Thursday, 17 May 2018

Cat Lover? Test Your Knowledge On Common Cat Myths

Think you're pretty competent at separating "cat fact" from "cat fiction"? We found a nifty test that may show you how much you know about cat related myths.

Much has been written about our feline friends and some of the things you read may be more of an old old wives' tale at best.

We like this little test as it gives a handy little explanation after every answer which is designed to improve a cat lover's knowledge.

Find out if you're a bona fide cat whisperer here

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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Why A Lost Dog May Not Run Back To Us

I read something recently that I wanted to share with you that may not be obvious and could prove helpful if either your dog goes missing or you encounter a dog that is lost.

If you've ever been on social media and seen posts about missing dogs that are sighted several times in various locations and wondered why the dog doesn't simply run to the safety of a potential rescuer then read on.

Many lost dogs can easily go into what is described as 'survival mode'.

When a dog goes missing survival mode can be brought on by way of the dog being frightened, tired, hungry and being in a constant state of alert. In this state is not unusual for a dog to become so disoriented and confused that they become wary and may not take the time to determine if an approaching person may be potentially helpful or even their owner. The longer the dog is missing the more likely that survival mode may kick in.

It should be established that all lost dogs may act differently and although it is more probable that the more nervous dog may be more likely to have their survival instincts kick in, it really could happen to any dog dependant on the conditions and the length of time that the dog is missing.

So is there a 'best practice' when approaching a missing dog?

Yes there is - when encountering a lost dog, even if it is your own dog, the following advice is a good way to try to ensure that the dog feels less threatened and more likely to approach.

  • If possible, sit down.
  • Turn your body side on to the dog or even turn your back to the dog.
  • Avert your eyes and maintain your head in a bowed position so as to look as non-threatening as possible.
  • Remain quiet or silent.
  • Toss treats such as hot dog sausages or cheese (bite size) several feet to the side of you or behind you.
  • Wait for the dog to approach YOU and be sure not to make any sudden movements.
  • Once the lost dog has approached be patient and take the time to build trust. Do not make a grab for them straight away!
  • The dog may still be wary. Speak softly and if the dog backs off a little then stop speaking and gently entice the dog with more treats and resume the trust building until you can determine when a gentle approach to tether the dog can be established.

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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

This Little Known Thing Can Cause Seizures In Older Cats

I was reading a study published in The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery that I thought may well be of interest to my readers with older cats.

You've possibly read about cats being spooked by high pitched noises but did you know that, in older cats especially, noise sensitivity can lead to seizures?

Until now, many older cats may have these noise-induced seizures put down to old age but research has shown that because cats have ultrasonic hearing they hear things at a pitch that can induce these seizures.

The ultrasonic hearing range of a cat allows it to hear at frequencies that a human cannot detect and it has been found that even relatively quiet and innocuous (to humans) sounds can bring on seizures in more senior cats.

There is even a name for these seizures 'feline audiogenic reflex seizures' although researchers more commonly refer to them by their acronym FARS

What is concerning is that normal household noises such as the crinkling of tin foil, tapping on a keyboard and the jangling of keys, to name a few, can induce this condition in older cats and highlights the importance of understanding as much as we can about FARS

The research was initiated after the cat charity International Cat Care received enquiries about older cats having seizures that appeared to be triggered by noise sensitivity. After collecting detailed information from concerned owners worldwide a study was published which you can read here

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Saturday, 21 April 2018

UK Dog Owners - Be Aware Of Adders When Walking Your Dog

Now that it’s spring and the weather is warming up, most of us will be planning some lovely long walks with the dog. Whilst out and about, it’s possible to come across an Adder basking in the sunshine as they emerge from their hibernation dens. But would you know what to do if your dog was bitten by one?

The European Adder is the only venomous snake found in Britain. They live in moorland and are fairly common in areas of rough, open countryside and on the edge of woodland habitats. Adders have a venomous bite although they are not generally aggressive and only usually attack in self-defence. This tends to be if they are trodden on or if your dog appears to be threatening them.

