Ask the Expert.. Sep Oct 2012

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 is extremely vocal when I put on my shoes to step out- he keeps following me and keeps a close contact. My family says after I leave, he sulks and hides in a corner – he sometimes eats very little too. How do I calm him?
– Karuna, Pune

Dr KG Umesh: Cats communicate in several different ways, using not only sounds but also posture and
behaviour. Tactile communications include rubbing against others including people, grooming and nose touching which is used as greeting. Auditory communications include purring, which occurs primarily during contact with other individual. The trill or meow is used as greeting calls. As long as cats are given plenty of stimulation and space, they can live contented lives. Enrichment of the living space is particularly important to ensure the cat feels secure and avoids boredom. Environmental enrichment is a means of providing your cat with opportunities to express his normal range of behaviour when he lives in a physically limited environment. Allowing your cat interesting opportunities to play, ‘hunt’, feed and be friendly will help prevent problems which can arise from boredom in confined cats. Toys (particularly hanging or moving), feeding puzzles, making use of resting places at a range of heights and different locations and access to a view of the outdoors all help stimulate indoor cats. For example, cats love watching birds attracted to a feeding table outside a window! Food treats or toys left in cardboard boxes encourage cats to explore, hide and play. It’s important that cats kept exclusively indoors are given plenty of contact from their pet parents as this helps make up for less stimulation in other ways.