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Cat Care Month: Keeping Your Kitty Healthy 
February 1, 2024

February is especially important for our feline friends. It’s National Cat Health Month! In fact, there are several kitty health awareness events this month. Most emphasize spaying and neutering: it’s Beat the Heat Month, Feline Fix by Five Month, National Prevent a Litter Month, and Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. The importance of spaying and neutering cannot be overstated. However, that is just one part of keeping your kitty’s good health. Keeping Fluffy happy and healthy requires a lot of TLC! A local Fernley, NV veterinarian answers some FAQs in this article.

How Can I Tell If My Cat Isn’t Feeling Well?

Cats get a bit secretive about this: they often mask signs of illness. This is because predators are drawn to weak animals in the wild. The danger here is that you may not realize something is wrong with your pet until she is quite ill. It’s important to pay close attention to Fluffy, and keep an eye out for warning signs.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Litterbox Avoidance
  • Hiding
  • Uncharacteristic Vocalizations (Or Lack Thereof)
  • Unkempt Fur
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Discolored Gums
  • Discharge
  • Sudden Weight Loss Or Gain
  • Grumpiness
  • Uncharacteristic Behavior

Remember that our feline pals are all unique. You’ll want to take note of anything that seems out of character for your kitty. For instance, a normally affectionate cat may hide if they’re feeling unwell, while a more aloof furball may suddenly start demanding attention. 

If you see any of these symptoms, contact your Fernley, NV veterinarian immediately.

How Often Should I Take My Kitty To The Veterinarian?

The frequency of Fluffy’s visits will depend on her age and health. Kittens will need to be seen a few times during their first year of life, as they complete their initial exams, vaccinations, and parasite control. Spay/neuter surgery and microchipping are also important. Once your pet is grown up, the focus will be on preventative and wellness care. A healthy adult indoor cat may only need to visit us once a year. Senior cats, outdoor kitties, and furballs with health issues need more frequent visits. Ask your vet to recommend an appointment schedule.

How Do I Keep Fluffy Healthy?

Providing Fluffy with good food, fresh water, clean litter, and regular veterinary care will take care of the basics. However, you’ll also need to keep her safe.

Keeping your cat inside is probably the single most important thing you can do here. If you let your cat out, your feline pal will be at risk from many things, such as weather, stray cats, loose dogs, chemicals, parasites, and, unfortunately, some people.

Petproofing is also important, particularly with super playful kittens. As both natural predators and prey, cats are instinctively curious. (Fluffy may actually be downright nosy at times, but that’s beside the point.) Your furry friend may be tempted to search for mice under furniture or seek refuge in an empty cabinet when the vacuum comes out. Additionally, she may playfully attack objects within her reach. While this behavior can be amusing, it can also pose a potential hazard. Cats don’t know what is and isn’t safe. Some actually seem to be drawn to the more unsafe objects: that’s just purr for the course! 

Keep anything that isn’t safe for your pet to eat or pounce on in secure spots. That includes plastic bags and wrappers and any small or sharp objects, including beads, buttons, craft kit pieces, safety pins … the list goes on. Anything ropy or stringy is also a concern. Cats love to bat at strings. Unfortunately, if swallowed, these objects can cause serious digestive problems.

Toxins pose a threat as well. Some popular plants are particularly dangerous. Lilies, in particular, can cause organ failure: even just drinking the water or nibbling a leaf can make your pet very, very sick. To check if a plant is safe for your pet, visit the ASPCA website here for a comprehensive list. However, plants are not the only hazardous substances in your home. Cleaners, automotive products, detergents, and many other other common household products are also toxic. For further guidance, consult your Fernley, NV veterinarian.

Is Stress Harmful To My Cat’s Health?

The toll that stress takes on the human body has been well documented in recent years. It is no different for pets. If Fluffy is scared, lonely, stressed, or depressed, she may stop eating and cower in a corner. Other signs of stress include overgrooming, undergrooming, aggression, litterbox avoidance, and even vomiting. These can be signs of other medical issues, but they can also take a toll themselves. Contact your vet for specific advice if you think your pet is stressed. 

Can I Monitor My Cat’s Health At Home?

Your veterinarian is the ultimate authority here. It’s important to have Fluffy evaluated regularly! That said, there are ways to check your pet’s health between visits. 

Fluffy’s appearance, appetite, and behavior can tell you a lot.

In addition to having clear, bright eyes, healthy cats should also have soft, clean fur. They may spend a lot of time sleeping, but should still be inquisitive and curious—even a bit mischievous—when awake. While your furry overlord isn’t meowing for anything, she should breathe quietly.

You can also monitor your cat’s body condition. When you pet Fluffy, hold her, or let her snooze on your lap, be on the lookout for swelling, bumps, heat, stiffness, bruising, or skin problems. Weighing Fluffy regularly will also help you note any weight gain or loss.

Contact your veterinarian at once if you notice anything amiss.

What Are The Most Common Cat Illnesses?

It is important to remember that Fluffy is just as susceptible to illness and injury as any other animal. Kitties can suffer from a wide range of health issues, though some are more common than others.

Among them are:

  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Dental Issues
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Kidney Disease
  • Arthritis
  • FeLV

Parasites and obesity are also not uncommon, and they can contribute to a variety of other problems.

Making sure your cat receives regular veterinary care can help prevent illness and injury. Early detection is also important, as it’s always beneficial to be able to treat something early.

When Do Kitties Start Having Health Problems?

There is some disagreement about what age cats should be considered seniors: some say nine, while others believe it’s ten, eleven, or even twelve. In any case, Fluffy usually ages gracefully and slowly. However, you may begin to notice changes around age ten or after. At first, these changes may seem mild and gradual. She might start sleeping more and not be as frisky as before. She might gain weight and/or have difficulty jumping and climbing over time.

Once your pet reaches her golden years, your veterinarian may recommend more frequent visits. 

Your furball’s home care regimen may also change a bit. Senior cats often appreciate ramps or stairs. Fluffy may also need help keeping her fur clean. Your feline pal may also appreciate a litterbox with low sides, and perhaps a nightlight. Ask your vet for more specific advice.

Contact us, your local Fernley, NV pet hospital, if you have questions about caring for your cat or if your cat is overdue for an appointment.