We all appreciate our pet cats…well, maybe not when they’re looking for attention at 3 in the morning!
With Cat Appreciation Day coming up on October 29, it’s a good time to take stock and check to see if you’re providing a stimulating environment and doing all you can to ensure your cat has a long and healthy life. Consider the following and show your kitty just how much you appreciate her company!
Regular Veterinary Checks. Cats age much faster than humans do and are masters at disguising illness and injury. Regular visits allow your veterinarian to check for these “hidden” illnesses and assess the health of your cat. The frequency of these checks depends on the health status and age of your cat. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best schedule for your cat. Regular visits also help your veterinarian keep your cat up to date with vaccinations and parasite prevention.
Diet and weight control. Up to 50% of cats over the age of 5 are considered overweight or obese. Ensuring that your cat is eating the right diet for her life stage—and the right quantity—can make a huge difference in maintaining your cat’s ideal weight. Check with your veterinarian to be sure the food you’re feeding is appropriate and that your cat is at her ideal weight. If not, develop a weight loss plan with your veterinarian; do not simply reduce the volume of her current food as this will lead to malnourishment. Don’t forget to provide veterinary-approved treats once in a while!
Water. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The same applies to some cats! Some cats are finicky with how they receive their water and some cats simply don’t like where their water dish is located. If you have a finicky cat, try moving the water dish to a new location or create interest by introducing a cat water fountain. Wash your cat’s water dish at least once a day and refill it with fresh clean water frequently throughout the day.
Litterboxes. A fresh clean litterbox is a must. Infrequently cleaned litterboxes can lead to cat elimination in areas outside the litterbox and can lead to urinary problems in cats. If they hold urine in, they can develop urinary tract infections. Remove waste twice a day and thoroughly clean the litterboxes each week to help keep your kitty happy. More importantly, the rule of thumb for the number of litterboxes is to have one more litterbox than the number of cats in your home (2 cats = 3 litterboxes).
Exercise and Play. Exercise, play-time, and interactive toys not only help stimulate your cat mentally, but they also encourage your cat to exercise which is so important for the overall health of your cat. If your cat is overweight and you’re working to reduce her weight, exercise will definitely help to shed the extra pound(s). Take some time to play chasing and pouncing games with your cat using pole or wand toys, or a catnip ball. Try out a puzzle feeder to add some stimulation and independent play.
Perches and Posts. Cats have a natural instinct to scratch. They scratch to mark their territory and also to shorten and condition their claws. Scratching also allows cats to stretch their whole body and flex their feet and claws. However, scratching on your best leather couch is not ideal! Consider a scratching post with perches and hiding spots. This allows the scratching stimulation that your cat needs, a place to perch to watch the birds or squirrels outside, and a place to hide when she needs to be alone.