Did you know that there are more pet cats than pet dogs in the US? Dogs get so much attention because they are loud and they demand it! On the other hand, cats are aloof and they want us to come begging them for their attention. We have the love of our dogs pretty much from the start, but we have to earn the love of our cats! As famous science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein once said: Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.
I have three dogs and two cats in my pack, but Fender (12 years) and Ecco (5 years) definitely rule my house. February is National Cat Health Month, so let’s check in with our cats this month and make sure they are as healthy as they can be!
Feed Good Food and Hydrate Well
The very first step to maintaining good health with our cats lies in what they eat and drink. Eating the right foods with the proper nutrition as well as staying hydrated is important for humans, dogs and cats alike.
The main thing we need to remember when we are picking a food for our cats is that they need taurine in their diet. Taurine is a basic amino acid that we all need. Humans and dogs can manufacture this amino acid in our own bodies, but cats cannot and must receive taurine through their diet. This is why it is important to feed cats a cat specific kibble or canned food instead of just feeding them dog food. I know my Fender would gladly eat dog food, and he does steal it right out from under my dogs’ noses as they watch helplessly, but he also eats his cat food. He’s kind of a pig. It is important to know that without taurine, cats may develop severe eye and heart diseases.
I have my cats on a rotating diet, meaning that each time they finish a bag of food, they eat something different next. Besides keeping them interested in their food, rotating through different brands and different formulas of food provides them with a wide variety of nutrients. This means that if one food is lacking in an area, then the next food will provide the missing vitamin or protein. I know that if I only ate chicken and rice, I wouldn’t get everything I need in my diet to stay healthy, and I would also get bored with my meals!
Some of my favorite foods to feed, as well as my cats’ favorites, are Fromm and Honest Kitchen. These are all available at your favorite Hollywood Feed location. Ask about their frequent feeder programs, where you can purchase a certain amount per brand and get one free!
It is also important for cats to be well-hydrated. Rotating some canned food into their diet will help with this as there is a lot of added moisture in canned foods. Also, we should always make sure that our cats have access to water. Many cats do not like to drink from a water bowl and instead prefer to take a sip from the faucet when they catch it running. This is because cats prefer running water to still and stagnant water. It just tastes better this way! A great solution, if you don’t want to leave your tap running all of the time, is to get a Drinkwell Fountain, which constantly cycles water so your cat gets to hydrate the way he prefers. Read more about staying hydrated here.
Exercise the Body and the Mind
Besides feeding and watering our cats, we need to make sure they are physically and mentally active.
Playing with our cats is a great way to make sure they burn off excess calories, build muscle tone, and stimulate their brains. There are some toys cats can play with on their own, and some that involve our participation. I’ve said this before, but I love Go Cat-Da Bird Wand. It is very durable and my cats absolutely love to play with it. When I pull out our Go Cat wand, Fender’s eyes widen, he pins his ears back and he hides and watches the feathers dance along the floor…and then he pounces and runs around like crazy for twenty minutes or so. It’s great fun for him, for Ecco, and for me!
We can also provide cat scratchers for our kitties, because cats naturally love to scratch to keep their claws in top shape. Providing cats with a scratcher gives them a safe place to build their strength without using your couch or chairs. My cats love their Kong raised cat scratcher! They can use it to play and they can also curl up and sleep on it.
Another way to keep our cats engaged and happy is to spend time petting them! Cats just love to be petted. Mine love belly rubs as well as ear and butt scratches. Fender loves to be petted anytime, anywhere, while Ecco demands attention at 3:30 am (if I happen to be up for some reason) and 3:30 pm on the dot. She may or may not want attention at other times of the day, so when she asks I say, “Yes, ma’am!”. Having a good relationship with our cats and showing them physical affection by scratching and petting them is one way to keep them feeling happy and secure.
Gotta Love that Litter Box
I believe that litter box duty is the worst part of being a cat mom, which is why cleaning the litter box is on my husband’s chore list (lucky me!). You should have a litter box for each cat you have-I have Fender and Ecco, so I have two litter boxes. Ideally, we should scoop the litter once a day, but as long as we scoop it a couple of times weekly, it will probably be fine. A cat with a clean litter box is much less likely to use the bathroom somewhere else in your house! Try a ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box to make the job less of a chore and more of a pleasure!
Cats can be very picky about the litter they like, so sometimes you may have to try multiple brands before settling on one that they will use every time. My cats use Hollywood Feed Made in Wyoming All Natural Cat Litter. Keep in mind that if the litter box is clean and our cat suddenly starts peeing outside of the box, it may be a sign that something is wrong and we need to visit the vet. Learn more about litter and litter boxes here.
February is the perfect opportunity to make sure that all of our cats’ needs are met. Remember that our cats are more stoic than dogs and may not show any signs of being sick, even when they are sick. Be hyper-observant of your cat’s routine and behaviors, and if something changes watch your cat even more closely. You may want to take your cat in for a veterinary exam yearly, even if there are no signs of a problem. Also, read more about the best product I’ve ever found to clean up cat messes such as hairballs or urine on my cloth furniture: Simple Solution!
Let us know how you take care of your cat in the comment section below!