How to Keep a Cat Healthy | Broadview University

How to Keep a Cat Healthy

5 healthy cats in a persons arms

Vet techs make a difference in the lives of animals and are an integral part of the veterinary team. Becoming a vet tech allows you to be a positive force in the lives of many animals, including cats. Some people are dog people, and some are cat people. Are you a cat person?

Why Do Pet Parents Choose Cats?

There are a lot of reasons that people choose cats as pets, but the most common criteria is how much time an owner can give to their pet. While dogs have always been one of the most popular of house pets, what makes cat a preferable choice to some?

Cats Are Independent

Cats have a reputation for being more independent than dogs. Cats need their owners to care for them and provide them with companionship and mental stimulation. However, they don’t rely on their pet parents quite as much as dogs. Kittens do require more attention in the same way puppies do. As they get older, they tend to be content lounging around the house. When adopting a cat, the owner should get a sense of their personality to make sure the owner and new pet are compatible. If the owner is looking for a more independent cat, you may suggest that they adopt an older cat or adopt two cats to keep each other company. The owner should provide toys for playtime and a comfortable sleeping space so they can do their independent thing.

Cats Can Stay at Home Alone

Dogs need exercise, walks, and playtime with their owners. Dogs are sociable animals, enjoy human companionship, and most don’t do well being left alone all day. If you’re going to adopt a dog, consider a pet sitter who can walk the dog or a daycare facility so your dog can socialize with other dogs. Cats are content to lie on a sunny windowsill or climb around on a cat tree. They usually sleep most of the day and are more active at night, which makes them ideal pets for owners who are away during the day.

How Do You Keep A Cat Healthy?

Keeping cats healthy is important. Without preventative care and regular checkups at the vet, they can get sick, especially as they get older. Pet parents that care for their cats will look to their vet to learn how to keep them healthy. As a vet tech, you can take on the responsibility of educating cat owners about their different options.

Spay or Neuter

Several behavioral issues and medical problems can be eliminated by spaying or neutering a cat, in addition to being the most effective way to control the homeless pet population. According to the ASPCA, it’s considered safe to spay or neuter a kitten when it’s eight weeks old. To keep male cats from spraying and females from having a litter, it’s recommended to have a kitten spayed or neutered before it’s five months old. As a vet tech, you will provide owners with pre- and post-operative instructions to ensure a cat is comfortable and has a speedy recovery.

Proper Diet

Cats need a combination of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to stay healthy and happy. Cats need vitamin A, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron for optimum health. Taurine is one of the amino acids necessary for a healthy cat. The proper diet for a cat must be a balance of carbohydrates, fats, minerals, proteins and vitamins.

Carbohydrates – nutrients that supply cats with energy. Most of these nutrients are derived from vegetables and plants. Since a cat’s digestive system can effectively digest carbohydrates, a low-carb diet is sufficient for most cats.

Fats – serve a dual purpose in a cat’s diet. They provide flavor and help a cat to absorb vitamins that are fat-soluble. Fats also provide cats with essential fatty acids that keep their skin and coat healthy.

Minerals – support the chemical reactions that take place in a cat’s body. Minerals also develop a cat’s bones and teeth.

Proteins – a nutrient that’s important to the diet of any cat. Proteins supply cats with amino acids that help build healthy tissue throughout the body. A cat’s system can produce 12 of the necessary nutrients needed for them to stay healthy. The remaining nutrients must come from the animal protein in the cat’s diet.

Vitamins – cats require specific vitamins, like vitamin A and various B vitamins, because they can’t manufacture them independently. Vitamins are also needed to support many of the body’s normal chemical reactions.

Clean Supply of Water

Since water comprises about 70 percent of a cat’s body weight, fresh, clean water is necessary to keep cats and kittens hydrated. A percentage of water is in wet cat food, but cats should always have a bowl of fresh water available, whether they eat wet or dry food.

Dental Care

Clean teeth are necessary to prevent a cat from getting gum disease and losing teeth. Yearly dental cleanings should be part of a cat’s wellness examination. Commercial products are available to use at home in between checkups.

Exercise and Toys

Exercise and toys are the best way to keep cats mentally stimulated and physically fit. It is important to plan regular playtime for a cat. Interactive toys are the ideal way to get a cat moving around. A cat tree that they can climb on is an excellent motivator.

