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once we offer them catnip leaves or pouches filled with Valerian (another good stress-relieving plant) even the most withdrawn cat will investigate!”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
The medicinal benefits of herbs and plants for humans are well known; however, you may be surprised to hear that plants can help our canine and feline friends too, from soothing skin conditions to aiding anxiety sufferers. Many of the animals at Mayhew have endured tough times before coming through the doors. Providing access to safe plants in a secure environment can offer them comfort and reduce stress levels as they are prepared for their new forever homes.
Sensory enjoyment for Mayhew's dogs
Mayhew has developed a sensory garden for the dogs in their care. This outdoor run acts as a safe haven, made up of different smells, textures and sounds. The plants in the garden provide stimulation and enrichment but each has also been specifically chosen for its healing properties and ability to reduce stress and anxiety.
Top plants for pooches
Chamomile: soothes anxiety, skin issues or stomach upsets.
Lavender: reduces anxiety.
Vervain: helps with nervous system disorders like depression.
Meadowsweet: reduces inflammation and aids digestive problems, arthritis and rheumatic conditions.
Did you know?
Dogs can suffer from hay fever just like people! Some research suggests that dogs are more likely to develop signs of hay fever if they aren’t exposed to a variety of grasses and plants in their early life.
As the weather improves, staff take the dogs into the sensory garden as much as possible, letting them potter around and enjoy games with toys – or water when it is very hot! The space is also used to work on basic training or socialisation skills and sometimes dogs will meet their potential adopters here, as it is a calming environment and the dogs feel at home. The Kennels team and volunteers are always on hand, watching over the dogs in case they have any unusual adverse reactions to the plants.
MARIA MARKEY, HEAD OF KENNELS, “It is truly amazing to observe the change in behaviour from when a dog enters the garden to how they are when they leave. ”
Scenting and exploring
Some dogs that come to Mayhew struggle to cope initially with a kennel environment, but staff find that even the most withdrawn and overwhelmed dogs will investigate the plants in the sensory garden. For example, dogs that are particularly highly strung or have hormonal imbalances often gravitate towards clary sage. While engaged in scenting and exploring, they stop focusing on any anxieties or tensions they may have and are able to begin to relax. The staff also use essential oil remedies in the kennels, to soothe and calm the residents.
Click here to read more about the Mayhew and how you can help
And of course, not only dogs appreciate herbs and plants, Mayhew's cats do too..... read about them here
Stories from the Frontline of Elephant Conservation
As a conservation driven organisation, African Bush Camps promote and influence African travel on a global scale while operating with an environmentally sustainable footprint. Employing an ethos that strives to empower local communities in the areas in which they operate, a strong focus on conservation is at the heart of their operation. How Many Elephants has a simple mission. Stop the poaching of African elephants. Simple but critical. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory. That is 35,000 of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year.
Headline Speaker: Holly Budge Adventurer | Conservationist | Designer
Holly will share her adventurous fundraising tales from her journey to Everest to immersing herself with the Black Mambas, an all-female front line anti-poaching team in South Africa. Holly founded 'How Many Elephants', a design-led campaign, to inspire and educate a global audience about the impact of the elephant ivory trade. To date, she has raised over £300k for charity.
Headline Speaker: Dr. Niall McCann National Geographic Explorer | Conservationist | Biologist
Niall is the Director of Conservation for National Park Rescue, a direct-action conservation organisation that focuses on preventing the slaughter of elephants, rhinos and lions in sub-Saharan Africa. Niall presented award-winning documentary Lost in the Amazon and two seasons of the multi award-winning Biggest and Baddest.
Bonus Speaker: Beks Ndlovu Professional Guide | Founder of African Bush Camps
Through African Bush Camps and their foundation, Beks became not only a tour operator but a social entrepreneur and is proving to be one of the most enterprising and inspiring players in the Tourism Industry, one who continues to promote and influence African travel on a global scale.
Proceeds from the evening go to the How Many Elephants Campaign which supports National Park
Rescue and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust in Zimbabwe and the Black Mambas in South Africa.
“An impactful campaign which highlights the need to end the killing of Africa's elephants by reducing the demand for ivory.” Tusk
About How Many Elephants:
The 'How Many Elephants' Campaign uses design as a powerful visual communication tool to raise global awareness of the devastating impacts of the African elephant crisis. Few people know that 96 African elephants are poached daily for their ivory. At this astonishing rate they will be extinct in the wild within a decade.
The multi award-winning, design-led campaign is hard-hitting in the way it showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes, the current annual poaching rate in Africa, in a striking exhibition. Every day for a year, a square of 96 elephants is posted depicting the daily poaching rate to show the sheer scale of the poaching crisis. Gruesome images of mutilated elephants have been purposely avoided. To actually see and connect with this data visually is highly impactful.
About African Bush Camps
African Bush Camps is a private, owner-run African-based safari company that speaks to the art of service and offers you an authentic safari experience in the untamed African wilderness. Focused on your experience as our guest, our professional guides and nature enthusiasts will be on hand to ensure your journey with African Bush Camps is the very best safari experience imaginable.
