When a cat scratches a wall or post, it’s a sign that strong winds are about to rattle the rafters. If the cat scratches the legs of your table, it mean a change in the weather. According to old British folklore, that is…
In reality, cats scratch for personal reasons – not to alert you to things your weather app may have missed! But the folklore underline something very true – the fact that cats will happily run its claws up and down your household treasures. That’s why a tailor-made scratching post is a must for all pet cats.
There’s no doubt that cats enjoy the sensation of scratching. But there are two practical reasons for the behaviour. Cats trim their nails by clawing against hard or rough surfaces, so a scratching post is a kind of manicure station. Scratching also lets them have a good, general body stretch.
Cats also have scent glands in their paws (to match the ones on their cheeks – that’s what they’re up to when they brush against your legs). When scratching, they are also scent-marking, to tell the world that this particular territory belongs to them.
It’s not just domestic cats that do this. Tigers, for example, scent-mark trees, gouging them with their enormous claws as they do so.
Learning From Scratch
Pet cats that spend a lot of time outdoors will not scratch as much in the home. Their nails will be kept in good shape the natural way as the animal roams its wider territory. Cats will also, like tigers, take advantage of trees and other natural scratching stations.
If your cat spends little time outdoors, the urge for indoor scratching will be strong. You can reinforce desirable scratching behaviour by showering the cat with praise and affection when it uses the scratching post, and gently discouraging it if it tries to get its claws up close and personal to the furniture. It’s important not to simply cuddle the cat to stop it clawing, as your pet may interpret this as attention. The assumption “My Claws + Your Furniture = Quality Time With You” is one you need to discourage.
Cat Scratch Posts – Feline Groovy
A persistent furniture- or curtain-scratcher will need to break the habit. Covering the cat’s favourite table leg, sofa arm, etc., with kitchen foil, double-sided sticky tape or shiny plastic sheeting usually does the trick. The cat doesn’t like the feel of its claws on these surfaces.
Odours can deter persistent scratchers too. Citrus and menthol are two scents that most moggies will keep away from.
Another trick is to buy (or make) a scratching post and place it next to the piece of furniture the cat has been scratching. A sprinkle of catnip will make the new scratch post irresistible. Once the cat has engaged, the post can be moved somewhere more convenient.
It’s important that the scratching post is appealing to your pet. It will need a wide, heavy base to prevent it from wobbling or falling over during clawing, and should be tall enough to accommodate your cat at full stretch – between 60cm and 90cm. Make sure the material attached to the post has vertical grooves, rather than horizontal. Corrugated fibre boards work well, or materials with a vertical weave. This will ease the scratching process, and also minimise the chance of a claw snagging in the material (something to be aware of if you’re making your own post).
A scratching mat is another option, although many cats seem to prefer stretching upwards to scratch. This may be something to do with getting their scent spread at optimal height for feline passers-by to sniff at.
Identifying the Claws of Stress
Cats sometimes claw when they’re stressed, and that’s when your furniture is in real danger from cat-scratch-fever. Identifying the source of stress is important. It could be another cat, another pet (usually a dog), or even a child in the house whose rough handling has freaked out the poor puss. On the other hand it could be a noisy household appliance, or some regular noise from outside the home, such as aircraft or hyperactive car alarms.
As far as possible, remove or minimise the source of stress. Provide a second scratch post too. If you have more than one cat, it’s a good idea to give them each a separate post to call their own.
And just out of interest, next time your cat has a prolonged scratch at its post, take a look outside. Is it getting windier? Is the weather on the change? After all, those weather apps don’t get it right every time.
Are you looking for a new scratching post for your feline friend? We currently have an amazing offer on the Igloo Cat Scratching posts. This sturdy scratching post is attached to a soft square fabric base and is suitable for use by all types of cat. By combining it with the innovative Grooming Mat you can create a neat 2-in-1 scratcher and grooming device for your cat, making sure your furniture stays clear from fur, dander and sharp claws while also giving your cat an opportunity to stretch and mark their territory.
This entry was posted in Cats on February 17th, 2020 by linnearask
Even if we might start to see the light at the end of this winter tunnel, there is a risk we’ve still got some frosty mornings and cold sleet to come. Take this opportunity to accessories your pets’ run with a cover that will keep them dry from rain, sheltered from wind and shaded from the sun – all year round!
