A cat is a happy addition to a home. As well as fun and love though, a pet brings a host of responsibilities for their health and wellbeing. Find out the key facts that will keep your cat in top condition and on track for a long and healthy life.
Vaccination is the best way to help protect your cat from the most common feline viruses that can cause potentially fatal diseases, such as feline leukaemia and cat flu.
Ideally, the first vaccinations will be given before a kitten starts mixing with other animals. Your cat will then need annual boosters, which as part of your Petplan policy should be kept up to date. If your pet came to you without vaccination records, you may want to restart the vaccine programme to be on the safe side – do consult your vet.
Parasites such as worms and fleas need to be controlled every month, so ask your vet to recommend the most effective products.
Cats are prone to suffering from dental disease. Help protect against painful conditions such as inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), hard deposits of tartar on the teeth or painful cavities in the teeth by keeping your cat’s gums and teeth in healthy condition.
Brush gently with a pet toothpaste every day ideally (or as frequently as your cat will tolerate it) and offer an abrasive dry diet to help remove plaque. And finally, remember to book an annual dental checkup so that your vet can check your cat’s teeth – this is also needed for dental cover on your Petplan insurance. Read our guide to cleaning teeth.
Neutering your cat not only prevents unwanted litters, but also protects against life-threatening diseases such as cancer of the uterus and ovaries. In male cats, it makes them less likely to fight, stray and mark their territory with urine.
Neutering is usually done at six months old but can be done at any age. Check with the vet to find out if your cat has been neutered.
Good food guide
Good-quality food is vital for cats to maintain healthy tissue, bones and cardiovascular system, as well as build and maintain a strong immunity to fight disease.
Cats that are overweight can suffer from health problems such as arthritis and diabetes in later life. Therefore adhere strictly to portion sizes recommended on cat food packaging to prevent overfeeding – weighing it out is the most accurate method. Check their diet is appropriate for their age and lifestyle.
Keep food treats healthy and low-calorie, especially if your cat tends to prefer snoozing to physical fun. A small piece of cooked chicken is ideal, but try not to get into habits that will push your cat over their daily requirements. You won’t be doing them any favours.
Regular exercise and stimulation
An active cat is more likely to be slim, healthy and alert, both now and in old age – so give your pet plenty of opportunity to run, jump, chase and prowl.
Indoor cats with less access to exercise should have areas where they can jump, scratch and enjoy a range of rapid, unpredictable movement.
Encourage your cat to get moving and have fun with you through play. Try rolling ping-pong balls for him or her to chase, dangling a feather on a stick or scattering empty boxes to play hide-and-seek. Giving meals via a feeding ball allows your cat to emulate his or her natural method of stalking prey and further promotes activity.