Last November, we acquired a beautiful moggy called Max. His previous owners tragically died in a car accident. We don't think he was given much affection, as he was rather jumpy, but now he's a part of our family. I am worried when we go on holiday all my good work will go to waste as we have to put him in a cattery for a week. Will this set him back in his rehabilitation? Jenny Swire, via e-mail
First of all I have to commend you on giving a much-needed, loving home to this cat. When we take in pets that have had a rocky start in life they usually come with baggage. Some behaviour that they display, like wariness of strangers or children or not wanting to be touched around their head, can be linked to the misfortune they've had with previous owners. So when they come into a new home, we start afresh by trying to make them feel happy and loved. However, setbacks, such as your going away on holiday, can occur. The first time you leave your new companion is the hardest, for you and for them. You cannot reason with them and tell them you're going to be back in a few days But you are going to come back – and if you're anything like me you'll return bearing gifts! – and Max will still love you. You may set the progress back a little bit, but after a few weeks everything should be back to normal and you should be able to work on the trust you have built up. If you don't want to put him in a cattery, you might consider a cat sitter or asking a friend to stay in your home with him.
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Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort, an early visit to the vet is always recommended