February is National Cat Health Month, a time to celebrate all things feline. Officially it’s a national month in the US, but so important that we wanted to highlight it here in the UK too! The month is designed to highlight cat health and wellbeing. It’s a time to ensure that we are looking after our cats and are doing everything we can for their emotional and physical wellbeing. Whether you have an indoor kitty or an outdoor one, it’s essential that they have everything they need for a healthy active lifestyle. Here we take a look at some key areas to concentrate on, to ensure your cats are as healthy as can be.
Things We Can Do To keep Our Cats Healthy
Check that they have a suitable diet - Cats need a complete diet to keep their minds and bodies in tip-top condition. They are the athletes of the animal world, naturally spending much of their day running and climbing. This means that it’s essential for them to get the correct nutrients and minerals that they need to keep up their physical fitness. There are many cat food types available - some are tailored to specific breeds, some are designed for indoor cats and others are for cats with intolerances and sensitive dispositions. There are also dry, wet and raw foods available, each with certain benefits. Make sure you do a bit of homework on your breed of cat to find a diet that will be suitable for them. If your cat lives solely indoors they’ll perhaps need an indoor cat food with fewer calories than an outdoor cat for instance. If you’re unsure, have a word with your vet to get their opinion.
Ideally, you’ll feed them a mixture of wet and dry food. The former has a certain amount of water that will help keep our kitty’s water works in good health and the latter will help to keep their teeth sharp and clean. You may find your cat has a taste for certain flavours and textures, so you might want to try various foods to see what they like best.
One thing to remember with food, is to make any changes incremental. Cat’s stomachs can be sensitive to change, so make sure you make the change gradually over a week or so - mixing and adding more of the new food to your cat’s existing one over a few days until they’re eating only the new recipe.
Keep your cat active - This may seem obvious, but if you have an indoor cat for instance, they may be less active than their outdoor cousins. Ensure that your house is cat friendly and that there are things for your cat to do to keep well exercised. A tall scratch post tree with platforms is an essential item for every cat owner. This will give your cat chance to climb indoors and also stretch and scratch.
Spend time with your cat - Socialising with your cat is super important for their wellbeing. Whilst cats can be very independent, they will also enjoy being around you. Some cats will relish being around you in fact and you may find they follow you around and sit on your lap. This bonding time is good for their contentment and wellbeing.
Grooming is also a great way to spend quality time with them. Some long-haired cats will need lots of daily grooming, but even if you have a short haired breed a daily brush will keep their coat in good condition and allow you to spend some time together.
Keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date - All pets should be vaccinated as kittens and then will need yearly boosters to keep them up-to-date. Your vet should let you know when your next vaccination is due, but it’s always good to keep a record on the calendar. If you ever need to put your cat in a cattery for a holiday, you’ll need proof that they’re fully vaccinated.
Ensure they’re microchipped - Another thing that may seem obvious to some, but surprisingly not all cats are microchipped. Microchipping is essential as it will help to trace your kitten if they get lost. Even indoor cats will benefit from a microchip - having lived indoors their whole life, if they do manage to stray outside, they won’t be familiar with their surroundings and are likely to get lost. A microchip is a great way of tracking a cat’s owner and will increase the chances of your cat being returned home.
Keep your cat’s indoor environment safe - Cat proofing your home is essential for all kitty parents. Some houseplants and human foods are toxic to cats. If ingested, some of these toxic substances can cause severe illness and even death so it’s important to know what is and isn’t cat friendly. Make sure your cat can’t get to any of these to ensure their safety. And remember that cats climb! Don’t leave anything that could possibly cause harm on work surfaces or tabletops, but rather keep them locked in cupboards.
Keep their teeth healthy - Cat teeth need to be monitored just like human teeth. Your vet should check their teeth and gums as part of their routine check-ups and should let you know if extra care is needed. Quite often dry food and dental treats are enough to keep your cat’s teeth in good condition. There are also cat toothpaste products and brushes available if they’ll let you brush them. Some cats won’t like this though and may need to see the vet to have them cleaned if the vet thinks it necessary.
We hope you've found some valuable information in this week's article. Of course, it's important to monitor our cat's physical and mental health at all times of year, but we thought National Cat Month was the perfect time to really focus on it. If you have any questions do get in touch. If you're particularly worried about any aspect of your cat's health always speak to your vet who will be able to give you the best tailored advice.