Have you heard of the famous saying that cats have nine lives? Well, guess what; they are wrong. Your furry pal has just one very precious life & it is your job to take good care of them. However, they do have comparatively very long lives, especially when compared to smaller pets like hamsters or guinea pigs. They seem to live on forever. Therefore, it is very important to keep in mind that if you are deciding to get a pet cat, you must be ready for a long-term commitment.
The general medical scenario for cats and other pets has considerably improved over the past decade or so. However, in comparison to human medicine, there is still a lot of scope for improvement. Veterinary clinics, medicines, and doctors have increased in number. Hence, you could expect a healthy kitten to stay with you for any time between 15 to 20 years if provided proper care. Now you need to consider what sort of a personality your cat displays. That’s right! Cats have personalities too. They may be of two types:
- Outdoor cats: These cats remain outdoors most of the time, disappear for a large part of the day, hunt their own food, and sometimes bring some back for you. These cats are self-reliant and need freedom. They require lots of space and cannot be closed up inside a house. These cats, however, live for a shorter duration because of the fact they are exposed to a large number of threats. They may get hit by vehicles on the roads, attacked by larger animals or even by other cats. There is also no way to ensure they consume clean food or water. They may even hang out with other cats who have infections such as the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia, which spread from one infected cat to another. These diseases tend to be fatal in most cases. If you are adopting a cat from a shelter, ensure that you get them checked out by a vet. Though there is no way to control your cat’s behavior, ensure that you get them regularly checked and vaccinated.
- Indoor cats: These are the cats that enjoy sleeping all day long and seem to be living life. They interact with you a lot and depend on you to feed them every meal. They are extremely attached to their humans and need human contact to stay happy. Even if they seem resigned, they always have a sense of territory and consider you and your home to be a part of it. These cats tend to live longer as they have very little interaction with other cats. They only consume food that you feed them and are less prone to infections. However, it always worthwhile to ensure they are vaccinated and checked out with a vet.
Factors that affect your Cat health:
Apart from their personality, there are other factors that you must keep in mind to ensure that you keep your cat healthy and fit. Let us start with what these factors are and what you can do to give them your best:
Cats are not always as expressive as other pets. They tend to hide several signs of illnesses. Identifying problems that your cat seems to be facing in time is very important. It is a major factor that can help keep your cat healthy. Observe your feline at all times; you will start to notice that they have very specific quirks and habits. If they seem to be drastically deviating from these habits, you can hazard a guess that something is wrong.
Physically examining your cat from time to time is another small step to a long cat life. Cats may develop conditions such as allergies, fleas, skin diseases, or even physical injuries that will need care. You can avoid further deterioration and provide timely care if you spot these things on time.
Every cat has a pattern of eating, drinking, and even toilet habits. Look for any changes in their behavior. If you notice any reduction or increase, you may take the cat to a vet for proper assessment. In the case of females who haven’t been neutered, this can even point out possible signs of pregnancy. You should also check for repetitive coughing, difficulty breathing, sneezing, or lack of grooming are also possible signs of concern.
It goes without saying that if you want your cat to enjoy a healthy, long life, you must regularly vaccinate them, perform routine check-ups with the vet, and provide them with a good diet. You must feed them regularly on time and give them a safe environment to live in. You may also give them exercise if they tend to get lazier as they grow older by experimenting with a variety of toys.
There are certain factors that you cannot do anything about. These are passed down to your cat from previous generations and tend to affect your cat’s health adversely. However, you can find out such problems in the early stages. They may have inherited disease, or a deficiency, which may or may not be cured. By visiting the vet regularly, you may be able to find health supplements that you can give to the cats or perform procedures that can save their lives.
The natural aging process:
All cats grow old, and there’s no stopping time. Hence, it is inevitable for all your furry pals. That is why cat owners must understand the natural aging process. If you learn to observe and identify these signs, you will be able to take appropriate actions and not worry unnecessarily. Some of the other serious diseases that your cat could develop as it grows older are:
|Hyperthyroidism||Increased Activity or severe fatigue|
|Hypertension (high blood pressure)||Heart disease, difficulty in breathing|
|Inflammatory bowel disease||Indigestion, lack of appetite|
|Cancer||Severe pain, fatal.|
Though these conditions are prevalent in younger cats, older cats are more susceptible to them.
