Moving house with your cat

So you are about to move house and concerned about settling your cats into their new environment? Here's some handy tips on making the transition stress free and as safe as possible for your pet.

Cat owners are often concerned about the best way to settle their cat into a new home. Cats form definite attachments to places and often try to return to their old home, but a few precautions can ensure that your cat will accept their new address.

Packing and moving time

When it is time to move out of the old home make sure that you lock your cat in a secure room or cat carrier before the removalist arrives. Cats do not like change or disruption to their household and will often become uneasy when packing commences and may leave home rather than be in the midst of all the confusion. It is best to lock your cat securely in one room while packing to prevent this. It will also ensure your cat doesn't climb into a packing box, crate or even shipping container for a sleep and get sent off with the household goods!

Transporting your cat

Transport your cat to your new home in a secure cat carrier. Cats can become frightened by a car journey and may attempt to escape.

Releasing your  cat

When you arrive at your new address do not release your cat until all removalists, helpers and visitors have left and your new home is quiet. Before doing so, also check that all doors and windows are closed. If you have an open fireplace screen the chimney as frightened cats have been known to hide in a chimney.

Choose a room which you can dedicate to your cat for a few days. This will become their room until things settle down. Place their litter tray, food and water bowls and a sleeping bed or basket here. When the time is right, restrict your cat to one room and sit quietly with him/her. Your cat will explore every corner of the room and rub itself around the furniture to mark his/her scent and claim it as his/her territory.

If your cat is having trouble, or you know he or she may have trouble settling in, a calming pheromone dispenser may help considerably, please call your local clinic to discuss this.

Outside cats

If your cat is an outside cat, let him/her outside for short periods and stay with them. Do this for a few weeks until you are confident that they have a feeling of attachment to their new home. Cats are very territorial and it may be that a neighbours cat has claimed your new backyard as its territory. Your cat will have to claim this territory as its own so you may experience some hissing and posturing but generally cats will work things out for themselves. If you have ever thought of keeping your cat indoors, now is a good time to do so. Indoor cats generally live healthier and longer lives because they are less exposed to diseases from the cat community, such as FIV (Cat AIDs). If space permits, another option which can be considered is a cat enclosure.


Settling your dog into a new home

So you are about to move house and concerned about settling your dogs into their new environment? Here's some handy tips on making the transition stress free and as safe as possible for your pet.

Dogs can sometimes be more difficult to settle into new routines, particularly those that have the run of the house or are used to more space. Taking your dog for walks around your new area, will give him/her both the mental and physical stimulation they need as well as familiarise them with their new surrounds. Walk your dog at least once daily, especially in the mornings before they are left alone. This will help reduce any excess energy that they have.

Avoid making a fuss of your dog when you arrive home and leave home. Your dog may interpret the fuss incorrectly, and begin to worry unnecessarily. You do not want him/ her to wait all day for an exciting event (ie. your arrival). If you get home and nothing exciting happens, your dog will start to think it is not the best part of his day and will stop pining for that moment.

Owners are often tempted to replace the dog or cat's bed when they move into a new home. If you can resist the temptation, provide them with a bed, toys, food and water bowl they are familiar with.

Barking, digging and more

Most dogs only bark, dig or develop destructive behaviours when they are bored so keeping your dog busy is the main priority.

Make sure your new home is safe

Before you let your pet into a new environment, do a simple check for the following:-

  • Poisons - check your shed, garden and shelves for anything left at 'nose' level. Also check the garden beds for any rat or snail poison left in the yard by previous owners.
  • Fencing - do a backyard check to make sure you have no escape holes.
  • Remove chewable objects - to prevent obstruction injuries (injuries that could choke or damage your pet's gastrointestinal system) remove suspect items from your yard. Disgard any old bones, small balls and anything your pet maybe attracted to.
  • Identification - Ensure your pet is wearing a collar, and has an identification tag with your new phone number. If your pet is microchipped, contact the relevant microchip registry to change your contact details. Finally contact your local council to update your pet's registration details.

If your dog is having trouble, or you know he or she may have trouble settling in, a calming pheromone dispenser may help considerably, please call your local vet to discuss this.

And just remember, patience, patience, patience... and you will enjoy your new home together in no time.


The perfect pets for retirees

Retired and looking for a furry companion? An extra special sidekick to spend your days with?

It’s the time you’ve waited for when bumper-to-bumper in peak hour traffic, packed like a sardine on your daily train commute or when hurriedly eating lunch at your desk or taking minutes in meetings. We’re talking retirement. And it’s finally here. Only there’s just one thing …

When you’re home alone drinking your umpteenth cuppa, you miss mid-morning banter around the water cooler. When you’re out pumping the pavement on an afternoon walk, you miss knocking off on Fridays and after work drinks. You miss the contact, you miss the company and above all, maybe feeling a little lonely…

Problem solved. Insert a furry friend!

