You can maintain your cat’s overall health in two important ways. Firstly schedule an annual preventative visit (including shots and an examination) with your vet as well as other visits as needed and secondly perform home cat care examinations yourself.
Do a nose to tail checkup weekly. It can be done at the same time as petting your cat on the couch. Start with the head. Are your cat’s ears clean and pink? Do they give off an unpleasant odor? Have mites appeared as a black, waxy mess inside the ears? Are the eyes bright, clear, focused, and free of discharge? Are the gums pink and the teeth clean? Has tartar appeared along the gum line? Is your cat’s breathe offensive?
Don’t check a cat’s nose to see if it’s cold and damp, this is not a sign of health. Continue with a neck to tail inspection. Feel your cat’s body for lumps, bumps, puffiness, sores, and any irregularities. Also look for flea dirt (which resembles black pepper and turns red when wet), scratches, and parasites. Be sure to check between the toes, and down the entire length of the tail. If you find anything to cause concern to you or discomfort to your cat then pay a visit to your vet.
Next, treat your feline friend to a good brushing. Rubber curry brushes are excellent at removing dead skin cells and loose hair. Fine-toothed metal combs are specifically designed to lift fleas out of the coat. It’s important to brush your cat daily to remove as much loose hair as possible. When cats groom themselves, they ingest a great deal of hair, which is often vomited out as hairballs. This is normal and regular brushing will stop it from becoming excessive.
Keeping your cat’s claws clipped is an important part of grooming. If not kept at the proper length, a cat’s claws can actually grow into the paw pads, so attend to the claws monthly. If you have never trimmed a cat’s claws, have your veterinarian show you how. Briefly, you should snip off just the sharp tip of each claw. Do not clip into the pink section of the nail, where a blood vessel and nerve endings reside as this will be painful. Cats that wander outside or have a scratching post do not suffer so much with this.
All cat owners should have at least one book on cat care; ask your vet for a recommendation, that includes a section on emergency first aid. Home cat care alone is not appropriate in most cases of serious illness or injury; there are also some emergency procedures that could keep your pet relatively comfortable on the way to the vet. Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures before an emergency happens. Never give your cat any medications, including aspirin, without the advice of your vet. Many common human drugs (like acetaminophen [Tylenol]) are poisonous to cats.
A little effort to look after your cat’s health will pay dividends to its health and happiness as well as yours!