Browse our amazing selection of covers to find one for your pets. For a limited time only you know get up to 20% off!
Terms and Conditions:
Promotion runs from 17/02/20 – midnight 29/02/20, while stocks last. No promo code required. Discount varies up to 20% off and applies to all Run Covers, Extreme Temperature Protection and Zippi Run Covers. Exclusions include; Heavy Duty Cover for Eglu Classic – Full Length, Bungee Hook Single and Bungee Hooks Pack of 6. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Offers and promotions on February 17th, 2020 by linnearask
Watching chickens scratch at the frozen ground or strut through the snow, you might wonder how they manage to keep their feet and legs warm. After all, this is one part of their body with no feathers to keep it cosy (unless you happen to have a feathery-legged breed such as the Cochin, Brahma or Silkie).
Surprisingly, the simple answer to ‘How do they keep their leg warm?’ is ‘They don’t!’ Those skinny, bare legs have scales, which retain heat to a certain extent, but they will still get very cold if the bird stands still for too long.
And that’s the important detail. A chicken keeps its legs warm by moving, and by not keeping all its toes on the ground for too long. These parts of their body lose heat rapidly; but the solution is quite simple.
Perching is the most effective way of retaining heat. A hen hunkers down when roosting, and her legs are tucked into her warm body. If space allows, install a flat perch too. A piece of wood with a 10 cm width will enable the hens to roost without having to grip the perch, which in really cold weather will prevent their toes freezing. (The lucky ones will simply snuggle down in a nesting box, which is the chicken equivalent of a thick quilt!)
But of course, a hungry hen doesn’t want to waste the whole day perching, so even in the coldest spells she will make a lot of contact with the ground.
Like many other birds, chickens often adopt the ‘one leg’ look, tucking one of their limbs up into the warmth of their bellies. This reduces overall heat loss and stops feet and toes from freezing on the icy ground.
An upturned pot, a log, pallet or other slightly elevated space – cleared of snow or ice – will help the hens get the circulation going again, without having to catch their breath on the frozen ground. Like all birds, chickens are warm-blooded, just like us, and their own body heat soon works its magic. Indeed, with an average body temperature of around 41°C, chickens can remain active in the coldest weather.
The leg-warming process is helped by other tricks, too. Fluffing up the feathers retains body heat, by trapping small pockets of air which are then heated up by the bird’s warm body.
Some owners give their hens a supper of corn and grains, which take longer to digest than a standard pellet or other chicken food. Part of the digestion process involves producing heat – a kind of internal hot water bottle!
In general, hens will eat more food in the cold months, as more of their energy is spent keeping warm. Some owners like to supplement the birds’ diets with extra protein or a little suet, to increase their fat levels for the winter. Fat retains heat, and the whole bird benefits – not just the legs (which will remain as thin as ever!)
Help With The Heating
You can help your hens keep their toes cosy by making sure the coop is clean and dry. Clear out any snow dragged in on the birds’ feet, and keep an insulating layer of straw on the floor. You can give the birds extra protection by insulating the coop – although there should still be some ventilation, to allow the gases released from the birds’ droppings to escape.
You can install an automatic door to help keep the living quarters snug. Heaters are also available – but never use anything other than a heater designed specifically for hen houses. It’s also best to use these only if the temperature gets below -5°C, otherwise hens may get used to being cosy all the time, and that could be disastrous if the heater fails and the birds are suddenly exposed. Heat-pampered poultry can die of cold shock.
A coop should be draft-free, but not completely sealed, as ventilation is important for healthy hens. During the day, a sheltered spot in the run or garden will help them take a breather and warm those long-suffering legs.
Chickens are amazingly hardy, and although not exactly warm, their legs will be able to cope with anything the average winter throws at them. As long as they can toast their toes on a nice perch every now and then…
This entry was posted in Chickens on February 14th, 2020 by linnearask
Have you ever looked at your pets’ paws and wondered why? Why don’t they have hands and fingers like us? The answer dates back thousands of years and is the result of our pets’ ancestors adapting to the independent and wild lives they once lived in an environment which was very different to your safe, warm home.
