Top Five Ways To Give Your Cat A Long Lifespan
When you get adopt a young cat or kitten the idea of their lifespan is somewhere in the back of your mind. But you figure that you have years ahead of you with your new friend.
But did you know that choices you make with your young cat or kitten can affect how long they live and how healthy they are in their senior years?
Many people don't realize that cats can live for 15 years or more with good care.
Here are the top ways to insure your cat gets the most out of life and the long life it deserves.
1. Keep Them Inside
The number one thing you can do for your cat in order to insure that it lives a long and healthy life is to keep the cat inside.
Cats living inside live three to five times longer than cats who live outside or cats that go in and out.
While your cat might enjoy going outside, it does not NEED to go outside.
The dangers that it faces are numerous:
- Disease spread from other outdoor cats
- Injury from fights with other cats
- Injury from dogs or other animals
- Exposure to poisons and toxins
- Wandering into the road and being hit
Many people wrongly think "oh but my cat just stays right in the yard."
No,it doesn't. Your cat may see something that interests it and try to follow it or attack it. Something may scare it and it will run.
There are anecdotal stories and sometimes it can be okay, but the odds are not in your cat's favor when they go outside.
Cats who go outside face many risks and even if they are okay for a time period, at some point one of these dangers will likely affect it and greatly reduce or extinguish your cat's chances at a long life.
2. Maintain Yearly Vet Visits
Your vet really is the first line of defense between you and the the health of your cat.
In most cities in the United States, a yearly tag and licensing is required for most pets and you can get these through your vet.
But more than that, vet's can recognize early symptoms of problems and diseases for your pet.
When choosing a vet, find one that matches your philosophy. While some commercial veterinarian clinics have good vets in them, they sometimes push products and services that you don't need or want.
The vet that I chose in my town is very involved in the community. The two doctors help to spay and neuter pets at low or no-cost for financially challenged families. They are also involved in raising service animals to help people with disabilities.
I find that caring attitude spills over into the services I receive from them. They understand that I want to maintain my pets in good health for as long as possible.
While finances are a consideration, also think about how the vet fits in with your family and your pet.
Cat Food Doesn't Have To Be Expensive to Be High Quality
3. Purchase High Quality Cat Food
Just like our health is tied to what we eat, so is a cat's.
Purchasing a high quality cat food will help keep your cat healthy for longer.
When you are buying a cat food look for a food that has no dyes added it to it. The first or second ingredient should be a protein such as chicken.
You don't necessarily have to spend a lot to find this. For example, Purina Cat Chow Naturals can be bought at the grocery store for only a bit more a bag than the other, junkier cat foods and its first ingredient is chicken.
In addition to good, quality cat food, keep water bowls fresh and clean and consider offering your cat canned food sometimes. Cats often struggle to maintain optimum hydration levels because their bodies are designed to get moisture from the food they eat. Eating dry food, while good for the teeth, does not provide that moisture.
So sometimes a combination of the two is a good idea.
Get a pack of toys to stimulate your cat's interests
4. Play With Them
Cats need to move around and one of the ways they do that is through hunting and play. Since your indoor cat does not likely do a lot of hunting (unless an occasional mouse or lizard gets in the house) then you need to provide toys to stimulate its interests.
You can buy cat "fishing poles" that have toys and feathers on the end. Dragging this across the floor will excite and stimulate your cat's interests.
Some cats enjoy following laser pointer dots and they make some especially for cats. Just be sure not to shine the light directly in your cat's eyes.
You can also get toy mice, soft balls and games such as treat balls to keep them entertained when you can't play with them.
A cat that moves around and plays is healthier than one that doesn't.
5. Closely Monitor Them For Any Behavioral or Weight Changes
Cats are notorious for trying to hide illness. It's part of their natural, wild instincts where showing weakness can get you killed.
So it is important for you as a pet owner to notice any kind of behavioral changes in your cat that indicate illness.
Here are some common behavior changes in cats that may indicate health problems.
Cat Behavior That May Indicate Illness
Did you cat suddenly start urinating outside of the litterbox?
It may have a urinary tract infection.
Has your cat suddenly started drinking a lot more water than it used to?
It could have kidney issues or another disease such as cancer.
Is your cat throwing up a lot or has it stopped eating?
It could have an upset stomach, worms or a more serious disease.
Has it gained or lost weight rapidly?
This can be indicative of a number of diseases including kidney failure, cancer or simply old age.
Which do you think is the most important thing you can do to protect your cat's health?
If you notice any of these changes or other issues with your cat, schedule a vet visit. While it is okay to let the vet know what your thoughts and concerns are, allow them to run the needed tests to find out exactly what is going on with your cat and what treatment options are available.
With some issues such as kidney failure, if it is caught early there are regimens to extend the life of your cat by up to several years. Infections are usually treatable with antibiotics.
Cancer is a harder one and usually only comfort measures are available as cats don't usually respond well to treatments.
The important thing is to be aware and act any time you notice changes in your cat that may indicate looming health issues. The quicker you get them treated, the more likely you are to extend their life and health.
Unfortunately there are no guarantees that your cat will live longer as unexpected health problems can occur. There are also genetic defects and problems inherent within particular breeds of cats.
But following these simple steps will help insure you give your cat the best chance at health and happiness for as long as possible.