How Many Elephants
World Endangered Species Day doesn't have to be limited to one day. Always choose #responsibletourism to help protect the animals of our environment.
Music: 'Acoustic Breeze' from Bensound.com Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives
Every Sunday from 5 May for 8 weeks, dog lovers can head to a range of city centre bars to enjoy exclusive drinks for themselves and their pooches. The event is being sponsored by Tito's Handmade Vodka, who support dog-friendly events around the world.
The hub for the Leicester event is Rutland Street's Manhattan34. Entry costs £10, for which they receive their Tito's doggie bandana, a drink for themselves and dog-friendly cocktail for their four legged friend. Over the following weeks, participants can visit a range of bars to try Tito's cocktails. By collecting stamps and sharing a selfie of themselves and Man's Best Friend on social media at each bar, they will also be rewarded with a Tito's dog bowl and tin wall sign which available from Manhattan34.
One dog will be chosen from all pictures shared on Instagram to be the Tito's dog ambassador for Leicester and will receive a special prize. Each venue will donate £2 to a local dog charity for every Tito's special drink sold.
Here is a taster of Tito's drinks available from Manhattan34:
Chocolate Espresso Martini
Tito's vodka with a shot of espresso, coffee liqueur vanilla syrup & drizzle of chocolate sauce
Tito's vodka, dark chocolate Mozart & Bailey's
Floral & Ginger Mule
Tito's vodka with iced ginger tea, lavender & rose syrup and elderflower cordial
All I can say to that is 'Woof!'
A dedicated doggie foster carer who has helped care for more than 30 rescue dogs has rekindled her love for painting. She says it’s all down to the four-legged friends she has brought into her home.
Jo Heather from Salisbury started fostering dogs through Dogs Trust Salisbury's Home From Home scheme and has hand painted a picture of every dog that has come into her home. Collies, terriers, puppies and oldies, she has captured the likeness of every one whilst they sleep.
Jo said, "I studied Fine Art a few years ago but life got in the way and I had not picked up a paint brush for some time. But once I started fostering, our doggy visitors inspired me to revive my love of painting. I have always been inspired by nature, wildlife and animals, so I like to use the time to sit quietly during an evening, a tired dog curled up by my side and draw and paint. "
“As my daughters were growing up, we would often visit the centre with donations and were always in awe of those who worked there and the valuable role Dogs Trust played. During one visit two years ago, we saw a poster highlighting the need for foster homes and thought that might be a way to get involved and play a positive part in a dog’s life.
After a visit from the Home from Home coordinator, Emma Sainsbury, our minds were made up. She explained the support we would receive from Dogs Trust and the type of dogs who benefit from being in a foster home. It is so rewarding to see a dog starting to trust, to learn to play again or start to enjoy walks after being nervous of the outdoors. We have attended various Dog School classes that have helped with our understanding of dogs, but above all we just open our home and enjoy offering a safe space, full of care and kindness. We have had wonderful dogs of all ages and we are always so happy to see them find their forever homes.”
Emma Sainsbury said, “We are incredibly lucky to have a fantastic network of foster carers like Jo. The Home From Home scheme is there to help our doggies whilst they wait to be adopted, but it’s also so heartwarming to see how the dogs can help their foster carers discover things about themselves too. We believe a dog is for life and our fantastic fosterers really do show our dogs the meaning behind this statement, giving them a safe, loving environment to enjoy whilst they wait for their new families. For anyone who is a dog lover but dog-less and who wants a four-legged friend in their life but can’t commit to having a dog long-term, fostering could be the perfect solution.” See dogstrust.org.uk for more information.
Staff at Dogs Trust Evesham are appealing for a loving new home this Easter for a three-year-old Jack Russell with a striking resemblance to the Easter Bunny.
Despite Dinky’s supersized ears being the talk of the rehoming centre and the fact he’s been listening out for a new home since he arrived nine months ago, they haven’t helped him sound out a new home yet. The fun-loving, lively Terrier is now hoping that a new owner will come forward and help put a spring in his step this Easter weekend.
Dogs Trust Evesham’s Rehoming Centre manager, said:
“With unusually big ears, Dinky could easily be mistaken for the Easter Bunny but instead of hunting for eggs this Easter, he is on the lookout for a home to call his own. Lots of people have commented on his striking appearance and we are hoping that all this attention will result in a new home.”
“Dinky is looking to find a loving home to call his own. He’s definitely one for the Terrier fans, he’s extremely clever and loves to learn, he’s toy mad and loves to be out and about exploring. He’s always on the go! He’s not a typical lap dog but does like to be affectionate with his nearest and dearest.
“Dinky does have partial vision in one eye, but this doesn’t hold him back from living life to the full, running around in his garden and showing off his new tricks.”