Just as with humans, as cats grow older, their immune systems get weaker. They get more prone to illnesses and may fall sick often. At older stages, it is very important to constantly check for illness and double your visits to the vet.
As cats grow old, their skin becomes thinner and more prone to infection. They shed more fur than usual and have very little blood circulation. It could lead to a strange odor, skin rashes, or accumulation of dirt on them. Hence, they need human help in getting groomed and staying clean.
Cats generally take care of their own nails by sharpening it often and wearing it down. However, older cats may not be able to do so. They get overgrown and brittle leading to bleeding and infections. You can also get yourself or your furniture damaged by these nails. Hence you may need to clip their nails more often and with more care.
Hearing and seeing:
Cats generally have very good vision, even in the dark. However, their eyesight weakens as they have grown older. They may have trouble seeing and hence must be protected from predators and guided to their food. It may also happen as a result of diseases such as hypertension. You must also check for any signs of discoloration of the eyes. Immediate medical attention and medication can prolong their good health. Their hearing can also decline in their old age. Generally, it is not detectable unless observed carefully. However, it is a natural part of the aging process & there’s nothing much you can do about it.
Again, like a human, older cats tend to get dental problems easily. If they are experiencing any discomfort or pain in their mouth, they may tend to avoid eating or may even produce sounds of pain while chewing. And this can also be checked out with a vet and properly treated.
Appetite, as discussed earlier, is a solid indicator of cat health. In older cats, however, this indicator may fail. As older cats have a fainter sense of smell, they may not be able to identify food items or simply lose interest in eating. It may or may not be due to a disease or an underlying condition, but you might as well get it checked out.
Feline bones get very weak as cats grow older, which can result in Degenerative joint disease or arthritis – a common disease among older cats. They have difficulty playing with you, jumping onto favorite resting spots in the initial stages. As it progresses, they may even become unable to access food, water, or litter boxes. They won’t enjoy being touched and may prefer staying on the ground floor of your building to avoid the stairs.
They also have weaker kidneys, which may lead to impairing or failure of function. It is quite a serious condition and is also very common among older cats. Hence, it must be treated as soon as possible.
The brain of your cat grows old too. As we discussed above, cats have unique personalities. These personalities start changing as cats grow older. An outdoor cat may be spending a lot of time around your house. They may experience memory loss or alterations leading to erratic behavior. They may even perceive you as a threat and hence needed to be given a lot of time and patience. They can also in some cases seek more attention and comfort from their humans. They would, however, avoid strangers and seem disoriented, which requires you to give them the rest they need. By accepting your furry friend’s aging process, you will be able to provide comfort which can considerably lengthen their life.
Finding the right Vet:
Finding the right vet for your cat can go a long way in your feline’s overall health. It means timely appointments, proper diagnosis, making the right medicines available, etc. You should also take into considerations that the vet you choose has sound expertise in dealing with felines. He/She must be able to interact with them in a friendly and reassuring manner as a visit to a vet is almost always a harrowing experience for your buddy. They must also be able to suggest good vaccination schedules, suggest experts in case of serious illnesses, and perform in-depth health checks.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Can you convert an outdoor cat to an indoor cat?
No, this is a part of their personality and may depend on previous owners, past experiences, etc. However, it may naturally change over time, but usually, you have to accept your cat as it is.
- Are there health supplements that I can give to my cat?
Yes, there are plenty available in the market. For instance, check out this pet booster, which helps in healthy development. However, it is recommended to consult your vet first.
- What toys are healthy for my cat?
Well, it completely depends on your cat’s habits and health conditions. Find out if your cat has any allergies from your vet, and then you can check out this interactive toy if your vet agrees.
The life expectancy of cats depends on many factors, including whether the cat is an indoor cat or an outdoor cat, what are the things they are allergic to, health conditions, and so on. Many people have misconceptions about the health of the cats. Hence, it’s always necessary that you check with the vet or any at specialist before you conclude anything.
You and your vet both play an equal and important role in your feline’s life. Your cat’s life span depends on these two pillars of support and is hence completely up to you to give your cat the best and healthiest life possible. Even in spite of all your efforts, your furry friend might experience health issues and illnesses. It is quite normal and not a cause of concern. With the right approach and some love, they will be back on their paws before you know it!