How to Help Boost Your Cat's Immune System

Sharing your life with a cat is a rewarding and enriching experience. Cats have so much to offer including love and companionship. But we must face the fact that along with this comes the responsibility of caring for their physical and emotional well-being. Cats will get sick from time to time, but there are ways to reduce the chances of this happening. Keeping your cat’s immune system strong will help prevent health problems and protect her against disease. Below are some suggestions.

- Feed Well

Cats are obligate carnivores and have very specific dietary requirements. Feed a species-appropriate, minimally processed diet. Ideally, this means a homecooked diet, with a grain-free canned diet being the next best choice. Highly processed foods, especially dry food, create a constant state of inflammation in the body that may well be at the root of all feline illness. Never feed your cat a diet for dogs and if you do choose to feed a  home made diet for your cat, speak to your veterinarian to make sure it has all the necessary vitamins and minerals your cat requires. Access to fresh water is also important.

Bear in mind that cats have different requirements according to age and health status too. A kitten has different needs to a senior cat for example. If you are feeding a variety of quality canned grain-free food and your cat is young and healthy, high-quality manufactured cat foods can fit this need.. If you  have an older cat, or one with health challenges, supplements may contribute to better health and improved well-being. It’s always a good idea to check with your cat’s veterinarian before giving supplements.

Keep your cat at a healthy weight.

- Reduce Stress

Stress, whether physiological or emotional, is the root cause of illness for humans as well as pets. Crowding with too many other cats, poor sanitation and poor ventilation increase exposure to pathogens and stress. Try to limit stress in your cat’s environment as much as possible – and that includes your own stress. Cats and their humans often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states, and your stress can actually make your cats sick.

- Enrich the environment

Bored cats who don’t get any playtime or exercise are going to be unhappy and stressed cats, and stress lowers immunity. Catify your home with  cat trees, scratching posts, and window perches, and make time for regular structured play sessions with your cat. Play toys, especially with owners, multilevel housing structures, ramps and outdoor enclosures all help. Cats have historically been hunters and outdoors looking for prey. Adding some of this natural behavior back to their [indoor] routine is important to keeping them disease free and healthy.

- Control of toxic chemicals and plants

Lower your cat’s toxic load as much as possible. There are many plants which are toxic to cats, even if just a minute amount is ingested, so it is always good to familiarise yourself with plants which are dangerous to cats. Polluted indoor air (tobacco smoke!!), chemical cleaning products, VOC’s from paint and carpeting, pesticides, and fertilizers, can cause allergic reactions ranging from itchy skin, runny eyes, and even asthma to vomiting, diarrhea and other intestinal issues.

- Vet Check-Ups

Regular vet checkups are a must. Even if your cat appears to be fit and well, it is still important to have your cat thoroughly checked over with his veterinarian once a year.

Keeping your cat healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. A good diet, minimal stress, a rich home environment and awareness of your cat's usual behavior and outward physical appearance. This includes being aware if your cat starts eating or drinking more or less, sleeping more or less, coat condition, eyes, and general well-being. With that strategy in place, you’ll greatly increase your feline friend’s ability to win the battles against illness for years to come.

The articles provided here are for informational purposes and should only be used as such. They are largely opinions and should not be treated as advice, and certainly shouldn't be referred to instead of a veterinary practitioner.

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