Cats are amazing creatures. Their incredible personalities, their graceful movements, and their supple beauty keep us under their spell. Although cats are notorious for being independent and low maintenance, they also need and deserve our care and attention.
Conscientious cat owners know that paying attention to cat health and wellness is important. But what are the components of providing this? At Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital, we want to be your partner in cat care, and so we’re giving you the basics, here.
In the wild, cats who show weakness are vulnerable to predators. Domestic cats still have a basic evolutionary trait that helps them disguise signs of illness, discomfort, and pain. Regular preventive care exams with your veterinarian cat often catch conditions and diseases that pet owners don’t know exists.
Simply put, the fundamentals of good cat health and care means keeping regularly scheduled and timely veterinary visits for seemingly healthy cats.
Cat Health and Wellness
Aside from regular preventive care visits, what can you do as a pet owner to help your cat stay healthy? Here are some of the most important ways.
High quality diet – Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must consume several amino acids that are only found in meat in order to survive. Make sure you’re feeding the highest quality diet you can. Talk to us about your cat’s nutrition at their preventive care exam – your veterinarian is the best source of information about cat nutrition.
Socialization – Cats need socialization in order to thrive and be happy. Proper socialization ideally starts in kittenhood, and can prevent destructive behaviors, such as inappropriate urination and scratching furniture.
Environmental Enrichment – In addition to being social, cats benefit from being in an environment that elicits their natural behaviors, like hunting and perching. Try these fun ways to enrich your cat’s environment:
- Give meals in a food puzzle or hide treats throughout your home
- Build a simple, DIY catio
- Add perches at differing heights to encourage climbing
- Use a variety of scratching posts
- Teach your cat to fetch
- Play feather wand “tag” to elicit hunting and stalking behaviors
Brush your cat’s teeth – By the time cats are 3 years of age, over 85% of them have some form of dental disease. This is not only painful, but can lead to tooth loss and even systemic organ disease. Brushing your cat’s teeth, coupled with regular professional dental cleanings, can prevent dental disease and give your cat better health and longevity.
Spay or neuter – Reproductive diseases can affect both male and female cats. Spaying prevents ovarian, mammary, and uterine cancers in female cats, while neutering prevents testicular and prostate problems in male cats. Spaying and neutering decreases pet overpopulation and pet homelessness, and reduces behavioral problems like urine marking, roaming, and vocalizing.
Litter box 101 – Encourage good litter box habits by having enough boxes for your cats. A general rule of thumb is to have one box per cat, plus one. Cats are fastidious, and may urinate outside the litter box if it is dirty. Make sure you clean it daily, but before you blame inappropriate urination on a dirty box, bring your cat in for an exam to make sure a urinary tract infection is not the cause.
Groom regularly – Cats are usually great self groomers, but a little extra help can go a long way. Brushing your cat removes dead hair and prevents mats. It also gives you a chance to bond with your cat and to notice any changes to his body, such as lumps, bumps, or scrapes that need attention.
Don’t skip parasite prevention – fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and intestinal parasites can all wreak havoc on your cat’s health. For example, mosquitoes cause heartworm disease, which is deadly and untreatable in cats. Ask us about the best monthly preventive to keep your cat parasite free.
Your cat’s health is important to you, and it’s important to us too. If you have questions about cat health and wellness or need to schedule an appointment, please give us a call.