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It’s not uncommon for us to start the New Year by making resolutions, but let’s face it, how many of us stick to them for more than a few weeks?! However, the New Year is a great opportunity to re-evaluate our old habits and create some new ones.

Here are five resolutions which, if you maintain them, you’ll be helping to keep your cats happy and healthy not just for a few weeks, but for the rest of their lives.

1. Feed an appropriate diet

As we all know, good nutrition is the basis of good health. Cats are obligate carnivores and they need meat to survive. So a good quality ‘complete’ diet which is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and appropriate for the cat’s life stage will provide them with all the vitamins and minerals they need to thrive throughout their life. Following the guidelines on the packet with respect to the amount of food that should be given daily and avoiding giving too many treats should also help keep your cat trim!

2. Regular veterinary check ups
All cats should be seen by a vet at least one a year so they can have their booster vaccinations and a physical examination which includes checking their ears, eyes, heart and teeth for any problems. It’s a good idea for elderly cats to be taken more regularly so that the vet can additionally keep a check on their organ function, blood pressure and urine output.  Remember, as solitary survivalists cats tend not to show pain so by the time symptoms are noticed a disease may have already progressed to the point where treatment will be more complicated and more expensive, or even too late. Getting to know our cats’ routines and habits may help us spot the signs early.

3. Physical contact – leave your cat wanting more!
Some cats love nothing more than a warm lap and a cuddle, but there are those for whom physical contact with humans can be stressful. If your cat turns his head away from you or backs off if you approach him, he may fall into this category. In such cases it’s a good idea to allow him to initiate all the physical interactions. If you do and keep contact to a brief tickle around the ears and under the chin the chances are your cat will be left wanting more and will seek contact with you more often!

4. Enrich your cat’s environment
Cats are relatively young in evolutionary terms and are still very much wild at heart! So although we’ve brought them into a domestic setting we can nevertheless give them the opportunity to engage their wild instincts by providing them with an environment that keeps them stimulated. We can do this by:

  • Giving them toys for solo play, with catnip if they show a preference for this!
  • Scheduling regular interactive play sessions with them using fishing rod-type toys.
  • Providing opportunities for scratching, both horizontally and vertically!
  • Placing food in puzzle feeders.
  • Providing places where they can hide and places where they can be up high

5. Educate yourself about cat health and behaviour
If your cat is stressed the more likely it is that the stress will manifest itself in behavioural issues such as house soiling; urine-spraying; over-grooming and aggression toward other cats and/or humans. It can also play a significant role in the development of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and cystitis. The more you know about your cat as a species, the happier and healthier he will be.

Here’s to 2016 – a great year for you and your cat!