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Top 10 Essential Tips for Cat Parents: A Veterinarian’s Guide

woman cuddling cat in arms

Welcome to the ultimate cat parent cheat sheet, fresh from the vet’s mouth! We sat down with a real-life cat whisperer Dr. Lee Pickett (okay, she’s a vet, but close enough), to lay down the feline facts. Ever wondered how to save a little on vet visits so you can afford more catnip? Or why you should ignore your cat’s insistence on taking car rides sans carrier?

Well, buckle up, because we’re diving into the top 10 things your vet wishes you knew. And no, ‘feed your cat extra treats’ isn’t one of them (though we suspect it was a close runner-up).

1. Timeliness Matters: Arrive on Time for Your Vet Appointment

Please show up on time for your appointment. If you’re late, you’ll get less of your veterinarian’s time or be asked to reschedule.

2. Smooth Sailing: Use a Carrier for Your Cat

Bring your cat in a carrier, because without one, your cat could startle and jump from your arms. Ideally, your carrier should have top and side openings, and the top should be secured with large clips, not individual screws, so the hospital staff can easily remove it.

Tip: Line the carrier with a towel, and spray the towel with the pheromone Feliway if your cat is nervous.

3. Save on Vet Bills: Prevent Diseases through Sterilization and Vaccination

Save money at the vet by preventing disease. Sterilize your cat to reduce the risk of mammary cancer, uterine infection, and spraying. Vaccinate to save money on disease treatment. Prevent heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas, and other parasites, rather than treat the problems they cause.

4. Hairy Situation: Seek Effective Solutions with Your Vet

It’s not normal for a cat to regularly throw up hairballs, and contrary to popular belief, research shows flavored petroleum jelly doesn’t relieve hairballs or move hair along the gastrointestinal tract. Veterinarians have a saying: Hairballs aren’t caused by a grease deficiency. See your vet to identify the cause of your cat’s vomiting and start effective therapy.

5. Water is Great, But Too Much Can be Bad: Watch for Signs

We humans are told to drink plenty of water. But if your cat drinks excessively or the litter box contains more urine clumps than usual, your kitty may be developing diabetes, kidney disease, or another problem. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any issues.

6. Pearly Whites: Prioritizing Dental Health

Dental care is important. Without it, bacteria in the gums travel to the kidneys, liver, and heart, where they establish infections. Visit for a list of diets, treats, and other products recommended by veterinary dentists to decrease plaque and tartar.

7. Don’t Overfeed: Avoid Overfeeding to Prevent Health Complications

Pet food bags advise you to feed more than is healthy, presumably because manufacturers’ calculations are based on the needs of animals that haven’t been sterilized and therefore have high metabolic rates. Don’t let your cat get fat, because overweight cats are more likely to develop diabetes, arthritis and other disorders.

8. Cat-Proof Your Life: Learn About Toxic Substances for Cats

Some plants, human foods, and medications are toxic to cats. Examples are lilies, garlic, and acetaminophen (Tylenol). When in doubt, ask your veterinarian!

9. Mental Stimulation Matters: Environmental Enrichment Tips

Environmental enrichment keeps your cat happy and decreases the risk of disease. See

10. Friends for Life: Cherish Your Cat for a Lifetime

Most importantly, a cat lasts a lifetime. Your kitty is not a disposable commodity to relinquish when you get bored. Cherish your cat forever, and your cat will return your love many times over!

Edited by: Lizz Caputo, 2/2/2024

Dr. Lee Pickett

By Dr. Lee Pickett

Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at Copyright 2023 Dr. Lee Pickett and distributed by

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