HEALTH ALERT: RECALL ON BLACK HAWK DOG FOOD. As our clients well know, our clinic vets have Never been personally impressed by, sold or ever endorsed the feeding of Black Hawk foods. It is still however a concern to hear of the recall some hours ago of Black Hawk dog food-specifically the Salmon grain free […]

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Dogs on Car Window sills or on a Driver’s Lap:Not a Good Idea

Dogs on Car window sills or on a Driver’s Lap: Not a Good Idea. Several of our clients have received some Huge fines from the local police from the owner having their pet on their lap whilst driving. The Law dates back several years but it seems folks have forgotten so the police are busy […]

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SEIZURES/FITS. Please Do NOT wrap-up an animal either having a ‘fit’ or recovering from a ‘fit. Many of the complications of having a seizure are related to the patient overheating from the excessive muscle activity. Allow the pet to recover from the episode, contact your vet and make arrangements to have your pet seen if […]

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Snakes, Ticks and Bees. First the changing pattern of Snake & Tick bites in our immediate area. Normally the Oak Flats general area has been low risk for actual cases of Tick or for Snake-bite related health issues in our pets. Whilst Historically Shell Cove has been a natural area for Red bellies etc and […]

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Simple Ways to Keep Pets Cool & Safe in Summer.

This post has been written to give alternatives to owners who do not have air-conditioning spaces for their dogs, rabbits, older cats to seek refuge in during hot spells. There are several basic ways to keep your pet cool in summer: but it is amazing how often these basic steps are overlooked and the poor pet, […]

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Sensitive Skins: General tip.

One of the products I have found over the years not to cause as much skin reactions as other detergents is Omo Sensitive Liquid. Most pets will tolerate sitting on bed linen washed in this product; be that in their own pet bed or in their owner’s own bed. Currently the 2 litres ($20) on […]

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Why Healthy Animals don’t need dietary supplements or special foods.

Why Healthy Animals don’t need dietary supplements nor special foods such as Grain-free diets. PROBIOTICS-THE STING IN THE TAIL. Let’s get some ‘given’s out of the way first: The unwell, ill-thrift allergic pet does need special dietary considerations and restrictions. However, the same does Not hold truly for a well, normal pet; when we add […]

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A Nice Moment

It goes without saying that we truly appreciate every card, or thoughtful spoken ‘thank-you’, or any gift that members of our clinic vet family take the time to bestow upon any or all of us, here at Oak Flats Vet Clinic. We don’t normally share these events on Facebook etc but after a long day […]

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Noise,Thunder, Firework Fear in Pets.

A Guide to Assist in the Management of Noise Fears. 1) Den: Prepare a den for the dog before the expected event. Research shows that animals tend to run away from danger. You need to provide an area within your property boundaries that can attract the pet to seek it out rather than try to madly […]

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A Lost & Found Pet On-line Service without Facebook.

A Lost Pet Finder Resource that is not a sole Facebook resource. Whilst Facebook has been a wonderful way to put up an alert on a lost or a found pet, many owners or finders are not on Facebook and don’t want to be. We have been uploading photos of found pets up on our […]

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Canine Cough Outbreak. Alert (also incorrectly known as Kennel Cough). Areas currently having affected dogs are: Shellharbour Village area, Dunmore, Jamberoo.  (Some reports that Gerringong also affected). At the moment the outbreak seems to be moving west and south of our immediate clinic area but no reason to take risks The cough is a hacking […]

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Thanks to Dani Elle as our Waiting Room Poster goes International! The wonderfully talented Dani Elle illustrated our Waiting Room Etiquette poem(by UK Vet J.Innes) with some drawings of her own. We have finally gotten around to have the combination printed out as a large poster and as a Facebook upload. Since then, we have […]

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Why Cats risk their lives in search of Heat.

