CHENNAI: While communicating with cat lovers over the years — those who are old hands in caring for cats, those who are new to it, and those who think they knew everything but were taught otherwise by their kitties — one is struck by the many misconceptions that still prevail. Dispelling the worst of them might save many cats from misery, suffering and even death. Here are some of the statements from cat owners that I hope never to hear again...
‘My rescued kitten is sick because it won’t drink any milk’
Sadly, most people still think that milk is the first thing you should feed a cat or kitten. They could not be more mistaken. Not only do most kittens not tolerate milk, but at around four weeks, they are ready for proper food (even if still being nursed by mama). The same kitten who is presumed sick will gobble up a plate of kitten food in minutes. Wet kitten food (available in pouches), or cooked and mashed chicken or fish with some of the soup mixed in would be ideal. Whatever be our food preferences and disciplines, it can never be over-emphasised that cats are carnivores and cannot survive on vegetarian diets.
The three blind cats that came under our care were all that way due to severe malnourishment – specifically, taurine deficiency. Taurine, exclusively found in animal-based proteins, is critical for normal vision, digestion, heart function and a healthy immune system in cats.
‘Cats are more attached to places than people, so we left ours behind when we shifted house’
Enough to make any cat lover cry. Yes, cats get disoriented in new neighbourhoods, but they suffer terribly when abandoned in this manner and rarely survive, after being dependent for food and affection, on humans. If you follow certain simple rules, it is easy to shift house, cities, and even countries with your feline family members — and many have done so, with the happiest outcomes.
‘My cat seemed feverish, so I gave him Crocin syrup’
Only a miracle or timely veterinary intervention would save that poor cat. Paracetamol is highly toxic to cats. Yet, so many administer it without thinking twice. Please don’t medicate your pet without your vet’s advice, and remember that some common human remedies can be a death sentence for your cat.
‘Cats are cold and unfeeling’
Perhaps you have not learnt to speak to cats yet. Tune into their body language and you will find they are immensely affectionate, loyal, possessive, understanding and a pleasure to have around, or share quiet, funny, or inspiring moments with them. Cats often pine for their humans when left on their own, and I have witnessed wonderful reunions between cat and humans that completely demolish this mistaken belief.
The contributing writer is the founder of the Cattitude Trust. If you have any queries about your feline friends at home, you can reach Devika at email@example.com
As you probably already know, a wagging tail in a cat is very different from that in a dog. Here are a few tips on how to read a cat’s tail signals!
- Wagging tail: State of conflict in a cat. To go out or not, to attack or not, decisions, decisions...
- Tip of the tail twitching: Mild irritation. If you are petting your kitty and you see this, mark that spot. She does not like being touched there. If you proceed, the claws might speak as well.
- An upright, erect tail: Happy, confident greeting. Take it as a compliment
- Tail lowered and fluffed out: Your kitty is actively afraid
- Tail curved gently down and then up at the tip: This kitty is relaxed. The best you could do is join him.