Health Tips for Your Feline Companions
Whether you’re a long-time cat owner or new to the world of fabulous felines, there’s a lot to know about keeping your furry friend healthy. There’s a lot to discuss at vet visits, so here’s a handy list of questions your vet wishes you would ask about your kitty:
Q: How I should I feed my cat?
There’s a lot of cat food options on the market, so make sure you discuss the benefits of canned vs. dry food and meal feeding vs. free-feeding. The risk of many chronic diseases (arthritis, diabetes mellitus, and feline lower urinary tract disease) goes way up if your cat is overweight, so work with your vet to design a feeding plan that helps keep your cat at a healthy weight.
Q: Should I let my cat outside?
Kitties love to go outside, but the outside can be a dangerous place between cars, dogs, wildlife, and toxic substances such as antifreeze. Talk with your vet about creating an enriching environment inside your home and also some safe ways to help kitty get some outside time. Catios, cat tents, and leash training are all great options.
Q: How often should my cat have a check-up?
An annual check-up should be a baseline for how often your cat should see a vet. There’s more to a vet visit than just vaccinations – with many of our current vaccine recommendations, your kitty may not even need a shot every year, but that’s not a reason to skip an annual visit. Your vet may recommend an annual dental cleaning as well (yes, cats can develop dental disease at a young age) or help you address other health issues that are more easily treated early on. Also, that annual visit is a great time to revisit your year-round flea, tick and heartworm disease control strategy.
Good communication with your veterinarian is an essential part of your cat’s health care. Make sure you keep your list of questions handy for that next visit. Many times, your veterinarian may be able to email you a list of answers so you don’t have to worry about remembering everything. For some great veterinarian-designed cat resources, please visit the Indoor Pet Initiative (https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats), the Cornell Feline Health Center (https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center), and AAHA/AAFP vaccine recommendations (https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2020-aahaaafp-feline-vaccination-guidelines/feline-vaccination-home/)
Jananne O’Connell, DVM, MVPH