Basic health issues for cats

The basic idea behind good health of your pet cat is proper nutrition,sufficient exercise, regular grooming,protection from parasites, and timely vaccination, and protection from household hazards. After adopting a kitten, initial examination of the pet by a veterinarian is very important. The veterinarian can guide you about Pet Food nutrition, vaccination, parasitic control, coat and skin care, and signs of health and illness. When you take your kitten to the vet the first time, go with as much information as possible including birth date,previous vaccinations, and de-worming records.

Health Observation

Since we cannot understand their language,thorough observation of their behaviour,appearance, and activities is needed for
checking their health status. Health is reflected in appearance of the body and activity status. General observations in health
and disease are summarised as below

Vaccination

Vaccination is the main key to protect your cat from fatal diseases. A kitten gets immunity against diseases through mother’s milk. As age advances maternal immunity declines and the need for vaccination arises. Around 6-8 weeks of age is generally considered as the right time to start vaccinations depending on the vaccination status of the mother. Depending on the prevalence of disease in your area, your vet can advice on a proper schedule. Vaccines for cats are divided into two categories—core and non-core vaccines.

Core Vaccines are compulsory as these are against life-threatening diseases. For cats,core vaccines include feline panleucopenia, feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus 2, and rabies vaccine.

Non-core Vaccines are not compulsory but may require depending on lifestyle of your cat and prevalence of disease. These include vaccines against Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Infectious Peritonitis.

Parasite Protection

Parasites are organisms that depend on animals for survival. These organisms get their food and shelter inside the body or on
the skin of animals
. After adopting a kitten,immediate attention must be given to parasite check as kittens may acquire parasites from their mothers. If ignored,these parasites may cause serious health problems to your beloved pet. For parasites,
prevention measures are always better than treatment. Like dogs, we can classify cats’parasites into two categories—Internal and external parasites.

Internal parasites live in cat’s digestive system and are detected by the presence of eggs in the stool. Common internal parasites are listed as follow:

Roundworm: Also known as Ascarids,roundworms look like threads of 4-5 inches long. They can be transmitted to the kitten through milk or through placenta during the prenatal period. General symptoms of cats bearing roundworms include pot bellied appearance, stunted growth, vomiting,diarrhoea, poor growth, and sometimes coughing.

Hookworm: They can be transmitted through milk and even in the prenatal stage. Larvae of hookworms can enter
the body by penetrating through the skin. Hookworms are one of the most dangerous intestinal parasites in cats.They may cause bloody diarrhoea, anaemia, and even death in heavy infections.

Tapeworm: As the name itself indicates,tapeworms are appeared like tape. Flea tapeworm is the most common worm that enters the body of a cat through ingestion of infested flea or lice. Generally, tapeworms are mainly found in adult cats and symptoms of tapeworm-affected cats may include reduced hair coat,weight loss, and presence of cucumber seed-like segments in
faeces.
As a control measure, flea control is also necessary to prevent reinfestation.In addition, Echinococcus is another
type of tapeworm that does not affect much in cats but is easily transmitted to humans where it can dangerously cause cysts in liver, lungs, and brain.

De-worming with suitable agent is required for controlling internal parasites. Regular de-worming can be
started as early as 15 days of age up to 3 months of age. And it should be repeated every 15 days, from 3 to 6 months every month and every third month after 6 months of age.

External parasites dwell on the body of kitten/cat and feed on the skin.Common external parasites in cats
include lice, flea and ticks.
These parasites produce harmful effects by their irritating bites. They also suck blood and may transmit dangerous diseases through transfusion. If you find any external parasites on your cat consult your vet immediately.
Spaying/Neutering If you are not intending to breed your cat in future, neutering is recommended. Spaying at an early age reduces incidence of development of mammary tumour. In breeding season, cats may escape outside and get hurt by other street cats. We observed a lot of such cases every year.

Rusty spotted Cat

The Rusty-spotted Cat (Prionailurus rubiginosus), a natural habitant of southern India and Sri Lanka is one of the smallest
members of the cat family. It is also found in Jammu & Kashmir and Gujrat.

Family/Origins

It belongs to the Carnivora order and felidae family. The only two equally small variants are the Black Footed and Kodkod cat. The name‘Rusty-spotted Cat’ is derived from specific spottedm rusty skin markings on the cat’s body. The cat is also known as chat rougeatre, chat rubigineux (French); Rostkatze (German); gato rubiginosa,gato rojizo (Spanish); bitari billi (Gujarati: India);kaadu bekku (Kannada: India); pakkan(Malayalam: India); wal balalla, kolla diviya,handun diviya (Sinhalese: Sri Lanka); namali pelli(Tamil: India); and Kadu Poona, verewa puni (Tamil:Sri Lanka).

