While cat experts say “the process and timing of cat domestication has been terribly difficult to document,” cats have been a significant part of human existence for at least 4,000 years. We know that they were kept as pets in ancient Egypt. Some people, however, think cats could have an even longer history with humans. In 2004, a wild cat was discovered buried with a human…dating back some 9,500 years ago.
Whether you’re already a cat parent or you’re adding a new feline friend to the family, you’re not alone. According to a 2017 national pet owners survey, there were approximately 94.2 million cats living in houses throughout the country–– this makes cats the most popular house pet in America!
If you’re a cat owner, you want to take the best care of your pet that you possibly can. For many, cats are a part of the family. If you’re interested in how to best support your cat’s well-being, we put together some ideas to keep your feline feeling fabulous.
Easy Ways to Support Your Cat’s Well-Being
It’s easy to keep your cat as smitten as a kitten once you know what to do. From feeding them the best foods to ensuring their emotional needs are met, there’s always something you can do to make sure your cat is living the best of their nine lives.
Support Your Cat’s Digestive Health
Feeding your cat a diet that is ideal for their specific needs is one of the best things you can do to support your cat’s wellbeing. For example, the dietary needs of a new kitten are going to be very different compared to a senior cat or one that suffers from digestive issues.
Ensuring you’re purchasing the best food you can afford goes a long way when it comes to keeping your cat healthy–– not all cat food is created equally. Cats have unique nutritional needs to help maintain optimal digestive health. They need plenty of protein, probiotics and fiber to keep their system running smoothly.
Also, keep in mind that some foods are poisonous to cats. Some of these include dark chocolate, grapes, raisins, raw eggs, onions and garlic. As tempting as it might be to give them milk, cats build up an intolerance to lactose after they’re weaned that can cause them to experience serious digestive upset.
It’s important to look out for other things that might disrupt the delicate balance of your cat’s digestive health. Parasites are one of the most common problems that can trigger digestive issues in felines. Hairballs are also a big deal, especially for indoor cats or less active cats that groom themselves all day.
Take Good Care of Their Skin and Coat
It’s important to take good care of your cat’s skin and coat because it’s common for our feline friends to develop skin conditions. Just like dogs need regular grooming to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat, you should also pay special attention to these areas with cats.
Fleas are the biggest issues that cats run into. Not only do these annoying bugs cause your cat to itch and scratch, but they can also lead to your cat developing hairballs more easily from trying to groom themself to relieve the itch.
Remember when we mentioned that cats require plenty of protein? Their hair is 95% protein and any deficiency can result in reduced skin and coat quality. Lack of protein in your pet’s diet could lead to increased shedding, a dull coat, poor sheen and even color loss.
Feeding your cat a well-balanced diet that fits their unique nutritional needs is the best way to keep their skin and coat as healthy as possible. It’s best to take your cat to the vet if you think your cat might be suffering from a serious problem with their skin or coat.
If your cat has been acting differently lately, it could be a result of stress. Just like us, cats aren’t strangers to stress. A variety of things can trigger a stress response in your cat and recognizing this stress as soon as it arises is key for supporting your cat’s overall wellness.
How can you tell your cat is stressed out? Perhaps she has started hiding when houseguests come over. Maybe your cat has begun to act aggressively towards people or other animals. It could be that your kitty has decided to stop using their litter box. Excessive licking is another good indication of stress.
If you’re wondering why your cat might be stressed, try looking at things from their point of viewDisruption in routine is a large cause of stress in cats. Maybe you changed jobs and are working a new schedule. If you recently had a baby or got a new pet, this could be the reason your cat is acting out of sorts. Even smells from new people in the house can stress out some cats.
What Can You Do to Relieve Your Cat’s Stress?
Do your best to limit your cat’s exposure to situations they might find unpleasant. If you notice your cat isn’t fond of having new people in the house, think about putting them in a separate room when you know you’ll have guests over or give them somewhere quiet to hide where they’ll feel safe.
You might want to try to desensitize them by gradually training them to be more comfortable around others and in different situations. Some say playing classical music helps relieve cat stress, which is a technique used by several shelters.
Then there are the cat owners who swear by CBD. Animals, after all, have an endocannabinoid system much like humans and there are several anecdotal reports of people using CBD oil pet tinctures to help their cats stay calm.
Talk to your vet if your cat’s stress levels are severe. If they can’t help, they may be able to refer you to an animal behavioral specialist who can.
Keep Your Cat Entertained
Although cats can be very independent, they still need stimulation to prevent boredom. Along with giving your cats the emotional support they need, it’s critical they have something to keep them mentally and physically stimulated throughout the day.
When it comes to cat toys, your feline friend is easy to please. Consider a catnip-filled mouse toy, feather wands or balls with bells. If you want to keep your cats happy, it’s important to give them a variety of toys that you rotate out on a regular basis. Cats also go crazy for lasers, which can offer hours and hours of entertainment. Toys with treats hidden in them are another great way to keep your cat occupied.
Anyone interested in supporting their cat’s well-being should consider getting a scratching post. A scratching post will save your furniture but it gives your cats the outlet they need to satisfy their natural scratching instincts.
How Your Cat Can Support Your Personal Well-Being
Support your cat’s well-being and they’ll return the favor by supporting yours. Cats have an unprecedented power to improve their owner’s mental and physical health.
You’re likely aware that your cat is amazing for offering you the emotional support you need. Whether snuggled up with you on the couch in the evenings or rubbing around your feet and purring with happiness when you get home from work each day, cats offer the unconditional love humans need.
It’s also suggested that a cat’s purr helps with dyspnea, or difficulty breathing. This is because their soothing purr imitates a smooth and slow inhalation and exhalation.
Another study found that having a cat as a pet could support heart health. One study found that over the period of 10 years, cat owners were 30% less likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than people who didn’t own cats. It’s believed this is because of the ability cats have to lower stress and reduce blood pressure.
Give Your Feline Friend the Care They Deserve
For cat owners, having a cat is one of the biggest joys in the world. They’re amazing companions with quirky personalities and many lives wouldn’t be the same without them. If you’re one of the millions of people who own a cat, supporting their well-being is important.
Taking the best care possible of your cat is vital. Don’t forget all they give back to you, a little support for your cat can go a long way.
Sigmund Freud once said, “time spent with cats is never wasted.” We wholeheartedly agree and we’re sure your feline friend feels the same about you.
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.