As fur parents we can only do our best to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our cats, and the smallest steps count.
Preventing your cats from roaming can be the first step in keeping them safe from viruses or bacteria that are present in an external environment.
One thing to take note of is the potential transmission of contagious like the Feline Parvovirus, which has a high mortality rate among cats.
Roaming cats are at risk of higher exposure to contagious viruses and bacteria from strays that might be infected, including Cat Flu and Chlamydophilus.
Cat flu can be fatal for kittens because of their under-developed immune system, just like human infants compared to adults when it comes to fighting a simple flu. It is caused by the Feline Herpes virus and Feline Calicivirus, which some cats are carriers of for life.
Chlamydophilus is a bacteria that can cause an eye infection (conjunctivitis) in affected cats.
FIV and FeLV can be found in some cats, with the latter being more contagious through frequent exposure through saliva or nasal secretions.
FeLV, or Feline Leukemia Virus, is a retrovirus that infects cats and can be fatal for infected cats when the virus becomes active. Some cats however can live normal healthy lives when the virus is dormant.
FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is a non-primate lentivirus and is not highly contagious and can only be spread through deep fight wounds, or from mother to kitten. Carriers can live relatively healthy and normal lives but should be periodically brought for check ups with the vet.
Keeping Your Cat Safe Indoors
The importance of meshing your windows and gates are not just to comply with local guidelines, but with logical reasoning.
A sudden fall from a distraction at the window, can mean death or severe injury to your cats, and an un-meshed gate can result in your cats straying from home.
With consideration for pregnant neighbours, feline fecal matter can contain a bacteria that can cause toxoplasmosis, and while the odds of contracting it (for a pregnant woman) might be low, it is still present and roaming cats can sometimes expel waste outside of neighbouring homes.
Pregnant women handling cats' waste should be careful to wear disposable gloves or be aided in disposing of feline fecal matter during pregnancy, to safeguard the unborn child.
Diet and Foods to Avoid
It is important to understand that what vets loosely term as "supermarket / fast food brands" are not advisable for cats (and dogs).
This term is coined from brands that can be (or used to be) commonly seen on supermarket or provision shop shelves, and may not only be lacking in the proper nutritional values for your cats, but may have adverse effects on their overall health in the long run.
As a vet explained to us, feeding your cats such brands three meals a day is like feeding a child KFC or McDonald's for all meals, daily.
This is one challenge that many pet owners will take time to overcome as they become aware of the nutritional differences and are switching to the three core brands that vets generally recommend: Royal Canin, Wellness and Hill's Science Diet.
Transiting your cats gradually over a period of 1-2 weeks can work better than an overnight switch.
Using an estimated ratio of 60% (existing food) - 40% (new brand) and not putting out treats and other foods near your cats during feeding time, can help them to get used to eating the new brand.
Picky cats generally transit more easily to Royal Canin (there are at least two dry food formulas specially tailored for picky eaters) but one thing that cat owners can take note of would be providing a variety of flavours (for wet food) as cats can sometimes get bored with keeping to one flavour.
Letting your cats adhere to a general feeding schedule can also help them adjust to a more disciplined feeding routine. Other care tips to take note of:
Annual dental scaling - this helps with preventing or minising the risk of dental issues that can lead to cardiac issues
Not sustaining your cat on dry food alone - some cats generally don’t drink a lot of water, so a balance of wet and dry food daily can help with hydration
Choose recycled paper litter over clumping sand litter - recycled paper is less harsh on their paws and respiratory system in the long run, plus you get the added bonus of having a more budget friendly choice and less dusty home
Avoid using chemical agents like Dettol to clean your home in areas where your cats roam, a competent and pet-safe substitute would be F10SC disinfectant spray
Bring your cat to the vet for a check-up if he or she is not eating, drinking or pooping properly over 2 days
Don’t cage your cat up 24/7 as cats are naturally agile and need ample space to stretch, run around and play with you at home (roaming outside of home is not necessary) - muscles can atrophy with prolonged space limitations
Provide a scratching pole or board for your cat helps with frustration and long nails (yes, cats scratch when they’re frustrated too!)
Trim your cat’s nails fortnightly or monthly, depending on how quickly they grow - their nails should not be left un-trimmed for too long as overgrown nails can impede their movement
Provide fresh food and drinking water at least twice a day for adult cats (feeding is done more frequently for kittens, especially first age kittens)