Caring for your elderly cat
As your cat begins to age, they will tend to need more support from their owners, who they’ve developed a companionship with over many years.
Petplan looks at how to care for an elderly cat, giving you top tips to ensure your furry friend enjoys their elderly years…
At what age is your cat considered ‘old’?
Cats are considered ‘senior’ when they reach 8 to 10 years old. Factors such as breed and previous health problems however, will impact how quickly cats age.
Aging affects many aspects of a cat’s overall health and well-being, and often impacts their mobility, as well as their ability to groom themselves.
However relatively small interventions can make a huge difference to the overall comfort and happiness of your cat.
Tips for caring for your senior cat
- Mobility – Older cats are often less agile and are more reluctant to jump onto higher levels. This can be a sign of arthritis. Whilst, movement is still important, it is hard to encourage older cats to play compared to when they are younger and often it is unwise to do so
- Food and nutrition – Some cats become more reluctant to eat as they age. This can be due to a variety of reasons such as dental issues and internal organ changes. As cats age the quality of their diet needs to improve so that their internal organs do not have to work harder than required. So-called senior cat foods are variable in quality and some contain too much salt in an attempt to improve palatability. Ask your vet for a recommendation
- Health checks – Regular visits to the vet are advised for older cats in order to detect and prevent illnesses. Some of the key symptoms to get checked out early are listed below
- Grooming –As cats age their joints stiffen and they often find grooming in those difficult places more challenging. Also, the likelihood of dental disease increases with age which also makes cats more reluctant to groom themselves. However, cats enjoy feeling clean therefore it’s important to gently groom your cat regularly. Keep an eye on your cat’s claws too as they will use them less and ingrown claws are more common in older cats
- Sleep – Senior cats enjoy warmth and comfort so they will seek somewhere to nestle and snooze for much of the day. Placing bedding by radiators for extra warmth is often appreciated
Symptoms to look out for
While aging is part of life, it is worth looking out for common early-warning symptoms that will alert you to potential illnesses that may potentially worsen if left untreated:
- Difficulty jumping, moving or stretching
- Smelly breath which may reflect dental disease or kidney deterioration
- Reluctance to eat harder foods
- Changes in weight. Obesity is often connected to diabetes whereas weight loss can occur with dental issues or an overactive thyroid gland
- Signs of dementia include confusion with familiar with surroundings or people
- Changes to drinking (often increases) and urination
- Diminished vision and hearing often manifest as howling, especially at night
- Reclusive behaviour which can often be caused by pain
If you notice any of the above signs, or are worried about anything else regarding your cat’s behaviour or health, contact your vet for advice.
What is your favourite thing about caring for elderly cats? Let us know in the comments below…