Pet answers: itchy rats and baby cats

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions

I have a six month old Border Collie and he’s chewing everything in the house! He’s already ruined several shoes and has even started chewing the chair legs! Help!
Oh dear! Inappropriate chewing can be very frustrating and it’s amazing how destructive just one little dog can be! Firstly, this can be quite common in working breeds and in dogs this age. They are often teething, and just like human babies, try to alleviate the pain by chewing. Unfortunately they often don’t make a distinction between what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Secondly, as you know, Border Collies are very active, intelligent dogs and part of this may be frustration or boredom. These dogs are bred to be out in the fields working and so require a lot of varied, stimulating exercise. On top of this, at six months old, he is probably also going through his teenage rebellious phase and so this inappropriate chewing could be a combination of multiple factors. I’d start with encouraging appropriate chewing on proper ‘dog chews’ and restricting access to the other items he’s focussing on whilst you have a look at your exercise and training regime. It would be worth having a chat with a reputable local dog trainer as they can be worth their weight in gold. My dogs are seven and nine years old and we still regularly have training sessions, whether this be to focus on a skill that’s gotten a bit rusty or to try something new. The support and help a good dog trainer can give, is invaluable.

I have a group of three pet rats and recently they’ve all become really itchy! Is there anything I can give them to treat it?
I love rats! They make such wonderful pets! If all of your rats are scratching, it could be one of a number of causes, such as lice, mites or even a fungal infection such as ringworm. I’d suggest taking them to see your veterinary practice to see what’s causing the scratching. The vet will sometimes use a piece of tape to take samples from the skin or even pluck a few hairs. Then once you have an answer, they’ll be able to advise you on the best treatment options.

I’ve recently adopted a new kitten but my other cat doesn’t seem to like her. She keeps going off and hiding and I’m worried that they aren’t going to get on.
Congratulations on your new kitten! How very exciting! Firstly, don’t worry. It’s very normal for older cats to not get on with young kittens straightaway. Kittens are very bouncy and energetic and older cats typically dislike the lack of ‘cat manners’ they seem to display. There are some great pheromone plug-in products out there that can help both cats to relax together and resolve any stress they both might be feeling. A new kitten is a big disruption and cats like to keep to a routine. Make sure there are plenty of places for your older cat to escape to that the kitten can’t reach, for example a new cat tree or a snuggly bed on top of the wardrobe. She’ll want to be able to get away and have some alone time. You might need to put a couple of additional food and water bowls and litter trays around the house so that they don’t have to keep running into each other to eat or go to the toilet. If you’re still having problems, then have a chat with your local vet. They’ve got lots of experience and can help guide you to make sure that everyone is happy with the new arrival!

Do you have a pet or animal health question? Send it to us at: Holly will endeavour to answer all questions, whether published or not!

Dr Holly Norman BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS, veterinary surgeon and practice partner at:

Peterborough Vets4Pets
231-233 St Paul’s Road
Tel: 01733 890777

Bretton Vets4Pets
Inside Pets at Home
Unit 2 The Bretton Centre
Peterborough, PE3 8DN
Tel: 01733 261094

Photo by Kote Puerto on Unsplash

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