January is traditionally a time to plan and to reflect, to think about the past year and to set goals to make the next one even better. If you share your life with one or more cats, you may also ponder how to keep them happy and healthy in the coming year. Here are a few simple things you can do in 2017 for the health of your favorite feline.
Visit the Vet
Annual wellness exams are a crucial part of maintaining your kitty’s health. Some parents of indoor cats mistakenly feel that, since their kitties aren’t exposed to the same risks as their outdoor cousins, they can get away with less frequent vet visits (or even none at all). Even if your cat spends all of his time in the house, he still needs to visit the vet regularly.
Any cat can develop health issues such as hyperthyroidism, dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Early treatment of any of these conditions is usually much less costly and much less traumatic for your kitty than it would be if his illness had gone unnoticed for a long time. Since most cats are quite good at masking any symptoms of sickness or discomfort, regular preventative care is your best chance at catching any problems before it’s too late.
If your feline friend hasn’t been to vet for a while, now is the purr-fect time to schedule his next wellness exam.
Of course, any cat parent knows that taking a cat to the vet has the potential to be a very unpleasant experience for everyone involved! Here are a couple of tips to lay the groundwork for a less stressful vet visit.
Help Kitty Get Used to the Carrier
If the only time your cat ever sees his carrier come out is right before he’s shoved in and taken to the vet, the very sight of it will probably send him scrambling to the nearest hiding spot. The process of catching him and dragging him out is sure to cause both of you some serious stress!
Instead of keeping the carrier in storage all the time, take it out at least a few days before his appointment and leave it where he can see it. Keep the door open so that he has the chance to go in and explore. Give him treats while he is in the carrier, or leave some of his favorite toys and bedding inside, and he will start to associate it with things he enjoys.
Take a Test Drive
Once kitty is used to the carrier, practice putting him in and taking a short drive around the neighborhood. Treat him when you return. This will get him used to the car ride and ensure that he will arrive at the vet in a much better mood!
According to one recent survey, over half of the cats in the United States are overweight or obese! Other than watching how much your kitty eats, encouraging him to be active is one of the best ways to help him reach and maintain a healthy weight.
Of course we all know that cats aren’t exactly famous for being fitness nuts! Most of them prefer to snooze the day away—sleeping an average of 15 hours daily.
You may be able to coax your kitty to play when you’re around, but you can also provide him with opportunities for activity when you’re away. Try buying a cat toy that dispenses treats. Use it with kibble as a feeding system (making sure that you subtract the amount of food you put in the toy from his daily portion). This type of toy is great because it gives kitty both physical and mental exercise!
Prepare for Unexpected Vet Bills
Pet insurance is an affordable, practical solution that too few pet lovers know about or fully understand.
Even if you budget for preventative care in the form of wellness checkups and periodic dental cleanings, unexpected medical issues can (and do) arise. If your cat unexpectedly gets sick, decides to pick a fight with the neighborhood alley cat, or chows down on tinsel from the Christmas tree, you could face vet bills that you’re not prepared for.
That’s where pet insurance can save the day, your cat, and your pocketbook. Not only does insurance save cat parents money when unexpected vet bills arise, it allows for your kitty to receive the best medical care possible because finances are essentially taken out of the picture as a limiting factor in his care.
I’m sure you want the best for the most important feline in your life. Taking steps now to keep your kitty healthy is the surest way to help him enjoy a long happy life purring by your side.
Guest post by Kristen Levine Pet Living, the place for stories, science & advice for living happier and healthier with pets.