Tuesday 19 January 2021

Exotic pet insurance - UK - discussion

UNITED KINGDOM: ExoticDirect is BOUGHTBYMANY's sister insurer and they are said to be specialists in exotic pet insurance. They been going for 20 years or more and they get a decent 4.1 out of 5 stars on their Facebook page. BOUGHTBYMANY bought the parent company of ExoticDirect in 2015 which is why they are in this stable of insurance companies.

F1 Savannah cats except for the cat on the right! These are exotic pets as far as I am concerned. Photo: PoC.

Exotic Pet?

There is a discussion about what is an exotic pet and I can understand that. Technically it seems to mean in non-native species to the UK. In which case it would include rabbits because they've been wild in the UK since the 12th century but are non-native as I understand it. The issue with this definition is that I wonder how far back you have to go before you describe an animal as non-native. The other side of the coin to non-native is 'invasive species'.

I'm not sure that this is a good definition. I think we should take an ordinary dictionary definition of the word 'exotic' and decide that exotic pets are companion animals which are outside of the mainstream and which are not normally considered to be pets. In the world of cats, for example you might include the wild cat hybrids such as the F1 Savannah cat (see above) or the F1 Bengal cat. You might even include, in that vein, the wild cat component of these animals such as the serval and the Asiatic leopard cat. These are all exotic as would be a big cat or any other medium-sized wild cat species if they are kept as pets.

As for dogs, I would include hybrid wolves and wolves themselves as exotic. And of course you have to include birds and reptiles such as dragons et cetera. And it appears that snakes are quite popular amongst a segment of society in the UK and elsewhere. There is certainly a fascination with reptiles. Even large spiders I guess are in this bracket of animal. These are my personal views and I would think that the description of exotic pet is quite elastic. In short they will be non-typical animals.

You will have to make sure that you are allowed to own exotic animals as pets. You'll almost certainly need a license to do so and have facilities. Check with the local authority.

Insurance companies and what they cover

Another recommended company is E&L pet insurance. They appear to cover bird insurance and they get a good rating online in reviews. A third recommended company would be Cliverton Exotic Pet Insurance. This is a specialist company which is been around for more than 40 years. They insure dog walkers, wildlife rescues, falconry centres and farms. They appear to be more into businesses than individuals who want exotic pet insurance.

Exotic pet insurance by ExoticDirect covers veterinary bills, and for tortoises, parrots, birds of prey and large mammals they cover death as a result of an accident or illness, death by fire and extreme weather conditions. ExoticDirect does not cover the death of small birds and small mammals under these circumstances.

Cliverton offers public liability insurance but not insurance for veterinary costs. E&L's Bird Insurance covers veterinary bills as well as death by accident or illness. They also cover aviaries. It would be important that exotic pet insurance covers theft since they are exotic animals and therefore I would have thought liable to theft. ExoticDirect covers birds of prey, parrots, tortoises, reptiles and large mammals against theft but not small mammals or small birds.

Public liability insurance is important

Public liability is important because some of these exotic animals are dangerous. For example, there have been many servals escaping their homes. This is quite typical because this animal needs a large range in which to live and they are confined when they are regarded as pets. When they escape the home they present a danger or a perceived danger to the public. ExoticDirect provided policy for public liability for animals kept on private land and in case they escape. They also cover animal shows and displays and events, animal clubs and centres and animals included in the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. For example, if you have an exotic bird and they fly away and become lost and don't return then ExoticDirect pay out "some money" for replacement. You can arrange this insurance over the phone but it cannot be bought online.


Of course the cost varies depending upon all the factors including the animal insured. You can take out a vet fees only policy with ExoticDirect. As an example, for small mammals under this sort of policy you would pay 10 monthly instalments of £15.10 p for £2000 of veterinary fees. Please visit their website or phone for details. Providing a list here is unwise.

Worth it?

As to whether it is worth it to take out exotic pet insurance, this is obviously a personal choice. Insurance brings peace of mind. My personal choice would be to run your own self-insurance program by saving money for a rainy day. It's about risk and reward and whether you are risk-averse or prepared to take some risks in life. Perhaps a big factor would be public liability insurance. If an animal has a potential to cause serious injury to a person if it escapes then it would seem very sensible to take out exotic pet insurance because the cost of compensating somebody under these circumstances would or might be exorbitant and beyond the normal budget of an average person.

Monday 18 January 2021

Amigurumi Maine Coon - cute

This is such a cute Maine Coon crochet amigurumi cat. I knew that the cat was knitted or created by human hand, obviously, but I didn't know what amigurumi meant. Apparently it is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. 

Amigurumi Maine Coon - cute. Photo: Etsy.

Cute amigurumi are the most popular. A translation of amigurumi is "crocheted or knitted stuffed toy". So these are toys for humans I guess. I suppose they could be toys for cats to but they would destroy them. That said the best cat toys are the ones that can be destroyed because they mimic more accurately a cat attacking a prey animal. 

I'm wasting my time discussing that because no one is going to let their cat destroy such a beautiful amigurumi. What's so attractive about this object is that it only costs £5.45 p in the UK. I think that's a remarkably cheap price for such a beautiful object. The comments are good. There have been 408 reviews and these amigurumi are a 4.5 out of five star in reviews. You can buy this on Etsy, an online marketplace.

