My friends at the CATalyst Council have designated September as Happy Cat Month, and for good reason. Despite the fact that there are significantly more pet cats than dogs in America (75 million cats vs. 69 million dogs), dogs come to the vet more than twice as often as cats. Many cats go to the vet once as kittens, never to be examined again. Cats are often not brought in to the vet until they are seriously ill, when it’s more difficult to diagnose and treat them. Couple this lack of medical care with the fact that many cats are turned into shelters for preventable behavior problems (such as inappropriate urination), and it’s easy to understand why cats need a happy month all to their own!
What can we do to keep our cats happy and healthy? The CATalyst Council and Newtown Square Veterinary Hospital have a few simple recommendations.
1.) Bring your kitty to the veterinarian for a wellness examination every single year, without exception. Routine physical examinations are the single best way to identify disease processes early, when they are most treatable. As a Cat Friendly Practice, NSVH has a separate waiting area and exam room for our feline patients. We have a variety of techniques that you can try at home to make your kitty’s visit to us less stressful- just ask!
2.) Provide plenty of environmental enrichment, playtime opportunities and mental stimulation for your cat. Cats like to perch and watch the world from an elevation, so providing a tall scratching post or elevated bed in front of a window is ideal. Offer kitty kibble in food puzzles, or toys designed to dispense treats as kitty “hunts” for them. Use a laser pointer, or throw crinkle balls down the stairs so kitty has to chase them. All of these activities will help kitty burn calories, stay lean and keep boredom at bay.
3.) In a multi-cat household, it is essential to provide access to resources in several locations throughout the home. That means, food/water, litter pans, beds and perching areas should be offered in several locations throughout the home. This helps minimize inter-cat aggression, which can be intensified around litter pans and food.
4.) Call your veterinarian if there is any change in your cat’s appetite, water consumption, litter box usage, activity level, mobility or if you have any other concerns. Cats are very subtle about how they manifest symptoms of illness, so even minor changes can indicate a major problem.
Our kitties deserve just as much care and attention as our pups, don’t you think?