CAT PLAY – Often involves pretend hunting. It’s a way to keep her mind sharp and her body healthy, as well as building a bond with you. There’s no need to spend lots of money on toys. A crumpled piece of paper to bat around, a Ping- Pong ball to swat and chase, or an empty cardboard box to hide in will do just fine. On the other hand, string, paper clips, pins, and rubber bands aren’t safe toys, because she may swallow them.
HEARING – Cats boast an impressive sense of hearing! They can hear higher frequencies than us or dogs and are better at telling the difference between pitches. They can pick up sounds farther away and pinpoint them faster. They can also recognize their owner’s voice. Whether or not your cat will choose to respond to you is another matter. That said, white cats with blue eyes are more likely to be born or become deaf.
VISION – Healthy eyes are moist and clear. If hers seem cloudy in bright light, or the color changes, let your vet know. Cats’ eyes are also vulnerable to damage, like cuts and scratches on the outer surface. Early treatment of vision problems like cataracts and injuries may prevent blindness.
DENTAL PROBLEMS – Does Kitty have bad breath? It’s the most common sign of dental disease. Dental problems and gum disease can be painful and lead to tooth loss. But they’re easily preventable with regular teeth-cleaning at home. As in humans, plaque builds up on the teeth and hardens into tartar. Genetics play a role, too.Some purebreds, such as Abyssinians and Siamese, are more susceptible. Cats can also get cavity-like spots just under their gumline. These “resorptive lesions’ can hurt a lot. The vet should check your cat’s teeth and gums at least once a year for signs of trouble.
HEART DISEASE – If your cat gets winded easily or pants while playing, she could have a heart problem. Most cats with a heart condition have cardiomyopathy, which makes it hard for the heart to get blood to the body. It’s usually hereditary, so you can’t really prevent it. That’s why your vet listens to your cat’s heart at her annual checkup. Treatment, including medication, may help cats live for many years after they’re diagnosed.
HAIRBALLS – A cat will swallow a lot of dead hair when she grooms herself. While most of it passes through her system, some may collect into a wet clump in her stomach – that she’ll throw up. If you’re brushing her every few days and she’s still upchucking more than one of these little wooly cigars every couple of weeks, let your vet know, in case your cat has a digestion problem. You can also feed her a hairball remedy (a petroleum-based laxative) that will help get the hair moving in the right direction.
LITTER BOX – Most cats prefer a simple litter box without a hood, filled with unscented clumping litter. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one extra. If you have stairs in your home, you may want to put at least one on each floor. Cats don’t like a litter box that isn’t clean, so scoop out solid waste daily. (This practice will also help you spot changes from possible medical problems). With clumping litter, you should need to empty, clean, and refill the box only a few times a year.
SPAY OR NEUTER – Removing their reproductive organs can spare a cat from medical and behavioral
problems later. Adult cats can have the surgery as long as they’re healthy enough to get “put under” with anesthesia. For females, spaying stops the loud yowling and restlessness they have while in heat, and it lowers their chances of breast cancer and uterine infections. Neutering reduces aggressiveness and marking or spraying in male cats, along with their desire to run away in search of a mate. It also takes some of the stink out of their pee. Neutered cats are also less likely to get testicular cancer and prostate disease. CLIP NAILS – Trim your cat’s nails, front and back, every week or two to keep her from hurting you and the furniture. Her claws could also grow into her paw pads and cause a painful infection. If she’s not used to it, go slow. Start by gently petting and massaging her toes while giving her a treat. And remember, you don’t have to trim them all at once.
SCRATCHING – Cats need to scratch – to stretch their muscles, mark their territory, and remove old cuticles. The trick is often to get them to do it in the right place. Put a scratching post or pad near her favorite spot. (It’ll be more enticing if it’s made of a similar material and allows her to position her body the same way.) Declawing is a controversial operation that removes a cat’s claws by amputating the last bone of each toe. It used to be a common way to stop unwanted scratching, but veterinary groups now consider it a last resort. Instead, keep her claws trimmed, or ask your vet about soft plastic caps that can be glued to your cats nails.
AS ALWAYS, YOUR VET IS YOUR BEST BET FOR ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE! ENJOY THE WINTER.