2019 Resolutions with your Cat
Don't think I'm going to let cats off the hook when looking ahead to the new year! While I think my cat's resolution would be to maximize sleeping in the sun, I've got a few of my own ideas.
1. Update information: Have you moved, changed phone numbers or added a new pet this year? Make sure microchip information is up to date. Not sure? Check out this website to see what is readily available about your pet's microchip number.
This is a good time to make any changes to a will or trust you may have that mentions your pet. Also update pet sitter information and record regularly administered medication - I keep a note card next to the medication for easy reference if I need someone to take care of the animals in an emergency.
2. Check your food: Has your pet gained weight this year? If you are not already, I recommend measuring the amount of food you give each meal. If it has been a year of inappropriate weight gain then cut back on the amount of food (and extra treats) to get back into shape. We know that cats who are fit and trim live longer and have lower rates of cancer, diabetes, and arthritis. Also, what are you feeding? I recommend that at least 50% of your cat's calories come from canned food. This provides extra moisture and a higher protein:carbohydrate ratio. For dry food, consider using these fun mice feeder toys that you hide around the house, then your cat has to "hunt" for food through the day.
3. Evaluate your preventative care: What are you currently using for prevention of parasites and diseases? Is your pet due for vaccines, titers, or other tests this year? The recommended prevention changes based on what activities you and your pet are planning this year. Going on a trip with your cat? Is kitty sneaking outside? Or will your cat need to stay somewhere for boarding? If so, then we may want to discuss different prevention plans.
Another consideration is if you are giving any supplements. There is not a single governing body that monitors the quality of herbs, vitamins or supplements. The brand can really matter for these products. One voluntary label to look for is the NASC quality seal. To research what I'm hinting at here, check out this article from the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association. To find out why this is the case, read this overview.
4. Learn some new tricks: Tricks are not just for dogs! And having a cat who knows a thing or two is a great show at a party. Some tricks to consider are sit, touch nose to finger, or maybe just focus on teaching your cat to let you sleep through the night.
5. Cats need exercise too: indoor cats live longer and don't cause destruction to local wildlife compared to outdoor cats, but they don't get as much activity. Mental and physical stimulation through tricks, exercise and environmental enrichment can keep your indoor cat happy and healthy. Some suggestions for getting your feline friend some exercise:
- treat dispensing food balls, such as the SlimCat, can be used for small amount of treats or for the daily kibble allotment.
- laser pointers can be great fun for cats. Please note, I do not recommend laser pointers for dogs.
- toys: balls, mice, feathers on a string, etc. Please use caution that your cat can not ingest pieces of the toy and always throw away broken toys.
- cat trees and other indoor enrichment
6. Dental home care: Teeth brushing is the gold standard dental care but needs to be done every other day to be effective. Use an enzyme toothpaste made for pets with no fluoride (I like the CET vanilla flavor). If you hadn't started brushing your cat's teeth at a young age, then it can be difficult to train later in life. Alternatives include an oral gel (if you can get a quick swipe but not a full brush), water additive (such as Healthy Mouth), or dental chews. For dental chews, consider the CET chews for cats which have an enzyme coating on the outside which provides a mouth wash
Whatever you plan is for 2019, we wish you and your loved ones a year of health, joy, and happiness.