Litter tray.

My cat isn’t using the litter tray

There are many reasons why your cat may toilet in a place other than the litter tray. If it’s just a one off, consider if your cat could’ve been trapped in a room, unable to access the litter tray. If it’s a recurring situation then something has happened in your cat’s world to upset them. Cats are fastidious so this is no ‘dirty protest’ and it’s important not to scold him or her.

Position of the tray

Litter trays in a low-traffic area of the house allow cats to feel safe and not overlooked. You may have to think creatively about how to provide privacy. A well-positioned plant may create some private space, for example. Consider what is in the vicinity of the tray. Cats don’t like to have their food source near their toilet. A big, scary washing machine is bound to put your cat off.

If you don’t provide the peace and security your cat is looking for then they may find a nice, secluded corner for themselves, such as behind the TV set, in the bath, or behind the sofa. When bringing your cat or kitten home for the first time, try not to give them the full run of the house initially. This will help them get used to where their tray is, returning to it when allowed free roam, rather than trying out different spots around the house.

Most cats don’t like to share trays. Behaviourists recommend one litter tray per cat, in separate locations, plus one. Practically speaking, if you have two cats, that’s 3 trays.

Dirty litter tray

Cats are clean creatures and require the solids removing from their tray as soon as possible, and the whole tray changing at least every couple of days, if non-clumping, or the smell can put them off. It’s also important to use a non-scented cleaner. When getting your cat used to a tray, don’t be tempted to clean it too often. Having some scent will remind the cat where the appropriate toileting place is.

Type of litter and tray 

Cats can be fussy characters, some preferring certain types of litter over others. Most prefer the grainy, sand-like litter as adults, as it’s more comfortable underfoot. Try different types until your cat is satisfied, making sure it’s not scented as this may put the cat off.

Some cats prefer covered trays as it makes them feel secure. Others feel trapped in a covered tray with only one exit. Again, it’s important to experiment. Most cats like a big tray. If it’s too small you may find your cat sits in the tray, and then does its business over the edge.

Age or illness

Older cats may struggle to get in and out of a tray. Look for a tray with low sides and position it so it’s easy to get in and out of. Your elderly cat may also be caught short, and just not make it in time. Try adding more trays around the house so there is always one nearby. Many older cats will be used to toileting outside, but as they get older prefer the comfort and safety of indoors. You may find yourself training your elderly cat to use a tray.

Cats are excellent at hiding pain or stress, so subtle behaviour signs such as changes in urinary habits should not be ignored, especially if they have any underlying health problems.

As well as addressing the source of stress, pheromone therapy may help. Pheromones are airborne hormones that can affect our pet’s behaviour. A synthetically manufactured pheromone such as Feliway can have a calming and soothing effect on cats.

Dealing with ‘accidents’

It’s important to clean any ‘accidents’ using biological washing powder (or a commercial pet cleaner) rather than regular cleaner, as this will eliminate the scent. If scent remains this will encourage the cat to go back to the same spot. You can use a temporary well-placed obstruction such as a table to physically obstruct your cat from going into that area until your cat has got the idea of where to ‘go’.

How is spraying different?

Urine spraying is like a calling card, signalling that this is their territory. They do this standing and often paddle their back legs, passing a small amount of urine backwards onto a vertical surface like curtains, shopping, or doors. It’s not totally certain why cats do this, although there may be a sexual reason. 90% of intact males and 95% of intact females show a significant decrease in spraying after castration/spaying. Neutered cats may spray if they are suffering with medical problems, behaviour problems or stress. As a result, it’s important to get your cat checked out by a vet in this case.


Cat getting a treat.

Homemade healthy treats for cats

Homemade treats for cats

50g canned salmon, sardines or tuna in oil
½ beaten egg
35g wholemeal flour (or plain if you don’t have wholemeal)
Optional – 1 teaspoon catnip
Note – you will also need some additional flour for your fingers
and fork


1. Puree the fish and the oil in a blender – remove any remaining bones
2. Add the egg, flour and catnip (if using) and mix all the ingredients
thoroughly into a sticky paste
3. Coat your fingers in some of the additional flour
4. Pick up approx. ¼ teaspoon of the mixture and roll into small balls
using your fingers
5. Place on a lined baking tray
6. Coat a fork in flour and press down lightly on the balls to flatten
7. Bake at 180°C/350°F for 8-10 minutes (they should still feel soft, not
hard or crunchy)
8. Allow to cool on a wire rack before treating your cat!
9. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, discard if no longer fresh


Remember these are treats – so don’t feed too many at once.
Some human food can be dangerous for our feline friends – did you know that chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, sultanas and raisins are all toxic to cats?
These harmful foods should all be kept away from cats and not included in anything you make for them. If your cat ingests any of these foods, please contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.
No matter how much love they are made with not all cats are fans of baked treats. Some cats may simply pre-fur a portion of the fish!
Dog biscuits.

