Floof Friday

In case you didn’t know this already about rabbits, rabbits LOVE banana. If anyone in our house so much as picks up a banana there is a mad scramble behind us as Lola attempts to get a little taste.

And her begging always works. Because we are softies.

Lola however, is not a softie when it comes to banana…

She practically climbed us to get a bit of that sweet, sweet banana goodness. But this little picture makes me giggle everytime so I thought it would also make you guys giggle.

T xxx

Cats Protection: Stop the Big Kitten Con

I believe there are many different ways to promote activism and to be an activist for a cause you care about. As such, I do my best to sign as many petitions as I can, in the hope that our government will actually pay attention to the issue at hand and begin making changes to solve it. I am therefore going to share some of those on here in the hopes that more lovely people will sign and raise awareness for these important issues.

My most recent one this week has been the Cats Protection Stop the Big Kitten Con campaign and petition that is currently ongoing. The petition can be found here.

The petition and the campaign is calling for better regulation of cat breeders within the United Kingdom. As it stands, there are none. Scotland has a set of protections but it is the only UK country to do so and obviously that needs to change.

Their CATS 2021 report concluded that 68% of cats purchased in the last year were found online. The online sales of cats and kittens can have heart-breaking consequences, with kittens being separated from their mothers too soon which impacts on their behaviour, health and sometimes even their survival. Mother cats are also at risk of neglect, poor treatment and over-breeding and as there are no regulations in place to stop this behaviour, it is near impossible to know just how many cats and kittens are being affected by the cruel kitten trade.

For more information, please head to the Cats Protection website or check out their YouTube video for more information on the kitten trade.

T xxx

Are pets vegan friendly?

I was on the internet late at night and came across a vegan discussion thread where someone had commented that you cannot call yourself a vegan if you have a pet. Their whole argument was that vegans should not do anything that exploits or causes an animal to be exploited, and by having a pet you were exploiting an animal for your own personal gain – you have a pet because you want one, not because the animal wishes to be a pet.

This whole line of thought just baffled me really. Now I can understand why someone would not buy a pet from a breeder because there could be a degree of exploitation involved, but is rescuing an animal from a shelter really exploitation? By this logic, are rescue centres and animal shelters also exploitative because they rely on animals in need to stay in business?

I can understand why some vegans (myself included for the most part) do not agree with horse riding, dog racing or Crufts. I do not however believe that owning a pet means that you are exploiting an animal. Now I know I am not alone here when I say that my pets have always enjoyed the best life that I am able to give them: They have unconditional love (even when they have chewed through the third set of internet cables), a warm place to sleep, as many cuddles as they will allow me to give them, and a loving family that literally plan their whole lives around them. My partner and I make sure we stick to our routines to ensure that our bunny stays happy and calm, and I would literally cancel plans if it meant my cat was going to be home alone during the night. My pets (and any animal for that matter) have me at their beckon call and I would not have it any other way.

I have also seen arguments that emotional support animals or service animals such as guide dogs are not vegan friendly. I am sure we have all seen the recent news of an animal activist yelling at a blind man because he had a guide dog with him. Now sure it could be argued that there may be a degree of exploitation involved when it comes to training guide animals but you can not convince me otherwise that these animals – guide dogs, hearing dogs, emotional support animals – are not the most loved, adored and cherished of pets in the whole world. I have been working to educate myself more on what life is like for those who have crippling social anxiety – who can’t even go into a shop without suffering a panic attack – or for those who are blind or deaf and I have seen how much trust and love they have in their support animals. I see people who have regained some of their independence thanks to their service animals and I can see the gratitude on their faces that their service animal is willing to help them.

The entire argument as well that all animals should be free and wild is pointless at this point. The reality is, most pets would not last long out in the wild: We as a species have bred these animals to be companion animals – they are bred to have the majority of their wild instincts removed from them a little bit more with every generation. We made these animals domesticated and as such it is now our job to look after them and to protect them in ways they no longer can.

As with most things in the world it is not a simple black and white matter. It really bothers me that there are some people out there who call themselves ‘vegan’ while spouting such nonsense. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan, and in today’s society there is absolutely no way you can live your life without exploiting something along the way. But what you can do is be as kind, empathetic and considerate as you can be to every living being you come into contact with. If a newbie vegan does ask about a certain topic, encourage them to do their own research and sign post them to different opinions, while still reminding them to do what they believe to be the right thing.

What do you guys all think? Do you think owning pets is a ‘vegan’ thing to do? I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this matter because it could be such an interesting debate.

T xxx

Should pugs be banned?

