I was hoping to get this post written earlier in the month to help kick off Happy Cat Month, but as usual the days have gotten away from me so I'm determined to get it in today before the month is behind us. For me and likely others who are cat people, we consider every month Happy Cat Month. We understand the importance of keeping our cats happy. Cats have a way of making you very aware when they are unhappy and they are usually not shy about sharing their true feelings! On a more serious note though, Happy Cat Month is more than just keeping a smile on your cat's face.
Happy Cat Month is a movement "dedicated to finding ways to keep our feline friends happy, healthy and purring all year long." It is supported by CATalyst Council, which is a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations and corporations to champion the cat. Recent statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) show an increase in the cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary visits for cats which is quite disheartening.
Despite the popularity of cats as household companions, they don't seem to get the same respect that dogs do when it comes to healthcare. I saw it time and again when I was in practice, the cat that had lived in the household as a loved pet but had not been to the vet for any healthcare since it was a kitten. Sadly, the cat was now a geriatric with multiple, serious health issues. I heard countless reasons from owners why this occured including everything from "I didn't want to stress him out" to "he's never been sick before so why take him." Anyway, like their counterpart the dog, cats require annual care too. The most important reason is to have the annual exam. This gives the veterinarian an opportunity to look at the teeth, listen to the heart and assess for any other significant health problems. This may also include vaccines, blood work, or a fecal exam all of which are usually tailored to the cats lifestyle and age. Cats do develop dental disease (sometimes requiring tooth extraction), heart disease, and arthritis. Cats are also experts at hiding when they are sick which can lead to life threatening illness if not caught right away. Conditions identified early can often be treated with a good outcome and significant improvement to the cat's welfare. There are several other factors that play a part in a cat's happiness as well. The environment, enrichment, stress, etc. can all have an affect on the daily life of a cat. As a cat owner, it is important to understand the multifaceted approach to keeping a cat happy throughout it's life.
The AVMA and CATalyst put together a great video discussing important tips on keeping your cat healthy and happy.
In addition to offering tips about cat health and advice to keep them happy, the Council is encouraging anyone without a cat to adopt from a local shelter. Celebrate Happy Cat Month by saving a life and enriching yours!
Additional Happy Cat Month resources:
10 Tips on Making Cats Happy
Cats & Carriers: Friends not Foes
Cats Enrich Our Lives
Adopt Cats in Pairs