Pet Care

Super Star Pet Picture - May

This is my Schnoodle, Poppy and her very best friend Lily, Maltese

This is my Schnoodle, Poppy and her very best friend Lily, Maltese

Our cute pet picture has been sent in by Debbie Cox from Horsham

Get Your Pet Picture in the Star Spot next month

Thank you to Debbie Cox for sending in her fabulous picture of her Schnoodle, Poppy and her very best friend Lily, Maltese.

These cute little dogs jumping over a pole together in the garden have brightened up our page for May. Aren’t they adorable?

Would you like us to feature your pet in our June issue?

Then send us your very best pet pictures and we will select one to be the Super Star Pet Picture, for everyone else to look at and love.

This competition is just for fun, and gives you a chance to put your pet in the spotlight.

We’ll feature a different picture each month!

If you’d like us to feature your pet, then mail your picture in JPG format to:

Make sure you put ‘Super Star Pet Picture’ in the subject field.

Dora's Diary

A Monthly Dog Blog

Hi folks. Well, we’re now into May. Thank goodness after all the bad weather we had earlier in the year. It’s a lovely time of year. A time to have a spring in your step – or in my case, a spring in my paw.

Plenty of walkies. Charging through the woods at the bottom of Bossman’s garden. Woods full of bluebells, birds singing, insects buzzing. A hive of activity. Lots to distract me. And I must admit to charging off on scent trails ignoring Bossman’s frantic cries of, “Come here, Dora. Come back.”

In the end, he often stomps off round the woods leaving me to it and hoping I will return home eventually. And of course, I always do, even if a bit wet, a bit muddy, from ferreting down rabbit holes and the like. And confession time, often with a trophy from my hunt. I mentioned bringing home one such trophy in last month’s diary. And that was really quite something.

It’s the sort of thing us pets often do. Nothing out of the ordinary. Cats in particular, are known to bring home trophies, depositing them on their owner’s back door mat. Owners often think such trophies are brought in as a sort of present. Not so. It’s just the cat’s instinct to return to base with something that might later be eaten. Bossman once had a neighbour, Mrs Partridge, whose cat, Tammy, was forever bringing home trophies. It was a constant source of embarrassment to the poor woman.

“She’s got a baby rabbit,” she once said, reddening.

Then there was a squirrel. Followed by her namesake. A partridge. “Good job you’re not called Mrs Bullock,” joked Bossman. “Heaven knows what Tammy might have tried to drag in.”

Mrs Partridge laughed. But the next trophy was no joke. It had Bossman up in the lady’s bedroom crawling under her chest of drawers to retrieve a young grass snake. Amazing, eh?

But that wasn’t the last of it. Oh, no.

The next trophy Mrs Partridge brought round to Bossman in a cardboard box. “What is it?” she asked as Bossman scooped out a bundle of grey feathers, the body limp in his hands. The crest, yellow cheeks and grey plumage were instantly recognisable to him. A cockatiel. Warmth and rest revived the bird. Only for it to escape and disappear. Bossman and Mrs Partridge looked everywhere. All round her cottage and its garden. The local rec. But no joy.

Two days passed. And then would you believe it, Tammy turned up with the cockatiel in her jaws again. And yes, still alive. Quite remarkable. Of course, from that moment on, Tammy could not put a paw wrong. She could bring in anything she liked. Mrs Partridge wouldn’t scold her.

So Bossman was surprised one Sunday morning to hear Mrs Partridge admonishing Tammy. “You naughty cat. How could you do such a thing?”

Bossman peered over the garden wall, a smirk on his face, wondering what Tammy had got hold of this time. That smirk rapidly disappeared when Mr Partridge held up Tammy’s latest trophy and Bossman recognised it as the mangled remains of his Sunday roast-to-be. Serves him right, I say.

Nor was Bossman amused when confronted by what I brought home last week after one of my ventures down in the woods. Yes, I know, you’ve been waiting for this moment. Wondering what it was. Okay, now I’ll tell you. It was a badger cub. A very young one. Dead. Well, by the time I’d carried it back, it was.

