Your Cat's Health from 1 to 8 Years

Your adult cat is a perfect specimen of mobility, speed, acuity, and grace. She is in her prime. She shines in her gleaming coat and her eyes are bright. Jumping, twisting, and landing, her skeleton bears strain our own bodies could never endure. Her muscles are highly flexible. Her movements are lightning fast and her senses highly tuned.

Between ages 1 and 8, your cat will experience the equivalent of a human's journey from teenager to late middle age. As caretaker, you are responsible for good adult cat health and lifestyle in these years and beyond.

It can be difficult to keep such an adventurous creature indoors. But to do so is proven to extend a cat's life, because it limits exposure to predators, cars, fleas, and other cats that may have diseases such as feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Keep your cat duly entertained indoors by providing toys, structures to climb on, spots near windows to watch the action outdoors, or–if she responds to them–TV and special videos.

One potential side effect of being a pampered, indoor cat is obesity. If your cat starts to gain weight, limit or change her diet and encourage more exercise. Make time for play with your cat each day.

An adult cat should visit the vet annually. Dental and gum disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and other medical problems can present themselves in adulthood to middle age. Early detection is essential to successful treatment and extended life.

As your cat nears 8 years old, be sure to watch for signs of other age-related illnesses such as weight loss, decreased appetite, neglect of grooming, increased thirst and urination, and retreating from the household.

Both you and your cat will enjoy these peak years. They will be filled with acrobatic antics and lithe poses you can't help photographing. If you take the appropriate precautions, you can extend the health and fun for many years.