Skip to content

    Healthy Pets

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    6 Health Mistakes Cat Owners Make

    Avoid these common stumbling blocks to keeping your feline healthy and strong.
    By
    WebMD Pet Health Feature
    Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM

    Cats can be a contented bunch, cared for and pampered by devoted owners who have their pets’ best interests at heart. Yet sometimes, our good intentions don't align with the health needs of our cats. We love a little too much in the form of overfeeding, for example, or miss subtle signs of serious illness.

    What can you do to keep your cat in fine fettle? Become aware of the most common stumbling blocks for cat owners and be sure you know how to avoid them.

    Recommended Related to Pets

    Top 10 Dog and Cat Injuries

    Gwyn Donohue of Arlington, Va., was hiking along the Potomac River with her dog, Sundae, in January, when the mixed-breed broke loose and fell through the ice about 25 yards from shore. Sundae pulled herself out after 10 frantic minutes. Fortunately, Donohue had American Red Cross PetFirst Aid training and knew what to do. To raise Sundae’s core temperature, she wrapped the dog in her down vest and used pet waste bags to fashion a belt to secure it. Back at the car, she continued warming the dog...

    Read the Top 10 Dog and Cat Injuries article > >

    Mistake 1: Not Getting Preventive Care

    The most common health mistake owners make is not getting their cat preventive care, say the pros. Oregon veterinarian Marla J. McGeorge, DVM, says preventive care is vital to catching health problems in their early stages.

    Although regular vaccinations are an important part of preventive care for cats, they're not the whole picture. A comprehensive annual exam goes much further and can include:

    • An evaluation of a cat's eyes, ears, coat, and skin
    • Blood work
    • An oral exam
    • Parasite control
    • Advice about nutrition, exercise, and enrichment

    Canine Health Institute associate medical director Adrianne Brode, DVM, says, "Cats generally get less healthcare than dogs." Brode speculates that one reason may be that cats are more expert at hiding their pain -- something these small prey animals do instinctively.

    "Some older house cats are pretty inactive and sleep a lot, so owners often just don’t notice problems," Brode says. Although you might not see signs of arthritis, tooth loss, or malnutrition in your cat, your vet will.

    Mistake 2: Not Spaying or Neutering

    Kittens are precious -- there's no doubt about it. Yet every kitten has the potential to grow into a healthy, reproducing cat. If left unchecked, one female cat and her kittens can produce as many as 420,000 cats in seven years.

    "There is a huge cat overpopulation problem in the U.S.," McGeorge says. Nationwide, shelters receive up to 7 million unwanted pets each year, and more than half of them are euthanized.

    That's why it's important to have cats spayed or neutered before they are old enough to reproduce, McGeorge says. Because a cat can become pregnant at 4 to 6 months of age, it should be spayed or neutered promptly. Kittens can be spayed as early as 8 weeks old.

    Spaying or neutering costs less than raising a litter of kittens for a year, according to the ASPCA. Many nonprofit groups offer low-cost spay/neuter options with fees as low as $20. Talk to your vet or a local animal shelter. They may be able to recommend a low-cost spay option near you.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    Puppy digging hole
    Are you putting your pet at risk?
    Cat looking at fish
    Things we can learn from our pets.
     
    dog and kitten
    27 ways pets help your health.
    tick
    Get the facts about prevention.
     
    Woman holding puppy
    Article
    Sad dog and guacamole
    Slideshow
     
    Siamese cat eating from bowl
    Slideshow
    cat on couch
    Evaluator
     
    Cat People vs Dog People Slideshow
    Slideshow
    Kitten playing
    Quiz
     
    Orange cat nuzzling woman
    Slideshow
    German shephard reading a book
    Quiz