Friday, July 10, 2015

An introduction to cats and cat care


[This is a somewhat basic introduction to keeping a cat, for the many in India who have never kept one and know little about cats. There will be more details in subsequent posts.]

Why adopt a cat?
Cats are fun, cuddly and playful.
They require less care than a dog, but make great companions.
They are very clean and usually don’t need baths—most cats lick themselves clean.
Cat companions are known to reduce stress and high blood pressure. Their purrs have a specific effect, of not only being very soothing, but of healing and strengthening bones! Scientific tests have proved this.

Where do I get a cat?
There are many cat breeds, just as there are breeds of dogs. But please do not buy an expensive Persian or other breed. Adopt a cat or kitten from a shelter, or take in a kitten from your garden, terrace, or anywhere you see one.

About cats
Cat nature
: Cats are shy and sensitive. They do not respond or become friendly immediately, but they will do so gradually. Be very patient and gradually you will be rewarded with a wonderful friend.

Purrs: a cat purrs when it feels comfortable or happy. A purr is a vibratory sound emanating from the throat, and can be soft or loud, depending on the cat. Sweetie purrs so softly I can hardly hear it, sometimes I can only make out she is purring by touching her throat. Minty is rather loud. The loudest cat purr recorded in the world is of a cat named Merlin. He is in the Guinness book of records.

Wagging tail: a cat wags its tail when it is angry. If you see the cat’s tail swishing from side to side, stay away. It may scratch if you approach. However, Minty is different. Her tail wags for no reason at all. I don’t know if there are other cats like her.

Food: Cats need non-vegetarian food. They cannot survive on vegetarian food. They can be fed packaged cat food, or home cooked food. Raw food is sometimes recommended, but in India it is safest to stick to well- cooked or packaged food. Milk is not a good food for cats, but dahi [curd or yoghurt] can be given.
How often should a cat be fed? Sweetie and Minty have their bowls full at all times, with dry cat food. They don’t gobble everything in one go, and nibble at different times. Sweetie likes to eat mainly at night, Minty, morning and evening. The outside lot usually eat everything they are fed immediately. Nandu and Ashi eat the most. They are all fed three times a day, but their last meal is between 4.30 and 6 pm, the next meal early morning.

Cat litter: Cat litter comes in packets, and is made of different substances, including betonite or more eco-friendly material. Fill some in a litter tray or a plastic basin, for the indoor cat’s bathroom. When the cat does something in it, that portion can be removed with a scoop, put in a plastic bag, and thrown away with the garbage. Cat litter is not available in many smaller cities and in other areas, and is also expensive. Alternatives are sand, wood shavings or dust, mud, or newspaper.