Caring for senior cats - tips for your elderly cats

Caring for senior cats begins around the age of seven years onwards. Thanks to advancement in cats nutrition, veterinary medicine and a largely indoors lifestyle, it’s not unusual for cats to live well into her teens or even twenties.

At old age, cats tend to sleep a lot more, search for heat and either lose or pick up weight rapidly. Their behavior becomes less energetic and more relaxed. Senior cat problems aren’t always easy to spot if you don’t know what to look for. Learn how to recognize aging cat issues and how to make caring for senior cats easier.

common ageing cat issues

Like humans, older cats are susceptible to arthritis, obesity, vision and hearing problems and dementia. Other associative diseases include diabetes, cancer, kidney or liver disease and thyroid problems. Aging cats are susceptible to dental issues like gum disease and feline tooth resorption, a disease in which teeth dissolve at the roots.

signs that your cat is ageing

  • Lethargy and difficulty or reluctance to try jumping or climbing
  • Changes in weight
  • Failing to use the litter box
  • Appetite loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Incontinence or lack of urination
  • Forgetfulness
  • Excessive meowing and yowling
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Bumping into objects
  • Pawing at her eyes
  • Excessive blinking

schedule regular vet visits

Your cat requires at least an annual examination, even if it appears healthy. Many diseases are hidden and not apparent; it is much cheaper to prevent diseases than it is treating it!

ask for a body condition evaluation each vet session

In caring for senior cats, body condition is crucial to determining if your senior cat is overweight, underweight or at an ideal weight. Additionally, you should enquire with your vet to show you how to personally evaluate your cat’s body condition from home.

feed your cat with adequate protein levels

Cats are obligate carnivores, requiring nutrients such as taurine and arachidonic acid that are only found in animal sources. They also comparatively require higher protein levels than dogs. Learn to read pet food labels, and feed your cat a diet appropriate for your cat’s age and lifestyle.

caring for senior cats starts with maintaining their ideal body weight

Overweight cats have higher incidences of diseases like diabetes, liver diseases, skin disease, and even cancer. Your vet can help tailor an appropriate diet in caring for your senior cat. Senior cats must be fed carefully to ensure all its nutrient needs are met. Obese cats may require a special diet that is low in calories but high in nutrients. Diets high in L-carnitine can be helpful in weight loss.

fortify with fatty acids

Fatty acids like DHA and EPA are shown to be useful for cats with mobility issues due to arthritis or other joint diseases. Supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin are also beneficial for seniors.

consider a special diet for heart or kidney diseased cats

Diets lower in sodium are sometimes advocated for cats with heart diseases, while diets that help control phosphorus, calcium and other electrolyte levels are given to cats with kidney disease. Your vet can help in choosing the best food for your cat based on individual situations.

ask about special diets for hyperthyroidism

Diets with restricted iodine levels are available as a potential management method for cats with overactive thyroid glands. However, it is key that cats with normal thyroid functions not consume these diets. Ask your vet for advice.

take care of its mouth

Brushing your cat’s teeth can help keep its mouth healthy. If you cannot brush it, consider dental treats that keep the cat’s teeth clean.

environmental enrichment

Interactive toys, food puzzles (great for overweight cats in particular), supervised access to the outdoors through the use of ‘catios’, or leash walking can help entertain senior cats, while making them burn excess calories and keeping their muscles and joints healthy.

provide accommodation

Caring for senior cats with arthritis require litter boxes with lower sides for easier access into and out of the box. By providing soft bedding for your cat, either with cat beds or towels or blankets, your cat can be more comfortable. Ensure that food and water are easily accessible. Do not force your arthritic cat to travel up and down the stairs to eat, drink or use the litter.

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