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Frequently Asked Questions by Cat Owners: Part 1

One of the key services a veterinarian provides is the ability to answer questions and help guide pet parents. Since many pet owners share the same questions about their cats, we figured we’d share our answers with you.

Here are some frequently asked questions (or FAQs) from cat owners to their veterinarians:

What Is the Best Food to Feed My Cat?

This is a simple question that might require a complex answer depending on the pet, but here’s a general guideline to follow:

How Old Is Your Cat?

Choose a food that fits the age of your cat (either kitten, adult, or senior). Diets are formulated based on the nutritional demands of their age. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, there are six identifiable life stages for felines.

These stages are:

Do You Want to Feed Wet Food, Dry Food, or Both?

Decide if you’re going to feed wet food only, dry food only, or a combination of the two. Wet food should be at least a component in all cats’ diets. Cats that specifically benefit from wet food include young, indoor male cats and elderly/geriatric cats. Young male cats are prone to developing urinary tract diseases, including urethral obstructions, that cause them to be unable to pass urine. Wet diets have a higher moisture content than dry food and have been shown to decrease the incidence of this disease in young male cats. Kidney disease is prevalent in elderly/geriatric cats and wet food helps increase their water intake which helps combat this ailment. Wet food tends to be more calorically dense when compared to dry food, so maintaining an ideal body weight should be monitored closely.

What Is Your Budget?

Select a diet that is within your price range for the long term. Choosing a diet that is expensive and unable to be maintained is not ideal. There are high-quality diets in all price ranges. Choose a diet that fits within your budget that you can buy for the rest of your cat’s life. Continuously switching from one diet to the next could cause unnecessary gastrointestinal issues.

Here’s How to Choose a Brand

There are thousands of cat food brands on the market. Follow the first recommendations listed above: determine life stage, formulation, and budget. After you have those details determined, research brands that are appealing or that you’ve used in the past that fit the above categories.

Be sure to avoid fad diets in cat food. Fad or novel diets can be gimmicks and may be found to cause underlying health issues in cats years later. For the last and final step in this big decision, discuss the top choices with your veterinarian to narrow them down to the best option.

Outdoor Dangers for Indoor Cats

Does My Indoor-Only Cat Need Monthly Flea/Tick/Heartworm Preventatives?

Yes. Indoor cats are at risk of fleas and ticks, since they can be carried into the home by humans, dogs, and rodents. The most common type of flea and tick medication is topical (applied to the skin). Dog products should NEVER be applied to cats, since they can be toxic. The other option besides topical medications would be a flea/tick collar. The collar needs to be worn continuously to be protective and can’t be taken on and off frequently and still be effective. Topical treatments are more convenient as once they are applied, they work consistently for a determined length of time (varies based on product).

Heartworm is spread by infected mosquito bites, and, unfortunately, mosquitos can enter the home and bite indoor-only cats. Heartworm preventatives in cats mainly consist of monthly oral pills.

Your veterinarian can make product recommendations for both flea/tick and heartworm preventatives. Be cautious with preventatives that are purchased over the counter. These medications are often made for dogs and can be very toxic for cats. It is in your cat’s best interest to purchase these medications through or with the approval of your veterinarian.

While indoor cats are at a lower risk of these infections, there is still the potential for danger and the safest decision is year-round preventatives for all pets.

Should My Indoor Cat Go Outside?

Ideally, an indoor cat should not go outside unless on a harness and supervised. In the outdoors, a cat is susceptible to many dangers.

The most common dangers that exist outside for cats include:

There are many dangers outside of the home that indoor cats are unaware of, which could lead to injury. Indoor cats get easily startled and may run away or get lost. To prevent your pet from potential harm, cats should always be harnessed and supervised while outside.

For more answers to common cat questions, check out Part 2 of our FAQ.