The CATalyst Council’s mission is to enable the lifelong health and welfare of companion cats. To counteract stereotypes and ensure cats receive appropriate care, enrichment, and veterinary attention, they have designated September as Happy Cat Month. Our team at Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center would like to provide tips to help you be the best cat parent possible.
#1: Take your cat for regular wellness checks
Your cat should be evaluated by a veterinary professional at least once a year and, once they reach 11 years of age, every six months. Cats are excellent at hiding their vulnerabilities, and can act perfectly normal when they are seriously ill, so regular wellness visits can help catch these issues before they become irreversible or life-threatening. These visits also ensure your cat is kept up to date on vaccinations, and prevention treatments for fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and heartworms.
#2: Spay or neuter your cat
Spaying or neutering your cat can protect them from developing serious infections and life-threatening cancers. Also, by spaying or neutering your cat, you will help counteract the pet homelessness crisis in the United States that results in millions of healthy pets being euthanized every year.
#3: Microchip your cat
Microchipping your cat is your best chance for them to be safely returned to you if they go missing. One study showed that cats without microchips were reunited with their owners 1.8 percent of the time, while cats with microchips were returned to their owners 38.5 percent of the time. This simple procedure provides permanent, life-long identification for your cat.
#4: Provide scratching posts for your cat
Scratching is an instinctive cat behavior. Cats scratch to express emotions, such as excitement or stress, to scent-mark objects, to remove dead nail tissue, and to stretch. Provide several scratching post options in various textures and orientations, to determine which type your cat prefers. If you have multiple household cats, ensure each cat has their own post.
#5: Provide vertical space for your cat
Cats instinctively protect themselves, and lounging in high places allows them to survey their environment from a good vantage point. If you have multiple cats, provide numerous cat towers and perches to help decrease stress and aggression between cats.
#6: Ensure your cat’s litter box is acceptable
You should clean your cat’s litter box at least once a day, and change out the litter once weekly. The litter box should be as long as your cat from their nose to the tip of their tail, and as wide as from their nose to the base of their tail. Their litter box should be placed in a quiet, low traffic area, away from their food and water. If you have multiple household cats, you should have at least one litter box for each cat, plus one extra box. If you have an older cat, you may need to get a litter box with low sides, to ensure they can get in and out easily.
#7: Provide hiding places for your cat
Cats feel safe and more comfortable when they have a hiding place where they can escape, which can help reduce their stress. Hiding places can be a specialized cat condo or a cardboard box. If you have multiple cats, ensure each cat has their own hiding haven.
#8: Play with your cat
Cats need physical activity to get exercise, and to be mentally stimulated. Cats are natural hunters, and they love to chase, pounce on, and stalk prey. Laser pointers and wand toys are great choices to get your cat moving. Ensure you take time every day to play with your cat.
#9: Provide a window perch for your cat
Cats love to watch birds and wildlife. Install a window perch, so your cat can comfortably watch what happens outside. You can also put a bird feeder near the window, to ensure your cat stays entertained.
#10: Get a water fountain for your cat
Many cats find running water fascinating. Providing a water fountain can keep your cat entertained, and encourage them to drink more water. Kidney disease is a significant problem for cats, especially as they get older, and ensuring your cat stays hydrated can help prevent this issue.
#11: Train your cat to walk on a leash
The safest way to allow your cat outside is to leash-train them. First, get your cat used to wearing the harness for short periods inside. Once they accept the harness, attach the leash, and offer treats when they walk alongside you. Never pull on the leash, which will make your cat feel trapped. Once they are comfortable on the leash indoors, take them for a short walk. You can gradually increase the time spent walking, as your cat becomes more comfortable.
Keeping your cat happy and healthy will help ensure they stay by your side for many years. If your cat experiences a medical emergency, or if they have a condition that requires a referral, contact our team at Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center, so we can provide the care they need.