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Keeping Kitty Healthy

The Martha Stewart Show, January 2010

In addition to your cat's annual veterinarian visit (biannual for cats older than 8), keeping your cat healthy is a year-round pursuit. Dr. Phillip Raclyn (pictured), veterinarian and founder of VETSnyc, shares tips on examining your pet's body and the right nutritional supplements.

Body Checks
Examining your cat's body is a good regular practice to make sure your kitty is healthy and disease-free. Here's how to do it right.

Eyes
Look in the eyes, making sure the whites are really white, and not too bloodshot. If they're yellow, that's a sign of liver disease or jaundice, and you should go directly to the vet.

Mouth
Look in your kitty's mouth. The teeth should be white until the cat is about 8 years old, and at that time, they may take on a slightly yellowish tinge. Where the tooth meets the gum, there should be a nice smooth transition. If you see any swelling in this area, that's gingivitis. It could be simply a local problem due to plaque and tartar, or it could be a sign of something else.

Ears
Smell the ears. You shouldn't smell anything. If you smell something funky when your nose is near your cat's ear, that's a sign of a probable ear infection.

Fur
Run your hands along your cat's body and feel for anything unusual. The fur should be lustrous and should not come out too easily. There shouldn't be any patches without fur, except perhaps on the belly and in front of the ears (depending on the breed of cat).

Body
Simply pet your kitty with more and more pressure, and make sure there's no pain. Many cats suffer from back or hip pain, but you wouldn't know it until you touch them back there. You can also try to massage a bit along the back and learn what your cat likes. Some cats, even if they're pain-free, just don't like being touched in some places. Find out where your cat likes and doesn't like to be touched. If this changes, it's a sign that should be looked into.

Nutritional Supplements
Dr. Raclyn recommends administering nutritional supplements to your cat to ensure that it's getting the nutrients it needs. You can add liquid supplements directly to food, and mix or crush pills with wet cat food. Here are Dr. Raclyn's suggestions:

Feline Support Nexus
This supports healthy joint function in cats and may help alleviate the pain associated with normal daily exercise and activity. It's manufactured by VETSnyc and comes in capsules that you can sprinkle onto food.

Antiox-10
This is recommended to support proper immune system, circulatory functions, and skin health. It's available from Vetri-Science Laboratories and comes in capsule form.

Omega-3 Pet
This supports healthy skin, coat, joints, and heart, and the development and maintenance of the brain and eyes. It's manufactured by Nordic Naturals, and it comes in soft-gel form.

Omega-3 Nexus
This is recommended to help support healthy skin and coat in dogs and cats. It's manufactured by VETSnyc and comes in liquid form.