Happy New Year! With the start of a new year, many of us make resolutions, and most of them revolve around our health. We vow to eat better and exercise more. We resolve to spend more time with loved ones and enjoy life more.

For most of us, our cats’ health and happiness takes priority over almost everything else, so while you’re making resolutions to improve your own life, here are five simple things you can do for your cats that will keep them happy and healthy this year and beyond.

1.  Feed a species appropriate diet.   Nutrition is the foundation for good health.  Cats are obligate carnivores and they need meat to thrive.  If you’re not already feeding a raw or grain-free canned diet, consider making this the year you make the switch.  Your cats will thank you for it.  You’ll find a wealth of information on feline nutrition, and on how to switch your cat to a healthier diet, right here on The Conscious Cat.

2. Don’t allow your cat to become overweight. Unfortunately, obesity runs as rampant among cats as it does among humans. Maintaining a healthy weight for your cats is crucial to their good health. The health risks associated with obesity such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, and heart disease can easily be prevented.

Dr. Karen Becker, a holistic veterinarian who writes extensively for Mercola Healthy Pets, blames humans for the obesity epidemic among pets. “Domesticated dogs and cats have no choice but to eat what we feed them and exercise as we allow it,” says Becker. “Wild canines and felines, while they have other challenges to survival, follow their natural instinct to eat species-appropriate food and be physically active. Think about it – have you ever seen a fat, lumbering wild dog or feral cat?”

3. Refuse unnecessary vaccinations. According to the new American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) vaccination guidelines for 2011, yearly re-vaccination is no longer recommended. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has been recommending less frequent boosters for core vaccines (every three years) for the past several years.

Research by Ronald Schultz, professor and chair of pathological sciences in the University of Wisconsin Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, has shown that immunity for some vaccines lasts even longer than that, anywhere from 7 to 15 years. The risks of overvaccination range from autoimmune diseases to cancer. Educate yourself, and discuss vaccinations with your veterinarian, before agreeing to that annual “booster shot.”

4. Regular playtime.  Make time to play with your cats.  Regular playtime will not only keep your cat happy, it’s also a wonderful time for you to bond with your cat, and it helps you relieve your stress.  Additionally, it provides exercise for kitty.  Interactive toys such as the Play-n-Squeak Wand or the Neko Flies toys make playtime fun for both of you.

5.  Regular veterinary check ups.  The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends a minimum of annual wellness examinations for all cats in its Feline Life Stage Guidelines.  According to the guidelines, “semi-annual wellness exams are often recommended for all feline life stages by veterinarians and veterinary organizations. Their reasoning includes the fact that changes in health status may occur in a short period of time; that ill cats often show no signs of disease; and that earlier detection of ill health, body weight changes, dental disease, and so on, allows for earlier intervention.”

Stay with us here on The Conscious Cat for all the information you need to make 2012 the best year for your cat and yourself.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for yourself or your cats? Share them in a comment!

Photo: istockphoto

14 Comments on How to keep your cat happy and healthy in 2012

  1. What is the best kind of cat food to give my 2 13 yr old cats one has arthriris . alsi is it good to give my cat syn-flex for his arthriris ?

  2. Instead of giving them treats-cantaloupe, soft cooked green beans and romaine lettuce can be given as treats. The beans did not go over in our house at all.

    PS did you see that Oskar the BLind kitty made Time magazine?

    • I don’t recommend veggies or fruits as treats for cats. While they’re fine as a very occasional treat, they’re basically carbs – something an obligate carnivore like the cat doesn’t need. I prefer the freeze dried chicken or salmon treats. They’re all protein, with nothing else added in, low in calories (in moderation!) and most cats go crazy for them.

      That’s so cool that Oskar made TIME!

  3. as always Ingrid, super important post and some great information/advice.

    I am proud to say that I do nearly everything on your list but I can always improve!

    Thank you for always providing us with the latest information and presenting it in such a way that we are free to make our own decisions.

    Thank you!

  4. Hey Miss Ingrid! That kitty in the photo staring at the fruit looks like ME! Anyway, thanks for all the good information – I’ll make sure my Mom reads every word. She takes super good care of me but it doesn’t hurt to get reminders (especially when you’re my Mom’s age!!).

    Happy New Year!

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