Adders are identified through a dark zigzag running down the length of the body and an inverted 'V' shape on the neck although some are completely black so may be mistaken for some another species.

How do I know that my Dog has been bitten?

1. Swelling at the site of the bite – sometimes two small puncture wounds are evident in the middle of the swollen area
2. Bites are most common around the face and throat which may cause breathing difficulties. Limbs are also targets so limping and swelling are other signs
3. Pain around the site of the bite  – e.g. pawing, shaking the head
4. Other signs include: drooling, vomiting, restlessness and drowsiness
5. If left untreated the dog’s condition may progressively worsen. This includes: collapse, tremors or convulsions
6. In some rare cases a dog may suffer anaphylactic shock after being bitten. The signs are quite dramatic and usually appear quickly after the injury. Signs include breathing difficulties, collapse and a rapid but weak pulse

What to do if your dog is bitten?
  • Seek veterinary attention
  • If possible carry your dog to prevent the spread of venom going through the circulation
  • Bathe the wound in cold water or use an ice pack on the swollen area to reduce the pain and swelling
  • Keep your dog warm to combat and treat shock
  • There is an anti-venom treatment available and your vet may use this as part of the treatment
  • Fortunately, most dogs survive provided they receive the correct treatment and prompt veterinary attention

So if you are walking in an area where Adders inhabit, make sure your dog is under control. Knowing the signs of an Adder bite is important as well as having some idea of how to administer first aid.

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This article was compiled using information from the Forestry Commission and

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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Cat Trivia - Little Known Cat Stuff From Our Feline Files

Love cat trivia? These are our latest feline-related finds!

You may know that an unneuteured male cat is commonly called a Tom but less well known is that a neutered male cats is called a Gib.

A cat called Stubbs was elected 'honorary mayor' in the Alaskan town of Talkeetna in 1998 and remained 'in charge' until his sad demise in July 2017. Stubbs lived to a ripe age of 20 years and 3 months and during his 'reign' was said to enjoy a tipple of water and catnip from a margarita glass.

If you ever notice your cat going a little crazy around olives, don't be surprised! The mystery lies in the fact that olives contain similar chemical compounds to those found in catnip and are known as Isoprenoids.

A ten year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 per cent less likely to have a heart attack and 30 per cent less likely to have a stroke than non-cat owners!

If you want to check out your cat's mood take a look at their whiskers. If they are forward or relaxed then your cat is probably just fine but beware if they are pushed back as this may indicate that your feline friend is annoyed or irritated!

A cat's sense of smell is sensitive to nitrogen and chlorinated water. Many cats also have a dislike of the scent of citrus.

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Friday, 6 April 2018

Some Less Well Known Quirky Dog Related Stuff

Dogs have always fascinated me, I'm often found delving through the archives, studies and surveys on canine behaviour looking to bring my readers the latest finds.

People often ask if I fear ever running out of material and after a few years research  I now answer that as long as there are dogs there will always be something new to find out about our canine friends.

Below I have put together a few quirky things about dogs that I hope you may find interesting.

Wet dogs can generate more force than a Formula One racing driver when shaking themselves and have been known to shake seventy per cent of the water off their coats in four seconds and we look for efficient ways of drying them!

Studies have shown that small dogs have more dreams than their bigger counterparts. Smaller breeds of dogs may have a dream every ten minutes or so unlike larger breeds such as the Great Dane who are likely to dream every hour.

The more wolf-like breeds have seen a resurgence in ownership in the last few years due to shows such as Game of Thrones and the sheer amount of memes that highlight them on social media. It may surprise a lot of people to learn that the Shih Tzu is a breed that is more closely related to the wolf than many other breeds!

You may have often heard how rare Pandas are. What is less commonly known is that there is a British breed of dog, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, that is now sadly rarer than the Giant Panda.

