Squeak the cat went missing for over three weeks

Squeak the cat went missing for over three weeks

Fiona shares her home her fiancé Adrian and their three cats: Mark and Orla, who’ve been with them for over two years, and one-year-old Squeak, who’s seen as the young upstart by the older two animals. The recent crisis started with some disagreements about night-time domestic arrangements. Each cat has its own established sleeping spot: Mark sleeps at the foot of Fiona and Adrian’s bed, Orla has a cubby hole in another bedroom, and Squeak is happy to sleep stretched out on the landing. The cats usually wait until the humans in the house are up and about before waking, but Squeak recently started to stir at 5am every morning. She repeatedly scratched on Fiona’s door until she woke to let Squeak go outside. After a few nights of broken sleep, Fiona decided to put Squeak into the outdoor cat kennel last thing at night: if she wanted to be up and about at dawn, she could do so without disturbing the rest of the house. The cat kennel has a cosy bed, with food and water nearby, and all of the cats sometimes choose to stay there overnight anyway. The next morning, when Fiona got up with the other cats, there was no sign of Squeak. Normally, if she slept outside, she’d be at the back door, looking for breakfast. At first Fiona thought she might just be busy elsewhere, but when there was no sign of her by the next day, she knew she’d gone missing. But what had happened? Had she had an accident of some kind? Was she lying sick somewhere? Or had she just...
Jasper suffered a broken bone in his foot after an accident at home

Jasper suffered a broken bone in his foot after an accident at home

Jasper is a home-loving cat.  She doesn’t like spending too much time in the cold world outside. Like many cats, she has an ability to seek out the warmest, coziest spots to sleep. Her favourite snoozing place is in a corner in the kitchen, where she has a soft cat bed, but later in the day, when everyone’s gone out to work and school, the kitchen cools down, and it becomes less appealing. Jasper has discovered that if she goes looking, she can find other comfortably heated spots to sleep. This tendency to seek out warmth can sometimes get cats into trouble. During the winter months, vets regularly have to deal with accidents that are caused by this heat-seeking habit. One of the warmest places to sleep – and one of the most dangerous – is underneath the bonnet of a car, curled up close to an engine that’s cooling down. Cats that live outside often discover that if they climb up under a car, they can wriggle into the engine compartment, where there’s usually a pleasantly warm flattened area to sleep. The problem is that cats often go into a deep sleep, only waking when the car owner is heading off to work in the morning. Suddenly the peaceful, warm sleeping area becomes a danger zone, with moving metal parts and no easy way out. Sadly, some cats don’t survive, and others are rushed to the vet, badly injured after the car driver has belatedly heard the yowls of a distraught cat coming from beneath their bonnet. Even around the home, there are cozy sleeping spots that can...
Edward the kitten had a damaged eye

Edward the kitten had a damaged eye

Michael and his family are animal lovers, sharing their home with a scattering of dogs and cats. The ginger kitten is the latest to join their menagerie. Michael’s 20 year old daughter saw the kitten with its mother at a friend’s house. She liked the look of him, and ended up bringing him home. She called him “Edward Cullen” after one of the heroes in the Twilight movie, but of course, his name was soon shortened to Edward, and as he has become part of the family, it looks like Eddie’s may soon be his day-to-day name. The kitten was bright and healthy at first, but a couple of weeks after his arrival, he developed a painful left eye. He started to keep the eye closed, and a yellow discharge dripped from the eye down his cheek. Edward was brought to the vets as soon as the Murphys noticed that there was something wrong, and when I saw him, it was obvious that he had a serious problem affecting his left eye. Edward had a deep ulcer in the centre of his left eye: something had damaged the front of the eye, creating a crater-like dent in its surface. It could have been caused by trauma (such as a fight with another kitten) or it could have been a virus, but the result was the same: his eyeball was seriously injured. The eyeball is a complex structure, but it’s very resilient and it’s well-protected by the body. The boney eye socket is the most important part of the eye defences. If there’s any physical blow to the head, the...
Louis the 7 month old ferret

