From a scared cat to bathing a bunny — your pet queries answered

cream tabby maine coon cat passing through cat flap in the window

HE is on a mission to help our pets  . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions.

Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years. He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”

Sean helps a reader whose feline has developed a fear of using the cat flap

Sean McCormack, head vet at, promises he can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’

Q) SINCE we knocked down our  conservatory and built an extension, our cat has  refused to come in through  her cat flap.

It is a microchipped device and 11-year-old Kitty  goes out of it no problem.

But once outside, she sticks her head in, it makes the clicking noise and she backs out.

She just sits on the other side meowing, no matter how many treats we bribe her with.

She always used it fine before. But now, even if we try to ignore her, she will not use it.

Please help us, as we are worried about the cold weather.

Tania Cleveland, Abergavenny, Monmouths

Sean says: The answer is staring you in the face, Tania.

It doesn’t meet with Kitty’s planning approval so you’ll just have to knock it down and start a new extension from scratch.

In all seriousness, I wonder if the flap’s position now makes it awkward or uncomfortable for Kitty to enter.

At her age, I would worry she may be developing some arthritis, for example, and perhaps she is scared to step through it again if she found it painful or had a bad experience the first time.

My advice is to wedge it open for  now, then half open, then tempt her to push through, with favourite treats.

But if she’s still hesitant and doesn’t get the hang of it, a vet check might reveal a physical issue.

Q) I HAVE rescued a house bunny called Bob and I now want to do everything that I can to enrich his life.

Is it possible to take a pet rabbit on walks and train them to use a ­litter box?

And should you give them regular baths?

I’ve been told the  latter is a bad idea.

Joy Lean, Derby

Sean says: All of these things are possible and standard for house rabbits, except the bath.

They don’t need one and would find it stressful.

A wet sponge-bath of soiled areas on their feet or bottom, if needed, is fine, but a healthy rabbit with a good  diet high on fibre should not need that either.

Being overweight can cause issues with grooming, though. So two major bits of advice — exercise is great, but it’s quite dangerous to take your bunny out for walks in public areas, not to mention stressful. A loose dog could be very dangerous.

Better  to encourage lots of activity — running, jumping up on to raised platforms, tunnels, boxes or pipes —  indoors or in an enclosed garden.

Second, get Bob a buddy. Rabbits are highly sociable and need a pal in their lives, not only for friendship but to encourage play and activity. provides tailor-made nutritional food for provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets

Q) SHOULD I give my former battery-farm chickens jumpers until their feathers grow back?

I rescued the three of them — ­Gertrude, Beatrice and Mildred — and they are in a poor condition.

What advice can you give me to get them back into a great condition as quickly as possible, please?

Kathy Dyer, Bristol

Sean says: I’ve had ex-battery hens named Gertrude and Mildred, too.

Then I switched from old lady names to funny diva names like Christina Egg-uilera, Nelly Frittata, Shelly Rowland and Hennifer Lopez.

They don’t need jumpers, just a sheltered, draught-free house or coop in their pen with plenty of dry wood shavings and straw as bedding.

With a quality diet — of layers of ­pellets, a handful of mixed corn daily, oyster shell, grit and some fresh greens and vegetables — they will come on in leaps and bounds and be barely recognisable after their spring moult.

And they will provide you with the most delicious eggs and lots of entertainment.

I can highly recommend rescue hens as pets.


Wembley the rescue cat spends her days acting like a parrot

WEMBLEY the cat has an identity crisis – she thinks she’s a parrot.

The 18-month-old rescue moggie spends her days at the Cool For Cats Cat Cafe in Newton Abbot, Devon, perched on customers’ and staff members’ shoulders.

Cafe spokeswoman Chloe Jonas said: “Wembley definitely thinks she’s a parrot.

“She doesn’t mind whose shoulder she sits on and as she’s so sweet everyone loves her.

“She’s a purr-fect pet and work colleague.”


OVERFEEDING and under-exercising pets and failing to spot early warning signs of problems in them mean owners are incurring unnecessary vet bills.

Annual pet ownership costs have risen £77.40 to £1,648, leaving half of owners worried about vet, insurance and food costs, a new survey has found.

Owners can add to the cost of having a pet by failing to recognise problem signs

A third of owners (36 per cent) have no pet cover and four in ten have the wrong policy.

Up to 30 per cent of dogs are overweight but owners could save on food bills by portioning correctly.

Many also fail to notice basic behaviour changes – including increased sleeping, drinking and licking or eating problems – that could be an early indication of potential health issues.

The survey of 2,000 dog owners was commissioned by pet DNA testing company Wisdom Panel, with dog health tracker Whistle Health.

TV vet Dr Scott Miller urged owners to adopt a “track and test” mindset.

He said: “By investing in testing and tracking technology, like pet DNA kits and wearable pet devices, ­owners can get on the front foot by identifying common breed-related health risks, while tracking a dog’s behaviour for clues about ongoing issues.”