RSPCA reassures cat owners during coronavirus crisis

The RSPCA is encouraging cat owners to take sensible precautions during the coronavirus crisis but urges them there is no need to worry about continuing to care for their cats.

The charity is aware that owners are concerned about their pets during these challenging times and the impact coronavirus can have on them as well as whether they pose a risk to human health. However; to date, there is no known evidence of the virus passing from pets to humans.

Recent news reports may have left pet owners feeling particularly concerned about their cats and the possible impact of Covid-19 on their furry friends but the RSPCA reassures owners that the risk is incredibly small.

Dr Samantha Gaines, Head of the Companion Animals Department at the RSPCA, said: “We’re advising cat owners not to worry and take sensible precautions, as we would advise at any time, such as washing your hands before and after stroking your cat, as advised by Defra, and avoid being kissed, licked or sharing food with them.

“A very small number of animals have been reported to have tested positive for or shown symptoms of Covid-19. Some of these animals were deliberately exposed to the disease in an artificial setting which did not represent real life. The others were cases where the virus has reportedly been passed from a person to an animal. Importantly, to date, there is no known evidence of the virus passing from pets to humans.”

“Even in cases where people have passed the virus to other animals, the risk is incredibly small, especially when set against the large number of cats and dogs who share our homes – 17% of UK households share their homes with 7.5 million cats and 25% with 12 million dogs. We are basing our advice on the most up to date scientific evidence available and we continue to monitor the latest science and government advice.”

Dr Gaines continued: “However, like human hands, pet fur could carry the virus and so it is important to adopt good hygiene when interacting with our pets, especially if they could have been in contact with other people. This means thoroughly washing hands with soap and water after interacting with them. As a precaution we would also advice against touching a cat that you do not know while out exercising.

“If you are ill and self-isolating with the virus or someone else in your house is, then we are advising that if your cat is happy to stay in and is used to using a litter tray, then keeping them in may be advisable. If they go outside a lot, then try to minimise interactions and wash your hands afterwards. We do not recommend keeping a cat inside who is used to going out as this may cause stress and potentially serious health problems.

“It is so important we continue to care for our pets who bring us such comfort during this difficult time and make sure we do not do anything which could compromise their welfare.”

The animal charity is monitoring the situation closely as it evolves at pace and advises all pet owners to take sensible precautions around their pets, as well as avoiding touching other animals outside their homes.

Cat owners can also wipe their cats with a damp cloth or pet safe wet wipe after they come indoors. Do not use disinfectants or other chemicals on your cat as many household human disinfects are toxic to cats.

For more information on caring for your pet during the Coronavirus crisis, visit







New data shows our dogs are getting more exercise than before

As households across the UK adjust to the new sanctions restricting outdoor activity, it seems that this has had a delightfully positive outcome for the nation’s dogs.

Amid concerns that the restrictions would negatively impact on their dog’s health, owners have been finding creative ways to top up their pup’s exercise at home: resulting in a ‘playrise’ for our canine friends.

Due to unprecedented levels of ‘humans being at home’, PitPat have reported an 11% increase in playtime in just one week.

The company also reported a 16% increase in dog activity overall, proving that owners will go to great lengths to keep their dogs healthy whilst in lockdown.

PitPat CEO, Andrew Novell said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to see this spike in activity at such a difficult time, but it seems that nothing can get in the way of Britain’s love for dogs. As well as being a fantastic form or exercise, research shows that playtime benefits dogs on many levels which is why we also record play activity in the PitPat app. It’s great to see something positive come out of all of this uncertainty, and it’s wonderful to see dogs getting a play rise.”

PitPat has since reached out to its followers asking them to share their tips to help dog’s stay fit and active prompting a fantastic response and a trend for the hashtag #playrise.

The company has also shared their 10 tips to exercise your dog indoors, which is full of great ways to keep dogs fit and healthy whilst in lockdown.

PitPat Vet Ambassador, Dr Rory Cowlam, said: “As a vet and a dog lover I was worried about the effect lockdown might have on the health of our nation’s dog and I was incredibly relieved to hear PitPat’s latest findings.