Body Structure

The base fur is usually grey in colour and is covered by small rust red coloured spots which form into solid stripes along the back and on the top of the head. The under parts of the body, the chest bib and the chin are white. The two sub-species found
in Sri Lanka (P.r.phillipsi and P.r.koladivinus) are in general more brightly coloured than (P.r.rubiginosus), which is only found on the Indian mainland.

The cat has large pupils which have good ability light enhancing abilities. Cat eyes are proportionally very big which helps their ability to see at night.

It is 35-48 cm (14-17 in) in length, plus 15-25 cm(6-10 in) tail, weighing only 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs). Since adult females can weigh as little as 1 kg (2.2 lbs)or less, this species rivals (and may exceed) the Black-footed Cat (Felis nigripes) as the world’s smallest wild cat. The colour of the fur is grey, with rusty spots all over the back and the flanks, while the underbelly is white with large dark spots. The tail, thick and about half the length of the body, is darker in colour than the body and the spots are less distinct.

Habitat

The habitat pattern of the Sri Lankan rusty-spotted cats seem to differ from that of the Indian species,which is found mainly in dry grassland, scrubland and open forest. In Sri Lanka, the cat is also found in dense tropical upland forests apart from terrain which is in common with her Indian relative. In Sri Lanka, the Rusty-spotted Cat is known as Handun Diviya or Kola Diviya.

The cats tend to move away from forests and move into areas of human existence. Mother cats tend to give litter in barns and attics, away from humans.In captivity, there is no specific season for reproduction and in the wild; one litter was spotted in Sri Lanka in February. There isn’t sufficient information available on the breeding season for an intelligent analysis.

Behaviour

This cat primarily nocturnal and partly arboreal;rests in dense cover during the day and is an accomplished climber. They are not reported to be part of social circles and are therefore solitary in nature.

The rusty-spotted cat can be easily domesticated and has been described as playful and affectionate. The cat also has a multitude of Vulnerability

The cat has followed the following trend:

1998-2004: Insufficiently Known

1996: Data Deficient

2002-2005: Vulnerable (Population Trend: Decreasing)

The Rusty Spotted cat has been listed in Appendix I (threatened with extinction where trade in the specimens is only allowed in exceptional circumstances) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). In Sri Lanka, the cat has been listed in Appendix II if the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITIES)expressions which will keep you engaged the entire day.

Lifestyle

The life span of the cat is 8-10 years and the cub attains maturity at around 5-6 months. The gestation period is around 67-71 days and 1-4 kittens are delivered per litter. Domesticated cats have had a life span of 15+ years as well. The rusty-spotted cat of India is a carnivorous animal.Cat Food diet includes small birds and mammals, reptiles,frogs, tortoises, insects, domestic poultry, rodents,birds and lizards.

Dangers

The main predators of the cat are humans and as a species, the rusty spotted cat faces a danger from loss of habitat and deforestation/cultivation. Also,cross-breeding with varieties of domestic cats is also a major threat as it could lead to eventual extinction.The rusty spotted cat is often killed by local people who are not aware of the endangered nature of the species and often mistake it for baby leopards. The cat is considered edible in some places and eaten.As they tend to move towards human population,road accidents are also a major cause of death.

Spotting

Three kittens and their mother were caught in the attic in a village house in Kerala, southern India(Rusty-spotted cats living in Abandoned Houses. Cat News 16, 1992, p.19; More Rusty-spotted cats Caught in South India. Cat News 17, 1992, p.16).
They were surprisingly far from wild habitat.

The most northerly recorded rusty-spotted cats were from Jammu and Kashmir in October 1975 (Rusty-Spotted Cat Photographed in Gir Lion Sanctuary.Cat News 13, 1990, p.15). There is also a population believed to be in the Bangs forest, north of Bombay in southern Gujarat, and one possibly in Andhra Pradesh, south east India.

Interesting Fact About American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is one of the most popular breed of the cat which is known for its gentle companionship, good looks, robust health and amiability with children and dogs. The Cat Fancier’s Association has ranked The American Shorthair as the
8th most popular breed of cat in the United States during one survey in 2006-2007. According to the CFA, American Shorthairs are low-maintenance cats that are generally healthy, easy-going and affectionate.

The American Shorthair is America’s own breed whose ancestors were brought to North America by early British settlers to protect their valuable cargo from mice and rats. Most of these cats “settled” in the New World,interbred, and selectively bred to develop special characteristics to help them cope with their new life and climate. Originally, these cats were known as the Domestic Shorthair but the breed was renamed in 1966 as the “American Shorthair” to represent its “All American” character and to differentiate it with other shorthaired breeds.

INTERESTING BREED FACT

The very first CFA registered American Shorthair was not born in America. He was a red tabby male named Belle of Branford, born in England in 1900.

BREED CHARACTERS

The American Shorthairs are medium to large sized.Very athletic, these cats have a larger, leaner, and more powerfully built body than its relation, the British Shorthair. These cats have long tails and usually slender bodies. Males are significantly larger than females, weighing eleven to fifteen pounds when fully grown.Mature females weigh eight to twelve pounds when they
achieve full growth at three to four years of age.American Shorthairs can live fifteen to twenty years.

