Special Care for Senior Cats

If you have a senior cat, you may wonder what sort of special care they could need. Do they have different dietary requirements? What about their overall health and mobility? And perhaps, most of all, what defines a “senior cat”?

The general definition of a “senior” for cats (and dogs!) is those 7 years of age or older - even though you may not notice any age-related changes until they're 10-12 years or more.

Cats age fastest during their first two years, then slow down a bit - though they still age faster than humans. Assuming you have an indoor-only kitty, the human age equivalent of a 7 year old cat is mid-40s, and, even though we don't consider ourselves senior citizens at that age, many of us are starting to feel the early effects of aging. Your kitty is, too, and, by the time your kitty is 10 years old, s/he's the equivalent of a human in his/her late 50's.

Just like with us, cats often have age-related physical changes that can lead to common diseases. The sooner we catch those changes and start managing them, the easier your cat's health can be to manage. Therefore, as your cat ages, it’s important to pay attention to behavior changes (and they can be very subtle) as they can be the first sign of a budding health issue.

 

Common Diseases in Older Cats

Senior cats are often at risk for diseases like arthritis, dental disease, diabetes, thyroid, or kidney disease. If caught early, you can minimize your cat’s discomfort, and you and your vet can formulate an effective treatment plan.

One way to spot potential health problems is noticing a behavior change in your cat. For example, when a friendly cat becomes irritable or withdrawn, this could signal that s/he is in pain or not feeling well, and it’s time to make a vet appointment.

Healthy senior cats are happy senior cats

One of the best things you can do for your cat is to ensure s/he has regular veterinary care. We recommend a veterinary exam every six months for older cats. In cat years, six months is equal to two - four human years (depending on whether Kitty lives inside or outside), so it’s not as frequent as it sounds. Regular evaluations mean we can stay on top of any changes and catch potential health issues before they become an emergency.

Besides regular wellness visits, there are simple lifestyle changes you can put into place so your cat feels cozy and well cared for at home.

 

How You Can Make Life Easier on Your Senior Cat

  • Provide warmth. You probably already know that kitties like to curl up in warm places, so make sure their favorite resting places are warm and not drafty.
  • Make it easy on your cat. If s/he has arthritis and finds it difficult to go up and down stairs, why not put a litter box on each floor? Or get a set of small pet stairs to put next to his/her favorite high perches (your bed, the couch, a windowsill...)? S/he will thank you for it.
  • Groom. As cats age, they can be less flexible and miss spots while grooming. If you make it a habit to gently brush Kitty on a regular basis, you remove loose fur, stimulate circulation, and have the opportunity to check for any unusual lumps or bumps. If you find that your kitty has really fallen down on the self-grooming, that could be a sign of health issues, so be sure to make an appointment to bring him/her in for an evaluation.
  • Cushion the joints. Older cats may have more trouble reaching a favorite shelf or sitting area because their joints hurt. Make it easy on them by providing steps or a low table, footstool or even a ramp that lets them access higher places with ease.
    Help your older cat rest comfortably
  • Keep your cat trim. The sedentary life of the average senior cat often packs on the pounds. Unfortunately, excess weight leads to a host of health problems, including the potential for diabetes, so it’s important to help your cat get exercise and eat a moderate diet.
  • Provide a healthy diet. While there is no “perfect” diet for senior cats, it's a good idea to discuss what you’re feeding and how much with your veterinarian. Of course, if your cat has kidney disease or other health issues, then your veterinarian will make recommendations based on your cat’s age and health conditions.

 

Obviously, your senior cat isn’t as playful as a kitten, and that’s normal. Senior cats still have lots to offer and plenty of snuggles and love for years to come. Like anyone, Kitty may be prone to health changes as s/he ages, but you can keep him/her comfortable when you pay attention to his/her needs.

With all this in mind, maybe it's time for you to give us a call or fill out our form for an appointment? Ultimately, your cat will thank you.

 

Blog Category: