21 Tips To Keep Your Cat Healthy
We are not experts or vets, so any advice offered here is based on my experience with my own cats. We have learned this over the years, and also conducted a lot of research on cat health and hygiene, from all the leading cat welfare websites.
We have included the sources for those at the bottom of this article. That way you can be sure that it is advise from people who know what they are talking about.
Much of this is common sense, but we also think you may pick up a few great health tips along the way.
Cat Health Tip 1 - Be Aware of Unusual Behavior
Most cat owners get to understand the unique traits and personality of their cats. They all have their own individual ways that get our attention. If you notice something radically different in their behavior, then it is worthwhile trying to find out what is causing that.
This could be something simple like a food change, a neighbor feeding your cat, or perhaps the arrival of a stray cat into their world. This will be noticed usually quite quickly, but sometimes it is just a small change, and that can be difficult to notice.
Cat Health Tip 2 - Visit the Vet Especially for Weight Advice
We are sure that you have seen cats and even kittens of different shapes an sizes. That of course will happen simply based on the breed. However for this health tip,we are talking about a healthy weight for your cat.
If your cat is too thin, this could be as a result of hidden health problems. Likewise a fat cat, or an overweight cat or kitten may have a certain cuteness to it, it is certainly not a sign of good health.
Having too much fat can cause serious health problems in your cat. Generally speaking cats are pretty good at looking after their own weight.
They eat what they need and they also do enough movements to keep them fit and healthy. Just always keep a general eye on their weight, as any large fluctuation on either side of a healthy weight, is usually a sign that something is wrong.
An annual trip to the vet for a check up is a great idea, and of course when it needs its shots.
Cat Health Tip 3 - Brushing Your Cat
Now I know we are stating the obvious here, but there is no requirement to brush a hairless breed of cat. For all other cats though, they should be brushed on a daily basis.
That helps a lot to remove excess fur and cut down on the dreaded hair balls. It is pretty easy to see the coat of your cat when brushing, and of course a healthy coat Looks shiny and smooth.
Most cats are OK with grooming, and some are OK with a bath once in a while, though not many. If your cat is OK with a bath, then always use a special cat shampoo and warm water.
Always check the skin under the fur as it should also be free of any patches or dry skin. If during the brushing process, you notice any lumps or sore spots always talk to your vet.
An annual trip to the vet for a check up is a great idea, and of course when it needs its shots.
Cat Health Tip 4 - Shaving/Grooming Your Cat Is an Option
We are not huge fans of shaving cats, though sometimes that my be necessary. It doesn't always have to be a close shave, and more often than not, a good grooming will do the job nicely. Some cats, well quite a few cats actually do not like being groomed.
If you try brushing but is gets too traumatic for the cat or you, then this is certainly worth considering. It is much better than having their coats end up matted or tangled. There are plenty of grooming salons available, though I do know that some of these can be very expensive.
Don't be afraid to search around as there are plenty of good ones out there, that do not charge silly prices.
Cat Health Tip 5 - Checking and Dealing with Fleas
Cats, and especially those who are both outdoors and indoors always stand a risk of getting fleas. Despite your best efforts, you simply have no real way of knowing what they get up to once they are outside, taking care of their territory.
So if you notice your cat scratching or biting at their fur a lot, then the chances are they could have fleas. It is easy to check for these by examining the fur for signs of fleas, which are large enough to see.
It is often easier to see flea poop hat comes from adult fleas and looks like small specks of black pepper.
If you find any signs of this at all, then it will need to be treated instantly. We have completed a full article on how to identify and treat cat fleas, which you can read by clicking here.
Cat Health Tip 6 - Keeping Your Cat Interested
Cats can often be an infuriating pet to own. They do have an independent nature and many of them even seem aloof to their owners. We would like to pet and stroke them, and they are more interested in having a private sleep.
We have however found with most cats, that when they do want your attention they certainly know how to get it. It is important I believe to try and spend some time everyday, either stroking your cat, or playing and engaging with it in some way.
Just like us cat can and do get bored. That is especially true for indoor cats who do not have the benefits of outdoor activity. Cat toys are always a good thing to keep them amused and intrigued. Almost every cat is quite happy to participate in any activity that simulates a hunting scenario.
Cats love to sleep as you may know, and many of them can sleep for up to 20 hours a day. That means when they are awake it is important to keep them exercised.
Keeping your cat indoors versus and indoor/outdoor cat is only a decision that you can make. There are pros and cons with doing both. You can read about the pros and cons of indoor vs outdoor cats by clicking here.
Cat Health Tip 7 - Always Make Sure they have Fresh Water
Cats have some very basic needs that include food and water. The water should always be fresh. Just like us they enjoy the taste and nutritional value of clean water.
Quite a few cat owners we know actually have a water fountain specifically so as their cat always has a constant supply of fresh cold filtered water.
Cat Health Tip 8 - Picking the Right Food For Your Cat
The debate rages on between the right types of food for a cat. Opinions on this differ and change all the time. Some vets say wet food is best, some say dry food is best, and some say a mixture of both works the best.
For us it is much more important to make sure that your cat is always eating out of a clean bowl. Secondly do not over feed your cat.
Cats tend to eat what you put out for them, and hence the many fat cat stories. It is never a good idea to put out a day's feed in the morning and let them snack.
Put enough food out in the morning, and then do the same again in the evening
Cat Health Tip 9 - Looking After Your Cat's Gums and Teeth
Again just like humans cats do need their teeth and gums looking after. If you are a regular visitor to the vet, this normally forms part of a standard check up routine. Don't be afraid to ask your vet if that is the case, and ask them to include that if it is not.