Following on from our previous Winter warning posts about cats sneaking under cars and into tumble dryers, ( we can share some  information about Why CATS will heat seek to the point they can endanger their own lives. The  NRC-National Research Council suggests thermoneutral zone for cats is 30-38C; whereas humans like to work and […]

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When Slip Slidin’ Along Ain’t Fun; Get-A-Grip: Dogs

When Slip Slidin’ Along Ain’t Cool: Get-A- Grip. Dogs First. Modern house floor surface and coverings and our pets are often a bad mix. I see anything from minor or major disruption to households and to the pets where these modern shiny floors cause pets major problems; resulting in a compromise for welfare in terms […]

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When Slip Slidin’ Along Ain’t Fun; Get-A-Grip: Cats

Spotlight on Cats. If we are rethinking how we provide correct litter tray design, appropriate indoor ambient temperatures and cat carriers for cats in general; then we need to address cat specific issues for feeding as well. Cats don’t show their gait problems on slippy floors as clearly as dogs do,but cats do have problems […]

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Winter Warnings For Cat Owners.

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR COLD & WET WEATHER. The current wet weather is a timely reminder to highlight the dangers pets face when their human owners need to dry clothes or warm up the house. In cold weather, pets (cats especially) will actively seek out the warmest spot available. A recently used tumble dryer, unfortunately, provides […]

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The Problem with Cat Carriers

We need to turn our attention to the size and design of ‘Cat Carriers’ that are used to take cats on car journeys, especially when the purpose of that car journey is to take the cat to the Vet.

Remember, it may be one thing for your cat to hide in small spaces at home but they can free themselves when they want to. That same cat can’t free himself from a small cage in a bumpy hot car journey. “Pain is both about the pain you feel and how that pain makes you feel”; usually not amenable to other living things touching you. Once you realise that, you can begin to understand why cats have hated being shoved into traditional cat carriers.

I wrote this blog post after sitting in a conference lecture on behaviour and having to bite my tongue (not something I usually do), as the audience was shown how a cat was “trained” to accept its cat carrier. It took the owners and their cat a week but eventually, the cat went into the cage without a struggle. I so wanted to put my hand up and suggest I could have gotten the cat to accept the cage in minutes. Why? Because I would have used a different cage. No one else seemed to notice how tiny the carrier box was relative to the cat. We don’t force our children to wear shoes several sizes too small, nor tie dogs up in harnesses that cramp their movement: yet we constantly want to shove cats into boxes/carriers that are simply too small. Surprise surprise, the cat doesn’t cooperate – well, fancy that!

For many cats, simply changing the style of cat carrier they travel in can have a huge positive improvement on the cat’s behaviour.

It is a given that all cats should travel to a vet clinic is a safe carrier of some sort; but I strongly discourage the use of most of the popular traditional cat carriers for my clients. I do so because often I seen adult cats transported to me in the very same cat basket bought when the kitten was first purchased; which was perfect for the little kitten, not so for a fully-grown cat. As a result, you end up at the vet clinic with: a hot, stressed, cramped, often highly painful cat, (sometimes two cats), who has/have simmered into the Red zone of fear and aggression by the time the carrier box and its inmates get to the Vet clinic. So begets a lifelong tale of woe.

Cat size cage

Instead, I encourage clients to use a small dog basket or transport box; these tend by default to be of a squarer, taller shape so that even a tall cat can walk into it without crouching and can then settle comfortably inside. Most of the dog carry cages have a wider door width which is kinder on the cats’ whiskers as well.

Importantly, many dog cages also tend to have air vents or slots on the sides shaped either as circles or portholes, rather than the long narrow vertical slatted slit style seen on many cat cages. I am suspicious that the rows of those narrow slit lines on the cage top-side may create a strobing-light action as the car moves along, by which many cats would be quite distressed.

The photograph below shows a 10kg (22lb) large male cat sitting calming in a dog carrier.

However, that was not how he started out. A new client had presented me with a small blue cage which “contained” this huge cat… The elderly owner and companion were covered in plasters as a visual testament to their struggle to get this cat into the cage. The owners were completely unfazed and reported their struggle as simply the norm for the previous 8 years of this cranky cat’s life. The cat extirpated himself as fast as any oversized animal could exit an undersized container. After the cat was finished being examined by me, the owner lifted the original blue carrier back onto the consult table-whereupon the cat turned and nipped the owner then turned towards me as if to say ” You’re next”.  I walked out of the room, came back in with the green and white carrier box shown above and invited the cat to enter-which he did calmly then and for many trips after. The cat loved the bigger box, happily going in and out of it at home. At the vet clinic, he would sit calmly in it with the door open in it until I was ready for him, then allow a certain amount of physical interference by me, then walk calmly back into the box signalling Detente was over. He allowed us about 60 seconds to close the door, any longer and the spitting and slashing would start. Problem solved.

