Pet Advice Guides for Pet Owners

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Coping with problem pets can be daunting without good pet advice. If you have encountered aggressive behaviour in dogs, cats who refuse to use their litter trays, overweight pets, nervous behaviour and fear of loud noises, excitability, skin ailments and general poor health, help is at hand. Our Pet advice pages are based on years of work with all sorts of animals. Through our dog adoption services, we have seen all sorts of behavioural problems. Sadly, this usually results in owners getting rid of the problem, often due to many months (even years) of trying to cope. Our aim is to educate, rehabilitate and create harmony between owners and their pets. We provide assistance, help, maybe just a shoulder to lean on, so you can enjoy a balanced, healthy relationship with your pet.

If you have a specific pet problem and would like some advice, let us know.
All our pet advice pages are provided as a free service for you to enjoy. If you find them useful, a small donation is always appreciated.

Beautiful Tallulah

cats - tallulah beauty

Tallulah is a gorgeous Main Coone cat who came in to us at the beginning of the year.   She was just under a year old  and a skinny and very stressed young lady.  Maine Coone’s need special care and like their freedom most of all.  We thought she had been cooped up and no matter how carefully we cared for her, she was a bit feisty and it was elastoplasts at the ready!   Nothing would do for this Miss but to be able to roam in the great outdoors and it’s been the making of her  We have some safe ‘wild wood’ areas where cats can be cats , still come in to the barn at night and be safely away from cars and traffic.   This suits Talullah perfectly.   She now has her own room and likes to snuggle up secure in the knowledge that she can be off on the hunt whenever she likes.

Talullah has become friendly and affectionate and there are no longer any of the bad tempered swipes we saw when she first came to stay.  She is a lovely cat who likes to be picked up and cuddled – not for long though, there is always another field mouse to stalk through the undergrowth.   She’s a large cat now she’s mature and with a magnificent coat – a real beauty.

Finding the right lifestyle for each cat is the key to feline happiness.   Some of the cats we have here would cringe at the thought of wild wooding – for others, like Tallulah, it’s the only thing that makes life worth living.  Every cat is different.

Friendly Rabbits for Adoption

rabbits - mabel & betty 2These friendly and very tame rabbits are best friends and need a loving home where they will be together.   They eat together, sleep together and hop around without moving far from each other.  Mabel and Betty are a charming duo, we don’t know whether they are sisters but have been told that they are around three years old.  They are dwarf rabbits and very dainty.   Mabel has more grey splodges, Betty is mostly white.   They are both very lovable.  If you can give them a good home please come and meet them.  They need a large hutch with sleeping quarters and a big run or to be free some of the time in a well fenced garden.  Rabbits also like to come in the house and can be trained to use a litter tray.

Mabel and Betty have had a load of brambles for breakfast today, they chew the thick stems and this helps to keep their teeth short.   Rabbits also need good quality hay ad lib and lots of dandelions, clover and grass.  Willow twigs are liked and provide something to nibble on, also small branches from fruit trees.  Half a slice of brown bread toast is good in the morning or a small handful of cereal.   Carrots and apples are good too but hay is the most important item in their diet.

Masbel and Betty love to be stroked and petted, they are real sweeties – if you’d like to come and meet them please get in touch.

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Mabel is very pretty.

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Betty is smaller and very dainty.

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Bluey a fine rabbit for adoption

rabbit - bluey

Bluey was found wandering around in the road – another rabbit who was dumped we think as no one in the neighbourhood had lost him.  He’s a handsome boy, quite small with little ears, he has quite a personality and is interested in everything you do and likes you to talk to him.   He’s friendly and well behaved and will make someone a lovely pet.   Please bear in mind that rabbits need plenty of room, large spaces to hop about in and lots of companionship.  Feeding them fresh hay every is essential, the more natural food the better.  It’s very easy to give them a bowl of rabbit food but this isn’t best for them.   A small amount is fine though.  Our rabbits like dandelions and clover, fresh grass and most of all, they love brambles.  Blackberry leaves are delicious rabbit food and the thick stems are good for them to gnaw on and keep their teeth short.