Statistically studies have shown a third of dogs are left-pawed, a third are right-pawed and the remaining third show no paw preference. Interestingly right-pawed dogs have been shown to be bolder and more inquisitive than their left-pawed counterparts. Right-pawed canines are also statistically more likely to pass the training needed to become a Guide Dog.

If you really need any more reason to take your furry friend for a walk then it might interest you to know that research has shown that dogs are more confident exploring with their owner at their side than with any other person.

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Sunday, 1 April 2018

Stroke Your Cat Like This - They Prefer It!

A recent study showed that cats have a definite preference as to how and where they prefer to be stroked. It's perhaps no surprise to cat lovers to hear that the survey built in an 'allowance' for the instances when the cats in the study simply walked away and didn't want to be stroked at all!

The findings were certainly interesting and the main findings were that:

Cats showed negative behaviours when being stroked near their tails.

The study involved two groups carrying out the stroking tasks - owners and experimenters. You may be surprised to learn (I know I was) that the cats preferred the attentions of the experimenters.

The cats showed a preference for being stroked around the face where their scent glands are contained. Cats seem to appreciate being stroked around the chin, cheeks, the gap between the eyes and ears and the ears themselves.

The study was a small one and tested 34 cats aged between 6 months and 12 years in their own homes. The cat reactions underwent video analysis to determine the findings above and more on this fascinating study can be found here

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Saturday, 24 March 2018

Can The Moon Affect Your Cat Or Dog's Behaviour?

I was recently interested to come across a study that showed that after reviewing the records of twelve thousand cats and dogs over a ten year period a strange pattern emerged.

The study carried out at Colorado State University's Veterinary Medical Center showed that cats and dogs suffering heart attacks, seizures and general trauma turned up in greater numbers around a full moon!

The fullest phase of the moon occurring over twelve days in the moon's twenty-eight day cycle lead to an increase in emergency visits of twenty-three percent for cats and twenty-eight percent for dogs.

Whilst the study threw up no conclusive answers to why this spike had occurred, it did interest me enough to do a little delving of my own.

Regarding cats it was suggested that a possible answer could be that cats spend more time engaging in more risky hunting behaviour during a full moon phase as there is more light available to hunt by.

Whilst this isn't an unreasonable theory, it is known that cats already possess incredible night vision and use nerve receptors in their whiskers to locate potential prey which suggests darker phases of the moon might suit them better when hunting but again, that's just a theory too.

I have read that birds possibly become disorientated during a full-moon phase which leads me to think that perhaps cats have picked up on this and upscale their hunting efforts which leads to more accidents. Again, just a theory.

Dogs are often said to howl during a full moon and, like cats, become more restless. Whilst I have no conclusive answer to this it is interesting to note from a human study here that "it has been scientifically proven that the moon affects the activities and behaviour of the humans in an evident and significant degree"

The study above also went on to mention that, as with the seas and the oceans, the moon also affects the liquids of the bodies of animals and as (like us) cats and dog's bodies are highly composed of water this could well be a significant factor in them feeling a bit different during varying lunar stages.

What we do know is that the moon phases have been shown to interact with the earth's electromagnetic field and as dogs have been shown to have a strong alignment with electromagnetism and there is anecdotal evidence linking cats to it too then it comes as no surprise that this may well affect our pet's behaviour.

There's a fun article here that talks more about how lunar phases could affect your pet.

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Saturday, 10 March 2018

Top Tips For Keeping Old Dogs Mentally Fit

Just like humans, as dogs age, they benefit from being mentally stimulated.  In a recent study, researchers in Vienna taught elderly dogs to play computer games and found that they can help slow down mental deterioration. The scientists used touch-screen tasks on a computer, combined with rewards, to motivate them to perform.

The study compared computer games for elderly dogs to elderly people doing Sudoku puzzles and proposed that this could also be an alternative to more physically demanding activities.

Physical limitations often mean that elderly dogs do not get walked and many spend a great deal of their time sleeping. Inactivity can make joints cease up and the resulting pain and general lack of stimulation can lead to a general sense of apathy.

