Unlike dogs, cats have a reputation for being independent and self-sufficient. We cat parents know, however, that it’s all an act!
Our kitties depend on us for so many things. In addition to necessities like food and water, we give them love, companionship, and play time. We do all of this because we want them to be healthy and happy–and frankly, they make us healthy and happy too. We may not stop to think about it, but some of the decisions we make can have a huge impact on the health of our feline friends.
Here are some cat health tips that can help you to ensure that you and your purr-fect companion will enjoy many happy, healthy years together.
5 Cat Health Tips
1. Spay or Neuter Your Cat
You might not think of spaying or neutering as a way to improve your cat’s health, but it is. Cats who are spayed and neutered have a lower risk of many different types of cancer, and you’ll have the added bonus of knowing that you aren’t helping to contribute to the problem of cat overpopulation!
2. Watch Kitty’s Weight
Even though a few extra pounds may make your kitty extra squishable and cuddly, it’s not good for his health. Obesity puts cats at risk for health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart, and lung disease, and decreased immune function. It may even increase their risk of developing cancer!
Obesity in cats is frequently due to poor diet and exercise habits, and thankfully those are two things that cat parents can change! Of course, portion control is a factor, but the type of food you feed your cat is just as important as how much you give him. Ideally, a cat’s diet should not consist of mainly dry kibble. Canned food, or even a raw diet, will provide kitty with adequate nutrition without the extra carbohydrate load that can contribute to weight problems. A diet that limits (or eliminates) dry food also has the advantage of keeping your cat much more hydrated.
Getting kitty off his comfy seat on the couch or bed to get some exercise may take a little creativity. Try rolling toys with bells in them or dragging fluffy toys for him to chase. Some cats love catnip toys, and others enjoy going for a stroll on a leash, (although I’ve yet to meet one of those). With a little persistence, you’re sure to find something that your cat will enjoy.
3. Get Out the Toothbrush
Stop laughing! It’s true, even cats need to brush their teeth! Believe it or not, cats are at risk for many of the same dental issues (like gingivitis) that we humans try to avoid. And, like it can for us, untreated dental disease can lead to much bigger health problems down the road. If you could lessen your cat’s risk of developing heart, lung, or kidney problems simply by cleaning his teeth, wouldn’t you want to do it?
For tips on keeping kitty’s teeth clean, check out my past blog post, How to Clean Your Cat’s Teeth.
4. Keep Kitty Inside
Keeping your cat inside will dramatically increase his chances of living a long, full life, and not just because he will be safe from predators or traffic. Being outside exposes cats to the risk of coming into contact with stray or feral cats, who may pass on diseases like feline AIDS, feline leukemia, feline distemper, or upper respiratory infections (not to mention they may inflict some nasty wounds if they feel the need to battle over territory rights!) Outside exploration also puts your cat at risk for problems caused by fleas, ticks, ear mites, ringworm, and intestinal worms.
Of course, safety aside, who can really blame your cat for wanting to be outside? It’s a whole exciting world out there of birds, squirrels, and blowing leaves just waiting to entertain him! Staying inside, however, does not mean your cat is doomed to be a grumpy old couch potato. Make sure he has plenty of appropriate places to climb and hide, plenty of toys to “hunt”, and maybe even a window seat that looks out on a bird feeder.
5. Don’t Skip the Vet
The truth is that kitties need regular check-ups just like dogs do. Cats are susceptible to health issues like diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and others, but they are experts at hiding signs of illness, so an annual visit to the vet may be the best way to catch medical issues early and treat them before they become bigger problems.
Check out my guest post about August 22: Take Your Cat to the Vet Day on the Litter Robot blog this week! If it’s been a while since Fluffy’s last visit to the vet, why not make an appointment? If trips to the vet tend to be a fur-raising experience, here are a few tips to help take some of the stress away.
They may not want to admit it, but our cats depend on us to keep them healthy! Isn’t it worth anything we can do to give them a long, healthy life snuggled up beside us?