QUICK GUIDE TO MAINTAINING A HEALTHY CAT
Cats are renown for being independent until they are hungry or want something else. They can wash and catch their own food if you let them. But cats need more than just the basics from you. Shelter, food and water are the essentials, but to give your cat a long and healthy life, there is plenty more to be done. Despite their reputation, they will rely on you for vaccinations and health checks amongst other things to keep them in perfect health.
WATCH THEIR WEIGHT
Monitoring your cat’s weight is essential. More than half of domestic cats are overweight due to overfeeding. This causes a whole host of health issues for your cuddly feline friend. Similarly, if your cat is underweight, there might be something seriously wrong. The earlier you spot weight-loss the quicker you can get them to the vets and checked out. So be aware of your cat’s weight and consult your vet if there is any irregularity.
ARRANGE REGULAR HEALTH CHECKS WITH THE VET
New cats and kittens need a full examination to check for any pre existing conditions. Once this has been completed your kitten will need vaccinating against rabies, respiratory conditions and distemper. If the full body examination has uncovered any other conditions the vet will also vaccinate against these. The first set of vaccinations usually takes place when the kitten is between 6 and 16 weeks old.
Once your cat reaches maturity, your cat will need annual checkups from the vet. You will also need to vaccinate your cat again every couple of years, so it is important you keep on top of your cat’s health. These checkups are important to get teeth checked for plaque build-up.
After your cat turns 10 years old, you should increase the frequency of the checkups to once every 6 months. Older cats become way more prone to illnesses and you will want to catch any health problems early to give your cat the best possible chance of treatment.
MAINTAINING THEIR COAT
It is good practice to brush your cat down daily, particularly in longer-haired breeds. Not only will this keep their fur clean and shiny, but it gives you the opportunity to check for lumps or injuries. My cat, Tumble, is always roaming around the neighbourhood. I am often finding bumps and scrapes on her from scuffles with other cats when I am brushing her. I like to keep an eye on them just to make sure they are healing okay and there is no sign of infection.
However, my other cat, Ruff, hates being brushed. I can’t get him near the cat comb and as a result, his hair looks shaggy and matted. I have to take him to get his coat shaved every few months to get it sorted. He gives me a very unimpressed look, I just wish I could convey to him that it serves him right for not letting me brush his coat out.
PLAY WITH THEM
Making time to play with your cats is a good way to keep their mind and body active. It provides stimulation and is particularly important for indoor cats and younger cats. A bored, unstimulated cat is a powder keg. They are bundles of energy but their blast doesn’t last long and you will have them happy and sleeping again in no time.
GIVE THEM A PLACE TO SCRATCH
Cats scratch to shed their claws and need somewhere in the house where they can do this. If you find them scratching your furniture instead of the designated scratching post, there are repellents which can be sprayed on the furniture to stop them.
Although cats may appear unphased by your very existence, Tumble seems to find me a minor irritant at best, while Ruff plainly dislikes me, they do need you to keep them healthy. They don’t know what’s best for them, but if you follow these guidelines, you won’t go wrong.
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