The standard set by CFA are as follows:

30 HEAD (including size and shape of eyes,ear shape, and set and structure of nose)

30 BODY (including shape, size, bone, and length of tail)

15 COAT
20 COLOR (Tabby pattern = 10 points; Color =10 points)

5 EYE COLOR

PROPORTIONS: Slightly longer than tall. (Height is profile measure from top of shoulder blades to ground.Length is profile measure from tip of breastbone to rear tip of buttocks.) Viewed from side, body can be divided into three equal parts: from tip of breastbone to elbow, from elbow to front of hindleg, and from front of hindleg to rear tip of buttocks. Length of tail is equal to distance from shoulder blades to base of tail.

Popular cat breeds of India

Cats are second most popular pets in India after dogs. Cats generally require less maintenance than canines, and are the most popular choice of pet for apartment dwellers. They do not require much from the owner; they only have to be fed regularly. They
also need shelter. Cats can be toilet-trained very easily. A simple tray and a few training sessions can dispense with the problem of dealing with their dirt, especially for indoor cats. Because of all these advantages and with the rise of nuclear
families and apartment culture, popularity of cats as pet is increasing day by day.

Popular cat breeds in India are as follow:

Rusty-spotted Cat

These are the most commonly kept cats of India.Being indigenous, they are well suited to Indian climate. They have grey fur with rusty spots all over the back and flanks, while the underbelly is white with large dark spots. The tail, thick and about half the length of the body, is darker in colour than the body and the spots are less distinct.

Siamese Cat

Siamese cats are also very popular.The Siamese is a medium sized cat with a long, lithe and well-balanced athletic body. The legs are slender and the paws are small and oval.The hind legs are higher than the front. The head viewed face on resembles a triangle tapering in straight lines to a fine muzzle. The ears are large and pricked and are set so that they follow the lines of the triangle. The eyes are oriental in shape and slant towards the nose.There should be width between the eyes and they should not be deep set. The tail is long and tapering and free of kinks. A Siamese cat always wants to be the centre of attention.They want to be cared for. They tend to get too noisy or cry a lot if they want attention.

Himalayan

The Himalayan, also called colour point Persian, is a breed of cat with extremely long, fluffy fur, and the blue eyes and the points of a Siamese. With their name it appears that they are of Indian origin, but, in reality, are the result of crossing from Siamese (for the markings) and Persians (for coat-length and temperament), and share the characteristics of both breeds. The body of a Himalayan is white, but the points come in many different colours: blue, brown, lilac, chocolate, flame, red and cream. The points can also be tabby or tortoiseshell-patterned.

Bombay Cat

These originate from black cats of Asian origin. They are found in two varieties i.e.The British and American Bombay. The
Bombay is a muscular yet agile cat with a black coat. The heads of Bombay cats are rounded and wide with a short tapered
muzzle.
The eyes, which are of golden or copper colour, are rounded and wide set,and their ears are broad, slightly rounded
and medium sized and, like the eyes, set wide. The Bombay has a coat that is short,satiny and tight to the body.

Maine Coon Cat

The world’s oldest breed, they are found everywhere in the world and therefore, can withstand warm and even cold climates. As compared to western countries they are not that popular in India. They are fun-loving cats and their goodnatured personality makes them very safe with children.

Cat and children do they fit

It is important that your children learn to develop respect for pets and other animals in general. If this is provided your children can have a lot of fun growing up with a pet cat.You can buy a cat as a gift for your children, for example, on Christmas or on their birthdays.Such a special gift will certainly make your children happy.

When you are looking for ways on how to bring out the best between your children and the pet,certain guides in this article might be helpful.

• Remember that your children do not know how to treat animals in right way, they have to learn it first. Show your children the proper way of handling and treating cats. Make sure your children won’t hurt the pet cat otherwise the animal will probably hurt them too. It is very important that your children must know what they can do and what better not to do with a cat.

• Explain to your children why a cat acts in a certain way so that they can understand how to treat a cat. Especially when it’s your child’s first time with a pet you need to be a guide.

• If you tell your children some facts about cats they can better understand why a cat acts like it does. Your children would
learn the important things that they need to know while playing with a cat or petting a cat.

• Make sure your children do not play rough with the cat as this could end in hurting then and/or the pet animal. Cats may use their paws and hurt your children. Show your children how to use certain cat toys rather than using their bare hands.

• Let your children know that cats need a lot of sleep and sometimes they don’t want to be disturbed.

• Remind your children the importance of not letting the cats stay outdoors. To keep their pets safe, it is a must that your
children should learn how to protect the pet animal from any untoward incident.

These are things you have to remember when having children and cats at home. Try to avoid any unwanted accidents or injuries by helping your children with the right treatment of a cat.