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On the Prowl with Nick Mays

Cat burglar trapped in house

A CAT burglar named Pumpkin is back home safe and well, five weeks after being trapped inside a house following a break-in.

The pedigree tortoiseshell British Shorthair went missing from Carol Appleby’s home in St James, Northants, on Christmas Eve. When the three-year-old pet failed to turn up after more than a month, her owners feared the worst.

But when a neighbour heard a faint purring coming from a nearby house, which had been burgled shortly before Christmas, the RSPCA were called and Pumpkin made an unexpected return to the fold, with eight of her nine lives still intact.

RSPCA collection officer Sally Jones asked neighbours if they knew the cat. By an amazing stroke of luck, the first door she knocked on was Mrs Appleby’s, next door but one.

Mrs Jones said: “All we can think is that Pumpkin found her way into the empty house when it was broken into around Christmas and was then locked in there by mistake.

“She probably drank from a dripping tap or condensation, but we don’t know if she managed to find anything to eat.”

Mrs Appleby, who has owned Pumpkin since she was born, said Christmas had been ruined by her disappearance but she has been delighted following her safe return.

She said: “We just expected to find her crying at the door the day after she went missing but she wasn’t there, and she wasn’t there the next day.

“Some friends thought she might have got trapped in a garage somewhere but after a month we had said to each other that we probably wouldn’t see her again. I am so pleased the RSPCA got the call about Pumpkin.

“Thankfully, she is microchipped, so even if she had been further afield the chances are that she would still have been returned.

Prozac puss

A CAT named Twiglet has been prescribed a Prozac-style drug because she was “depressed” about being bullied by other moggies.

Twiglet’s weight ballooned to 15lb because she was too scared to leave the house and thus could not exercise.

When she did venture out, she began biting people on the ankles until they fed her.
Her owner Jackie Martin, 28, from Brighton, West Sussex, had to install a bigger cat flap because Twiglet was too fat to get through.

Now the 12-year-old shorthaired tabby has become one of the first pets in Britain to be given anti-depressant drugs. A vet decided the cat also needed anger management treatment because she kept biting office administrator Miss Martin in frustration.

He told Miss Martin her pet was dangerously obese and was suffering from depression.
She said: “Twiglet developed an anger management problem and bites a lot. When I took her to the vet after a series of infections I was told she had anxiety issues and depression brought on by the stress of being bullied by other cats.”

The problems began last March when Twiglet came home with a broken tail and clumps of fur missing.

A ginger tom had chased her and jumped through the cat flap to attack her in Miss Martin’s kitchen.

Twiglet was prescribed the Prozac-like drug Amitripty- line, to be taken once a day. Miss Martin said: “She was given the drugs to calm her down and alleviate anxieties. The problem is, if you have a violent cat it’s just not possible to make her eat the tablets.”

Animal behaviour expert Caroline Bower said specialist cat counsellors were available for depressed felines like Twiglet.

But after Miss Martin persevered and made her take the tablets, Twiglet began to get better and her anxiety began to lessen noticeably.

The vet put her on a strict diet and Miss Martin sent notes to all her neighbours asking them not to feed her cat.

Five months later, Twiglet has lost almost 7lb and is now roaming the back garden without fear.


Prozac Pets Over the Pond
Prescribing Prozac for pets in the USA isn’t as unusual as it is in the UK.

Animals are the new “Prozac Nation” stateside: cats, dogs, birds, horses and an assortment of zoo creatures whose behaviour has been changed, whose anxieties and fears have been quelled—and whose owners’ furniture has been spared by the use of anti-depressants.

Over the last decade, Prozac, Buspar, Amitriptyline, Clomicalm (clomipromine marketed expressly for dogs) and other drugs have been used to treat inappropriate, destructive and self-injuring behaviour in animals.

”Over the past five years, use has gone up quite a bit,” said veterinarian Richard Martin of the Brentwood Pet Clinic in West Los Angeles. Half a decade ago, no more than one per cent of his patients were on antidepressants. Now, Martin estimates that five per cent of the 8,000 cats and dogs seen at the clinic are taking drugs for their behaviour.

Pet Owners Willing To Pay
The use of antidepressants is another example of the growing sophistication of medical care willingly financed by owners who see pets as cherished companions. For these owners, drug therapy is not an indulgence; medication is urgent.

“If you have a cat that sprays constantly, that’s not a cat you’re likely to keep,” said Elyse Kent, a veterinarian and owner of the Westside Hospital for Cats.

Veterinarians say that animals experience anxiety. Dogs with separation anxiety can bark endlessly, destroy household furniture or even fling themselves out of windows after owners leave.

Birds compulsively have plucked themselves to partial baldness. Troubled cats maul their owners, hide or refuse to use their litter boxes.

Elizabeth gets ratty

Elizabeth Evans of Cadifee British Shorthairs had a novel experience a couple of weeks ago… and ended up feeling distinctly ratty!

Intrepid exhibitor, steward and reporter Elizabeth took up an invitation from OUR CATS Chief Reporter Nick Mays to come along and visit a Fancy Rat show in Leeds, staged by the locally-based Yorkshire Rat Club, of which he is Chairman. Elizabeth duly spent a very instructive afternoon with Judge Graham Mobbs (Chairman of another local group, the Midlands Rat Club) and his wife Sandra, who was acting as his book steward.

Judge Graham Mobbs explains the finer points of a top exhibition class Fancy Rat to Elizabeth Evans. Photo by Colin Arundel, Yorkshire Rat Club

Says Elizabeth: “It was a very interesting experience. I was fascinated by all the different breed varieties and how they are judged to standards every bit as exacting as those for cats and dogs. There are similarities to be found with cat and even dog judging, although the steward carries the rats to the judge’s table in their show tanks and, of course, the rats are a lot smaller.”

Well, that’s different! Elizabeth Evans (right) sits in with Fancy Rat Judge, Graham Mobbs, and his wife Sandra (left) as he judges Fancy Rats. Photo by Colin Arundel, Yorkshire Rat Club

The Rat Fancy has a long history and has been in existence since 1901. In fact, many grandees of the Fancy in those early Edwardian rat days were eminent cat and dog fanciers! Today’s Fancy Rats are, of course, a far cry from their less attractive wild cousins.

Elizabeth chuckles: “I was quite tempted to take up Fancy Rats myself, but maybe not just yet – I’ve got quite enough on my plate with all my creatures now as it is!”