“It is fantastic that people are using technology like PitPat to make sure their dog is getting the right amount of exercise for their age and breed. It is great to see the general public are so aware of making sure their dogs stay fit and healthy, as well as themselves in these difficult times.”

For more information visit




Think outside the box: Keep your dog occupied during National Pet Month

With the nation’s dog owners set to spend National Pet Month (April 1 to May 10) indoors, Dogs Trust shares their tips to keep their dogs happy with simple household items.

Jenna Kiddie, Head of Canine Behaviour at Dogs Trust, said: “We understand that owners may be looking for ways to keep their dogs occupied, especially when the current advice is to go outside just once a day for exercise with your four-legged friend. Whilst physical exercise is important for your dog, mental stimulation is also essential to help keep them happy. You can make it fun for them and because they’re using their brains, it’s just as tiring as physical exercise.

“It’s really easy for you to keep your dog’s brain busy from the comfort of your own home using simple household items. From activities involving their favourite treats, to games using things you may have left over from online deliveries, there are many ways you can keep your dog active, without stepping outside your front door.”

Dogs Trust has come up with eight fun ways to entertain your dog with a cardboard box and tubes whilst you’re staying indoors and asking people to share their pictures and videos using hashtag #MyDogisForLife and tagging @DogsTrust on Twitter and Instagram.

Tutorial videos for the eight games will be released during National Pet Month on the charity’s social media pages, including the first one ‘the paw-fect figure 8’ to get owners started.

  1. The paw-fect figure 8 – get two boxes and set them out a little distance apart. Hold your dog’s treats or a favourite toy in one hand and slowly start to move them in a figure of eight around the two items, swapping the reward into your other hand at the centre point. One arm will guide your dog around the item to the left and the other arm will guide your dog around the item to your right. Repeat several times until you’ve got the movement smooth and well-rehearsed.
  2. Digging deep – shred or scrunch up newspaper or any paper items and pop them in an empty box. Drop in some treats or toys, and watch your dog dig away.
  3. Paws-up: Can you get them to put their front feet on the box? Their back feet? Can you get them to run round to the left, to the right? Can smaller dogs sit in the box? Think outside of the box and we’re sure you won’t be able to contain yourself with all this fun!
  4. Bowling balls:Create a 10-pin bowling alley with spare kitchen roll tubes. Have a competition and see how many pins you can knock down vs. your dog!
  5. Tunn-els of fun: Cut the sides of a few boxes and line them up to make your very own DIY tunnel. Encourage your dog to go through with the promise of treats or their favourite toy at the end of the tunnel!
  6. Jog your dog’s memory: Lay out multiple boxes in a semi-circle and pop a treat in one of them, making sure your dog is watching. Hold up a sheet to block your furry friend’s vision, drop and then see if they remember which box the treat was in! Repeat the game and change the box with the treat in, see how many times they get it right!
  7. Snoot challenge:next level – remember the original snoot challenge where you had to make a circular shape with your hands and wait for your pooch to run up and put their nose through the hole? Building from this, cut a hole out in your box and see if you can get your dog to poke their nose through it! *boop*
  8. Teach your dog to read– for starters write different words (e.g. sit, down, paw) on different boxes that you want your dog to learn. Say the word that’s on the specific box in front of them, and ask them to do what the word says. When your dog does as you’ve asked, reward them with a tasty treat and repeat several times until your dog has associated the new word, with the specific box!

Images and videos shared with Dogs Trust will appear on the My Dog Is For Life webpage feed for others to see and take inspiration from.

For more information, visit



Barking Heads partners with charities Blue Cross and The Trussell Trust

Barking Heads partners with Blue Cross and The Trussell Trust to support vulnerable pet owners during the Covid-19 crisis.

Natural and ethical dog food brand, Barking Heads has partnered with Blue Cross to help support vulnerable pet owners affected by the current coronavirus crisis.

In collaboration with The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks, Blue Cross and Barking Heads have distributed 9,000 dog and cat food poches to pet owners in need.

Many of these, living in more rural or isolated geographical areas, are self-isolating because of age demographic or pre-existing health conditions.

