When you’re a cat parent, your kitty’s health and happiness is your number one priority. We have so much love for our feline friends and they bring us so much joy and peace – we want to ensure their lives are pleasant, pain-free, and long. The best way to do that is with preventive care measures that will keep your cat healthy – because a healthy cat is a happy cat!
Keep Your Cat Healthy with a Nutritious, Complete Diet
One of the top ways to keep your cat healthy is to work with your veterinarian to design a diet that provides them complete daily nutrition and makes meal times a pleasure. What your cat eats on a daily basis will act as a foundation for his or her health. So much of a cat’s general condition can be traced back to what (and how much) they are eating on a daily basis.
Establishing a healthy daily diet plan for your cat will require you to consider a number of factors, including your cat’s breed, weight, lifestyle, and dental health. Perhaps the most crucial thing to prioritize about your cat’s diet is the nutritional content: your cat’s food should be made up mostly of protein and balanced with healthy carbohydrates and fats. Portion size will be another crucial element of your cat’s daily diet: a proper daily portion size, fed twice a day, will ensure your cat maintains a healthy weight and doesn’t become obese or underweight. Other issues, such as the best brand or specialized diet for your cat and whether you should be using wet or dry cat food, will depend on your cat’s specific physical condition and lifestyle habits.
When thinking about your cat’s daily diet, you also need to consider treat habits with your cat, as these are part of their daily caloric intake. Treats can also be a great way to add helpful resources into your cat’s nutritional routine. For example, giving your cat a daily amount of CBD Kidney Support Chews supports their kidney wellness with licorice root powder, astragalus root powder, and nettle leaf extract (as well as the calming power of CBD).
Even when you have established a solid diet routine for your cat, you’ll need to monitor your cat’s eating habits and remain alert and prepared to make changes. As cats age and change throughout their lives, their nutritional needs do the same. Cats are also prone to becoming bored with the same daily meal program, so you might need to change things up with different flavors, textures, or treat regimens to keep your feline entertained and engaged in their diet.
Support Your Cat with Consistent Grooming Practices
While healthy adult cats will do a lot of self-grooming, your role as a cat owner will also include some grooming support to keep your cat healthy. Grooming responsibilities can range from a daily brush to the occasional bath.
To ensure you can easily take care of your cat’s grooming needs, you will need to get your cat comfortable with the tools and practices of grooming. Start young with brushing your cat’s fur, trimming at home or taking them to the groomer for haircuts, and exposing them to bath time practices if necessary (most healthy adult cats do not need regular bathing as they clean their own coats with their tongues). Having a consistent grooming practice keeps your cat healthy by ensuring that their coat functions as it should to help them maintain their body temperature. If your cat’s coat gets matted, tangled, or otherwise damaged, it can cause them to overheat or struggle to stay warm during the winter months. Also, be aware of how your cat’s grooming abilities will change as they age: senior cats tend to struggle to maintain their daily self-grooming practices, so you may need to step up your additional grooming as they get older.
While many healthy cats can handle coat grooming on their own, one of the ways you can keep your cat’s health is by providing additional practices that will not only keep their coat shiny and functional, but also offer some private and focused social time for you to bond with your cat.
Note: Regular nail trims are also crucial to your cat’s comfort and health. Start when they are young so they get used to having their paws touched and claws trimmed. If this is too difficult for you to do at home, your veterinarian can perform this important task for you.
Hydration Is Key to Your Cat’s Health
Especially if you live in a hot climate, you will need to keep your cat healthy by encouraging proper hydration. The simplest and most effective way to do this is to offer fresh, cool water for your cat in multiple parts of their environment. Their bowls should always be clean and debris-free. A healthy adult cat should drink enough water on their own without encouragement, but some pets may need a little extra support to stay hydrated.
Hydration is key to your cat’s health because it can both cause and contribute to negative health outcomes and it can also be a symptom of health conditions or problems. A poorly hydrated cat might be at greater risk for a cat urinary blockage, skin problems, and digestive issues. Likewise, if your cat doesn’t seem to be drinking enough, it could indicate that there is something else going on within their body – or they might just be picky.
Wild cats get most of their water from the bodies of their prey, so drinking isn’t something they’re necessarily used to or adept at in an instinctual sense – which makes your job a little harder because you have to make a water bowl more interesting. If your cat shows a disinterest in the water bowls you’ve provided, you might consider adding a little bit of water from a tuna can to their water to encourage consumption. Other ways to get your cat to drink more and stay properly hydrated include trying a new type of water bowl: some cats might enjoy wood or metal more than plastic, or they might have more fun drinking from a cup or mug rather than a bowl. Implementing a water fountain feature can be effective as well – running water will often make cats more intrigued by the prospect of drinking and there are plenty of water fountains for cats to choose from.
If your cat is really struggling to keep their hydration up, you might consider adapting their diet to accommodate additional water intake with a wet cat food. Some pet owners also have success with using bottled or filtered water rather than tap water when trying to encourage their cat to drink more.
Ensure Regular Litter Box and Toileting Routines
Your cat’s litter box needs to be easily accessible and cleaned regularly for them to stay healthy. A cat’s bathroom habits are not only an important part of their daily comfort and health, but also create a relatively easy way for you to monitor your cat’s behavior and condition. Changes in litter box habits are often indicative of stress or health problems in cats, so make sure you’re familiar with your cat’s patterns when it comes to potty time.
