Looking for ways to keep your cat healthy that are simple and effective? As a cat lover and proud parent of two young felines, I’m committed to doing all that I can to ensure their good health and well-being for many years to come. Whether you’re getting ready to adopt a new kitty or already have a furry friend at home, here are seven smart ways to keep your cat healthy.
1. Provide a Healthy Diet
When it comes to long-term well-being, providing a healthy diet is definitely one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep your cat healthy. Just as is true for humans, a cat’s diet can affect everything from her weight to the way her body functions as she ages. Talk with your vet about the best dietary options for your cat, including whether it’s best to feed her wet food, dry food or a combination of both. Don’t forget to also discuss how much she should be fed daily and select a food that your cat actually enjoys eating.
2. Keep Her Indoors
Since outdoor cats are much more likely to be injured, killed or sickened, keeping your cat indoors is by far one of the best things you can do to make sure he lives a long and healthy life. When I adopted my cats from a local rescue organization, the group strongly emphasized the importance of raising them as indoor-only pets and actually made me sign a commitment form verifying that I was in agreement. Even though they don’t go outside, my cats still live a very active and happy life surrounded by toys, a climbing tree and plenty of exciting nooks and crannies to explore.
3. Schedule Regular Vet Visits
Even if by your own assessment your cat appears to be in good health, taking her in for regular checkups, usually once a year depending upon your cat’s specific health needs, is definitely a good idea. The vet will be better able to recognize subtle signs of trouble you might have overlooked, such as creeping weight gain, along with helping verify that there is nothing serious going on internally. The vet can also make sure your cat stays up-to-date with any vaccinations and medical tests that are necessary.
4. Watch for Unexpected Changes
Even when you do take your cat in for regular vet visits, it’s also important to watch for any changes in his temperament, coat, weight or activity level. When my sister-in-law noticed that her cat had become less active and was losing weight, for example, she took him to the vet in time for cancer to be detected and treated before it became incurable. If something seems off, don’t hesitate to call your vet and take your cat in for a visit, regardless of how recently the last checkup may have taken place.
5. Spay and Neuter
Although spaying and neutering at a vet’s office can sometimes cost as much as several hundred dollars, it’s also important for ensuring your cat’s health and well-being as she matures. According to the ASPCA, spaying and neutering at a young age can help prevent diseases like uterine infections and breast cancer in females, along with testicular cancer in males. A female cat who doesn’t go into heat will also feel more comfortable and less agitated. Worried about the cost? Rescue organizations can often provide recommendations for low-cost providers, so be sure to look into this option or ask about it when adopting.
6. Ensure Plenty of Exercise
Like humans, cats need exercise to stay healthy as they grow. Along with providing items like toy mice, string wands and cat trees, another feline companion can also help a kitty stay active, especially when she is young. When I adopted my cats, the rescue organization helped match me with two kittens who were compatible with each other. In fact, some groups only allow kittens to be adopted in pairs, so keep this in mind if you are considering bringing home a new pet. My young cats definitely love playing together, which keeps them fit, happy and entertained.
7. Never Declaw
I’m a strong believer that if your cat is in pain, he is not living a happy and healthy life. While some people inaccurately think of a cat’s claws as being a type of “nail,” they are actually a vital part of his fingers and toes. For this reason, removing them is incredibly cruel and painful, similar to someone cutting off the tips of your own fingers, with lasting physical and mental effects that will remain throughout the rest of his life. Since scratching is a natural cat behavior, I always advise people that if they are not prepared to value their pet more than they do their furniture and material possessions, they should avoid adopting. Also, there are certainly a number of effective and humane solutions available, like providing scratching posts and regularly trimming the claws with a nail clipper.
Are you a cat lover, too? What other effective ways to keep your cat healthy would you like to share?