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I’ve had cats as pets all my life. As an adult, my long-term relationship was with a cat named Bailey. He ran my house for almost 21 years, allowing me to be his housekeeper, errand boy, and personal ear picker.
When he died in July 2018, he left a hole in my heart that has not been replenished since. He was 22 pounds of ornery, dismissive, aloof, and passively aggressive who was probably the smartest judge of character I have ever met.
He knew almost immediately whether he liked you or not and wasn’t shy about sharing his impressions when he didn’t care about someone in my life. He was better at reading people than I was, which came in handy when single.
When I went on a date with someone he liked, he was loving, loving, and attentive. If he didn’t like someone, he would pee on their shoes, knock the drink over, or throw a massive garbage in the gym bag. He was not gifted in the art of subtlety.
I learned pretty quickly who to trust with him.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. That could be why I’ve been so resilient to having another cat since his death.
I used the excuse that I don’t want to have a cat yet because my two very older dogs Maddie and Ollie need so much time and attention. I want them to enjoy their golden years and worry about adding another pet to their very structured routine, especially since Ollie is deaf and blind.
If I’m being completely honest, that’s not the only reason I haven’t adopted another cat. Bailey was perfect for me in so many ways, it’s hard to imagine any other cat could almost give me what I had with him. I know this is silly. I guess I just didn’t feel ready. Grief is a fun thing.
But that doesn’t stop me from watching cute cat videos online or spending more time than I should probably be getting in touch with cats at our Neely Cat Center. At some point a cat will come into my life that fits. They don’t fit like Bailey, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fit as perfectly. I don’t know when it will happen, but it will.
I often say I was lucky enough to have my cat alive for so long, but luck actually didn’t have much to do with it. He lived a long, healthy life because I took his health and wellbeing very seriously.
And guess what? It’s National Cat Health Month! So if you are the lucky companion of a fabulous cat, take the time to plan your cat’s annual veterinary exam and think about how you can help your cat live longer, healthier, happier lives.
Like humans, cats need an annual health check-up
Since cats may never show any signs of illness, an annual checkup is one of the best ways to keep your cat in the best possible health. These annual visits allow your veterinarian to identify changes in your cat’s condition from year to year and identify potentially serious problems early on.
Keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date
During your cat’s annual check-up, your veterinarian will review any necessary booster vaccinations and updates to your cat’s vaccination schedule. These regular vaccinations will prevent your cat from developing serious illnesses when exposed to other cats.
Spay / neuter
One of the best ways to keep your cat healthy is to have it changed. These procedures prevent many diseases and conditions associated with a cat’s reproductive organs and help eliminate many undesirable behaviors. They also prevent unwanted litters and help reduce animal overpopulation.
Take care of your cat’s dental health
While brushing a cat’s teeth isn’t easy (unless you train your cat to accept the process from the time he’s a kitten), regular tooth cleanings and exams are an important part of doing general Your pet’s health. Your vet will check your cat’s teeth during their annual checkup.
Monitor your cat’s weight
A house cat’s life can result in lazy afternoons in the sun – and less time to be active. Help your cat maintain a healthy weight by making playtime a regular part of their day. Interactive feed troughs, a rotation of interesting toys, and even a cat companion can help get your cat moving. Get involved with the playtime with magic wand toys, strengthening the bond with your cat while it gets the exercise it needs.
You are what you eat
A quality food that is specifically tailored to meet the specific nutritional needs of your cat’s age and lifestyle can also help your cat maintain a healthy weight. Ask your veterinarian what types of food are best for your cat and follow the manufacturer’s feeding guidelines. Treats can also be part of your cat’s life, but keep in mind that the calories from treats can add up quickly.
Pay attention to your cat’s litter box habits
I know it sounds gross. However, because cats are very good at hiding signs of illness, the litter box is a place where early signs are common. If your cat’s littering habits change (she starts to urinate more frequently or urinates inappropriately), or if you notice a change in the condition of the box contents, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.
Maintain regular grooming
You can create a strong, loving bond with your cat by brushing or combing them regularly. Such a routine will also help you identify problems with their fur, skin, and claws. Look for changes in your cat’s fur or skin, such as dry or flaky patches of skin, red or irritated skin, missing fur, dull fur, or red areas around its nails. If you see any of these signs, schedule a visit to the vet.
Pasadena Humane offers low cost cat wellness services such as spay / neuter and affordable vaccines. More information is available online at pasadenahumane.org/services.