Guest Post by Kathrin Burckhardt and Julie barnes, Co-Founders of Cat in a Flat.
So, it's almost Christmas!
The more organised among us may be thinking about our loved ones and what will bring a big smile to their faces on Christmas day. Those of us not so on top of things are probably panicking that we’ve not been thinking about it at all and hastily scribbling to-do lists! To help out either way, Cat in a Flat has pulled together a list of pressie ideas for all cat lovers, whatever their lifestyle.
For the traveller
If you know a cat lover who likes to travel but wants to go away without the guilt, give them a Cat in a Flat voucher; the gift of a trusted, kitty loving cat sitter. Ready to drop by and pamper your recipient’s furry loved one at agreed times while they are away, a cat sitter will follow specific cat caring instructions. That way you and your friend/family can be sure that their cat will be properly cared for and won’t get lonely while they are away.
For the science buff
Can you believe you can get a necklace pendant, designed after the molecular structure of Nepetalactone, the active compound found in Catnip? When a cat eats catnip, it acts as a sedative, but when smelled, it mimics feline pheromones and triggers those receptors causing kittens to go crazy! This gift is perfect for all science-loving cat lovers out there. Wearing this will make them purr!
For the domestic goddess
There is a beautifully illustrated tea towel available, created by Amy Fenton a member of the ARTHOUSE Unlimited collective. The cats , printed in striking orange on 100% cotton, will definitely brighten up any cat lover’s kitchen!
There is even a little gift idea for the extra special cat lovers in the family. (See above!) Those that might not go as crazy as the rest of us, but instead show it in their own subtle way. You know who we are talking about!
Looking forward to Christmas
It’s not too late to get an advent calendar and there is a fun, festive gift for you and your cat to count down to Christmas in the most entertaining way. Lily's Kitchen charming, hand drawn Advent Calendar for cats whisks you into the world of pantomime celebration with plenty of merriment and mischief! Each window of the theatre is generously filled with Lily's Kitchen naturally wholesome treats.
For the forward planner
As a cat lover, who wouldn’t love planning their months ahead on a beautifully illustrated kitty calendar by Axel Scheffler and friends? (Illustrator of The Gruffalo.) Available exclusively through Cat in a Flat, all profits are donated to support endangered wild cats in the care of Born Free. So, while you organise your life, you also get to save a life, win-win for all.
Kathrin Burckhardt and Julie Barnes are Co-Founders of Cat in a Flat, a trusted cat-sitting community created by cat lovers for cat lovers. Its mission is to help cats stay in the comfort of their own homes by connecting cat owners with trusted, insured, local, cat-loving sitters.
Bonfire Night, a seasonal tradition. At this time of year, watching a stunning spectacle in the sky is an event to look forward to. For dogs though, fireworks can be a terrifying experience. Research shows that 45% of dogs show signs of fear when they hear loud noises. While it is heartwarming to share special moments with our pets, it’s important that they enjoy it too. The experts at Canagan, grain-free pet food specialists, offer their tips on keeping your dog calm during this time.
Preparing your dog for fireworks season
De-sensitise them to loud noises in advance: Start playing firework sounds quietly while you’re with them at home, offering occasional treats. Gradually increase the volume. Eventually your dog will feel safe and will think of fun, happy moments when they hear real fireworks
Engage in plenty of activity during the day: Exercise with your dog during the day – whether a long walk, playing frisbee or fetch – so when the fireworks start, they’re almost too sleepy to notice
Let them out early: For most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11 pm. However, this curfew is extended to midnight on Guy Fawkes Night. To ensure your pet enjoys a full night’s sleep, ensure they have gone to the toilet and eaten before bed. Introduce this earlier regime in the days leading up to your local display so they adjust
Keep them indoors: To prevent your dog from feeling distressed, get lost or injured, settle them down at home, in familiar surroundings
Create a ‘safe space’ in your home: Whether it’s their bed with blankets and soft toys, or on the sofa, create a comforting space where they can retreat and relax
Let them decide where to settle: While your designated ‘safe space’ may look appealing, your pet may prefer snuggling next to you. If you confine your pet to one place, they may grow distressed or hurt themselves trying to flee should they be spooked by your local display
Draw the curtains: Firework flashes can scare dogs, so shut out the light to create a relaxing environment
Escape-proof your home: Close all doors and windows and secure any garden escape routes. If you have people coming and going from the house, emphasise that external doors must be opened and shut swiftly to avoid your furry friend getting out
A collar and micro-chip are essential: If your dog does get out, a collar with your details and an up-to-date micro-chip will ensure they can be traced back to you
How to keep your dog calm during a display
Mask the sound: Playing the TV or radio – classical music for example is proven to calm dogs – will reduce the impact of loud noises
A long-lasting chew toy: Stuffing a chew toy with food will keep their attention and offer a delicious end to the evening
Act natural: Animals are perceptive and sense if you’re behaving unusually. This may unsettle them so give reassurance by inviting play
If they join you outside, use a leash: If you prefer your dog to accompany you during a fireworks display, keep them close on a lead. Your presence will reassure them, while you’ll have peace of mind knowing they won’t run away. Never, ever tie a fearful dog up outdoors and leave them alone.
