Senior cat care helps improve the quality of life of felines in their senior years. The fact that cats are now living longer is good news for all cat lovers. Cats at 10 years of age used to be considered as ‘seniors.’ Luckily, with love, care, and proper veterinary attention, cats are now having longer lifespans. In fact, they may now have a quality life in their teen years, some even in their early 20s.
Cats reaching 15 years of age have entered the geriatric stage of life. There are many things you can do to improve the quality of your cat’s life in her teen years.
Look for signs of age-related changes
As they age, cats are bound to exhibit physical and behavioural changes which are often referred to as ‘senior cat behaviours.’
Similar to humans and dogs, cats may suffer from joint problems too. Cats with arthritis may have decreased activity and difficulty and hesitancy to jump, climb or run. Help prevent arthritis in cats by improving their environment, keeping her weight in check, and visiting the vet for physical assessments.
Older cats may have lower levels of activity which results in overgrown thick nails. It is important to have a regular inspection and trimming of your cat’s nails because when left overgrown, it may be embedded in their paws.
Fill her water bowls with fresh water daily. This will serve as a reminder and encouragement for her to drink. Know that dehydration often leads to renal disease.
Older cat behaviour may include a constant pawing at her mouth as well as difficulty eating dry kibbles. As she is more vulnerable to dental decay, watch out for signs that could indicate dental disease.
A change in weight
Regular health check-ups help you see changes in your feline’s weight. Remember that an elderly cat losing weight is not normal in any circumstances. In fact, it often indicates underlying conditions such as cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, or liver disease.
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Stages of a cat’s senior years
If your furry companion has reached the age of 10, she is considered a senior feline. As an owner, prepare yourself for the complex physical changes in your cat as she goes through the different life stages. Make sure to provide your furry feline with the best quality of life through her senior years.
It helps to take a look at what to expect as your cat gets older.
At 10-12 years
- Your cat might start meowing loudly? Most cats become more vocal as they get older.
- A decrease in activity level becomes apparent such as not jumping and climbing to higher surfaces as much as before.
- You may see her taking more naps.
- They get stressed easier about changes in the environment such as loud noises and unfamiliar place or people.
- They become vulnerable to certain health problems such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes, arthritis, and kidney disease.
[Insert photo: cat playing with owner]
At 13-15 years
- Along with slower pace and movement, she may also be experiencing some weak or loss of hearing and vision.
- Less tolerance for changes in temperature
- Easily gets irritable.
- She may often seek a solitary life peacefully though she still needs to have regular interaction with her owners. Be sure to provide her with a hideout that is warm and comfortable.
- Set a twice-a -ear veterinary assessment as an extra health precaution.
At 16 years and older
A 16-year-old cat is said to be equivalent to an 80-year-old human. By this, you are one of the luckiest owners or you have done a great job in rearing your kitty to her golden years.
- Your senior cat spends most of her time sleeping.
- She tends to vocalise even more.
- She may miss using her litter tray.
- Set at least twice-a-year veterinary check-up and report any physical and behavioural changes observed within the period. This includes changes in appetite, water consumption, and aggressive behaviour.
Senior cat care: Helping your older feline
Close monitoring is vital in keeping your senior cat healthy. Ease your cat’s restlessness through the following:
- Diet for elderly cats should be balanced and appropriate for her age. Include omega-3 essential fats in her diet to counter the risk of kidney problems. Be sure to fill water bowls with fresh water at all times. Note that some could get more finicky with food and water as they age.
- Implement physical and mental stimulation by having regular play sessions. However, keep the play gentle and the session short.
- Reduce stressors as they have become less adaptable to any changes. Keep mealtimes right on schedule. Introducing new cats may not be your best option at this time as she may find it too stressful.
- Sure, cats are prone to overgrooming but as they age, they tend to struggle to groom themselves. Consider giving your cat a daily grooming session, it is a great time to give her your love and affection and it helps to keep her coat smooth.
- Older cats may have pronounced vocalisation. An owner’s voice may be put to use in comforting her.
- Make time to interact with your feline companion and give her extra tender loving care throughout her senior years.