Parrot with shoe fetish & cats scratching carpet — your pet queries answered


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 is on a mission to keep our nation’s pets 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

Fran’s parrot is obsessed with wellies

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

Natasha’s moggy doesn’t enjoy being groomed

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.

They’re winners and snoozers

A WHOPPING 43 per cent of owners let their pet sleep next to them – despite 31 per cent of those originally vowing they wouldn’t.

Women were quickest to change their mind about it, the survey of 2,500 people found.

Four in ten owners let their dogs sleep next to them

And 32 per cent of people said their pets brought more happiness than art, their TV or even clothes.

Jemma Williams, a director at Dunelm, which carried out the Home Truths Report said: “We’ve seen sales of our pet products double over the last year, which further suggests we love to pamper our furry friends.

“Even more so during these difficult times, we know pets can bring company and comfort.”

Famous folk who snuggle up with their dogs include tennis ace Andy Murray, 33, M&S model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, 33, and reality TV boss Simon Cowell, 61. But while cuddles might be cute, owners need to set boundaries.

Pet Vet Sean McCormack said: “It should always be on your terms and only when invited, as sometimes dogs can develop behavioural problems or even start guarding the bed if they see it as theirs. Not great for spousal relations.

“The other issue is hygiene. A clean, well-groomed dog is one thing. A dog dragging mud and dirt into your bed is another.”

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