The researchers are hoping that the computer-game study might kick-start the production of a living-room friendly alternative.

But until then, try some of these simple alternatives:

1. Re-visit some basic commands – Use a puppy training manual and teach some simple commands. Target training is another great way of engaging them too.
2. The prospect of getting a reward helps release feel-good hormones. So make sure you use their favourite treat to motivate them to perform
3. Engage all their senses to stimulate different areas of the brain – For example snuffle mats encourage them to use their sense of smell and touch to find hidden food
4. Ditch the food bowl. Present some of their daily food ration in a Kong or Treat Ball so they have to work at finding it
5. Hydrotherapy can be mentally and physically stimulating for dogs that love water. The buoyancy of the water prevents concussion on the joints and helps build muscle. Make sure you find a pool with qualified hydro-therapists. Also check with your vet beforehand as there are some conditions for which swimming is not appropriate.

Applying these simple activities into an elderly dog's routine will help create positive emotions, slow down mental deterioration and improve quality of life.

Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at

Friday, 2 March 2018

Why Does My Cat…….?

All cats are individuals and have their own personality types. However there are a number of common behaviours that most cats exhibit. Knowing what some of these are and what they mean helps us understand and appreciate them just that bit more.

As a feline behaviour counsellor, here are some of the most common questions I get asked:

Why does my cat lift his tail upright, in the shape of a question mark when he meets me?
This is a greeting and is usually shown to members of cat that belong to the same social group. It’s their way of saying hello to you!

Why does my cat prefer to drink from the bird bath than his water bowl?
Cats have particular preferences to the way water is presented. However most prefer the bowl to be made out of ceramic or glass rather than plastic as that material taints the water. Wide openings to prevent their whiskers from being crushed seem to be favoured too. They also prefer to drink away from their food so dual bowls are not a good idea. Some like running water so using water fountains can help encourage drinking. Because cats are prone to kidney problems as they age, it makes sense to give them water in the most acceptable source possible.

Why does my cat knead me when I am stroking him/her?
This is a sign of security and shows that they feel safe with you. It has associations with being with their mother. When kittens suckle, they pad alternately on either side of the teats to help express milk. Certain textures can trigger this pleasant memory too which explains why some cats exhibit the behaviour when they are on a fluffy material. Some cats will even salivate excessively when being cuddled and this is thought to be linked to the emotion of anticipating the milk feed.

Why does my cat rub around my legs?
Scent profile is very important to cats. They have numerous scent glands around the face, body and tail that distribute pheromones. These pheromones are unique to each cat. Sharing this scent between other cats shows that they are part of the same social group and is only done if they are affiliated. So you should feel quite honoured that your cat is anointing you with their scent!
Cats will also rub on objects in the home. This is because being able to smell themselves gives them a sense of security. That explains why some cats can show signs of distress when there have been renovations or new decorations in the house.

Why does my cat like to scratch with his/her claws?
Cats are highly driven to scratch and this innate behaviour is believed to serve the following purposes:

• Visual territorial marking – this informs other cats about their presence in a given area
 Claw conditioning and exercising the fore limbs (important for predation).
 Marking – glands in between the toes help to distribute their scent.

Why does my cat like catnip?
Cat nip is a plant (Nepeta cataria). The active chemical in the plant is called nepetalactone which is harmless and has been likened to LSD without any of the side-effects.
Around 80% of cats seem to be attracted to its scent and act in an excited manner when they smell it. This includes rolling around on top of it and vocalising. Catnip toys can be used as environmental enrichment or to mentally stimulate in-door cats.

Why does my cat always go towards visitors who are non-cat people?

For most cats - Less is more! They tend to feel threatened by the stranger that makes a direct move towards them, puts out their hands or stares at them. The person who is non-catty therefore is more likely to attract them!

Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Are Dogs Like Us?

Working as a canine behaviour counsellor means that I often have to help people understand why their dogs react or behave in a particular way.