The emergency food deliveries are part of an ongoing Paws for Thought charity initiative from Barking Heads, which already works with several pet-related charities, including DOTS (Dogs On The Street), a volunteer run not-for-profit charity, dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to the UK’s homeless community.

Barking Heads, Marketing Director, Julia Anderton, said: “For so many people living alone, their dog is a great comfort; a lifeline in many cases. Blue Cross and The Trussell Trust were able to help identify owners in need and we hope that our food donation has gone some way to helping some of the country’s vulnerable pet owners at this very challenging time.”

Mark Corbett, Blue Cross Head of Retail and Acting Group Head of Fundraising said: “We are delighted to support this fantastic initiative and were more than happy to step in and make sure the food donations got out to the food banks where we know they will be much appreciated by the pet owners.”

RSPCA received more than 5,000 reports about rabbits last year

The RSPCA is shining a light on the plight of the Easter bunny as the charity received more than 5,000 reports about rabbits in 2019.

The typical image of the Easter bunny means that rabbits are more popular at this time of year and parents have found themselves buying a rabbit on impulse due to a little pester power from their children.

Despite rabbits often being perceived as an ideal ‘starter pet’ for young children, they actually have very complex needs and are one of the most neglected pets in Britain.

In 2019, there were 5,482 incidents reported to the RSPCA about rabbits and the animal welfare charity received over 900 neglect complaints about bunnies last year. There were also more than 300 abandonment complaints and 164 calls* from owners wishing to give up their rabbits.

Dr Jane Tyson, RSPCA rabbit welfare expert, said: “Sadly, when rabbits are bought in impulse, an owner may not realise how complex they are to care for and what a commitment caring for rabbits can be.

“Rabbits are arguably one of the most neglected pets in Britain despite being much-loved by many. Loving pet owners will understand their complex needs but unfortunately some of the common misconceptions about housing and diet are still prevalent today.

“We would like to see an end to rabbits being kept alone in a small hutch at the bottom of the harden as sociable and energetic creatures, this restricts their natural behaviours and has a negative impact on their welfare. Instead, we would like to see more people rehoming rabbits in pairs and providing them with plenty of space to exercise and do their binkies.

“Bunnies may look cute, but their needs are very complex and it’s important to do lots of research before buying or adopting pet rabbits to ensure that you can meet all their needs.”

The plight of the Easter bunny

The RSPCA advise that rabbits need a hutch or shelter which is large enough for them to stand up and stretch out fully, with an attached run so they permanently have access to an exercise area.

Rabbits need to eat a bundle of hay which is as big as they are every day – and owners should avoid commercial muesli-style food which is bad for their teeth and tummies.

Bunnies are incredibly sociable animals and need to be kept in pairs. Rabbits can form very strong bonds with each other and their welfare can severely suffer if they are housed alone.

Dr Tyson added: “For anyone who has done their research and is certain they can provide the time, space, money and care it takes to look after a pair of rabbits then please consider adopting rescue rabbits instead.”

The RSPCA rehomed more than 2,500 rabbits in 2019 and every spring the charity sees a spike in rabbit rehoming from its centres and branches with the most rabbits being rehomed in May (238). The charity has currently paused its rehoming due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but there are still lots of rabbits in RSPCA care being rescued and cared for during these challenging times.



The Big Bakes launches online baking tutorials for simple bake at home pet treats

The Big Bakes team are helping dog owners across the nation turn Barking into Baking with their new free online classes as part of a new mini-series.

The Big Bakes is the UK’s first and only live baking competition, where guests take part in live bake-off events in fully decked out marquees in London and Birmingham.

Whilst we are isolating at home, they are hosting an array of remote tutorials across their Instagram and Facebook channels to get the nation baking.

Keeping us humans’ company during our new indoor time is hard work for our four-legged friends, so to say thanks, homeowners across the country can now bake their canine companions some special treats to say thank you.

Eloise Frank, Co-Founder at The Big Bakes commented: “My dogs Luna and Freddie have provided me unconditional love and friendship, making life in lockdown infinitely more manageable which is why it is great to be able to return the favour and spend time together baking their favourite dog treats.”