Homemade Applesauce cookies for dog

Homemade dog apple cookies and a chunky apple sauce

Ingredients (makes approx. 10 cookies)
3 large apples – peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons of water
1 cup wholemeal flour (or plain if you don’t have wholemeal)
Half cup of rolled oats
1 egg – beaten



Chunky apple sauce
1. Place the apple slices into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water
2. Put a lid on the saucepan and bring to the boil
3. Turn down to a low heat and simmer for 5 mins
4. Allow to cool then mash with a fork – aim for a chunky mash

1. Add the flour, oats and egg to the apple sauce and mix thoroughly
into a dough
2. Add extra flour if too wet; water if too dry
3. Roll out on a floured surface to approx. 1.5 cm thick
4. Get creative and cut out some fun shapes such as love hearts or bones
5. Place on a lined baking tray
6. Bake at 150°C/300°F for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown
7. Allow to cool on a wire rack before treating your dog!
8. Store in a sealed container in the fridge, discard if no longer fresh


Remember these are treats – so only one per day!
Some human food can be dangerous for our canine friends – did you know that chocolate, onions, grapes, sultanas and raisins are toxic to dogs?
These harmful foods should all be kept away from dogs and not included in anything you make for them. If your dog ingests any of these foods,
please contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.

Brexit and pet travel

How to prepare for travel with your pet to any EU country after the Brexit Transition Period has finished on Jan 1st 2021.

Brexit has seemingly been temporarily forgotten due to Covid-19 but with the deadline approaching, you must prepare for pet travel in the EU and be aware of what you need to do.

When the UK leaves the EU, it will become a third country. In the EU Pet Travel Scheme, there are 3 categorisations of third country:

  • Unlisted
  • Part 1 listed
  • Part 2 listed

Pet travel requirements will change depending on what category of third country the UK becomes on the day the UK leaves the EU. Third countries can apply to the European Commission to be listed. The UK is likely to be treated as an unlisted country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme if it leaves the EU without a deal.

Pet Travel if the UK is an UNLISTED country.
A current EU pet passport issued in the UK will not be valid for travel to the EU.

You’ll need to take the following steps:
You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.

  • Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccination. Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test.
  • Your vet must send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  • The results of the blood test must show a rabies antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml.
  • You must wait 3 months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel.
  • The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate.

You might find that the blood test result is not successful despite your pet being up to date with its rabies vaccinations. If this happens you’ll need a repeat vaccination and blood test taken at least 30 days after the repeat vaccination.

Dogs travelling from the UK to EU listed tapeworm free countries (Finland, Ireland and Malta) should be treated for tapeworm before travel.

You will not be able to travel with your pet if you have not completed these steps.

You will also need to obtain a new Animal Health Certificate (AHC)
You will also take your pet to an official vet no more than 10 days before travel to get an animal health certificate.

You must take proof of:

  • your pet’s vaccination history
  • your pet’s microchipping date
  • a successful rabies antibody blood test result
  • tapeworm treatment if travelling to Finland, Ireland or Malta
  • Your pet’s animal health certificate will be valid for:

10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU onward travel within the EU for 4 months after the date of issue re-entry to the UK for 4 months after the date of issue.

On arrival in the EU, pet owners travelling with pets will need to enter through a designated Travellers’ point of entry (TPE). At the TPE, you may need to present proof of microchip, rabies vaccination, successful blood test results and tapeworm treatment (if required) with your pet’s health certificate.

For more information please refer to official government guidance. 

Older Golden Retriever Dog being petted.

My dog is getting older

Caring for older dogs
On average dogs live for around 12 years, although many live for much longer. Over the years you can expect your dog to change, not just physically but mentally also. What once interested, may no longer do so. How do you cope with the changes?

Keeping your older dog comfortable
Older dogs may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won¿t be disturbed in a soft, cosy bed away from draughts. They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. Incontinence or changes in how often they go to the toilet should be discussed with your vet.

