5 Most Important Tips for Maintaining a Cat

Cat at Veterinarian

Cats can be wonderful companions if looked after properly.

Cats are unique, interesting creatures known for being independent and able to take care of themselves.  Nevertheless, they still need help from their human guardians in order to live a happy, healthy life. Below are five of the most important tips for maintaining the wellness of your feline friend.

1) Nutrition as a Foundation for Health

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to get all of their protein and fat from meat. These key nutrients are vital to a feline’s health and well being, as they will provide the body with everything it needs to stay strong, including plenty of energy.

A balanced diet that has been AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved will ensure that your cat gets all of the amino acids, especially taurine, that he needs to enjoy a long, healthy life. Discussing with your veterinarian, which diet is most appropriate for your particular feline friend, is a great way to determine what to feed, how much to feed, and what foods are best suited to your cat’s current health condition, whether he is normal, overweight, suffering with urinary tract problems or dealing with a chronic condition.

 2) Keeping Weight in Check

Because it is difficult to exercise cats in the same ways as dogs, keeping your cat’s weight in check can be difficult. “We are seeing a lot more cats coming in that are overweight.” says Dr. Paul Sedlacek of Animal Clinic of Morris Plains (ACMP).  This can be due to poor diet or overfeeding, but it can also have a lot to do with a lack of exercise.

Offer your cat quality food, preferably a good national brand.  If you cannot solve your cat’s weight problem, a lower calorie food option should be discussed with your veterinarian.

3) Activity and Playtime for a Positive Disposition

Cat at Vet

Curious & Playful Cat

Both you and your cat will benefit greatly from interactive play with each other.  Feathers, a ball of string and catnip, controlled by a fun-seeking human, will cause your feline friend to run and jump after these toys, increase his heart rate and burn off those excess calories.  But don’t overdo it. If you notice your cat is panting, stop the play session.

In addition to providing your cat with the exercise necessary to maintain a healthy weight and prevent health problems, activity through play is also important in expending your cat’s excess energy. When your pet is unable to get rid of this pent-up energy, he may become bored and frustrated, or even aggressive towards other pets and people. Just a few minutes of activity every day, will allow your cat to be energetic in a productive and healthy way rather than in a destructive manner.

4) Daily Dental Care

Just as you brush your own teeth to keep your mouth (and entire body) healthy, the same should be done for your cat. In addition to treats specifically designed to clean teeth and remove plaque before it turns into tartar, you should brush your cat’s teeth daily.

This should be done using an enzymatic feline-specific toothpaste and a feline-specific toothbrush.  Alternatively, a piece of gauze will do. Anything with an abrasive texture, when combined with the enzymes in the toothpaste, will help clean the teeth and gum line to prevent the formation of tartar. Your cat’s mouth will remain healthy, his breath will be fresher, and you will reduce the risk of infections that can end up spreading to a number of his bodily organs.

Even with the best home oral care, your cat will still benefit from a periodic trip to the Vet for a professional cleaning.

5) Grooming

Unlike dogs, cats are fastidious groomers that do not require regular bathing. Nevertheless, you should still take the time out to regularly brush your cat, especially if he has long fur. This will remove tangles and prevent matting, while stimulating the skin and removing excess dirt. Brushing your cat is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at his skin and coat and to ensure a healthy feline. And trimming your cat’s claws will ensure he does not destroy your furniture or accidentally scratch his human family.

Cats are generally quite easy to care for. A clean litter box, plenty of playtime and snuggle time and a good diet are just a few of the things you can do to help maintain a healthy and happy pet.

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