For many cat pawrents, the very definition of the word nightmare is losing their beloved fur baby. It’s something that, I’m sure, is painful to even think about—let alone go through. The good news is, there are things you can do as their guardians to help prevent that from happening and actually add more to their nine lives. I know my humans do specific things to make sure I stay happy and healthy, like changing my water every day and making sure that I am up to date on my vaccines!
According to research, majority of the life-threatening injuries and health problems that bring cats to the emergency room each year can easily be prevented by adding a few extra steps to your cat care routine. Though certain factors will be out of your control, there are precautions you can take to safeguard your cat from stress, diseases and injuries.
1. Keep Your Cat Indoors
Did you know that indoor cats live approximately 10 years longer than outdoor cats? That’s because letting your cat outdoors without supervision exposes them to harmful factors such as:
- Cat fight wounds
- Viral infections
If your cat gets into a fight with a feral or an outdoor cat, they can get infected with diseases that can be transmitted through bite wounds, like rabies and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) or FeLV (feline leukemia) and FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), that can be spread through close contact alone.
- Speeding vehicles
- Predatory animals
2. Cat Proof Your Home
The principle behind keeping your cat indoors is to protect your cat, so, it’s very important to cat-proof your home and remove or cover all household items, food and substances that may cause them harm. These include:
- Human food
Store away onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, coffee, tea, milk, cheese, alcohol and energy drinks—all of these are toxic to your cat.
- Rat poison
- Pest traps
- House plants
Believe it or not, but there are plants that can harm and possibly even kill, your cat. So, do your research before putting any kind of plant on display inside your home.
- Permethrin or flea medication
- Ribbons, strings or yarn
If swallowed by your cat, ribbons, strings, yarn, thread or sometimes even dental floss, can wrap around your cat’s intestines and cause blockages.
Anti-freeze contains Ethylene glycol, which is a sweet-smelling substance that may be enticing to your cats. If your cat ingests it, they can get poisoned.
- Liquid air fresheners
Liquid air fresheners can sometimes contain cationic detergent, which can burn your cat’s mouth and digestive tract when ingested. Make sure to get air fresheners that your cat won’t be tempted to taste or better yet, those that are non-toxic.
- Exposed electrical wirings
- Raw meat, raw eggs, raw dough
- Moldy food
- Feed Them Correctly
Cats are carnivores, so meat and protein is essential to their diet. Try to alternate between wet and dry food because feeding them kibble alone is unhealthy and simply will not give them enough nutrition.
Avoid free-feeding and make sure to follow a strict meal schedule to prevent them from gaining excess weight, which can easily lead to health issues.
3. Keep Them Hydrated
If your cat doesn’t drink enough water every day, they can suffer from a number of different problems such as dehydration, kidney diseases and urinary tract infection.
If they’re finicky about their water, you can feed them moist canned food or entice them with a drinking fountain.
4. Provide Sufficient Mental And Physical Simulation
Cats who are bored and lack daily activities are more likely to develop behavioral issues. So, indoor cats will need sufficient mental and physical stimulation to remain stress-free, happy and healthy.
It’s best spend time with your cat and play with them for at least 15-20 minutes a day. When you’re not around, make sure to leave them with fun, interactive cat toys to keep them occupied and stimulated until you come back. For exercise, you can get them a cat wheel or better yet, leash train them, so they can safely venture out into the outdoors with you, which is, in my purrrsonal opinion, one of the best ways to bond with your cat.
5. Schedule Regular Vet Checkups
Always schedule regular vet appointments to keep track of your cat’s overall health and catch health issues early. It’s also very important to keep all their vaccinations up-to-date.
6. Get Them Spayed Or Neuted
Spayed and neutered cats are protected from certain diseases that oftentimes affect their intact counterparts. For example, spaying female cats prevent them from getting uterine infections and breast cancers, while neutering male cats prevent them from getting testicular cancer and prostate problems. Spaying and neutering also helps curb bad behavior that results from hormonal imbalances by regulating hormone levels.
7. Keep Their Litter Box Clean
Cleaning your cat’s litter box everyday will make it easier for you to keep track of any changes in their bowel or urine habits. If you notice your cat has diarrhea or has blood in their urine or feces, contact your vet immediately.
8. ID Or Microchip Your Cat
In instances where your indoor cat escapes or gets lost, having a microchip or a collar with your contact information on it, can help them find their way back to you.
9. Never Neglect Dental Health
Neglecting your cat’s dental health can lead to the accumulation of germs, bacteria and plaque on their teeth which can cause many oral issues and diseases. These diseases will not only affect your cat’s teeth and mouth, but can spread and damage other organs inside their body.
It’s good to always keep your cat’s teeth and oral cavity clean and healthy by regular at-home brushing and annual professional teeth cleaning and checkups. You can also get them dental chew toys and sticks to help keep tartar and plaque at bay in a more enjoyable way.
10. Never Ignore Symptoms
We cats are creatures of habit, therefore, changes in our routines and behavior is usually a red flag. Should you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior, it’s best to contact your vet immediately and get your cat checked as soon as you can. If you feel like something is wrong, something probably is.