RSPCA Tips for Keeping Your Cat Healthy

Keeping Your Cat Healthy - Tips from the RSPCA

“Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.” – Jeff Valdez

Australians have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, with 29% of households owning a pet cat – that’s 3.3 million cats! (RSPCA, 2o13)

Our feline friends can amuse, entertain and relax us and soon become an integral part of the household. To ensure that they remain a part of our lives for a long time, it’s important to keep your cat healthy.

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Courtesy of the RSPCA, some tips for a healthy cat and the signs of a healthy cat include the following:

Nutrition
  • Cats cannot be vegetarians – their diets must be primarily meat-based. Most high quality commercial pet foods follow this principle. (No vegan cats, either, I’m afraid.)
  • Cats should be fed a combination of both a high quality commercial food and natural foods to ensure a “balanced” diet is provided. Kittens should be fed special foods until they are 6 months old, so ask your vet!
  • Natural foods safe for cats include raw meat, raw meaty bones, and vegetables. Raw food fed to cats should always be fresh.
  • Human foods are not always safe for cats – e.g. onions, avocadoes, chocolate, coffee, and even milk can be toxic or not well-digested by cats.
  • Plenty of fresh, clean water should always be available for your cat. Cats become severely ill within a few short hours without water.
  • Cats naturally eat several small meals per day. Putting out one giant bowl of food for the day could encourage binge-eating, which is not helpful for your kitty’s digestive system.
  • Most cats will not eat if their food bowl is too close to their litter box. (Well, you wouldn’t want to eat on the toilet, would you?)
  • Talk to your vet straight away if your cat goes off their food or stops drinking as much water – they might be sick.
Litter Box
  • Place a litter box or litter tray in a quiet and private area for your cat to use when they need to go to the toilet.
  • Clean the litter box or tray every time there is … something there to clean.
  • If your cat doesn’t use the litter box regularly, talk to your vet, as there may be something wrong.
Bedding
  • Although your kitten may want to share your bed it is important to provide her with a warm, dry bed of her own.
  • Place the bed somewhere warm and private.
  • Use bedding that can be easily cleaned and dried. Clean and dry it regularly!
  • In general, the RSPCA recommends that all cats should be indoor cats, to protect them from fights with others cats and dogs, car accidents, killing wildlife, and catching diseases such as feline AIDS (FIV). If not all day, then at least keep them indoors from dusk until dawn.
Grooming
  • Regular grooming is essential, particularly for long-haired cats. Grooming removes dust, dead skin, loose hairs, grass seeds and tangles. It also reduces the amount of fur shed during the moulting season in autumn and spring.
  • Start grooming your cat early on – using treats and patting as encouragements – so that it becomes an enjoyable bonding activity and part of their routine care.
  • In general, cats do not need to take a bath unless the vet says so! Cats are quite capable of cleaning themselves when they get dirty, and most cats find bathing in water a highly stressful experience.
Play & Training
  • Play time is important for you and your cat to bond. Kittens are very playful and curious and love to develop their instinctive hunting behaviour by chasing toys.
  • Play time is a good opportunity for you to teach your kitten good manners, such as not biting or scratching.
  • Occasionally hunting games turn into play aggression – make sure that the fun ends if her claws or teeth come out.
  • Never punish your kitten physically, as she is unlikely to associate your punishment with her mistake. If she does something naughty, such as sharpen her claws on the furniture, give her a gently spray with a water pistol.
  • Cats need a scratching pole or scratching mat (or other suitable materials) to keep their claws trimmed and sharp.
  • It is important that your cat doesn’t turn her hunting skills on the local wildlife. Put bells on your cat’s collar and keep her in at night to make sure that the native birds, reptiles and marsupials are safe.
  • Cats love to bask in the sun – but not if their hair is white or too light, as they may be at risk from skin cancer. Ask your vet if you’re worried.
Health Care
  • Your cat will require annual visits to the vet for vaccinations, boosters and general health checks.
  • Ask your vet about flea, tick and worm prevention.
  • Some commonly found plants, such as lilies, are toxic to cats – so it is important that you familiarise yourself with these and remove them from your garden and house.
  • Your cat should be desexed before they reach sexually maturity, as this will both prevent the birth of unexpected, unwanted litters and prevent health conditions such as mammary cancers and prostatic enlargement later in life.
  • Make sure you know the laws in your state or territory regarding registration, microchipping, and desexing of cats. Each council has their own laws and these may change over time, so it is important to keep up-to-date.

Another important consideration is pet insurance. The cost of illness or injury of your beloved cat can easily reach the thousands of dollars, so pet insurance can be a way to provide peace of mind that you could afford the costs involved. See our types of pet insurance article for further information.

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Well, that’s enough of how humans can take care of cats. How do cats care for their humans?

Source: BuzzFeed Videos | Tidy Cats Lightweight

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