February is National Cat Health Month

Kitten with red heart toy

Health and Well-Being: A Perfect Valentine for your Cat!

How appropriate that February is National Cat Health Month. We think the best way to show our love for our cats this month is by learning just a little bit more about how to give them optimal health, and as a result, optimal happiness. There are many great resources already available either online or through your veterinarian regarding your cat’s basic needs (food, water, shelter), but we’re talking about those little “something extras” that everyone craves to lead enriched and fulfilling lives.

Your Cat’s Food

Even though you’re providing good, healthy food for your cat, it never hurts to take another look at the ingredients and compare the nutritional analysis to the latest scientific studies to make sure you’ve really got all the bases covered. Tufts University has a brief but helpful article about a cat’s very specific dietary needs, some of which may be new information to you.

There are different schools of thought about the best way to feed your cat (dry vs canned, cooked vs raw, etc.) Making sure you are providing a complete and balanced diet is the most important thing.

Could Your Cat Be Bored with Her Food?

Most cat parents have experienced the seemingly inexplicable “sniff-off” a time or two:  you lovingly prepare kitty’s favorite food, place it in the usual spot at the normal time, only to watch him approach, take one short whiff, and just look up at you as if to say “you want me to eat that?”

He may go back later and eat when you’re not looking, but it is possible he is bored with the food. Seems like the perfect time to show him some love by trying one of the many food toppers out there:

cat bored with it's food
  • Broths or crumbles for dry or wet foods
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements that are fish or poultry flavored
  • Fresh clippings of healthy greens like cat grass

How to Support Your Cat’s Mental Health

A cat’s mental health is as important as their physical health, and in many cases they’re closely connected. A bored cat is an unhappy cat, and even though they may spend a significant portion of their time napping, while awake they’re generally looking for ways to entertain themselves. Left to their own devices, they can sometimes develop what we consider destructive behavior, even if they see it as simply good grooming practices, or honing their long-range communication skills (so what if it’s 3am?). It definitely pays to provide mental and physical stimulation for the little beasts, and to remember that they are, in fact, “beasts.”

Your Cat Shares 95% DNA with Tigers

crouch kitty gets ready to pounce
crouching murder-floof, aka a tiger! gets ready to pounce

No matter how little your fluffy fur ball resembles a tiger, she shares 95% of its DNA. That makes her a predator at heart. As obligate carnivores, cats need meat, and before we came along with our can openers there was only one way to get it, so hunting was job 1. Many of us have seen videos of the spectacular blend of brain and brawn the big cats employ to bring down their prey. It’s impressive to watch, in spite of the sad (to us) result of a successful hunt. Have you ever noticed how excited and full of life the wild cats are while in pursuit? They seem to be loving it, and not just for the reward at the end.

Bringing the Outdoors In: Playing with Your Cat

Suitable prey for our domestic cats would be birds, fish or small mammals and reptiles, but since, (a) most of our cats now live exclusively indoors and don’t have access to free-ranging rodentia; and, (b) we would not want to have to clean up after them if they did, we will have to get creative. What can you do to stimulate the little stalker’s heart in your cat? Spend 10 minutes here and there engaging your cat in “the hunt.” There are thousands of stand-in playthings for the off-limits huntable critters.

Cat toys come in a variety of forms:

  • Just about anything infused with catnip
  • Just about anything adorned with natural feathers or fur
  • Refillable balls (with treats or catnip)
  • Motorized with movement or sound
  • String and wand (Our favorites, because you play the game together, and that’s good for everyone’s health!)
  • The ever-popular laser toy (I’ve never known it to fail)
  • Safe DIY cat toys

You’ll know you’ve triggered your sweet kitty’s inner tiger when they get that look. It’s the look that means that while your cat’s wild nature is being satisfied, the loving domestic life you share will include more health, harmony, and happiness.