10 Ways You’re Shortening your Cat’s Life

10 Ways You’re Shortening your Cat’s Life

Your cat is a much-loved family member; therefore it’s ludicrous to think you might do anything that would shorten her life. Whilst it’s true you’re unlikely to cause deliberate harm, it’s surprising to learn how some actions (or inaction) can adversely affect her longevity. Let’s take a look, so your cat can lead a long and happy life.


#1: Letting your Cat Go Outside

It’s a fact that indoor cats live longer than those with free access to the great outdoors. Indeed, an analysis of insurance claims reveals the biggest single thing you can do to extend the life of your cat is keep her indoors, especially at night.

The modern world is a hazardous place for cats. Here are just some of the risks:

  • Poisoning: Such as slug pellets or antifreeze spilt in the gutter
  • Trauma: The ever present danger of being struck by a motor vehicle
  • Predators: Being attacked by a larger predator
  • Malice: Hurt form malicious individuals with a grudge against cats
  • Getting Lost: Rain can wash away smells that orientate the cat, so she gets lost and wanders far from home
  • Fights: Cats are territorial and liable to get into fights
  • Infection: During those fights the cat is at increased risk of acquiring serious infections such as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.)

The simple solution is to switch your cat to a fulfilling indoor lifestyle.


#2: Overfeeding

We smile at the antics of Garfield, but his lasagna-loving lifestyle put his health at serious risk. When a cat eats more calories than they burn off, the result is extra layers of love. Whilst cuddly is cute, it also places the cat at greater risk of life-changing problems such as diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, and urinary problems.

Let’s take diabetes as an example. That extra fat has to be stored somewhere and the goblet cells in the pancreas are just such a storehouse. The cells are supposed to produce insulin, but when they’re choked up with fat they no longer work. The cat’s insulin levels fall and blood sugar rises. This link is so strong that putting a newly diagnosed diabetic on a diet may ‘cure’ them and the cat reverts to being non-diabetic.

In short, giving less food is a better way of showing love than overfeeding.


#3: Overlooking Preventative Care

Protecting against something that may or may not happen (such as cat flu or feline distemper) is not an exciting thing to do. It is human nature to let things slip, as is the case with preventative healthcare such as vaccinations, deworming, and other parasite control.

However, it’s important to know that even the cat that lives exclusively indoors is still at risk of infection. For example, the feline distemper virus is extremely hardy and can be walked in on your shoes. Thus neglecting regular vaccination places you cat at risk of life-threatening diseases. Remedy this by giving prioritizing preventative healthcare as a means of extending your cat’s life.


#4: Overlooking Health Checks

Did you know a cat aged seven or over is considered senior?

This is because her kidney function declines from this age. Senior cats are at increased risk of a whole raft of health issues from kidney disease to high blood pressure. This means after her seventh birthday it’s sensible to have your cat checked by a vet every six months.

This is because it’s scientifically proven that the earlier problems such as kidney disease are detected, the more successful treatment is at extending life my months or even years.


#5: Not Desexing your Cat

The entire cat is more likely to wander, get into fights, pick up infection, or fall pregnant. All of these issues have associated health implications or complications, which could potentially limit life. Then there’s the risk of a serious womb infection in later life for entire female cats…so neutering is definitely best, even for indoor cats.


#6: Ignoring Changes from the Norm

As mentioned early, any health problem detected in the early stages is more responsive to treatment. The earliest warning sign is often a change from the cat’s normal habits. This might be the cat drinks more, the litter tray is wetter, or she’s less playful than she was.

Whatever you notice, if it isn’t normal, take action. This might mean monitoring the situation for further deterioration or getting the cat checked by the vet.


#7: Too Little Mental Stimulation

A bored cat is more likely to develop destructive habits (which could be life-threatening if they mean she’s released to a shelter) or sleep excessively. In turn, this means weight gain with its downside.

Leading an indoor lifestyle your cat is more dependent on you to provide mental stimulation, but this isn’t hard to do. A previous article How to Make Your Home into a Cat Amusement Park looked at fun easy ways to do just this, and includes the use of puzzle feeders, 3-D space to climb such as cat towers, and playing with your cat.


#8: Not Enough Exercise

The lazy couch potato cat is liable to gain weight and lose muscle mass, both of which are a bad idea for good health. Indeed, the arthritic cat needs muscle in order to support those creaky joints, so sleeping all day is not a good idea.

Play with your cat regularly and encourage her to hunt down her food, are easy way to get her moving.


#9: Poor Dental Care

Imagine not brushing your teeth for years on end…

Not a pleasant thought is it?

Unfortunately, too few pet parents brush their kitty’s teeth, which lead to plaque, tartar, gum disease, and rotten teeth. When Kitty then develops a dental abscess in her teens and needs an anesthetic to remove the tooth, this comes at a time in her life when the lowered blood pressure associated with anesthesia could further compromise poor organ function.

Rather than face a dilemma about what to do for the best, why not give regular tooth brushing a go?


#10: Stressing your Cat

Last but certainly not least is stressing your cat. This can be through something as simple as owning several cats and then taking on a new one. The result could be the stressed cat toilets outside the box. In some circumstances this can become so intolerable that the cat is either sent to a shelter or euthanized.

Alternatively, stress can cause health problems such as cystitis or over grooming. Whilst the latter is not life-threatening, the same cannot be said for cystitis, especially in male cats with their narrow urethra.


So there we have it: 10 ways that you might be accidentally shortening your cat’s life. Can you hand on heart say you are the perfect pet parent and you can tick all the boxes? Take stock today to help your cat live to a ripe old age.