Recommended Article #30Nov22
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This recommended article "8 Ways to Help Your Feline Furkid Live Longer" is curated and sourced from Healthy Pets Mercola. If you loved this article, please do feel free to share it around.
Any cat parent would most definitely want their feline family member or members to be around for as long as possible, and would definitely also want their lives to be as happy and healthy as possible. If you are one of the pawrents hoping to help your own cat live long into her late teens to early twenties, there are several things you could do to provide her with a lifestyle to give her the best opportunity to grow old with you.
8 Tips For Your Kitty To Enjoy a Long, Quality Life
1. Stay In
Most cats would likely not choose to be indoors all the time if it could be helped, but it is the safest possible life a pawrent could pick for them. While an indoor environment may not be entirely for your cat, there is far more risk to its health and longevity by letting your furkid run out in the "wild" than holding it "hostage and a captive" at home.
House cats with free access to the outdoors are at risk of higher exposure to viruses, other pathogens and parasites that cause serious disease. There is also the possibility of poisoning accidents, becoming prey for dogs or wild animals. This is not inclusive of fights among its own kind. Fighting among outdoor cats is common, and there is bound to be a loser, of which the one who does not live outside full time, with lesser street fighting skills is likely to be the defeated.
In the winter, cats are bound to look for warm places, many of which could be in potentially deadly places, like the wheel well, or up in the hood of a parked vehicle. Our furry friends have also been to known to dart out into traffic after being startled, or from being chased.
That is not to say that domesticated cats cannot go out. Rather they could and should go outside to bask in the sun, exercise and ground themselves, as long as these outdoor excursions are supervised, and hence safe.
2. Food, Glorious Food
A long, healthy life starts with an optimal diet. That is probably the single most important thing if you happen to be flailing at the other aspects with your furkid. That is why it is important to understand that there are some foods that are metabolically stressful, for example dry formulas (kibble), processed pet food containing feed grade ingredients (dry or canned), and diets containing grains, potatoes or other starchy foods.
The nutrition that would generate the least amount of metabolic stress for most cats, regardless of age, is their ancestral diet: whole, raw, unprocessed, organic, non genetically modified and in its natural form. If it is a diet that could be adopted, animal meat should be the foundation of your kitty's diet throughout its life.
If it is not possible to feed fresh food, be it raw or lightly cooked, the next best would be a dehydrated or freeze dried balanced diet that has been reconstituted with an abundance of water or broth. Your furkid's kidneys and liver could be stressed as a result of chronic low grade dehydration, so all foods served dry could be a problem in the long term.
Having a feed where its food is in its natural state, would not only provided the needed moisture, it also ensures the highest level of biologic assimilation and digestion. It would be highly recommended to consider feeding a nutritionally balanced, antioxidant rich and species appropriate diet that includes omega three essential fats, such as krill oil.
3. Healthy Weight
Overweight or obese cats will inevitably suffer tragically as they could acquire obesity related diseases, have shortened lifespans, and have their quality of life destroyed along the way. So if you want your kitty around, preferably comfortably for twenty years, DO NOT OVERFEED your cat into fatness.
The first step in keeping your kitty at a healthy weight is to feed an optimal diet as described above. It is equally important to not free feed, which is fortunately controlled with a species-appropriate diet since fresh food spoils with being left out at room temperature.
Like humans when it comes to being on a diet, calorie count! Calculate the calorie requirements for your cat's ideal weight, and measure the food portions accordingly, making sure to limit treats, but not forgetting to still include those yummy treats in the daily calorie count.
Work your cat into a feed routine of two portion controlled meals a day, one in the morning and one in the evening, preferably about the same time every day. This meal frequency works well for most cats and also fits easily into the daily schedule for most families. Should you happen to be home during the day, you could also feed several small meals instead. A cat fed more often is one that is more active.
4. Daily Exercise
Consistent daily exercise will help your cat to keep fit. In fact, including at least twenty minutes of high intensity activity will help your cat to burn fat and increase muscle tone. Make sure there are things to climb on, like a multilevel cat tree or tower. Consider investing in a laser toy, it could be a simple inexpensive one, or a little dearer and sophisticated, does not matter; it helps keep your kitty active.
Even better, think from the perspective of your furkid, and pick toys and activities that would appeal to its natural instincts and meet its needs for hunting, stalking and pouncing on its "prey". Classics like dragging a piece of string across the floor in front of your cat, table tennis balls, or even wad up paper balls.
If your cat is able to manage it, walking your cat using a harness, provided the weather is nice, would be recommended. Not only does this allow for your kitty to have playtime outside in a safe manner, your furkid gets to have fresh air, its senses stimulated, and get to have its paws in direct contact with the ground. Alternatively, consider letting your cat roam around in a safe, fully enclosed porch or patio area to prevent it from running out and other animals from getting in.
5. Enrich Your Kitty’s Space
While it is unavoidable to feel uncomfortable in "captivity", it is not impossible to try and improve the environment so the restraints do not feel as bad. It is therefore important to consider "environmental enrichment" so that the living situation of your furkid could be improved or enhanced so as to optimize its health, longevity and quality of life. Essentially, the more comfortable your furkid feels at home, the lower its stress level. Enriching your kitty's surrounds means to create minimally stressful living quarters, reduce or eliminate changes that cause anxiety. Reducing its stress level is crucial in keeping her physically healthy. Jackson Galaxy has authored several books that talk about this, sharing on how to create feline environmental enrichment.
