Adult Cat Wellness

At some point between 1 and 3 years of age, your cat can be considered an adult. Active play continues to be an important element of your adult cat’s life, providing needed exercise, the control of destructive behavior, and the prevention of boredom. Adult cats love the game of pursuit and are keenly interested in the movement of light, toys, and shadows. And they love the element of surprise. Click here for more information on cat toys.

Body Development and Keen Eyesight

As an adult, your cat’s body is fully developed. Their eyes see far better than human eyes, especially at night. They can also hear better than humans. A good way for you to bond with your cat is through brushing and stroking them. Regular brushing helps remove loose hair and reduces the likelihood of hairballs. Note that long-haired cats may require a wide-tooth comb to remove any matting or tangles.

Behaviors of Adult Cats

Behavior changes you might notice in your adult cat are kneading, hiding, and hissing. Cats will hiss and spit at other animals or humans if they feel threatened or uneasy. The hiss is not to initiate a fight but to avoid an encounter. A normal stance will resume when your cat no longer feels threatened.

Cats will also hide in high places, a learned response from seeking higher ground from predators. So do not be surprised if you find your cat in a high cupboard or on a high shelf. You may also find your cat wanting to knead your arm or leg with their paws. This alternating paw prodding into your skin can have a calming effect on them.

Nutritious Cat Food

Feeding your adult cat a nutritious and balanced diet is very important. Your adult cat needs to eat enough nutritious food to meet their energy needs, maintain a healthy weight, and repair body tissues, but not too much to cause excessive weight. The amount you feed your adult cat should be gauged by their size and energy output. The best diet replicates what they would eat in the wild: a meat-filled, protein-rich diet. Cats are strict carnivores; as such, they need a lot of quality protein, more than many other animals. They also need various nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. When choosing food for your cat, read labels and select food with a balanced nutritional profile.

Dry Food: This is an affordable choice for a lot of families. To keep it fresh, store food in a cool, dry location and never feed your cat kibble past its expiration date. With dry food, you have the option to free-feed your cat, which works great for some cats and allows them to enjoy some crunchies when they’re hungry. If this is not possible because you’ve got a major “muncher” on your hands, switch to a routine feeding schedule so your cat cannot snack into a bulging belly.

Wet Food: This is advantageous for some cats who are picky eaters. Although dry food usually has a coating of flavor enhancers to make it more palatable, some cats just refuse to eat it. Another advantage of wet food is that it’s about 70%+ moisture, so it’s a good way to supplement your kitty’s water intake. If you’re feeding wet food or choose to mix wet and dry food, check the labels and ensure the wet food offers your cat complete nutrition.

Fighting Obesity

Proper nutrition for cats is essential, but so is fighting obesity. Many common cat health problems are caused by being overweight or obese. If you notice that your cat is packing on the pounds, scale back their food and talk with your vet about strategies to keep your cat’s waistline under control. Over 60% of pets today are overweight or obese. Obesity has been associated with numerous diseases, such as diabetes, pancreatitis, arthritis/joint disease, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and a shortened life span.

Provide Fresh Water

Cats love fresh (moving) water. This is why you sometimes come into the bathroom and find your cat headfirst in the toilet bowl or licking the drips off the faucet. Getting wide, large water dishes and changing the water regularly will help keep your cat interested. Cats who don’t get sufficient water most commonly develop urinary tract infections and other health problems. If you want to really encourage your cat to drink, providing an electric water fountain will keep the water circulating and tempting to your cat.

Regular Checkups

All cats should go to the vet at least 1-2 times per year for routine medical care and checkups so that your veterinarian can screen for conditions such as dental problems, allergies, and the detection of potential illnesses. Signs of illness in cats can vary depending on the issue, but listlessness, vomiting, loss of appetite, excessive itching, improper urination or defecation, and eye discharge can all be signs of a kitty health issue. So, if your cat is showing any of these signs or is injured, take him to the vet immediately.

Problems with Urination or Elimination

Urinating or defecating in places other than the litter box can be caused by medical problems or behavioral issues. Medical problems often relate to urinary tract infections or cystitis (bladder inflammation), which are often associated with straining and pain, usually producing only a small amount of blood-tinged urine. Diarrhea can also be associated with elimination outside the litterbox.

