My cat knows that I’m pregnant and he isn’t happy about it. He’s a three-year-old male neutered rescue cat who has always wanted to be near me, sleeping on my bed every night. Since I became pregnant a few months ago, his behaviour has changed and he seems unsettled. He won’t sleep on the bed and he is nervous around me. He now prefers my partner’s company. How could he be sensing my pregnancy, and how can I prepare him for the shock of the baby arriving?
I have heard other stories about feline behaviour changing when an owner becomes pregnant. In one case, the cat’s behaviour changed before the woman was even aware of her pregnancy, which ruled out the possibility that it could have been a reaction to the subtle changes in human activities that may happen when someone realises that they are pregnant.
Animals live in a sensory world that’s very different to our primarily visual world. Cats can detect smells and vapours that are invisible to humans: pheromones (such as Feliway diffusers) are even sold commercially deliberately to modify cat behaviour. Most cats adapt well to new babies, but there are a number of actions that you can take before the baby’s birth to make it easier for him when that day arrives. Visit fabcats.org/behaviour/cats_babies/info.html .
My nine-year-old mongrel has started eating the plaster off the walls of our house. Everywhere I have looked on the internet attributes plaster eating to boredom, but she is well exercised and has the company of our other dog. Do you have any suggestions?
SG, by email
You need to find out why your dog has started to enjoy chewing your walls. It could be the taste of the plaster, the texture of the walls, or just the chewing behaviour itself. There are sometimes hidden reasons, like rodents scurrying behind the walls making noises. Rarely, there can be medical issues, such as hormonal disease or early senility causing bizarre appetites: you should talk to your vet to rule these out.
It can be difficult to stop an established habit like this and you may need help from a behaviourist (see apbc.org.uk). You should ensure that she has plenty of “good” chewing opportunities (such as a variety of chew toys and deep-frozen food-stuffed Kong toys) to keep her jaws occupied. Until you resolve this, you need to temporarily prevent her from being able to chew the walls, perhaps by housing her in a different room or confining her to a bed in a mesh wire dog crate.
I have two budgerigars, a cock and a hen, aged three years. The hen has developed a coarse growth on her lower right side, under her wing, which is increasing in size. She is eating normally and seems well otherwise. What could be causing this and could it cause her discomfort?
Any swelling or growth like this should be checked by a vet. Sometimes a physical examination is enough to establish the cause, although a needle biopsy may be needed to confirm a diagnosis. Once the type of growth has been established, the best course of action can be discussed. Tumours are common in budgies of this age, and surgical removal may be an option, but there are other possible causes that could need a different treatment, including infections and cysts. Most growths of this type do not seem to be painful, but they can cause discomfort because of their size and the way that they interfere with a bird’s normal movements.
Need help buying a puppy?
The Advisory Council for Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding has launched an excellent web guide to buying a new puppy, that leads the user through a wealth of information on topics ranging from time, cost, exercise/play and socialisation needs through to finding and recognising a careful and reliable breeder. Visit
to find out more.
This week’s rescue pet is Buster, a neutered, fully vaccinated four year old Labrador who needs a new home. He is a well behaved dog, who gets on well with other dogs.
He has had some training but can have selective hearing: he pulls initially on the lead but then settles down and can walk to heel very well. He has not lived with children to date, and he would benefit from some socialising and a family that will spend time on his training.
Buster is a lovable and good natured dog who will fit well into a home that understands the need for clear boundaries being laid down for lively dogs.
For more details, contact the Labrador Lifeline Trust at
or phone 01256 884027
Send pet problems to email@example.com. We regret that Pete cannot answer all letters personally. All sick animals should, of course, be taken to a vet.
This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.telegraph.co.uk