Avoid leaving them alone at home: Arrange a sitter to look after your dog if you have plans to go out. If you return and your frightened pet has made a mess, don’t be annoyed. This will only cause your pet confusion and distress.
If fireworks are causing your dog high levels of anxiety seek advice from a behaviourist. De-sensitising your pet to loud noises and flashes takes time and keeping them comfortable is key to protecting their wellbeing, as well as maintaining calm behaviour.
The project will run in the Tsavo Conservation Area, one of the country’s most visited tourism destinations, home to approximately 12,850 African elephants. Among this population are at least 11 of the world’s 30 or so remaining ‘big tuskers’ , so-called because their tusks are long enough to reach the ground. They all face a mortal threat from poaching fuelled by demand for ivory. Through IFAW’s innovative wildlife security initiative ‘tenBoma’, both government and community rangers are trained to anticipate and respond to threats to animals and local communities.
TenBoma, meaning ten houses, is inspired by an African community philosophy that professes if ten houses look out for each other, the wider community is safe. This philosophy is at the heart of IFAW’s work which aims to create a co-ordinated wildlife security network, trained and equipped to stay one step ahead of the organised poachers that have impacted elephant populations in Africa.
Technology, systematic data processing systems and intelligence collection are the key to the initiative. Local communities keep a vigilant eye on suspicious activity – from detecting unknown tyre prints to seeing camp fire smoke from outside a village area. This data is then catalogued and forensically analyised and any emerging patterns shared with field rangers who can put plans in place to counter potential threats. Rangers are provided with communications and mobility equipment including GPS, smartphones, radios and satellite equipment which enable them to respond more effectively and rapidly to intercept poachers.
In partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service and Tsavo Trust, the initiative provides training and mentoring to 130 Kenya Wildlife Service and community rangers.
Thomas Ellerbeck, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of TUI Care Foundation, commented, “An exciting aspect of this project lies in its combination of local knowledge on the one hand and the latest technological developments on the other. Together with various local stakeholders we are helping to build a strong basis for a sustainable social-ecological environment. Empowering the local community and building sense of ownership is crucial for long-lasting change.
Faye Cuevas, Senior Vice President at IFAW said, “TUI Care Foundation has made it possible for us to provide urgently needed equipment to community rangers such as mobile devices, cameras and boots so they can collect information on potential threats to wildlife and people. State-of-the-art crime scene investigation training supported by TUI Care Foundation means that rangers can now better protect Tsavo’s ‘big tuskers’ from unique threats like poison arrow poaching through more efficient collection and preservation of forensic evidence at a poaching crime scene.”
As part of its TUI Elephant Aid programme, TUI Care Foundation has been actively supporting projects for the protection of elephant populations worldwide since its foundation. In Tanzania, local farmers were taught how to protect their crops with elephant friendly solutions and foster a virtuous coexistence with these ancient creatures. In Thailand, TUI Care Foundation currently supports local entrepreneurs to develop elephant friendly venues where visitors can experience elephants in their natural habitat.
