Seven ways to give your senior cat the best care this winter

If you’re concerned about your senior cat this winter, we’ve rounded up seven ways you can help keep your cold cat cosy when the temperatures drop outside.

Older cats can need a little more attention, especially over the winter. From diet and hydration to heated cat beds and regular vet check-ups, here’s how to keep your senior feline happy and healthy during the colder months.

1. Offer them a heated cat bed

During winter, there might not be as many warm or sunny places for your cat to curl up and take a nap. You might notice your elderly cat isn’t sleeping so well at night, has started yowling or seems cold and unsettled.

If you’re wondering how to keep cats warm in winter, investing in a heated cat bed is a great solution. This means your older cat will always have somewhere cosy to take a nap. Some joint conditions such as arthritis can be aggravated by cooler temperatures, so your cat will appreciate having somewhere soft and warm to sleep.

2. Upgrade their water bowl

Spending lots of time in a warm, heated house might mean your elderly cat gets dehydrated. Many cats also prefer to drink from outside water sources (like that flower pot saucer filled with rainwater) but may be less keen to go outside during the winter. Make sure your cat always has at least two water bowls with fresh and clean water available. A water fountain might encourage your senior cat to drink more, as it mimics the running water that many cats prefer. 

3. Make sure their diet is nutritionally balanced

Elderly cats might not have much of an appetite, so it’s important to make sure the food they eat is easily digested. Winter is a good time to switch your elderly cat to a high-quality food that’s specifically designed for senior cats. These contain fewer calories but high-quality protein to compensate for the fact that older cats are usually less active. Some older cats prefer wet food, especially if they have dental problems. Be sure to check with your vet before making any dietary changes – and switch food gradually rather than all at once.

4. Book a vet check-up

Winter often brings seasonal sniffles for us humans, but can cats get colds too? Cats don’t catch the same kind of cold that we do, but they can suffer from cat flu. This is an upper respiratory tract infection, which is like a severe form of cat cold.

Symptoms include congestion, sneezing and red eyes. Keeping your cat’s vaccinations up to date can help reduce the risk of cat flu, but it’s also a good idea to book your senior cat in for a vet check-up over the winter, so any potential health issues can be caught and monitored.

5. Treat them to a grooming session

Stiff joints or dental issues might mean your older cat is unable to groom themselves as thoroughly as they once did. Similarly, some health conditions common in older cats can result in a dull coat. Taking the time to groom your cat regularly can help to keep their coat and skin in good condition. During grooming sessions, check your cat’s claws. If they’re overgrown through lack of use, they might need a trim. You can use this time to check for any parasites or skin conditions, too.

6. Encourage them to exercise

Cats tend to become less energetic as they age and this can be even more obvious during the winter. It’s still important that your cat gets some exercise though, so they stay a healthy weight. Encourage your cat to play for short bursts by offering them a range of toys and seeing which they enjoy the most. Even five minutes of gentle activity a couple of times a day can help keep your older cat moving.

7. Keep an eye on their toilet habits

Even if your elderly cat usually goes to the toilet outside, they might be less keen to head outside when it’s cold or raining. It’s a good idea to offer your cat an indoor litter tray, so they don’t need to go outside. Toileting accidents inside can also be a sign of cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which is similar to dementia in humans. Speak to your vet for advice if you’re concerned about any changes to your cat’s usual habits.

Have any tips for helping elderly cats stay warm and cosy over winter? Share your stories on social media using #PethoodStories.

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