How To Care For A Senior Cat
To care for a senior cat is a special responsibility. As your cat ages you begin to see changes. Some of these are normal while others may be signs of something wrong. Good care can increase your cat’s life and allow you two more time to enjoy each other’s company. Let’s look at some important things to look for in your senior cat.
Signs Of Aging In A Senior Cat
When a cat reaches the age of 11-14 years it is considered a senior cat. Beyond 15 years is labeled geriatric. Did you know that 11-14 years for a cat equals 60-72 years for humans? That puts their age in a more understandable perspective if you think about the changes we humans experience at that age.
Common changes include:
Becoming Less Active
As a cat ages, their ability to get around changes. Your cat may no longer be able to jump from high places. Arthritis in the joints are often the cause. But, just because your cat isn’t jumping and climbing like she once did doesn’t mean she doesn’t need some exercise. Just like in people, exercise can help your cat stay mobile. It helps stiff joints to become limber.
Give you cat opportunities to exercise. Playtime with you and by themselves daily keeps them mobile. And it helps with more than just mobility, it also helps keep weight down if your cat is putting on some unneeded weight. Plus, it helps keep their mind active.
Switch out toys for variety. If you cat loves cat nip, use some toys that you can add fresh cat nip regularly. Keep some toys on hand that encourage your cat to move around.
Remember, as your cat ages, watch her/his activity closely. To prevent joint injuries, she/he may need assistance getting onto and off your couch or bed. Also, an extreme change in activity can mean a health problem.
Senior cats need a warm, soft spot to rest. It could be soft fluffy pet bed or blanket in their favorite nap spot. Some love sleeping in front of the window to watch for birds and bask in the sunshine. Others like a quieter spot on the floor. Wherever you cat has liked to nap, make give that spot more padding and warmth for comfort.
Diet and Health
As you cat ages, her/his diet needs changes. Different changes may include weight gain or weight loss, kidney function, and other problems may come up. Keep a close on what you find in the litter box. And, accidents aren’t your cat being “bad”, it is a sign your cat’s health is compromised and need veterinary care.
Regular visits to the vet will help you and your vet stay aware of changes in your pet’s health and come up with solutions to give your pet the best life possible. What your cat eats has a large impact on health. If your vet hasn’t suggested a food for special needs, choose a quality cat food that supports health of senior cats. Many cheap foods come with fillers that aren’t healthy for cats. Also, watch out for can foods that contain a lot gravy-like contents. These can cause digestive problems in older cats.
As your cat ages they may not groom themselves as well as when they were younger. They’ll need your help to keep them groomed with regular brushing and nail trimming. An occasional bath may be necessary, but unless your cat likes water, you may want to opt for a pet shampoo that doesn’t need washing out. The frequency of brushing depends on your cat’s breed and coat. Again, this isn’t something you need to as often as just brushing.
This grooming time is a perfect time for you have a chance to check over your cat’s body and make sure everything is okay. If an area seems sensitive to being touched, it’s a sign something is wrong and needs a vet’s attention.
Some cats aren’t fond of grooming. Just be patient and do it in short sessions if needed.
Cats are amazing and beautiful animals. They enrich our lives. Each one has a unique personality. And when you have one, you belong to them. You are their caregiver. As they age that dependence increases. The most important things you can do as their caregiver is to keep them inside and away from outside dangers, take them for wellness checkups and vaccines, and provide them with your loving care and attention.
About the author: Katharine Godbey is “mom” to two cats, one who is over 16 years old. They enjoy her company while she works from her home office as a blogger and writer. As the owner of Today’s Work at Home Mom, she helps women succeed at living a work from home lifestyle.