Rabbits should be kept in pairs for company, either the same sex or neutered as otherwise there would be a rabbit population explosion!   Make sure your rabbits are used to each other before putting them together.  Adjacent pens with wire mesh in between gives an idea of compatability.   Letting them run about together in a large space is a good trial.   If rabbits don’t like each other they will fight and be unhappy.

If you’d like to come and meet Bluey please get in touch.

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Talullah walks on the wild side

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Some cats just aren’t meant to be indoors.  This is Talullah who came in to us as a stray and we soon found out why!   She was stressed by life inside and was very difficult to handle.  Even in a house-sized environment she was tempoeramental – watch those claws!   There was no chance of re-homing her and all we want is for her to be happy.  Would a life with complete freedom be the answer?  We gave Tallulah enough time to get used to us and to her surroundings and then opened the door.  We are quite safe and away from traffic so there was no chance of her getting knocked down.  She could come back for a feed or go into the barn, where there is always a supply of biscuits, whenever she liked.

The wide open spaces beckoned and she was off straight away – would she come back though?  The first couple of days were tense and we didn’t see anything of her.  Yesterday she turned up, purring and happy – a diferent cat in fact.  She wanted a fuss (instead of to attack!) and enjoyed a meal and followed us round while we checked the horses.   She looks very well and full of life and energy, Tallulah is a natural hunter and there are plenty of small rodents to keep her busy.  She went round the fields with us and came back to the barn, a snack on some biscuits and she was off again.   Some cats are pets and like to be indoor cats, others can’t bear to be kept confined – Tallulah, the wild hunter, is one of those.

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Enjoying her dinner al fresco!

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Maybe she is a proper wild cat – she does look like one!

Pets who comfort eat


Dogs and cats don’t need to eat as much when the weather is warmer.  They’ll usually go on munching away and loving their food even though it’s comfort eating, ;they are not hungry any more and its much more than they need.  Just like us humans, pets who overeat are prone to health problems – heart conditions, diabetes and joint pains. The amount of energy they use to keep their bodies warm in summer is less so their nutritional needs are too.

Research done recently at Liverpool University has proved that cats and dogs need more food in cold weather (well, that’s common sense isn’t it?).  It’s just as necessary to adjust their food when it’s hot.  We don’t use set amounts as every dog and cat is different.  Feeding by condition is best.  A dog’s skin should be glossy and supply, their bones well covered but without any overlying fat.

Cat’s soon develop a fat tummy so cutting back their rations and encouraging more exercise, perhaps through play, is helpful.  It’s easy to give a dog more walks but with cats you have to be a bit more subtle.  Try putting small amounts of food in different locations, a few biscuits in a dish upstairs or outside or on a high shelf is good.  Our cats like to climb on roof spars and the top of pens etc.   If you want to know where they are just look upwards – you’ll see cheshire cat faces looking down at you!   It’s a pity when cats don’t have the chance to do this – in most homes they wouldn’t be allowed to do this because the ornaments would be knocked down.  Isn’t it odd how cats tip over the best china and rarely break  a chipped saucer?

We’ve seen specially adapted houses where cat is priority and they have shelves nearly at ceiling height and branch climbing frames running up the walls.  Cat’s love them!  If you cat goes outside he’ll find lots of climbing, up trees and over walls and fences, and will exercise quite naturally.  As they eat a bit less they will get fitter and more adventurous – that’s the theory anyway!

Don’t forget, it’s just as important to increase the rations when winter comes, it;’s quite disturbing to note how many really hungry and thin dogs we see, even though they are in a ‘good’ home situation.   It’s all down to following instructions on bags maybe – instead of looking at the dog’s size, metabolism and condition?

Happy Birthday Mischa

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It’s Mischa’s birthday, she’s 15 years old today and still as beautiful as ever.   She is actually a bit older because we count birthdays according to when cats come in.  Mischa was found in a salt box at the side of the road with four kittens.  She was a devoted mother and we kept one of her kittens with her (re-homed the rest) to keep her company.  Mischa and her daughter Myrtle are still best friends and both have a loving nature.  Visitors to the sanctuary will be used to seeing Mischa who is always around Reception and on ‘duty’ as one of our greeters.   She loves a fuss!