Launching today (April 6), the new mini pet baking series will see recipes launched twice weekly for an array of pets in the home. The baking team will be sharing two pet treat bake-at-home classes each week across their social media channel, airing on IGTV every Monday and Friday. All recipes use the day-to-day ingredients and standard kitchen equipment found in the home.

Adam Chaudhri, Co-Founder at The Big Bakes also commented: “It is usually our job to entertain customers in our wonderful baking marquees, but whilst we live through this challenging time, we thought it would be lovely if we could bring some amazing baking classes to families at oime.

“As our pets are very much part of the family, we wanted to spread the love and give them a treat too.”

To take part in the digital sessions, all you need to do is visit The Big Bakes on Instagram or on Facebook where you will find a list of all the necessary ingredients needed for their up-coming classes.

Once you have completed your home-made creations you can share a photograph with The Big Bakes in order to be in the running for a prize. Each week, the team will choose the winning amateur baker, who will receive vouchers to attend a live session later in the year.

Homemade Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits


2/4 cup or 85 grams fruit puree e.g. pumpkin, banana or apple

¼ cup of roughly 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter (Do not use peanut butter spread that contacts sugar, additive, this should be an all-natural whole nut butter suitable for animal consumption e.g. Meridian or Pip and Nut as Xylitol, the sweetener most often used in peanut butter with sugar is toxic to dogs).

2 large eggs

3 cups or 384 grams plain flour wholemeal or rye


1 Begin by preheating your oven to 180c degrees and line a large flat baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone baking mat.

2 Take your large mixing bowl and crack in your eggs and then add the peanut butter and fruit puree. Now mix the wet ingredients until combined using an electric whisk with the paddle attachment or with a wooden spoon. Remember to give it a good mix if you are using a spoon.

3 Once combined, gradually add your flour about a quarter at a time and fold into the wet mixture. If you are using an electric whisk then beat this slowly until just incorporated. Then repeat to add the rest of the flour quarter by quarter until the dough is no longer sticky.

4 Now, form your dough into a ball TIP: you may need to use your hands to do this, so dust them with some flour first.

5 Then, once your dough is bound together in a ball, dust a work surface with flour and then knead the cookie dough (use your knuckles to press firmly and turn the dough a few times) until it comes together. If you are finding the dough to be sticky just sprinkle on some more flour. Then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about the thickness of a £1 coin.

6 Once rolled, take your cookie cutters (you can also make these by choosing some stencil shapes online and printing and cutting these out using a piece of card) and cut out your desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet leaving a little space between each cookie.

7 Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they start to turn a golden brown and they are firm to touch.

8 Once ready, leave to cool completely before treating your 4 legged friend to a delicious peanut butter treat!









Today Government bans third-party sales in bid to crackdown on illegal puppy farms in the UK

RSPCA welcomes Lucy’s Law as charity reveals it investigated almost 30,000 puppy trade complaints over the last decade.

Today (Monday 6 April) marks the day that the UK government bans commercial third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England. The RSPCA reveals that it has looked into almost 30,000 complaints about the illegal puppy trade in the last 10 years.

The charity welcomes the ban on third-party sales- known as Lucy’s Law – meaning that all dogs must now be bought from the breeder, or from a reputable rescue organisation.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “Over the last decade, RSPCA staff have dealt with almost 30,000 complaints relating to the illegal puppy trade. Our rescuers have saved dogs from unimaginable cruelty and hideous conditions; our vets have tried desperately to save the lives of tiny puppies riddled with worms and plagued by health and behaviour problems; and our carers have nursed dogs back to health, teaching them to trust people again, and showing them love for the first time.

We’re incredibly pleased that the UK government is today introducing a ban on third-party sales of puppies and kittens in England. We believe that this, along with tougher licensing regulations that were introduced in 2018 and better education of the public on how to buy puppies responsibly, will help to crackdown on this cruel trade.

“We hope these laws will be properly enforced so that all dogs who are used for breeding and selling will live happy, healthy lives where their welfare is prioritised above profits.”

The RSPCA has been working to tackle the puppy trade for years with officers investigating complaints about puppy farms, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs and prosecuting criminal gangs – some of whom have been making tens of thousands of pounds a week selling puppies to unsuspecting members of the public.

