Cats may have a reputation for being independent, but they're still loving little creatures who depend on their human caregivers for quite a lot. While some cats can and do make it on their own for a time, cats who live indoors with loving owners live much longer, healthier, and happier lives. Taking a few simple steps can help you extend your cat's lifespan so you can keep spoiling him for many years to come.
1. Cat-proof the house
You may feel a little weird doing it, but sit or kneel in each room of your home to get down to cat level. Look for dangerous temptations like power cords, household chemicals, and dangling tablecloths. Verify that any pest traps or poisons are well out of reach and switch to pet-safe pest control methods.
2. Get her spayed
According to Banfield Pet Hospital, neutered cats live 62 percent longer than their intact counterparts. Spayed females live 39 percent longer. Spays and neuters reduce the risk of certain diseases and reduce the likelihood that a cat will run away to look for a mate.
3. Provide lots of water
Cats need access to fresh, clean water and may become dehydrated and develop urinary tract diseases and kidney problems if they don't drink enough. If your feline is finicky about his water, try providing an intriguing fountain or feed him moist canned food to sneak more water into his diet.
4. Watch her diet
Speaking of diet, make sure you feed your cat a good one. Proper feeding and nutrition are vital to your cat's continued good health. Your vet can help you choose the best cat food and help you determine how much to feed her.
5. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity is as dangerous for cats as it is for people. To help your cat maintain a healthy weight, limit his treats so they comprise only 5 to 10 percent of his diet. Find the time for daily play sessions as well so your cat doesn't turn into a couch potato.
6. Make friends with your vet
Cats who live to a ripe old age are typically well acquainted (even if not enamored) with their vet. Make sure your cat gets regular veterinary checkups and keep her vaccinations current.
7. Remember the dentist
Human dentists now know that germs and bacteria in the mouth can make their way below the gums, find their way into the bloodstream, and travel anywhere in the body, causing health issues. The same is true for your cat. Offer treats designed to clean your cat's teeth and brush them if she will let you. Professional dental cleanings get a little pricey since they require sedation, but they can help your pet live a longer life.
8. Increase your cat's life expectancy indoors
Some cats like to roam, but you'll be doing yours a favor if you keep him indoors. Outdoors cats encounter cars, wild animals, and people who may not have their best interests in mind. Cat longevity greatly increases when they stay home. Indoor cats live an average of 16 years. The average for outdoor cats is only five years.
9. Get him an ID
Cats are safer indoors, but sometimes they manage to get out. Have your cat microchipped or give her a collar with your contact information on it. If she does go missing, this can help her find her way safely back to you.
10. Provide enrichment
A bored cat is more likely to go looking for trouble — and find it — than one who is entertained. Provide plenty of scratching posts and fun toys to keep him safe and occupied when you're not there to supervise him.
11. Treat hairballs promptly
Hairballs happen, but they can be problematic if they cause blockages or excessive vomiting. Avoid all this unpleasantness by brushing your cat frequently. If brushing isn't enough, or if your cat is one of the few who dislikes it, ask your vet to recommend a good hairball remedy.
12. Take behavioral changes seriously
Cats love their routines. If yours starts behaving differently or changes his routine suddenly, visit the vet. A cat tries to hide pain and illness for as long as possible. If you think something is off, it probably is.
13. Choose siblings carefully
Cats don't always share space well, especially if they haven't had to in the past. If you want more than one cat, adopt them together and get littermates if you can. Introduce cats to each other slowly using lots of rewards and positive reinforcement. Cats can seriously harm each other when they fight, so don't leave them to figure it out on their own.
14. Get your hands on him often
Petting and brushing your cat are about more than minimizing hairballs and showing him some love. They also let you get your hands on him often so you can notice any new lumps, bumps, or growths early and get them checked out right away.
15. Spoil her a bit
Happy people and animals both live longer, so lavish as much affection on your cat as you like. As long as you avoid overdoing fattening treats, you can lavish love on your cat all day long. The bond you form may help you both live longer lives.
- Banfield Pet Hospital: Spaying and Neutering May Contribute to Longer Lifespans, According to Banfield Pet Hospital Report
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: General Cat Care
- Catster: How Long Do Cats Live? Facts About the Average Cat Lifespan
- petMD: Five Life-Lengthening Health Tips for Your Pet
- petMD: How Long Do Cats Live? And How to Make Your Cat Live Longer
- Care.com: Cat Life Expectancy: 12 Tips to Help Your Pet Live a Long Life!