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Hints from Heloise: Be prepared before buying bird

"Daddy Forrest" (Forrest Hooker) and T.C. (The Cat) read the paper in Bandera, Texas.
"Daddy Forrest" (Forrest Hooker) and T.C. (The Cat) read the paper in Bandera, Texas.
King Features Syndicate Inc.

Dear Readers: Birds are entertaining and make wonderful pets. But if you are thinking about getting a bird, please consider these hints:

Buy a bird only from a respected dealer or pet store. You don't want to get a bird that has been brought into the country illegally, because of the possibility of disease.

When you get the bird, have it checked out by a vet who specializes in caring for birds.

Purchase a cage big enough for the bird to fly from one perch to another. Put it far away from heating ducts, direct sunshine or air conditioning and drafts. Never place a cage in the kitchen; some fumes can be fatal to birds.

Birds don't get immunization shots, but they do need to see an avian vet if they don't appear to be well. Know your bird's behavior; if it changes, don't hesitate — take it to the vet ASAP.

Like other pets, birds need to have regular feeding times.

Birds also need companionship, with people or preferably another bird. They might pull out their feathers if they are bored or lonely. So, be sure you have the time to spend with your new feathered friend. — Heloise

P.S. Many larger birds, like macaws and parrots, can live 50, 75 and 100 years. So, please consider this if you want one of these intelligent birds in your life.

Dear Heloise: My daughter's family had a huge Great Dane. One Halloween, I dressed up in a gruesome mask, put a pillow on my back for a "hump" and dressed in old, ragged clothes. I went over to their house, parked where they couldn't see my car and started toward the house. The dog started toward me, then saw me, turned and ran around the house and hid under the porch. A big, brave watchdog! — A Reader from Kansas

Dear Readers: Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Hooker of Bandera, Texas, sent a photo of "Daddy Forrest" and T.C. (The Cat) reading the San Antonio Express-News. They both stay updated on important news. Please send your favorite or unique pet photo to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000. — Heloise

Dear Heloise: A good use for recycling paper shreds is to take them to an animal shelter to put in the puppy and kitty areas. Our Humane Society also accepts donations of newspapers and does its own shredding. — A Reader, via e-mail

Dear Heloise: I had to write to you after reading your hints on cat litter boxes. For years I have had great success by putting the litter box in a large trash bag, then putting the litter on top of the bag. When it needs cleaning, all you have to do is pull the bag off so that all the litter remains on the inside and tie it in a knot for the garbage. No more messy litter boxes to clean! — Kathy Geiger, Jacksonville, Fla.

© King Features Syndicate Inc.