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Pet subjects: dancing cats and grass-eating dogs

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Pet subjects: dancing cats and grass-eating dogs

After seeing Pudsey win Britain’s Got Talent, I’ve been practising with my two-year-old cat, appropriately named Dancer. If a dog can do it, why not a cat next year? She’s happy to do some moves with me, but she gets bored after five minutes. What can I do to make her concentrate?
KJ, Bedford

Cats are at least as intelligent as dogs (they have a bigger brain-to-body-weight ratio), but it’s a different type of intelligence which doesn’t make them easier to train. Dogs seem to get a buzz from pleasing their owners, whereas cats are more likely to want to please themselves. If you want to learn more about training your cat, you should talk to cat agility enthusiasts (catagility.com).

This is a growing hobby, following in the footsteps of the dog agility sport that launched Pudsey into show business. Cats run through tunnels and jump over hurdles, usually spurred on by chasing a favourite toy that’s dangled in front of them by their owners. There are now many cat agility shows in the United States and there was a demonstration at the London Pet Show last month. If you work hard on your routine, you may just have Dancer ready for next season’s television schedule.

Why do domestic fowl die? We keep a few chickens and quail, free range by day and secure by night in a comfortable ark. Every now and then one goes quiet for a day or two and turns up its toes. We have lost three bantams, less than two years old, in this fashion in the last few months. What kills them? It obviously isn’t contagious and it can’t be old age — or is it?
BP, Shrewsbury
Just like dogs, cats and humans, birds can die for many different reasons: there is no single common cause of the situation that you describe. Your birds could be dying of the same problem (e.g. Marek’s disease) or there could be a variety of factors leading to their demise.
To discover what’s going on, you need to submit one or two of their bodies for post-mortem examinations by taking them to your vet. There would obviously be a cost to this, but if you seriously want to find the answer to your questions, it’s the only way.
My two wheaten terriers insist on eating grass when out on walks. Sometimes long, wide blades of grass emerge undigested at their rear ends a couple of days later, and this hurts them. Do they eat the grass because of a lack of something in their diet? Is there a grass I could grow at home which they could “snack on” to satisfy their needs, but which is more easily digested?
JD by email
Nobody knows the precise reason for this: it’s an instinctive behaviour. Is it to gain extra fibre? Is it to induce regurgitation, which often follows grass-eating? Is it to self-treat for parasites? My own feeling is that dogs just do it because they like doing it, in the same way as they enjoy chewing toys. No grass will ever be digestible for dogs: they’re not herbivores. Perhaps you could grow a patch of finer, less irritating grass for them in your own garden. I can’t find “dog grass” for sale, but “cat grass”, which may be young oats, wheat, barley or flax, might suit your purpose.
PetNet gets set
PetNet — the home of Park Bench and Scratching Post, the UK’s busiest social communities for dog and cat owners — has launched the PetNet Celebrity Pet Owner Awards, looking for the UK’s favourite celebrity dog and cat owners. Two winners will each receive £2,000 to donate to their chosen animal charities. Visit celebritypet owner.co.uk to nominate your favourites before June 20.
Rescue pet of the week
This week's rescue pet is Oran, a sensitive but good-natured greyhound being cared for by Greyhound Gap (greyhoundgap.org.uk). They say:
Oran gets on well with other dogs, both big and small. Ideally he needs a cat-free home with other greyhounds preferably a steady female or females to help him with his confidence issues. We feel he shows signs of soon coming around and his confidence will build quickly, however he is more scared of men than women. Any males in the house would need to be quite quiet and gentle and allow him to bond with them in his own time. Oran can be nervous of loud noises when out on a lead, so needs someone who understands greyhounds and their reactions.
A home with older teenage children would be best. Noisy younger ones may be too much for him.
Oran is vaccinated, treated for fleas and worms, microchipped and neutered. He is currently in the kennels in Stoke on Trent. In the first instance to offer Oran a home please fill in our pre adoption questionnaire: greyhoundgap.com/homing-a-adoption/pre-adoption-questionnaire
To find out more, phone Rose Marie on   0118 944 0400 (9am-9pm).

Source: The Telegraph

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