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Whether you’re a new cat owner or you’ve had kitties for quite a while, there’s always something new to learn when it comes to caring for our beloved pets. Here are a few tips and tricks to keep your cats happy and healthy for years to come.
Keep Those Hairballs At Bay
Anyone who has a cat knows that they love to groom themselves. And that’s a good thing. But as cats groom and lick their fur it’s inevitable they will ingest some of the hair that has already shed. This is normal as their digestive systems are designed to pass the hair through their digestive system and eventually out into the litter box. But sometimes instead of passing through, the hair can accumulate in the stomach. Cats will then vomit up that hair. This is what we refer to as the “hairball.” The occasional hairball is not something to worry and is quite normal. If your cat is making hairballs more than usual there could be the potential for a more serious medical condition such as an intestinal obstruction.
One of the easiest and best ways to prevent hairballs is to simply brush your cat on a regular basis. This will remove all the loose hair that your cat would otherwise ingest while tidying up his fur. Not only will brushing keep your kitty hairball free, it’s a nice relaxing way for your and your cat to bond while keeping his skin and coat healthy.
In between brushings you can also offer your cat a tasty treat made with ingredients lubricate the hairball and promote good digestion. Avoid products that are formulated with mineral oil (petroleum) and opt for more natural treats like these Hairball Chews from Pet Naturals of Vermont which promote skin, coat, digestive and urinary tract health. They have:
Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids: Support skin and coat condition and help support the GI tract
Biotin: Maintains healthy hair and skin
Zinc: Important for hair and skin health (collagen and keratin production)
Cranberry powder: Helps to support the urinary tract
If your cat is exhibiting unusual symptoms like vomiting, gagging, or retching that doesn’t produce a hairball, loss of appetite, lethargy, constipation or diarrhea be sure to consult your vet immediately.
Keep Your Cat’s Urinary Tract Healthy
Did you know lower urinary tract infections in cats are one of the most common reasons that cats are surrendered to animal shelters? It’s very sad, but true. If you notice your cat is having difficulty urinating, crying or straining to go, licking more than usual in that area or there is discoloration in the urine, a lower urinary tract infection may be the culprit. Although more common in female cats problems with the urinary tract can affect both sexes. According to pedmd.com urinary tract issues in cats can be caused by:
- Stones, crystals or debris accumulation in the bladder or urethra
- Bladder inflammation or infection
- Incontinence from excessive water drinking or weak bladder
- Injury to, or tumor in, the urinary tract
- Spinal cord problems
- Congenital abnormalities
- Endocrine diseases (hyperthyroidism, diabetes, etc.)
If you suspect your cat has a urinary tract problem an immediate appointment with the vet is called for. Left untreated, these types of infections can possibly become life threatening. Depending on your cat’s specific medical issue, treatments may include antibiotics or other medications, dietary and water intake changes or in more serious cases surgery to either remove bladder stones or tumors.
While caring for your cat’s urinary health is so important, one of the most important things to consider is their diet. If you’re feeding your cat a grain based, commercial dry food, you may want to consider a moist or raw food diet instead. Grain based carbohydrates (corn, wheat) found in many commercial dry foods can cause a shift in urine pH and encourage diseases of the urinary tract. Cat’s do best with a more acidic diet that is naturally low in carbs. This type of diet is ideal for your cat’s urinary health as well as their overall well-being.
If you know your cat is prone to urinary tract infections, or you would like to help support your cat’s urinary tract to prevent issues in the future, try adding a beneficial urinary tract supplement to your cat’s diet. Something like Pet Naturals of Vermont UT Support Cat Chews is a great daily formula that provides four active ingredients to support proper urinary tract function and can proper PH balance while preventing crystal formation and urinary tract infections.
The active ingredients are:
Cranberry: creates pH balance and stops e-coli from sticking to the bladder wall
D-Mannose: binds to irritating and harmful bacteria, preventing them from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. It is really effective on e-coli, which is the most common bacteria to cause UTIs.
Bromelain: which protects the lining of the Urinary tract and prevents bad bacteria from forming.
N-Acetyl Glucosamine: which is essential to keep the mucosal lining of the urinary tract system strong.
Plus they’re a yummy chicken-liver flavor your cat will love!
Keeping Your Kitty Calm
Did you know cats can suffer from stress and anxiety? Yes, it’s true! Some signs and symptoms that your cat may feel anxious are things like:
- Urinating outside the litter box or spraying
- Changes in appetite or drinking behavior
- Compulsive licking or grooming
- An increase in pacing, vocalizations or aggression
So why would a cat get anxiety you ask? Lots of reasons. Things like a change in environment (new person, baby or animal in the house, getting boarded, moving, travel, etc.) and separation from an owner can seriously stress out your cat. Also, home renovations, loud music even certain smells (paint, fresheners, animals.) can upset your cat. If your cat isn’t acting right a trip to the vet is the best way to rule out illness as an underlying cause of the anxiety. After that has been eliminated and you feel like your cat could still use a little more zen there are some things you can do to calm your kitty.
Exercise is a great way to relieve some of your cat’s stress. Plenty of toys and play to encourage exercise will help release endorphins and relax your cat.
