Sleekly disdainful, it is usually they who choose you and not the other way round, unlike any other pet you may have. The purring and the rubbing of their bodies against yours in affection is always their decision and rarely will they bound up when called but give a snooty stare and walk away. In [...]


Purrfecting the art of caring for feline patients


At the clinic: With Cat Day falling yesterday, Pet Vet Clinic emphasises the importance of right cat-care. Pix by Priyanka Samaraweera

Sleekly disdainful, it is usually they who choose you and not the other way round, unlike any other pet you may have. The purring and the rubbing of their bodies against yours in affection is always their decision and rarely will they bound up when called but give a snooty stare and walk away.

In these days of smaller and compact homes, fewer children in families and adults stressed over the daily rat-race, however, cats as pets are gaining popularity, for they are easy to look after being solitary creatures and in their element when left alone.

Give them food and water and show them that you care and they, in turn, would help relieve stress leading to health benefits by their antics. Once in a way, they would reward you by curling up on your lap and purring with contentment.

In Sri Lanka, when a search is on for the ‘narco-cat’ at the Welikada Prison this week, it is all about cats that we chat as the world celebrates International Feline Day on August 8.

Right cat-care is ever so important, says the Founder of the Pet Vet Clinic & Veterinary Surgeon, Dr. Nalinika Obeyesekere seated in an upstair room of her pet hospital at Narahenpita, preparing to deliver a lecture on cats to mark Feline Day.

Dr. Nalinika Obeyesekere

Around 50% of the pets brought to Dr. Obeyesekere’s clinic are cats, a majority of the balance being dogs and an ‘assortment’ of rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, horses, tortoises and monkeys.

She is quick to point out that keeping wild animals as pets is illegal in Sri Lanka but her clinic cares for them as someone has to look after them.

Nine street cats, meanwhile, have adopted the clinic as their own and now roam around as masters and mistresses of all they survey.

“Cats are not small dogs, they are unique in their own right,” stresses Dr. Obeyesekere, explaining that veterinary surgeons should be competent in handling cat patients as they have different needs.

“Our mission is to raise the bar in veterinary medicine and keep up with the newest trends. This is why we have been focusing on feline medicine,” she says.

Referring to the two sides of a coin in having a cat as a pet, Dr. Obeyesekere says that cats are solitary and prefer to be on their own. They will be around but not weave around the owner’s legs like dogs do. They are also good hunters and will control rats and cockroaches in a home but the downside would be that the same predatory instincts would make them prey on birds and squirrels and owners should not get upset over this.

She says that cats are prone to cat viral infections and there is a need to vaccinate them against these diseases and not just for rabies. There is a huge deficiency of knowledge with regard to such vaccinations.

Underscoring that no infection including COVID-19 is transmitted from cat to human, only the other way round, she picks up toxoplasmosis (a disease caused by a parasite found in infected cat faeces) and says that like the major campaigns which are promoting hand-hygiene to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, proper hand-washing with soap and water before eating would  keep toxoplasmosis away from humans.

Her call to cat-pet owners is that not only pet species are different from each other, but each pet is different from another.

“We need to identify each pet’s needs and cater to them. As we share space with them in our homes, we need to respect them,” adds Dr. Obeyesekere.

A South Asian first for Pet Vet

Dr. Alisha Soza

With the Pet Vet Clinic being the first to be accredited as a cat-friendly clinic by the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) in the whole of South Asia, it is from a younger generation flag-bearer Veterinary Surgeon Dr. Alisha Soza that we learn more about what this means.

The ISFM, an organization based in the United Kingdom, had been set up by vets who love cats and its website is a good source of information for both vets and non-vets, it is learnt.

The accreditation has been awarded because the Pet Vet hospital has separate sections for the treatment of cats, for procedures to be carried out, for the cat patients to be warded for a short while and an isolation centre with two separate units to prevent cross-infection, says Dr. Soza, showing us around.

“When a cat needs to be administered saline, the vets walk a tight rope – too much or too little hydration could cause serious issues for them and that is why we use special fluid pumps,” she says.

They also use the right specifications for cat cages and keep track of trends on feline medicine and nursing, while conducting awareness programmes for the public on cat care.


Cat facts
  •  Don’t feed cats rice – it is not good for them as they are physically incapable of digesting rice. They should be provided a protein diet in the form of small frequent meals as they are obligatory carnivores.
  •  As cats are fussy water-drinkers, it is important to keep bowls of water at different points.
  •  Cats don’t need to be given baths as they groom themselves thoroughly. A good pointer of illness in a cat is a dirty coat.
  •  It is crucial to provide cat-only spaces as cats get stressed out not only in the presence of dogs but other cats as well. They like to be on a high perch – so there should be shelves etc.
  •  Cats are territorial animals – they don’t like other cats. If you have a multi-cat household there is a need to prevent them getting stressed as stressed cats are sick cats!
  •  Each cat should have its own litter box plus another for the whole lot as they are reluctant to pee or poo in others’ boxes.
  •  Feeding needs to be done independently not close to each other and at staggered times.

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