Signs of a Healthy Cat
As a devoted pet parent, your cat's health is important to you. You undoubtedly know all of the intricacies of your cat's personality—her habits, her favorite things and her "pet" peeves. And while you might think that you automatically recognize all of the signs of a healthy cat, it's not a bad idea to reacquaint yourself with the basics. Here are the basic indicators of a happy, healthy cat:
- Bright eyes: Your cat's eyes should be clear, alert, free of discharge and evenly focused. Additionally, her third eyelid should not normally be visible.
- Clean ears: Healthy ears are clean and free of odor, scabs or discharge.
- Clean nose: Your cat's nose should also be clean and free of discharge. Your cat should not be sneezing frequently or have a persistent runny nose.
- Good appetite: It's a good idea to observe your cat's eating habits over a 24-hour period as a baseline to gauge his appetite in the future. If you know the specific amount of food that your cat consumes each day, it will be easier to notice if he ever exhibits a decrease or increase in appetite. Similarly, you'll want to regularly observe your cat's drinking habits to ensure that he's staying hydrated.
- Healthy skin and coat: Your cat's skin should be free of scabs, redness or signs of flea infestation, and his fur should display all the signs of good health: it should be fluffy and shiny without matting or patches of hair loss.
- Normal behavior and routine: The status of your cat's litter box offers good insight into your cat's health. Is he urinating and defecating in regular amounts and at regular intervals? Is he playing and napping normally and following a general routine? Deviation from a regular routine could indicate a problem.
- Normal temperature and heart rate: The heart rate for a cat can range from 110 to 240 beats per minute, while normal body temperature (taken rectally) in an adult cat ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Regular veterinary exams are the best way to track your cat's vitals.
- Ideal weight: While obesity in cats is widely understood to be less-than-ideal, a cat that is too thin is also not optimal. Talk with your veterinarian about the healthiest weight for your cat’s age, size and breed, then work together to achieve that goal if your cat is significantly over or under that benchmark.
- Happy disposition: A happy cat is playful, athletic, interested and alert. As a pet parent, you know your cat's inherent disposition better than anyone, so you'll easily recognize any deviations from his regular activities and level of playfulness.
Annual checkups can help to detect anything out of the ordinary. If you notice anything unusual with your cat, schedule a visit to the veterinarian for an exam.