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Top Five Ways To Give Your Cat A Long Lifespan

Updated on December 31, 2015
Want to help insure your cat lives a long time?  Follow these tips.
Want to help insure your cat lives a long time? Follow these tips. | Source

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.

Make sure your cat gets regular vet care.
Make sure your cat gets regular vet care. | Source

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

Behavior
Possible Reasons
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.
Common reasons why your cat's behavior may change.
The choices you make for your cat from the beginning can affect their health down the road.
The choices you make for your cat from the beginning can affect their health down the road. | Source

Which do you think is the most important thing you can do to protect your cat's health?

See results

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.

No Guarantees

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.

Common Cat Symptoms To Watch For In Your Cat

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    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Girls are snobs. They're more stuck in their ways than boys. Boys kinda go with the flow. Girls think the boys are obnoxious idiots! Wait, am I talking about cats or people? LOL.

    • LCDWriter profile image
      Author

      L C David 3 years ago from Florida

      Yes. Adult cats do take longer but my boys are just more social than my girls for some reason.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      They'll be fine after a bit. It might take a little longer cuz the new kitty is an adult, but time heals all. Before you know it, they'll all be great buds.

    • LCDWriter profile image
      Author

      L C David 3 years ago from Florida

      I adopted a 4 year old red point nale Siamese mix from the shelter yesterday and I had to put my girl cats up. But the boys already seem to be coming to uneasy(wary but not fighting) terms with each other.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I have so many stories I could tell you about Ashley. Even people who don't like cats loved her. She was a total trip and full of personality. Yes, Himis are quite sweet. I have a male Flame Point Himalayan who's also a trip. He can be a bugger to my girl kitties, tho!

    • LCDWriter profile image
      Author

      L C David 3 years ago from Florida

      What an awesome story and such a great long life for your Ashley. Yes, those special ones are the ones we remember all our lives. It sounds like she got great care from you. I have heard that Himalayan's have great personalities. They certainly are beautiful. I also think that a mix of canned and dry food is a good choice. Some of my cats won't eat canned food at all, though!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I once had a cat who lived to be 17 1/2 years old. She was a Seal Point Himalayan named Ashley. I just loved her to death. She was given to me when she was 6 months old and was declawed in the front. (I wouldn't have done that to her, but she came to me that way). I did let her go inside and out. Her favorite spots were laying in one of my gardens or next door, if I happened to be there. She was the coolest cat I've ever had. I've seen her chase dogs out of our yard. She had a low meow. When she was pissed she'd puff up her hair and growl. Dogs didn't know what the hell she was! Her best friend (besides me) was my neighbor's toy poodle. Misty died when she was 17. My Ashley died 6 months after Misty. She wasn't sick - just old. She's buried in my back yard in a garden I made for her. It's called The Ashley Bed. I miss her still even tho that was over 10 years ago.

      I've always fed my cats a mixture of dry and wet food twice a day. The three cats that I have now are indoor cats. Their vet is awesome. He's very thorough and treats them with more love and respect than many doctors for humans do!