Attributing human emotions can be unhelpful
Often misunderstandings arise because owners ascribe human emotions to their dogs and this can be unhelpful. The term for this is anthropomorphism.

As an example, the dog that destroys things when left alone can be described by the owner as being: annoyed at being left or wanting revenge for being made to stay at home. It’s easy to see that these sorts of attributes can have serious welfare implications, particularly if the dog is punished. It’s much more likely that the dog has some separation related issues. The common motivation for this is anxiety and fear.

Another very common statement that I hear is “They knew they had done wrong because they looked guilty when I came home”. The likelihood is that when the owner returns home to find destruction, the dog is repeatedly punished. The dog now begins to anticipate this and shows body language that is misinterpreted as guilt. Turid Rugaas, an international dog trainer, has observed dogs for a number of years and describes many of these displays of body language as calming signals. So rather than feeling guilty, your dog is actually trying to calm and defuse the situation.

Examples of calming signals:
  • Yawning
  • Turing the head or body away
  • Slow movement
  • Sniffing the ground
  • Lying down
  • Shaking (as if wet)
  • Licking lips or nose licking
  • Blinking
But we do share some common emotions, don’t we?

Anthropodenial is the opposite of anthropomorphism: Not being able to see any human-like characteristics in other animals. This too can be dangerous

As most dog owners know, we do share some feelings and are motivated by similar things. For instance, it is clear that dogs feel fear and anxiety. Take the dog that trembles and shakes when it is taken to the vets – that’s a bit like the human who has a fear of the hospital or the dentist.  And try telling me that my dog isn't able to feel joy and happiness when she's chasing her ball in the park!

Being open to our similarities can help an owner understand their dog's behaviour problem. Client education is crucial when getting some one on board with a behaviour modification plan. In my experience compliance is much greater when the owner can sympathise with their dog. It also helps with training if they can see how reward and praise has the same motivating effect on them as it does with us.

So having a balance is important. Being able to appreciate and compare a dog’s feelings with our own is a good starting point. But being mindful of our differences prevents misunderstandings and makes for a more harmonious relationship.  And that’s something we should all want - isn't it?

Caroline Clark is a recognised expert in canine behaviour and more information can be found at

Thursday, 15 February 2018

More Reasons To Pick Up Your Dog's Waste

Pretty much every dog owner will be aware that dog waste is a bit of a 'hot topic' these days and a high percentage of both owners and non-owners share a resentment toward  those that refuse to 'scoop the poop'.

Aside from the ever increasing raft of legislation aimed at offenders that refuse to pick up after their dogs, there are a multitude of clever memes across social media highlighting the topic and aimed at making the 'non-scooping' fraternity feel a sense of guilt at their actions.

I thought I would weigh in with a few dog waste facts that may help  'non-scoopers' understand the consequences of their habit and hopefully encourage a few people to appreciate why, apart from the more obvious anti-social aspects, it is a serious health issue.

Dog Waste Kills Fish! 
Around water sources a dog's waste actually creates nutrients for weeds and the algae that commonly covers these water sources. Algae can limit the light that penetrates the water's surface and essentially starve the fish of oxygen.

Don't Compare Your Dog To Undomesticated Animals When It Comes To Waste.
Wild animals such as Coyotes, Foxes, Wolves etc. eat a diet that contain no preservatives, chemicals or grains and their waste decomposes within days. Insects such as flies and beetles make easy work of breaking down wild animals natural waste and even the bacteria in soil help this waste decompose.

Domestic dog waste is another matter and dependant on diet (the cheapest are the worst) a dog's waste can take up to a year to decompose and in some instances not decompose at all. This not very environmentally friendly waste also has the added negative of retaining it's smell and consistency for a long time even if it does eventually break down.

Dog Waste Contains These Harmful Horrors!
Aside from parasitic worms such as Heartworms. Hookworms, Roundworms,Tapeworms and Whipworms, dog waste may also contain Parvovirus, Salmonella, E.Coli amongst other horrors.