You can keep your cat healthy by making sure they always have an easily accessible litter box that is cleaned regularly. Cats are easy to litter box train, but they do not like a dirty space and will avoid the litter box if it isn’t cleaned consistently. Likewise, their ability to get to (and into) the litter box needs to be unencumbered. If you have a cat with mobility issues, you’ll need to ensure they can easily get into and out of the box without any problems. If your cat is particular, you might also need to shop around for a type of litter they like.
Encourage Daily Exercise for General Cat Health
Another easy and important way to keep your cat healthy is by encouraging daily physical movement. The more active and playful your cat is during their daily life, the longer they will be able to maintain their agility and physical comfort. Help your cat stay healthy and active by providing them with plenty of interactive toys throughout the house for the times when you can’t focus on them. Even when alone, a cat should have a tower to climb or a toy to chase and scramble after.
But even with the greatest interactive toy collection, your cat will still need play time with you. While there are lots of great toys that can imitate play with a human, nothing is a complete substitute for that. Set aside a few periods of time each day to engage with your cat and encourage them to jump, run, and play. Prioritize your cat’s movement in everyday life to keep them young and fit.
Cats Need Affection and Mental Stimulation Every Day
In the same way you get your cat’s physical body to move daily, you will need to get their mind moving, too. Cats are descended from wild animals and yet most domesticated cats spend their lives indoors, and this requires attention to their environment to prevent them from getting bored and depressed.
Your cat will enjoy brief playful spurts with you and it’s easy to entertain them with a laser or a feather toy. Cats also get a lot of mental stimulation from playing with catnip toys and scratching posts. Keep a rotating selection of fun and engaging toys on hand to ensure your cat is getting the mental stimulation they need every day to keep them healthy.
It’s also important to ensure that, along with both physical and mental stimulation, your cat is getting affection from you daily. While some cats are mostly aloof and don’t seem to need praise or affection, you should make yourself available for a quick lap snuggle or a few strokes of the back when your cat is feeling the need for that connection.
Consistent Veterinary Visits Are Paramount to Feline Health
This list of 10 ways to keep your cat healthy mostly focuses on preventive measures you can take at home, but one of the most crucial things you can do is ensure that your cat has consistent meetings with his or her veterinarian. Your veterinarian shouldn’t meet your cat for the first time when something goes wrong. They should know your cat in their happiest, healthiest, most normal state.
Choose a good time for your cat’s annual physical and stick to it. Set reminders on your phone and try to make the appointment for the following year when you’re at the current appointment. It might feel like if Mr. Socks is doing great and seems perfectly healthy, there is no need for this annual check-up – but don’t be fooled. Cats are masters at hiding their pains, and veterinarians are trained professionals that might notice something you’ve missed. Many health issues in cats can be prevented by catching them early, so stick to your annual wellness visit schedule for your cat.
Cats Need Daily Dental Care for Comfort
Cats are prone to dental problems that can be not only painful and uncomfortable but can contribute to more serious health issues. Therefore, one of the best ways to keep your cat healthy is by providing consistent and careful dental care.
You need to take care of your cat’s teeth with regular brushing and examination. While there are professionals who can do this, you can also establish a system with your cat at an early age that will make it easy for you to practice dental care at home. Get your cat used to the materials and the process of teeth brushing and make it a habit. Not only will the brushing itself loosen food debris, thereby preventing plaque buildup and gum disease, but it will also give you regular time to see if anything significant has changed in your cat’s mouth – such as the growth of a tumor or lesion that could indicate a separate health issue. Even with a good at-home routine, it’s still important for a veterinarian to examine your cat’s teeth regularly, which can also include x-rays to see what’s going on below the gumline, where issues often start.
Spaying and Neutering Will Keep Your Cat Healthy
One often overlooked way to keep your cat healthy is by spaying and neutering them. Not only is spaying and neutering the responsible thing to do because it prevents unwanted litters of kittens that might be hard to find homes for, but it also improves health outcomes for both male and female cats. Spayed and neutered cats tend to live longer, happier, healthier lives.
Female cats who are spayed before their first heat are less likely to develop uterine infections and cancers – both a major concern for many felines – and also less likely to develop breast cancer. In male cats, neutering reduces the risk of prostate issues and eliminates the risk of testicular cancer. Spaying and neutering at the proper age is a responsible way to keep your cat healthy.
Always Keep Your Cat’s Environment Safe
Your cat’s environment is another easy avenue for keeping them healthy throughout their lives. From dangerous, toxic house plants to various cleaning agents that present a health risk, your home might be more of a threat to your feline friend than you realize.
Familiarize yourself with the house plants and flowers that are toxic to cats, and identify flora and fauna in both your yard and home that might present a risk. If you can’t get rid of them, place them far out of your cat’s reach. Know the signs of poisoning that your cat might demonstrate and keep the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number posted in your home (888.426.4435).
Of course, your home might have other risks that you should monitor with a curious cat, such as exposed wires; antifreeze and de-icing solutions; human snacks that can be toxic to cats; and ribbons, yarn, string, or toys with removable parts that can be chokable. Look at your home with a critical eye and ensure your cat’s environment is safe.
And one of the most important ways to keep your cat safe is to keep them indoors. Contrary to popular belief, cats can live their whole lives indoors and be perfectly happy. In fact, cats that live indoors have a much greater life expectancy than those who go or live outside.
Keep Your Cat Healthy with These 10 Strategies
Meeting your cat’s most basic needs for care – a nutritious diet, proper grooming, consistent medical care, and social/mental engagement – may seem simple, but there are a variety of ways you can enhance your cat’s life and support positive health outcomes. Our list of 10 ways to keep your cat healthy will ensure you’re not only providing your cat with basic care, but helping them live their absolute best kitty life!