February is a short and feisty month and also National Cat Health Month! If you own a cat, you know what beautiful, intelligent, and unique beings they are. They are also often independent and self-sufficient, but this doesn’t mean they don’t need and deserve thoughtful care to feel their best. There’s a lot we can do as responsible cat guardians to give them a long and happy life, and it starts with these top 5 tips for excellent cat health.
#1 – Keep Them Lean
Obesity in cats puts them at an increased risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and can even shorten their life. Studies show that over 50% of pets are overweight or obese, even if pet owners have difficulty identifying a weight problem in their pets. To know if your cat is overweight, reference the body condition scoring guidelines, and call us with any concerns. You should see a defined waist and feel your cat’s ribs under the skin and fur. But don’t embark on a weight loss program for your cat without assistance from your veterinarian. Cats need a careful and gradual weight loss plan to avoid developing serious health problems such as hepatic lipidosis.
#2 – Keep Your Kitty Active
Cats love to sleep, but they also need exercise and thrive best when they can use their natural instincts daily to move their bodies. In the wild, cats will perch, climb, hide, stalk, scratch, and hunt, so give them ways to do this with you instead. You can play with a feather wand, a ball (yes, cats can learn to fetch!), or create an obstacle course. You can hide treats around your house to simulate a hunt. Of course, provide an enticing scratching post to encourage stretching and scratching on appropriate surfaces. In addition to keeping your cat physically healthy, these games and play will keep her mentally happy, too.
#3 – Brush Teeth Daily
Cats are excellent groomers who need our help to feel their best. Yes, cats need to have their teeth brushed and can be taught to tolerate or even enjoy this daily attention. Unfortunately, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that by the time cats are three years of age, more than 85% have some form of dental disease. Oral health is part of our annual preventive care exam, so we can prevent painful dental disease by scheduling dental cleanings when indicated. Brushing your kitty’s teeth at home can also help prevent dental disease in between cleanings. So grab that (small) toothbrush and get started! Call us if you want more tips on brushing your cat’s teeth – it’s not as complicated as it sounds, promise!
#4 – Keep Toxins Out of Reach
Cats are curious creatures, and we love that about them. But sometimes, their curiosity can cause pet poisoning, even with seemingly innocuous things around the house. For example, certain fertilizers, bulbs, plants, and household chemicals can cause significant problems for your cat’s mouth, digestive system, respiratory system, heart, and kidneys. The best solution is to store dangerous products properly, so your cat is never tempted or unwittingly exposed to harmful toxins. If pet poisoning occurs, it’s critical to seek emergency treatment immediately. Early advanced diagnostics and veterinary care can save your cat’s life.
#5 – Schedule Regular Wellness Exams
Speaking of early diagnosis, keeping up with your cat’s regular annual or biennial veterinary exams can give them a lifetime of excellent health. Cats are masters at hiding signs of discomfort and disease, even from their closest people. So a thorough nose-to-tail exam can uncover hidden problems that you might overlook at home, which can be treated quickly and efficiently to help keep your cat healthy and well. Even if we don’t find anything, a clean bill of health is a fantastic baseline to help us identify future health changes. So call us to schedule your cat’s annual wellness exam.
Bonus Tip for Cat Lovers
This one should be easy! Making time for more snuggles with your cat can give them – and you- better health. Even though cats are independent, they are happiest with regular, loving attention from their human family, and your health benefits from regularly petting and cuddling with your pets, too.
Celebrating National Cat Health Month is fun, and we hope we’ve made it more accessible with these few tips. If you have questions about cat health and wellness, please call our team at 831-335-3466. We are here for you and your cat!