Your cat’s amusing antics keep you entertained, and their presence provides comfort when you are feeling down. What if you could take steps to add years to their life, to help ensure they remain your companion for as long as possible? Our team at Just Cats Clinic wants to help by providing tips to prolong your cat’s life.
#1: Ensure your cat receives annual wellness care
In the wild, cats are predators and prey animals, and as such, they take extreme pains to hide any weaknesses. This means that your cat can be extremely sick, but not exhibit any illness signs. Bringing them in for regular wellness exams is the best way to catch any problems in the early stages, when the issues are easier to manage. Steps our veterinary professionals take to evaluate your cat include:
- Performing a thorough physical exam — We will examine your cat from their whiskers to their tail, looking for any abnormalities. On a physical exam, we may discover issues such as cataracts, heart conditions, arthritis, and abdominal tumors.
- Running routine blood work — Blood work, such as a complete blood count and a biochemistry panel, helps us discover issues such as diabetes, kidney and liver issues, and infection.
- Performing a urinalysis — Evaluating your cat’s urine helps us find issues such as diabetes, urinary tract infections, and urinary crystals.
#2: Ensure your cat’s vaccinations remain up to date
You may think that vaccines aren’t important for your indoor-only cat, but while living indoors rather than outdoors is safer, dangerous infectious diseases can infect your indoor cat. Feline rhinotracheitis virus, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia virus are highly contagious diseases that can cause significant problems for your cat if infected. Indoor cats do escape occasionally, and they could be infected during an outing. In addition, someone who unknowingly interacts with an infected cat, and then with your cat, could spread one of these viruses. Your cat should also be vaccinated against rabies, a deadly disease that can be transmitted to your cat by wildlife, such as bats and raccoons, which have been known to enter homes.
#3: Ensure your cat receives year-round parasite prevention
All cats, including indoor-only cats, should receive year-round parasite prevention medication to protect them against fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites.
- Fleas — Many cats are allergic to flea saliva, and a single flea bite can cause excessive itchiness, hair loss, and skin lesions. Fleas can also cause anemia, especially in kittens, and can transmit tapeworms to your cat.
- Ticks — Ticks transmit many serious diseases, such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, and ehrlichiosis.
- Heartworms — Mosquitoes transmit heartworms, which cause significant damage to your cat’s heart and lungs. Many infected cats don’t exhibit any signs, and the first sign is sudden death.
- Intestinal parasites — Parasites, such as roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and giardia, can cause malnutrition and gastrointestinal disorders.
#4: Ensure your cat receives regular dental care
Most cats have some degree of dental disease by the time they reach 3 years of age, and poor oral health can lead to issues far more concerning than halitosis. The bacteria that accumulate under your cat’s gum line can cause the tooth support structures to break down, resulting in bleeding gums, tooth loss, and in some cases, jaw fractures. In addition, the bacteria can enter your cat’s bloodstream and damage organs such as the heart and kidneys. Keep your cat’s pearly whites healthy with:
- Yearly professional dental cleanings — During a professional veterinary dental cleaning, your cat will be placed under general anesthesia, to ensure we are able to safely and effectively remove the bacteria under your cat’s gum line. In addition, we will perform X-rays of your cat’s mouth, to thoroughly evaluate the structures supporting their teeth. This is the best way to ensure your cat’s mouth remains healthy.
- Regular at-home toothbrushing — Brushing your cat’s teeth daily is also a great way to improve their oral health. Most cats can be taught to allow you to brush their teeth if you go slowly, and make the experience positive with pets and treats.
#5: Ensure your cat remains at a healthy weight
Overweight cats are at higher risk for developing serious issues, such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and urinary tract disorders. Keeping the weight off will also improve your kitty’s quality of life, since they can remain active and agile. Steps to control your cat’s weight include:
- Monitoring their weight — At your cat’s next wellness visit, ask if your cat is currently at a healthy weight. If not, we can help devise a weight loss plan. You can then monitor your cat’s weight using a food scale to track their weight, and a body conditioning score (BCS) to help evaluate their weight status.
- Calculating their energy requirements — You can use calorie calculators to accurately determine how much food your cat needs every day.
- Measuring their food — Once you have calculated your cat’s daily food requirements, use measuring cups to properly measure their meals, to ensure they are receiving the correct amount.
Following these tips will help ensure your cat lives a long, happy life by your side. If you would like to schedule a wellness visit, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Just Cats Clinic, so we can help them live long and prosper.