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 tails.com, 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.”
Q) POLLY, our Senegal parrot, is 16 and is obsessed with wellies. We can’t go to the cupboard to get our boots without her flying in the way to climb inside them and hide.
When I brought her home she was really quiet and wouldn’t come out of her cage but after two years she started this obsession with wellies.
She has now moved on to shoes, slippers and my trainers — all the perfect hideout for a parrot. The annoying thing is she often leaves her mark in them too. What can I do?
Fran Atkinson, Preston
Sean says: Parrots are like crazy little toddlers — they need stimulation and attention all the time. And sometimes their behaviour just doesn’t make sense to us. But life alone in a cage can be really boring.
They are social animals. This does sound like a fun game of hide and seek. Imagine going inside a giant shoe. When your “parent” is pleading with you to come out. Gold!
If it bothers you too much, either limit Polly’s access to shoes and wellies, or try to redirect the behaviour by letting her play hide and seek in a box or plastic tube.
Q) I HAVE a Pug called Harry who is 16 months old.
He is full of energy but won’t eat dog food. He will only have some of what I eat and dog treats. It is a big worry for me.
Robert Whelan, Reading
Sean says: If you cave in to Harry’s huge Pug eyes every time he begs for your food, of course he’s going to turn his nose up at his own food and wait for what you’re having.
It’s like offering a child pizza, chips and ice cream every night or a healthier, balanced meal. They will choose what’s not good for them but super-tasty.
You are the pet parent. Put your foot down. Offer Harry his dog food, no more treats and don’t give in. I’m 99.9 per cent confident he won’t starve. And I’d hazard a guess that being a Pug, he’s not wasting away either so one or two skipped meals are fine.
Q) MY cat has started to bite and pull at her fur when she grooms.
She’s 18 months old, healthy, and is eating, drinking, going to the toilet, and playing as normal. Why do cats do this?
Natasha Bourne, Mill Hill, North London
Sean says: After flea bites, the most common reason for cats to over groom and break their coat is stress. Stressed cats might seem absolutely fine but cats are subtle in their behaviour, and in multi-cat households it’s often the newest or youngest addition that feels the pressure or glare of the other cats most.
They can intimidate a younger cat over access to food bowls, the litter tray. Any valued resource. They use subtle glances, yawns, behaviours.
Try a plug-in pheromone diffuser in each room, and ensure there are lots of areas each cat can go for food, litter trays and to get away from the others.
Q) HOW can I stop my cats scratching my new carpet? I’ve just had new carpet fitted on the stairs, landing and lounge. The fitters had barely left and my two British shorthair indoor cats, aged 11 years, started scratching in five areas.
I’ve covered the carpet with dust sheets until I can find a way to stop them. I’ve put extra scratching posts in place but as soon as they see a new patch of carpet, they go straight for it. How can I make them stop?
Anita Howard, Essex
Sean says: Try making their scratching posts super attractive with catnip or a product called Feliscratch by Feliway, which also does a deterrent product for carpets.
It’s totally normal behaviour, but can be more intense in a multi-cat household. Ensure they have scratching posts around the house and in quiet areas.