As you can see above, non-disposal of a dog's waste can have far reaching implications on both the environment and the health of animals and people that come into contact with it.

The privilege of owning a dog comes with a pretty low price tag when you consider what dogs bring to our lives. It would be respectful if we could all honour that privilege and pay the small price of cleaning up after our dogs.

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Thursday, 8 February 2018

Cat Owner? Important Information To Protect Your Privacy! Please Share

Most cat owners enjoy taking pictures of their feline friends but did you know that you could be compromising your privacy by doing so?

I recently came across a site that I wanted to share with you that indexes cat pictures by location provided by the geotagging facility on a sharers phone.

Owen Mundy, a professor at Florida State University created the site with pictures shared on social networks with the hashtag #cat and with the aid of a supercomputer and satellite imagery has compiled the geographical data of around a million cats!

Personally, I didn't find the site that user-friendly and failed to home in on feline friends that I know have had pictures shared on social media and tagged. There are however random pictures of people's cats in their local area at street level. On the site itself Mundy has written:

"This project explores two uses of the Internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all."

Although no exact addresses are revealed, I felt that cat owners may be interested in knowing how their data can be used on social media if tagged.

I'm no technical wizard but I am fairly reliably informed that if you disable the geotagging facility on your device this will protect your privacy. Cat lovers with an iPhone can disable their location by going to 'settings' then 'privacy' then 'location services' and turning that off on the camera and various apps.

Visit the site here and take a look yourself
Cat related business/site? You could be sponsoring this post with a sales message and click-through link to your site for only £15/$20 a year! Shared to thousands of cat lovers continually in our social media network! Email us at for details

Friday, 2 February 2018

This Could Improve Your Dog's Memory After A Training Session

For those of us that enjoy training our dogs a small tip can mean a lot and help our canine friends get the most out of a session.

I always advise owners to let their dog exercise before a training session begins and 'do its business' to both burn off excess energy and avoid distractions. This and keeping training sessions short usually form the framework of my pre-training advice.

I came across some information recently regarding a study that involved dogs after a training session that I thought was pretty interesting and would like to share it with you.

The study carried out in 2016 at University of Lincoln in the UK found that dogs that engaged in a play session straight after a training session, as opposed to resting, needed far fewer sessions to complete previously learned tasks the next day compared to dogs that had rested.

It is thought that the hormones produced during the play/exercise component after a training session helped the dogs to improve their memory after learning tasks.

So the next time you're out teaching your canine friend a new command it may be wise to allow for a session of 'fetch' afterwards!

To read more about the study please click here

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Saturday, 27 January 2018

Feline Aggression – Identifying The Causes And Dealing With Problems

Aggression is a broad term ranging from hissing and growling right up to a full blown attack. However this description doesn’t tell us anything about what is motivating the cat to show aggression. In most cases cats prefer to avoid conflict but if aroused sufficiently, things can escalate and they can cause some very nasty injuries.

Causes of Aggression

1.Fear - This is the most common motivator in all species. This is a natural defensive behaviour, directed at a real or perceived threat. 
2.Territorial aggression – Because cats are solitary species they do not tolerate sharing their territory with cats outside their social group. This can include cats that share the same home especially those that they have not grown up with.
3.Re-directed aggression – This type of aggression can be directed to owners. It occurs when a cat cannot reach the target of its aggression and instead turns on to the closest, most accessible target. A good example is if a resident cat sees an unfamiliar cat in its garden and begins to feel angry, it may turn on its housemate. These types of attack can be very unsettling for well bonded cats.
4.Play aggression – This can be more common in poorly socialised cats, particularly if they have not interacted with litter mates. These cats use lots of predatory behaviours and pounce on moving targets – usually owners’ legs!
5.Low threshold for petting – Many cats dislike too much petting especially in sensitive areas such as the belly. Some individuals seem to have a low threshold for physical attention so a hands off approach is best. Most cats prefer petting to be of a short duration and focused around the head.
6.Predatory aggression – This is similar to play aggression – the predatory drive is high in these individuals.
7.Maternal aggression – This natural behaviour is motivated by a queen protecting her off-spring.

