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Senior Cat Care: Keeping Kitty Happy In Her Golden Years

May 15, 2024

Have you noticed your kitty slowing down lately? Cats are adorable and endearing throughout their lives, but they become much more charming as they age. Fluffy usually ages gracefully. You may notice that she has become quite cuddly, and that she somehow manages to sleep even more than she used to. She may also prefer snuggling up on your lap to batting catnip mice down the hall in the middle of the night. While cats are regarded as being independent and easy to care for, your furry buddy will require more attention as she ages. A Peterborough, ON veterinarian provides some suggestions on this below.

When Do Cats Reach Old Age?

The American Association of Feline Practitioners states that Fluffy’s official retirement age is ten years. However, other sources place that age at nine. Some consider kitties to be elders at the age of seven! There is a rationale behind these variances. In general, a seven-year-old kitty is similar to a 45-year-old person. That is approximately middle age for individuals.

The contrast of cat years with human years has caused some confusion. You may have heard a common saying that one year of human life equals seven years of cat life. That isn’t quite right. For example, the first year of Fluffy’s life is about similar to 10-12 human years. The second is going to bring your feline buddy up to the equivalent of 24 human years. Following that, the comparisons shift.

All that said, Fluffy can definitely be considered a senior by 11 or so. A 15-year-old cat is considered geriatric. So, while an eleven-year-old cat may still behave like a kitten, it stands to reason that your feline friend would benefit from some extra care and perhaps more frequent veterinary visits around that time.

What Are Some Of The Most Common Health Issues Among Older Cats?

Kitties entering their golden years are more likely to develop certain health issues. Cancer, diabetes, arthritis, hyperthyroidism, visual impairments, and dental problems are just a few examples.

In between veterinary appointments, look for any indications of sickness. Remember that cats are naturally discreet about this. Fluffy may try to hide her symptoms until she becomes quite ill!

  • Changes In Appetite
  • Increased/Decreased Thirst
  • Increased/Decreased Urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling
  • Withdrawal
  • Uncharacteristic Behavior Or Vocalizations
  • Discharge
  • Limping
  • Lesions, Lumps, Bumps
  • Skin Irritation
  • Hair Loss
  • Appetite changes
  • Increased Or Decreased Thirst/Urination

Untidy fur is often considered a sign of illness in cats. However, it is quite common for senior cats to look a little messy, simply because they frequently struggle with self-grooming. Senior cats can be stiff and sore, which makes bending and stretching difficult. Furthermore, aged cats’ skin frequently produces a lot of oil.

Having said that, it’s always a good idea to be cautious. If you observe anything strange, contact your Peterborough, ON veterinarian immediately.

What Care Do Senior Kitties Need?

For the most part, your feline companion will require the same things as any other cat: decent food, fresh water, a clean litterbox, and, of course, regular veterinarian care. However, you should begin with little tweaks.

Nutrition is crucial. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on when to switch to a senior-formula food. Fluffy may also need to consume more or less food, or transition from kibble to canned food, or vice versa. Pay attention to portion sizes: you don’t want your feline friend becoming obese!

In terms of water, always provide your feline pal with fresh water. You should begin monitoring Fluffy’s water intake. One way to do this is to fill her bowls at the same time every day. Of course, if you have a large or multi-storied house, you may wish to set up more water stations, especially during the summer.

A clean litterbox is a must. Make sure it’s in a spot that is easy for your cat to reach. 

Then there’s veterinary care. Your feline buddy may need to come in more frequently as she ages. Cats, like people, become more susceptible to certain health conditions in their golden years. Ask your Peterborough, ON  veterinarian to suggest an appointment schedule. It’s also crucial to ensure that any medications your senior cat needs are genuine and safe. Unfortunately, counterfeit veterinary medicines do exist – for instance, you may have heard about the recent case where a packaging firm CEO pleads guilty to veterinary med counterfeiting. This underscores the importance of getting your cat’s medications from reputable sources, such as your veterinarian.

How Can I Make My Senior Cat’s Environment More Comfortable?

When it comes to caring for an elderly cat, small gestures can make a big difference. Kitties are pretty easy keepers, and it doesn’t take much to make them happy. Your furball will never outgrow her adorable box obsession, and she’ll still enjoy basking in sunbeams.

Here are some other purr-starters:

Offer Fluffy A Good View

It is always safer for kitties to stay indoors. However, our feline companions require entertainment and stimulation. Birdwatching is a popular form of entertainment among feline companions. Fluffy can spend hours snoozing, sunning, and observing birds and squirrels. Give your furry friend a cozy window seat with a nice view. Make sure she can easily access it! Using a storage bench or ottoman can be a stylish solution. Put a beautiful blanket on it that fits your decor.

Provide Lots Of Beds

Senior cats may doze for up to 20 hours each day. Fluffy needed years of practice to be able to sleep that much. Make sure your drowsy pet has plenty of beds and napping areas to choose from.

Provide Your Aging Cat With Senior-Friendly Facilities

A litterbox with high walls might be hard for your feline buddy to get in and out of. Get one that was designed just for seniors. We also advocate installing litterboxes on each floor of your home. You may also wish to experiment with different litters. Some can detect hormonal changes that may suggest a medical issue. Ask your vet to provide specific recommendations.

Get Nightlights

Cats, like humans, may develop from issues with vision as they age. Fluffy may have difficulty finding her way in a dark house at night. Set out some little nightlights for her.

Pet Ramps

Your feline friend won’t be able to jump or climb as well as she used to. She may also become clumsy, making her more prone to slips and falls. Set up pet ramps or stairs for her to access her favorite areas on beds and couches. Chests and footstools are among the options.

How Can I Keep My Older Cat Happy?

Senior cats require fun and excitement, just like kittens do! Playing is really crucial here. Your feline pal may not be as frisky as she once was, but she will still love expressing her inner lion every now and then. This will also keep your kitty physically fit. Plus, it’s great for her mind! Older felines, like humans, are subject to cognitive impairment in their golden years. Playing might also help in this regard. To land those pounces correctly, kittens must focus on that small red dot! Leaving a radio on can also bring stimulation and enrichment.

Aside from that, simply pay close attention to your feline pal. Talk to her, play with her, and let her curl up on your lap. Last but not least, make sure Fluffy feels cherished and protected. Senior cats’ purrs are extremely special, at least in our book!

Make An Appointment At Your Peterborough, ON Pet Clinic

Do you have any queries about caring for older cats? Regular check-ups become even more crucial as your feline friend ages. Our Veterinary Wellness & Pet Vaccinations services are tailored to meet the unique needs of senior cats, helping to ensure they stay healthy and comfortable in their golden years. Please do not hesitate to contact your Peterborough, ON veterinary clinic at any time. We are always pleased to assist!