Caring for the Elderly Cat

17976104_s.jpgElderly Cat Care

Your aging cat may appear as independent as always, but elderly cats need special attention. You can help your cat enjoy his senior years by providing the best medical, dental and at-home care for him as he ages. Indoor cats typically live 15 years or so, but can live 20 years or more.

Remember when your elder cat was a kitten? How she started out as a busy, curious little fur bundle? And how in her prime they tore around the house, making trouble, and making us laugh? But as cats enter their senior years (7 and up) we may notice a decline in energy, a little stiffness in movement and a growing reluctance to jump up on things. Because arthritis is often part of aging, a formerly active cat who begins avoiding movement may be suffering the pain and loss of mobility associated with the disease.

Helping With Feline Arthritis

Older cats will benefit from toys and playtime, especially with interactive toys that encourage them to move. If your cat will walk on a leash, or has a safe, enclosed outside place where you can oversee her behavior, you can provide exercise to help her burn calories and keep those muscles and joints moving.

The older cat may also require extra help to address his special needs. A litter box with lower sides will help an arthritic senior enter and exit his box. Softer bedding, whether a cat bed or folded blankets or towels, can make sleeping more comfortable. And consider where you keep his food,water and litter box. They may need to be moved to accommodate the arthritic cat who can no longer easily manage stairs.

Senior Health Care is Essential

Poor dental hygiene will lead to tooth and gum problems, just as in humans. And when a cat’s mouth hurts, she may avoid meals. With poor nutrition she may show weight loss, and her coat may become unkempt. Bring the cat to your vet for regular dental exams. And do brush your cat’s teeth if possible; if not, use dental treats that help remove tartar. It's best to start this regimen when your first get your kitten and carrying it into old age. By caring for her teeth at home, you can help minimize her chance of dental troubles, especially in her final years.

And Then There Are the Fatties

Some senior cats love their chow, but don’t care much for activity, even when they are not in pain. These cats can often become obese, which is a major health concern, especially in elderly cats. Being overweight stresses their joints and internal organs, causing discomfort which in turn encourages even more inactivity and greater weight gain. 

Overweight felines are also at risk for diabetes, liver disease, skin disease and even some cancers. 

We’ll talk about diet and activity when you bring your cat in for a checkup. There are specific foods created to help maintain senior cat health, and that address very specific health conditions. We can make recommendations for foods that will encourage the best health for your pet.

During the exam, we’ll  also check for signs of common, age-related diseases such as arthritis, thyroid or kidney disease, liver  or heart disease or other conditions.  Remember, too, that some diseases can be “hidden,” and while your cat may appear healthy, disease process can be starting. An annual checkup will help us catch any health problems in the early stages. Early diagnosis can often mean better health and longer life for your family felines.