Keeping Your Cat Healthy and Happy Indoors: A CatWellness Primer

Catwellness.org features not-for-profit organizations that champion the cat. We are expanding our coverage with this article to highlight both good concepts and toys to keep cats healthy and happy indoors. - The Editor

The following information is courtesy of Dr. Tony Buffington, veterinarian and creator of the Indoor Cat Initiative, which provides the ways to enrich the lives of indoor cats. For more information please visit: http://www.vet.ohio-state.edu/indoorcat.htm.

Personal Space
Like all cat lovers know, cats are very independent animals. They enjoy hiding under, on top, and/or inside of many locations in the home. They are very curious creatures. A great way to give your cat the space it needs is by getting him or her a perch. A perch will allow them to elevate themselves from the ground level and observe from above. They will feel safe and secure while enjoying their surroundings. Perches are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, and you can even attach them to a windowsill so your cat can get a better view of the outside.

A Bed
Cats are most vulnerable when they are sleeping, so it's important to provide them with a quiet and secure resting place. For those who prefer that their cat stay off beds and other furniture, providing your cat with a comfortable resting place in a quiet part of the house is the best alternative. This area, however, must be in a place where necessities like food, water, and litter box, are still accessible. Cat beds can be purchased, or a snug blanket or towel will work just fine. Remember, just like you, cats don't like being disturbed while they sleep.

Scratching/Climbing Post
Cats scratch as a way to stretch their muscles, shed old cuticle, sharpen their claws, and leave scent marks. Providing your cat with something to scratch will not only keep them happy, but it will save your furniture. When figuring out where to place a scratching post it's important to keep in mind where your cat typically likes to scratch. You can place the post near this area in order to keep your cat from scratching that particular object. Keep the scratching post in close proximity to daily necessities and try not to move the post. If you do move it, try to move it as gradually as possible. Lastly, trim the sharp tips of your cat's nails or purchase nail caps to reduce damage from scratching.

Litter Box
Cats use elimination as a way to mark their territory. So, in order to keep them from eliminating all over your house, it's important to provide them an attractive litter box. First, cats appreciate a clean litter box. So, if you do not regularly clean out their litter box, they will most likely find a cleaner spot which may end up being somewhere in your house. Second, cats prefer a large uncovered litter box. This gives them a large space to move around and stand up straight. Third, most cats prefer fine-grained, unscented litter. Most cats are turned off by a scented litter. Lastly, the litter box should be placed in a quiet, secure and accessible place. This ensures the cat privacy, and eliminates other animals or people sneaking up on it. The "golden rule" is one litter box per cat, plus one. So for those with multiple cats, and/or multiple levels in your house, it is important to have multiple boxes on each level.

Toys
Although indoor cats don't have to hunt for their food, they still have the urge to pounce. Toys are extremely important to the health and happiness of your cat. Something as simple as a ball to roll around or a stick with a string and a toy attached can amuse an indoor cat for hours. Taking a more realistic approach, you can give your cat a fake mouse that moves or makes noise.

It isn't difficult to keep you indoor cat healthy and happy. All it takes is providing your cat with privacy, a comfortable place to sleep, something to scratch, an appropriate litter box, and most importantly, toys! Keeping your cat happy and healthy will not only increase their happiness, but yours as well.

The following information is courtesy of Dr. Jon Rappaport, veterinarian and creator of www.petplace.com, the source for pet health and well-being.

Popular New Cat Toy: The Undercover Mouse
The "Undercover mouse" will entertain not only your cat, but you, for hours! A 360o spinner rotates the "cat teaser" (mouse), underneath a nylon cover, mimicking the movements of a real mouse. The mouse is programmed to move at different speeds and directions and is stopped once your cat catches it.

This interactive toy has caught the attention of the APPA (American Pet Products Association), as well the national media. Undercover mouse received APPA's First Place "Best in Show" Award at the 2008 global Pet Expo, and "Good Morning America" had the toy featured in their, Pamper Your Pet: Hottest New Toys segment.

Click here to watch a video of a cat enjoying the "Undercover Mouse."

The following information is courtesy of the KNOW Heartworms campaign. For more information please visit: http://www.knowheartworms.org/index.asp.

What you should know about Parasites


One study done in the Texas gulf region revealed that heartworm antibodies were present in 26 percent of cats examined. Parasites such as this can be hard to detect in cats. If you notice a change in your cat's grooming habits, including constant scratching and/or hair loss, he or she might have fleas or mites. Intestinal parasites are typically only detected by a veterinary exam. Therefore, it is extremely important to have your cat examined regularly and put on a prevention program.

Cats can get parasites in many different ways. For instance, roundworms can be contracted if your cat ingests worm eggs though the feces of an infected cat or dog. Also, a unique parasite called hookworm, which typically lives in soil, can be transmitted into your cat through the skin of their paws. Also, it is possible for your cat to pass a parasite onto you. In fact, parasites such as fleas, hookworms, and heartworms can cause disease in humans.

In order to keep a parasite from infecting your cat or yourself, it is very important to practice good personal hygiene, clean your cat's litter box regularly, feed your cat cooked or prepared food, and not allow your cat to hunt. Also, many parasites can be prevented with preventative medicine. See your veterinarian for information on these products.




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