06 /05/16

It's easy to keep a healthy, happy cat


Essential answers to common health questions posed by cat owners

hether you’re a new cat owner or have a long history of sharing your life with felines, one thing is for certain: your kitties depend on you to keep them in tip-top shape. It's a big responsibility, and can be a great way to bond with your cat.

"Hallelujah, she got the vegan mice treats!"

My vet told me that brushing is one of the most important things I can do for my cat – isn’t it just like stroking?

Brushing or combing your cat daily will cut down on the hairballs that can develop in the digestive tract, according to advice from the vets at the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA). Because cats spend so much time grooming themselves, some owners may not realise that extra brushing is, in fact, a big help as it removes loose hair.

The key to getting a cat to cooperate with brushing is to connect brushing with happy events –  brushing before a meal or while you pet your cat means they associate grooming with something positive, and will be less likely to cause a fuss.

I’m looking carefully at my pet’s diet. Can my cat be vegetarian?

Unlike dogs, cats cannot be vegetarians, even for short periods of time. The veterinarians at PetMD.com say that cats rely on meat as the foundation of their diets, and the main meal of the day should always be meat-based. Dry food, which contains a hefty amount of carbohydrate, can be bad for cats in large amounts. Cats can develop Type 2 diabetes and become obese from too much dry food, so a balanced diet between wet and dry is key. If you own both dogs and cats, you must remember they have different needs, and should only eat their own food and not each other’s.

"I'm here for the full body scratch and sunbed appointment"

What should my cat drink, and how much?

Today’s domestic cats evolved from desert-dwelling forefathers, and they don’t have the same thirst-drive as dogs. Cats tend to get much of their water from food (for example, a mouse is about 70% water, and canned food is closer to 80%). Dry food, on the other hand, is only 5% to 10% water on average, and so you may notice that your cats drink more when they have a predominantly dry food-based diet. Elderly and nursing cats can get dehydrated more quickly, so watch them carefully for symptoms like sunken eyes, lethargy, and panting. Also make sure they have more than one bowl around the house filled with clean, fresh water that that you refresh at least once a day.

Is spaying or neutering my cat cruel?

No, according to the RSPCA –– each is a very straightforward operation when performed by a qualified and professional vet. In fact, it’s cruel to add to the already significant problem of overpopulation by not spaying and neutering your pets.

Some people feel that it’s “unfair” to deprive females a chance to have a litter before they are fixed, but this particular line of thinking has no basis in fact. The operation has many benefits, including longevity: according to the American newspaper USA Today (May 7, 2013), neutered male dogs live 18% longer than un-neutered male dogs and spayed female dogs live 23% longer than unspayed female dogs.

My cat’s just brought me a half-dead bird. What should I do – it’s pretty gross!

When a cat loves you, it wants to demonstrate it, sometimes by presenting you with the results of a successful hunt. Accept the gifts with grace (even when being presented with a partially chewed mouse!). Your pet will also show you love by head bumping, purring, or kneading you with its paws. Sit back and enjoy the great relationship you have with your cat.

"That was sooooo embarrassing!"