Louis the 7 month old ferret

Lisa didn’t originally plan to get a pet ferret. Her uncle keeps them and a litter of baby ferrets was produced accidentally. Lisa went to see them, and felt sorry for Louis because he seemed to be hiding in a corner all the time. She took him home to cherish him, and soon found that she’d become surprisingly fond of him. She discovered that the cunning creature had been hiding in corners for a reason – he has a habit of grabbing as much food as he can, scurrying off to a corner, then guarding it zealously, like Gollum guarding treasure in Lord of the Rings. Louis has developed into a healthy strong male ferret. He’s fed on complete dry ferret food (similar to dry dog and cat biscuits), but Lisa also gives him occasional treats. He loves raw meat like steak or chicken, and he also enjoys scrambled eggs from time to time. He lives in a cage, but she often takes him out to play. He’s very friendly, and he’s never bitten anyone. Lisa says that he occasionally holds your finger in his mouth, between his teeth, but he’s just playing, and he never clamps down or draws blood. Louis has always enjoyed having soft toys to play with, and there was one small teddy bear in particular that seemed to appeal to him. He kept it in his den, snuggling up to it and sleeping beside it. In recent weeks, he had begun to give the teddy bear a little too much attention, grabbing hold of it and hugging it, and treating it as if it...
Alfie is an eight week old Japanese Spitz puppy

Alfie is an eight week old Japanese Spitz puppy

Hannah and Ben have had Alfie for two weeks, and he’s settled in well. There’s one area which has been causing problems: Alfie has needle-sharp puppy teeth, and he sometimes bites the children’s hands in a way that hurts. Hannah and Ben love playing games with Alfie, but the biting is putting them off. When Alfie was brought in for his vaccination, they asked me how to stop him from doing this. Play-biting is a common problem in puppies. Young dogs explore the world with their mouths, and they love to interact with people and objects. They’re learning all the time, and grabbing something with their mouth is a fast way to find out about something new. Does it taste nice? Does it move? Is it soft or hard?  “Mouthing” is a natural behaviour in pups, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop this completely. The answer is to redirect it towards objects that it’s good for puppies to chew.  Tough red rubber toys, called Kongs, are ideal, because they can be stuffed with food to make them more appealing to pups, and they are virtually indestructible, lasting for years. Other chew toys – e.g. made from rawhide – are also helpful, but they don’t last for so long, so they’re a pricier option. I told Hannah and Ben to keep a chew-toy handy, so that Alfie could have a toy to play with as an alternative to biting humans. Pups also have a natural tendency to play chase-and-grab games. In the wild, dogs hunt prey, and puppy-play is partly about training young dogs to carry out...
Taz the cat developed a limp and went missing

Taz the cat developed a limp and went missing

Taz is an independent creature, choosing to live in his own cat house outside Hilary’s back door. It’s a cosy place, lined with newspaper, blankets and a comfortable cushion. He comes into Hilary’s home from time to time, but the cat house has always been his favourite sleeping place. Hilary recently noticed that Taz had developed a limp. He was still as active and mobile as ever, but he was favouring his right foreleg, his head bobbing as he walked. She decided that a visit to the vet was in order, so she fetched the cat carrier in preparation for the trip. Taz must have had some distant memory of the significance of the blue plastic cage: when Hilary went looking for him, he’d vanished. He didn’t come back for the next four days. She looked everywhere, but there was no sign of him. Then one evening last week, she heard a miaow: Taz was at the back door. The lameness was now much worse, and he was holding his right foreleg up, unable to put any weight on it at all. It was as if he’d come back, looking for help. Hilary kept him indoors overnight, worried that if she let him sleep in his normal cat house, he’d disappear again. She brought him up to see me first thing the following morning. When I examined Taz, it was obvious that the focus of the lameness was in his right shoulder, which was swollen and painful. The poor cat was not at all happy as I gently felt the sore area. I admitted him for a short anaesthetic,...