It’s been said that dogs have owners, and cats have staff. Cat people can testify to the truth of this statement! Our furry friends rely on us to keep them safe and fed, so here are some key ways to make sure your furry overlord stays happy and healthy for years to come:
Take them for regular veterinary exams: Your cat needs an annual physical so your vet can monitor health changes – better yet, take them to the vet every six months. During an annual exam, we check for signs that can indicate health problems like dental disease, gingivitis, abnormal thyroid, heart murmurs, kidney disease, tumors, and other possible health concerns. Regular health exams are especially important for senior pets (ages 7 and up), so if you haven’t been to the vet lately, make an appointment.
Weight control – fat cats may be cute, but obesity can kill: An estimated 40 to 70 percent of cats in the United States are obese, which is a strong risk factor for developing diabetes. While diabetes can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes, prevention is a better approach.
If your cat is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about a weight loss program. From reducing the amount that you’re feeding your cat, moving them to a more metabolic-friendly diet, to using a slow-feeding method that’s more aligned to their natural predatory instincts – your vet can help determine the right moves for your pet’s health.
Give them plenty of potty options: What’s the magic number of litter boxes for cats? Simple – one litter box per cat plus one more. So if you have two cats, you’ll need at least three litter boxes. Three cats require at least four boxes, and so on. Why the extra box? Well, nobody likes using a dirty bathroom (scoop daily!).
Cats can also be quite picky, territorial, or downright jerks to one another. Cats have been known to block access to the box or intimidate others to keep them out of the litter box. Make sure there are options on each floor of your home or in multiple rooms so you can avoid any nasty surprises. Once again – scoop daily!
If you have a sufficient number of clean litter boxes, but your cat refuses to use the box, you may need to change to another litter (avoid highly scented ones!). If the problem continues, have your vet check for medical problems like urinary tract disease, kidney problems, or urethral obstruction.
Play time is more than just play: Take a break every day to play with your cat. Regular play time can help keep your kitty’s weight down, provide mental and physical stimulation, and strengthen your bond. Make sure your cat/s have plenty of exciting interactive toys that satisfy their need to pounce, swat, and stalk – these will go a long way towards preventing the 3 am “I’m awake, get up and play” moments.