If your cat is straining to urinate or not urinating at all, please contact us at Harmony Animal Hospital immediately, as this behavior could be due to a blockage, which can, in some cases, be life-threatening.

Behavioral Causes for Inappropriate Urination or Elimination

Behavioral causes for litter box aversion usually fall into two general categories: a dislike of the litter box or a stress-related misbehavior.

Several factors can contribute to litter box aversion. Cats may begin to dislike the litterbox when it is not cleaned often enough or when they object to the type of litter. Most cats are very fastidious creatures of habit that become used to the particular texture or smell of a specific type of litter. Many cats also shy away from the litter box if it is located in a high-traffic or noisy area. Older cats may have difficulty getting in or out of a litter box. They may also experience pain (from arthritis), which they then associate with the litter box.


Common stresses associated with inappropriate elimination include a new person or pet joining (or leaving) the household, new furniture or carpeting, moving, and new cats in the neighborhood.


Treatment is aimed at the particular underlying problem. Medical issues should be addressed first – a thorough physical exam, urinalysis, and possibly a urine culture to rule out infection. Once medical conditions have been ruled out or treated, behavioral issues can be assessed. Your Harmony veterinarian may initially give you some suggestions on how to proceed. If the problem continues, your vet may recommend a referral to an animal behavior specialist.

Behavior problems are often frustrating—patience and determination are usually key factors in successful treatment, and behavioral modification is more successful in some cases than others. Some issues, such as a dirty litter box, can be easily corrected by more frequent cleaning. Other problems, such as those that have been going on for a long time, are much more difficult to treat. In some cases, behavior modification can also be combined with reasonable drug therapy.


Suggestions for cats with inappropriate urination:

  • Make sure there are enough litter boxes available. The rule of thumb is one box per cat per floor of the house, plus one extra. (For example, for two cats in a two-story house, there should be three boxes upstairs and three downstairs).
  • Offer different types of litter to determine if your cat has a substrate preference. Offer some covered and some uncovered boxes. You may wish to try “Cat Attract” litter, available at pet stores.
  • Make sure litter boxes are not in a high-traffic area – many cats prefer a little “privacy.” However, beware that if the litter box is placed near a washer/dryer or furnace, the noise may also frighten the cat away from the box.
  • Clean each box daily.
  • If there are cats outside that may be provoking your cat, try removing them from the area. Motion-sensitive sprinklers work great for this. Also, don’t leave food out, and remove anything that could be attracting them (access to trash, etc).
  • Limit access to areas where your cat likes to urinate inappropriately. Close doors or cover the area with plastic. You may wish to put a new litter box in this area. You can gradually move the box to a new location if your cat uses it.

Dental Care

Good dental care is vital to your adult cat’s health. Your cat’s mouth is the gateway to their health. Despite even the best home care plan to take care of your cat’s teeth, complete oral health and treatment screenings (COHATs), commonly known as cleanings, should always be a regular part of routine cat care. Just like in our mouths, cats have plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that builds up within just a few hours of brushing. Plaque hides really well under the gum line, between teeth, and within cracks or natural ridges on the crown’s surface. This is why it is recommended not only to brush your cat’s teeth daily, but why flossing would also greatly benefit teeth that are crowded together. We understand that the reality of brushing their teeth every day is hard for some cat parents (especially cats), but the ability to floss your cat’s teeth may not be comfortable for your cat or safe for your fingers, making regular complete oral health and treatment and other veterinary dental services necessary for your cat’s optimal oral and overall health. For this reason, Harmony Animal Hospital has extensive dental services. Our dental page and video will provide tips on toys, brushing techniques, treats, broken teeth, and more.  

Nail Trimming

Nail trimming should continue to be part of your regular adult cat grooming and care. If you have been nervous about trimming your adult cat’s nails or nail trimming has become too difficult to attempt on our cat, Harmony Animal Hospital offers trimming services at our hospital. Our approach is to make this experience as least stressful as possible while being mindful to avoid painful cuts into the quick of the nail. In very rare cases, if your cat is extremely resistant or fearful of having their nails trimmed, we may recommend a mild sedative to help make the experience much less stressful and completely painless for your cat. We also always provide a courtesy nail trim anytime your cat is sedated or under general anesthesia for any procedure.

