Even though most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a month of making them, I still think the New Year is a great time to create some healthy habits for your cats and for yourself. The following tips will help you start 2018 off on the right paw.

1. 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. Semi-annual wellness exams may be indicated for older cats, and cats with recurring health problems. Since cats are such masters at hiding illness, changes in health status may be subtle, or occur in a short period of time. By the time cats show symptoms, a disease may already be progressed to a stage where treatment will be more complicated and costly.

2. Feed a species appropriate diet

Nutrition is the foundation for good health for cats and humans. 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, including my recommendations, right here on The Conscious Cat.

3. Keep your cat’s teeth healthy

Dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for cats, and, if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems including heart, kidney and liver disease. The best way to prevent dental disease is through brushing your cat’s teeth, and it’s not as hard as you may think to get a cat used to regular brushing.

4. Enrich your cat’s environment

At their core, cats are still wild animals. Just because we’ve invited them into our homes to share our lives, we can’t expect them to completely give up all their instincts. We have to look at our living space from the cat’s point of view and provide an environment that keeps them stimulated. When cats’ needs are not met, they will be stressed, and this stress will often demonstrate itself in behavior issues such as inappropriate elimination, scratching, and aggression toward other cats and even the humans in the household.

5. Consider getting pet insurance

Could you easily afford to pay $1000 to $3000 if your cat had a sudden medical emergency? Could you cover the cost of a prolonged illness, which can easily run into several thousand dollars? And never mind unexpected veterinary expenses: can you easily cover your cat’s annual or bi-annual exam, preventive lab work, and dental cleaning? I was on the fence about pet insurance for a long time, but after being faced with having to dip deeply into my savings to pay Amber’s $10,000 bill incurred after a brief illness, I decided to get insurance for Allegra and Ruby.

6. Learn as much as you can about cat health

The more you know about feline health, the better off your cat will be. Your cat’s veterinarian is your most important source of health information, but don’t be afraid to ask questions or research issues on your own. I pride myself on on bringing you well researched, current information about feline health, nutrition, and behavior, and I hope that you will make this site a regular stop for all your cat health information. Better yet, subscribe to our daily updates so you never miss anything!

7. Take care of your own health

Making sure your cats are happy and healthy also means taking care of your own health. It’s kind of like the analogy of the oxygen mask: you have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of others. Even though our site is focused on cats, we do have a small human health section that offers tips for healthy living for you. And of course, every Sunday, we offer cat-inspired information and reflections to enhance your mental and spiritual well-being.

Here’s to 2018  being the happiest and healthiest year for your cats and for you!

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