing.

This conversation did not end well, but before they hung up on me, I did learn something very scary:

If the kiln is an old one and if that kiln ever fired pieces with leaded glazes the lead remains and will cross contaminate anything fired in the future.

Interestingly, when this glaze company did test for lead they used the 3M swabs.

As our long time readers have read in the past our cats have always had their food and water in clear glass Pyrex but for fun we have a few “cute” treat bowls for the cats and bunnies. One of them tested positive for lead.

Red Lipstick

A few years ago Mother Jones printed a very shocking article about lead in lipstick. I read it with horror that one of the top offenders was Nars which for years had been my “gluten free” lipstick of choice and the redder the better. I was so angry that I reprinted the article in Cat Faeries newsletter since many of you wear make-up, and who among us does not kiss their cat on the head? Dr. Fong tells me that very often the colorants that make lipstick red are lead based. Want to know if yours is safe?

Rub some lipstick on the back of your hand. Take a piece of gold jewelry, a ring is ideal, that is at least 14 karat gold (have it tested even if it’s marked 14K as it may be a much lower percentage of gold) and rub it into the lipstick. If it turns black – it’s got lead.

Here’s the Mother Jones article: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/study-lead-metals-lipstick-top-20

I hope that your take away is that we cannot be too cautious or trusting. Testing for potential lead in your cat’s food, water, and treat bowls as well as your own dishes is something to consider. Getting the lead of my body is going to be long and unpleasant. I hope that Cat Faeries has spared you and your cats from a toxic lead load. You can’t go wrong with American made clear glass Pyrex!
 
 
 

The FBI now tracks animal abuse like it tracks homicides

This important news has been buzzing around the internet for a few days and in case you missed it – the FBI has elevated cases of Animal Abuse so it is tracked like homicide! This is big and important news for animals and people alike. Previously, cases of animal abuse were classified as “other” when police agencies reported statistics to the FBI. It was impossible to determine trends in animal abuse crime.

This was the result of a 10 year effort by animal rights advocate Mary Lou Randour. She says, “There is overwhelming evidence that [animal abuse] is linked to crimes against people, including violent crimes and domestic violence. It’s not about protecting people or animals, it’s protecting them both.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/01/06/a-big-win-for-animals-the-fbi-now-tracks-animal-abuse-like-it-tracks-homicides/

 
 

Shocking Tests Reveal Toxins in Cat & Dog Food

For several months we’ve been on pins and needles awaiting the results of the findings from 12 very well known brands of cat and dog foods, including a few so-called prescription foods. These are all brands you’ve heard of, and some of them are brands many assume are the good ones for our cats.

The testing was sponsored by and paid for by the members of the Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF), in other words, concerned consumers like you and me who donated money to fund this project. ATPF was founded by pet food advocate Susan Thixton.

The qualifications of the people running the tests include: veterinary nutritionists and forensic scientists.

Does the word “Mycotoxin” scare you? Us too! The foods tested had varying levels of Mycotoxins in them.

Have you heard of group of bacteria called Acinetobacter? We learned that this bacteria is responsible for approximately 500 human deaths a year. You will see that this bacteria was found in 8 of the 12 pet foods tested! And it gets worse: for humans Acinetobacter is 63% multi drug resistant. We are going to wonder out loud for a moment: could some of these human deaths be linked to the handling or eating tainted cat/dog food?

If it’s a threat to human health then why are these toxins ending up in cat and dog food?

Read more:

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/8/1254.full

http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/acinetobacter.html

We are paying the FDA and state department of agriculture One Billion Dollars annually nationwide to conduct testing yet they claim they don’t have enough money to test for toxins in cat and dog food!

Susan Thixton from ATPF will attempt to meet with the FDA in a week to challenge them on these topics and more. If she’s successful we’ll report back to you with the outcome.

Angry? Here’s what you can do today. Call and write to your Congresspersons. Call and write to officials at the local level. If we do not demand change, insist that laws be put in place, and force better enforcement of those laws nothing will improve. Don’t just contact the manufacturers – they may only change if laws which make this illegal are in place.

