From grieving parrot to teaching your cat manners – your pet queries answered

From grieving parrot to teaching your cat manners – your pet queries answered

HE is on a mission to help our pets  . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions.

Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years.

From grieving parrot to teaching your cat manners – your pet queries answered
Sean helps a reader whose parrot is grieving following the death of their owner
Sean McCormack, head vet at, promises he can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’

He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”

Q: I HAVE inherited my late mother Jean’s African grey parrot after she passed away.

Pirate definitely seems down in the dumps and there has been some feather plucking.

I talk to her a lot, but I think she is grieving.

Is this the case and what can I do for her?

Sarah Smith, Plymouth

Sean says: Absolutely.

A long-term, owner-bonded parrot will grieve when their human companion passes away.

I’m sorry for your loss.

The fact is that parrots, African greys in particular, are a highly social species and really not designed to live alone or in small social circles.

In the wild they live in flocks of hundreds.

When they are forced to live in captivity, they can develop serious psychological and complex emotional problems, especially when the trauma of grief is added to the mix.

My honest advice is, if you don’t have the time and capacity to provide a great home for an inherited parrot, then rehoming to an experienced parrot owner or sanctuary where Pirate can have the company of other parrots will be best for her in the long term.

Your mother would want the best for her and it’s not a failure to say that you can’t provide that.

Q: MY cat has taken charge of one of the armchairs in our sitting room and gets really annoyed if visitors sit on it.

Marmalade, who is eight, will stalk up to them and jump on the arm and pretty much intimidate them to move.

How can I teach him good manners and to share?

Mike Fenton, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

Sean says: I’m tempted to say that armchair is now Marmalade’s, but there is one last-ditch plan you can try to regain control in these armchair wars.

Cats are very sensitive to the texture and feel of the surfaces they recline on.

So one solution is to try to alter how the chair feels to him.

When the chair is not in use, you could lay a sheet of plastic or tinfoil over it and remove it when a human visitor needs to sit down.

Cats cannot abide tinfoil, and plastic isn’t their favourite either.

Then provide Marmalade with a more comfy spot to claim as his own, perhaps one of those over-the-radiator hanging cat beds?

That way everyone will be happy and peace can be restored.

Q: KEITH, my two-year-old Labrador, is obsessed by balloons and he wrecks birthday parties as he goes crazy trying to pop them.

How can we deter him and stop him being a party pooper?

Frank Davies, Nottingham

Sean says: You want the honest answer?

Ditch the balloons or just embrace Keith’s joie de vivre!

I don’t think you’re going to conquer a two-year-old Labrador’s obsessive joy in such an exciting game of balloon popping through training, no matter how hard you try.


Q: HOW can I stop my nine-month-old pup Oreo trying to eat small stones?

I’ve tried saying no and tell him off.

But he’s persistent.

I’m really concerned about it and want to nip this behaviour in the bud.

Peter Bryan, Grimsby

Sean says: Puppies explore everything in the world by putting things in their mouth.

Usually it’s nothing to worry about and it would be odd for Oreo to want to swallow stones all the time.

The easiest ways to prevent this behaviour becoming ingrained are to prevent access to stones, or to redirect his attention to something far more exciting when it happens.

Star of the week


Mord the Norwegian Forest cat is this week’s star of the week[/caption]

MORD the Norwegian Forest cat thinks he’s a werewolf as he howls at the moon.

Owner Sean Bow, 59, of North Prospect, Devon, revealed his 12-year-old moggy has seen him through his sons flying the nest.

Sean, who is married to librarian Julie, 40, said: “Mord is what you might call a very special cat as he thinks he’s a werewolf – and he looks a bit like one too with his two teeth that stick out.

“When there’s a full moon, he makes a funny noise that’s a cross between a yowl and a howl. It’s fair to say he’s a bit eccentric, but we wouldn’t have him any other way.”

Win Crufts tickets

CRUFTS will bring thousands of wagging tails to Birmingham’s NEC from March 7-10.

We have teamed up with The Kennel Club to offer five pairs of tickets worth £280 to readers.

For a chance to win, send an email headed CRUFTS with your name, address and phone number to sundaypets@ by February 11.

Tickets and details for the event are available on the Crufts website at

Valentine’s Day is for love of dogs

THOUSANDS of us would rather spend Valentine’s Day with our dog than a partner, Paws and Claws can reveal.

New research has found that while 45 per cent would like to have both with them, one in ten would ditch their human to spend the romantic day with their pooch.


One in ten people would ditch their human to spend Valentine’s Day with their dog[/caption]

The survey, by dog treats brand Denzel (, also found six out of ten pet parents will be providing a food treat and 38 per cent are considering splashing out on a present – even though one in four won’t bother with a gift for their partner.

On February 14, a fifth of pooches will be licking their chops for a slap-up dinner of steak and chips.

While 12 per cent of owners plan to give special dog-safe Carob chocolates.

Figures from Barclays’ monthly Consumer Spending Index revealed 27 per cent of owners will fork out an average of £87 on their pets on Valentine’s Day.

In fact, our furry friends are spoiled more than our partners, who, on average, only receive £72 worth of romantic gifts and gestures.

Food is the most popular present for our pets, with 57 per cent splashing out on snacks, followed by toys (44 per cent) and clothing or accessories (29 per cent).

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