Lessons from a cat

For nearly 21 years, my best friend was a cat. His name was Bailey. He was with me through all the twists and turns, heartbreaks, and miracles.

When I got my first job promotion, he was there…disinterested and insistent that it meant he should be fed more expensive food.

When I liked the wrong guy, he was there to pee in his shoes as a not-so-subtle statement of disapproval (and entertainment).

When I decided to move across the country to an obnoxiously humid climate, he was there to look at me with resentment, occasionally knocking over a half-full glass of red wine, as if to say, “This is what I think of your ‘half-full’ optimism, dumb dumb.”

When I was down or feeling sorry for myself, he was there to remind me that his dinner was more important than my depression.

And, when I finally found the right guy, he was there to ignore me completely because he found someone better.

Through a thousand life makeovers and a dozen zip-codes, he was there with me as my best friend, my harshest critic and heckler.

So when I had to say goodbye to him in July 2018, it was a bittersweet moment. I wasn’t sure what life would look like without him there to talk to or to be woken up by at 4 AM (because that’s the best time to play, of course!). But I also felt peace knowing I helped to give him a long, wonderful life.

In recognition of National Cat Health Month, make time to schedule your cat’s annual veterinary checkup, and consider these ways you can help your cat live a longer, healthier, happier life.

Just like humans, cats need an annual health check up

Since cats may never show signs of illness, a yearly checkup is one of the best ways to keep your cat in her best possible health. These annual visits allow your veterinarian to notice any changes in your cat’s condition from year to year, and help you catch potentially serious issues early.

Keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date

At your cat’s annual exam, your vet will review any necessary booster shots and updates to your cat’s vaccination schedule. These regular inoculations will help prevent your cat from contracting serious illnesses if he is exposed to other cats.


One of the best ways to maintain your cat’s good health is to have him or her altered. These procedures prevent many illnesses and conditions related to a cat’s reproductive organs as well as help eliminate many unwanted behaviors. They also prevent unwanted litters and help reduce animal overpopulation.

Pay Attention to Your Cat’s Dental Health

While it is not easy to brush a cat’s teeth (unless you train your cat to accept the process from the time it is a kitten), regular teeth cleaning and exams are an important component of your pet’s overall health. Your vet will check your cat’s teeth at her annual exam.

Monitor your cat’s weight

The life of an indoor cat can lead to lazy afternoons napping in the sun—and less time being active. Help your cat maintain a healthy weight by making playtime a regular part of his day. Interactive feeders, a rotation of interesting toys, even a feline companion can help get your cat moving. Get involved with playtime with wand toys, doing so strengthens the bond with your cat while he gets necessary exercise.

You are what you eat

A high-quality food specially formulated to meet the specific nutritional requirements of your cat’s age and lifestyle also can help your cat maintain a healthy weight. Ask your veterinarian which types of food could work best for your cat and follow the feeding guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Treats can be part of your cat’s life, too, but remember that the calories from treats can add up quickly.

Pay attention to your cat’s litter box habits

I know it sounds gross. But since cats are quite adept at hiding signs of illness, one place where early signs often show up is the litterbox. If your cat’s litter habits change (he starts urinating more frequently or urinates inappropriately) or if you notice a change in the condition of the box contents, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Maintain a regular grooming routine

You can create a strong, loving bond with your cat by brushing or combing her regularly. Such a routine also will help you identify any issues with her fur, skin and claws. Pay attention to any changes in your cat’s coat or skin, such as dry or flaky patches of skin, red or irritated skin, missing fur, dull fur or reddened areas around her claws. If you see any of these signs, schedule a visit to the vet.

The Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA does provide low cost wellness services for cats such as spay/neuter and affordable vaccines. For more information, visit us online at pasadenahumane.org/services.

Pico (A471610) and Sundae (A471612) were surrendered to PHS at the end of January when their owner was moving to another country. They’re both 10-year-old calico cats who were raised together, but aren’t siblings. We recommend they get adopted together due to their age and bond.