What to feed a bunny changes as it grows
Q. Six months ago, we bought a baby bunny from a pet store and a rabbit starter kit. The kit had a bag of alfalfa hay, and when we ran out of the hay we just bought more alfalfa hay. However, my daughter read on the Internet that Timothy hay is best for rabbits to eat. What type of hay should we feed her now? --Avi Drexler, Lawrence
A. Alfalfa is a legume and has quite a bit of protein that baby bunnies need as they are growing. Timothy hay is made of Timothy. Grass is the natural diet of rabbits when they have stopped growing. The fiber in the grass hay is the most important part of a rabbit's diet to ensure proper digestion and overall good health.
Since your bunny is now over 6 months old and as large as it will most likely get, I would switch it over to the Timothy hay.
Q. My sister has a feral cat that she brought into her basement apartment about three months ago. It is now quite friendly but will not use a litter box. She lets the cat out every morning, and it always comes back at the end of the day. However, she is going to move to a new apartment in a couple of weeks and wonders how the cat will know where to go and what to do when she lets it out of her new apartment. --Casey Baker, Sayville
A. I have yet to see a feral cat that would not use a litter box indoors that was filled with dirt from a flower bed or some other area in the territory where it lives. As time goes on, you can gradually replace the dirt with cat litter. I would suggest that your sister confine the cat now to her current apartment with the dirt-filled litter box to allow the cat to get used to using the litter box before she moves. After she moves, the cat should be confined indoors for at least two weeks before she lets it outside again. Since the cat will be confined indoors for at least four weeks while all this is going on, it may forget about roaming about outside. Hopefully, it will be content enough indoors so that your sister will keep it as an indoor-only cat.
Q. Our double yellow head Amazon parrot loves it when we mist her with warm water from a plant mister. Sometimes when we are done misting her, she will go over to her water dish and stick her head in over and over again and splash the water all over her and the cage and walls as well. Since it is obvious that she wants to get wetter, we have put a saucer of water in her cage on the floor and yet she just ignores it. However, when we put the water dish that holds about 3 ounces of water in, she will gladly stick her head in it and start splashing around again. What is it about this little dish that she finds so appealing? --Richard Eskenas, Garden City
A. What you're seeing is not a cognitive behavior, but an instinctive one. Most birds that live in tropical areas have an instinctive distrust of large bodies of water and for good reason -- they are usually full of creatures that will leap out of the water and eat them. So these birds will usually bathe in whatever little pocket of water that they can find such as a little pool trapped in a fork of a tree or even a patch of wet leaves or grass that they may find.
Through the process of domestication, birds have lost many of their instincts, and I have seen many pet parrots that will bathe in a large body of water. Perhaps one day your bird will set aside her instincts and enjoy this behavior as well.