Welcome to Petplan’s blog, a space where you can read up on the latest pet-news, find out interesting facts and tips about keeping your pets happy and healthy, and share your views on hot topics.
Q: My dog loves people, but she constantly barks at the postman and delivery people. Why might she be doing this?
A: This is quite a common problem with dogs. As dogs are pack animals, they have a very strong sense of territory. The most common reason why dogs bark at people who come near their territory is to make them go away. And, in most cases, the people do go away, for example the postman or newspaper boy or girl, therefore the dog believes that this is due to their barking. This perceived success increases the dog's confidence to bark at the next potential intruder and so the barking escalates. If this pattern of behaviour is allowed to continue over a period of time, it can become an automatic reaction.
Inga MacKellar, animal behaviourist
Q: We recently bought a male British Shorthair cat. We've always had our kittens spayed or neutered by around six months old, but we've been told that pedigree cats need to develop all their pedigree characteristics first. Is this true?
A: Breeders will have all sorts of advice when it comes to treating their kittens, but one thing that obviously goes against 'breeding' is to neuter. Your British Shorthair should reach maturity by six months and will continue to grow even if you castrate him at that time. In my opinion, the benefits of neutering outweigh any potential concerns and male cats of around that age can begin to stray, fight and scent mark - not attributes that many owners will desire for a house cat. Take your British Shorthair to the vet at six months and decide together what is best for him.
Scott Miller, vet
Q: I've had my two nine-year-old feral cats since they were kittens. I've downsized from a house with eight acres of land, where the cats hunted mice. Since I moved, the male cat has turned on me. How can I master him?
A: Your cats have moved from a property where it sounds as if they lived a semi-feral existence to a much more restricted environment. They were used to hunting and I suspect the male cat is displaying predatory aggression towards you. Ensure he has lots of toys available upon which he can focus this behaviour. Have wine corks strategically located and in your pockets so that, should you think he is about to run at you, you can quickly roll a cork on the ground for him to chase instead of leaping at you. Don't underestimate the injuries a cat can inflict and seek professional help if this behaviour continues.
Inga MacKellar, animal behaviourist
We've invited writer Elaine Everest, author of hit book Canine Cuisine (£8.99, How To Books) to give us this extra-special recipe for a festive meal for your dog. Hope your dog likes it!
If you have a recipe you would like to share, just comment below.
The Meteorlight K-9 LED Ball (£12.99) is perfect for those early morning or late afternoon winter walks. The durable, water-resistant tennis-ball-sized exercise toy gives off a steady glow, comes in four colours and even floats! Most importantly, it brings an end to those lost hours spent hacking through brambles on dark January days searching for your dog's lost ball.
The ever-popular Pet Friendly Places to Stay (£9.99) by AA Publishing is back for another year. Fully updated, the 496-page guide features more than 1,000 AA-inspected hotels, B&Bs and campsites in Britain and Ireland. It's the detail that makes this guide so good, such as offering additional information on everything from exercise areas to food to whether your pet can stay in the room unattended.
Or if you'd prefer a charitable gift, the RSPCA has a lost pet bed and breakfast scheme. Just £10 pays for one night's boarding costs for a rescued animal at one of their centres, as well as a good meal. The recipient receives a personalised printed card or e-card, and the knowledge that a lost cat or dog will be having a very merry Christmas on them.
Silly, but fun, the Jolly Moggy Micro Mouse from the Cats Protection shop (£9.99) will keep your cat occupied for... well, however mischievous (or intelligent) your beloved puss is. The remote-controlled mini mouse racer is just 70mm long, runs on two AA batteries and should keep the whole family entertained well into the new year.
The Catit® Design Senses Massage Center (£11.79) offers your cat an oasis of calm and relaxation with the ultimate pampering and massage experience. It has a variety of sculpted textures and surfaces, the acu-pressure mat provides pressure-point paw massage, and the body stroke groomers stimulate face and back glands. Catnip can be added to heighten the sensory experience, while the gum stimulator massages and cleans teeth and gums.
What do you think the year's hit pet gift will be? Let us know by commenting below.
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