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Furr-ever Curious

Hello Youth Ambassadors! I’m Diba, the Education Executive at the SPCA! I have a really cool job! Some of you may have seen me in your schools, or at the SPCA conducting education talks, visits and workshops! My goal is to teach and motivate young people like you to become advocates for animal welfare. Let’s work together to make the world a better place for our furry friends!

So you get to ask me any and all animal-related questions, and I’m here to answer it! Oh that’s right, I also have my ‘paw-sistant’, Zuko with me who will be answering your questions alongside me. Zuko is my pet dog and I adopted him from the SPCA four years ago!

Hello hoomans, borks name is Zuko! I know I look small and cute but I just turned four, which makes me a big boy now! Diba told me it’s time I did more than just play and sleep. So I am now my mom’s new assistant!

I used to belong to a young couple, who were so excited to have me! They even named me ‘Happy’! I got lots of cuddles, and I knew I made them very happy! But after a few months, all I saw were their sad eyes. Next thing I knew, I was surrendered to the SPCA and I never saw my home again. That’s when I met my mom – my human mom I mean! She brought me home, but it was not easy for her to earn my trust. I kept to myself, because I did not want another hooman to return me to a strange and scary place again. It has been four years now, and I am proud to say that I am so happy and loved! I know this is my furever home, and I bring a happy smile to my humans’ faces everyday!

So borks is here to answer all your questions! Just like me, I want all my furry friends to have a happy furever home! You are now my new friends, and you must send me all your questions!

Questions in November 2023

Hi I wanted to ask how to help a depressed hamster. I try to give him new experiences and toys but he just stares into space. I really love him but ever since my other hamster died, he was never the same. Bringing him to the vet is not an option as no vets in my area are specialized to help hamsters. All the hamster vets are far away and I'm afraid if I bring him there, he'll die on the way. What should I do?

Zi xuan, 11 years old

Zuko says:

Borks is sorry to hear that your hamster is going through a tough time. Losing a companion can be challenging for us animals too.

Diba says:

Here are some suggestions on how you can help your hamster:

Create a Comforting Environment:
Ensure your hamster’s cage is in a quiet and peaceful area. Provide cosy bedding and a hiding spot for comfort.

Consistent Routine:
Hamsters thrive on routine. Try to keep feeding and playtime consistent to provide a sense of stability.

Gentle Interactions:
Spend some quiet time with your hamster, talking to him softly and offering gentle pets. Hamsters also need space, so try to see if your hamster needs some alone time as well.

Nutritious Diet:
Ensure your hamster is getting a balanced and nutritious diet. Sometimes, a proper diet can positively affect their mood.

Engaging Toys and Activities:
Introduce new toys and activities to keep your hamster mentally stimulated. Puzzle feeders or hiding treats can be good options.

Warmth and Comfort:
Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature for your hamster. They can get stressed if it’s too cold.

Seek a Second Opinion:
While it’s challenging if a specialised hamster vet is far away, consider reaching out to a general small animal vet. They might have experience with hamsters and could offer advice or recommend possible treatments.

Remember, every hamster is unique, and it might take time for your furry friend to adjust. If the situation persists or worsens, consider reaching out to any available vet, even if they’re not specifically a hamster expert, for advice. Your hamster’s well-being is essential, and you’re doing your best to support him.

Questions in October 2023

Question 1: How can I make sure my cat and hamster get along in the same house? I want them to be friends! Lucas, 8 years old

Zuko says:

Cats and hamsters are usually not the best buddies because cats have natural instincts to chase small animals. Maybe they can be friends from a distance!

Diba says:

Great question! Zuko’s right; it is usually not safe to let your cat and hamster interact directly. So, it is important to keep them in separate spaces to ensure everyone’s safety. Make sure the hamster’s cage is secure and out of reach from your cat. It is essential to prioritise the safety and well-being of both your pets. 

You can still make sure they both get love and attention. Spend quality time with each of them separately, so they feel happy and loved.

Question 2: I want to adopt a rabbit, but I'm not sure how to provide the best care for one. What are the most important things to consider before adopting a rabbit? Germaine, 16 years old

Diba says:
Having a pet is a lifetime commitment so it is great to hear that you are doing your research before getting a pet! Before adopting a rabbit, remember they need plenty of space to hop around. A spacious hutch or play area is essential. They also need lots of fresh hay, fresh veggies, and clean water. And don’t forget, rabbits need love and social interaction, so you would have to spend time with your new bunny friend every day.