About TUI Care Foundation
Building on the potential of tourism as a force for good, the TUI Care Foundation supports and initiates partnerships and projects which create new opportunities for the young generation and contribute to thriving communities all over the world. Connecting holidaymakers to good causes, the TUI Care Foundation fosters education and training initiatives to open up new opportunities and perspectives for young people, the protection of the natural environment in holiday destinations and sustainable livelihoods in thriving destinations where local communities can benefit even more from tourism. TUI Care Foundation works global and acts local - building on strong partnerships with local and international organisations to create meaningful, long lasting impact. The charitable foundation values transparency and the efficient use of funds. 100% of donations go to destination programmes with all administration costs of the foundation covered by TUI.
Founded in 1969 the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is a global non-profit organisation that protects animals and the places they call home. With offices in 15 countries and projects in over 40, IFAW rescue, rehabilitate and release animals into secure landscapes around the world. In collaboration with governments and local communities, experienced campaigners, legal and political experts and internationally acclaimed scientists pioneer lasting solutions to some of the most pressing animal welfare and wildlife conservation issues of our time.
The Donkey Sanctuary’s 50 years’ legacy building continues. Its award-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden has been rebuilt at the charity’s international headquarters in Devon. The garden is open to the public and like the Sanctuary, is free of charge for visitors.
The Donkeys Matter Artisan Garden scooped the coveted People’s Choice Award and a silver medal at the prestigious show in May. The garden was designed to showcase The Donkey Sanctuary's international work and celebrates 50 years of transforming the lives of donkeys and mules.
above: Chelsea Garden, Devon above: working donkeys in Ethiopia
The Donkey Sanctuary with the generous support of a long term donor, felt a Chelsea garden was in keeping with its long term vision of animal welfare, conservation and sustainability. The international charity is committed to building a legacy of donkey excellence in a sustainable green space for future generations. Using water as its central theme, the artisan garden creates a narrative to illustrate the donkey's journey from a wooden shelter through hot, dry landscapes to its place of work in agriculture or water collection, for example, to support the livelihoods of entire communities.
The garden demonstrates by way of a well and dripping bucket how owning a donkey means access to clean, fresh water for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world. In places like Namibia, Lamu, Somaliland and Ethiopia, donkeys have to collect water for entire villages. A donkey will often collect 40 – 60 litres of water at one time. The simple act of a donkey carrying water reduces time required to access it, freeing children to get an education and women to be economically active.
The planting of the 'Donkeys Matter' garden suggests the dry Mediterranean climate, including Mediterranean Sea Holly, Iris ‘Langport Wren’ and Lavender ‘Hidcote’. The colour palette is claret, purple and silver with bright flowers lending beauty and colour to the garden’s harsh surroundings. The trees are Pine ‘Glauca’ and Cypress.
This summer visitors to The Donkey Sanctuary can buy similar plants to those featured in the garden and can also learn about conservation projects across the charity’s farms as well as its supported charities worldwide.
The Chelsea garden is testament to North Devon designers Annie Prebensen and Christina Williams and made possible by a generous supporter who wanted to help raise The Donkey Sanctuary’s profile and take its message to a wider audience
Images copyright The Donkey Sanctuary.
Vets at the world’s largest donkey hospital have come up with a novel idea to help one of their donkeys cope with the bright sunshine as he recovers from temporarily losing his sight
Jonty’s special ‘bug-eyed’ mask certainly makes him stand out from the crowd at The Donkey Sanctuary’s international headquarters in Devon. The unusual eyewear helps block UV rays. Problems started for Jonty when he stood on a thorn which painfully embedded itself into his hoof. Following a simple procedure at the state-of-the-art donkey hospital the thorn was removed, but things got worse for Jonty.
Vicky Grove, a Veterinary Surgeon at The Donkey Sanctuary says, “The stress of the injury possibly triggered the recurrence of a chronic eye problem. Jonty suffered an immune-mediated inflammation of his whole eye and lost his sight.”
The veterinary team needed to protect their patient from strong sunlight, and the special mask – which gives Jonty his bug-eyed appearance – was just the ticket to block UV rays.
Vicky adds, “The mask is just like wearing sunglasses and Jonty has made some good progress, though the back of his eye is still damaged. We are monitoring his eyes with an ophthalmoscope and have tested his eyesight with an obstacle course, which he has completed so we think he is now just partially-sighted.”