Apart from going to the vets to be vaccinated and spayed, Mischa has never been ill or had to have a consultation for anything.  She is a fit and healthy cat and we put this down to the mostly natural diet we give her.  She has Nature’s Menu all meat and fish cat pouches, these have no additives in and are simply frozen natural ingredients.   Occasionally she’ll enjoy some of the Nature’s Menu frozen nuggets which have a bit of brown rice and vegetables in, again these are raw food and easy to feed, just defrost and that’s it. (Nature’s Menu is sold here and in stock at the sanctuary).

We use safe and natural products only on Mischa avoiding toxic chemicals which can be so dangerous to cats.  Look after the teeth of elderly cats, keeping them free from plaque and strong and healthy is important.  If a cat eats proper food, instead of mush or dry biscuits, then her teeth will stay in good condition.  Eating nothing but biscuits doesn’t keep teeth healthy in our experience – why would it?   If we ate nothing but biscuits would our teeth stay clean? It is good for the pet food manufacturers who sell the biscuits though!   There never used to be cat biscuits – they are recent cat food.    Natural food that has to be chewed is best, just watch a cat eating a piece of meat – raw or cooked and you will see why a cat fed a natural diet will have good teeth.

We also put a sprinkle of Plaque Off on Mischa’s food and this helps to keep her teeth in tip top condition.  It’s made in Sweden and contains enzymes that alter the saliva in the mouth and keep gingivitis at bay.  It works and we always keep it in stock.  Pick up a pot from here or we can post out – details on our online shop.

Goats and ponies are best friends

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The goats and ponies get on well together and especially Pixie is never far from his caprine pals.  Perhaps he likes them because they are about the same size as him, most of the ponies ate bigger and boss him about.  Goats are traditionally a calming influence on ponies and highly strung racehorses are sometimes given a goat for a  companion.  We’d be worried about putting larger horses and ponies together unless they knew each other, goats can get chased and kicked until horses realize they can’t run as fast and get out of the way.  The best way to get them on friendly terms is to stable them side by side.  Let the ponies out first so they can get their first turn-out enthusiasm over with, then let the goats wander about after them.   Our ponies are very good natured around goats, it’s Pixie who is their special friend though.


New born kittens

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Twinkle has had her kittens at last, she was wandering round looking huge and we thought she must surely burst1  They arrived quickly and safely and motherhood certainly suits this little tortoiseshell cat.  This picture is when they are just over a day old.  We leave them in the birthing nest for the first twenty four hours and only move them when we can see that mum is settled well with them.

There were no problems with Twinks, she loves her babies and is protective of them and nursing well.  The only time she leaves them is to eat!   There is a ginger and white (the biggest and what’s betting he’s a boy?), a ginger tabby, a fawn tabby and the littlest is, we think, a tortie, just like mum.

We’re not disturbing this new family as yet, she’s doing well and we like to keep it that way.

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Fat little tummies full of milk!

Friendly rabbit for adoption

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Pepperpot is a pretty multi-coloured girl rabbit with loving shadings of colour in her coat – there’s beige, orange, grey, black, white and all hues in between.  She’s a friendly girl who has been well handled and is easy to care for – like all rabbits, she would be best with a companion and a neutered male would be ideal.  They have to get on together and with rabbits – two females who don’t know each other sometimes find it hard to make friends.

We’re looking for a very good home for Pepper so if you are looking for a rabbit friend please come and meet her.   We’re open every day except Thursdays, between 11.0am and 3.0pm.

rabbits - pepper

LOST CAT – Pretty tabby

lost cat - tabby

This lovely female tabby has gone missing and her owners are desperate to find her.  She’s 2yrs old and is tabby and white, been spayed and wearing a blue flea collar.  She was last seen on 4th March in the North Wingfield area.  Please get in touch with us in the first instance if you know her whereabouts. 01246 455777.  We’ll pass all details on to her people straight away.