Secrets of the Happy Adult Cat

Cats are unique, and each cat you meet has a distinct personality, complete with a list of likes and dislikes. However, there are a few time-tested ways to keep your cat happy. Most of these suggestions were true when your cat was an adult; they still hold true in the Adult Stage. Here are the highlights for Happy Cat:

  • Playtime! Take time to play with your cat every day. Playing is a chance for your cat to cut loose and enjoy spending time with you. Invest in interactive toys, like a feather on a pole. Switch toys up to keep things interesting and exciting.
  • Cat trees. Cats love to take in the scenery and climb up to high spots. A multi-level kitty condo placed next to a window can do wonders for your cat’s attitude because she can nest up high and take in the sights of the outdoors.
  • Scratching posts and pads and critical. Invest in sturdy scratching posts or pads and encourage your cat to use them. 
  • Take time to snuggle. Cats don’t always seek the comfort of a lap or a scratch between the ears, so when your cat approaches you, take the time to connect with them. Some cats are absolute snuggle-fiends, and it shows that they trust you and think highly of you.
  • Warm, sunny spots. Cats love to lounge in the sunshine, so setting up a cat hammock in a sunny part of the house or allowing your cat to hang out and snooze on a windowsill is basically the fast track to feline bliss.
  • Cat grass and catnip. About 50% of cats go nuts for catnip, so if you want to dial up the fun, get your kitty some loose-leaf catnip or a catnip-stuffed toy and let the games begin! Also, planting a pot of cat grass in the house will allow your kitty to graze on a few greens, which is one way to keep her belly happy!

Keeping your cat healthy and occupied is the best way to ensure their happiness, and since our cats affect our moods substantially, it will help to ease stress in your own life if you’re sure they are having the best time possible.

Wellness & Preventive Care

During your cat’s adult stage and beyond, we recommend wellness care, vaccinations, and testing tailored to your cat’s specific needs. Depending on your cat’s need, your vet may suggest a nutritional evaluation, weight management, and behavior therapy as examples. We realize that each cat is an individual, and we tailor our recommendations to each individual patient.

Keeping Your Cat Active

Lack of physical activity contributes to obesity, loss of muscle tone, and increased risk of arthritis. In cats, a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to many problems later in life.

Exercise is also important to keep your cat happy and well-adjusted. It stimulates and helps develop their brains and, in many cases, will help prevent destructive behavior at home (often a result of boredom).

Cats need exercise, too, especially indoor-only cats. Encourage your cat to move around by using the interactive toys suggested above. You can try hiding little cat treats around the house daily to give them physical and mental stimulation. Catnip works wonders for some cats and can be put on scratching posts or inside toys to keep them entertained.

Watch for Early Warning Signs

Even the best well-cared-for cats get sick. The key to a successful recovery is to catch the problem as early as possible so it can be treated. To do that, always pay close attention to your cat’s routine and usual behavior. If you notice even subtle changes in eating, drinking, or usual behavior, it is always a good idea to call your Harmony vet for a consultation to seek advice on whether you should come in or what you should be on the lookout for. A call also gives us the opportunity to note the change in your cat’s medical record for future reference.

More serious signs to watch for include:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • New growths or masses, open wounds, or changing/rapidly growing masses
  • Pale, blue, dry, or bright red gums
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Imbalance or dizziness
  • Limping or non-weight-bearing lameness
  • Foul odor from mouth, ears, or skin
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Crying loudly as a sign of pain
  • Very hot body (which could indicate a fever)
  • Lack of response when called or offered food
  • Poor appetite or refusal to eat
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts more than 24 hours
  • Excessive thirst
  • Inappropriate urination or defecation
  • Nasal or eye discharge

If you notice any of these or any other concerning changes, no matter how minor, it is always a good idea to call us at Harmony Animal Hospital right away. They could be signs of an emergency or a serious problem that needs to be addressed quickly.