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Keeping Your Kitty Healthy – Tips From A Emerson, NJ Veterinarian
February 1, 2024

Many of this month’s feline awareness events are focused on spaying and neutering: it’s Beat the Heat Month, Feline Fix by Five Month, National Prevent a Litter Month, Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Spaying and neutering is definitely very important. However, it’s only one aspect of keeping your feline pal happy and healthy. A local Emerson, NJ vet goes over some elements of kitty health in this article.

How Do I Keep My Kitty Healthy?

For the most part, kitties are quite hardy. Providing your furball with good food, fresh water, clean litter, and regular veterinary care will cover the basics.

Aside from that, keeping your feline pal inside is probably the single most important thing you can do here. Kitties that are allowed to go outdoors face many different dangers! Cars and traffic, weather, stray cats, loose dogs, chemicals, parasites, and, unfortunately, some people all pose serious threats to your cute pet.

We also can’t overstate the importance of kitty proofing. Kitties are both hunters and prey in the wild, so they are instinctively driven to investigate things. your furball can’t help but wonder if there’s a mouse hiding under the couch or if that empty cupboard is a good place to hide from the vacuum cleaner. She’s also prone to practicing her murder skills on anything and everything within paws’ reach. This is definitely very cute and entertaining. However, it is also dangerous.

Keep anything that isn’t safe for Fluffy in secure spots. Small or sharp objects are a common hazard. That includes things like beads, buttons, craft kit pieces, safety pins … the list goes on. 

Anything ropy or stringy is also a concern. Kitties just can’t resist batting at strings. Unfortunately, these objects can cause potentially fatal issues with your cat’s digestive system if swallowed.

You’ll also need to address toxins. Poisoning is one of the most common emergencies in cats. Many items that can be found in the common household are toxic to our furry buddies. Plants are one of the big ones. Lilies are at the top of the list: even drinking a bit of water or nibbling a leaf can cause kitties to go into organ failure. You can learn more about toxic and non-toxic plants online at the ASPCA website here. Plants aren’t the only thing on the list, though. Household cleaners, automotive products, detergents, drain openers, paint, turpentine … the list goes on. Ask your veterinarian for more information.

What Is The Most Common Sickness In Kitties?

Your furball may think of herself as invincible, but she is just as vulnerable to illness and injury as any other animal. Cats can be afflicted by a wide variety of health issues. However, some are more common than others.

These include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Dental Issues
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Kidney Disease
  • Arthritis
  • FeLV

Obesity and parasites are also not uncommon, and can cause a slew of other issues.

Keeping up with your feline friend’s veterinary care is crucial for protecting her from illness and injury. Bring your cat to the Emerson, NJ animal clinic regularly.

At What Age Do Kitties Start Having Health Problems?

Cats usually age slowly and gracefully. That said, you may start noticing changes around age ten or after. These may be mild and gradual at first. your furball may start sleeping more, and she may not be as frisky as she once was. Over time, you may notice her gaining weight, and perhaps having trouble jumping and climbing.

There is some debate about what age kitties should be considered seniors: some say it’s age 9, 10, 11, or 12. The Cornell Feline Health Center puts that number at 12. However, most sources do agree that our feline companions are considered geriatric at 15.

Just like people, cats often need to see their doctors more often as they grow older. Once your furry pal enters her golden years, your veterinarian may recommend more frequent appointments. You may also need to adjust Fluffy’s care regimen a bit. Your furball may also need ramps or stairs, and she may need a hand with keeping her fur clean. Some kitties will also benefit from special diets. Ask your vet for specific advice.

How Do I Know If My Cat Isn’t Feeling Well?

Cats naturally try to hide signs of illness. There is a good reason for this: in the wild, predators focus on animals that show signs of weakness. Unfortunately, that means you may not realize that something is wrong with Fluffy until she’s very sick.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Litterbox Avoidance
  • Hiding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Uncharacteristic Vocalizations (Or Lack Thereof)
  • Unkempt Fur
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Reduced Ap4ite
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Discolored Gums
  • Discharge
  • Sudden Weight Loss Or Gain
  • Grumpiness
  • Uncharacteristic Behavior

Watch for anything that seems out of character for your feline pal. For instance, a normally-affectionate kitty may hide or hiss if they don’t feel well. A feline that is more aloof, on the other hand, may suddenly start demanding attention. The more attention you pay to your furball, the easier it will be to notice small changes that signal something is amiss. 

Contact your Emerson, NJ veterinarians right away if you spot any of these.

How Often Should I Take My Kitty To The Veterinary Clinic?

This depends on Fluffy’s age and health. Kittens will need to come in a few times during that first year, as they need their initial exams and vaccines, as well as parasite control products. Spay/neuter surgery is also important, as is microchipping. While a  healthy adult indoor kitty may only need to come in once a year, one that is allowed out may need to come in more often. Senior Kitties also need more frequent visits, as do those with health issues. Ask your vet to recommend an appointment schedule.

Can Stress Affect My Kitty’s Health?

We’ve learned a lot about the toll that stress takes on the human body in recent years. This is true for cats as well. If your furball is scared, she may stop eating, and she may cower in a closet or corner. Kitties that are stressed may also over groom or undergroom themselves, and they may start avoiding the litterbox. These can also be signs of sickness, so contact your vet if you notice any of them. 

How Can I Check My Kitty’s Health At Home?

Hopefully this goes without saying, but your veterinarian should be the ultimate authority on this. 

That said, there are ways to monitor your furball’s health in between appointments. Your feline’s appearance, appetite, and behavior can all tell you quite a bit. Healthy kitties usually have clear bright eyes. They may spend a rather ridiculous amount of time sleeping, but when they are actually awake, they should be alert, inquisitive, and perhaps a bit mischievous. your furball should also have soft, clean fur. She should breathe quietly, at least when she isn’t meowing for something. 

Whenever you pet your feline buddy, hold her, or let her doze off on your lap, check for things like swelling, bumps, heat, stiffness, bruising, or skin problems. Take note of weight gain or loss as well.

If you notice anything amiss, contact your Emerson, NJ veterinarian right away.

Do you have questions about caring for your Kitty? Is your feline friend overdue for an appointment? Contact us, your local Emerson, NJ 4 hospital, anytime!