Your kitty's life's essentials come down to three things, its food, water and litterbox, all of which should be kept immaculately clean, and located in a safe, secure location, away from any area that may be noisy enough to startle it or make it feel trapped without any escape. As natural climbers and scratchers, cats also need approved spaces for climbing and scratching. Your furkid also needs its own resting spot, and a little hideaway space, sometimes these are one and the same, where your furkid is able to feel safe and untouchable.
Your furkid feels most at home, and comfortable when there is a predictable daily routine. Having little rituals when you leave the house and return, are things you could do to help your furkid feel more comfortable with the comings and goings of the people in the household. A ritual could be as simple as giving her a treat when you leave the house, or a good affectionate scratch as soon as you return back. It is really up to you to decide your little ritual with your kitty.
Think on the level of a cat, and think about what you could do that would appeal to your cat's visual, auditory and olfactory senses. Leave the curtain up for your kitty to cat gaze out the window to watch the world go by, have a little spot by the fish tank where your kitty could laze around to fish stare, or even play a kitty video. Stimulate your kitty's sense of smell by having cat safe herbs or synthetic feline pheromones around. When you are away from the house, play background music or ambient sounds, like the television at low volume, that would be similar to the kind of sounds it hears when you are around. Help create a space that could keep it occupied and stimulated, but more importantly, safe.
6. Hands On Your Cat
While it is known that cats are very accomplished self groomers, most of which do not need much help in the cleaning department. Nevertheless, it is not a bad idea to train your kitty to accept regular grooming routines like brushing, combing, even toothbrushing. Your long haired breeds will certainly stand to benefit from the help. Not only would the brushing help with the dead hair and debris from their coats, brushing every day or every other day also becomes a bonding activity between you and your furkid. Feel free to pet or scratch your furkid as you go along; yes, "hands on" is love.
Another cat care chore that all pawrents should do, daily if possible, is brushing your furkid's teeth. If you are wondering how to do that, not to worry; here is a little help, by Dr Karen Becker, on how to go about it. It is also recommended to perform regular do it yourself physical exminations on your kitty to learn what is normal and not. Regular routine checks will keep you on top of your furkid's health, though more importantly, it would help you with knowing when something is really up so you could be alerted early to get something done about it.
7. Get Carrier Comfortable Move Around The House In Its Carrier On Occasion
It is essential to get your furkid comfortable with its carrier. Crate training is not just for dogs. Your kitty needs time, and training, to get used to its carrier for those occasions you would need to remove your furkid from home turf. Training it helps to reduce its stress level when it comes to the real thing, especially when it comes to that dreaded veterinary visit. The angst your poor furkid has to go through, could be distinctly reduced by slowly acclimating your kitty to its carrier at home in a nonthreatening manner, and at its own time. On occasion, move your kitty around in its carrier. Not to worry if there is massive crate hate, this is very normal. You will get there, slow and steady, step by step.
8. Regular Veterinary Checkups
It is strongly recommended to have regular veterinary checkups, preferably twice a year, for the following reasons:
- changes in your kitty’s health can happen in a short period of time, especially internal ones, like sudden changes in kidney health
- early detection allows for early intervention
- these wellness visits give you and your veterinarian the opportunity to closely monitor changes in your kitty’s behavior and attitude that may require further investigation and attention
Younger, healthier cats should minimally have an annual visit. While kitties over the age of seven, or those with health conditions ought to schedule veterinary visits at least twice a year, if not more if necessary.
Most importantly, find a veterinarian whose practice philosophy you agree with. It does not matter if it is a holistic, integrative or a conventional veterinarian, though it MUST be someone whom YOU AND YOUR FURKID can be comfortable with. If you happen to be dealing with a conventional vet, YOU will need to advocate for your furkid, and be polite, but firm, should you not agree with the prescribed treatment.
Always remember that you do, and actually have the final say in what treatments and chemicals are administered to your pet!
Born in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Dr Karen Shaw Becker began volunteering at a local humane society at thirteen, and continued shelter work for the next decade. Through her experiences, she became an animal advocate, and went on to attaining her state license as a wildlife rehabilitator at fourteen, federal license at sixteen and acquiring her permit to rehabilitate endangered species in 2002.
She founded the first proactive animal hospital in Chicago in 1999, opened an exotic animal hospital in 2001, and a rehabilitation and pain management clinic in 2011. While Dr Karen is still a current practitioner as a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, she has also endeavored in educating people about natural health through the media and educational seminars, where her goals are to work with pet parents towards improving their pets' overall health and vitality through wise lifestyle choices.
Her approach towards the Art of Medicine is to go beyond identifying the root causes of disease and degeneration in pets, but also to prevent the body from breaking by proactively creating thriving animals through the various methods of species appropriate nutrition, lifestyle choices and proactive living. Dr Karen's amassed accolades, certification, knowledge and experience are actively shared, as she looks to help pet parents make positive health changes in the lives their pets.
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This blog first appeared on the Healthy Pets Mercola website, where this article "8 Ways to Help Your Feline Furkid Live Longer" was curated and sourced from.
Original source: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/05/01/ways-to-help-cat-live-longer.aspx by author Dr Karen Shaw Becker
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