As you can imagine, Bossman was mortified and I got torn off a strip. Big time. Understandable I suppose. It had meant I’d actually crawled deep into a badger’s sett. And I could have met up with mum or dad badger. In which case I might have been severely mauled if not killed.

So, I mustn’t do that again. But it still leaves plenty of rabbit burrows …

Love and licks                 


P.S. My Bossman is Malcolm Welshman.

His latest novel, Pets Aplenty, is published by Austin Macauley Tel: 0207 038 8212 at £7.99, Kindle version £0.99 and available to buy from  

Malcolm Welshman has his own website at   

Pet Sitting in your Retirement

City Professionals
Quit the Rat Race for Pet Sitting in Luxury

Over half of Britons long to change career according to new research conducted by Le Cordon Bleu London which found that 52% of people surveyed would like to turn their hobby into their career.

With four in five office workers in the UK feeling ‘burnt out’ according to project management platform Workfront, it’s no surprise that many people are looking to achieve a greater work/life balance. 

One such couple is Karen and Neil Oddy from Sidcup in Kent who took early retirement in their 50s from long and successful careers in the City of London’s financial sector in order to travel more and achieve a relaxed lifestyle.

The couple are animal lovers and Karen was keen to get a pet once they retired. However, as the couple have a holiday home in Portugal, which they visit often, they decided it would be too impractical to have a pet of their own.

Karen then spotted an advert in a magazine for Homesitters Ltd, a leading national home and pet sitting firm, and realised they could turn their love of animals into a flexible career that would fit around their travel plans.

After attending a professional interview with Homesitters Ltd they were employed by the company.

This new role is in sharp contrast with their former lives as busy city professionals. The main attractions of home and pet sitting for the Oddys are that it enables them to spend time with animals, which they adore, and to explore different parts of the UK and stay in fabulous homes in the countryside.

This energetic and sporty couple love the outdoors, dog walking and spending time in nature.

If they’re on an assignment without a dog they might play 9 holes of golf instead, and on a couple of homesits they’ve stayed in homes with gyms or tennis courts which they have been able to use.

Neil says, “The initial attraction of the role for us was the chance to spend time with pets, however, when we started taking on assignments we quickly found other benefits. When we both worked full time we’d take our holidays abroad, but as homesitters we get to explore the UK and we’re lucky enough to stay in gorgeous homes. We’ve visited areas that we’ve never been to before.”

The couple’s assignments have included amazing properties such as a huge period house on a 50 acre estate with beautiful views over the Kent countryside and an ultra-modern house in Surrey with high spec appliances and a cinema room.

Having always lived in a city the couple are really enjoying the opportunity to spend time in the countryside. They say it feels like a holiday.

Karen adds, “We are really enjoying spending quality time together. It’s such a contrast to when we had young children and worked full time and had to schedule a date night to spend time together!”

“We explore a lot, walk around local villages and enjoy pub lunches. I was worried I might feel restless in the evenings, but the time flies and sitting with a dog on my lap in the evening is heaven for me. We stay in such beautiful large houses that I feel like the Lady of the Manor for the week!”

About Homesitters Ltd

Homesitters Ltd was established in 1980 and is now the UK’s leading nationwide live-in home and pet sitting companies, available throughout the year. It has looked after 100,000 plus bookings and has an extensive network of employees throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

All homesitters are meticulously vetted and are conscientious, sensible and responsible homeowners. Many have been pet owners and have experience looking after all different types of animals. 

For more information on becoming a homesitter visit Homesitters Ltd at

Cat Exercise Advice

Top Tips for Exercising Your Cat

PDSA Offer their Top Tips for Cat Fitness

Exercise is an important part of ensuring our companions lead a healthy and happy life. Just like humans, our feline friends also benefit from those post-workout endorphins. So what types of exercise do cats enjoy?

It’s important to ensure that indoor cats have sufficient opportunity to exercise in order to reduce their risk of certain diseases and keep them stress-free. PDSA Vet Nurse Katy Orton gives her top tips for fun ways to keep your cat moving.

