The best way for our pets to be zero waste is to be as healthy as possible. Therefore, I would like to talk about the term preventive pet healthcare, which is based on maintaining the health of the animals and the people who live with them.
There are several aspects to work on for maintaining our pet’s health, which will result in a long term decrease in waste. Preventive pet healthcare is about keeping our animals healthy so they don’t have to be treated for preventable diseases in the future. In addition, we will also prevent the spread of zoonoses (infectious diseases transmissible from animals to humans).
Hence, these are the aspects that we must take into account for a good preventive veterinary medicine.
Nonetheless, it is a very important aspect to keep our four-legged friends healthy, therefore, we should take into account the weight of the animal and the amount of exercise he/she does. Additional feed will also depend a lot on the breed, species and pathologies that our pet may have (for example, cats with a tendency to kidney failure will need a specific food).
Hence, at home, we buy good quality food in large quantities both to save on packaging and to keep our cats healthy. Always keep in mind that everything you invest in good management of their diet is money you will save on veterinarians.
Vaccinating according to the vaccination schedule is a way to avoid infectious diseases that can be also transmissible to humans. However, there are several aspects that might vary the needed vaccinations, from the geographic area of the country where we live. This is because there are some diseases variation between countries and species.
Following our list, our pet friends are more exposed to certain parasitic diseases, so we must follow a deworming calendar. Anyway, some parasitic diseases are almost exclusive to certain geographical areas (such as, leishmaniasis) and the incidence of some others will depend on the season of the year (for example, ticks). Therefore, it is important to follow your veterinarian recommendations and not skipping the deworming calendar.
On one hand by neutering our pets, we control the population, thus avoiding the problem of abandoned pets. On the other hand, to castrate our animals has many advantages over their health. For example, in female dogs and cats we avoid breast tumors and pyometras (uterine infections) whose emergency surgeries put our companions at risk and are also very expensive. Moreover, for males we avoid prostatitis and testicular tumors among other diseases associated with hormones.
Finally, both cats and dogs tend to escape when they are in heat and can be run over or lost. They can get sexually transmitted diseases or even get hurt in fights with other animals. We recommend castration before the first heat, as this reduces the incidence of diseases associated with sex hormones by 80% (e.g., breast tumors).
But, you should consult it with your veterinarian. The surgery doesn’t take more than an hour and recovery is 48 hours in males and 4 days in females.
In addition to the above mentioned, there are programs to prevent specific diseases, such as periodontal disease or obesity. Depending on the breed, species and habits of our pets, we must prevent one or other diseases.
Moreover, we should go at least once a year to the veterinarian for a routine control to also help us rule out any diseases. For example, with a simple blood test we can detect subclinical diseases and treat them before the symptoms appear.
Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats
In addition to all the above, there are some things we can do for our zero waste pets. The environmental enrichment consists on the care of animals in captivity improving their physical and psychological well-being. Hence, providing them with the necessary environmental stimuli to improve their quality of life. Although I will talk about cats, it can also be extrapolated to dogs.
Here we can reuse certain everyday objects to make them play with the senses of smell and taste. Addition we should skip using strong disinfectants at home because they can irritate their throat. In our case, we give them cardboard boxes because it is where they mark with their pheromones. They love to scrub the head at the corners.
This is a natural marking behavior in felines. Additionally you don’t need to spend money on toys just provide them with some boxes.
Cats love to play, investigate and manipulate objects. One way to promote these behaviors is through the use of food. For this we can present it in some way that forces the animal to get it playing.
We use a roll of toilet paper with a hole in the middle full of feed. It makes our cats stay hours playing with it to get the food out.
3. Feline senses
In this part we will promote hunting through toys that we do. From balls to a rope. At home, we continue using two balls of very pressed aluminum foil that we made three years ago and that we still conserve.
In addition, we have a scratcher where with some ropes hanging. Moreover, we make them toys with pieces of rope that come with the orders and twigs that we find. We also use leaves of the trees to play with them.
This also includes the areas where they carry out their daily activities. It is important to keep the sandboxes outside the feeding area and in a quiet area. To have a good environmental enrichment for cats, we can use the following options:
- High areas: we have a hammock where they sleep in the highs.
- Cat scratcher: important for marking and nail sharpening.
- Boxes or areas to hide in: Cats are hunters and like to have places to hide and feel safe. Ours always have at least 3 at home of different sizes
- Feline Herb: It is a custom that comes from before domestication, when cats ate whole prey and needed fiber.
Cats are sociable animals and they love having companions. Although you have to be careful when introducing a new cat at home, when it is correctly done it is an advantage for the animal. We have always had cats (castrated) and the quality of life of the animals increases considerably. Among them they play and groom themselves, felines essential behaviors.
Finally, within the social enrichment it belongs interaction with humans. Our colleagues also need attention and affection from us. On the other hand, cats and dogs tent to ask for it when they need it, but it is worth dedicating them a little time a day to be with them.