The History of the Paw
Before our pets were domesticated, they had to defend themselves to stay alive while hunting for their own food. Many of the traits that helped them do that haven’t changed, staying with the species’ throughout evolution. This includes the paw.
Dogs and cats are the main paw-ed animals that may come to mind. But before we had house cats and dogs, there were generations of wild cats and wolves. The purpose of the paw is largely related to sound and shock absorption. The fatty tissue inside the pads helps animals jump and land without pain or noise, especially helpful for silently hunting prey in the wild while protecting limbs from impact.
The paw pads are also much rougher when the animal is subject to extreme surfaces day in, day out. This assists with grip in treacherous or slippery conditions, working in a similar way to human shoes. For our domestic pets, the paw pads are often much smoother as conditions are easier underfoot. Some dog breeds still have webbed feet to help them swim, an adaptation that wolves passed on and still benefit from.
While paws are well adapted for walking and jumping around, debris can sometimes get stuck in the paw pads and cause pain. If you spot your pet chewing at their paw or limping and lifting it off the ground, carefully check their paw pad for any stones or splinters that may need removing. If your rabbit or guinea pigs paws look sore it could be a sign that their bedding is too scratchy.
What can the paw tell us?
Did you know, that some animals use their paw pads to keep cool and release sweat? So damp paw prints could mean your pet needs some help cooling down.
Pet’s paws can sometimes tell us a little bit about how they are feeling, too. For example, cats will knead blankets, beds, pillows and even humans with their paws when they are feeling happy and content. There’s lots of reasons why this may be; it might remind them of nursing from their Mother, they could be trying to create a cosy spot to sleep, or they could be using the scent glands in their paw pads to mark their territory.
Have you also noticed your cat doesn’t like their paws to be touched? This is because the pads are extremely sensitive to touch, but some cats can be trained to tolerate their paws being touched, often easier if done from a young age, so if your cat does let you touch their paws it could be a sign of trust.
More info here and here.
This entry was posted in Cats on February 12th, 2020 by chloewelch
With Valentine’s Day approaching many of us will be making restaurant bookings and buying cinema tickets for a night out with their partner. Sure, that’s nice, but wouldn’t you really prefer it if you could include the third member of your couple, your pet, in your plans? We’ve put together a suggested date night schedule that both humans and pets will enjoy, so that no one gets left out!
A few days before
If you’re buying a present for your parter, you should make sure you treat your pet to something special as well, as they’ve been such a good boy or girl. How about getting your rabbits or guinea pig some fun accessories for their run, like a shelter or some Zippi-tunnels? Dogs and cats will always appreciate a new, super comfy bed, like the super luxurious Omlet Bolster Bed.
16.00 Time Outside
Depending on what pet you have, the key to a good date night might be to tire them out a bit before you snuggle up inside. Rabbits and guinea pigs will love a run around in their tunnels in the garden, cats will enjoy some fresh air (either letting them hunt around the neighbourhood for an hour or so, or join them for some time on their cat run) and dogs will feel spoiled after a long hike or trip to the park to see some doggy friends. If you have a dog, why not stop off at a dog friendly pub for a drink and a small snack before you return home?
18.00 Play Time
This is a perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with your pet, doing what you know they love doing. If you have a smaller animal, you and your partner can create a maze or prepare a scavenger hunt for them, hiding snacks and building obstacles around the living room. Cats will enjoy chasing toys, and dogs will go crazy for some tug of war. If you want to spoil your pets even more, why not get them a new toy to play with?
19.00 Dinner Time
The key to the perfect date night is some good, and preferably rather indulgent, food. Maybe this is a good opportunity to try one of those recipes that requires a bit more time and effort? Or just to order some take away, if you’re knackered after all the playing. To fully include your pet, we would suggest making sure they also get to have something special for dinner. There are plenty of easy and healthy recipes for all pets online, so you can find something that you will enjoy making, and your pet will enjoy wolfing down. Divide the work and let your partner make something for the pets while you cook the human food, or the other way around.