Zuko says:

Borks agrees! Rabbits are so cute but they also need a lot of care! Instead of buying, consider adopting; there are many rabbits looking for loving homes.🐰❤️

Question 3: I heard that dogs and cats can get scared during thunderstorms. What can I do to keep my pets calm and safe during the rainy season in Singapore? Atiqah, 10 years old

Zuko says:
Borks, you’re right! Thunderstorms can be just as scary for us pets. To help us stay calm during the rainy season, create a cosy and safe space in your home where we can retreat during storms. Some soft blankets and familiar toys can help too. You can also consider using calming products like a ThunderShirt or consult your vet for anxiety-relief options. Remember to stay close to us and provide comfort when the thunder roars!

Diba says:
Great point, Zuko! During the rainy season, it is important to be there for your pets. Sometimes, just your presence and soothing words can make a big difference in calming their fears.

Questions in August 2023

Question 1: Why can’t I feed carrots to my rabbit? Doesn’t Bugs Bunny eat it too? Irene, 7 years old

Zuko says:
Howlo Irene!!

Borks LOVEEEE carrots because they are so yummy and healthy for dogs like me, but they are not the best food for rabbits. That’s because rabbits and dogs are different animals, and we have different dietary needs. If you give your rabbit carrots to eat, it would upset their little bellies as carrots contain a high amount of sugar and calcium! Eating too many carrots can cause rabbits to gain weight and lead to health problems!

If you are not sure what to feed your furry friends, just ask a responsible adult. They will help you make sure your rabbit stays healthy and bouncy, just like me! Boings!

Diba says:
That’s right! While Bugs Bunny is super funny and eats carrots in cartoons, real rabbits have different dietary needs. They need food that helps their teeth wear down properly and keeps their tummies in top shape.

So, it’s best to avoid giving carrots to your rabbit as a regular treat. Instead, give them their favourite rabbit-friendly treats, like small amounts of grape (seeds removed) or fresh herbs!

Question 2: I have seen SPCA featuring cats with paraplegia on social media. It seems tough taking care of them. What would you advise someone who is considering adopting a paraplegic cat? Janani, 16 years old

Diba says:
Dear Janani,

Cats with paraplegia can’t use their back legs, so they need some extra help, love and care! You should learn about their needs and talk to a vet. Make sure that your home is safe and comfortable for them. Be patient and loving, as they might take time to feel at home. Toys and regular vet check-ups are essential. It’s a rewarding experience to give a disabled cat a loving home! 🐱💕

Zuko says:
Borks, let me introduce you to Hoku!! Hoku is 4 years old just like me, and loves to play, JUST LIKE ME!!! Diba told me that when Hoku came into the SPCA, both of Hoku’s hind legs were already paralysed. With the help of a wheelchair, Hoku gets to move around much more easily now. I am sure it is not easy being Hoku, but just like everyone at the SPCA who has been helping Hoku, I am sure there is a forever home out there for Hoku!

Question 3: I love to dress up my dog in cute sweaters, but my friend recently told me that i should not be dressing up my dog! I never want to hurt my pets, so is dressing them up hurting them? Aiden, 10 years old

Diba says:
Dear Aiden,

In Singapore’s hot weather, it’s best not to dress up your pets unless a vet recommends it for medical reasons. Dogs and cats have natural ways to stay cool, like panting, and wearing clothes might make them feel too hot. But if your vet says they need special clothing for health reasons, make sure to follow their advice! 🌞🐾

Questions in April 2023

Question 1: How many times a day, and for how long do I have to walk my dog? Mary Anne, 13 years old

Diba says:

As a general rule, we recommend walking your dog at least twice a day, but keep in mind that this can vary depending on their breed, size, and energy level. Also, if your dog has any medical conditions or physical challenges, it’s always a good idea to check with your vet to determine the best walking routine for them.

But no matter what, don’t forget that walking your dog is not just about physical exercise. It’s also a great way to keep them mentally stimulated and happy. So grab your leash, and take your furry companion out for a walk!

