Feline fur babies: 4 tips to care for your cat
My cat, Samson, turned 11 years old last month. I cannot believe he is a senior. Did you know senior cats age roughly 2 years for every 6 months that we age? Samson was my first pet as an adult woman, and he has been with me through countless moves, meeting my husband, and now 2 human babies! He is the best cat and I hope I can keep him around for another 11 years (wishful thinking?!). I know there are many of you who enjoy your feline fur babies so I thought I would write a post giving a few tips on how to take care of these wonderful creatures.
1. Litter box health
Speaking specifically to kitties who live mostly indoors: the litter box can tell you a lot about their health. I could write page after page on this topic, but first off, consider 1.5 litter boxes per cat. So, if you have 2 cats in your family you should invest in 3 litter boxes. Even in a single cat household, it may benefit your feline to provide more than one box. Secondly, pay attention to the placement of each litter box. Avoid placing them near the cat’s eating area and be sure it is in a safe and secure spot in the home. Of course, when cleaning the box, make a quick assessment of your cat’s excrement. Loose or bloody stool? Not noticing much urine? More urine than usual? These are clues that something may be brewing. My favorite litter box system is the Breeze system because it keeps the smell down and allows for easy assessment of urine and fecal matter. The box has a small drawer for pee pads (to catch the urine, allowing for an easy assessment of color and quantity) which can be changed as frequently as needed to keep the smells at bay. The litter itself is pelleted and lasts much longer than clay litter. This system definitely requires a transition phase (cats can be very particular about their box and their litter substrate), but has been great for our family! And it makes my life easy because it can all be purchased via Amazon Prime!
Felines of all ages require stimulation to keep their minds occupied, but this is especially true as our cats age into their senior years. Older cats are less likely to chase a toy, but providing a comfortable bed (read: your Pottery Barn throw. Because, do cats ever sleep on their beds?) near a window is a great way for a senior cat to obtain some mental stimulation! Birds chirp and fly by, squirrels jumping tree branch to tree branch, and people walk their dogs…it is a great form of entertainment! For younger felines toys and cat nip are my favorite options, and of course providing a scratching post in hopes they will avoid your rugs and expensive furniture (no promises!).
3. Food and water
Your cat may be one who is more likely to drink from a fountain (read: dripping sink) than her actual water bowl. Thankfully there are many drinking options for just this reason! Providing a fountain-type water bowl in addition to a regular water bowl is always a good idea. Of course, making sure to keep water fresh at all times. Feeding cats small amounts of food throughout the day is the most ideal. Look into getting a timed feeder or a system such as the Doc and Phoebe’s Cat Co (my personal favorite!).
4. Frequent Veterinary Visits
I know (believe me, I know) the veterinary clinic is not necessarily a feline’s favorite place to be! I work hard to maintain a fear-free environment for my feline patients, but some cats do better when I visit their house. Work with your veterinarian to decide what is best for you and your fur babies. Did you know many practices are feline only? I challenge you to find a cat only clinic and go for a visit. They are some of the most serene, calming, and inviting clinics I have been to. Finding the right environment for your cat is important because having your cat examined by a veterinarian every 6 months is the key to early detection or, in some cases, prevention of disease.
I encourage you cat lovers to communicate with your veterinarian on how to make your cat’s visit as fear-free as possible and how to enrich their lives at home. Research feline only practices in your area and go for a visit – I know you will be impressed!
– Leigh Hofmeister, DVM