Dear PDSA Vet, why do my cats always pounce on my ankles? They always do it when I’m walking down the stairs and it can get quite sore. How can I get them to stop? Christina

Dear Christina, cats have an instinct to chase and catch prey. Even if they are well-fed, it’s fun for them to stalk and pounce on moving targets. Unfortunately, the current target is your ankles. To help prevent the problem, increase playtime with your cat using toys which they can chase and jump on, such as rod-type toys. This mimics natural hunting behaviour. More sessions may be needed for indoor cats, who don’t get the chance to chase things outside. Providing a sturdy scratching post means they can stretch and wear down their claws more easily. Making sure they have somewhere comfortable to hang out away from the stairs will mean they won’t come into contact with you as you are passing by. If they continue pouncing on your ankles after all this, then temporarily wear wellington boots when you use the stairs and enlist expert help from an accredited behaviourist.

Dear PDSA Vet, my dog, Dodo, has suddenly started to chew his bedding, leaving the stuffing everywhere. Why has he started to do this? Jay

Dear Jay, take Dodo to your vet to narrow down the cause. It’s important not to shout at Dodo or punish him, as this could worsen the problem. One possibility is a lack of exercise and stimulation. Bored dogs have lots of pent up energy, so make sure he’s getting daily walks and opportunities to run around and play. Provide pet-safe toys for him to chew on instead, or challenge him with a puzzle feeder to keep him busy. Another possibility, if it mainly happens when he’s left alone, is this could be a sign of ‘separation anxiety’. Affected dogs become anxious and may pace, whine, bark, toilet indoors or even be destructive when their owners are away. With the right professional help from a vet or accredited behaviourist, behaviour like this can be remedied. Remember if his dog-bed is damaged it will need to be replaced, as eating the stuffing could cause Dodo a life-threatening gut blockage.

Dear PDSA Vet, my goldfish Dumbo has started to swim upside down a lot. He seems fine otherwise, still eating his food. Is anything wrong with him? Bethan

Dear Bethan, it sounds as though Dumbo may have a problem with his swim bladder. This is an air-filled organ which acts as a buoyancy aid so that fish can more easily stay in one place under water. Goldfish can swallow or “burp” air to adjust the amount of air in the swim bladder. Sometimes the fish develops a problem which means that their swim bladder has too much air and they float to the surface or swim upside down. Over-inflated swim-bladders are a common problem in certain fancy varieties of goldfish, especially short, round breeds like orandas. Goldfish can also suffer from eating or gut problems that cause them to swallow or produce more air and affect the swim bladder, or less commonly it can be due to an infection. You need to take Dumbo to a vet who specialises in fish to see what is causing this problem and what treatment is best, especially if he has any other symptoms or the problem continues.

Dear PDSA Vet, I have two female rabbits and recently the younger one, Fudge, has started getting very territorial and biting the older one, Candy. Fudge is one and Candy is nearly six, both have been spayed and got on well together before. Fudge has started pulling her fur out and making a nest, which I though spayed rabbits didn’t do. Could her operation not have worked? Frances

Dear Frances, first, have your vet rule out any underlying medical problems, such pain, which can make rabbits change their behaviour. Although fighting and nesting is much more common in unneutered bunnies, getting a rabbit neutered may not totally eliminate issues. The odd scuffle is still possible, and sometimes rabbits will even lose their bond and need to be re-bonded. Sometimes this is after a period of separation or stress, but it can also be for seemingly no reason. Your vet or vet nurse will be able to give you lots of tips about how to help rabbits get on together again. Avoid problems in future by making sure your rabbits have enough space to play in and giving them plenty of toys and places to hide to reduce possible conflicts. Providing multiple feeding, watering and litter points can also help. Your rabbits’ hide or shelter should also have a few exits to avoid ‘guarding’ by bunnies looking for a fight.