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Are You Shortening Your Cat's Life? - Slideshow

You may be inadvertently shortening your cat’s life.

Are You Shortening Your Cat's Life?

Cats these days are living longer and fuller lives than ever before. Part of this is due to advances in veterinary medicine, and part of it is because more cats stay indoors than they did in previous years. However, did you know that there are several common practices owners often follow that can actually shorten their cats' life spans? We'll discover how to avoid these common pitfalls in the following slides.

Overfeeding a cat is easy to do.

Feeding Your Cat Too Much

It's easy for cats, especially those that stay indoors, to become overweight. The amount of food that cats need daily often looks like entirely too little to many humans. Lack of the intense exercise that cats would experience while living outdoors and hunting for survival also leads to a tendency for many housecats to become overweight. Check out our informative article, "Cat Weight Loss: How You Can Help Your Cat Lose Weight" to learn more. Check with your veterinarian before you begin any weight loss program for your cat.

Your cat needs to visit the veterinarian routinely.

Not Visiting the Veterinarian

It can be easy to forego taking your cat to the veterinarian. Many cats don't like the carrier, the ride in the car, or going to the strange veterinary office. If their cat seems to be fine and is acting healthy, it's common for people to keep putting off the veterinarian exam until there's a problem or vaccinations are due. However, it's important that your cat visits the veterinarian routinely because the doctor can find many problems early that way. Discovering a medical issue before your cat begins to show signs of it drastically improves the ability to treat it successfully.

Cat treats contain lots of calories.

Giving Too Many Treats

Cats love treats, and humans love giving their cats treats. The problem is that many treats are calorie and fat-laden. Giving too many of them can easily lead to an overweight feline friend. Limiting treats to one or two small ones daily or using your cat's regular kibble as treats are two great ways to decrease the number of calories your cat gets daily. Helpful tip: After you measure your cat's daily kibble amount, remove a small handful to use throughout the day as treats.

Knowing the signs of common cat diseases can help you catch the early.

Not Knowing the Signs of Common Feline Illnesses

There are several common feline diseases, especially in older cats, for which you should know the most common signs. Some of these include:

  • Hyperthyroidism, which often begins with an increased appetite and weight loss.
  • Kidney disease, which usually involves drinking and urinating excessively.
  • Diabetes, in which the cat generally begins drinking excessive amounts of water and losing weight.
  • Heart disease, which may be present without any signs of illness, but the cat may be suffering from labored breathing, exercise intolerance, panting, or coughing.

If your cat, at any age, is showing these or any other signs of illness, see your veterinarian right away.

Good dental health is crucial to a cat’s overall health.

Ignoring Dental Health

Cats commonly develop dental problems just like humans. Plaque becomes tartar which quickly leads to gingivitis, periodontitis, pain, odor, and tooth loss. It's easy to forget about your cat's dental health because it can be rare to catch a glimpse of those pearly whites. It's important to get your cat used to home dental care and to have her teeth checked often by the veterinarian. She may need professional dental cleanings done periodically. Taking good care of your cat's mouth can add years to her life, and ignoring it can take them away.

It is essential that your cat be fed the proper diet for her life stage.

Feeding the Wrong Life Stage Diet

It's important to feed the proper life stage diet to your cat. Kittens need to eat special diets for growing felines, but senior cats can become very ill if they eat food formulated for kittens. Ask your veterinarian which life stage your cat is in and what food he or she recommends.

It takes some creativity to exercise a cat.

Assuming You Can't Exercise a Cat

Cats need exercise just like humans and dogs do. But, with cats, it isn't always as easy as slipping on a leash and collar and taking your finicky feline for a walk. You may need to get creative to give your cat the exercise she needs. Be sure to spend at least 10 to 20 minutes per day engaging in interactive play with your cat. There are also some fun and creative ways to get your cat to play alone. Check out this step-by-step article for building homemade cats toys that are sure to please even the most sedentary of cats: "Clever DIY Cat Toys."

Cats should be microchipped and wear ID tags.

Neglecting to Microchip or ID

A microchip is a tiny radio-frequency device that is placed under your cat's skin. If she is ever lost and the microchip is read, as long as you have kept your contact information current with the microchip company, your cat can be returned to you. Many people, especially those who keep their cats indoors, fail to consider the importance of ID tags and microchips. However, cats can and do escape sometimes, and if that ever happens to your cat, a microchip and visible ID tags will be the best chance she has to get back home again. You can learn more about microchips here: "Microchipping Your Cat." Check out "Cat Collar Controversy" to learn the best type of collar and ID tags to use on your cat.

Cats that go outdoors have shorter lifespans than indoor cats.

Allowing Your Cat Outside

Cats that go outside have a significantly shorter life expectancy than those that stay inside. From wild animals to dogs to other cats to cars to humans with ill intentions to people who just might think your cat is lost and take her in; there are too many dangers outside to risk. There are many ways in which you can enrich your indoor cat's life. Providing scratching posts, interactive toys, plenty of time with you, views outside, and opportunities to pretend to be a hunter can all provide your cat with everything she needs to live a long healthy life inside. You can also build a catio to allow your cat to enjoy a piece of the great outdoors. Learn more in this article: "How to Decide on an Indoor or Outdoor Lifestyle for Your Cat."

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