Jonty will wear his mask for much of the summer and the sanctuary’s vets will monitor his progress. Let's all keep our fingers crossed that Jonty's sight keeps improving!
Jonty is currently convalescing at one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s farms, which is not open to the public. It is hoped that following respite he will be brought back to the charity’s main sanctuary in Sidmouth, which is open to members of the public. There he will join a small group including another partially-sighted male donkey called Will.
A spectacular new trail launched by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is set to showcase Scotland’s west coast as a world-class destination for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and champion conservation of the Hebrides globally important marine wildlife and environment.
The Hebridean Whale Trail, first of its kind in the UK, is a unique initiative connecting more than 30 top places offering opportunities for land-based sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises, or showcasing important whale heritage sites that reveal the history of people’s relationships with whales in these communities.
Bottlenose dolphin in Tobermory harbour
Basking sharks, seals and other wildlife may also be seen from the trail, which features 33 sites across the Hebridean archipelago and along Scotland’s west coast, from the Clyde to Cape Wrath and St Kilda. These include lighthouses at the Butt of Lewis on the Isle of Lewis, Eilean Glas on the Isle of Scalpay, the UK mainland’s most westerly point at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, beaches at Clachtoll in the Highlands and Huisinis on the Isle of Harris and harbours at Tobermory and Ullapool.
The trail ranges from easily accessible attractions such as the Hebridean Whale Trail Centre in Tobermory to remote and wild destinations such as the Oa on Islay.
“Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and you may see bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise, minke whales and killer whales,” said Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail Manager. “We want people from all walks of life to visit the Hebridean Whale Trail and enjoy exploring the region’s unique nature, culture and history and be inspired to support marine conservation.”
The aims are also to boost the local economy and support communities through sustainable eco-tourism, provide educational opportunities and improve connections between coastal areas.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director said, “Scotland’s Hebrides offer captivating views, endless beaches, ancient history, the finest fresh food and wonderful wildlife. The Hebridean Whale Trail is a clever initiative which presents visitors with an unrivalled opportunity to explore the best of Scotland’s marine wildlife and seascapes. The launch of this new trail is particularly apt as we prepare for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events and activities. It’s particularly pleasing that the trail is a conservation-based tourism product, as a key focus of the themed year will be celebrating and protecting Scotland’s beautiful natural environment.”
The trail’s website includes routes, transport options and site details. On-site interpretation at key locations will explain which species of cetaceans might be seen. Across the trail there will be many opportunities for visitors and residents to get involved in marine conservation activities, including joining volunteers to watch, identify and record marine wildlife from land or the ferries which connect the sites, as well as discovering more about Scotland’s seas from experts at a range of visitor centres.
“The trail encourages accessible, low-impact whale-watching from land, which for many is a completely new way of thinking about viewing marine wildlife. Scotland’s west coast is dotted with stunning places where you can quietly watch whales, dolphins and other wildlife going about their business from a clifftop or harbour,” said Alison Lomax, Director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. “Ultimately we want people to experience the thrill of watching a fin breaking the surface in the distance and the challenge of identifying which type of whale they’ve seen, sharing that experience with others and learning about the threats these animals face in our seas”
While sightings of cetaceans can never be guaranteed, the Hebridean seas are exceptionally rich in wildlife. More than a quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species have been recorded in the region including many national and international conservation priority species.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is based on the Isle of Mull and has been taking action for the conservation of cetaceans off western Scotland for over two decades.
Blue Cross Week, 7–13 October - seven days when you can join forces with pet lovers nationwide to raise vital funds for pets in need and change lives.
Take the advantage of Blue Cross Week to do something new or show off some skills. Go bungy jumping, cycle coast-to-coast or organise afternoon tea for your neighbours. Whatever you want to do, Blue Cross Week is the perfect time to do it.
Every year, The Blue Cross helps thousands of pets, whether they need a new home or veterinary care. But they can’t do it without the help of the general public, so whatever you choose to do this Blue Cross Week, you’ll be doing something magical for the animals in their care.
Click HERE for your free fundraising pack
The Donkey Sanctuary recently took in a pair of rescue donkeys, Stuart and Bob. Their hooves were grossly overgrown. When post-surgery complications led to the difficult decision to put Bob to sleep, Stuart needed help to start his life afresh.
