Frequently asked questions

Cats

What does my adoption fee cover?

The adoption fee often does not cover the cost of the cat’s care whilst at the sanctuary.  All cats leave the sanctuary neutered (or with a voucher), microchipped, vaccinated, flea and worm treated and six weeks free pet insurance.  Many cats also need extra treatments such as dentals, blood tests, antibiotics, FIV tests, special diets and these all come at an extra cost.  The donation the Trust asks for helps towards this care.

How old do I have to be to adopt an animal from Woodside?

Anyone over the age of 18 can apply to adopt an animal from Woodside.

I am in rented accommodation; can I still adopt?

If you live in rented accommodation the Trust will require either:

  • A copy of your tenancy agreement which states you are allowed the type of pet you are applying for.
  • A letter from your landlord which states their permission to have the type of pet you are applying for in their property.
I would like to adopt a cat as a gift for someone, is that possible?

Whilst the surprise gift of a pet is a lovely thought, it is not something that we allow at Woodside.  From years of experience in homing we know how vital it is to ensure the right pet is placed with the right person.  For that reason we always insist on all members of the family meeting the animal before taking home.  We will happily discuss alternative options so that there can still be a element of surprise but ultimately the person adopting the animal will have to meet and sign the adoption form.

Do I have to allow my cat access to outside?

Every cat is different but as a general rule it is possible to keep a cat indoor but if you plan on doing so there are many things to consider.  Indoor cats can live a long and happy life but they will require much more care and interaction to prevent boredom and unwanted habits occurring.  Cats are naturally prey animals and like to hunt. They will also keep their claws short by activities such as climbing trees.  They also like observing their surroundings from high levels so it important to still allow your cat to do these behaviours indoors.  Feeding routines can be altered to allow for the hunting and foraging instinct, high perches and climbing frames will allow your cat to climb and scratch and sit on higher levels. Please visit our enrichment page for more idea.

How long do cats live?

Domestic cats can live up to sixteen years, although it is not unheard off of for a cat to live up twenty years.

How long do I need to keep my new cat inside before letting them out?

Cats need to be kept in for 4-6 weeks when they first are taken home or if you move house.  This gives them time to adjust to new surroundings and reduces the chances of getting lost.  When first letting your cat out, we recommend you do so on an empty stomach to encourage them to stay nearer to the home.

Do I need to have a litter tray even if my gets has access to outside?

Cats should always have access to a litter tray, especially during the winter months when cats often spend more time inside.  The general rule is one litter tray per cat plus one.  Without access to a litter tray there is more risk of bad habits and toilet problems occurring.

I have young children, is it better to adopt a kitten rather than a older cat?

Many people believe that if they have young children it is better to adopt a kitten so it can grow up with the children.  Whilst it is lovely for children to have a young kitten who is cute and playful, there are many reasons why it can be better to adopt a older cat.  A young kittens temperament can change as it matures so you aren’t guaranteed a cat who loves to sit on your lap.  Kittens also love to scratch and bite which can be upsetting for some children.  An older cat is calmer and its temperament would have developed so you can see exactly what you are getting.  An adult cat is just as capable as a kitten in forming a bond with a human.

I want a kitten, do I have to have two?

Cats are naturally solitary animals.  Whilst they are capable of forming relationships with other cats or other species, they often do not feel the need.  Woodside access every cat or litter of kittens individually.  If a cat arrives with a companion and they clearly have a strong bond, we will do our upmost to find a new home for them together. Single cats are assessed as to whether they need a solitary home or a companion.  When finding homes for kittens then it is important to consider the type of home they are going into to.  Kittens need company and cannot be left for long periods of time.  If someone has a busy life then adopting two kittens may be a better option, but they will also require frequent feeding so if you cannot commit to being home regularly an old cat would be more suitable.

Is it a good idea to adopt a kitten if I have a elderly cat?

An elderly, inactive cat can find it very traumatic when a young kitten comes into the home.  Kittens naturally like to scratch and bite and will often pester an older cat who will find it difficult to get some peace.  Often adopting two can help as the kittens will play with each other but it still can be very disruptive to an old cat who just wants to spend its time sleeping and relaxing around the house.