The test results which you are going to see should embarrass the regulatory officials because it proves that they are not doing their jobs.

This link will take you the very lengthy and disturbing test results.

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/the-pet-food-test-results/

Important article from the The Truth About Pet Food about Purina food possibly linked to pet illness/deaths

Below is an article from The Truth About Pet Food that came out today regarding reports of Purina food possibly linked to cat and dog illnesses/deaths over the last two months. If any of your cats or dogs have mysteriously gotten sick or worse please read this article and then report it to the FDA. You can go here to file a report.


Report it! – Please!

By Susan Thixton

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/report-it-please/

November 13, 2014

I’ve heard from many readers concerned of the recent Internet reports of sick and dying pets linked to a Purina Pet Food. I turned to FDA asking if the agency has received complaints on the Purina foods.

When an Examiner.com story was published highlighting several recent pet deaths linked to a Purina pet food, I started hearing from many readers. Everyone had similar concerns – is there going to be a recall? The amazing thing is – no one that wrote me provides their pet a Purina product. Everyone’s concern was for other pets – other pet owners. Everyone that contacted me was wanting to help – wanting to prevent pet illness and death.

The Examiner.com story was based on pet food consumer reports of sick or dead pets on the ConsumerAffairs.com website. The posts from consumers were heartbreaking and concerning. I turned to FDA, asking if they could tell me if any Purina pet food was under investigation and asking how many adverse event reports the agency has received over the past two months.
FDA promptly replied:

In the past two months (9/12/2014 to 11/12/2014), the agency has received 14 reports about Purina dry food products (this includes for both dogs and cats). Three were adverse event reports for cat food products, 10 were adverse event reports for dog food products (one of these included a product defect report as well), and 1 was a product defect report for a dog food product. Here is a breakdown of the reports:

Purina Cat Chow: 0
Purina Dog Chow: 1 product report
Purina Puppy Chow: 2 (1 product defect, 1 product defect/adverse event report)
Beneful: 8 reports, 1 included another Purina product as well
Purina ONE: 1 cat product report, 1 dog product report
Purina ProPlan: 1 cat product report

The Food and Drug Administration welcomes reports from consumers alerting the agency to problems with products regulated by the agency. These reports help the FDA ensure that products on the market are safe and properly manufactured, labeled and stored. FDA encourages those with concerns about a particular pet food product to submit a report to the Safety Reporting Portal: https://www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov/fpsr/WorkflowLoginIO.aspx?metinstance=B4B8DBDBB6CD79D2ED83195A812D1E7D9C329501.

Reports of adverse events do not necessarily mean that the product caused the event. Other factors, such as existing disease, exposure to chemicals or contaminants, foods, or other medications may have triggered or contributed to the cause of the event. The FDA takes all of these factors into consideration when reviewing adverse drug event reports.

In general, the agency does not discuss its enforcement activities, and any investigation findings would be shared directly with the company.

From the ConsumerAffairs.com website – in the approximate same time frame there are the following complaints filed by consumers…

Alpo – sick dog
Beyond Lamb and Rice Dog Food – sick dog
Purina One Cat Food – sick cat.
Purina Kit & Kaboodle – 10 cats died.
Pro Plan – worms in pet food.
Kit & Kaboodle – one cat died.
Purina Kitten Chow – one kitten died.
Purina Lamb and Rice – sick dog.
Pro Plan Dog Food – seizure.
Purina One cat food – diminished motor control.
Friskies – 2 sick cats.
Purina One Hairball – two sick cats.
Purina Cat Chow – sick cats and one died.
Purina Dog Chow – sick dog.
Purina Dog Chow – sick dog.
Purina Kitten Chow – 2 kittens died.
Purina Cat Food – bugs in food.
Purina Pro Plan Puppy – bugs in food.
Puppy Chow – puppy died.
Purina One Lamb and Rice – bugs in food.
Friskies – sick cats.
Friskies can – ‘grey’ on top wet food.
Purina Beyond – sick dog.
Purina Cat Chow – sick cat.
Purina One Smart Blend – sick dogs.
Purina Dog Chow – dog died, another dog died too.
Purina One – sick cat.
Purina Cat Chow – cat died.

