As the brand new year stretches out before you, your mind likely is filled with lofty goals you plan to achieve before the end of the year. At the top of your list of resolutions? Sticking to a diet—again, squeezing in the recommended 150 minutes of cardio each week, or learning a new skill?. But, what about your pet’s list? What do you think will be their 2023 resolutions? To help us learn what our pets want to accomplish in the New Year, we interviewed one of our team’s cats, Sasha. Read our chat about must-do New Year’s resolutions for pets.

Dr. Butler: Happy New Year, Sasha! Your fur coat is looking gorgeous, as always. How have you been?

Sasha: Thanks, Dr. Butler! You know, one of my resolutions last year was asking my humans to really focus on my grooming, because I’m a longhaired cat, and I need daily brushing to prevent painful mats. Altogether, I’m doing well, but I’d like to focus on some specific points this year to improve my health and happiness.

Dr. Butler: Do tell, Sasha. Sharing how your family can improve your quality of life will also help other pets and their owners create their New Year’s resolutions.

Sasha: Well, first, I really want to focus on environmental enrichment. A house cat’s life is certainly cushy, but can be boring, and I need activities designed to cater to my natural instincts to feel less stressed and bored. I’m asking my humans to install a couple of climbing towers in front of windows that overlook bird feeders and baths, because watching those feathered balls of energy dart around is better than any TV show. I also want more scratching options. I do have one scratching post, but I’d like to feel different materials and textures beneath my claws, and to have vertical and horizontal stretching options.

Dr. Butler: Those are great ideas, Sasha. Our feline patients certainly will benefit from improved environmental enrichment. Too little activity and entertainment can cause cats to gain weight, overgroom, and pee outside the litter box. What else do you have in mind?

Sasha: Since I’m no spring kitten, I can feel myself slowing down and taking longer catnaps, and I know I need to be more active. So, I’m letting my humans know how I like to play and giving them my prey preferences. I know that my favorites are mouse-like toys that skitter across the floor, and the most likely to get me up and moving. I need to shed those holiday pounds I put on from all those extra treats!

Dr. Butler: Fun playtime is a wonderful way to help sedentary house cats burn off calories and the increased daily activity will lower your risk for diabetes, metabolic disorders, osteoarthritis, urinary and skin issues, and some cancers. What other resolutions are on your list, Sasha?

Sasha: I really want to focus on my oral health this year. While getting my teeth cleaned by your team every year is all well and good, Dr. Butler, I really don’t want to go an entire year without dental care. Sometimes, my tuna breath is strong enough to knock me out!

Dr. Butler: That’s an excellent goal! Most pets—around 85%—have dental disease by age 3, and you are past that mark, Sasha. And, like you said, having your teeth cleaned annually is like your family going to the dentist each year, but failing to brush in between dentist visits. Since plaque begins to harden into tartar in a couple days, daily dental care is a must to prevent periodontal problems and pain. Plus, oral bacteria can attack your heart, kidneys, and other organs, so at-home dental care is crucial for removing bacteria and maintaining good health. Ideally, your family should brush your teeth daily, offer dental treats, and use food and water additives designed to reduce plaque and tartar formation. What else do you want to focus on this year, Sasha?

Sasha: Although I never venture a whisker outdoors, I want my humans to know that preventive care, like vaccinations and parasite prevention, is essential. They picked up a poor stray kitten they found in the middle of a busy intersection who was crawling with fleas and had a serious case of the sniffles, and getting rid of that flea infestation was a long, difficult, itchy endeavor—I did not appreciate catching that kitten’s upper respiratory infection, either. I’m really going to hammer home the importance of annual physical exams, vaccinations, and year-round parasite prevention to keep me safe, despite the fact that I’m strictly indoors.

Dr. Butler: So true, Sasha. I recommend that every pet receive year-round parasite prevention to thwart fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and intestinal parasites, since these pests can easily get inside your home and cause serious illness. And, house cats still need lifestyle-appropriate vaccinations, as you learned, because you never know when your family will welcome a new household pet. Prevention is certainly the best medicine, since preventing problems in the first place is much easier—and cheaper— than treating them.

Sasha: You’re exactly right, Dr. Butler, which is exactly why my 2023 resolutions focus on preventive and wellness care to keep me happy and healthy. Best wishes to you in the new year, and I hope to see you only for my annual visit!

Dr. Butler: Same to you, Sasha. If your family helps you stick to your resolutions, I should need to see you only for your regular preventive care. Happy New Year!

Make your own resolution to provide your four-legged friend with year-round preventive care. Give our Homestead Animal Hospital team a call to schedule your pet’s annual appointment.