You will no doubt have seen the headlines this week regarding the Blue Cross’ latest campaign to tackle the ‘vicious cycle of over-breeding’ that is currently seen in pugs, bulldogs and other breeds of flat faced dogs. The increase in use of photos of such flat-faced dogs has led to a spike in popularity and thus more puppies are being bred to meet this new demand. However, aside from the normal health issues that come with any kind of unethical breeding, flat faced breeds are naturally more prone to a number of health issues.

The Blue Cross is asking and campaigning for marketing companies to stop using flat faced breeds in their own marketing campaigns as part of the #EndTheTrend campaign. Blue Cross are asking marketing firms to use a wider range of dogs in their marketing, hoping to showcase more underappreciated breeds and promote more diversity among dog populations. While the Blue Cross hasn’t actually said this, I personally would also like to see more use of rescue dogs, or dogs that are not ‘pedigree’.

The campaign is mostly centred around dogs, however the Blue Cross have also said that the health concerns of flat faced breeds of pet can also be seen in Persian cats and lionhead rabbits. My little bunny is herself part lionhead, so I am all for bringing more awareness to any breed of animal that may suffer niche health problems compared to their non-flat faced peers.

The health issues that come with flat faced breeds (the scientific term for this is brachycephalic, or brachy for short) include spinal problems, eye issues, heart issues and the main one, breathing issues. Due to the nature of their flat faces, the nasal cavities are either too short or non-existent which makes breathing very difficult for the breed. That ‘wheezing’ noise that pugs make is not cute – they literally cannot breathe properly.

Despite what the headlines suggest there is no call to ban the breeds from being owned in the UK, but there are calls to put heavier regulations onto breeders to ensure that their litters and dogs are correctly monitored and the correct health checks are carried out. I personally will never support breeders – it is one thing to adopt a pet who is already pregnant or you get an accidental litter in early days of ownership, but to actively make animals breed purely so you can make a profit just doesn’t sit right with me.

The current legislation

At the moment in England and Wales, a person who breeds 3 or more litters of puppies in one 12 month period must have a licence to do so under the Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018 (LAIA for ease). A person must also have a license if they breed dogs and advertise as a business of selling dogs. There is current guidance released which states that an activity can be defined as a business if the operator makes or carries out the activity in order to make a profit, or if they earn any commission or fee for the activity. In theory therefore, if a person has an accidental litter and gives the puppies away for free, then this would not require a licence.

How this is all regulated however it is hard to tell. Licenses are issued by local authorities, and so it is up to the local authorities to regulate and monitor each licence holder to ensure that they are meeting the correct standards. The Kennel Club also runs a scheme of Accredited Breeders and currently runs the largest database of pedigree dogs and a separate register for crossbreed dogs. However this Accredited Scheme appears to be done through a general application and requires any prospective breeder to pay a fee before they can be accepted. The Kennel Club website does state that they have qualified assessors who carry out checks on the breeder, their premises and their litters and dogs, but it does not explicitly state how often these checks are. I would have assumed annually, but I can’t say for certain.

Enforcement

As mentioned above it is hard to tell just how regularly breeders are checked and how enforcement is dealt with. The Kennel Club seems to have their own process, whereby any breeder who is deemed in need of improvement will be reassessed within a set period of time. However they then do not say what happens if these improvements are not made. It seems to suggest that all the breeder stands to lose is membership to the accredited scheme, but nothing more. At least, not from what I have been able to see.

Illegal trading

One of the big things to come from the COVID lockdowns was the increase in people who bought puppies. Spending the majority of their time inside meant it was the perfect time for people to buy a puppy as they now had ample free time to socialise, train and bond with their puppy, as well as providing many people a good excuse to leave the house for more than an hour a day to provide walkies. However this demand meant that many people were buying puppies – whether knowingly or not – from overseas and in many cases the puppies were not given the correct vaccinations or were taken from their mother too early and unfortunately would not survive for longer than a few months once in the UK. You may recall stories such as this one doing the rounds during 2020, with many families suffering heartbreak.

In 2020 a new action plan was published by the UK government with the help of RSPCA that will seek to limit the amount of puppies that can be imported from other countries. It will also seek to stop the importing of pregnant dogs or those who have had their ears cropped. The RSPCA are currently asking for signatures to support this bill, which will also apply to farm animals and primates once in force. You can find the link here.

What are your thoughts?

What do you think should happen?

Do you think banning a breed would be beneficial or do more harm than good?

What do you think the best solution would be?

I would love to hear what everyone thinks about this topic! Please do leave a comment below or feel free to contact me privately if you have any thoughts on the matter or if you find any other interesting resources related to this.

