Paying close attention to your health helps you find problems before they start. You schedule a regular checkup with your doctor, watch what you eat, and exercise regularly. You also notice if something isn't quite right and follow up with t trip to the doctor. All of these steps contribute to your overall well-being.
Following these same steps with your feline friends can help them live longer, happier lives. These nine tips will help you keep your cat in top shape.
- Annual well check. No cat likes to go to the vet, but a yearly checkup is one of the best ways to keep your cat in optimal condition. When your cat is still a kitten, establish an annual routine with the same veterinarian. This will allow the doctor to notice any changes in your cat's condition from year to year. This can help you catch potentially serious issues early and make small (and less expensive) changes to get your cat's health back on track. So coax your cat into her carrier, and make that annual appointment as soon as possible.
- Vaccinations. When you take your kitten in for her first veterinary exam, make sure she receives all the appropriate vaccinations. Then, at her annual exam, you and your vet can work together to ensure your feline friend receives all the necessary booster shots and updates. This will help prevent her from contracting serious illnesses if she is exposed to other cats.
- Fit and trim. The life of an indoor cat can lead to lazy afternoons napping in the sun, and time spent chasing toy mice or wand toys. Help your cat maintain a healthy weight by making playtime a regular part of his day. Interactive feeders, a rotation of interesting toys, even a feline companion can help get your cat moving.
- Feed a high quality diet. A high-quality food specially formulated to meet the specific nutritional requirements of your cat's age and lifestyle will also help your cat maintain a healthy weight. Ask your veterinarian which type and formula of food will work best for your cat, and follow the feeding guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Treats can be part of your cat's life, too, but remember that the calories from treats can add up quickly!
- Fleas, ticks and worms, oh my! Even indoor cats can be exposed to external parasites such as fleas and ticks as well as internal parasites including tapeworms, roundworms and hookworms. Look for these signs of parasites: Fleas: small black "dirt" on your cat's fur, as well as small black insects. A cat with fleas also will scratch or lick irritated areas of his skin. Ticks: excessive scratching or licking. A tick may feel like a pea-sized bump on your cat's skin, or appear as a red, irritated area. Worms: dull hair, diarrhea, vomiting or weight loss. If you notice any of these signs in your cat, ask your vet for his recommendations on how to remove the pests. In the case of internal parasites, you should schedule a vet visit as soon as possible.
- Dental care. The health of your cat's teeth and gums is just as important as the health of your own. While it is not easy to brush a cat's teeth (unless you train your cat to accept the process from the time it is a kitten), regular teeth cleaning and exams are an important component of your pet's overall health. Your vet will check your cat's teeth at her annual exam.
- Reproductive health. One of the best ways to maintain your cat's good health is to have your pet spayed or neutered. These procedures prevent many illnesses and conditions related to a cat's reproductive organs as well as help eliminate many unwanted behaviors. The procedures also prevent unwanted litters and help reduce animal overpopulation. A winning situation all the way around!
- Litter box habits. Cats are quite adept at hiding signs of illness, but one place where early signs often show up is the litter box. If your cat's litter habits change (he starts urinating more frequently, or urinates inappropriately) or if you notice a change in the condition of the box contents, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
Coat and claws. Regular grooming sessions with your cat will help you create a strong, loving bond, and will also help you identify any issues with your cat's fur, skin and claws. Pay attention to any changes in your cat's coat or skin, such as dry or flaky patches of skin, red or irritated skin, missing fur, dull fur, or reddened areas around your cat's claws. If you see any of these signs, schedule a visit to the vet.