Matted fur on the lower back is common in older cats, and can happen for a number of reasons, including lack of flexibility due to arthritis, dental disease preventing thorough self-grooming, and general geriatric lethargy. Ideally, early intervention can solve this, by gently teasing out the clumped fur before it accumulates. If you leave the clumps, they will get bigger, forming uncomfortable pads of matted fur. The best answer is to ask your vet to remove the clumped areas with electric clippers; during the same visit, you can ask about any related issues that your cat may need help with, such as dental disease, arthritis, and other hidden geriatric problems that can often be simply treated.
My 10-year-old cat Monty has always refused to sleep on my bed. He sleeps everywhere else: on the spare bed, under my bed and in any other cosy spot, but whenever I put him on my bed, he jumps straight off. I have tried various colours of bedding and I call him over when I am in bed to give him attention. Is there anything else I can do? I’d love the company of Monty sleeping by my feet.
Monty may have once suffered some adverse event associated with sleeping on a bed with a person in it: perhaps his own rest was disturbed by someone’s feet wriggling? You need to do more to encourage him to enjoy sleeping there in the daytime, when there’s no one else there. Make your bed as appealing as possible, using thick, soft cat bedding. Set up an electric cat bed heater (available in most pet shops), spray cat pheromones on the covers (Feliway, available from vets or online, is good), and scatter some tasty treats on the bedspread to entice him (thrivepetfoods.com). If he discovers that your bed is the cosiest place in the house to snooze in the daytime, there’s a good chance that he’ll get into the habit of sleeping there at night too.
My garden has a wild patch that always sprouts nettles in springtime. In the past, I’ve kept my rabbits away from this area, but someone told me that they enjoy eating them. Is this true? Surely they could be hurt by getting stung?
The Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund website (rabbitwelfare.co.uk) has an advice sheet detailing the safe plants that can be fed to rabbits, and you’ll be glad to hear that nettles are included. Rabbits seem to be resistant to nettle stings, and I’ve heard of rabbits happily munching their way through nettle crops that would leave humans covered in painful stings. If you still worry that your rabbit may be sensitive, you could cut the nettles then allow them to dry for a day or so (or more rapidly by putting them in the oven). This removes some of the stinging effect for humans, so it’s likely to make them even more appetising to rabbits.
Time for action on fat cats (and dogs)
Nearly 80 per cent of vets believe pet obesity is on the rise since 2009, with serious adverse consequences for dog, cat and rabbit health and welfare. If pets are kept at their ideal body size, their lifespan can be extended by up to two years. A recent survey showed that nearly one in three (30 per cent) owners relied only on instinct when deciding pet food portion size rather than giving a measured ration of food. For tips on how to keep your pet at the ideal weight, visit pfma.org.uk/weighinwednesday.
Rescue pet of the week
James is an adult tabby cat with a lovely personality. Contact Celia Hammond Animal Trust on 020 7474 8811 or visit celiahammond.org to find out more about him. To find out the outcomes of the rescued pets that are featured in this column, see Pet Subjects Rescue.
*Send pet problems to email@example.com. All sick animals should, of course, be taken to a vet