20.00 Spa Treatment
Get settled on the sofa for a pampering session for pets and humans alike. Give your pet a bath and some grooming, like cutting their nails, brushing their fur and cleaning their teeth. While you enjoy a face mask or a manicure, dogs and cats might benefit from an oil treatment for dry skin and paw pads. Finish off the spa hour with a good long massage. Your pet will probably not be of much help here, so you humans might have to take it in turn.
While you’re treating yourselves, why not put on some relaxing music? Spotify has recently launched Spotify for Pets, customised lists based on your pet’s personality and your music taste. Unfortunately you’re limited to only a few pets at the moment, but what’s to say your rabbit won’t enjoy a cat playlist?
21.00 Film and Snacks
Pop some popcorn, pour some wine and curl up on the sofa together with your date(s) for some Petflix and Chill. Make sure your pet has a place where he or she can get settled and feel comfy, maybe on a special blanket or bed. Date night is all about a relaxing rom-com, or something else that both you can your pet will love napping in front of. Make sure that you offer your pet movie snacks and a nice drink as well, we have plenty of treats and goodies for all pets in our shop, including white and rosé Pawsecco for a true celebratory evening . As an added bonus, you currently get 25% off all treats in the Omlet shop!
This entry was posted in Pets on February 9th, 2020 by linnearask
There is something very arrogant in assuming that only humans can experience deep emotions. We’ve all seen our pets excited and happy, and we also come to recognise when they’re sad. In other words, they experience feelings.
Sorrow in an animal is different from fear or anxiety. The latter things are brought on by stress, resulting from poor environment, poor diet, scary neighbours, cruel owners, or countless other factors that can make animals feel exposed or in danger.
Heartbreak, as any person who has experienced it knows, is something very different. It results from bereavement, or other forms of fundamental loss. Scientists are often eager to point out that we can never prove an animal feels these emotions. But many owners have seen it for themselves and have no doubt at all.
What Makes Dogs Sad?
A pet may become distressed if a certain person or a longstanding companion of the same species is no longer around – but only if that person or pet was one that the animal had completely bonded with.
A family dog will have a relationship with all the human members of its family, but there will usually be one favourite – an Alpha male or Alpha Female, if you like. Although the dog may miss the others, it is on this favourite, its main owner, that its affections will be focused.
If such a person leaves the household, for whatever reason, the dog’s first reaction will be one of separation anxiety. It will pine and lose its interest in things such as food, games and walks. Loss of appetite can lead to liver problems in a relatively short time, so keep an eye on the situation and be ready to turn to a vet for help.
The dog may also whine and cry more than usual, and may start to lick and chew household items, or its own fur or paws. Many grieving dogs find it hard sleeping, and will sit and whine by a door, or may simply go into hiding.
A lot depends on the breed, and on the individual animal too. But many dogs can certainly be classed as heartbroken in these situations. The grieving will last for several weeks, even months.
Time will cure the heartache, but in the meantime you can help by making sure the pet continues to have walks in its favourite places. If the dog enjoys staying in kennels, a short break there is a possibility too. You could also consider employing a dog walker, to give your pet a change of routine. Don’t be afraid to be more generous than usual with the snacks, treats and toys, too.
What Makes Cats Sad?
Cats can be harder to read than dogs. They will tend to lay low, hiding away more than usual. Some will become more vocal, mewing and crying for their lost friend. Many will lose their appetites, sleep less, and may even run away for days at a time.
Like dogs, a cat that stops eating can develop potentially fatal liver disease, so early intervention by a vet is recommended.
Many, however, soon transfer their main affections to another member of the household. Other, more independent cats seem to readjust without any problem.
What Makes Other Pets Sad?
Small mammals don’t appear to grieve when their owners disappear from their lives. But many will revert to a natural nervousness if they are no longer being handled and fed by their best friend. Someone else needs to step up and become the pet’s favourite.
Pet parrots who have bonded with a partner or owner are known to grieve the loss of a loved one, whether a fellow bird or a human. Loss of appetite and listlessness are the usual signs. Someone needs to keep up the contact and interaction, to ease these highly intelligent birds into their new lives.
The problem does not usually arise if the birds are kept in an open aviary setting. Smaller parrots such as budgies and lovebirds don’t seem to miss their human friends so intensely either, although they will certainly grieve if their feathered best friend disappears.