Where Is the best location to have a cat litter tray?

When you bring a cat home it is important to consider not just what is best for you when thinking of the location of a litter tray, but what is also best for your cat.  Cats do not like to go to the toilet in busy areas and prefer privacy.  Placing a litter tray where there is busy human traffic will not be ideal and may deter your cat from using it. Many cats prefer hooded trays because it provides privacy but they may be put off by the flap so it maybe necessary to remove the flap initially or altogether.  Also do not place the litter tray next to the food and water bowl.

Just as location is important, so is the type of litter used and the frequency of cleaning.  Some cats are very clean and will not use a dirty litter tray so we recommend them being changed daily.  As a general rule you should provide one tray per cat plus one.  This will allow you cat to use the other tray if one is dirty.  They are many types of litter and each cat will have its own preference.  If you notice your cat not using its tray then consider changing the type if litter.

My cat has started to wee around the house, what should I do?

It can be very concerning when you discover that your cat has toileted in an unwanted area of the home.  Cats can get stressed easily sometimes and will often spray as a way of marking its territory.  One of the first things to find out is whether your cats is urinating, or spraying. To urinate you cat will squat and wee in a horizontal position, but when spraying will stand tall and lift its tail, and shoot some urine backwards.  When spraying, your cat will often find somewhere near a door on something like a curtain or on objects that have come into the home (such as shopping bags). When urinating on unwanted objects it is often the bath, carpet or duvet. Once you know which you cat is doing, you can start to deal with the issue.

There can be a medical problem that may cause a cat to start urinating around the house so it is always important to get your cat checked by a vet if this behaviour starts to happen.  Conditions such a cystitis and urinary tract infections are easy to treat but can cause this unwanted behaviour.

Once your cat has been given a clear bill of health then it is necessary to start looking for other reasons for this behaviour.  There is lots of reasons and it may be necessary to try different things to eliminate possibilities.  For example as a cat gets older, it will spend more time indoors and may not want to go outside to go to the toilet.  It may have joint problems so finds using a cat flap painful, may not like bad weather or may get caught short more often.  Ensure you cat has a litter tray inside the home where it has access too at all times and read the previous question to ensure it is a suitable location within your home.

All cats can spray and it is not just unneutered males which is often what people believe.  Whilst neutering hugely the risks of spraying it can still happen in neutered females as well as males.  When cats do spray they do so as a way of marking their scent.  When this behaviour starts all of a sudden then it is a sign your cat is experiencing some kind of stress and it is trying to make itself feel better.  Marking ones territory whether it by spraying or rubbing or scratching furniture is a way to help your cat feel familiar in its surroundings and improve self-confidence.  This behaviour often is not easily improved and sometimes that is because we as humans actually make the situation worse.  If out cat is feeling stresses and threatened and then we tell it off for an unwanted behaviour we then just add to the stress the cat is feeling, thus resulting in making the situation worse and not better.  In fact, what the cat needs is reassurance and help to feel less stressed and threatened.  Ways to do this include limiting the area the cat is allowed to wander.  Sometimes only giving the cat a smaller area to roam will help to increase confidence and feel less fearful.  If the reason for the stress is easily identified (moving house, new baby, new pet, major change in routine for example) then it is important to spend time with the cat to give more reassurance.  It is never a good idea to force a cat to come face to face with a new addition, whether that be a child or another animal.  Instead allow the cat to – the new addition in its own time.  Ensure the cat has a safe are it can retreat to and cannot be pestered.  Baby gates are often a good idea when introducing a cat to a dog.

Fear can also be a reason for unwanted toileting behaviour.  If a new cat has move into the area and is bullying cats, or if your cat experiences a traumatic experience such as a cat coming into their home or a close encounter with a vehicle or a dog then it may become fearful. It will then be necessary to take some steps to help your cat feel safe.  Initially ensure your cat has access to a litter tray in the home so it knows it does not need to go outside.  If you suspect or have seen a cat come into the home through the cat flap, then close the cat flap and let you cat in and out through a door or window.  There are many cat flaps that only allow your cat to enter so it be necessary to look into if it is something that is happening regularly.

