When you bring that cute, cuddly kitten home or adopt a cat from a shelter, you take on the responsibility of looking after and loving that animal for the rest of its life. Falling in love with your furry companion is not difficult, so you want to make sure that you do your bit to help it live as long as possible.
The genetics that the parents give the cat will play a part, but there are three other areas in which you have an influence on its longevity.
Giving your cat regular care with your friendly vet is one of the cornerstones of a long and healthy life. If you adopt a cat from a shelter, it should immediately be tested for the three big feline viruses: FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), FeLV (Feline leukemia virus) and FIP (Feline infectious peritonitis). If any of these tests are positive, your vet will be able to give you the correct advice on what to do.
Kittens will likely see the vet several times in the first year to get booster shots and be spayed or neutered. Unless your cats are highly pedigreed and used for breeding, there is no excuse for not spaying or neutering your cat. It is irresponsible not to do so.
As cats pass their first year, an annual visit to the vet should be enough to boost vaccinations. Get a yearly check-up to make sure all is still going well. As they age, cats will become susceptible to problems such as arthritis, feline diabetes or hyperthyroid issues. If the indications are picked up early, the treatment can commence and the worst effects of the disease can be staved off for as long as possible.
Do not disregard your cat’s teeth. It is likely that the animal will need to have its teeth seen to regularly and perhaps even cleaned.
As with any animal, the better the diet that you give your cat, the better it will be able to grow, develop and fight off disease. Give your cat an age-specific diet and ensure that its diet changes as necessary.
Both wet and dry foods are an excellent source of nutrition for your cat. There is a wide range of foods available in the supermarket or from the vet, and they are specifically designed to address the nutritional needs of your cat — no matter how old it may be.
Treats such as cooked chicken or fish can be given, and few cats will turn them down. Do not fall into the trap of feeding these treats as a regular meal, as there are insufficient minerals and vitamins in plain chicken or fish.
Love your cat
Give your furry friend love, care and attention. Keep it happy and show it that you love it by finding time to play and cuddle with it. Try to minimize its stress add years to its life by letting it know that it is essential in your life.