There’s no better time than retirement to introduce a four-legged friend into your home, your heart and your spanking new lifestyle. With more time up your sleeve to care for a pet, welcoming one into your home will not only give you a sense of purpose in what can be a daunting new chapter, welcoming a pet into your home ensures you’ll always have a trusty sidekick to share in the newfound memories you’re making.

Choosing a pet for retirement

When choosing a pet for retirement, as with choosing a pet in general, there are a few things to consider so that your pet doesn’t turn into a full-time job you can’t resign from!

  1. Consider how you wish to enjoy your time and find a pet that’s suited to the life you wish to lead. If you’re outdoorsy and active, perhaps a feisty pup that loves to run? If you enjoy reading and afternoon naps, perhaps a lop-eared rabbit who loves to cuddle?
  1. If travelling is an important part of your retirement plan, ensure you introduce a pet into your life that is capable of caring for itself in your absence, such as an aquarium of fish, or is able to easily be cared for by family, friends or local pet boarders, such as a calm breed of cat.
  1. Consider the costs involved in being a pet parent, including vet visits checkups when assessing if the pet you have in mind will meet your budget.
  1. With retirement come relaxation, and to ensure it stays that way, ensure you choose an animal whose upkeep you’re happy to meet. While budgies and birds are manageable for most, it takes a passionate person to take on the maintenance of a merino sheepdog’s mane!

Sharing your new life as a retiree with a pet will be the most pleasurable and rewarding if you take some time to consider your lifestyle, your financial situation and level of commitment prior to bringing them home. As with any relationship, if the one you build with your pet is based on a solid foundation, it will last the test of time and bring a lifetime of happiness.


Assistance Dogs in the Community

Pets and people go together like bread and butter, as much as we like to talk about enriching our pets’ lives with toys and play, the truth is the very presence of a dog can often enrich human lives. They are man’s best friend after all! Assistance dogs are living proof of this. When it comes to the elderly, disabled, or otherwise impaired, there’s nothing quite like an assistance dog to not only help out with basic tasks and chores but add quality of life and sociability to those in need.

Assistance dogs are a heavy investment. Disability services such as Guide Dogs Australia often require up to or more than $25,000 to train an assistance dog, depending on the particular training required. However, once trained assistance dogs can perform the following tasks:

  • Open doors
  • Pick up items
  • Do laundry/fetch other items necessary for housework
  • Alert bark to alert the owner of danger, guests or other things that require immediate attention
  • Help owner cross roads by pressing buttons at traffic lights
  • Pay cashier at stores

For providers of assistance dogs it often takes a long time to match up the right dog to the right person. Those companies that provide assistance dogs try carefully to match the personality and training the dog has undertaken to the personality and needs of the person needing assistance.

Types of Assistance Dogs

There are many types of assistance dogs.

Those specifically trained to aid the hearing or vision impaired. These dogs are specifically trained to use different alerts for sounds, such as touching (nudging) or licking in order to show the owner there is something needing their attention.

A mobility assistance dog can help with walking and/or pulling a wheelchair.

A dog specifically trained as an autism assistance dogcan use a technique such as deep pressure, i.e sitting on the child’s lap or chest, in order to calm them down, and to run after them if the child runs away. These dogs are best kept in a harness and in constant connection to their charge in order to keep the dog in the child’s mind as much as possible.

Assistance dogs can aid the impaired by providing greater freedom, independence and personhood. A valuable trait for those already struggling with mental and physical handicaps such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, autism spectrum disorders and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only do they make great carers, but assistance dogs can also be taken to hospitals, hospices and old folk’s homes, providing an affectionate and adorable treat for sick children, adults and the elderly.

A licensed assistance dog is granted public access rights, it is illegal to refuse entry to an identified assistance dog and any person/proprietor who does so can be charged, therefore assistance dogs are the perfect guide to take to appropriate social outings.

Guide dogs are well-equipped and trained to deal with emergency situations. Training allows them to navigate quickly through crowds, find emergency exits and bring medication to owners/patients. A guide dog can also be trained to calm down someone with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or another mental illness during a panic attack.

Pets in general, dogs especially, are known to improve sociability among communities, with many dog owners suggesting that they might not have met many people in their neighbourhoods without their canine on hand. The quality of life that comes with this kind of improved sociability is invaluable for those whose age, illness or mental difficulties can limit their interactions with others, time spent outdoors and time generally being active.


10 cat myths uncovered

While the myth that cats have nine lives was debunked long ago, there remain a number of old wives’ tales that continue to steer many cat owners in the wrong direction.

Myth 1. Cats always land on their feet

Fact: Cats instinctively fall feet-first due to their flexible spine and "superior righting reflex". However, this is not to say that a cat can’t be injured in a fall.

