Learn how to help cats stay healthy, wherever they live, in honor of National Cat Health Month
February is National Cat Health Month, a perfect time to brush up on the best ways to keep cats and kittens healthy, be they curled up on your couch or in a cozy spot outdoors.
Alley Cat Allies is proud to have been a leader for 30 years in the advancements that help every cat live a long, healthy li. We’ve pioneered programs that tap into the unique needs of all cats to best protect them.
People may be happy following ever-changing health trends—are we still chugging kale smoothies? —but cats need us to provide care on their terms, with their deep-seated natural instincts firmly in mind.
In honor of National Cat Health Month, we’ve compiled a crash course of top tips from our cutting-edge cat health and wellness information. Ready? Let’s get started!
Spay and Neuter Is Key
You knew this would be first! Every cat’s life is improved by spay and neuter surgery. Mating and pregnancy are stressful; driven by raging hormones, cats will yowl, roam, spray, and fight in order mate and to produce kittens.
Spay and neuter stops the endless breeding cycle, and prevents diseases, too. Female cats who aren’t spayed have seven times the risk of developing breast cancer. Spaying and neutering can also prevent testicular tumors and uterine cancer.
So take it from us and from other top animal and veterinary organizations around the world: Spay and neuter as soon as cats are 2 months old or weigh 2 pounds to ensure they stay healthy.
You can get more important details at alleycat.org/SpayNeuter.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Saves Lives
Trap-Neuter-Return is mainstream for a reason. Thousands of cities and towns across the nation and the world have seen firsthand how TNR protects cats and benefits communities, and have created TNR programs of their own.
TNR saves cats’ lives. Community cats—unowned cats who live outdoors—are generally not socialized, or friendly, to people. Because they aren’t adoptable, they are killed if they are brought to shelters that don’t have nonlethal policies.
TNR is the gamechanger. In these programs, cats are humanely trapped, spayed and neutered, vaccinated, eartipped, and then brought back to their outdoor homes—where they belong—to live out their lives (they can live just as long as indoor cats!).
The vaccination part of TNR further protects cats’ health. Although community cats are healthy, vaccinations given during TNR protect them from diseases like rabies and help put community members at ease.
In short: TNR is a powerhouse for improving the lives of cats and the communities where they live. If you want to get started doing TNR or need a refresher on best practices, check out our in-depth TNR guide!
Learn more at alleycat.org/TNR.
Kittens Have Unique Needs
If you’ve ever held a young kitten, you know just how fragile they are. Their eyes and ears aren’t even open at first, and they can’t use the bathroom on their own until they’re almost 4 weeks old. At every stage of their young lives, they have unique needs.
Alley Cat Allies is here to help you protect kittens of any age.
First, if you find neonatal kittens, the best option is to leave them with mom—she is a kitten’s best caretaker. If you have questions about if and how you should get involved with kittens outdoors, we have answers.
Remember: DO NOT take young kittens to shelters. Shelters aren’t good places for kittens, who can get sick easily and need round-the-clock care. Most shelters do not have the programs to provide this care, and kittens are killed instead.
We’ll give you more tips and tools you need to keep all kittens healthy at alleycat.org/Kittens.
Understand Cats to Help Them
We may joke that Fluffy is plotting to take over the world when she’s perched atop a shelf and flicking her tail while observing her domain, but the truth is far from it.
Cats have a language all their own to express how they’re feeling. If we understand what a cat is trying to communicate, we can learn if she is stressed out by something—or even has a health problem—and how we can help her.
For example, a cat isn’t out to get you when she pees outside her litter box or is suddenly hissing more than usual. She’s telling you that she is afraid, has needs that aren’t being met, or that she might need immediate veterinary attention.
We’ll help you learn how to speak cat with our Visual Guide to Cat Body Language. Then view our free Cat Behavior Webinar Series to learn how cats see the world, the motivations behind common behaviors, and how you can improve a cat’s health and happiness by respecting and engaging her instincts.
More Ways to Keep Cats Healthy
We’ve gone through the heavy hitters when it comes to protecting and improving a cat’s health. But we have so much more information to help you keep your feline family members and community cats fit as a fiddle. You can read about:
Because when we enrich our cats’ lives, we enrich our own. Happy National Cat Health Month from Alley Cat Allies!