In the above list – consumers have reported 19 animals have died. These numbers or reports of sick pets (naming a food) do not agree with what FDA shared. What is going on?

The answer is – we don’t know. What we do know is that we need every incident of a sick pet, every pet that has died, and every bugs in a pet food reported to FDA. Every incident needs to be reported.

Needless to say, I am not the FDA’s biggest fan. But – the ONLY way for a suspect pet food to be recalled is through FDA and your State Department of Agriculture. If – we consumers – can be pro-active in helping save the lives of pets, this is one way we can help.

If you or anyone you know has a pet they believe was sickened or killed linked to a pet food or treat –

1. Seek veterinary care for your pet. Share your concern that you believe the pet food or treat might be the cause. Ask your veterinarian to give their opinion if the food could be related to the illness or death – this is significant information for FDA and other investigators. We need our veterinarians to stand with us. If the pet dies – as difficult as this might be – ask your veterinarian to perform a necropsy. This is evidence. In the midst of your grief, if you believe the food or treat was the cause, you need this evidence to hold the manufacturer accountable. You will need this evidence to possibly save the lives of other pets. If you cannot afford the cost of a necropsy, ask you veterinarian to hold the pets body while you report the issue to regulatory authorities.
In some cases authorities will perform the necropsy for you. Make certain to tell regulatory authorities you are holding the pet’s body for this reason.

2. When time allows – document everything. Where and when you purchased the food (keep all food and packaging), when you first noticed symptoms and what those symptoms are/were. Document everything you can recall. DO NOT return the food to the retail outlet for a refund. No investigation can occur without the food/treat and the packaging.

3. File a complaint with the FDA and your State Department of Agriculture (ask to speak to the pet food investigator). Bookmark this page on the FDA website. This is the instructions on how to report the sick pet.

4. Report the incident to the pet food manufacturer. Note: seek veterinary treatment first, document everything, report to FDA before you report to the manufacturer.

5. You can have the food tested yourself at an independent lab or a veterinary school lab. Ask your veterinarian to provide you with what food toxins could cause the symptoms seen in your pet (example: mycotoxins, vitamin toxicity).

6. If you wish to share your story with other websites – share. We all want to warn other consumers when we suspect a problem with a pet food or treat. But please – report the incident to regulatory authorities first, Facebook second.

My heart goes out to all those that have lost a pet due to a pet food or treat – I began my path of pet food consumer advocacy because 20+ years ago a dog food killed my beloved dog. I still grieve her death – I still feel responsible. I didn’t know then what I know now, but I bought her this pet food and placed it in her bowl. Something I’ll never forget.

Report it – please.

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
TruthaboutPetFood.com
Association for Truth in Pet Food

FDA Links Deaths to Jerky Pet Treats from China

Once again jerky treats which were made in China for dogs and cats are making animals sick or causing them to die. You must read labels carefully. Avoid food for your cat or dog that is made in China, Thailand or Vietnam. Often stores will cover up the country of origin with the price tag!

Here’s what the FDA says in its latest warning – “As of September 24, 2013, FDA has received more than 3000 complaints of illness related to consumption of chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats, nearly all of which are imported from China. The reports involve more than 3600 dogs, 10 cats and include more than 580 deaths.”

Even if a product is made in the US they could be sourcing ingredients from anywhere – including China. And while I have your attention, read the labels, if there is fish on the ingredient list do not buy it – more on “why we no longer consume fish” in an upcoming newsletter.

Here’s two articles on the latest FDA warning:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/22/us/fda-jerky-pet-treats-warning/ – FDA to vets: Watch out for jerky pet treats; some linked to illness, death

http://truthaboutpetfood2.com/jerky-treat-progress-report – Jerky Treat Progress Report?

Here’s a link to the latest FDA warning:

http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/NewsEvents/CVMUpdates/ucm371450.htm – FDA Releases Progress Report on Jerky Pet Treat Investigation