The Feline Calendar: Five smart New Year’s resolutions & 12 top tips to keep your cat healthy and happy all year

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2019 is now upon us and the parties are over, the fireworks have ended, and cats all over the country are starting to make their way back out from under the sofa!

Five New Year’s resolutions As everything starts to get back to normal for another year, many people across the UK will be starting the year with a host of good intentions that may well involve heading to the gym, losing weight, stopping smoking or starting a new hobby - yes, it’s New Year’s resolutions time! If you own a cat, there are several good ideas for resolutions that you might wish to put into effect this year with your cat in mind, in order to make a positive and yet simple impact on their general wellbeing, and potentially, even their health. So before you sign up for that expensive gym membership or throw out the last of the Christmas chocolate, consider taking a different approach this year, with our five smart suggestions of New Year’s resolutions that can benefit your cat. Read on to learn more! Start a dental care regime Your cat’s breath might smell of what they just ate, but their breath should never smell foul, very strong or generally offensive. Their teeth too should be in good condition and not coated in plaque or tartar, and your cat should be able to eat comfortably without dropping food or having to pick at their food due to dental pain. If your cat’s teeth aren’t 100%, or you’re not entirely sure how to tell, ask your vet to check them over, and if necessary, book them in for an anaesthetised veterinary dental procedure to get them back up to scratch. Even if your cat’s teeth are in great condition, it’s a good idea to get your cat used to having their teeth brushed, and start keeping their mouths and gums healthy now! Get your cat moving As your cat gets older, they will probably be less interested in playing and zooming around the home, but even cats well into their teenaged years will still often enjoy playing and staying active! Think about things that your cat likes to do, such as climbing or hunting, and get them some toys that can enable this, and take some time to play with them each day. Encouraging your cat to stay mobile will be good for not only their weight, but their joint and muscle mobility as they age too! Review your cat’s weight and diet It’s a good idea to review your cat’s weight every six months to ensure that they’re not either piling on the pounds or losing condition, and to keep an eye on any changes that may be occurring over time. Your vet will be able to tell you what your cat’s ideal weight range should be and how far away from it they are, so it’s worth finding out more about this to start with, and if your can is starting to look a little plump around the middle, make some changes! Encouraging your cat to be less sedentary and more active is of course a good start, but you should also review what and how much you feed your cat, and consider whether or not this is still appropriate for their age and life-stage. Older cats need a different type of nutritional support than younger ones, and so it is wise to reconsider each year if the food that your cat has is still the right pick for them, or if there is a better alternative. Dedicate some quality time to your cat Make it a resolution to spend some time every day simply bonding with your cat, and making a fuss of them. Whether this means grooming your cat or simply having some quiet time together watching the TV, you know what your cat likes best and what is good for them, so try to commit to spending some time each day doing this. Making sure you spend some one to one time with your cat every day will help to bring you closer together, and also, ensure that you are very familiar with your cat and what is normal for them, so that you will soon learn to spot any changes. Make sure your care regime is up to scratch When it comes to the regular, routine parts of cat ownership, it can be really easy to let things slip over the course of the year, and then it can be hard to get back to where you should be! Are your cat’s vaccinations up to date, and do they have a regular and suitable worming and flea treatment protocol? If you can’t remember when they were last due, now is the time to get things back on track, and make sure that you maintain them properly over the coming year, and all of the years to come. Happy New Year!