You can also do a pretty quick and basic check yourself and that is what I do. The gums should be a nice pink color and the teeth should be white, with no cracks or broken parts. Again like humans if left untreated their small teeth can turn a yellow/brown color.
That is caused by a build up of tartar and plaque. It is always a good idea to feed them what are called dental hygiene treats. If their teeth need more work that this, that will have to be a discussion with your vet.
Cat Health Tip 10 - Check Your Cat's Eyes
It is a simple task to check your cat's eyes and they can tell you a lot about the state of your cat's health. Any type of clouding or inflammation is a warning sign that something is not quite right. Normal crusting will happen though so don't worry about that.
Pupils should be equal in size and the area around the pupil should be white. Look for excessive watering, redness or any cloudy looking eyes. Wipe away any normal crusting with a damp cotton wool ball. If anything seems wrong then a visit to the vet will be required.
Cat Health Tip 11 - Check Your Cat's Ears
When you check your cat's ears check for any bad smells, wax or black gunk. Cats do from time to time get ear mites or an infection. Again this will mean a trip to the vet to get this cleared up
Cat Health Tip 12 - Check Your Cat's Nose
Don't worry if you notice that your cat's nose is warm and dry instead of cold and wet. That is quite often just the way that your cat is. There is nothing wrong with it. You simply need to check your cat's nose for any damage or blockages.
Cat Health Tip 13 - Get a Scratching Post
All cats will scratch to mark their territory. It also doubles up as a form of exercise, and helps them shed the outer layers of their claws.
I would never recommend declawing any cat as it is simply easier to allow them to behave naturally, and substitute some other part of your furniture by getting them a scratching post.
These are not expensive and it keeps them occupied and also allows them to draw out their natural instincts.
Also don't be afraid to trim claws though the vet can always do that for you. It is easy enough to do at home, even if that means wearing a pair of gloves like I do.
Cat Health Tip 14 - Always Have a Clean Litter Box
This is crucially important. If the litter box gets dirty, the cat will not use it, and may start doing its business elsewhere and you never want that to happen. Poop and clumped litter should be removed quickly and at least daily.
Cat litter should be completely changed once a week. The litter box should also be washed and cleaned once a week. I have done a full article here on how often cat litter should be changed.
We have done another full article on how to clean a cat litter box.. And we have an article here on how to safely dispose of cat litter
Many cat owners are now turning to self-cleaning cat litter boxes which do take a lot of pain out of cleaning litter.
Cat Health Tip 15 - Get Pet Insurance
We have told so many people to do this, and thankfully many of them have listened.
We don't know a single person who likes paying any type of insurance. Trust us on this one thing, if you get hit with a huge vet bill from your vet, you will be glad they day that you took out that insurance.
It is a small price to pay for long term peace of mind. There are basic pet insurance plans available, accident only pet insurance and you can set the limits. Typical prices are $15-20 a month.
Cat Health Tip 16 - Check Your Cat for Injuries
It is always worth just a minute or two to do a quick check on your cat for injuries. Something as simple as a limp, frequent urinating, too much scratching can quickly be observed so as you can treat any problems earlier rather than later.
Cat Health Tip 17 - Spaying or Neutering
To protect a female cat against pregnancy they can be spayed but only before 4 months old. This is done by a vet only and is a simple operation, often called fixing or neutering.
For males cats this is known as the snip or being neutered. This stops cats spraying in the home, and also stops them getting into fights with other male cats over a mate. As a result that can also save you cat from injuries that may become easily infected.
Cat Health Tip 18 - Consider Micro Chipping Your Cat
More than anything else car accidents are the number one killer of cats. If your cat has been chipped, then the chances greatly increase of your cat being found and returned to you.
Cat Health Tip 19 - Dealing With Scratching & Biting
All cats and especially younger cats have a lot of energy when they are awake. Often during play, they may seem aggressive. It is in fact their nature to hunt and to kill. For us cat owners a scratch or a bit can really hurt.
We like to use toy mice, a ball and even a paper bag to let them do their bouncing and clawing. As cats grow older their small nips become adult bites, so let them bite something else and not you.
Cat Health Tip 20 - Understand What Cat Meows Are For
Small kittens may make meowing noises for their mother, but adult cats never meow at each other. They save that up for us cat owners. It is an attention seeking method, to say hello, to get food or simply to get attention.
We often over react to this as we think that it is cute. That is our instinctive human response and it is actually the wrong one. If they meow for food, ignore that and give them the food when quiet. Do the same when they are attention seeking.
It stops a lot of the noise and makes them understand that they will be fed and looked after without the need for attention seeking. If that meowing continues or become prolonged it may need a visit to the vet, as something else could be wrong.
Cat Health Tip 21 - Never Feed Your Cat Any of These Foods
- Tuna is OK but do not make this a regular food as it does not have all the nutrients that a cat needs
- Never feed your car garlic, chives or anything from the onion family as it will upset their stomach
- Strange as this may seem you should not feed your cat milk as most cats are lactose intolerant and they can easily end up with diarrhea
- Alcohol and caffeine (coffee) can easily kill a cat so avoid at all costs
- Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure and cause them to vomit a lot
- No chocolate even as a treat as an agent inside it known as theobromine can cause a cat to have seizures and lead to death
- No candies or gums as they can cause liver failure
- No meat bones as raw meat is bad for cats and they can easily choke on bone splinters
- No raw eggs, raw meat or raw fish
- Dog food does not have the right nutrients for cats though in an emergency it will do
We hope that you have found these useful. We know that we all love and want to look after our cats. The best way that you can do that is to keep them healthy. If you follow the 21 tips above, you can certainly go a very long way to doing just that.