Along with being National Pet Dental Health Month, February is also National Cat Health Month. A month-long holiday dedicated to bringing awareness to cat health and caring for your cat, Cat Health Month is a perfect way to “check-in” with your cat and see if you’re meeting all its care needs. Whether you have a new kitten or want to give extra TLC to your senior cat this month, we’ve got tips to help you stay on top of your cat’s health.
Keep reading for Bone & Biscuit’s top 9 cat health tips (one for every one of your cat’s 9 lives) to help you stay on top of your kitty’s health, for National Cat Health Month and beyond.
Cat Health Tip #1: Brush Your Cat’s Teeth Regularly
Good oral hygiene for your cat is a vital part of not only their dental health but also your cat’s overall health. Taking care of your cat’s teeth can help to avoid tartar and plaque build-up, tooth breakage, tooth erosion, periodontal disease and more. Regular tooth brushing, veterinary dental checkups, cat dental treats and toys are some ways you can help maintain your cat’s dental health. To learn more about pet dental health and tips for caring for your cat’s teeth, check out our Pet Dental Health blog post.
Cat Health Tip #2: Check & Trim Your Cat’s Claws Every 2-3 Weeks
Another cat health tip we have for cat owners is to check & trim your cat’s claws regularly. A cat’s claws grow rapidly, so it’s important to check their claws and trim them to avoid overgrown nails. Cat claws are used for exercise, as a destressing tool, as part of a cat’s defence, and are a vital tool for mobility and climbing. Without healthy claws, cats can have overgrown claws that can even grow into their paw pads, or cause breakage and poor health and mobility in your cat.
Cats naturally scratch on objects like tree trunks or couches to help maintain their claws. But, it’s important to also do regular trims yourself to ensure the proper length and health of a cat’s claws as their natural methods aren’t always enough, especially for indoor cats. Having scratching posts, boards and other cat scratching enrichment toys around the house can also help to maintain their claws. A good set of cat nail clippers and getting your cat accustomed to trimmings will go a long way in ensuring your cat’s claws are healthy and manageable. Read more tips on trimming your cat’s claws here.
Cat Health Tip #3: Train Your Cat To Do Special Tricks
While not always as easy to train as a dog, cats can learn to do tricks. Training your cat to do tricks will help them not only be physically active but also mentally active and engaged as well, and it can be a great bonding time for you and your cat. Simple tricks like sitting, standing, or shaking a paw are all great tricks to start, as your cats naturally do these movements and actions already. Patience and using rewards like treats to encourage your cat while training is key. Plus, if you can train your cat to do some tricks, it’s always fun to show off their skills! Here are some more tips on training your cat to do tricks.
Cat Health Tip #4: Play & Exercise With Your Cat To Keep Your Cat Active
Many cats are independent, and it’s easy to think you don’t need to play or engage with them as you do with a dog. But, cats do need daily exercise and bonding time to stay healthy, just like dogs. It can also help to avoid boredom and destructive behaviours in your cat. Engaging your cat with regular playtime and exercise will help to keep your cat physically and mentally active, and also help to destress your cat. An average of 1 hour of playtime a day (whether all together or split up throughout the day) is recommended for optimal benefits and to extend your cat’s lifespan. Providing cat toys and enrichment activities will also help keep your cat active when you are unable to engage in a full play session.
Cat Health Tip #5: Choose A Natural Well-Balanced Diet For Your Cat
Keeping your cat active and mentally engaged can only go so far if your cat is being fed an unbalanced diet. Choosing a natural, well-balanced diet for your cat is vital for your cat’s health. A poor cat diet can lead to overweight cats and obesity, loss of energy, digestive issues, and other long-term health issues and diseases. A nutritional cat diet needs a proper balance of:
And when it comes to protein*, animal protein is the best choice for cats; as carnivores, they need particular amino acids from their protein that is best supplied from animal protein. Those amino acids include:
What your particular cat needs can vary based on age, breed, size and health conditions. Some cats benefit from an all-natural, raw cat food diet, while others can benefit from a more simple diet of canned wet food and kibble. To find the right balanced diet for your cat, we recommend speaking with your veterinarian about your cat’s needs and collaborating with your local Bone & Biscuit for product advice**.