Above: Stuart at the clinic before his hooves were trimmed Above: Stuart with trimmed hooves
The Sanctuary's welfare team are always on hand to support donkeys in need, so when the RSPCA contacted them about two donkeys they had seized on veterinary advice, the Sanctuary responded right away to help plan the best course of action. Along with Bob, Stuart’s feet had become so overgrown that his toes were curling up – rendering even a the shortest of walks a painful ordeal.
Head of Welfare, Hannah Bryer, visited the pair at the equine clinic in Staffordshire where they had been taken for treatment. “I could see right away that both donkeys needed corrective care on their hooves from an expert farrier,” said Hannah. “Their overgrown and misshapen feet were causing them pain and affected their ability to stand or walk normally.”
Above: Bob in hospital Above: Stuart and Bob in trailer
Both donkeys underwent routine assessments, treatment and, for Bob, a castration procedure that every stallion receives when coming into the Sanctuary's care. The journey of this donkey duo took a heartbreaking turn when Bob suffered post-operation complications and – despite extensive veterinary treatment – the difficult decision was taken to put him to sleep.
Donkeys form close bonds, and the impact of such a sudden loss can in turn be a life threatening event for the donkey that loses its companion. The team knew that it was vital that Stuart got all the support he needed, and for him to be relocated to another group of donkeys as soon as possible.
Chris Pile, farm manager at the Derbyshire centre, was there to transport the bereft Stuart to his new home. “It’s quite a stressful thing for a donkey to lose their mate,” he said. “We did keep a close eye on him, particularly in the first three weeks when there’s a higher risk of hyperlipaemia – a potentially fatal disease often brought on by stress – but he took it all in his stride and seems to have bounced back very well.” On arrival, Stuart spent some time in an isolated area before joining a group of playful boys where thankfully, he settled in straight away.
Although Stuart now looks like a different donkey, Chris says that such extensive neglect to his hooves will take time to overcome. “When we first met Stuart it was of course the feet that came to our attention – that was our main concern. He had adapted to that way of walking and our worry was that if we corrected lots of the hoof straight away that it might cause some pain. So, we have been correcting the shape of the hoof a little bit at a time to allow him to get used to his new feet.”
In spite of all he’s been through, Stuart is taking strides in the right direction and is undergoing training with a renewed spring in his step. Hopes are high that someday he will find a new friend to fill Bob’s shoes and maybe even join the Donkey Sanctuary's Rehoming Scheme.
As we approach summer, the weather is growing warmer. We can take steps to make ourselves comfortable in hot weather, but our animal friends often have to depend on us to help them. Below are some helpful tips, thanks to the RSPCA.
Nibbling on grass is natural for cats. Research has not yet shown why domestic cats are attracted to it, but it could be linked to the fact that wild cats will often eat grass after they have devoured their prey, helping them expel the indigestible parts. Another theory is that cats eat grass for some trace minerals and vitamins A and D. Whatever the reason, cats seem to love it!
At Mayhew, they grow cat grass in pots and place them in the enclosures of the adult cats and vaccinated kittens for them to munch on, which they do with gusto! Another firm favourite with many of the home's feline residents is catnip, which is also grown at Mayhew for them to enjoy. If you’ve ever seen a cat around catnip then you’ll know that they can go totally crazy for it, becoming more playful, loving and confident. The sedative effects of catnip can also really help to calm down a stressed kitty, reducing anxiety and depression.
“When cats first come to us, they can be nervous about their new surroundings, but once we offer them catnip leaves or pouches filled with Valerian (another good stress-relieving plant) even the most withdrawn cat will investigate!” Kayleigh Kilcommons Head of Cattery
Ones to watch out for
As pets look forward to exploring the flora and fauna this summer, remember that some plants should be steered well clear of. Foxgloves, daffodils (especially the bulbs), cherry laurel, rhododendrons, wisteria and chrysanthemums can be toxic if eaten. Lilies, although very beautiful, are particularly toxic to cats and can cause severe kidney damage. If you think your dog or cat has ingested a toxic plant, it is essential that you seek veterinary advice immediately.
Read here to find out which plants and herbs are best for dogs
Find out more about the MAYHEW here
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. See website gillypickup.co.uk