How to Have a Healthy Cat

You can easily tell a healthy cat by his or her appearance. With proper diet and exercise, the cat will have a strong, solid body. The hair will be sleek and shiny on a shorthaired cat and thick and soft if longhaired. The eyes and ears will be  clear of discharge, and teeth will be white and sharp. There will be no evidence of parasites or pest infestations, or any flaking or scaling of his or her skin.  And a healthy cat is spritely and nimble in movement.

Weight 

There are two types of body classification for cats. One is the cobby type. A cat  with a cobby-style body will have relatively short legs and tail, a broad head,  shoulders and hindquarters, deep chest, and around the head. The Persian and the  British Shorthair are breeds that exemplify the cobby body type, as do most  alley cats and domestic breeds of uncertain heritage. The other body type is the  foreign body, also called the Oriental. Siamese cats are indicative of this breed.  They are slender with a narrow head and long legs and tail. The foreign body  type will also have taller ears and more slanting eyes than the cobby. Regardless of your cat’s body type, the signs of obesity and underweight are the same.
 
If your cat is overweight, his or her sides will alternately bulge out when walking. When you stand above him or her and look down, you will notice an obvious distention of the sides of the stomach. An overweight cat will also have  “love handles” on its back near the rump and pockets of fat around his or her  face. And he or she will be caught lounging in a sunbeam more often than exploring the top of the bookshelves. 
A danger for obese cats that many pet owners do not realize is that if a cat becomes so overweight that the girth is wider than the expanse of the whiskers, it  will be at risk for losing its sense of perception. One of the primary reasons  your cat has whiskers is to figure out whether he or she can fit into a space. If  you have ever observed a cat slowly stick his or her head into an area before  going all the way in, you would have seen him or her testing the limits of the  space to determine if it can fit. Because cat whiskers only grow to a preset  length, they will not expand along with the tummy. Hence, overweight cats are  at risk of getting stuck between stairway railings, partially under furniture, or in  worse predicaments because their heads fit, and they do not realize their bodies do not.
On the other hand, if cats are underweight, instead of a bulging around the midsection, their sides will look concave, indented behind the ribs. The ribs  and spine will be noticeable, and hair will feel thin and coarse. In fact, the hair  will be more likely to look as if it is standing on end, than it will to appear sleek  and lying flat. In addition to affecting their girth, being underweight causes kittens to suffer from stunted growth and premature development. One thing an  underweight cat has in common with an overweight cat is that propensity to sit  or lie still. Underweight cats just do not have the energy of a cat of prime weight.
 
A cat at a healthy weight will have only a thin layer of fat along his or her sides  and down the back. As you run your hand along the body, you will barely notice the spine and ribs. When you look down on a healthy cat from directly  above him or her, the waistline will have only a slight narrowing where the ribs  end. A typical, full-grown adult domestic cat weighs between 8 and 10 pounds,  but magically appears weightless as he or she soars up above the kitchen cabi-  nets to survey the domain.

Record-breaking cats  

Himmy, a cat in Queensland, Australia, is generally considered the  heaviest domestic cat on record. Weighing in at 46.8 pounds, the tabby died a relatively early death at age 10 from respiratory failure.  At the other extreme, was a Blue Point Himalayan named Tinker Toy  who was a dwarf cat, meaning he suffered from a poorly understood  genetic defect similar to human dwarfism. At maturity, Tinker only  stood 2.75 inches tall at the shoulder, was 7.5 inches long and weighed  less than two pounds.

The largest cat breed is the Ragdoll; males typically weigh between 12  to 20 pounds and females between 10 to 15 pounds (whereas the average domestic cat is between 8 to 10 pounds). 

The smallest cat breed is the Singapura with the males weighing about  six pounds and the females about four. 

Hair and body           

Aside from weight, other signs of a healthy cat can be found upon close exami-  nation, particularly of the hair and body. Such an inspection is best performed  as an act of petting, or even as if giving a well-deserved massage, because  most cats do not like all parts of their bodies touched indiscriminately. But do  take a close look at your cat, get familiar with all body parts so you will know the difference immediately if health is beginning to decline in any area. Be sure  to look at the following: 

Ears

Did you realize a cat’s hearing is much more sensitive than both a human’s  and dog’s? To keep ears in prime condition to hear a cricket walking through  the grass, they must be clean on the inside with no waxy residue, no brown or  black secretions suggesting a mite problem, and no odor. Healthy ears are  pink on the inside, and unless your cat is a Scottish fold, whose ear tips naturally fold down, they should be perky, pointed upright, and able to pivot a full  180 degrees. 

Eyes 

yes, will be clear and bright with no evidence of chronic tearing or discharge.  The third eyelid, the nictitating membrane that protects the eyes and helps  keep them moist, will not be noticeable. Cats happen to have the largest eye of  all mammals and are better adapted to see at night than humans. In fact, it is  estimated they can see six times better in the dark than people can. Their night  vision is superb because of the way their eyes are built — the muscles around  the pupil allow it to change from a slit in bright light to nearly the full iris in  dark, and there is a reflective layer behind the retina that works as a built-in  flashlight by reflecting incoming light. Should you discover your cat seems to  have difficulty seeing in the dark, or that the pupils are of different sizes, he or  she may be suffering from vision problems.

The nose knows   

Each cat nose is unique. The nose pad has ridges and patterns, like a  human’s fingerprint, that is distinguishable from every other cat on the  planet. 

Teeth

Adult cats have 30 teeth with 16 on the top and 14 on the bottom. You may al-  ready know this, but it bears repeating — be very careful when you examine  your cat’s teeth. He or she may be so upset by it that you will find out just how  strong and sharp they are once they are impaled into your hand. Healthy teeth  are white and sharp. Gums should be pink and shiny. Cats are prone to plaque  and tartar buildup, but healthy cats — ones who have the opportunity for get-  ting their teeth clean — will have none. Plaque will make teeth look yellow, and tartar will be even darker. Other signs to look for are cracked or broken teeth  and breath odors. If kitty has a foul odor coming from its mouth, it may be in-  dicative of gum disease or infection. 

Hair 

A cat’s back holds approximately 60,000 hairs per square inch, which sounds  like a lot until you realize the underside holds double that number. Cats have  three types of hair. Guard hairs determine the coat color. These hairs help your  cat stay dry, as they tend to repel water. Awn hairs are finer, softer hairs that  form the basic coat, which grows under the guard hair. In most breeds, the  awn hairs are the same length as the guard hair, but in some, like the Manx,  these hairs are shorter. The undercoat hair is also called the “down” hair. It is  the softest, fluffiest of the three types and provides warmth to your cat. It is  also the hair that generally gets matted if a cat is not groomed frequently  enough. A healthy cat’s coat is soft and smooth. There are no bald patches or  irregularities in the texture. It should come off when gently rubbed against  sofas and trouser legs, but not in large tufts or with any sign of bleeding. 

Skin 

For most cats, the skin beneath the hair should be white. However, some have  darker tones. Regardless of the color, healthy skin is smooth and taut. Evi-  dence of potential problems includes scaly flakes, raised discolorations, and  lesions. There should be no lumps under the skin or large red patches on it.  You should not see any black specks or tiny particles that could be indicative  of a flea infestation.

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