All that you wanted to know about kitties…
Here are a few FAQs on cats, which all cat parents would like to know.
My two-year-old female cat sometimes eats plants. Is it normal? Can it harm her?
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
Eating small amounts of plants, vegetables or grass is normal for cats. Kittens do it to taste new things and to chew on something. Eating large amounts of grass or leaves usually results in vomiting or can act as a laxative. Perhaps cats purposely eat plants to solve gastrointestinal discomfort or to help bring up hairballs.
However, if a cat has a perverted sense of food and also eats a variety of non-food items like string, rubber bands or electrical cords, this behaviour is known as ‘pica’. It’s dangerous because it can cause intestinal blockages. Cat-proof your house by moving forbidden or toxic plants out of her reach.
I have a very loving cat but she tosses the food on the floor and won’t eat.
She probably hates the bowl. If it is made of plastic, it should be changed. Plastic harbors bacteria and imparts a nasty taste to food and water. Change to a deeper stainless steel bowl. She may not like the food, so you could try changing it. Or she may think it is playtime with you and this is a game. Have a play session before mealtime so that she is tired enough to eat.
My cat is one year old. She doesn’t use the litter box. What to do?
Perhaps she’s trying to tell you there’s something about the litter or the box she doesn’t like. Or she could simply want a separate type of facility for defecating. You can experiment, if the box has a cover, see how she responds to an uncovered one. Some cats don’t like to feel too closed in while in elimination mode. And some hate the fragrance or the dust of different litters. Also try changing the location of the box. If it’s in a cold place or next to an appliance that makes a noise, your cat may feel uncomfortable about defecating there. If all else fails, have two litter boxes, one for each function. And, of course, clean them meticulously.
My cat has started meowing at night. She never behaved like this before. What is the problem?
If she is an older cat, a vet should check the thyroid with a simple blood test. Nighttime vocalisation is one sign of hyperthyroidism. Older animals become less restful at night. Other causes could be something provoking the cat, a change in her routine or environment, or boredom. And if your cat hasn’t been spayed or neutered, these night howls could be mating calls. Even another cat hanging around outside at night can evoke meowing. Get your cat sterilised. A change in diet and some nighttime toys may also help.
Whenever we go out for a vacation, we leave our cat with a caretaker. She is very mean to him and claws him a lot. Is the problem solvable?
The cat is upset at being left alone. Cats don’t make friends that easily: you have to win their trust. Why should the caretaker constantly try to hold her, pet her or pick her up? He is asking for trouble. Let him make friends with her slowly. The caretaker shouldn’t pet or pick up the cat but should let the cat approach first. The caretaker can reward the cat with a treat every time she comes herself.
Why is my four-year-old cat dragging his bottom across the floor?
She either has worms or impacted anal glands that have become full of faeces and needs to be drained by a vet.
Whenever I take my cat for a bath, she starts purring loud and wriggling. What should I do?
Cats hate water. Their fur becomes waterlogged and weighs them down. Don’t bathe her unless she is absolutely filthy because cats normally clean themselves.
A cat can easily climb a tree but is unable to come down. Why?
Their claws are constructed for climbing up a tree. They are like hangers which scratch and hold the bark while her body pulls itself up. If she tries to go down headfirst her claws cannot grip the bark because her body is pulled down by gravity. Cats have to learn to go down the tree the same way they came up with their tails first.
(Look out for more FAQs in the next issue.)