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Whether you have just welcomed a new kitten, taken on an adult rescue cat, or you simply want to know that you are doing the best for your feline family members, we get a lot of questions about how to keep cats fit and healthy. It’s not possible to discuss absolutely everything in one article, but here are a few tips:

  • Neutering: unless you specifically plan to breed your cat, we recommend neutering both males and females. This not only prevents unwanted pregnancy, it can also prevent other health conditions such as pyometra (infection in the uterus). Neutered males are also much less likely to roam far (which puts them at risk from being injured by cars) and fight with other cats. In fact, on average neutered male cats live more than twice as long as intact males!
  • Vaccinations: new kittens should receive a course of vaccinations to reduce the risk of infectious disease. We recommend vaccination against cat flu, panleukopaenia and feline leukaemia virus. Annual revaccination against cat flu is recommended, and every three years against panleukopaenia and feline leukaemia virus.
  • Parasite treatment: regular flea control and worming treatment is important for cats, especially those that spend time outdoors or hunt and eat rodents or birds.
  • Feeding: we are often asked what is the “best” food for a cat, and the fact is there is no one correct answer. It’s important that the food is correctly formulated for their life stage, particularly growing kittens, and we recommend checking that the manufacturer is a member of the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA) to ensure that their diet is correctly balanced and carefully tested. It’s important to control the amount of food your cat eats, whatever type of diet you choose. If you just fill a bowl with biscuits, they are likely to become overweight! In the wild, they would eat several small meals a day, so the closer we can can get to this pattern for our pet cats, the better!
  • Toilet facilities: it’s important to provide the right number and type of litter trays for your cats. They should be around one and a half times the length of the cat, so they can easily turn around, and in a quiet location to avoid them being disturbed. In a multi cat household, there should be “one litter tray per cat plus one spare” – so three trays for a two-cat family, four trays for three cats etc. Older cats may need shallower, wider trays that they can climb in and out of more easily. Cats with outside access may prefer to toilet outside, but we recommend keeping a litter tray in the house in any case, as avoiding going outside because of cold weather, or territorial behaviour from other cats, can cause urinary problems if they have no alternative toilet.
  • Play and exercise: it’s important to keep cats active, and play at home can also help keep cats from becoming bored, and strengthen their bond with their owners. Toys that stimulate their instinctive hunting behaviour, such as catnip “mice” or fishing-rod type toys are popular, but even a crumpled up ball of paper can make a great toy! Unlike dogs, cats don’t often play for prolonged periods of time, so it’s not unusual for them to lose interest after a few minutes – they’ll be happy to play again later on! This is particularly important for indoor only cats, that are at higher risk from boredom than cats with outdoor access.
  • Creating a “cat friendly” environment: cats are small predators, but their wild cousins can also be prey for bigger animals, so their natural instincts are often to “elevate and hide”. Nervous cats may like the upper shelves of cupboards, or the top of a cat tower, to help them feel safe. Providing plenty of elevated perching spots will help you cats feel more relaxed, especially if there are several sharing the house, and will also encourage climbing behaviour to keep them active. Older cats may suffer joint pain that can make it more difficult for them to reach high perching spots, so they may need an extra “platform” such as a box or a chair to climb up in easier stages.
  • Regular vet checks: due to their independent lifestyle, early signs of ill health can be more difficult to spot in cats than in dogs. It’s important that even apparently healthy cats have a regular vet check, at least once per year, to monitor for any subtle changes that could be early signs of ill health.

For further advice on cats click here