From purring gerbils to obsessed cats – your pet queries answered | The Sun

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.”

Q) OUR gerbils Barbie and Kendra purr just like cats.

They also like to wrestle but then finish by grooming one another.

Does this mean they are happy or are they finding a pecking order?

They are sisters and both six months old.



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They particularly purr during cuddles.

Rhiannon South, Reading

A) This all sounds to me like perfectly normal gerbil etiquette and behaviour.

The wrestling is play and it’s a sign they are getting along well.

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Perhaps there is also an element of testing who’s in charge, too.

The purring is usually a sign of contentment and often happens during a spot of mutual grooming.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected]

Q) WHY is my cat Tim obsessed with cardboard boxes?

He has comfy beds (both cat and human), a sofa, armchair and high and low-placed cat beds — and even a radiator bed for warm snuggles.

But no, all he wants is a plain cardboard box.

It looks like I forgot to put the rubbish out but he’s so happy when he’s curled up in one

Any idea why?

Maggie Brown, Exeter

A) Tim’s not the only one. Most cats love a cardboard box.

I think it gives them a nice secure place from which to survey their kingdom.

They can duck down behind its walls if danger threatens.

And maybe it mimics the kind of tight den spaces their ancestors would have sought out in the wild.

Q) MY mixed-breed dog Mo won’t leave me alone and even tries to get in the bath or shower.

I tell him I love him but he needs to give me some space.

If I shut the door he scratches on it non-stop until I give in and open and the door.

I work from home, so I figure he either loves me or it’s a form of separation anxiety or maybe a bit of both.

How should I deal with it without hurting his feelings?

He’s two and he’s a good boy in all ways with no behavioural issues.

He’s happy to be left for short ­periods when I go out.

Meg Patrick, Glasgow

A) He sounds like a character, and you are probably right that this is a hyper attachment type of separation anxiety.

Some will say if it’s not causing any harm and makes him feel less anxious, then allow him to be close to you.

Others recommend building a little distance in the home to teach him it’s OK and nothing bad happens through being alone, or at least in left another room.

See-through baby gates can be a useful halfway house.

Q) PUMPKIN, my two-year-old cat, grooms himself constantly. Should I worry?

He doesn’t have any skin irritation or fleas but it’s extreme.

Is he a poseur or could it be something else, like anxiety or pain?

Sarah Smith, Kettering, Northants

A) If there is no skin irritation or hair loss, patchiness or a broken coat then it’s likely that Pumpkin is a clean and image-conscious cat.

Some groom more than others.

Over-grooming one area, such as over a certain joint or the base of the spine for example, can sometimes be an indicator of pain.

But we expect that to happen more in older cats.

If Pumpkin is grooming all over I’d think it’s normal for him.

If in doubt, a vet check is always good to ease your mind.

Star of the week

MIRACLE pup Opie was given just weeks to live after being born with a rare heart defect.

But two years on, the cute labrador is living life to the max at home with Julie Parsons, 53, an RSPCA inspector from West Sussex.

Opie has climbed Mount Snowdon, run in forests, ridden in a fire engine, eaten ice cream, met Santa and attended a black-tie dinner and a Remembrance Sunday service.

Julie said: “I just wish I’d added puppy-training classes at the start, because he’s turned into a cheeky little chap.”

To give a dog a new lease of life, go to

WIN: Dog talking kit

IF you’ve ever wondered what your dog is trying to tell you, Brightkins can help.

The firm is giving three readers the chance to win a Hunger For Words range of pet communication buttons, each worth £92.

Developed with Christina Hunger, who wrote the book How Stella Learned To Talk, about her dog.

To enter, send an email headed Brightkins to sunday [email protected], by Nov 19.

See brightkins. T&Cs apply.

Cats suffer as rising costs bite

A THIRD of Britain’s 11million cat owners have been “significantly and negatively impacted” by the cost-of-living crisis, according to an in-depth study.

Cats Protection’s new Cats And Their Stats report also reveals that 330,000 people now rely on food banks to feed their pets.

A further 14 per cent seriously worry about how they will meet their cat’s needs in future.

Of these, seven per cent say they have already reduced spending on necessities such as cat food.

The report also found that 13 per cent of people who used to own a cat but no longer do say it is because they can’t afford it.

Cats Protection CEO John May said: “The report suggests that concerns about the cost of living are having the tangible effect of preventing cats from entering or remaining within loving homes.

"We’ve noticed in recent months that calls to our contact centre to give a cat up have increased while those wanting to adopt have gone down.”

The charity has an online hub on its website with information on how to look after a cat on a budget.

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It also runs schemes to help people on limited incomes with the cost of microchipping and neutering their cats

See for more information and advice.

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