1. Feeding cat with high-carb food
Cats are true carnivores, and their systems aren’t designed to digest plant-based food, says Dr. Rossman. She recommends a grain-free, meat-based diet for cats so they can get the protein they need.
2. Leaving food out
A whopping 60 percent of American cats are overweight or ob.ese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. There’s one main drive, says Virginia-based veterinarian Katy Nelson, DVM: leaving a bowl of food out all day. Especially if your kibble brand is high in carbs, your cat will be tempted to overeat. Tack on months or years of eating like that, and it’s no surprise your cat might carry some extra weight.
3. Making your cat an unbalanced meal
If you want to know exactly what’s going into your cat’s body, think twice before prepping its food yourself. Home-cooked meals often don’t offer your cat all the nutrients it needs.
4. Skipping vaccinations
Unless the vet says there’s a medical reason not to have rab.ies vac.cines, every pets need to have them. Your cat never ventures outdoors doesn’t mean it’s safe from diseases like rab.ies or le.uke.mia, says Dr. Nelson. Your cat might make a dash outside, and even supervised kitties could catch Fel.ine Le.uke.mia just by going nose to nose with another cat. For your sake and your pet’s, follow your vet’s vac.cination advice.
5. Not protecting against fleas, ticks, and heartworm
Just like with vaccines, you can’t assume your indoor cat is safe from pests. If you bring in ticks or even mosquitoes, your pet could be exposed to L.ym.e d.is.ease, he.artwo.rms, or even the pl.ag.ue, says Dr. Nelson. “Doors open and window screens aren’t fo.olproof,” she says. “Simple monthly preventive medications can be lifesaving for your indoor kitties.”
6. Removing claws of an outdoor cat
Because of da.ngers such as other animals and cars, outdoor cats often live less than five years, compared to indoor cats, who live closer to 18 or 20 years, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Mobile, Alabama. Help your outdoor cat protect itself by keeping its claws intact, says Ashley Rossman, DVM, a veterinarian with Glen Oak Dog & Cat Hospital. “They need their weapons,” she says. If your pet ends up getting into a fight with another animal, it could get critically i.nj.ured if it doesn’t have a way to scratch.
7. Decorating with plants
Those lilies might look beautiful on your coffee table, but they won’t be so pretty if your cat eats them. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists hundreds of plants that are t.oxi.c to cats, and bringing them into the house could be a da.ng.er to nibbling kitties. “If you’re going to buy a plant, check to make sure it isn’t t.oxi.c,” suggests Dr. Rossman.
8. Not providing shelter
If your kitty will be roaming free at night, it will need a weather-appropriate shelter to keep it safe from the elements, especially on cold winter nights. It’s also important to know how to keep your pet how to keep your pet safe during natural di.s.ast.ers. “Build some kind of shelter for them that has some warm insulation,” says Dr. Rossman. “And have heated water bowls because water can freeze.”
9. Brushing off health issues
Chr.o.nic vo.mi.ting is one of the most-ignored cat health symptoms, says Dr. Nelson. A thr.ow-up problem could be a sign of anything from treatable ha.irballs or food i.ntol.era.nce to he.art d.is.ease or kid.n.e.y f.ai.lu.re, she says. If the v.om.iting is consistent, bring your kitty to the vet for a diagnosis.
10. Ignoring behavioral changes
Pay attention if your pet seems to be hiding or whining more, or if its appetite has changed. “Cats tend to be pretty stoic,” says Dr. Rossman. “If your cat is behaving in any way that’s out of the ordinary for him or her, that’s a sign you should let your veterinarian know.” The vet can do b.loo.d work to make sure its organs are all functioning properly so that you can catch the problem before it spirals out of control.