Dr Jo Righetti PhD, animal behaviourist and Purina One ambassador spoke to Now To Love and gave us an insight into how to make sure you your cat is feline fine.
"When it comes to the health of our cats, they don’t tend to complain which can make it difficult for us to tell if our furry friend is feeling happy and healthy," Jo explains.
"In saying this, there are six visible signs of health and accompanying behaviour that you should be aware of so that you can quickly identify if there is something wrong with your cat."
This month, Purina One has partnered with Animal Welfare League Australia to launch Novempurr, an initiative to raise awareness of cat health and wellbeing. They are calling on cat owners to check-in on their cat’s health and learn the six visible signs, so you can interpret exactly what your cat is trying to tell you!
Cats vary in size among individuals and breeds, so it’s important to observe and feel your cat’s body to gain a better idea of whether your cat is healthy!
Feel your cat’s ribcage - if you notice that their bones are jutting out, or you have to apply pressure to feel their ribs, then your cat’s weight may be too low or too high. You should also be able to observe a “waist” behind the ribs when you look at your cat from above.
Digestion is the process of not only eating but toilet habits too, so we can look at behaviours at both ends of the cat to better understand their cat’s health…
A healthy cat loves to eat so if your cat has lost their appetite this could be a sign that your cat is sick. As a guide, most cats will eat at least four times each day. Advanced nutrition is essential to your cat’s health and happiness to ensure they are getting the high-quality ingredients they need. Feeding Purina One daily supports the six visible signs of health, and your cat will love the taste.
You can also look at your cat’s litter box to see if your cat is trying to tell you something: small, firm stools are a sign that better nutrition is making a difference inside your cat and less of the food is passing through as waste.
Your cat’s dental condition can tell you a lot about the health of your cat. To check your cat’s teeth, grab a soft, wet facecloth and gently rub it against your cat’s teeth being careful of the gums. If your cat is too fond of using their teeth (on you!) – then redirect that energy on to appropriate toys.
When your cat wants to bite, pop a toy in their mouth. If you notice drooling, lumps or bumps, bad breath, inflamed or bleeding gums or reluctance to eat, these are key signs that your cat could be sick and needs to be checked out by a vet urgently.
Skin, coat & eyes
Having a good look at your cat’s skin, coat and eyes is another way to see if your cat is in tip-top shape.
We all love cats’ soft and shiny coats and their condition can be a good indicator of health in cats. It’s normal for your cat to shed during seasonal changes, but unusual hair loss can be a sign of illness and if the fur is dull, or if the skin is looking a little flaky, this could also be a sign that your cat is sick.
Keeping your cat groomed regularly will help to prevent hairballs and, as an added bonus, will keep the hair on the brush, rather than all over your furniture and clothes.
Fun fact - cats love to have blinking sessions with you! Look at your cat’s eyes, then blink slowly. This communicates to your feline friend that you are non-threatening. If their eyes are bright, clear and without any gooey discharge, this is a good sign of health however if you notice dilated pupils, this could a sign that they are stressed. It’s important to observe other body language signals to get the full picture.
Just like us, stress can take a big toll on your cat’s overall health and can be caused by a number of factors. These might include changes in routine, visitors staying over or another animal or baby arriving.
Hair loss, dilated pupils, sleeping more than normal, hiding and toileting inappropriately are all signs of a stressed cat.
If your cat is stressed this can lead to a lower immune system, so try to keep your cat as happy and calm as possible.
Bone and joint health
By nature, cats are very happy to find a spot in the sun and lounge around all day but movement is key to the bone and joint health for cats. Get your cat up and moving.
A good way to do this is with fun toys to chase and play with, or try doing some simple training with them. They’ll get plenty of movement and have lots of fun doing it! If your cat can’t perform routine tasks or movements, i.e. climb stairs, jump up or down, or play, this is more than likely a sign there is an issue with your cat and should be checked by a vet.
To help your cat lead a healthier, happier life, take part in Novempurr by signing up to the Purina One 21 Day Program and you could see a visible difference in your cat’s health in as little as 7 days.