Month by month tips

January - Snow/ice care of the paws If your cat goes outdoors and there is frost, snow or ice on the ground then do keep a close eye on her feet. Make sure her pads are wiped with a damp cloth when she comes indoors to prevent her from licking off salt and/or grit which can be very harmful. February - Winter hazards Cold weather hazards include anti-freeze and de-icers. Anti-freeze contains a highly toxic chemical called ethylene glycol, which is very poisonous to cats (and dogs).If you suspect your pet may have been in contact with these substances or they are showing any warning signs or symptoms (vomiting, seizures, lethargy and/or very rapid breathing) it’s important to seek immediate veterinary attention. March - Dental care Spring is just around the corner, and this is typically time for a spring-clean! Cats are generally very good at keeping themselves clean, but they may need a helping hand in the dental care department. Cats unfortunately don’t generally take kindly to tooth-brushing, but you may like to consider purchasing a special enzymatic tooth paste that stops the bacterial plaque film from turning to hard, brown tartar. A good diet which is enriched with natural antioxidants may also be beneficial for good oral hygiene. April - Grooming One of the best ways to promote healthy skin and encourage coat growth is to increase the grooming time. Some owners are reluctant to brush cats with scurf and / or loose hair for fear of making the problem worse. However, this hair and skin is dead; and if left, will begin to clog up the pores. Removing it will help to stimulate the natural oils and create a nice healthy base for new growth. Long-haired cats require special attention, but all cats should be groomed regularly because areas that cannot easily be reached can quickly become matted even in shorter coated cats, and fur balls can affect all cats. May - Collars & tags Cats that go outside need some sort of identification in case they get lost or injured. Micro-chipping is recommended for cats, and a visible form of identification (i.e. a name tag on the collar) is also sensible. Because cats get into small places and climb trees there is always the chance of a collar getting caught or the cat pulling their head or leg through it. Thus it is best to use a good quality safety collar which snaps open should it get caught. Even indoor cats may require identification, especially if there is any risk that she may escape through a window or door which has been left open in the warmer weather. June - Weight check A weight check is always sensible. Knowing your cat’s normal, healthy weight can help your vet to establish the severity of a problem if she ever were to become overweight or underweight. It is especially important to keep your cat trim because obese cats tend to be very much more sedentary. Overweight and lazy cats are more at risk from feline urinary tract problems including bladder stones. July - Barbecue safety During the summer we often enjoy cooking outdoors on an open fire or barbecue. This is great fun but can pose a risk to cats if they are able to access any cooked bones, raw pork products, or are too close to the heat source and in danger of being burned. Enjoy your al fresco dining, but make sure cats are very closely supervised around food and fire. They may even think about climbing onto warm barbecue coals to find heat on a cooler evening, so extra caution is needed. August - Sun protection Sun screen is almost always on the shopping list for us, but have you considered the risk of UV light to cats too? White cats (or cats with white markings) are especially at risk (particularly ears and noses) so make sure your cat is not lying out in the direct sunlight for too long, and consider buying her some special feline-safe sun cream as well. September - Toxic food reminder Certain foods are dangerous for cats to consume; these include chocolate, onions, grapes, raw potatoes, tomatoes and raisins. Raw fish fed in excess can also cause problems as it contains thiaminases; the enzymes that breakdown thiamine (vitamin B1). If fed excessively the cat could become deficient in vitamin E because it is used up when the oils begin to go rancid. Also beware of liver as this can cause hypervitaminosis A if fed in excess. Sticking to a complete and balanced commercial diet avoids these risks; and if you do give treats - then make sure they are safe, only given in moderation and that the main diet is reduced to allow for those extra calories. Never give human or dog medicines as these too can be toxic to cats. October - Firework preparations If your cat is afraid of fireworks (which many are), then it is now time to start making early preparations ready for the Bonfire, Christmas and New Year celebrations. Some cats may require sedatives from the vet. Natural remedies such as a little lavender oil (to apply to the bedding) can be useful too, so make sure you are stocked up with everything you need to minimise your cat’s anxiety if necessary. Make a note to keep her safely indoors for several evenings over a period when fireworks are most likely as not everyone restricts them to just the one night. November - Diet review Nutrition is not only a vital contributing factor to your cat’s outward appearance, but can also affect general demeanour and temperament. Over-feeding is very detrimental. Problems frequently arise when over-supplementing an already complete diet with mineral and/or calorie-rich foods. It is important to watch your cat’s weight closely; cats that are less active or who have been neutered can put on weight easily. As a general rule, you should be able to feel your cat’s ribs when you touch them, but not see them. Just like us, cats need the correct ratio of food and exercise for optimal health and fitness. December - Christmas hazards Christmas is a time for celebration, but bear in mind there are a lot of hazards for cats at this time of year. These include decorations, candles, plants (especially lilies, holly, ivy and mistletoe), chocolate, fat-rich foods and ribbons used for wrapping presents. Make sure you treat your cat to some presents but choose her healthy treats and do make sure anything she shouldn’t be eating is kept well out of harm’s way. A super present for cats at Christmas is a pot of home-grown catnip or special cat grass.
(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

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