General Advice

In order to avoid cat health care issues and to keep your cat healthy, you must see to it that your cat enjoys a safe, clean, comfortable environment, that she has a balanced, nutritious and invigorating diet, that she receives prompt, competent and kindly medical care when needed and that you give dependable and warm loving companionship all the days of your cat's life.

As cat owners, our obligations are to provide surroundings that do not give rise to a hazard to their continued well being. The majority of cats should, therefore, be allowed to spend most of their time indoors, safe from cars and other territorial animals spoiling for a fight.

You should also be careful about the types of plants you grow in your house. Poinsettia, philodendron, dieffenbachia, English ivy, hydrangea holly and other plants can cause serious illness or death if eaten, even in minor amounts. (A vet can provide a complete list of plants to be avoided).

Another environmental attribute to consider is the cleanliness of your house and particularly of where the cat normally sits and sleeps. She shouldn't have to share her living space with fleas, mites, ringworm or other bacterial intruders that can cause her skin infections or allergies.

Fleas

If a cat flea infestation is treated properly with one of the flea treatments on the market, the areas where your cat like to sleep and sit should also be treated with flea spray, to ensure that any eggs shed by the cat do not hatch and end up causing yet another flea outbreak. Just one or two flea bites a day can cause sever itching for the cat and can lead to skin disease. More than a third of skin problems seen in cats are related directly to flea bites.

Ringworm

Ringworm can be a problem in cats and is usually picked up on outside jaunts. Wood appears to be very conducive to the fungal spores and cats rubbing up against the same fence posts, sheds, etc. can spread the infection between themselves. Worse yet, ringworm is something you can pick up from your cat (I know because it happened to me). You end up with unsightly blotches on your body, most commonly on the hands or forearms but it can occur anywhere on the body.

Weight

You should keep an eye on your cat's weight. Given the variety of balanced, nutritional foods now available, the quantity of food you give to your cat is of greater importance than the quality. Excess weight puts a strain on a cat's heart, as well as it's muscles and skeleton. Overweight cats are also prone to diabetes, especially as they get older. Increased weight may also be a sign of an inactive cat. More play time and fun toys may be in order to stimulate the cat into greater activity to burn off the excess weight.

Annual Checkup

A recent study conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association found that two thirds of cat owners take the cat to the vet for an annual checkup. Like a car service, this checkup looks at basic cat health things such as combing the coat for signs of fleas, checking the eyes and ears for signs of disease, mites, wax or tumors, examining the teeth for decay and gum disease (gingivitis), listening to the hearts and lungs, feeling the internal organs for unusual size, blockages or signs of tumors. The final part involves the cat getting his annual booster shots.

Love and Companionship

The last component of any healthy cat's lifestyle is human companionship. If you genuinely care for your cat, you will provide it with love and companionship; if you fail to do so, you are merely keeping it, not caring for it. Cats deserve the privilege of lying in their owner's laps for an hour or two each day and having their ears scratched. Let's not forget that this is good for us humans too. It relaxes us (medical fact), reduces blood pressure (medical fact) and, should you suffer from a heat attack, your survival rate is higher than for someone who doesn't have a pet (medical fact). Aside from probably helping you to live longer, how many times has your cat made you laugh with its behavior? And that feel-good factor can't be measured in words.

Health Issues

There are a number of cat health issues, some of which you probably already know about or have already encountered. Other issues relate to diseases or aging. Below you'll find a list of the more common problems and how they can be treated. If there's an issue you'd like information on that's not listed below, please send me an email.

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