Can you advise on how to deter cats from using our garden as a personal lavatory? We suspect our new neighbour’s cat has started to do this, and wish to deter her from our garden, but in a humane way.
Where possible, you should make it difficult for cats to enter your garden, using high, close-boarded fences, or densely planted prickly hedges around your perimeter. Make your garden beds less attractive to cats, by keeping the earth wet (cats don’t like digging in wet soil), or using pebbles or chippings.
Consider an automatic, motion-detecting water spray, directed at entry points. Finally, talk to your neighbour and ensure that they have set up suitable cat toileting areas in their own garden.
My 11-year-old labrador, Buddy, sleeps a lot more nowadays, and often seems to be “dreaming” very actively. His whole body moves and jerks, a bit like hiccupping. I fear that he may be having a fit or even a heart attack. When I wake him up, he seems completely normal. Can you shed light on this?
It’s normal for older dogs to spend more time sleeping, and we know from dynamic brain-imaging studies that dogs definitely have dreams, although obviously we can’t tell what they’re dreaming about. It’s common to witness facial and limb twitching, with some vocalisations during dreaming, and this seems to be what Buddy is doing.
It’s nothing to worry about. Exceptionally rarely, some dogs develop violent movements and vocalisations similar to REM behaviour disorder in human patients (where people physically act out their dreams). Such cases sometimes need medication to reduce the risk of the dogs harming themselves.
Veterinary visits during the Covid-19 pandemic
A recent survey shows that 27 per cent of UK pet owners delayed or avoided visiting a veterinarian during the pandemic, because they considered it a “non-essential task” or for safety reasons. However, 48 per cent reported that their veterinary practice offered digital/remote consultations, up from 16 per cent prior to the pandemic. Veterinary practices are classified as essential businesses and can stay open even in lockdowns. For details, visit bva.co.uk/coronavirus.
Domino is an 18-month-old cane corso/American bulldog cross. He is an active and fun-loving dog who is full of enthusiasm. See his profile and follow the online adoption application guidelines at themayhew.org/dogs/domino.
For outcomes of rescued pets, see petethevet.com/rescues.
Send queries to [email protected] or tweet @PeteTheVet. All ill animals should be taken to a vet.