Litter Box Maintenance

A cat should always have a clean litter box to get rid of bacteria and odor. The box should be scooped out at least once a day and washed when necessary. The entire contents of your cat’s box should be replaced at least every 7 to 10 days or when required. To cut down on inappropriate urination and defecation, you should aim to have one litter box more than the number of cats. If you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes.

Scratching Posts

A scratching post is the most effective tool for keeping your cat’s claws short. Some cats will scratch at furniture or even the walls if they don’t have a way to keep their claws trim. Small, free-standing scratching posts or scratch pads built into a cat tree are perfect for keeping nails trimmed.

Hair Brushing and Good Hygiene

Hair brushing and hygiene are necessary for cats. Most cats are meticulous about keeping themselves groomed but can always use a bit of help. Brushing excess fur from a cat gets rid of loose hair and can help to prevent hairballs. Regular brushing helps to get rid of matted hair that can be painful for a cat. Brushing a cat’s fur distributes the natural oils in the skin and keeps a cat’s coat clean and shiny. Most cats enjoy being brushed, so it’s an excellent way to bond with a cat while keeping them healthy and well-groomed.

Flea, Tick, And Heartworm Medications

Veterinarians usually recommend regular flea, tick, and heartworm meds to keep cats healthy. The treatment can be administered separately or as part of a more comprehensive plan to prevent disease.

Regular Veterinary Checkups

All pets need regular checkups with their vet, and cats are no exception. A healthy cat should have a wellness exam once a year. The vet will examine the cat, order diagnostic tests or bloodwork, and check heart rate, eyes, ears, and mouth. Cats need protection from feline diseases, including FeLV and FIV. The vet can do a simple test to check for these diseases. Regular vaccines are part of a wellness plan for cats. Senior cats require more monitoring. As a vet tech, you may recommend checkups every six months for older cats to check for any potential health issues that may be addressed with medication.

When to Go to An Emergency Clinic

Taking a cat for regular checkups is the most effective way to determine if there’s a health issue. However, cats don’t always show symptoms of illness like some other species. If a cat is exhibiting behavior that’s not normal, the owner should go to an emergency clinic as soon as possible. These are the issues that require a veterinarian to see a cat immediately.

Abnormal Breathing

A cat that’s breathing through the mouth instead of the nose, is wheezing, making unusual noises as though it’s in respiratory distress, or coughing should be seen by a vet immediately.

Urination Problems

Problems with urination can mean a cat has an obstruction, is diabetic, is going into kidney failure, or has high levels of potassium in the bloodstream. All of these problems are severe and require the immediate attention of a veterinarian.

Sensitivity to Touch

Pain in a cat may be manifested as being sensitive to the touch, excessive vocalizing, hiding in a place where the owner can’t reach them, or panting. The best way to know if a cat may be experiencing pain is to understand them and their behavior. Anything unusual may be a sign that an owner should take their cat to the clinic.

Exhibiting Lethargy

Lethargy can be a sign that a cat isn’t feeling well. If a cat is usually active, then suddenly becomes lethargic and won’t move around, the owner should consult the emergency vet clinic.

Loss of Appetite

A change in eating habits can be a sign of illness in a cat. If a cat usually loves mealtimes and goes for a day without eating, there could be a problem requiring immediate veterinary care.

Signs of Sickness

Most cats vomit or have diarrhea occasionally. However, if a cat is repeatedly vomiting or has persistent diarrhea, the owner should call the vet immediately. Some cats vomit or have loose stools due to a change in diet. If the owner is changing a cat’s diet, they should consult a vet for feeding instructions, so they transition to the new food easily. However, vomiting or diarrhea, especially with blood present, is cause for concern.

Toxic Substances

Ingesting a toxic substance or nibbling on a plant can be fatal to a cat. If a cat has ingested a poisonous substance, the owner should immediately call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Final Thoughts

Helping cat owners keep their cats healthy can be rewarding as a vet tech. You get to help owners understand what keeps their cats healthy and allow the cat to live a long life. If you are passionate about cats and want to help the cat population, becoming a vet tech may be a great career path for you.

Veterinary Technician Program

Interested in learning about becoming a vet tech? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge, qualities and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.