Critter Culture
10 Tips to Extend Your Kitty's Lifespan
CatsHealth

10 Tips to Extend Your Kitty's Lifespan

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Jan 17, 2023

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It's sometimes easier to connect and bond with animals than it is to bond with other humans, which is why we often do everything we can to extend the lives of our pets.

While cats are known best for their independence, once you've formed a bond with your kitty, it's unbreakable. Saying goodbye to your cat is no different than losing a family member — especially if you've been pals for years.

1

It's all about their food

Young Persian kitten with blue eyes eating from blue bowl on floor. Benjamin Torode/ Getty Images

Your cat's food brand matters, but not as much as cat food types. Wet cat food retains vital nutrients like taurine that your cat needs. The least expensive canned cat food is better for your pet than the most expensive dry food.

Dry cat food is processed at extremely high temperatures to eliminate any remaining bacteria. But this processing also depletes all the kibble's nutritional aspects. Wet food serves a dual purpose; it provides what your kitty needs for a balanced diet and the moisture necessary to keep your cat's system functioning optimally.

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2

Their weight is important

A beautiful, but over weight Maine Coon Cat gets measured around the belly by a vet. RyersonClark/ Getty Images

You don't necessarily need a scale to know if your kitty has put on a few too many pounds. Obesity in cats isn't healthy and can lead to digestive and liver issues.

Cats that are overweight may have problems processing sugars in foods and treats, and excessive weight on their fragile bones can lead to arthritis and joint stress. A feline that's underweight may also have underlying health issues. Your vet can recommend the right kind of food, feeding schedule, and exercise routine for your kitty.

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3

Treats are rewards, not a meal

A man feeds a ginger cat a treat from his hand. The focus is on the cat and the man's hand. Elizabeth Livermore/ Getty Images

It's fun to reward a pet when they've learned a new trick or has just been well-behaved. But it's essential to track how many treats your cat receives daily.

It's hard to say no to that purring face, but your cat's diet should be comprised of 95% actual cat food. Treats should be at most 5% of their diet, or you may find getting your kitty to eat their regular food increasingly tricky.

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4

Clean their bathroom when you clean yours

Tabby cat in a litter box inside a white and clean bathroom cabuscaa/ Getty Images

Can you imagine if every time you used the bathroom, there was no such thing as flushing? Things would get awfully stinky, not to mention unsanitary, rather quickly. Your kitty deserves the same cleanliness.

You can't flush a litter box, but you can make cleaning it a part of your daily chores. Scooping out the clumps every time you notice them is the best way to catch changes in your cat's bathroom habits and keep tabs on their health. Plus, scooping throughout the day keeps your home smelling fresh.

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5

Kick the habit for your sake and theirs

A shot of a young cat looking out the window from behind a curtain of white smoke. Radu Bighian/ Getty Images

Every day, millions of cigarettes perish in a smoky haze. For animals that live in homes where cigarettes "die," none of the prognoses are good. Cats living in homes with smokers have an increased risk of developing lymph node cancer (lymphoma) and lung cancers. Lymphoma is typically fatal for felines.

Carcinogens in second-hand smoke fall to rest inside the home. The very places your cat roams become a minefield of toxic substances. Your kitty ingests these while grooming themselves, which can lead to other health issues, such as mouth tumors.

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6

Rid your home of pests with natural methods

eating mouse, in garden, hunting playing selective focus Алексей Филатов/ Getty Images

The occasional mouse in your home is bound to happen. But if you have a rodent problem, natural pest control methods are best when you have cats.

If you use chemicals, there's always the danger that your pet could accidentally eat some of the poison if they sniff it out. It could also be dangerous, although most likely not fatal, if your cat eats a mouse that's already eaten the poison. If your home or farm has a rodent problem, snap traps are the better option for the health and safety of your kitty.

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7

Regular grooming

Woman Combs the Cat's Hair with a Grooming Brush, Cat Sitting on her Lap CasarsaGuru/ Getty Images

Grooming your cat is something you can do yourself at home, and it has multiple benefits. With a small cat brush, you can maintain your cat's shiny coat, remove tangled tufts of hair before they're unmanageable, and become acquainted with the nuances of your kitty's body. Hairballs are uncomfortable; they can cause vomiting or asphyxiation.

A short brushing session can prevent these and help you spot any changes in your cat's body as soon as they arise.

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8

Don't allow your cat outside

Calico cat looking out the door of a residential home. Melissa Ross/ Getty Images

Cats can be outdoor-only pets that always stay near your home (like a barn cat), a combination of indoor/outdoor where they split their time pretty evenly, spending nights inside, or indoor-only (like those in high-rise apartments), and each way serves a purpose.

Outdoor barn cats might help control the barn's mouse population, whereas indoor apartment cats keep you company and have no need to go outside. Whenever possible, keeping your cat inside can keep those nine lives intact and free from dangers the outside world poses, such as poisons, animal attacks, or getting hit by a car.

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9

Keep fresh water available throughout the home

A Young Playful White Cat Drinks Water From The Tap Close-Up. Water Drips Down The Face Vasil Kamalov / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Cats differ from dogs in more ways than one, but one of the most striking differences is how they like their water. Dogs will drink from the mud puddle outside, but cats prefer crystal-clear, clean water.

Kitties are naturally predatory animals and, in the wild, a cat can find many sources of fresh water — but they won't drink from a puddle next to their latest kill or in a spot they use for bathroom activities. The same is true of your domestic feline. If you think they aren't getting enough water, move the water bowl away from the food bowl.

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10

Schedule routine vet visits

A cat with a serious face on the vet's examination table being examined by the vet. Veterinarian examining cat with stethoscope. Abraham Gonzalez Fernandez/ Getty Images

Two people in this world truly know your cat: you and your cat's veterinarian. Regular visits include wellness checks and labs to scan for potentially life-threatening diseases or other typical cat issues so you can address the diagnosis before it becomes a problem.

Plus, your vet can keep your cat up to date on vaccines, flea treatments, heartworm medication and keep your feline friend in optimal health for all nine lives.

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