The Grieving Process
Above all, try to be upbeat and affectionate with the grieving animal. Pets pick up on our moods with an almost supernatural skill, so if we’re very sad, they may mirror our feelings. Again, this might be a good time to bring in friends or relatives more able to put on a happy face for the sake of the heartbroken pet.
Most pets will, with time, move on. Some older pets may never entirely recover. In all circumstances involving loss, all an owner can do is care for the animal as it readjusts to changed circumstances.
This entry was posted in Cats on February 8th, 2020 by linnearask
We could probably all benefit from something special to make it through the last winter weeks, and your pets will definitely feel the same way!
Stock up and spoil your loved ones this February with 25% off all treats on the Omlet shop, and find the pawfect Valentine’s Day gift for your furry friends!
Use promo code PETFLIX at checkout to claim the offer.
Terms and conditions:
Promotion runs from 06/02/20 – midnight 17/02/20, while stocks last. For 25% off treats use promo code PETFLIX. 25% off is available on treats for all animals, excluding bags of feed over 1.5kg, as well as treat toys and Feldy High Energy Chicken Pecker Balls – Box of 40. Excludes out of stock items. Subject to availability. Omlet ltd. reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any point. Offer cannot be used on delivery, existing discounts or in conjunction with any other offer.
This entry was posted in Offers and promotions on February 6th, 2020 by linnearask
According to folklore, birds choose their mates on St Valentine’s Day. A rare few only have to make that choice once, staying with the same partner for as long as both birds are alive.
There is something romantically appealing about this idea of birds sticking together for life. But not many species follow this lifestyle. The faithful few include many species of goose and swan, several of the owls and eagles, and some of the penguins. Many others are ‘serially monogamous’, meaning they stick with one partner throughout a single breeding season, but not for life. An estimated 90% of bird species fall into this category.
Mating for life is something much rarer. Parrots in captivity usually stick with one partner, as their choice of mates is limited. But the whole idea of bird fidelity is best captured in the image of two lovebirds cuddling up and rubbing beaks.
What’s the advantage in sticking together for life?
The chicks of birds of prey such as owls and eagles grow slowly. Rearing a big bird such as an osprey or golden eagle takes around three months from egg laying to independence. It helps save time if the parents start rearing their young early in the season, preferably in the same nest as last year. Lengthy courtship displays and nest-building are simply delays, and ones that can be avoided if two birds resume their old relationship each year.
The advantages of faithfulness may seem less obvious for smaller birds. But it ensures that both parent birds are focussed on the successful rearing of their chicks. The alternative is polygamy, in which the male strays away to mate with other birds, putting all the pressure on the hen bird to feed the chick. In a harsh season, having two parents working together can make the difference between life and death for the chicks.
Most mating-for-life species don’t actually live together outside the breeding season, though. Not in the wild, at least. But there is one famous exception – the Lovebird.
Lovebirds of a feather stick together
Lovebirds take mating-for-life very seriously. Most other ‘faithful’ birds rediscover their independence outside the breeding season, but Lovebirds live up to their name 24/7, 365 days a year.
Like most parrot species, in the wild all nine species of Lovebird live in flocks, and their social organisation is based on pairs. The strong bonds involved prevent bickering and fighting in the mating season. It’s a peace-keeping system that works so well, it’s surprising that other species haven’t followed a similar evolutionary path.
Lovebirds are bonded to the point of jealously. They may be our perfect picture of avian affection, but they will fend off any intruders. It is recommended to keep pairs separate from other birds, rather than including them in a mixed aviary – unless you have a huge space in which grumpy or jealous birds can easily find space away from each other.
A bereaved Lovebird, or one kept on its own, will become depressed. It will pine, stop eating, squawk, and become irritable. The exceptions are those birds that have been handled from a young age and have bonded with their human companion. Their affection is every bit as genuine with a human ‘partner’ as a feathered one.
There are downsides to this, though. A bonded lovebird will regurgitate food for you, and will need discouraging from attempting to mate!
