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Feline Fine: How to Keep Your Cat Happy, Healthy and Wise

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

happy cat licking his lips with his long tongue

Toe beans! Purrs in the night! The chaotic and frantic 2 am house pawty that inevitably hits right as you doze off! Having cats is amazing. They are the absolute best roommates and offer the purrrfect amount of cuddle and alone time.

Keeping them healthy and happy, though, can be problematic for the simple fact that cats are a lot like people. Cool, hairy people that can jump 3 times their height. You see, while a dog will come and basically show you what's wrong, or in what way they may not feel well, a cat will likely hide it when they're not feeling their best. Sometimes showing no outward symptoms until illness has taken a foothold. Showing any weakness, even one you can help fix, is simply not their style.

So, how do you keep them healthy and around for as long as humanly possible? We've put together a list of ways to make sure your cats are getting the best out of their time with you and help you make the best decisions for their health and longevity.

Unleashing the Inner Hunter: The Importance of Enrichment for Cats

cat hiding in the grass is a natural predator and needs enrichment

Cats, no matter how fluffy or sedentary they may seem, are born with an innate predator instinct that's nothing short of awe-inspiring. That cozy lap cat you adore? Well, imagine them as the reincarnation of Rambo when a tiny mouse scurries across the room – it's almost like witnessing a secret superhero identity come to life.

But how do we tap into this extraordinary energy? How do we keep our feline friends mentally and physically engaged, fostering their well-being and happiness? The answer lies in the realm of feline enrichment.

Now, when we talk about enrichment, we often hear about it in the context of our canine companions, and rightfully so. Dogs benefit greatly from physical and mental stimulation. However, what's less discussed is that our feline counterparts need enrichment just as much.

This need for enrichment is particularly crucial when it comes to indoor-only cats. These felines may not have the opportunity to explore the great outdoors, stalk elusive prey, or bask in the glory of a sunbeam in quite the same way as their outdoor counterparts. Thus, it's our responsibility as cat parents to bring a touch of the "wild" into their indoor lives.

Enrichment isn't just about keeping your cat entertained; it's about ensuring their overall well-being. It's about providing them with opportunities to express their natural behaviors, keeping their minds sharp, and their bodies agile. So how do we go about it?

There's a smorgasbord of options to choose from, catering to your cat's unique preferences. Electronic mice that mimic the scurrying of small prey, lifelike flapping fish that trigger their hunting instincts, and catnip-infused kickers that drive them wild – the choices are endless.

The key is to find activities and toys that resonate with your cat's individual personality. For some, it may be the thrill of the chase, while others may prefer a cozy corner to curl up in with a beloved catnip-infused toy.

Remember, the goal of enrichment is to make your cat's environment stimulating and engaging. It's about offering opportunities for them to pounce, stalk, scratch, and explore. It's about infusing a sense of adventure into their daily lives. By doing so, you'll not only keep your feline friend feeling frisky and energetic but also foster their overall mental and physical well-being. So, let's embark on this journey of enrichment together, ensuring that our cats lead happy, fulfilled lives, with just a touch of the "wild" to keep them engaged and thriving indoors.

>> Feelin' crafty? This list from the ASPCA is a great way to add enrichment to every aspect of your cat's 9 lives using things you have just sitting around the house.

Nourishing Your Feline Friend: The Essence of Quality Cat Nutrition

Just like humans, cats are profoundly impacted by the foods they consume. It's no secret that indulging in excessive amounts of Temptations treats and gorging on Fancy Feast meals isn't the path to a lean, healthy feline companion. While the occasional treat can certainly be a part of your cat's diet, they must be treated as just that - treats. It's time to demystify what makes for excellent nutrition when it comes to our beloved feline friends.

cat waiting for his food bowl of healthy food

At the heart of a cat's diet is protein. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies thrive on a diet primarily composed of animal-derived proteins. When you're scanning the back of a cat food bag or can, keep an eagle eye out for keywords like "salmon," "chicken," "beef," and "turkey." These whole-food ingredients should be front and center in your cat's nutrition. They provide essential nutrients, and they're the key to maintaining your feline companion's vitality.

