Having any pet brings a great deal of love and satisfaction to the owner, and making sure your pet is happy and healthy will keep them satisfied as well! In this article we look at how to maintain the health of your adorable feline friend by through good nutritional standards. We will also list some general health checks you can do yourself regularly at home to make sure your cat stays a happy little guy. After all, nobody really enjoys going to the doctor, do they!
Feeding Your Cat
This seems a little obvious doesn’t it? But do you know just the right amount of food or even the type of foods that you should be feeding your cat to achieve the best nutritional balance? Ensuring a good diet is the absolute number one thing you can do to make sure your cat has a healthy life, and helps maintain their vitality into older age.
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they have evolved to require a balance of vitamins and minerals found in animal tissues. This is an issue with a lot of indoor house cats, as the cheaper dry and wet foods sold in supermarkets do not contain these valuable nutrients. We suggest a veterinarian recommended pet food such as Hills Science Diet, and only adding meal supplements on consultation with your vet. Regular intervals of meat from the butcher as well will help keep your cat happy and healthy as well. Don’t get the cheaper pet offcuts, as these often contain sulphides, high percentages of fat and more nasties that will hinder instead of help your cat’s nutrition. Never feed your cat with cooked bones as these can splinter and damage their stomach from the inside, though they do enjoy raw bones under supervision. Cats love fish too!
The amount of food that you should feed your cat depends entirely on a few factors: the age, the size of the cat, whether they are pregnant or nursing young, their activity level etc. As each cat is different it’s always recommended to talk to your vet and agree on a diet plan. Is the cat overweight or underweight? What are you trying to achieve in their diet?
Cats tend to enjoy eating a few smaller meals throughout the day, so it’s suggested to place an automatic feeder in your house that releases small portions throughout the day. This also takes a little hassle out of your day as well. Don’t forget to make sure that your cat always has access to clean fresh water though, water is essential to any animals diet and is best placed right next to the food.
Health Checks You Can Do Yourself
Now that you know your cat has a healthy basis to their nutrition, its important to still check regularly to ensure that they are maintaining their health. These few quick tips can get you started:
- Ears – Check for redness, discharge of pus, wax build up or anything out of the ordinary.
- Eyes – Check they are bright, look for any redness, your cats co-ordination and distance perception.
- Teeth – Are they being brushed regularly? No build up or discoloration, and if they are an outdoor cat, check that none are chipped or broken when they have been out playing. If you feed your cats bones, check that none are caught and gums are not bleeding.
- Worms – Look for coat quality, pale gums, lethargy, reduced appetite, bloody stools, bloated belly and excessive licking and rubbing of private areas. This is often a close sign that worms are a problem.
- Fleas – Watch and see if the cat is itching, scratching or rubbing itself a lot more than usual, inspect closely to make sure there are no fleas.
- Ticks – Loss of appetite, vomiting, dry retching, lethargy coughing, panting, change in mew and dilated pupils are general signs that your cat might have ticks. Run your hands through their coat to see if any ticks have attached themselves. This is particularly important for outside cats and cats in regular contact with other animals.
- Coat – Is the fur shedding a lot more than usual? Is it patchy, and uneven? Stressed or unhealthy cats often lose fur as the first sign of unhealthiness.
- Claws – Are the nails healthy and strong, clipped regularly? This ensures that they do not injures wildlife, or catch them on anything and pull them off.
Generally anything out of the ordinary for your cat means that something is wrong, so its advisable to do an initial inspection yourself, and then secure the advise of a professional to help you manage the situation. We all want to make sure that our pets are happy and healthy long into their lives.
Images above are by: Paul Downey, 2005 | Feliciano Guimaraes, 2007 | Eva Prokop, 2007.