Cats are known to be highly independent creatures. Unlike dogs, felines seldom go out in packs and would prefer to do things their way, often by themselves. They’re also fastidious, ever-cleaning their fur with their tongue as if applying a good coating of Brylcreem. But the fact of the matter is that cats don’t have the full capacity to take care of their health and their needs. In the wild, they may survive on hunting alone. In homes, they will be quite dependent on you for certain things. And if these needs are not met properly, feline behavioral problems might develop. You clearly don’t want to turn your pet into a problem cat. So here are the top 10 tips to keep your cat healthy and happy.
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Assist Your Cat in its Grooming Needs
In case you haven’t noticed, your cat is very fastidious when it comes to keeping itself clean and tidy. Their saliva happens to contain various natural deodorants and have excellent cleansing properties to keep their coats or furs relatively clean. Some cat owners are known to give their pets a bath once in a while and, while you can also do this on your pet, it actually depends on how well you have trained your pet and how cooperative it is. Additionally, should you decide to give Garfield a bath and it is cooperative as well, make sure to use only warm water and a shampoo that’s designed specifically for cats.
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If your cat is not cooperating, don’t fret as your kitty can relatively take care of itself in this regard. However, you may want to brush its fur on a daily basis to help remove hairballs and excess hair. They do shed as well. So, frequent regular brushing can remove these loose hairs which, if not removed, can land in the digestive tract of your pet. Remember that they like to lick their fur. Excess hair can, thus be swallowed and form balls in the gastrointestinal tract. As such, brushing or combing its hair will help prevent digestive problems related to ingested hair.
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Avoid Giving Too Much Dry Kibbles
In the wild, cats are known to be obligate carnivores. Aside from the fact that they get their high-quality proteins from meats, pouncing on prey can also help nurture their predatory instincts. While Fido can easily munch on fruits and veggies, Garfield or Felix simply cannot. That is why a lot of pet owners, even veterinarians, recommend giving cats dry kibbles.
However, this recommendation was at a time when cat anatomy, physiology, and behavior were still in its infancy. Today, many vets actually recommend minimizing the giving of dry kibbles as many of these products contain a hefty amount of carbohydrates which is not a reflection of the high protein and low carbohydrate needs of kitties. Vets are reporting a lot of cats turning obese and developing non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus because of too much carbohydrate in their diets. In case you’re wondering what type 2 diabetes is, it’s a metabolic condition where the body cannot efficiently move glucose from the blood to the cells because of a dysfunction in the glucose transport mechanism. Because there is excess glucose in the blood, other health problems can then develop.
Additionally, dry kibbles contain very little water or moisture, if none at all. And if your kitty happens to be not fond of drinking from its cat water fountain or water bowl, this can be a problem which can lead to issues in the kidneys like renal insufficiency and kidney failure. So, if you do have to give dry kibbles to your pet, do so but as little as possible.
Keep Your Pet Well-Hydrated
Hydration is a critical component of all living organisms. Cells require fluids in the correct temperature and level of pH to function optimally. Unfortunately, the cats we have in our homes have evolved completely from their ancestors that dwelled in desert environments. Domesticated cats are not equipped with the thirst-drive found in dogs. As such they can only source their water from food. For instance, wet cat food is known to contain as much as 78 percent water while their favorite prey, the mouse, contains about 70 percent moisture. Dry kibbles, on the other hand, only contain at most 10 percent.
The trick, therefore, is to provide your pet with plenty of water to drink. You will have to stimulate their natural predatory instincts to entice them to drink from a bowl. This is where cat water fountains can be a tremendous help since the continuous stream of falling water creates movement in the bowl. As you are well aware, cats are particularly interested in anything that moves. It plays the predator inside them, enticing this to check out the movement. That is why it is critical to place cat water fountains in areas where they frequent so they will be more enticed to drink.
There’s another reason why cat water fountains work better than conventional drinking bowls. The constant dripping and movement of water prevents the stagnation of water. This helps prevent the liquid from going stale, making it more palatable to drink. Additionally, the falling water helps introduce air into the liquid which can help neutralize certain microorganisms that are averse to the presence of oxygen.
Consider Spaying or Neutering Your Cat
You may feel it’s unfair for your cat to be spayed or neutered, but you are actually doing it a favor and help prevent the growing number of cats that literally go homeless year in and year out. In many cases, these ‘homeless’ pets end up being put down simply because they are ‘unwanted’. On the health side of things, spaying or neutering your pet can help prevent the development of feline leukemia or even the transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus, the cat equivalent of HIV.
Place Sufficient Number of Clean Litter Boxes Around the House
Have you tried defecating in a dirty, filthy public toilet? Nasty, isn’t it? It makes you want to bolt out the door and look for a restroom that’s cleaner and nicer. The same is true with cats. They’re very fastidious and clean, remember? So, it is advisable to place sufficient number of clean litter boxes around the house. The key is for you to clean these litter boxes on a regular basis so cats will not go elsewhere. A self cleaning litter box is a great way to help manage the process of cleaning up after your kitty.
Don’t Forget to Visit Your Vet on a Regular Basis
Don’t wait until your pet comes down with an illness before you take it to the vet. Regular veterinary checkups including the required and optional vaccinations and immunizations can help prevent more serious health problems in the future. Moreover, you get to learn a lot of things on how to properly care for your pet cat.
Play With Your Cat or, at least, Give it Some Exercise
A cat without play is a dull, bored, and frustrated kitty. And this can lead to a host of behavioral problems that may not be that serious for your pet, but are nonetheless, frustrating and annoying on your part. Giving it plenty of appropriate toys and playing with your cat should help keep it happy and well-content.
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Train Your Pet How to Use an Appropriate Scratching Post
It is natural for cats to scratch as a means of exercise, a method of marking their territory, and as a way to keep their claws in pristine condition for predatory activities. But if your cat is making your furniture its favorite scratching post, you’ll need to train it on how to use a more appropriate scratching post. You can also protect your furniture by using some proven methods to deter your cat from scratching on these items.
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Separate the Food Bowl From the Cat Water Fountain or Water Bowl and From Litter Boxes
This is a bit tricky. You don’t want to put the cat water fountain in the same area with their food bowl as it will not be enticed to drink. You don’t want to put the litter box within range of their food bowl or water fountain, either, as cats don’t want to eat where it stinks. So, make sure to separate these items in specific areas around your house so it will still be able to feed, drink, and eliminate unhindered.
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Pamper Your Cat With Affection
All pets require love and affection. While cats are not known to be very social like dogs, they, too, love to be cuddled and showered with affection. They will purr and snuggle up close to you, longing for the warmth of your touch. The point is that pets love the attention.
Keeping your cat healthy is almost the same as keeping yourself in tip-top shape. They need the right food, adequate hydration, plenty of fun and exercise, and a safe and welcoming home. Regular visits to the vet, having them spayed or neutered, assisting them in their grooming, and nurturing their scratching behavior in a safer way also helps. More importantly, showering them with affection can help secure a healthier and happier kitty.
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- Top Tips to Ensure Your Pet Is Healthy, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Sarah Lim, DVM, Easing Transportation: 5 Ways to Improve Your Cat’s Trip to the Veterinarian, The MSPCA–Angell
- Cat Health: Keeping Your Kitty Healthy, Best Friends Animal Society