In your quest for top-notch cat nutrition, there are also some red flags to be aware of. Ingredients like "by-product," "meal," and "flavoring" should set off alarm bells. These terms often indicate lower or even negligible nutritional value. They are often made from the scraps and leftovers of nutrient-dense food, in essence saying, "There's nothing substantial to see here."

To get a clear picture of what's inside that bag or can, always turn your attention to the ingredient list. The first ingredient listed is the most prominent one in the product. So, aim for foods that prioritize whole foods like chicken or salmon as their primary components. These are the gold standard of cat nutrition.

If you're looking to take your cat's diet to the next level, consider exploring options like a raw diet or a holistically balanced diet. These alternatives can cater to your cat's unique needs based on the season or temperament, allowing for a personalized and well-rounded approach to their nutrition.

The good news is that many cat food brands are stepping up their game, offering a diverse range of nutrient-dense options that truly benefit our feline companions. Some even incorporate valuable supplements like turmeric, chondroitin, and glucosamine to enhance the overall well-being of your furry friend. When it comes to your cat's nutrition, it's all about making informed choices that prioritize quality, health, and, ultimately, their happiness.

This updated 2021 list from The Spruce Pets helps lay out the best options for cat food today.

Quenching the Thirst: The Vital Importance of Hydration for Cats

Water is the elixir of life, and its significance extends to all living beings, including our beloved feline companions. Cats, in particular, have unique hydration needs and habits that stem from their wild ancestry. Understanding and addressing these needs is vital to ensure they remain adequately hydrated and healthy.

In the wild, cats obtain up to 80% of their water intake from the prey they consume. This means that they have evolved to derive a substantial portion of their hydration from their meals. To mimic this natural pattern in domestic cats, bolstering their wet food is a wonderful way to keep them hydrated. Wet food not only provides essential nutrients but also contributes significantly to their fluid intake, aligning their diet with their ancestral roots.

cat drinking from sink faucet

However, in addition to their diet, providing access to fresh and clean water is of paramount importance. Cats should have easy access to water at all times. Many cats are particularly fond of drinking fountains, which can add an extra layer of appeal to their water source. Drinking fountains often encourage more frequent drinking, as cats are instinctively drawn to flowing water.

In your efforts to maintain a pristine water source for your feline friend, don't overlook the cleanliness of their water bowls. Cats are meticulous groomers, but their mouths can still harbor bacteria and dirt. Regularly washing their water bowls is essential. Using a mild detergent like Dawn dish soap and hot water can help keep these bowls free of contaminants. For added convenience and thorough cleaning, you can even pop them in the dishwasher. This not only keeps your cat's water source hygienic but also helps ensure they find it enticing.

In conclusion, hydration is a cornerstone of your cat's well-being, and it's a facet of their care that deserves careful attention. By incorporating wet food into their diet, providing clean water in accessible drinking fountains or bowls, and maintaining their water receptacles diligently, you'll help your feline companion stay as close to nature as possible in terms of hydration. This, in turn, contributes to their overall health and happiness.

Empathy and Solutions for Aging and Ailing Feline Companions

cat on the counter needs preventative car for injury and arthritis

The journey of witnessing our beloved cats grow older or face the challenges of injuries and illnesses can be heart-wrenching. Just like us, as cats age, their bodies undergo changes, and they may encounter conditions such as arthritis, which can be distressing for both the pet and their owner. Addressing these issues with care and compassion is essential, and there are various approaches and innovative solutions available to help alleviate their discomfort and pain.

As cats age, their bodies exhibit a slower healing process. Joints can become susceptible to arthritis, leading to discomfort and reduced mobility. It's painful to see our feline friends suffer from aches and pains. Fortunately, there are supplements specially designed to support their joint health, such as Licks. These supplements offer a pill-free, convenient way to provide relief from a range of health-related issues for cats and dogs alike. They can help reduce inflammation and ease the discomfort associated with arthritis, promoting a better quality of life for our aging cats.

Another remarkable option to consider for alleviating pain and promoting healing in cats recovering from illness, surgery, or injury is red light therapy. This non-invasive treatment method has gained recognition for its ability to expedite wound healing and tissue repair. Red light therapy stimulates the body's natural healing and regenerative processes, which can be particularly beneficial for older pets.