Make sure your cat has their own space where they feel comfortable. Cats usually like to rest and feel safest in high places. Cat towers or window perches are kitty favorites. Places for them to hide will allow them to feel safe and more relaxed.
Keep their litter box super clean. Cats can become anxious if they don’t like where they are supposed to answer the call of nature.
Supplements may help relax your cat too. Sooth your kitty’s anxiety Calming for Cats Treats from Pet Naturals of Vermont. These tasty to your cat chicken liver flavored soft chews help reduce hyperactivity, nervousness, and anxiety with natural ingredients like L-Theanine and Thiamine (vitamin B-1) without causing drowsiness. These can be used daily or just as needed. And they’re made in the USA so that’s awesome too.
Give Your Cat Probiotics
Probiotics are “friendly bacteria,” that flourish in the digestive tract and are important for the digestion and absorption of nutrients while protecting from unwanted pathogens. Things like nutrient poor processed pet foods, antibiotic use, aging, stress (physical and mental), surgeries, vaccinations and exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides ( flea and tick medication!) are all things that can throw our cat’s intestinal health out of balance. And since most immunity is located in the gut, we need to set up a strong line of defense to keep our cats (and dogs) healthy.
Probiotics can benefit your cat by:
- Increasing their natural resistance to diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
- Reducing or even eliminating allergies.
- Improve digestion processes, allowing better absorption of nutrients.
- Preventing diarrhea.
- Encourage vitamin and nutrient production like vitamin K.
- Improving lactose intolerance conditions.
- Reducing cholesterol levels.
Cats (and dogs) require probiotics that can survive the super strong acids produced in their stomachs. So it’s important to use a product made specifically for pets. California Gold Nutrition, LactoBif Pet Probiotics are an inexpensive and effective pet specific probiotic with a variety of 9 clinically proven beneficial strains. Just open a capsule and sprinkle it on your pet’s food each time you feed. You can purchase them at iHerb.com.
Tip: Whenever your cat is prescribed antibiotics by your vet be sure to include a healthy dose of probiotics to keep their gut flora healthy and plentiful.
Treats For The Picky Eater
Is your cat a picky eater? Prescription or special diets and aging are a couple reasons why it may hard to get your cat to eat. So sometimes we need to bring in some irresistible healthy treats to trick their palate.
Cat-Man-Doo’s, Life Essentials Sprinkles for Cats & Dogs are the perfect way to get your cat to eat his or her food. Just a few sprinkles of this crushed freeze dried chicken sprinkles and your cat won’t be able to resist his dinner.
If you’re looking to score some serious points with your cat these Life Essentials Freeze Dried Wild Alaskan Salmon treats are another healthy way to go. Completely free of grains and fillers, these crunchy, freeze-dried salmon treats will not tempt your cat’s palate, but they’re also great for training.
You can also crumble them onto wet or dry food. They have no additives, no preservatives, high protein and low fat.
Make Sure Your Cat Gets Their Omega-3’s
Omega-3 fatty acids are poorly synthesized in cats so it’s important they have a diet rich in these beneficial fats. There’s a good chance your cat’s food may not provide enough beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Food processing, heat, and exposure to oxygen can destroy fatty acids leaving your cat deficient. Plus most pet foods contain far more omega-6 fatty acids resulting in a poor ratio that isn’t optimal for cat health.
So what do they do? Omega-3 fatty acids help to maintain the health of your cat’s skin, hair, coat, immune system, joints, heart, brain, and eyes.
Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- An anti-inflammatory effect benefiting conditions of the heart, kidneys, skin, and joints (arthritis).
- Cancer-fighting effects.
- Reduced allergies.
- Hydrated, less itchy skin and elimination of dandruff.
- A shiny, healthy coat, with less shedding (and fewer hairballs!)
Omega-3 fatty acids even play a major role in the proper development and maintenance of the brain and eyes. That means it’s great for nursing mothers as well as kittens. We recommend Nordic Naturals, Omega-3 Pet, for Cats and Small Breed Dogs. Fish oils are some of the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. And what cat doesn’t like a fishy treat. You can find it at iHerb.com
Switch To Pet-Safe Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
Having a cat means lots of sweet purrs, funny antics, and warm snuggles. But it also means we might have to do some extra cleaning from time to time. It’s okay because our pets are worth it. So when we have to tackle those kitty messes it’s best to use cleaning products that are non-toxic. Traditional commercial chemical laden cleaning products have been linked to numerous health problems like allergies, skin and lung irritations, organ damage, endocrine (hormone) disruption and even cancer while polluting the air inside our homes.
Try switching to a more natural cleaning product solution. Safe and natural ingredients we all usually have on hand like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and lemon can work wonders on pet messes and stains. If you don’t have the time to mix up your own natural cleaning solutions you can keep something like EcoDiscoveries Pet Deodorizer & Stain Remover in your cleaning cabinet. This coconut-based formula, eco-friendly concentrated cleaning formula is tough enough to eliminate stubborn stains on upholstery and carpet while keeping you and your kitty healthy.
Do you have a cat health tip to share? Let us know in the comments how you keep your cat happy and healthy!
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