There are various plug in devices and sprays available to buy which can help to de stress your cat.  It is always an idea to discuss this with your vet first but they can make a huge difference if used correctly.

It is also worth reading the previous question about types of litter and locations of litter tray as this can often be a reason for unwanted toilet habits.

My cat has toileted in my home, what is the best way to clean the area?

When a cat toilets in an area of the home it is essential to clean it correctly to try and deter your cat from using the area again.  You need to clean the area with enzymatic cleaner (for example a solution of biological powder or liquid).  Try to keep you pet away from the area for as long as possible.

If your cat frequently just uses one area, it may also be an idea to place feeding bowls on the area once cleaned as cats will generally not toilet in the area they eat.

My cat has started to become aggressive, why?

Cats have a natural hunting instinct and if they are not able to enjoy activities which provide this behaviour then they can become frustrated and can show aggressive behaviour.  If a cat has a change to its normal routine, then it is necessary to think how you can help you cat cope.  You cat may have to be kept indoors due to moving home or illness for example and these are the likely to be the times that you see a change in their normal behaviour.  We often get calls to say cats have starting attacking owners feet as they walk.  This infact is a cat carrying out its natural hunting behaviour because it has no other way of releasing energy and doing what it naturally does.

There are many ways to help prevent this behaviour.  Allow your cat some controlled playtime by using toys to hunt and catch its prey.  There are hundreds of items available and every cat is different.  Toys on string are ideal as they let you control the play from a safe distance.  It is important to allow your cat to catch the toy as it would its prey, else it will become bored and more frustrated.  Lazer toys if used correctly can also be very good as it will provide physical exercise to release boredom and help calm the mind. As with children cat scan become over stimulated so it is important to read a cats body language before trying to give attention.  It could be that you try to stroke your cat at the wrong time and the aggression is a last resort because its body language hasn’t been read.  An example could be – a cat is sat on window sill, watching birds.  The body language of the cat shows a tail swiping from side to side, thumping on the ground shows that the cat is in a state of high arousal.  Your cat needs to be left alone as if aggressive behaviour is likely to follow if you decide you want to cuddle or stoke your cat.  The cat is wanting to act positively by playing or hunting because of what it is watching and then when we approach and interfere it becomes frustrated and angry.  Learning to understand body language is hugely beneficial in helping to have the best possible relationship with your cat.

Feeding times can also be adapted to encourage the cat to use its natural sense to find food.  Please see our enrichment ideas for more information.

My cats have started fighting, what should I do?

Sometimes cats who have previously had a good relationship, start fighting for reasons that we may not understand.  Often the reason is become one or both of them are experiencing stress – maybe a new cat has moved into the neighbourhood or there is a new addition in the home.  Cats are sensitive creatures and some do not cope well with change.

It is important to provide space for the cats, give them separate feeding areas and do not force them together. It would be worth contacting your vet as one of them could be feeling unwell which is causing the change in behaviour.  If the cat is given the all clear by the vet they will be able to recommend some plug in diffusers which can make a huge difference and help to calm the situation.

I am moving to a much smaller house and my cat will have much less space, is it better to rehouse my cat?

Woodside receives many calls from pet owners whose situation has changed and they think it is the cats best interest to be rehoused.  Whilst is some situations this is likely to be the best option, it is often not the case and there are important things to consider before making that decision.  Whilst cats are naturally independent they do form strong attachments with their owners.  If you have had a cat for many years and are now moving to a smaller property, maybe one without a garden it is essential to think how much this will affect the cat and whether you think your could adapt to the new situation.  If you cat is much older it is unlikely to want to go out as much or require as much space.  If your cat is very elderly, consider how it will cope in a rescue centre.  Would you cat prefer to be with you but with less room than in a cattery?  Older cats are often much more difficult to rehouse so they tend to spend more time waiting to be chosen.  Could your cat cope in a cattery environment for months?  Often the cattery environment is much smaller than the space you are moving to so whilst you feel it is unfair on the cat, what would the cat prefer? Like humans cats are capable of adapting even when we think they won’t.

