Kitten on vet table being checked

Basic healthcare in cats

We'll cover some basic care that you can stay on top of to keep your cat as healthy as possible.

Here are some simple measures you can take to give your cat the best head start.

Annual health checks

These can be done at your cat's annual vaccination appointment and are particularly recommended for cats over eight years old.

Your vet will give them a full health check, looking at their:

They will also feel their body to check for any lumps or anything unusual.

Vaccinations

Vaccination can prevent illness in your pet. Cats can be vaccinated against killer diseases such as:

  • infectious enteritis
  • leukaemia
  • cat flu (not usually fatal, although it can be serious)

Read more on getting your cat or kitten vaccinated.

Flea and worming treatment

Most cats get fleas at some point. They can be hard to spot as they spend little time on the animal. 

Routine flea and worming treatment is recommended, and usually needs to be repeated monthly. Treatment is best supplied by your vet. 

Some treatments will cover for lots of parasites, including fleas, worms, ticks and mites. So ask your vet which product is best for your cat's lifestyle.

Read more on flea treatment options for your cat and worming information.

Important

Never give human medicines to pets. This can be fatal. Any medicine needs to be given through your vet.

Why it's important to neuter your cat

Too many kittens grow up to be unwanted cats here in our rehoming centres. A female cat can produce up to six kittens, three times a year. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

As well as the risk of unwanted pregnancies, there are other health reasons that you'll want to consider. 

Other health reasons include:

  • reducing the risk of male cats getting feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • lowering the change of your female cat getting breast cancer or a womb infection (pyometra)

Find out more about the health benefits of neutering your cat.

Check ears

It's important to check your cat's ears regularly for any ear discharge. If there is any dark or black wax coming from their ears, it could be a sign of ear mites. So, be sure to take your cat to the vet if you spot any of the signs of ear mites

Take care of your cat's teeth

Teeth are important and, just like people, animals benefit from regular brushing and care. A build up of plaque can become a potential source of infection. So keeping on top of their dental care can really make a difference.

Learn how to look after and brush your cat's teeth.

Feel for any lumps

Lumps can make us feel worried, but most of the time they won't cause serious problems for your cat. Either way, it's always good to check your cat regularly. You can do this by running your hands along their body while grooming or stroking them.

If you feel any new lumps, be sure to contact your vet straight away. Your vet will be able to look for the cause of your cat's lump and let you know about any tests or treatment they may need. In some cases, they might ask you to keep an eye on the lump to see if it's changing. 

Even if the lump seems small, it's best to get it checked as it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Keep your cat fit and healthy

Keep an eye on your cat's weight and the amount of exercise they are getting. Obesity can reduce your cat's life expectancy and can open them up to certain health conditions that could be expensive to manage such as:

  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • breathing issues
  • diabetes
  • liver problems
  • problems with their bladder

By making sure your cat maintains a healthy weight, you could save yourself a lot on vet bills down the line.

Important

If your cat quickly gains or loses weight, this could be a sign that they are unwell. Speak with your vet straight away if this happens.

Keeping your cat safe at night

Keeping your cat indoors at night can help to reduce the risk of road accidents and cat fights. Get them in to a habit of coming in when called and shutting all windows at night so they can't get out.

Get more information on safely letting your cat outside.

Grooming

Grooming is particularly important for long-haired cats to avoid matting but is beneficial to all cats. It also provides an opportunity to examine your pet. Start by doing a little at a time, and try to do areas such as the belly, under the tail and around the hindlegs.

Find out how to groom your cat.

Reduce stress

Cats can easily become upset by noise, or by other cats or animals. You can help by making sure that your cat has plenty of quiet places they can go to if things get too much. An activity centre, a shelf up high, or a box to get into are all great ways to give them a space of their own. 

Make sure that other cats cannot enter your home. You can now get cat flaps that can read a microchip and ensure that only your cat can get in. 

If you have more than one cat, we have some great advice on how to manage a multi cat household

Read more about the signs of stress and what you can do to help reduce it.

— Page last updated 05/04/2022