From a TV-obsessed cat to bunnies learning to go to the toilet – your animal questions answered
Its mission is to help our pets. . . and is here to answer YOUR questions.
Sean, who is the head veterinarian for a custom pet food company tails.com, has been responding to owners’ requests for ten years. He says, “If your pet is acting weird or is under bad weather, or if you want to know more about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep animals happy and healthy.
Q) OUR cat hates going out. It’s like he’s agoraphobic.
I don’t want to force him, but surely, like us, he needs some fresh air. He just watches TV during the day, eats and sleeps.
Maggie O’Brien, Dundee
Sean says: Some cats are just house birds and don’t care about the outdoors.
With a little imagination, you can provide everything they need inside, including scratching posts, hiding places, climbing frames and tunnels.
Toys and playtime are important to encourage them to be active.
I wish I could be a cat – watch TV during the day, eat, sleep, have someone to cater to my every whim.
You have to admit he did.
Q) MY son’s one year old boxer, Georgie, has walked into the only large planter in the garden, which has small shrubs and bedding plants.
The rest of the garden is adorned and extended to the lawn. Georgie tried to eat some of the contents and my son is afraid to replant it in case any of them are poisonous.
Why is Georgie doing this and what can be done to stop him?
Vince Marsh, Ramsgate, Kent
Sean says: I’d say it’s due to a combination of boredom and mischief.
It’s fun to dig when you’re a dog. Why not redirect this behavior by giving Georgie a sand pit digging area?
Bury his toys in there, praise him for digging where he’s supposed to, and turn him away when he looks like he wants to dig up your planters.
Limit their access at first and use reward-based training. He’ll have the picture in no time.
Also see our tails.com blog for a list of harmful garden plants to avoid.
Q) Is it possible to train a rabbit to use a litter box? I’m thinking of having a pet rabbit, but would they be happier outdoors?
Lisa Downs, Brighton
Sean says: It’s not only possible, it’s actually quite easy. Rabbits are very clean creatures and like to leave their droppings in prominent places in neat piles to alert other rabbits to their presence.
On that note, it is always advisable to get two rabbits. They are social creatures and it’s really not fair to have just one.
Back to potty training. This is usually done by providing them with a cat litter box or box filled with digestible, rabbit-safe litter (just in case they chew on it).
Start by putting it in a corner of their small indoor enclosure. Once they get used to it, they will come back to it, even if they roam freely around the house.
Take care to protect the house from rabbits, including protecting wires they can chew on and lifting plants off the ground so they can’t eat them.
House rabbits do well as long as you allow them to do bunny things indoors. An outdoor track for supervised outdoor activities should also be provided if you have a garden.
Q) I would like to have two puppies but not at the same time – obviously for training reasons.
I am looking for an English bull terrier and a cockapoo. But which breed do we get first and how many months later should we introduce the other?
Tracy Jones, Crewe
Sean says: You are right to avoid having them at the same time.
They will focus little on you, paying more attention to each other. This is called litter mate syndrome, but it doesn’t have to be litter mates, just puppies of the same age.
They are also very different dogs to train and own, with English Bull Terriers arguably being more stubborn and more difficult for beginners.
Cockapoos have all the intelligence of poodles and the great energy of cocker spaniels, so you take a lot of them.
My advice would be cockapoo first, and think about a second once it’s settled and two years old or older.
STAR OF THE WEEK
ECHO the kitty found his purr after being rescued from an abandoned house with a horde of other cats.
The 16 month old boy was rescued by the RSPCA Headcorn Cattery in Kent and received a new home in Sevenoaks with Carrie Greenstreet, 45.
After seven months, Echo learned to be happy again. Carrie said: “Echo has just started purring as she is happy now after her difficult start to life.
“Because she was abandoned, it took her three months to learn to trust again and she’s still terrified of strangers, but Echo has become the most affectionate cat I’ve ever had.”
WIN: PET ADOPTION BOOK
WE’VE have teamed up with Prestel to offer 21 readers the chance to win a copy of David Mackintosh’s amazing new book My Dog, Hen, worth £11.99.
Exploring the adventures of adopting a rescue pup, it provides a sweet lesson in finding value in the undesirable.
For a chance to win a copy, email [email protected] titled MYDOGHEN by November 27.
Porridge Litter’s Lucky Escape
Vets have issued a bedbug warning because they put pets and wildlife at risk of death and injury.
The RSPCA receives an average of ten calls a day for animals affected by litter.
Vets4Pets urges people to be careful where they put their waste when traveling.
Seven-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier Porridge is the latest puppy to be rescued, after wolfing down a McDonald’s pot of sweet and sour sauce on a walk.
He was rushed to Vets4- Pets Hospital Barnsley in the south Yorkswhere the team first attempted to remove the packaging by inducing vomiting, before making the decision to perform an endoscopy.
Dr Caroline Richards, who led the team that rescued him, said: ‘It’s lucky Porridge’s owner spotted him eating the wrapper.
“If it hadn’t been for a local bug, Porridge might have avoided his trip to see us.
“We hope her story shows how dangerous litter can be for pets and makes people think twice about littering.”
According to Caroline, it’s far from the strangest object the veterinary team has seen eating a dog, adding: Christmas from balls to children’s toys, and even underwear, we’ve seen it all »