T xxx

Are cat cafes vegan?

As a quick disclaimer, I will not be discussing pet cafes as a whole, only cat cafes. I simply do not agree that all pets can be used for pet cafes Rabbit cafes for example are terrible ideas simply due to the very delicate nature of rabbits, and I imagine a dog cafe could get very out of control very quickly because of how excited dogs can get. This little article will only look at cat cafes, although I may look at other types of pet cafes in the future.

What is a cat cafe?

Exactly what it sounds like. It is a coffee shop, where you can enjoy numerous hot beverages and tasty pastries and cakes, while also cuddling the cats that live in the cafe. Many cat cafes also work closely with re-homing centres (or act as a re-homing centre themselves) so that the cats you see in the cafe with you can be adopted out into the community.

Now anyone who loves cats would obviously want to attend one because is there anything better in this world than a hot mug of coffee and a purring cat asleep on your lap? Absolutely not. However I have seen a lot of conflicting articles and comments about whether or not a cat cafe is humane, ethical and by default, vegan. Are the cats being exploited so the owner can sell more coffee? Is the welfare of the cats really the paramount importance?

My experience

I grew up with cats. I have photos of me as a two year old literally climbing into the cat bed so I could snuggle with my childhood tabby and black cat, Mog and Dale. When they both crossed the rainbow bridge, we then got Jinx. In fact the only time I lived in a home without a cat was when I moved into my own property – and even then we filled our home with the gerbils and our bunnies. Having spent at least 25 years of my life living with cats, I feel an overwhelming sense of comfort when I am around cats – they really are like home to me – so naturally cat cafes are absolutely my cup of tea!

I have been to a few cat cafes, and in my experience they have always been very cat centred. Each place has had very strict rules about how you act while in the cafe, to make sure that the cats are never disturbed or scared by the people around them. All of them also had rules about how many people were allowed in the shop at any one time, and as well as limiting how many can come in per group and not allowing any children under the age of 12 into them. The cafes that do allow younger children in though also make it a strict rule that the children should be supervised at all times and should not be allowed to approach the cats without adult supervision with them.

That being said I have also looked at other cat cafes which I didn’t feel were cat focused: I have looked into the window of them and seen young children running around the cafe floor, barely any hidey holes for the cats to shelter in and even from the outside could tell it was far too noisy inside. You also know it probably isn’t cat focused when you can’t even see the cats when you look inside.

As to whether or not the cafe itself is ‘vegan friendly’ regarding the food, every place I went to had a decent selection of vegan foods and drinks. So in that sense I think you’d be hard pushed to find a cat cafe that doesn’t cater towards vegans: if it doesn’t have even one plant based milk to offer or even a basic vegan cookie, then it’s probably just a bad coffee shop anyway.

The pros of a cat cafe

It is common knowledge now that spending time with animals is good for us: It lowers our blood pressure, slows our breathing and decreases our feelings of loneliness. As with most medical treatments though,animal therapy is very rarely something that can be offered to everyone and if you live in rented property or a house share or in a busy city, you may not even be able to have pets of your own. Places like cat cafes allow people to come and go as they please and spend as much time as they wish with their kitty companions.

I also believe that cat cafes are frequented by people who already love cats, so will already be doing their utmost to make sure that cats in the cafe are happy. They are people who won’t care about getting cat fur all over their trousers, or mind having a cat sit next to them while they eat and drink. Therefore while each cat cafe will have it’s own set of rules, I imagine the majority (if not all) of the patrons would adhere to the rules even if they weren’t told to.

I also believe that this method of re-homing is far more beneficial for the cats than being in a shelter. While shelters do amazing work (and I will always advocate and support my local shelters) they can be very sad places. I’m sure we have all seen the videos of cats in small little bunkers as they watch person after person walk past their window and not even stop to say hello. It’s heartbreaking to see and I can’t even think what must be going through the cats’ mind when this is all they see everyday until someone decides to take them home. But with the cat cafes, the cats have far more freedom to wander around the people and to actually show off their personalities. They can run and play and sleep wherever and however they like, and are also socialised to be used to being around people: they become used to the noise and the bustle of people coming and going and getting multiple cuddles a day in the process. Now I for one, would injure myself in a rescue shelter – I would take a look at the very first cat and I would end up trying to take the entire shelter home with me. At least in a cat cafe I know that the cats have a warm and safe home until their forever family comes along. Not that I wouldn’t take them all home with me if I had half the chance….