But the charity is concerned that many dogs and puppies will be stuck in puppy farms suffering in silence or could be abandoned by unscrupulous dealers when they fail to sell due to Covid-19 lockdown.

David Bowles, head of the RSPCA’s public affairs team, said: “We’re thrilled that third-party sales have now been banned and hope this will make a real difference to this unscrupulous, underground trade. We now need this law to be effectively enforced by local authorities who have a duty to enforce this new law alongside existing tougher licensing regulations which were introduced in October 2018 to ensure that the very best welfare conditions for dogs used for breeding and selling.

“We do have concerns, however, that the Covid-19 lockdown will have a huge impact on animal welfare in this area – and that many puppies who have been bred to sell in time for the summer boom will be left languishing and suffering in silence in terrible conditions on puppy farms, or will be abandoned and left to fend for themselves.”

RSPCA top tips for buying a happy, healthy dog

Please bear in mind that getting a puppy at this time – during the Covid-19 lockdown – is highly unlikely due to the restrictions on movement. It’s also important to consider whether you could care for a dog once the lockdown is lifted.

Here are some tips for buying a dog once these extraordinary measures are lifted:

  • Always consider giving a rescue pet a new home instead of buying:;
  • Do lots of research and ensure you can commit to a dog before getting one;
  • Ask the breeder lots of questions, visit the puppy multiple times and ask to see paperwork (licensing, health checks, vaccination records etc);
  • See the pup’s mum and watch her interacting with the litter;
  • Never pay cash and if anything concerns you then do not hand over any money or buy a puppy, walk away and contact the RSPCA, local council or police.





















Wobbly rescue kitten living his best lockdown life

A four-month old kitten at Battersea Dogs & Cats home search for a new home is on hold during these uncertain times.

As for many of us across the country, these are unusual and uncertain times for wobbly kitten Lofty.

The cat had just been given the green light to start looking for a new home, when the nation went into lockdown and the animal charity had to suspend rehoming.

This isn’t the first setback little Lofty has faced. The black rescue kitten was born with cerebellar hypoplasia, an incurable neurological condition that causes his head to involuntarily wobble.

He arrived at the charity’s London centre with his two siblings when he was only seven weeks old. Despite his condition, Lofty is in no pain and has proven himself to be a bundle of positive energy during his time at Battersea.

Like many of Battersea’s animals, Lofty is currently staying with one of the charity’s foster carers. To keep her charge active and engaged, Lofty’s carer Roxy Mok has been finding ways to keep the quirky kitten entertained.

She said: “We’re playing together a lot at the moment to make sure he’s getting the stimulation he needs; he really loves his feather toy and stuffed animals. He’s also fond of a nap or two and is honestly just the sweetest little cat. I know he’ll make a wonderful pet when the time comes and, in the meantime, he seems quite content keeping me company.”

While Lofty will hopefully be looking for a permanent home soon, Battersea has currently suspended rehoming. Anyone interested in adopting a cat or dog from Battersea should register on the website and the rehoming team will be in touch when they can.

The charity has also been inundated with offers to foster animals and has suspended applications to become a foster carer.



Seal pup found miles inland released back to the wild

A seal pup who managed to find his way to Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire has been released back to the wild after three months in RSPCA care.

A family out walking their dogs on Boxing Day came across the young grey seal. They waited with the seal, who has been named Zodiac, until an RSPCA rescuer could get there.

RSPCA inspector Kate Burris said: “Every day is different in this job but it was definitely unusual to be called about a seal pup at Tattershall Castle. We think he must have come down the weir and climbed up the bank before the family came across him as he tried to clamber into a small dyke. The people who spotted him and called us couldn’t believe what they were seeing.”

Zodiac was taken to a vet practice overnight before being transferred to specialist facilities at RSPCA East Winch Wildlife Centre in Norfolk the next day (Friday 27 December) and staff have been caring for him there ever since.

Alison Charles, East Winch Wildlife Centre Manager, said: “Zodiac was about three weeks old when he arrived at East Winch. He was very underweight at just 14kg which was a long way short of the 40kg he needed to be to be healthy enough for us to release him.