Woodside is unique in that we are able to provide long term care for cats in four special care cat units.  Sadly space for these units are always in high demand with cats on site waiting to move in as soon as space allows.  These four units allow the freedom of the sanctuary during the day and a safe homely environment where they are treated by staff as their own pets.

I have a terminal illness and want to make provisions for my pets, what can I do?

This is a sensitive situation and we want to reassure you that we will help in a professional and caring way.  It is important that you contact us at the earliest opportunity, even if you are copying with the care of the animals.  This will give us time to discuss and put a plan in place for when the time comes to having to give up you loved companions.  We can discuss their individual needs and answer any questions you may have.  Our experience has taught us that this provides you with some control over the situation.  We will assign one of our experienced members of staff to be a point of contact for you, who can keep in regular contact to monitor the situation and if need be advise you as to when the best time for the animals to come in.  Everyone is different – for some they have peace of mind knowing that their loved cats are now in new homes and have settled.  Whilst for others they want to keep them for as long as possible and then not to know any more details once they are in our care.  We will work with you as much as we possibly can to reduce any stress at a very traumatic time.

My relative has passed away and their cat is left in the property, what should I do?

This is a sensitive situation and we will try our best to help as soon as we can.  There is generally always a waiting list for cats needing to come in Woodside and so it may not be possible to help straight away, no matter how much we want to.  During our busiest months it is not uncommon for us to be caring for up to 200 cats at any one time and we literally have no space left.  If we are unable to help straight away the cat will be placed on our urgent waiting list.  In the majority of circumstances there is someone one can pop it to feed the cat (we can provide food if needed) until space allows us take in.  We understand this is not an ideal situation but rest assured we will help as soon as we can.  If there is literally no one that can provide food and water for the cat in the short term than we can discuss other options.

Dogs

What does my adoption fee cover?

The adoption fee often does not cover the cost of the dog’s care whilst at the sanctuary.  All dogs leave the sanctuary neutered (or with a voucher), microchipped, vaccinated, flea and worm treated, six weeks free pet insurance and six weeks free dog training lessons.  Many dogs also need extra treatments such as dentals, blood tests, antibiotics, xrays or special diets and these all come at an extra cost.  The donation the Trust asks for helps towards this care.

How old do I have to be to adopt an animal from Woodside?

Anyone over the age of 18 can apply to adopt an animal from Woodside.

I am in rented accommodation; can I still adopt?

If you live in rented accommodation the Trust will require either:

  • A copy of your tenancy agreement which states you are allowed the type of pet you are applying for.
  • A letter from your landlord which states their permission to have the type of pet you are applying for in their property.
I would like to adopt a dog as a gift for someone, is that possible?

Whilst the surprise gift of a pet is a lovely thought, it is not something that we allow at Woodside.  From years of experience in homing we know how vital it is to ensure the right pet is placed with the right person.  For that reason we always insist on all members of the family meeting the animal before taking home.  We will happily discuss alternative options so that there can still be a element of surprise but ultimately the person adopting the animal will have to meet and sig the adoption form.

I have no garden/shared garden can I still adopt a dog?

As a general no, this is not possible.  However we do take each dog and persons circumstances on its own merit and so assess each offer of adoption.  The majority of dogs that come into the care of Woodside are not trained, so will need a enclosed space to go to the toilet and many dogs do not like going whilst on the lead.

How long does it take to adopt a dog from Woodside?

Our adoption process normally takes five to seven days.  We are unable to keep any animal reserved for more than seven days due to a waiting list of dogs wanting to come in.

I’m moving, can I rehome a dog from Woodside?

If you are in the process of moving home then we always recommend to wait until you have moved.  The dogs in our care have already gone through a unsettling time, having to come in kennels.  When they leave with new owners, it brings about another stressful time.  Dogs take time to settle and if you know you will be moving soon after adoption then this will only add more unsettlement for the dog.  Please do speak to us about your situation and we will be happy to have a chat.

I’m pregnant, can I still adopt a dog from Woodside?