Zuko says: 

I LOVEEEEEE to go out to stretch my legs and get some fresh air to feel my best! If Diba is busy, there is always someone else to bring me out! Is it time for my walk yet, can we go mom? Borks!

Question 2: I told my mom I wanted to get two hamsters, but she told me I could not keep them in the same cage! Would they not be lonely by themselves? Elyas, 8 years old

Diba says: 
Your mother is right! Hamsters are solitary animals and can be very territorial towards other hamsters. They may end up fighting with each other if they are put in the same cage. This could be dangerous for them. There are many other ways to keep them engaged! You can give your hamster plenty of enrichment toys, and a cosy space to sleep and play in. Remember to keep your hamsters in separate cages if you have more than one!

Question 3: Many of my friends have terrapins as pets! Can I adopt a terrapin too? Pavitra, 12 years old

Zuko says:
I have not seen a terrapin but I have heard that they grow to be as big as a dinner plate and live up to 50 years! That is a really long time to take care of a pet!

Diba says:
Zuko’s right! Terrapins require a lot of dedicated care and live for a very long time.In fact, many people who have owned terrapins in the past have unfortunately released them into ponds or reservoirs, when they no longer can care for them. This can negatively impact the environment. That is why the SPCA doesn’t encourage people to keep terrapins as pets.

Questions in March 2023

Question 1: I really want a pet, but how do I convince my parents that I am ready? Jia En, 7 years old

Zuko says: 

Having a pet is a big responsibility! Don’t get me wrong, I love playing fetch and snuggling up with my mum. But it takes a lot of time, effort and money to keep me happy and healthy! If you still want to have a pet, do your research and have a conversation with your parents about how you will commit to taking care of a pet for life. It also helps to read lots of books about the specific pet you would like to keep. There are plenty of lovely animals (like me!) in shelters like the SPCA, so be sure to adopt instead of buying a pet.

Diba says:

Zuko’s right! Adopting a pet is a big decision and it takes a lot of work, but it was totally worth it! I remember when I first adopted Zuko, I had to make sure I was fully prepared for the responsibility that came with him.I did a lot of research and made sure that I had all the resources I needed, such as food, information about the nearest veterinary services and grooming supplies, before I brought him home. I also prepared a monthly budget that I had to set aside to care for Zuko. But it’s not just about the financial commitment. I also had to make sure that my family was ready to help take care of Zuko too. We had a long chat and agreed on how we could share the various duties, such as walking him, cleaning up after him, and taking him to the vet if needed.

So if you’re thinking about adopting a pet, make sure to do your research and have a conversation with your family to make sure everyone is ready for the responsibility. It’s a big commitment, but it’s also one of the most rewarding things you can do!

Question 2: Why do people not like black cats? Kristen, 13 years old

Diba says: 
You might have heard that black cats are unlucky, but it’s time to bust that myth! The truth is, a cat’s fur colour has nothing to do with their personality. Black cats are just as amazing, loving, and full of energy as any other cats out there.

So the next time you come across a black cat, don’t let silly superstitions hold you back. Give them a chance and get to know their unique personality for yourself! Who knows, you might just fall in love with a black cat and give them the forever home they deserve.

Zuko says:

Borks has so many meow-friends, and none of them are unlucky! Humans are weird.

Question 3: I saw a dog with 3 legs, does it mean he cannot play anymore? Diyana, 15 years old

Zuko says:
Of course they can play! I have a friend called San! She lost one of her legs because she was not given medical attention at the right time. But that does not stop her from playing or getting into a running match with me! 

Diba says:
Just like Zuko said! Dogs or cats with disabilities can lead an active life and playtime just like any others! With the care of their owners, they can easily adapt to their limitations. So remember to treat them with the same kindness and respect that you would any other animals! 

With that said, as pet guardians, it is our responsibility to protect and keep our pets in a safe environment! At the SPCA, we receive many cases of pets getting injured because of their owners lack of attention! 

These are the most simple and easy ways to protect your pets:

  • If you have a cat, make sure to mesh your windows!
  • Always leash your pets, and give them a collar with an ID! Lost pets have high chances of getting seriously injured.

Ask your question to Diba & Zuko here