three-month-old female Persian kitten.

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: I have a three-month-old female Persian kitten. What is the breeding cycle of cats and at what age should one breed them? What is the gestation period of kittens? – Rajiv, Goa

Dr KG Umesh: Female cats have generally their first season during six and nine months of age. Cats do not ovulate unless they are bred. The stages of oestrus cycle (season) in the queen are anoestrus, proestrus, oestrus and interoestrus. Proestrus lasts for 2-3 days without showing any signs and queen won’t want to mate. Oestrus lasts between 2-10 days and show signs such as vocalization, rolling and rubbing against inanimate objects and sticking her back end in the air. This means she is in season and will want to mate. Interoestrus occurs if queen doesn’t mate and may last for 3-14 days. Anoestrus is period when there is no hormonal activity. Pregnancy length for cats is approximately 64 days and may vary from 53-65 days.

Ask the Expert.. | Jan Feb 2011

Dr KG Umesh (MVSc, MSc (UK)) is a Postgraduate in Clinical Medicine. He is working for WALTHAM as Regional Associate for South Asia.

Q: My cat who is nine years old is showing pain and difficulty in movement. Please do advice.
Ajith, Coimbatore

Dr KG Umesh: Your pet may be having neuromuscular, skeletal or joint problem considering age and symptoms mentioned here. Some causes of pain in senior cat include joint diseases, inflammatory or infectious diseases and neoplasia. The definitive diagnosis for pain is made by evaluating your cat’s history, clinical signs, radiographic/scanning findings and relevant lab tests. The treatment plan depends on the underlying cause and also includes weight management (in overweight/obese cats), exercise moderation, physical therapy, nutritional and anti-inflammatory medications. Do not administer human pain killers as they are toxic to cats

Ask the expert..Nov-Dec 10

Q: My cat Oliver is a two-month-old Persian. Please advice about cat training and flea prevention.
– Asma Nadeem Ahmed, Bangalore

 

A: Dr KG Umesh: Early socialisation is the process by which a cat learns to relate appropriately to people, other cats and to her environment. The ‘sensitive period’ for socialisation lies between two and seven weeks of age in kittens. Getting the socialisation of your kitten right in the first few months of life ensures your kitten will develop a secure, well-adjusted personality. It also improves the quality of the cat-owner relationship and is very important for preventing behaviour problems. As with all training, it should be kind and based on positive reinforcement, rewarding correct action and ignoring all unwanted behaviours. Effective training should contain a combination of information (what you want the cat to do), motivation (a reason for the cat to do it) and timing (when to give the reward for a good action).

Flea control must be done in her environment before treating infested cat. Your veterinarian will recommend a suitable de-fleaing agent and will advise you on an effective flea-eradication programme that is safe for cats. Always follow the directions carefully, and remember to treat other pets in the household as well. Remove all of your cat’s bedding and wash it well (hot wash cycle), along with the box or basket. Don’t forget to vacuum thoroughly around the carpets and furniture.

Ask the expert..Sep-Oct 10

Q. Please do advice about behavioural abnormalities in cats.
– Ashimi Das, Guwahati

 

A: Dr KG Umesh: Cats make good pets because their needs are simple and they like the security of their own home, from which they can explore their own territory and hunt. In a few respects, cats are fussy – they can be fussy about their food and even more so about getting wet. Cats are known to be solitary hunters when their way of life allows it and therefore, hunting is a normal, instinctive behaviour in cats. A comprehensive history including behavioural assessment, history and diagnostic tests are required to identify what is really a behavioural problem in cats. For example, a cat who is urinating inappropriately could have urinary tract problem or may have joint problem that makes the cat difficult to use the litter box. Cats who are deprived of social interaction with humans or other kittens during socialization period may not be able to develop normal social relationships and may demonstrate behavioural problems. These problems include rejection of or aggression toward humans (especially children), aggression toward other cats, failure to mate successfully, and rejection. Cats who begin eliminating outside the litter box on a regular basis after being trained may do so for many reasons including illness, anxiety, an aversion to the type or location of the box or litter, or a preference for another location or litter. Intact males who show urine-marking (spraying) behaviour may require neutering. An owner who appreciates the natural, instinctive behaviour of their cat such as his body language or when he is showing sexual behaviour is much better equipped to react appropriately in any situation. Proper socialization, handling, good care and understanding normal cat behaviour will prevent many of these behavioural problems.

