Cats are meant to be wonderful and treasured members of the family. Many cats are enjoying long lifespans, into the teens, twenties, and even up to thirty years.

Receiving good care, proper food, and clean water, and regular veterinary checkups along with living indoors can add many years to the life of your cat.

Here are five tips that can help your cat to live a long, happy, and healthy life.

1-Take your cat to your veterinarian.

  • Take your new kitten or newly-acquired cat to your veterinarian right away for a check-up. He or she will check your cat for any possible problems and will set up a schedule for important vaccinations against diseases. Rabies vaccinations are required and others can protect against upper respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, and feline leukemia. You will want to check your new pet for any autoimmune problems as well as health in general, especially if you have other cats in order to avoid exposure for them. Also, find out how to protect your cat from fleas and ticks. Warning: do not use dog products on cats; the results can be deadly!
  • Once your vaccination schedule is set up, you will want to keep careful records to remind yourself when vaccines are due, when the next fecal sample should be checked for internal parasites and anything else that might be needed. Regular grooming can make cat happy and will give you the chance to watch for any problems that may develop.

2-Feed the best quality food.

  • Feed the best quality of food you are able to. Your vet can help guide you in making the right choices. Make sure your kitties always have access to fresh drinking water. Choose a litter box and litter that your cat likes. Hooded boxes give privacy, which may be important to your cat. If you have a dog, please avoid any litter that clumps and try to place the box where dogs cannot reach it. If your dog consumes clumping litter, you will be facing major surgery and big vet bills!
  • Cats often do not drink enough water. Feeding them canned foods can increase their liquid intake. You may have noticed that your cat likes to drink from the water faucet when it is turned on. Cats do like to have fresh water, and now you can even get water fountains that continuously provide streams of running water for your cat if you wish.

3-Indoor cats.

  • Indoor-only cats generally live the longest lives. They are not exposed to diseases, dangerous animals, vehicles that may hit them, and other outdoor hazards. Be sure that any house plants you have are not toxic to your pets. Some “people foods” are also toxic to cats and dogs. Also, guard against access to any poisonous chemicals and be sure that any paper shredders are turned off-or better yet, unplugged-when you are not actually shredding something. Pets have had serious accidents, sometimes even resulting in death, from licking or pawing paper shredders.

4-Provide safe toys.

  • Provide safe toys and activities for your kitties. Cardboard boxes, climbing poles, and a safe place to hide when they want to get away from it all will be welcomed by your feline family member.
    Because a cat’s tongue catches string and similar materials, they often cannot spit these out and end up swallowing them. This can cause intestinal blockages, resulting in surgery. Only use toys with string, such as feathers on a stick, when you are actually playing with the cat and can prevent any problems. Also, avoid toys with glued-on eyes or other small pieces that can be chewed or broken off and swallowed. Not-too-small balls that they can bat and chase and even plastic drink bottles with the lid tightly screwed on can provide lots of entertainment for your kitty. Remember that pet toys are not checked by the government for toxic materials, so be careful of those made outside of the United States.

5-Watch for any changes in behavior.

  • Watch for any changes in behavior. Drinking more water and urinating more frequently can, for example, indicate kidney disease. If your cat stops eating and becomes lethargic, a quick trip to the vet is needed. Other behavior changes can also signal medical problems that should be checked out by your veterinarian.
    As cats age, they can develop many of the same problems that people do. Animals are very good at hiding illness and disease, so problems may become serious before your cat shows any real signs that they are ill. Arthritis, obesity, hyperthyroidism, and cancer can affect your kitties, especially as they get older. Any weight gain or loss should be immediately checked by your vet because these can be signs of serious problems. Bathroom accidents can be a sign of bladder or kidney problems, diabetes, parasites, or other problems. If you have a geriatric cat (14 or 15 years old), watch for changes of any kind, no matter how small, and have your vet check him or her out.

Cats of any age can make great companions. They can give love, provide plenty of amusement with their antics, and create a calming effect for the person petting them. Petting a dog or cat, for example, tends to cause the blood pressure to go down. Pets that visit nursing homes have been able to get responses from some otherwise unresponsive patients. Seniors who want a kitty may find that adopting a senior cat can be the perfect solution. Older cats tend to be more laid back and be content to be doted upon. Whatever age your cat may be, continued good care and careful observation can help you and your feline companion to enjoy many happy years together.