What are the Signs of Aggression?

Body stiffening
Dilated pupils (a wide staring pupil)
Vocalisation – hissing, spitting and growling
Tail twitching/swishing
Changes to the positon of the ears

What Should I do if my Cat is Showing Aggression?
                                                                                                                                                                Do not handle your cat - No matter what the cause of aggression, it is important not to handle your cat whilst it is showing signs of feeling angry or stress.

Never try and physically break up a cat fight – you run the risk of getting some very nasty injuries

Know what the signs of aggression are to avoid injuries and prevent escalation

Do not use punishment – This is counter-productive. Cats will only get more emotionally aroused and bonds can be broken.
                                                                                                                                                                  If safe to do so, use mild distraction techniques. For example rolling a ball with a bell across the room can divert a cat from pouncing on your legs before you move

Identify the underlying motivation for the aggression

Avoid triggers for aggression – e.g. separate squabbling cats, use blinds and curtains to block your cat seeing intruders

Avoid using hands for any physical play

Provide ample environmental enrichment as this has been shown to help reduce stress and re-directs certain types of aggression

Be sympathetic and try to understand what is causing the behaviour – cats really don’t like conflict

Seek the help of a suitably qualified feline behaviour counsellor

If you would like to learn more about feline behaviour I run feline behaviour seminars throughout the year. For more information look at my programme of events
I have a special interest in feline behaviour and can offer counselling services in your home or through skype consultations

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Test Your Cat/Dog 'Human' Food Safety Knowledge Out Here!

Ever noticed how the internet seems to be awash with articles about which 'human foods' are safe to share with our pets?

Advances in the study of pet nutrition has shown us that some of the things people have traditionally shared with their canine or feline friends may not be so good for them.

In 2016 I published a different quiz on canine nutrition and was surprised to 'only' score 7 out of 10 myself, and this from someone who spends a lot of time researching it! The average score was only 4 out of 10 which highlighted the fact that we can all increase our knowledge and be potentially better 'pet parents'. That 2016 canine quiz can be found here

Onto the point of this post....I wanted to share a test I found that may highlight gaps in knowledge for the average cat or dog owner when it comes to sharing their 'human food'. It's pitched at a reasonable level and gives some handy information after each answer is submitted.

Please feel free to share this post after completing the quiz as the aim of my site is to help people become more informed pet owners and if you could help me do this I would be very greatful.

Try the 'sharing your treats with your cat or dog' quiz out here

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Tuesday, 9 January 2018

How Your Dog Can Help You Beat The January Blues!

This year, Blue Monday falls on 15/01/18. The most depressing day of the year gets people down for different reasons but there’s also reason to be optimistic! Read on to find out how your dog can help keep life rosy!

1.So it’s January and you promised yourself you’d get fit but, frankly, you don’t want to. No worries! Get your trainers on before your dog walk and see if you fancy a short sprint while you’re out - no pressure! If you take your dog to the park for a race this could also be a great game. Even if you don’t become a marathon runner, a little bit of cardio each day releases endorphin's or “happy hormones”.

2.The revelry’s over and you’re feeling lonely. If your dog’s friendly, consider joining a local dog training group. This can do wonders for your social life (who knows, you might even meet someone special) or try approaching other dog walkers in the park. Watching dogs play together is an easy ice breaker and you’ll soon be on first name terms like “Dolly’s Dad” and “Popeye’s Mum”.

3.If your dog isn’t friendly and this is making you feel isolated, make your veterinary nurse your best friend! Book free “Happy Visits” where you take your dog in when the clinic is quiet. Your dog gets a treat and you get a friendly chat. This can help reduce your dog’s stress at the vets, and improve their general social skills.