Make sure everything your dog needs is easily accessible so they don’t have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for older dogs to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them something to grip.

Feeding a senior dog

As they get older a dog’s dietary requirements change. It varies with breed and size, but at around seven your dog might benefit from gradually moving onto a diet designed for senior dogs. A vet can advise what’s best.

Monitor how much your pet is eating and drinking – mention any changes in their eating habits or weight to your vet as there could be an underlying medical reason.

If you have other, younger dogs in the house, make sure your senior dog can access their food without having to compete.

Changing needs of older dogs
Although they may be slowing down, senior dogs still need regular exercise and mental stimulation – walking them little and often will help keep their weight down and toys and puzzle feeders can keep them entertained. Wearing a coat when out and about can help keep them warm and dry.

Gentle grooming can help you spend quality time with your dog which also gives you the chance to check for lumps and bumps, aches and pains.

If your dog seems stiff or has trouble with things like getting out of bed and going upstairs, your vet may advise some treatments that can help.

Health and welfare
Older dogs may have poor hearing and/or sight, so ask the family to avoid sudden loud noises so that they don’t get startled. If your dog appears to be ignoring you it could be because their hearing has deteriorated. Ask your vet to check them over.

Senior dogs may need their nails trimming more often if they’re exercising less. This is something your local vet can do for you.

If you have any concerns about your older dog, always check with a vet. Changes in behaviour may be signs of underlying issues, not just down to `old-age’ – so make sure to take them for a regular health check.

Whats coming up at Orchard House Vets

2020 has been a very peculiar year for everyone and not always for the best. We don’t want to dwell too much on the negatives so we have been working behind the scenes to come up with some fantastic prizes for our Christmas competition this year. So far, it is looking really good! We will be announcing our prizes and how to enter the competition in November, so watch this space!

So … Whats coming up at Orchard House Vets?

Website video 

You may remember at the start of 2020, we had a filming crew at our surgeries who were making a film for our website. We are delighted to announce in the next couple of weeks we will be releasing the footage! You may spot a few familiar faces ..

Christmas competition 

Last year our winner received an afternoon tea for 2 at The Beaumont Hotel, £50 cash and a pet hamper worth £35. This year we are going even bigger and offering multiple winners multiple wonderful prizes! Keep a close eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates. We will be revealing the competition in November.

Christmas card competition

We will be posting on our Facebook and Instagram pages for you to share the best pictures of your pets. We will be selecting 12 runners up who will have their pets feature on our Christmas card, and one lucky winner will receive a prize of a one hour pet photo shoot with professional photographer, Ed Charlton. Ed will provide digital copies of the photographs taken and we will shortly be announcing details of how to enter this competition!

Laparoscopic keyhole surgery 

We introduced Laparoscopic keyhole spay surgery in 2019 and have had wonderful feedback from the service. The feedback has been so good that we have decided to run more regular surgeries! Details will follow later in the year but this is a very exciting time for us as so many of you have used this service so far.

12 months of promotions

In 2021, we are going to offer specific promotions every month. We will be releasing more information in December but we are very excited to offer our wonderful clients discounts throughout 2021 and to promote the very best care for your pets.

Orchard House Vets awards 

We will be holding our own awards in 2021 and we couldn’t be more excited about this! We will be asking for nominations from clients for some of our categories and our team will vote for some of our categories also. The categories will be as below and will be announced in mid 2021!

  • Orchard House Vets staff of the year
  • Orchard House Vets patient of the year
  • Testimonial of the year
  • Pet friendly business of the year
  • Pet service of the year (kennels/catteries, groomers, dog walkers etc)

Orchard House Vets – a day in the life 

We will be giving clients a backstage pass to our surgeries so you can see first hand the hard work and dedication that goes into our veterinary practices, and what goes on as soon as the consulting room door is closed. We will be shadowing different members of the team, having interviews with them and also asking clients to be involved by sending in questions which our staff will answer directly.

Orchard House Vets – in the community

At the moment, it is a little hard to predict the future and what we will be (and won’t) able to do. However, before lockdown we started planning for our practice to be out in the community. We will be approaching local charities to see how we can help them and our staff will be undertaking fundraising events, so watch this space!


We want to connect more with our clients and we are passionate about the care we provide our patients. We want to do even more and are always happy for suggestions on our services and our community presence. We would like to share the ways you can connect with us.

Our mailing list 


Contacting us directly with suggestions, feedback, testimonials and any events you may have planned.