Amigurumi are usually crocheted out of yarn or thread using a basic crochet technique but they can be knitted. You can use single crochet stitch, double crochet or invisible decrease. It can be and is normally produced in sections which are then sewn or crocheted together but they can be made in one piece. The stuffing can be standard polyester, cotton craft stuffing or wool. It may also be an improvised material made from other sources. The amigurumi maybe stiffened so that it can sit up by using pipe cleaners or floral wires. In order to make the object stable pebbles and stones or plastic pellets can be inserted inside so the weight is distributed towards the bottom which lowers the centre of gravity.

The creator has really captured the essence of the Maine Coon with the large lynx tipped ears, square muzzle and plumed tail. Well done. Super cute and well made. Well done.

Sunday 17 January 2021

Cat owners in Cyprus are abandoning their cats because of the Covid-19 pandemic

This is what I would describe as a behind-the-scenes story. It doesn't hit the headlines because it concerns Cyprus, in the Mediterranean, a small island and not for example America which leads the way on domestic cat news. 

But it is a very telling and a sad story. It's reported that there has been a 30% increase in the abandonment of domestic cats on the island. They are sometimes left behind as people leave the island. I'm referring to expatriates possibly possibly British people who feel they haven't got the money to afford to take their cat back home with them.

Spotted street cats of Cyprus. Read about them by clicking here.

These people may have dual residency. I know that a lot of British people have second homes in Cyprus or they moved to Cyprus in retirement. But they've been squeezed economically by the Covid-19 pandemic. Dawn Foote who runs a rescue centre where there are 800 rescue cats, all of which are neutered, said that, "People, at the moment, have just got no money, and it's expensive to get a cat to another country. You've got passports to pay for, you've got transport carriers to pay. It's heartbreaking."

If it's not people going home is local residents who feel that they can no longer afford to look after a domestic cat. Once again is about money. The poignancy of this problem is that, currently, Cyprus is famous in the cat world for being the place where archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the first domestic cat in a grave with their owner. The grave is dated to about 9,500 years ago. So the island had a significance in the cat world. The cat would have been a domesticated Far Eastern wildcat. They look like rangy tabby cats.

There appears to be criticism of people who feed stray cats on the island without ensuring that they are spayed or neutered. I don't know how prevalent this is but simply feeding a stray cat is not enough sadly. You have to ensure that they are spayed and neuter otherwise you simply promote and increase in the number of unwanted cats that should be living in homes. There should be government-sponsored TNR programs which includes spaying and neutering at least as part of the process.

There is criticism of the government strategy with claims that it is not working that well.

Friday 15 January 2021

Domestic cat calcium levels low. A reason.

When a domestic cat is suffering from a deficiency in calcium i.e. their blood-calcium concentration is low, it may well be due to inadvertent damage to the parathyroid glands during a thyroidectomy operation. This is an operation to remove the thyroid gland because the cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism. A dramatic fall in blood-calcium concentrations can be life-threatening. Cats who have been through the thyroidectomy operation should be hospitalised for a few days after surgery so the blood-calcium concentrations can be monitored.

Thin, elderly cat suffering from hyperthyroidism. Picture: PoC.

Hyperthyroidism is fairly common in older cats and is caused by an increase in the production of thyroid hormones from enlarged thyroid glands in the cat's neck. Most often it is caused by a benign tumour hence the operation. It should be noted that second hand cigarette smoke may be a contributory factor in developing this disease. Surgery is an option to remove the cancerous gland. If both thyroid glands are removed the cat will need supplemental thyroid for the remainder of their life.

Alternative options are radioactive iodine to destroy the cancerous tissue or an oral medication called methimazole. This drug lowers hormone production. It is given daily. The administration of this drug can it seems be difficult but the manufacturers are making it more palatable. Perhaps they have done this because my information comes from a book written in 2008.

If hyperthyroidism is caught early before the heart and kidneys are damaged it is a treatable disease. However, if these organs are damaged they will need treatment after the thyroidectomy. A thyroidectomy is a straightforward operation with an excellent success rate but beware the parathyroid glands!

Diagnosis for hyperthyroidism is carried out by a vet examining the cat's neck area for enlarged glands and they check the heart rate and blood pressure. The cat's general health is also evaluated because hyperthyroidism is often associated with other conditions and it can predispose a cat to other conditions. Therefore they need to be checked for associated conditions.

P.S. Other potential reasons for low blood calcium in cats might be kidney or liver failure, parathyroid tumour, hypoparathyroidism or poor nutrition during pregnancy to name some examples. I'm not a veterinarian so I won't go on.

Sources: Dr Bruce Fogle, Drs Eldredge, Carlson, Carlson and Giffin.

Thursday 14 January 2021

Friendly clouded leopard climbs all over Patrick Aryee


I am sorry, I don't know the name of the photographer. Please advise.

Patrick Ayree is a biologist and is now a documentary filmmaker and wildlife television presenter. In this picture you see him with a clouded leopard all over his head. I don't know much about the picture except for the obvious which is that this clouded leopard must be domesticated. He is clearly enjoying the experience (and so is the cat!). The clouded leopard is a wonderful arboreal, medium-sized wild cat species. They live in Asia and are fantastic tree climbers. They have this beautiful coat after which they are named. Of course they are persecuted for their coat. What else can we expect?

Click here to read some articles about the clouded leopard.

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