“Alongside a healthy diet, regular physical activity will help your cat maintain a healthy weight,” says Katy. “Outdoor cats naturally have greater opportunities to run and play, so for indoor cats it can take a little more effort to ensure they are getting enough exercise. However, all cats will benefit from some playtime – not only will it get them moving, it will help to strengthen the bond between you.”

Older cats love to play just as much as young kittens so, whatever their age, your cat will benefit from interactive games and toys. If your older cat already suffers from joint problems, it is important to bear this in mind when playing. Although gentle exercise can also help alleviate pain by keeping joints moving. Here are Katy’s suggestions on great games to play with your cat:

Pounce and play

Cats love to pounce; toys that encourage them to act out their natural hunting instincts are ideal. Toys that move quickly and unpredictably are great. Fishing rod-type toys are perfect for encouraging your kitty to chase and pounce. Just make sure the toys are good quality and won’t fall apart easily – avoid playing pounce games with your hands or feet or you may get an accidental scratch!

Food for thought

If your cat is very food motivated you could try getting a toy which requires them to work for their dinner. Toys that you can hide food inside, or that encourage them to chase or ‘bat’ with their paws are all great for increasing activity levels, as well as providing mental stimulation.

Vertical reach

Cats often feel safest when they are up high, peering down at you! A cat climber is ideal, or a comfy bed placed safely and securely on a shelf or wardrobe.

Perfect manicure

Keeping claws in a good condition is vital. For indoor cats, a suitable scratching post is a necessity since they won’t wear their claws down naturally by exploring outside. The scratching post must be tall enough for the cat to stretch fully upright, and heavy enough at the bottom to hold the cat’s full weight without falling over. If it isn’t stable enough, your cat may decide to use your furniture instead!

Cheap and creative

You don’t always need to splash out on toys and expensive items. Home-made toys such as tubes, paper, and of course boxes, are all free and can provide hours of fun. Just make sure they’re safe for your cat to play with.

Reward not frustration

Finishing games with a treat prevents cats getting frustrated with playing and mimics the reward they would get at the end of a real hunt.

Katy also adds, “If you find that your cat is very unwilling to take part in an activity, or gets tired after only a few minutes, then it’s possible they are carrying a bit of extra weight and you will need to build up their exercise very gradually. A visit to your vet is recommended to check your cat’s weight and fitness levels before starting an exercise regime. They can also advise the best way to help your cat shed a few pounds and get them into tip-top shape.”

By providing activities that are fun and stimulating you will help to keep your cat in shape, both mentally and physically.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment.

Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. 

For more information visit the PDSA website at

Animal Welfare Campaign

RSPCA Launches
New #AnimalKind

Two-thirds of people think the UK should do more to help the welfare of animals, according to a new poll by the RSPCA.

Figures from the charity reveal that although a massive 85% consider themselves animal lovers, two in five (39%) feel a lack of money and a third (32%) cite a lack of time as barriers to doing more to help animals. Worryingly one in ten (11%) people felt that their actions couldn’t make a difference.

The RSPCA is launching a new #AnimalKind campaign to encourage people to create a world which is kinder to animals. The campaign aims to give people practical advice about what they can do to ensure that all animals are better protected and cared for and has produced a free guide to show how little acts of kindness can make a big difference.

Klare Kennett, Assistant Director of External Relations, Marketing and Communications at the RSPCA says, “It is really encouraging to see that we still consider ourselves to be a nation of animal lovers but we want to show people that it doesn’t take a lot of time or money to do your bit to help create a world that’s kinder to animals.

“We at the RSPCA are dedicated to improving the lives of animals everywhere but we cannot do it alone. We know so many people want to do their best for animals, be it pets, wildlife or those reared on farms, but they may not know how they can help.

“We wanted to give people ideas of little things they can do, such as signing a petition, doing a litter pick, or volunteering to walk a dog, which do not take lots of time or money, but change animals lives for the better.”

