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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions (I’m pretty sure most don’t survive the month of January). But, the end of one year and the beginning of the next does offer a perfect opportunity to assess what’s going on in our lives. Take a look at this Top 10 list of New Year’s resolutions for cat owners. I know I should consider at least a few of them; how about you?


1. Clean the litter box(es) every day. You know how you’ll search out the cleanest stall in a public bathroom? Sometimes I see my cats doing the equivalent with the litter boxes in our house. Cats are fastidious creatures, and it has to gross them out to be forced to use a dirty box. Keeping boxes clean is even more essential if you have an "inappropriate eliminator" in the house.


2. Continuing the litter box theme:  Dump the old litter, wash out the box, and refill with clean litter at least one a month. No matter how good a scooper you are, litter boxes need to be thoroughly sanitized from time to time.


3. Now that we’ve got the "outs" covered, how about the "ins"?  Keep fresh, clean water available at all times. Scrub out the bowls at least weekly to get rid of that slime that accumulates on the bottom. Consider a kitty fountain if your cat prefers to drink from running water. Feed the best food that your budget allows. High protein, low carbohydrate diets are ideal in most circumstances.


4. If it has been over a year since a cat’s last checkup (over six months for cats older than seven), make an appointment for a wellness exam with your veterinarian. Place a priority on feline health care. Consider veterinary pet insurance or setting aside some money in a savings account for your pet’s health care.


5. Encourage cats to exercise, particularly if they are overweight. Find toys that promote activity like a kitty fishing pole, a laser pointer that you can shine across walls and the floor, or even just a crumpled up piece of paper that cats can chase.


6. Spend time with your cats, whether that involves play, petting, grooming, or providing a warm lap for a snooze. For those times when you have to be gone, try to provide some type of entertainment. Placing a bird feeder in front of a window is a good option and so is having a few toys that you pull out only when you are leaving. A warm, sunny place to nap also helps pass the time.


7. For indoor cats, look into leash training, a cat enclosure for the backyard, or a kitty stroller so they can enjoy some safe time in the great outdoors.


8. For outdoor cats, find a collar and tag combination that they will wear. A 2010 AVMA study showed that approximately three quarters of cats will wear collars, but that a microchip is an important backup for those pets that lose theirs.


9. If you are looking to bring a cat into your home, adopt! Millions of animals are euthanized in shelters every year, and most would make wonderful pets.


10. If you are not in a position to adopt a cat, consider donating to a cat rescue organization. Small, local groups often have the greatest need, but national and international organizations could use your help as well. If you don’t have a favorite feline charity, use charitynavigator.org to find one that you can trust. Just type "cat" into their search box. If your finances don’t permit a cash donation, what about volunteering? This is a great way to help cats and meet other cat enthusiasts.


Dr. Jennifer Coates


Image: Hannamariah / Shutterstock

Comments  5

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  • Presents for my herd
    12/28/2010 06:04pm

    Even though my three cats are indoors only and microchipped, I decided to find a breakaway collar and ID tag combo that they would wear. I think I have succeeded. I did hear weird noises yesterday and turned around to find that my big red-orange tabby boy had somehow gotten the collar (the soft, stretchy kind) in his mouth and could not get it out. Oddly, he was not scared or upset and let me take it out without incident. I was surprised at his calm but relieved. (A few years ago my sweet female cat got the paper handles of a small Starbucks bag around her neck. Ever see a kitty in full Halloween mode? I have.) So my present to my herd this year is a second form of ID in the very unlikely event that they get outside.

  • 01/04/2011 11:32am

    To add to my comment, I looked at the abstract of the AVMA article about collars cited above and found this sentence:

    "Eighteen (3.3%) cats caught a forelimb in their collar or caught their collar on an object or in their mouth."

    So my Pumpkin, the boy who caught his stretchy collar in his mouth, has company!

  • Checkups
    12/29/2010 07:13am

    4. If it has been over a year since a cat’s last checkup (over six months for cats older than seven), make an appointment for a wellness exam with your veterinarian.

    I have one that would love to go only every 6 months! She has multiple ailments from failing kidneys to anemia to congestive heart failure - plus a few others. She has a full checkup two to three times a month. (Yes, you read that right. 2 to 3 times a month!)

    We have such an excellent vet that she's still holding her own. I'm sure she's on borrowed time, but, other than the 15 to 30 minutes twice a day for meds, she's pretty happy. I'll take every minute of it as long as she has a quality of life.

  • Dental watch
    12/31/2010 08:44pm

    Thanks, Dr. C., for not scolding those of us who let our cat outside.:-) I think my resolution this year is to keep an eye on our kitty's teeth. He's diabetic and older, and I'd rather not have him undergo anesthesia (my checkbook would rather not, either) I will try to give him a raw chicken wing every week (much to his delight), and maybe try some of those pet dental products.
    @mharding01: Our cat also gets his jaw caught in his collar -- twice! -- so now he is microchipped but no collar.

  • 12/31/2010 09:38pm

    Part one of my resolution was accomplished yesterday when Ty got chipped. He's still having a hard time with the whole keeping-the-collar-on-for-more-than-three-days-at-a-time thing, so it needed to be done sooner rather than later. (We hissed, but did not attempt to eat anyone. Success!)

    Part two- find some way to keep this cat from stealing bread. Tyler can spot an english muffin from a mile away, and he's yet to meet a drawer, cabinet, or closet he can't worm his way into.

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