Whilst bringing a new baby into the home is a wonderful experience it can be very stressful for a dog.  When adopting any new dog, they will take some time to settle and adjust to their new surroundings.  Every dog is different and it is difficult to gage how long each dog will need, so we would always recommend that if you are pregnant that you wait until after the birth to adopt.  It is also difficult for us humans to adjust to a new born baby and all that comes with caring for a newborn, so adding a new dog into the equation can be too much even for the best of us.

My circumstances do not allow me to adopt a dog but could I foster one from Woodside?

Woodside do now allow their dogs to be fostered by members of the public.  This is for various reasons.  Firstly it can be very difficult for dogs to adjust to go between kennels and a home.  Secondly if they dogs are not at the sanctuary then it reduces the chances for them to be adopted permanently when potential adopters want to visit to meet them.  Our experienced staff do sometimes take long stay dogs home so we can learn more about them to help us find them a home.  The dogs will always have formed a strong bond with these staff members first, in order to reduce any stress.

I already have a dog, can I still adopt?

Most definitely.  All our dogs are assessed when they are in our care as to how they mix with other dogs.  This is added to information collected from previous owners as to the suitability of living with another dog.

When looking to adopt a companion for your existing dog it is important that the two dogs meet at least once in one of the sanctuaries enclosed paddocks.  This allows the staff and yourselves to see how they get on and for you then to go away and think.  If the staff are not happy completely happy they may ask for more introductions or they may have a valid reason for the adoption of that particular dog not to go ahead.

I have a cat, can I adopt a dog from Woodside?

Every dog is assessed when they come into the sanctuary. There are many resident cats that roam the sanctuary so staff can get a idea of how the dog will react.  This assessment is put together with notes from the dogs previous owner and a decision is made as to whether the dog is suitable to live with cats.  If the decision is ‘No’ then this decision is final and we will not chance putting the dog in a home with a cat.  Our experience has taught us that it is best to be cautious and we will never put another animal in danger.

.

I have children, what is Woodside’s policy with rehoming dogs with children?

Woodside will always look to match the dog with the most suitable person.  Each dog is assessed and the notes taken from previous owners help us to decide on whether a dog can live with children and if so what ages.

Woodside does have a policy on certain breeds with children and this is based on years of experience.  Huskys cannot be adopted with children under 10 and American Bull Dogs with children under 5.  Every dog is individually assessed so there may be times when a dog is concerned exempt from these policies.

Before any dog can be adopted, all members of the family must visit the sanctuary to meet the dog.

How can I help my new dog settle?

Bringing home a new dog can be exciting for us humans but very scary for our canine friend.  It is also important to allow the dog at least a few days to settle before inviting and family or friends over.  Please consider how you would feel if you were scared and in a unknown environment and then more strangers arrived.  A dog needs a calm, quiet home to gain confidence and to feel safe.  Another common mistake we hear is that new adopters take a dog home and then give it a bath on the first day. Bathing for many dogs is a stressful experience so doing so soon after adoption can only add more stress to a unsettled dog.

We love this poem written from a dogs perspective when going into a new home:

Thank you for giving me a new home

Now that I have arrived in your home everything and everybody is new and strange to me, patience is crucial.

Please do not be impatient if I do not sleep in my new basket, yesterday I slept in a kennel.

Do not be worried if I goggle up my food, there have been times when I didn’t get fed.

Do not be angry if I wee in the house, there have been times when I was not walked.

Do not be sad if I am afraid of your loving hand, people have not always been kind to me.

Have patience with me it’s your world, but not yet mine.

If I trust you I can give you the greatest gift I can – my heart.

My dog is well trained so would they benefit from dog training lessons?

No matter how well behaved or trained your dog is, dog training classes are a great way to build a bond with your new friend, as well as provide important socialisation with other dogs.  Quite often owners need as much help as the dog in order to learn clear communication tools.  Even if your new dog is well trained in the home and understands lots of commands, when it is in a different environment where there is lots of distraction it can be a totally different story.  Sadly, most of the dogs that arrive at Woodside have had little or no previous training and they are never to old to start learning.  Dog training provides so much more than basic training and it can be so much fun for both owner and dog so we always recommend to take up the free lessons.  We hope that once you have used the ten free lessons you will see the benefit and hopefully continue.

No matter how much exercise I give my dog, they never get tired?

