Cats 101: They don’t have nine lives | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Panther the Cat in his plush cavern —INQUIRER PHOTO
Panther the Cat in his plush cavern —INQUIRER PHOTO

Gone are the days when my patients would mostly be dogs. Cats, whether purebreds or pusPin (pusang Pinoy or local domestic cat), have captured the hearts of Filipinos.

Let’s talk about cats.

Cats have a strong, muscular and flexible body. They have that special righting reflex that enables them to survive a fall from up to 10 meters high. They use the time during the fall to maneuver and anticipate the drop. They can flex and spread their legs to lessen the impact of the fall. Their muscular body serves as shock absorber. Think about that before you freak out when you see a cat up on a tree.

So what makes the senses of cats special?

Remember that cats are predators. Their vision is much more efficient at night compared to humans. The tapetum lucidum, a layer behind their retina, allows them to see better at night. Don’t freak out when they offer you insects or mice—it’s their being predators at work. It’s their natural instinct.

Cats have a superb sense of hearing. They can hear what we can’t—it can get scary when they react to something we humans don’t see or hear. Cats can hear even better than dogs. Their ears are so sensitive so bring your cat to your vet if you see any abnormal changes in its ear.Like a typical predator, cats likes their food warm. They don’t like sweets.

Their unusual weakness? Their sense of taste. Compared to a human who has 9,000 taste buds, cats have less than 500. Their sense of smell makes up for it—it’s 14 times stronger than a human’s.

Don’t feel bad it your cat ignores the expensive cat food you bought without even tasting it. Cats rely on their sense of smell for survival. It’s safe to say that for cats, the nose is the most important organ. It has a whopping 200 million receptors, which allow them to prey, to determine if their food is bad, and of course, to smell where and what have you been up to. They appreciate food not by tasting them but by smelling them. A cat’s nose is like a fingerprint—it’s unique to each cat.

No cages

Please don’t trim the whiskers of your felines. They have nerve endings that are vital to their navigation and balance. Cutting them can make them feel disoriented.

Cats can adapt to a variety of habitats, but no cat deserves to be in a cage. They’re made to hunt and use their muscles and bones. A safe, outdoor environment is essential for the physical, mental and physiological wellbeing of cats.

Cats also like to sleep for 12-16 hours a day.

Some cat breeds, like the exotic breeds, may also require more care than others.

A Quezon City cat owner brings her pet for free antirabies vaccination. —NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

Many diseases of cats are attributed to their lifestyle and diet. Male cats now are very prone to urinary tract infections and diabetes because we are altering the normal cat lifestyle. Cats are territorial—housing too many under one roof may cause prolonged anxiety and stress that can lead to their inability to fight off common infections.

And yes, it’s raining cats everywhere because of the species’ innate prolific breeding capability. Spaying females and castrating males make a difference in their lives.

Cats are a complex species. They don’t have nine lives. In fact, I find it more challenging to treat cats than dogs.

Like humans, cats feel fear, hunger, anxiety and frustration. Before adopting or buying a cat, do your research. They may seem easier to take care of than dogs, but their anatomy is complex. Their diseases are much harder to treat and their behavior needs to be well understood for them to be a perfect companion.But cats make for excellent companions, and that means they deserve an owner who will love them and provide for what they really need. —CONTRIBUTED INQ

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