Some cats love to look out and see where they are going which they can easily do sitting in the ‘wire mesh top with solid plastic bottom’ style of carry boxes. If the cat is of the type that prefers to hide, then a light towel over 3 sides of the box does the trick.

Now that you have sorted out the design and size of transport cage for your cat, you need to teach it to love the cage as a happy safe part of the furniture in its home. Cats preferences are extraordinarily fickle, one day sleeping right next to you, next in the linen closet away from everyone, sprawled flat out long on outdoor furniture in the morning (Exhibit 1 to 3), then tucked up asleep in the shovel-pan later (Exhibit 4).

Exhibit 1

Exhibit 2


Exhibit 3

Exhibit 4







As a result of this fickle nature, you need to use the transport boxes or cages as some of those home beds and also as treat- treasure- troves in the house for your cat from day 1. Do not have the carry cage stored in the garage so it only appears suddenly and always to go somewhere unpleasant. We vets can tell by how dusty and spiderweb covered a cage is as to how impressed that cat was going into it at home, usually not at all…

Cat laundry

Depending on the cat’s personality, I either leave them in a quiet calm area like the laundry or, in the case of my demanding heat-loving Siamese, I leave the boxes where the morning sun can stream in and warm the outside of the boxes. I leave special small food treats such as cooked chicken meat, tuna cubes, Hills Metabolic Treats or dried liver treats or else a new toy mouse to find in the boxes to keep the cats curious about what might be in the boxes at any given time. Healthy cats also have a much higher heat requirement that humans, they prefer the 30-38C range so leaving a heat pack in there even in summer can make the carrier very attractive to most cats as most cats spend their day searching for warm hot spots to rest in. Having the heat pack in the carrier makes the carrier more attractive but do no lock the cat in as they need to be able to move away if the pack is too hot for them.

Providing an appropriately sized carrier and positive training from Day 1 so that the carrier comes to represent safety and comfort for your cat has many benefits beyond just an occasional reduced stress visit to the vet. In instances of house fires or emergency evacuations from your home, you need your cat to be onside and co-operative about entering his carrier as that so not the time to be chasing a reluctant cat around the house fighting to get them into a carrier. Equally, having the cat content in the box means any stay in an overnight emergency shelter becomes less frightening for the cat as they have a little bit of home to snuggle down in.

Additional tips; Really stressed cats get their cages topped up with a Feliway spray on a regular basis and especially on the day of the vet visit. If you are not asthmatic, then we also have the owner lightly spray inside the car where the cat will sit about 20 minutes before the car journey.

The higher temperature zone of 30-38C that cats prefer (read Dr Aine’s Blog post on Why Cats endanger their lives in search of heat) means that when transporting your cat in a car to the vet, make sure you cover the cage on the side closest to the air-conditioning vents. This means your cat is not extra-chilled on their way to somewhere the cat is not keen on going to at any time, let alone arriving at the destination feeling cold and frozen from the car journey.



Homealonepet “Sister” projects. As you are all aware, our clinic has been shining a light on the problem of animals whose sole owners are suddenly taken ill and unable to care for the pets. We were delighted to see the NSW Trustee respond and develop a guardianship program for such pets. We were keen to […]

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SILENT AUCTION/SECRET BID UPDATE-3 different closing dates so read carefully.(May results below) Bravecto Auction will end Noon May 1st. Profits go to our Safe House Charity. Hills Canine dog food Auction ends also May 1st at noon. Proceeds to be the mental health Charities nominated by the winners. Vet Cookbook Auction ends noon May 3rd. […]

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This will be a slightly different fundraising Silent Auction/Secret Bid version to normal. This time we will have several items of which 4 will be Hills dog food on which you can bid with 2 highest bids winning and  4 will be Hills cat food; on which you can bid on all 4 with the […]

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