Dogs Trust Evesham take in hundreds of dogs every year but some, like Dinky, often need a little extra TLC and help from the Training and Behaviour team in supporting them through bespoke training programmes to help them flourish. Dinky has been doing so well with his training, the team say he’d make a fun and entertaining companion and are looking forward to the day, in the not too distant future, when he finds the forever home of his dreams.
Dinky will need a patient owner, preferably with someone who has experience of owning a lively Terrier and can help him settle into a new routine. He will need to be the only pet in an adult-only home and will need his new owners to be around for most of the day with time built up gradually. He loves the company of people and enjoys lots of fuss, attention and playtime.
Dinky is relaxing in a quieter area of the rehoming centre so anyone interested in giving him a home would need to contact Dogs Trust Evesham on 01386 572666 and chat to one of the Training and Behaviour Advisors to find out if you could be the perfect match.
Filmed across Battersea's three centres in London, Old Windsor, and Brands Hatch, animal lover and Battersea Ambassador Paul O’Grady was star - along with the lovely canines - of a TV series ‘For the Love of Dogs’. Paul met some of the many Battersea dogs looking for help, love and new homes.
To highlight the crisis that that nature is facing and the loss of over 40 million wild birds from the UK in just half a century, The RSPB is releasing a specially-created track of birdsong titled ‘Let Nature Sing’. The single contains some of the most recognisable birdsongs that we used to enjoy but which now are on their way to disappearing forever. A compilation of beautiful sound recordings of birds with powerful conservation stories include the Cuckoo, Curlew, Nightingale, Crane and Turtle Dove who form part of the dawn chorus choir.
The track is designed to help reconnect the nation with nature, helping people find a moment to relax and promote a feeling of tranquillity, as birdsong has been proven to aid mental health and promote feelings of wellbeing. The single uses entirely new sound recordings by an RSPB birdsong expert, recorded on nature reserves and other places around the UK.
Martin Harper, RSPB Director of Conservation said: “Nature is falling silent; over the last 50 years we’ve lost a quarter of the birds that used to sing and soar in our skies. We’re losing our connection with nature so we’re using music to put it back on the agenda by releasing a track of pure uninterrupted birdsong. Children today grow up with much less birdsong in the soundtrack to their lives. We’re asking people to show their support and concern for nature by downloading the single and enjoying the benefits that birdsong brings into our lives, but also helping to get nature noticed.”
Although the track is not designed to raise funds and the download price is the minimum permitted under chart rules; any proceeds raised will go to help the charity’s 200 UK nature reserves, where a home for the birds featured on the single is created and protected for future generations to enjoy.
Photos: Kevin Sawford ,Craig Churchill ,David Tipling ,Richard Brooks (rspb-images.com)
Towards the end of last year, the Mayhew Home had a surprise delivery when their Animal Welfare Officers brought in seven unwanted Jack Russell terriers. The team suspect they were from a puppy farm. Word spread among the staff that there were some adorable new arrivals and everyone was keen to catch a glimpse and hopefully sneak a quick cuddle. They were placed into the expert hands of the vet and kennels teams to look after until it was time to find their forever homes.
Every cat and dog that comes in to Mayhew is seen at the on-site Community Vet Clinic and given a full health check, vaccinations and flea and worm treatment. Once the puppies had been examined, naming them was the next task. Such sweet bundles should be named after treats, so : Fudge, Cookie, Pudding, Pie, Custard, Waffle and Truffle.
Over the next few weeks, the puppies kept the kennels team busy – imagine the fun and the mess! Lots of playing and socialisation took place and the puppies made the most of the indoor doggy play area, full of exciting things to explore and stimulate them physically and mentally.
At nine weeks, all seven puppies were neutered in Mayhew's vet clinic ready for rehoming. The Adoption team works hard to ensure each dog ends up with the perfect family and always provide a profile of the animal on the website rehoming pages to ensure the best fit can be found. Lots of people wanted to adopt these cuties and once new owners had been interviewed and home checks completed, the puppies were waved off to begin life in their new homes.
Do you want a sneak peak at what happened next? Cassie (formerly Custard) landed on her paws with her new owner, Antonia. ‘Cassie loves her walks and meeting people and other dogs, and there is nothing she likes doing more than snoozing on the sofa after walking us around the park or playing with her cat toys. Cassie is a lovely, loving puppy, who everyone adores.’
Alfie (was Fudge) was adopted by a London family. His new owner, Conrad, explains how Alfie is now very much part of their family: ‘Alfie is happily running rings all around us with so much zest, love and enthusiasm. He is such a lovable, cute, ultra-friendly and good natured puppy, with a typical Jack Russell cheeky (sometimes naughty!) comic character. My family, and Alfie of course, are very grateful to Mayhew for all their good work and for bringing us together.’
Maggie (was Truffle) found a forever home with loving owner Emma. A few days after adopting her, Emma said, ‘Maggie has already settled in and is a credit to every lovely person at Mayhew who’s looked after her.’ A short while after her adoption, Maggie came back to Mayhew to meet the Home's new Patron, The Duchess of Sussex, on her official visit.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and 12 x author. I'm published in national and regional newspapers / magazines.