Cat Health Tip #6: Schedule Regular Veterinary Checkups For Your Cat
A regular checkup with your veterinarian can help you stay on top of your cat’s health. Checkups can help spot early signs of diseases (like heart disease), diabetes, infections, cancer or other health issues, and detecting health concerns early is often key for preventing their condition from worsening or becoming unmanageable. They can also help by providing advice for diet and exercise, and checking your cat’s teeth and overall health. Your cat’s age, breed and health conditions will affect how often you should visit, but it’s often recommended to do at least a yearly checkup even if your cat is healthy.
Cat Health Tip #7: Clean Your Cat’s Litterbox Daily & Do Regular Deep Cleans
An often forgotten but important part of keeping your cat healthy is cleaning its litterbox. A cat’s litterbox should be scooped out daily to minimize the risk of kidney or bladder disease in your cat and to help control odours from the box. But, we also recommend doing a “deep clean” of your cat’s litterbox regularly: meaning, completely emptying the litterbox and washing the box with warm water and soap. It’s recommended to do a deep clean weekly, but even doing a deep clean once every couple of weeks can go a long way in a proper maintenance routine. As with your own toilet, a cat’s litterbox needs to be cleaned regularly to maintain its health and minimize odours.
Cat Health Tip #8: Brush Your Cat’s Fur & Help Them Stay On Top Of Their Coat’s Condition
Healthy cat fur isn’t just about looks; it’s also a sign of a healthy cat and helps them to regulate heat and protect them from the weather. It also helps provide them with sensory data to stay aware of their surroundings, and can help a cat manufacture nutrients like vitamin D. Cats will naturally clean their fur by licking, but brushing their fur (especially with long-haired cats) and getting them used to proper bathes when needed can help them better maintain their fur.
When getting a cat used to a bath, we recommend starting with a “dry bath” or “finger bath” where you wet your hands and comb through their fur to get them used to water on their coat. Then, you can start with shallow baths (no deeper than their ankles) and let your cat dip their paws in the water at their own pace. Using toys and treats will help them relax and become more acquainted with the water as well. We don’t recommend starting with a full bath as this can make your cat panic and make them fearful of water, so take it slow. Cats don’t need regular baths as dogs do, but we do recommend getting them used to it so that it’s easier and less stressful for them down the line if they do need one (such as getting super muddy outside or if they’ve made a mess from a dirty litterbox).
If your cat doesn’t appear to be grooming or maintaining their coat, or their coat is often looking ragged and uncared for, it could be a sign of underlying illness, health problems or neurological issues in your cat, and you should consult a veterinarian as soon as possible**.
Cat Health Tip #9: Do Your Research & Stay On Top Of New Cat Health Trends, Diets, Studies & News
One of the most important cat health tips we can give is doing your research. We always encourage pet owners to stay on top of new cat health trends, diets, studies and news, as it’s the best way to stay informed and help you find the best information for your cat. Of course, we always recommend cross-referencing your sources, checking for biases, and checking where their research is coming from to ensure you’re receiving accurate and helpful information. We also recommend consulting with your veterinarian about the information you find and checking with them before trying new diets or care methods. Not all cats need the same treatments and care and finding what works best for your cat to ensure your cat’s health will help them live a longer and happier life.**
If you’d like advice on cat products, stop by your local Bone & Biscuit store; we’d be happy to help you find the right products for your cat. We hope these cat health tips were helpful, and Happy Cat Health Month!
**Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post, such as any graphics, images, text and other material contained on this site are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s medical condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately. Reliance on any information appearing on this website is at your own risk. If you have medical concerns or need advice for your dog or cat, please seek out your closest holistic or integrative veterinarian.