Many people believe the only way to tire a dog out is to walk them.  Whilst physical activity should be a vital part of your dogs daily routine it does not always mentally tire them out so they can still seem manic in behaviour.  Dogs needs to be both mentally and physically stimulated and there are many easy ways to help your dog use their brain.  The added benefits is that it can be done at home so is really useful if there are times that your dog is unable to go out.   Please have a look at our enrichment ideas but the possibilities are endless.  Every breed is different and you as a owner will know your dog as to what activities may not be suitable.

I have recently got a dog that should be muzzled, but I feel mean putting it on?

Unfortunately, not all dogs like other dogs or all humans outside of their home environment.  For this reason it is essential that if you have a dog like this, that they are muzzled when being walked.  We hear many people say that they feel mean or that they do not like muzzles.  However, what you need to realise is that for dogs, if used correctly they will keep both themselves and others save.  When a dog is used to a muzzle and see the owner pick a muzzle up – it actually associates the muzzle with a pleasant experience of a walk and will get excited at the thought of going out.  It is actually our own feelings that bother us more. 

Rabbits

How long do rabbits live?

The average domestic rabbit can life anywhere between 8-12 years.

What costs are involved in keeping a rabbit?

 Just like cats and dogs, rabbits require annual vaccinations for VHD and Myxomatosis.  Depending on the area you live in, it may be necessary to vaccinate every six months due to diseases carried by wild rabbits.

Do rabbits make an ideal childrens pet?

Rabbits are prey sensitive animals that prefer to be interacted with on ground level.  Whilst it is possible to get rabbits to tolerate being picked up, the majority do not enjoy the experience and for this reason they do not make an ideal childrens pet as much as it is believed.

Also with the long life span of a rabbit the chances are the child will lose interest and it will be left down to the adults to care for them.

Do I have to have two rabbits?

Rabbits are social animals and in the wild would live in large groups so they will become lonely if they are kept on their own. Neutered rabbits are both happier and healthier and all rabbits adopted from Woodside are neutered.

Rabbits and guinea pigs should never be kept together.  They do not speak the same language and have different needs. Rabbits are capable of inflicting nasty injuries on guinea pigs.

What space do rabbits need?

Rabbits require much more space than people realise.  Woodside has minimum sized housing requirements.  It is often a good idea to have a chat with a member of our experienced staff before buying anything.  They will discuss your space available and maybe give you some ideas you hadn’t thought of.

The basic minimum housing requirements for 2 rabbits are a 6ft x 2ft hutch with a 8 x 6ft attached run.  Rabbits love to stand on their hind legs and binky (hop in the air) so exercise runs will need to be at least 90xm tall.

Hutches should be lifted off the ground to prevent surface water getting in and to allow air circulation. It should not be positioned in direct sunlight during the summer months because a rabbit can easily over heat.

What daily checks do I need to do when caring for a rabbit?

Rabbits should be checked at least twice a day to ensure they are safe and well.  Eyes and nose should not have any discharge.  If you notice your rabbit losing weight it could have teeth problems.  Teeth grow and if the wrong diet is fed then they do not wear down naturally and may need to be seen by a vet.  It is important to check a rabbits bottom daily especially during the summer months when fly strike is more likely to occur.  A Rabbits claws should also be part of your regular health check, if they become overgrown they can cause pain and discomfort.  Rabbits needs grooming regularly, but with longer haired breeds, it will be needed more regularly.  Do not wait until matts develop to start grooming.  This will only cause pain and make the experience a negative one.  Spend a few minutes each day will be far less stressful for them.

What should I feed my rabbit?

Hay! Hay! And more hay.  Hay should be the most important part of a rabbit’s diet.  Not only does it promote a healthy gut, it helps keep their continuously growing teeth trim.  Rabbits should eat around their body size in hay daily, so fresh hay should always be available.  Good quality hay should be dry, sweet smelling and free of dust and mould.  Meadow or timothy hay are good choices.  A rabbits diet should be made of 85% hay, 5% pellets and 10% greens.  Approximately an egg cup of high in fibre pellets per rabbit should be given daily.  Avoid muesli/mix feed as these can contain high amounts of sugar and are lower in fibre.  A good rabbit food is burgess rabbit excel or rabbit selective.  There are many plants that are safe for rabbits to eat (always check first).  Fruit should only be given as a treat as they are higher in sugar.  As with all animals fresh water should be available at all times.  We recommend providing water in a bowl rather than a bottle.  Water bowls are easier to clean and are easier for the rabbit to use.

