Being that February is National Cat Health Month, it is not only a great time to celebrate your cat for being so awesome, but to also ensure they are healthy, happy and safe. Let this month be a reminder to schedule an annual vet appointment to have your cat checked out. February also honors National Pet Dental Health, so make sure to have the vet check out and clean your cat’s entire mouth as well.

Cat parents everywhere want nothing more than for their kitties to be a part of their lives for many years to come. And this is more than possible when armed with knowledge of proper cat care and safety. Continue to keep your furry loves happy and well by remembering these ten health facts, and others, that could save your cat’s life.

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1. Be observant to bad breath

Constant bad breath in adult cats is not normal. This can be a sign of possible tooth decay or another dental disease that can lead to more serious overall medical issues. If you think your cat’s breath is a little too stinky, take them in for a dental appointment as soon as you can.

2. Declawing is dangerous

Viewed as a cruel and inhumane act, declawing a cat can be dangerous to their health and safety. Cats are cats, so they are going to scratch, and so declawing is not the answer. Without claws, a cat cannot defend itself and there is the possibility of infection post surgery. Learn more here about the dangers of declawing and safe ways to keep your cat from destructive scratching.

3. Plants that are toxic to cats

There are common houseplants that can be very dangerous to the health of your cat. Be aware of these plant varieties and keep them out of your home if you have a kitty: azalea, rhododendron, lilies, holly, mistletoe, kalanchoe, sand chefflera. Lilies are especially toxic to cats and, if ingested, can cause life-threatening kidney failure. Check out this list of plants that are toxic to cats for more information.

4. Be careful when feeding a cat a 100 percent vegetarian diet

Cats are obligatory carnivores which means they need to eat meat to survive, especially if in the wild. However, there is a selection of commercial vegetarian cat food and nutritional supplements available on the market. You must plan a vegetarian diet for a cat extremely well in order for it to work. However, do remember that not all cats will respond well to this type of diet. Check out this Vegetarian Diet for Cats fact sheet from the Vegetarian Society for resources and additional information.

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5. Milk is not always so great for cats

Cats that are lactose intolerant will get awful diarrhea from ingesting milk and too much milk for lactose tolerant cats can quickly lead to obesity. Instead, provide them with fresh water and a balanced diet for optimal health.

6. Cats may hide their illnesses

As a natural survival mechanism, cats tend to hide their condition when they are sick or injured. You know your cat, so if you notice odd behavior, watch for signs of illness and consider taking them to the vet.

7. Cats can get heartworm

Heartworm is spread by infected mosquitoes through biting. While commonly thought to only affect dogs, this health problem is also seen in domestic cats.

8. Monitor food intake and exercise

It’s important to monitor the type of food and amount of food your cat eats. Eating in excess can cause obesity and eating too little could be a sign of an illness. Because it’s not healthy for a cat to be extremely sedentary, get them to exercise indoors by having fun toys with bells and games to play like laser-pointer-chase.

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9. Be aware of bladder problems

If kept nice and clean, cats will consistently use a litter box. Should your cat suddenly stop using the litter box and you see that they’ve begun to go to the bathroom outside the box (when litter is clean) and/or have blood in their pee, then these may be signs of a bladder infection or urinary tract infection. Get them to the vet quickly as urinary tract disease in cats can be painful and if left untreated, can be fatal.

10. Cats can get depressed

Make sure your cat is happy. “Cat depression is an abnormal behavior in which the cat shows a change in activity, change in vocalization and usually a decrease in appetite,” says veterinary behaviorist Katherine Houpt. Use this Cat Depression Checklist to determine how your cat is feeling and find out what to do on CatChannel.com.

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 Image Source: Aapo Haapanen/Flickr