Pet Puja: The Truth About Cats – Busting Common Myths

We asked renowned Mumbai based veterinarian Dr. Billie-Jo Chambers to share some of the myths surrounding felines. Dr. Chambers is the Clinical Director at the Crown Vet facility at Mahalakshmi, Mumbai and a graduate from the Royal Veterinary College (London). She chose to work in Mumbai to make a difference to the lives of pets. Here is what she had to say…

Felines are fascinating animals but little is known about them, so let’s take a look at some myths and facts about cats.
Myth 1: Keeping my cat indoors means he will not get any diseases and so doesn’t need vaccination.
Truth: Indoor cats are exposed to organisms carried in the air and brought in by our shoes and clothes. Hence they are exposed to disease-causing germs and they do need their vaccinations. The yearly vaccination includes protection against upper respiratory infections, coughing, fever, sneezing and ocular discharge and diarrhea.

Myth 2: Cats don’t get rabies!
Truth: Cats, like most warm blooded mammals, can get rabies and need to be vaccinated.

Myth 3: Kittens love milk and it’s nutritious and good for them.
Truth: Milk contains lactose, a milk sugar, which is digested by lactase. Although kittens have lactase in their system, there is not enough to digest the lactose overload in cow’s milk, causing diarrhea and vomiting.

Myth 4: Cats heal their wounds by licking them, as their saliva is antiseptic
Truth: Licking actually slows down the healing process and in case of surgical wounds, causes infection. Cat’s saliva contains over 10 different bacteria.

Myth 5: A cat’s sense of balance is in their whiskers.
Truth: Cats use their whiskers as feelers, not for balance. The whiskers are tactile hairs that grow in patterns around the muzzle and are used to steer the cat through his/her environment. So, during a grooming session, never cut your cats whiskers!

Myth 6: A cat has 9 lives!
Truth: This famous idiom describes only the dexterity of the cat. As educated owners it’s our responsibility to ensure we feed our cats a suitable diet, and have regular dental and health checks at a vet clinic. Also, ensure that there is screening of all balconies and windows to avoid disastrous falls.

Myth 7: Every cat should have one litter!
Truth: Neutering is important for female cats as this eliminates the risk of tumors in her reproductive tract, any uteric infection or mammary tumors. I would recommend spaying females between 5 and 6 months, so this gives your new kitten time to settle into her new surroundings. Tom cats too should be castrated as it reduces inappropriate urination issues along with reduced roaming tendencies.

Shirin Dhabhar

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