Zebra Finches – Lovebirds of the Finch world
Most birds that live in flocks are monogamous – that is, they have just one mate each breeding season – but the Zebra finch takes it a step further. Many owners think the bird’s habit of mating for life is something that only happens in captivity, where choice of partner is restricted. But the little Zebra is every bit as faithful as the Lovebird, even in the wild.
In captivity problems can arise when birds die, or when new ones are added. A singleton in a group of Zebra finches will find it hard to find a mate without a fight. For this reason, ironically, it is actually best to keep these finches in pairs rather than big or odd-numbered flocks, as a single bird may be forced to become either a bully or a depressed outcast.
Love is in the air
Nature has found all sorts of ways of ensuring that the next generation of birds takes to the wing. At one end sit the cuckoos, taking no responsibility for parenting or relationships of any sort. Next come those birds that take the lots-of-mates approach. Most, however, opt for one partner per season.
But there’s something particularly appealing about those few species that mate for life. For Lovebird and Zebra finch owners, romance is an everyday fact of life.
This entry was posted in Pets on February 6th, 2020 by linnearask
Guinea pigs have many little ways of showing how much they love you. They may not be as obvious as dogs or cats in this respect, but once you know the signs they’re actually quite easy to read.
Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Held
GPs are timid creatures by nature, so it takes a lot of confidence for them to come to you for stroking or holding. You can interpret that confidence as affection. To reach this stage you need to hand-tame your pet with care and patience. Once they’ve built the trust, they’ll bond with you. They won’t approach everyone in this way – it’s just you they love!
Your Guinea Pig Likes Being Hand-Fed
It will take a little while to reach this stage. Rather than holding a tasty treat in your hand and hoping for the best, it’s best to train the guinea pig in stages. Leave a little trail of treats, and call to your pet gently. Eventually they’ll make it to your hand, and once they’ve become accustomed to this contact, the special bond between pet and owner will be complete.
Your Guinea Pig Follows You Around
By nature, a guinea pig wants to hide from humans, freeze on the spot or run away. It’s a sign of affection when they become so comfortable with you that they happily follow you around. Even if there’s no treat waiting for them, at this stage in the relationship they’ll stay with you simply because they like you and you make them feel safe.
Your Guinea Pig Doesn’t Bite!
This may sound like an odd demonstration of love, but it’s actually a sign that your pet feels very comfortable in your presence. If the GP is in any way afraid or nervous, it will bite if you try to make contact. There are ways of getting round this nervous reaction; and before you know it, the instinct to bite will have been replaced by an urge to nibble your toes…!
Your Guinea Pig Nibbles You, Very Gently
Yes, nibbling is a sign of affection! It’s something these animals do to each other as part of their grooming and bonding. Nibbling your shoes or finger ends will come naturally, once they’re comfortable with you. It’s very different from a bite – so don’t simply stick a finger into the cage hoping for a nibble and getting a nasty surprise instead!
Your Guinea Pig Climbs On You
When a guinea pig loves you, you become one of its favourite ‘safe places’. Sit down with your furry friends and they will climb into your lap. Lie down, and they will climb onto you and explore.
Your Guinea Pig Comes To Say Hello
When your guinea pigs first arrive, they will run for cover when you approach their enclosure. Familiarity takes time and patience, and you have to lead the taming process yourself in a hands-on way. Start by holding your guinea pig correctly and comfortably. Continue with a bit of treat-training, and they’ll soon be running to greet you whenever they see you approach.
Your Guinea Pig Responds To Your Voice
Guinea pigs can’t recognise their own names, but they can come to recognise your voice. You should talk, quietly and gently, from the moment you first get them. Always chat to them during hand training and feeding. They will soon come to associate that voice with all that love, and will love you back by coming when you call – no matter what you actually call!
Your Guinea Pig ‘Talks’ To You All The Time
You’ve been talking to them constantly, and they will soon return the compliment. A Guinea pig that chatters to you is very happy indeed in your company.
Your Guinea Pig Just Can’t Stop Playing!
A happy affectionate Guinea pig will dance around your feet, or will perform what is known as ‘popcorning’. This involves jumping in the air, and then running in circles, turning, and repeating the whole wonderful exercise. What better way to demonstrate love than with a good helping of popcorn?
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs on February 4th, 2020 by linnearask