In the survey of more than 2000 people across Great Britain, carried out by YouGov, respondents said that the animal welfare issue they were most concerned about (40%) was animals being used in blood sports such as badger baiting or cock fighting.

However, just 6% said a lack of homes for animals was a major concern and only 17% said farm animal welfare was one of their main worries.

While blood sports undoubtedly cause horrific suffering to animals, the numbers of animals involved are relatively small. However, in the UK each year hundreds of thousands of rescue pets are waiting in adoption centres looking for homes, and nearly a billion animals are reared on farms in the UK.

Klare adds, “People are rightly concerned about barbaric and illegal blood sports which cause the animals involved untold suffering. However, the numbers remain, thankfully, relatively small.

“What many people perhaps don’t realise is that rescue centres are bursting at the seams with animals needing homes, and that kennel-life can be stressful and difficult for many animals who wait for weeks, months or even years for their forever home.

“Similarly, people probably don’t know that millions of farm animals are kept in conditions which just aren’t good enough, and currently only a relatively small proportion are in higher welfare schemes.

“So by choosing to adopt rather than buy a pet, or checking food for the RSPCA Assured label, you could be making a difference.”

With litter and plastic high on the public agenda, 35% of people revealed they were concerned about the destruction or damage to wildlife habitats and 27% were worried about litter and plastic being hazardous to animals.

Free Animal Kindess Guide

For more hints and tips about how to do your bit to help animals, and to get a free Animal Kindness guide from the RSPCA click on

Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win a Rosewood Dijon Cat Scratcher Post

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Feedem to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a Rosewood Catwalk Collection Dijon Cat Scratcher Post.

This handy scratcher post is ideal for both cats and kittens and is the perfect way to distract them from scratching your furniture.

The post has a soft plush, spotty design base with sisal rope post and a cute little plush toy mouse to provide fun, exercise and excitement for your pet.

The materials used are of the finest quality combining hard wearing sisal rope for the scratching post and soft plush material for safe play and relaxation.

The post is approximately 40cm high. Price is £12.99. For more information click on

For Your Chance to Win

Tell us which hard wearing rope is used in the Rosewood Dijon Cat Scratcher Post?

   a) Flax
   c) Corduroy 
   d) Polypropylene

To Enter the Competition

Tell us which hard wearing rope is used in the Rosewood Dijon Cat Scratcher Post? Then send in your answer, together with your name, address and telephone number to the Sixtyplusurfers email address as shown below:

* Please label your entry
Rosewood Cat Scratcher Post Competition 

 * This competition is open to our UK visitors only

Cat Friendly Gardening

Gardening Tips from Cat’s Protection

Green-fingered cat lovers can find out how to create the perfect feline-friendly garden with Cats Protection’s 2018 gardening tips.

The UK’s largest charity will be sharing ideas for ensuring cats are happy and safe outdoors when it attends the RHS Malvern Spring Festival in May.

Along with planting ideas and designs to amuse playful moggies, the charity will also be offering show visitors the chance to find out more about adopting a cat or volunteering to help cats in need.

Cats Protection’s Events Manager Emma Osborne says, “We often get asked by cat owners how to keep their cats closer to home and creating a feline-friendly garden is the perfect way to do this. Most cats love to be outdoors, whether it’s lounging in the sun or playing among the plants, so providing lots of resting and playing spaces will help ensure your pet does not wander far.

“While there’s no reason cats can’t enjoy the summer months just as much as their owners, it’s important to remember that they do need to be protected from the sun too. Sunburn is a particular danger, especially for white cats or those with pale ears, so precautions should be taken to ensure they’re protected from the sun’s rays on very hot days.”

Other tips for keeping cats safe and amused in the garden are:

Cats love to nibble grass, and it is believed that it helps them to cough up hairballs. A particularly popular variety is Cocksfoot, which has broad leaves making it easy to bite. Seeds are available from garden centres and pet shops and it can easily be grown in trays within the home for indoor cats. Outdoors, cats will love their own grassy patch in their favourite spot in the garden.

