While many of us are swept up in Black Friday madness, life goes on pretty much as usual for our animals. As long as the humans keep delivering treats, our pets are good to go. 


Even so, it turns out that our furry friends can also be affected by supply chain issues. If you're a cat owner, for instance, you've probably noticed that canned cat food seems to be a bit scarce. 


There are a couple of reasons for the shortage. One is that there are simply more pets to feed. “More people adopted pets during the pandemic, so there has been an increase in the demand for pet foods. About 12.6 million U.S. households acquired a new pet between March and December last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.”


Another reason is something you might not have considered. “The pet food industry has been subject to the same problems as other industries, including an aluminum can shortage.” 


Experts tell us that more pet food is on the way, so be patient. Now I have to explain to my cat why her favorite “Ocean Whitefish with Seared Salmon Gravy” will not be on the menu today. When I do so I'll be wearing anti-cat-bite kevlar spats on my ankles. (


Now, for those of you who think cats are not very smart, there is a report out that contradicts this notion. “Cats may have a more profound mind than we thought. Research shows cats track their owners' movements around the house.”


This talent is called "socio-spatial cognition." This means: “Cats may actually track their owners as they move around the house, keeping tabs on where their humans are even when they can no longer see them. Cats have the ability to picture the invisible in their minds.” 


There's more. “The research hints at cats' ability for higher-level cognitive functioning like imagining and planning.” So, that feeling that your cat is plotting something against you could actually be a reality. (


Cats aside, some dogs have it pretty good too. A German shepherd named Gunther brings new meaning to the phrase, “It's a dog's life.” His dog house in Florida just went on on the real estate market for $31.75 million. 


Here's the story. “The dog’s lineage dates back decades to when Gunther III inherited a multimillion-dollar trust from late owner German countess Karlotta Liebenstein when she died in 1992. Since then, a group of handlers have helped maintain a jet-setting lifestyle for a succession of dogs. The current Gunther inherited his vast fortune, including the eight-bedroom waterfront home.”


Daily life is not too shabby for Gunther. “A chef cooks his breakfast each morning made of the finest meat, fresh vegetables and rice. Sometimes he enjoys caviar, but there’s never any kibble in sight. He travels by private jet, works on obedience skills daily with his trainer and sleeps in a lavish round, red velvet bed.” 


There is no need to feel sad that Gunther's home is for sale. He's going to live in another of his homes, this one in Italy. He'll have six cats and two other dogs to keep him company. 'There will be trips to the Milan and the Bahamas, where Gunther will dine out at restaurants every evening. His handlers like to make sure he’s well socialized.'



Finally, a feel-good story with a Michigan twist deals with an animal – sort of. It all depends how you look at it. “A little girl who lost a special teddy bear she’d had since being adopted from an Ethiopian orphanage thought it was gone forever when she forgot it along a trail in Glacier National Park last year.”


The bear was found later by a park ranger who did not realize who had lost it. Even so, he kept it in his pickup truck. A Michigan woman saw a posting on Facebook about the missing teddy bear, so when she and some family members went to Glacier in late September, she told them about it and was determined to find it. 


“That’s exactly what happened when she and her adult niece spotted a stuffed bear in a ranger’s truck after being turned back from a trail that was closed due to real bear activity. She took a picture and sent it to the little girl's family, who quickly confirmed it was the lost teddy.” The teddy bear was returned to the little girl along with a junior park ranger badge and a ranger hat. (


Oh wait, there's more! The family bought another teddy bear and sent it to the park ranger as a thank you. The new teddy now rides along with the ranger in his truck. All together now: “Awwwww.....” 


By the way, if the kidlings are underfoot this weekend, it might be a good time to go to the Neff Zone Holidays page: One of the links is to a place that contains over three hundred activities. That should keep them busy.


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and