We shop local—and organic.
We fill our plates with colorful veggies. We read the latest studies to find out how changes in our diets can lead to better health. We’re committed to going the extra mile when it comes to our families’ nutrition. Yet many of us forget that our furry
family members’ health depends on getting the right nutrients, too—nutrients that may have been processed right out of commercial pet foods.
At Vitacost, we believe that every member of the family can benefit from a nutrient-rich diet. That’s why we offer a wide selection of premium-quality pet foods and supplements
to help our pups and kitties lead long healthy lives.
Preventive care, including regular veterinary check-ups and immunizations
, are one critical step towards keeping our pets healthy. But during the course of its life, pretty much every pet will experience some health problems, from infection to injury. The problem is that pets can’t tell us directly when they’re not feeling well. Today let’s focus on our feline friends, learn about the subtle signals of illness they may send out, and review some expert tips on how to keep them strong and vibrant well into old age.
How to tell if your cat is sick
To safeguard your kitty’s health, watching and listening are among the most important skills you can develop. A change in behavior is often the first clue you’ll get that your cat’s not feeling up to par. Look for changes in your cat’s eating and drinking habits. Is your normally-ravenous cat suddenly snubbing what your put in his or her bowl? That can be a sign of a variety of ailments, some serious and some simple to treat. Nobody likes to think about their kitty having cancer
, of course. But sometimes cats stop eating simply because they have a toothache. But if your cat doesn’t eat for a couple of days, a call to your vet is likely warranted.
By the same token, if your normally picky-eater suddenly becomes a glutton, that can be a sign that he or she is suffering from hypothyroidism, diabetes or a disease that prevents him or her from absorbing the nutrients in cat food.
Changes in your cat’s bathroom behavior
can also be a signal that something is amiss. If you notice your kitty is drinking more water and making more frequent trips to the litter box, it could be a sign or infection or kidney disease. Do you notice yourself changing the litter box more frequently due to its odor? That’s another hint. And cats prefer to use a clean litterbox
. If your cat starts urinating outside the litter box, it may be because it’s getting soiled more quickly.
Cats who are in pain may also exhibit behavioral changes. Limping or constant licking of one area of the body may point out precisely where your cat is experiencing discomfort. Other aches and pains may not be so obvious, but changes in your cat’s personality—such as suddenly becoming more aloof, fearful or aggressive—may indicate your cat’s feeling ouch-y. If your cat hisses when you approach, flattens his or her ears, or suddenly puffs up, that means he or she is afraid. Puffing up, interestingly, has evolutionary roots. Cats try to make themselves appear bigger and less vulnerable that way.
Signs your cat is just growing old
Aging is a normal process. Technically speaking, aging isn’t considered a disease. But advancing age makes it more likely that your cat will experience some aches, pains, and health problems. His or her fur may become rougher or thicker. Cats may also lose teeth or begin to show signs of dementia. Their tummies may grow more sensitive and they may start to vomit more frequently.
As cats get on in years, changing their diets can help alleviate this symptom. Providing smaller, more frequent meals or even switching to a food that’s specially formulated for seniors
may be in order when your cat approaches old age. But sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between normal and abnormal. Your vet is your best advisor. Don’t hesitate to give him or her a call when you’re not sure what’s going on with kitty.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Cat Healthy
1. Regular veterinary visits are a must
We can—and should—observe our cats for signs of illness. But diagnosis should be left to the professionals. In recent years, the number of people who buy health insurance for their pets has skyrocketed
. You may want to consider doing so yourself to help manage the cost of regular veterinary visits. The best pet insurance
policies allow you to visit any veterinarian you choose, including those who subscribe to a holistic philosophy of treatment. They also cover a wide range of illnesses and injuries that may be very expensive to treat.
2. Spay or neuter for better health
Cats who are spayed or neutered live longer, healthier lives
—by some estimates three to five years longer. They’re less likely to exhibit problematic behaviors. And neutering helps prevent the birth of kittens who are destined to be euthanized.
3. Staying svelte
One of the simplest ways to ensure your cat’s health is to keep him or her at a healthy weight
. The list of diseases associated with obesity in cats will probably sound familiar to you: pudgy cats are at greater risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, joint disease, cancer and more. Follow the feeding instructions on cat food
packaging. Limit treats
. And although we know you love to share, resist feeding your cat a lot of extra people food. When you do, give them lean meats and fish.
4. A clean cat is a healthy cat
Cats are known to be fastidious creatures. But regular at-home grooming is still a good idea. Brushing your cat regularly can help prevent hair balls from forming in their throats—and unpleasant messes. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to examine kitty for signs of illness. Your vet can give you some tips on how to perform your own cat exams.
5. Keep your cat indoors
It’s a dangerous world out there. It’s not unusual for indoor cats to live 17 or more years. The life expectancy
of an outdoor cat, by contrast, is two to five years. Enough said?