“He was very feisty from day one – which is always a good sign for a wild animal. It’s taken us a little longer to get to this point then we thought it might but it’s fantastic to be able to get him back to where he belongs.”

Zodiac was released on Monday 30 March. It was hoped that the family who found him would be able to join RSPCA staff for the release, but this wasn’t possible because of the lockdown.

Michael Poole, Charlotte Poole, Edie Dunworth, aged 13 and Tilly Poole, aged five have been on standby for the past six weeks waiting for the news that he was up to the right weight and ready to go.

Michael said: “We’re so happy that he’s recovered and been able to be released back to the wild. It’s a real shame we didn’t get to see it happen – it would have been a once in a lifetime experience.

“Finding him is not something we’ll ever forget, and the whole things has been a real learning experience for the girls. Every time we go on a walk, Tilly is looking out for wildlife. Edie wants to be a vet but maybe she’ll think about working for the RSPCA after this.

“We were really struck by how amazing Kate was and despite saying how nasty seal bites can be, she was straight in there to rescue him. My wife and I both said how brave and quite brilliant she was. Such a nice person too. The RSPCA has offered for us to come and visit the centre when all this is over instead, which we’re all looking forward to doing.”

Do not attempt to capture or handle and injured seal. It’s important the public never approach seals and keep any dogs well away and, on a lead,, as these are wild animals and can have a nasty bite.

For more information on what to do if you see a seal or pup in need of help, visit the RSPCA’s website here.









Pets as therapy: How animals can help improve our mental health

The UK’s a nation of animal lovers, right? Research has discovered that almost 50% of the British homes have a pet, with just over 1 in 4 owning a dog, and nearly 1 in 5 owning a cat.

‘Why?’ you ask. Well, a whopping 90% of pet owners have confirmed that having an animal at home makes them happy while 88% also state that it improves their overall quality of life.

In this interesting guide, we explore as to why this may be the reason:

Combat depression

Animals can provide love and comfort – both of which you often feel are without if you’re depressed. By owning a pet, you can feel like you have a sense of worth. This is because you will have a regular schedule, knowing that it’s up to you to feed and work your pet, giving you a sense of purpose and a routine.

Taking your pet for a walk also contributes to physical activity, which can consequently help in combating depression. However, you must make sure that you are financially stable, otherwise having another living being dependent on your income may lead to unnecessary stress.

Provide companionship

Being lonely is one of the biggest issues that Britain faces. According to figures, most people will feel lonely at some point in their lives and currently 1.9 million older people in the UK feel ignored or invisible. Loneliness is said to be as harmful to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. To combat this, many care homes are bringing animals in for sessions to help stimulate conversation between residents. One Reading care home has veered away from the usual dog and cat offering and brought alpacas in as part of their therapy and enriching activities.

Calming presence

Often in life, whatever you’re doing, you need to just take a step back and relax. Certain educational establishments have noticed this and have started bringing dogs in around exam season. Newcastle College’s Ofsted report praised the student support facility by recognising methods to optimise the learning environment.

Researchers suggest that those students who play with dogs enjoy increased happiness levels, while their level of stress plunges, sometimes for up to 10 hours! The idea behind the concept is that students are allowed to pet, cuddle and chat to the animals. Researchers discovered that this activity enabled students’ stress levels to drop by 45%, meaning that, they were more relaxed during the stress of exam season.


People with autism frequently struggle with sensory issues. Animals such as dogs and horses can help those with autism get used to how something smells, sounds or feels. It’s believed that children who have autism find working with animals a calming experience and it can help increase their desire and ability to connect with others in a social environment.

Pets with children and ADHD

It isn’t just adults that whose mental state of mind can be helped by animals. Studies have found that children with ADHD can also benefit from having a pet. This is due to them taking on the duties to look after the animal and thus learning how to plan and be responsible.

Like how owning a pet can assist in fighting depression, the physical exercise aspect needed for most pets can enable your child to burn off excessive energy, allowing them to become calmer as the day progresses. Sometimes, kids with ADHD struggle to communicate and animals can be great listeners, helping children air their issues while aiding their self-confidence.

Obviously, not everyone loves animals but the stats clearly show that animals can certainly be a human’s best friend in more ways than one!