In the case of arthritis, this therapy can significantly reduce pain and improve joint mobility, offering older cats the opportunity to relive their youthful days. It's a beacon of hope for pet owners, as it can enhance their feline companions' well-being and comfort. The CanineGlow also works great for our favorite felines! The wrap can be used on joints to help boost natural collagen production!

As responsible caregivers, it's our duty to explore the options available to help our cats age gracefully and recover from injuries or illnesses with as much ease as possible. With the right supplements and therapeutic solutions, we can provide the support and relief our furry friends deserve, allowing them to enjoy their golden years with dignity and comfort.

Unleashing Joy: The Transformative Power of Play for Cats and Humans

We've touched on nutrition, hydration, and care, but now it's time to delve into a crucial component of your cat's well-being - play. While we initially discussed the call of the wild, play stands shoulder to shoulder with it, offering not only a connection to our cats' primal instincts but also a pathway to heightened serotonin levels for both them and us.

Play is far from a trivial pastime; it's a vital aspect of your cat's life, essential for their physical and mental health. When you engage in interactive play sessions with your feline companion, it nurtures their innate predatory behaviors and offers a sense of purpose. Cats are born hunters, and play allows them to channel their inner wildness in a safe and constructive manner.

cat with boy playing with a toy

But playtime isn't solely about your cat's happiness; it also benefits you. The act of play releases serotonin, often referred to as the "feel-good" hormone, in both you and your cat. These moments of shared joy and bonding create a strong emotional connection, deepening the human-feline relationship.

In our increasingly fast-paced and digital world, it's all too easy to become engrossed in screens and devices. However, for the sake of your cat's well-being and your own, it's crucial to carve out time for play. Put down the phone, step away from the laptop, and immerse yourself in these cherished moments of interaction. Your cat will relish the undivided attention and the opportunity to indulge in their playful instincts, while you'll discover the sheer delight of witnessing their joy and exhilaration.

In the grand tapestry of pet care, play is the vibrant thread that ties it all together. It's the tapestry of shared experiences, laughter, and connection. So, take a break, grab a toy, and engage with your feline companion. In these shared moments of laughter and joy, both you and your cat will lead happier, more fulfilled lives with the regular doses of downtime that play provides. It's a reminder that life's simple pleasures often hold the key to the most profound happiness.

Grooming Bliss: Essential Tips for Your Feline's Well-Being

Grooming is more than just a beauty routine; it's a fundamental aspect of caring for your cat's health and happiness. In this section, we'll explore the world of feline grooming, providing you with essential tips to ensure your cat's coat remains radiant, and their overall well-being is optimized.

Let's begin by understanding why grooming is so vital. Grooming serves various purposes, including the removal of loose fur, dirt, and debris, the prevention of matting, and the distribution of natural oils that keep your cat's coat healthy and shiny. It's also an excellent opportunity to bond with your cat.

orange long hair cat needs regular grooming

Regular brushing is your go-to tool for maintaining your cat's coat. Different breeds may require different types of brushes or combs, so it's essential to choose the right one for your cat's fur type. Long-haired cats, for instance, often benefit from slicker brushes, while short-haired cats may do well with bristle brushes. Gently comb through your cat's fur, paying attention to sensitive areas like the belly and tail.

While many cats are adept self-groomers and rarely need baths, there are exceptions. Cats with certain skin conditions or those who have encountered a mess may require a bath. If you find yourself in this situation, ensure you use a cat-specific shampoo, a calm approach, and plenty of post-bath rewards.

Dealing with Matting

Matting can be painful and uncomfortable for your cat. To prevent it, especially in long-haired breeds, maintain a regular brushing routine. If you encounter mats, use a mat splitter or seek professional grooming assistance if necessary. Be gentle and patient, as your cat may not enjoy the process.

Eyes, Ears, and Nails

Grooming extends beyond the fur. Regularly inspect and clean your cat's eyes, ears, and trim their nails. It's essential to use cat-specific cleaning solutions and trim the nails carefully to avoid causing discomfort.