I have always found the staff in these cafes to be amazing: They are always professional and attentive, and you can tell immediately that they love each and every one of their kitty cohorts. They have always been very knowledgeable about the cats and about their needs and personalities. I have also seen the staff politely showing guests how to correctly play with the cats, from which toys work best with which cat and the best way to use the toy to bring out their natural hunter instincts. For example, if you have a rug or a blanket, use a stick underneath it to play with your cat – something about it being ‘underground’ drives cats wild and they absolutely love trying to catch it. The thinner the stick too the more likely it is to slip through their little toe beans, which just makes them even more determined to catch this evil stick!

The cons of cat cafes

It is common knowledge that cats are very territorial creatures and are also very high maintenance. If they are not happy with something, they will definitely tell you about it!

One of the main issues with cat cafes is the concern that large numbers of cats should not b e kept together. Both Cats Protection and the RSPCA have stated that cat cafes are not the most suitable environment for cats to live in, especially when they have to deal with multiple groups of people coming and going contunously throughout the day. They also have to deal with a lot of petting and playing, and since cats mostly sleep for between 12-16 hours a day they are not the most social of creatures.

The RSPCA also raised concerns around the stability of the cats’ environment. As with most animals, routine is key. They can be sensitive to smells and temperature changes which may be an issue in a cafe. Cat cafes are very popular and see a lot of traffic so I can see why having too much change could potential cause stress to the cats who live in the cafe. Cats also require a lot of space and opportunity to exercise and climb, which is why many charities recommend having at least some sort of garden available if you wish to adopt a cat. Naturally though this is very unlikely in cat cafes, as most are in very built up and urban areas, with no more than a small concrete foyer around the back and a busy main high street out front.

Despite how cats may appear, they can be scared very easily by loud noises. As such it is also recommended to have lots of hidey-holes for cats so that they can get away and hide from any situation which they deem to be scary. This could range from fireworks outside, to children to simply too many people in a room.

There is also the issue of cat personalities. Every single cat is different and not every cat is suited to life in a cat cafe. Territorial, overly skittish or short tempered cats are more likely to get easily stressed in a busy and changing environment, and when cats are scared, annoyed or threatened that is when the claws come out. Which would be terrible for all involved: As someone who has been around cats my whole life, I know that if my cat takes a swipe at my hand it’s because I have annoyed them in some way, however if you have never spent time with cats or you’re a young child, you may think this is a mean kitty and get very upset. To combat this, I have seen some cat cafes who have a ‘revolving door’ system with their cats, where the cat can come and go from the main floor as much as they please to a completely private area that is shut off from guests. Most cafes also seem to make a point of only hosting cats that do meet the personality requirements to ensure that they can live with other cats and also won’t find the constant traffic stressful or annoying.

The other concern I see raised most often is the issue of regulation. Yes cat cafes are held to the same health and safety and food standards of other cafes, but the issue is that cat cafes are not like regular cafes. The cats welfare is largely left up to the cafe owners and with so much going on at any one time during a busy day, it is no doubt hard for the staff to ensure every single customer is adhering to the rules when it comes to interacting with the cats. There are talks that stricter policies and standards will be needed as the popularity of cat cafes grows, but again this itself is a slow process.

Final thoughts?

In short ALWAYS do your research. I personally would be very hesitant to visit a cat cafe if they allowed large groups or young children to visit them. I also always check their house rules, and if I cannot find them easily on their website I am even less inclined to visit them. I also like to look at the interior of the cafe to see how many climbing shelves there are, how many hidey-holes I can see, how many sleeping spots are available and to see what other enrichment they have for the cats. I believe there is one in London which has a giant cat wheel where the cats can run (like a hamster wheel, but cat sized) as well as lots of interconnecting tunnels around the cafe so that the cats can move about freely without needing to interact with people if they do not wish to.

Have you guys been to cat cafes? What are your thoughts on them?

T xxx

Short break!

Hi all! I am actually on annual leave this week and have a lot of day trips planned. Therefore no usual posts this week, although I do have a big Reality Of post on Wednesday for your mid-week reading.

So for now enjoy this picture of Lola, who deems the hay outside of her litter tray is a million times better than the hay inside it.

T xxx

Whats plants are poisonous to cats?

With the Winter Solstice now passed, it is the time of the year where we start to look towards the spring and the summer. For many people, this may include planting new seeds, both figuratively speaking and literally speaking. January through to March is normally the best time to plant many flowers and vegetables so that by summer they are ready to bloom, turning your currently drab and lifeless garden into an oasis of colour and fragrance.

