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The immune system is an intricate system of biological processes and structures that protects the body against disease. A healthy immune system is able to recognize and fend off invaders such as viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Keeping your cat’s immune system strong will help prevent health problems and protect her against disease.
In order to protect and boost your cat’s immune system, consider the following:
Feed a species-appropriate, minimally processed diet
Ideally, this means a raw or homecooked diet, with a grain-free canned diet being the next best choice. Highly processed foods, especially dry food, create a constant state of inflammation in the body that may well be at the root of all feline illness.
Consider adding supplements
If you are feeding a variety of quality canned grain-free or raw food and your cat is young and healthy, she probably doesn’t need supplements. If you have an older cat, or one with health challenges, supplements may contribute to better health and improved well-being. It’s always a good idea to check with your cat’s veterinarian before giving supplements.
Compelling evidence implicates vaccines in triggering various immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis). Occasionally, aggressive tumors called fibrosarcomas can appear at the site of vaccination. Work with a veterinarian who will agree to a limited vaccination schedule and/or titer testing.
Avoid chemical flea treatments
Many of the flea and tick treatments available today contain toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to pets and to people. Even when these products are used according to the manufacturer’s directions, these chemicals are not safe for pets or humans. There are effective ways to control fleas without chemicals.
Limit exposure to toxic chemicals in your cat’s environment
Day-to-day exposure to environmental toxins, both indoors and outdoors, such as polluted indoor air, chemical cleaning products, VOC’s from paint and carpeting, pesticides, and fertilizers, can cause allergic reactions ranging from itchy skin, runny eyes, and even asthma to vomiting, diarrhea and other intestinal issues. Lower your cat’s toxic load as much as possible.
Avoid overuse of steroids and antibiotics
While these drugs may be necessary in some cases, they are often overused. Repeated rounds of these medications, especially for chronic conditions, may do more harm than good and may damage the immune system without addressing the issue they were prescribed for in the first place. Consider working with a holistic veterinarian who is familiar with modalities that can support your cat’s system in its own healing process.
Provide a stimulating environment
Bored cats who don’t get any playtime or exercise are going to be unhappy and stressed cats, and stress lowers immunity. Catify your home with cat trees, scratching posts, and window perches, and make time for regular structured play sessions with your cat.
Keep your cat at a healthy weight
Obesity is the number one health challenge for cats. It can lead to serious health problems, including diabetes, arthritis, heart and respiratory problems, gastrointestinal and digestive problems, and a compromised immune system.
Stress, whether physiological or emotional, is the root cause of illness for humans as well as pets. Try to limit stress in your cat’s environment as much as possible – and that includes your own stress. Cats and their humans often mirror each others’ physical and emotional states, and your stress can actually make your cats sick.
Supplements I recommend for every cat
I recommend three supplements for every cat of every age, even if they eat a varied premium diet.
Probiotics: Probiotics have numerous benefits, including preventing digestive upsets and strengthening the immune system. My favorite probiotic is Dr. Goodpet’s Feline Digestive Enzymes, a combination of enzymes and probiotics. Digestive enzymes can be especially beneficial for cats with sensitive digestive tracts.
1TDC: I don’t use the term “miracle” lightly, but 1TDC deserves to be called a miracle supplement. This 4-in-1 wellness solution supports oral, joint and skin health and supports performance and recovery. Backed by science, 1TDC keeps gums healthy and reduces periodontal disease within just six weeks. For more about the benefits of 1TDC and to order, visit https://1tdc.com.
A good multi-vitamin supplement:. Just like I think taking a good daily multi-vitamin supplement is important for humans, I also believe that my cats should get one. I like Rx Essentials for Cats. Do not exceed recommended amounts; fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body and vitamin toxicity can be a concern.
Essential Fatty Acids. The processing of commercial pet food renders DHA and EPA inactive, so in order for your cat to get sufficient amounts, supplementation may be necessary. Omega-3 DHA essential fatty acid supplements help prevent inflammation and slow down the aging process. I like the Nordic Naturals brand.
This post was first published in 2012 and has been updated.
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