Pet smart

December 1, 2017
By S. A

Animal lovers can sometimes stumble across a problem regarding their furry, feathered


Animal lovers can sometimes stumble across a problem regarding their furry, feathered, or scaled friends that they can’t figure out the solution to. So we have asked veterinarian Dr. Faheem Ahmad ( to help our readers with their animal-related queries.

Taking care of stray cats

Question: The interview of vet Dr. Faheem was really good. I have a few questions for him. First, I want to say that we don’t have good and reliable pet shops and vet clinics in Karachi, and that is why we have to go to ordinary vet clinics for medicines and vaccines when my cats get sick. My cats are strays. I picked them from the street when they were born. Their mother disappeared after some time. They are playful. They are around six months old.

Here are my queries:

1. How do I find out if my cat is sick? What symptoms should I look out for? Sometimes I don’t understand.

2. My friends say the person who keeps pets should also get some medical treatment to protect themselves from germs. What sort of treatment is that? Can you briefly talk about it and who to talk to about it - the vet or a general doctor?

3. Is it safe to keep stray cats? What should I keep in mind while cleaning them? They jump a lot when you throw water on them so I soak a piece of towel in Dettol water and wipe their body. I know it is not enough.

4. What sort of food should I feed my cats? I give them milk, chicken liver, chicken meat, and also chichare. I have seen cat food in the supermarket but I have no idea what to buy.

Thank you so much. I look forward to seeing the answers to my questions. - Farah Sikandar, Karachi

Answer: Thanks for your compliments regarding my interview. Here are the answers to your questions:

1. Signs of illness: It’s very simple. Just look at the behaviour of the cat (if he’s dull or hyper), changes in the eyes (any discharge), dietary issues (he will stop eating if he’s ill), and also see the consistency of the faeces.

2. Precautions: Yes, you have to be careful, especially when the animal is suffering from any disease. In normal condition, some owners - not all - may suffer from allergy due to the cat’s fur; for that, you have to regularly brush the cats. Moreover, to avoid any serious infection from cats, vaccinate your cat from a reputed vet who will issue a proper vaccination card.

3. Cleaning: If the cat does not like bathing, then there is no need to bathe the cat regularly. Only bathe when it is required. Otherwise you can clean the cat with a wet towel. Don’t use Dettol. You can get some proper medicated shampoo from any reputed shop.

4. Diet: There are some pet food brands which are good, like Purina, NutraGold, Whiskas, Reflex, Acticlog - these are good from my practical experience. Otherwise you can give the cat chicken meat, preferably not raw. Don’t give liver [in a large quantity] to cats, as this is poisonous for cats.

Trying to pick a reliable vet

Question: The Vet to the Rescue cover story was very interesting. The 

veterinarian suggested that people should trust their vet, but there are so many instances of vets mistreating and mishandling animals, even losing animals in their care and seeming unconcerned about the death of animals they were treating, that it becomes hard to trust the life of an animal we love into the care of a relative stranger. How can I tell if the vet I am taking my pet to is reliable? Are there any qualities or qualifications that I should look for or ask them about? How, basically, do I find out which vet to trust (from the very few choices I have)? - Anon.

Answer: Frankly speaking, dealing with a pet is not an easy job. It is actually very difficult, as the animals don’t exactly tell you the problem. It is all about experience, knowledge, and Allah ki shifa. So for me, all the vets who are continually practising are good. Moreover, most of the doctors have displayed their degrees online and at their clinic; you can always check their qualification before letting them treat your pet.

Helping a cat suffering from dietary issues

Question: I have read your article Vet to the Rescue and I really liked it. Actually, I also own a cat and for the past few months, my one-year-old cat has been throwing up a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day. My vet has tested her blood, and changed her to a low residue food diet, but nothing seems to help. My cat has also chewed all the fur off her right shoulder blade. What should I do? Should I change vets and get a second opinion? We got another cat in December and had a baby in April. She acts fine otherwise. Please help! - Mamoona Khalid

Answer: The first thing is whether the cat is dewormed or not. If not, you should get her dewormed. Secondly, I would suggest that you change your cat’s diet to a reputable brand. Switch to a reputable diet, feeding her the exact quantity mentioned on the pack, and divide it into small portions given over the course of the day. You can apply an Elizabethan collar to stop her from eating fur, as fur can also be the main reason for an upset stomach. As far as changing the vet goes, you can, of course, get a second opinion.

Thanks to our readers who wrote in with their animal-related queries and good luck taking care of your animal friends! For any further questions regarding animal care or the veterinary field, feel free to drop Us a line at

- S.A.

                                                 Food you should not feed animals

Pet owners might be tempted to share a few bites of their meals with their animal companions, but that isn’t always a good idea. Similarly, leaving your snacks or medicine unattended could give your pet the chance to ingest something unsuitable for animals, which could have dire consequences for your pet. There are several food items and substances that may be safe for humans but could have adverse - even lethal - effects on animals.

Here are some such food items that you should not feed your cats and dogs:

  • Alcohol
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • Citrus
  • Coconut
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Onion
  • Salty snacks