The ultimate garden treat for fun-loving felines is Catnip (Nepeta cataria), a plant which is renowned for inducing a highly excitable reaction in cats.  Not all cats are susceptible, but those that do will show great interest in the plant – rubbing, licking and sniffing it with delirious enjoyment for around 10 minutes.

Dried catnip is available in pet shops, but the fresh plant makes an attractive addition to the garden for both owner and puss. As it’s a member of the mint family, it can become invasive so is best confined to a pot rather than in the ground. 

Lavender is a great herb to plant in a feline-friendly garden, providing a bushy and attractive hiding place for cats.

Cats love to lounge in the sun,  but can be prone to sunburn. Planting large shrubs gives cats the opportunity to seek shade while still enjoying the warm weather.

Aside from planting, gardeners can look at other ways to make their garden interesting for their cat. Piles of logs make excellent areas for scratching claws, while low shrubs make interesting hiding places for cats to snuggle up in for an al-fresco snooze.

Avoid plants which can be dangerous to cats. Lilies in particular can be lethal if a cat ingests pollen from its fur after brushing against them.

A full list of plants that are dangerous to cats can be found on Cats Protection’s website at

Ensure your cat is fully vaccinated before venturing outdoors to protect against diseases and parasites. Neutering is also vital to prevent unwanted kittens being born and to reduce roaming.

Cats Protection recommends microchipping as a safe, effective way of identifying your cat should he become lost when outdoors.

Emma adds that the charity is looking forward to returning to the RHS Malvern Spring Festival, having been awarded a 3-star trade stand award at last year’s event. This year, the charity will be unveiling its new look stand with new merchandise.

To find out more about the work of Cats Protection, please visit

To find out more about the RHS Malvern Spring Festival visit

New Home for Oldest Dog

Oldest Rescue Dog Gets New Owner

Stormy captured the hearts of dog-lovers across the country – but one lady just couldn’t get him out of her mind…

A 19-year-old terrier – the oldest the RSPCA has ever taken in to rehome – has found his paw-fect match with a retired widow from Coventry.

Stormy was rescued by RSPCA inspector Herchy Boal earlier this month after he was spotted collapsed in a snowy garden in temperatures as low as -3°C.

The animal welfare charity received an anonymous call on 2 March and inspector Boal was extremely concerned for the terrier – who is 92 in dog years!

His owners signed him over into the RSPCA’s care and Stormy was taken to the charity’s Birmingham Animal Hospital for a check-up before going into kennels at nearby Newbrook Farm Animal Centre.

Elizabeth Sidgwick, from Coundon, had been thinking about getting another dog when her daughter spotted Stormy’s story in the local press.

“I’d been looking for a dog for a while. I didn’t want a puppy, I wanted an older dog and I felt like I’d know when it was the right one for me. And he is the spitting image of my previous dog, Barney, who I had for 15 years.”

She went to meet the senior pooch and knew he was the one for her. Stormy came home with Elizabeth on 25th March and is settling in brilliantly already.

“He is lovely – especially considering what he’s been through. He just wants to be loved,” she said.

“He can be a cheeky boy though. When you’re eating he thinks he should have some so he sits, stares at you and barks!

“He is just great. Everyone loves him!”

Despite a minor heart murmur and cataracts in both eyes – which have left him with poor sight – the plucky terrier is relatively healthy.

“He has cataracts so has had a few problems walking into doors and objects but I’m helping him learn his way around the house,” Elizabeth added.

“But that doesn’t seem to stop him sitting on his bed and watching the TV!

“Whether he has just a few months left or a few years, he is going to be happy and that’s the main thing.”

And it’s not just Stormy who has been rescued – Elizabeth says the rescue pooch has changed her life too.

“I was widowed three years ago and he has brought something back to my life. He is something for me to focus on and someone for me to talk to. He follows me around the house and keeps me company. I think we have filled the gap in each other’s lives.”

If you’d like to offer a rescue dog a home, please visit the RSPCA’s rehoming pages 

And see the dogs’ profiles on Find A Pet.

To help the RSPCA rescue, rehabilitate and rehome more dogs like Stormy, please donate by visiting

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