Caring For Cats

With the improvements in veterinary technology in recent years, it isn’t unusual at all for a cat to live to be well over 18 years of age. As cat owners, there are many things we can do to help ensure that our cats live long and healthy lives. Here are a few of them.

1. Every year, take your cat to the veterinarian for a full checkup exam. If your vet has some recommendations for you, please take the advice you are given. Your vet is a trained professional who has your cat’s best interest at heart. Giving your cat everything he needs for optimum health and prevention of disease is the first and most critical thing you can do for him.

2. Cats who are neutered or spayed tend to live longer and with less stress than those who are not. For a male cat, neutering will reduce the tendency to wander and fight. For a female cat, giving birth repeatedly to litters of kittens can cause premature aging and stress.

3. Experts have seen that indoor cats live far longer than cats who spend most of their time outside. Keeping your cat in helps to mitigate the risk of picking up diseases from other cats, getting into accidents or fights, being hit by a car, or “catnapped”.

4. Cats have their own specific nutritional needs, different from humans or even dogs. Provide your cat with food that is nutritious and high in quality, and that contains the elements that cats specifically require for maintaining their health.

5. Help your cat avoid becoming obese. In addition to good nutrition, give him exercise each day by playing with him and providing him with good scratching posts and climbing trees. An overweight cat is far more prone to diabetes and other feline diseases.

6. Ask your veterinarian about supplements for your cat. Additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber added to your cat’s diet can also be very helpful for disease prevention.

7. During each annual checkup with the vet, be sure that they check your cat’s teeth. If they recommend a professional cleaning, please do it. Keeping your cat’s teeth clean can help prevent kidney problems, one leading cause of sickness and early death for cats.

8. Get into the habit of brushing and combing your cat every day. While you are grooming him, check for anything unusual in his body or skin. See your vet right away if you find anything that seems suspicious.

9. Check the cleaners you use around the house for any dangerous chemicals or pesticides. Even a little bit on your cat’s fur or feet can cause serious effects for your cat if they are licked and swallowed. If at all possible, use only non-toxic cleaning supplies around your home. Also, check your house for any poisonous plants like poinsettias, and keep your cat away from them.

10. Give your cat a quiet place to rest and relax, and to be away from anything in your home that might cause stress for him. This could include other animals, small children, or loud noises.

11. If your cat is getting older, he will appreciate warmth and heat. Try a heating pad on a lower setting, or a sunny spot in a quiet room. My 15-year-old cat loves to stretch out in our sun room on a bright afternoon. You may see quite a change in his behavior.

12. Give your cat lots of attention and affection every day. Even though cats can act very independent, they do love getting attention from the humans they love. When a cat knows that he is loved and well cared for, his emotional and physical health both benefit.