THEY are known for being cool and aloof – but cats appear to have become friendlier during lockdown.
With owners spending more time at home, 51 per cent said that their feline friends now go outside much less.
And 89 per cent said their pet had given them emotional support since lockdown began in March.
Lottie Clements, 49, said her 15-year-old cat Humphrey has become much more affectionate.
The pet accessory business owner from Maldon, Essex, said: “He has never been a cuddly cat and didn’t enjoy a tickle like other cats I’ve had.
“He is a friendly boy, but he’s very aloof and loved being out and about.
“But a few weeks into lockdown he started sitting on my lap when I’m watching TV which wouldn’t have happened before.
“And now he likes coming up to bed with us. I always take the dogs out last thing and Humph now waits for me in the garden.”
The survey by Direct Line pet insurance also found 95 per cent of dogs did not gain weight, with owners using their hour of lockdown exercise for walkies.
Star of the week
CUTE Charlie is on a mission to stop fellow dogs feeling lonely.
Adele Pember, 30, in Cardiff, bought the Jack Russell Chihuahua cross seven years ago as a pup.
He had separation anxiety and would follow Adele everywhere, which inspired her to launch Dog Furiendly, a website organising “pawties” – meet-ups for pooches.
Adele said: “When I got Charlie, it was difficult to find places to go with dogs so we set up a website high-lighting dog-friendly places and then started organising parties.
“When lockdown hit, we organised a Virtual Dog Show and it raised £6,500 for charities.
“Charlie is my little superstar.”
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.”
- Email your queries and stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: MY cat Princess is a feline crime wave, scratching and clawing everything including the sofa, table leg, sometimes even me.
I’ve got her a scratch post but she seems to prefer the furniture. She is one year old and seems healthy and happy.
Sarah Cooke, 39, shop assistant, Wakefield
Sean says: I bet you thought butter wouldn’t melt when she was a kitten.
This is normal behaviour for cats but I do appreciate it’s not ideal when they do it to your furniture.
I have a few suggestions. First, two scratching posts are better than one. Give her a choice so she doesn’t get bored. Or, if space is tight, move it around to keep things interesting.
Also, rub catnip on the scratching posts — she’ll go bananas for them. To deter her from the furniture, you can use a pet-safe deterrent spray.
Q: OUR five-year-old Yorkipoo Poppy is scared of everything, even her own shadow.
If there are any changes around the house she doesn’t like it and becomes withdrawn.
If we go to the front door she races up the stairs and, when we walk her, if someone approaches from behind she gets very skittish.
We love her so much and try everything to help her. But even when we are feeding her, she strains her neck to get to the food as if there is a barrier between her and her little dish.
Alice Betson, assistant cardiac physiologist, Blackpool
Sean says: This sounds really complex. With behavioural cases, it’s helpful to be there to observe what’s happening and how you are reacting to certain behaviours. Because that will identify not only what the underlying cause might be, but also what you can do differently to help her.
I highly recommend getting the advice of a professional dog behaviourist to help poor Poppy.
Search for the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) and find a behaviourist in your area.
Q: WE have a guinea pig called Teddy, who is four months old and likes sunbathing when we take him out in the garden. Normally he lives indoors.
Now the weather is nice, we are thinking of moving him outside in a secure pen but bringing him back inside when the weather gets colder. Is this a good idea?
Jackie Edwards, 35, health assistant, Cambridge
Sean says: Teddy would thank you for it. The bigger the pen, the better, and being outdoors on grass is ten times better for a guinea pig than a small cage indoors on wood shavings.
There are a few precautions, though. He’ll need a secure hutch inside the run to find shade in when it’s very hot, and to be locked in at night when there may be more predators around like foxes and cats. The run itself also has to be covered and predator-proof to keep him safe.
I also recommend a guinea pig friend for Teddy.
Q: MY Labradoodle Boris is the sweetest dog but eats disgusting things – half-eaten chips off the pavement, even poop.
Whatever can I do to curb his disturbing appetite?
Gareth Doherty, 34, office manager, Edinburgh
Sean says: Disgusting to us, delicious to a dog! One way to stop this is using a basket muzzle when he’s off the lead. Or try lacing pavement snacks and poop with Tabasco and let him have them, so he loses the taste for such unpalatable cuisine.
Win ByBenji Biltong
WANT to win some pawsome treats to make sure your dog always comes back when you call them?
We have six Scholar Bundles of ByBenji biltong, which is made from pure silver-side beef, usually £39.99.
The beef is marinated in tasty herbs giving it an aroma that gets tails wagging and dogs dashing back to their owners.
To be in with a chance to win, email BILTONG to email@example.com.
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