 Myth 2. Milk is good for cats

Fact: While cats love milk and will readily lap up a whole saucer, it’s not good for their health. Most cats are lactose intolerant and can’t break down the enzymes in cow’s milk. For a special treat, you can give your cat lactose-free milk occasionally.

Myth 3. Pregnant women should not own cats

Fact: It is true that some cats (especially those who actively hunt) carry a disease called toxoplasmosis, which can harm an unborn baby. Pregnant women can catch the disease from a variety of sources, including through accidentally swallowing the parasite through contact with cat faeces.  However pregnant women can still own cats; they just need to be vigilant about washing their hands after close contact and avoid handling kitty litter. Pregnant women should consult their doctor for a blood test for Toxoplasmosis as most of us have been exposed already and have immunity.

Myth 4. Garlic keeps worms and fleas at bay

Fact: There is no scientific evidence that garlic prevents worms or fleas. In fact, garlic can actually cause anaemia in cats.

Myth 5. Cats eat grass when they’re sick

Fact: Grass is a natural laxative for cats, as it contains enzymes that cats can’t break down. Eating grass in small amounts is a safe and natural way for cats to regurgitate unwanted bones, feathers and furballs in their digestive tracts.

Myth 6. Butter on the paws keeps kitty from getting lost

Fact: If you are moving house, rubbing butter on your cat’s paws will do nothing more than provide a brief distraction. You can also consider using Feliway pheromone diffusers.

Myth 7. Cats can eat dog food

Fact: A regular diet of dog food can be extremely dangerous for your cat as it does not contain essential nutrients that your cat needs, such as taurine and arachidonic acid. Taurine deficiency can lead to blindness and heart disorders, and arachidonic acid can lead to dry, scaly skin. If your cat has a habit of eating the dog’s food, try to feed your cat and dog in separate areas at the same time and remove any leftovers.

Myth 8. Cats must be six months’ old to be desexed

Fact: With modern anaesthetics, most cats can now be safely desexed earlier. Check with your veterinarian about the best time to do this.

Myth 9. A cat with a bell will not catch birds

Fact: Cats are clever animals and learn quickly how to move so the bell doesn’t ring.  Some research suggests cats with bells are actually better at catching prey as they learn to move with more stealth.

Myth 10. Cats don’t need companionship

Fact: This is entirely dependent on the individual cat. Some cats are more independent than others but generally all cats need some companionship.  If you lead a busy lifestyle and spend long hours working it is advisable you have two cats, so they can keep each other company while you are out.


Welcoming an adopted pet into your household

Visiting a shelter, rescue home or a veterinarian to adopt a new pet is an exciting time for any new pet owner. There are so many things to think about when welcoming your new pet into your family, so we have picked five of the most important things to consider:

1. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared for the new pet

Prior to bringing home your new pet, discuss with your family any changes that may need to take place as well as committing to a consistent approach to training, using positive reinforcement and acceptable boundaries and rules for your new addition. This important step will prevent frustration and confusion and will also setup your new addition for success.

Here's a few things you might want to discuss and allocate responsibility to:

  • Feeding times and location - including a daily ‘treat budget' so your new addition stays trim and terrific
  • Exercise and playtime
  • Training (use positive reinforcement and a consistent approach for everyone )
  • Water - daily bowl change
  • Medication or prevention treatment e.g. providing regular doses of flea/ heartworm/ worming treatment
  • At home healthcare - checking teeth and providing dental care such as brushing teeth or feeding dental chews where required, checking ears and eyes and any other problem areas.
  • Grooming (such as brushing and washing)
  • Litter removal and disposal
  • Laundry for clean bedding
  • Veterinary care schedule (for regular check-ups and vaccination boosters)

2. Patience and persistence

When it comes to training and getting to know your pet's new personality and behaviour, patience is the key. It is possible to train an older pet but you will need to be persistent and positive!

3. Pet proof your home

If you are bringing home your first pet, you will quickly learn to be cautious of leaving things lying around the house. A chicken sandwich left on the kitchen counter may soon be your pet's next lunch. We recommend checking your home, garden and shed for potential poisons which could harm your pet. Also, check your fence and gates for escape routes as well as the fence height for dogs that are able to jump.

4. Go slowly when introducing your new pet to friends and family

t can take several weeks for a pet to relax in a new environment. It is a great idea to keep cats in a secluded room with all of his/ her goodies (toys/ scratching post/ litter tray) until he/ she is familiar with their new surroundings. Socialisation is important, but take it slowly for older pets.

5. Consider more than one pet 

In particular cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction which can be provided by having two cats. Similarly if your dog is left at home whilst you are at work during the day, another pal is a great idea. In saying this, every pet is different and some pets are more than happy to be left at home alone.

Finally, congratulations if you are already on a journey of pet adoption. No doubt your pet will bring you many moments of joy and become your new best friend. If you have any questions about adoption or how to care for your new pet please contact our pet health care team.