Introducing Your Cat to Grooming

Not all cats are initially comfortable with grooming. The key is to introduce them to the process gradually and reward them for their patience and cooperation. Short, positive grooming sessions are preferable, especially if your cat is new to the routine.

In some cases, professional grooming services may be required, especially for long-haired or elderly cats. These professionals have the expertise to handle matting, difficult grooming tasks, and even help with specialized treatments for skin or coat issues.

Grooming also provides an opportunity to observe your cat's overall health. Look for lumps, bumps, or skin issues during grooming sessions. If you notice anything unusual, consult your veterinarian.

In conclusion, grooming is an indispensable part of cat care, offering both practical benefits and opportunities for emotional connection. By understanding the nuances of grooming, implementing a regular routine, and taking the time to enjoy these moments with your feline friend, you'll not only ensure their coat remains beautiful but also contribute to their overall well-being and happiness.

Nurturing Dental Health in Your Beloved Feline

Dental care is an often underestimated yet critically important aspect of maintaining your cat's overall well-being. Just like us, our feline companions require diligent dental hygiene to keep their teeth and gums healthy throughout their lives. In this section, we'll delve into the intricacies of feline dental care, offering insights and tips on how to ensure your cat's pearly whites stay that way.

cat with beautiful white teeth has great dental care

It's crucial to emphasize the significance of dental health for your cat. Dental issues can lead to pain, discomfort, and a host of related health problems. Dental disease can manifest as gum inflammation, tooth decay, bad breath, and even systemic issues like kidney or heart disease. Proper dental care is not just about keeping their breath fresh; it's about safeguarding their overall health.

Understanding the signs of dental problems is paramount. If you notice any changes in your cat's eating habits, excessive drooling, bleeding gums, or reluctance to chew, these could be indicators of dental problems. Regular veterinary check-ups should include a thorough dental examination to catch issues early.

Professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian are essential. These cleanings involve scaling and polishing your cat's teeth under anesthesia. While it may seem like a drastic measure, it's often the most effective way to address tartar buildup and deep-seated dental problems.

In conclusion, dental care is a fundamental part of cat ownership. By understanding its importance, recognizing the signs of dental issues, and implementing a comprehensive dental care routine, you can ensure your cat enjoys a healthy and pain-free smile for years to come. Your dedication to their dental health will lead to a happier, healthier, and more comfortable life for your cherished feline companion.

Cherishing the Feline Connection: Your Guide to Exceptional Cat Care

In the world of pet ownership, caring for our feline companions is a remarkable journey filled with love, joy, and the profound connection we share with these extraordinary creatures. Throughout this cat care blog, we've embarked on a comprehensive exploration of the various facets that come together to ensure the health, happiness, and well-being of our beloved cats.

kitten enjoying a blanket for comfort

From nutrition to hydration, behavior to grooming, dental care to travel, and so much more, we've uncovered the secrets to providing exceptional care for your feline friend. We've emphasized that caring for a cat isn't just a responsibility; it's an opportunity to form an unbreakable bond and create a world where our cats can thrive and flourish.

As responsible cat owners, we've learned the significance of a balanced diet, the value of hydration, and the magic of play. We've grasped the importance of grooming and the benefits of dental care, and we've uncovered the means to care for special needs cats and to ease the transition of adopting a new feline family member.

We've understood that life with a cat is a journey, often marked by laughter, snuggles, and unforgettable moments. We've embraced the challenges, knowing that every act of care, every brush of the fur, and every play session, contributes to a life well-lived for our feline companions.

But above all, we've recognized that this journey is a shared one, a connection between human and cat that transcends mere companionship. It's a deep and enduring bond, a promise to provide love, care, and unwavering support.

So, as we conclude this journey of cat care, we hope you embark on your own with renewed dedication and an even deeper appreciation for the incredible gift of sharing your life with a cat. Together, we'll continue to nurture the health, happiness, and well-being of our feline friends, and, in return, they will bless us with the immeasurable love and joy that only cats can provide. Here's to the shared journey of life with cats, filled with endless purrs, warm cuddles, and memories to last a lifetime.

young cat is healthy and happy with his enrichment toy


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