4.No-one’s bank balance looks great in January and with the dark weather it can feel like there’s nothing to do for fun. Try making dog toys at home - a bit of crafting is good for the soul and you could do it with a friend/friends. Your dog will love you for it and even if they don’t play nice with others, you get to have fun with mates without spending a fortune. For some great home-made dog toy ideas go to or search #BeyondTheBowl

5.Petting your dog for up to 20 minutes can help with blood pressure, depression, anxiety and even heart disease. They give our lives structure, improve our self-esteem and with everything they get into they keep our immune system on its toes! Yet they’re the ones who seem to feel infinitely lucky to be our companions. If you’re feeling low, try listing each day what you’re grateful for. Think of at least 5 things, starting with your dog. They can include the nice view you had on your dog walk, the nice cuddle you had, a tasty meal, your health (maybe you’re over that cold, or “at least it’s just a cold”) - look for the positives. It’s easy to spiral into negativity but there are always silver linings if you look hard enough and one of them is covered in fur.

Marianne Thomas is a registered member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. In 2017 Marianne started Dog First Aid Oxfordshire, Berkshire & Buckinghamshire, teaching life-saving skills to pet parents & canine professionals. The course has been taught to over 3000 people UK wide, and has saved the lives of dogs. You can find out more at

Monday, 1 January 2018

Pay Attention Human - Learn What Your Cat Wants From You

Wondering if your cat is hungry, needs its own space or wants your attention? “But I don’t speak cat? How am I supposed to know? It says, “meow” to everything.” Is that what you are thinking? 

Worry no more, as we bring to you the ultimate guide to knowing what your cat is demanding, so better pay attention human because you don’t want to end up getting scratched or facing that cat-titude. Be the purr-fect human for your cat and earn the love that you desire from this fuzzy creature.

If you are facing some trouble with understanding what your cat might want, don't worry because it's only natural. Focus instead on your cat’s responses to know better of these feline requirements.

Meows And Meanings

Despite the fact that a cat’s only response to everything is “meow”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it always wants food. Every sound of a cat has a different meaning and here is how you can differentiate between them.

Chirps And Trills

This is usually meant for a commandment to follow the animal. If your cat chirps or trills at you, it means it wants you to follow them to their food bowl maybe. If you own more than one cat then you might experience listening to this sound often as cats might use it to converse with each other. A mother cat also uses this sound for her little ones to follow her.


Purring is usually a sign of contentment. Cats mostly purr when they are happy. Sometimes, a cat purring may be reflective of the fact that the animal is sick or in pain and is purring to comfort itself.

Growling, Hissing Or Spitting

This usually conveys that the cat is irritated, frightened, angry or aggressive.

Yowls Or Howls

These sound like prolonged and loud “meows”. Yowls or howls suggest that your cat is in some kind of distress, stuck somewhere or needs you to find something. Find your cat immediately. In case you have an unneutered and unspayed cat, the sounds are referred to mating behaviour. If your cat is elderly, it might be suffering from dementia, which makes them annoyed and results in such sounds.

Chattering Or Twittering

It is a sound that your cat makes when sitting at the window or at play outside the house. The sound is in response to watching other creatures like birds and squirrels.

Body Language Basics
In addition to the sounds, you can understand your cat better by paying attention to these physical displays:

  • ·      Arched back, standing fur: shows anger or fright.
  •         Arched back, flat fur: Demands or welcomes your touch.
  •          Lying on back purring: shows relaxation.
  •          Lying on back growling: shows dissatisfaction or anger.
  •          Erected tail, flat fur: shows happiness, curiosity or attentiveness.
  •          Tail straight up, quivering: shows excitement or signs of mating behavior.
  •          Tail held low and tucked between legs: shows insecurity

Cats display these responses to let you know of their conditions. It's now your job to focus on how your cat is acting and fulfil its needs respectively.

Paul Haines is the author of “My Life With Pets Blog” where he shares his life experiences involving his family and pets.  In addition to his blog, he is the creator and owner of the website is an educational and fun site dedicated to all types of Pets. You can visit the site at