Here’s what veterinary experts suggest to help our feline companions purr happily for a long time.
Cats tend to be less expensive as pets than dogs and may require less attention when you leave them for work or on vacation. . . and they don’t keep you on a walk schedule like most dogs do. Besides making it clear that they deign to live with you and should be adored, they don’t necessarily demand a lot of attention.
Obviously, it’s important to make sure a cat’s environment is well suited to a temperamental royal. Cats like to hunt, so you want toys that they can chase. They also need to feel safe, which, if you don’t want them jumping on the fridge (they can jump about five times their height), might mean buying a cat tree. They are also nature lovers, and a “catio”, a wire-mesh enclosure that allows your cat to be outside safely, may be an option. Advantage: neighborhood birds are safe and the cat still has time outside. Kitty also needs a place where it’s okay to sharpen her claws. Cats also need litter boxes. But you can’t just get them gear, even extremely cool electronic toys that they can hunt, and try to believe they’re low-maintenance.
“I like to say that cats are adorable little aliens,” says Autumn McBride Vetter, DVM, clinical assistant professor at the University of Georgia Companion Animal Health Center associated with the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. It’s up to us to notice and, ahem, respond to their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and be aware of when their “normal” changes.
We asked veterinarians who specialize in caring for cats how best to keep our feline friends healthy overlords for a good, long time. Here are five recommendations:
Feed wet (and dry!), nutritious food
Nutrition is important, and not all foods meet the same standards. Vetter recommends Hill’s, Purina, and Royal Canin (Canin, really? Not Feline?) because these brands are tested with veterinary nutritionists and are more regulated than some smaller companies.
She also recommends giving your cat both dry and wet food. Although wet foods contribute a little to fluid intake, that’s not why Vetter recommends them. Some prescription foods are available only wet or only dry. If a cat is already uncomfortable due to illness, having to change the type of food eaten adds to an already stressful situation.
Michelle Meyer, DVM, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, also suggests using puzzle feeders to mimic the hunting experience when feeding your cat.
Focus on prevention and early detection
Your cat’s annual exam should include blood tests. Laboratory results can reveal illness long before symptoms develop. “With early detection, health issues can be managed or cured before they become painful or more costly,” notes Meyer. And treatment that starts early may have a better chance of delaying or preventing big problems, Vetter says. Color changes in the gums or teeth can also alert you that something is wrong. Brushing teeth can also help him stay healthy. And any new bumps or lumps or bones that weren’t that prominent before should be brought to the attention of your vet.
Get pet insurance
Vetter says she advises “everyone I meet on the street. . . to get animal insurance.” She says it’s almost inevitable that something will happen, whether it’s a chronic illness, a stroke or surgery. If and when that happens, “pet insurance can really help with that, and it will definitely help extend your cat’s life and quality of life.”
The cost may be lower than you think. I checked the price of my 8 year old salvage. She could be insured for $18.24 a month, with a $750 deductible and 70% reimbursement with Healthy Paws. This doesn’t cover routine visits or pre-existing conditions (she doesn’t have any yet to our knowledge, but she’s a cat – thyroid issues, diabetes and kidney issues are a risk as she grows older. ages). Insuring a young cat costs less.
Note changes in behavior.
“Cats are masters at hiding illness,” says Meyer, who suggests going so far as keeping a diary noting your cat’s “normal” behavior and preferences, food/drink intake water and her routine so you can look back and compare.
A change in temperament is also worth noting, says Vetter. “If your cat is normally very friendly and suddenly starts hiding under the bed all the time, this is often a cat’s response to pain or discomfort in some way. another”, and it may be worth going to the vet.
Also monitor your cat’s water intake. You want to be sure he is drinking enough. Watch to see if he rushes to drink from the faucets or licks the shower drain. Suddenly wanting more water can also be a reason to see the vet. Keep clean, fresh water available. And, if you’ve seen your cat drink from a faucet, consider buying a fountain, says Vetter. Moving water is more appealing to some cats.
Clean the litter box daily.
Nobody wants. That’s why there are all kinds of litters that claim to suppress odors the longest or automatic (albeit imperfect) litter boxes.
“You really should be cleaning litter boxes every day, so you know if you can keep them clean, but also to know what your cat’s baseline is,” says Vetter. “Monitoring their urine output is one of the most important things you can do to monitor these things.”
The litter box is also where you can pick up looser or very hard feces. . . the vet will want to know about this.
(I know, I know. We listed it last for a reason.)
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