But what if you have a cat? Aside from the concern that they may try and dig up your seedlings or trample over the shoots as they begin to rise, there are a number of common household flowers and plants that are actually very dangerous for your pet to even be around, let alone eat. In many cases the pollen from some of these plants can cause a wide array of respiratory, skin and eye issues that may be quite hard to treat. I have therefore made a list of the most common plants that are poisonous to our feline friends, in the hope that moving forward you will either omit these plants from your gardens this year, or at least move them to an area where your cat cannot get to.

As with all things to do with pets, if you think your cat may have ingested something they shouldn’t have ALWAYS take them to the vet as soon as you can to ensure that they get immediate attention.

Outside flowers

Now I feel this is the most important issue, as with a garden you do not know what wildlife will be coming and going on a daily basis. Not only do you have your own cats to worry about, you also have neighbourhood cats, strays, feral cats and natural wildlife such as foxes, badgers and hedgehogs (in the UK anyway).

The most common types of flowers/plants that are poisonous to cats include:

  • lilies of any kind – the majority of lilies are poisonous to almost every type of animal and people too. As pretty as they are, I would again advocate that you do not have any type of lily in your home or garden just to be on the safe side.
  • foxglove
  • dogbane
  • water hemlock
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Plu...
Dogbane flowers

There are also a number of flowers and plants that you should be cautious about putting into your garden, unless they can be planted somewhere where you know your cat (or any other wildlife) could get to easily. These include:

  • bluebells
  • clematis
  • daffodils
  • wisteria
  • tomato plants
  • Rhododendron
  • dahlias
  • hyacinths
  • peonies
Paeoniaceae | Description, Taxonomy, & Examples | Britannica
Peonies

There are however a wide variety of flowers and plants that are completely safe for your cat to be around, and the Cats Protection have a full list which I shall leave here.

Inside plants

According to Cats Protection, there is only one family of indoor plants that is toxic to cats and those are cycads. This family of plants look similar to ferns and are often confused with types of palm trees. From looking at these types of plants they appear to grow quite tall, so the chance of you having one inside your house are quite low.

There are also a number of plants that can be dangerous for cats to ingest, although they are not necessarily toxic to them. If ingested, it is likely that your cat will experience nausea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems, but they will not be poisoned. The most common of these include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Poinsettia
  • English Ivy
  • Peace lily
  • snake plant
Indoor Peace Lily Plants: Growing A Peace Lily Plant
Peace lily

Please see the list here from Cats Protection for a full list.

Cut flowers in the home

Aside from the ones outside, you must also be cautious of the flowers that you bring into the home. Again the pollen alone can be enough to cause serious skin irritations or respiratory issues to your feline companion so it is best to double check any flowers in your home to make sure that they have not been nibbled on, or that no pollen has fallen onto the ground where your cat may be able to sniff/lick/touch it.

This list also applies to any flowers that you may grow in your own garden (as above) and so if you do wish to bring those flowers inside, you must make sure that they do not come into contact with your cat in any way. I for one will always advocate that if there is even a slight risk to the well-being of your pet, then simply remove it entirely from your home and garden and simply go for cat friendly options.

The most common toxic type of flower are lilies as discussed above, so again I would say to just completely avoid lilies in your home or garden.

Other types of flowers that you should be careful with are:

  • Hydrangeas
  • Chrysanthemum
  • lavender (quite a surprising one)
  • peonies
  • poppies
  • Tulips
  • sweet pea flowers

Some of these are quite surprising as they are probably some of the most popular flowers for people to have in their home. I for one am surprised that peonies are toxic, as they are my favourite flower! But now I know that they are potentially bad for my cat’s health, I now make sure to only ever have fake flowers. Again a full list of flowers can be found here from Cats Protection.

Final thoughts

As I have mentioned above, I always air on the side of caution. I will always put the welfare of my pets above the aesthetic nature of my house and/or garden. If you are ever worried, consult your vet or the Cats Protection website for full details on what plants and flowers should be avoided.

The other alternative is to do what I do: buy fake flowers! Not only do many fake flowers look IDENTICAL to the real thing, there is ZERO chance that I can kill it, meaning i don’t feel bad about any flower or plant dying as soon as I bring it home. As someone who has never had (nor is ever likely to develop) a green thumb, this option works perfectly for me to fill my house with beautiful flowers while ensuring that they cause no harm to my pets.

I hope you have found this article informative and I hope that it will inspire you to try new and varying flowers and plants for this coming year. If there are any others that you think should be added to the list, then please do let me know in the comments. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing pictures of all your wonderfully colourful – and now cat friendly! – gardens come summer!

T xxx