Even though most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a month of making them, the New Year is still a good time to start fresh and create some healthy habits for yourself and for your cats. The following tips will help get you started.
1. Feed a species appropriate diet
Nutrition is the foundation for good health for cats and humans, and the most important thing you can do every day for your cat’s health is to feed a species-appropriate diet. If you’re not already feeding a raw, cooked 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.
2. 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.
There are a lot of products on the market that claim to keep your cat’s teeth healthy even if you can’t brush. I found two that really work, and I use them for Allegra every day: MaxiGuard Oral Cleansing Gel and 1TDC™.
3. 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. Changes in health status may occur in a short period of time, and by the time cats show symptoms, a disease may already be progressed to a stage where treatment will be more complicated and more expensive.
4. Enrich your cat’s environment
At their core, cats are still wild animals, and 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 lead to 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. With all the expenses I had for Ruby’s care during the last two months of her life, I was once again grateful for the fact that I have pet insurance.
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 you still need to take an active role in educating yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or research issues on your own. And you don’t have to look any further than The Conscious Cat! 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!
Here’s to 2021 being the happiest and healthiest year for your cats and for you!
This post was first published in January 2019 and has been updated.