Maneka Gandhi
Here are a few FAQs on cats and cat care

Q. My cat drools water from her mouth sometimes. Aren’t only dogs supposed to do that?
Maneka Gandhi: The old saying goes ‘Cats Rule and Dogs Drool’. But similar to their canine counterparts, your feline ruler may also be a drooler on occasion. Cats may produce excess saliva at certain times which causes drooling. Here are
some reasons:
‘Happy drooling’: Similar to dogs, a small percentage of cats will actually drool in response to being happy. When you show your cat some love, the purring and rolling over may be accompanied by a bit of drooling.
Mouth pain: An infection or foreign object caught in the mouth may cause your cat to drool. Be sure to examine your pet’s mouth and seek veterinary care, if necessary.
Heat stroke: If your cat is overheated, drooling can be a sign that he is experiencing heat stroke and needs immediate veterinary care.
Toxin ingestion: If they have a bad taste in their mouth or are about to be given poor-tasting medication, cats may begin to drool.
Other reasons cats may drool include: Stress, mouth ulcers, periodontal disease. If you notice unusual drooling behaviours from your cat, consult your veterinarian to be sure there are no other health concerns.
Q. When is it safe to touch newborn kittens?
Maneka Gandhi: It depends on how well the mother knows you. If she has just come into your house to deliver her babies, leave them alone or the mother will try and move them to what she considers a safer place. If the mother knows you well then she will not mind at all. You can touch the kittens and you should do so to check them over but try not to be too invasive or you may upset the mother. Don’t take the kittens out of her sight and if the mother shows any signs of being stressed by your actions, leave them alone for a couple more weeks. The kittens will be much more mobile by four weeks and mom will be a little less protective. Just make sure you wash and dry your hands so you don’t get the babies sick.
As far as holding is concerned, pet them very gently and obviously, don’t drop them. They like to be held against the chest, close to your heartbeat. It reminds them of mom and will keep them calmer. Be very gentle. Do not touch their faces, and if you pick them up, be very, very careful. The mother may lash out. If she does so, keep calm, because animals can sense emotions.
Q. I have read about people leaving money for their cats in their will. I want to do the same when I die. Is that possible in India?
Maneka Gandhi: Yes, but I would not advise it. It will never reach the animal or there will be such a delay that the animal will be abandoned and die very quickly. The best thing to do is to find a good adopter for the cat before you die, give them the money for the cat’s care in advance and see if the adoption can take place while you are alive. Clearly explain your expectations for the care of the animals. This is risky because the beneficiary is under no legal obligation to actually use the money for the care of your animals.
So ask someone else or the local animal shelter to check up on the cat from time to time once you are gone and give them some money to do that. Leave the money you wanted to leave for the cat to an animal shelter and inform them in advance with a copy of the will. If you do not give them a copy then they will never receive it. Once my shelter was left Rs 5 crores (yes, miracles do happen!) by a Kolkata businessman. Because he kept delaying sending me a copy of the will, his relatives made sure we never got it.
Q. What should I do if a cat gets stuck on a tree?
Maneka Gandhi: You can call the fire department as they have extension ladders, but normally keeping people and pets away from the tree, with a dish of strong-smelling fish at the base of the tree, will bring the cat down.
Q. My pet cat is four months old. I find his tongue very scratchy. Should I be concerned?
Maneka Gandhi: .A cat is a predator. His natural food is prey that he catches. A cat’s tongue is scratchy because it is lined with papillae- tiny elevated backward hooks that help to hold its prey in place.
Q. My cat got unwell when I gave him cow milk. Why would that happen?
Maneka Gandhi: Cats are lactose intolerant. They cannot digest and break down cow’s milk proteins. They do like milk and cream though and will drink it if given. While a kitten won’t get affected by cow milk but once she is an adult, cow milk will cause gas, diarrhoea, etc. You need to supplement her diet with many other foods.
(Visit: www.peopleforanimalsindia.org and for any issues related to animals, contact Shilpa Chaudhary at: 09953313319).