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Pet Insurance
09 Nov 2020

Common cat care questions on VetAssist

VetAssist is here to support you in best caring for your cat. Below Dr Claire from VetAssist shares her insights to some of the most commonly asked cat care questions - as always, ensure you chat to a Veterinarian for recommendations that best suit your individual cats needs.

What should I be feeding my cat?

Like humans, every cat is different with needs that vary according to their lifestyle, age, health and breed. That is where our likeness ends. Unlike humans and dogs, cats are carnivores - and they need a good quality high protein, low carbohydrate balanced diet.

If you are feeding a commercially prepared balanced premium cat food, it is not necessary to add anything else into your cat’s diet as these diets are completely balanced and contain everything your cat needs. Choosing wet food (with a higher water content) alone, or in combination with dry food is a better option than dry alone to maintain good hydration.

Also consider how you feed your cat - food puzzles are a great idea, and one way to provide further environmental enrichment.

How much play does my cat need?

Play is a daily essential for cats, regardless of age. It helps maintain your cat's healthy weight and healthy mind - it is also enjoyable, bonding time spent together. Behavioural issues such as scratching at furniture which can be triggered by boredom, are also reduced. .

The amount needed depends on your pets age, breed, environment and health status. Typically an indoor healthy cat needs about an hour of play divided over the day. Make sure that play never involves your hands or feet and learn your cats cues for when they’ve had enough - and stop the game.

cat laying down

Why is my cat itchy?

When you notice that your cat is itchier than usual, it’s important to get it looked at right away. There are many causes for scratching, so working out exactly what’s happening with your cat is essential to get on the best treatment plan for their wellbeing (and your sanity too).

The most common cause of itch in cats is due to allergies - such as to flea bites, inhaled pollens and direct contact with the skin. Food allergy is also seen but this is far less common than the others. Insect bites and ear mites are other common causes.

Every cat is different - it’s important to note there may be more than one cause for your itchy cat, and that there are many other causes than listed above. For more on itch you can read here.

Why does my cat have bad breath?

Bad breath, also called halitosis, is usually caused by odour producing bacteria and tartar in your cat's mouth. Cats need daily attention to keep their mouths clean and healthy - such as with a good diet and chewing, training to happy tooth brushing and regular check ups. This investment in a healthy mouth will ultimately avoid the hip pocket pain of professional cleaning.

If you haven’t brushed your cats teeth before - please get a check up first - brushing an already sore mouth isn’t good as it will only cause pain and a negative association with the experience.

Other possible causes of bad breath include other disease of the mouth, and problems within the chest or abdomen.

When you notice your pet has bad breath, a hands-on examination from your local Vet would be a great place to start, and as soon as possible.

What does my cat's change in behaviour mean?

Cats are very good at hiding their pain and sometimes the only signs that they will show you are subtle (or more obvious) changes in behaviour. Because of this, any change in behaviour for your cat needs to be investigated.

There are true behavioural disorders, but as pain is a common cause of behavioural changes in cats - this needs to be investigated first. Common conditions that cause pain and changes in behaviour are osteoarthritis, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure secondary to chronic kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, brain tumors, and more.

Written by Dr Claire Jenkins. Claire is a QLD graduate with over 15 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of VetChat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.

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