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: 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.
Toast, a New Zealand Huntaway-cross Collie, is 'the most good- natured companion', according to his owner Clare McClintock. 'Last July, we walked from our home in Devon to Land's End!' But one morning in September, Toast collapsed. 'His back legs were paralysed,' she adds.
When Toast was referred to a larger practice, Clare rang Petplan. 'They were very helpful and told us we had '£4,000 of cover,' she says.
However, Toast's breathing became laboured as she took him from one specialist to another. By 6pm, he was taken into intensive care at North Somerset's Langford Small Animal Hospital.
Blood tests revealed that severe toxic shock, perhaps from ingesting pesticide, had damaged his kidneys and liver. Thankfully, Toast's paralysis didn't worsen, but he developed aspiration pneumonia and an eye ulcer.
'After the first week, Toast's bill was already up to '£4,000,' Clare explains. 'The family had to club together to pay for the rest of his treatment.' Toast had an operation to treat the eye ulcer but still needed oxygen and intensive physiotherapy.
Unfortunately, his frail eye ruptured the next week. 'The ophthalmic surgeon was prepared to try a corneal transplant, but we made the hard decision to have Toast's eye removed as it was a simpler operation,' Clare says.
Afterwards, with more massage and physiotherapy, Toast was gradually weaned off oxygen as his lungs cleared and he was able to move his legs again. He went home after 20 long days, thin and hardly able to walk. 'But he was delighted to be back and managed really well with one eye,' says Clare.
Clare massaged his joints, took him for hydrotherapy treatment and increased his walking time by five minutes a day. He's now back to his ideal weight, and loving long walks and swims in the river.
'If I hadn't had insurance, I don't know how I would have managed,' says Clare. 'Thanks to Petplan, Toast had the best possible treatment from more than 20 professionals.'
Tests and x-rays: £250
Seven days' intensive care treatment, including diagnostic imaging and radiology: £3,750
Total Petplan paid: £4,000
Toast's premium was £21.47 per month.
We are pet specialists and have an unrivaled knowledge of pet health and unlike many other insurers. That's why we've designed our policies to cover as many conditions as possible, and are able to pay 97% of all the claims we receive.