Ask the expert..July-Aug 10

Q: Please give inputs on different areas of kitten care.
– Vrushali Makarand Pandit, Pune

 

A: Dr KG Umesh: Cats are solitary animals and like to spend some time alone. Best time to bring home a kitten is when they are six weeks old or more. A small box with high sides placed in a warm, draft-free location is an ideal environment. The floor should be padded with washable towels or disposable papers. The first few days after your kitten comes home, continue to feed the food she’s used to have, to help prevent tummy upsets. Then you can gradually introduce a new food. Growing kittens have specific nutritional requirements, and the simplest way to fulfil them is to buy a good quality complete diet from a reputed manufacturer (for example, Whiskas dry or wet). Play is the key to kitten learning – and also provides exercise. It develops their physical and mental abilities, strengthen their muscles and increases their social skills. Make time to play so that she can continue to develop her ‘cat skills’ – like stalking and pouncing. Toys should be small and light enough to bat and carry around in her mouth – but not small enough to be swallowed. Short-haired kittens only need grooming once or twice a week, but long-haired breeds need at least 15 minutes every day. Until your kitten is used to being groomed, keep sessions short, and make her stand on a folded towel, to help her feel secure while you brush her. There are vaccinations (from age of nine weeks with two booster every three weeks) and deworming that will protect your kitten from a number of serious and highly infectious or parasitic diseases. Lastly, your kitten needs to learn the house rules–proper training, litter training and socialization (introduce to everyday sights, sounds people, etc). Consult your vet for further information and vaccinations schedule.

Can you advice me about Toxoplasmosis in cats?…May-June 10

Q: Can you advice me about Toxoplasmosis in cats? Also what is the prevention/ cure for cats and people around them?
– Rajesh Talreja, Mumbai

 

A: Dr KG Umesh: Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasmosis is usually transmitted from ingestion of undercooked meat, sporulated oocysts (eggs), paratenic hosts, and it can be congenital. Acute toxoplasmosis in pregnant women leads to serious disease and/or defects in the fetus. Disease in cats may cause brain disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, respiratory disease and eye disorders. Cats with symptomatic toxoplasmosis are often immunosuppressed. Prevention: Do not feed raw or undercooked meat to cats, keep cats inside and do not let them hunt. Washing hands with soap and water after handling a cat or contacting any urine, feces or other bodily secretions is one of the simplest and most important means of infectious disease control. Pregnant women should avoid contact with cats and cat feces, which are more than 24 hours old. Do not let the cat lick the person in question, particularly on the face, nor should they handle the cat. Practice good hygiene (wash after handling uncooked meat, wear gloves while gardening, cover sandboxes, clean litter boxes daily. Freeze meat to -20oC (-4oF) for two days or cook meat to 160°F and thoroughly clean areas where raw meat is prepared, wash fruits and vegetables prior to consumption). Keep the cat in good health by having regular examinations by a veterinarian, as well as up-to-date vaccinations and regular fecal exams to check for parasites. Feed a high-quality commercial cat food that does not contain any raw ingredients.

Ask the expert..Mar-Apr 10

Q: How do we groom cats? Are there any cat grooming parlours in our country?
– Adil B Khan, New Delhi

 

A: Dr K G Umesh: A clean shiny coat is a sign of good health and nutrition. By grooming your cat, you can, however, help to encourage growth and shine of the hair. Cats are naturally clean animals, so your cat may need little grooming, particularly if she has short hair. Longhaired cats need to be groomed more regularly, possibly as much as once a day, and it is best to get your cat used to this when she is a young kitten. Grooming can be something both you and your cat will enjoy. If your cat (or kitten) is initially nervous, it is advisable to spend some time playing with her, until she is comfortable being touched and handled. Let her play with the comb or brush, so she gets used to them and loses her anxiety. Groom all the dead hair out of the coat using a comb or soft bristle brush. Be particularly gentle when combing the head, then groom down the body, the tail, and the legs. Once groomed thoroughly, go over the coat with the brush to remove all loose hairs. The hair of longhaired cats and kittens can easily become matted. Once hair is matted, it will have to be removed before the cat can be groomed; this may involve sedating the cat and clipping the hair by a professional cat groomer or your veterinarian. If your cat is dirty, you may use a clean, damp cloth to wipe her down. Wet the cloth with warm water only, don’t use any soaps. Grooming your cat offers you an excellent opportunity to check her skin for lumps, rashes, discharges or any other signs that your cat is not well. Your vet can able to advise good grooming parlours available in your city.

Ask the expert…Jan-Feb 10

Q: My 9-year-old cat Princy is having trouble urinating. Please help.
– Priya, Goa

 

A: Dr KG Umesh: Such urinary problems can result from behavioural or medical disorders. Behavioural causes are associated with toileting preferences/aversions and marking. Typical aversions/preferences may include substrate, location, cleanliness, and style of box. When there is a toileting issue, the cat typically seeks out a preferred alternative toileting spot. Cats who mark with urine do so for a variety of reasons, including territorial delineation, anxiety, and sexual advertisement, with the basic premise being communication.

Feline lower urinary tract disorders are most common medical cause of such a sign. Feline Lower urinary tract signs (FLUTD) in cats include variable combinations of frequent attempts to urinate, straining to urinate, urinating in inappropriate places in the house (periuria), crying out during attempts to urinate, and blood tinged urine. These signs are not specific for any particular disease; they can be seen in cats who have stones in urinary tract, bacterial infections, cancer, or other mass lesions in the bladder. If investigations (urine analysis, blood tests, radiography, scan etc) are unable to find the cause for the clinical signs, it is referred to as Feline Idiopathic Cystitis syndrome. This may be obstructive and non-obstructive. Appropriate therapy to alleviate life-threatening urethral obstruction should not be withheld anticipating self-resolution. Therefore take him to your vet ASAP for complete examination.

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