As a loving cat parent, you want your kitty's life to be as long and healthy as possible. There are certain things that all cats who lead long, healthy lives have in common. Most of them are simple matters that are well within your control.
They Are Kept Inside
This is the biggest common denominator of cats who lead long, healthy lives. The average lifespan of an outdoor cat is only 2 to 3 years. The average indoor cat's lifespan is 12 years. There are multiple reasons for this huge difference. Outdoor cats can encounter hostile dogs and humans, wild animals, vehicles and poisonous substances, to name just a few.
Remember, you have little control over what happens to your outdoor cat when you are home with him, and none when you are not. Yes, cats are naturally curious. However, they need us to ensure that their curiosity does not get them into trouble, just as children do.
They Are Properly Vaccinated
This is another major contributor to your cat's longevity. All cats should get their first set of vaccines when they're 6 weeks old, followed by a schedule determined by your vet. Among these are vaccines against feline leukemia and feline AIDS.
Rabies vaccines are required by law almost everywhere. All kittens should be dewormed as well, even if it is only a precaution.
They Are Neutered or Spayed, and Microchipped
Having your cat altered (spaying females or neutering males) is another major factor in health and longevity. All cats, even strictly indoor ones, should undergo this procedure between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months. Older cats can still be altered, but the procedure is easier for young cats to recover from. Altered cats are less likely to try to escape or roam, and they no longer run the risk of developing reproductive cancers.
You should also have your cat microchipped when you have him altered. It is safe and relatively inexpensive, and it can reunite you and your cat if he ever gets lost. Microchips store your contact information and can be detected by a vet using a special wand. Reports abound of cats with chips being reunited with their humans, months or even years after disappearing.
They Are Fed Correctly
This might seem like a no-brainer, but in reality, a certain amount of thought and knowledge should go into the feeding of your cat. Kittens 6 to 12 weeks old should be fed kitten food four times a day. From age 3 to 6 months, feedings should be reduced to three times a day. Adult cats should be fed either one large meal or two or three small meals daily.
The food itself is as important as the feeding schedule. Always provide high-quality food appropriate to your cat's age and environment. Indoor cats should be fed indoor formulas, and senior cats need senior formulas and those with more fiber. Providing plenty of fresh water daily is vital as well.
Leslie Carver has been a professional author since 2009. Her work appears on multiple websites. She has an associate's degree in English with progress toward her bachelor's at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She has been awarded an Outstanding Student Award in English and twice nominated for creative writing awards.