Pets' corner: A Dogue de Bordeaux and keeping a cat on a houseboat

Your questions answered by Chamois Rose-Wood
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The Independent Online

The Dogue de Bordeaux ( right) was originally bred to fight bulls and bears and developed as a guarding breed. They can grow up to 68cm in height at the shoulder, and weigh as much as 50kg (110lb). They are, therefore, very powerful animals and need a large space to move around in the house, and a good-sized garden too. They also need regular walks and continuous training throughout their lives. If you are going to get a Dogue puppy, it is not advisable to leave it at home alone - you need to be there to train and feed it. Although the Dogue is known to be lazier than other breeds, it wouldn't be sensible for a first-time dog owner to take one on; but for experienced owners of this type of breed they can make a great family pet. If you'd like to find out more about the Dogue de Bordeaux, go to www.thekennelclub.org.uk or www.doguedebordeauxclub.co.uk.

I'd like to know whether it's fair to keep a cat on a (large) houseboat. We've been thinking of getting a rescue cat from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, but would it be better to get a kitten, which will grow up used to the water? Or is it all totally impractical and unfair? Susan Lang, London

It's wonderful when people dedicate time and effort to a rescued animal. The Cats Protection Association said it might be difficult to have a lively cat on your houseboat and that perhaps you should think about getting an older cat or one that couldn't (for medical reasons) go outside. I also contacted Battersea Dogs Home, who'd be happy to discuss rehoming a cat from them. People have no problem keeping cats in flats and a houseboat is nothing more than a house on water, but you need to be prepared to give your cat an outlet for its emotional and physical needs, playing with it and providing scratching and climbing posts. If you decide to get a kitten, it will get used to its surroundings very quickly - but I would take some precautions, such as purchasing a cat harness with a lead, or to be extra safe, a cat life-jacket.

For more information, see Dr Bruce Fogle's New Encyclopedia of the Cat, or www.dogshome.org or www.cats.org.uk.

Send your queries to The Independent Magazine, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or email petscorner@independent.co.uk

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