What is the best way to introduce two rabbits?

Rabbits should never just be put straight together.  They are very territorial so a slow and steady introduction is much more likely to have a better outcome.  Without this fights can take place, rabbits can give each other nasty bites which can lead to an expensive trip to the vets.  When introducing rabbits it is vital to firstly know what sex combinations work better and which ones to avoid altogether.  For example, two males from different litters very rarely works.  With years of experience our staff have found that the best combinations are neutered males and neutered females.  If they are from the same litter two females can often work, two males can sometimes start fighting if not neutered as soon as age allows.

Ensure you plan the introduction carefully and have all the equipment needed.  Staff again have lots of great ideas and will happily chat with potential adopters and give any advice whilst the introductions are taking place.  But here is some good advice:

  1. Rabbits should be placed in separate accommodation next to each other.  It is important they are able to see and smell each other without being able to get to one another (using wire as a dividing wall is a great idea).  Every day the rabbits should be swapped into each other’s accommodation, while always remaining separate.  We recommend continuing this process for up to four weeks, this gives them enough time to get accustomed to one another.  There are a few things to look out for during this time, are they spending a lot of time next to each other? Are they choosing to ignore each other most of the time?  Are they trying to fight through the wire?  If it is the later, then it is recommended they are kept apart for longer.  Once you are happy that they seem happy living next to each other in separate accommodation you can go on to the next step.
  2. The next step of the introduction is to place both rabbits in a neutral space (this is somewhere neither rabbit has been before), this can include the kitchen, bathroom, garage or anywhere that is completely neutral. Put some nice tasty veg down as a distraction and place the rabbits in the same space at the same time.  They must be supervised at all times.  Start with putting them together for a few minutes then return them to their separate accommodation.  The time spent together can be increased daily.  Sometimes rabbits decide who is going to be the most dominant, this can involve chasing, fur pulling and humping.  When these behaviours occur it is best to leave them to it, however it must be watched closely as this can easily lead to a fight that must be intervened.  If conflicts arise separate immediately and return them to their individual pens.  Start again the next day.  Positive signs to look for are grooming each other and lying next to each other.  Once they have spent a couple of hours in the neutral space showing positive signs they can be returned to their enclosure together.  Keep an eye on them for the rest of day to make sure they are getting along.

Remember all rabbits are different, some will take to one another very quickly and some will take longer.  A slow introduction is a process that can take anything from a couple of weeks to a few months.  We recommend this introduction as it causes less stress for the rabbit.  If you are having problems introducing your rabbits do not hesitate in giving Woodside a call.

What exercise will a rabbit need?

Just like other animals, rabbits enjoy the chance to run freely and it is ideal if you have the option of allowing some supervised free time in your garden.  They can be highly comical to watch as they have a mad five minutes jumping in the air and running laps to release energy.  As well as physical energy rabbits need mental enrichment.  They are naturally inquisitive and they will enjoy homemade obstacle courses or food activities – the ideas really are endless.  Please visit our enrichment page for some ideas but we would also recommend searching the internet.  They do not to cost a lot of money but they can really improve your rabbits wellbeing.

What do I need to do if I want my rabbit to live indoors?

Rabbits can live happily both indoors and outdoors.  If you are looking for a house rabbit, there are many things to consider first.  Rabbits are natural chewers so cables and wires need to be safely put out of the way or boxed in. House plants can be poisonous so they need to be removed from the environment.  Woodside does not rehouse rabbits to indoor pens as we feel these do allow the rabbit to run, hop and stretch like they need to do.  Instead we require the rabbit to have a room or large area which is made totally safe.  We see so many rabbits arrive in such poor conditions after being kept in tiny cages so we are strict about where we rehouse the rabbits in our care.