Petfinder: Is your cat a killer?By Laura McCardle
August 17, 2012
Researchers at Reading University are urging pet owners to volunteer their moggies to take part in a series of studies.
The work, led by Dr Phil Baker from the university’s School of Biological Sciences, will investigate whether or not domestic cats are having an impact on bird numbers.
Dr Baker will be conducting three studies and needs owners and their felines who fulfil one of the following criteria – cats who do or do not bring prey home, cats who do or do not bring prey home and have a cat flap, large cats that definitely do hunt and pairs of cats that definitely hunt and have a cat flap.
He said: “There has recently been a lot of discussion about the possible impact that domestic cats may be having on urban bird populations, leading well-known TV presenters to call for an increase in the number of cats that are fitted with bells and which are kept in at night.
“However, there is limited data to suggest whether cats are actually having an impact, so through this research we are aiming to produce a more detailed picture of cats’ behaviour.
“We need volunteers with cats who don’t bring prey as well as those that do, as we can use hair samples from the cats to investigate whether relying on prey returned home is useful or not.”
Dr Baker also needs volunteers to help him study hedgehog populations in Reading gardens and the surrounding areas.
He said: “Volunteers will simply be asked to have a small plastic tunnel in their garden for a week or two, to record the footprints of any hedgehogs that walk through it. This technique will give us the first real indication of where hedgehogs actually are in urban areas, rather than relying on people’s perceptions since we know these can be wrong.
“Consequently, it is important to say that we would like people to get involved, even if they think they do not have any hedgehogs.”
If you would like to take part in either study, email Dr Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week Thames Valley Animal Welfare (TVAW) is helping a new selection of cats find homes, including brothers Leo and Benny.
The pair, who are both one, need a quiet home without children.
Boris and Delilah would also like a new home together. They are both quite shy. Friendly cats Tina and Obi, both five, also need new homes.
If you would like to offer any of these cats a home, call TVAW on (0118) 972 1871 and 01494 484 527.
Advice from castle Vets: Get your puppy or kitten vaccinated
Immunity is the body’s natural ability to fight infection.
Puppies and kittens have an under-developed immune system at birth and need to acquire further protective antibodies from their mother’s first milk.
This immunity fades rapidly and the youngsters must be vaccinated to provide protection.
The primary course of vaccinations consists of two injections, separated by a matter of weeks.
For puppies and kittens it is an ideal opportunity to have a full clinical check over by the vet prior to the vaccination.
At Castle Vets, a free consultation with the nurse accompanies the first and second vaccination appointment, giving you a chance to discuss pet care issues from nutrition to socialisation and neutering.
As your pet becomes more mature, the need for booster inoculations continues.
If you have allowed these to lapse, diseases can take hold and your animal is at risk.
An annual veterinary check can also prove invaluable in spotting the first signs of problems, giving you time to act early to counter disease and make changes to improver your pet’s quality and length of life.
Remember, vaccination is the only safe way to provide immunity against a number of dangerous disease which continue to affect dogs, cats and rabbits in the UK.
When kept up-to-date regular vaccination can keep you pet protected for life.
Save on booster vaccinations and preventative healthcare with Castle Vets Pet Health Club – easy monthly payments by Direct Debit and £10 voucher on joining.
For more information or to book an appointment, call Castle Vets on (0118) 957 4488 or visit www.castle-vets.co.uk